Tag Archives: wifedom

2014 was….

I haven’t given due respect to this little space of the internet here at end of this year since my Poppa passed away on November 16, so my apologies for neglecting this blog. Part of it was neglect on purpose; I didn’t want to write, to remember, to relive. I did not want to have to think about it. And I still don’t. Someday, I will. Not today.

My Poppa passing really has fucked me up in many ways. It has been years since I had to deal with the loss of someone so grand in my life. I was 16 when my grandmother passed, and her passing sent me into a very dark place as a youth. I had 17 more years with Poppa than with Gram Alice, but that sure as hell doesn’t make this any easier. This time, in dealing with his death, I wasn’t able to wallow in it, to selfishly grieve his passing over. I wasn’t able to go out and do dumb shit to deal with it all. This time, I have a husband and three little girls. And I need to be strong and happy for those three little girls. No matter how I feel inside, how much I want to spend the day crying and writing, screaming or sulking, I can’t do that. This is what it means to be an adult; and sometimes, it sucks a lot. I did write one hell of a eulogy for him, and that helped me immensely to heal, since writing saves my life time and again, but it wasn’t enough to fully heal, cope. Will I ever? Will there always be a hole? Is there supposed to be? Time will tell.

I am distancing myself from people and things, and even friendships that I treasure; I can feel it, and I need it. I don’t mean to push people away, but it is in the still of things, the moments alone, that I am finding peace. I am decluttering my life and my spirit because I need to. I need to look inward to be able to heal. I say it fucked me up, and it did, because the way I look at things has changed. My cousin passing last year was tragic, there is no doubt about that. It really rocked me. However, Poppa passing has changed me. Fundamentally. I will never be the same. My laugh has even changed, the reasons why I laugh have changed, and the way my world feels to me has changed. And it’s not for the bad. I believe that. It’s for the inevitable. I was bound to change, I needed this moment to happen to really see what is important. And what isn’t.

This year was many things to me. I saw my three girls really start bonding as a unit. My husband showed me time and again how he is my rock, and without him, I can’t do much. Issues with certain individuals in my life, that I thought were over, have been freshly reopened, and I have had to learn time and again how to internally forgive people because I deserve the peace that comes with that forgiveness. My oldest has blossomed into an amazing mind and power beyond her own understanding. My middle has become her own force, her own light in the world, and one hell of a snuggler. And my baby is simply that: every single thing the third child can be and more. They all have made my year such an amazing time to be alive, to be their mom, to be the most important thing for them that I can be.

This was the first year I wasn’t pregnant since the year my husband and I got married. Four pregnancies in six years is a little hard to grasp, that’s for sure. This was the first year I have felt us as a complete family, whole and unbreakable. I started writing my first novel and hope that by this time next year, I can add officially that I am a writer to my title. This was the year I gained confidence, and stability, to start to dream again. And it because my family is complete that I can find that stability and my voice in my dreams.

This year I have become hardened. I have gone through many things this year that have led to this feeling, and I needed to deal with them all to be whole. I needed to accept that no matter how badly i wanted something, if it wasn’t my time, it wouldn’t be coming for me. I needed to learn to look inward and remember that my role as mother, though not a paying gig, is the most important role I can ever perform. I needed to remember that my children are little souls that need to thrive, and I am the most important person in my life to give them the ability and knowledge to thrive. And though I am still seeking that elusive full time job in higher education, I needed to learn patience, pulling in the oars, and letting the Universe lead me. I know what is for me will not pass me, and as long as I continue to remind the Universe of what I want, and to truly desire that, it will come. I needed to gain some tunnel-vision in my life, instead of chasing a brass ring not meant for me anyway. I needed to prioritize things to remember to let go of that which does not serve me. I needed to lose someone in my life so close to me that the loss would shatter what I am inside so that I can turn these broken pieces into something beautifully amazing again. I was getting too comfortable; this year made sure that I didn’t become too safe in my shell.

It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all good. I laughed a lot. I cried a lot. And I learned more lessons than I ever assumed I could in one single year. But you know what? That’s life. That is the point of this crazy Journey we are all on. This life isn’t for the weak, that’s for sure. We all must change to grow, and it isn’t usually comfortable thing to change and emerge on the other side of something. Life is meant to change us, to transform us, and to leave our souls always seeking something more beautiful or exceptional: to make us into butterflies. For without change, there would be no butterflies. And I intend for 2015 to become my butterfly year. Hear that Universe? Butterfly year. Mine. 2015.

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What do you want your 2015 to look like?
Happy New Year’s to all my readers here.
You all rock my little world. Promise.

In one short month…

As I was enjoying dinner with my girls tonight, I looked over at our wipe off calendar at the date. I look at this calendar about seventy-five times a day, but for some reason, this glance this evening took my breath away. July 25. I couldn’t believe it. And, I have to admit, my heart sank a bit. See, in one short month, everything will change.

In one short month, I will walk away from my girls and into the classroom. I will implement lessons I have never taught to students I have never met. I will have put together a course that, for the first time, will use a book and movie as its content. I will start fresh, with new material and new students, and it will be sink or swim. I will meet the anxious glances and nervous giggles of two different classrooms of  different first-year students. I will have to turn away from the, “I will miss you SO much, Mommy” eyes at home and into the, “Please don’t make this suck” eyes of my students. I will have to hang up my Mommy hat for hours on end, donning the Associate Lecturer/Mentor/Tutor hat that my work demands I wear. My roles will change.

In one short month, my kids will have to fight for my attention with my students. My kids will beg me to play while the papers sit on my desk, glaring at me with their judgy eyes, nagging to be graded. I will be torn between having fun and being Mommy and doing what needs to be done to keep my students progressing and growing as writers. Emails will blink at me from my phone, beckoning me to put out fires that exist beyond the walls of my house. “I hate to bother you, but can you look at this?” will be a line I read over and over, while my kids play in front of me, knowing Mommy’s students need Mommy right now. They will smile at me, asking me to watch them play, while I type a quick response back to the student, praying my grammar was correct in the email so as to lead by rushed example. My attention will be divided by what I want to do and what I should do. My priorities will change.

In one short month, my husband will, as per usual, become third or fourth on my list. Between quick, “How was your day”s, to, “You’ll never guess what this student said today”s, he will feel the strain. He will smile and sigh when I once again need to grade papers instead of watching TV with him on the couch after bedtime. He will sit by me, laughing with Friends while I scratch my head, bite my purple pen, and try to figure out what I can do better to get my students to understand their own voices. Weekends will be full of, “Will you please entertain them so I can get this done?” instead of, “Oh, let’s go do that fun thing right now!” My friends who don’t get it will, inevitably, not get the attention they deserve. Our communication will be reduced to text messages; promises of, “Once this is over, we will get together” will likely ring hollow. I will become that person who only contacts someone when she needs something for a while. My relationships will change.

In one short month, I will continue my own education and go back to the classroom on the other side of the podium. I will have papers to write, things to read, assignments to do. My online class from this summer will be a distant memory as I sit in the classroom to giggle my own nervous giggles with first day jitters. I will have new responsibilities, be graded for my work and efforts, and attempt to do what needs to be done to hold my own academically. I will be evaluated for my performance on both sides of the classroom. My focus will change.

In one short month, so many aspects of my life will change. Back to school season allows for a multitude of transformations, but the good news is, none of them are permanent. Everything eventually will even out, water will find its level, and my world shall step away from the brink of chaos. My life, all of it, will finally find a rhythm. My kids will get the attention they need. My husband and I eventually shall find time for each other again, and my friends and I will hang out (even just once counts). My students shall find their pace and voice, and they will go beyond my expectations time and again. I will feel whole, not pulled apart a million ways to Sunday. Everything has a season. And, as my world spins out of control and then back again, pulled together by the gravity of reality and the need for serenity in the face of spastic motion, I will remember that all of it is worth it. My life may seem absolutely crazy in one short month, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It will get overwhelming, insane, and it will test my patience and sanity…

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But it will never be enough to make me quit.
It’s all too important to give up on.

I gave up Facebook and I gained ….

On Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014, I deactivated my Facebook account. I wanted to pick a vice that would potentially be hard to give up, something I felt I needed to really make a sacrifice. I kind of laugh at the ridiculousness of that now. But let me tell you, I did not imagine how good it would feel, how freeing it would be, and how small a sacrifice it really was.

I felt free from the moment I clicked that button to let it all go. I liken my Facebook addiction to having a job that you absolutely hate, but you can’t bear to hassle with quitting on your own. So you find a reason, ANY reason, to get fired. I just needed a reason to leave – to cut the  tie, even temporarily – and Lent was that perfect reason.

My Facebook addiction was strong. I spent so much time on it; my friends’ lives seemed so much more compelling than my own, even though my life freaking rocks. I found friends from the past to reconnect with, found more commonalities with friends in real life, and had great conversations with awesome people on the daily. I looked at pictures, shared memes and stories, overshared status updates ad nauseum, checked in places like anyone cared where I was, and posted a ton of pictures of my life, kids, self, and world for others to “like”.  What started as a way to show off my kids to family and friends out of state became a seemingly necessary lifeline to the world. I was getting on my own nerves, but I could not seem to stop the madness myself. I felt compelled, like a drug addict going in for the hit, to scroll, post, share…it had to end. Now.

So, I saw Lent as the chance to end it. With one click, I let go of the little blue box on my home screen that had taken over, and I said goodbye to the “friends” I would miss. I emailed a few people that I don’t talk to regularly in the weeks before Lent to tell them my intentions, and to ask them if they would keep in touch with me during my sabbatical. And then, at midnight on March 5, I clicked the button. Boop. Done. “Do you want to deactivate?” Yes. “Are you sure?” Absolutely.

The days to follow were the best. Immediately, I had no regrets. I realized that my life was my own business, and no one else’s life was my concern. I was free to live without feeling like sharing, without taking pictures to show off my kids and life in all its glory, without wondering how I would phrase something into a clever status update. My words, my experiences, and my life was my own. It felt so stupid that I had to quit something as inane as a social media site to remember that my life was precious and meaningful, but it had to happen that way. It wouldn’t have been such a transformative experience if I hadn’t acknowledged these things as I did.

I’m working on becoming Hands Free as much as possible, as often as I can. As a family, we made up rules for screen time. I go screen free often. I am incorporating a lot of Rachel Stafford’s (Hands Free Mama) experiences and advice into my life. I am reading her book now and taking diligent life notes. It all makes sense – unplug and see the beautiful life that is in front of me. Life happens and is too fleeting and precious to miss. And my life is awesome, without “likes” or “shares.”

In quitting Facebook, I gained a life’s worth of lessons. I unplug. I spend time with people in front of me – not through a screen. I value how things are happening, and my words, thoughts belong to me – I am no longer concerned with how they would sound to someone else to garnish as many “likes” as possible. I am free of the drama, mess, and I realized something huge: friends are the ones who make time to reach out, through whatever means they can, spend time with me, converse with me, keep up with me, or just say, “hi.” Once again, my definitions of “friend” and “friendship” have changed yet again. I have a new appreciation for the friends I hold dear, the ones I talk to once in a while or everyday. It doesn’t matter how it happens; we connect, and that is the key. Real people. Real life. Real experiences. Those things matter. They ask me how my sabbatical is going, and they are shocked when I tell them it is great. They never thought I’d make it, that I couldn’t be without it. I can’t be happier to prove them all wrong.

Armed with this knowledge and all I have gained, I will never be the same. My outlook will never be the same as it was before. I have no intentions to go back to Facebook, and if I do one day, it will be totally different. I will be quiet, an observer. I won’t feel the need to enter every conversation I am invited to enter. I will be small, reserved. Right now, rejoining that world is the absolute furthest thing from my mind. I am too busy enjoying life without it. Facebook is just one more thing. And the last thing I need in my life is another thing. Like an addict, I had to quit cold turkey, rip off the bandage in one pull. And also like an addict, I need to maintain distance in between myself and my distracting, consuming habit. I need to do this to remain clear and free of it. Free of distraction, of consumption, and free to enjoy what matters. I’ve put miles in between myself and Facebook and a beautiful, clear, and fruitful life is springing up in the expanse – growing stronger and more beautiful without unnecessary distractions and nonsense everyday. 

Quitting is one of the best things I have done for myself and for my family. 

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It wasn’t that hard… one click was all it took. 
And I will never be the same. 

What have you learned?

As my birthday approached last month, a good friend of mine asked me a question she asks herself every year on her birthday. She asked me, “What did you learn the last 365 days?” That blew me back a bit. I would have to say, with all honesty, that my thirty-first year on this planet we call home was the most educational year of my life thus far. It started out with a whimper and ended with an angelic chorus, with every single emotion/gesture/moment you can imagine in between.

On October 25, 2012, my husband came home at 8:28 in the morning with the worst news we had received to date. He was being laid off. We knew it was a possibility, but no one believed it would happen as it hadn’t up to that point. That was the very first day of my thirty-first year. This was not the way I had imagined my birthday starting, but that’s what I got. Lesson learned: be ready for anything as nothing is ever promised to last.

That evening, we were carving pumpkins; my mind had been reeling all day trying to figure out how we were going to make it for an unknown amount of time before he got his job back. My oldest was excited to put the pumpkins outside, and the then-youngest went outside with her. Unfortunately, the big one let the door shut on the little one, and a big toenail was ripped off. Screaming and bleeding ensued, and a trip to Statcare was in order. This was, yet again, not how I imagined my birthday ending, but it was another lesson learned: be present when the children use doors.

Not long after that, I found out we were pregnant with our third; she was the only one we had planned. I was overcome; not only had my husband lost his job, but our efforts to conceive had actually worked, and I had another thing to think about on top of all of the other garbage we had to deal with. I never would have imagined it would have worked the very first time, but the Universe being the Universe, of course it did. Lesson learned: the Universe will never give me more than I can handle, and She obviously thinks I am a rockstar.

Along with the pregnancy and stress that came with the layoff, we weren’t able to get any assistance because we had done everything the way we were supposed to. People were turning us down for help because we had never missed payments, had never paid anything late, and we were model citizens. We were to suck it up and figure it out, regardless of the fact that we had no idea what means we had to use to figure things out. Things looked bleak. Lesson learned: Never assume people “have” to help you because unless you have “messed up” along the way, no one will.

I hit Pinterest and the internet hard looking for ideas on how to survive on love and a few dollars a month. I found Dave Ramsey, meal planning, no spend months, emergency funds, debt snowballs, and making my own products at home. I was so foreign to Dave Ramsey, and his whole barrage of teachings, and I frankly had never taken him seriously before. Until I needed him. And he saved us. I swear to you, without his common sense approach to money and saving, I never would have made it as we did. Lesson learned: never write anyone off; you never know when you may need him/her.

We made it! It got tight. Really, really tight. Tighter than I had ever known before, and ever care to know again. But we never needed to borrow money while he was laid off.  Our kids still got Christmas gifts, they never went without, and they never went hungry. We never needed a hand out (good, since we didn’t get any). We also did not incur any extra debt; we never touched a credit card. And we never, ever missed a payment. We did everything we needed to do to make it work. We got our emergency fund and started working on the debt snowball, and we did it one step at a time. Lesson learned: we can live on way less than I ever thought we could. Ever.

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My husband had to work an awful job for over five months that involved him being gone a lot. We had no idea where or when he would be gone, nor for how long he would be out of town. He was gone a lot, and that took its toll on everyone. He didn’t want to be gone, but we didn’t have a choice. He was forced to take a job that was not a good fit, and no one had a say in the whole thing. I was stressed beyond belief, and I was not loving pregnancy. Nights were long, and days lasted forever. Times in between him being home lasted from three days to three and a half weeks. I cried many nights, praying to God to bring life back to normal because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know God was using this situation to really drive it home to never take anyone or anything for granted. Lesson learned: cherish my husband, children, and loved ones as much as I can, as time with them is guaranteed to no one.

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July 2, 2013, I gave birth to the baby who anchored my soul. She has changed my life in ways innumerable. Her birth was a whirlwind. Waiting to have her taught me patience, the importance of breathing, and how far I can be pushed before I break. She is the most amazing, smiley, loving baby I have ever met; she makes me want to be around her and never let her go. Lesson learned: never think that motherhood means one thing; the definition can change as your life and children do.

In July, I celebrated a birth, a birthday, and an unexpected loss, all within 18 days of each other. I am still reeling from the loss, and it is one that I never expected would hurt me as much as it has. I think of my cousin every day, and I wish he were here for his kids every hour. I have been working on mending fences with his ex-wife over issues I had with her years before he died, and I have been praying for every member of my family who is touched by his passing. I find myself talking aloud to him, and I know he hears me. I want nothing more than 1 more hour with him, and I hate it that I won’t have the chance to until I am with him again. I miss him every single day, and his loss will be with me forever. Lesson learned: never forget to tell everyone I love them, mend fences while there is time to mend them, and be the best mother I can be because I never know when it will be my time, and my children and family need to know they come first.

In August, I celebrated the call back that brought our world back into focus. This phone call brought normalcy and celebration. My school year started, and I have learned more from my students I have ever considered possible. I have learned to let go, I know my limits now, and I can’t believe that I have the honor and privilege to reach out and touch so many students’ lives, present, past, and future. I am busier than I have ever been, more torn apart than I have ever been, but I know I will be stronger than I have ever been when winter break comes upon us. My husband is back to work, in a better situation than he left, and he is more stable there than he was before. And that knowledge makes all the difference. Life is back to normal, better than normal, and I have a greater appreciation for all of the lessons of the year. Lesson learned: never stop learning; life will change before I know it, be it for the better or worse, any given day. Never have an expectation of what “normal” is. It will change.  

I have learned so much. I learn every day. I learned who will be there for me, and who won’t. I have learned what a true friend is, and I have learned that friends I thought were true were really not so. These things happen when shit hits the fan: some people stay to comfort me, some people come in and out to compete with me, and some people don’t give a shit because they are too busy in their own lives to be concerned about what is happening in mine. Everyone reacts to these situations differently, and I don’t begrudge anyone their reactions, but I feel like I knew who I could talk to about it all and who I couldn’t talk to. I have learned who will cry with me, laugh with me, celebrate and commiserate with me. I have redefined the word friend, the action of being a friend has new meaning, and I hope to show my friends everyday how much I love them and appreciate their presence in my life. My friends that have stayed know I honor them and need them every day of my life, and I hope they need me in theirs as well.Family has a new meaning to me, and my family has shown us compassion and love beyond measure. Lesson learned: as I age, the definition of what is a friend should change, as it has, and it will until I am no longer on the planet. Everyone has a season, and a reason, in my life, and I know now how that can be defined and shifted, as it should.

I know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. I know how strong I am, I know how much I can handle, and I know that I can do any damn thing I set my mind to. There is nothing in this world I cannot survive, and every situation is temporary. Age thirty-one taught me more than I ever could have expected, from day one. And I am so thankful, grateful, and proud of myself and my family that we made it through that time. I have redefined my life, my life’s goals, and my plans for my family’s future due to the lessons of the last year. And I am sure something will happen again down the road that will make me reexamine things. We are due a life we can navigate now with confidence, one that can ultimately be easier and better in the end. Without those lessons, without that last year, I don’t think I would understand this. I didn’t know how good we had it until it was all gone, for almost an entire year. It takes those moments, those times of trial, to show us how lucky we are. And I am one lucky, fortunate, and ever grateful lady. I am ready for anything, and I know now that I can handle so much more than I ever imagined I could. Lesson learned: Life can really throw curveballs; you just have to know what to do with it once it leaves the Pitcher’s hand…

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The one in which I cried like a baby…

My husband was home for five hours today. Five. He came home late last night from Virginia, went into the office at 8 to unload the truck from their job yesterday, and was sent home. We figured we’d have the day together; the girls were excited, I was excited, and he seemed relieved to just be for a while. He was told to call in the afternoon for work for the rest of the week.

Ring. Ring.

His phone beat him to the punch, and about five hours after he got home, he got a phone call from his boss. He had to go take some stuff to a job site in Pennsylvania.

Today.

His boss asked him if he needed time to be home for a while, but he wanted him to be on the road within an hour and a half of their conversation. So, I guess what his boss meant was, “you don’t really need time do you?” So he gave us kisses, said goodbyes, and left.

And I cried. A lot. Because it’s unfair. We had a day planned together. He was going to mow the yard, maybe look into putting up a crib for that baby that is going to be here before we know it. Maybe go see his grandparents who we have not seen since Easter…maybe have a fire tonight with the girls and enjoy being a family for a while.

We had a day planned.

He asked me if I minded if he left, and I asked him if I have ever had a choice.

Because here’s the thing. This job sucks. There is little about it that is good. The pay is only really good if he gets overtime. And unfortunately, the overtime only comes when he is traveling. Now, I am not saying he is making peanuts; don’t mistake me. But, hourly the pay is not as awesome as some people imagine it is. Hourly is still more than some other people make, yes. But it’s not what we were used to with his old company (and don’t be all, “She’s so shitty being all WE MAKE SO MUCH MONEY” because you know that is not it… so just don’t even say it.). It’s the overtime that makes it worth it. And, unfortunately since we are more than six months into his layoff, we have to do what we have to do for the money. It is the money that made him have to take the job in the first place; the threat of losing the money we were getting with unemployment was the cause of all of this. And so, yes, we sacrifice time for money. And it sucks ass. A lot. But it’s what we have to do until he gets the phone call, which I imagine will come right around the time of the apocalypse. I have to pretend it isn’t happening. Then the waiting isn’t terrible.

If I pretend it isn’t happening, I have nothing to wait for.

But anyway, today I cried. And I cried while getting my girls ready to go to the store. And I cried on the way to the store (we detoured to my mom and dad’s on the way. Sometimes you just need your mom.). Silently. But I cried. Because I am 33.5 weeks pregnant, I am in general discomfort constantly now, and goddamnit, I want my husband home. But we also need money for bills and survival….so what I want becomes secondary. And that, my friends, is when I realize that as a control freak, I have to let this go. I have to chin up, shut up, and deal with it because it damn well beats the alternative. It isn’t easy on anyone, and I am seeing some effects now in the girls I didn’t think we’d have to experience (but that is for another time). In the meantime, I am busying myself with getting the room ready for Finola. And I take advantage of every moment we have together because they are fleeting. Memories are made in those moments, which is nice, but I could use more of them.

He just called me, and we talked for about 45 minutes *a record for him*. It was nice. It’s so refreshing to know that even though he is miles away, we can be connected. We discussed what makes the job worth it, what makes it something we have no control or choice over, and what will make us continue to work at everything as hard as we do: we’re family. We are going to be forever. And this is not ideal, but it is not forever. And while I may cry, I don’t cry alone. I don’t hurt alone. And I am not going through this alone, even though sometimes it feels like he gets the better end of the deal as the one who isn’t home 24/7.

We do this together. Because we do what we have to do to survive and to make it. And if tears are shed along the way, they are not empty. There is only so long one person can go before the tears are the only way to communicate.

Today was that day, my friends. I am sure it will happen again. And when it does, I will let it happen. I need to be honest in all of this, honest in emotion and honest in action. And if I am being totally honest, this sucks. But, it isn’t forever.

And I can do anything I need to do for a short time.

Except now, that mantra has changed a bit.

I can do anything I need to do for as long as I need to do it.

And to know that about myself…is enough for now. Crying-doesnt-indicate-you-are-weakCan I get an Amen?

No one has died, so I win….

There are days when I feel like I have this motherhood-wifehood-lifehood thing down without my husband being home. He has been gone 11 days. It’s odd I don’t have the hours figured out on this one yet. There are days when I feel superawesomebadass, and I know that I can do this. Those are the days when we all get along, and the hills are alive with the sounds of music and joy. Those are the days when I put them to bed and miss them as they sleep, even though they are only a door away. Those are the days when I just break down at how cute they are, and there is more laughter than frustration, more giggles than screams, and more happiness than anything else. And then…there are days like the last few…

I don’t believe that three people should spend as much time together without Xanax as I have spent with my kids. I mean, really. Eleven days of being the primary parent. Eleven days of being the disciplinarian. Eleven days of being the only one that they really want to be with, even when I have to have someone else keep them for a few hours so I can work. It is because we have spent a ridiculous amount of time together that I find myself wanting to be anyone but who I am sometimes. Those are the times I want to book myself a one way ticket to North Dakota just to feel my husband’s arms around me, and for him to tell me that I am doing a great job. I am strong, I know this. But the last few days have really shown me that I am not a superhuman. I can do a lot of things, but I cannot do everything. And I am realizing this more and more.

My heart aches daily when my girls say things like, “Daddy misses all the fun stuff, doesn’t he?” and, “When is Daddy coming home?” My heart aches when Ellery asks me if we can Skype him while he is sleeping, and “why not?” when I tell her no, we can’t. I don’t have all the answers they need. I do now that, yes, Daddy does miss fun stuff right now. And no, I don’t know when Daddy gets to come home. I wish I knew. I think I would feel better if I just…knew. If I had any idea when this ride would be over. If I had any clue when they would be done on this job, I wouldn’t be so stressed out. I have considered going to my OB this week and getting an Rx for some anti-anxiety meds, but I can’t afford to be a zombie mommy, as much relief as that would give me. And I don’t think my kids are acting out because of anything I can control; I know they aren’t. They miss their daddy. And so do I. But I don’t get the option of throwing fits, screaming, crying… I am 31 years old. I have to smile and pretend that my heart doesn’t ache a bit more everyday he is gone…

The other night, though, I had a moment with my four year old that I won’t forget. She would not stay in bed. No matter what I said, she would not sleep. First she pretended her ear hurt. And then she said she was thirsty. Had to pee. Whatever. Finally, after a little less than an hour of this dance, I made her sit down and tell me what was really going on. She just … lost her shit. In front of me. She cried harder than she had in days. And I realized, she just now was processing this whole thing. I had been so preoccupied trying to remain upbeat and keep some semblance of normal life, and she was struggling. She blurted out that she missed her daddy, and I couldn’t help it, I cried. With her in my arms. We cried together. She needed me to meet her there, to meet her in her grief, and to stop being so damn strong. I was allowed to be weak, and she could be weak with me. And we talked as I rocked her and stroked her hair. And we laughed through our tears, and she went to bed. And that was it. She slept peacefully. THAT night, I missed her so much while she was gone. We were able to just be real with each other there, for that short time, and grief was okay. It was in those moments I realized that this situation is not one I want them to remember. I want this all to be a distant memory in six months or so, and not our reality. I want them to remember Skyping Daddy, and laughing with Daddy, and being silly with Daddy, even though we are separated by so many miles…. I don’t want them to remember how sad it made them. Or how much they missed him. And I want them to remember that he did it because he loves them. He loves our family. And he is doing this, though it is hard on him also, because he doesn’t have an option. He doesn’t get a choice. He gets this deal… and this isn’t fun. But it isn’t forever…

I have to remember that I can’t beat myself up when I get frustrated. I am on the edge of losing my shit in any seven second period for much of the day. I can’t feel bad about myself when I am sad. I am pregnant. And I am a hormonal mess (hello, everything makes me cry anymore, and I can’t even begin to allow anyone to hug me… I may just break down on the spot). And I have to remember that everyday that I keep my kids safe, happy, healthy, and alive that is a day I win. I win those days. I win because I can smile while ready to lose my mind, I can giggle while the girls are screaming at each other, and I can hold my head high in those moments they just love all over each other. However, I am far from perfect. I yell more than I’d like to. I get frustrated more than I care to. And I want to give up more than I care to admit. But those moments when I hear, “Mommy, Ellery happy. Ellery happy Mommy is here. I love you, Mommy” that I know I am not fucking up too much. It is when Caelan just looks at me, sighs and smiles, and wraps her arms around me that I know I am doing okay. And in those brief, fleeting whispers of togetherness, I know that they know that I need to hear those words, feel those hugs, and I know they need to hear them and feel them as well. Those whispers speak so much louder than the yelling ever will… And I am thankful for those moments. I am thankful for my children. And I am, oddly, thankful for this crazy time to be able to show my girls that they can handle anything life hands them, even if it isn’t pretty and easy, even if it sucks to the core for everyone involved…and we can do anything together much better than we can do it apart.

sometimes-you-win-sometimes-you-learnI refuse to lose; I never ever lose…But, I will always and everyday learn…

Control Freak.

I don’t know if you have noticed this about me, kind reader, but I am a bit of a control freak. Not like a HUGE one, because I do Let Go and Let God sometimes, but I definitely like a plan. And a To Do list. With boxes I can check off. Everyday. That is normal, yes? Anyway, we are five *FIVE!?* months into this layoff thing, and I have to say, I am SO glad my husband found another job for the waiting period this past month. It has been SO nice to breathe a bit financially, and the travel thing isn’t truly awful. Currently, he is in North Dakota. With no idea of when he will be back. THIS part doesn’t make me happy, and rumor has it he will be there about a month. One. Whole. Month. Gone.

We have never spent as little as six days away from each other, ever. I cannot imagine four (or more?!) weeks in a row.

Someone pass me four ounces of wine. I’m allowed to have that.

Standard drink guideOoooo I’m a girl who LOVES options!!! 🙂

The idea of him being gone a month makes me twitch. A lot. That is a lot of together time for the girls and me. And it is a lot of me doing things on my own. A lot of it. Four weeks of it. If they say he will be gone more than a month, I may cry. Wait. I already have at the thought of him being gone a month. A month is a long time, yes, but I have to think of it this way: he could be gone a month in one place, or four weeks in other places. Would it really matter? Kind of, because when he is going other places, he does get to come home first. No coming home from North Dakota yet. Yikes. A. Month. Eep!!

Anyway, I will not be so sad about it when he gets paid. THAT part will rock. Ok, hunny, you work 12 hours a day for 30 days, and just make sure the company direct deposits those checks, pal. 🙂 Zero complaints on that. And I can be altruistic and say that money doesn’t buy happiness, and it doesn’t (except for the iPhone…) but I smile a lot more now that I have for four months. And I am surely going to be smiling a lot more once he gets paid for all this nonsense in ND. I like that I am able to breathe, and we are able to get rid of our debt snowball faster, but I don’t like that he is gone. I did not marry someone to become a single mom, but that’s what this feels like. And that’s fine. (DISCLAIMER: Please don’t go all “OH NO YOU DIDN’T! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A SINGLE MOM!” I am making a comparison. You’re right. I don’t. And I’d like to never truly “know” that. I prefer this marriage gig.) But I have to remember this: I can do ANYTHING for a short period of time. Short. Got that, Universe?! Short.

What I am struggling with is not being able to see him all the time. Or talk to him when I want. He is on midnights, and he works 7p-7a. So, the prime time for me to talk to him without kids around is nil. We are making do, but it would be nice to have a conversation with him without Ellery yelling, “DADDY HAS BLUE EYES! LOOK MOMMY! DADDY!!” and Caelan describing the minutia of her day ad nauseam (that girl will have a blog soon. this is her medium). What I also don’t like (and I am a big enough woman *no fat jokes, I’m pregnant* to admit this) is that I don’t always know what he is doing. Now, that may sound goofy, and that is fine whatever, but I just kind of like knowing what he’s watching on TV. Or what he is eating. Or what he buys at the store. These details are important to me. They tell me the story of his life when he isn’t home. That life I don’t really get a good look at, and I think it is only natural (I hope) to want to know a little bit about that side. I am not talking about whether or not he is cheating on me because that is something I truly don’t believe I need to worry about. Ever. But I am talking about the little things. What t-shirt he is wearing. What he sees out his window. What the weather is like. These are all details that I have interest in. And this could be because I am a writer, and those details help the story, but it also could be because I am a control freak. I like to know things. It’s how I have always been. I don’t like NOT knowing things. It makes me nervous and stabby. I’m a knowledge and research junkie. We all know this. Not having access to knowledge unnerves me.

So, these are the times I have to Let Go and Let God. I have to have faith that I can’t know everything, and as uncomfortable as that makes me, it is also a bit freeing. It allows me to focus on what I can know, and what I can do, and I put the rest out of my mind. I have to let him have the story of his travels, and I have to accept that I am not a part of that story really. It has nothing to do with me. Or the kids. It has to do with him being on his own, doing what he needs to do, and providing for his family back home. It calls for a level of trust that goes beyond what I have dealt with before. I have never really had a long distance relationship, long term or short, and a long distance marriage is a bit weird. But we will get through this together, and he will come home. His company can call ANY DAY NOW (see the date? Yeah. It’s the 7th. Crickets from that company, by the way. Good news coming in slowly, but we don’t know until we know…again). And it won’t last forever. I feel like we have lived for five months now NOT KNOWING much, and that hasn’t helped the control freak in me. But this time has allowed me to Let Go and Let God a lot more than I ever thought I could. And what doesn’t kill us allows us to grow stronger. And I’d like to think I’m one strong, tough cookie (or nugget, as Ellery likes to say. “Mommy tough nuggets.” Thanks, kid, I try.). No one ever died from this. I have to remember that.

tough cookie title smallThat’s me!!

*peeks in*

Is anyone still here? I know it’s been a while since I have written, but things have been super busy around here lately, and I am in the wonderful “desire to do everything, energy to do nothing” phase of pregnancy. By the end of the night when I can blog, my energy leads me to the couch and remote. I have had like eleventy billion ideas of things to write about, and none of them have really materialized, of course. So, a list and a quick update before I am led back to the couch this morning.

1. My husband has not received the Call yet (of course, because it’s not April 7, right folks?). In the meantime until they call, he had to take another job. I say, “had to” because that’s the way it went down. See, with unemployment, you have to apply for two jobs within your “field of expertise” a week. Well, he applied at this company, and they liked him, so they interviewed him. We didn’t really hope he’d get the job because it involves ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TRAVEL. Yes folks, he will be not home when working. Ever. For days to weeks at a time. (Read: WTF!?) Well, because the Universe works in ways unknown, he got the job. THIS raised a few questions. First, if he turned down the job, he would have to interview with unemployment, and then they could deny our benefits (read: no income). Second, even though there are two instances where they could “ideally” not deny our benefits, they would not tell him if they would or not until he denied it, and then interviewed, and then, it would be too late if they decided to cut our benefits (read: screwed with no income). Third, the hourly amount is not THAT much more than unemployment (and less than his wage at his job), but with the mandatory overtime (read: the average workday is 12-16 hours) it will make it totally worth it.

He is going into his third week there, and it hasn’t been as painful as I anticipated. I actually function quite well on my own, but by Friday I am ready for him to be home. He is lucky he married an independent broad like me. 🙂 So far he has gone to Houston for a week, Columbus for three days, and next week we know he will be in New York, but we have no idea for how long. They told him to always keep a bag packed because they could need him at a moment’s notice to head somewhere. They pay for travel, expenses during travel *including meals*, and he gets to go learn another trade area that will help him at his Primary Employer once they call him back. He still has a guarantee to get a call from them since he didn’t (and won’t) officially quit there, so we are just doing this until that phone call comes. I have checked into this ad nauseum (me? never, I know!) and I was told by someone else who knows the deal, “The company sometimes has layoffs for years at a time. They cannot just expect people not to work and support their families. Unemployment only goes so far (right?!), and they know that. They will call. They can’t NOT call. It’s against their policies.” So, I feel better about the whole job thing. The Call, though, can come any day now. April 7? THAT would be nice!! It looks like things are picking up soon, but seeing as we are rounding into a fifth month of being laid off, there’s no way to know until we know. So, he works while we wait. Sigh.

It won’t be fun all the time. It won’t be ideal. But it will be something we have to do until we get that Call. It will be nice to be able to breathe a little financially, and I can do anything for a short period of time (I am pretty sure I have proven that). I won’t like living the Single Married Mom life, but the girls are the ones who will be most affected by it all. C is old enough to understand that Daddy has to go to work, but E is not. And that’s ok. We will work through it as we go. We don’t know where he will be off to next until they tell him (sound familiar?), so we just take it one week at a time. Baby steps will be the plan of attack. We got this. I have a village to support me while he is gone, and I can call on them for support as I need it. Now, will they answer the call? I hope so!

So yeah. I am counting down the days until his phone rings and his Primary Employer calls him back. We will have fun, just us girls, while he is gone, and I will keep them busy so it doesn’t feel like he is gone forever, like I am sure it will feel in their two and four year old brains. It will be worth it for him to learn some new things, build his skill base, add to the bank account, and travel a bit on someone else’s dime.

2. His very first paycheck came in, and we were able to knock the first item off of our debt snowball. Woot! And then? The next day the taxes came in (which I was not able to do all I wanted with because when you make more money than the year before you should change your withholdings to get a bigger refund, which we know now, but didn’t then), and so we knocked the next item off of our debt snowball. Woot! Two in 24 hours. I cannot complain about that. Budget-wise, I am still going to budget our amounts based on the amount unemployment would give us a week, and then anything extra gets sent to the snowball and a bit to savings. I know Dave says to do one at a time, but I don’t want to NOT save more. We may need some to live off of because when he goes back to his Primary Employer, there will be a lapse in pays, and we need to be covered. So, I am planning for both. It will be so nice once that phone call comes because then we can just be.

3. I think, budget-wise, I will always keep us at the amount for unemployment until the debt snowball is paid down. I know we “can” make it on that amount because, well, we did. And that’s a nice steady amount every week to plan on. The rest will just be extra. It’s a nice starting point, and I am glad a friend of mine suggested that plan to me because I wasn’t smart enough to think of it on my own. 🙂 We will see how it all plays out in the months to come. It’s working so far, and I can see how it will continue to for a while. I’m excited to be able to budget in for extra money being sent place because we still have those two CC balances to knock out. Once those are gone, we are literally down to car payments, student loans, and mortgage. THAT will be an amazing feeling, and I hope to be there by October when the 0% APR runs out. I don’t want to have to transfer any balances to another 0% APR, but I know I will if we have to. I can only do what I can do with what I have, and I will do everything I can to make that October goal. We can do anything, but not everything, and that is something I must remember as I often try to do everything.

4. The girls are getting so big, independent, and so smart. Watching them play together has been SO fun lately. They are truly best friends, and we are so blessed to have them both. It’s unbelievable that we will have another baby girl around here in three(ish) months. Three months from tomorrow is my due date, and we have nothing in the nursery ready yet. We are planning on repainting it, but if he is traveling until she is born, that won’t happen. We do need to get on the stick to get the crib, but we have time. I have access to a bassinet which I will use anyway for the first month or so. I am in no hurry.

5. Because I am in no hurry, I feel a bit bad for Finola. I mean, I have not had any time at all to revel in the whole “pregnancy experience”. She’s in there. She nudges me, kicks me, lets me know she is here everyday. I love her to pieces, I just feel like she’s getting short changed already LOL. Get used to it, toots, you’re the third. 🙂 I mean, I found out I was pregnant in late October, and on the first week of November he was laid off. It hasn’t been the most calm and serene environment to gestate in. I am 100% sure she will be fine. I just don’t like feeling like I haven’t really enjoyed this whole experience. It isn’t that I haven’t enjoyed it, but it hasn’t been the most enjoyable. But that’s ok. She’s already learning coping mechanisms in utero, right? She’s going to be a warrior this one. Mark my word.

6. My in-laws gave us some exciting news last night which will make life easier for all of us very soon. It’s not my story to tell yet, but know that it is a good thing and something I look forward to, even though I don’t usually always see eye-to-eye with them on things.

7. The semester is almost over, and I am so happy. I love my job, I love my students, but I am so ready to not have to deal with both for a while. Again, I will enjoy pregnancy a lot more once I am able to focus on house and home solely for a bit. I have a good *small* group this semester, and I love helping them succeed. 🙂 It’s what I do. And I love every second of it.

Well, that’s it. I know it’s a lot, but it’s how the weeks have been recently. If you have any advice on how to help kids through a job where one parent travels, I would greatly appreciate them. Comment away, your words can touch someone else whom you’ve never met.

z0v98bcrfog2y0u28dgvokh1o1_400_largeI love this quote. It is so true…
I can do anything. But not everything.
But I will do what I can.
And it will be enough.
It will always be enough.

Spring Forward…

Well, folks, it’s time to spring forward here in good old Northeast Ohio. I absolutely despise daylight savings time until the weather is warm. Then? Bring on longer days! But for now, I’m tired and cranky. Last night I had the awesome experience (insert sarcasm font here) of being awake to watch my clock change. THAT was a real mind-screw. Ellery was up, and I looked at the clock. It said “4:46.” Ok, I thought. No biggie. I looked again after I got her back in bed and “6:02” was on the screen. Jesus Chreezus! THAT took forever, are you kidding me? was my first thought. And then, I remembered. Time Change. Spring forward. Shit, I thought, I just experienced losing that hour. That was an annoying revelation, and I am sure I will be having that moment for years to come with my annoying wonderful children who do not like me sleep all that well.

What’s new? Well, my husband and I had an awesome Friday night. My parents, sister, and her wife all went together and got us movie passes and a hotel for the night. My sister and her wife stayed with our girls overnight, and that was the most amazingly needed night of our lives. Seriously. They say it was for our anniversary (one week till we celebrate St Patrick’s Day AND six years of wedded bliss!). I think it’s because they know we needed it before we went batshit crazy. Either way, we took it, and we rocked out. 🙂 It was so nice to go to dinner, Target *what date night is complete without Target?*, and the movies. And then a hotel to sleep. All night. It was awesome. My Spidey Senses told me what they were up to when my sister asked my husband for my email address. My first thought was, they’re getting us movie passes. And a hotel. Or she wants me to look over a paper for school. Because really, to think they actually were doing the first two was a little out there. But no, Spidey Senses were spot on! And we were both grateful.

Speaking of Spidey Senses, I had a dream Thursday night that the husband will be back to work at his job on April 7th. So, keep that date in your minds, folks. In my dream, his phone rang and he answered it. It was them. And in my head *in the dream*, the date April 7th came into my mind. So then he said aloud *in the dream*, “Ok, I will see you April 7th then.” Boom. Spidey Senses. Let’s hope that’s the case…

I am on Spring Break this week, and I will love having time with the girls for a while without worrying about work and teaching. I will be doing not a damn thing for work (I do have to grade a few papers, but that can wait a while), and I will be enjoying my little ladies. I don’t know what we will do, since C is not on break, but it’s ok. Sometimes it’s easiest not to make plans and just enjoy the daily blessings.

Today is going to be a beautiful day. It’s warming up. The sun is out. We will be spending time outside. My windows are open and letting in the fresh air. I wish it was warm enough to line-dry clothes, but alas, we have time for that to come.

spring20forward12I guess “Springing Forward” isn’t too bad after all. 🙂 Enjoy today!