The Mom Down Front

When you see me I’m down here in the front row, cheering on my daughter who is performing in the school spring concert sporting her own unique style. She is totally rocking on stage in her orangey-peach flowered springtime “foofy” dress which happens to match her brand new cowboy boots that she won’t take off. You sit back in your seat wishing you were more like me, wishing you, too, had gotten here early so that you could be in a closer row. You see me take out my camera to adjust it to the stage lights and then the house lights go down and the show begins. You wish your pictures were going to turn out as well as mine. You see my daughter make her entrance onto the stage and take her place. You smile as she waves to me, and I wave back and then she points me out to all of her friends. You watch and listen and you wish your child was as well behaved, and maybe even as animated, as mine. You watch as after the concert I walk up to the stage to kiss her before she heads back to her class. You congratulate me on all these things, because, surely, I have it all together and you wish you were more like me.

What you missed in this one perfect morning in my life was me not waking up until 8 am because I didn’t have my phone in my bedroom. You missed when I ran from room to room frantically looking for my daughter because she wasn’t in her room. You missed my confusion as I wondered if her dad took her to school, and my frantic dash back down the hallway to check to see if her backpack and coat were still here. They were. You missed my frustration and anger emerging and cresting as I found her in the office on the computer watching videos with headphones on so she couldn’t hear me calling her and running through the house like a maniac. “Why didn’t you wake me up” I sort of yelled at her, while I’m silently telling myself it isn’t her job to wake me up. I’m the adult. “You know you don’t use the computer before school!” She knows this, but it, too, doesn’t matter and isn’t really her fault. “You know you have your concert today!”

You missed it when I took her by the hand and led her back to her room and asked her what dress she wanted to wear while she wiped tears away. You missed me feeling like crap for making her cry. You missed me yelling at myself for being mad at her when I was the one who messed up. You missed me yelling at myself for just everything. I set her clothes out and told her to hurry and dress.

I ran to my room to find clothes for me. Already late, I had to grab what was closest: jeans with a hole in one knee and a plaid shirt that just came out of the laundry. I am winning no “rocking outfit” awards today. When we both leave our rooms, dressed, I tell her to come in the bathroom and brush her teeth and hair. I help her with toothpaste because we are running out (sigh) and try to tell her she’s okay, none of this is her fault, please don’t cry all the while that voice in my head is saying “hurry! hurry! We are already late! Crying is slowing us down!” I hear myself mutter while I brush her hair “I don’t have time to DO your hair now.” And then I swear at myself because she’s apologizing. Again. “It’s not your fault, honey. It’s ok.” (Argh.)

At 8:09 we have coats and I grab my camera and stuff it in my backpack muttering “I don’t have time to check it now” and open the door and say, “Come on.” She apologizes again.

“It’s not your fault. It’s okay. This is my fault. I’m the one who didn’t wake up. It was my mistake.”

We walk/run to school. She’s only been going to this school for a month, and today is her first tardy. It was totally avoidable. It’s also inexcusable because “Mom is an idiot” isn’t an acceptable reason to be late. We walked into the school right when the bell rang. So close.

I hug her and kiss her and send her off to her class and I head to the auditorium to wait. She usually eats breakfast in school in the morning. Not today. I am such a bad mom.

I take a deep breath and decide to check my camera. I turn it on and it tells me I have no memory card. It’s at home in my laptop. Of course it is. Near tears, I sigh and put the camera back in my backpack. Now there will be no pictures of her first concert. I don’t even have my smartphone because I had my service shut off. I couldn’t use it to text or call anyone and it doesn’t do anything else without WiFi so I left it home. Now I don’t even have that to take pictures.

As the last parents file in and sit and the lights go down I’m silently doing Lamaze breathing because Iamthisclose to crying. I had one job. When we said prayers last night I even prayed that I would get some good pictures to show her daddy because he would be at work. Now I’ve let him down too.

I don’t have a program. I was here so early that they weren’t handing them out yet. I’ll have to try to find one on the way out. If I can’t take pictures I should at least save the program. The school choir sings first. My child isn’t in that so I wait. After they finish, the music teacher announces that the fourth grade will be next. They’re going in reverse order. My daughter is in first grade. Dammit. I sit through unknown children in fourth grade playing recorders.

I sit through more unknown kids with recorders in third grade. I sit through second graders singing silly songs. Then I sit up because first grade is next, right?

No. Because of lunch (lunch!!) kindergarten is next and first grade will be last so I sit through kindergartners too. -.-

Finally my daughter’s class comes out and takes their places on the risers. I see her before she comes out because I can see her cowboy boots under the curtain. I am all smiles, waiting for her to see me. She is all smiles when she finds me. Their first song is about how Mom makes the bad things better. Those tears I was fighting off escape. I fake a sneeze and wipe my eyes and pretend it’s allergies.

I watch her sing and dance. She knows all the words even though she hasn’t been there as long as the other kids. She knows all the moves. She watches her music teacher as he conducts and between songs she looks at me, smiling. As I sit there through her three songs I feel…honestly I still feel like crap, but I am thankful. I was so blessed to get her. She’s amazing and sweet, talented and beautiful and she’s mine. It’s a privilege to be her mom. She is happy despite this morning. I should never be mad at her. She is so precious. In that moment, life is pretty good. I kiss her as she leaves the stage and walk to the back of the auditorium. I happen to get there the same time her class does so we hug and kiss again and I tell her she did an awesome job.

I make my way back toward her classroom to see the art they’ve made for today. Spring concert AND art show. On the way, her class catches up again. She holds my hand and we walk to her room together. She kisses me and tells me she will miss me. I tell her I will see her after school. I see her art project – her name surrounded by hand drawn pictures of the things she loves: rainbows, her cat, pizza and me.

But I can’t take a picture of it because of this morning. I start walking home, glad the sun is trying to come out, thankful that it rained while I was inside because I didn’t bring my umbrella either. A block away from the school I remember I didn’t get a program. I sigh and walk home.

When I get home I stop in the bathroom and look at the tired, frazzled woman in my mirror. Then I realize not only did I not have time to put makeup on…I also didn’t wash off the face mask that I put on before bed. Holy crap. It’s almost 11 am and for the last 3 hours I’ve been in public with stuff on my face. Thank god it dries clear and no one got close enough to see…anything. I hope. Holy crap.

I wash my face and sit on the couch trying to be happy. Trying to be thankful, and trying to feel the love I have for my family and our new home and our new city and I am still fighting off tears. I guess, I want you to know that more often than not I’m the girl who still second-guesses herself, who fumbles a lot, makes mistakes and carries around massive amounts of guilt and worry.

But sometimes. When the planets align. When Hell freezes over. I am the mom down front.

 

The Big Scary Tomato

I grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Up there a “major weather event” is usually snow related. We’ve experienced the odd earthquake and heard of a tornado or flood or two. But…while weather like that can be serious, and breaks my heart when I see the damage afterwards (usually on television) I think I thought of it as “part of life” and the planet we live on does these things and we’ve been here a while, we’re survivors, we’ve adapted to fit our environment or…whatever. It just is…but it was never us. Everything was always happening to someone else. Another state, another city, another school.

Then I moved to Alabama.

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Gramma

I lost my Gramma almost 11 years ago. She passed away suddenly on May 10, 2003, in a hospital while being treated for cancer. She died after having come to some kind of terms with facing cancer, the thought of losing her hair, the thought of getting sicker before she got better…and the thought that she may just not get better anyway. It seems almost cruel to put someone through all that and then whisk her away.

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Attitude of Gratitude

‘Tis the season and all that, so I’m starting my 30 days of Gratitude early.

Because I am.

Grateful.

Things may not always go the way I hope they will and they definitely don’t usually go the way I plan them to, but in the end everything seems to work out all right. Last year was a better one for us than most…right up until November when Matt had a heart attack. It’s been an interesting ride since then, that’s for sure.

Grateful: HE’S STILL HERE.

Grateful: He’s able to do most of the things he could do before the heart attack.

Grateful: He’s back in school working on his degree.

We’re struggling financially right now, but that is due to a fluke in his financial aid, and we should be back on track in January when the Spring semester begins.

Grateful!

We’ve had to lean on our church who was generous enough to step in and pay our water bill and get our water turned back on (that was a very long week!!)

Grateful!

A month after getting water we had to ask them for help with our rent and they stepped right in and took care of that so we wouldn’t be evicted.

Grateful!

Our truck was about to explode…literally. We couldn’t keep water or coolant in it and you could see it run right through. His teachers stepped in and got our truck fixed so we wouldn’t lose our transportation and Matt wouldn’t have to stop going to classes.

Grateful!

And, we’ve discovered not every human being is…well, you know. We have restored faith in humanity.

Grateful!

And, we are being exposed to more professional and personal opportunities to grow through his college and his involvement with the Student Government Association.

Grateful!

And, because we’ve discovered what our church is doing to help others we have to opportunity to be on the front lines to help other people which is lending faith, grace and humility to our souls.

Grateful!

And, when all this started one of my internet friends whom I’ve never actually met and who is living day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck like the rest of us sent us money which helped us meet our rent a few months ago. Out of the blue. Because she could.

Grateful!

While we’re still a bit stressed at times, I am surprisingly calmer about a lot of things because I know we walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t take up camp halfway in, and we aren’t expected to visit and take pictures and send postcards home….we walk through….to get to the other side.

For the chance to keep walking with the man I love by my side and our sweet little tornado trailing behind us….

I am so very, very grateful.

We got this.

2am Insomniac Musings

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It’s 2 am. Why am I awake?

I seem to be asking myself this a lot lately. I have fibromyalgia. I have severe flare ups when the weather changes in Spring and Autumn and the past month has been hell. Almost literally.

As you know, I have a bouncy, energetic, very snuggly four-year-old and lately I have to remind her not to touch me. Or climb on me. Or try to sit on me. Or keep her elbows away from me. This is hard on both of us. She’s just being herself and I’m just being a crotchety old fart who is practicing for the NO FUN award. :/

The good news is, well, I can’t be sure of this, but the good news is that it should be going away as soon as the weather makes up its mind to either be warm or cold. This back and forth stuff is nuts. The longer the atmosphere twirls and spins the longer I suffer.

That’s a horrible word and I don’t like it. I know there are other people who have it worse than I do. Probably MOST people. I’m not whining…I guess I’m just admitting out loud I have limitations. And reminding those of you who love me that “Hey, I have limitations!”  LOL

Right now (and during other flare ups) I am tired all the time. Except bedtime apparently. Sometimes I can’t lie down because just having my body touch things hurts. Some people ask if it’s muscles or ligaments or bones and right now I hurt so much I couldn’t begin to figure it out. What I can tell you is…

I walk like my 85 year old neighbor who probably thinks I’m making fun of her. 😐

I’m not, of course. Funny though….I go over there to help her because she can’t do a lot of things like she used to. I feel like a fraud though because most of the time she’s in better shape than I am. And then I have guilt.

I was doing all right when all I had to worry about was my house and my family. And I totally agreed to take on her house and her family (to a small extent). But there are days I kick butt at her house and come home and nap or just sit around because I can’t do anything else. My house suffers…which means The Man comes home to a dirty house. (I hate that.)

The pain is distracting. I forget things. Like where I put my house keys. Or my reading glasses (those are new too…I’m so old) or I forget to make tea. Worse…there are times I’m staring at something and can’t think how to work it. Like the coffeemaker. Or the toaster. Or I can’t remember what I have to do to brush my teeth and I stand in the bathroom staring into space because it’s right there but I can’t find what I’m trying to remember.

I am a Christmas tree.

During flare-ups I have to think of my body as a Christmas tree. My head is the star on top and my arms, out a small distance from my body, are the “tree”….and during flare ups I can’t lift my arms higher than the “tree”. It hurts. Lifting things hurts. I can’t get things out of cupboards. I can’t pick up the bag of sugar off the counter. God forbid Abby wants me to hold her. I have to tell her I will, but she has to come in the living room where I can sit down first.

I feel like I’m trapped in a 90 year old body. Some mornings I awake to discover that I must have died while I was asleep because rigor mortis has set in and I can’t move or straighten out or bend my appendages. Lately my “Good days” are when OTC pain relievers actually relieve some of the pain.  I have other days where I’m pushing them in my mouth like M&M’s.

So, it’s 2 am and I’m awake. Hoping for relief. And sleep. And the energy and movement that will allow me to take care of my family. There was a time I didn’t think that was too much to ask.

What Are S’Mores Good For?

S’Mores are good for…

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Breakfast!

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Lunch!

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Dinner!

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Camping!

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Brownies!

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People who love power tools!

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Christmas!

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Cookies!

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Lovers!

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Cupcakes!

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Candles!

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Schmancy dinner parties!

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Easter!

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Ice Cream!

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Halloween!

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Keeping pyromaniacs busy!

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On a stick!

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Pie!

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Sharing with friends!

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Treats!

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Work!

and last but not least…

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…Uh…?

A day without laughter is a day wasted. –Charlie Chaplin

Sunday morning I woke up about 3:00. (I can see you’re jealous.) I laid in bed until I couldn’t stand it anymore and moved into the living room and flopped on the couch to play on the computer. Around 4:00 I heard a noise outside and decided to sneak to the window with my stealthy ninja skills to peek through the blind and see if I could see anyone out there.

I quietly set the keyboard aside and got up…and fell off the couch.

(Ninja!)

Matt laughed later and said he could hear the Mission Impossible music playing “Dadadaaaaa……dadadaaaaaa” then the music would stop and you would hear THUD! as I hit the floor.

(He’s so supportive.)

He laughed for twenty minutes.

Then we were driving around to flea markets (having given up on yard sales) and there was a realtor sign in the ground. I don’t remember the name of the company, only that I misread it as “Superhero lots for sale.”

I said, “Oh! We should buy that. Start a farm. Grow superveggies.”

He mumbled something about Jim Carrey.

I said, “Our doorbell will go ‘DA dada DAH!”

He spit on the windshield. (One point for me!)

I should tell you that I am the blind one in this relationship. I have no idea what my sight is without contacts, but it’s bad. Very, very bad. So I’m the one who misreads signs, buttons, teeny instructions on boxed food, etc.

But later that day he misread something.

“Wow. And you’re the one that’s supposed to have good eyes…”

(long pause)

“…like they do in Australia.”

He looked confused. “What?”

I smiled and waved, “G’day!”

He laughed, kissed my head and said, “You’re an idiot.”

All is well in Elisaland. 🙂