Tag Archives: gratitude

These Are Days

These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs

I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?

I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos.  We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.

One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.

One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.

This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.

I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.

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Filed under fear, self-confidence, truth

I’m a Guest Blogger! What?

Today, I am guest blogging on SoberMommies.

Yesterday, I reflected on motherhood, gratitude and 9/11.  This time it’s personal.  This was probably the most difficult post I have written to date- sharing my story is hard, especially when it wasn’t a story I wanted anyone to know.  There is a saying that our secrets keep us sick and my secret could have easily made me very sick.  I share my hope today and my gratitude for others who positively listen and love me.

Reflections of Gratitude on 9/11
The other day, I cleaned the boys’ bathroom.  It was disgusting.  If you have sons, you know what I am talking about.  Running to the toilet, barely making it types of messes.  Dirt and grime around the sink, and the remnants of soccer practice and recess all over the tub.  As I scrubbed, trying not to throw up in my mouth, I thought about women I know-  mothers who may never get to complain and feel grossed out by such things.  READ MORE

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Filed under fear, Food, Motherhood, Personal Growth, What Really Happened

Fall Asleep, Love

—Must a little weep, Love,
(Foolish me!)
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.

“A Woman’s Last Word”, by Robert Browning

There is only one thing worse that an overtired little kid.  An overtired little kid, his overtired brother and their overtired mom, all trying to make it to bedtime without losing their s#!t completely.  It really is just a matter of time and I am certain about one thing.  This. Will.  Suck.

We went to dinner, one kid was climbing the rails (literally) and the other kept interrupting.  I yelled.  Some lady told me that my kid was putting quarters too close to his mouth and was going to choke.  I’m assuming she was being helpful and nice but in my state, she had laser beams of judgement shooting out of her eyes and talon-like nails, perfect for finger wagging.  I just smiled, said thank you and that he has already swallowed a dime and penny in his short 4 years, 11 months and 11 days on Earth so far, so I’ll be sure to keep an eye on him.  We ate.  We left.  After we had some food in us, it all seemed a little bit better.  I told the kids to go in the backyard to play and let them have ice cream cones.  I plopped on my bed and goofed off online.  Things were looking up, but Little Guy’s exhaustion got the better of him and he fell apart.  This is where the story should get really sucky and I start ranting about how cuckoo these babies were.

But here’s what really happened:

I hugged Big One, who kept trying to crawl into bed and cuddle with me while I having some quiet time.  While I asked Little Guy to get ready for his bath, I explained that we needed to just love Little Guy through this and help him get to bed.  What I know as a mom is that when my kids are that wiped out and just a wreck, there is no use in doing anything except love them through it.  I can’t say it was without its moments- he drank bath water and splashed me when I told him it wasn’t okay and it was time to get out of the tub.  He fell into hysterics when I said it was time to actually go to sleep.  I had to carry him up the ladder of his bunk bed and just hold him as he sobbed and insisted that he ‘really wasn’t very tired’.  30 minutes, a drink of water and a proper set up of stuffed monkeys in his bed, Little Guy was asleep.

I went into the living room and cuddled Big One for the next 45 minutes.  At one point, he thanked me for spending some alone time, just me and him.  He is older and not as demanding as his little brother, but I realized that his need for me to give him my love and attention are just as present and real.  Loving him through those feelings is so special to me and I am so grateful for it.  We watched a bit of TV and he put his head on my chest, twirling my hair like he did when he was so small.  He went to bed without issue and I hugged him so tight.  When I came into my room a bit later to write this, I found that he had snuck into my bed AGAIN.  I think I’ll let him stay tonight.

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August 11, 2013 · 10:32 pm

Beautiful Day to be Mom(Me)

Beautiful Day to be Mom(Me)

“Why don’t you just go to the beach?” asked my good friend, Osco.

Being from the midwest, it often escapes me that I can just go to the beach. It was 3 p.m. on a Friday, and I was in the mood to get in the water. In a moment, I ran home, put on my swimming bits and pieces, grabbed towels and suits for the boys and grabbed them from camp.  I figured an hour or so at the beach would be enough.

My past behavior started suggesting that this would end badly (see post, Workin’ at the Carwash), but I decided to let contrary action prevail. Man, am I ever grateful that I did. We let the waves crash into us, trying to guess which ones would be strong and which would be weak. Big One loves to go in further and further, jumping into the waves, while Little Guy holds my hand and we try to challenge it to knock us down.  When they had enough, they went to bury each other in the sand.

I saw their laughter, their joy, and took a moment to really enjoy being their mom. A moment to really enjoy the waves, the beauty of the ocean. And I acknowledge that it’s really a blessing that I get to live like this.  I will try and remember this when they start driving me nuts.  Like now… as I write this post.

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August 3, 2013 · 4:08 pm

Under the Sea

I am underwater.  I can see the surface and when I need to get a breath, I try to swim to the top but my foot is tangled in something below.  The harder I try to get loose, the deeper in I am pulled.  I can feel my body getting tired and tight from the struggle and my breath is getting harder and harder to find.  I am not willing, however, to give up.  I scream and fight and realize that this is only making it worse.  If I could just stop for a  moment and relax, just float, my foot might free itself and I would make it to the surface and to the air I need.  This is a nice thought, but I am stubborn and believe that I must fight.  I must be stronger than whatever is holding me down and I must prove that I am in control.

But I’m not in control.  I am drowning.

I didn’t want to go to the aquarium the other day with the kids.  I knew that Little Guy would love it, but Big One gets bored easily and like me, doesn’t love the big crowds and chaos of museums and similar places.  In spite of this, I was willing to try.  I would be with Osco- she really enjoys these types of things and is always happy to assist with the kids.  I swear, now that I think about it, she was carrying an air tank on her back, knowing full well that I was going to need it.  But you see, it has always been hard for me to let others help me.  I have lived by some mythical code that says I need to be in control and always capable of superhuman power and strength.  That even when I know I am losing my mind, even when I am hormonal and tired and hungry and a million other things, I still need to attempt perfection and keep control.  When I become willing to step back and think about this honestly, I can admit that I went in with the attitude that I was going to jump in the water with cement shoes and show everyone how quickly I can drown.

But I didn’t drown.  Despite my best attempts to sabotage the day, I forgot about the safeguards I now have in place to remind me that I am not alone.  One of those steps is letting my authentic self show itself to the world around me, even when it isn’t pretty and learning that there are people who care about me, not in spite of my defects, but because of them.  So when Osco said, “Go sit down.  I’ve got this,” and took the kids to pet stingrays and feed birds, she didn’t ask if I was drowning, she grabbed me and put on the air mask she had been carrying around the whole time.  Reluctantly, I kept it on until I could breathe on my own again.

The best part of the day, was when Big One told me it was one of the best days since he turned 7.  While I am was so busy trying to be perfect and in control and worrying about being a good mom and losing my mind, they just love me and enjoy the world around them.  If I really want to be a good mom, I will pay attention to how they live and let them remind me to float and breathe and when I can’t do that, let those who love me help.

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal Growth, What Really Happened