Thursday, November 5, 2009

180 Degree Attitude Adjustment

Today is not starting out so well. I'm searching high and low for motivation, patience and some joy in the situation I find myself in.

I have four children at home. I have five if you count the man-sized one. I woke up today feeling utterly miserable. The reason for the miserable feeling was brought about by my fitful night of sleep. Somewhere in my dreams, that man-sized child had a big tantrum, in front of many, many people - most who I knew and were very near and dear to me. The fit that this man-sized child had in my dream was a terrible, awful fit. He ranted on and on about how he was going to quit some job he had because he didn't want to support me anymore. He complained loudly about how he was done being married because it was so not worth it, and he even said I expected too much because I needed help keeping up with the household chores and the homework of four children. Clearly, that was a job only for women, and not for a man who works outside the home, so he was done. He was finished. He was leaving. Or was he shoving me out? I don't quite remember that part because it didn't really matter. What mattered was that feeling of utter shock and humiliation. What also mattered was the fact that I woke up sad, angry and upset, and my poor husband had done none of those things, but I was still upset with him. Well, he hasn't done ALL of those things, but the part about the chores and the homework was pretty realistic. haha!

Wow. It's hard to wake up from a "for real" feeling dream like that and jump to my feet with the excitement of a new day. Especially when I walk out my bedroom door and come face to face with no less than six loads of laundry that I spent all day yesterday sorting, washing and drying so my family would have clean clothes for the next week. I was happy that I'd thought ahead this time, and spent the two days BEFORE a much anticipated trip to the coast doing the laundry instead of the day OF the trip. That's more my style - wait till the last second and then get those last items that we need washed, packed and then we run out the door.

This time, I decided to be ahead of the game and I was oh so proud of my achievements. I even cleaned up each room and cooked dinner early. I might have done more the last few days except I had a kid home sick each day and that was a tiny bit distracting. The problem with doing things ahead of time, and being proud of yourself is that nobody else notices. Instead of folding and putting away all that laundry yesterday, I spent the time between loads making quick bread, rice krispie treats, make-ahead casseroles and such to take on our trip. I don't think I mentioned it yet, but we are dirt, stinkin broke right now and this trip is in no way anything extravagant. We have no plans to dine out, or to take any side trips or do anything special. When I reserved this time about a year ago, I knew that sometime during the bleak months of Fall (bleak to me, not to everyone!) that I'd need a means of escape, and so thinking only of that, I booked this time away. All it takes is a tank of gas - and so far that's all we're planning on spending. The food is coming with us from our own kitchen - food that we'd normally eat, plus whatever goodies I could whip up beforehand. The library has loaned us a half ton of exciting books, and even a few movies the kids haven't seen in ages. Our plan is to do as little as humanly possible, and to just enjoy being together and relaxing, maybe a dip in the pool or a soak in the hot tub, but mostly NO STRESS.

Being ahead of the game this time was a big deal for me! I think there's something about Mother's needing their family to be happy when we plan a family event. Clearly, there is nothing in the rulebooks that says a Father or the kids need for the Mother to be happy though, and it's got me pretty bummed. This morning, I briefly mulled over the idea of just taking this trip by myself - since apparently I'm the only one that is looking forward to it enough to do anything about it. But then God swatted me and encouraged me to stop my stinkin' thinkin'.

Some days - I wish God could just come over and fold laundry. I am looking at my house, and realizing that all those clothes just might have to sit where they are, because all of the sudden each room is messy again, the dinner dishes are still there, and the kitchen needs cleaned up again. Didn't I just do all of that yesterday? It's really no wonder that stay at home Mom's fall into depression more often. It's a pretty thankless job.

Earlier when I thought about how nice it would be to have God come over and fold laundry, you know, something practical and "useful" for me, I got to thinking about how an ungrateful attitude really does tend to make things look worse than they are. Since when does God need to fold my laundry, when he lovingly blessed me with my own two arms to do it myself? And since when does God have to help take care of someone's house, that is lucky enough to have a house at all? My children are abundantly blessed with clothes to wear, and who has the nerve to complain about having to wash it all? Why me, of course.

My purpose of this post was to talk myself out of my grumpiness since I don't have a physical person to talk to (and if you're still reading, well God bless you for being patient with my blatherings!). I know that Satan is sitting at my door, waiting to pounce on me and he encourages me to get mad at my entire family. What is the point of that? Where's the honor, the joy, or the fun?

Today I'm going to give God a break. Instead of wishing he'd come fold my laundry, I'm going to force myself to take this day by the horns. One step at a time. Eat something. Drink something (maybe it's a good day for coffee?). Fold a load. Do the dishes. Fold a load. Sweep the floors (again. haha!). Fold a load. And somewhere in there maybe I can put those clothes away - and then pack and have things somewhat ready to go by the time my family comes home today.

This will give God the time to spend with that mother who is burying her child today, or the father who just lost his job and needs extra attention - not that God isn't everywhere, but it's really not his job to take care of the physical things in my life that I'm able to do - if I just dump the nasty mood. You can bet that I'll still need God to walk me through my day, and I guarantee I'll be asking him to help me push through (because YES, the body is in some major pain after my fall the other day!) but I'll also feel more inclined to allow him to work through me, instead of FOR me.

This thought came to me earlier, and I'm pretty sure I will print it out where I can see it all day!
"A bad attitude always wishes someone else would do the work, but a joyful heart sees blessings in helping others."

I'm off to take a vacation now... and to bless my family.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The post where I try to be like Heather

Promises are cheap. A dime a dozen around here.

A few days ago, after posting about the unfortunate events of all sorts of things including my eyelashes (which are fine, by the way, as apparently the thick mascara "splints" kept them from completely falling out altogether after they were heat blasted by my dadgum stove) I vowed, no, I promised, that I would not write another post about misfortunes, but instead, I'd post about something FORTUNATE!

Well, it's not a complete lie. But just for the record (and to TRY not to share only the bad things) I'll tell you all about how both my daughters' volleyball teams kicked some major hiney this season. My 13 yr old now has bragging rights - she is on a championship team! Undefeated for the whole season. Princess D, who is now 11, made it through her first season of volleyball on a different, yet still exceptional, team - only losing 2 games the whole season. Not too shabby I say! I'm proud of those girls.

But back to the unfortunate events. As we all know, I can't go more than a day without something unusual or blogworthy happening in my life. I just tend to keep most of it to myself for fear of making others continually worry about my safety. You see, I worry about you worrying. Does that make sense?

In my dream house, I will have rubber bumpers on each corner. Doors will not stop at half of an inch above floor level (which is precisely the height it takes to completely scrape the top of your toes off). Wood stove handles and all things that contain any source of heat will be wrapped in silicone - seven layers of it, to keep the user from burning themselves. Safety goggles will be required while cooking, as well as a silicone full-length apron to protect oneself from scorching or splashing any body parts with hot water or grease that is on fire.

Within this last year, I made a new friend. Her name is Heather. (It may or may not be a false name to protect the innocent. Let's just say her name is Heather.) So this friend Heather is a wonderful human being. She is sassy, she is strong and she is determined. She's a little bit older than me, but we're the same age in the attitude department. What I mean by that is about the time I was being conceived, she was graduating from High School, but we don't notice that part.

Heather is someone I look up to. There are many reasons to look up to her, but one of them is because she is a triathlete. Now I don't know how long that crazy idea has been in her head, the idea to do the triathlon thingamajig, but she's trained, she's worked hard, and by golly she is making other women look really bad. What I mean by that, is all those ladies that let themselves go just because they see their first gray hair are being put to shame by someone who is just starting new, exciting adventures. Heather has been busy doing a lot of training (for how to get in and out of a wetsuit, which I hear can be the most challenging part of a triathlon thingamajig for anyone over the age of 50) and she's got my vote for Most Confident and Daring Woman of the Year. But just a couple weeks ago, my favorite contender for Woman of the Year fell on a hard stone floor and injured herself.

Yes, it appears that Heather and I have more in common than our attitudes. Apparently we also like to make scenes and draw lots of unwanted attention our way. I'm many miles away from Heather, so providing emotional support and prayers is what I've been able to do. I am also able to sympathize with her, because I feel that we often live parallel lives. So parallel, in fact, that I decided to do exactly the same thing as she did. With that said, here's my letter to Heather.

Dear Heather,
I admire you, I want to have that same drive and determination when I'm well past forty to do something new, exciting and different. I want to run in a triathlon. Well, maybe not so much a triathlon, as I want to still be able to be walking upright by then. I want to be like you SO much that I am trying to mimic everything you do so that I can say I lived a life that was adventurous. Just last night, I saw that "wet floor" sign outside the bathroom at one of our favorite neighborhood eating joints. I saw the sign, I stepped around the sign, and through the doorway.

"Splat" was the only thing I heard as I went down faster than Bambi learning to ice skate. Maybe it was slower than that, because I had time to wonder if the door closed all the way before people out in the restaurant could see me flailing in mid-air, grasping for air handles. (You know what I mean, those things people grasp for when falling, but there's nothing there?) Go ahead and laugh at my expense, I'll wait.

So anyway Heather, I look up to you so much. And in that moment, when I was laying sprawled out on the hard, stone bathroom floor I looked up and I swear I saw you - giving me your hand. Not the one with the pretty blue cast on it from your recent fall, but the other one. You helped me up, while bracing your injured knee (the one that still needs the MRI - yes, that one) and you helped me to my shaking feet. You brushed me off, and gave me a little pep talk. It went something like this:

My Dear Friend,
Words just can't express how I feel (as much as my hysterical laughter can). You know you can't be just like me, so quit trying so hard. You need to learn to be your own individual self, with your own stories of misfortune. Now get into that bathroom stall before you start to cry, or notice that your kneecap is misaligned. Don't pay attention to the location of the pain. You need to go to the bathroom - that's why you're here. Go get the job done. THEN you can figure out what needs to be attended to! You could end up getting stuck in urgent care or something, and then what would you do with that full bladder. Get busy girlfriend!
So... with that wonderful advice, I drug myself into the furthest stall from the door (the one labeled "Handicapped" because quite clearly at that point I WAS) and I did what I needed to do. Then, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and called for my husband. I heard muffled laughter on his end, and then a bit of actual concern, and then I hung up.

One thing I can always count on, is that he will take me seriously when I call for help. Nine times out of ten I don't call for his help, and so when I do, he knows I'm not joking. I sort of felt silly calling him, because after all I was able to be on my feet, although my right knee was starting to throb like the dickens and my hand felt all weird. However, I didn't want to flop down in the middle of the restaurant on the way out, so I figured I'd shove my pride into my other pocket and let him help me out.

I gingerly stepped across the remaining stone tiles, which were as slick as algae on a river rock, no exaggerations there whatsoever, and met my husband at the door. He, too, agreed with my assessment about the stone floor, and I felt justified that my injury wasn't entirely the result of my being a total nincompoop. (It may have been somewhat the fault of the Tylenol PM I took an hour earlier, but we'll pretend I didn't actually do that).

Heather, thanks for helping me up to my feet last night. If I'd really paused to think about it, I might have just cried like a baby, but instead you helped me laugh at myself, and realize that things like this happen - and we just have to take it all in stride, we have to let it make us stronger (more humorous) individuals, and help us to appreciate those days when we CAN do the extra things like run, swim or ride a bike. I'm still working on just walking a straight mile, but with your delightful example, I'm pretty sure I can get there.

P.S. I didn't end up in an E.R. or an urgent care, I was too sleepy to care much so I went straight home, couldn't find the ice pack and I went to sleep. I woke up this morning with very little pain, unless I'm putting firewood in the stove and have to bend my knee that certain way *ouch!* Hopefully this is the worst of it... although I'm keeping a close eye on what hurts. I learned a good lesson: Stick to taking sleepytime drugs at sleepy time and stay off wet floors lest ye MAKE a wet floor.