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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

healing the unbroken

I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I'll find myself today
five years ago,  we went to court for custody of piper.  it was the day that we told our families that we were pregnant with dade.  and it was a day that i remember finally having some way to heal.
somehow, over the last five years, i've grown, and i've learned, and i've let go.
when piper was first born, the problems that were facing me had to be faced by me.  really.  it was a physical representation of the things that i had to either hold onto or put away or let go of.
i first found out that piper was conceived three weeks after my 25th birthday.  and i found out later a lot more.  i still carry some guilt about the hoops i made jay jump through in order to prove his dedication to me.

but here's the thing.  i've finally learned to forgive myself for what he did.  doesn't that sound stupid?  why should i have to forgive myself for what he did?  that doesn't make any sense.  a blog that i read talks about "mommy guilt," and how that can lead to us shaming ourselves and letting ourselves implode with horrible thoughts of how we're not good enough, no matter what it is that we're doing.

the writer of the blog also talks, in her book, about how there are many people that we see from the outside and think, "boy, they've really got it all together."

sometimes i feel like that.  and a huge part of it is that i know i've been incredibly blessed.  i have a career that a woman wouldn't have had 150 years ago.  i am a strong, independent woman.  i'm a mother.  i'm a wife.  i'm someone's constant, being all of those things.  i'm a sister, a daughter, a friend.  and sometimes it's just exhausting to try to be perceived as having it all together.

the truth of the matter is that i don't have it all together.  not at all.  not even close.  not even a little bit.  well, maybe a little bit.  i have friends ask me how it is that i can work/spend time with the kids/crochet/craft/deliver babies/work out/train for a 5K, etc, and still do all the other things.

my favorite thing to say is a quote from empire records..."there are 24 usable hours in every day."

the truth is, though, some days, those 24 hours are just not enough.  and they are too long at the same time.  and every hour is filled with something....all blessings, really.  but they're all filled.  and it's exhausting.

the thing is....that i have to remember....there are so many teeny things hidden in those hours, that if i don't slow down once in awhile and just lay on the couch, i wouldn't hear the way my kids play together.  i wouldn't remember the way that my dog's tags jingle when she runs up the stairs.  i wouldn't remember the smell of my son's hair after a shower when he collapses on me on that couch.  i wouldn't remember the way my daughter says the lord's prayer.  i wouldn't remember the sound of my husband's peaceful breathing when he's sleeping.  and i wouldn't remember the feel of my heartbeat, thinking of these blessings.

i know now, versus five years ago, that i'm never going to be completely happy unless i'm going 500 miles an hour with my hair on fire.  but the slowing down, the quiet in between the chaos, is my healing. 

the healing i've done to this point has taught me not only about myself, but about what it means to be a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a Christian.  every minute is full of things i should be grateful for, and i shouldn't let mommy guilt get in the way.  mommy guilt, wife guilt, doctor guilt, sister all comes from the same place.  it comes from an insecurity in myself.  an insecurity that should be let go of, and that truly shouldn't be dreaded but should be celebrated.  i am what i am...i am what God made me.  with all my imperfections, my quirks, my strengths, my weaknesses, my love of trashy magazines and linkin park, my obsession with skin care products and nail polish, and my comfort in sweatshirts and yoga pants.

the point to this whole thing is this:  in whatever way i thought i was broken before, i think, it's a lie.  i don't know that i was ever really broken.  i lost a part of myself for awhile, but i think it's still in there.  i think it's still inside me.  i don't think i'm healing anymore, because i don't think i was completely broken to begin with.  i was beaten, and weakened, but i never lost.  the Big Guy didn't let me get that far gone. 

and in the end, whilst not having it all together, i really do have it all.  and i'm thankful for all that i've been blessed with.  i feel my value in the kiss of my husband, the deviousness of my daughter's grin, and in the dimples of my son's smile.  at the end of every day, it's us, holding hands, reminding each other that we'll never have to face things alone, the way i thought i had to do long ago.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

daily dilemma

my daily dilemma today is this:

why does it take getting upset and angry to get someone to listen?

i find this with my children.  they do things, usually, just by being asked.  but there are those things that i ask over and over and over again, and i finally have to get really upset, bordering on irate, in order for them to get it across.

scare tactics.

i encountered this today at the office.  patient with a multitude of medical issues, from a life of just over 60 years spent living hard and playing way too hard.  i actually had to threaten to put her in a nursing home in order for her to start taking care of herself.

i don't like to be that way.  and it wasn't an empty threat.  her medicines are all wrong, and no one to this point has taken any responsibility for it.  she was seeing multiple specialists that just kept writing her prescriptions for things.  and now she's mine, and i have a duty to make sure things are right.

she wasn't receiving the proper care at home.  it made me think more than once about calling adult protective services.

so why is it that the only thing that will work is to "scare them straight"?  why is that the only tactic left?  and why is that always left to the last resort?

i've found, as callous as it sounds, that taking someone's freedom away is the worst thing you can do.  i can talk until i'm blue in the face about people needing oxygen, people needing insulin for their sugar, people being on dialysis, or losing toes because of blood pressure.  but it doesn't sink in until you tell them they have to go to a nursing home.

then it's "straighten up and fly right."

seriously.  i had the conversation with her two weeks ago.  today, in the office, she thanked me for the "come to Jesus" we had.  she agrees that she needs to take better care, and she's demonstrating it.

why does it have to take such drastic measures to make people see?

Monday, January 14, 2013

my father, the hero

it's been quite awhile since i've written anything in here.  between the holidays, the work, the "busy," and the trying to behave normally, it seems that time has gotten away from me.

i started to write something on what would have been my mom's birthday.  but it was too hard.  too raw.

however, i AM going to write something here, on my dad's birthday.

i'd like to introduce you all to my father.  his name is robert.  and his birthday is today.

born the fifth of six children, and the third of four boys, dad was raised on a farm with his brothers and sisters, his mother (a WWII nurse and first lietenant), and his father (a WWII medic and corporal).  there are many stories of the boys being boys, sailing down the basement stairs, nailing a basketball backboard to the living room wall, one of the boys putting rocks in their dad's gas tank.  as they all got older, their hijinx turned to cars, driving fast, replacing carburators, and driving go-karts through the halls of the high school.

when my dad was set to graduate high school, he was a pretty good baseball player.  he played first base, and was offered a chance to go to college and play college-level baseball.  times being what they were, dad chose to work instead.  he was hired in to a factory job, where he worked for 30 years and retired at the age of 48.  during that time, he was many-times in a supervisor position, having been a born leader.  but he never lost that love of baseball, passing it on to countless kids during his years of coaching little league, Pony league, and to his eldest daughter while coaching her softball team. 

he also passed on his love for IU basketball, and i remember being small and knowing who bobby knight was before i could name the president of the united states.  so many winter afternoons and evenings were spent with popcorn, Assembly Hall, and bobby knight.  popcorn made in the old-style popper that had to be turned upside down in order to eat the goodness.

dad has always been extremely handy, and it was usually my sister who accompanied him in the garage.  i will say that to this day, the scents that remind me most of my dad are sawdust and a zippo lighter (since dad used to smoke).  he is where i learned to use my hands to make things happen, and i believe that he is the reason, to this day, that i prefer to figure something out and do it myself, rather than to pay someone else to do it.  his reasoning, and mine as well, is that if i do it, at least i know it's done correctly.

dad worked hard while i was little, working in the sweltering heat of a foundry to make sure we had what we needed.  he worked third shift, and slept during the day.  in the summers, we girls would stay up late to stand by the front door and wave to him before he left for work.  every night.  throwing hugs to him.  blowing kisses.  and there were times when dad would be laid off.  we never, ever needed for anything.  but there were many times when mom made our clothing, and we ate cheaper things.  but we never hungered for love, faith, or encouragement.  dad could often be quoted as saying he was our greatest cheerleader.

as i got older, dad got to have a little more fun.  often heard when i was little, he always wanted a harley.  he was finally able to get one when i was in the seventh grade.  a sportster 883.  a small bike for a big guy with a huge heart, it wasn't long until the 883 was traded for a superglide.  that was a man's bike, and a bike that fit dad's personality.  the bike was gone when i went away to school, realizing my dream to go to indiana university.  a dream that i was supported in.  a dream that mom and dad both saw come to fruitition. 

during my time away, i decided to go to medical school, instead of becoming a nurse like my grandmother.  i was nervous and scared that mom and dad would be unhappy because it meant more money for school.  but they supported me, helped me study, and threw a huge party for me after i took the MCAT.  and when the envelope came in the mail at home, and i was still in bloomington, they both called me and read it to me over the phone.  i had to pull over (i was driving on campus when i got the call), and i heard mom and dad both screaming and crying.  my dad was proud of my accomplishment.  he should have been more proud of himself for the things he did to get me to that point.

through all of my schooling, i never felt hungered or thirsted for attention.  most mornings, during college, dad and i would chat on instant messenger about random things.  it felt good to have a piece of home with me.  there was even one very memorable night that i took dad on a bar crawl with me and a bunch of my friends, and he was by far the coolest guy in the joint.  i remember many a night, after finishing a late rotation in medical school, i'd call and talk to dad.  and it didn't matter if he was sleeping or busy, he'd always take the call.

i can say that's one thing i have always been able to count on.  my dad and i have always had a very close relationship.  i've been extremely lucky to have a dad that i can consider a father, a peer, and a friend.  i've never had to feel ashamed, or embarrassed, or alone.  because i always had my dad.  even to this day, despite the fact that i'm 32 years old, my dad's advice and opinions mean a lot to me, and i still consult him for many things in life.  of course, i consult my husband, but i consider what my dad would do as well.

my dad is greatly responsible for my early faith in Christ, always making sure i knew the real meaning behind christmas and life.  and always sending up a silent prayer, or bringing up an occasional Bible verse when needed.

i am quite certain that if one looked up the definition of "daddy" in the dictionary, it wouldn't say anything about "biological genetic donor," which is what a father is.  "daddy" would have a picture of my dad, listing characteristics such as "silly, playful, serious, strict, supportive, loves chocolate cake, can throw a knuckle ball, rides a Harley, sings karaoke, loves a cold beer on a hot summer day, takes great pleasure in his grandkids." 

one thing i would add, despite what he always says about my sister and i being his heroes, is that i'm pretty sure that he is our hero.  he took all the things he was given in life, good and bad, and made a life for us that couldn't have been better if we would have hand picked it.  and i will forever be a better person because of him.

i love you dad.