Hiatus

Yes, I am still alive. I’ve been on an unintentional blogging hiatus. We’re all fine, I promise. There’s just been so much……and much that I could, but don’t feel yet comfortable writing about, some things I needed to keep to myself, deal with without putting it on blast. This parenting of teens gig is tough, and I’m learning sometimes we all  need to just huddle and manage within our own little herd.

Also, we traveled over spring break, and while there was some access to wi-fi, we needed time away from the outside world. The trip was everything we needed it to be – family insulation. We drove, we hiked, we biked, we laughed, we played games, we watched movies, we talked. The kids did snip at each other – hard to not lose patience when you’re all confined to an RV rather than a home with all kinds of corners to retreat. But it was an amazing, awesome, beautiful trip.

Someday maybe I’ll share what we’ve been dealing with. Again, it’s nothing super serious, just growing pains. There have been so many emotions, days of worry and anxiety, some anger, some tiny fears. We’re okay, and I will be back, I promise. Just taking some time to handle things WITH my babies rather than processing them on a screen through written words.

I will leave you with this….the Herd hiking in Arches National Park, Utah.

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I Hit My Knees

I grew up in the church.  It has just always been a part of my life. I don’t remember a time I didn’t believe in God, pray, know that Jesus died for me. My faith is a part of me.  I developed a more personal relationship with God as I grew into my teens and college years. Life was not perfect…my Daddy had heart issues, my parents went through a divorce, our family suffered through severe financial struggles. But it was not until Big Man was born that I ever found myself falling to my knees.

When I was admitted to the hospital, just over halfway through my pregnancy, prayers went up at our church, throughout our family and spread through friends.  Once Big Man was born, the network expanded literally around the world. I didn’t realize the extent at the time. We were so caught up in the world of prematurity and the NICU. When you find yourself with your child in the NICU, you enter a new place, a new normal. I prayed continually, but not many of those prayers were very complete. They often came in brief sentences, or parts of sentences. My thoughts were so scattered, the emotions so intense I could not formulate complete thoughts. Sometimes, oftentimes, I was reduced to just saying, “Please,  God.”

When Big Man was about three weeks old, I came home from visiting him with a feeling that something just wasn’t right with him. He didn’t look right. He wasn’t acting the way he normally did.  He had more episodes than usual of apnea/bradychardia. He was fussy. He was too sensitive for me to hold him that day. I tried twice and he dropped his heart rate and stopped breathing both times. So the entire time I was with him that day, I stared at him through the walls of his isolette. When I got home that night, I went into his bedroom. I rarely went in there while he was in the NICU. It was just too hard to see a room all ready for a baby who would not be home for months. It was too difficult to think I should still be pregnant with him. Seeing his empty room brought home the fact I was a daily visitor to my tiny infant in a NICU world full of lights, beeps, alarms, IV lines, sickness and even death, rather than being a complete family under one roof. But that night, I went into his room and stood before his crib. And I hit my knees. I found the words to bargain with God for my son’s life. I cried for all we had lost. I sobbed in fear. And after a long while, I felt some small peace steal over me, like warm, comforting arms wrapping around me. I was not completely at ease, but I had someone stronger than myself to lean on.

We went back to the NICU at 10:30 that night because I was still unable to rest. Turned out Big Man had his own staph infection. It was agonizing news to receive, just when we had begun to think we were out of the woods as far as the scariest time in the NICU with a micro-preemie. Three days later, just before he was scheduled to have a spinal tap, he turned a corner. Within seven days, he’d beaten the infection.

I will never, ever forget that night. I will always remember with such clarity that moment of complete surrender. I can’t say that I never tried to negotiate with God for my son’s life again, but I knew he was not in my hands.  I’ve not hit my knees that way since then, but I know I can.

Bombarded

I have been feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. Anyone else? I couldn’t figure out why for awhile, but then realized how frequently the news, posts on Facebook, tweets, and other television shows had me feeling I was on high alert all the time, constantly  reactionary. More than one friend informed me she’d stopped watching tv, listening to the news, and had gone on a Facebook hiatus for the very reason  we are being continually bombarded with news and stories we MUST react to, positively or negatively, and that is draining us.

I refuse to step away. I feel a responsibility to be fully informed, no matter how draining it might be. I’m wary of those stories and sites that are “fake news”, relying strictly on reputable, respectable resources, and always double-checking their value. If we bury our heads in the sand because we are feeling bombarded isn’t going to make it go away, or make it better. But we all must handle it as best we see fit.

I have learned I need to schedule my social media time, and not look at it last thing at night nor first thing in the morning. If I wake to the real world slowly, and walk away from it before going to sleep at night, I feel much more capable of an appropriate response, of not becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. I have enough going on in this household, managing two teens in  high school who are want to drive me around the bend as it is. I have to learn to deal with all the outside stuff at a level that doesn’t interfere with my ability to parent, to wife, to work. I have re-learned the capacity to compartmentalize to a certain extent. It’s made things much easier. I’m also running a lot more, have returned to yoga and Pilates, and make a point of taking care of myself. My kids are wondering why I’m in “real clothes” and heels (boots) instead of being in yoga pants all the time. Being dressed, make-up on, and with hair done makes me feel better, gives me more confidence, somehow makes me feel more capable of handling whatever life is going to throw at me that day.

The other thing I’ve forced myself to remember is that I don’t HAVE to react to every little thing. I’ve set the bar pretty high, and I don’t engage in debate, most of the time. I love my friends and family, and want to maintain those relationships. A lot of people have yet to learn the skill of scrolling right by a post with an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. Not every article, every post, every personal opinion requires a response. It saves a TON of angst to just keep moving along to those posts of your friend’s kids saying funny things, or what your mom is eating for dinner, or that sunset on the beach in your favorite town in the world. If we focused on how we are the same, instead of how our opinions are different, maybe we’d all be a lot less stressed out. Just my two cents, for whatever their worth.

I’m feeling less bombarded the last few days. I’ve retaken control. It’s refreshing and a relief.

 

That certain point

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to reach that certain point in the Holiday season when I’m tapped out – exhausted mentally, emotionally, physically – from all the demands, all the to-do’s, all the parties, shopping, planning, prep. I live on the verge of tears alternating with angry outbursts for a couple of days, and then it all comes back together again.

I reached that certain point this morning. The kids still have one more day of school after today. The older two are smack in the middle of first semester finals. They’re tired, overwhelmed, cranky, not so nice all the time. Little Man is feeling the stress of an upcoming change in routine. Big Man still needs to go to the mall to do his shopping, but I can’t find it in me to actually take him. My shopping is done, but the wrapping is only about halfway finished. Yet all I want to do is sit on the couch with my coffee, watching random, mindless tv.

Anyone else get in this funk every year? What do you do to pull yourself back up?

 

I didn’t cry

Yesterday, Spouse and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. Wow – our marriage is an adult now! As must be usual on an anniversary, I mentally revisited our wedding day. Like so many other life-changing, significant events, the day is etched in my mind, even though it seemed to fly by, and in spite of the fact so much time has passed.

The Princess has asked about our wedding day, as any young girl will. She asked how I felt as I walked down that aisle towards Spouse. “Did you cry buckets, Mom?” No, I didn’t cry. I’d waited to find just the right person, and I was so ecstatically happy, I simply grinned from ear-to-ear. There’s a photo that shows my Daddy hardly holding it together as he walked with me, and then me, walking next to him, cheesy grin on my face, my eyes lit up. I didn’t know then how much work marriage would be, but I knew I’d been blessed with a man who would work just as much as I to build the life we both wanted. So, I didn’t cry. I didn’t need to cry. I wasn’t even really that nervous about it, other than I really didn’t want to trip on that long walk towards him.

Lots will happen over eighteen years. There’s a country song out right now that says it better than I ever could, “It All Started with a Beer” by Frankie Ballard. You see, we met in a big country bar (think Urban Cowboy). And yes, he bought me a beer. We danced, we talked, I told him I’d go out with him but I was NOT in the market for a boyfriend, at all. And yet, here we are, eighteen years later, three kids, a home, a life together. The song talks about good times and bad, times when money was a problem and times when it wasn’t, times when we’re getting along and times when we aren’t, but more good than bad, and we’re still here. We’ve moved more times than I care to recall, struggled with infertility, had job/career changes, learned what prematurity is and what it will do to a family, been handed miracles, struggled, fought, wondered if we would make it, battled financial troubles (along with the rest of the world it seems), cried, laughed, yelled, sighed. We’ve three gorgeous babies, a happy home, a good life.

If I’d known all this that day eighteen years ago, would I have cried? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I still smile when I think about him (most of the time), still smile when I remember that day, still feel the choice we made to create a life together was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

He just wants to play with him

I’m learning a lot watching the relationship between my boys. Except for a few years, it was just my one brother at home growing up. I know all about the sister relationship, but am figuring out this whole brothers thing.

My boys are at an interesting stage – Big Man is sixteen, a sophomore in high school. Little Man is twelve (he’ll be thirteen in March), a seventh grader, and definitely a lot immature socially and emotionally (thank you autism). Sometimes, they are the best of friends. More frequently, Big Man has better things to do with his time than hang out with his twelve-year-old sibling. It’s in those times Little Man really struggles and often breaks down. He just wants to play with his older brother.

Last night, I watched them lay on the family room floor, watching videos together and laughing like fools for nearly two hours. Little Man was SO happy; the joy evident on his face. He was in the golden circle of his big brother’s attention. Big Man engaged with Little Man on his level. He took interest in what Little Man had to show him. It just made me smile.

There are times these two go at each other. I used to try to stop them, but Spouse insists it’s normal for them to be competitive with each other, to argue with each other to yelling levels, to wrestle and push each other. They are practicing social and relationship skills they will use later in life, within the safety net of family and home. It makes sense when you think about it. And I should have been used to the idea, given I did the same with my sister when we were younger. It just looks a LOT different with girls. I watch Little Man look up to and hero worship his big brother. Sometimes, Big Man revels in that adoration, sometimes it is just an irritant to him.

I love the moments they are hanging out together, but I also try to honor Big Man’s need to be the older brother, have his space, and allow him to say no when he really doesn’t want to be bothered. When they’re adults, I hope they remember how they came to be best friends.

Creativity guest blog

It’s funny how life circles back, especially with the advent of social media. I’ve had the amazing gift of reconnecting with people whom I shared such growing-up experiences. One of those, Siv, a friend from college and fellow blogger, asked me earlier this year to write a guest post for a series she’s doing. I jumped at the chance and then of course asked myself “Well, now what?”  I had time as my date was the end of November, so I put it in the back of my mind. But then it was November and I had to put my mind to it. The subject was wide open – Creativity/Creating. You can read it here: https://milagromama.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/creating-a-written-history

While you’re there, check out the rest of her writing and guest bloggers. It’s been a joy to get to know her again as a seasoned adult as compared to the young college students we knew then.