May 21, 2014

Dear Kids: Before We Can Get to Summer

Dear Kids,

I understand that you have received a memo that summer is upon us and school is about to release for well earned break. As we hurl ourselves toward the final days of discipline and books, this worn and weary mother needs to cover a few things before we are crammed together in our home for three months of primeval torture  summer wonderment. So before we can get to summer, Mommy has a list of rule changes from now until the last day of class.

1.) There are still days on the school calendar left to muddle through. I appreciate that you have spent the last week with parties and testing and book reading marathons, but the school district in which we live still requires your butt to be in a chair for a few more required days. Therefore, you may stop asking me EVERY. SINGLE. Morning "We aren't really doing anything today, do I HAAAAAVE to go to school?"

The answer is yes. I am clinging to these last few days as well. As quickly as you are hoping they pass, the unstructured chaos of summer makes this Type A mama woozy. Only a few more quiet mornings of tea by myself before you all re-invade our home like a band of traveling monkeys playing the cymbals.

2.) Since you have been depositing your backpacks, lunch bags and sports equipment sporadically throughout the house as if this is the Great Year End Scavenger Hunt, I have now instituted the following rule: You Can't Find An Item, I'll Cry A Little Tear For You. However, I will not engage in your effort to help me lose my mind by searching for hours for something you "need" when had you let me go through your backpack, lunch bag, sports equipment in the first place we wouldn't have this problem.

3.) I cannot be fully responsible for the confines of what you bring to lunch during these last few school days. If you refuse to clean out your lunch bag, as is your daily chore, I will chunk your lovingly wrapped PBnJ on top of whatever refuse you continue to harbor inside. My mama didn't raise no fool. If you are afraid to clean it out, it means there is something living inside that I also will refuse to touch.

4.) Any request for homemade snacks, teacher's gifts, or special request for anything other than a PBnJ for lunch not received with twenty-four hour notice will be denied. I appreciate that you are probably seeing your beloved teacher receive drool-worthy Pinterest-praised gifts. Trust me, she'll drool the same over a gift card from Target. A special request for lunch not received within the required notice period will be handled by either A) A PBnJ sandwich or B) a pre-packaged something or other from the gas station.

5.) Your clothing options: You are on your own! As you refuse to put away your laundry or to retrieve the stank pile of clothes hiding under your bed since April, I have announced martial law over the laundry room. Whatever you can wear that is clean, kudos! I no longer care if your classmates smell the socks you've refused to change since Monday. Have their mama call me. We can lament which one of you is the stinkiest over glasses of merlot tomorrow while you are both in school.

Hopefully, these rules will allow us to relax and ease into the upcoming months of freedom  screaming, yelling, fighting and daily whimpering of "I'm bored."



May 20, 2014

An Honest Answer

I've been prepping clients to testify for litigation for over ten years now. This can be a lawyer's worst trial nightmare if your client is a talker and can't bring themselves to believe that things like "I don't know", "I don't remember" or "Can you ask that again?" are all legitimate answers. When you force yourself to create answer when you really aren't sure can be dangerous ground.

I think it is something inherent in our DNA as people that when we are asked a question, we feel forced to give an answer. In this day of quick "Hi. How are yous?", I don't want to give a  long drawn out answer and the person hearing the response doesn't really want to listen to a dissertation about my problems either. We have settled for frosting covered niceness. Civility without the depth. I use to be a huge abuser of this trait. I would ask "How are you?" and hardly wait for the answer. I find this almost impossible to do anymore.
So I've started taking my own advice.

When I see someone in real life that I haven't seen since I lost my brother and they ask me "How are you?", I say the only thing I know how to say and be truthful:

"I don't know."

It is not a false statement. I really don't know how I am most days. Many mornings are blasted with the humdrum of soccer practice, dirty dishes, laundry, work and the daily functions that keep our little family in a rhythm. My kids need a steady beat of rhythm in normal circumstances. But these days, we all need even more than usual.

Some days are a fight to get out of bed. I want to lay down and cry and scream and break every piece of glass I can get my hands on. There are moments of sheer delight watching my kids throw themselves headlong into summer's glory and yet there are moments when I struggle to be around so much merriment. Moments some days are filled with thanksgiving for small gifts, like a sunrise or a new flower growing and some moments when I list my things for which I am grateful, I stare a blank paper.

The truth is that there is a void in my life. A void that can only be filled by a six foot tall,  gorgeously blue-eyed little brother who use to text me that I needed to cut back on the Twinkies because my butt was bigger than the last time he saw me. I've never wanted to be called fat so badly in all my life.
It is always going to hurt. There will always be a missing piece to my heart and family events will forever be a touch of sweet and sour.

My soul knows all the appropriate things to say to someone going through grief like me.

"He's in a better place."

"You will see him again."

"This life isn't forever."

And there are days that I can give myself a pep talk long enough that it works.

But for the days that I can't stop crying at ridiculous country songs or seeing his things in my house, I've given myself the grace to say "I don't know" how I am today and to believe that it is an honest answer. 

May 11, 2014

No Greeting Cards For This...A Gift For You This Mother's Day

I stood in the greeting card aisle this morning with all my fellow procrastinators, 
wondering if Hallmark writers had better words to say for my mother, for myself and 
the mom friends I know who are struggling on this celebratory day for mothers.

As I flipped through card after card of dripping sweet sentiments, 
I realized one thing about holidays and Hallmark?

They both really suck when you're struggling.

There is a mom's brunch today.
With some of my favorite moms in this life. 
But the thought of going is like a weight around my neck.
I'm afraid tears will come too easily and I won't be able to cover up my grief.
I'm worried my loss will overshadow the beauty of roses and tea and togetherness.

 Life and holidays and greeting cards continue even though you may be struggling to get out of bed.
Every one's version of grief and struggle and pain are different. 
And you will find no judgement on that here.

Maybe you lost someone this year like me and another holiday without them seems unbearable.

Perhaps your mom has been gone for years but the loss of not having her aches through your soul. 
And days like today that ache burns even harder so. 

Or you're a mom in your heart only who the dream of giggles and squishy toes is being attacked by infertility.

Or you're an adoptive mom who the weight of these new kids and issues are so much harder than you imagined, but you feel ungrateful if you confide the truth in anyone. 

Maybe this day in May is impossible to fully enjoy, as you are filling the role of both parents because the other one is absent. 

Maybe you're a widow a facing your first year or you fiftieth year without your love.

Maybe you've lost your job, are going through a painful divorce or are estranged from your
 family because of years of abuse. 

Or perhaps you are like every other mom in this tiny globe and you are exhausted, overworked and wondering at the end of each day:

"Did I do it right today?"

Here are my flowers for you today. 

Because you ARE doing it right today. 
Doing this motherhood gig at all is doing it right.
And YES, I do count you as a mother if you are battling infertility or completing an adoption.

Doing life messy and with ragged, exhausted breaths is doing it great.

If I could give each of you something for mother's day it would be a card that says only three words.

It would be in your favorite color and made out of crayons, because that's all we mothers can seem to find to write with when the necessary time comes.

I'd pour glue over the letters  and cover it with glitter so that it would be so shiny you can see it hanging on your fridge, visible across your laundry filled, back pack laden, toy museum of a living room. 
Or hanging over the crib of the baby your heart aches for; or over the place where you grieve; whether it be a closet or a couch.
And on days when you are struggling to exhale without someone screaming your name or your house is so silent you feel mad from the lack of noise, you can look up and be reminded that this day, 


There is no handbook for grief. 
They make no cards for loss or pain or for the struggle of a single parent's schedule. 
 I've looked.

Just know that I understand today can be a hard day. 
Because today is another day in life and some of us just want the world to stop for a moment.
Whether it is for a period of years to let us grieve, or even for just a few more hours of precious sleep.

No matter what the world knows of your life from the outside. 
No body has lived it from the inside like you. 
But from one worn out battle wounded woman to you, this is encouragement to keep going.
Even if "going" looks like a snail's pace crawl. 

I'm cheering you on today. 

Happy Mother's Day all. 

May 5, 2014

Musical Monday: If Heaven Weren't So Far Away

My little brother loved country music. The station in his truck is still set to his favorite country station.
I don't have the heart to change it. 
I may never. 

This song came on the radio today and I just lost it. 

If only heaven weren't so far away.

I would take a day trip all by myself. 

I'd want him to introduce me to Jesus personally.

And we'd spend the entire day with my baby bro telling me exactly how to live the rest 
of my life on earth with out him. 

I'd let Nannie lecture me one more time on how to be a good person. 
And to always remember to trust my gut instinct about all else.

Papa would hug me and say he'd leave a pot of coffee on for me. 

And I would cry all the way home.

At least it would be seeing them all in person.

And not only in my dreams.