Change is hard

The above is an obvious statement, I know.  But it is true, and feels especially true for me recently.  Looking back at 2018, there were some pretty crappy things that happened in my life.  My cat died, my grandma died, and my grandpa died.  It probably seems silly to put the cat thing in there with the other tragic events, but Mojo was with me for a long time, over 15 years, and I miss him.  Even though the older he got and the more children I had, he became such a pain in the butt and so gross, he never failed to snuggle me each night, and I miss that certainty, that comfort.

My grandma, my mom’s mom, was 88 years old.  She was amazing.  She held onto her faith so firmly, yet would be able to have in depth conversations about things that she did not necessarily agree with.  She was the most incredible cook.  She was very creative and enjoyed writing.  She wrote a children’s book that was never published, illustrated by her younger brother, about a star in the universe trying to find its place.  I have some of that story tattooed on my arm.

My grandpa, my dad’s dad, was 89 years old.  He was a captain with The Great Lakes Fleet for 43 years.  He had a wicked sense of humor and was very opinionated and had no problem sharing his opinions to anyone who would listen.  He had an endless amount of stories to tell.  I loved just listening to him talk even if I had already heard that particular story several times.  He loved to listen to polka music on Sundays, and every time I hear polka music I feel right at home.

I have no more living grandparents left to visit or to call or to send pictures my kids drew for them.  This fact is still new, so sometimes I forget.  The other day I was thinking about something the boys and I could do for spring break, and one of the options that popped in my head was heading up north to stay at our family’s camp and visit my grandparents like we did last year.  But they won’t be there to visit this year.  Each August we try to get up there during The Nautical Festival.  My grandpa’s house is the epicenter for all family gatherings.  At some point during the Festival we all find our way there to eat, drink, catch up, and laugh.  So much laughter.  But now, where are we going to meet up?  Will our annual August pilgrimage up North even continue?   I won’t be greeted by that familiar smell of my grandparents’ homes.  I won’t be able to find the not so secret stash of candy my grandpa always had on hand.  I won’t be able tell my grandma we already ate as she puts together a meat, cheese, and cracker spread seconds after we have arrived for a visit.  Little things I’ve gotten so used to over the years will be coming to an end.  I have no fancy words for what it is.  Change is so hard to deal with sometimes.

That gorgeous picture at the top of my blog?  That is the beach we go to.  Just beautiful and relaxing up there.   And the memories.  I have to give my kids their own memories of being up there as well, so we will keep travelling to that special little town despite all of the change that 2018 brought.

Something I wrote back in July

Lazy, lazy summer daze.  Why they are so important and why I’m so lucky.

There are many a day that I wish I could go back in time and choose another career path.  But summertime, especially when I started having my boys, I realized that despite how completely exhausted and sometimes worthless I feel during the school year, I am so fortunate to have so much time to spend with my kids.  I’m not a huge fan of those Facebook posts that tend to circulate around each summer about how we only have 18 summers with our kids so make them memorable.  First of all, that implies our kids will never be around the summer they’re 18 and graduate from high school.  If my kids are anything like me, they’ll be around plenty to work or to eat or do laundry.  And second of all, why do family vacations have to stop once your children turn 18?  That’s just silly.  I’m 40 years old and have several planned family days with my parents and siblings each summer.  Now, granted, my parents really only want to see their grandchildren during these visits, but I’m not too proud to mooch food off of my parents.  I’ve even brought laundry to my parents house as a full grown adult with my own kids.  I am telling you my dad must have been a dry cleaner in a past life, he can get a stain out of almost anything.  

My point is, each time I see one of those posts, I feel a twinge of guilt.  They make me pause and question if I should be doing more and planning out each and every summer day with my kids so we get the most of these 18 years.  They make me feel like I am just not a good enough Mom. But then I come to my senses and think, Shut up stupid Facebook post.  I’ll do what I want, and we’ll have a grand ole summer even if we are lazy.  There are some days we sit around in our pajamas and binge watch TV together.  Just yesterday I was able to watch Baby Mama with my 13 year old while the younger two were downstairs playing video games.  Don’t judge. It was fun laughing at potty jokes with my teenage son. Would I have watched that if my 8 and 4 year old were upstairs with us?  Probably not. But that is only because they would have been too loud for us to enjoy it. Before the movie was over, we decided to use the M&Ms I had bought to make cupcakes for my 4 year old’s birthday, but then decided against it because we still had leftover cupcakes from a small celebration with family, so we made cookie bars instead.  None of this was planned out or involved us having to go somewhere to have fun. It was just us being lazy and enjoying each other’s company.

When things aren’t planned, impromptu trips to a hobby shop to find rock polishing supplies and then to not find any, but instead find weird little cheap treasures that cause the youngest to have a complete meltdown in the car of which we can laugh and make jokes about are able to happen.  Such as, “Mom, Dominic should be the town’s tornado siren, he’s so loud.”  Giggle giggle giggle. This is why I am so lucky.  I can have lazy, relaxed days with my sons during the summer.  These days may not produce vivid memories that will stay with them forever, but they will provide a sense of love and belonging and knowing they always have a relaxed, inviting place to come home to no matter what is going on in their life.  Just like I still do with my parents.  That to me is much more important than planned out events that I can post on my social media sites to make myself look like a good Mom.  Now I just need to remember these relaxing, enjoyable days while I am in the thick of it during the school year…

 

Update on these July thoughts now that is in January.

I still believe strongly in the benefit of having a lazy, relaxed vacation schedule now that my winter break is coming to a close.  And I discovered another thing that bothers me about those “You only have 18 summers with your children posts.”  What about the parents that have to work all summer?  Does that mean their children are having a worse summer or a bad childhood because they’re in daycare most of the summer?  I was fortunate enough to have my dad home with us during my summers as a kid because he was a teacher, and my mom was able to take more days off so she was home more too.  But aside from a few family adventures each summer, we didn’t go do something every single day.  My dad didn’t have a planned schedule complete with arts and craft activities.  Nope, we were told to go play, and we did, and I have nothing my squishy lovey feelings about my childhood.  OK, rant over, I’m sure you get my point.

There Was a Declan Who Swallowed a Key

There Was a Declan Who Swallowed a Key…

Last winter, as I was relaxing one Sunday evening watching TV my middle son, Declan, burst into my room yelling, “Mom! I swallowed a key!”  He then promptly burst into tears. I wasn’t sure how to react to such a bizarre statement, but seeing my baby so upset I hugged him and asked him calmly to tell me exactly what happened.

“Well, I had the key by my mouth and Ty made me laugh, and I just swallowed it.”

“What key?  Your house key?”  I asked still confused.

“No it was that toy key that Ty has.”  After further investigation, the key in question turned out to be smaller than a normal house key, more rounded, and plastic.  What toy it went to, I am still unsure of, but that wasn’t the point so I moved on to searching on my phone as to how serious this situation actually was.  Did I really need to leave the comfort and warmth of my stretchy pants and blankets? No, Google, told me it should be fine. If there is no problem with his breathing, these types of things usually just find their way out naturally.  Our Sunday night continued as normal, but as the quiet of the dark, sleeping house settled around me, I began questioning my decision to not go to the ER. I got up every hour and checked on Declan, occasionally poking him to make sure that he stirred.  All of us woke up safe and sound the next morning to a large amount of snow piling up around us. A snow day. Relief. No need to call into work and stress about getting sub plans ready.

Once our doctor’s office opened, I called and spoke to a nurse who spoke to a doctor and called us back.  She told us the doctor put in an x ray order and to go to our nearest Spectrum Health lab, lucky for us one is right down the road.  Since it was a snow day, all of the kids were with me, we piled everyone in and were in and out pretty fast. It was determined that the key was in a safe place and should pass naturally, and that I needed to keep an eye out for it just in case.  Awesome. My next few days involved digging through my 7 year old’s poop to make sure all was fine. And all was fine in the end. Gross, but fine.

It was after this event in my life so far as a mother that I really learned not to be so quick to judge other parents.  Often times after hearing about tragic or crazy events involving kids I instantly place blame on the parents, but in reality sometimes things just happen and there isn’t just one person or thing to blame.  My situation with Declan was not that serious or in any way tragic, but it has made me pause before I think, Well, that would never happen to me.  We need to spend less time judging and more time offering kindness to those who experience crazy or horrific things. Because you just never know if you will one day, in turn, need some of that support yourself.

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

Splashing in the puddles on a rainy summer day

not caring how wet and dirty you get

you wander down the road to find a bigger puddle

as I stand at the end of the driveway

to watch you,

to make sure you are safe from the cars that pass by.

Laughing and giggling

running and splashing

carefree and enjoying this day,

despite the rain.

As mud and water cover your clothes,

I frown at the thought of the laundry I have to do.

My jaw clenches at the vision of muddy footprints

marring my floors.

 

I continue to watch

you laugh uncontrollably

all because you are splashing in a puddle

on a rainy day.

And I have to stop and remember

how quickly these days pass by,

even the rainy ones

that seem endless

when trudging through

the tedious daily routines.

The giggling and laughing

running and splashing

may not come as easily as the years progress.

 

As I stand and watch you get filthy and wet,

I can’t help but smile at how precious

these little moments are.

I stand and stare

at the end of the driveway

and try to etch this moment

of spontaneous fun and carefree giggles

into my mind.

So I can remember it when the

frustration

of motherhood overwhelms me.

Remember how your innocent

play and laughter

turned this gray rainy summer day

into a bright moment of my life.