Monday, March 21, 2016

Honest Post

It's been a tough week, month, year, past couple of years, past several years, who are we kidding. Mark and I are both so tired. Sometimes it's lonely. We're doing the best we can and sometimes we break down. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we freeze when there are a million things to do, because of sheer overwhelm.

I was talking to someone this week whose children spend one overnight a month at her parents and who has parents, in-laws, and siblings who all help watch her children so she can go out, have a date, run some errands, whatever. These conversations always involve me smiling and saying how great that is and exercising being happy for someone else and trying not to feel down. And it's always a challenge. Never, in over 20 years together, have we had that. And we're tired.

We moved two years ago. Then the pipes froze in the farmhouse. We're still dealing with the aggravation of that through the plumber and insurance company. Selling the farmhouse wasn't easy and we lost money on the deal. More than I care to admit. That was this past year, along with a broken oven and a broken fridge.

Now this year has started off with nearly-doubled health insurance premiums, 2 straight months of illness among all of us and then, as soon as everyone is better, Mark's car doesn't start at work and I have to run to the store to get 3 quarts of oil, drive them up to him, see if his car starts, and follow him to the mechanic to find out that the car is officially dead, and then proceed to cancel/reschedule all manner of things we can't get to because of the car situation.

It's been a good car to us for 17.5 years and we've known for some time that it was getting too old to justify hanging on to, but with everything else going on, we've helped it sputter along all this time. Now, we're back to being a one-car family while we figure out what to do with the Saturn. Not going to lie, we've been emotional about it. I mean, it's a car and it's old, and time to move on, but there's a bit of nostalgia there as that's the car that brought home both of our babies and moved us to Arizona and to Pennsylvania.

And now it's the stress of another big purchase and buying a new-to-us car. I hate shopping. I loathe shopping. We haven't car shopped in, well, 17.5 years. I'm not excited about it. Part of me wants to continue to be a one-car family, but I know that's not really practical with two teenage children. We couldn't even think of anyone to ask for help when Mark's car broke down, let alone be in a situation where we could possibly need more help (if the van's in the shop or if we've got two things going on at once in two different locations). And let's face it, we're not good at or comfortable with asking for help, even though I know it's a good thing to recognize and admit when you need some assistance. Easier said than done. So, it's time to address getting him a reliable car. I'm excited for him to have something better to drive, as the Saturn really has been falling apart for some time now.

We're just tired. Exhausted. This is also the second time in a matter of months that we've had some fun family outings planned and car troubles have stopped us. We want to give our kids the best. And we're trying. We love the life we've carved out for ourselves, but like anyone else, we all have our stresses and challenges.

Our daughter turns 16 in a few weeks and that's big. We work hard to make birthdays and celebrations special around here. They don't get family dinners with aunts and uncles and grandparents, so we get together with friends and try to make things really great. And with turning 16, we have new things to look at - jobs, college classes, driving, etc. Our sweet daughter broke down in tears this morning just feeling overwhelmed by life. I hate seeing her like that. She puts a lot on herself and it can be stressful. I think it would be hard and scary to be a teenager in today's world. I mean, the whole world is out there, just waiting for whatever it is she wants to do and while that's amazing, it's also a lot to take in and make sense of.

Our son has so many interests and so much energy and he's wired so differently than his sister. One of my biggest challenges as a mom is meeting both of their needs and interests, especially as a homeschooling family. It's totally worth it, of course, but it's a trick sometimes. Again, we want to do right by our kids and that means daily, constantly evaluating what's best and pursuing those things. Today, my son also came to me in tears, because he accidentally hit a button on the computer that ordered some game cards (he thought he was just putting in the address and leaving it up for us to look at) and he felt bad and was worried we'd be upset (which we weren't - we get that stuff like that happens sometimes).

I just have to wonder when every one of us, at some point in the past 24 hours, has been in tears, if we aren't all feeding off of one another a bit. Feeling the stress of life and finances and decisions. Feeling lonely and unsupported at times. Feeling the weight of creating a wonderful life for ourselves resting squarely on our shoulders. Hell, even a patient of Mark's cried to him today about stress in her life. Maybe it's in the air.

I know I often post about all the fun things we're doing (and it really is a ton of fun), but here's another aspect of it all - the work, the energy, the loneliness, the overwhelm, the stress. It's normal, I know. We're extremely grateful to good friends who help make our life rich and fun and happy. We've had friends help us move, cheer us up when we're sad, listen when we've needed to vent, help with Scout so we could go on a trip, and generally be a support to us. I don't know what we'd do without them, but I'm glad I don't have to think about that, because they're here, they're present, and they're wonderful.

So, back to the grind. Back to figuring out what to do with an old, dead car. Back to trying to pin down an electrician who gave us a bid and now won't answer calls to get the job done. Back to arranging play dates with friends. Back to working on school stuff. Back to figuring out college plans. Back to making sure we're okay with one car for a while. Back to cleaning out the garage. Back to work. Back to shoe shopping and bra shopping and food shopping. Back to rearranging all kinds of schedules and appointments, because we thought we'd be out of town for a few days this week and now we're not. Back to errands. Back to "to do" lists. Back to birthday planning. Back to our wonderful, but admittedly sometimes stressful, life.

I tend to minimize my own challenges and struggles sometimes. I think of others who have different and very difficult life challenges and feel I have no right to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but that's simply not fair. I saw a quote this week and it resonated with me:

So there it is. It's been a rough go for us around here for a while. For more reasons even than I've written here. Personal things. Difficult things. We work through it and come out better for it, I suppose, but it's challenging.

I know people say things like, "You're a stronger person because of it!" and that's all good and fine, but you know what? I'm not sure that's much of a comfort sometimes. Like maybe I'd like to be a little less strong and a little more supported. I think sometimes that's just people trying to put a positive spin on something, but damn, I'm tired. So, not having to be strong all the time because you've actually got help and support, well, that doesn't sound like such a bad deal. No one says to those who have support, "Oh, that's wonderful, but you know you're probably weaker because of it!"

Anyway, there it is. I'm trying really hard not to sugarcoat or put a positive spin on it, so that I can be real and honest here. Life in your 30s and 40s. It's stressful sometimes.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Story About Pies

I wanted to share a cute Max story and today seems like an appropriate day to do it. Sometime this past year, Max said something about Shepherd's pie (a meal that I find kind of bleh/just okay) and since it's not something we make a lot at all, I was surprised by his comment, "You know how much I love shepherd's pie!" I did? I had no idea! I felt like a cruddy mom for not knowing that. But seriously, really? Since when?? Why did that not sound familiar?? 

So, a few weeks later, we had mashed potato leftovers as well as some meat to use, so I figured, perfect! I'll make shepherd's pie! So I did. And I was so excited to serve it because, after all he loves it, right? 

So, I serve the meal, eagerly watching for his response and feeling like such a great mom for making a meal he is so excited about, and he looks at it and says, "What's this?" And I said, "Shepherd's pie!" And he excitedly said, "Oh! Awesome!" 

And then he seemed confused, like he was trying to piece something together. He said it seemed different and was trying to remember how it was before. Then he mentioned how he especially liked how a friend of ours made it. Huh? She never made shepherd's pie. Did she? (I started to second guess myself). 

Turns out? Chicken pot pie!! NOT shepherd's pie. We all busted up laughing and ate it anyway. So, happy Pi Day and eat something round. Like chicken pot pie and not shepherd's pie.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dear Stacy

This is your day.
Not your day because you had to take it by force,
Or demand it,
Or beg for it,
But because it is yours by its very nature.

It is yours because you are,
Because you have made it this far,
Year after year
Through challenges
Big and small,
Seemingly insignificant
And so obviously monumental.
You fight.
You endure.
You survive.

This is your day.
A day to celebrate you.
The day we look to you
And tell you how much we admire you,
How much you inspire us,
And how much we love you.
Please accept this adoration
On the day that is yours,
Because we don't say it enough,
Show you enough,
Prove it to you quite enough.

We love you,
Not just on your day,
But on every day
Since we've known you
And forever.

Happy birthday!