How can I help you to say Goodbye?

Frank L. Baum, author extraordinaire of the Oz book series, said “Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”  We all deal with endings and new beginnings differently…some of us fight the endings, bemoan our fates, focus on the sadness at each ending, and take those new steps into the unknown as if we were trudging through sap, while others are able to embrace the unknown, look for the excitement in the changes to come, and bravely walk into the future with our faces looking only forward.

As much as I wish I were that second person, that joyful, brave, beautiful soul…I’m not.  I hate major changes.  I run from them, I do everything I can to keep them from happening, and when they slap me in the face before I’m completely prepared for them, I cry, I shake, I rant, and I feel the loss of what used to be to the depth of my soul.  Change is scary to me.  My husband has finally learned that if he wants me to be able to accept something new and important, he has to give me months to adjust to the new idea–time enough to think of all the angles of the change, to accept it in my mind and in my heart before I am forced to accept it in reality.  Of course, he is my wonderful husband–the world itself is seldom so accommodating.

My kids and I found out tonight that they will have to change school districts next year.  This came about due to over-crowding in their old district and us being there on a ‘choice transfer’, which means that we’ve had to request permission every year to attend that district, and they finally are saying that nearly all of their district schools are at capacity and they are not accepting any transfer requests for the upcoming school year.  For my son David, who is in 2nd grade, this is hard, but his biggest worry is that no one will want to be friends with him next year.  I know this to be completely untrue, because he is my most out-going child who is always making new friends wherever he goes.  I don’t worry about him too much–it’s a new idea and it’s scary, but he’ll be fine…I’m sure of it.

My daughter Sarah, however, is 11.  She’s starting 6th grade this fall and has been in her school district, in the same elementary school surrounded by the same peers, since kindergarten.  She’s got very tight, very close friends there, she’s in the highly-capable program and was looking forward to starting pre-algebra this fall at the middle school with all her other friends.  We’d already attended the middle school information night, she had already requested her elective classes, and her teacher is routing the paperwork to ensure she is able to continue in the HighCap classes for both math and English…but now, that can’t happen.  In the new school district, elementary school runs from k-6th grade, so she’s going to be back in elementary school, and surrounded by kids she doesn’t know, all while going through puberty.  (Did I mention previously she’s started puberty?  Yeah, I’ve got a toddler and a hormonal pre-teen…such fun times here.)   There is a lot of new, unknown things coming, and she desperately wants to keep things how they’ve been.  She is understandably broken-hearted, and utterly devastated.

As a mother, these are the times where I’m supposed to be strong for my kids.  I’m supposed to be logical, calm, understanding, empathetic, and able to show them all the benefits and new adventures to come with this change.  I know that’s how I’m supposed to be, but I reacted emotionally when I found out.  I cursed, covered my mouth and tried to correct it with a non-curse word, read and re-read the email a few times, muttering agitated words while Sarah said “What??  What happened??”, and then I told them, while I started crying.  I couldn’t hold back the tears, despite my best attempts.  I still can’t.

I can’t help but keep flashing back to my school years…I was home schooled until 5th grade, so when I started in public school, it was in my last year of elementary school, I didn’t know anyone at the school, I had no idea what a normal school day was like, and I was incredibly socially awkward…I stuttered, too, so life wasn’t fun for me.  Sixth and seventh grade weren’t much better for me, because while I was still trying to adjust to the new social structures, they were in constant flux with the changing hormones of the kids around me.  It was hard for me to get used to those new changes, and every change had the capacity to devastate me, such as a fight with a friend, a change at home, a friend moving away–all those things, such a normal part of life, can be so hard when you’re young.  Change can change who you are and how you view yourself, so sometimes it’s scary.

This school district change is a BIG CHANGE.  I know it’s a small thing to so many people, but to us, we’ve been blessed to have had very little geographical change since I had my children.  Stability has always been important to me–I have worked hard to give my children the stable life that I felt was best for them…but this is change, inevitable and certain, and it’s a big deal.  Maya Angelou said “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”  This is something that I will have to change my attitude about–I know it, and I know I will have to teach my kids how to embrace the new things to come–but it’s not an easy change.  It will take time for my mind to work it’s way though the change, and more time for my heart to accept it, but I know it will.  It’s just scary now.  I managed to say the right things to my kids before bed, and God willing, I’ll do my best to have more of those nice, logical, empathetic phrases to say to them when they wake up in the morning, but right now, when it’s just me, it’s scary.

When I was talking to my daughter about change tonight, a song came to my mind, one that I heard sung by Patty Loveless when I was young.  It’s called “How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye? ( ) It’s a country song, so it’s a tear-jerker, but I’m hoping that I can take some of the wisdom from it and help my daughter to say goodbye, and let her know that I’ll be there for her.  Life is never going to be easy all the time, we all have to face changes and uncertainty, so all we can do is hold tight to our faith, and ask God for the strength to take those new steps forward.  Proverbs chapter 16, verse 9 says “A man’s heart plans his way, but The Lord directs his steps.”  Well, Lord, here are my feet, ready to follow your path.


Sarah Is 11 Today

Sarah is 11 today.
On April 20th, 2006, I was checked into the hospital to undergo a second attempt that week to induce labor. I had been dealing with preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and had been on bed rest for the past 8 weeks, so needless to say I was ready for Sarah to come. I had wanted to have a natural birth process, but with the blood pressure issues and the preecclampsia, my doctor preferred I deliver on her schedule.
   They started the induction process around 10am, and around 5pm, when labor still had not started, they decided that I needed to have that baby anyway, so they broke my water.  My mom had been there all day, watching the heart rate monitors they had on me and had on Sarah, and she had noticed that Sarah didn’t particularly like the contractions I’d been having. According to her, every time I’d been having a contraction, Sarah’s heart rate would drop, and it was making the nurses nervous.
   After another 4 hours of labor, post-water breakage, I still hadn’t dilated beyond 2cm, and I was exhausted and scared. They told me that I was going to have to be prepped for an emergency c-section, and around 10 they started those preparations. For me, there’s never really been a scarier feeling than what I went through in those next several hours–the feeling of the large needle slipping through my vertebrae to completely numb me from the ribs down, the nausea from the epidural medicine, the utter lack of any control over my lower body, having my arms strapped to a board, keeping me in their preferred position, and that damning drape they put up so I couldn’t even see what they were doing to my body…it was all so terrifying surreal–before that, I’d never even had major surgery, and suddenly here I was in this alien world, everything so cold and sterile.
   The epidural makes it so that you don’t hurt when they cut into your body, but you still feel what they do. The doctor cut through flesh, muscle, and uterine wall to remove Sarah, who, after two full workdays of pitocin-induced contractions, was so badly jammed against my pelvic bones that the doctor, a small Asian lady, had to use a considerable amount of strength and fineness to pull Sarah out.  She could never have come out on her own, we discovered–my tailbone is longer than average and curves in, blocking my birth canal. They tell me that her umbilical cord, which was actually shorter than it should have been, was wrapped around her neck four times, and had she been able to progress down the birth canal naturally, she very well could have strangled herself before being born. That c-section, and my weird body structure, most likely saved her life.
   At 12:04am, April 21st, 2006, my first child, Sarah Elizabeth, made her appearance into this world. She came like many other babies today, even though the circumstances of her birth may be different, and she came out screaming and was placed against my chest. I have to say, the first time I heard her cry, I started crying myself, and I don’t think I stopped for quite a while.
   Life is so all-encompassing. It’s beautiful and it’s awful.  It’s powerful and it’s frightening.  It’s wonderful and it’s tragic.  It has such power over us, that simply the recollection of certain memories can still bring a renewal of those same feelings, no matter how long ago we originally felt them.  I still cry when I think about that birth.  It wasn’t my last c-section, and I love all three of my children, but that first foray into this new and scary world called parenthood will never leave my memories, and thus far never fails to bring tears to my eyes upon summoning those memories.  As I write this, the tears have been falling again, in memory of that frightened young woman experiencing such a huge change of her life, and in memory of that little baby, so new and so precious, and so tiny and fragile.
Happy Birthday, my darling girl.  Happy 11th birthday…such an important one.  Happy entrance into womanhood, happy year of change, happy day of the eclipse (Yes, there’ll be an eclipse over the Western US today), happy everything.  I will always love you.
**edit:  I was misinformed about the eclipse day–it is August 21st, not April 21st.**

Baby oil…really.

So, kids are fun.  Seriously.  Because where else could you go for entertainment, challenges, absolute love, emotional endurance training, and housekeeping training, all in the same pint-sized package?  Kids really are something incredibly precious.  I say these things to remind myself why I’m not absolutely batsh** crazy yet.  If I focus on the blessings they truly are, then I can grab the camera to document when the toddler dumps nail polish in his hair, rather than freaking out right away.  (PSA, if this happens, copious amounts of baby oil, then lay the toddler down in the bathtub so the hair is submerged, and gently comb the nail polish out–it took me 30 minutes, but I’d assume the time will vary depending on the amount of polish and the amount of hair.)

My toddler can be either the sweetest, funniest, most loving child, or the terrorist from hell.  There’s not really an in-between.  He is constantly reminding me of that old rhyme: “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.”  When he is good, he is seriously SOOOOOO cute, and sweet, full of laughter, intelligence, bright, shining eyes, and he loves everyone.  He is sweet to the dogs, loves to cuddle, is curious, and is, frankly, just wonderful.  When he’s unhappy or knows he’s about to get in trouble, he is the devil.  He is devious, sneaky, runs away from me, screams so hard it makes him quiver; he hits, yells NO!!!  at the top of his lungs, throws things, and fights with a strength and speed that is, frankly, surprising in one so young.  The dichotomy between the two aspects of him, while not at all uncommon in a toddler, never fails to surprise me and catch me off guard, and is the reason I walk that line between ‘Normal Mom’ and ‘Crazy Mom’ on such a regular basis.

So, if you ever feel like, as the parent of a toddler, you’re losing your mind, know this:  You are not alone.  You are NOT alone.  You are NOT ALONE.  We’re here–all of us who have gone before you to fight the potty training battles, all who are traveling the road of messes and tantrums with you, and all who will follow in your sticky jam-covered footprints well into the future.  You are not alone, and I will always stand in solidarity with my sister-mothers out there, fighting the good fight to turn these wonderful little people into even more-wonderful older people.  I am here for you.  We are all there with you, and you are loved.  Hang in there Mama–we got your back.

I Cried Three Times Today

I cried three times today.  It wasn’t that terribly unusual.  Nobody ever tells you that you’ll cry more in your first two years as a mother than you probably cried your entire life up to that point.  The tears seem so close some days, that you feel like you’re clutching onto the dry eyes as a lifeline–as if to let those tears flow will will start a torrent that may not stop.  Or maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’m the only mom who ever feels that way.  I doubt it, but since we mothers don’t talk about how HARD simply holding onto our sanity is some days, maybe it is just me.  I’ve been a mom for nearly 11 years, and I’m convinced I’ve cried my very own lake by now.

It’s different every day, yet somehow it’s all the same.  It’s the constant demands on my attentions, the never-ending messes that need to be cleaned up, the fights that never seem to end unless I step in the middle, and the complete absolute lack of peace unless both older kids are gone and the youngest is sleeping.  It’s the constant nagging feeling that it shouldn’t be this hard, and that I must be doing something very wrong, yet the contradictory knowledge that I’m not alone in this feeling and that most parents feel this way.  Someone asked me how it was going, and I responded that I was hanging on by my fingernails which I’ve bitten off completely.

Today it was the corn tortilla stuffed down the bathroom sink drain, the concentrated juice spilled and tracked all over the kitchen floor and into my bathroom, the chips dumped on the floor about three feet away from me–before I even figured out what he was doing–the cable receiver box that was reset yet again, the screaming, and the absolute stubborn refusal to nap despite how exhausted he clearly was.  I often post about my toddler terrorist incidents, and today someone commented “You must have the patience and fortitude of a saint.”  I don’t.  I really don’t.  On a near-daily basis I flirt with thoughts of running away, I try to hide in my room, and I cling to my sanity like a drowning woman clinging to the last bit of flotsam she can see.

Daily I feel love, pride, astonishment, horror, disgust, anger, irritation, sadness, fear, hope, and peace.  In the Fifth Harry Potter book, Ron Weasley responded to a description of one girls feelings by saying “One person can’t feel all that at once–they’d explode.”  I understand why he would think that way–sometimes I do feel like I’m going to explode.  I have problems understanding how I can honestly love these kids SO much, yet be so mad at them that I think the top of my head will blow off.  It’s really confusing that I am so happy to talk to them and hear their voices, yet I can get to the point where I’d give nearly anything for them to just be quiet.  I think the contradictions are what really push me to the edge–if it were just one way or the other, I’d be able to figure out how to deal with it, but all the double-edged swords just push me to the very brink of what I think I can handle.

But oddly enough, I do handle it.  So do other parents–we just handle it, we do our best and keep going.  We keep fighting every day simply to raise these kids of ours, hoping that we’re not causing more problems than a hug can make better.  We love them, we do our best by them, even when that best isn’t what they want, and we don’t give up on them even when that awful voice whispers in our heads that life would be so much simpler without them.  I know–I’m mentioning things that we’re not supposed to talk about…We’re not supposed to want to give up, or wonder what our lives would be like without them.  We’re not supposed to mention that sometimes we think about just getting in the car and driving away from all the chaos.  We’re not supposed to say that we cry just because we can’t get them to stop crying, or that punishing them can sometimes hurt us even though we know it’s what’s best for them.

I want to say it all anyway.

Parenting is hard.  Kids can build us up and destroy us in a single day.  They can take us from laughter to tears, from joy to terror, and from peace to insanity.  It can go the other way, too, however–tears to laughter, terror to joy, insanity to peace, and from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the world.  People say parenting is rewarding, and it is, but like any reward worth having, it takes a LOT of hard work to achieve it.  I’m up for the challenge most days–after all, I’m still here, still trying, and still loving these children more than my heart feels like it has the capacity for.  But some days I feel like it’s going to break me.  Some days are just “those” kind of days, where every single hour is a struggle to get through, and you just can’t wait for bedtime when you can find some peace again.  Some days are the kind of days where the toddler just won’t listen, and the kids won’t stop fighting, and the messes don’t stop coming.  Some days all you can do is cry.  Mama said there’ll be days like this….







Life as a parent is…everything.  It’s everything you could imagine, and it’s so much more than you would ever think it could be…It’s hugs in the middle of the grocery store because the 2 year old demands them, it’s bribing your 8 year old son to help dry dishes with promises of a “special surprise” after his job is done, it’s nights out with the 10 year old daughter who suddenly seems to be craving “girl time”, it’s waking up with your toddler crying in the middle of the night, soothing him in his dark room, and laying him back down in the vomit that had woken him up in the first place.  It’s tangles as big as my fist causing very real tears of pain, it’s questioning every single noise that wakes you up at night, including the radio that your child has left playing for the entire night.  It’s trying to the very best of your ability NOT to rearrange the Christmas ornaments after the kids have decorated the tree almost entirely on their own…trying so hard…(those four balls really aren’t doing any harm all crowded together like that…)

As a parent, there’s always things that you prepare for–things you remember your parents dealing with, or things you saw your friends deal with, or things you read about–and there’s always things that there’s no preparing for–like the constant demand on you, as a mom, the never-ceasing, always needy, always craving demands of your much-loved offspring, the random midnight vomiting for no apparent reason, and finding out just how far you find out you will go to try and make those kids happy.

I became a full-time “Mom” in 2014–the year I gave birth to my now infamous toddler–and never before then did I realize just how different the life of a working mom was from the life of a stay-at-home-mom.  Before, if I cleaned the house at night after the kids went to bed, it would stay clean until we all arrived home from work/daycare–so for a good 15-18 hours.  Now, I’m lucky if the house stays clean from the time I go to bed until the time I wake up, and that’s providing I can dredge up the energy at the end of a very long day to actually clean before going to bed.  I’ll be honest–that doesn’t happen often.  Usually I’m snatching time to clean in the middle of the morning during nap time, or in the afternoon when I can bribe the 10 year-old to keep the toddler out from under my feet while I clean the kitchen, or the living room, etc–and while I’m cleaning one room, they’re busy destroying another room.  Such is how my days go now–there’s always something or someone that needs my attention.  If I am able to solve one problem or organize one area, there’s another issue awaiting my attention.  There’s always a demand, always a need to be met. (As I typed these words, I had to stop and go refill my fish tank which was splashing quite loudly, because it was low on water.  This was an issue last night when I was trying to fall back asleep after the aforementioned vomit issue.)

There’s a video on YouTube of a clip from a show called “Family Guy”–if I was more clever with this blog and knew how to embed video, I’d post it here, but I’m new at this and still learning, so for now, just go to YouTube and google “Stewie, mommommom”–it should come up as the first link.  What it is, if you don’t want to check out the video, is a mom, quite obviously exhausted and drained, lying down on a bed when her toddler comes in and starts trying to get her attention.  “Lois, Lois, Lois, Lois, Lois, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mama, Mama, Mama, Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mommy, Mama, Mama, Mama.”  and the mom turns and snarls at the insistent toddler “WHAT?!”, and the toddler smiles and says “Hi!” and runs off giggling.  That’s how I feel these days.  I am Lois.  In that moment, I completely “get” Lois, and I commiserate with her.  Kids are demanding, life is demanding, running a household is demanding.  Mom’s need a break, y’all.

When I worked outside the home, I was able to leave my job at the “office”, and come home and JUST be a mom.  Now, my entire job is being a mom, and I don’t get that separation of home and work.  It’s all home AND work, work AND home.  I feel guilty when the dishes aren’t done at night, or when the carpet isn’t vacuumed for the third (or fourth, or fifth…) day in a row, or when the ferret cage REALLY needs a complete field day because the ferret hasn’t been using his designated litter box; I feel guilty for every load of laundry that sits in the dryer overnight (or, God forbid, the washer!), for every time the garden isn’t weeded or properly mulched for the winter, for every time the kitchen floor isn’t swept up or the stove is messy with the remnants of the kids attempts at making their own dinner.  I feel like my husband looks at me and finds me deficient in that task of “homemaker” (logically, he really doesn’t–he’s great and looks at me with love and understanding always, but man, sometimes I worry anyways…), mostly because I feel like I AM deficient.  I’m not.  I’m really not–I’m just a girl, trying to make it in this world.  My kids are happy, they’re healthy, they’re loved, and they love God.  What else is truly important in this life?  It’s hard, but here I am.

The Bible says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ~Phil. 4:13  I cling to this when I feel overwhelmed by the charges He has given me.  These three, so precious children, mean the world to me, as does their father whom God has blessed me to have as my partner in this life.  When I am so overwhelmed I don’t know how I can go on, I cling to God’s word, and I am comforted in the midst of this storm.   I named my blog “Surrounded By Light And Love” because that’s how I truly feel I am–I am surrounded by Gods light, and by not only Gods love, but by the love of my family and my friends who I hold dear.  Love is all in this life.  The Beatles said “All You Need Is Love”, and I’m inclined to believe that while you may need things like clothing, food, and water, Love is definitely among those most-important things that we need to truly LIVE.  So, you who have read my blog thus far, may you be surrounded by not only light and and the beauty of life, but may you know and give LOVE.  Blessings to each and every one of you.