Friday, February 24, 2017

I'm Sort of Okay

"Maybe this will help," JT said and he turned on the radio. We put the windows down and let the air rush into the car. It was oddly warm for an evening in late February in Michigan, 63 degrees. JT stuck his head out the window and let the wind blow through his hair. When he settled back in his seat, his hair stuck straight up and all over the place. He looked at me and smiled. The light from the setting sun streaming through his wild blonde hair.  I smiled. We nodded our heads to a trippy  Milky Chance song on the radio and I drove home. 

It was a good moment. A moment that made me feel alive and in love with the world and my life and my kids. And so grateful. 

It did help.


The day before the kids were off from school and I had forced them outside to enjoy the mild weather. "Get off your phones, get outside," I told the older kids. "Play basketball together in the driveway."

They decided to take the little boys down the street to the church parking lot to play basketball together. After an hour, it started to sprinkle. I jumped in my minivan and went to give them a ride home. I pulled into the parking lot and saw my four kiddos red-faced and full of life and laughing together. I couldn't believe I didn't have my phone to take a picture of them at that moment--they looked so alive and happy. "Get in, I'll take you home," I yelled out the window.

"No!," they all protested. "We have to finish our game."

"But it's raining," I said.

"Who cares, it's just misting," Lucy said. "We are fine mom. We want to keep playing."

So, I drove home to grab my phone so I could take a picture of my cool kids who weren't wimping out because of a little mist. Before I could get back in my minivan, JT was racing through the front door, "Mom, you've got to come, it's his leg, it's Peyton's leg, he needs you,"

We jumped into the minivan and went to help Peyton. After a trip to the emergency room, we found out it was just a sprain and would heal without a cast or surgery. He would have to stay off it for a few weeks, but he would be fine.

Peyton was disappointed but okay. I wasn't. I was pissed off and scared and fed up. I wasn't okay. I haven't been for a few years. Ever since I got a phone call from the school two years ago that Peyton had fallen in gym class and had a severe concussion. He lost his vision for a few hours and his brain swelled which led to a hospital stay and multiple specialists, and ultimately thank god no long-lasting effects. Then the broken femur in the football game and the ambulance rides and surgery and physical therapy. Then surgery again. And then the sprained ankle. 

For someone whose genetic destiny is full of dodging pre-existing minefields loaded with panic attacks and anxiety, having active kids that get injured is a cruel fate. I know it could be worse. I know. Believe me, I envision it a lot. I am grateful that his head healed and his leg and his ankle. I am so grateful. But I'm also fucking scared. I'm terrified of the randomness of it all and the unfairness of it all. I am pissed that there are evil, selfish people in the world that don't get injured, not that I want anyone to be injured, but really. I feel like making deals with a God I struggle to believe in.
Sometimes being so self-aware sucks. I know that I need to stop worrying so much. I know.

Loving my kids so much and worrying that they will get hurt is too much to bear. I feel like I'm just going to constantly run around like Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment" for the rest of my life--demanding justice for my kids and care and love and that they give my kids the damn shot if they need one. And holy shit that movie, I get it so much more now as a parent of older kids. A couple people online suggested bubble wrap and fuck, I wish I could just wrap my "babies" up for the rest of their lives and keep them safe and healthy.

Not being sure if your kid will live or die, even if it's for just a few minutes, changes you forever. I've always been an overly-sensitive person, but after that phone call and the last few years of injuries, I can't shake the fear. It's not there all the time, but when something happens, it comes back. Like a wave of horror and panic, like an out of body experience, like it's all happening to someone else. It's awful.

But just like the Feist song, I feel it all. Coupled with my anxiety that constantly simmers under the surface, there is also so much compassion for people who are dealing with unimaginable loss and pain and illness, and more appreciation for the moments that make it all okay. The moments with my kids, the light of the sun setting, good music, cheering my kids on at  their games, laughing on the front porch, dancing in the kitchen. The moments that make us feel alive and in love with life and the world. 

We went on our first family ski trip last weekend. It was full of ahhhhhhhmazing moments.

My god I love these people, and these dogs, so much my heart feels like it will burst.

With the help of therapy and my newfound appreciation for "situational Xanax" and a husband who rivals that guy from This is Us, and also simply feeling it all...I'll get through this roller coaster of vulnerability and strength of parenting and loving my kids so god damn much. 


"You know I'm just feeling a little quiet and wonky because I love you all so much, right?" I asked JT as we got closer to home. 

"I know," he said and we kept on nodding our heads to the music.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day, I Think I Love You

Twas the night before Valentine's Day and all through the one cared.

Wait, except they did. Two of my kids wanted to give their friends cards and gifts at the last minute. So we raced to Kroger to see what Valentine's Day cards were left. It turned out, not much. I refused to spend more than $4 on anything. I rolled my eyes at over priced hearts filled with chocolate. I made fun of people that "made a big deal about Valentine's Day" out loud.

"What has happened to me?," I asked Lucy who was with me. "When did I become such a Valentine's Day Scrooge? Don't I believe in love?"

It's the first time in over a decade that I haven't decorated the house or made cutesy hearts for the big day.

Can I blame this on post-election/inaugural fatigue and depression? Is Trump to blame for my lack of Valentine's Day excitement? Maybe. But it could also be a busy life and older kids that aren't that into my cutesy hearts. Maybe it's just a slump. Maybe it's because it's on a Tuesday. Maybe it's because I'm tired. Whatever it is, I'm just not that into it.

I was waiting for that moment when I get out of my slump. That moment when I throw open the shutters and tell everyone I love them and throw out a nickel for someone to go buy a goose, i.e. Scrooge's morning after the spririts' visit. Or the moment my heart grows three sizes, I mean if I were a Valentine's Day Grinch (which I think I am!).


Then it happened. It might not have been as dramatic as buying a goose, but I did remember how much I love love and how lucky I feel and how there's so many things to smile about. And how even after all these years of talking about not getting caught up in expectations and what things are supposed to look like, I did; and how Valentine's Day can be every day, and love is love is love and ahhhhhh.

The spirit of Valentine's Day hit me when I was playing DJ at the first grade party and I was dancing with a bunch of sweet kiddos not caring how silly we looked. Once again dancing and silliness for the win. It ALWAYS reminds me that there is goodness in the world.

Later that night, Tim and I tried to have a romantic candlelight dinner in the middle of our chaotic family, and it was kind of hilarious and perfect. Especially when Wade joined us and talked our ears off about his day. 

I'm not the worst or a Valentine's Day Scrooge because I was grumpy at Kroger (I mean who isn't grumpy at Kroger sometimes right?)or because it was the first time in a decade that I didn't decorate the house with paper hearts and make heart shaped-brownies like a "good mom." I was the worst for forgetting that love looks different all the time and it's in all the small and big moments in my family. 

Love is a family dinner ritual with candles and conversation and laughs. Monday night seems to be the night lately that everyone is home and we can eat together, so I jumped on it and I look forward to Monday nights all weekend long.

Love is embracing a different kind of romance. Having older kids means we don't have to hire a babysitter. We took advantage of this and snuck out to a happy hour last Friday night where I had three cheap glasses of wine! Annnnnd then went home and watched a movie with the little boys and went to bed before 10 p.m. Boosh!

Love is being happy about the simple things. Like PJ day at Preschool. One of the 5,764 things I love about working in a preschool is wearing my pajamas to work. The best!

Perfect Valentine's Day PJ shirt. 

Love is falling in love with your husband all over again because he is an incredible father. He's the kind of father in TV shows and movies that you think couldn't possibly be real because who is that kind and good? Tim is. The other day we were talking about how Wade is having trouble being the youngest of four busy kids, some who are being pretty teenager-y lately. Tim said, "He needs the tractors at Home Depot." Tim and I took Wade to sit on the tractors, and they pretended they were spaceships. Tim knew he needed time to be a little kid. And my heart exploded with love.

Love is watching your kids do what they love and become even more interesting people. 

Lucy in her happy place--a book store!!!!! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!

JT and sports = his true love. And I love that mural in the small town gym. Love is art and hope!

Gulp, love is letting go and letting your kids grow up. Holy woah, Peyton got his driver's permit. 

Love is taking a minute and remembering what you love about your kids and telling them. Filling out this heart was a "homework assignment" for parents sent by JT's teacher. And just like I did when I was in school, I forgot about it until the morning it was due. Lol. I turned it in on time and enjoyed thinking about all the things I love about JT and letting him know.

I'm not the worst or a Valentine's Day Scrooge because I was grumpy at Kroger (I mean who isn't grumpy at Kroger sometimes right?)or because it was the first time in a decade that I didn't decorate the house with paper hearts and make heart shaped-brownies like a "good mom."

I might be the worst because I forgot how lucky I am and how love is everywhere. Right now when things seem so wonky in the world, remembering the simple but huge moments I love feels good. This "Hallmark holiday" helped remind me of all the love. So geez, Valentine's Day, I think I love you!

(Our Valentine's Night Dinner, for three, lol)

This classic from The Partridge Family seems appropriate:

One of my favorite romantic love/Valentine's Day scenes from a movie: