That’s It

Last Wednesday I dragged the last of the unwanted items and garbage out of my house, swept and mopped the floors, left my collection of owner’s manuals and appliance warranties on the kitchen counter and walked out of the front door for the last time. Thursday morning I signed the papers and handed over the keys to the new owner. My house is no longer my house. Patrick asked me if I were sad, and my reply was not exactly–more nostalgic, that mixture of pleasure and sadness that comes from remembering something you can no longer experience. I loved my house not for the floor plan or yard or even the furnishings, although I thought it all worked well for me and my family. I loved it not for the location, even though it was awesome. My neighbors were all friendly and helpful. I really only loved my house for what it represented: the time in my life where I stood on my own and became a better me. I’m not sure how else to describe it except to say that sometime in the two years I lived there, I accepted my life for what it is in the moment. I quit worrying so much about past mistakes or future desires. I stopped caring quite so much what others expected of me and became more conscious about what I wanted for myself. My journey over the last couple of years there propelled me down a path I didn’t anticipate, but one that feels comfortable and right. I loved my house for that.

Which is also why I have no regrets at selling it. I had some people ask me if I were sure I didn’t just want to rent it out. Leave it for a backup plan. After all, some indicated, moving in with Patrick is a risk. I can see their point. It’s not like I don’t have failed relationships in my past. It’s not like those relationships didn’t cost me a lot. But love is always a risk. And for me, it’s always worth taking because the alternative offers nothing. In the end, love is the only thing we get to take with us.

After the house closing, I joked to Patrick that he was now stuck with me. He very sweetly replied, no…not stuck. After a long pause, he said it was more like trapped. Ah, yes…he does share my sarcastic sense of humor. And he has been a good sport about the take over of his once solitary house. For a guy who’s lived alone for the past ten years, he’s adapted well to having the five of us (me, my two girls, my dog and cat) invade his space, quietly carving out a room for himself in the basement yet rarely escaping to it. I love him for the way he’s expanded his world to invite me in. And I’m thankful for this new chapter in my life that includes him.

Finally

I’ve been lazy. Well, lazy with writing and I can tell. Writing helps clear my mind and since I haven’t been faithful with it, I’ve been having vivid dreams. Weird stuff about my dad and tidal waves and talking to dogs who can speak. My kids left today for a mission’s trip and I always worry when they’re going to be traveling. As any mother, I have fleeting thoughts of car accidents or muggings or some other danger that could befall them while they’re away. I won’t dwell on it, but it will make me uneasy for a while. However, I’m always proud of them for going and thankful for their convictions.

While they are gone, I’m moving some of our stuff over to my boyfriend’s house. My house is up for sale, and my realtor thinks that moving items out will help it look bigger. I don’t mind since I’m tired of trying to keep it clean enough to show at a moment’s notice. It’s a pain selling a house while you’re living in it. And we’ve been over at Patrick’s more often than not; we’ve been painting the exterior which has needed a lot of work including replacing broken siding pieces and rotten trim. Nothing lets you know the truth of a person more than working on a time consuming and difficult house project together. So far, so good. We still like each other, which speaks volumes. If you can spend hours cutting (and re-cutting) and painting (and repainting) wood without wanting to kill each other, that’s some lasting love. He has no idea how much I’m grateful for the little things.

And these days I’ve been feeling a lot better. My new doctor did an ultrasound and discovered that my miscarriage wasn’t complete at all–the fetus was still there. So a few weeks ago I had a D&C and began to feel better almost immediately. It took four months to get to that point. I don’t even have words for how disappointed I am in my old doctor who let things drag on without checking anything more than my hormone levels, despite my repeated warning that something did not feel right. But instead of focusing on the lost time, I’m extremely grateful for being back to normal. We’re going to try again and keep our fingers crossed.

Seriously? Can we just be done now.

The semester is over. Finally. I submitted my research proposal and took my last final exam yesterday. If all grading goes as well as I hope, I should finish this semester with a 4.0 gpa. Yay, me! If not, then, damnit, me. Or, if I were like a lot of the students here, it would be my instructor’s fault, of course. I’d say she just didn’t like me. But I know that’s not the case, so I’ll take whatever grades I get and keep plugging along, especially since my 4 week summer class starts next week. The instructor sent us the 48 page syllabus ahead of time…Gosh, I’m excited about that class. Gulp.

I like putting a period at the end of things. That means I can take a step and move on. I’m wishing that were the case with more than the semester. I found out that the miscarriage is still lingering. I’ve spent the last several weeks having my hormone levels checked with a blood test. Apparently, when a woman gets pregnant, her body starts producing a special hormone (hcg) that increases twofold every 2 to 3 days or so until the later months of pregnancy when it levels off. Blood tests measure it in number, and any number above a 5 is considered pregnant, although ideally the number should be zero in normal, non-pregnant conditions. My number this week registered at 117. I could go into a diatribe about my disappointment with my doctor at the moment and how things have been handled (or mishandled). Let me just say that his response was that something could still be left behind, but he’d like me to wait another couple of weeks to check my hormone levels again. Instead I made an appointment with a new doctor for next week.

In the meantime, my body hates me. I can feel it. I can feel that something is wrong. My regular female hormones are trying to take over in a raging battle that’s making me wish I were a dude. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. I felt on the verge of tears all day and had to avoid any cute baby animal-related videos on Facebook in case someone walked into my office at the wrong moment. Yet at the same time, I wanted to kick something. Hard. I secretly wished one of the posturing geese we have on campus would finally pick a fight. I would have won and it would have been epic. It’s a horrible feeling when you know you’re an emotional mess but you’re incapable of stopping it. You just have to hold on and try to avoid saying or doing anything that causes lasting damage. At one point in the day, my daughter texted asking for a favor. This was after finding out that I needed to stay an extra hour longer at work. And I was nice in my reply,  I really was. I even ended my message with a warning that I was not having a good day and she thanked me for the heads up. By 5 pm, just as I was heading to a new student orientation where I had to be available to answer questions of parents and their kids, I got a migraine aura. For those of you who’ve never experienced this, it’s like when you look into the flash of a camera and the ring of light stays behind in your eyes. I had those flashing, zigzagging lines in peripheral of my right eye which meant that I couldn’t see anyone coming at me from that side. I’m sure I looked like a weirdo constantly looking back and forth just so I could get a complete view of my surroundings. It lasted for almost an hour and  I braced myself for the migraine to follow. But it didn’t. Instead, all my hormone-filling angst of the day disappeared and I felt somewhat normal again. Damn, cruel body. I just saw the new Avengers movie and I realized that I can relate to the Hulk. At any moment, he turns into a wild beast and once he’s back to normal, he feels guilty and slinks away. I’m just hoping that I don’t also turn green.

I’m counting the minutes until I can meet my new doctor. I hope she takes one look at me and feels sympathy. I need to have this ordeal over. I tried to explain to my boyfriend last night how I’ve been feeling. I have to give him kudos for trying to understand, but I know I sound like a lunatic. Everything is horrible! Things aren’t working out. Maybe this is just a sign that we aren’t supposed to have a baby. When I get emotional like that, I miss having my family around. I need to feel connected to someone whom I know knows me. The people who can just laugh at me or slap me (not literally) and make me feel grounded again because I know they get it. I’m not crazy. But I now think Patrick gets it too. He did what I needed. Rationalized things for me. Teased me for being a mess. But also hugged me for a bit and told me things would be ok. Once again, I’m grateful for him. And for my kids, who also hugged me when I got home because I had given the heads up on my bad day. No questions asked first. Have I mentioned lately that I have great kids? So…I know I’ll get through things, like I usually do. It’s been a long time, but hopefully, I’ll have better answers next week. And I’ll try not to take anyone out in the meantime.

December 31: New Year’s Eve

This time a year ago I started this blog about the things I was grateful for. It started as a way to look at the positives in my life, instead of the negatives, which are so much easier to let become the focus. I made a commitment to write daily for a year. It wasn’t always easy and a few days I was late getting my post in, but I’m proud of myself for doing it. Every. Single. Day. I plan to keep the blog a little longer but will write less frequently. It’s been a good exercise. A friend asked me recently if it’s made me happier–all this focus on gratitude. My honest answer? Not really. At least I don’t think so. For me, happiness is something that comes and goes. What it has done is made me more conscious of my life. There’s something about purposely reflecting on the positive things at the end of the day that’s been good for me. I dare you to try it. Maybe not in blog form, but buy a journal and write stuff down. Make a Sunday list of the things that stand out to you at the end of the day. Maybe you’ll find, like I did, that it’s the small things that stand out. The big moments in our lives seem to change our trajectory, but it’s the little things that keep us moving. For me, it was stuff like laughing with my kids, dinner with friends, hugs, cat snuggles and good puppy behavior, crossing items off my to-do list, and just hanging out with my boyfriend. Find what makes your life full.

Of course, there have been some pretty big moments in my past year as well. Things I didn’t expect. Times that were really hard. Times that were really good. I started out last year in what seemed like a new chapter of my life. Just me and my cat and my two kids in a new house that still needed some work. I spent last New Year’s Eve alone, watching tv, singing karaoke in the dark, heading to bed just about midnight. I wouldn’t have imagined then that this New Year’s I’d be in Texas, spending the evening with my boyfriend, a guy who’s been an unexpected blessing. I didn’t know I’d lose my dad this year; it’s still a bit unbelievable. A year ago I hadn’t planned on getting a puppy or to be 6 credits into a graduate program with a 4.0 GPA (did I mention that? Yay me!). But here I am, 365 days later in the same, more-updated house with my still awesome kids in what seems like a different life. However, isn’t that the way things work? We may think we know what our life is about and think that we have things under control, but we don’t know. That’s why we can’t give up and we can’t take things for granted. Each day is it. Each day is all we can worry about. So each day we should look for the good stuff. I’m glad I decided to write about the positives every day for the last year, and I’m grateful you took the journey with me. I hope I somehow inspired you to look for your own simple moments. I won’t be blogging every day, but I’ll continue to look daily and I’ll write occasionally. Stay tuned in. I hope you have a fantastic New Year’s Eve and a coming year filled with much to be thankful for…

December 23

So today was my kids and my Christmas together since we will be with my family over Christmas Day. It was just the three of us. And the dog. The cat refused to participate, which was probably best since Chance snagged his catnip stuffed tree and ripped it up before Sousi got to even see it. When we finished dinner (chicken gravy over mashed potatoes and biscuits–and I actually cooked everything from scratch since I get grief from everyone for my instant potatoes), we opened presents from each other. Im not sure how others do it, but we always take turns so we can see what everyone gets and made the appropriate oohs and aahs. Bree said I did a good job this year. She was especially happy with the Baymax stuffed animal and Hobbit book. She’s a bit of a geek, like her mom. Poor Emma got two pair of gloves because I forgot what I had bought and already wrapped. Thankfully, she liked everything anyway, especially the Converse shoes she knew I had purchased a couple weeks ago and had been begging to wear ever since. And Chance loved his new bones, of course. Although he really, really wanted Bree’s stuffed animal. Unfortunately for all of us, he’s a destructive force with anything soft and stuffed. Baymax was immediately hidden. And me, well my kids gave me a cool sweatshirt they had painted a tardis on and a snow globe, which I love. And they also helped me clean up the basement earlier today. That I was super excited about considering we have not been able to use the basement since we moved in. Now we have a spot for yoga as well as doing crafts. But the real joy was hanging out with my kids, laughing and watching a sappy Christmas movie. And knowing how lucky I am. Tomorrow we will see my family, and then my kids will go with their dad to his family and I will head to Texas to see my boyfriend who’s with his family. It’s already a good Christmas and its not over yet. I’m thankful.

June 21

My oldest daughter has been in North Carolina visiting her grandparents for several weeks now and will be there for most of the summer. She decided this year she wanted to go and get a summer job there, but I think she mostly wanted to help out her grandmother a bit since her grandfather has Alzheimer’s. I knew I’d miss having her gone so long, especially since she’ll be leaving for college once summer is over. But I’m proud of her for choosing to spend her summer that way, and I’m glad my kids have a close connection to their grandparents. When they were younger, they used to spend part of their summer with my parents as well. My youngest will also be gone most of July, first on a mission’s trip to Canada and several western states and then on to her grandparents. And this weekend she’s been gone helping out with a fundraiser for the missions trip. It’s a garage sale at a friend’s house on the other side of town (her friend is also going on the trip). She could have come home in the evenings, but of course it’s more fun to stay over. So when it came time to come home, she’d text and ask if she could just stay. And knowing she needed to be back early the next morning, it did make some sense. But tonight I teased her about ditching me again for the third night in a row. She apologized, but I told her I was kidding. In reality, I’m proud of her as well. She’s doing her part to raise money for her trip, and as usual, she’s not complaining about it. So once again, tonight I’m thankful for the fact that I have some pretty special kids.

April 27

Sometimes I ask my kids what they think I should write about, just to get an idea of the types of things they would be grateful for during the day. Sometimes their suggestions are pretty obvious attempts at coercion (you love me enough to buy me the sweatshirt I want/you’re thankful you can bring me to the mall tomorrow). Tonight my oldest said, you got to make dinner. At first I thought she was being flippant, but she wasn’t. It dawned on me that because of our busy schedules, tonight was the only time this week the three of us had sat down to dinner together. It doesn’t always happen that way, but I’m afraid this is probably becoming the norm for us. Thankfully, tonight I ignored the first suggestion of frozen pizza and instead made a chicken marsala which we put over cornbread waffles (made in my Mickey Mouse waffle iron) and added a side of steamed green beans. It was actually pretty good. I am grateful we were able to eat together tonight. It was a nice end to the week.

March 22

Today I was thankful for a lot of small things:

Making it to the gym this morning for a good workout. I missed the class I enjoy going to, but I ended up running a little longer than I normally do and still got some biking in.
Putting clean sheets on my bed. I’m going to be happy about that as soon as I’m done writing tonight.
Having my kids stop home unexpectedly. They’re visiting their dad this weekend, but needed to pick up a couple of items for a birthday party tomorrow. They hung out long enough to have a proper chat over lunch.
Catching up with my younger sister over the phone. We don’t do that often enough.
Seeing the sunshine, even though it was too cold out again.
Finding ways to stay warm without turning up the thermostat. That’s always a good thing.
Eating a really good burger. I don’t often crave specific foods. Today I did and made a good choice of where to go for it. Yummm.
Watching a Dr. Who special. (There should be no need to explain that.)
Writing at the computer with my cat in my lap. Even though he isn’t very helpful.

March 15: bequest

Not every day seems like quality time with my kids. Thankfully, today was a good day. I’m glad I still have some of those.

bequest

some days I have nothing in me to offer
to you my daughter
the burden of living puts strings on my love
worry is a hard master with many demands
I’m a slave to the rose bed I’m buried in

I’d like to wrap up the wisdom of the trees
in gold foil and shiny bow to offer to you
as a parting gift the day you cut yourself free
age gets its wisdom through the mistakes of the young
I have nothing else to learn on my own

promise me
you’ll reappear as a beautiful apparition
in and out of my lonely days
when I have time to tell you of a mother’s love
and you can absolve me of my sins
and prepare me for rest

 

March 11

I took my kids out for dinner tonight. We don’t do that very often. In fact, all three of us have crazy schedules, so we rarely sit down for a dinner together anymore–at home or elsewhere. I miss that. When they were little, I tried to have regular family dinner time. Sometimes we’d play games like “I spy” or “I’m thinking of an animal…” Sometimes we’d tell jokes or I’d ask what they learned at school that day, and when they responded with “nothing” I’d ask why I bothered to send them, which always ended the same way, them asking to stay home and me giving a list of worse things they’d have to do at home than at school. Sometimes things would get a little out of control, like the time we had a spontaneous burping contest before realizing that the Schwan’s delivery guy was standing at the open door and could hear everything. Or the time I asked them to tell me something I’d never guess about them, and they unwittingly revealed doing things they shouldn’t have done like climbing to the roof of the barn or playing with knives. Of course, in the interest of fairness, their responses generated discussions on the dangers of certain behaviors instead of punishments after the fact. Smart kids.

Now dinner conversations are different since my kids are basically adults. Tonight we talked about a certain person from our past whose name is rarely mentioned. The topic came up because they ran into an old friend while shopping with their dad over the weekend, and this friend asked about him. Wondered if they ever see him or talk to him anymore. Sadly, my kids’ reactions were the same. They both admitted to never even wanting to think of him, let alone talk about him. Said they don’t even like his name anymore. It’s heartbreaking to know that we share such a painful relationship, and even more so knowing that I was the one who let this person into our lives, never dreaming of the damage it would leave us. But it was something slow moving. In the middle of our conversation, Bree said this: a frog will immediately jump out of hot water if dropped into it, but if you start cold and turn up the heat, it will sit in hot water a long time without realizing it. A perfect analogy. We were living with a person who was internally angry and whose method of coping was breaking down the people around him. And maybe he didn’t know. It doesn’t really matter now. Thankfully, we moved on and don’t have to see him again.  And tonight, we all admitted that we were ok for having endured this pain. Both kids said they learned valuable lessons. Both said they immediately forgave me. They get it. I hope they carry this maturity into their own relationships and are able to instantly know when something is not right or good for them. I’m thankful we had this conversation tonight. I learned that they may not want to talk about him, but they aren’t worrying about the past. Smart kids, still.