Posted in A to Z Blogging Challenge, Challenges

S is for School

a to z school stuff

For reasons unknown to me one of the childhood keepsakes I’ve held on to is this pencil case. I must have really loved it. Or maybe it was packed away with a few other treasures and I didn’t have the heart or interest to get rid of it. I’ve come across it over the years, along with the dolls and other “memorable” items from my childhood. And I would always do the same thing. Open it. Look at what’s inside- markers, pencils, a red pen and ball point pen. And then zip it back up again. I used it for many years because it held a good amount of writing utensils and it stayed flat on top of my books (because we did not use backpacks back then!) That’s the extent of my memories attached to this pencil case.

But it did get me thinking about what memories I have held onto of my school days and my earliest memory always stands out. My parents and I had moved into our new house mid-school year and I was five years old. Only one moment stands out in my memory of my first day at a new school. It was when my dad picked me up at the end of the day. We were walking back to the car and he was holding my hand. A voice called out from behind, “Bye, Katherine!”

I paused and turned, not letting go of his hand, and I looked back. It was Marie, with a huge grin spread across her face while she waved at me. I smiled back. And then I timidly raised my hand to return her wave. “Bye!” I’m not sure my voice even carried across the distance between us but Marie waved again and skipped over to her mother.

My dad’s voice burst through my little cloud of happiness. “Who was that?” I looked up at him, seeing the curious look on his face that matched his tone.

I looked down and a small smile returned to my face as I happily replied, “My friend.”

This is my first memory of school, which has nothing to do with school other than it happened there. And it’s my first memory of Marie, who is my oldest friend. We have been friends for fifty years and I can’t believe it’s been that long. For awhile she was my best friend but despite our paths going in different directions, we were at each other’s weddings and we have never lost touch over the years. We pick up where we left off despite any time that has passed. We share our joys and sorrows. She has been a constant in my life, a special person who holds a precious corner of my heart- just because. And I really like that.

A to Z Challenge

AtoZ2019tenthAnn

Peace, love and friendship,

-Kat

Posted in Family

“Why are we here?”

Little Beej is three going on thirty. We were eating breakfast and the question came from nowhere. For a brief second, I forgot who had asked the question and just focused on those words. “Why are we here?”

This is something I’ve been struggling with for over a year now. When my life took a slight major detour last year, it took me awhile to adjust. Overnight (literally), everything changed. My grandsons, CJ and Beej, began staying with us when my son was at work. Since he works 24 hour shifts, this included two nights sleeping over and two mornings getting ready for school or the day, for each shift. Suddenly homework, baths, and extra-curricular activities were part of our daily lives again. My husband and I were back in the trenches.

We went into this phase believing it was just that- a phase. If anyone had asked us, I doubt either of us would have said that we might be doing this for the next ten years or so. And yet, as each month passed, what was supposed to be temporary was feeling more and more permanent. Planning time for meetings or friends became tricky and although I put a top priority on those meetings…. other things were set on a shelf. I found it hard to find time to blog, write, read, spend time with my friends, take time for myself.

The situation truly was what it was and is what it is. My son cannot help it and I know that if we all didn’t believe that this is the best we can do, we would not be doing it. Those little boys needed stability, routine, and love. They needed to know that when Daddy was at work, everything remained the same as it was when he was home. Yes, a person can hire nannie, use day care, babysitters, whatever, but what these boys needed (and continue to need) was a sense of family and love. Those other alternatives could never replace the nurturing they desperately need.

Knowing that I was doing what was best for the boys did not always lessen negative feelings. The feelings weren’t directed at the kids or my son. I tried to get a handle on them and just shove them out into the great beyond. But I was resentful and angry. I was watching my life slip away, bit by bit. Raising my own kids, I had struggled to find my identity separate from that of MOM. In this new role, although it was completely 100% mom-like, I wasn’t Mom. I was in a different place- one that I did not expect to be. I was helping my son raise his children. I am a grandparent helping raise her grandchildren. And I’ve found that it’s not as new of a thing as one might think!

The small part of me that seething asked, “How did we get here?” and “Who’s to blame?” I can assure you that this train of thought did not serve any purpose other than to help negativity grow. Luckily, Beej would snuggle up to me and all of that bad stuff would evaporate. I was always reminded of why I was here.

And somewhere along the way, we all adjusted to this new normal. I accepted that things might not change and this might be the next ten years of my life. With the help of my parents and an especially awesome best friend, I was (and am) able to see all the positive things this is bringing into my life and the boys’ lives and my son’s life…. And that’s the why of it. Not that negative stuff.

Helping CJ and Beej understand the why is a bit more difficult and will take time. Until that time, we are taking it day by day.

And in answer to Beej’s question, well, he was just wondering why we had come to Michigan for the day. That answer was an easy one- “To get a break and have fun!”

It was much easier to answer than yesterday’s question- “What is a plug made out of?”

Have a great day!

-Kat

Posted in Family

It Never Ends

Near the beginning of this clip from the movie Parenthood, Frank Buckman talks about a time when he and his wife thought their son had polio and the feelings that experience evoked.

Soon I will be celebrating the birthday of my youngest child, my baby, Andrew. He will turn 22 years old. When Andrew was nearly two months old, his doctor was concerned that he might have a narrowed aorta which would be considered a critical congenital heart defect. I will never forget that feeling- I already loved this little guy so much and he might be suffering or at risk for a lifetime of health problems. Oh, my heart. Yes, I understand what Frank meant.

What I felt for Andy all those years ago was just the tiniest fraction of how much I love him (and his siblings) today. I know there are people who do not have more than one or two children because they love them so much, they can’t imagine being able to love more. But love isn’t given to you in a limited quantity to dole out to everyone in your life and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Loving one person doesn’t take any love away from someone else you love. And I’m here to tell you that if you think you have an enormous amount of love for that one child, you don’t have three times that for three kids. It just grows and grows to such an incredible size. And that growing takes place as they grow. That overwhelming feeling of love you might feel for that little guy when he’s two months old is going to expand and fill your life in a way you never thought possible.

It won’t be easy. Their problems will grow with them and sometimes you will have to “be there” but let them handle it on their own and sometimes they will let you help them. No, it won’t be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

And as I tend to do around my children’s birthdays, I’m feeling very nostalgic and very blessed. Oh, and Andrew ended up being the healthiest of all my children- so there you go. Just another reason to be happy.

But a word to those who haven’t reached this realization yet, to quote Frank Buckham- “IT NEVER ENDS!” (And that’s a good thing, right? Right?)

Have a great day!

-Kat

 

 

 

I wish I could freeze time or go back in time and watch my kids grow up all over again because it is just going by too fast.” – Robert Rodriguez

Posted in Family, Words to Live By

Dear Children of Mine

You are at an age when you can be considered an adult. I remember those ages- 20-25. I remember feeling more like an impostor than anything else. I was working full-time, paying my own bills and on the verge of giving birth to my first child. All of those things could have qualified me for adult status. And yet they just didn’t. I was actually pregnant with my third child and 30 years old before I started feeling like a real grown up and not someone who was playing the part.

It’s not easy being in your 20’s. Especially when you are living with your parents, even temporarily (Michael) or seasonally (Andrew) or intermittently (Kris). You’ve all been out on your own and living your lives as independently as most of you can at this point. Then you come home and it’s like you never left.

It’s only natural for you to feel more like a child than an adult. And it’s only natural for you to blame me for it. That’s what children do. And that’s the sign that you aren’t quite an adult yet.

See, having 3 kids in 5 years meant that every time one of you was at a *certain* phase or age, we would pause……..and then the next one would enter said phase. Potty training. ABC’s. Tying your shoes. Riding a bike.

Your dad and I were new to parenting when we started this journey. I had some experience and what appeared to be some natural ability when it came to mothering. Dad was a newbie from start to finish but he is a quick learner so it was all good.

It wasn’t easy. You all had very distinct temperaments and personalities and required different handling. It was a balancing act to keep everything on an even keel while a few of you were rocking the boat. I lost my temper. A LOT. I feel really bad about the amount of yelling I did. It wasn’t fair to you and in recent years I’ve made a concentrated effort to reach out to you and talk about things, instead of reverting back to old, bad habits. Opening up is not easy for me. I’m a very private person, even with those I love.

I want you to know that I did the best that I could. I love you guys so much. I have always wanted the best for you and for you to be the best you can be. I love you as you are- imperfections and all- because in my eyes you will always be perfect. If I can only get through to you on one level- I would want it to be that I hope you know how much I love you.

Being your mother and raising you was the absolute greatest joy in my life. When asked what I’m most proud of- it’s you. It’s always you.

As you know from experience, that love comes at a price. I have always been fiercely protective of you. I will fight to the death for you. And when someone hurts you, I get crazy scary. My anger (which really can be terrifying, let’s be honest) comes from a place of such deep caring that it physically hurts me to see you in pain. I try to keep that in check, especially as you all are getting older. I truly feel that you are never too old to want your mom. And you are never too old to desperately wish someone would fight like that for you. Like it or not- I will always be that person to you.

As you have reached your 20’s, I’ve tried to back off and give you space to grow up. One day you will look at your own children and realize that it is easier said than done. When you fall these days, the cuts are much deeper and the stakes are much higher. Please know that I feel every scrape as if its my own. Your happiness means the world to me.

I am proud of the people you have become. You are loving, gentle, caring people. You are the best.

And as I come back around to the part where I tell you that I realize that living under my roof again makes you feel like a kid again….. well, in some ways you still are. The immature behavior that sparks up confirms it. I firmly believe that you are not completely an adult until you can act like one in the presence of your parents. 

Having said that, let me tell you that you are so very close. One or two of you might be closer than the other to taking that leap but you are all closer than you think. I’m watching it happen right before my eyes- my babies blossoming into adults and it’s amazing.

I am blessed to have you in my life. You bring me endless joy and happiness.

And I hope someday when you look back at your childhood, you can look past any tears or bruises and remember the love and the laughter and the joy we shared.

Love, Mom

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Words to Live By

Parenting…

parenting

I remember the stumbling blocks, obstacles, and ups and downs I encountered over the years-

  • The overwhelming feeling of terror when faced with the enormity of being responsible for the existence of that tiny human
  • Figuring out when to feed him, how much to feed him, his cries- as few as they were……
  • Getting him to sleep through the night- easier than one would think
  • Potty training- not as hard as it needs to be when you can bribe him with a mini-marshmallow each time he peed
  • Teaching him his colors- impossible until you find out he’s colorblind
  • Becoming the parent of two children and all the challenges that come with that additional tiny human
  • Lather. Rinse. Repeat….or not
  • Finding out that the second tiny human is nothing like the first was so all bets are off
  • The moment you realize that the three’s are much more terrible than the two’s could ever be!
  • Teaching him to tie his shoelaces- frustration at its best
  • Determining if he is left or right handed and then having to convince his teacher that you are correct
  • Carrying around a toddler who can’t refuses to walk at 15 months.
  • More potty training but this one can’t be bribed
  • Homework and having him read books to you (AHHHHH!)
  • Scarlet fever. Chicken Pox. Strep throat. And my all time favorite- the puking, diarrhea virus that landed us with a dehydrated sick baby in the ER and 2 puking kids at home with their grandma.
  • The third time human who completes your family but also throws all the rules and all the parenting experience you have amassed out the window causing you to have to rely completely and totally on instinct.
  • Ear infections and potty training and clingy, clingy, clingy.
  • Boy puberty. Girl puberty. Puberty. Puberty. Puberty.
  • So many years of school, activities, sports, music. Running. Running. Running.
  • And in the midst (2003-2015 to be exact) TEEN TOWN (Need I say anymore?)
  • You find out that your daughter is really your son but then no, no exactly your son but a very unique blend of both.
  • Your baby goes off to college.
  • Your oldest gets married and starts his family—–beginning the cycle all over again.

And here I sit on the other side, thinking about all of it and how consuming it was. At times it was exhausting and too many times I was so caught up in all of it that I forgot to sit back and savor those moments. I knew they were fleeting at the time but it was all moving so fast. With three children, there was always someone in crisis or needing attention.

The thing I find most interesting is that other people whose kids are the same age as my children have stood up, dusted off their hands and moved on. Their kids seem to be off living these independent lives, even the ones in college.

I have two in college and one married with kids and it seems to me that they need me even more now. Everyone was home for Thanksgiving and we got to spend some rare time together- all of us. While I was happy to have all my kids back home safe and sound for a short time, it wasn’t the relaxed time I had hoped it would be.

When my kids were growing up, I would get this feeling that something wasn’t right. Sometimes I knew which kid it was and sometimes I could even figure out what was wrong but there were other times when I couldn’t pin it on a specific child or if I knew which one it was, I was unable to locate the problem.

See, I have two kids in crisis right now. Parenting adult children is completely different than parenting kid kids. So much of it consists of propping them back up on their feet when they fall down, reassuring them that they can do this…..and then stepping away but not too far- just in case they fall again. That’s where I’m at with one of my children. We’ve been in this holding pattern for a few years now and I keep hoping that one of these days when I push him back up onto his feet he stays standing. Until then, I’m always nearby- keeping an eye on him. And I make sure that he knows that even if he doesn’t hear from me or see me, that I’m always there.

The other one is in a major crisis and although I know that there are people who would say (and have said) that I need to back off and let him figure this out, my gut instincts are screaming at me so freaking loud there are nights that I can’t sleep.

I wish that I could say that my track record sucks and that I’m wrong more times than I am right but when it comes to my kids… well, I know my kids. And so with this one, I’m staying closer, making sure he not only knows that I’m here but he sees it and feels it.

One of my closest friends lost his mother this weekend. I know that this is a difficult time for him and I wish I could be there for him but he’s out of town dealing with his loss. It reminds me that no matter how old you are, there are times when you still need your parents. You still need or want your parents to be parents because I think that the small child in you cries out for them.  I know so many people who would give one more day to see their parents one more time. I know what it feels like to want your parents and have them not be there. And mine are not gone. They are a few miles away, trying to not rock their boat while balancing on a fence. It’s not a good feeling.

So as long as I’m alive I will love my children and be there for them and I’ll even tell them to stop being asses when they are acting like jerks but no matter what they will know that I’m here.