Formost of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you know that every so often Itake a break from the puking, poop, pee and temper tantrums to talk about morepoignant, tender moments of being a parent.
Recently,it seems that a lot of bad news has been flying around our friends andacquaintances. Maybe it just seems thatway, like when there is a shark attack and the news starts covering it andsuddenly there is an “epidemic” of shark attacks and in all reality there isthe same amount as there always has been, we just never heard they wereoccurring? Either way, it seems like everytime I turn around there are illnesses, tragic stories and deaths. I know, not the cheeriest of topics, but itgot me thinking.
Thisawareness is certainly a double-edged sword. On one hand all this kind of stuff really makes you take stock of yourlife, appreciate your family and kiss your babies. On the other hand, you start to get paranoidand worried and wonder, when’s the other shoe going to drop? It is hard to stop and smell the roses when you are always looking over your shoulder. I am a worry-wart and often get anxious when Tom is out with the kids and I hear sirens. Or when he’s gone on atrip and not driving his usual sturdy Ford F150 I end up envisioning him in a gnarly crash somewhere in Ohio. I worry about Tom's diabetes, the kids running out into traffic or getting kidnapped when they run off into the clothing racks in the store. I worry one of these days my putting mascara on while driving is going to catch up with me. This list goes onand on.
The other day I went the gym and did a leisurely workout that was more about getting out of the house for a little while since Tom was leaving on a business trip and I was trying to have a few moments of peace before I went into single-mom mode. When I got down to the locker room, I felt a little light-headed and had a bit of a blurry spot in my one eye. I thought maybe it was from reading a book on my phone while on the elliptical or maybe my retina was detaching and I was going blind. I had to stop at the store to get Tom some travel size contact solution and toothpaste and found myself wandering around the store unable to focus on what I was there for. Maybe I am coming down with Alzheimers? I finally got what I needed and checked out. As I was walking to my car a group of Girl Scouts who were selling cookies outside the store began singing, “I throw my hands up in the air sometimes and say buy some cookies…” set to the tune of the song “Dynamite.” I was so taken not only by her singing talent, but her creativity and went back and bought a box from her even though I had three boxes at home.
I got back to my car and started to cry. Must be early menopause…or maybe I’m pregnant? Nah, that’s impossible. I got home and made myself something to eat and was trying to yell at the kids while they were fighting over Trio Blocks(yes, Colin finally earned his toy from the sticker chart!) I found it difficult to get the words out that I wanted to say. I knew what I wanted to say, but they just weren’t coming out right or in the right order. Oh my God, it must be a brain tumor! I finished my lunch and decided I just need to lie down for a while. My mind was racing. I’m not normally a hypochondriac,so this was pretty unusual for me. I thought back to a time when I had a sinus infection when I was in high school and when it was breaking up, it affected my speech in a similar way. I didn’t have a sinus infection, but I did have a headache and with this crazy weather, my sinuses are a mess. Still, as I fell asleep I couldn’t help but worry, especially with all the bad news going around lately. I ended up having a dream about my own wake. I know, I’m nuts, but haven’t we already established this? I don’t remember all the details, but the one thing that sticks in my head was the vision of the kids and all I wanted to do was grab them and put them on my lap and hug them,but I couldn’t get to them. Nothing like waking up to realize that you aren’t really dead to make you happy to be alive. More importantly, I ran downstairs to hug my kids.
Then, add insult to injury, I watched the movie “The Descendants” and about had anervous breakdown. Tom walked in after having a few beers with the neighbors to find me sobbing on the couch. If you haven’t seen the movie, it wouldn’t be giving anything away to tell you the that the wife/mother gets in a boating accident, slips into a coma and is about to die. Not the kind of movie I should have watched based on my recent state-of-mind.
I have to admit that in my lifetime, I have thought that my presence on this earth didn’t matter much. I have faced dark times when I didn’t really want to be here anymore. Thankfully, I found reasons to find value in my life and carry on. In contrast to those dark days, I cannot even fathom not wanting to be here not just for myself, but also for my family. The pain I feel knowing that I would have to live another day without them, and they without me is paralyzing.
It has become abundantly clear that these little rugrats and their father are the ones who make my life worth living in the truest sense. Similar to my shift in perspective as it relates to Christmas, things that I used to find insignificant are now monumental and important. I would have never in a million years bought St. Patrick’s Day window clings, shamrock garland and leprechauns to hang throughout my house (beginningin February no less!) if not for my darling daughter so full of zeal andexcitement over a “Shamrock Day” celebration where she gets to wear a green tiara and shamrock necklace. Used to be a Shamrock Shake, some green beer that made died my mouth the color of the Chicago River and Corn Beef and Cabbage at my mom’s that required an entire bottle of Gas-X to avoid exploding on my way home. Now, I even make shamrock-shaped pancakes with green sprinkles and blare Celtic rock in the car for the kids.
Of course, this value that my life has now also means I have so much more to lose. Sometimes I get a little existential and get overwhelmed by all feelings that come along with loving and being loved. That feeling like you could just lose it all in a moment and I think it might just be better not to carry that weight. Then I get all Steel Magnolias and go for the“I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” and realize that no matter what price this love comes with, it is far better than living without it. Part of me wants to live like there is no tomorrow, the other cautiously so we are healthy and careful as to not shatter this fragile life. It takes everything I have not to worry too much, not get caught up in unimportant things and to enjoy every day and everymoment like it is Christmas morning. I often think of the song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying” and it depresses me. I’d rather “live like I’m still living.”
I have found the best way to keep things in check is to do the following: (I know a lot of these things are geared towards couples and/or people with kids, but there’s something for everyone!)
5) Call your mom and tell her you love her….
6) …Then tell her you are sorry for being such a pain in the ass when you were a kid. (The same holds true for your dad!)
7) Hug, squeeze and kiss your kids.
8) Tell your husband/wife you love them just because.
9) Don’t be afraid to show affection in front of your children. It is important for themto know that they have parents who love each other. (Within reason, of course!)
10) Tell your kids you are proud of them.
11) Take care of yourself and your family.
12) Surround yourself with people that make you feel good about yourself and make you a better person. Be that same person to them.
13) Celebrate your accomplishments.
14) Take time at the end of every day to reflect onat least one good, positive thing that happened. Have your kids do the same.
15) Breathe, because afterall it is the best indication you are still alive.