Friday, August 30, 2013

Looking for Steady Ground

In a marriage, you have two people. Like a table there are four legs on the ground.  If one leg gets a little wobbly or looses its footing temporarily, there are three other legs to shoulder the load and an extra set of hands to help rearrange that 4 legged table into a three legged table.   That extra set of hands helps make sure that nothing important gets left by the wayside and that the load is balanced so that the table can keep on functioning like a table should.  

I miss my four legged table with an extra set of hands....a two legged table is more like an unsteady stack of Lincoln logs....take away one of the little bitty stacking pieces on one side-even for a minute and it is wobbly and threatens to topple.  Even if it doesn't topple, the load is unbalanced, messy and precariously perched.   You know, when everything goes nuts all at once, and you are standing there like, whoa, wait just a minute here, I am just one person being pulled in a million directions!

Dare I say that I am used to the unbalanced feeling of being stretched too thin? What I really miss is that other grown up in the house.  The one who would help me do everything and would tell me that everything will be ok.   Even something as simple as getting the dishes done or running to the grocery store could be handled with a divide and conquer approach which ultimately made us stronger.  Grocery store, check, laundry, check, dinner, check, clean house, check, homework, check, work done, check....and on and on.   When one of us was overloaded in some area, the other picked up the slack.   No, there is no one to pick up slack and some stuff falls aside.  

Even though my little Lincoln log tower is trusty and proven, I don't have all the answers.  I am constantly second guessing whether I am good enough, whether I am making the right choices.  I worry about being an only parent.  I worry about the stuff that gets left to the wayside.  

I know wishing to have a four legged table back is useless, so I will just have to find a way to work with what I do have....perhaps I can turn my Lincoln log tower into a cool bridge??? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Letter to Teachers

At this time of year there are tons of letters to parents floating around the internet, asking us to be involved with our kids and back up  the teachers.  DUH.   We do these things.   I know many families don't or simply can't, but there are plenty of families that do.  

Do today I would like to share a letter to the teachers:

Dear Teacher,
I know that you don't know us and you have thirty families to deal with this year, but I wanted to just take a few minutes of your time. 

I appreciate all that you do as a teacher, I know that being in teaching for many years is not easy and it is a service of the heart.  I commend you for that.  I believe that God pick teachers and that teaching is a calling.  

I thought you would like to know a little about us.   My munchkin is 6 but in some ways he is much older.   My wish for him is to have fun learning.   I know that is a tall task for you with 30 kids that have likely 30 different levels of abilities, but really please remember that.

I promise you that I will help to keep him responsible for following all of the rules and using his manners. I promise that we will do our reading, and when he comes to school talking about the books we have read at home, please listen. I want him to be happy at school and not to be bored.   I know it takes a lot of your energy to keep everyone engaged.  

See he is my baby, my one and only, forever.   I take extra care of him and I hope you will too! 
Oh, and when you ask them to draw pictures of their family, please don't be shocked.  He sometimes will draw a smiling sideways head in the sky.  Sometimes he doesn't and that is ok too, but when he does, that is his dad.  He died in a car accident several years ago and thanks to books, Munchkin thinks heaven is in the clouds.   He may also draw a gaggle of people.  That is our family.  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and grandparents.   We are very blessed to have so many so close to us.  

When you ask him what his wish is for at New Years, please don't be shocked when he says a new daddy.   I am fine if he wishes for that.  I tell him that if God decides that he is supposed to have a new daddy then he will.   He knows his daddy can't come back from heaven even if he wished for it.  He knows death is permanent.   See that is why I say he is older in so many ways. 

Please remember, that I am not your enemy, I don't do things to make your classroom difficult.  I know that it is only by working together as a team that my Munchkin will be able to excel in all of his abilities.

Lastly, I wish that you have a fantastic year with all of your new kids and that they teach you as much as you teach them!

Munchkin's Mommy

Email reminders

Nearly a decade ago, I bought us tickets to the Houston Symphony as a gift for Robert.   We had a high school friend that had just earned a chair and it was Christmas. We went.  We had a fantastic time. 

Yesterday, in my email, I received an email from the Houston Symphony. 

Dear Robert, yadda yadda yadda....

Seriously.  It was a slap.  I mean once I cracked his email password, I stopped checking it.   Really it was too painful to look at all of the stuff that was being sent to him.  At this point in time it is extremely rare to get email addressed to him in my email account.   I unsubscribed from it all years ago...yet here we are.

Six and a half years later...approaching his birthday and looking at another email. 

I simply hit delete because there is no value in looking at some reminders.  It was a one time event in our marriage....there was millions of one time events.  What is most important are the memories that define us and define me.   I choose to focus on the ones that bring me a smile. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hello to a new year

Robert was a teacher, so in our marriage, I got to do "first day" many times.  It was a ton of pomp and circumstance and hoopla to get the kids excited, but there was also a ton of prayer.

Robert used to pray for his students and for God to use him to teach them.   He did this silently and without fail.  It was just a part of him.   Now I KNOW how much his students meant to him and how much he meant to them.  He was a beloved and favored teacher. 

I know how much he longed to send our child off to school, so for me, the fact that Munchkin started first grade today, simply marks another milestone that we didn't get to share.

Munchkin was full of anticipation last night--dare I say almost apprehension?  He was not really looking forward to a new year.  We had a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and apple slices.   He helped pack his lunch and snack and then confided that he hopes he gets to do fun stuff this year.  I told him I KNOW he will get to do fun stuff and off to school we went. 

He could not be more independent if he tried.  He put his backpack in line and ran off to play with some of his friends.  He spent the playground time upside down and I only managed to get one quick photo of the two of us...the rest of them, well he is upside down on the monkey bars.  I figure that when he is thirty I can tell the story of him refusing the obligatory stand in front of the door photo in favor of a few more minutes of fun....and the fact that he mommy let him have the fun and snapped pictures of that.  

So I pray.  I pray that his teacher is a perfect match for us.  That she falls in love with him as only a teacher can.  That she nurtures his curiosity and his love of reading.  That she challenges him.  
I pray all of these things, but I mostly pray for him to have fun and stay safe--He is after all only 6 and 6 year olds are supposed to have fun. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


A week or so ago I was doing a training to be able to be a Cub Scout leader.  After the training, there was a form you have to fill out your current volunteer experience with children.

Wow, I could think of nothing that I currently do.  NOTHING.  NADA.
After Robert died, I was so wrapped up in us that I dropped EVERYTHING.  I needed all my energy to survive.   I needed what little stamina I had for my child.  I needed to work to financially support us, I needed to give him a routine and stability and I needed to heal myself.   I did these things.  I took time for me...often times it was because my mother or sister was lovingly nudging me to do so, but I did it nonetheless. 

Between teething, midnight feedings, working full time, stressing about daycare and preschool, I used up every bit of the energy and stamina that I had.  Every last drop.  That meant that I didn't volunteer for ANYTHING.  No car club, no church groups, no nothing.  Ok not entirely true, I do volunteer for a GFWC club with my mom and sister but that is it. 

I spent three or four days feeling pretty crummy about this lack of volunteerism.  I mean I haven't done anything to help other people.  Wow.   After reflecting, I decided not to feel badly.  I mean, at the time, the tragedy was so life shattering I literally needed every bit of strength to get out of bed.   I swear I walked around with constant tears.  I was in shock, I was in a fog.  I could not function.   Those were very, very dark times.   I didn't have any energy to give.  

I realized something.  My Munchkin was like 18 months old.   I didn't have anything that I needed to volunteer for.   No scouting, no PTA, no doing stuff for sports.   I did what I needed to do.   Now that he is older I AM volunteering. I have made the choice to show up and be there with my child.   I am grateful that I have a choice. 

Now, I have stepped in very, very slowly.  I help out at Taekwondo when they need parent volunteers.  I have joined scouting with him, mainly because it is fun, and mostly because I want to do it with him and I have agreed to do a few things with PTA.  Mostly one time activities.  But I am doing it.  I am doing what five years ago was not possible, and often times inconceivable. 

I still pray that I have the stamina to do these few things and to other parents reading this, it may not seem like much,  in fact it isn't much, but it is all I have to give and that is what is important.  That I am choosing to give my time to serve my family and to spend time with my child.   And that HAS to be ENOUGH. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Last of summer

It seems like we are in a rush to squeeze in every last bit of summer that we can. 

This weekend, we literally had 4 parties in 72 hours.  Tons of time with family and friends. 
We spent three hours at a park yesterday when I was done working.   Then another few hours outside riding bikes and general frolicking. 

Now that the pool is on very limited hours

Our basketball hoop installation is complete.  Munchkin made a basket on his first shot!  Today's agenda includes pool time, Taekwondo practice and quite possibly a bonfire tonight. 

This summer has been awesome.   A far cry from what I was expecting.   See this post HERE

In short we have spent tons of time together and other than one quick business trip, we have been together every day.  We have been to the beach more than I can count and done some pretty amazing things.

Most amazingly I think is that this summer turned out to be nothing like I dreaded.  

As I sit here and reflect on all we were able to do, I am feeling so very blessed and so very lucky.
See once again, God has come through in our lives proving to me over and over that if I just give my worries to Him, then they work out.  Everyday I am thankful for all that He has given us and all of the blessing he has put on my journey.  

I have been given the gift of time, the gift of health (hey we only had three pediatrician visits all summer---that has to be a new record!).   I am grateful.

We have had time to spend with family and time to be alone as our family unit.   I cannot express my gratitude for these simple pleasures.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Library and Legos

Our library does a pretty large summer program.   Each kid gets to read and complete their reading log.   Once they do the main part where everyone gets prizes (children's museum tickets, Midevil times tickets, toys, games, books) they can enter for the bonus prizes.  

This year, one of the prizes was a HUGE lego castle.  The ones that cost WAY too much at the store to even consider buying.   He saw it and he HAD to have it.   Last year, we had a major disappointment when he didn't win a raffle prize, so I again explained to him, that he was going to enter to have a chance to win.  

He decided that every bonus ticket that he earned would go into the drawing for this one prize.   We went to the library at least three times a week and he went at least once more with the baby sitter.   He was laser focused on earning bonus tickets and getting this castle. 

Last Saturday we were out to lunch with my Dad and Brother and the library called.  Munchkin won the CASTLE!  He  literally started cheering. 

He then explained to us, that "statistically the odds were in his favor since he earned 52 tickets with all of his library trips and put them all in the same box"

I literally about fell off of my chair laughing. 

Today he got to pick it up, and he got his photo taken for the newspaper.   He was so excited about the picture that he got up early and did his hair himself.   When we got there and he got the prize, it was nearly as big as him.  He could barely hold the box for the picture, but he did and he had the biggest grin on his face.  It was priceless. 

I cannot express how proud I am of all of the hard work that he has done in reading this summer.   He has read so much and I hope that he can continue to keep on reading and loving it as much as I do!!! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taking a Pass

As Munchkin's only parent, there is not much I get to take a pass at.   I'm the one who makes him eat his veggies, puts him in time out, stays up with him when he is sick, does homework with him.   I'm the one who talks to him when his feelings get hurt or when things don't go his way.   I am his only protector.  

Th entirety of the life of a single parent is too much for most people to fathom.  Being the only grown up in a house is beyond exhausting.   But I live it every day.   I rarely, very rarely take a pass at anything.   There have been occasions where my sister or mom has pushed me out the door while they babysat with clear instruction to go have fun.   That is about the extent of it.   

I do have a line in the sand.  When he had a spider bite and needed wound packing, I held him, mom did it.   We all cried.... 

When he pulled the skin glue off the gash in his forehead....I couldn't bear to mess with the cut....we went back to the pediatrician and he did it.   I took a pass on those, not because they are gross but because I can't bear to see Munchkin hurt, and having me cause any of the hurt is inconceivable. 

He has had some warts on the bottom of his foot.  I have been treating them with the OTC crap for weeks to no avail.   Today we had a dr appointment for his asthma and I called and asked if we could kill two birds with one stone (copay).   The dr did his thing, froze and removed them.   Then I showed him where he had one by the nail that had fallen off but still looked funny.   He said that I just needed to pull the last piece out.   I laughed and responded, "go ahead".  Literally those were the words that came out of my mouth.   Sometimes I'm so flippant I shock myself.   But, that's my line.   In pulling that last little bit out, it was going to hurt munchkin and I was not about to do that.   The doctor looked at me, chuckled and did it. He remembered our last conversation about this.   

 I am Munchkin's mom.   It is just us.  I have a line.   I have pulled out splinters, applied bactine and peroxide to scrapes, I have even pulled out ticks and stingers.   I will do what I have to do, but given the choice, I will let the doctor hurt him for a second and I will hug him and let him squeeze my hand.   

So today I had the rare occasion to take a pass and I did.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sometimes the tears still sting

I heard a song tonight that I haven't heard in a long time.   It belongs in another chapter of my life,   At first I didn't recognize the actual song, I did however recognize the memory.   I was transported back to my living room back in Texas.   Robert and I used to dance and sing for no reason and for no occasion other than we were in love.  We had fun.  We were silly, we were goofy and we were in love.  We were so in love, there really aren't words to quantify the emotions. 

"Tell you a story, happened long time ago..." 
"Little bitty pretty one, I've been watching you grow!"


For a split second I closed my eyes and I could feel him.  Feel his cheek on mine, his hand on the small of my back and his other hand entwined in mine.  I could feel his breath on my neck as we sang together.   I could feel the vibration of the music and see the puppies dancing around our feet.   For a brief instant the memory was so vivid it was almost tangible.  I could smell him, hear his laugh.  I could feel him.  Then I opened my eyes and it was gone.   In a split second I snapped back to reality.   The world is now without Robert. 

So here I sit tonight remembering, listening to some of our songs.   The songs that were so integral to our marriage, to our life.   Songs that will forever be associated with US.

I sit here alone and the tears are barely held back.  Just barely.  They are hot stinging tears...every so often, one slips silently down my cheek and when Robert isn't here to wipe it away, it hits again and again that he is gone.  He is not here to hold me, to put his hand at the base of my neck and use his thumb to wipe my tears.  He isn't here to tell me he loves me.     I miss the comfort of his love and protection.   I miss the fun  we used to have.   

All I have is my memories, so I will sit with those awhile and know that tomorrow is a new day, and perhaps tomorrow's memory will bring a smile instead of a tear.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Not Ready for School

I have a secret...I am really NOT ready for school to start. 

Not ready to send Munchkin on to first grade, not ready for homework.
Not ready to be making lunches everyday.
Not ready to meet a new teacher-for either of us!
Not ready to share my Munchkin again.

This summer has been pretty awesome.  Tons of time with family and at the pool and beach, but also tons of time just together.  Reading, exploring, playing.  We have had squirt gun fights, water balloon fights, endless games of tag. 

We have laughed A LOT!  He has gotten to enjoy a ton of camps and then come home and excitedly shared his day with me.  It has been magical. 

I am not ready for it to end at ALL!  I enjoy having him home with me and I enjoy our time. 

But in all honesty, what I am really not ready for is to explain us again.  Countless times.  I am not ready for a whole new set of people to have to ask where Robert is, then give me that pity look when I say he is dead.  I honestly don't know why the pity look bothers me. It is far better for a stranger to show emotion than to be indifferent.  I am not ready for a new teacher to ask Munchkin to draw a picture of his family and then call me up when it looks "weird".   Yes it is normal for us to have all his aunts and uncles, Nana and Papa in the picture....and yes the floating head in the clouds that he labels Daddy---well he has done that since he was 2.   His understanding of Heaven is that it is in the clouds-so there Daddy is drawn.  And I am not ready for the seasoned teacher to tell me that she has only ever had a handful of kids who have lost a parent to death.  Ever.  In her whole career. 

I am NOT READY for these conversations.  

But at the end of the day, I am the grown-up.  The only one in our house and since I sincerely want Munchkin to enjoy school, I will suck it up.  I will look to all of the new things he gets to do this year and I will get excited with him.  We will go shopping for school supplies and we will gather up all of the other things around the house.  We will do this with a smile on my face because I know the best thing I can do for him is show him excitement about school. 

I will pray every day for him as I send him off and I will trust God that things will be exactly as they are supposed to be because that is what I do. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Scott Simon's Journey Shared

This week something happened.  A man was sitting in ICU keeping his mother company as she died.  This happens every day around the world, but what was different this time was that the person was Scott Simon and since he is a journalist, he tweeted his story and people listened. (see his tweets here:  When I say people listened, I mean they LISTENED.  1.2 million twitter followers listened to him.  

Today, in the media, we have a discussion about death.  People are talking about how death and dying is something that is now out of the public eye and pretty much ignored.  It's true.  People don't talk about it.  Death happens.  The fact that we are talking is fantastic and quite frankly about time.   Two generations ago, people died at home.  They died in their communities and their communities took care of them.  The churches and schools, they KNEW when someone died and they reached out in comfort afterwards.  Today, our tolerance for the messy parts of life is as short as the news cycle.    My thoughts were exactly that it is about time we start talking about this and then we need to talk about what happens AFTER someone dies. 

For every person that dies, there are, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family and friends that are left behind.   When that person takes their last breath, the world for those of us left here changes FOREVER.  For some who did not know the person well, life moves on pretty quickly, and they stop talking about the person and they may even forget them.  They wonder why the wife or mother of their friend is still crying weeks or months or years later.  

For those closest to them, it is a CATASTROPHIC and SEISMIC shift in their lives.  Many of us live that every day.   In saying this, I do not mean that life is bad (although sometimes it is) I am saying that life is different.  That we go through everyday changed by love and loss.  Our grief permeates our lives and becomes a part of who we are.  We are the women who watched our husbands die.  We are the only parents.  We are the ones left behind. 

There are plenty of people out there that use twitter, Facebook and other communities to connect to others in their grief.  The fact that national media is entertaining a discussion on grief and grieving is due to the fact that Mr. Simon reached out and connected.  He is one of us. We connect after everyone has gone home, and after the rest of the world moves on. 

It has been five years since the car accident.   I still love Robert-I suspect that I always will.  I still miss him.  But my life is good.   I do good, I am good.   In that good, there is grief.  The cold grip that chokes me every so often and reminds me of what I lost and what happened.  It reminds me at the most inopportune times that bad things DO HAPPEN to GOOD people. 

I sincerely hope that we as a nation and as a world can start to talk about not only death and dying, but the aftermath.  The strength that people discover in themselves.  Maybe in talking, we will bring conversation back to people and connect again in person and learn that in fact, even though we go through tragedy, we do in fact go on to have a good life.  In the middle, the messy depths of grief, we need to know that feeling is temporary and perhaps Mr. Simon will continue to talk and to share.