Gratitude week 123

  1. Mother’s Day; I was able to spend most of the day with my mom and all my children and their significant others. Angel made me a lemon cake and bought me a book. Alex brought me flowers and cheesecake. Arabella got me my favorite jelly beans. We played some games and had a bonfire. Paul made some ribs.
  2. I’m grateful for my husband who did most of the cooking and cleaning on Mother’s Day.
  3. Spring finally arrived in Wisconsin. It’s the start of my favorite time of year!
  4. I turned the heat off and took the quilt off my bed.
  5. I uncovered the pool today for the season.
  6. I had a really good therapy session.
  7. Paul had his annual physical and it went well.
  8. I finished the classic East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It was a remarkable book…there might be a post about it this week…
  9. Mom and I are going to the spa this week…can’t wait for that.
  10. Sailing season is starting…we’re planning on taking the boat across the bay this week to its summer home.
  11. I had another weekend of rummage sales. The big finds were a light blue floral area rug for $22, several snarky t-shirts, several albums specifically one with pipe organ music, colored exterior flood lights, candles and large candle holder, a beach scene picture, and some books. I bought some items for Angel’s house and Arabella’s apartment. I met some of my neighbors.
  12. This is worth a special mention. At a rummage sale I found a book of questions. I was specifically looking for an item like that for my blog to have more topics to write about when things get slow. I can’t believe I found an obscure item I was looking for at a random rummage sale. The best part is I paid 50 cents for it.

The old normal, part 7

One of the biggest changes since the start of COVID is having an empty nest. When COVID began, I had four teenagers living in my house. Granted, two of them were foreign exchange students. Back then all my children were in school of some sort…high school, tech school, college. Now I don’t have any children at home or in school. That has been a huge change for me.

For almost 20 years of my life I had children in school. I was involved in their education. When they were little, I volunteered in their classrooms. I attended countless sporting events, field trips, concerts, conferences, and ceremonies. My weekends and a lot of week days were booked with kid stuff. My calendar was full. I was driving the kids all over the place. I was interacting with other parents. Then less than a year ago that abruptly ended. A month ago, my last child who was living with us moved out.

It’s been a big adjustment going from being needed to questioning what my purpose is now as a mother whose children are grown up and gone. It’s a strange experience having to only be responsible for me. Seeing moms wrestle in the grocery store with car seats and unruly kids makes me feel free, yet I miss it. It’s bittersweet. It’s so ingrained in me to want to take care of other people that I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s gone.

My life has changed so much in the last two years. The old normal is gone. I’m not sure where to even start. But it is a new beginning, a new season, a new chapter just waiting for me to explore. That can be exciting and fun.

Bittersweet emptinest

Yesterday Angel and Dan put an offer on a house and it was accepted. I am excited for them. They are getting sick of people asking them if they are going to each live with their parents after they get married.

It’s really starting to feel real now. In a couple months my daughter will be getting married. She will be changing her name. They will have their first house. She will be moving out never to return.

I knew when she moved back home after college that it was temporary. I enjoyed the time she spent back at home with us as an adult. I can’t help but feel incredibly sad she is leaving.

It’s bittersweet, it really is. I am happy for her. Angel is marrying a wonderful guy. They will have their own house and will be starting their own family. I have to let go now.

Last year at this time we had all of our kids living with us. Now they are all moving out. I can’t even guarantee our pets will be with us in a couple months. There is an emptiness inside of me. Hence the empty nest I suppose.

Today as I thought about it, I feel old. My best days are behind me now. My hair is mostly silver instead of the gold it once used to be. I gained 15 lbs. since last year at this time. Almost all of the pants I wore last year are too tight. If I can get them up past my thighs, I might not be able to button them. But I don’t want to get rid of them because maybe I’ll get back to the way I once was.

I don’t see or hear as well anymore. I don’t remember things like I used to. Sometimes I forget what I’m saying as I’m saying it. My body has aches and pains. Things I did effortlessly before seem to take a lot more effort. Aging is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Then there are the getting close to 50 crazy lady hormones to deal with.

But in some ways I’m ready for it. My kids are all adults now. I don’t have to run myself ragged anymore doing all the things parents have to do with young children. Maybe my life can be more peaceful and calm. I don’t have to actively take care of my children anymore. Now it’s just me.

Now I can spend time with my husband. By our first wedding anniversary we had our first baby. I don’t regret having children right away, but we missed out on having time alone with just the two of us early in our marriage. We can do that now without having to find a babysitter or worry about the things we had to worry about before.

I really have to look at this whole empty nest thing as something positive. There are some perks to getting older. It’s just the changes I have to adjust to. It feels like everything is happening all at once. Or maybe that is what I am focusing on instead of the pain of my daughter, or in essence of all my children, leaving me and moving on with their own lives.

I’m not sure what the future holds. It is scary and exciting at the same time, bittersweet.

Gratitude week 71

  1. On Mother’s Day, I’m grateful to have a wonderful mom.
  2. I’m grateful for my children. Mother’s Day is different this year. I transitioned out of celebrating the day with younger kids to being more of an empty nest mom. It’s no longer a day of dressing my girls up in fancy cute dresses and homemade gifts and cards on pink colored paper. I’ve come to expect that things have changed. My youngest daughter is still in residential and my oldest daughter has to work. My son will be over later for supper. Maybe we can play some games or something. I do miss the times when they were little and cute but I don’t miss all the work it was.
  3. I found my mom a really awesome gift that we have been trying to find for many years. It’s nice that we can spend the day together.
  4. My daughter Arabella will be coming home this week after staying at a residential mental health facility for the last couple of months.
  5. Arabella will also be 18 this week, so……all my children will be adults as this new week ends. It’s hard to believe that my years of active parenting are now done.
  6. It’s still been very cool here. One day it even hailed. But it does look like it will finally warm up by the end of this week.
  7. My mom has finally been sleeping better. I’m grateful for her healing process.
  8. I’m grateful that Paul was able to help my mom out with Matt’s finances so she didn’t have to hire an accountant at tax time. My mom took us out to eat to thank him for his help.
  9. I’m grateful to have a husband who is gifted in finance because that is one less thing I have to worry about. We have very similar spending habits and thoughts about money.
  10. I’m grateful that I won a $25 gift card at church today just for being a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the great moms out there!

Gratitude week 19

  1.  It’s hard to believe that our foreign exchange student Clara has been gone over a month already. This past week we were able to have a conversation over Instagram. It was so nice to see her again.
  2.  My daughter graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree over the weekend. I am grateful she was able to get a job in her degree field. I am happy she is doing great on her own.
  3.  I’m thankful for technology to be able to watch our daughter’s graduation. The graduation was held on zoom. Apparently family members were supposed to be watching it on live stream. We weren’t. When all of the graduates were on the screen in cap and gown moving their tassels, Paul and I appeared on the screen taking pictures of our daughter with our cell phones. Angel was smiling so widely, I thought she was so happy and proud. But she was really laughing at us for bombing her graduation. I was mortified about it when I found out, but she said it made her day since we couldn’t be together for it. Thankfully I wasn’t watching in my pajamas.
  4.  I was feeling bummed out on Mother’s Day. Not only was it cold and snowing (yes snowing!!!!) but I wasn’t able to have my mom over to celebrate this year. My daughter Angel was also not home. My husband Paul went out of his way to make it a really nice day for me.
  5.  Angel had flowers delivered to me for Mother’s Day. Plus the church dropped off a flower for me too. It was cool to go outside and see flowers delivered to me unexpectedly.
  6.  My kids remembered Mother’s Day and I was able to spend several hours talking to each of my kids over the last couple days. I feel like we are getting along really well at this time. I am grateful for peace within my family. That is very important to me.
  7.  Since I was not able to see my mom for Mother’s Day, I bought her flowers, a card, and a big bag of popcorn. Early that morning, I snuck over to her house and left her gifts outside her front door to surprise her. It was an adventure to try to get everything to her without being caught. It made her very happy. She wasn’t expecting anything and said she was going to decorate her house with all of her previous Mother’s Day cards. She wasn’t forgotten.
  8.  I have a great counselor. She wants to follow my blog. I think I will let her. I hesitate telling people about my blog. I’ve had friends want to follow me before but never told them how to. It is very difficult to put myself out there and be personal especially with people I know. I think she truly cares and wants to help me. I’m grateful to be able to trust a few good people in my life. I am grateful for healing however long it might take. I’m thankful to have a place to share my story.
  9.  I am meeting with my wellness nurse tomorrow and hopefully she will have some answers for me about my health. I’m still not feeling the greatest and hopefully she will be able to give me some insight on what to do next.
  10.  We had more deer in our yard this past week really close to our house. I found out that deer eat weeds. They ate some of the dandelions in our yard and started munching on my weed pile. Yeah! I have some help weeding this year.

Goal 8: Try not to be too hard on myself

When I was a child, my parents were very hard on me. They expected perfection and I tried to deliver. The better behaved I was, the more I was loved.

I was punished for not being good enough. My parents had a hard enough time with my autistic sibling, they didn’t need any problems from me.

When I got a bad grade in elementary school, my dolls were taken away from me for a semester.

I am hard on myself to this very day. If I don’t accomplish enough in a day, I feel very anxious.

So it is no surprise that when I had kids, I tried to be the perfect parent. I thought that if I was the best parent I could be that my kids would turn out the way I wanted them to. If I was loving enough, they would get good grades and like school. If they were disciplined right, they wouldn’t try drugs, etc…(Insert problem here).

Let’s be totally honest, if kids do something wrong the first place society looks is at the parents. What did the parents do wrong to have a child like that? I am just as guilty. There is some truth to that statement, but some kids just make bad choices against their parents wishes.

My own mother faced a lot of blame for having a violent autistic child in the 1980’s.

I tried to be the best parent I could be and that has to be good enough whatever my children choose.

It was so easy when they were babies. I had full control. I decided where we would go. I picked out the little outfits that they were going to wear. They ate what I made.

I tried to share my values and beliefs with them. But I’ll admit, as honest as I am, I lied to my children all the time. I lied to them about who I was. I tried to hide my faults. I pretended to like cartoons and Barney when I really wanted to be head banging to hard rock and watching horror movies. I didn’t swear around them and said a lot of nice words like please and thank you.

Hey, get me a beer was replaced by may I please have some more milk. Gangsta rap music was replaced with catchy tunes like I love you, you love me..we’re a happy family..

I hated pretending to be perfect and being someone I wasn’t. I always just thought that was a part of being a good parent though.

Then my kids grew up. I no longer picked out their little outfits. We stopped reading books together and listening to baby music. I was slowly more free to be me.

Part of the process of letting go is learning to fully be me again. It is losing some of my identity as a mother. Part of that is also showing my kids who I really am. I will share my book with them when they are ready and someday my blog as well.

I also have to accept that the choices my children make might not be what I have in mind for them. I have to be less hard on myself and them when they screw up. I also have to be less hard on myself when I am not perfect.

Perfection should not be my goal. If it is, I will live a life of disappointment because it is unattainable. Plus it annoys the crap out of my family. It is difficult to unlearn something that is so ingrained in me. But it is worth a try.

Maybe I would be a better person if I was a little less perfect. Now doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron?

 

Oh boy!

A couple of weeks ago, my best friend Cindy told me that she is going to be a grandma!

Oh boy! (Or girl!).

And so it begins…My first friend to become a grandma.

My daughter’s best friend is going to be a mom.

And so it begins…Her first friend who is going to be a mother.

And so it begins.

And so it begins…

That’s life!

 

Season’s greetings from your favorite demon slayer

Wow, Christmas is less than a week away already!

Tomorrow I am hosting a Christmas party at my house for the entire family…while I am working out of the house…and cooking a meal for over a dozen people…Nothing says overachiever (or insanity) better than that.

I really didn’t want to have a Christmas party on a day we had to work and the kids have school. I wanted to have the party on Sunday, the day after the extended family Christmas party. But my sister-in-law Carla couldn’t miss the kids Christmas program at her church. I guess that wouldn’t be such a big deal to me if she actually had kids. But I can’t complain too much, she is the only person that was ever able to get my brother Mark to go to church. So Friday it is.

Carla wanted to have the party in January. After we scheduled the party for Friday, Carla wanted to switch it again. I finally told her to let me know if she would be unable to make it which is a polite way to say that I am NOT going to change the date again unless it is back to Sunday.

My brother Luke and his family will be staying over for the weekend. Luke didn’t want to make the far drive out a couple weekends in a row, so we ended up scheduling the Christmas party for Friday night before the extended family party on Saturday…after I am done working…instead of Sunday (which I preferred) because of Carla’s schedule.

Talking about work, I only have 4 days left until I am unemployed. I was angry and despairing about it at first, but now I think I should throw myself a big party on the last day and get on with my life. Maybe I’ll have a bonfire and burn all my work clothes!

Angel is home from college. Soon all of the kids will be done with school for Christmas break.

We bought Alex a boxing club membership for Christmas. He has been bugging me about joining for over a year. Boxing seems kind of dangerous, doesn’t it moms?? I was the kind of mom that had to close my eyes at middle school football games. I enjoyed watching Alex wrestle, but there were a few times…Somewhere in my mind he is 8, not 18. I still feel the need to protect and mother hen him. Although I know he would end up protecting me if push came to shove.

Alex says that boxing helps him express his anger in a healthy way. Maybe I need to start boxing since anger is no stranger to me. Can you imagine me showing up at the boxing gym? Oh my gosh! He has been working out every night. He is like me, all or nothing. The hard part is to convince him to give it his all when he wants to do nothing. He is a stubborn one, also like me. But he is doing better! He just might be ready to move on with his life come spring.

I just want everyone to know how thankful I am that you put up with me! Consider this my Christmas card…I haven’t actually sent one out in years. Lucky you! I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. And if anything exciting happens, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!

 

Is it normal?

I imagined the way it would be in my mind. Thick heavy intricate snowflakes dropped with a plop on the cold empty ground. There were horses with jingling bells pulling a sleigh behind it. Hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane. It’s a picture of us trying to find that perfect tree. Even the boy with the face tattoo is there. He is the one taking the family picture of us finding that perfect tree. A ray of radiant light shines through the snow on the right one. We are all smiling and happy.

It wasn’t that way at all. It was raining and the kids had other plans. Paul ran out to the closest tree lot by himself and picked out the tree. But it was that way once. The problem is that I still expect it to be that way now. I spent some time that afternoon crying curled up in my bed playing lullabies that I once played for my babies. Is that normal?? I am off my rocker, literally and figuratively this time.

Is any of this normal?? Paul and I have been struggling lately with this very concept. This will be the last Christmas break that our whole family will be together. Angel is not planning on coming home after college this year. Alex will be graduating (hopefully) this spring and moving on. Arabella is still seriously interested in becoming a foreign exchange student.

I put a lot of time into this whole motherhood thing, and now my kids don’t need me anymore. Who am I now? I am excited to have time to myself to do the things I always wanted to do. But I never thought that the letting go process would be so painful.

Our son is really struggling right now. Although he is 18, we still have boundaries and rules because he is living in our house. We have been asking ourselves if his behavior is within the realm of normal. It was hard to let go of our firstborn, but she was heading off to college and we knew that she would be okay. We feel unsure about the future of our son.

There are really only two scenarios. Our son is completely normal. Then the problem is with us. We need to let him go even if he has to fall on his face a few times. He has to figure things out for himself. We need to let him go even if his future isn’t what we planned on it being.

The second scenario is a bit more troubling. What if he has mental health issues? Then I think it is our job as his parents to make sure that he gets the help he needs. But he is an adult. Is it our job to try to fix him?

Would you try to save someone from drowning if you knew that they knew how to swim??

I think that our son is normal. But what is normal? People have been asking us if he is depressed. I don’t think so. But I’m not sure. I want answers. I want to be guaranteed that he will be okay.

Letting go of a kid to go to college is normal. It is painful, but you are also happy that they somehow became fully functional adults with you as their parents.

But what happens if you think they are not ready yet?

This has been my struggle lately. I probably won’t get all the answers I’m searching for. Plus it doesn’t help that I have unrealistic expectations in my head of how I expect things to be…the way they once were, but no longer are.

Is any of this normal?

Taking the long way home

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Last night Angel and I got back home from the Lana Del Rey concert. We ended up taking the long way home…

We headed out to Minneapolis early Friday afternoon and got to our downtown Minneapolis hotel by late afternoon. It was still cold outside with wind chills below zero. Even though we were only a couple blocks away, I was concerned about walking outside on a cold frigid night.

The hotel had an indoor walkway that we could walk to the concert in, but it closed at 8 PM. Although we had a map, we got turned around several times in the walkway. There weren’t as many signs as we thought there would be. Someone stopped us and gave us the wrong directions. We met up with another couple that was just as lost as we were. The girl was wearing a mini skirt and a jean jacket. I told her that she would have to walk back outside on the way back.

Surprisingly, despite getting lost, we made it to the concert a little early which gave us time to go through security, find the bathroom, and get a drink before the show. I spent $15 on a 4 oz old-fashioned that tasted like utter crap. I watered it down with Angel’s soda but it was still undrinkable. Gross!

Angel’s friend was going to meet us there and sit by us, but she came down with the stomach flu. The show itself was phenomenal. It was the biggest concert I ever went to. Before that the biggest concert I was at was back in the early 90’s seeing Reo Speedwagon at the county fair. This was Lana’s first concert of her new tour, so being the first show and being an inexperienced concert goer, I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was thinking about bringing ear plugs, but Angel said that would make me look way too old. I was already instructed not to look like a mother. Some of the young girls barely wore any clothes which concerned the mother within me a whole lot on such a cold night. There were a few other middle aged concert goers. Most were in their early twenties. The whole row behind us seemed to be in their early 20’s and were all smoking pot. The young couple next to me was making out the whole time. Seriously, I could have used a better drink.

Afterwards, I was satisfied that my ears did not ring. The acoustics were great. Lana played a lot of songs that we knew and she had a great performance. We walked back to the hotel in the cold. I had a hard time pulling up the hotel on my phone’s map. I was a little afraid that we would walk around the city in circles until we froze to death. Although my daughter is an adult, I felt responsible for her safety. We were very cold, but we were able to find our way back before we froze to death.

The next day we had lunch plans with an old college friend that lives near the city. She hadn’t seen my daughter since she was a toddler. It has been over 8 years since we last saw each other. We had a really nice visit, but had a long drive home.

I fell asleep on the way home which hardly ever happens. In my defense, I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night and felt rested. I was the only one that knew how to get home and since I was sleeping, we missed the exit. I woke up to different scenery. We drove a few more miles before I had the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t right. Sure enough, my little siesta cost us an extra hour of driving.

What good is knowing the way if I couldn’t show the way to go?? Seems like another whole philosophical blog topic, but I am much too tired to form a thought. I would like to think that we circumvented a crash on the interstate. But the truth is that I am getting old and tired..I fell asleep and wasn’t paying attention.

However,the long way home was a more scenic route with its rolling hills, cranberry bogs, marshes, reeds, and woods. I wanted to stop several times to take pictures, but I also wanted to get home and felt bad for making our trip a lot longer than necessary. So I snapped a few pictures when we stopped for a stop sign.

Angel and I did a lot of talking on our long trip home. It was nice having some uninterrupted time to visit. Next weekend she will be leaving to go back to college. It will probably be a couple more months until we see each other again. Despite taking the long way home, we had a lot of fun together..

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