Runaway Dream

I have a daydream that occasionally pops up.  It is usually after a particularly challenging parenting moment, or when I walk though my home overwhelmed by the mess and clutter and feel nobody is helping, or after a disagreement with my husband, or most likely, during a combination of some or all of that.  

 

My daydream consists of me escaping reality by leaving my home, husband and kids and going to a remote location for a month or two.  I would run away from reality for a period of time. I would do what I want when I want (read, write, nap, craft, go for walks, watch movies, sit on the beach with a fruity drink in hand or by a babbling brook in the mountains, and dream).  I would not clean up anyone else’s mess or fix anyone a meal or be anyone’s chauffeur or homework enforcer.

 

Yes, this is selfish.  I am aware. No judging. It is only a daydream.  Nobody has the time or money for this.

 

This daydream has three different potential endings. I arrive home from this runaway feeling relaxed and energized and

 

  1. I return to my house being clean, my family is happy to see me, and they didn’t even realize I was gone (unrealistic).
  2. I come home to a messy house, disgruntled family members asking how the heck I could do this to them.  They tell me that I really need to get back to cooking, cleaning, and keeping everything on schedule (I would really hope that this wouldn’t happen)
  3. I return home to find the house messy but my kids and hubby are happy to see me, hugging me, expressing how much they love and missed me.  They also say how they realize how much I do for them and from now on, they will be sure to express their gratitude toward me and help with cleaning up around the house (Ding! Ding! Ding! Yes!  This is my preferred outcome of running away even if my house was needing some love and attention.) It would be the ultimate daydream for all of this to happen and for my house to be immaculate, but I don’t let my dreams get too crazy.

 

What is the interpretation of my daydream?  One, I want to feel appreciated. Two, I want some rest and reprieve from the daily cleaning and caregiving.  Being a mom can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Even on a family vacation, moms are still doing and still caregiving.  We are not resting and getting the respite we need.

 

Come on, mamas, do you feel like this from time to time?  Am I a bad mom for wanting a brief hiatus from this mothering thing?

 

Why do I feel the need to be the recipient of gratitude and words of appreciation? Maybe because this is an unpaid job?  Maybe because I love to hear things verbally expressed to me? Maybe I just want to feel loved and appreciated and when this doesn’t happen, I feel sad or angry or hurt and I don’t want to carry on doing whatever is not appreciated?  So how do I get outcome #3 without running away and hiding out for a month in the middle of nowhere?

 

I keep coming back to this Bible verse.  Galatians 6:9 says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  But it is hard. Being a mom makes me weary at times.

 

Truth be told, if I did decide to run away and hide for a while (no current plans), I would miss my family terribly!  I love being a mom and a wife! I might say I’d be gone for a month or two but maybe just a brief time away would be the refresher I need to keep trudging through the daily grind.  I am blessed to have my scrapbooking friends, the Naked Joes, who get together for a long weekend once a year to scrapbook, eat, drink, laugh and remove ourselves from reality. I am also blessed to have a husband who understands my need for this vacation with friends.  This long weekend really is the break I need and I look forward to it immensely every year.

 

One other possibility to achieve #3, is to express my need of hearing gratitude to my husband and teenage children (even though I wish they just knew this without having been told).  My kids would benefit from me teaching them about gratitude and cleaning rather than me being cranky and emotional about what went unsaid or undone.

 

My takeaway is that moms do consider the option of running away from time to time.  Being a mom is a wonderful job but it is a job with endless hours and we have the potential to feel drained. Completely drained.  To combat this, what are you going to do to recharge your battery to have the energy you need for being a good wife, mother and household master?  If running away isn’t the best idea or most realistic, what are you going to do for yourself so that you can be your best you for your family? Do not grow weary in doing good, my friends.  Lean on each other for support. Leave the running away to your daydreams.

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Grief

As I write this, my uncle, who has been battling cancer for months, has just passed away.  My heart is heavy. I’m in disbelief that this is real. I want my aunt and cousins to know that we love them and are praying for their peace and comfort.  It is hard to wrap my head around that we won’t see him any more. Faith is so important right now.

 

It is hard to say goodbye to those we love.  It is painful to make a new reality without them.

 

My father-in-law also had a short battle with cancer.  I selfishly wanted him to live a lot longer to see his grandchildren grow up, but that didn’t happen.  His body was tired. It makes it a little easier knowing he is now at peace and in heaven, but only a little easier.  It has been almost four years and I still miss him terribly at times.

 

I cry for what won’t be.  I cry for what you will miss.  I cry for what I will miss. I cry for others who are also grieving.  

 

We don’t want to say goodbye.  We don’t want the hurt of not having you here.

 

I also can’t play the what if game.  What if he was diagnosed sooner? What if he had more time?  What if I had said or done this or that? There is nothing productive in this non-truth.  This just causes grief to be filled with more anguish. Release that inner torment and retain the sweet memories.

 

I smile because I have loved.  I care because I have loved. I cry because I have loved.  I grieve because I have loved.

 

Would this be easier if we just didn’t love?  But without love, we also wouldn’t have experienced the depths of joy we have had with our loved ones. I would venture to say that a life without love is a non-existence.  That life is a void. As Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

 

Because of love, I now hurt.  But I wouldn’t give it all up not to feel this pain.  Even though the pain of loss is raw and real and overwhelming at times, I wouldn’t relinquish the love, joy and laughter I’ve had with those I’ve lost.

 

Uncle Craig, I love your wit, your sense of humor, and your love of reading.  One of my favorite memories is watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with you and all of the cousins in your basement and your comments about the movie made me belly laugh even more than the movie itself.  I know I will see you again in heaven some day and will laugh with you again. Please give Granny, Pap, and Brooke a hug and kiss from all of us and tell them we will see them again someday too.  

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love.  It’s all the love you want to give but cannot.  All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest.  Grief is just love with no place to go.”–Jaime Anderson

Resolution Again?

WEIGHT.  My weight.  It has been an issue my ENTIRE life.  Ugh!  I remember Oprah once saying she is so tired of talking about her weight.  Me too!

I hate that my weight has been such a yoyo for as long as I can remember.  Why can’t I seem to maintain? I generally know why. I love to eat. I mean, I LOVE to eat! I eat when emotional, stressed, or bored.  I know what I should eat, how I should eat, how I should exercise and take care of my body, but eating delicious and usually fattening, non-nutritious food along with busyness and laziness trumps my desire to be fit on most days.  I know I’m not the only one. You too? Right now I’m thinking that nachos sound good followed by a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, this is a problem. Why aren’t I craving carrots followed by melon?

 

Today I look in the mirror and see my muffin top, my bra overhang, and my thighs that are rubbing together and I’m so upset with my appearance and how I feel.  I’m tired and have little energy. My clothes aren’t fitting any more. Why is it always about my weight? I’ve lost 100s of pounds in my life and gained them all back.  I’m now at my highest non-pregnancy weight. How embarrassing. I look in the mirror and say just like Oprah has said “How did I let this happen again?” It didn’t happen overnight.  It was an extra bowl of ice cream here, choosing fries instead of a steamed veggie there, drinking pop instead of water, barely working out…that is how I got here. It seems so insignificant at the time.  As I’m consuming the unhealthy item, I think that I will just do better tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and I make the same bad choices for myself. So today is tomorrow and I see what I see in the mirror. I do want to look better but, more importantly, I want to feel better. So once again, it is about my weight and once again, I’m going to do something about it.

 

Isn’t this the resolution most people have for the New Year?  Well, me too. Let’s do this together. We can do this. I am going to be eating healthier and working out more so I can feel better and fit into the clothes that don’t fit anymore.  Time for a lifestyle change and focus. Time to be accountable to myself. Time to make my health more of a priority. So yes, I’m talking about my weight again.

Feel All The Feels

 

I love the song by Jewel called I’m Sensitive:

“It doesn’t take a talent to be mean

Your words can crush things that are unseen

So please be careful with me, I’m sensitive

And I’d like to stay that way.”

I am a very sensitive girl.  My good friends and family know this about me.  My feelings are hurt easily. I take everything personally.  I cry at both the happy and the sad. My friend, Karen, used the term sympathy crier to describe herself because she cries when others are crying or emotional.  As soon as she said that, I thought I am totally one of those.  I cry because you are crying or because you are talking about a joyous or sad time in your life.   I cry at church.  I cried during Silent Night during Christmas Eve service (just like I mentioned in a previous post).  I cry at weddings. I cry when watching TV shows or movies (I must have a box of tissues next to me when watching This Is Us.)   I cried when my daughter scored the winning goal at her soccer game.  I cried when my son was elected president of student council. I cried when my friend’s daughter got up to sing and play the guitar bravely and beautifully for the school talent show when she was too anxious to play just in front of her family a few months prior.  I cry when a friend shared the news that she is now cancer free. You get the picture. I cry. A lot sometimes.

I used to pray for God to make me less sensitive and to give me more of a thick skin.  I felt like the answer I got was that wasn’t going to happen and it is okay for me to be this way.  I’ve learned to embrace my sensitive side even though it can be embarrassing for me and for my family when I cry in public.  My daughter recently gave me a warning not to cry if she did or did not make the middle school basketball team. I told her that I wouldn’t cry.  So when she told me quietly during a party that I was having that she had indeed made the team, I hugged her and got teary and she said “I told you not to cry”.  Tears didn’t even fall but she knew that I was on the verge.  I just can’t help myself.

I saw this on Facebook recently and the person that shared it wasn’t sure who created it and neither am I but I feel it is spot on.  

So if you are sensitive or a sympathy crier like myself, I encourage you to embrace that side of yourself.  Feel all the feels all the time. It doesn’t make us weak. It makes us sympathetic to those around us. It shows that we love strongly.  It shows that we care deeply. There is nothing wrong with that. Love who you are just as much you you love and care for others.

Unlikely Tribe

This time of year is an opportunity to focus on family and friends.  I have many that I am grateful to have in my life.  I am particularly thankful for my unlikely tribe of scrapbooking friends. I  want to share with you the story of this group, the Naked Joes. I will explain the name too because I’m sure they will be a part of my blog quite often and I’m sure you are dying to know why we have this name.

My husband’s cousin, Christine,  invited me in 2006 to come scrapbooking with her and her friends from church at a little crafting B&B in Arcadia, IN.  It was a fun weekend. The next year, Christine’s church friends weren’t going to come again so she invited some other friends she used to scrapbook with years prior.  Then some of those friends invited friends. Over the next few years, we ended up as a group of ten of us who would meet in the winter to craft for 3-4 days. While together, we learned about each other, our spouses, our kids, our pets, our jobs and so much more.  Each year we would catch up and tell stories of things that had happened in our lives since we were last together. We would laugh until we cried and/or peed our pants. Even though we are so different, we became friends.

Unfortunately in 2013, our favorite scrapbook B&B turned into a wedding venue.  But by this time, we had become so close we had to continue getting together for a long weekend each year.  We found a new place in Illinois. During one of these trips, the owner said that we were expecting someone named Jo to join us for the weekend.  None of us knew anyone with this name and nobody with that name ever showed up. Come to find out at the end of the weekend, the owner thought our friend, Jill, who had been there the entire weekend, was Jo.  Then on another trip to this same location, most of us had already left to go home, but Jill and two others were still there. Jill was upstairs showering and came out of the bathroom into the bedroom naked because she didn’t expect anyone else to be upstairs at that time.  However, Jill came face to face with a college-aged boy hired by the B&B to strip the beds and tidy up the room. After that incident, we affectionately named ourselves the Naked Joes.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much these ladies mean to me.  We have a group text that we use to send each other jokes, funny or heart-warming stories of lives, or prayer requests.  We lift each other up. We laugh with one another. We cry with one another. We are a tribe. I think I can say on behalf of the Naked Joes that we truly love and care for one another.  It is amazing how we all came together from all over the country and have become so close. I believe it is a God thing.

For many years I longed for female friendships and connections like I have with these ladies.  I hope that you have a similar tribe and if not, I hope that you have one in some point along your life’s journey.  And during this holiday season, I pray that you share wonderful times with family and friends and you are able to express to them how important they are to you.  To all of my family and friends, I hope you know how much you mean to me and how much I love you.  I can’t wait to see several of you at Christmas.  Naked Joes, I love you all and I am incredibly grateful for you. Can’t wait to scrap with you in Texas soon!

Know Better, Do Better

Let’s have a conversation in the wake of the Kevin Hart’s decline of hosting the Oscars after derogatory remarks about sexuality he made in 2009 and 2011 came to light.

The wise Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”

Kevin Hart, Megyn Kelly, and Paula Deen are just a few famous people who made remarks that resulted in losing a job.  All three of these people apologized and basically said that they now know better.

How many of us have said things we regret?  How many of us would want things we’ve said or posted on social media in the past to be brought back up including from years and years ago?  I know that I may not be pleased for that to happen because I know I’m not the person I used to be. I’m going to be honest with you about an incident involving something I said in college.  I once told my boyfriend’s roommate that he didn’t look Catholic. He asked me what Catholic people looked like. We had a conversation about it. I learned that I had stereotypes and was judging people.  I apologized.   I learned from my mistake and grew because of that. I am embarrassed to admit that, but I am glad that I now know better. We should always be learning and growing. Upon looking at my past mistakes, I can see them as a mountain of failures or as a fountain of growth in my life.

Regarding the Megyn Kelly incident, when is it okay to have a conversation and learn from it? To be honest, I wasn’t that familiar with black face. I grew up in a small town in West Virginia where there was not much racial diversity. I’m sure we are all ignorant in some area of our lives so shouldn’t we be able to expand our knowledge and understanding from conversing about various topics? And if we make a mistake, isn’t a sincere apology enough? Yes, since this was a topic of the day on her show, perhaps she should have done more research, but isn’t it refreshing that we can talk about it and educate ourselves especially in light of her mistake?

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be consequences to behavior.  I’m asking how long do we hold people accountable for things they have already learned from and apologized for?  Now if people know better and don’t do better, that is a whole other subject. We will see if people have learned from past errors by observing their words and actions going forward and perhaps at that point, hold them accountable if mistakes continue to be made.  In John 8 in the Bible, Jesus said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”.  In regards to my past mistakes, I hope that I now know better and will do better.  Bear Bryant said in his book Ain’t Nothin’ But a Winner, “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”

Christmas Conviction

I am feeling convicted right now.  I asked my son and daughter to update their Amazon wish lists so that their grandparents and other family can pick out Christmas gifts for them. Teens can be hard to buy for!  When I asked them what they want, both of my kids said that they don’t need anything. I told them that they must put something on their list so that our family members will know what to get them.  At first, I was very irritated that they weren’t adding to their list. Then it dawned on me that most kids want, want, want and here are my kids saying they are content with what they have. I should be grateful for that.   I need to learn from them. Here I am adding more and more to my list and as I am buying gifts for others, I also pick up a few goodies for myself.

 

I am not saying all this to brag about my kids or my parenting.  I need to learn from my littles who aren’t so little any more. I enjoy receiving Christmas presents and I love to give gifts even more.  I truly love to buy and watch reactions to the “perfect” gift I have picked out for that someone special in my life. Maybe I need to reconsider the gifts I give and focus less on the materialistic and focus more on the gifts of time and memories made.

 

As I parent, I often worry how many times I’ve failed my kids and not been the mom I should be.  I worry I haven’t shared my faith enough. I worry they haven’t learned the lessons I’ve tried to teach them.  I worry they don’t understand the importance of hard work and the value of a dollar. I worry they won’t be the good, faith-filled people I want them to be.  Perhaps they are becoming decent people despite the times I’ve messed up as a mom.

 

As I am writing this, I remember an interaction I had with my daughter a few years ago that I posted on Facebook.  I wrote it in 2012 when she was 7 years old:

 

As my daughter and I are making cookies she says “People keep asking what do you want for Christmas and I keep saying saying it’s not about getting stuff.” I said “what is it about?” She answers “Jesus”.  Warms a mama’s heart!

 

In a world where more is best and Jesus gets shoved behind the hustle and bustle of the season, it would behoove me to focus more on time for my family and faith and less on buying gifts that aren’t really needed.  It is time to focus on what Christmas is all about.

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In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus says this:  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’  “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”