Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hometown Dairy Queen

We live in a suburb of Chicago.  It is a relatively small town, where most everyone knows everyone else.   Except for the ten years we lived in Texas, I have been here my whole life.   My parents have been in the same house for 31 years.   Many families have been here that long or longer.

One of the rites of passage of summer is going to Dairy Queen or "DQ" as we refer to it.   For as long as I can remember it has been a gathering spot.  When I first moved back, I had run into so many old friends there picking up a cone or dilly bar.   It is one of the perks of being in a small town.  Families gather and share ice cream.  Sports teams go there after games and practices.  It is an institution in the community.  I grew up meeting friends there for DQ.

Tonight, we had dinner then went to mom and dad's so that Munchkin could play with Nana's new puppy--which is an entirely different post.

When we got in the car, he asked to go to DQ.  I acquiesced   Well, while I am used to running into my friends there, I was totally unprepared for my social butterfly to start running into his buddies!  But there they were no less than 4 boys he knows either from school or TaeKwonDo.  

While I visited with the other parents, he visited with his friends.  All was right in the world.  Well, until one of the little boys asked me if Munchkin's daddy really died.  I thought the mother was going to collapse.  I said that yes he did, and the little boy did not believe me.

Now, I have gotten used to the idiocy of grownups in asking dumb questions, but the realization that my son would have one of his friends doubt something that he says.  That hurt.  It made my heart hurt for him.   I know that he doesn't completely grasp things yet, but he will.   One day, he will realize exactly what it means that someone he calls a friend would think that he would make up a story about his dad being dead.

While I know that it  is no reflection on us whatsoever, and I know that this other little boy is likely lucky enough to have no reference point of death in his life, so hearing that someone else lost something as central to his life as a father has to seem incredulous to him, I am not sure that my son will have that same level of understanding when he starts to "get" it.

The mother was profusely apologetic.  At this point my Munchkin was conversing with one of his TaeKwonDo buddies.  She apologized again and her son asked me if he really did die.  The mom and I exchanged a look, I bent down and told him that yes, Munchkin's daddy did die and that sometimes that happens.

The mother thanked me for being so kind and apologized again.  I told her that it was OK  and that her son probably has never known anyone who died so it is a foreign concept to her.  She told me that was true and then again commended me for my composure and kindness.   Really, I was just showing her child the compassion that I would like others to show to mine.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Campout-Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.
this is hosted by www.lavenderluz.com and is a monthly blog hop! 

Well Munchkin is officially a Tiger Cub Scout.  He could not be happier.  We went on the first campout a week ago.  It was at a camp ground that I used to frequent with the Girl Scouts many, many years ago. We talked about safety, we talked about protecting the environment, we talked about camp fires and everything else.  All week we prepared mentally for this.

One of the days driving home from school he asked me "Was Daddy a Boy Scout like my uncles?"  My breath caught in my chest.
"No Munchkin, he was not, he actually never had the opportunity"
"But why not Momma?"

How do you explain to a kiddo that by the time his Daddy was born, his parents were of their own admission "tired"  that his uncles are the age of MY parents.   All of these things ran through my head.

"well, because there wasn't a troop at his school or church" While that is only partly true, it was enough for him.

We went on with our preparations.   The morning before we left, I was declared the "Most Fabulous, to the moon and back AWESOME MOMMY, because you are taking me camping mom"  His words, not mine!   The weather was perfect, his asthma was in a very rare state of control.  We had the limited amount of gear we needed and we started packing up the car.   I had given him a list of what to bring-none of which included anything with an on/off switch and he did not care one bit!  There was no fussing, no arguing and no nothing.  He didn't even ask me if I was bringing my iPad!  

I spoke with my brother and made sure I wasn't leaving out anything essential-he nicely suggested some extra water for all of us!

 On Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the campsite.  He helped me unload the car and pitch our tent.  He had a fantastic time exploring with the boys and making new friends.  He was one of the first to volunteer when help was needed and was generally happy and cheerful the entire time.  I got to spend some time with my brother and uncle and the kids ran around happy as could be.   My Munchkin spent the better part of the weekend climbing trees.  The smile on his face was PRICELESS!

On a hike, he learned about different plants-what to touch and what not to touch and why.  He tried his hand at geo-caching and learned how to read a GPS.   After the campfire, most of the moms left-no sleeping in tents for them.  Munchkin was asleep in 5 seconds flat after he got in the tent.   I lay there and just gave thanks for the time we have together.  I am so happy that he enjoyed himself so much, there may be some family camping in our future!

Because, really, there is not much better than spending time in nature with the people you love.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Health Forms and a sucker punch

Sometimes out of nowhere, things can still just reach up and slap you.

I had to fill out health forms for both of us for Munchkin to attend day camp.  On his form, I had to fill in his father's name.   I did and then I put deceased.  It is how I fill it out.  I can't bring myself to leave that form blank.  It feels wrong and it hurts.  My hand hovers over the page and the tears filled my eyes.   I took a deep breath and a wrote the word.  "DECEASED" in my neat half printed/half cursive handwriting. 

My breath catches in my chest every time I have to do that.  Munchkin has three different camps which means I likely have to do this two more times.  It isn't the form that hurts so much, but it is the reminder that Robert is dead.  That Munchkin doesn't have a living dad and that I am doing this all on my own.   It is the knowledge that there will be a question from someone in charge, that is generally accompanied by the "pity face"

You know the one that looks at you like you are a wilting flower that needs to be saved. Or maybe it is just me that feels this way? I don't know. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Spotlight

Have you ever been in a room full of people and you look around and realize that you don't belong?  That for some strange reason, you are in a room full of strangers who have nothing in common with you?  It is a very isolating feeling.  

That is exactly what happened earlier this week.   Munchkin is old enough for Cub Scouts.  He is over the moon excited for this.  He has been looking forward to it since his older cousin started a year ago.  
This week was his first pack meeting.  It was crowded and loud and he made friends and had a ton of fun! He was laughing and playing and following directions.  I could not have had a happier boy on my hands.  

I on the other hand, I sat in my seat and looked around at all of the families.  I felt like there was a HUGE SPOTLIGHT on me.  Like I stood out as a sore thumb. 

Over there-yep, she is the one without a husband.  Look at her here all alone.  

I know that it is only in my brain and no one certainly did anything to make me feel this way, it is just how I feel when we go into a situation that is surrounded by families.  For some reason, I thought being in a pack with my brother and uncle would make it less so-perhaps it will over time, but it did not help this week.  I came home and I cried.  The bitter painful tears of a broken heart.  I cried for me and I cried for Robert.   See, he didn't get to do scouting.   His dad did it with his older brothers but he was never afforded the opportunity.  He never actually camped ever.  I am from a scouting family.  We are all scouts and all camp and do things and volunteer.  It is how we were raised.   Robert was so looking forward to doing scouting with his son and us as a family.  Perhaps that is really why it is so painful for me to do alone.  This was one of those preconceived family things that I am now doing by myself.  NOT FAIR! 

I also know that it isn't fair for me to hole us up indoors alone, so we go out and do things.  We join scouts, we do family activities at school.  We show up and we do.  I know that our family is not unique.  I get that.  I know there are plenty of widowed moms and dads in the world.  Just wish there was one or two kindred spirits in our circles.  Then I feel horrible for wishing that, because I would not want ANYONE to go through this heartache and pain.  I actually wish that this didn't happen in the world.  You know, you get married, you have your family, your live happily ever after and no one dies, and no one has pain and heartache and grief.  Unfortunately, the world is not full of puppies and rainbows and vanilla scented unicorn farts! It is messy and hard and painful, but it is worth it.   

This weekend is the family camp out.  We are packed and ready to go.   My brother will be staying with his son, his wife will be at home with their daughter.   From what I understand, most families will be "half" families.   This knowledge doesn't help me feel less lonely.  For some reason it makes it more so.   

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From the Bad to the FANTASTIC!

My day didn't start off well at all.  Nope, not even close.

Started with walking into work and someone making the comment, that they emailed me and I didn't answer.   (Here's the thing, I don't check email while I am driving, not gonna happen, there is nothing that could happen at work that is so important that I would risk losing my life for!) Sure enough, he did, in the middle of my commute...I blew it off and moved on with the day.

I had my son apply for a scholarship for one of his summer camps, I asked him to put it in his backpack and turn it in at school.   Where do I find it?  You guessed it, in MY backpack! UGGHHH!

Work was chaotic, and trust me that is putting it nicely, I spent my entire day putting out fires and dealing with crap.  Literally when I was about to lose my cool I took a deep breath and walked up and down five flights of stairs and said a prayer that my day would get better. I got back to my desk and  I had an email.

See here is the thing.  I know all too well that things change in an instant.  Literally in the blink of an eye.  I am just used to that blink making things bad, not good.   It made me totally unprepared for the rest of my day!

It was from Munchkin's teacher telling me how much she enjoys him and how hard he has been working.  That he is always respectful and is such a joy.  Ah, a sigh of relief something went right!

Then my mom called, she was looking to buy a purse from me (if you are interested the link to order is www.gigihillbags.com/beckylichucki no pressure, but take a look :) ) Nice!

Then I picked up munchkin, he was all excited about TaeKwonDo and when we got there, his new leadership uniform was in as well as his board to break!  He was on cloud nine and really, that is enough to totally make my day!

When I got home to check my mail, I had a card.   A no reason card!  Those are the best!  My best friend and I have been best friends for three decades (sounds better than 30 years, because you know, I am not really in to thinking about how old I am!)   We have been through EVERYTHING together.  She is AMAZING and loves me for me.  I am serious, she is really the best friend that anyone could ever ask for.  I could not even begin to explain what I would do without her, because I have not contemplated that-ever. She is my rock.

And what was the inside of the card you ask?

"I just wanted to tell you I am SO grateful for everything you do for me and the love you show me.  You are my best friend and a wonderful person, and I thought you needed to know it!"

I am so grateful to have such a great friend in my life!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

What a day.  My mothers day started yesterday actually.  Munchkin and my mom and dad and brother planted flowers in my flower beds.   My sister and her husband gave me a massage certificate.   Munchkin made his uncle take him to pick out flowers for me.  I am a simple girl, flowers and handmade cards are the way to my heart!

Munchkin made me a heart that he wrote I Love you on all by himself. 

Today we started at mass and had a fantastic day.   Dad cooked breakfast, my sister hosted dinner.  In the middle we got a great deal of yard work done.  I am very lucky.  I know that. 

 For YEARS and YEARS I yearned to be a mother.   I used to cry and pray and wish. And it happened, when we least expected it,  it happened. We became parents.  Wholehearted bliss.  I cannot begin to describe the sheer joy that I felt on Mother's Day 2007.  Munchkin was barely two weeks old.  Robert went to the jeweler and got me a necklace with one diamond, and one emerald.  Mine and Munchkin's birthstones.  It was such a special day.  It was the only one with the three of us together.  Robert is the only one who knows exactly what we went through for all of those years.  

I know there are people out there that are not that lucky.  People trying to have kids or grow their family via adoption.  People who have lost children. People that have lost their mothers.   My brother in law lost his mom about a month ago.  He spent the weekend with his dad and sisters.   I know it is hard on him. 

My point is that while I had a blissful day today,   I do know that the occasion can be a bitter pill, I know it was for me for many years.   So today, I snuggled with my growing boy and watched river monsters at the end of the day and I took a deep breath and I thank God for the chance to be a Mother and be able to spend time with my family.   And I hope that all those out there that are feeling things other than joy today find some peace and hope and comfort.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Late Night TV

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only widowed person, or simply the only person that finds those lawyer ads that are on late night offensive. 

The ones that tell you that kids without dads are destined to be horrible failures addicted to drugs and in jail.  Right, because we don't have enough to worry about.

These ads bring forth so many emotions for me.  Anger that men would willingly choose to walk away from their children.   Solace in the fact that some of them should walk away because they are not good for their children in so many ways! 

I know in my heart that Robert was a great father.  He was amazing and literally waited his entire life to be a father.  

He is not the person these ads refer to.  He would never have left us of our own choice.  He would be here still if he could.  

I know that I do the best I can in raising munchkin and I have a fantastic support system around us. 

Even though it feels as if the ads are yelling at me singling me out, I need to shut off the tv, tune out the negativity and rest in the solace that we are just fine! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

News or no news?

In our house, we have a pretty strict media/tv blackout.   The tv that he does watch is premeditated and time limited.   Cartoons, Animal Planet and History Channel are fair game.  I watch the news, usually in my bedroom at the start and end of the day.   I watch a great amount of mindless TV as well.  

But here is the thing, I really don't let him watch the news.  I never have.  However we do read the newspaper, and since he can read in the past few months we have been confronted with movie theater shootings and the tragedy at Sandy Hook.   The have been so many things that have happened in the news lately that I have used it as an opportunity to talk about the world around us.   

Yesterday I had a conversation with another parent.  We discussed what we let our kids watch on tv.  My take on network news is that it is sensationalized and tends to focus on the horrible things that happen in the world.   I know that there is evil.  I know that bad things happen.   I am just not sure that a six year old needs to see it.   I don't want him to see all of the bad things around us all the time without learning about some of the really great things that happen in our world. 

Then at a break at a work conference I caught that the verdict was in on the Jodi Arias trial.  People were cheering and acting like their sports team won a major series.   I kid you not.  I don't think it is great that someone is guilty of murder.  The judicial finding of guilt won't change the fact that a family lost a loved one to murder.  Nope, not one bit...it won't make them sleep better at night and for the most part, those that were cheering have probably never been touched by tragedy.  

I find the tv coverage laughable at best and disenchanting in the least.   I also found it ironic that this conversation had taken place this morning and I was instantly grateful that Munchkin won't be exposed to this three ring circus on the news for weeks to come.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday

Ok a little late but better than never right?

We have had so many simple moments, I honestly don't know where to start.

Munchkin is growing up so quickly. The other night, we were playing in the yard. I love to take pictures, well now I do anyway...it was one of the duties I picked up when Robert died, He took pictures of us every month, documenting Munchkins growth and changes. For several months it didn't hit me that wasn't doing that. The I realized my camera was broken and got a new one and started snapping.

While he was running around the yard squirting dandelions with his new squirt gun, I went inside and grabbed my camera. I was able to capture his joy at playing with his squirt gun int he beautiful light of dusk. He was laughing and I was looking at him through my lens letting him run wild while I snapped away.

I soaked it up. He was being a ham, flashing his big smile and gorgeous blue eyes and my heart was full of contentment to be able to share this time with him.

Sometimes for me or is the simplicity of life without drama or sadness that really recharges my soul!

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turning 6

Munchkin turned six last week. I can't believe that time has flown by so quickly, He is an amazing young man and I love being his mommy. Really I do, I wouldn't trade it for anything...I will take all of it, the messiness, illness, challenges...I soak it in. I soak up his sassy mouth and his (my) sarcastic sense of humor. At times when I want to scream, I take a breath and remember everything is a phase....including his vocabulary.

Sometimes though, I can't help remembering the fact that Robert was cheated out of celebrating any of Munchkin's birthdays with us, It makes me ill to remember the fact that Robert never got the opportunity to select one birthday theme, present, streamer or birthday hug. It breaks my heart to know that Munchkin won't have memories of his daddy on his birthday.

This year he wanted a basketball hoop-perfect daddy son activity right???? I know we are lucky and I thank God everyday. A few weeks ago, I alerted my sister and her husband that this was the birthday wish. They are expensive so I asked grandparents to kick in cash and Heather and Tom are covering the vast bulk of the cost and Tom will install it and he will play with him. I know that there are other families who are not nearly as lucky as we are to have people to step up...and my family has stepped up HUGE for us. I really am grateful, really I am. I just wish that they didn't have to.