Step it Up, Hallmark

So it’s Father’s Day Eve, and to be fair, here’s the obligatory post about my thoughts on Father’s Day.

That is, if I can even find words. Hallmark couldn’t, so I’m not even sure why I’m trying.

Here’s what I mean: I DARE you to find a card or gift or act or ANYTHING that can somehow portray your feelings about your father who survived a disease that’s mortality rate is something like 20% of those diagnosed; survived a 10-hour surgery that also brings something like a 15% chance of death along with it; has fought through several set-backs that brought us all to our knees and halted our worlds to pray he could dig for strength again to make it through; and most astonishingly of all, did all of the above with a smile, no mention of “giving up,” and a quiet but epic faith that I have personally never witnessed. Because I bet you can’t. I know my little gift certainly doesn’t do justice to what MY DAD deserves. No gift does. No card says how much I admire and love him, how glad I am he’s HERE with us to celebrate again. I would like to think I’ve shown him these things by doing the best I could for him, but even that falls far too short. He’s an amazing hero, a true living miracle, and I couldn’t more thankful that he’s MY DAD.

I gave him an embellished version of this poem several years ago for his birthday after he had survived 17 days in the ICU and then a subsequent brain bleed (and we thought the worst was over!) and even though it doesn’t do justice for who he is, it’s my feeble attempt. At least I tried, Hallmark.

My Hero is the quiet type,
No marching bands, no media hype,
But through my eyes it’s plain to see,
A hero, God has sent to me.

With gentle strength and quiet pride,
All self concern is set aside,
To reach out to our fellow man,
And be there with a helping hand.

Heroes are a rarity,
With all they give and all they do,
I’ll bet the thing you never knew,
My quiet hero has always been you

 

022

 

About Mother’s Day

I usually don’t like to write posts pertaining to specific holidays, special occasions, etc., because I know I’ll never be able to post them all and then I’ll develop a complex about the blog not being ‘complete’ and that will lead to posting for the sake of posting… It’s a vicious ridiculous cycle.

Anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and record some thoughts that need to be said while people are around to enjoy it. It’s really that simple.

I have a lot of mixed emotions about Mother’s Day, primarily because I have mixed memories of Mother’s Day past. Like the time we had a horrible dinner at KFC because Dad made a desperate attempt to make the day easy for mom by not having her cook, but instead we all ended up herding around disgusting buffet food with folks that may or may not have showered in a few days. Bless his heart, he tried. And to his credit, there aren’t that many restaurants in Glasgow to choose from. Then there were beautiful Mother’s Days when we visited Granny Rose (when she was still well) and ate at the lake and enjoyed each other’s company and gifts didn’t matter and I was still the baby of the family. Those times are precious to me.

Then there’s the Mother’s Days I’ve had as an adult that I avoided the day like the plague because I still was waiting to be a momma myself. I did my best to celebrate my momma, but I avoided church and my heart still longed and ached to be blessed by motherhood. Redemption came – briefly though. The Mother’s Day when I was pregnant was wonderful, but last year (my first real Mother’s Day I suppose) was not at all what I anticipated, largely because I was in the throes of a deep, hidden depression. All I remember was how unhappy I was with the outfit I chose, how fat I felt, and how irritated I was that Elly wouldn’t nap. Not the pleasant memory of my first Mother’s Day I had once longed for.

But that’s life. Sometimes it’s not what we make it in our minds, and goodness knows I’m eternally guilty of making THAT mistake time and time again. So either good or bad, by whatever standards you choose, Mother’s Day is what you make it. I agree with the principle of celebrating mothers and recognizing the selfless sacrifice mothers make every day, but it’s really in the little moments of motherhood by nature that make being a mother special.

DSC_0261

I gained a whole new life perspective when I became a momma, but over the last year, that perspective was broadened greatly as I watched my momma take on a role for my dad that has amazed me. She’s had to step in as a nurse, a 24-hour caretaker, and life manager for my dad as he has gone through this transplant experience. It was around Mother’s Day last year that mom really started to show concern for dad’s “liver numbers,” but none of us had ANY idea what was to come. It didn’t matter, and without warning or training, she took on her new roles with relative ease. Sonny and I often talk (and pray) about mom and the amazing job she does taking care of dad because if the task was left up to us, we’d basically be clueless. I could go on and on, but I think the best thing I can say is that one of the most memorable examples of unconditional love will not only come from all she’s done for me as a momma, but what she continues to do every single day to hold our family together – to literally keep us alive. She deserves so much, but I honestly don’t know how to pay her any bigger compliment than to say that I will live trying to forever honor that example.

DSC_0274

 

I have to share one last thing. A few months ago, a song written by Natalie Grant called “When I Leave the Room” circulated on Facebook and caused mass bawling among mothers everywhere. (Really, it’s beautiful.) This song touched me as well because when I leave Elly’s room at night, there is no going back to check on her or stepping in to watch her sleep – the child can sleep through a hellacious thunderstorm but if you so much as crack her door open, she’s wide awake, screaming to be picked up. So when I leave her, it’s usually for the night, so I of course could certainly relate. But the last verse is when I lost my marbles. I can’t share the video or sound on here, but here’s the lyrics.

“When I Leave The Room”
Good night
Looks like we made it through the day
The moon sighs
And I know that we’re okay

Sleep tight
I love to watch you drift away
I would come with you but on my knees I’ll stay

Good night
Five little fingers holding mine
Take flight
Into your dreams and lullabies

There’s nothing more that I can do
But just fall more in love with you
And ask the angel armies to stand by
When I leave the room

I’m gonna fail you
I already have
Ten thousand times
I will fall down flat

You’ll have a seat in the front row
Of everything I don’t know
And all I’m trying to be
You’ll see

Good night
There will be storms that we come through
In time
We will slay dragons me and you

I’ll always wanna hold you tight
Keep you safe with all my might
So I will leave Jesus next to you
When I leave the room

And you will run ahead
As if you know the way
And I will pray more
Then one should have to pray

There will be words we can’t take back
Silences too
And I’ll be on my knees
You’ll see

One night
When I am old and unsteady
You’ll want me to fight
But I’ll tell you that I’m ready

When there’s nothing left to do
I will still be loving you
Then you’ll fold your fingers into mine
And I will let Jesus hold you tight
When I leave the room

So Happy Mother’s Day to ALL mommas, mommas past, and mommas yet to be. You’re all in my heart.

May the Fourth be with You

I have no real affinity for Star Wars, but I love that this title has become a little meme of its own in the last few years. And to make it even better, Jimmy Fallon did this:

Awesome.

So it’s May. FINALLY, it’s MAY. I’m sad I didn’t post in April, but I think that just goes to show the busyness (and maybe some of the laziness) that April saw. The weather could not make up its mind in April, thus neither could my body’s perception of whether or not it was time to be productive, so I partially blame that. Nonetheless, April saw many good things including Kentucky making it to the championship round of the NCAA (which NO ONE honestly thought could happen), Easter festivities, and lots and lots of family time. Again, my remorse for not posting about each individual item is palpable, but so it goes. And now it’s May.

I first must update those pondering – DAD IS DOING FANTASTIC. Seriously. It baffles and humbles me to look at him, laugh with and talk to him, see him relish time with his baby granddaughter, and watch his marked recovery every single day. Yes, he still has good days and bad days and yes, there is ALWAYS the possibility for setbacks and surprises, but for now, and especially after the scare we had at the end of March, he is doing phenomenally well. When Elly was born I kept telling people I didn’t know how to be thankful enough to God for such a miracle and the same is true with Dad. It’s unbelievable. Come what may, this journey with him has developed a faith in all of us that we never knew could exist. We see God in small, seemingly menial things now and are more consistently thankful. I know everyone does not get to experience such miracles, and for them, my heart truly breaks. But if any consolation can come, let it be that we don’t take any moment for granted and we know without any doubt who is the Giver of all things good.

Speaking of good, “times” for us now have been so comparatively good that it almost makes me a little uncomfortable, if that even makes sense. I sent a text to Amy the other day that said that I needed to be more disciplined with the activities of my days, that now that we’re not living in constant survival mode now that I’m having to learn how to do things differently. She responded, “have you forgotten how to breathe?”

Yep. Pretty much. I’ve (we’ve) spent the better part of 5 years now surviving some pretty difficult circumstances and basically holding our breaths waiting for the next blow. I wish I could tell you that I don’t fear the next blows anymore because of a rock-solid faith, but sometimes I do still catch myself wanting to hold my breath because we actually have gone a little stint of time now without any significant ‘blows’ (KNOCK ON WOOD.) I have to remind myself that if anything, worse case scenario, God got us through before, he’ll get us through again. The strength to even say that is growth for me, but I still have a lot of learning to fully trust, wholly depend on, and actually develop that rock-solid faith I long for. I’m pretty sure that takes a lifetime though, so I’m ok that I’m just making steps toward that goal. Even if they’re baby steps.

So I’ll leave you this fabulous fourth day of May with some pictures from April (to prove the month actually existed!)

IMG_6278

DSC_0012 DSC_0006

IMG_6457 IMG_6429 IMG_6503 IMG_6401

IMG_6598 IMG_6570 DSC_0170 DSC_0060 IMG_6632IMG_6655 DSC_0203 DSC_0219 DSC_0226 DSC_0253DSC_0261DSC_0313 DSC_0353 DSC_0352

 

 

Miracle

I’m long overdue making this post for several reasons, but mainly because there are no words. Nothing can describe the last two weeks in sufficient detail to honor what we witnessed. “Miracle” doesn’t do justice because that word is so loosely thrown around anymore, but it will have to do because the events of the last two weeks are the very essence of miraculous. 

Mom called almost exactly at 7am on Monday morning, January 6. There was an available liver and we had 3 hours to arrive at the hospital. Her tone was a little less excited than the previous time, but then again, we knew what we were up against this time. That, and there had been a “Polar Vortex” the night before and Glasgow was nicely coated in about an inch of snow with a thick sheet of ice glazing the top, so travel was a major concern this go-around. Soon after speaking with mom, I talked to Christy who was also less ‘excited,’ but we got our arrangements made and it was game on. (again.) In the 20 minutes or so before Sonny and his family arrived to get me, I think I packed and repacked my bag 17 times, all while wearing 46 layers of clothing in preparation for the temps of said “Polar Vortex.” In my hasty bag-packing-induced sweating, Michael asked if I was wearing so many layers because we were walking to Louisville instead of driving. His humor was not appreciated.

I was able to squeeze my baby and my husband good-bye this time, and when Sonny arrived, he ushered me out the door saying, “ok, this here is slick, but that up there is REALLY slick, so be careful. You know what – just crawl.” It was a mess. Thankfully in the morning planning, mom was savvy enough to realize there was no way she could travel in this weather and arranged for Sonny to do all the driving, so after getting me, we were off to mom and dad’s (also known as the land of the giant hills) to get them loaded up and head to Louisville.

As expected, the hills were terrible. Solid ice coated the roads and several times we all held our breaths just praying we’d make it up and down safely. We finally got to their house, got them loaded and since Sonny drove their vehicle, Christy took over driving me and the kids. I thought she might throw up before we could even get out of the driveway, she was so nervous. Shaking, we slowly headed out of the neighborhood and actually saw an accident that had just occurred and just had to wave at the poor people who were clearly not hurt, but who probably wondered why we didn’t at least stop to ask if we could help. We said a prayer for them and hoped they would understand what we had ahead of us.

Once we made it off county roads and on to main highways, the conditions improved and as Christy’s nausea subsided, we all breathed a little easier. Payne and Graycen were champs already, not having uttered a word while their mother navigated horrible roads. Bless their hearts.

The 110 minute trip seemed to take forever this time. Everyone had a sense of hesitancy about getting too excited after what happened last time, but we still were hopeful and figured if God got us to Louisville safely, then something good was bound to come of it this time. It had to.

Check-in was faster and we were led to a different part of the hospital this time – and then we saw this sign and it kinda hit us in the face.

20140106_120240

Dad was being placed to wait in the actual transplant center – like, he was among post-transplant patients. This was going to happen. We were more than hopeful, this was real. 

We waited much like we did the last time, not knowing much and still with a twinge of fear that we would be told to go home, but once that precarious 4pm came and went, we had a pretty good idea they weren’t holding dad just for the heck of it. And at 10pm, we got the word we were waiting for: surgery was scheduled for 7am. GAME ON!

So we could all get at least a shot at some rest, mom had made arrangements at a nearby hotel and everyone but her (she stayed with dad) headed over to “rest” for about 5 hours before we needed to be back at the hospital before his surgery. So the six of us piled into the room – Sonny, Christy and the kids took the beds while me and dad’s sister Lou bunked up on the pull out couch.

It was like being at camp. Lou and I chatted after we laid down and thanks to nerves, I got a case of the giggles. Then Payne talked in his sleep. ALL NIGHT. Between his bouts of talking was Sonny whisper-yelling, “Payne, lay down! Payne, turn around!” It was a circus and I don’t think any of us actually slept. But who could sleep anyway.

At 6am, we rolled into the hospital in sub-zero temperatures and began the waiting process prior to surgery. Not surprisingly, surgery was delayed until 9am, and after dad was taken to pre-op, we were sent to a freezing cold waiting room to hang out until we were called back to see dad before he went into surgery. The tension was thick.

Somehow, we struggled through the hour and half wait before we could kiss dad one last time with his old liver and we were finally sent back to see him. He was so calm, even before they had given him something to relax him. When the anesthesiologist said it was time, the emotional charge couldn’t be contained any longer and we all leaned in one at a time to hug and kiss him, not knowing what the future held. Dad hugged each of us as best he could while every cord and wire stuck out of him like some kind of frayed machine and told us all, “it’s going to be OK.” He told us it would be ok. The man is super-human. We wiped our tears, put on our brave faces, and headed out to wait.

20140107_091145

Since the waiting room we had previously been shown to was less than stellar to begin with and was even worse because of the lack of heat, Sonny and I scoped out a nicer (and empty) waiting area in the heart-lung center across the walkway from the main hospital. Mom arranged for the surgery nurse to call her cell phone directly with updates, so we thankfully could wait wherever we chose.

The first update didn’t come for 3 hours. We didn’t know why at the time (we would find out after surgery) but were told everything was going smoothly and that dad was doing great. Hallelujah.

I managed to find a somewhat comfortable position to sleep and rested for a while before the next update came saying that the old liver was out and that they were preparing the new one. Everything was still going well and dad was handling the surgery beautifully. The other updates followed suit, and at about  5:30, we were told they were wrapping up and to head back over to the main hospital to wait for the surgeon and then around 6:45, we got word that he was in ICU recovery!! It was over!!

Within the next 20 minutes or so, the surgeon appeared and began to tell us about the surgery. For some reason, it hit me that I should record it on my phone, even if I just got the sound because the likelihood of any of us remembering specifically what he said was slim, considering the condition we were in. I can’t post the video here, so I’ll summarize as best I can because the words he uttered were more wonderful than we ever – EVER – thought we would hear.

He started by explaining that the reason it took so long at the beginning of the surgery was that he had a bit of a time getting through the scar tissue and remnants of his gall bladder surgery last year and that he wanted to make sure everything was in perfect shape with all of that before he got to the actual transplant. He told us how wonderful the new liver was and that one of the ‘scariest’ parts of transplant surgeries is when they unclamp the new organ, whether it will start functioning or take awhile, etc., but when they unclamped dad’s liver, no problem. It “pinked-up” immediately and started producing bile and functioning beautifully. Hallelujah! He also couldn’t say enough about how well dad did during the surgery – with all of his previous issues a concern, nothing gave them trouble – his blood pressure was good through the whole thing, his heart was strong – he was a “perfect patient.” Again, hallelujah!

He then proceeded to tell us that now that the surgery had taken place, he could share with us just how special this liver is – that they had actually passed up a few liver offers waiting for the perfect one for dad.

Um, what?!

You could have knocked us all over with a feather at this point as our eyes welled with tears of thankfulness and joy that God had put our special man in the care of such fantastic doctors. That they had enough verve and confidence to wait for the perfect organ for dad absolutely floored us. That wasn’t just the doctors – that was GOD. 

As we wrapped up with the surgeon, the waiting area quickly turned into a hug-and-cry venue as we all just passed each other around and let all of the pent-up anxiety and fear rush out of our exhausted bodies, trying to absorb what we had just heard. Short of the hearing my baby’s first cry, this was the best moment of my life. And I think I speak for all of us. It was, after all, dad’s second birthday.

When we finally gathered ourselves, we headed up to the ICU waiting area where me, mom, Sonny and Lou would wait to go see him briefly. I was hesitant about this, but after the exhilaration of what had just happened, I was prepared and I wanted to see my daddy, the miracle man. Mom and Sonny went back first and came back smiling, so I wasn’t surprised when Lou and I went back to see that he looked fantastic. We all breathed a sigh of relief, even though what had just happened really hadn’t “sunk in” yet.

Everyone but me headed home as I stayed to go with mom to the hotel. It was kind of a comedy of errors between she and I as you can well imagine with the adrenaline starting to wear down a bit and the exhaustion taking over. But we made it and rested surprisingly well.

The next morning would greet us with dad in his usual post-anesthesia fog/agitation and that would ultimately set the tone for the next couple of days while they found the best way to manage his pain and accompanying post-surgery issues. While he was the perfect in-surgery patient, he kinda made up for that afterward as it seemed to become his mission to pull out anything that he wasn’t supposed to – like his ventilator tube, his drain tubes, and ultimately is A-line, (which mom and I quickly learned that if you want to get the attention of all the nurses in the immediate vicinity, tell them a patient has pulled their A-line out. Luckily, dad’s had already clotted.) Nonetheless, he was doing well and recovering as well as could be expected, and by Saturday – just 4 days after surgery – he was moved to the regular transplant floor to continue recovery. Again, we were ecstatic and so grateful. SO grateful.

20140111_110404

The next few days were relatively low-key and were met with more good news when on Tuesday – ONE WEEK since major TRANSPLANT surgery, remember – the main doctor uttered the words that he would be going home in the next day or two. WHAT?! And sure enough, Wednesday, January 15, Dad came home.

And here it is the 21st, almost a week after he got home, barely two weeks since he had surgery, and we’re all in still a bit of shock. After living in go-mode waiting for “the call” for a few months, it almost seems odd going to bed without your cell phone ringer on super-loud or not having to make sure your bag is still fully packed. It’s WONDERFUL.

Mom and dad are doing well and dad is getting stronger every day. Mom is managing things that baffle even the most sound nurses and is doing so like she’s been a professional nurse her whole life. It’s still a balancing act with the many medications, therapy, blood work, etc. but at least they’re getting to learn to balance all of that from the comfort of their own home.

Like I said before, I know words don’t even come close to describe what we have experienced. Sonny and I spoke in church on Sunday to update the church family on dad’s condition and other things on our hearts, and he said it best by saying that “the presence of God has been palpable through this whole experience.”

We knew getting a dad a new liver would help him get better. I don’t think any of us expected the revival it stirred in the rest of us.

Adios, 2013

As hard as I try, I can’t seem to shake the nostalgia of starting a new year. Reflection is almost automatic during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and I just can’t help myself when I start making a mental list of things I would like to do all year long. And, just like some 80% of those who make resolutions, I rarely can say – “Yes, I did _________ ALL year.” So, then I end up spending far too much time pondering whether my resolutions are worthy of trying to keep or even worthy of being written down (because that seems so permanent) and I just give up on the idea altogether. When failure is 80% likely, I’m not much of a fighter.

This year did seem a little different though. In all my time wrestling my mental list, I felt like 2014 deserved a fair welcoming because I was more than ready to kick 2013 out the door. I had been seeing a lot of posts about how people are replacing traditional resolutions with words or phrases that they hope to define their upcoming year. I was intrigued, but also a little overwhelmed at the thought of narrowing down one word to make the pinnacle of a whole year. And then it oddly seemed like everywhere I was looking was telling me not to fear, that this is the year of unafraid. To be fearless.

 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Well, good grief. If anyone is more controlled by fear than me, I would like to meet them. Far too much of my life (even childhood) has been driven by fear. I don’t know how, when, or where it originated, but almost every decision I’ve made has had some element of fear involved, often a much bigger role than necessary. So I knew, fearless was my word. And I was already scared of that.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Now before you start expecting me to jump out of a plane or shave my head or climb Mount Everest, that’s not quite where I’m headed with this goal. Being constantly afraid of the unknown and taking risks are two different things. My attempt looks more like not being afraid to let Elly explore her growing world, not being afraid of not having enough, and not being afraid of germs. (Gasp.) But I have a year to work on it, a year to maybe look back and say I’m not as afraid as I was during the last week of 2013 (because I battled some demons last week.)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 

I do have other goals – what perfectionist wouldn’t? But I do hope to give myself a little more grace and lean in to God a lot more as the unknown of 2014 opens up.

Humbled and Tired

Since Michael has this horrible habit of watching THE worst show on television (The Walking Dead) on Sunday nights (because what starts off your week better than growling, snarling zombies right before bed), I have decided that the best way to annoy him, and thus block out what’s occurring on the television, is to listen to good music from my computer and type annoyingly as I sit next to him on the sofa. It’s win-win.

So for those of you not following along on Facebook or otherwise, my dad has been moved to the top of the liver transplant list for his blood type. This is HUGE, obviously. We are so thankful that every day we’re getting closer and closer to healing for him and we continue to believe and hope for the best. However, in the meantime, the whole family has been turned into call-crazed, anxious phone-watchers as we wait for the call that a liver is on it’s way to Louisville so we can jump in the car and try to safely escape speed traps to get to Louisville ourselves. We have bags packed, miscellaneous arrangements made, and manically keep up the laundry and dishes as we wait. It’s kinda like waiting for a pregnant woman to go into labor, although this may actually be more accurately rushed than most people tend to make a laboring woman. Whatever the case, it’s becoming exhausting as we wait – and you know how I feel about waiting.

Alas, we are trying to make the best of it and my mom is championing this attempt as she continues to be the rock for all of us, calling us to the table to sit down together every Sunday we’re still waiting. Christy’s making flying trips to Atlanta with Payne and Graycen in tow just to spend a little time with her family for Thanksgiving festivities. (She literally made it back and forth in a day. Literally.) And I’m mainly just trying to stay afloat and totally held my breath while Michael was out of town last week, just knowing the call would come then leaving me with a baby and a dog to contend with (which would have completely messed up my plan.) We all have our strengths. Ha. But truthfully, this whole experience has been very humbling already. People are coming out of the woodwork to offer to help take care of our homes, our children, even our dogs. Mom and dad get random visits, cards, and messages that remind them that people are praying and keeping us in their thoughts. And as a family, we were prayed over at church today. I far too often fail to realize that waiting is an essential part of the journey. We need this time to gather our thoughts and summon the strengths of others. This time is a blessing – a time to let sink in just how loved and cared for we are and to never doubt that all of this is in the hands of a much greater power than our own. Without this time, we may not have the courage to face what’s coming or be the pillars we will need to be for dad. It’s beautiful and as we laughed as a family today, my heart swelled with joy. Joy in waiting. I never thought I would see the day. Humbling.

 

This is Day Five

Today’s the fifth day post-surgery. (I had my stony gallbladder removed for those of you late to the ballgame.)

Today’s the day that I feel well enough to be annoyed with a sinus headache, but not quite well enough to “forget” that I had surgery. (I keep expecting to wake up and not have ANY soreness or pain.)

Today’s the day that I take a shower I actually enjoy, wear real clothes (…ahem…glorified pajamas), fix my hair, and smear a little makeup on.

Today’s the day when the thankfulness that I survived the whole ordeal meets the realization of the mortifying experience that is surgery. (I think I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have seen far too much of my skin at this point.)

Speaking of mortifying, today’s the day when I realize I’m still not over the fact that they shaved my stomach. SHAVED MY STOMACH. What am I, a she-wolf? I’m also not over picturing the horrifying image of being on the table assumedly wearing ONLY the old-person socks with skids they give you in outpatient prep (because that gown is never on you the same way as it was before you went in. Think about it. Or don’t. It’s horrifying.)

Today’s the day where I am able to actually do more than just look at my precious baby girl – all while holding a pillow over my stomach to lessen the blows that tend to come from a flailing 1-year-old.

Today’s the day that everything I was formerly amazed had gotten done in the four days post-move prior to surgery seems minimal and mentally I begin to make lists of what boxes need to be unpacked and what needs decorating.

Today’s the day I’m thankful – INSANELY thankful – for my mother who has essentially stepped in as me while I can’t pick up Elly and who watched football with me while Elly napped. There’s no replacement for her.

Today’s the day I start questioning how I’ve spent my recovery thus far. Should I have attempted to watch all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Should I have written 17 blog posts? Should I have read all the books on my Kindle? I haven’t done any of those things.

But mostly, today’s the day where I fear the future – how I’m going to find “normal” again, how I’m going to be able to do everything on my own again, and how on EARTH I’m ever going to be able to thank all the people that have helped, prayed, cooked, and blessed us during this time.

It’s a big day.

Ok. Who Started It?

My precious friend Amy posted this on her Facebook page yesterday:

You know, I’m a bit tired of the mom blogs telling me to surrender my guilt and be proud of the fact that I’m doing the best I can.   Actually, these blogs make me feel worse because they illustrate the fact that mom’s feel guilty about not making cute and healthy bento box lunches, gourmet meals for dinner, Pinterest styled homemade crafts and organic baby food.   I’m perfectly happy with the type of mom I’ve become and excited to see how I grow in the future.   I’m not competing with other moms I’m just being the best one I can be.  So please, mom blogs, quit trying to make me feel guilty for not feeling guilty about all the things you say I shouldn’t feel guilty for.

Pretty profound, right?

I’ve attempted for a long time to give my two-cents worth about this whole social media-driven parenting fiasco that is currently undermining ALL parenting for some time now, but just about the time I get the words to make sense or find an actual point to make, I hesitate, wondering if I’m just going to be thrown into the same category or if I’m just saying the same things 10,000 other people have already said in one way or another, so I just don’t. But the truth of the above statement is so literal and pure that it makes me want to scream that we’re all under so much pressure to begin with. So really, who started this mess? Who is responsible for the first comparison?

Kelly at Kelly’s Korner wrote about comparison today. Ironic. Scathes of other bloggers and statuses are starting to echo the same thing – that we all need to just be the parents we are and live life. It sounds to me like we’re all just sick and tired of trying to out-do one another – but how did we get here? Who started this all-out war on who’s better than who?

So, here’s my two-cents, for all the two shiny pennies it’s worth.

I truthfully believe that parenting has been warped by social media, yes – BUT, I don’t think that parents have changed all that much – it’s just PUBLIC now. Maybe I’m looking for something to blame (social media being the culprit here) but haven’t parents ALWAYS wanted the best for their children? To have the best things, to be the best at this or that? The only difference now is that there is an instant-speed method of promoting such thoughts. Parents have always bragged on their kids (and criticized other parents, for that matter), but it was on the sidelines of ballgames or at the grocery store. People don’t even actually talk at those places anymore because they’re too busy updating their Facebook with what’s going on at the game or asking if they should buy a cereal because it has artificial flavorings. (This fact is quite sad, but that’s a whole other issue.)

Yes, I posted pictures of my daughter’s first birthday, not for someone else to look at and say, “Hmmmph, my kid’s birthday was better/worse than that, so I must be/not be a good parent…” I did if for my own memory and for those that wanted to know. I think that was the original intent of children’s/parenting social media posts from the beginning, but it’s insecurity that got us all. ALL of us. Because let’s face it, there’s no more insecure place on the planet than being a parent. (Something else they didn’t tell you in the hospital before they sent you home with a baby.)

My point is, like Amy said, just parent. Just be you and be the best you for your kids so they can grow up and be the best version of themselves too. And like Kelly said, STOP comparing. If we’re constantly looking at the way others are parenting, that probably means we’re missing something our own kids are doing, so let’s not do that.

Lightning Faith

I wish I could say that the truth behind this title is that I have faith like lightning – strong, bright, powerful – but unfortunately I’m referring to the speed of lightning which is the best description for how quickly I lose (or abandon) my faith when times get tough, even just a little bit. It’s gone in a flash. Quick like lightning.

Case in point: Elly was up at 4:30am this morning, pretty much for good since she didn’t really go back to sleep until I got up at 5:30 and rocked her for a good hour and she may have dozed on and off for another 30-45 minutes or so until Michael was up getting ready for work and Dozer found something he absolutely had to howl about. Within that time, my mind went from being worried and lovingly concerned about whatever was plaguing Elly preventing her from sleeping to frustration and fear of what the day would be like after such a start to the morning. I was in a full blown meltdown by the time I took her downstairs for breakfast, vowing how much I hate Saturdays and how this one would be just as awful as many others.

Michael works Saturdays. EVERY Saturday. And a regular 5-day work week. So by the time Saturday rolls around, I’m pretty spent and would much rather be able to spend it with my family, like normal people, not having to treat it like another Monday or Wednesday. It just sucks and I hope that changes soon. And this week, because Memorial Day weekend is a huge weekend in the car business, he will be working Sunday too. Lovely, right? With my regular angst for Saturdays already in full swing, plus the way this day had started, I felt entitled to a meltdown, claiming that things must have just been going too well for my “normal” week to continue. I was mad. Mad at the circumstances, mad at myself for allowing my thoughts to control me, mad that yet again, I ultimately flung my faith out the window at the slightest bit of difficulty.

SO. WEAK.

For justification’s sake, I would like to think that this morning’s meltdown was a result of several troubling events/issues this week that I just ‘pushed through’ and that this morning was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. And while I’m sure that’s partially true, to me, it’s a rather puny excuse for immediately jumping to the worst possible scenario – that today was just following suit as a horrible Saturday where Michael wouldn’t get home until after 10pm, that Elly wouldn’t nap AT ALL, that I wouldn’t be able to get anything done, and that the world might in fact end as a result of all these things and I just couldn’t handle it. Defeated before I even give anything a chance. Shameful.

I’m constantly wrestling with this internal back-and-forth, willing myself to allow God to strengthen me, even in the small things, but I still fail too often. I’m hoping all these failures will eventually teach me something or grow me in some way and that the time lapse for me to stay calm will somehow lengthen.

My college roommate sent this to me a couple of weeks ago, and it’s all too appropriate for us, and I’m sure if I were ever a superhero, this would be my identity:

anxiety-girl-header2

Except my costume would have a giant lightning bolt on the front. More appropriate.