Sandra Bullock, Jesse James & Weightwatchers

THE BLIND SIDE I just read an article that Momlogic posted titled, “Sandra Didn’t Believe the Background Check”. I love Sandra Bullock.  I’ve seen just about every movie she is in since way back in the Speed and Hope Floats days.  I am sorry to hear about her recent disappointments as I am when I hear about anyone in The Land of Fame Excess, as Miley Cyrus puts it, experiencing heartbreak or humiliation.  I do feel for our celebrities when it comes to the fact that they live in a fishbowl and not necessarily a kind one.

The article at Momlogic, however, made a generalized statement that I take issue with.  I thought about posting a comment to the thread on Facebook, but decided this would make a great post.  So, here I am.

The statement, "It’s an old adage, but if you want to predict someone’s future behavior, look no further than their past behavior" is a  broad generalization that doesn’t take into account the vast potential each human being has at any point to turn their life around and make radical changes.  Clearly, I don’t agree with it.  If it were true, AA wouldn’t work, Weightwatchers would have no success stories and a boatload of therapists would be unemployed in this country instead of making good money. We certainly know that AA and Weightwatchers possess numerous success stories that speak of changed lives. As for the therapists, I live in a very small city of 60,000 people and we have no less that two city blocks filled almost exclusively with counselors offices.  The locals call it Therapy Row. 

I also don’t agree with this statement because the experience of my own personal history which, were I to be judged by it, would condemn me to a lonely and loveless future because my future consists, according to this flawed logic, of me repeating the same very serious and sad mistakes I once made and, one would infer, who is going to want to be part of that?  Now, while I am single, I am anything but lonely.  My life is certainly not loveless, and I will in no way repeat the same sad mistakes of my past.  In fact, if anything, I am the person standing in the middle of the road before it drops over the edge of the cliff telling drivers to turn around and go back.  The logic of this particular adage simply doesn’t jive with the fact that human beings do have the ability to learn from their mistakes and to decide to behave differently.

Whether Jesse James had any desire or inclination to change or even said so, is anyone’s guess.  My take is there were probably other more current clues indicating that things really hadn’t changed which Sandra Bullock might have ignored.  Who knows?  Sandra made whatever decisions she made, based on whatever information she had, did not have, or chose to ignore.  People can and will speculate all they want about celebrities and Sandra and Jesse seem to be top of the list these days.  That’s probably something that will never change. Only Sandra and Jesse know the complete story.  Why should the rest of us care?

While I agree that the past is significant and should be taken into account, I disagree that  one’s past automatically predicts their future. I know too many people personally who prove this theory wrong by their present existence and their stories of conquering their past mistakes, poor choices, addictions, or horrors, and changing their lives for the better.  I am one of them. 

Children and Divorce: And Now For Some Really Depressing News

I awoke early Tuesday morning with my throat so swollen and sore I couldn’t swallow, mucous streaming from nearly every orifice above my shoulders. I could not utter a sound that was even recognizable as speech.  My daughter felt much the same.  I knew I needed to call in a sub.  Two days later, most of it spent sleeping and reading (I certainly had no energy for anything else and the reading was pushing my limits), I think I might be well enough to return to work tomorrow.  The book I managed to devour between naps was, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee.  I’m warning you.  It isn’t a cheery read.  In fact, I had tears streaming down my cheeks at points.

wallersteinbookimage I stumbled across this little find at my local book exchange.  I’m always up for reading some research (yeah, I’m kind of nerdy like that), especially about families of divorce, stepfamilies and how all of this impacts children. (Maybe because it is just a little close to home for me?)  This one billed itself as a landmark study because it was the only one that tracked children of divorce from the time their parents split up until they reached full adulthood. It was a 25-year-study. Since I work with kids and their parents many of them divorced and re-married, and since I myself am the child of divorce as are my own children, I thought this might be an interesting read.  It was indeed interesting, but it was not cheery. Wallerstein’s findings are sobering, relevant, deeply saddening, and yet more hopeful than one would expect.

I would recommend that anyone considering divorce, in the process of divorce, or now in the post-divorce family read this book.  I wish I’d read it 4 years ago.  It would have helped me support my children more effectively through the divorce process. Of course, to be honest, I was so stressed and fragmented (as many who undergo divorce are) that I’m not sure I’d have read it.  Which just underscores a significant aspect of this research.  The book also details children’s perspectives of parenting plans, remarriage, step-parents and life after divorce.

The most salient point of Wallerstein’s study, for me, is that no matter when the divorce occurs, no matter what the reason for the divorce, and regardless how amicable or not the divorce is, risk factors for children significantly increase while protective factors that were in place when the marriage was intact are diminished. I don’t think this is new news for any of us, but Wallerstein was able to get behind the eyes of the children in this study and reveal how that reality impacts and shapes children of divorce. She (Wallerstein) does not draw from this conclusion that divorce should never happen.  The author does conclude that we’ve just not been aware of the impact divorce has on children from the child’s perspective until now.  Maybe now, we can begin thinking more about divorce from the perspective of not just what works for the parents, but what works for the children throughout all their developmental levels. Wallerstein goes on to mention that the debilitating impact of divorce is often not evident until children reach adulthood and begin to enter into relationships and marriages of their own.  In other words, divorce has lasting effects on children, no matter how good things appear on the outside. (Personally, I suspect most of us parents know this. We just feel uncertain as to how to deal with this reality.)  These are just a few of the highlights I’ve gleaned and tried to summarize, and which were significant to me as I devoured her over 330 page book.  Oh, and the book does include specifics about the research design and the statistical results of study for those who are interested.

As for me, it was impossible for me to read this book casually without some serious personal introspection.  I am, after all, the mother of four children, all of whom experienced divorce, two of them when they were in elementary school and two of them when they were in preschool.  This book forced me to look at myself and my parenting since the divorce.  I’m asking myself questions because, if I’m to be the best support for my children that I can (and diminished parenting is cited by Wallerstein as one of the biggest perils of divorce), then I must take inventory. 

j0410095 Some of the questions I’m grappling with are:

  • Given that children often tend to either act out or stuff their feelings behind an ultra compliant approach, how are my children really doing?
  • Am I giving my children opportunities to express their fears and their anger (and yes they have both) about the divorce?
  • Am I taking the necessary time to parent them or am I so preoccupied with survival and keeping the family afloat that I am unintentionally neglecting their very real emotional needs.
  • Are any of my children taking on the parenting role?  What am I doing to reinforce this if it is happening?
  • How do I balance the stresses and demands of my adult world, the needs I have for adult love and companionship, with my children’s needs for protection, comfort, care and emotional connection with me…and…when do I get any rest?  (I say that last a little bit tongue in cheek, but fatigue is a big stressor and leads to illness as I’ve learned of late.)

And there are more questions lurking within. 

I’m really not depressed and I’m not beating myself up as a parent after reading this study, but, like the veil being lifted, I certainly see some areas I need to work on for my children’s sake.  I also see some areas that I’ve done well, which is reassuring. It has certainly given me a great deal to consider regarding my parenting, dating as a single parent and, if it ever arises, the idea of remarriage. We grow a little at a time all throughout our lives.  This book just revealed some areas that I think I need to check up on.

As I re-read this post, I realize I’ve only shared the down side aspects of the research.  There is much cause for hope and encouragement as the result of Wallerstein’s work.  I don’t want to be a spoiler, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself. 

Blog Makeover or Multiple Blog Personalities?

I was really getting tired of the Motion theme from WordPress.  It was kind of interesting to me at first, but it was beginning to wear on me.  Further, I cannot find any of the ready-made themes that I like anymore.  They all seem too limiting to me or they don’t quite seem to have all the little gadgets or goodies I want.  This all leads me to conclude that I’m probably outgrowing the WordPress hosted themes and am going to have to move my blog over to my own domain.  Yes, foreseeing this possible future, I’ve already purchased a domain name.  This is not a project that I can even consider tackling right now.  This theme, Vigilance, will simply have to do for now.  It is, at least, not as annoying as Motion was becoming. 

I’m providing this merely as an explanation for the complete blog theme schizophrenia you have observed here of late. 

Carry on.

What’s Up With The Broken Heart?

So, I posted yesterday’s post and a bunch of peeps contacted me today wondering if and why I had a broken heart. 

Just to clarify…no…I am not currently experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome.

Yes, I have experienced it many times in the course of my life, with 2009 being a record-breaking year in the relationship department since being single. Contrary to popular belief, a broken heart doesn’t get easier to deal with as one gets older.  I think it gets worse. I don’t know why this is.

As for last night’s post, I just wrote and what came out is what came out.  Were there any events that triggered that post?  That’s a great question!

In all honesty, I’d have to say yes there were incidents that led up to me writing a post on the broken hearted, but it wasn’t my broken heart that started me down that path. 

Nor was it the sense of any dying dream that I was coming to grips with having to give up. 

In reality, I was just tired.

I was bone weary tired to be exact.  It’s been a long, grueling, exhilarating six weeks.  The adventure of doing new things, the excitement of opportunity, the hope of what can be possible is both energizing and exhausting.  The most difficult element is that when the demanding pace slows, and the seeds that were planted lay momentarily dormant before bursting into full bloom, there is a season of waiting.  This waiting can be somewhat anticlimactic.

I know this because I’ve been there in that place of let down after a great experience.

I am not there now.  I don’t feel any let down or disappointment or anything other than a sense that something really exciting is just around the corner.  Even if the most exciting thing that is around the corner is Spring Break, I still am feeling nowhere near sad, lovelorn or despairing because things somewhere in my life are less than I desire.

The reality is that some things in my life are less than I desire (except where the scale is concerned and then…well…let’s not go there in this post), but I’m not broken up over them.  Well, at least, not today.  The reality is also that some things in my life are better than I ever could have imagined at this point.  It’s also true that there are many, many things in my life that are still unwritten, untold, unimagined.  These are the things yet to be which are not now. It’s life.  It’s my life.  It’s everyone’s life to some degree, I think.  The good, the bad, the becoming, the yet to be. The happy, the sad, the exciting, the disappointing…the ever so daily.

Life is just moving along and I like it…at least most of it, most of the time.

No broken heart here, though I’ve had my share of experiences with the Broken Heart Syndrome.  No thwarted dreams, though I have a few of those too. The reason I wrote what I wrote yesterday is simply because I sat down to write last night and that post is what came out.

I liked it.

I posted it.

That’s all.   

A Broken Heart

 

imageI know it is an idiom: The idea of a broken heart.  Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.

I know this pain.

I know this pain intimately.

For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. Most often, for me, it has been associated with the loss of a love, the end of a hope of a shared joy, the end of a dream that will never become a reality.  For me, mostly, this broken heart experience occurred when I finally realized that the relationship I thought I had was nothing like what I thought I had.  Broken hearts, for me, represent endings.

It is a very real emotional pain, but I also experience a tangible physical pain. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pick ax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body or, at least crush it so that it beats no more.

It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.

What I didn’t know, was that sometimes, a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost, failed, or unrequited love.

A broken heart can occur sans the love between two humans.

A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies.

Broken hearts might always be about love, but sometimes they are not about lovers.

Southern Oregon Single Parents Group Startup?

j0308958 I’ve long been pondering something and I think the time to make this dream a reality is upon me.  I’ve toyed with the idea of starting up a single parents group that is more than just an opportunity for single parents to get together to date or do activities with their kids.  Opportunities like that abound already.  I have a vision for something more.  I have a vision for a group that caters to the single parent socially, but in other ways too.  I have a vision for a group that is a resource and a network for single parents to provide them the support they need in the tough adventure of parenting solo. 

I have a number of single parent friends, both male and female, who have sole custody of their children.  The other spouse has gone AWOL, disappeared or is somehow nonexistent.  These parents have the pleasure of not having to co-parent with an antagonistic other parent, but they also have the down side of never having a weekend or evening to themselves without having to pay for a babysitter.  They also have the added emotional burden of seeing their children struggle through the emotional pain of feeling abandoned by their other parent.  I’d love to create a group that provides resources for these parents so that they can find the counseling they need or desire at a reasonable cost (free if necessary).  I’d love to create a group that can provide quality trained babysitting for these parents so they can get away to shop without the kids or just have some of their own adult time. 

I also have a number of single parent friends, both male and female, who are on the outside looking in.  These are the parents who have, through divorce and circumstance, ended up being ousted out of their children’s lives by the ex.  The pain, loss and loneliness these parents experience is unbelievable.  I would love to create a group that meets the needs of these single parents too.

j0401884 As a single parent myself, newly divorced, I was scared and had no idea how I was going to maintain my home on my own on a very limited budget.  Were it not for friends and even community professionals who cut me a deal every now and then, I would never have been able to make the repairs and improvements to my home that I  needed to make.  Things like changing a light fixture, installing a ceiling fan, designing and installing an in-ground sprinkler system and caring for plants and a yard, changing the oil in a car and maintaining vehicles are all things that can be overwhelming to the single mom and maybe some dads, who just aren’t handy and who don’t have the post-divorce finances to hire a professional.  I have a vision for a group that provides the training, the networking and the expertise of area professionals at a reasonable cost to those single parents who must watch every dime as they recover from the havoc that divorce can wreak in the life of a family financially, emotionally, socially and more. 

I’ve been a single parent now for three years.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve struggled and stumbled much of the way.  Thanks to a wonderful support group of friends and family I’ve made it, but it hasn’t been easy.  I would have loved to have had a resource I could go to where I could connect with others in a similar situation, learn from them, get help with home maintenance or other needs, and not have to worry about compromising my already very tight budget. 

I have a vision for something more than just another social networking activity.  Maybe it’s just a pipe dream.  I don’t know. It just seems like it is the kind of thing that could really help make the difference in the lives of single parents and the children they love.   

Valentine’s Day – Friend or Foe?

j0382966 There’s just so much going on around Valentine’s Day that is happy and joyous and really over-the-top, almost (no, actually downright) annoying that I just have to say something.  Call me the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day.  Do it!  Maybe I’ll be visited by the ghosts of Valentine’s past, present and future and wake with a changed outlook.  It simply can’t hurt.

Clearly, if you haven’t figured it out, there is one holiday that disturbs me and it is Valentine’s Day. Or, maybe it is just that I’ve been all out sick from some death-seeking stomach virus this week and my outlook on everything right now is slightly disturbed. Whatever the case might be, I’m currently annoyed by all the happy clappy surrounding Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Significance?

The significance of Valentines Day as a holiday eludes me.  I’ve just never gotten the real significance of days like this.  Random days, seemingly stuck on a calendar with no real historical or religious significance…at least, not that one could detect without doing a Google search. It really seems like a big ploy to make men feel guilty so women can get presents.  Men do this so they can get or keep something else.  At best they do it to stay out of the doghouse.  I hate being manipulated and I feel like Valentine’s is one great big marketing manipulation.  I dislike this aspect of Valentine’s Day. 

Relationship Pressure?

Because such a big deal is made of the day, it is difficult to ignore it. I’d like to.  I can’t.  Just on Facebook alone,  I see apps for my phone just in time for Valentine’s Day, invites to romantic dinner events (for two, for a lot of money usually), singles get together events promoting the promise of “finding a date in time for Valentine’s Day” and status message updates encouraging you to update your profile image with a picture of you and your partner and tell how long you’ve been together. 

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. Not a bad idea, but every day should be a day to celebrate love.  Further, this day, in my opinion, more than any of the holidays (except maybe Christmas or Thanksgiving), serves to point out the haves and the have nots.  Those who have a lover, a partner, a spouse and those, who even if it is by choice, do not.  Somehow, that’s just never felt good to me, even when I was in a relationship. men-in-doghouses-425tp120209 My experience has been mostly that the holiday was celebrated because the guy felt obligated to do something so he could avoid the relational doghouse rather than because he really wanted to.  Not a good time for anyone, especially me, because I really work hard not to put relational pressure on the people I care about. 

A Fun Day

But, in spite of my Scroogist tendencies, Valentine’s can be a very fun and (dare I say it?) meaningful day as well. 

Have you ever given one of those prepackaged Valentine’s Day cards to your teenager, just for fun with a Charms Blow Pop or a bag of Skittles attached? 

Have you ever been the focus of someone’s thought and attention so much so that the person booked you for Valentine’s Day weeks in advance before you were even really thinking of the two of you as a couple? 

Have you ever passed up a date on Valentine’s Day, to go out to dinner with another very good dear single friend you hadn’t seen in a while?

Ever been in a classroom of elementary school children on Valentine’s Day?  Ever seen the sparkle in the eyes as the children (yes, even the boys) open up a card that says something silly but affirming on it?   Have you ever been the recipient of those Valentines, written in a childish scrawl, unashamedly declaring love for a teacher, a mom, a dad, a best friend? 

Young children don’t care about how their affections will be received.  It never occurs to them that their love won’t be valued and received.  They just love and they just show it.  Simply.  Matter of factly.  Joyously.  Without reservation.

Another Day To Say, “I Love You”

IMG_7867Valentine’s Day, definitely annoys me on some levels.  I don’t like the pressure that seems to be implied in the day.  I definitely hate the marketing craze surrounding it.  I don’t like the way it separates and divides the loved from the unloved, so to speak.

On the other hand, it isn’t just about the hearts and candy and flowers, either, or the presence or absence of a romantic interest in one’s life.  I get that.

I have given the tacky Valentines to my teenage children and gotten hugs and praise in response.  I have passed up dates to go out with a single friend instead and had the best time of my life with some of the warmest memories attached. I’ve had someone want to be with me so much that he made sure I was free weeks in advance for that special day.  I have for the last 15 years watched elementary children open valentines, squeal and blush and give their teacher love notes and I’ve cherished every moment. 

Maybe that’s the part of Valentine’s Day that I need to focus more on.  Because, in spite of all the bad press or potential discomfort that a day like Valentine’s can create, it is still just another day.  Another day of life. Another day to love.  Another day to say so.  Another day to make a special moment for a special someone or maybe a few special young someones, somewhere.  A rose by any other name, right?

So, what do you think of Valentine’s Day?  Is it friend or foe?  What makes it so for you?

No Name-Calling Week

j0442223Anyone who’s been on a diet knows that you can resist foods of all kinds until the moment you decide to diet.  Suddenly the cravings come out of nowhere, the urges arise and if you aren’t very careful and very disciplined, you are soon stuffing your mouth with all sorts of rubbish that never tempted you before. 

I’ve found this strange phenomenon to be present in another area this week.  That is the area of name calling.

This week is officially No Name-Calling Week.  According to the event’s Facebook page the week is described in the following manner:

No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

Have you ever attempted to go a week without calling names?  It isn’t as easy as you might think.

Consider these things.  We are an increasingly disrespectful society.  I would say that this is limited to the U.S., however such is not the case.  In fact, in just the last week, I’ve received two comments on my blogs from people in other countries or continents calling me names and not nice ones either.  Of course, I spammed those comments in the spirit of the week I am celebrating.  While I’m not opposed to having people air their opinions in their own way, name-calling will never get press here.j0433180  Further, my own journeys around the blogosphere reveals a vast array of digital name-calling.  Behind the screen, it seems, that people simply let loose with whatever derogatory term or insulting phrase they deem appropriate given the circumstance. These labels and insults go far beyond merely disagreeing with another’s perspective or flawed reasoning, they are hateful, mean-spirited, and, at best, incredibly disrespectful and unkind things to say.  I have a friend who tells her children, “You might think it, but you can’t say it.” Personally, I think that’s a great start.  Sometimes these derogatory terms are meant in jest, in play, or in a teasingly affectionate manner. But  more often, there is no disguising the venom and fury and hate behind the words. 

The reality is, bullying is one of the first and simplest means of reducing another human being to a state of fear and helplessness. Name-calling and other acts of bullying are intended to intimidate and humiliate. The first and easiest method of bullying (and a largely effective one employed by those who bully) is name-calling.  The No Bully website lists name-calling first in its list of behaviors that identify bullying.  Bullying and name-calling in particular used to be called “just kid stuff”, but the reality is that those who end up perpetrating violent crimes in the teen years are as likely to have been long time victims of bullying as they have been to be the bully. Those children identified as bullies, are more likely to have a prison record by the age of 24.  It isn’t just silly kid stuff anymore.  While it begins in childhood, it continues to occur everywhere in our adult world too.

So this week, I and several others I know, including 32 young people I meet with every day decided to celebrate No Name-Calling Week. We are becoming more aware of how often we have the tendency to let slip a name even in jest.  We are finding that this task is much more difficult than we first imagined.  In fact, one young man even commented after a day or so, “Yeah, right,” he stated in frustration, “Like we are ever going to completely eliminate name-calling!”

No%20Bullying%20circle My answer?  “No, at least, not right away.  But if we all ban together and try we might do some serious damage to the disrespect we all encounter.”  Thus ensued a brief conversation about how we feel when someone calls us names and the respectful consideration of simply treating others the way we’d like to be treated. One conversation and one week of increasing our awareness certainly isn’t the cure all and I realize this.  But as a parent and as a human being, I am increasingly alarmed by how humanity is redefining decency, courtesy and respect. In an age where tolerance is valued, there is one thing we ought to be completely intolerant of and that is bullying in all its many forms, and this week, most specifically name-calling.

Disclaimers and Dementia

S8000281 Disclaimer:  (Don’t you love that word…I do..it means “I’m making a big fatty excuse to be lazy and careless and sloppy in my writing…sort of…or it means…I’m going to break some rules…so, here goes!)

I really don’t care if this post is SEO (Search Engine Optimized) or not.  Well, okay, I care, but I know it probably won’t be because right now, I am writing from my heart and not for an audience.  This could bode well for my stream of consciousness and my own well-being.  It could suck where my blog stats are concerned.  So be it.

I think I just have to say to hell with that.

I need to write what matters to me.  After all, the reality is, I’m not likely to get “published” (meaning paid the big bucks with a movie deal) and, well, much as I’d like to be J.K. Rowling right now…so not going to happen.  I’m cool with that.

Oh (insert your own special expletive here)!  After all that…and I forgot what I was going write about! I hate when that happens.

I Almost Got Struck By Lightening While You Were Gone

This post is one I am moving over from my other blog, Welcome To CABsPlace, where I am pretty certain I will not continue writing.  That is…unless…someone can come up with a really good reason why I should write two blogs that mostly deal with the same stuff.  This particular post, speaks of doing the single parenting job with four kids and how sometimes, for no seemingly apparent reason, you just encounter turbulence.  I wrote this post originally in June, 2008 and have made only minor revisions. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer 2009 033 A sunny summer June Monday morning started out peacefully but soon deteriorated into complete and total chaos, then, just as suddenly as it erupted, the chaos evaporated. This kind of disturbance happens routinely in my home and I am often perplexed as to why or how it starts and what to do about it when it does. Today, I did nothing. That seemed to work.

I awoke, as I normally do to the peaceful music of the birds outside my window. These wonderful sounds were angrily disrupted by the grumbling, groaning, clanking, banging noises of the garbage truck makings its rounds on the block behind mine. My oldest daughter, who had rolled in well after midnight last night from an out-of-town choir tour, continued to sleep undisturbed. Now, she doesn’t usually share the bed with me, but this last week she was gone and her room became the laundry room. When she returned in the wee hours of the morning, I was unwilling to move the laundry and my bed, so though I hated the thought of enduring the battle of the bed sheets and her snoring, I suggested she just crash in my bed tonight. I figured if it got bad enough, I’d just go sleep on the couch.

The night passed uneventfully, meaning I slept without disturbance, until around 5:30 or 6, my youngest decided she wanted to crawl in with us. Once cozily sandwiched in between her older sister and me she drifted off into blissful sleep. I rolled over to try to catch a few more winks myself. That’s when the fun began.

j0422197 I was just drifting of into some nice REM sleep when the warm blankets were abruptly pulled off me. I was startled awake by the chill morning air and the loss of the covers. My youngest, sweet cherub that she is, had become too warm and kicked off all the blankets in her sleep. I glanced across the vast bed to my oldest. She was still sleeping soundly. So was my youngest for that matter. The kicking clearly bothered no one but me. I grumpily pulled the covers back up, rolled back over and went back to sleep again. I’m not sure how long I was sleeping before the covers were suddenly pulled off me again. This time, knowing it was my daughter’s kicking problem, I just reached out grabbed the blankets and pulled them back up over my shoulders. I burrowed down into the bed cinching the covers close around my neck. I closed my eyes. I waited. Sure enough, it was only a matter of a few moments when my daughter’s began flailing in an attempt to rid her body of the constricting sheets. That was it for me. I slid out of bed and padded into the kitchen to start the coffee. I was officially up for the day.

Connecting through Random Sound Bites

Later that morning, as I was putting away dishes, my daughter (Number 2) was mixing up pancake batter when an argument arose between my son (Number 3), and my youngest daughter (Number 4) about who woke up first this morning.

I mean, what’s up with that and who cares?

Then there was the confusion about how Number 1’s dirty clothes got mixed in with the clean clothes in spite of the fact that she’s been gone for a week. This then moved into a discussion (okay, it was really an argument) about moving the family computer out of my oldest daughter’s (Number 1) room to the kitchen/dining area where I am now typing on it. Never mind that all school year she complained about having it in her room because she needed to study and no one else was allowed in there to use the computer while she was studying. Sigh. Then there’s the breakfast table conversation which went something like this:

Number 1: I know for sure I’m not going to Elite Private School in That Big City by Puget Sound.

Me: Oh, why not?

Number 1: I’m not so sure I like the city. (She’d just returned from a week long trip to That Big City.)

Me (raising my eyebrows internally): Well, that’s definitely a consideration.

Number 1 (to Number 2): I got some really neat things while I was gone. (Note the random and sudden change in conversational direction.)

j0422455 Number 4: Pass the syrup.

Number 2 to Number 1: Did you get me anything?

Number 4: Is the first gallon of milk already gone?!

Me: No, it’s right here.

Number 1 to Number 2: No, but you can use some of it if you want. (Referencing the stuff she got on her trip but which was not for her sister.)

Me: Number 2, I don’t think we have enough pancakes here. Does anyone want some more? We can mix some up.

Number 2: You mean, Number 2, can mix some more up.

Number 1: Number 2, are you going to be in Youth Ensemble next year?

Number 2: While you were gone I almost got struck by lightning.

I kid you not, that is how the conversation went. That is how the morning went. One random thought after another. Sound bites of our lives, disconnected but fitting together.  The heartbeat of a family simply comfortable with being together.  It sounded like no one was listening to anyone else, but that wasn’t the case.  It seemed everyone was content just to say something, anything even if no one responded to it.  It is enough to make the thinking adult go nearly mad.  Except that somehow, almost miraculously it seems, there was actual dialogue and forward progress on those daily activities that keep a household afloat. Have you ever stopped and listened to the flow of the daily conversation in your home?  Close your eyes for just a second and listen.  What do you hear? Keep your eyes closed, now what do you see?

Expect Occasional Turbulence

Number 2 did tell about her close encounter with lightning, we did finish breakfast fairly uneventfully, the laundry is getting folded and put away, in spite of Number 2 and Number 3 creating an alliance against Number 4. Currently, Number 3 is attempting to avoid changing the sheets on his bed by suddenly developing an interest in reading, Number 1 is agonizing through her allergies by doing the dishes with Kleenex packed firmly in each nostril and Number 4 is refusing to let me type one more word until I give her permission to scoop the dead worm she found out of the pool. None of this would be a problem except now the older kids are accusing Number 4 of digging up the worm and putting it in the pool instead of finding it already there. Hmmm, how would a worm get in the pool on its own anyway? And then, Number 4, when passing through the sliding screen door knocks the screen completely out of its tracks, you’d have thought she was struck by lightening.

There are days in a family that pass by fairly uneventfully, like when all the kids are gone to their other parents’ homes or spending time away with friends. There are other days, when we are all here and things still pass fairly uneventfully but that seems to occur only if I let the kids do whatever they want and make no demands on them. Since that is not  our reality, it is more common that there is going to be some turbulence at points along the way. I know this. I understand this. I expect and accept this. But I don’t always like it.l_60fb08cb5f694286b3a6544b7f9c3f53

At this very minute, there seems to be an unofficial cease fire and things are calm. I wonder how long this will last? It baffles me how the tone in a home can go from blissfully serene to completely insane in seconds and then just as suddenly back to peaceful. It is not unlike being struck by lightening. Sometimes in family life, it feels like you end up dead too.

On the other hand, it can also leave you with the feeling of being more alive than ever.