Monday, April 30, 2018

Widow Lessons


Life is full of fast moments.
Life is full of slow moments.

And sometimes fast and slow are all wrapped up in the same package.

Life is full of good things.
Life is full of hard things.

And sometimes they're all wrapped up together.

When I was younger, I could not wait to get married. I was older than I had hoped I'd be when I got married, but Harv was worth the wait... The road I traveled to get to marriage had a few bumps in it...but that road prepared me to be Harv's wife.

I had no clue how to be a wife, but I learned as I went. I know that I definitely made mistakes...but I also know that I did some things right. And I believe Harv and I were a good match.

I also had no clue how to be a mother. I struggled for a while trying to be a good step-mother. I have goofed sometimes, but I also think I did some things right... and I think being a step-mother first gave me a little bit of prep in becoming a biological mother.

Discovering I was pregnant was a thrill. Discovering I was carrying twins was a shock. I read books to prepare for motherhood and being a mother of twins. But reading doesn't fully prepare a person for any task. Hands-on experience is where a person really discovers what a job is all about. I have failed a few times, but sometimes I've done things just like they should be done...and I think God knew what he was doing when he selected Sarah and Hannah for me. 

When family life was "young," I had no idea (or preparation) for all that was to come. I took each new FIRST as it came. Sometimes it was easier than others. I learned as I went for much of it. I dreamed of being good at everything, but soon learned that I just plain wasn't. I learned, over time, how to trust my children to be themselves and to know what they did and didn't want to do or be. I failed sometimes. But not always.

When I got married, I said the vows "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health..." But in my mind, it was always gonna be better, richer and healthy...

Until it wasn't.

When Harv got sick, I had to learn how to be an on-site caregiver. I had to figure out how to do that while also being the best wife and mother that I could be....and while encouraging all of our children to do and be the best that they could as well. I wanted all of our lives to be as normal as possible...in a situation that was not actually our normal.  

That period was also a learn-as-you-go moment in time.  Sometimes I failed. Sometimes I did things pretty well. And over time, I believe that time "prepared" me for releasing Harv and giving him the freedom to die...

Since that time, I've tried to learn how to be a widow. And there are more lessons in this textbook than I actually want to learn. Life is easier when you have a partner. Marriage can certainly be hard sometimes, but there is a definite benefit to having a significant other to confide in, to vent to, to cry with, to eat dinner with, to make decisions with, to sit in the same room and just BE together.

Currently, I feel like I'm in the midst of a few giant things - personally, professionally and spiritually... perhaps not actually that big in the scheme of things, but all coming at the same time. How I long for a good conversation with Harv so he can give me his ideas and suggestions...and I can either reject or accept his wisdom.

This is the time when what I really want to do (again) is kick and yell "I WANNA DO WHAT I WANNA DO!" -- which is to NOT have to deal with hard things.

Every single one of my current "issues" boils down to a first world problem... So, it seems silly of me to complain about it. But it's also currently my life...which affects me every day.

I would have definitely written the story of my life differently... but I also might've made some mistakes if I were the author. And the truth is that, in the midst of the hard, there has been plenty of wonderful... There is STILL lots of wonderful.... 

...and there's a piece of wonderful that's missing.

Thankful for all the good. Thankful for the hard. 
Praying for peace and wisdom and hope and joy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Am I the only one?

 


I've been lookin' around and I'm not so sure how you other mamas are doin' it.... 

All of you people who have children about the same age as my girls look so relaxed and totally comfortable with how your children are growing up. You seem to be coasting quite nicely as they explore the world and travel to far away places. I don't sense any nostalgia in your voices when you describe their upcoming adventures.  It seems as if you've navigated these waters before and that you've moved easily from the "mothering" to the "peer" stage.

Me?

I'm trying. Seriously. I really am. I see them do "grown up" things and I'm proud of and happy for their accomplishments. I'm amazed at how they've been able to seamlessly move from teenager to young adult and plain ol' adult with very little difficulty. I see them act with maturity and good common sense and intelligence in multiple and varied situations.

I am currently watching them become very independent -- which is what we've been working on for 20 years. Afterall, that's what parents are supposed to do...teach their children NOT to need them.

But, here I am... excited for their new independence and adventures while secretly (but not very) wishing they needed me a little bit... Watching them expand their social and professional lives in new directions and being very happy for them -- and longing for the olden days when we'd all just sit around and BE together -- not having to go to work, not having to meet somebody for a social engagement, not traveling without me to bold and daring places.

I am well aware that I became independent from my parents. I traveled a little bit. I got a job and moved away from home. I spent time socializing with people and, in many ways, friends became the priority.  And then when I got married and moved across the country, it became harder to make family time happen. But I was not the mother. So... everything was fine.

Now, however, I'm lookin' around at my friends whose children are growing and moving in similar ways to my girls... and I'm just wondering... am I the only one who is struggling with the letting go thing?

When does a mama get comfortable with all the grown-up-ness and the not-needing-to-be-with-me-as-much?  What are your tricks for feeling balanced in the midst of so much change?

Do I ever get to the plain "happy" and not selfish stage?

I'm guessing that it all becomes more normal... Sure am hopin' so. 😊

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Life


Reminder: The subtitle of this blog is called "Random Thoughts About Life."

Porch Story: Been stuck in my head for a LONG, LONG time. Can't figure out how to make it happen. Can't let go of the idea that there needs to be a story. As I've said before, things simmer... But recently I read a piece of advice that I've heard for a long time and was reminded that I need to get something down and keep putting things on paper until something happens. So.. this very paragraph is my porch story starting spot for 2017. 

Yard work: Harv was the yard man. I'm the house lady. There have been some situations pop up that required a yard man that I don't have. I've hired out for some things, but for a couple of things, I just put on my Yard Man Hat and got to work. Those two things involved a chain saw (electric but still kinda scary) and a pressure washer (that was kinda fun!).  When I do things outside of my comfort zone, it's very empowering... And so for a couple of days, I was Wonder Woman! I might just pull out the hedge trimmer before long!

Weirdness: Yesterday it was determined that the pressure washer that we owned was broken beyond repair... or beyond Mr. Mower Repairman's ability. Then a personal situation came up that left me feeling a little bit strange inside... Just a friendship navigation thing, but it caused me to have that funny feeling in my heart and stomach and all. I didn't like it. In my mind, I can be a good friend to lots of people, but in reality sometimes it's harder, but I said a prayer and tried to focus on the good stuff. I went for a walk and took a nap later and I think I've allowed it to settle down in my heart. 

Creativity: I've been feeling not only the need to write, but the need to create something...something artistic....something that pushes me a little bit. Yesterday I did it. I want to show the world 'cause I think it's pretty good (if I do say so myself!), but it's gonna be a gift. I'll show you later.  Felt good to create. And it helped cancel out some of those weirdo feelings I was having.

Life:  Life, right now, reminds me of the time I rafted the Nantahala River in college. We all got to the river and the guide taught us what all we were supposed to do. He showed us that if we fell out, to get on our backs. I'm pretty sure he said to go feet downstream first, but that didn't register. He said "hold onto your paddle" 'cause we don't want to lose them... And he said that if someone fell out that another boat could/should try to help the one who fell out.   We traveled down the river and enjoyed the ride. We came to a spot where we were to get out and scout the river to determine the best way to get through the rapids. Our boat pulled over, we tied up the boat, we all got out and went with the guide to the lookout spot. People discussed this and that. I was just there 'cause everybody got out of the boat. "Isn't the river beautiful?!", I thought.  We got back in the boat. We started trying to maneuver things so we could get through without crashing. Oops! I forgot to tuck my feet under the side of the boat. Oops! We hit a rapid! Oops! I fell out! I held my paddle tightly. I got on my back... but my head was going downstream. (oops!) Fortunately, there was another boat nearby... I feel like the water wasn't very deep... But it was fast... 

That's how I feel about life. I'm just ridin' along and somebody says "hey! Your children are gonna grow up... You're gonna wish they wouldn't leave home... You're gonna also want them to grow up and explore and spread their wings... but you're gonna want them to be with you and hang with you.." And I've pretty much said "Yeah. I know. Isn't life beautiful?!"  And then the "rapid" (reality) hits...and I fall out...and hope that I don't bang my head on the rocks.

The "river" is very fast. That's for sure. 

But I also know that there are plenty of boats surrounding me if I need to hold on.

Many thanks to all the boat people out there! You know who you are.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hey Hon


Hey hon,

How's it goin' up there? How're Mama and Papa and Laura and Aunt Alberta and Auntie Rosemary and G'ma Harvey? Have you met Aunt Beanie and Maazie and Grandmother and Granddaddy Whitely and Granddaddy Hall? And BooBoo and Aunt Gertrude and Aunt Ida Mae? They're fun aren't they? I bet you love how Aunt Beanie can tell a story and just laugh and laugh... I also bet you and Laura are laughin' and tellin' some good stories, too.

I bet you're catchin' up with all kindsa people. Have you seen Kirk? And Zachary? What about Kyle? And tell Dottie we miss her at 1st Pres. Rosalie just got there recently. Hug her neck and tell her I said "hey!" Yesterday I was with a buncha people who celebrated her life....And look for my friend's father, Tom. He just got up there a few days ago. He is a good guy! I think you'll like him a lot, too.

Hey! Hate to bother you with earthly things...but can you give me a little direction on some housey things and some business things? The prō-jects (as you would say) that need doin' are slightly out of my comfort zone so I'm thinkin' it'd be helpful if you could send some guidance my way. 

And, if you don't mind puttin' in a good word for me, I'd appreciate some help from The Big Guy, too. There are things I just don't feel qualified to handle... 

Sure do miss you. Wish you were here with me... to do housey things and to sit near me and do your business stuff that I didn't understand... 

I love you, Harv. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Life



funny how life goes...

you're young
you wanna grow up

you do

you're excited about everything
you go places
you do things
you meet people

meanwhile...

your parents are doin' their thing
trying to love you
take care of you
keep you safe
encourage you to grow up

hopin' you're doin' what you love and that you're growin' up like you should
missin' you every time you take a step in the direction of growin' up

then you do grow up

you have children of your own

you want 'em to grow up and do things and love life

they do

all of a sudden you understand just a tiny bit of what your parents must've felt...

your children are on their way to being pretty grown up
you're proud and impressed with them and want 'em to keep experiencing the good things in life

you want 'em to grow up and stay young
all at the same time

Tuesday, March 28, 2017



Once upon a time a little girl was born in Atlanta, GA... She grew up and kept hoping that she'd meet Mr. Right. She stumbled and bumbled and made some mistakes...

One day she went to Epcot in Orlando, FL and saw a movie all about Canada. She thought, "I wanna go to Canada someday."

She stumbled and bumbled and made some mistakes.

She taught school. She resigned from teaching school.

She moved to Washington, DC.

She moved to Montgomery, AL.

She met a boy from British Columbia, Canada.

CANADA?!

Canada!

Things miraculously worked out that she and the boy from Canada liked each other.

They liked each other a lot.

They hung out with each other.

They hung out with each other a lot.


They decided they wanted to hang out with each other forever.

They got married.

They moved to the opposite corner of the country from where she grew up to be near his little girl.

They added twin little baby girls to the family.

They laughed. They cried. They sometimes got annoyed with each other.

They loved each other.

They loved each other a lot.

They got a little bit older.

Their children got a little bit older.

They lived a lot of life.

He got sick.

She tried to take care of him.

She loved him.

She loved him a lot.

She couldn't save him.

He went to heaven.

She stayed here...

He stayed in her heart.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Treasures


Almost 20 years ago, I met lots and lots of people who stopped me as I was walking my girls in their double stroller. Usually they'd ask "Are they twins?" One time my father told somebody who stopped to peek in the stroller that "We charge 25¢ to look." Occasionally, someone would say, "I have twins. They're xx years old now." And, they would often want to talk about their twins with matching names or their fraternal twins or identical twins. 

I know I'm biased, but I can see why they wanted to look at my babies... not only were they matchy little babies; they were beautiful (if I do say so myself). 

The ones who always got to me, though, were the ones who would say "Treasure these times. They go so fast."  For the mother in the thick of trying to raise little twin baby girls, the time was not flying by... or it sure didn't seem like it. There were lots of diapers to change, bottles to feed, clothes to wash, picky eaters to figure out / handle / ignore, nap times to manage, baby brains to develop, etc. There was lots and lots of "the everyday" every day.  "The everyday" was more intense when Harv traveled for work... and that was fairly often. It was more intense when they were little bitty babies, but everything seemed MORE when I was doing it by myself.

When Harv got sick, I knew I should be treasuring the moments that we had 'cause we didn't know how many moments we'd get... But the truth is (and I think I've said it before), I didn't want to "force" the treasuring of the moments... I wanted to just live as regular a life as I could -- which would sometimes include grumpiness and not-treasuring.

I think I've said this before, too, but I kinda thought that after over a year with some drastic changes in "the everyday," that I would sort of settle into a routine and things would feel "normal." 

First of all, it's still not normal that Harv's not here... especially when I want to discuss politics, or annoyances, or our children's lives, or my insecurities, or I wanna go for a walk with him or I want HIM to take the dogs for a walk so I don't have to... It's not normal that I am celebrating various birthdays and holidays without him. 

But second of all, I haven't really figured out how to be okay with my children no longer living at home. I am very fortunate to have them close by... I see them fairly often -- which I really am thankful for... But every day they mature and make new decisions and do things on their own and make plans that don't include me... And even when I have wonderful advice to give, they often want to do things their own way... (which is as it should be -- even though I have some excellent suggestions!).

This post is not really about my children; it's about me... I'm trying to learn how to be me...all by myself... What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? How do I make giant decisions alone? How do I learn to enjoy meals with just me?  What can I do that feels like I'm contributing? When am I gonna be ready to contribute and try something brand new? I keep thinking that a year is long enough, but I'm beginning to think it's not... at least not for me... 

But what I've realized recently is that those people who told me to "treasure these moments" were right.  The moments do go pretty quickly. Little baby girls DO grow up and need me less... (which is as it should be)...

So, these days I'm praying for eyes to see and ears to hear all the good around me and to TREASURE all of it...and to be ready for whatever the next thing is...and to figure out how to be the best mama I can be at every stage of our children's lives... for them and for me.

 
True words in this song. ❤️