Sunday, January 17, 2016

the classic

Dad's birthday was just a couple of days ago. And I know I've neglected this blog a lot in the last three years. It's not for lack of want. It's just a busy thing. However, everything that's happened on the last 3 years will be written another day. I originally started this blog as a means to make sure my children know me, should something ever happen to me. I know that's macabre, but it's true. And that desire will become clear through this post. The last entry I have been re-reading is the post about my dad. And it occurs to me that I've never written one like that about my mom. Why? I don't know, really, but I suspect subconsciously, it has to do with the raw wound left by her passing. This last December marks 10 years since she passed. It's time I write a tribute to her.

So, without further ado, I'd like you to meet my mother, Nila Marie.

Nila Marie Reas was born on a winter day in December 1957. She often referred to herself as a classic, because she was born the same year as the 57 Chevy was produced. She was the youngest of two girls, which, for that time, was an abnormally small family. I secretly think it had something to do with the fact that her mother, my grandmother, was one of 13 kids. Bless my great grandmother's soul. Mom was born in Hicksville, Ohio, which is about a 30 minute drive from where she ended up growing up. A buckeye forever, her hometown boasted a million cousins that I remember her talking about. One incident in particular, she was riding a dirt bike with her cousin Randy and laid it down on her leg. She told me that someone called a faith healer, and that he blew the fire out of it. My whole life, she never even had a scar on that leg.
Which brings me to high school. Mom was a cheerleader in our small town high school. Our high school, which is where she, dad, my sister, and I graduated from, was small. In the middle of cornfields, Mom never really enjoyed the learning aspect of things. She spent her days, to hear her tell it, working in Grandma's restaurant, cheerleading, and gabbing with friends. Mom was gorgeous, but had a friend that she thought was prettier. One day in 1975, a guy driving a flashy car saw Mom and her friend washing a car at Grandpa's garage. He circled the block, and Mom was convinced he was gawking at the friend. He wasn't, and that young man was my dad. Nine months later, 5 months before she graduated high school, Mom and Dad married. She spent the rest of her senior year finishing cosmetology school to become a beautician.
Mom and dad spent a lot of time with his brother and sister in law. Lake trips, beer, fun. I was born in 1980, four years after they were married. My sister was born 4 years and 11 months to the day after I was. Mom was a stay at home mom, which is to say she worked within the home during a great portion of my childhood. She enjoyed Little Debbie snack cakes, swimming in the pool, and playing with our dog Chelsea.
Dad worked third shift in a foundry, and he would save all his vacation from the year to make every weekend a 3 day weekend. We'd pile into the Blazer and make the drive north to Crooked Lake. We'd stay in Grandma's and Grandpa's fifth wheel trailer every weekend. We didn't travel far distances, but those weekends are some of my favorite memories of my life. Fishing off the dock, paddle boating, playing in the water, Mom skiing and losing her swimsuit repeatedly, cooking hot dogs over the campfire, sliding on cardboard "sleds" down the big hill, playing countless games of Uno, Skip-Bo, Crazy 8s, 31, learning euchre, and sleeping in a camper where Grandpa's snoring kept us all awake and giggling.
At some point, Mom took a job as a cleaning lady for our small town library. On the weekends, and on weeknights during the summer, Stephanie and I would tag along and read or play games on the computer. Mom's job may very well be the reason I love reading and learning as much as I do. She trusted us to ride our bikes to the gas station, or to Grandma's house, or to the park to watch baseball games. Mom's trust in us kids helped us become responsible and trustworthy, and to have that at such a young age was remarkable.
When I was in junior high, Mom applied for and accepted a job in a factory that was new to our town. She started off on an assembly line, and quickly moved to shipping and receiving. This gave Mom something that was all her own, something she could be proud of outside the house, and it gave me some responsibility looking after my seven year old sister in the evenings. During this time, Grandma would come over in the mornings to get us up and off to school, and those times were equally special in comparison to the mornings spent eating jelly toast and watching Good Morning America with mom for years prior. As I grew and moved into high school, Mom became and remained one of my very best friends. She would confide in me drama from work, and I really felt that I could, and did, open up to her as I would a friend.
I was not what anyone would consider pretty for the majority of my growing up years. I was awkward with buck teeth and glasses, and gangly. Mom always did her best to keep me confident, and to tell me things that I thought were silly at the time. Things like, men will find your intelligence sexy. And that I could do anything I put my mind to. She never scoffed at my ambitions to be an astronomer, or a teacher, or a nurse, or my final destination of physician. She listened and encouraged, but kept me grounded. I never felt my mother was against me in any way, even when I was a crabby teenager.
My mother was a gifted beautician, and even if she didn't work outside the home, she always kept her license current. She cut our hair at home. In fact, I didn't pay for a hair cut until I was 21 years old. We would sit and watch movies, and she'd play with my hair. As far back as I can remember, one of my favorite things she'd do was play with my hair. Whether it was drying it after a bath, or concocting an updo for prom, or laying my head in her lap and scratching my scalp gently when I didn't feel good, I miss that so much. Once my aunt and uncle moved back from Arizona, every 8 weeks Mom and Aunt Linda would gather in the kitchen to cackle and color hair while Stephanie and I sat and played video games.
Some of my very favorite memories still play in my head like a broken film strip. I see Mom on a raft in our small pool, rolling her eyes and sticking out her tongue at something goofy Dad said. I smell her perfume when she and Dad would drop us girls off at Grandma's so they could Christmas shop. I taste her pancakes that she made most Sunday mornings while Steph and I watched WWF and Cartoon Express with Dad. And every New Years Eve was spent in the living room with Mom, Dad, and us girls, playing Dr. Mario on Nintendo, while listening to music. She and Dad danced to music in the living room on summer afternoons with the windows open. Mom took Steph and I to our first ever concert, Alan Jackson. She and Dad would take us to a movie every summer, and every summer, we made a trip to the zoo. These things are not expensive or fancy, but they are the things that make up my core.
I was so very fortunate that she and Dad supported my going away to college, and I'm so thankful I was able to enjoy some of my adult life with my mother. We bar crawled together, got tattoos together, and we talked every day. She stood back and let me make my own way, mistakes and all, and helped scoop up the pieces when things went wrong. And she laughed. From the depths of her soul, she laughed more than she ever frowned or cried.
My mother wasn't perfect. But she was many things....she was beautiful and kind, she loved deeply and giggled, she was silly and classy, she could tell someone off without them having any idea the insult, but she only did that when she had to. She was, and is, the standard to which I hold myself when I mother my children, and I hope to show the love to my husband that she showed to Dad. The world without her smile is bleaker than I wish. But man, do I look forward to the stories I will tell my kids, and to making their lives enriched the way she enriched ours. I look forward, too, to the tight embrace waiting for me someday.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

on mama loss

to jennifer
my life is mostly an open book.  and my career is all about listening to people.  i think i've been blessed with the gift that when someone has something to say, i mostly listen unfettered, engaged, and as non-judgemental as i can.
however, there was a point in my life that i didn't listen that way.  i didn't listen that way to my mom.  and if there is one thing in my life that i could go back and change, it would be that.
i lost my mom in 2005.  she passed away after a short and ferocious onslaught by lou gehrig's disease.  it was swift and cruel and unexpected.  and looking back on it, there are a lot of things that i could kick my own ass for.  i was completely self-absorbed.  my agenda was more important than anything else, and i thought i was entitled to that.  the truth is, i was completely wrong, and will regret that to my dying day.  why i didn't take more time, why i didn't come home more, why i felt it was so important to keep charging forward with my own thoughts, i have never understood, and i have continuously regretted.
well, i'm finally starting to understand.
my life is not normal.  what is normal, anyway?  as much as i'd like to dress me up, the truth is that i'm stubborn, and bullheaded.  i have an intense need to be right.  i have to have the last word.  i have an abnormally long fuse, and it takes me a long time to get mad at anyone, but when i do, it's not usually a good thing.  i have a flare for the dramatic when it comes to getting my way.  maybe that's just me being female.  but like i said, i have this leftover nagging guilt in the back of my mind that i should have tried harder to be by mom's side, i should have taken the burden off my aunt and my grandma that were trying to take care of her while i was in medical school.  i should have done more, talked more, visited more.  i should have been the one to set up the fundraiser that was done to help us pay for mom's medical bills and equipment needs.
as a side note, for anyone not familiar with lou gehrig's disease, the "real" name of this is "amyotrophic lateral sclerosis", which is a nerve disease.  basically, the person's muscles and brain are fine, but the nerves that connect the two become progressively lazier and lazier, and eventually, the impulse from the brain to the muscles stops.  most people that have it end up suffocating because their diaphragm won't move to let them breathe.  typically it's a spontaenous disorder, only inherited in about 2% of cases.  the normal course of the disease is anywhere from 2-15 years from onset to death --- mom was diagnosed 6 months prior to passing away.  there aren't any good treatments currently except controlling symptoms to the best of our capabilities, and there is no cure.  patients end up needing total care,  not being able to walk, cook, eat for themselves, becoming dependent on a breathing machine if they choose.  but the mind stays intact, and it's so sad that these patients have to knowingly watch their body deteriorate, knowing that every day they live could be their last.
mom told me that she would have been so pissed off at me if i had done any of the things i mentioned above.  because she wanted to see me live out my dream.  at the time, i thought this was a load of crap, because really, i should have been there.  it was incredibly selfish of me not to be there.  and looking back, i know that i chose not to be there because i was scared.  i was so incredibly scared, down to my core.  i was scared of seeing my strong, tough-as-nails mother in a weakened state, unable to feed herself, unable to laugh.  that was not her.  that was not my mother, that was not my best friend.  my mother was lively and fun and never quit giving someone a piece of her mind, good or bad.  she was not this shadow of herself, confined to the bed, unable to put on her own make up or get dressed by herself. 
but, i don't think her words were a load of crap anymore.  because i am a mom.  because i understand now what a mother's love is.  a mother's love never stops.  it doesn't bend, it doesn't hide, it doesn't lie, and it's always there.  a mother's love forgives, no matter what the offense.  a mother's love pushes her child into her dreams, into her goals, into her fears, without fear of judgement or punishment.  and a mother's love doesn't quit, and it grows, and it lasts the test of time.  a mother's love is wise with experience.  my mother told me not to stop my schooling because she knew i was scared.  she knew i was afraid of what was happening.  she knew that if i quit, i'd likely not go back.  she knew that i'd fall into a deep abyss of depression when she died, but she knew that if i didn't have school, and Jay, and family to keep me going, i would have given up.  she knew that she'd never see me graduate, she'd never see me get married, she'd never see me have children.  but she also knew that if she didn't push me to keep at it, i would have stopped.  and i would have been a shadow of my former potential. 
it was the last motherly thing she could have done for me.  she couldn't voluntarily put her arms around me anymore, and she couldn't ease my pain because she had the same pain.  but she could push me to strive to be the potential i had.  and that is what mothers do, isn't it?  they encourage, they lift up, they support, they discipline, they laugh, and they love, sometimes to their own detriment.  by pushing me, she did the mother thing by helping me be what i was always meant to be. 
and while i still feel guilt about the things i did, and thinking that i should have done more because she deserved more, she still sort of got what she deserved......a daughter that realized her dreams through hard work, just like mom taught her.  so in a way, my guilt is undeserved. 
i did what you wanted, mom.  i am successful, i am loved, i am blessed, i am humbled, and i miss you every day.  and i know that somewhere, you're awfully proud of me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

strawberry shortcake

eleven years ago, this coming thursday, i had no thoughts of marriage or commitment or children.

i was a 21 year old, (almost) college senior at indiana university.  i worked as a CNA at a local nursing home.  and i was at a cross roads in my life.

i had just ended a three-and-a-half year relationship with my high school boyfriend.  someone that, for lack of other options or for lack of pursuing my other options, i had remained with despite my constant feelings of inadequacy.  i felt, at that time, that things were as good as they'd ever be.  i thought i was going to be one of those people who constantly looked back at their college days as the glory days, the time when things were the best in their lives, and that the rest of life would be a downhill slide from that high point.  the point that i'd look at as a line on the beach, and i'd be watching the high tide recede, with only the darkening of the sand from the water to show that things had once been higher. 

at that time, i thought i'd always take a backseat to everything else.  i felt like an afterthought to that previous boyfriend.  not that i entirely blame him, knowing what i know now.  and maybe i'm just making excuses.  but we were young.  we were 21, for goodness sakes.  alcohol and bars and friends and parties were so much more important than forging a long term commitment.  and looking back, i'm not sure if i stayed so long because i was so afraid of confrontation, or if i just thought that's how it was supposed to be, or if i just relished the small amount of attention that i was paid.

it doesn't matter now.  because i learned, finally, that confrontation is not only okay, but it's not the end of the world.  it may have been the end of that relationship, but i was fine.  better than fine, really, because i finally fought for the fact that i was worth more than a case of beer.  that i matter more than a keg.  that i was smart, and beautiful, and deserved to be told that.  i deserved to be invited to things, instead of being assumed to go.  that i was worth taking out on a date, and being shown off, and that it really wasn't being high-maintenance for me to want my partner to think ahead and treat me as an equal.

so.  i spent the summer pursuing other interests.  i was having fun.  i went out of town, by myself, independently for the first time, really, as a grown person.  i visited friends, and did what i wanted to do, and didn't feel the least bit selfish.  i worked hard, and i played hard, and i found out who i was.  and i had no desire or inkling of letting someone else tie me down.

until the second thursday in june.

traditionally, indianapolis has a strawberry festival on monument circle the second thursday of june.  i went to indianapolis, just because i could without asking anyone's permission, to see my bff casey. 

casey and i were best friends for, seriously, ever.  since i can remember.  she's this amazing, audacious, slightly introverted, completely hilarious, and absolutely gorgeous girl that always seemed to know when i needed told off, or when i needed encouraged, or when i just needed a beer.  (and even though we've fallen away from one another in the last few years, i still know, and hope she does, too, that we're always there for each other, and that i treasure her in the deepest part of my heart and always will.)

casey was living with bobby, her boyfriend.  i'd known of bobby from high school, but he was like 5 years older than i was, so he'd never known me.  in high school, i hadn't been part of the party scene.  i was part of the get fabulous grades, be valedictorian so i can go to college on a scholarship scene.  (and again, looking back, perhaps that is why i stayed with ex-boy for so long.  i didn't predict my own future potential.) 

and living with them, was bobby's brother, jay.  i had grown up with jay.  jay was part of the to hell with authority scene in high school.  i've never been a big fan of long hair on guys. it just doesn't appeal to me.  so, jay having hair to his shoulders, i just sort of never noticed him.  i think it's all because i couldn't see his face!  (he does have a very handsome face).  and because i was so introspectively focused on my grades, my weird looks, my awkward body, and being self-conscious.  so, fast forwarding a few years since i'd last seen him, and given the fact that he had this short, messy hair, and goatee, and his confident gait, and his cocky attitude.....just, whoa.

anyway, so on the way to the strawberry festival, we had to drop jay off at work.  and i sat in the front passenger seat of casey's car, and was nervous and pit-sweaty.  i mean, gorgeous boy, that i used to know, that knew me back when i was completely dorky with big bangs and even bigger glasses and even bigger buck teeth.  what the hell was i supposed to say?  i tried to be all cute and flirty, but i can't remember anything i really said.  i'm pretty sure i was just dorky.

a few days later, casey came to visit me in my hometown, and as we walked around my small-town-of-origin, we talked about guys and beer.  kinda typical conversation for the area in which i grew up.  and jay's name came up, and i remember feeling flushed and thanking God that casey couldn't see my face in the dark.

 little did i know at the time, that casey was plotting. and scheming. and planting the seeds of goodness in both our brains. and thank goodness she did.

a week or so later, i found myself back at casey and bob's house, having a beer with the man that would later become my husband.  and he was smart.  and funny.  and gorgeous.  and he laughed at my jokes.  and he looked me in the eyes when i talked.  and he listened.  and maybe he thought i was just a little bit dorky....which is okay, because i own that now.

so when my kids ask me someday how their dad and i got together, i'll be able to say that it was all because of casey, and the strawberries.  and the Big Guy Upstairs, of course. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

quest for intellectual fulfillment

i am a "why" person.  i don't think i will ever be satisfied with the amount of knowledge i have. 

i'm pretty sure i've always been this way.  i would like to be able to ask my mom that question some day.  i've asked my dad, but he doesn't really remember, partially because he worked third shift and was sleeping during the day when i was asking "why" all the time.

i must have asked that all the time.  because in the recesses of my mind, i can hear my mom saying, "because i said so."


on my days off, i typically will sit in front of the computer and drink my coffee, starting out browsing news headlines, and inevitably finding something that strikes my interest.  but, i am not satisfied with just one new topic.  i end up making this weird, tangled path of associations until i end up learning about something that is completely unrelated to the initial subject.

case in point: last night, jay and i were watching "the hangover II."  this morning, on the news page of google, i see something about "the hangover III." so i click it, and then i think, "hey, that guy that played doug, i wonder what else he's been in." head over to, find out his name is justin bartha.  his mom was a teacher. then i think, i wonder if bradley cooper is smart.  so i find out that he was a part of the actor's studio, but had to miss his own graduation due to filming a movie.  then i see a link to "he's just not that into you," and i think, hmm, i wonder how many big names were in that movie.  then i see jennifer aniston on thumbnail for a movie called wanderlust.  and i think, i wonder how old she really is?  then somehow or another i end up seeing the word teetotaler, and i think, wth does that mean?  so i look it up, and then next thing i know, i'm ready about hare krishna and straight edge-ness.

to go from "the hangover III," which is completely full of debauchery, to straight edge, which was apparently a direct response to the sexual revolution that pushed hedonism, free love, and drug use.

when i was a kid, my mom was the cleaning lady for our local, small-town library.  so after hours, my sister and i would go with her, sometimes to help, but mostly to read books and play on the computer.  i remember being enthralled with the world of books, how something that you could hold in your hand could completely, potentially, change your views, open your imagination, or steal you away from the real world.  how those words would live with you, forever.  i still can remember some of the books i read, the plots, the stories.  i can remember spending hours in the nonfiction section, learning everything i could about science, and health, and animals.  it's something that, to this day, i enjoy.  i love to learn.  i love to read, and i love to expand my horizons.

i hope that i will pass that on to my children someday.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

i want to be bionic

when i was a little girl, i was a girl.  and my sister was a girl.

this is obvious.

but that means that dad never had a boy....a boy to help him in the garage, to tear apart transistor radios or to hold the flashlight when he replaced the plumbing under the kitchen sink.

enter my sister and i.  we learned to drywall, and use table saws, and paint.  we learned to use drills, we learned about electrical.  (note: to this day, i'm still scared to death of electrical work, because i've shocked myself twice and it was very very scary.  and weird.  and i sort of had amnesia for a few seconds afterward.) 

not that we didn't learn other stuff. 

we learned to sew, and cook, and paint.  we learned to play outside, in the rain, and that it wouldn't kill us.

i learned to play hard like boys do, to get dirty like boys do, and to clean up and look good like girls do.  i think we were pretty well rounded.

the whole point of this is that my sister and i learned to do for ourselves.  we learned to seek out answers and solutions to our problems and put it into practice.

dad always says he was "too cheap to hire anything done."  i think, personally, he just realized that if he tried hard enough, he could make it perfect-er than anyone else could.

so, because of this, i have this constant desire to make things better/faster/stronger.  i want to improve myself, my mind, my body, my faith, my strength.  it's a daily thing that i strive for.  this summer, i have many small-ish projects i'm going to do for this house to improve the curb appeal, improve the inner beauty of the house, and make it more functional.

am i ocd?  maybe some tendencies.  am i always trying to improve?  absolutely.

i've replaced our kitchen floors myself.  i've patched drywall.  we've painted almost every room in this house ourselves.  i've replaced bathroom fixtures.  we're getting ready to replace exterior doors, and upgrade our screen porch.  i clean my own carpets.  i make homemade desserts for the kids' birthdays at school.

i've been hitting the gym 3-5 times a week since january.  i've trained for a 5K and maintained.

i've cross-stitched a blanket for my nephew, a birth announcement to hang in my daughters room.  i've crocheted an afghan for my daughter, and am finishing one up for my son.

i made blankets for all 17 of our nieces and nephews and close friends' kids for christmas.

now, this gets EXHAUSTING.

and i LOVE pinterest for it's ideas on how to make things simple, how to work smarter, not harder.  i do.  i love the imagination it inspires.

having said all of that....i don't make all my own food.  i don't eat as cleanly as i probably should.  i buy the dogs cheap dog food.  my car is 7 years old, but it's in relatively good shape.  i hate clutter.  and there are times that, frankly, it's so much easier to feed the kids donuts in the car on the way to school than it is to get up an extra 15 minutes early and make them breakfast.  it's so much quicker and less stressful to buy heart-shaped cookies that are already baked from the local grocery store than it is to spend three hours making them myself.  is that a missed opportunity to let the children do something cool with their hands?  of course it is!  but it's also three hours i gain where i can run with them in the yard.

it's also, potentially, a three-hour nap in the waiting.

it's hard to balance my need for simplicity and organization and cleanliness with the time constraints i have.  it's a balance i strive for every day, and sometimes it's a battle i'm just not willing to fight.  but i'll fight it tomorrow, and i'll wake up the next day and i will not feel guilty for not cleaning the house yesterday.  i used to feel that guilt, as though there were certain things expected of me as a wife/mother.  but i am striving not to feel that guilt anymore.  not to stay up until the wee-hours just to dust.  it will wait.  it will be there tomorrow.  and there will be a thousand more projects i want to do.  it takes patience.  i don't normally sit still very well.  but i'm trying.

as much as i want to be stronger/faster/better, i'm just not bionic.  maybe someday.  but not today.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

mommy has a mustache! ...and other weird things about motherhood

i remember certain things about my childhood.  i remember summers spent at the lake with grandma and grandpa.  i remember weird games that Seester and i would invent and play in the yard.  i remember the baseball diamonds, the smell of the dirt and grass and popcorn.  i remember swimming and sneaking inside for cookies.  i remember watching cartoons on mom and dad's bed.  i remember the aroma of pot roast in the crock pot.  i remember waving to dad as he drove down the street on his way to work on summer nights.

i remember mom grooming herself, tugging and plucking unwanted, and unseen by me, stray eyebrow hairs and "whiskers" on her chin.  and i remember thinking to myself....i don't see what she's tugging at, and that will never happen to me.

well, IT DID.

this is not okay.  plucking eyebrows, sure.  that, i am fine with.  i actually don't mind doing that.  it appeals to my OCD nature.  it's kind of a time when i'm all by myself for ten minutes, i can harness my chi, and i feel so put-together when i'm done.  isn't that weird?  that one small maintenance measure can make me feel so much better after a crappy crappy day?  okay fine. 

but i VIVIDLY remember seeing my first "whisker" on my chin.  dark brown, coarse feeling, and just THERE.  where the hell did that come from?!?  i remember plucking it as fast as humanly possible, and examining it, thinking, "you filthy little INVADER! how dare you make me look like a man!

and then, i was almost peeved because why, on earth, would my husband not tell me that i was becoming a grotesque specimen of a woman?  how could he not say, "sweetheart, you're getting a little masculine.  you may want to trim that up a bit." 

i think the truth is, however, that all of us ladies examine ourselves way too intensely, way too closely.  we hold ourselves to this impossible image, that our faces, our arms, our abs, our legs need to look like we're airbrushed all the time.  well, i'm here to tell you, that i don't look like a victoria's secret model.  shocked?  i have stray hairs that i must contain.  i eat ice cream way too often.  i have lumps on my thighs that i can't even begin to figure where or when they arose.  i have stretch marks that i wish i could erase. 

and why do i wish i could erase these things?  these imperfections that come from being a mommy, or a hard-working, usually distracted woman....why do i wish to erase these battle scars of a life lived fulfilled, thus far?  i'm not going to blame the media.  that's such a scapegoat.  well, look at HER in that magazine!  she looks so perfect, i'm going to starve myself to look like HER.  no, that's a copout.  because i believe that even without magazines, billboards, the internet, we women would still compare ourselves to our friends, our enemies, our mothers.  and i think we'd do it in a self-malicious manner.  we would do it regardless.  we'd tear down our parenting beliefs, our bodies, our jobs, our houses, our faith.  and we'd compare it to those of women around us, without help of the media.

why do we do this?  is it innate in our double-x chromosomes?  is it something we're taught?  is it our inborn nature to be better, faster, stronger....almost bionic? 

there is a very fine line between wanting to better yourself, in whatever way is en vogue at the moment, and driving yourself crazy with it.  i think we all want to be prettier, stronger, more faithful, less emotionally unstable, more productive, more loving, more independent.  but we have to learn to balance it.  to compare ourselves to ourselves.  Seester is living a completely different life than i am, and i shouldn't compare myself to her.  can i learn from her?  of course!  but i shouldn't think to myself that i should be more like her.  should i be judgemental of other women and their parenting style/hairstyle/body type/clothing choices?  no, i should not.  i should praise them for their whatever, because whatever their choice in handbag/religion/daycare/discipline/hygiene regimen, they've arrived at that while comparing themselves to others, or through financial constraints, or God's blessings.  and God bless them for that.

we are all God's creatures.  we are all in this together.  so what if i have a whisker or two that i haven't plucked in a few days?  i'll get to it.  so what if i have a few carpet stains from our new puppy learning to pee outside?  she'll understand it.  it won't last forever, and i'll fix it.

however, i do have someone lined up that, in case of a hospital stay where i'm incapacitated, they will come in and tidy up my eyebrows, my mustache, and my whiskers!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the busy bee

yesterday may have been the busiest day i've had in awhile, and it was completely wonderful at the same time.

brings to mind the fact that i've got so many supportive people around me, and that they, always, are worth every ounce of my energy.

the last four weeks have been exhausting.  five babies delivered, getting the family healthy, preparing to transition my practice to electronic medical records, jay beginning a new job and quickly being promoted to full-time status.  all of these wonderful things that i'm so completely grateful for.  and all of these making the selfish part of me yearn for a day to relax and recuperate.

yesterday was not the day for that.  but it was a day that i've been looking forward to for a long, long time.

we finally had our family easter gathering.  every year, we gather at my stepbrother andy's house, and they throw out about 200 eggs for 15 kids to find.  some are quite obvious, mostly for the younger kids, and others are quite difficult to get to (hidden in trees, on the windmill in their yard, in downspouts on the house).  the age range of the kids is currently 8 months to 18 years old.  and it is always a ball.  we've seen our share of weather extremes, too, from yesterday's bone-chilling cold/wind/rain, to a couple of years ago where we all wore shorts.  we eat, we talk, we drink coffee, we hunt eggs, and above all, we all giggle.  as exhausting as i know that is for andy and shannon, and as exhausting as it is to corral all those children, it's a sense of family and belonging that draws us all back.  it's the laughter, the story-telling, the discussions, the common-ness that we all feel together with each other that draws us back, year after year.  yesterday was no different, and as much as i wanted to crawl back into bed after the last four weeks of bone-weary-ness, i looked forward to this for so long.

last evening, we were lucky enough to partake in a birthday celebration for the child of our closest friends.  bob and veronica are probably two of my favorite people on the planet that are not blood relation to us.  jay and bob have been friends for years....close to 15 years, i'd guess.  veronica is his wife, and they've been married for about 2 years or so.  they have a 7 year old son, jake, and when jake and piper are together, they are thick as thieves.  it was his birthday we were celebrating.  they also have a son, lucas, who is two years to-the-day younger than dade.  bob and veronica planned a birthday party including laser tag, which was the coolest thing i think we've ever done for a birthday party.  we had to tell a small lie, that dade was 5 years old instead of 4, so that he could partake.  but it was a blast!  we all played, and laughed, and giggled, and were utterly sweating and euphoric afterwards.  and piper stayed the night with them, her first sleepover with someone that wasn't family.  jay and i went over to bob and veronica's house for quite awhile, listening to the kids chaotic energy as they ran through the house and spread popcorn crumbs all over, and i think we all cherished the paths in our lives that have led us to this point.

i sort of look at it like this.....the Big Guy Upstairs truly knows what we all need to soften and fill our souls.  as selfish as i wanted to be yesterday, to curl up in sweatpants in front of the TV with my crochet project, it wasn't in the cards for yesterday.  instead, it was the camaraderie with family, friends that my soul craved.  it was everything i didn't know i really needed.  to see and talk and hug almost everyone in my life that means something to me, all in one day, was a reminder that it's the support of these people that makes life and everything in it worth all the work, the effort, the sacrifice.  just as the queen bee of a hive rules the roost, God guides us and directs toward the greater good, toward benefit that we'll all reap.  and all of us, the worker bees, work and strive to better the hive, always returning with our gifts and contributions toward the rest of the bees, our support.  the things we contribute make the entire hive a prosperous community, where we rely on each other for our skills, our gifts, our support.  and whilst we're working, we hopefully gather things that will support each other, smell some pretty sweet flowers along the way, and always have a safe place to return to with each other.  we're never alone, and the goal is always simple.  return to the place where you're safe, with each other, and remember that we're all in this together.

"many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
proverbs 19:21