I had no idea…

So far, this summer has not been a smooth one for our household.  It seems that we’ve yet to find a good routine.  We’ve spent time preparing for and attending VBS and honestly, this year that seemed like a full time job.  It was one of the best we’ve hosted for a while so that was good.  Still, after that we girls seem to be at odds.  Not Darren.  Because he’s still doing his thing, but we girls are sorely lacking structure.  We’ve been sleeping in way too late every day and staying up too late every evening.  Everyone is kind of cranky and off-key and for my daughters that translates to fighting.  Lots and lots of fighting.

 

When I was expecting my second born, I fondly wondered what her relationship with her sister would be like.  Not having a sister myself, I figured it would be all unicorns, rainbows and puffy clouds.  Since my girls are nearly 7 years apart in age, I thought fighting would be nonexistent.  After all, what could my off-spring have to disagree over with that much of a span between them?

 

**cue maniacal laughter**

 

What could they have to fight about?  Um, in a word?  EVERYTHING.

 

She pinched me.

She held the cat too tight.

She spit on me.

She licked the doorknob.

She ate my doughnut/cookie/lollipop/popsicle/pizza crust.  (Yes, I’m quite sorry to say I’ve had to referee disagreements–plural– about pizza CRUSTS.  You may stop laughing now.  I’m as serious as a heart attack here.)

She said my butt looks funny.

She said I’m ugly.

She took my trombone.

She took my dolly.

She’s looking out my window.  (Yeah, the first time I heard that one I was utterly speechless.  YOUR window?  I’m pretty sure *I* am the one paying for this car. Therefore, all windows, regardless of location are MY windows and I’ve decided that everyone may view the world through them, thankyouverymuch.)

 

All this is to illustrate the point that whereas I ASSUMED my children would have too much of a span between them to argue about things, I was clearly, decidedly, stupidly W~R~O~N~G.  They can argue about anything and everything and it makes me weary.  Utterly and completely weary.

To that end, I decided they needed a break from each other.  And if Madison was able to enjoy some time away *and* hone her musical skill, so much the better.  So this afternoon I dropped my daughter off at music camp which (not so) co-incidentally is being held at my collegiate alma mater.  It’s no secret that I adored my college years and even though Madison is only going into seventh grade, I hoped she’d feel the same way after attending this event.   So yes, this afternoon I registered her at camp.  And it was kind of a little class reunion for mommy, who got to see several of her friends from college as well as some of her instructors.

But you know what I didn’t expect?  I didn’t expect that it would be so HARD to say goodbye to my girl.  There’s a saying that goes something like this:  “Motherhood is kind of like having your heart walk around outside your body”  Somehow I never got that until today.  This is a whole lotta control to give to someone else, handing my baby over that way and I am a Grade A control freak.  How ever will she survive without dear old mom telling her what to do and when to do it?  How will she know where to hang her wet towel if I’m not there to tell her? How will she know what to eat if I’m not there to put it on her plate?  How will she know it’s time to go to bed if I’m not there to direct?  How will she know how to get around campus without my inner map to guide her?

How, indeed?  Well, I guess she’ll navigate all these things because even though we might butt heads a bit lately, she knows she’s well loved and I know I’ve given her the tools she needs to succeed.  And even though it’s (REALLY) hard to sit back and let her make mistakes and have these experiences on her own, she’s spreading her wings and getting ready to fly.  Because really, today it’s moving on into seventh grade.  Tomorrow she’ll be off to college.  Blink again, and she’ll be out on her own.  I know this because yesterday I brought her home from the hospital and about an hour ago I was sending her off to preschool.  Time goes by SO quickly it’s just ridiculous and in the midst of sleepless nights, potty training and sibling rivalry, it’s so easy to lose sight of this.  There are days when it’s very easy for a mama to feel unappreciated because let’s face it, no one’s kids ever turn around and say, “Hey, Mom, thanks for grounding me today.  I totally see where you are coming from and would have done the same thing myself.”  Nope, not going to happen.  But there comes a day when they probably will realize that all this was for their best interest.

So for today, I’m missing my girl even though I know she’s having fun already.  I’m enjoying the texts she’s sending me as she plays with her new cell phone which has finally become a necessity.  (And yes, she was the very last 11 year old in the entire WORLD who didn’t have a phone–although she also will have to hand it back to me when she gets home but that’s probably a post for another time.)  I’m looking forward to going to her concerts because they bring back a lot of fond memories for me personally but more than anything else, I’m really enjoying the sitting back and watching of my precious baby girl become a young woman on the verge with so many possibilities and so much potential.  I can’t believe we’re here but yeah, I guess that’s it.

 

Still, I have no idea how I’m going to let her drive or date or go to her prom but I guess you get there moment by moment and experience by experience.  Yep, that or go crazy trying to stuff her in her closet until she’s 30.

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The wrong side of the tracks, if you will…

A while back, I took a train for the first time in my life.  I know, I know, pretty sheltered, huh?  I grew up in the land of freight trains, a place where Amtrack fears to tread.  Not much opportunity for a pleasure trip in those parts.  Down here in Amishland, our options (for some things, mind you) are much broader.

Oh, and the best part of the whole Amtrack experience?  Well, it was blessed Mommy time.  Rowan gleefully shoved me out the door of Gran’s van, ready to pick up her sister from school and set off for a weekend of indulgent adventures in grandparent spoiling.  I was simply thankful Rowan allowed Gran to actually s~t~o~p the van.  She was kind of complaining about that and you know how accommodating grandmothers can be.

At any rate, I packed up my suitcase and included my lovely MC bag (for a book, my Kindle and my iPod, because heaven forbid I would be BORED on my ride) intent on meeting Darren in Pittsburgh where he was spending a few days working.

I’m not actually sure if I was on the right side or the wrong side of the tracks.  One or the other, I suppose.

Eventually the train arrived and we were off on our way through Central Pennsylvania.  What I learned about this trip was that taking the train is a little bit like seeing America, or at least Pennsylvania, with her pants down.  Whereas many areas pretty up the areas first glimpsed by travelers as they drive or even fly into their lovely burgs, no one really seems to care about the view train travelers get as the enter the same areas.  Ick.  I really had no idea that Pennsylvania is the armpit of America.  I dunno.  Maybe Amtrack should work on beautifying the areas around their tracks.  Or consider fitting all travelers with blinders?  Oh well, at least you can see some interesting things while you travel, right?  Right?

 

So in that vein, I’ll simply add my random thoughts from the train on a wonderfully mild Thursday in February:

 

1.  By the time February rolls around, the snow in Pennsylvania is pretty ugly.  Coal is gross.

2.  Why does every generation insist that Nehru jackets are cool.  I guess they offer fun places to hide your weed but honestly, they didn’t work in 1965 and they still don’t look good in 2011.  There must be a better alternative for weed transportation and concealment.

3.  Where in the world are all these people getting food.  I don’t see any signs proclaiming “Food right this way  –> “.  Could someone throw me a hotdog.  I’m starving over here.

4.  Spanx  + a super cool long sweater+ kicking high heeled boots + a tunnel + a teeny tiny bathroom on a moving train = a very close call.  Enough said about that.

5.  Moving right along here.  Yes Mr. Conductor, I do know that the footrest pulls out.  I just like resting my feet on my carryon bag.  Plus also, it deters anyone from sitting next to me.  Are you not sensing my rather solitary and enjoying it vibe?

6.  Trains are WAY too quiet.  Right now, I’m fighting the overwhelming urge to scream or at least giggle.  Lighten up people!

7.  Again with the hotdogs.  Seriously!  You’re killing me over here.

8.  No, Mr. Conductor, I’m not continuing on to Cincinnati tonight.  Getting off at Pittsburgh.  That okay with you?

9.  How in the world do people sleep on the train?  I can’t give up that much control.  P.S.  Yes, Mr. Conductor, I am still awake because as I’ve just pointed out…that’s giving up way too much control to the teeming masses.

10.  Whereas *most* of the train ride was ridiculously quiet, when we’re about to reach the final destination of the line, suddenly everyone jumps out of their seats, fires up their cell phones and starts trying to find someone, anyone to pick them up.  Um, ever thought of making those arrangements BEFORE you were pulling into the station.

11.  No Mr. Conductor, I do not need you to show me the sights in Pittsburgh nor do I need a ride anywhere but thanks for carrying my suitcase out for me.  I’m pretty sure my HUSBAND can take it from here, thankyouverymuch.  (P.S.  I’ve still got it.  lol)

 

So all in all, it was a fun experience.  I was glad I didn’t have my girls with me if only because A. they would have experienced the conductor hitting on their mother all night (or perhaps not.  I guess that would be a whole lotta baggage of another sort, huh?) or B. that’s a whole lotta time to keep Rowan occupied in one single, solitary location, although I’m pretty sure she could have found the food.  I got to see some fun, if muddy sights and Horseshoe Curve is pretty at twilight.  I guess this is one of those things that everyone should do at least once.

 

Which means I’m gonna have to take the girls anyway or be a failure as a mother.  *sigh*

 

 

 

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In the span of a moment

On a cold and brutally windy Saturday, Darren and I traversed off the beaten path on a very specific mission.  We were trekking along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, sans children, and wanted to stop at Shenksville.  Whereas few people had likely heard of this unassuming little burg ten years ago, by September 12, 2001, it became a part of our daily vocabulary for on September 11, 40 passengers stepped up to the plate and did what it took to prevent a disaster.

Shenksville, Pennsylvania is truly a rural area, and this observation comes from someone who lives in Amishland to begin with.  The road is quite narrow and fraught with bumpy peril.  If you didn’t know there was a national park here, well, you wouldn’t know.

The field in which Flight 93 crashed was formerly home to a strip mine, quite common throughout the Pennsylvania coal region and ugly beyond measure.  The temporary memorial and exhibit are actually housed in a building left over from the mining operation.

There is a quiet respect here, eerie and somber.

Simply put, the plane flew over these hills….

and crashed here.

The trees still bear silent witness to all that occurred as that aircraft came screaming from the air and exploded on impact as 7,000 gallons of jet fuel burst into flames.

Here in the place, the atmosphere is redolent of the courage it took for these ordinary individuals to make a choice that would make them heros.  Because as they learned in those final moments, in the span of a breath, a single heartbeat, everything can change and from that moment on, nothing will ever, ever be the same.

I remember in those days following this terrible disaster the sense of community we felt as a country.  The horror of learning the human cost that was laid down.  The worry we felt wondering what might happen next.  But yes, community as we were all, or at least most, united in a common bond; those left behind.  As I look around me nearly ten years later, it’s really astounding how quickly we push our thoughts from that time to the side.  Yes, we must move on.  That’s certainly right and good but while we’ve promised never to forget, we’ve continued on our collective paths of me-centric “step on whoever it takes to get to the top” behavior.  I wonder if we truly did *get* it.

What I do know is this:  Everything changes.  Nothing stays the same.  We can remain stagnant and mourn for what will never be or we can learn from what we’ve seen and enjoy what we have on this day.  It’s a choice, one that must be made consciously.  For that reason, I think fields like this are important.  National park buildings that are stocked with Kleenex for our use have a purpose.  Sitting in a small room with 15 other strangers in utter silence as we all explore an exhibit has its exquisite beauty.

There is a very profound and meaningful feeling here.  I wonder if it is because we all, every one of us, remember where we were and what we were doing on that fateful morning in September 2001.  We still feel that loss.  The air is heavy with grief and empathy for those who gave their lives but it’s a good lesson for us all.  Some things are bigger than we are and in the natural, we’ll never know their purpose.  Still, they make us who we are and mold us into who we’ll become.  That’s what this life is about, in a sense:  becoming. And with that in mind, tomorrow can be greater than today.  If we allow it to be so.  It’s our choice as individuals.  So please, choose wisely.

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Irrational behavior, grace and me

In the wake of all the floody goodness our family experienced over the past two weeks, the virus the girls were passing around caught up with me.  Thankfully there was no vomit.  Because I don’t do vomit.  It’s not allowed in my home.  Ever.  Amen.  It did, however, bring feverishness, fatigue, headache and for a bit of the random, achy eyes.  It was ick.  I can’t honestly remember the last time I had a fever.  It’s been years and years and in that passing time, I must confess, the achy-ness and chills have not become more endearing to me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve become a MUCH bigger baby about such things.  And that’s saying a lot.  Thank goodness for Motrin.

 

As a little aside, have you ever noticed that when our family members are ill, we moms/wives are expected to tirelessly wipe brows, dispense medicine, adjust blankets, procure favorite snacks, make chicken noodle soup from scratch (which no one will eat anyway), re-adjust blankets and also keep the house functioning?  Have you also ever noticed that when said mom/wife is sick no one else gives a rip?

 

Yeah, I noticed that too.

 

So yesterday I was on day four of this virus.  No one else ran a fever for that long but I’m guessing I remained sick for two extra days because I had to do things like go to the grocery store, take children to school, answer emails, go to meetings every ding-dang night of the week, feed my family and take care of the cat, even though I was sick.  **cue swelling violins**  I just know you feel my pain.

 

Anyway….yesterday afternoon, I was wiped out and knew I needed a nap if I was going to make it through my rehearsals last night.  I told my cherubic offspring that I was going to go rest and asked them to please be quite so I could actually accomplish that task.  I went upstairs, lay down and fell asleep within the span of about 39 seconds.  Then my delightful daughters proceeded to wake me up about 157 times in the first 15 minutes I lay there.  How is that even possible?

 

Now at this point, one has two choices as to how to proceed.  One can take a deep breath, assume that the kids really can’t conceptualize how badly one has been feeling and are not doing this on purpose, get up, close the door after gently warning her children to tone it down a bit and go back to sleep.  OR one can also assume one’s children are out to get her at worst or selfish little brats at best and start screaming like a shrew threatening her children with bodily harm, various lost privileges  and the loss of a place to sleep until Jesus comes to get them, thus raising one’s blood pressure to nearly catastrophic heights and virtually guaranteeing that sleep is lost forever.

So, which path do you suppose I chose?

 

Yes, number two, indeed.  After the final offense, I flew out of bed, screaming like a crazy woman and pretty much banned my children from the tv for a week, from the Wii until March (and it’s possible I suggested March 2015 as a jumping off point) and sent them sobbing to their rooms.   They didn’t even bother to ask if they could come out until dinner time and were so thankful for their leftovers it was kind of creepy.

 

Clearly that’s not the way we strive to behave.  I have no delusions about becoming mother of the year but that was definitely a low point in my mothering career.  It bears some thought too.  Life hands us crappy days like that quite a lot and an emotional person like me struggles to act appropriately in the wake of them, especially when we’re sick or tired or whatever.  Let’s face it, some days are better than others and some days we hold it all together better.  But yesterday, as I led my vocal choir and shared a devotional with them, it kind of all smacked me in the face.

 

In every situation we encounter, we can consciously choose to let grace enter in.  We can choose to act, or react, appropriately  or not, but when we allow grace in, amazing things can happen.  Suddenly, it’s about more than ourselves, more than this one moment in time.  Suddenly we’re seeing the big picture, we’re smelling the roses, and we’re seeing the possibilities our children have before them.  And suddenly, in that moment, things like those few moments of lost sleep aren’t as important as sisters bonding over a game of Wii Party rather than slapping and shrieking at one another as so often seems to be the case these days.  Suddenly, it’s not about me anymore but totally about the relationship my daughters are forming with one another.  A relationship I’ve always wished for for myself but never experienced.  When we allow grace to enter in, we see the beauty in the situation at hand, the learning experience that has been given to us and we can consciously, determinedly make this most of it.  Because all too soon, moments like this will be gone, lost in the passage of time and you can’t get them back.

 

So last night, grace entered in and today I have some apologizing to do.  I guess that’s a good life lesson too because I’ve found that so few people really and truly own up to their mistakes in life.  It’s good for kids to know adults make mistakes and heaven knows we all do.  So yes, that apology is forthcoming.  But probably not until they work the little tails off doing the chores they’ve been assigned.  Because you know, that kind of thing is important, too.

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Doing the right thing

From the time I was very young, my parents empowered both my brother and I to make good choices, to be independent thinkers and to be accountable for our actions and the situations that might arise as a consequence thereof.  That was the norm for us, along with “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and a little bit of “do as I say, not as I do.”  Ahem, just had to get that last one in there, Dad.  It really doesn’t apply here but it always torked me off when you said it. So there.  **clears throat**   Still, my brother and I were encouraged to be productive members of society who were always aware of the footprint we were leaving behind and those around us with whom our lives might overlap.  I kind of assumed everyone did that sort of thing.

 

But, no.  They don’t.

 

As a young teacher, the sense of entitlement I found in my young students and the enabling from their parents absolutely astonished me.  How in the world could I do my  job instructing children in music culture, theory and instrumental proficiency if they were hearing at home that music wasn’t important and therefore their homework didn’t need to be done.  I was also floored at how many parents told me that they didn’t “force” their kids to do anything they (the children) didn’t want to do (i.e. practice their instrument, participate in a school program, do their math homework, etc.).  Really?  Really?  Because seriously, do you know how many times in a day I have to do things I don’t want to do?  Suffice it to say we’d never eat dinner if I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do, or if we did, it would be brownies every night.  In life, there are just things we’d rather not do but we must do them, or enforce those decisions in our children because it is right or necessary.  So yes, my children do many things on a daily basis that they’d rather not do.  Playing Wii all day is not an option.  For me or my kids.

 

So what is all this about anyway?  Well clearly there’s an application.  One week ago, we awoke to find standing water in our basement.  Now, we’ve had water issues in our basement before but it’s always, always been nuisance water.  A small amount that was easily cleaned up, and it’s always been in the wake of a tremendous summer storm or hurricane-remnant rain.  Never in the winter.  Not even last winter when we had snow of apocalyptic proportions.

 

Quickly, we realized that this was out of our control and for the remainder of the day, it took three plumbers and one owner of the plumbing business to try and get the water flow under control.  By Sunday, we again realized that there was more at play than simply an unfortunately backed up French drain.  Backed up drains do not cause a steady stream of clear water to flow continuously from under your basement floor.  Nor do they cause a flood in your back yard.  It was absolutely astonishing how much water flowed through that pump.

 

First thing on Monday morning, the local water authority found the problem.  Frozen pipes at an adjoining vacant duplex had flooded the basements of both sides of the dwelling.  We’re not talking about a small amount of water, we’re talking about four feet of standing water in the basement.

 

Now I ask you, if you were a property owner who had a huge amount of standing water in a dwelling and also were informed that said water caused property damage to a neighboring home, what would you do?  Well, this property owner simply left the scene, opted not to do anything, and went on her merry way to teach her afternoon classes at Millersville University.  And to the best of our knowledge, even though that was five days ago, she hasn’t been back to do anything at all to remove the water.  Even after my dear husband put in a call to her, she dismissed him telling him that A. she was simply too busy to be bothered and also had very important things to do and B. the borough had told her the water would eventually level out.  When Darren graciously explained that his time was also valuable, having lost what amounts to a day and a half of work, and that the leveling out was happening solely because we now had a sump pump and the water was being removed that way so that we, also, didn’t have four feet of water in *our* basement, she utterly dismissed him.  And we haven’t heard from her since.

 

As you well know, you can find a whole lot of things out about a person by searching on the internet for just a few minutes.  It’s easy to make assumptions about someone  in a situation like this but Darren and I were shocked to discover that the property owner in question lives just a few blocks away from us, is a professor at a local university, as is her husband, and both are pillars of a local church.  Really?  And yet, they’ve blown us off completely and are causing a safety hazard, and potentially a health hazard, should that water remain in the basement long enough.  They know better.  And yet the apathy and disrespect directed towards us, and really everyone else in the neighborhood, is just disgusting.  Unacceptable.  And in this situation, our local borough claims there is nothing they can do either in regards to enforcing the water removal.  In my opinion, that is an epic fail.

 

So here I sit, having wasted 8 days of my life on this basement/water/yard/flooding drama.  Oh, and don’t forget the stress. Everything has been very slow to progress because with so much flowing water, one can’t very well concrete the hole up and call it good.  Rick the Plumber is my new BFF and we spend lots of time talking on the phone these days.  For days I couldn’t go anywhere because of the concern of more water.  Now I can’t leave because the plumber might show up.  Or not.  And it’s not over.  Even though the mud will be removed today, I’ve still got a hose running out my basement window that can’t be removed and concreting that will need to be done someday…sometime.  So it looks like I’ll be sitting home next week, too.

 

This situation is disgusting, really, because Darren and I have always been rule followers who strive to make a positive impact in our community.  Our neighbors know if they need something they can come to us and we’ll do what we can to help them out.  Had our property caused someone such issues, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, we would handle it differently.  Yes, things like this are stressful and difficult but there’s such a thing of personal responsibility.  I suppose in that vein, this has been a good learning experience.  My girls have been watching carefully how Darren and I choose to handle this.  Sometimes that’s hard for me to remember when I react in an undesirable, emotional way but yes, they’re always watching.  For Madison, who is old enough to have a broader sense of the world, she’s also learned a whole lot about what *not* to do, as far as not taking care of a situation that your decisions have causes, whether it was caused by negligence or, at best, ignorance.  Because at the end of the day, I’m not striving to turn out an entitled, self-absorbed, me-centric  soon-to-be adult.  I find it imperative for her to know that in every situation she has two choices:  right and wrong.  Doing the right thing, owning up to your actions or the consequences that arise from your decisions is absolutely a must if you value your integrity.  And if you don’t have integrity, what’s the point?

 

 

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A lament

I’ve been in a funk for a while, as evidenced by my chronic inability to update my blog, perhaps.  Still, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like myself and I’ve been trying to figure out why.  Is it because I fight with my middle school daughter on a daily basis about wearing a coat? ( I mean seriously, it’s zero degrees out today and she wants to wear a hoodie to school.  What’s up with that? )  Is it because socks into the washing machine never equal socks out of the dryer?  (Honestly, I always thought this was a bunch of 50’s housewife nonsense until I started collecting clothing specific socks for Rowan.  I know, it’s  a sickness, but it’s also clear that something somewhere in my house is holding her socks hostage.I could start a sock singles club up there.)  Is it because my kitchen counters are ugly but any home renovation project undertaken in this house ends up begetting five other jobs that have to be done first?  Is it because my cat is high on a catnip ball most of the time? (I think I saw a hookah pipe in my sewing room but I might be mistaken.)  Is it because gas prices have risen so much lately that trips for fun are just out of the question?  (Well, actually this one might bear some more thought….)  Is it simply because it’s January and it’s snowy and yucky and cold?

I was reading a book recently (Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin in case you were interested.  That’s also the title and author of the book if you are not interest.  You know…just in case.) that really kind of captured what I’ve been feeling.  To paraphrase, the main character mentioned that when you’re more or less an at home mom each day ends with you really no farther ahead than you were when you got up in the morning.  I can identify with that.  When I was teaching, progress was made all the time.  My output was measured in successful school programs, instrumental lessons assigned and heart, concerts prepared for, grades given and field trips taken.  I felt accomplishment with each marking period under my belt, each co-operative learning project developed or each parental compliment received.  Whereas I do have a wonderful ministry at church, the main thrust of my days is caring for my family and seriously, I can’t tell you the last time someone patted me on the back for putting gas in my car or saving $10 at the grocery store with my coupons.  And no matter what I do, there’s always kid clutter around, laundry to be done and crap in my basement that should be donated somewhere or other but still sits there day after day.  That’s the tough part of parenthood, I suppose.

When I have infants or toddlers, their needs are so involved and important that I’d find time flying by.  I still never caught up with anything but since my kiddos were bathed, diapered and fed, all was right with the world.  Now that my kids are a little older and a lot more independent, I find that I have no excuses for wishing we could become nudists (so I don’t have to deal with laundry anymore) or hook us up to feeding tubes (because let me tell you how tired I am of planning, shopping for, preparing, serving and cleaning up meals.  Seriously.  Blah!)  I don’t really like to clean anything.  I hate vacuuming.  I don’t enjoy scrubbing floors.  So, well, I don’t.  Clean that is.  At least not that sparkly, over the top cleaning that everyone else seems to do.  We not living in filth by any means but also, if you knock and I’m not expecting you, trust me when I say I won’t be home.

The last time I felt kind of like this I had another baby.  Since I have no plans to do THAT this time despite the frequently lobbying for another sibling on the part of my daughters, I guess I kind of need to come to terms with things.   My kids are growing up, my priorities are shifting, our needs as a family are changing and my identity is morphing into something new yet again.  I’ve learned that life is good, God is better and we are quite blessed as a family.  So, actually, when I look at it in those terms, it’s not a bad thing to be experiencing these growing pains as they were.  And hey, since my kids are older now, maybe I’d better put them to work around this house.  If I’m not the one making the mess, maybe I don’t have to be the one to do all the cleaning either.

Hmmm….not bad.  Not bad at all.

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There’s no mermaid in my bathtub

This blog entry should have been written one month and three days ago.  But it wasn’t.  Why was it not written in a more timely manner, you may ask?  Dunno.  Because I like drama?  Because I’ve decided that writing only sporadically will cause my readers to like me better?  Because I’ve crafted procrastination into a fine art form? Hmm…that bears some more thought.

 

Luckily for you, dear reader, the mermaid has arrived.  Or maybe she hasn’t.  I’m not sure.

 

A month and three days ago, I kissed my children and husband goodbye and headed off to the lovely suburbs of Pittsburgh for a conference on worship leading.  To say I lead worship, as in being the front girl in a praise band with multiple instruments and singers like every other blessed person at this event would be like saying I also walk the tightrope high about the center ring in a lovely circus.  That’s not exactly what I do, if only because my humble little church isn’t quite there.  Yet.  All that aside, it was wonderful to stretch my professional muscles, to learn a little more about my craft but most importantly to have a profound spiritual renewal.  That is why I went.  It was all about the spiritual renewal.  Well, and a little bit about having some time to myself.

 

We moms don’t necessarily get much time to nurture ourselves, do we?  I don’t know that I really got that before having kids (and maybe not until I had the second kid, now that I think about it), either.  When Madison arrived, I was unwell for a period of time and while I had thought about being a stay at home mom previously, it really became a necessity for my well being.  I really focused all of myself into motherhood and discovered that I just wasn’t able to multi-task that much, what with researching current trends in behavior modification and creating spreadsheets planning out just exactly which and how many varieties of solid foods would be offered to my delightful cherub.  Don’t laugh.  I actually did that.  don’t worry.  I did recover from that part of Crazytown.  Whew!

 

After a few years, I went back to the private school I had previously taught for and that worked for a time since Madison simply came along with me.  I was sad to see the school close but at the same time, our church extended an offer to oversee a part of the children’s ministry so I took that up in addition to my music ministry.  All was cranking along pretty well.

 

And.  Then.  Came.  Rowan.

 

Rowan, Rowan, Rowan.  She who never slept.  Which clearly left me in a predicament.  I’ve never known fatigue I knew for the first three years of this child’s life.  She simply didn’t sleep during the day and at night, she was usually up screaming in pain from her various issues for several hours at a time.  I was tired and our home life suffered.  Eventually, I resigned from the children’s ministry and suddenly our family started moving along at a pretty good pace.  And throughout all this time I’ve maintained my music ministry.

 

I was hired on as the director of music for a small country church during the last finals week of my senior year of college.  For a while it was a job I did until something better came along.  As I grew personally and professionally and as my faith grew that job turned into a ministry and after 15 years of this gig, I still love it and the people I work with.  So when the opportunity presented itself to head out to Pittsburgh, I packed my bags and my GPS and embarked on a fun journey.

 

The seminar itself was fabulous and did more for me spiritually and professionally than any one other event in my life.  I’m so thankful I went.  That part of my life definitely needed some attention.  But while I was sitting in my hotel room in the evenings, reflecting, reading and studying, I realized that the last time I had taken time for myself was a really, really  long time ago.  Because really, going to the grocery store without children really isn’t quality mom time.

 

When I got in the shower in the morning and I didn’t have to move Ariel, Flounder and 15 of their closest friends out of the way so I could shave my legs, it just felt odd.  When I picked up my own lunch and didn’t have to get up 173 times to get things for other people, I didn’t really know what to do with myself.  When I was responsible for myself and only myself I found I couldn’t remember the last time that happened.  I guess it was before Madison was born.  I’ve been the chief child chauffeur, grocery-getter, appointment maker and taker, etc. for so long I don’t even remember that other life.  And in the middle of that I lost a little of myself.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is a very hands-on dad.  He does just as much as I do around the house in general but let’s face it, he’s out winning the bread on a daily basis so many things do fall to me.  And that’s fine.  It works.  While I was gone, he handled things well.  Maybe a little too well.  He made all the school drop-offs and pick-ups very well.  He got everyone dressed and where she needed to go just in time.  He oversaw naps and dinners and even cleaned the entire basement (which was sorely in need and which I can’t touch because of my new-found allergies and issues).  In reality, he’s a better mom than I am, aside for not being able to fix hair and a little bit of Gymboree line mixing now and then.  (***shudder***)

 

So I guess I had somewhat of an epiphany in Pittsburgh whilst shaving my legs sans mermaid, arguing with my GPS (recalculating….reCALculating…RECALCULATING, YOU IDIOT, JUST DRIVE ON THE ROUTE HIGHLIGHTED, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY), and sending copious amounts of money in the Integrity Music store. I had been feeling a bit down about myself; personally, professionally and spiritually.  The spiritual aspect took care of itself on the first afternoon I was there.  Okay, not by *it*self, but suffice it to say God is good.  All the time.  The professional aspect is a work in progress.  I learned some new ways to develop myself and I feel like I have more to bring to the table as I present new ideas for worship.  That’s an exciting feeling.  The personal stuff.  Well, I guess that’s coming along too.  Apparently I was waiting for my children to thank me for sacrificing the life and career I had one day dreamed about and even planned for on some level and guess what?  They really aren’t going to do that.  Maybe some day, but not today.  My eleven year old is too busy telling me how much I don’t know, how much she DOES know and discovering new ways to make her sister shriek.  My four year old is busy squishing the cat into a pancake, spreading every single one of her toys from one end of our house to the other on a daily basis and planning how to take over the world during naptime.  I guess this is how it’s supposed to be right now.  My days are back to cleaning up cat hack and working around the mermaid in the bathtub and whilst I do that, I dream of the day my children will utter those words:  Thanks, Mom.  I appreciate what you did.  Until then, I guess I’ll need to continue making time for myself in small ways so as to maintain my sanity.  Because while I love my children and focus much of my energy on them, they are not my life.  They are a very important part of my life, to be sure, but there’s so much that makes me me.  Developing those things is my new challenge.

 

And now, my coffee is cold, my rambling has come to a close, and Rowan needs me to select a new tv show from the DVR menu, so I must bid you adieu.  My sewing machine beckons….and that just might be a post for an entirely new day.

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