Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Lull in Time


While the atmosphere outside my home has been chaotic this week, we have actually enjoyed a pretty calm week inside of it. It felt like a week of rest between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of COVID QUARANTINE YEAR.

Phase 2 hasn't been great, I'll be honest. We had a BIG PARENTING THING with one of our kids that was very traumatic... and then another kid got sick, and she's the grocery store worker so we worried about what she might have... and that got cleaned up and then I got a text that said, "MOM... so someone crashed into me... I'm okay but the car isn't."  For FREAKS sake.

We had a houseguest all through Phase 2 -- this wasn't a bad thing, just a MORE thing. We've always told our children that if their friends ever needed somewhere to stay, they could come to our house. If the situation was reversed, I would want that.  I would want to know that, if my kids felt they couldn't be home, that they had somewhere safe to go, vs living in their car under a bridge. So, when a friend felt like Stuff with Mom and Dad was just too much and she needed to escape... we said, "of course."  She's lovely and I love her, and she's always welcome. And I have bought SO MUCH Red Bull in the last month.

But, this has been the lull.  Houseguest moved home... partly I think things are a bit better with her parents, and partly I think that living on top of each other for 6 weeks was starting to create a friendship rift.  I actually am quite proud of them for realizing that and making a change before it did create a permanent rift.  That's grown-up stuff right there, girls.

Sick Kid got better... Other Driver's insurance is paying for the car damage. I took one to Leavenworth, my favorite place, for lunch. 

and though the country and the world was racked with strife, I felt like this week gave me a chance in my personal life to take a breath and prepare myself for whatever Phase 3 brings.

I don't really expect it to be better -- but I've had my breath. I'm ready to take it on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Root of the Heart: Surgery, Parenting, and Riots

I was home in Oregon a couple summers ago to visit when my dad asked me if I'd be able to take him to the hospital the next morning for a routine test.  "Sure," I told him. Then, he told me I had to pick him up at 5am. 

ALWAYS ask for the details first, kids.

I arrived to pick him up the next morning and watched with concern as I realized how much of a toll just walking to the bathroom was taking on him. Out of breath and needing to stop to rest, that didn't seem right.  We got to the hospital for the test... where they had to run a couple tests before they could do the test...

Which he failed.  Actually, he failed so bad that the heart doctor later said to me, "Honestly, I don't know how he was able to walk at ALL." So, they checked him in for further exploration.

Very long story short in which I spare you gnarly details, most of which include "Oh... dear lord, hello Dad's Penis, I'm just going to stare at THAT corner of the ceiling for awhile" -- they found bleeding in his stomach which was in turn caused by a problem with his heart.

The doctors were able to seal up the bleeding in his stomach -- but explained to me that if they didn't eventually fix the problem with his heart, the bleeding would probably come back.

It's been two summers since then. The heart fix is almost on the docket, but not actually done yet, and those same exhaustion issues are starting to come back.  -- Because while the symptoms of the problem had been addressed, the root has still not.

I'm big on fixing roots. We were out with my husband's boss once, chatting over beers, and he was sharing with us a problem he was having with his teenage daughters fighting. His pet solution mostly had to do with forcing them to behave in parental presence, and asked me if I thought that would work.

My answer was a question. "I think that depends on your goal. If your goal is to get them to behave in your presence? Yes, absolutely. If your goal is to help them navigate the how to have a better relationship? Then, no." --  And to me, that was important -- because the fighting -- while exhausting to a parent -- is merely a symptom of the root cause.

It is through that lens that I see the place that we're in right now.  I think it's easy to watch the news and be outraged by what you're seeing. The riots and the looting can seem nonsensical.  It's complicated... and I think that a lot of peaceful protests are probably being co-opted by people who just want to break shit. Even here in my sleepy suburbian area of Seattle, I read a story about looting at my local-ish mall - only to read further to find the police chief talking about intel he'd heard earlier that there was planned gang activity under the cover of the peaceful protests. And I do think there is a LOT of that going on -- whether it be gang-related or just people who are mad at the world and want to break it all.

But, the very peaceful that didn't hurt anyone taking a knee during the national anthem? It was protesting something and no one paid attention. The problem it was alerting us all to got ignored. And just like your body's symptoms get more and more acute as you ignore a problem for longer and longer, the protests get stronger.

It's easy to sit in our homes and scoff at the riots we're seeing now, as we watch what they're turning into and the damage they're causing. It is easy to see them as the bleeding in the stomach and think that the bleeding in the stomach is the only problem.

It is easy to ignore the heart. But when you refuse to address the heart, the bleeding comes back.  Not because the stomach is broken, but because you couldn't be bothered to address the root.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Control: A Mom's Struggle

The first year that I taught my child to drive was the year that I really learned to fear for my life.

She was nervous about the cars driving toward her, and so she hugged the right side of the lane.  And  when I say "hugged the right side of the lane," I really mean "made the blackberry bushes fear for their very lives."

I would sit in the passenger seat, my hand clutching the door handle with white knuckles, muttering, "Bushes...  there's bushes... IN the lane.  IN the lane.  Drive IN the lane. OH MY GOD YOU ARE GOING TO HIT THAT MAILBOX!!!!!!!!!"

Here, I had entrusted this giant vehicle that I knew very well could become a killing machine into the hands of a child who could barely ride a bike without running it into a ... well, a bush.  It was genuinely the scaredest I've ever been in my life.  After 30 years, I began to understand why, in my view, my dad was the worst driving teacher in the history of the world.  Maybe he wasn't the worst driving teacher in the history of the world -- maybe he was just FRIGHTENED FOR HIS LIFE.  

I genuinely didn't think I'd be that afraid ever again.

But, I was wrong.

I'm beginning to understand that teaching your child how to drive... entrusting her with your car and relinquishing control of the wheel to a mere teenager... It's a test run.

It's a test run in learning to let go of the wheel. It's a test run in NOT being the one in control. It's a test run in trusting them to make choices and live with the consequences.

Because there will come a time... not too long after they've learned to drive the car... when you will have to step out.  There will come a time when you will have to relinquish control to a young adult, and you will have to trust her with... herself. You will have to let them make their own stupid decisions, even when your mom heart wants to scream at them to get back in the damn lane and stop aiming at mailboxes.

And, as it turns out, it is far more frightening to trust them with THEMSELVES, my most prized possessions, than it ever was to trust them with the car.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

MY BIGGEST QUESTIONS

Some weeks ago -- I can't really say how many, I can't remember when this all started --, my biggest questions were "Where am I going in my job?" ...  "What are my husband and I going to do after the kids all fly away?" ... "How are we going to get the kids to all fly away?"...

And those are still my biggest questions...

Only now they're joined by questions like "Have I taken more than one shower this week?"... "When was the last time I ate something besides fruit snacks?"... "How many times can you have Make-Your-Own-Dinner night and still be considered a not-awful mother?".. "Do I even care?" ... "Why is it Daytime again?"... "Maybe this would be a good time to catch up on the storylines of All My Children?"--  "Is All My Children even still on?"

Hold please. No. No, it is not.

"Sheltering-in-place" doesn't sound like it should be hard. You're not going to war, you're not doing any hard labor, you're just... staying home.  But, the change in ALL your routines, the strides to create a new normal from everything is different -- it creates a weird strain that is more psychological than physical, but just as wearing.

For myself, I underestimated how much of my coping system would be shaken up by just not going anywhere.. by not seeing anyone. I misjudged how one simple change would affect me, and that I would be back to "I took a shower today" being sometimes the measure of my success.

And that's all okay -- you do what you have to do to deal with what you have to deal with. One step at a time, one day at a time.

I haven't had any fruit snacks today.  So... win.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

I FACEBOOK-STALKED YOU TODAY

I facebook-stalked you today.

You and I haven't spoken for a long time. There was once ugliness between us -- hostilities we could forgive but not quite forget -- and I think we both just stopped trying and went our separate ways.

Sometimes that makes me sad -- we once meant a lot to each other. But, time and life moves on, and if I'm honest, I don't spend much time dwelling on it anymore. We are part of each other's pasts, but not meant to be part of each other's futures.

But, every once in a while, I think of you. I wonder how you're doing. I think about what drove us apart and how I could have handled things then and later differently - but mostly, I just hope good things for you. I don't want your life to be painful.

So I peeked a little into your life -- And I can say these things truthfully.

I am happy for you for the good things you have encountered since we were last friends. I'm glad that you have people in your life who support you. I'm deeply sorry for the hardships you have encountered and the pain that has tried to break you. Interestingly, I think that you and I, as individual people, have hardened and softened in not-dissimilar ways. We probably have a lot of parallels in that journey, though they really don't look the same, and I'm not sure that our pieces still fit together in the way they once did.

And while I'm not sure reconciliation is in our future -- it could be if we were both better at forgetting and forgiving and trusting.

All that said -- I'm okay with where we are. Time has healed much, and I still love you and I still pray good things for you, whether our paths cross again or not.

May God keep you well.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A LITTLE BEHIND

It's not that I had big plans for the first weeks of January -- I have purposely kept my "resolutions" small.

It's just that my plans didn't involve staying at home, postponing all my little goals, and drinking my weight in hot liquids daily.

My job requires me to talk a lot -- so when I get sick enough that I lose my voice, it's a problem and  requires a strict slowdown.  So, this week, I pretty much ignored a lot of my life. I didn't do work. I did as few errands as I could get away with. I stayed at home a lot.  I drank tea.  Lots and lots of tea.  And then I peed a lot.

So, while the rest of the world has moved into 2020 with gusto... I'm sort of still stuck here on Dec 30th.

and that's okay.  2020 will be waiting for me when I'm ready for it.