I do not like the Doctor’s new girl. Ok. Let me clarify. Jessup and I are going through all the season of Doctor Who that Netflix has. We are currently in the second year of David Tennant as The Doctor, and Billie Piper has just “died”, but she not dead, just in another reality. Anyway, the new girl is Catherine Tate. I really, really disliked her on The Office, so she’s already got a black mark against her…but she’s yelling a lot and whiney, and I’m not a fan so far. Right now she’s a bride, and has just been zapped into the Tardis, and there’s a giant spider in a spaceship in the sky. I don’t ever think I’ll ever be able to look at another Santa statue. If you don’t get it, you won’t get it…too bad for you. Jessup is sick again…three days now. We (Barry and I) are about to start (for the second time) leading a Financial Peace University class. I’m so excited! I love Dave Ramsey. His program is really hard for me, but I love it! JESSUP GOT THE LEAD ROLE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL PLAY!!! There. I bragged a little bit. Just a little. I’m so proud of him. SO. PROUD. Of course, right now he’s too sick to go to rehearsals, but he’ll be right as rain soon enough. Tonight is writer’s group, and I am in charge of the activity. Nervous. Whew! Catherine Tate was not the new girl…she’s just in the one episode. YAY! I learned to love another Doctor, I guess I’ll learn to like a new companion. I’ve got lots to do today…and I’m exhausted already. Only got an hour and a half of sleep last night. Stupid brain. That is all.
Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…
Now that I have that song stuck in my head for the rest of my life…and you probably do, too…
We don’t do this holiday in our house.
Well, Ainsley does, but she’s the nice one. Somewhere in her room, there is a gift for each of us, waiting until we can all open them together tonight. She needs to do this kind of thing. Giving gifts, and sharing what she has…is like oxygen for her.
I love to get gifts, and I love to give gifts, but, despite that, Barry and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. I guess it’s just another day…not a big deal. I got to thinking about it, and while it’s an important day for a lot of people to show someone that they love them, it’s a concept that shouldn’t be saved for just one day. We should realize that every kind act toward another is an act of love. Not romantic love, otherwise we’d all be in a lot of trouble, but general, every day kind of love. There are many kinds of love. Parent/child love, sibling love (maybe the rarest form, spoken about only in gentle whispers, but it’s still out there), romantic love, crush love (teenaged girls feel this on a regular basis for members of boy bands, and TV/movie stars), friendship love, Good Samaritan love, and, saving the best for last, nerd love (Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fringe, etc.). Nerd love can be shared by anyone, and does not depend on space or time…
So what is love? What does love look like?
A hand held next to a hospital bed.
Holding your baby for the first time.
A flirty poke in the ribs in a darkened movie theater.
An intimate look between two lovers.
Waking up to bad breath and screaming kids, and still getting a kiss.
A wedding day.
A desperately needed hug.
Burned meatloaf in a first apartment.
Celebrating someone’s life after they’ve gone.
The shock of electricity from the lightest touch.
Eyes meeting across the room.
That feeling in your core that someone thinks about you as often as you think of them.
Being alone together in a room filled with people.
Memories and stories told, shared, remembered.
Love can be just about anything. It is fun, playful, intimate, sometime strained, painful, shared, personal. Little moments that can sometimes mean everything. Love is everywhere. Everyone needs to feel love. We all need to know that we are loved. You will never feel more alone than those times when you don’t feel loved.
Showing someone that you love them shouldn’t be saved for one day. It should be done every day. Every day people need to know that you’re thinking about them. Whether you’re in love with them, or you just think they’re spiffy, they need to know it. They need to be told that you care about them. You never know what a hug, or poke, or word of encouragement might do to brighten someone’s day. It might be just what they need to give them the first step out of a dark place.
What are some of the ways you’ve shown love? What are some of the ways that love has been shown toward you? From tiny little things to great big, extravagant things, it doesn’t really matter what it is. If it showed love, it was worth it.
I know, that no matter how I might feel on a particular day, I am loved. I have a husband who comes home every night, kids who don’t hate me, friends who take time to say HI to me, and most importantly, a God Who gave His Son for me. To save me. A sacrifice so great, so tremendous, so extravagant, that I can never repay the love shown to me. I will never be worthy of that gift. Ever.
It’s a difficult thing to understand, that everything has been done for me, and I can’t work it off, earn it, or pay it back. To grasp the concept that my relationship with God is not fair. It’s not even. It can never be even. It’s not based on how good a person I am, or what I do for my church and community. It’s based on His never-ending love for me. My only responsibility is to accept that, and choose to love Him back. Despite my faults, He loves me. The God of the Universe loves me. I still don’t get it. He gave all for me. I freely choose to give Him my love, because He gave me everything, and yet, I owe Him nothing. I don’t have to love Him. I don’t have to do anything. I could choose to go my own way, live my own life, do what I want…and He would have still given His Son for me. Free will is an amazing thing. It allows everyone the choice. Love Him. Don’t love Him. It’s not fair. To give your precious Son, and still have so many who still don’t love you.
If I gave up my son so that everyone else could live, and they didn’t love me in return, I would…I would…I would make every radio station play only The Macarena. I would make them wear shoes made from porcupines. I would make everything taste like lima beans. I would make Gigli the official movie of the Earth, and everyone would be forced to watch it every day. With toothpicks in their eyes so they couldn’t blink. I would make a car horn blast from tornado sirens 24/7. Louder at bedtime. Everyone would have the hiccups.
He gave everything and I still get the choice. Amazing!
SO, on this day of love and squishy feelings, I challenge you to love someone today. Show someone – anyone – that you love them. Even if it’s a pat on the back, let them know you care.
They will appreciate the love…
Someone told me yesterday that I have beautiful kids. Well, of course I do!
But I think it’s more than looks. It’s attitude. I think it’s that they’re happy kids. They are secure.
I believe that there’s a confidence and a joy that comes with knowing that you have a quiet, happy, love-filled place to go home to at the end of every day, and that you’re not going to walk in to World War 3…or something worse. A house that’s full of people, and completely empty at the same time. A house that silently strangles you with dread and fear every time you walk in. Like a coat of pain, that’s zipped up so tight, you can barely breathe.
There’s a simple joy in stability. I think, I hope, that you can see it every time you look at them.
I am not trying to say that I have some magic formula for happy kids, or that you shouldn’t make the changes that are best for your family. I’m just saying that my kids haven’t had to experience sadness. Not to such an extreme that it’s darkened them.
Sometimes I worry that this is bad. That when sadness comes, and it will come, they won’t know what to do. They won’t know how to deal with it. They watched me (and continue to watch me) go through losing my mom, and I fear that, because of the situation, because of my relationship with her, they haven’t witnessed a healthy grief. Whatever that looks like.
The home I walked into every day, for as long as I can remember, wasn’t happy. There was tension. There was an unspoken sadness. There was an inexplicable fear. I felt dread every time I walked into that huge, heavy, black door with the brass Dexter deadbolt. It was like walking into the unknown every single time. My dad said he would never divorce my mom, and that was it. No matter what kind of crazy stuff she did, or how she hurt him, or me, he kept his word. He quit good-paying jobs to stay home with me, and be there when she was. He took terrible jobs, with terrible hours, so he could be there for me. He did everything he could to make life bearable, and it did. Mostly. He tried to keep his promise, and keep me happy and safe at the same time.
There was an incident when I was in third grade. I only have vague recollections of it, but I remember it being bad. So bad, that he and I moved to California that Summer, and I spent the Summer in Camarillo, California with my grandparents while he found a job nearby and my mom stayed in Arizona. I was told that the only job he could find was in Ventura (12 hours from my home), so he could stay at my Uncle’s house, and I could stay with Granddad and Suze.
Of course, this was quite an adventure for me…a whole summer! Swimming, and going to the beach, and volunteering at a hospital…it was awesome! I don’t really remember missing my mom. I got to talk to her every week on the phone, while my dad was in the room, and then I would leave the room and he would talk to her alone. I had my 8th birthday that summer. I remember him asking me if I wanted to go home or stay in California when the Summer was over. I don’t remember feeling the weight of that question like I do now when I think of it. Had I been any older, I wouldn’t have chosen to go back to her. Only a couple of years later I was fully aware of what it was like to live with her, and how I hated it.
I only ever doubted the “only job I could find” thing after the last phone call I ever had with my dad. It was the day he died…only about an hour before, in fact. He said something about taking me away, but not being able to keep me away. Not being able to break his promise, and that’s why we went back. That a girl shouldn’t grow up without a mom. It was years before I put the two together.
That choice, going back, made me who I am today. Every decision he made, made me who I am today. For better or worse. And isn’t that all we can do as parents? Make the best decisions we can for our kids? Do what we hope is the very best for them, every day, and pray that they don’t get too screwed up in the process?
That’s all I’ve done. I believe that the best thing, the glorious ideal, is for every mom and dad to stay together. Barry and I have had to work very, very hard to do that. There’ve been times…for both of us…that it seemed like too much. But we tried again the next day, and the next, and eventually it all settled out again. There has been so much forgiveness, and letting go, while still holding on to each other. I have found that it’s impossible to hold on to the person and their faults at the same time. You have to let go of one. If you choose the person, you cannot hold on to all the crap that comes with them. If you choose the faults, eventually your clenched fists are holding on to their faults so tightly, that the person you love slips out of your hands. <—Read that part again. It’s the key.
I am not naive. I am completely aware that sometimes it just won’t turn around. It just cannot work out. I have so many friends who’ve given all they had, and it wasn’t enough. I have other friends who’ve stayed too long, and that did more damage than good…especially to their kids. Still others have been broken and damaged in the most painful ways, and have somehow found the courage and strength to forgive and go on. To let the “stuff” go, and hold on to the person.
So here are my questions:
How long do you stay in a situation that is worse than leaving? How long do you stay when you fear for your safety, or that of your kids? How long do you try before you realize that you are broken, and your kids are damaged, and that leaving really is the only option? How much hurt do you endure? How much can you take and still, somehow, stay and fight for the one you love?
Am I damaged? Yes. Have I been broken? Yes. Should my dad have left? I have no idea. I don’t know what it would have been like without my mom. I only know what it was like with her. I know the reality of having two parents that stayed together “for better or worse, in good times and bad, until death parts us”. And death did part them. But sometimes, I think they were parted long before that. Back when I was turning 8 without my mom. Back when I was having such a glorious adventure, and learning to swim, and getting to know my grandparents. I don’t think it was ever the same at home after that. My dad later took a job that got him out of the house regularly, but when he realized what leaving me with her for days at a time meant for me, he quit that job, and took a terrible, smelly, dirty job in town. But he was home every night, and he was the first one the school would call if they needed to.
Sometimes protection is love. Sometimes, when you’re not able to walk away, all you can do is wrap your kids up in your arms, and hold them tight through the storm. Storms still come when you stay. They come and they pound you with all they have, and you get battered and bruised, but when it ends, and the sun is shining again, you pick yourself up, dry yourself off, and go again.
Stability comes in all kinds of packages. Sometimes it comes in one parent at a time, rather than two who aren’t really there at all. Sometime it comes in Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Guardians, Foster Parents, Adoption…
I can only write from my own experience, only from my side of the story. I can honestly say, that I believe Barry is much easier to live with than I am, so, most of the time, I think he got the raw end of this deal. But he has stuck with me though it all. And I with him. We have held on to each others hands, rather than our faults.
You don’t judge me, and I will never judge you…I will celebrate you for doing what’s best for your kids…no matter what that looks like.
Here’s to real life. To not being glossy and polished, but being dirty and real. To being strong. To being faithful. To forgiveness. To letting go, and holding on tight. To being the best that you can be, for yourself and your kids. *clink*
One of my favorite movies is Must Love Dogs. I don’t even like dogs, but I love this movie. I watched it about two weeks ago. One of these days I’m going to have to watch Doctor Zhivago. I can’t believe I spelled that right the first time I tried. I heard on the radio this morning that a list of students’ GPA’s was released at a college or university to the entire student body recently, and now the school is sending out an apology, and offering counseling to all those affected by this incredible tragedy. *sarcasm* Seriously? Counseling? I could see some tutoring for the student ashamed of their horrid grades or struggling in some way, but counseling? For what? For the trauma of a few people in this great big, people-filled world knowing what your grades are? Is that really necessary? If you are so damaged and broken that you can’t handle someone else knowing your GPA, then you shouldn’t be away at school. You should be in your crib, at home, with a pacifier to shut your whiney little mouth. If you’re embarrassed, do better. If you’re ashamed, try harder. Here’s the deal: I need counseling…you do not. *end rant* Today is another quarterly appointment for Jessup to go to the doctor. This time is all the appointments (except G.I.)…asthma, allergies (since Spring is around the corner-I hope), and Alpha-1, plus Pulmonary Function Testing. Sometime, later this year, we will do the chest x-rays to see the progress of this awful disease…I am so afraid. I missed Bible Study last night. I was on the couch for many hours yesterday, in such pain I was nearly unable to move. I took three times the allotted dosage of one medicine for a 12-hour period of time, and then took a different medicine after that. My liver survived the night, but my stomach has been burning all morning. It was better after some breakfast, and a little milk. I’m pretty sure there’s probably a hole in my stomach and the acid will be burning a hole through my skin any minute. You’ll be able to find me today…I’ll be the human sprinkler system. I know I did a bad thing. You don’t have to tell me. I knew it, and I did it anyway, because I wanted to feel better. (That must be what it’s like for addicts) I cannot wait for our insurance to kick in so I can get this taken care of, once and for all. We have it, just needing a letter from the old one to say we had it until January 31. New insurance is valid from February 1st. I am just being overly cautious. However…another day like yesterday, and the appointment will be made. With or without the letter. Sorry for being gross. That is all.
This is my list so far:
Mustache duct tape
People who are kind to me when my guts spill out.
A calendar that syncs automatically so I can avoid repetition.
The realization on Wednesday, even for just a moment, that I’m kind-of nifty.
Scars, physical and otherwise. How else would I know that I have lived, tried, loved, or felt anything?
Sunrises. The time to appreciate them.
Doctors who have a wonderful way to fix what’s wrong with you, and are willing to do anything to make you normal again…even when you’re scared to death.
People who invest themselves in my kids.
Coffee. Especially in the morning.
Silly board games with friends.
Being able to stand for more than a few minutes.
Peach cobbler at potlucks. Well, peach cobbler anytime, really.
One Thousand Gifts Bible Study. Signed up and went in blind…so blessed and happy to have made the leap.
Friends who invite me for coffee.
Even the pain-filled parts of my body still work when I make them.
I can write
I can read
Kids who tell me they love me with no prompting.
Flexible schedule that allows me to be there for people, kids, hubs.
A son who realizes, on one of the worst, most devastating days of my life, that God must have really big plans for him. Otherwise he’d be a normal, healthy kid.
The realization that, he’s been destined for something from conception, because he shouldn’t have survived the first two weeks of pregnancy.
A sister’s immediate and selfless concern for her brother.
Funny cat pictures from the internet.
Friends who don’t care if I see their mess.
The way my eyes see something simple, and my brain gets carried away.
Toilet paper holders right over the radiator
Warm towels after a shower
Jeans that don’t fit
Lemon scented lotion that makes my hands soft again
A daughter who realizes that boys will be useless for the next few years
A husband who buys me Hershey’s Kisses so I can have a little bit of chocolate a lot of times.
A room filled with women who “get it”
A girl who makes me proud every day
Hot tea for sore throats and stuffy heads
Leather couches to turn to when all around me is loud and I cannot find rest
Tailgaters that make me slow down too soon
Unsquished truck drivers
Netflix to keep me company when there is no TV
An app to help me make my list
That’s it for now…not a bad start on my journey to 1,000.
This question can be taken several ways, but I mean it to say, “Who do YOU think you are?” (Emphasis on the first “you”). If you were given a sheet of paper to write down who you are, what would it look like? Would you write down the “who’s”, or the “what’s”? Are they different? Are they the same?
This was the focus of a discussion I recently had with several women, and it’s had me thinking about who I think I am, versus who I actually am. Some of the things I think I am, are things I am…even the bad ones. However, as I examine my lists (this paragraph is the last thing I wrote in this post), I find that I’m all of these things. Not necessarily on a daily basis, but at one point or another in, say, a year, I am all of these things. I also find that the good overrides most of the bad. I’m finding that I’m way too hard on myself, and I have a tendency to base a judgement of myself on something that I was accused of once, when I was 10, and not on things I did yesterday. A lot of my negatives, when I think about them, are things I was told as a kid, rather than who I am now. They say that you are who you will always be after about age five. That your “person-hood” is formed, and you cannot change it. Maybe that’s true, to a point, but I’m not a five year old. While my core may be the same, my “go-to” emotion, my “default”, if you will, I am not who I was when I was five. I’ve grown. I’ve matured. I have to share my toys now. Well, sometimes.
This is the “who” list I came up with…
Wife, mother, daughter, friend, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, granddaughter.
These are the “what’s”.
Fearful, broken, flawed, sinful, discontent, impatient, lonely, sad, orphaned, discouraged, sarcastic, usually late, unqualified, forgetful, annoying, often and easily annoyed, sometimes crass, occasionally too blunt, failure, lazy, distracted (I can’t believe that one is so far into the list), obsessive, fidget-y, very often frantic, rude, not compassionate enough, not thoughtful enough, irresponsible, messy, disorganized, inappropriate, selfish, stubborn, I talk too much without saying enough, rant-y, picky, mooch, uncomfortable, too loud, not bold enough, never brave enough, careless, not enough, not ever enough.
These are the things that, if I’m truly honest with myself, I really am…the good things.
Funny, honest, trustworthy, a good friend, a good mom (that one was tough to type), adopted daughter of the living God, talented, so immensely blessed, moderately intelligent.
I am also hungry. Hungry for life. Hungry for brownies.
As far as food goes, I don’t feed myself like I used to. I have learned willpower. I have learned to avoid. To tell myself no. To not have the first one…so I don’t want the third or fourth. To only have a little bit of anything. I’m learning to practice moderation. Those are good, positive things, right?
I need to learn to practice this kind of moderation in the negative…to not dwell on that list so often. I need to learn to stop feeding myself negativity. I need to learn willpower in that area, so that when I’m focusing on the bad, I can realize it, stop myself, and move forward. Maybe a little damaged, but forward, nonetheless.
So why, WHY, is the “bad” list so long? Why can’t I see more positive than negative? I finally just stopped myself when I was typing the negative. It took me several minutes to weigh the good and decide that enough people had told me I was “…” and it was OK to put on the list. Why? Why don’t I see that automatically? Why is OK to me to type out a long list of negatives, but then have to talk myself into the positives?
It’s not a pride issue. It’s not me, being overly humble so you’ll praise me. It’s honesty. It’s the bare, naked, truth. It’s scary to write that. To think that, in a few minutes, this will be out there for anyone to see. But that’s what this is. My place. My place to write. To get all the junk out. To get through things. I have never really found it helpful to journal. Having my crud in a book only makes me want to hide the book. For whatever reason, this is cathartic, this is what helps. I don’t care if anyone reads it, likes it, or whatever. I just have to get it out. Once it’s out, I can move on. It’s like sweeping a porch. You don’t scoop up all the dirt and bring it into the house to dump in the trashcan. You sweep it, and leave the dirt outside. You just let the dust fly. Journaling was always like that for me…like keeping the dirt. When I would journal (before I was married), my journal was found and read on a regular basis. No matter where I hid it, it was found, and I was ridiculed, or judged for what was in it. Sometimes I was punished. Punished for my feelings. For my thoughts. I am much better at blogging than I was at journaling. I have always dreamed of the romantic notion of my kids, someday after I’m long gone, finding a journal of mine, and reading it, and learning about who I was. Well, they will have to read this. It’s not as romantic as the book, but, unlike the book, it will be filled with me.
As far as the positives go, I don’t think any of that about myself on a regular basis. But, for example, I’ve heard over and over that my kids are great. I did have something to do with that, right? So does that make me a good mom? I can list a hundred things that I have failed at…all the things I wish they wanted to do, wished they loved as much as I do, the ways I wish they weren’t like me, the ways I wish they were more like me, the hunger that I wish they had for life, for God, and for clean rooms. They are great kids. I am so blessed to have been able to watch them grow to this point. To see what miracles they are, and think of the amazing ways that God has worked around my failures to make them who they are. I’ve had an amazing partner in raising these kids. I know it’s not all me…it’s not all him…it’s us. But mostly, it’s God. I thank Him every day that I didn’t get a snarly, stubborn, rebellious daughter. Or a son who wants nothing to do with his parents. I don’t have to sit up at night worrying about where they are, or if they’re hurt or scared. I’ve never had a negative call from the Principal’s office. The one negative comment I’ve ever gotten from a teacher? That Jessup “reads too much in class”. I’m not bragging. Just saying that, while my kids are amazing, I still only see the ways I’ve failed them. I see them as amazing, and me as a failure.
I am good at a few things. People ask me to do things to help them out, so I must be good at those things, or they wouldn’t ask, right? I’m good at making lists…if only I were better at remembering to look at the list, and then focused enough to do everything on it. ;)
Wait. See? One positive, and two negatives to go with it. WHY? Why couldn’t I just stop after “I’m good at making lists”?
At the end of the lists of good and bad, at the end of this road I travel too often, here’s where I end up every time. Every single time. The things, the two things that make all of the negative fade away. The things I am constantly forcing myself to remember are these:
I am LOVED. Despite of all my failures. I am loved by the One who made me. I am loved by a God who knows how many hairs are on my head, knows where all my freckles are, and knows that I want a brownie more than all the money in the world.
I am FORGIVEN. Someone died so that I can live. He loved me…a failure…so much that He was the One to come, to pay my debt, and to give me a hope for the future. A hope that, someday, I will not be able to dwell on my failures, but I will dwell on His goodness inside me. When I look in the mirror, I will only see a bright, shiny, loved daughter of the Most High King. All sunshine. No rain.
And, for now, until I can get through the negative, and to a place where I see more positive, those two things are what I have to cling to. What I need to hold on to.
LOVED and FORGIVEN are all I really need to focus on. The rest will come with time…or death. Either way.
There is always a sunrise. Always a new day to open my eyes. To try again.
An ACTUAL conversation…
Jessup hugs me every night…
Barry said something (I can’t remember what), and Jessup said he wasn’t going to hug him tonight.
I said, “Hey, he gave you life. Hug him, too.”
Then…I don’t know what I was thinking…I said, “You know, you’re half sperm.”
His face morphed into a look of disgust, and he said, “Yeah. I try not to think about that. Ever.”
Then he left the room.
Barry hollered out after him, “Goodnight little squirt!”
Jessup’s retort: “Goodnight, Donor”.
We are trying so hard to screw these kids up.