Five Minute Friday: Miss

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300I miss my mini-van. It made life so easy with kids, pets and equipment. Everyone had a seat near a window and rarely did anyone complain that “she’s sitting too close to me”.  I had space to breathe in that car, space to be present but not super imposing even when all seven seats were filled.

Sometimes my memories become a befuddled mess though, caught between missing and longing.

I get sucked into longing for that mini-van, longing for the moments when the girls sang Disney tunes non-stop and we listened to children’s books on tape. I long for the cool spring afternoons a child would fall asleep on the way home from Mother’s of Preschoolers and I would park the car in the warm afternoon to read a book rather than wake her to come inside.

But longing is painful. It feels like grief and tarnishes the happiness of life’s moments. Longing makes me think that my happiness has passed, creating discontentment and a sadness that is not easily squelched.

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The Hare

Last night I took most of my home school materials to a used book sale sponsored by a home school group.  This is my last year teaching at home. After four years, The Hare is finishing 8th grade and will be attending a preparatory high school next year.I am already feeling that sadness seep in to my thoughts when what I should be doing is just acknowledging that it’s OK to miss her next year. I will miss our daily chats over breakfast. I will miss snuggling on the couch to read or watch a documentary. I will miss going on personalized field trips and learning side by side. I will miss hearing every detail of the book or show she just finished. I will miss listening to her same music playlist all day long. I will miss science experiments at the kitchen table and picnic lunches in the back yard. I will even miss arguing with this very analytical and opinionated little soul because at least in those moments, even in my frustration, I knew exactly what she was thinking.

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The Tortoise

The Tortoise is also graduating this year and will be attending college in the fall. I know I will miss the unexpected hugs and kisses. I will miss hearing the garage door opening after a night out and knowing that she is safely in her bed. I will miss hearing unguarded laughter both in and out of the house as we entertained small armies of kids most weekends and all summer long. I will miss the fire pit being in constant use and remnants of smore’s left on the kitchen counter. I will miss our driveway and garage crowded by a influx of cars coming and going. I will miss the impromptu runs to get ice cream and watching Grimm together after everyone else has gone to bed. I will miss her voice filling the house with beautiful music as she practiced and practiced.

I know that I need to be careful to enjoy the moments and miss the memories but not drown in the emptiness. I need to be careful not to long for days past but just be thankful or else I might miss the beauty in this next season of my life.

Now I drive a little hatchback that seats four comfortably, but rarely has more than 1 or 2.

At some point, I’m sure I’ll miss that too.

 

Five Minute Friday: Mercy

5-minute-friday-1I am painfully aware my blog has not been updated in over a month.

There have been no words here or anywhere. At least not written.

Thoughts and snippets of ideas and conversations with myself rumble around in my head, keeping me up at night, pushing me to the edge during the day, but never make it to the page. I feel a bit trapped in my body. I do not remember the exact moment of disconnection, or the exact last breath of creativity and personal expression. But at some point this summer, I stepped away from myself. I filled my days taking care of people and things. I wasted time with lots of business but not much substance, telling myself “right now is just not my season“.

But that’s what moms are supposed to do, right? The role of wife and mother is about sacrifice and service. Yet, each time I sat down to write, or even thought about writing, bitterness churned my stomach, and the sour taste of vexation burned my throat.
I was wrapped up in the selfish question of, “When is it my turn?”, keeping the fire of resentment burning.

Instead of pouring over the day’s lesson plan one more time, or throwing another load of laundry in the wash, I decided to enjoy a steaming mug of coffee in the dark this morning. I buried myself in blankets and listened to the quiet of a sleeping house.

One question surfaced, “why not now?”

With no expectations of writing today, I decided to at least read a few of my favorite blogs. Ironic then, that the word mercy would be today’s Five Minute Friday prompt. The definition of mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

I let the word mercy sink in a little and then suddenly gave myself permission again to take a break from everyone else. It was okay to spend time with myself without feeling guilty.  I needed to be reminded to show myself little mercies throughout the day and not dwell on unfinished tasks. It was time to forgive my weaknesses and move on.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”  – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

I used to like summer, but then I had school aged kids

Summer in Texas was about soaking in the rays, hanging out with friends at water parks, driving with the top down with the music blaring and eating late night dinners under the stars. Even in college and just past, that didn’t change much for me, even with an infant or toddler. There were lots of places that catered to young families where we could all converge with our little ones in tow, share a bucket of beer, a great plate of sizzling fajita and let our kids play in a giant sandbox until their eyelids drooped. I looked forward to the long days of breezy sundresses and sandals, no make-up because our skin was bronze from the kiss of the sun, and the calming effect of the heavy heat slowing everyone down to a snail’s pace. Summer was a season I looked forward to every year.

My first summer in Michigan was much cooler than I had expected. I don’t think I put on a pair of shorts or a short skirt once in 2001, but the longer I live here, my body temperature seems to have adjusted comfortably. Although 52 at 8:00 in the morning isn’t exactly the same balminess I grew up with, it is still fun to drive with the sunroof open. And by lunchtime I do enjoy a quick read on the back deck with the dog and the sun. For a while, summer as a mom was still about spending the hours with friends, pulling together meals in the backyard and even sharing a cooler filled with drinks.

But then my kids started school.

This is our first official week of summer. Last week was sort of the “teaser”, the week where school ended and the summer schedules had not started yet.

The Hare stood in our mudroom, arms crossed, scowling.

“I just cleaned this zone yesterday and now look at it!” she yelled, “How in the world am I supposed to keep my zone clean if other people keep leaving their stuff everywhere?”

The kids are responsible for specific areas of the house this summer, regardless of whose items are left behind. She was clearly agitated that her sister had left a pair of shoes on the floor rather than put them on the shoe rack. I can’t even imagine how that feels.

“I hate this new zone rule!” she hissed rushing past me.

The Tortoise sat silently, seemingly bored.

“How’s your math going?” I asked. The kids are required to do one 30 minute math lesson a day this summer to keep up their skills and to introduce next year’s new concepts.

“I’m behind by two days,” she grunted, “I hate doing math. I’m bored and I miss my friends.”

Both The Tortoise and The Hare have tested the limits of my clothing boundaries by ever so slightly rolling up their short length a smidgen each day to see if I’ll notice.

“Those are too short and not what we agreed on in the store,” I said.

“Then I’m never going to wear these shorts again!” shouted The Hare.

“You just want me to dress like an old woman!” snapped The Tortoise.

This morning, I got the kids up at 6:45am so we could get ready for the day. The Tortoise swims from 8 – 10 am five days a week, while The Hare practices from 8:30 – 12:30 four days a week and then once a week until 2:30 pm. Then of course, they also have chosen one extra activity, voice lessons for one and the other wants piano lessons. The Tortoise barked at me when I suggested she eat some breakfast before practice and The Hare snapped at me because she didn’t want the large blue water jug I had filled up for her for practice. By 7:30 am, both of the kids were irritated with me, the dog was refusing to go potty before we left, the house still looked like a train wreck, and I was trying to figure out how to squeeze in the cleaners, the grocery store and laundry between pick-ups, drop-offs and requests for sleepovers tonight.

DW will be at his golf league.

“You must be glad summer is finally here,” DW said recently.

Perhaps tonight’s big plan will include my pajamas by 7 pm, a bottle of wine and take-out.

Alone on Mother’s Day

“What do you want to do for Mother’s Day this year?” diligently asked DW. He knew his time was running out to take the girls shopping.

“I want to drink a bottle of wine, eat chocolate and scrapbook all day,” I said half-joking, “and have someone else clean the bathrooms.”

“What about dinner?” DW asked.

“Take-out,” I replied.

“Done,” he said.

Not one of my better "looks", but certainly one fun event!
Not one of my better “looks”, but certainly one fun event! It was my first Color Run.

On Saturday morning, I ran in a Color Run with two other moms. Their children are a lot younger than mine, preschool aged. Actually, they themselves are much younger than me and DW. So of course, as we ran the 5k, they were somewhat shocked that I didn’t have “big plans” for Mother’s Day. I also have a couple of cousins and friends with brand new babies that posted all of their sweet Mother’s Day pictures on Facebook.

Waking up Sunday morning, I knew the girls were busy making breakfast for me in the kitchen. I could hear the clinking and clanking of dishes and cabinets. Giggles and footsteps greeted me bedside, holding a tray of gluten-free pancakes, a bowl of fresh fruit and steaming mug of coffee. Both girls were beaming with pride at being able to make breakfast without dad’s help. DW had an early morning racquetball game. I ate breakfast in bed, snuggled my kids for a little while and then opened my presents when DW got home. They picked out a soft summer scarf for me, as well as a beautiful Brighton bracelet that had the words “trust yourself” engraved in silver. In addition, there was also a sweetly wrapped box of Godiva chocolates.

“For your wine and scrapbook day!” said The Hare.

For a minute, I started to miss the days of hand-made art projects and Mother’s Day outings. I suddenly pictured two little girls wearing pretty dresses and smiling at the camera. Perhaps I had been too hasty in wanting to spend this day quietly at home.

“What a perfect day,” I said, “perhaps there is something you would all like to do together? Or a restaurant we might try tonight?”

“Oh no!” both the girls croaked, “we are okay with take-out and staying home.”

The Tortoise had put off all weekend a mound of homework and The Hare had built a village of Littlest Pet Shop toys in her room. After breakfast, everyone went their separate ways and I was alone.

One of my scrapbook pages - thank you Studio J and Close to My Heart!
One of 40 completed pages that I created Sunday – thank you Studio J and Close to My Heart!

I had wine and ate my chocolates. I listened to my choice of music all day. I started and finished an entire photo album, 150 of my most favorite pictures from my brother’s wedding. All three of my bathrooms were cleaned, by someone else, and I got to eat my favorite Greek salad and loaded baked potato for dinner without any kids arguing about where to go eat or what to order.

And we were all home together.

It was the most perfect day.

 

Five Minute Friday: Rest

5-minute-friday-1Sometimes I don’t realize how busy I have made myself. Moving from one task to another, it hits me about 4 o’clock. My stomach growling, my mood shifting and the realization that I have not sat down, not even to eat. The after school chaos, the dinner rush and then evening routines follow me to bed. I find myself restless under the covers, flipping channels, watching shows I’ve saved for later viewing until my eyes burn and sleep finally begs me to concede. DW sleeps soundly beside me, hours before I turn out the lights.

I’m not always well rested in the morning. I wake with a start, thoughts of new projects and unfinished projects heavy on my mind. The most frustrating is holding on to words that never make it to a page, words trapped in unnecessary busyness. Disappointment of incomplete thoughts, people waiting for a response, and the nagging feeling of failure push me towards more unrest. And instead of just tackling one thing at a time, I foolishly look to something shiny and new to fill the void.

I have been sick for about a month. In fact, I just finished my second round of antibiotics. The first round was a result of three days of 103 fevers and chills. DW took me to urgent care. Two weeks later, I was back with open soars on the back of my throat. It forced me to sleep. A lot. I found myself sleeping in the middle of the day and well into the night. DW kept the kids at bay, stepped in as cook and chauffeur. He was adamant that I rest. The last couple of days I have suddenly felt more alert, more comforted and ready to tackle each project again. Only now, the projects feel less overwhelming, less daunting. I’m also less distracted. It was as if I needed to be sick to be well.

Mark 6:31 – And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.