Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sometimes you have no other choice than to move foward

There are somethings I forget people don’t know about me until we start talking. Like how I met my husband Robby online—something that usually draws a few laughs because the online dating world has changed a bit since the days I referred to my new boyfriend as Mr. EHarmony.

It’s been 7 years since I met my husband online. And while taking a second stab at marriage has turned out to be one of the best things I decided to do, each relationship always seems to provide its own set of issues.

We all know that no marriage or family is perfect, but we make other people think our lives are really better than they are, with staged pics on social media or the way we clean the hell out of the house before company arrives. I’m guilty of it even though I try to act like being human doesn’t bother me.

Being human sometimes can take its toll on the best of us. I’ve had many moments of being human from raising a special needs child who can’t go to the birthday parties with the bouncy houses and having to act like it’s fine because we “already had other really cool plans.” Or acting like I liked being alone on holidays or Valentines after I was divorced because I was “so much happier alone.” The time I had to go on government assistance so I could take care of my children after my divorce or trying to keep up with my richer friends in my old neighborhood and acting like I had other plans when I had to turn them down for vacation offers or weekends on the beach.

I hate for people to feel sorry for me. I hate that "pity" look you get or the way people try to “help you” by bringing over free food and clothes or offering to do something cheaper so you can join along. Over time, things like that usually mean less to you—if you’re lucky enough to learn that life is so much bigger than you and those little things don’t really matter.

And it’s the fact that I’ve always tried to avoid the pity that makes what I’m about to talk about so hard. But if I’ve learned anything through this blog, it’s that when I’m honest, I’m better and I always connect to someone else who understands how I feel. So hopefully I can do that with this.

When I met Robby 7 years ago, I learned—right before our first date—that he has end stage kidney failure and does dialysis every night at home. We joke now about how difficult it is to bring up kidney disease in a conversation, but damn it’s hard.  There are few conversations in life that can seamlessly lead to “I have end stage kidney failure.”

But, during one of our many phone calls when we first connected online,  I told him about having a daughter who has a rare disease called Arthrogryposis and how she has bilateral clubfeet and joint contractures and it makes it hard for her to walk. He said, “I understand that. I also have a hard time walking.” And I stopped talking. I was not expecting that. See, when you do the online dating thing, you do that thing where you put your best face forward. It’s part of what make the stories of online dating so funny because we’ve all had that person we met who looked nothing like the photos that were posted or who really didn’t enjoy all the activities they listed on their profile. 

So, I asked Robby what he meant, and he explained his kidney disease and the type of dialysis he did. After we got off the phone, I looked it up. I had never known anyone on dialysis. As far as I knew, it was a death sentence. I read for hours about what causes kidney disease—is it curable? Can you do dialysis forever? Does it get worse? Will you die soon?

And the big question I had to continue to ask myself as I got to know Robby better—is this something I want to take on in my life? After everything I had already been through in my life, did I really want to make a life with a person who was already on dialysis?

But as I got to know Robby and we began to fall in love, I made the decision that it was something I could take on. He takes care of himself and his medical needs and wouldn’t need to depend on me for that.  And he never has.

I had already learned that life was a gamble. There was so much about my ex that I didn’t know when I married him that came out later and ruined our relationship. With Robby, I knew right up front what to expect. There were no hidden surprises—and there are no guarantees in life. Life can change at the snap of a finger. You can avoid having a really loving relationship with a wonderful person because you’re scared his kidney disease is going to end his life super early or become this constant issue that makes your life really hard. Or you can do your research, learn the facts and move forward.

I had to make my decision before I let Robby meet the kids. I had to be really OK with the kidney disease. I knew that. I told a few people and their reactions were what I expected—Are you sure you want to bring that into your life? And I was surprised how OK I was with saying, “Yes. I am OK.”

Along the way, Robby’s kidney disease has really not been the big dramatic factor in our lives that I think most people think it would be. He has his dialysis handled and we live like a pretty normal, boring family. It does make it hard when we want to travel, and Robby can’t travel overnight on his own. But we don’t have many opportunities to travel any way.

There are days when he has no energy and just sleeps and there are times when he gets really frustrated with the whole thing. And sometimes it wears on me as well. Some days he cries. Some days I cry.  

Which is why Robby has decided to make the move to get a kidney transplant. Here is his announcement:

Right now, he is hoping for a live transplant but he’s keeping his option open and just seeing where this whole process takes us.

And while many people keep saying, “Oh that’s great. Congratulations!” It’s not really a “great” thing and it’s hard to explain that to people. It reminds me of when Veronica would have surgery and people would say, “That’s great—so now her foot will be normal?” It’s like some people believe surgery can fix everything and make you “normal.” There are some diseases that will just keep you from ever being "normal" or living a pain free life. 

And Robby has had a hard time dealing with the whole thing because it means he has to depend on another person to have surgery and give up one of their organs to help him. That can really mess with your mind. I know there are times when he feels like maybe it’s just too much to ask and he should just keep with the dialysis and see how long he can live.

We are trying to figure out how in the world we are going to pay for all of these trips to and from the hospital. How much work can we afford to miss? What happens when our insurance quits paying for the anti-rejection meds after 5 years? Who is going to help us with the kids? What happens if the transplant is rejected?

But, we are reasonable people and we know that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out and hopefully this time next year, all of these questions will be past memories and new chapter of our lives will be in full swing.

Sometimes when I’m having trouble figuring out things, I try to imagine that I am someone else and I try to think about the advice I would give that person. If we were someone else, I would say, “You have to go for it. All of those other things will fall into place. But you can’t live forever on dialysis and if you wait too long, you won’t even be eligible for a transplant.”

So, here’s to taking risks, moving forward and letting people help us. And if you end up feeling sorry for us, that’s OK.  Being human can make you do that, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A letter to my former counselor and present day coward

This has been a challenging week for many of us--especially those with kids in schools or with friends/family who work in schools as teachers, administrators, police officers, janitors or other jobs in and around schools. Another school shooting. I'm not going to discuss the gun debate or my feelings on the issue but I am going to say this has been an inspiring week of watching teens stand up and be vocal. And no matter what isle of the debate you stand on, there is no denying it takes a serious amount of guts to stand in front of legislators and speak from the heart. These teens have earned the right to be angry and I think we need to search for ways to make them feel safe again. 
This week also brought about the thought of someone I used to think about a lot but haven't really thought about much lately--our former family counselor. Back in 2015, I had a big court hearing over custody. I won't go into details except to say that when you go into court, as a parent you are not allowed to speak for your children. They have to have some sort of advocate--it can be a teacher or another attorney--or your trusted family counselor who has been treating your children for the 3 past  years. 
That family counselor had told me in the past that she doesn't go to court because she had a bad court experience before. She didn't tell me this of course, until I needed her to go to court with me. She was such an important person in my daughter's care, that when I went to court that time, I did so without her--against the advice of my lawyer--because I didn't want to lose her in our lives and felt the court system would listen and protect my kids. 
If you have been to court before, you also know it doesn't play out like it does on television. You don't get to have 'your day' in court and sometimes the judge makes a ruling before he's even seen all the evidence or listened to what you have to say. 
But this time around at court, I needed the counselor to help. I asked if she would just write a letter. She refused and got an attorney and went out of town so we couldn't find her. The judge ruled that the children should go back to normal visitation and that was that. I called her office and asked her to please contact the judge and help us, she ignored me and then a few days later a certified letter arrived at my house informing me she could no longer treat me or my children. 
I was so angry. After everything that had just happened with the courts and what was going on with my children, to have someone I trust so much turn her back on my children was devastating. I could understand if she didn't want to help me, but to know what was going on with my children and then turn her back on them was maddening. 
Yesterday, I finally decided to write a letter back to her. I have pasted it below but I have removed her name and the details of the court hearing for privacy reasons. I guess it just sums up how a tragedy unrelated to you can still hit home and make you realize we all have to look out for each other because you never know when that person that you thought was going to protect your children, chickens out and stands outside watching like a helpless coward...

Dear ....,
Normally I start a letter off with, ‘hi, how are you?’ or ‘I hope this letter finds you well,’ but this isn’t that kind of letter. It’s also not a letter to rant or call you names. I honestly haven’t thought of you in a very long time. Every once in a while, I end up in ... and a thought of you pops up but that’s about it. Sometimes Roni will ask me what ever happened to you or what she should do if she runs into you somewhere, but that’s about it.

So, why write to you now? To be honest, this letter has rolled around in my head several times, but I knew I was too angry to write it. I also didn’t know if I would be pulled back into court for another custody hearing and the last thing I needed was for you to angrily come after me. You’re probably thinking, ‘but I’d never do that.’ Yes, but I never thought you’d turn your back on my children either.

Now that we’re caught up, let’s address why on earth I would decide to spend my Saturday morning writing a letter to you? Because I thought about you again these past few days and I realize I’m not too angry to write this letter to you. I thought of you when I saw the report of the armed guard at the school in Florida who got scared and stayed outside the school rather than go inside and help—even though that was his job to protect those children and it’s what he is trained and licensed to do.

Many people have asked, why did he do that? We all know he was scared. No one can blame him for having fear--But to allow that fear to make you sit back and watch children hurt is something that separates people on this planet. It’s the kind of fear that makes someone hide in her office and take the time to buy and mail a certified letter to a former patient that reads, “Mr. Wade. I will not be able to provide any services or treatment for you or your children.”

My best guess is that something happened to you in your past that wounded you in some way. That’s probably why you became a social worker. You probably in some way try to convince yourself that you became a social worker to help people—but I bet if you really get down to it, you wanted to help yourself. Just like how you wanted to help and protect yourself rather than two helpless children that needed you.  Maybe you don’t even see it that way? We never really see ourselves for who we really are, do we?

But unlike the officer who hid outside the school, you chose to continue on as a social worker. You continue to operate a business in ... and you most likely continue to treat and help families-- so long as they never need you to be an advocate for them in public. I find that very dangerous. I find it irresponsible and I find it reprehensible that you choose to carry that responsibility.

It’s none of my business why you chose to not show for court or help out and then turn your back on my children. And to be honest, I really don’t care what your reason is. You can continue to tell yourself, ‘I told her from the start that I wouldn’t go to court.’ And maybe that’s what helps you sleep at night. It doesn’t really matter the reason, the only thing that matters is that you sat back and allowed children to be hurt—psychologically hurt. The kind of damage that takes years of therapy to unravel and heal.

When something like this happens, I always try to sit back and meditate on what purpose this hurt served in our lives. Why did this need to happen? Maybe if you had shown up in court, it would have just further prolonged the inevitable and made this whole ordeal stretch out even longer, possibly causing more damage. Who knows? We’ll never know and that’s OK.

And much like my ex-husband, you got us to a point in our lives where we needed to get to. You did help us and I will be forever grateful ... for how you offered to treat her for free when I wasn’t sure if I could continue to make payments.

I’m not going to wish you well—I’m going to ask you to consider to either start advocating for children you treat or retire and leave the real therapy to people who have the guts to walk into court and not hide outside the door while children are being hurt.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sometimes I just get really, really mad

Another week down, another week of life lessons. Sometime those lessons make you learn something about yourself, but sometimes, they make you learn more about someone else.  

It’s a little funny to me when people say, I can’t imagine you ever getting mad—you seem so quiet.

And I am quiet a lot of the times. I don’t like to be that person at work who is always running their mouth about something or the person at a dinner party who is ruling the conversation. I like to sit back and listen and choose my words carefully. So, it takes a while for some people to get to know me.
But I can assure, I do get mad. Most everyone does at some point. Some are quick to anger—some people even find it acceptable to bang on their desks or hit the walls when they are angry. Some people let it simmer until it boils over. I’m more like the latter—the slow burn, the slow to react.

I try not to hold it all in, because when the anger boils over, it typically catches people off guard and then I get the whole—why didn’t you say something sooner? Or, “I had no idea you felt that way. You seemed fine when we talked.” 

Most the time, the my response is, I didn’t want to make a big deal about it or it just didn’t seem like the right time to bring it up. Or, I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings. And quite honestly, sometimes it’s just not worth it. I’ve done so much fighting for so long that I’m much slower to battle these days because I’d rather put my energy somewhere else—unless it’s worthy of a battle.

Like one of the things that happened this past week--Veronica falling at school and hurting herself. I do feel that it was the school’s fault on some level because I feel it’s their job to provide a safe environment for her. They are aware of her disability and the fact that when she falls, she can really hurt herself badly. So, if the floor in a certain area is super slippery and people are falling down, then you need to---as Negan would say—shut that shit down.

But they didn’t, and she fell. Several days after her fall, I decided I had enough time to think about what to say to them, so I requested a meeting with school officials. They explained they did everything they could and it was just an accident….but to me it wasn’t that simple. It was careless. You can’t tell me in one breath that the floor was so bad you had extra staff mopping all day and then say, it was just a random accident.

Also, I slipped on the floor when I showed up to get her—there was something wrong with the floor surface and it felt like butter. Which I pointed out after they said there was really nothing they could have done to make the floor safer for her. But, they spent most of the time showing ME what I could have done to prevent the accident like providing a wheelchair to prevent trips and falls and then the quick mention that they noticed in the video of her fall she looked at her cell phone screen—“she needs to pay attention when the floor is wet…” And so on.

I sat quietly, listening. Waiting. Nodding. But it never came. The words I wanted to hear—We’re sorry. What can we do to fix this? How can we make this right?

Right? Isn’t that what you say when you know you messed up. Isn’t that the human thing to say? To offer an apology and a way to make things better?

But so many people can’t say that. They spend so much time explaining why they did something or said something or acted a certain way. They defend themselves by pointing out what YOU should have done better or what YOU didn’t do even if it has nothing to do with the situation.

I get it. No one wants to be wrong. No one wants to admit they screwed up. Most people don’t like to say “I’m sorry.” And some people refuse to.

My ex used to say to me, “I didn’t hurt your feelings, you allowed your feelings to get hurt,” or my favorite—“I didn’t make you mad, you allowed yourself to get mad.” That’s worse than telling me to calm down.

But, I think on some level that is true. We can ignore people and not let our feelings get hurt--or not allow someone to make us mad.

But that’s not easy when it comes to someone you are supposed to trust, and it’s even harder when it someone who is supposed to love you back.

And what’s wrong with getting mad every once in a while? What’s wrong with blowing your top and saying, “I’ve had enough!” Especially if you know your feelings are true—because they are your feelings and your feelings are just as important as everyone else’s feelings. Right?

I don’t know if I’m mad at the school for not apologizing or I’m just mad at the entire situation. It’s hard to separate the two. I have a lot of anxiety about Veronica falling and hurting herself—I find myself laying in bed and thinking about her going off to college and falling in the showers at the dorm and I’m not there to make sure the floors are safe. I guess it’s silly in some ways to worry so much about something that might not even happen, but it is something that pops in my mind.

And, I can’t always turn that off. I can’t always turn off my worries. I can’t always turn off my thoughts. And I know, I can’t always turn off my feelings, especially when it comes to people I’m supposed to trust.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hurt people, hurt people

Ok, so the blog is back. What happened? Let me try to quickly catch you up on my life--and then we can get to business.

The last time I wrote, I had lost my job. I spent the next almost year and half working from home writing. I did everything from news writing, to business writing, script writing and book editing—and somehow I paid the bills and survived. I got a full-time job at a television station as a digital producer and I still carry a pretty heavy load of freelance work--so basically, I spend everyday writing and getting paid for it which is pretty incredible in my book—especially when I look at how many people I went to grad school with who also have an MFA in Writing and work other jobs.

During my unemployment, I was pretty depressed. I spent a lot of time alone. I wished I would have continued my blog, but it was just too much stress. My blog had been used against me in court and the it seemed when I stopped writing, things would remain quiet. So, I decided to just put it on the back burner for a while, work on other projects and live my life.
It’s funny now that I look back on it. I went through the blog and unpublished the posts that seemed to make someone so mad—the ones that he brought to court in a binder. I read through those posts and realized that weren’t really that explosive. The whole thing seems silly now.
When I started this blog several years ago, the point was to tell my story. It was never to embarrass anyone or get some sort of revenge. It was to try to heal my heart—to try to be at peace in my life. I didn’t use names, I didn’t post photos. I didn’t do screen shots or anything else. I just wrote from my heart.

And I wrote my story. The story that belongs to me. The story I get to tell because of the things that happened to me—whether it was during my childhood or my troubled marriage or being a single mom—it was my story to tell.
So, as I continue to try to heal and make my life better, I am going to continue my blog because it helped me and because I had so many people reach out to me and thank me for writing it—and thank me for being honest.

It’s weird now that we live in this world where if you don’t like what is being reported in the news, you can just say “fake news” --and some people will believe you. You don’t like what people write about? Just accuse them of trying to destroy you… Sound familiar?

It’s a tool that sociopaths use and for the most part, it usually gets them what they want. And in my experience, when you have to deal with sociopaths, it’s best to not engage at all.

I realized during my last go-around with the ex that what I was doing wasn’t working—because when you have to deal with people like that, nothing works. So, I stopped. I stopped everything. I stopped the blog, I stopped fighting, I stopped worrying. I stopped talking about it. I was done. I decided I wouldn’t spend another dime on fighting. I wouldn’t spend any more of my own energy on it. Someone else could figure it out because I was done trying to make things better and I couldn’t pretend I didn’t care. I focused on healing and living the next chapter of our lives.

My dad has a saying, “Hurt people, hurt people.”

It’s a simple phrase but very powerful. The pain the kids and I were being put through was being done by a very hurt person. And there was nothing I could say or do that would make that stop. Hurt people can’t help but to hurt others. All we can do is live our lives and hope that person finds a way to not be so hurt.

Sometimes you think you have learned a lesson or something about yourself--and then once you make that connection, you somehow won’t continue to make that same mistake again, right?   When I started healing myself years ago, I realized that I try to control everything in my life. It’s something that happens when you are wounded as a child—it makes you vulnerable to spend your life with addicts.

But I can’t control everything and I can’t “unhurt” people around me. I can’t make their pain better. They must do that themselves. All I can do, is protect myself, protect my children.

And I have to remember that if someone is hurting us, it’s because they are hurt and so long as they are hurt, they will never stop hurting us. And it’s best to just stop before you start hurting yourself.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Picking up the pieces

After what happened yesterday, I’m surprised to find myself sitting at my computer typing a blog entry.
My blog, yes my terrible blog. The one that is the center of attention for one lonely audience.
I don’t get it. I always believed that the truth will set you free and that if you do something for the right reason, only good will prevail.
I really don’t know what I believe anymore. I really don’t know what to think about this world and the people living in it.
I guess so many people have turned apathetic because of the bad apples. You know, the people who ruin it for the rest of us.
The people who really don’t care about anyone but themselves. The people who would rather get their way than listen to reason.
I keep trying to wrap my brain around why anyone would ignore the truth. 
Someone once told me, “You can’t hide from God.”
The statement resonates in my mind a lot these days. It doesn't matter what you say or how you try to take the spotlight off yourself by pointing fingers and putting the blame on everyone else, because in the end, you can’t hide from God.
I’m glad to know that no matter what happens or how twisted things get, in the end, I won’t have to hide from God or anyone else. I won’t have to explain why I made the choices I made, because I made them for the right reason and I made them in an attempt to protect the innocent people in my life who depend on me to protect them.
I do need someone out there to help and listen and hopefully that person will come into my life and help.  But at this point, I’m not going to hold my breath.
I guess in the end, I can just take comfort in the fact that when my time comes, I won’t want to hide. I can hold my head high knowing that I have done my best and made the best decisions based on trying to do what is right.
I still believe the truth will set you free even if lying gets people what they want. All I can do is be honest. I don’t know how not to be honest.
I’m hurt today and my heart is very heavy, but I have to believe that the truth will be seen and heard, and more importantly, the right person will step in and get us off the constant loop of ups and downs.

All I want is peace and peace for my family and the ability to protect them. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Everyone else wants me to be happy

I really should be doing something else besides writing this morning. I have stacks of laundry to put away, I’m going out of town and need to pack, and my house is crazy.

But it’s been one of those weeks of so many ups and a few really low downs, that I know I need to sit and write out some of these feelings.

Highs: Luke made it to the top 12 of The Voice. It’s so surreal hearing his name on TV and seeing him perform.

But it’s also not that crazy either. People keep asking me, “What’s it like to see your brother all famous now?”

To be honest, it’s really not that different except that now I have this peace in my heart when I think about him. I don’t worry about him like I used to when I knew he was struggling to make his career work. He’s worked really hard to get to this spot, so it’s a peaceful joy, not a “how did this happen?”

And I guess celebrity doesn’t affect me like it does some other people—of course I have never met Dave Grohl so there is no definitive proof that I won’t go all fan girl on a celebrity.

I interviewed Luke yesterday for a story I’m doing for the newspaper and he said something that I think sums it all up—the most important thing in life is to be a good human.

That’s my parents’ phrase and it was drilled into us growing up. They would both say, “Nothing is more important than being a good human and raising good children.”

Sure they are proud of our accomplishments, but none of that would matter if we were jerks or miserable.

And I believe that. Just be a good human and if you have children, raise them to be good humans,  everything else is just cake.
Other highs: The job has been fun this week, hanging out with celebrity chefs in swanky hotels and cooking classes and I had some fun interviews about some of my favorite events going on in Savannah.
And Savannah is so beautiful this time of year—nothing beats walking around downtown in the middle of the day in the fall. It’s just so beautiful here.

Another high: Took my daughter to high school night at her school. Yes, my baby is going to high school
next year.

The way schools in Savannah work is so much different than what I grew up with. There are several good high schools in town and they all have different specialty programs like culinary arts, cosmetology, pre-med, engineering, advanced biology, marketing and business.

So the high schools set up shop in the school gym and we went to each booth to hear their pitch and figure out where she wants to apply.

My kids already go to the performing and visual arts school so we’re used to the audition process for school, but this opportunity gives Roni a chance to look at doing something different.

After three years of art, she’s ready to try something new and hopefully she go on to the performing and visual arts high school but she wants to do something different.

I was so proud of her, watching how grown up she has become—she was asking questions and really engaging the school rep. It was like watching a much younger version of me, except way better.

I don’t worry about her like I used to—she’s so much smarter and talented than I was at her age and she’s got stuff figured out. She already has her 10 year plan and it actually sounds like a good one.

Now on to the lows—Ugh! It seems like I just can’t win sometimes!

Things have been so peaceful at home lately that I forgot what it was like to have my cage rattled and so when it got rattled this week it hit me hard.

I guess it hit me harder than usual because I’m so freaking tired of this. I can’t even describe how tired I am. I’m exhausted physically and emotionally.

I’m so tired of dealing with someone else’s stupid mess. I’m so tired of it affecting my family and my life. I’m tired of shelling out so much money every time stupid pops its head up.

I still can’t go into detail about what’s going on with all this mess, but I hope it will end. But it’s not going to end any time soon, I know that.

So, after I got the news that we have to go back to court, I was wiped out and I had to leave the office for a bit to get some fresh air and to take care of some other business.

I sat down in a lady’s cubicle while she made copies for me. She had a cute work space with photos of her grandchildren and her awards and certificates.

Then I spotted a piece of paper hanging behind her computer screen—I assume it’s a mantra she reads during the day to keep her upbeat.

The words printed were a collection of simple phrases:
“There is a God.”
“He controls the world.”
“He created me.”
“He is a loving God.”
“He wants me to be happy.”

I read the mantra over and over until I had it memorized. Each time I repeated the phrase in my head, tears welled up.

Sometimes I forget, despite the actions of one person who was some control in my life, there are so many others out there who love me and want me to be happy.

And most importantly, I know God wants me to be happy. This crap I’ve had to deal with for the past 5 years isn’t a punishment to me, my kids and my family.

It’s some sort of crazy life lesson that is supposed to in some roundabout way lead me to happiness—real happiness.

That is the point of life, right? To find that peace, find that inner happiness, be a good human.

These things that rattle my cage may always be in my life. I have to accept that. Hoping that this whole thing will just go away may never happen. I have to accept that.

I have to remember that we all want to be happy, but even more important is the realization that our parents, our children, our spouses, our siblings, our friends and our creator want us to be happy.

That’s part of what is means to be a good human—you have to find that inner happiness in spite of the crap that is thrown at you. You have to be happy for yourself—it’s contagious. It trickles down to your children, your spouse, your friends and anyone else you come in contact with.

Walking out of that office I realized I owe it to the world to be happy. I owe it my children. I owe it to my husband. I owe to my parents and my siblings. I owe it to God. And most importantly, I owe it to myself. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just breathe

I’m so glad it’s Friday. Even better, it’s payday, and I get to just have a moment to sit and think in silence.

The mornings are crazy around here. Our schedules this year are different than in the past. The past two years, Robby left almost an hour before the kids had to go to school, so I would get up early with him and we’d have about 30 minutes of quiet time where we’d get to sit together at the dining room table and just drink coffee and talk.

It was a great time to talk about stuff and get perspective—and to reconnect.

We don’t have that anymore.

The kids have to leave at the same time as Robby so now it’s this crazy whirlwind of trying to get the kids fed and get their lunches packed.

If Robby is lucky, he can wedge his hand into a small space and grab a cup of coffee. I don’t even think he drinks coffee at home any more—I’m not even sure, I just know that I am left with almost a full pot of coffee after the whirlwind exits the house.

There really isn’t anything better than that moment when the bus pulls away and both kids are safely tucked inside with all their bags and clothes on and lunch boxes packed. It’s like I crossed the finish line of a marathon and everyone is happy and cheering.

I don’t think there is a more quiet moment than when the bus pulls away and I walk into the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at the computer to catch up on work emails and personal stuff.
It’s weird when I look back on all the years I spent at home with the kids—day in day out, rarely a break let alone quiet moments.

But I loved being at home with them. It was like I couldn’t get enough of it—well sometimes. I still feel the same way—on those lazy weekends when we get to be together, there is nothing better than just sitting on the couch, snuggled up in blankets and watching mindless movies.

It’s weird to be one of those working moms now. Even after several years, I still have a hard time adjusting to new schedules and routines and balancing work and finding time to make sure everyone has what they need.

I think the hardest part is making time for me. I’m not talking about spa days or trips out of town with girlfriends. I can’t afford that crap any way.

I’m talking about sitting down and forcing myself to process my feelings. Especially lately. So much has happened to us in such a short amount of time--but if I stop to reflect, I can see that things have been stressful for a long, long time.

I don’t know what it does to a body to constantly take on stress and not take the time to process it.

I know that before the kids got out for summer break last school year, I was under so much stress worrying about the kids that my neck locked up and I could barely move my head from side to side. I remember driving Jude to karate that day and tears coming down my face every time I had to look over my shoulder to see if oncoming traffic was coming. When Robby met me there he said I looked horrible—he almost didn’t recognize me.

I knew I didn’t feel well, but I hadn’t taken the time to really let it sink in that I was making myself sick with worry and stress.  I thought I had it all under control.

Something had to change. Something, but what?

What could I change? I had no control over so many things in my life.

I finally realized I had to do something that I rarely did. I decided to take care of myself the same way I take care of everyone else. I think as Moms (and Dads) we tend to not do that enough, or at all.

I went to the doctor and got a checkup.  To my surprise, I was completely healthy—blood work was perfect and on the outside I seemed better than most. I took a moment to thank God for my health—what would my kids do if I got really sick? What would Robby do?

The doctor tried to get me to take pain meds for my neck, but that’s a no go—I don’t like meds and I can’t afford to be comatose at night with two children and a husband on dialysis. Plus, pain meds don’t heal—they only mask what is really going on.

I started seeing a homeopathic chiropractor and his diagnosis was simple—“You are under so much constant stress and you are so tight and stiff, your neck has lost its natural curve.”

Despite being broke, I was able to push some money aside and my mom chipped in and I was able to start treatment with him and he fixed my neck.

But doing something for me was also healing in a way. 

But I also had to change what I was doing.

Unfortunately, I think most of us tend to not continue to take care of ourselves properly when we aren’t in pain.

My neck is hurting again. I can’t think of the last time I sat and tried to process everything that is going on with us right now. I can’t think of the last time I sat and had coffee with my husband and talked about our day.

I know we are no different than most busy families. Life has ups and downs and I’m hoping things will slow down eventually and we can all catch a breath.  

But ignoring your feelings and not taking time to process your feelings and reflect on your life and your health is just another way of masking your symptoms, not much different than taking those pain meds.

Sometimes we need the pain meds—sometimes we truly have heath issues or injuries and we need the meds so we can be and feel better. Sometimes we aren’t ready to face the pain.

But sometimes, those pain meds become a crutch. They become a way to cope.

I think I do the “not processing” thing or the “I’m not talking about my problems right now” thing because I’m not ready to feel the pain, the heartbreak. I’m not ready to cry because I worry I’ll never stop.

I’m so mad right now. I’m so sad right now. But I’m also so thankful for so many great things in my life.
I think at the end of the day, I’m just tired of having to adjust constantly and I’m tired of things being so far out of my control that I can’t even get a grasp on the stress sometimes.

But it makes me realize, I still have something to learn in this life or else the same thing wouldn’t keep happening—this person who causes so much pain and sadness would not still be in my life causing problems if God didn’t have more lessons for me to learn.

I know I have to get better at taking care of myself. I know I have to find a way to quit trying to make everything perfect. I know that raising good children is more important than trying to give them everything they want. I know that I have to stop and have coffee with my husband more. I know I have to finish what I have started and see where this next step takes our family.

And I also know that if things don’t work out the way I thought they would or the way they should, I have to accept that and move on. But most importantly, I have to stop and take time to process the disappointment and to reflect on the joys.

Or else, I’m going to make myself so sick I won’t get the chance to bounce back for whatever new obstacle pops into our lives.

So, this weekend, I’m going to ignore the typical house chores I run around trying to get done and decompress and reflect. I’m going to just let things go. I’m going find a way to find peace in my life despite the outside influences.

I guess that is what I have to learn—I have to find a way to feel at peace and maintain that peace in spite of life’s constant battles. That’s a tough order, but I know I can do this. Ignoring it is not working.