Thursday, May 15, 2014

Perfect Timing

“There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.” 
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Today, on our way to school, I had one of those "I am so blessed" realizations.

It crept up on me when I realized that Gracey will soon be driving her own car to school.  Before I know it, she will be out of high school and beginning the early stages of having her "own" life. (This was not the blessed part, although there is a part of me that sees the silver lining.) After I did a little happy dance in my head, and thought of all the things I can do with the time I'll save from running her around, it hit me. 

I am so incredibly blessed to spend (and have spent) my childrens' adolescent teenage years in a job where I get to interact with them frequently.  

For Billy, it was so different because I wasn't really a direct influence in his life until he graduated and went to college. But I was still able to see him after school - and during the day some - when I worked at the children's home. I got to watch him with his friends and hear what was going on simply because I was close by.

As for the girls, my working at the school they attend gives me the opportunity to see them at lunch, right after school, and sometimes during the day. I have been afforded the opportunity to get to know their friends and to see how they interact with others. I've even been blessed to be a fly on the wall by seeing them in class.  I don't take that blessing for granted - even when they barge into my office and interrupt my thought process. Or when they come in reacting to something that has happened and I have to stop to listen. From excitement to heartbreak, every moment is precious to me. I am blessed. It sort of feels like a gift for enduring the years when I didn't get to be with them as much as I'd have liked. Now I know that it was God's perfect timing. He knew "my" time would come. That time is now.

I remember my heart physically aching when I had to go back to work after maternity leave. I was torn between being glad to get back to a routine in a career I loved and wanting to stay home with my kids. For anyone who hasn't had to make that choice, you should go hug a working mom of a baby RIGHT NOW. She needs it. Trust me.

That aspect, combined with the judgement others freely expressed because I was working instead of staying at home, was terrible. The little clubs of stay at home moms who would plan play dates, parties, "coffee" dates and all sign up together for mommy and me type classes often made me feel alienated and guilty. I couldn't do those things. I had a job to put food in my babies' mouths. And, whether it was my own feelings projected onto the situation or real behavior, there was a great divide that no one crossed. The stay-at-home moms didn't make any effort to include the working moms in anything because all of their activities happened between 8 am and 3 pm. And the working moms (including me) piled even more guilt on ourselves for actually enjoying our work, so we went home and gave it our all every night to make up for being away from our kids all day! 

By the time the girls were school aged, I had figured out that I wanted them to be in their own house after school. Thanks to a group of AMAZING college girls, my sweet little daughters were well cared for. They were in dance lessons, gymnastics, and any other activity - regardless of the hours falling during my work hours. And then when we opened the flower shop, Kerry was able to pick them up from school. (I remember him LOVING those precious moments right after school when the day's adventures were fresh in their minds.)

Then, I took a job raising money at the private school where I'd be sending the girls to school starting in middle school. And all that was missing from this gift was a giant bow. Because even though I didn't wipe every snotty nose or change every diaper. And even though I didn't clean every scraped knee or experience every single "first" in their lives, I got my chance. And I intend to relish it. Every. Single. Moment.

I get to be here for almost every adolescent heartbreak. I am the first to hear when something is wrong and the first to celebrate a victory. No more lost permission slips because I get them in nanoseconds - and don't have to remember to send them back to school with the girls. But, most of all, I get the communication. 

Such a blessing. I can't tell you how thankful I am to have these important years with them - and to watch the beautiful young women they are becoming. (Their friends too!) I know, just like the years when they were little, it will all be over before long. I'll miss the morning chats and the after school chaos. I'll wish there was one more volleyball game or track meet to haul snacks for. 

Sometimes it's the ordinary moments in life that mean the most. Don't you think?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ouch - that Smarts!

“Time is but the shadow of the world upon the background of Eternity.” ~ Jerome K. Jerome

Well, it's been a week today. A week since my father in law passed from this life into the next. And what a journey it has already been for those of us still in the here and now. I have experienced loss before - but never of a parent. I don't think anyone can prepare you for the exhaustion that comes with it. No one can really explain how bone tired you are after expending so much energy.

Kerry is tired. His brother and sister are tired. His mother is EXHAUSTED. My kids are wiped out. And I've entered cranky mode. Now, don't confuse that with some kind of "anger" phase of grief. I think I can honestly say that we are all thankful that Lanny's suffering was short lived. No one was ready to let go so suddenly - or to deal with the aftermath of that. But all in all, I hope my end is as quick as that.

No...mine is flat out crankiness. Everything everyone says or does annoys me. Those who normally frustrate me might get punched in the throat soon. (Stop laughing. I know the visual of that is ridiculous.) And to top it off, it's MAY. 

Who wrote that stupid line about the merry, merry month of May? Dumbest. Line. Ever. May is crammed full of school activities. Teachers are tired of the kids so everyone is at everyone's throats. There are very HIGH expectations for things to be accomplished. And then if you live in the Texas panhandle, you sit around frustrated at the wind, lack of rain and waiting to plant your garden!

See? Told you I'm cranky.

Nothing is worse than seeing your spouse and children ache either. I find myself just frustrated that I can't make it better. The girls are teary and sensitive about things that normally they would just let slide. Kerry has so much to worry about getting ready for Mother's Day at the flower shop (ps...order your Mother some checking account would greatly appreciate it..) and wedding season is around the corner. So he's busy and hasn't really had a chance to just have a big ol' ugly cry.  The whole thing just stinks. It's no fun. 

On the other side of the coin, I know how blessed we are to be loved. This week we got all these awesome cards and offers to help. It's been so sweet and so comforting to know people care. Truly. And we have really enjoyed the evenings we haven't had to cook dinner - or think about anything except putting on our pjs and crawling into bed. It really does help everyone feel better. Even cranky ol' me...

The grand plan is to go to Red River this fall and have a very private family memorial time. I think that will give the kids the closure they need. And definitely give us all a chance to laugh, cry and just "get over it"....

So, in the meantime, if you see me walking around with a scowl...I apologize. I know I'm cranky. If you slowly approach, carrying a chilton with lime and promise not to ask me if I'm ok, you might escape without me saying something I'm sure I'll regret later. 

I think I'll need to throw a big I'm Sorry party for everyone I've been sassy to lately. Hey! Now THAT might just cheer me up....