Me: “Someone made coffee?”
Me: “awww. You’re my favorite daughter!”
PinkGirl: “I would have preferred ‘favorite child.’”
FavoriteSon: “What do you want?”
FavroiteSon: “umm. hmm.”
I know I’m not your “fun” friend. I wouldn’t make a good Bunco buddy. I prefer conversation over television. And without exception, I will choose talking about your goals and ideas and struggles over spending two hours in a dark movie theater not talking at all. I know I’m not the first person you think of when you want to get together with someone and laugh your butt off. I know I’m not one of the friends you invite out for happy hour on girl’s night.
And I’m okay with that.
I would be completely miserable at happy hour.
For me, happy hour is like reading fiction. It’s a diversion from real life. And usually much too loud.
I can’t do it.
(I have my reasons, which I’ll get into in the next few posts, but let me start out by assuring you I’m not like this because I think I’m better than other people. You’ll see. I have “issues.”)
I know I’m different. Some would say, not normal. Some might say annoying. exasperating.
You either get used to me or you avoid me.
But when you need to talk, I’m the friend who wants to have coffee with you. I’m the friend who can handle hearing about the things that keep you awake at night. I’m the friend who wants to hear about the things that keep you awake at night. Without judgement. In confidence. And be prepared for me to pray for you. Right then and there. Out loud and in front of whoever happens to be looking. (well, not so loud I break a confidence)
Sure, we can talk about surface stuff; logistical stuff, like what mechanic we trust, what we love and hate about our phones and data plans, a good (but easy) recipe or maybe even gas prices.
but not for long.
I don’t have a lot of patience for surface talk. It’s like a magazine. Little chunks of uncommitted browsing.
I prefer books. I want to spend a little more time and dig deeper.
While there’s time. Because it’s later than I think.
FOLLOW-UP: Here are two of my “issues”:
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #1: Saturday Mornings
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #3: Death
Yesterday, I went back to yoga for the first time since tearing my MCL on December 2nd. My knee has been feeling pretty good, so I intentionally put on yoga shorts that morning. As the time to leave the house got closer, I debated. I was on a writing roll. If I stopped, I would lose momentum. and the coffee was so good. (Joffrey’s Jamaican Me Crazy)
LazyMe: “I don’t wanna go. I’m comfortable.”
AnnoyingMe: “Come on. After class is over, you’ll be glad you did it.”
AnnoyingMe: “What is it you always say? That you’re ‘striving to be a good steward of the body God has blessed you with?’”
LazyMe: ” It’s early. I’ve got all day. I can be a good steward later.”
AnnoyingMe: “Did you shave your legs for nothing?”
LazyMe: (sigh) “alright. I’m goin.”
Last night, I was really feeling the after-effects of this pose (below).
My whole body hurt – from holding it perfectly still for a total of just a few minutes.
Tonight, I’m feeling it even more.
There’s only one thing to do. Go back tomorrow.
I figure if Panera didn’t want me to monopolize booth #1, they shouldn’t have put a power outlet under my feet.
10:39am – At Panera Bread, trying to write instead of at home trying not to fall asleep or clean something. I’m supposed to be working on my book, but it seems that lyrics are sneaking out instead. We’ll see. I’ve got time to do both – PinkGirl has a 12 hour theater day.
11:39am – Crudola. Power supply at home. Battery has 2 hours and 40 minutes. Gonna try and bribe FavoritSon to bring it to me later. seriously. that’s not going to happen.
12:39pm – I’m attempting to bribe FavoriteSon with free Panera lunch. He and his dad think it’s “girl food” but I think he’ll do it anyway. The question is whether he’ll make it before my battery dies. 1 hour 42 minutes.
1:39pm – My son loves me. He just brought my laptop power supply to me at Panera Bread so I didn’t have to stop writing. And I didn’t even have to buy him lunch.
Let the monopolization of booth #1 continue.
10:00 a.m. - I have until tomorrow to submit lyrics & track for the two songs I will be recording on Friday night. As I listen to song after song after song, I’m praying that God would lead me to the two songs HE wants me to sing – to the lyrics & melody that He can use to reach someone who will be present in the recording session that night. I want more than a great session, I want to be an instrument of His grace.
10:36 a.m. - The songs I wanted to try don’t have tracks. Walking away from the computer – and the list of backup choices – to sit on the loveseat with a cup of coffee, my Bible and my prayer journal. I hope I can shut up long enough to hear what the Lord has to say about this.
PinkGirl did the writing on the sign in sheet at her school for me so I wouldn’t spread germs:
Time: 9:01 (school started at 8am)
Reason: “Mom is sick”
Disapproving look from temp worker at the front desk.
Me: “Be nice or I’ll hug you.” (to myself)
Doc: “When did this start?”
Me: Thursday night. Been living on Sudafed, Mucinex & leftover hydrocodone.”
Doc, laughing/shaking head: “You’re not supposed to tell me that.”
A few minutes later: “You need a shot. You’re wheezing.”
Today, I love that steroid shot more than coffee. not kidding.
Lord, thank you for my doctor. Thank you for that relationship. You sent me to him so long ago that I forget to appreciate that blessing. Thank you for all the free and affordable medicine – and for the steroid shot.
For the next few days, the acronym “LOL” will be replaced with “COL” because lately, the first doesn’t come without the second.
PinkGirl: Mom, what does “COL” mean?
Me: Coughing Out Loud, because when I laugh, I start coughing.
PinkGirl: “You should just say LOL.”
Me: “Yesterday you told me I was too OLD to use LOL.”
PinkGirl: “Well, old people can use it in private.”
Me: “How old does someone have to be before they should only use LOL in private?”
what the heck? I took some of the samples my doctor gave me for symptoms and within the hour I felt like a complete space cadet. The decongestant was phenylephrine. I usually take pseudoephedrine. I may be wrong & my symptoms were the cause of the lightheadedness, so I’m going to take the next dose – with supervision.
(I really, really needed a decongestant. The effects of the sauna wore off too fast and my neti pot wasn’t even working. Benadryl is an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine – which is also the main ingredient in TylenolPM, Nytol, Sominex…KNOCKS me out. TylenolPM dosage says take two, I can never handle more than half of ONE. I was taking Mucinex for the chest congestion.)
Lord, thank you for this day of rest. Please help me to get better so I can get back to “real” life.
I changed my mind. FirstHusband says I shouldn’t take any more phenylephrine. He said we had a phone conversation earlier today and I was really “out of it.” (I think I remember talking to him…)
Nobody called me today and asked me to volunteer for anything did they?
Lord, even in my tiredness and with all these nasty germs, please show me how I can serve you today.
PinkGirl: “MOM! The duck came SO close to me this time!”
Me: “Did you feed it?”
PinkGirl: “Yeh, cat food.”
Me: “wait. have you been throwing cat food in the back yard?”
Me: “For how long?”
PinkGirl: “a week. maybe two.”
NOW I know what the raccoons are digging for and eating every night.
okay, I have a new game for the Easter Bunny Cake blog post of 2009.
Will it beat its own record?
The highest number of views it got in a single day was 3,709 on April 3, 2010, which was ONE day before Easter last year. Today it got 2,135 views.
eBay sent me a “Happy Anniversary” email today. Eleven years and they can’t spare a coupon code? At the very least they could have made it fun and included the item titles of the very first things I bought and sold.
Later…Obviously, I don’t watch TV when I’m sick. I hang out on the internet and search my email archive file for my very first eBay auction win: A Mr. Potato Head Voice Changing Recorder. eh. big whoop.
My daughter felt compelled to show me this video today:
PinkGirl’s 4th grade class went on a field trip to St. Augustine today and I had to drive because she was in a charity performance for Toys for Tots tonight and she had to be at the theater earlier than the bus was returning.
I think I’m all set and then, last night around 6pm, one of the teachers sent out an email:
“If chaperones want to drive we can’t stop you; however it is a big problem in that the trolley tour that leaves from the Old Jail does not return there. It drops us off at the fort, and you will not be able to get back to your car.”
So I Googled St. Augustine and found a map From the fort to the Old Jail . . . it didn’t seem that far to me, but I didn’t know, so I emailed the teacher back:
“What are my options if I need to get PinkGirl back early? From your email, it sounds like driving my own vehicle would leave me stranded. I’ve never been to St. Augustine and it sounds like you know the ropes. Any suggestions?”
His reply, at 6:16 this MORNING:
“I am sure there are a few parents driving. Maybe you can catch a ride back to the jail or miss the trolley tour and just drive from the jail to the fort. Parking for the fort is at the welcome center across the street. Sorry, but there is no easy way that I know of.”
I’m thinking, they all sound like easy ways to me, unless you can’t WALK. I’m thinking all my treadmill time has prepared me for this. Little did I know.
So PinkGirl rides the cool bus with TVs to St. Augustine and I drive my van and park at the Old Jail with all the other parents who drove. We tour the Museum (GREAT tour guide) and the Old Jail. Here’s my facebook posts during the tour of the Old Jail:
“Trying to stand where the authoritarian tour guide tells us to stand. Got in trouble 3 times already.”
“Got in trouble with the cranky tourguide again. Now I’m standing as far back as I can to listen to the tour guide behind me. He’s funnier.”
oh. she was bossy. FirstHusband says I have a problem with authority. I say I just tend to ignore bossy people.
But here’s where it all started to go downhill fast. While we were in the Old Jail, it started raining. Did I mention it was COLD? I was wearing three layers and leather gloves. PinkGirl is wearing two layers and gloves, but she’s running around more. And then it started raining.
We had lunch on a small porch. All three 4th grade classes and a bunch of parents.
Then on to the trolley ride. So NOW we’re all in an open trolley, in the cold, in the rain and traveling at least 30 miles per hour.
By the time the tour was finished 45 minutes later, we were soaked and very, Very, VERY cold. And we had 45 minutes of “free time” until the tour of the fort. The mom I was hanging with was on a quest for coffee and I was right there with her. I hate shopping as it is and there was NO way I was going to shop while I was soaking wet.
After a latte for me and a hot chocolate for PinkGirl ($9.00), we walked to the fort and stood around waiting for that tour to begin. In the rain. I asked our tour guide about options to get back to our vehicles at the Old Jail and he quickly pointed out the trolley stop right in front of the fort. Supposedly, the trolley schedule was every 15 minutes.
So PinkGirl goes on the fort tour with her class in the care of my fellow coffee lovin mom and I walk over to the trolley stop with two other moms to wait. and wait. and wait.
Forget it. It’s RAINING and I’m freezing and if I’m going to be in the rain, I’m NOT going to stand still while I’m getting soaked. I’m at LEAST going to be moving toward my destination. We were decked out in some seriously attractive complementary rain ponchos from the trolley company, so my thought was that if we saw a trolley coming our way, we would look pitiful and step out into the middle of the street and flag… okay, maybe not. But the “look pitiful” part worked after we walked about a half a mile. Since the rain ponchos were covered in the trolley company logo, a BUS driver (NOT a trolley, but a WARM, ENCLOSED BUS) pulled to a stop right in the middle of the road and opened the door.
My favorite person of the day, and I don’t even know his name.
I get the van, drive it back to the fort and go looking for our group. They are on TOP of the fort, overlooking the water. And now it’s cold and raining and WINDY.
This is not my happy day.
PinkGirl, however is having a GREAT time. weirdo.
But the SECOND the tour is over, she says, “Mom, can we go now?
Oh, honey, you do NOT have to ask me twice. I have a vehicle and I’m not afraid to use it. We were outta there so fast! A quick pit stop at McDonalds and we were on the road. PinkGirl fell asleep within 20 minutes and stayed asleep till we got off the highway in our little hometown, about an hour and a half later.
My next facebook update:
“I dont know how PinkGirl is even still standing, much less performing in a show tonight. We had to be at school at 6:30 am, we spent most of the day freezing and soaking wet and she fell asleep in the van on the way home from St. Augustine. Her dad had to carry her into the house so she could change clothes for the show. She’s sleeping in tomorrow, I can feel it.”
“PinkGirl just got home from the show – she is TOTALLY wired. But when she crashes, it’s going to look like this. (at the 2:43 mark)”
Summer equals FRAGMENTATION.
Fragmented tasks evidenced by piles of stuff in multiple locations waiting for returned attention. Fragmented thoughts evidenced by the blank stare on my face and the inability to stay on topic in any conversation lasting longer than . . . oh! I forgot to mention, our house took a little jolt of lightening the Thursday before last! We lost two TVs, the cordless phone base and our alarm system. I ordered a cordless phone base from eBay on Friday for only $30 including shipping, and by Monday all the phones were working again. We got a new TV that Saturday (with extended warranty and lightning coverage) and the alarm system was repaired for FREE on Tuesday. Less than a week and everything was back to normal! Thank you GOD! That was easy!
… what was I talking about? Oh yeah. fragmented thoughts. Prayer is fragmented in the summer too. My prayer journal is missing some dates and I haven’t spent enough time sitting in my Bible study spot to finish even one cup of coffee while reading. Summer also reinforces my personal rule that NONE of the coffee mugs I own can have any metal on them at all. It sparks in the microwave when I nuke my coffee. And ya know I haven’t finished a cup of coffee without warming it up – sometimes multiple times – since May.
Summer leaves me stealing fragmented patches of solitude, so I’m feeling a little Brother Lawrence coming on even more than usual:
“Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?”
And I’m reading this book (in fragmented bits of time, of course), “A Busy Woman’s Guide to Prayer:” by cheri fuller (I know, i’m typing in all lower case, but that’s what the book cover uses and if you’ve been around here before, I kinda prone to lowercase myself.)
“Prayer is integration, not separation.”
Love that. I’m struggling to carve out time to separate myself and spend dedicated, uninterrupted time with God. It’s not happening every day, but I can integrate prayer into my day – all day long – every day. I’ve talked about this before – seasons of prayer life.
Summer is definitely a season.
When I have spent dedicated time with God, I’ve been praying that he would help me find more. God answers prayer.
On Sunday, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning.
I didn’t want to pray at 4:30 in the morning. I wanted to sleep. And I told God exactly that. I asked him to please let me sleep. He said no. So at 5:00 a.m., I gave him an ultimatum. Yes, I did. I told him that if I was still awake at 5:15 a.m. I would go downstairs and spend time with Him. Just us. Ya know I was still awake fifteen minutes later.
So I went downstairs and spent some time praying and reading. I had picked up a book at a garage sale the day before, Lifestories: Finding God’s Voice of Truth Through Everyday Life by Mark Hall (the lead singer of Casting Crowns) and I spent some time reading and reflecting and writing in my prayer journal.
At 6 a.m. I found myself thinking, “oh! I only have an hour left before I have to get in the shower!” After weeks of fragmented quiet time with God and striving to practice the presence of God in my everyday moments and thoughts, I got a rare hour and forty-five minutes with Him. When I finally had to stop, the thought that came to me? “I can’t believe I wasted 45 minutes trying to sleep.
“Being kind is definitely something I struggle with. Not with the rest of the world, but with my own children. I get impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind. And I really SO do not want to be that mom. I am praying now for a gentle spirit. I’ve always admired women who have that….godly women that love the Lord and seem to just live and breathe Proverbs 31. Believe me, my children don’t, as a rule, arise and call me blessed.”
My daughter sure as heck doesn’t arise and call me blessed. Often, she’s a crank in the morning until after we give her some orange juice or Ovaltine and her blood sugar levels out. We OFTEN wake her up with a no-spill sippy cup in our hand. (Try it, you might be amazed at the difference in your kiddo’s morning attitude and cooperation.)
I write about my parenting strategies and my perspective, and it may seem like I’m getting it right, but I need to clarify. I fall off the “good mom” wagon all the time. I just get back on as fast as I can. AND, I used to fall off MUCH more often when my kids were home with me 24-7. AND I know some of the reasons why.
PinkGirl and I have our moments. MOST of the time, I can give her grace when she has a blood sugar dip and starts crying for no apparent reason. But sometimes, I find myself asking her, “WHY are you crying NOW?” and saying my standard, “Handle this differently” or “Solve your problem.” in a frustrated, impatient tone of voice instead of my encouraging, reminder voice. Sometimes, when she is “disagreeable,” I completely forget to calculate when she ate last and I react with what is to me, a lack of empathy and a toneless voice. What SHE sees is a mom “who doesn’t care about me when I’m upset!” (and she tells me exactly that.) Instead of responding with grace and providing her a complex carb/protein combo before continuing in a reasonable conversation with her, I react immediately and escalate the situation. The whole episode steals time and energy and peace from our day. It’s a waste. And I know it. I don’t like it. So I try to take my own advice and “Solve my problem” by “handling things differently.”
When find myself impatient or frustrated with my kids, I start by looking for the root causes so I can fix my real problem. Physiological, psychological, spiritual . . . I always start with the physiological. (I’ve got my fair share of problems, but today I’m only focusing on ONE of the the physical problems.) I do a little self-check.
- Am I tired?
- Am I hungry?
- Is my iron low because I keep forgetting to take that stupid pill?
- Am I in pain from my stupid neck/shoulder?
Until I “fix” these physical issues I can’t consistently parent intentionally or well. Unfortunately, “fixing” isn’t an instantaneous, one time thing. Often I have to make consistent changes over time to completely get RID of these problems rather than just trying to manage them. If I’m not careful, I could end up like this: (the first two minutes)
But back to fixing my (physical) problems and handling things differently. Let’s start with “tired.”
I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. So I’ve made a few changes:
- First, I now take Ambien when I need it. Not every day – only when I can’t get to sleep. I started with Tylenol PM. One was too much. Half was just enough. When both my GP and my GYN heard I was taking it, they both suggested Ambien instead. I started with 10mg control release. Too much. I need to wake up when a kid needs me. Then I went with the regular 10mg. Too much. Drowsy the next morning. I now take 5mg.
- I also intentionally GO TO BED earlier. Sometimes (not often) as early as 10:00 p.m. I’m a night owl. Sometimes I’m not sleepy at 10:00 p.m. If I can’t get to sleep, I take some Ambien. My goal is to go to bed the same day I wake up instead of wake up the same day I go to bed.
- When I read in bed, I only read fiction. I don’t need to be learning when I’m trying to calm my mind. Even when I read a devotional, I find my brain ramping up when it should be ramping down. To make sure I don’t slip up, I don’t keep any non-fiction books in the bedroom.
- The low iron can make me weak and tired too, so I take a prescription iron supplement. (But I’m fixing that too.)
- No coffee after 1:00 p.m. or so. Enough said.
- Back when PinkGirl was a baby, I would nap when she napped. I read this over and over again when FavoriteSon was a baby and I rarely followed the advice. When PinkGirl was born, I was older, with more on my plate and more tired. I kinda had no choice.
- Sometimes it was the kid’s sleep cycles that threw a wrench in mine. When a kid won’t go to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night, what are you going to do? Sleep anyway? Not likely. I’ll write another post on overcoming kid sleep problems. We had to do that too.
- I removed things from my “To Do” list. Some jobs get harder the longer they are delayed. Like dishes and laundry. But some jobs take the same amount of time and effort each time you do them, regardless of whether you last did them yesterday or last week. Like vacuuming, cleaning the toilet or dusting. So my house wasn’t up to white glove standards. big whoop.
So, given my history and challenges, I have a question for moms like Tina and I who sometimes get, as Tina put it, “impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind:”
What kind of sleep are you getting? Supposedly, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes. I know that when my sleep is fragmented or I don’t get enough of it, I’m predisposed to a lack of patience and frustration. It doesn’t take much to push me off the “good mom” wagon.
Yes, when I get more sleep, my day is shorter. I have less time to accomplish all the things I “need” to. But when I get more (and better) sleep, my day – and my family’s day – is BETTER. And all those things I “need” to do? Some get done. Some don’t. Some jobs I keep doing. Some jobs FirstHusband handles. Some jobs the kids take care of. Some I decide not to do anymore.
You CAN change your situation. Even minor changes can add up. We have choices to make every day. When you say to yourself, “I HAVE to do (insert urgent, important task here).” Rethink it. Do you? What’s the worst thing that would happen if you didn’t? What things can you let go of? What things can you allow others to take responsibility for? Maybe the person who picks up your slack doesn’t do things exactly like you would. Is it THAT important that something be done your way?
I used to think I had no choices. But I was confusing “no choice” with “difficult choice.”
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer