these are the days

Today I took my kid for his kindergarten assessment.  Of course, he aced it, and scored quite high.  He was able to recognize sounds, letters, colors, write his name, cut with scissors etc… thanks to his gifted pre K teacher and of course,.. (ahem…) me. My husband (a gifted mathematical, linear thinker) and I ( who is a pretty good speller and wordsmith) always said if our kid was born with his math skills and my language skills, he’d be well off.

If he was born with my math skills and my husband’s language skills, he’d be screwed.

But I digress….

The bonus of my child starting kindergarten is that he will attend the school where I teach.  Today I took him around the school and showed him my classroom.  He was thrilled when he saw his picture on my desk.  He was equally as thrilled to raid my candy jar. (the one I use to bribe kids to do their homework).  He’s been to my classroom before, but this is the first time it really clicked for him that he will BE a student at the school in the fall.  He will be a big boy at a big boy school.

I made the choice two years ago to transfer schools so I could be at the same school as my kid.  The school I currently teach at is in our district (the other school I worked at was not).  I had a grand master plan… to set myself up by securing a teaching job at the school in order to be there when it was time for L to attend.  The stars and moon aligned and I took the plunge.  It was difficult to leave a school and coworkers who saw me through marriage, the birth of my son and the death of my father. They are/were family.  After all, I spent a decade with them.

But, it was time to move on.  It was time to put my family first.

I consider having my kid at my school one of the few perks of my job.  I know not everyone would agree. But for me, it’s a sound choice.  I have struggled with working mother guilt for the past five years.  I vowed to never miss a first day of school, a Christmas concert or field trip.  By teaching at the same school my child attends, I am afforded these luxuries for at least the next 6 years.

My son (who just turned five) loves being with my husband and me.  The feeling is mutual.  He has gotten into the habit of climbing into our bed in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t bother to drag him back to his own room at 3 am.  This has also turned into him just plopping himself into our bed at bedtime.  And to be honest I don’t really stop him then either.

Before I get blasted about the ills of this habit, I have one thing to say.

My kid is a developmentally ‘normal’ kid.  He won’t be little forever.  There will be a day when he ignores me and stays in his room.  I know those days are coming faster than I’d care to admit.

While it may not be an ideal sleeping arrangement, it is what it is.  My kid feels safe and secure. He is happy. And sometimes he wants to be in his big boy bed. And that’s ok too.

After all, at the end of my days do I want to look back and say “I’m glad I followed the parenting rules by the book and listened to total strangers tell me how to correctly parent my kid”  or do I want to say “I’m glad we cuddled, giggled and savored these precious moments”.

I choose the latter.

Peace.

1000 channels and nothing to watch

I’ve been feeling rather tired and down lately so I decided to be good to myself.  I went to bed early.  I made time to unplug.  I sipped tea on my back porch.  I spent time with my son.

And I decided to watch tv.

Normally, I don’t watch tv.  I’m not even sure why we have cable.  The only shows that are ever on at our house are Peppa Pig and whatever History channel crap my husband loses himself in.  Oh, yes, and Game of Thrones (his viewing, not mine).  I never seem to be able to sit down and watch an entire program unless I a) hide  b) stay up until the wee hours of midnight when my kid is safely tucked in bed  c)I take a day off work to indulge in being home alone.  Note- option “C” never happens.

So tonight I a) hid  and b) hid.  I’m not proud.  I actually hid in my bedroom while my son and husband sat in the living room absorbed in some game on the ipad.

Now I was in a whole new world… Tuesday night,  uninterrupted prime time viewing.  And I was totally lost.  I am so out of touch with what’s on tv I had no idea what to do or what to watch.  If it doesn’t have a talking pig, a robot or a saucy superhero, I don’t really know it exists.  Yes, my world is that small. I have a five year old.

I flipped the channels until I settled on The Bachelor.  I am not a fan of this show.  I find the whole premise excruciatingly cheesy, fake and demeaning.  But here I sat, tuned in.

I only lasted about five minutes.  Apparently some girl named “Brit” was axed as the Bachelorette. Devastated, she was whisked away via limo from what I presumed was the Bachelorette mansion. It was all very dramatic.  Tears, hushed, serious tones from the host, fake nails, too much hairspray and 20 some near drunk guys in the next room waiting to be charming once the cameras rolled.

It was all very confusing and awful.

As I watched “Brit” sob out her disappointment in the back of a limo, I thought to myself …girl… you have no idea what the real world is like.. step in my shoes for a while. I just picked my husband’s socks up off the floor for the umpteenth time and I’m ready to light them on fire on the lawn while I wash my Xanax down with a Capri Sun juice pack because that’s all we got ’til pay day.  Honey, you dodged a bullet.

But I digress….

Poor Brit.

I channel surfed and found a news channel. It was too depressing. Murder. Poverty. Kidnappings. Too much.

Attempt number three at channel flipping landed me on a reality show. Again, more out of touch morons, standing willingly to be judged by untalented millionaires all the while clambering for 15 minutes of fame.

Ah. No thanks.

So, the lesson I learned is this… I’m not really missing much by not watching tv.

And, I kind of like talkikng pigs.

Peace.

old habits

My husband and I are planning a patio project.  This is the kind of thing my dad would have loved to help with. He often helped us around our yard. He always was a worker bee.

My first instinct was to call him up to tell him about it.

Then I realized I couldn’t.

I should know better, I should have realized I couldn’t. It’s been 3 years.

Old habits.

He should be here watching his grandson grow. He should be here helping us. He should be here.  He. Should. Be. HERE.

But he’s not.

And I can’t stop crying.

This tsunami has hit hard.

Peace.

tread softly

It is May and the crap storm of April has subsided.  I continue to wake up each day, thankful that I’m given another opportunity to try to do good in this world.  I’ve found lately I’ve been trying extra hard to be cognizant of my words, thoughts and actions. I’m not sure why I feel such a need to do that on such a frequent basis, but I figure hey, a little (or a lot) of gratitude can’t hurt anybody, especially when karma is involved.

I struggle with the delicate balance of enjoying my blessings and treading lightly, cautious that they will be ripped out from underneath me.  I’ve written about this before, it’s nothing new for me.  I guess for me, verbalizing my thoughts gives them a bit of life and solidifies my efforts to truly change my thought process.

I struggle with wanting to be carefree and worry free, but feel if I let my guard down bad things will happen.  Sort of like that ONE time I forgot to lock the bedroom window and a teenage punk broke into our house through said window, pillaging our home and surfing for porn on our computer (yes, that really happened)

I fear if I exhale to loudly the universe will decide “oh, we’ve given her a rest from ‘life lessons’… time to pump up the volume”… thus showering me with an abundance of anxiety filled teachings.

Of course I know life doesn’t exactly work like that. I’ve acknowledged that too in previous posts. But I do wonder if there will ever come a day when I CAN let my guard down and trust that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

Faith is such a hard thing at times, especially for a control freak like me.

*sigh*

Peace.

gratitude Friday

What a week this has been.  I’m sure I’m not the only person saying this today.  I’m glad April is behind us.  For me, it’s just one long month of anxiety and sad memories mixed with sprigs of hope and Easter.   You see, my mum leaves us to return to her ‘northern’ home (she is a snowbird and spends 6 months near us, and then goes home to ‘summer’ up north).  I worry about her. Back in April of 2012, she and my dad had only been back home less than a week when he passed.  Yes, April, for me, sucks.

However, it’s not April anymore.  It’s May, and I look forward with a very grateful heart today.  My little boy turns 5 in 10 short days.  The weather is warming.  The school year is drawing to a close. My mother has arrived safely.  My 90 something year old grandmother is healing after a life altering hip breaking fall a few months ago.  Yes, barring no other misfortune, May has started off well.

Of course, I’m not stupid.  There is always misfortune.  There is always bad luck, illness and accidents.  I’m just hoping we get a little reprieve from life lessons.

So here I sit, on a Friday, sipping my tea, reflecting on the week.  Downstairs my son and husband are bonding over a Star Wars flick.  He has been away for work over the past two weeks and it does my heart good to hear them laugh and have pretend light saber fights.  A boy needs his dad.

I’m also thinking about my students.  This week was a particularly trying one.  I have two fifth graders who have pitiful home lives and I’m sure a handful of others with circumstances I know nothing about.  On Wednesday I came home and cried. My heart ached for these kids and the dysfunctional chaos they live in.  How can I expect them to have their homework or perform on a test when they live in the throws of horribleness?  I keep telling myself I’m doing what I can, but I can’t save everyone.  It’s a harsh realization. They’re kids.

I am grateful tonight for my snug house, my garden and evenings that grow a little bit longer with each passing day.  The inky dusk sky is so beautiful it makes me pause and take notice.

I am grateful that we will have time as a family this weekend.  I am also grateful that I have a supportive husband who will let me sneak off to get a pedicure. (after a week or more of single parenting, this is a welcomed treat).

I peruse headlines and Facebook statuses of those in pain, those who are experiencing sadness, illness or injustice and I offer up a quiet ‘thank you’ for my blessings.

Today I am grateful for my cozy little family and all the blessings I’ve been given.

Welcome May.

Peace.

1095 days

Tomorrow marks the 3rd anniversary of my father’s death.  That is roughly 1095 days we’ve been without him.

When he first passed, I counted the weeks and months we went without him.  That subsided.  I don’t count days anymore. I just did the math because I was curious exactly how many days it has been since our lives changed forever.

This isn’t a sad post.  It’s not an outpouring of my grief.  That is old hat. No one wants to hear about it.

But, if you’re reading this and you’ve lost someone you love, maybe, just maybe, you will feel a little less alone because there is a stranger (me) out there who has a pretty good idea how you feel.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past 1095 days.

1. Appreciate more.  Enough said.

2. Take time to stop and breathe. (easier said than done)

3.  Grief has a funny way of bringing out the empathy in people.

4. Conversely, grief has a funny way in bringing out the asshole in people.  Over the past three years I’ve had people avoid me. I’ve never heard from people I expected to hear from.  I figured out it was really a reflection of their inability to deal with me, not a personal attack on me.  I guess it’s easier to avoid me than to stumble over what to say to me.

5. I appreciate small acts of kindness and make a greater effort to perform them.

6. I think more before I speak.

7. I am beginning to accept what I cannot change (again easier said than done)

8. be kind whenever possible, it is always possible (ok, I didn’t come up with that one on my own, but I still like it)

9. Everyone you meet has a story or is fighting a battle of some kind. (ok, I didn’t come up with that one either but I like it)

10. I wish I had a tenth one to round out my list, but I’m still a work in progress….

Tonight my mind dares to go places I know it shouldn’t.  I wonder what my dad felt the night before he died.  I wonder what he felt the morning he died, the moment he died.  I know it does no good to think about it, and it’s irrelevant. But when you lose someone quickly and tragically you hope they didn’t experience fear or pain.  At least I hope so.

Tomorrow I will play hooky from school and go visit a favorite spot at the beach with my mum and son. I will dress my son in a yellow t shirt because yellow was my dad’s favorite color.  I will offer up a little prayer and a little hello.  I will look for cardinals (his favorite) and dragonflies (my favorite and a connection to him).  I will hug my son a little more than usual. I will hold back the tears in an attempt to be brave for my mother. She is the one who found him in the creek after he had his heart attack and drowned.

I will do my best to carry on.

I’d like to think heaven has a little party for you on the anniversary of your arrival.

At least I hope.

Peace.

my prayer

I find myself wanting to go back to church.  I find myself needing to go back to church.  Yet, somehow I just can’t find the steps to get there.

There are no excuses.

I am a lapsed Catholic.

I’m not proud of it. I’m not into bargaining. But I’m also not a hypocrite.  I can’t just attend on Christmas and Easter and pretend I’m a good little Catholic.

I know that keeping score is not what it’s about.  I know there is no big tally chart in the sky keeping track of when I go to church and when I don’t.

I used to attend regularly. I grew up in a house where faith formation happened.  My parents weren’t devout, but they did make religion a part of my growing up.

I got confirmed. I grew up. I lapsed. Life happened.

I found religion again when my grandfather got sick. He was terminally ill with cancer.  I naively entered a bargaining stage with God.

I was 16. What did I know?

Over the past 25 years I have gone on and off to church.  When my dad died I didn’t know what else to do. I felt so confused and I needed solace.  I sought it at mass.

When my dad died, I talked with our family priest.  He told me something that was interesting. He told me he felt one could be religious and spiritual without going to church.  Simply put, he stressed to me that if I “walk the walk” it means a lot more than just talking the talk. (my words, not his). He gave me a great example of an older gentleman who regularly attended mass. Sure, he showed up and clocked in every Sunday, but according to Father X (not his real name) this old guy was a bastard. (his words, not mine) and was mean to everyone he met.  He clearly did not embody the principles of Christianity.

So what am I trying to say?

Religion is a touchy, personal subject.  I don’t claim to know a lot about it. I don’t want to espouse my beliefs publicly. I don’t want to appear righteous. I am anything but.

But I’ve come to the realization that I am spiritual without having to ‘clock in’ each week.

I pray often, several times a day.  I utter words of gratitude upon waking.  I’ve learned to step back and try to find the blessing in a situation, even when it’s really hard and is hiding under a big pile of crap.

I am trying to become more mindful of my words and actions.

I am trying to conduct myself with grace and humility.

I am trying to accept things I cannot change.

I am trying to model behaviors I want my son to embody.

I am trying.

And it’s my prayer that I continue to try.

I’m on a journey and I’m learning. And I pray that I continue to accept lessons as they are presented to me, and that I will be smart enough to listen.

I try.

I pray.

peace.

husbands close your ears

I am sitting here in a rare moment of solitude. My child is being entertained by an ipad and The Backyardigans (no, I am not proud of this).  My husband is golfing.  The dinner dishes are in the dishwasher and the kitchen has been cleaned.  In a brief moment between loads of laundry, I sit typing this post.

Husbands, close your ears.  Move on, Hit that little red x in the upper right corner.

You don’t want to hear this.

I am tired.

I am so tired.

I work all day too.

I am the cruise director of this house.  I plan the meals. I cook the meals. Hell, I buy the food FOR the meals.  I make sure the wheels are greased.

And I am tired.

I am the taxi, the nurse, the caregiver, the bather, the scheduler, the appointment maker, the soother, the end all be all of our four year old’s world.

And you, are golfing.

Now before you get your pitchforks and torches all lit up, I consented to the golfing thing.  And I’m not complaining about it. All I’m getting at is this…

I hold down the fort so everyone else can enjoy a moment or two of selfish delights.

Who holds the fort down for me?

Before you suggest marriage counseling or that my husband is not a nice guy, I guess I should say that I haven’t painted a complete picture.

My other half helps. When asked.  What is lacking is the initiative to help.

The best line from the movie “The Break Up” is when Jen Aniston told Vince Vaughn “I WANT you to WANT to do the dishes”… to which he replied.. who ‘wants’ to do the dishes?

Understood.

I do a lot of things I don’t want to do, but I do them for the greater good.  I can’t go on strike or give up because if I did, my house would fall apart and my child would suffer and ultimately, I’d be making more work for myself in the long run.

Ah… no.

I don’t need a day off.  I don’t need a maid.  I don’t need a new husband.

I need someone who wants to participate for the greater good, not because the ‘warden’ has given a directive.

I don’t think asking someone to unload a dishwasher should put me in the same playing field as Joan Crawford yelling about NO WIRE HANGERS.

This mama is tired. And now it’s time to fold the laundry.

Peace.