Fairy Tale Mom

You know those days where nothing goes your way? Thing after thing after thing goes wrong and you can’t see the possibility of anything going right? I just lived that day.

I started by planning for this day 14 different ways, the variables kept changing. There were meetings to rearrange, much to the displeasure of my employer, appointments to manage, kids activities to squeeze in and an evening appointment at the gym to keep. I planned, changed plans, changed plans again and thought I had things all worked out.

Surprise! My mom came the night before to join us in our first activity of the day. Preparing for a visit from my mother requires time and work and cleaning. She’s a meticulous woman and doesn’t understand my, more laid back style. I had exactly 2 hours to prepare for her arrival at the exact same time that the Princess needed to be delivered to and picked up from dance lessons. Yikes.

I survived that event. We woke to attend to our day. We started the day taking my favorite boy in all of the land, my brother, to the hospital. He was to have his heart jolted back into rhythm (with the paddles) first thing. This was scary on so many levels. We weren’t sure the blood clot had dissolved yet; we didn’t know if the procedure would work. There was a tiny possibility that something could go wrong. And it’s his HEART! That’s cause for worry.

After successfully seeing that through to completion, with great results, I was off to a work meeting. This is an annual event to get a large group of people motivated toward common goals and reset standards for continuity. The meeting had three sections. In each section I felt more and more inadequate as I realized that I have work to do to catch up. My ego is now sufficiently bruised.

Or so I thought, at the first break I get a text from my girl asking “who’s picking me up from school?” SHIT! With all of the schedule adaptations I forgot that I was no longer available to pick her up. I phoned a friend. Not available. My mom? Already on her way back home. My brother? Resting, couldn’t reach hum. Finally, the pirate (my dad) can get there only a few minutes late. I’m clearly not winning parent of the year after this one.

Speaking of the pirate, he sends a text after dropping off the girl that the surgeon wants to further amputate his leg to above the knee. WHAT?

I’m still in this meeting. I’m overwhelmed with emotion and worry and my own inadequacy and I’m rapidly reaching my breaking point. I keep it together to the end of the meeting, I get to the car and literally throw my hand up and say, outbound, “I surrender”.

In that exact moment, I was looking to the sky, arms in the air, ready for tears when a calm washes over me. My next thought is to finish my sentence. “I surrender! it all to you God.” And, I prayed. Right there in the street, I found God had been waiting for me the whole time.

Last night, I had the pleasure of joining some of the Indy Geek Girls for Indy Word Lab. These ladies are funny, smart and so very much fun. I would have gone pretty much anywhere with them, but playing with words is one of my favorite things. The general format for the word lab is to have a speaker for a few minutes and then a prompted writing work shop. After the night’s assignment, you share in a group what you’ve written (if you choose). Tonight the assignment was to choose a memory from your child that was either particularly thrilling or particularly terrifying and write focusing on the extreme nature of childhood emotions and the 5 senses. This is the rough draft I wrote in the time allotted.

This amazingly mundane, Midwestern, vanilla childhood wasn’t scarred by any particularly terrifying events. I won’t be in therapy for years on end to overcome  a great tragedy. In fact, it is all quite the opposite. In all of the humdrum, monochromatic days are scant few glistening moments that could be defined as thrilling. The ones I do recall are made dull by the passing of time and my pragmatic adult memory. But, in equal parts are made brighter and more vivid by sharing them with my not so pragmatic, mostly fabulous brother. He was my constant companion and greatest champion in our youth. And, now in our adulthood he remains my cheerleader and a great friend.

It is my hope that he recalls, in some way, a trip we took with all of our extended family in two grand charter buses to tour the American West. We saw national parks and landmarks that should have been etched into my memory forever. However, the parts that are the most vivid are also some of the most mundane. I remember a table at the back of the bus filled with snacks and drinks. Specifically, I recall the taste of powdered Tang and mixing it into white paper cups filled with water. I remember the seeing “the big kids” riding horses while we hiked a random trail in Colorado.

The most amazing and colorful memory I have was these two giant buses stopping at the peak of some unnamed mountain to see the snow. I felt the cold crunch of the snow in my hands while I wore shorts and summer shoes. I thought it was the funniest most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. My grandmother was there to see my brother and I throw snowballs at each other and giggle as they landed far from their intended targets. My family was filled with visible joy during these moments. Some of my most treasured memories on this trip were not of seeing Mount Rushmore or Devils Tower, but remembering the happiness on our faces through all of the miles we traveled.

I hope he remember this too.

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Don’t be fooled by the number, I’m not even close to finishing my 40×40 list. But, as I was working on #39, Sort The Baby Pictures, I had an interesting series of thoughts. I have these boxes of pictures spanning more than my lifetime. Until recently, they were all a jumbled mess. My baby pictures were next to pictures from college that were next to pictures of my recently married Grandparents at their farmhouse. There was no order.

So, I went about sorting my memories from my parents memories and came up with the beginnings of a system. At the end of this process I still had boxes full of pictures, but there are now in categories that define 3 distinct periods of my life. Some of the cast of characters is static throughout. You see lots of pictures of me with the Fairy (we’ve always been close). There are pictures of random zoos that we’ve visited throughout the years. (Important note: all giraffes look the same, make sure  you put people in the pictures for time and place reference.) And there are people whose names I don’t necessarily remember. While the subjects of the photos are sometimes a bit fuzzy to my memory, the feelings I had at the time of each event are quite vivid.

In box 1 we have pictures of my distant past, photos of my childhood (and many things that predate my childhood). You can see the easy contentment of my youth. I was very happy in my sheltered little town. You can see it in the softball pictures to the prom photos. By all appearances, we are a very happy family. As with most things, I didn’t learn until later about how my Mother found it difficult to stay in that small town that I thought was beyond wonderful. But, you can’t see that in the pictures. In the box are smiling faces, family reunions, birthday celebrations and untarnished content.

Box 2 brings us to the years between college and motherhood – some of these should not be seen by children, lest they repeat my mistakes. But, all of them represent genuine joy. I met some of my dearest friends during this period in my life and certainly learned the difference between an acquaintance and a friend. I am still in contact with many of them (beyond facebook even) and others have lost touch. All, however, bring a smile to my face as I remember sharing some of my fondest memories with this group (or these groups) of people. As with most college memories, some are fuzzier than others, but all have the same polish that only time can provide. It all seems so fresh and fun in my head. Long forgotten are the stressful exam weeks, the roommate drama and the long nights working to make ends meet.

Box 3 is very, very full of pictures of the Princess. I have roughly 1,000,000 pictures of her first few months. I have more pictures of this amazing, beautiful girl in her first 4 years than I do of the last 4 combined. (Note to self: buy new camera, I need more recent pictures.) I hope that she has been as happy as she appears to be. When she looks back at these boxes one day I hope her memories are all of the fun she had. I hope, in short, that I’ve not screwed this up too badly. I want her to feel what I feel when I think of the past – few regrets and great joy for the experiences.

#39 led me down memory lane in a way I didn’t think that it would. I expected to very neatly categorize pictures chronologically and move on to my next project. Unexpectedly I ran into my past, in three parts.

This is a story about how, for a long time, I did this all wrong. I focused all of my energy on work and the princess and that is all. I didn’t take any time for me. I lost contact with all of my friends. (This could be a result of the post partum depression, but who knows at this point.) Regardless, I wasn’t exactly happy with the way things were going for me.

I still did my job as mommy. I drove the princess to dance class, I took the snacks to school functions and we went to the zoo, all like we were supposed to. But, I was completely empty as I did it. I was bored and depressed and lacking.

Sure, I had a few acquaintances. I would connect with them at the appropriate functions. I spoke to the other moms at the daycare drop off and pick up. I took the time to make sure the dance teachers knew my name. And, I spoke to the girl scout leaders – sometimes.

Well, I started talking more and more to one person in particular and it turned out we had a lot in common. Except, it’s really hard to make friends as adults. So, we weren’t friends. We were acquaintences. I knew her. She knew me. And, most of the time I remembered her name.

Then, we wound up in the same carpool to a field trip. (I drove – how scarry is that?) We went to the zoo. We talked about a book that we both read (and re-read a few more times).

Then, we went to a dance class. It was fun for me, because I like to dance. And, I was so eager to connect with other grown ups. Now, this dance class was in a church. And, I was on a serious search for God. So, it was a huge bonus for me.

I was still unsure of how to deal with the person that invited me. We were on our way to a CHURCH, could I still use “colorful” language? Would she judge me when she found out what a horrible mother I am? I won’t lie – I was nervous.

But, it turns out that MFH embraced all of my flaws and faults – and we became friends. A few years ago today.

And, my friends, *THAT* is a TRUE STORY.

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