Thursday, August 30, 2012

From the Archives - Pushing Them Out of the Nest

Life has gotten in the way of writing this week so I thought I would pull a few posts from the archives until I have time to get back to writing here.

This year, the first day of school was full of joy. I had been counting down to the day all three of my boys would be in school full time since my oldest was born and while I got a bit teary seeing my baby walking off with his first grade teacher, it was still a day full of joy. Turns out that wasn't the case a few years ago when my older two boys started full day school on the same day.

So today Hockey Boy started first grade. This is his first year going all day and also his first year riding the bus. And tomorrow Middle Man starts all day kindergarten at the same school and will also be riding the bus. They are both really excited and are very ready to go. I have been counting down the days to full day school since they were born. At times this summer I would remind myself that fall was coming and soon they would be at school. No more dragging three boys to the grocery store or Target. Time to spend with just Little One going to music time at the toy store and toddler time at the library. Something I loved doing with the older boys when they were little but have not been able to do with all three being different ages. Space for everyone to get away from each other, have experiences, and then come back together at the end of the day without being sick of being together all the time.

But as we started Labor Day weekend, I started to lose it. The tears started forming. I am not ready to push my babies out of the nest. I have loved shaping them and spending time with them these last 5 - 6 years. I have loved seeing them play with their friends, come up with imaginative games together, and grow and learn new things. I have been the central character in their lives. And now a teacher, I just met is going to spend more time with my boys each day than I do. I am sure they are both wonderful. Thankfully I am still here when they come home to greet them and help them figure out the mysteries of playground friendships and new math. I will be here to pack their lunches and make sure they take a sweatshirt. But it is just a weird thing to realize I spent all these years with my kids and now I am sending them out into the world. And on a bus of all things. For some reason the bus has me worried, which is funny because both myself and my husband road the bus to school as kids. And I have fond memories of the bus and hanging out at the bus stop.

I had such a hard time sleeping last night. Thoughts of homeschooling drifted through my mind, as did memories of Hockey Boy playing with his classmates after kindergarten. I know deep down that he will be fine, and better yet, that he really will thrive at school. Both boys love going to school and are really sad if they are sick and have to miss out on the fun. We did summer school work, enrichment activities and field trips this summer. A very mini taste of what homeschooling would look like for us and it was fun for a summer but not a long term answer for our family. We all love being part of a school community. We love getting to know our neighbors and meeting people that are different than us in some ways, but who are so very similar as well.

So this morning after a long night, we all got up, Hockey Boy put on his first day of school clothes, though he would have preferred play clothes, and we all headed out to the bus stop. It was a big morning for us and even Daddy stayed home to witness this historic event in our family. Hockey Boy told us we could go home once we got him there with the other kids, but then how would we have gotten the adorable picture of my baby getting on the big yellow bus. He was thrilled to be going. And while I shed a few tears last night. I think I am ready to start first grade. But he does need to know that he is not allowed to graduate or leave home....EVER!

Friday, August 24, 2012

I Need a Better Seal on These Compartments

I compartmentalize. It is one of my coping mechanisms.

When life gets overwhelming or there are feelings or situations I cannot deal with right now, I seal them in a container in my mind. I go about my day, my conversation, my life with so little fanfare that the world may not even know I moved something off to the side. I decide I will come back to the container when I have the space and it is the right time.

Or I don't. Because honestly, once it's locked away who wants to open up a container full of junk which is there because I didn't want to deal with it before. The container can sit in my mind and I rarely notice it. I have some containers sitting on the high shelf of a compartment I keep just for avoiding things.

My parents divorce was finalized a week or two ago. My parents would have celebrated their 44th anniversary this summer. Instead, I received a text at 6:24 am from my father letting me know the divorce was finalized. This news barely registered in my day beyond the early wake up beep.

I ran into someone I had a conflict with last year. We no longer have to engage with one another except in passing. I have moved on. Except seeing them caused my mind to race and my body to fill with anger.

And these are just the examples I will actually write down. Because some of my compartments are too dark and too scary for even me to open. Nothing traumatic. Nothing even exciting or noteworthy. Just dark for me.

Sometimes these containers leak. Sometimes the feelings seep out. Often after dark, after the house is quiet, after the day is done. My heart hurts and my once tired body can't sleep. Tears rise up unexpectedly. Without cause. But eventually sleep comes and the compartments are all locked away again. Morning comes with all its noise and distractions and things that have to get done. And who wants to go back to the pain anyway.

But I am finding that some of the darkness is seeping out into my days as well. I think it has been all summer though I didn't recognize it for what it was.

And this sucks because I like my compartments. I like being able to control my emotions and move about my life.

I like moving on and letting things go. Except they don't always go. Sometimes they just get locked up in my mind, pushed to the top shelf, which is fine until the shelves start to fall and the lids crack just enough.

As I write this, an email arrives, a thought distracts, and now I can't remember what feeling prompted me to start writing. Except for the tired eyes and desire for a nap that reminds me that last night was hard and late because of seepage.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The First Day of School Joy - Sharing it with Kids in Ethiopia

This week I took my boys to their first day of school. I had been counting down to that day, the first day of full day school for all of my children, since my oldest was born, since I left the classroom and my professional life for the chaos of being a stay at home parent who doesn't actually get to stay at home.

And while some parents were anxious, and some kids, our family was full of joy. For the kids it was excitement of seeing old friends and playing on the big playground. For me, it was the prospect of a quiet home and time to actually really, really pursue this writing thing professionally.

It was a good day. A good first day. And I think part of this was because it was so easy. My boys are boys, they do not care about their clothes as long as I don't make them dress up or wear pants. So we do not have to spend time in the summer finding the right outfit or shopping for new school clothes. And thanks to our PTA, I did not have to drive from store to store looking for just the right school supplies. No trips to other Targets to find the set of 8 water colors instead of the 16 color set.

I don't know when it started, but our PTA has made the decision to purchase all the supplies, every single one, for every single student at our school. Every kid, starts the day with all their supplies in their classrooms. Every student as the same brands, the same items. They do ask that parents reimburse for the cost if they can but if not that's okay. And I love this about our PTA. I was once the kid with generics wishing my pencils sharpened as well as the Ticonderogas. Every kid, every supply need met.

So part of my joy was because I was not stressed out having spent the last few days rushing around finding school supplies. And part of it was knowing that my kids attend a school that has families that are willing to make every kid the priority.

My kids are blessed. Blessed beyond measure. And I am thankful.

Then this morning I saw a Facebook post from a dear friend who is going to be traveling to Ethiopia next month. It was an Amazon Wish List. She is gathering school and medical supplies for a school and a medical clinic she will visit and has been working with since adopting her son from Ethiopia. Her heart is there. It is with those kids who do not have a PTA buying supplies for every student. It is with those kids who need really basic supplies - notebooks, pens, coloring supplies, soccer balls, batteries, etc.

I am thankful for our blessings but ever aware that there are those without, those in need of help. It was so easy for me, the person staying behind in my comfortable world, to help kids who need it so much. And so I clicked on the list and purchased a few items which are being shipped directly to Cassie who will take them with her to Ethiopia.

Would you be willing to consider supporting these kids by buying them some notebooks or a pediatric stethoscope? Maybe involve your kids and have them help select a soccer ball or some coloring books? Here is the Amazon Wish List link. Click on over and see what catches your eye.

My joy overflowed yesterday watching my boys walk into their classrooms full of crayons, pencils, school books, glue sticks, and every thing else they need and want for school. Now my joy is even more complete knowing I am helping the children of Adami Tulu School.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest Posting at Messy Marriage

I don't often write about my marriage. It is just one of those things I have chosen not to do. Mostly because it is pretty boring and when it is not, well the last thing I need is a public space to think out loud and not actually talk to my husband.

Sometimes I do write things down, for myself mostly, but a few months ago I stumbled upon the website Messy Marriage. I like what Beth is doing over there and when I saw a guest posting opportunity that matched something I had written I thought I would give the whole guest posting thing a try. I decided to share it in the hopes that someone else might understand or feel less alone in their own feelings.

Does What I Feel Really Matter? 
It started weeks ago, a quick harsh word said to me. The word itself was not harsh, I don't even remember what it was. But my body jumped up as if burned. I walked away not wanting to disrupt the event with my anger, my hurt. I must have though, with my absence, because he found me.

"I'm sorry," he said. He was, I am sure. 
He does not want to hurt me, I know. And he must have been at a loss for why I left so quickly. But I don't know what he thought, because we never really talked about it again. 

You can read the rest of this post over at Messy Marriage.

This is my first time guest posting. I'm a little nervous. I hope to see you over there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Two Nights

A few weeks ago, on my birthday, my husband gave me a birthday card. We were sitting in Chevy's surrounded by our boys and the chaos that is a family friendly restaurant at dinner time. It was the end of a long day and I was ready for this particular birthday to be over. But first we needed to celebrate. I needed to open the birthday cards my boys had each selected and be awed and humored and adoring. When I opened my husband's card I found a piece of paper inside. It was a reservation for two nights at a nearby hotel, nearby but far enough away to actually be away. It was a hotel we had stayed in together years ago when my parents still watched the kids for us so we could get away for a night while they visited us. Now though I would be going alone.

Two nights away. Two mornings without kids talking loudly in the next room or waking me up to ask when they could play video games. Alone. Quiet except for the noise I made myself or allowed in through the tv or music. It sounded heavenly, and yet it sounded a bit sad. Sad that all I want in life right now is time away from my own family. Sad that sleep was becoming my highest wish in life. Sad that my summer had come crashing down on me with fighting and attitudes, shouting and regrets, exhausted mornings and irresponsible late nights.

It has been a long, long summer. The hardest summer of my life. I had been so looking forward to being free of the schedules and requirements that school brings. I had been planning on adventures and time together with my boys. I had dreams of writing a book with them, each adding characters and scenes. I had plans to hang out with friends and wile away the afternoons while the kids played happily in the background. While we have had a few adventures this summer and have sat around the pool or park on a few occasions with friends, somewhere along the way, probably within the first full week, the wheels fell off the bus and my grand plans were throw out. Survival became the theme of my summer. Getting through it and getting the kids all back to school became my focus.

And that is where I was when I left on Friday for my two nights away. Those two nights became not about writing, or reading, or spending time doing grown up things. Those two nights became about what I was leaving behind, not what I was getting to do. Those two nights became about doing nothing. I watched trashy tv and stayed in my pajamas past noon. I finished reading one book and started another. I spent time wasting time. And then I regretted wasting the time, not because I didn't enjoy myself but because I should be doing something more productive, yes? So I took a shower, put on clothes, and went out into the world. I sat at Starbucks and actually worked on my book edits for a bit. I saw a movie in a theater. Once I was done doing something, I went back to the quiet room. The one without any demands or expectations. The one where no one knew my name and I had no responsibilities.

It wasn't until the second night that I felt relaxed in the room. It wasn't until the second morning that I was actually able to sleep in. It wasn't until brunch on that second morning that I actually wanted to leave the room, actually wanted to do something productive. I went to brunch and started working again but this time because I wanted to. Sitting in the cafe eating brioche french toast, listening to Pandora, reading my rough draft, felt good. I felt like me, the real me, the me beyond a mom to my boys.

It took two nights to decompress enough to finally enjoy the moment I had before me.

And then it was time to go home.

And now my little one keeps coming in wanting help with finding new iphone games.

And I have to remember to get kids snacks.

And there is laundry to fold.

And all I want to do is get back to the work that I love.

Maybe two nights is not enough.

But they were a nice two nights.