The Parent I Was Going to Be

Friday, August 31, 2012 13 Comments A+ a-

1344886845093_3235015Before I actually became a mama, I had such a clear idea of what the perfect mother looked like.  I had a list of dos and in my head and such clarity as to how my list would shape and mold my children into reaching their highest potential as human beings.  (Does anyone else have a loud voice laughing in their heads?!)

Each time I ate out at restaurants, or shopped in the grocery stores, or interacted with kids on any level, I silently judged the parent when a discipline was meted out, or when the child went undisciplined completely.  Before kids, I had all the answers, I knew exactly how I’d handle each situation.  And when a random parent allowed their child to tantrum in the checkout line ahead of me, they’d get a long side glance from me, usually accompanied with a head shake or two. MY child would never act that way in public. 

Oh pious, holier than thou, pre-kid, Jenn, I want to go back and slap you silly.  But its true, I was a better mother before I actually had kids.

BEFORE KIDS

IN REALITY

  • I will never get frustrated when my babies cry.  They cry, it’s a fact of life.
  • I never accounted for the 5 hours of crying without a break.  The crib became theirs (and my) safe haven.
  • Snacks will only be nutritious.  I had visions of carrots with hummus, and ants on a log with celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
  • Now when my Littles aren’t fending for themselves, a bag of fruit snacks or cheetos are tossed their way.
  • I will spend x number of hours with each child every day, ensuring each child has quality one-on-one time.
  • Each child is lucky to get x number of hours (as in one) in a week’s time.  Daily one-on-one time has now become condensed into 10 minutes at bed time.
  • My child will never throw a tantrum in a public setting.  They will be promptly removed from the situation and dealt with in the appropriate manner.
  • When you have a full cart and a tantruming 3-year-old screaming on the floor, you weigh the options of dealing with the attitude vs. the time it’ll take to come back and start grocery shopping all over again.  Grocery shopping sometimes wins.
  • Follow through.  Enough said.
  • Oh, I still believe follow through is important.  But I’ve learned over the years that once a battle line has been drawn, the parent must win.  So I draw fewer lines.  I pick my battles CAREFULLY now.
  • Time outs and discipline would be handled in the correct order… the explanation of the offense, the punishment, the time to reflect on the offense.
  • Bahaha!  I’ve learned that timeouts are often more for the parent than the child, that time in which I count to 10 and calm my own self before dealing with the child. I have never reacted first, then explained! (Ahem. Sarcasm.)
  • I would never resort to bribery to get my child to obey.
  • Whoever said this obviously never had a 3- almost 4-year-old who refused to potty train.  Or 4 kids who would behave without the promise of a cookie at the end of the grocery shopping trip.
  • TV would be considered a privilege, and an hour a day at the most.
  • Who am I kidding? I want to shower in peace, and/or have 5 minutes of quiet time. I won’t tell you how often the TV babysits.

A few more things I never thought of, or anticipated in my days of “perfect parenting”.

  • That what works for one child, doesn’t work for another.  And just when you think you have it figured out, the next child throws you a curve ball.
  • That I would become such a laidback parent.  I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I had to throw out my list of dos and don’ts.  Otherwise, I knew I’d drive myself crazy trying to do it all.
  • That every heartbreak in school is magnified by 100% when its your child who experiences the same.  The urge to take it away is strong, and its debilitating knowing they have to figure it out on their own.
  • That the very things you swore you’d never say: Not right now… Because I said so... Just wait until your father gets home… fall easily from your lips.
  • That moment when you realize your parents actually knew what they were doing, and not only do you respect them for it, you realize you don’t mind turning out like them.

Sigh.  I’d love to be the perfect parent, the one who has it all together and knows exactly how do to handle each situation.  But I’m ok with the parent I’m turning out to be.  I read somewhere that our children don’t want the perfect parent, they want us, flaws and all.  In their eyes, we ARE the perfect parent.

An Assortment of Thoughts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

  • Last week, I’d mentioned that I thought I was doing so much better.  I lied.
  • I had a second dream of Grandma on Friday night.  It was so real and so tangible, I felt like I could reach out and touch her.   Then I woke up, realized she wasn’t coming back, and I cried.  A lot.  I’ve been in a funk since.
  • The first time I dreamt of Grandma, it was the day after her funeral.  And I was pissed. I even sent a text to Mom and the sisters saying, “Dreams need to leave the hell enough alone.”  See?  Pissed Jenn.
  • Its just too early.  I know that eventually I’ll want to have those brief moments with her, but its just too soon.  I wake up and the pain is so fresh and new. 
  • And I’ve decided I really need to let go of any ideas/preconceived notions I have of grief.  There are zero rules in grief.   One step forward, two steps back.  Or three steps forward, one step back.  I just need to cut myself some slack and work through each emotion as it comes.
  • This post has had more views in the past 10 days than any other post I’ve written.  in 7 years of blogging.  It cracks me up!  And if I wasn’t already convinced that I’ll never write of this topic again, the email asking me to review and giveaway a certain feminine product was the proverbial nail in the coffin.  Um, no.
  • Ashlynn has morphed into a full-blown toddler mode, almost overnight.  In reality, probably over a span of three weeks, but still.  Her attitude, her vocabulary, her gestures have matured exponentially.  My favorites include “I wuv you!” and “O-yo” (for Bobo) and “Excuse you!” every time she burps or toots, which is stinking adorable.
  • Over the past 48 hours, Jon had two separate briefings with Secret Service agents.  He received half the protection detail for President Obama’s visit to Fort Collins at one meeting, and the other half at the next meeting.  I don’t care if you like him or not, its still pretty cool to be a part of history in that way.  We now have a briefing note with the Secret Service seal in our possession.  Very cool.
  • Yesterday morning Reagan sliced her toe on our vacuum.  I would love to tell you the story, but I really have NO clue how it happened.  One moment she’s standing on the vacuum, and the next, the arm is swinging back up and she’s screaming.
  • It wasn’t a deep cut, but still took off a significant chunk of skin.  Enough to warrant a visit to the doctor to see if stitches were needed, which it didn’t.  Here’s a secret about Reagan though… Girlfriend is tough.  Mega tough.  More times than not, I cringe after an incident, knowing I’d be screaming in pain if I were her, and she’s shaking it off like its no big deal.  So if she’s screaming, you know its bad.  But she’s hobbling along as if she’s been doing it all her life.
  • Random fact.  In almost 8 years of parenting, we’ve had:
    • 0 broken bones
    • 1 set of stiches
    • 1 severe burn
  • All in all, I think that’s a pretty good record.  (Now I’m going to look for some wood to knock on because with our luck this year, this could change in a heartbeat.)
  • The same morning of Reagan’s sliced toe, Mom was taking Dad to the ER for severe abdominal pain.  She’s a nurse and was fairly confident it was kidney stones, which it is, in both kidneys.  It made me realize that I’ve developed an irrational fear of family going in for routine problems and coming out with a cancer diagnosis.  I’m not a fan of this turn of events.  I really want my naivety back.
  • This past weekend we went up to Vail to spend a few days with Jon’s family.  One night, Jon’s younger brother and his wife took the older three for an aunt-uncle-nieces-nephew night.  It involved a demolition derby and a sleepover.  The Littles absolutely LOVED it.
  • Which brings me to this next point… Our Littles have a well-rounded group of uncles.  From Jon’s brothers to my sisters’ husbands, each one brings something unique to the table. The Littles are going to be well-balanced when it comes to uncles’ influences in their lives.
  • I also got to hold the newest addition to our family this weekend… nephew Landon Joshua.  He was born to Jon’s older brother and girlfriend at the beginning of August, in one of the scariest birthing experience I’ve ever heard of or experienced.
  • I am not kidding when I say that the original hospital staff was certain that Maryna wasn’t going to survive the helicopter ride to Denver and the subsequent surgeries.  You forget that giving birth can be a dangerous event, especially in this day and age, but there’s always a chance of “what ifs”.  And thanks to amazing staff at both hospitals and four surgeries later, Maryna is well on the road to recovery.  It was an honor to get to sit by her side during the first scary night so Josh could get some much-needed sleep.
  • I told you it was a rough summer. 
  • And I’m loving having a baby in the family again.  Almost as much as the fact that the baby didn’t come from me.  Ha!  I’ve decided that being an aunt is the next best thing to Mama.  I get to hold, snuggle, and love on baby, then give them back to Mama and Daddy.
  • I’m working on a “I was a better mother before I had kids…” post.  Its been in draft form for a few weeks now.  I have SO much material for it that I’m having to scale back considerably.  I laugh because oh, if I was the mother I thought I’d before kids, I think I’d be a miserable woman.  I’m thankful that I’ve grown more relaxed with the addition of each child.  It was either that, or go crazy.
  • July 6th and August 6th are important dates to our family.  Originally they were my mom and sister’s birthdays respectively, however this year they became dates to measure Grandma’s quick demise.  I know its illogical, silly even, but I just want to survive my birthday on September 6th with zero to little bad news.  I think I’ll breathe a little easier come September 7th.
  • I was recently asked about our church search and I realized I haven’t posted on here about it.  I’ll dedicate a whole post to it in the future, but we have found a church.  We’ve never left the first one we tried.  We love it there, and after being there for four months, we’re confident in our decision to stay.
  • Lastly, I think I’m about to throw a rock through our tv.  Or any tv for that matter.  Can the election be over already?!

In everything, reflect the glory of God…

Sunday, August 26, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

…yes, in Politics too.
 
The first time I heard of a Christian voting with the democrat party, my jaw dropped.  My parents never actually came out and said it, but it was implicitly implied.  The Christian party was equal to the republican party.  So the very idea that a Christ-loving, Bible-believing fellow man could vote with the “wrong” party was mind-boggling to me.
 
Fast forward to the 2008 election.  It was ugly.
 
Someone very close to me started aligning their political ideals with the (gasp) “wrong” party.  And in the very way that we communicated, discussed, argued, and debated politics, it was obvious that not only was something going to have to give, we were NOT glorifying God in the way we treated each other.  If anything, Satan was getting all the glory because we were tearing each other down and drifting further apart.  No one could have looked at our relationship and said, its obvious they’re Christians by their actions.  We looked no different than those who wanted nothing to do with Christ.
 
I took a step back and decided to really understand what it was I believed about the role of government and politics in our lives.  I unpacked the boxes of both parties… I held each idea, each belief, and weighed it against my own personal and moral beliefs.  No longer could I rely on the idea that I believed what my parents believed, just because...  And in the end, I made a clear, conscious, and educated decision.
 
I still have loved ones that don’t believe the same way I do.  But in the four years since the last election, I have more respect and understanding of them.  No longer do we get in heated and ugly debates, because I’ve decided that my having a healthy and loving relationship with them is more important to me than political jargon, soundbites, and debates.  I might not agree with their viewpoints or beliefs, but I can RESPECT that they’re voting in line with what they believe is best for our country.  I might disagree with what’s best, but I love that they’re voting with their ideals.
 
Today in church, I was rocked.  Actually the whole sermon was convicting, and this was such a tiny part of it, but it forced me to step back and think.  The following analogy was used…

With ballot in hand and just before you hand it in, the following scenario runs through your mind.  On one hand is Candidate A, who will run our nation off the edge of the cliff at 100mph.  And on the other hand is Candidate B, who will run our nation off the edge of the cliff at 40mph.  And in the interest of WINNING, no matter what, you decide to vote for the 40mph candidate. 

Isn’t most of politics run off the idea of fear?  Fear of the candidate?  Fear of what they’ll do to our country?  Fear that the other side will win?  Have we forgotten 1 John 4:18? “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
 
As in everything, we are called to reflect the Glory of God, yes, even in politics.  The question should not be, which candidate will beat the other side, but which vote will bring the most glory to God?  In what situation, will God be allowed the opportunity to reveal His majesty the most?  And to that end, does our treatment of those on opposite sides of the aisle, reflect that we belong to the Most High?  Will non-believers look at us and wonder what’s different about us that we can join hands with each other, no matter the political party?  “They will know we are Christians by our love…”
 
With the 2012 election fast approaching, instead of assuming that God is either republican or democrat, I’m going to approach each candidate, each issue, and ask myself in which situation does God have the opportunity to show up in a big way.  I will approach each person, regardless of political affiliation, as a child of God.  Because I believe that will bring more glory to God than trying to get my side to win.

** Comments are closed because this is not the place for a political debate.  But if you’re interested in dialoguing about the post, you can email me at biggest_blessings(at)yahoo.com.

Snippets of Grief

Thursday, August 23, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

Because I see so many themes evolving while I process through the grief, I feel like bullet-pointing these.  I could give each bullet point its own post but since I’m only able to string together a few coherent sentences at a time, this is the way to go.

  • I’ve officially lost my mind.  Case in point #1. I saw a photo on Instagram the other of a screen shot.  I paused because I liked the design.  Then it hit me. I designed it.  Oy.  Case in point #2.  I met a friend for coffee the other night.  It would’ve helped if I’d gone to the right place.  Thankfully, the friend saved me from further embarrassment and came to me.
  • The first 7-10 days after Grandma died, I lived in a fog.  I can neither remember those days clearly, nor could I have told you what day it was if my life depended on it.  It all runs into one long, painful moment in time.
  • I’ve mentioned that my filter has taken a leave of absence.  I do not trust myself right now.  Period.  Whenever I felt my impatience get stronger, I simply walk away.  That’s 10x easier than having a meltdown and being put to bed with 1/2 a xanax.  Thankfully, Jon has only had to resort to that one time.
  • I’ve mentioned that Jon was doing everything right and everything wrong, at the same time, before.  But truthfully, I could not have survived these last two weeks without him.  He was in a word, amazing.  He anticipated every single need, then met it.  Without my having to ask or say anything.  I can only hope to be half the support to him someday.
  • Everyone keeps telling me that its ok to be angry with God.  Truthfully, I have no anger whatsoever towards God.  I’m sure its different from person to person, even situation to situation. But the idea of being angry with God has never crossed my mind.  Now unreasonable anger towards other people? Yes.  See xanax point above.
  • I have a whole new perspective on heaven now.  And while I still look forward to being in the presence of holiness and glory, the added layer of no pain, no sorrow, no goodbyes has added a brand-new dimension to heaven.  This grief has added so much to the knowledge that this place is not my home.  And while I can’t wait to get there, I truly don’t want to be so focused on heaven, that I’m of no earthly good here.
  • I feel like I’ve moved from living moment-to-moment.  I feel like Jon and the Littles walked on tip-toes trying to decipher what mood I was in and avoiding anything that would set me off.  I feel like we’ve moved into having good days and bad days.  I can usually tell within the first hour or two what kind of day I will be having.  And even within a good day, I have moments.  But its not nearly as bad as it was.
  • I read somewhere that we all want “rules” on how to deal with grief.  I’d do better with rules.  Tell me what I should be doing/feeling next and I can do this.  I’m discovering that there is no such thing.   I’m trying to live life and stop to grieve when the moments hit.
  • I highly suggest keeping little people around while grieving.  They don’t give you a choice in whether or not you can keep living life.  There’s no choice.  And I thank them for helping me stay sane.
  • I voiced an informal poll on Twitter the other day, asking if creating a playlist of Grandma’s funeral songs would be comforting or make me a glutton for punishment.  The majority said glutton, but I created it anyway, simply because I was seeking the songs out anyway.  I’ve found them to comforting.  In fact, I’m listening to this song list more than anything else right now.
  • Speaking of Twitter.  I feel like I’m doing a lot of processing on Twitter.  I’m surely going to lose followers very soon because they’re getting so many of my deep and random thoughts right now.  I often wonder if I should write a check out to Dr. Twitter for therapy services.
  • The BIGGEST surprise through all of this has been in how I’ve processed it all.  I am an extrovert’s extrovert, an extreme extrovert.  Yet right now, I have to be alone while I grieve.  In the hardest, most raw, and painful moments, I withdraw and have to be alone.  I don’t even want Jon around in those moments.  And he’s been amazing in respecting that.
  • Remember those magic happy pills I’ve talked so highly of?  For whatever reason, the prescription ran out in early July and it was a huge hassle to get into the doctor for a renewal due to insurance changes.  So I’ve officially been off anti-depressants since early July, before Grandma’s diagnosis, and all things considered, I’m doing well.  And I’m thankful for it.  Being off those pills has allowed me to FEEL!  Every pain, every ache, every emotion, I have been allowed to feel.  I feel like this bullet point deserves its in own post and I imagine I will, but right now, I can’t help but feel there was some sovereignty in the timing of all of this.
  • The playlist I mentioned above?  I Will Rise, Homesick, and You Hold Me Now are carrying me through these days and weeks.  I leave you with Hillsong’s You Hold Me Now. 


On that day when I see
All that You have for me
When I see You face to face
There surrounded by Your grace
All my fears swept away
In the light of Your embrace
Where Your love is all I need
And forever I am free

Where the streets are made of gold
In Your presence healed and whole
Let the songs of heaven
Rise to You alone

CHORUS:
No weeping no hurt or pain
No suffering You hold me now
You hold me now
No darkness no sick or lame
No hiding You hold me now
You hold me now

In this life I will stand
Through my joy and my pain
Knowing theres a greater day
Theres a hope that never fails
Where Your Name is lifted high
And forever praises rise
For the glory of Your Name
Im believing for the day

Where the wars and violence cease
All creation lives in peace
Let the songs of heaven
Rise to You alone

CHORUS:
No weeping no hurt or pain
No suffering You hold me now
You hold me now
No darkness no sick or lame
No hiding You hold me now
You hold me now

1st Day of School in Pics

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-

I have a whole post brewing on the emotions of sending my second born into the big world of elementary school, but since time is not my friend right now, I’ll leave you with the requisite photos of back-to-school.  I cannot believe that I now have a 2nd grader and a kindergartner.  Time just keeps marching on.

1stDaySchoolCollage11stDayofSchool41stDaySchoolCollage21stDayofSchool81stDaySchoolCollage3

The post I Never Planned to Write

Sunday, August 19, 2012 23 Comments A+ a-

Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing this post.  Never, ever.  But as I’m prone to do, I was thinking out loud on Twitter (if you ever want to know what its like to live in my head, follow me on Twitter…you’ve been warned), and the following tweet jumped from my head to the world wide web. 

: If I were a brave person, I'd blog about the creative ways of being intimate while there are 4 Littles underfoot. But I'm not, so I won't.

(Note to self.  Your filter has taken a vacation for a while… let’s be a little more careful, m’kay?!) 

tmiI thought it would be good for a chuckle, maybe some dialogue, but I was in no way prepared for the response.  Women wanted to know… for real.  Like actual answers and stuff.  And if they could have seen my beet red face, they’d have known just how flustered I was getting.  My initial response?  Delete the tweet and run away.  But then I paused, and talked to Jon.  I read more tweets and talked to Jon some more.  I decided this was a post that needed to be written, but not without getting a few things straight first…

  • I am in no way writing this for shock value.  My intentions in writing this post are because a) its such an important topic and no one talks about it, and b) if it can improve this part of married lives, yay!  I’m all for improved marriages.
  • I am not writing this as an expert on the issue.  I’m simply talking about it from the standpoint from my experiences as a wife and mama.  If there are more serious issues in the bedroom, then I highly (HIGHLY) suggest you seek help from a doctor or other professional.
  • Jon knows, has read, and approved of this post.  It was important to me that my own partner be ok with what’s being shared here.  I’ve promised him that I am not planning on becoming the next Dr. Ruth.

Ok, here goes nothing.  Beet red face and all….  My precious children, someday you may be reading this.  I suggest you stop here.

Let’s face it, as mamas we give everything to everyone else.  All day long, we’re serving our Littles, coworkers, bosses, and the like.  There is precious little left over at the end of the day to even think about some of our husband’s needs.  (And if I’m being completely honest here, needs of mine too.  Ahem.) 

I can’t tell you you how many times Jon has reached for me at night, and inwardly I’ve groaned, wondering how he possibly thinks that now is a good time for this.  Doesn’t he know all I want to do is sleep?  That I’ve had little hands grabbing at me all day long and the last thing I want is more hands?  Other times, I’m as a gung-ho as he is, but 2-3 times out of 10, I’m grudgingly giving in.  Which is just dumb, because by the time we get to the good stuff, I’m just as into it as he is.

Side note.  I realize its easy to get stuck in the “not right nows” and “maybe laters”.  I’ve been there.  I urge caution in using those statements.  It can be the start of a vicious cycle.  The cycle that states, “Your needs aren’t as important as theirs” which can then lead to a battle of wills of “I ain’t meeting your needs, until mine are met” and so on.  I’m surely NOT speaking from experience here.  Ahem.

Now while night times are often best for all concerned, let’s face it.  More times than not, I’m too exhausted to put three words together in a complete sentence, let alone have energy for anything else.  And with four Littles underfoot, we’ve had to get creative in finding those intimate moments.  Here’s a few that have worked for us.  (Oh sweet mercy!  My great-grandmother is rolling over in her grave.)

  • The Nap Time.
    This used to work much better for us when the Littles were younger, and is pretty self-explanatory.  Nap time = fun time for the parents.  But as they’ve gotten older and naptimes are slowly disappearing, the Littles are quite used to Mama and Daddy disappearing for their own “nap times” once Ashlynn goes down.  No questions asked, or raised eyebrows (yet).  If Daddy shouts through the door, “We’re taking a nap” they usually leave well enough alone.
  • The Movie.
    Age doesn’t seem matter with this one.  If Daddy suggests a movie or TV time, we can usually count on a good stretch of 25-45 minutes as they are magically hypnotized by the box on the wall.
  • The Shower.
    This is pretty self-explanatory and always good for quickie.  Now if you’re like us, I’m sure your Littles don’t understand the meaning of closed doors.  And there have been many times, doors have opened and little heads have peeked in asking for one of the parents.  But usually just a word from Jon will have pacified the inquiring mind and the door is shut again.
  • The Drive-By
    This is one of those I-was-putting-laundry-away-and-I’m-not-sure-what-happened-next moments.  Its those moments when one of us is going about our household chores and bam!  Neither of us really know what happened, but any place with a door works great.

I’ve read the statistics and the research about the quantity that “normal” couples have in a week, month, and year.  I can’t attest to that, as I believe that as with most everything else, intimacy fluctuates with the hills and valleys of marriage.  But I can say with absolute certainty, that whenever Jon and I are feeling disconnected or out-of-sync, we need not look any further than the bedroom.  It might not fix whatever is broken at the moment, but it sure goes a long way in bringing us closer together.

So there you have it.  The post that I never, ever intended to write, and a few of our own tried and true methods that work for us.  And now I’m going to bury my head in the sand and pretend this didn’t just happen.

The Underbelly of Grief

Sunday, August 12, 2012 6 Comments A+ a-

I had a good day yesterday. Good enough that I thought I could handle church today. 

We’re still new enough at our church that there’s a sense of anonymity, enough so that I thought we could slip into our seats, be with His people, feel His presence, then slip out again.  Once we were on our way, I felt the all-too familiar feeling of the tightening of the chest and the inability to breathe, get stronger with each passing mile.  To say I’m not handling crowds and people right now is an understatement.

Church was exactly what I needed. Even the unexpected run-in with friends was good.  I just wasn’t ready… at all.  It made emotions raw and all too-close to the surface; it turned a difference of opinion this afternoon into an overblown reaction. And Jon thought it best to give me a 1/2 xanax and put me to bed.  It helped.  Some.

The fact of the matter is this… Grief is exposing so much about human condition and sin.  I’ve nicknamed it the underbelly of grief.

Jon has been amazing.  A-maz-ing!  In fact, I have a whole post brewing about his amazingness, but I’m still processing through it all.  However, has that stopped him from getting on my every nerve?  Nope.  I have never been so thankful for my husband on one hand, yet so annoyed and mean to him on the other.  In one breath, I’m thanking him for doing this, that, or the other, and in the very next breath, I tell him how he did it wrong.

Y’all.  I’m driving MYSELF crazy, I can’t imagine how its making him feel.

I apologize.  I cringe when I hear the tone I use with him.  Even as words fly out of my mouth, I know I’ll quickly follow it up with up, “I am so sorry! I don’t know why I’m acting this way.”  And its true, its like I’m unable to stop myself.

Today as I apologized for the upteenth time, he smiled and told me I had a month’s grace.  One month to get it out of my system, and then he was going to start fighting back.  I laughed.  That is a small example of who he has been this past week.

This is hard.  So hard.  I’m looking for the grace that I so readily extended last week, to myself and others.  If you find it, would you mind sending it back?  I have many in my life that would greatly appreciate it.

One Foot in Front of the Other

Thursday, August 09, 2012 19 Comments A+ a-

It wasn’t the normal grandparent relationship.  The kind where you only saw them on holidays and received a card once a year on your birthday.  It was never the relationship where visits and phone calls were an obligation.  Grandma Nancy was such an integral part of our daily lives.  From impromptu meals and outings to biweekly bible studies and weekly church services to school programs and ball games.  She was there in the important moments and the daily details.  And I hate that I’m using the past tense in writing about her. 

This morning she left us.  From being officially diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on July 9th to her death on August 9th, it was the shortest 30 days I’ve ever experienced.  And some of the most painful.

I realize that I’m fortunate to have experienced such a significant loss only once in all of my 32 years.  And don’t think for one moment that I’m not thankful for that.  Now that I’m walking this journey of grief, my respect for anyone who has walked this walk more than once shot up a few notches.  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It hurts to breathe… it hurts just sitting here.  With every beat of my heart, my body cries.  And every time I think I’m getting a little bit better, I’m quickly reminded that this is just the beginning.

Grandma slipped into a coma on Monday and so the past three days have been lived in a sort of alternate reality.  These past four days were experienced in a fog… Looking back, I’m not sure any one of us has a crystal clear idea of all that transpired in those days.  Today was spent trying to recreate the timeline from last Thursday through today, and I can’t tell you how many corrections were made or how many it took to finally complete the whole thing.

I will never regret keeping the Littles with me during the first two days.  The sounds of their laughter and play filled the background, everyone taking breaks from Grandma’s bedside to interact with the babies.  It was a stark contrast, death and sadness in one room and the sounds of youth and beginnings in the other.

One of my most treasured memories from these past days, and a healing balm for my heart, were the moments Reagan stole into Grandma’s room to sit in my lap at her side.  We sang song after song, from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Jesus Loves Me to Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  I watched as she reached her little hand through the bars of Grandma’s hospital bed to stroke her skin.  There we sat, three generations of women, connected by song and touch.  I’m not sure Reagan will ever know how much those moments meant to me.

This morning, before the funeral home arrived to take Grandma’s body, I grabbed my phone, Pandora’s Hillsong station already on play, and left.  By myself.  I went for a walk, to the fields east of my parents home, and climbed to the highest point of the tallest mound.  As ludicrous as it sounds, I just had to get as close to God as I could.  There I sat and wailed.  Not the feminine tears that trickle down one’s face, but with the cries and wails of a person in pain.  I had no idea I was capable of such sounds. 

I’m not ready.  I’m not ready for her to be gone, to have this void in my life.  I want to see her at more of Hudson’s games, I want to hear her tell my mom she isn’t doing it right when we pickle over Labor Day weekend.  I want to hear her laugh at Elliana and Reagan’s antics.  I want to see her hold more grandbabies.  I want one more card in the mail, with the gift card she knows she’s not supposed to buy.   I want one more meal where she grabs and pays the bill before anyone even knows the waiter dropped it off.  And I especially want to hear her call me “Jenn-Jenn” just one more time.

I know she’s healed, free from the pain.  I know she’s dancing on streets of gold, worshipping our Lord alongside her Mama and Daddy.  I know she’s cuddling Christine’s babies, the ones who were conceived and lost in a short time.  I know that the beauty of her eternity is laid out and ends at the glory of our God.  But the fact of the matter is, she’s there and I’m here.  And that reality is far more painful than I ever imagined.

30 days.  It just wasn’t long enough…

Summer of 2012 Theme Song

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-

Earlier in the summer, this song spoke directly to Jon.  He came home one day after work, didn’t say a word, just started the song.  Its carried him through some of his own hurdles this summer…  And now its carrying me. 

We’ve dubbed this our theme song of the summer.

Carry Me to The Cross
Kutlass

When the path is daunting
And every step exhausting
I'm not alone
I'm not alone, no, no

I feel you draw me closer
All these burdens on my shoulder
I'm not alone, I'm not alone
You pull me me from this place

Hallelujah
You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
Hallelujah
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

How your love has moved me, yeah
To the foot of all your glory
I'm not alone, I'm not alone
I'm not alone

Hallelujah
You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
Hallelujah
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

All of these cities you have built
And every cathedral you have filled
To all of creation you gave life with your hands
And with those hands you comfort me
You lift me up from my knees
And carry me
You carry me

Hallelujah
You carry me every day
You carry me all all the way
Hallelujah
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross
The cross
You carry me to the
You carry me to the cross

When you’re doing it right, its gonna hurt.

Sunday, August 05, 2012 8 Comments A+ a-

I remember when my great-grandmother took a turn for the worst during her 100th year of life.  It would be several weeks later, but it was apparent that Grammie was in her last days. 

Grammie was an amazing woman and had a huge impact in my life.  At 18 years old, months shy of graduating high school, I was incapable of dealing with the idea of Grammie not being present in my life.  The pain was too much to bear.  So I didn’t deal.  During the visits in her last weeks, I said my requisite hellos and goodbyes, and that’s about it.  I couldn't stand to be in her room, to see the shadow of the woman she once was.  It didn’t matter that my younger sister, Alli, never left her side or that my mom warned me I might regret the little time I spent with her.  I just couldn’t deal with it.

And Mom was right.  its one of my biggest regrets to date. 

Memory after memory has been swimming to surface this weekend, those moments when my heart had broken in two, when it felt like I’d rather have not loved at all, than feel the pain.

  • The moment when they laid Devyn in my arms after 12 hours of labor and knowing that I’d never be the same again.  That every fear and doubt I’d had while I was pregnant with her paled in comparison to the all consuming love of having her here in the flesh.  That around every corner was a new danger, a new fear, a new obsession to keep her safe at any cost, and the knowledge that any control was an illusion.

  • We had just brought Hudson home from the hospital, he was days old when tragedy struck some mutual friends of ours.  They’d taken their children with them to their ranch, when the dad climbed into the cab of his truck and put it into reverse to unload the hay.  Each parent thought the other had their 2-year-old son and nothing could have prevented the ensuing horror.  The funeral was devastating.  From the tiniest coffin I’d ever seen, to the sounds of the father wailing heard all the way to the back of the church.

I have many situations in my life right now where I’m faced with a choice.  Do I stay to love and risk the pain of being hurt?  Or do I run and avoid the pain, but also miss out on some amazing moments?  I’m a walking, bruised nerve at the moment.  Life just hurts, the pain ebbs and flows.  It’d be so easy to walk away, wave a hand, and say, I’m good.  I don’t need this right now. 

But then I think of the potential I’d be missing out on too.  The potential of a full life, overflowing with family and friends.  Of memories.  Of moments with side-splitting laughs, of deep conversations, of silly smiles and antics.  Moments of sitting there and holding a hand, of sharing burdens, of easing the load, even if its for just a moment.  Missing out on that moment when you stop and take it all in, the good and the bad of it, because you know, this is a moment, a memory that will mark you.

We were never promised easy.  This life is anything but easy.  Breakups, friends moving or changing, divorces, tragedies, death, diseases, changed hearts and minds, unexpected circumstances.  And loving leaves you vulnerable to all of it.  If you’re doing love right, its gonna hurt.  But I promise.  The good always seems to outweigh the pain.  It’s a promise I’m holding onto with two clenched fists, because it’s the only way I’m going to survive the weeks and months ahead.