This Too Shall Pass

Life tends to come in waves here. I sometimes find myself bored with the monotony that can occur when your job description is “Mommy,” an all encompassing word that means you do everything and seemingly nothing all at the same time.

But since the fall, the calm of monotony was abruptly disrupted and has been replaced with wave after wave of life. BIG LIFE. Life changing waves that will not stop crashing, leaving me wondering when I will once again be able to take a breathe.

After my miscarriage on my 30th birthday, which, in itself seems a story fit to be written in the pages of a heart wrenching novel, life charged forward with another maybe-kind-of miscarriage in November. We didn’t tell anyone about it. It was a positive pregnancy test one day and bleeding the next. The doctors called it a chemical pregnancy. It may not have even been real.

December came with it’s wave of Christmas cheer and blur of busy as I once again held a lead role in the Broadway style Christmas production at church and we celebrated all of the things that go on with having a 4 year old in Pre-K around the holidays. We traveled to GA to see family and survived more months of nights as my husband continued to trudge through his Anesthesiology Residency.

 

My last GCN performance.

My last GCN performance.

In January, we were met with snow and sickness. Snow that just wouldn’t stop, and my son only attended school for 4 days the entire month. I wanted to be positive about it, but it was completely valid to be going stir crazy with a little one and snow that was too cold and ice-y to even enjoy playing outside in.

january 2013 017

Well, we played a little. :)

 

This too shall pass.

Then I got sick. Very sick. Couldn’t-move-off-the-couch-throwing-up-at-all-hours-of-the-day sick.

A few pregnancy tests later would confirm what I already knew…I was pregnant.

But I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure if it was real and I definitely wasn’t excited since this time it seemed being pregnant meant being dysfunctional.

I gave my husband a positive pregnancy test in a gift bag for Valentine’s Day (and some other stuff too, don’t worry I didn’t just give him a pee stick) and we both were tentatively excited.

At my doctor appointment in late February they confirmed that there was a little baby in there; measuring about 8 weeks. I was given Zofran to try to stop the severe nausea. It helped, but put me in a zombie like state of sleep and no energy. So my choices were throw up all day or lay on the couch like a zombie all day. My son was raised by the TV for about three months and our house was in such a state of disarray that I truly wondered if burning it down and starting over would’ve been an easier solution than somehow figuring out how to clean it up.

This too shall pass.

We told my family and called my husband’s family. “Don’t tell Noah!” My son knew Mommy was sick, but he didn’t know why, and I wanted to make VERY certain that this baby was a sure thing before we told our sweet four year old that he would be a big brother.

My mother-in-law wanted to come up for a visit.

You can, we told her, but the house does not look like it normally does (I never allow company over if my house is not spotless) and you can not wear any perfume or wear anything smelly.

The smell of EVERYTHING made me sick. I couldn’t even stand the smell of our own laundry detergent; we had to re-wash every single article of clothing we owned just so I could get dressed. (All Free and Clear to the rescue!)

“I’m sure the house isn’t that bad,” my mother in law said, until she actually arrived at our house and discovered it was WORSE. “Well,” she said, “it certainly does look different.”

It looked like an episode from Hoarders.

This too shall pass.

My mother-in-law stayed for a week and entertained my TV brainwashed son and did a million loads of laundry and helped with dishes.  She dug us out of a hole I’m not sure I ever would have been able to climb out of.

And then, I started feeling better.

It was the week after my mother in law left that one day, the sun decided to shine.

And my body decided to cooperate.

And for the first time in months, I felt human again.

We even told our sweet little boy that he was going to be a big brother…and he was THRILLED!

Look Whoo's Going to Be A Big Brother!

Look Whoo’s Going to Be A Big Brother!

This too shall pass.

Residency is over in June. So, no matter what, we are starting a new chapter in our lives this summer. My husband began his job search in December, and much to our dismay by March we still had no job. In the midst of my severe sickness my husband finally started getting interviews and was out of town in between weeks of nights. Despite my strong desire to stay in Richmond, there were no available jobs. My husband has always wanted to go back to GA (where we grew up) so most of his interviews were focused there.

We knew we couldn’t stay in Richmond without a job, so we worked diligently to get our house ready to put on the market. Somehow in between severe morning sickness, a traveling and working nights husband, and juggling the care of a 4 year old, our house became not just clean, but also market ready. Surely we would have a job by April, we assumed, and we went about hiring a handy man and a yard crew, renting a POD, and packing and loading and cleaning and meeting with our real estate agent.

April came and we did not have a job. But we had a schedule, and a deadline to get the house on the market if we wanted to really attract the buyers coming in for spring, and a hope that a job offer would come in before our house went under contract. Putting your house on the market doesn’t mean selling it, right?

Our beautiful home.

Our beautiful home.

This too shall pass.

Except it did sell. In three days. We put our house on the market on Friday, April 11th. We had 5 showings, two offers and were under contract by Monday, April 14th at noon. Whose house sells in three days??

But it was not without some drama. Our first offer came in Saturday night, after only one day on the market, for just under full listing price. “You won’t get a better deal than this,” our real estate agent told us. She really wanted us to take it. The bottom line was that it was all just moving too quickly. I didn’t want to sell our house, or leave Richmond, and we did not have a plan of where we were going next. It’s hard to jump when you don’t know where you are landing.

We told our agent we wouldn’t sign anything until Monday and then a second offer came in Sunday night. For more money and a later closing date. It was obviously a better offer for us, but the agents felt we should have gone with the first offer and there was some talk about us being under a “verbal agreement” and making an “ethical decision.” I was guilt ridden and felt pressured and didn’t want to sell our cute little house in the first place. And my husband certainly got the brunt of that emotional meltdown from me.

We did wind up taking the second offer and were under contract by Monday. And that was it. Our home was under contract. We had no job. We were on track to be jobless and homeless at the end of June with two kids. I don’t know the dates, but I do know that there was a day when my husband and I got into a HUGE fight in front of our son. The tension level at our house was so indescribably high and the great unknowns of our future were so looming that it was almost unbearable.

This too shall pass.

A job offer would FINALLY come in on April 22nd. We were elated. It was an AMAZING offer in Atlanta, GA. We finally could feel at peace with what was coming next, even though I was still holding so tightly onto where we are now.

Then, the week where our life status changed every day happened.

On Monday, April 28th, the Atlanta job rescinded the offer. We were back to being on track for jobless and homeless at the end of June. I was a complete disaster. And, as we have come to find out, rescinded job offers? NEVER happen in the field of medicine. We were at a complete loss. On Tuesday, a job in Athens, GA offered a possible part time opportunity. We didn’t know if we could make it work financially, but we were considering it. On Wednesday, April 30th, the Athens job said they may be able to make a full time offer. On Thursday, May 1st, the Athens job officially extended a full time offer in writing and we took it. Because at this point, we simply needed a plan. Shortly after, the Atlanta job called and said there was still a possibility my husband could get that job if he would just wait….I am so proud of him for interrupting and saying that he was no longer interested.

By Friday, May 2nd, we had started paperwork for the Athens, GA job and finally, FINALLY felt that all of the pieces were coming together.

This too shall pass.

As it turns out, juggling a pregnancy, a four year old, church obligations, a new job, selling a house, trying to find a new house, finding a new school for my son, researching a new care provider to switch to in the middle of a pregnancy, doing an opera (yes, I added an opera in there), keeping up with freelance writing, my job for Richmondmom.com and real life (damn you laundry!) is simply insane. I do not think it is wise to change EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

This too shall pass. There will soon be a time of calm. There has to be.

But now, right at this moment, we are still stuck in the midst of the waves, just trying not to drown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding My Voice

Last night, I was stuck in a downward spiral.

I was trying to coordinate holiday plans with family that lives far away, and heard news of a trip to Paris and some pregnancies. I started to go down the path one should never go down; a path of self-depreciation.

We have no trips to Paris on our schedule. Whenever we have free vacation time we use it to go visit relatives. There is no exciting baby news here. Our lives are inundated with work, running a household, and taking care of a toddler.  There are no major accomplishments or life changes to celebrate here. Basically, it is just plain boring.

As I spiraled into a negative thinking pattern that involved questioning my worth and my path in life and wondering what I would ever amount to, I packed my son’s bag. I was getting ready to take him to childcare so I could attend a rehearsal for my lead role in a Christmas production.

After getting my son settled, I walked into the rehearsal area and busied myself with rehearsing lines.

After a few minutes, one of the older men in the production approached me and asked my name, and followed up by saying, “I didn’t realize that was your real voice.”

So here’s the thing if you haven’t met me in real life…I have kind of a unique voice. One that has been made fun of, drives comments from cashiers at check out lanes, and sometimes even receives a compliment. But it is noticeably a different thing. And it lands me lead roles on the stage.

So sometime towards the beginning of rehearsals in October, this older gentleman had complimented me on my theatrical voice. Last night when he approached me, he said he didn’t realize that was actually my voice. I responded by saying, “This character isn’t me, but, yes, it is my natural voice.”

And then the most amazing thing happened.

This man stood there and inspired me. He asked if I had ever considered performing professionally.

“Well, yes, that’s what I always wanted to do. I was even a voice major in college and I used to perform a lot in community theater. But then, you know, I got married and had a baby, so now I’m just a mom. This Christmas show is just for fun.”

He stopped me from my spiraling as he said, “I’m not saying this to be nice, I’m saying this to be true; you are very talented. You have a gift. God gave you that. Is this something you want to do?”

“Well, yes, it’s always something I’ve loved doing, but you know, now I’m just a mom and…”

“No, it doesn’t matter what anyone says. If this is something you want to do, you need to do it. If your husband loves you, he will support you. This show isn’t just for fun. This show is your starting point.”

He continued to tell me about how much he enjoys watching me perform. How unique my voice is.  How he loves this character I’m bringing to life. He quoted scripture to me. He made me cry.

And then he said, “This is my mission. Because I was meant to talk to you tonight. And you are meant to do something great.”

As I wiped tears away from my eyes, I said, “Thank you. That is something I really needed to hear tonight.”

He left with a smile and a “See you on stage.”

*****

 It’s a prayer I say often, “Dear God, You gave me a voice. Please show me how to use it.”

And then it was answered with a speech from a man at rehearsal and an email about a new writing opportunity…both on the same day. (I’m telling you, fives are significant!) (And I can’t wait to tell you about the new writing opportunity..more news on that soon.)

 *****

Late last night, after my son and I returned home safely from rehearsal and my husband got home from his 12 hour shift, I began to recount my encounter to my husband as we stood in the kitchen, him eating leftovers and me sipping a cup of hot tea. Our toddler was eating a late night snack near by and we were all winding down to head to long-awaited bed.

“I guess I just thought that part of my life was over, you know? I mean I made a choice between pursuing performance or getting married and having a family. And now I’m just a wife and a mom and this show was just something to do. But tonight, this man inspired me. He reminded me that maybe I could be more than that. People used to say things like that to me all the time, but no one has said anything like that to me in a long time. I don’t know, it just really meant a lot for him to say that. And then there’s this writing opportunity  That’s one of the reasons I started blogging  right?  To become open to possibilities.  Maybe I could still be somebody.”

At this point, somehow my husband and I had wandered over to the refrigerator (I tend to pace when I talk.) My husband hugged me and gave me a kiss as he said “Of course you’re somebody.”

And then, on perfect cue, the cereal boxes on top of the fridge fell down and hit me on the head, spewing a few Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes around.

My husband, toddler and I all erupted into hysterical laughter that was just as much from the humor of falling cereal as it was from exhaustion before finally heading upstairs to bed.

Maybe there’s a greater purpose for me somewhere out there. Maybe I can use my voice for writing and performing in some capacity. But at the end of the day I will always be a Mommy, finding humor in spilled cereal and beauty in slobbery kisses.

**************************************************************************************************************

Speaking of using your voice, today is election day! I was thrilled to take my son to vote today and loved how proud he was to participate. Did you use your voice and vote?

We voted! Presidential Election 2012

 

 

In The Midst of Hard

Remember when life was easy? When everything went your way all the time and you never felt the burdens of stress or a to-do list or obligations of some sort? When you were absolutely 100 percent care free?

Me either.

But I remember thinking that in the next stage, it would be.

When I was student teaching for my degree in Early Childhood Education, my mentor teacher said something I found so profound that I still remember it to this day; “There is no harder job than the job of growing up.”

I tried to use this in my lesson plans, in my interaction with my students, in my role as caretaker. I tried to remember that even though I know that the dramas of childhood will not be a big deal later, it is a big deal then and that makes that specific part of life hard.

It’s hard to remember babyhood, and even in the carefree days of childhood we are faced with our own burdens of growing, learning, and navigating. It is indeed a hard job, this growing up.

My son already does what so many of us do; he anticipates the next stage. “When I grow up I can drive a car like Mommy and I will drink coffee.”

Isn’t that a part of childhood? Feeling lost while going through the tough stages and holding on to the comforting and hopeful thought, “I can’t wait until…..?”

This isn’t to tell you to cherish the moment because you’ll never have that time back or that kids’ have it so easy and they don’t even know what lies ahead of them, because it’s ok to live in those moments of frailty and fragileness and vulnerability and look back and know they may not have had a significant effect on your Now, but they had a significant effect on your Then.

It’s hard to find your way through growing and changing and homework and friendships and dating and extracurriculars and graduations and boundaries and responsibilities and jobs and marriages and mortgages and moving and parenthood. It’s all hard. I don’t remember a point at which it was all easy. The different levels don’t take away the presence of Hard.

But isn’t this what pushes us further?

“Next year I’ll be a 5th grader!”

“I can’t wait to go to college and have my own space.”

“I’ll be so much less stressed after these finals.”

“I can not wait to be married!”

“This job just has a learning curve.”

“Marriage is really hard.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard this parenthood thing was going to be?”

“If we had more money we could…..”

And now I’ve heard my mom say, “I just can’t wait to retire. Life will be so much easier then.”

I haven’t really found that any of this gets easier or harder, it just becomes different, but no less real, significant, or difficult.

I have stopped trying to idealize my future and my past. I am not one of those people who will tell you college is the best time of your life or kids just don’t even know what little responsibility they have because I don’t think that’s true. I think it was all hard, to different degrees, but all of similar significance for their time.

I don’t think that when my son goes to school parenting will become easier. I don’t think that my marriage would suddenly be perfect if we had more time or money. I think life is hard, and unpredictable, and nothing if not a constant exercise in the ability to find beauty in inevitable change.

So as I hang up my hat of romanticism and replace it with realism, I subscribe myself to the new task of not focusing on the ever-present Hard. There will never be a time when this is easy. But then, in the midst of the hard, there are moments, however fleeting, of perfection. Those are the moments that drive us to keep going, keep pushing on to what comes next. Because we hope that there will be moments of perfection there, too. A collection of these moments is what creates a life time, but it’s important to be honest about how they were collected. Carefully, with presence and awareness, in the midst of Hard.

I Am

I Am

I am strong and hopeful
I wonder if everything really happens for a reason
I hear laughter
I see tomorrow
I want to be happy
I am strong and hopeful

I pretend that I have it all together

I feel lost

I touch my toddler’s sticky fingers
I worry about how it will all work out
I cry when I allow myself to let go
I am strong and hopeful

I understand that life is never what we expect
I say that I can handle it anyway
I dream for all the pieces to fall into place
I try to focus on the moment
I hope that one day I will KNOW I made the right choices
I am strong and hopeful

*This poem was made with the I AM template through Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop. It’s funny the things you discover about yourself when you are given the right prompt. What would you discover if you tried?

Mama’s Losin’ It

It’s A Small World

In the course of daily life I tend to lack reflection on the big picture. My world is a constant exercise in toddler emmersion. I spend my days fixing snacks, going to activities age appropriate for a two-year old, wiping my son’s bottom, doing laundry, doing dishes, straightening the house, paying bills, and occasionally loosing myself in a book. That’s it. That’s my world. Those are my conversation pieces.

My world has become small.

This past week I visited with my family and was re-awakened to the fact that there’s so much more to the world than just the small fragment I am constantly exposed to.

There were conversations about finances, technology, master’s degrees, running, church, relationships, work. There were conversations about who we know and updates on friends doing different things like living abroad, getting married, or welcoming children of their own. There was a remembrance of life before a toddler.

I love my world of immersion. I enjoy our pace and our schedule and even my constant state of exhaustion because in the midst of it all I have a sweet little boy to love on every day.

But visits with friends and family remind me that there is so much more to this world. There are so many areas I have yet to explore. It is possible to go an entire day without talking about “the potty.” Who knew?

I am so proud to know the people in my family and the friends that carry my heart. I am so grateful for the way they choose to spend their time and that I am able to weave my story in with theirs, however so briefly, so that it becomes a part of my awareness. There was life before a toddler when my world seemed big and full of possibilities. There is life now, filled with daily tasks that sometimes make me feel that the walls of my life have closed in, and I am contained in a small existence. There will be life after a toddler when my world may once again open up to new possibilities and experiences.

So, for now, I will stay in my world of immersion and containment. And one day, when we are both ready, my son and I will each open our worlds to new possibilities and experiences. Until then, I’m enjoying this view from the sidelines.

Thank You Worm

This morning was a very fussy morning for my toddler. He fussed about getting dressed, about going potty, and about eating. He fussed about his friend coming over for a play date and sharing his toys, even though he’d been looking forward to the play date all day yesterday. He fussed at me about pretty much anything that was happening all day.

As the play date was ending, we walked his friend and mommy out to their car. Since we were outside, my little guy noticed that we needed to put more food in the bird feeder, so we did. As we were filling the feeder, he noticed a worm crawling on our walk way. “Look Mommy! A worm!! Can I get him?” he said as he picked him up. We marveled at the worm a little and then I said, “Be very careful with your worm and be very gentle with him.” “Ok Mommy!” my little one said as he ran off with his worm in hand.

I finished filling the bird feeder and straightened the hose and some things around the yard as my little guy took the worm around the yard and showed him various things. I overheard him explain to the worm that he could not crawl in the road, but he could ride in his little car. I saw him carry his worm and put him in the cup holders of his cozy coupe. I saw him show the worm sticks and leaves. Then, he came over to me and showed me that “Uh oh Mommy, my worm broke! Can you fix my worm Mommy?” He had pulled off one tiny bit of the end of the worm. “No, Mommy can not fix the worm,” I answered. “You just have to hold him very gently.”  “Ok, Mommy!” said my little one, and he was off again.

A very short time later, my dear toddler came back to me with worm segments squished all over his hands. “Mommy my worm is squish!! Mommy fix my worm!”

“I can’t fix your worm. Why don’t you wipe the pieces on the grass and we’ll go wash hands. We have to wash our hands if they have worm parts on them.” “Ok Mommy,” he responded as he wiped the parts on the grass and then followed me inside for hand washing.

Since we had made it successfully inside and it was lunchtime, I started the process of cleaning up the mess from the play date and fixing lunch. The entire time my little one followed behind me as I walked from room to room and was whining (in his most whiny voice), “My worm squish! I need my worm! Fix my worm! My worm squish. I need him!” Feel frustrated, I replied (in my not nice Mommy voice), “I can not fix your worm. You squished him. He is gone. You need to stop whining. That’s enough.”

“But I miss him!!!” came the response from my son, in almost tears. I knew I needed to change tactics. I put down the dishes I was carrying and squatted down to my son’s level. “I am sorry you are sad about your worm,” I said as soothing as possible.

“Yes, I am sad because he was be-you-full,” my sweet boy said, his eyes brimming with tears. My heart melted.

I offered,”It’s ok to be sad about your worm. But now he is in worm heaven. We can not fix him, but we can say a prayer for him. Dear God, please take care of my worm. Amen.” My sweet boy came into my arms for a big hug, and then walked over to the refrigerator magnets. “Yeah, Mommy, sometimes worms squish and sometimes Noahs get sad.”

He makes my heart smile.

Thank you, Worm, for being my little boy’s friend today. Thank you for giving your life to his exploration. And thank you for helping me to remember how important it is to cherish the little things. You were beautiful worm, and so is my little boy, even on a fussy whiny day. Thank you, Worm, for helping me remember that.