Uncertainty

Adulting is no joke.

During the days of preschool, playgroups, halloween parties, and boxed macaroni and cheese lunches, it is safe to say I never knew what was coming. These were the times of dial-up internet, playtime in the backyard, no iPads at the dinner table, and cordless land lines with headsets. This luxury allowed people everywhere to watch children, clean the house, cook meals, and socialize with the bff all at the same time.

We called this multi-tasking.


As any veteran parent knows, juggling parental duties evolves into multitasking on steroids. Next comes carpool, homework, school projects, exposing children to a plethera of sports practices, lessons in the arts, church activities, travel, volunteering and more, all with the intention of creating a well rounded specimen of a child.

We call this the rat race.


Having abandoned the parenting rat race and waiting to witness how life will look for our young adults, I find myself still struggling for peace most days…the next stage of parenting.

We call this uncertainty with a pinch of loss of control.

Even during the early parenting days, there were health, financial, marital, time, and work challenges which seemed crippling at the time. I’ve learned over time these circumstances wax and wane, but will never be completely eliminated, at least not in this lifetime.

Parents may become devastated when watching their own graduate from high school. For so many, it is a huge source of worry and concern. Where has the time gone? Will he/she go to college, and where will this be? Will it be trade school? Will it be work? What does this mean for the family finances? These are all legitimate concerns. I look at that time in the life of my family and realize I had no idea what was lurking around the corner.

There is a very relevant car commercial currently airing which addresses parents imagining the worse in regards to safety as their children age into adulthood–As it stands, there are no guarantees of safety for our children, there are no guarantees of the dream job after college, there are no guarantees for good health…

The guarantee is that everything works out for our good and for theirs. It may not look like what we expected, but life is full of surprises.

It is easy to look at the past and recognize I did not walk alone in any phase, any challenge, any crisis, and any blessing. It is not easy to wait for the result of future circumstances even when I know from past history I will not be alone.

We call this relinquishing control and trusting the best is yet to come.

My parental duty now is to be supportive, to be available, to be still, and to wait…all while praying for health, praying for safety, praying for direction, and praying for purpose for each person in my family, as well as for myself.

...because someday I know I will look back and not even be able to believe what was coming next…

Say/do this, not that…

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I have a good support system despite the fact I was not born and raised in this town, I have no family living here, I have created a small social circle because I intentionally did not embrace the social scene available when moving here, and quite simply, I am an introvert who places more value on a select group of relationships over having a wide variety of social acquaintances.

That being said, and not in any way intending to place judgement on those with different personalities and priorities than mine, I find myself thinking a lot about a person’s life experiences and how they affect thoughts, belief systems, words, and interactions with others.

I firmly believe each person has his or her own gifts when showing love and support towards others. This includes what comes naturally to that person, what fulfills him/her and brings that person joy, and what is within that person’s comfort level. I also believe that a person’s own life experiences, for good or for bad, can alter any of this. Compassion, empathy, and confidence in one’s own abilities can be grown and fine-tuned throughout a person’s life.

Specifically, when examining my current situation, there are some who come to sit, talk, and just be here. There are others who prefer to drop off groceries or pick up lunch for me. There are a few who make themselves aware of my transportation needs, and ask about my schedule and needs for getting out of the house. There are fewer still who are willing to wipe the crumbs from the counter, take out the trash, empty a sink full of dishes, or throw laundry in the dryer. (I mean, I do get that. Who can blame them on that one?!)

Right now, I am grateful to each and every person for each and every act of kindness. I know from my previous ‘normal’ that each person is busy with his/her own commitments, families, jobs, and life. It takes real energy and effort to be intentional in helping others.

It is not a good feeling to be helpless in situations, or at best, limited. Losing independence is a tough cookie to swallow. One thing that has become increasingly clear to me during the last few years is I never enjoy having to ask for help.

so…again, without judgement, advice comes to mind that maybe I can share in hopes of helping caregivers and support persons better understand how to help any person experiencing a difficulty…

Do This:  Be specific. Say things like, “I’m at the store or at this restaurant…What can I bring you?”; “Have you eaten today?”; “Can I swing by and do ‘this or ‘that’?”; “What appointments do you have this week? “Can I take you to ‘xyz’ or help work out your rides?”; “Can I help with phone calls?”

Not This: “Let me know what you need…(open-ended).” Truth is, no one who needs help wishes to be put in the position of asking for it.

Do This: Keep inviting that person to whatever it is you are hosting, attending or doing. even if you believe the answer will be ‘no’. Even if you do experience more nays than yays, keep inviting, offering and asking.

Not This: Exclude that person from ‘life’ because of his/her limitations/problems…you just never know when that person may wake up and feel like going to the birthday party or pushing through to attend the movie because he/she just needs a little bit of ‘normal’ that day.

Do This: Celebrate the progress; Focus on the good; Be a good listener; Encourage

Not This: Break contact with that person because you don’t know how to feel, what to say, how to help, what to do…it is not your job to fix everything, just to be a friend.

I think back years ago to when our twins were born very prematurely and no one knew what the outcome would be.  My advice…just say congratulations and send the baby gift in the moment. Always hope for the best.

Coming out of the chronically ill closet

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After barely beginning to experiment with sharing a little about my life through this format in 2015, everything came to a screeching halt for me. Last I checked, nearly three years ago, I was describing myself as a mother of three teenagers and sharing some of their more riveting high school antics. Fast forward to present day, and life looks very different for me. Now two are juniors in college 1300 miles away from home, and the youngest is a freshman at a much closer, in-state university. Everything is what one might expect with them in those stages of life, but for me, not so much.

The very summer after my two oldest, twins, graduated from high school and began their college adventures, I simply and without much notice, fell apart. One might expect a mom to grieve and have lifestyle changes when the kids fly the coop, but this was more than that. While I will not go into a list of symptoms at this time, I will say that the following years turned into a progressively downhill rat race of hospital stays, tests, doctor visits, tears, disappointments, falls, broken bones, prayers, physical therapy, more bruises, and trying things I would have never dreamt of trying, all in hopes of feeling better and reclaiming my normal.

Because my family has relocated four times since my marriage in 1994, it is very easy to “see” the different stages of life as they’ve progressed and divide life into boxes.

  • Newlyweds, husband medical school, no kids, me working
  • Residency, long work hours, first home, babies, very tired
  • Husband’s first job, preschool/young elementary kids, fluctuating weight, trying to figure out what happened to pre-kid fun, looks, and youth
  • More settled in career, getting our social groove back, late elementary-middle school kids, fitness revitalized
  • New job for husband, middle to high school kids, soccer, ballet, volunteer work, BUSY and expensive
  • Empty nesters, hard-working husband, health decline for me, faith challenged, college kids, even more expenses

I could not be happier for my kids and husband and their knack for doing life well. I do consider it a true blessing and am very grateful for the many years and many words–lots of words–talking, advising, instructing, disciplining, training.

It would be an understatement to say I took my job of parenting extremely seriously!

I do see the timing allowed me the many years of good health, time, energy, and resources to devote to the children in hopes they would become responsible, kind, and compassionate, independent thinkers.

I can also see the timing is such that I can focus on myself, how to best navigate my newly acquired disabilities, and adapting to my new normal.

As I grouped the phases of my life into different categories, I have also had the honor of knowing different groups of people at each phase, many with whom I am now reacquainted because of that great invention of social media.

It is human nature to put one’s best foot forward on social media. Of course it is great to think friends of days gone by believe life is great and successful, youthfulness abounds, and graying hair, wrinkles and illness are nonexistent. I confess  I struggle with these issues of vanity, and especially since being dealt the cards of a degenerative neurological disease. 

I have also decided now is the time to come out of the chronically ill closet, and not be afraid of showing that I use a wheelchair and a walker all. the. time. because I cannot stand or move without falling over.  I can no longer, without great effort, put on makeup, fix my hair,do household chores, fix meals, shop in stores, speak without slurring, or write on paper. I can still attempt to do some version of all of those things, if I pace myself, rest, and have much lower expectations compared to years past. 

Knowledge is freedom, so here is me, now, in all my glory and brokenness. My wish is that my world can grow to be just a little bit bigger, and I can obtain a new level of authenticity. So, let us all carry on now and do our best one step at a time.

Sixteen Candles

My third and youngest child, my son, turned sixteen the beginning of March. In the deep south, for many boys, turning sixteen is a momentous occasion, marked by the purchase of a big truck. The older the better. The higher off the ground the better. The more accessories the better. The muddier they become the better.

We moved to the deep south when my son became a kindergartener and he embraced it full force. It started with little things, like little league baseball, first rides on the neighbor’s riding lawn mower, running into things on four-wheelers, and first casts. It has come full circle now with deer rifles, turkey calls, fishing every afternoon, and The Big Truck.

As a mom, I have come to accept the diverse lifestyles of my family. Both of my daughters have more refined interests. They are academically focused, classical ballerinas who plan to pursue college degrees in ballet and aspire to have dance careers. My son takes a more relaxed approach to life. I have decided as a parent, one can choose to live in a constant state of frustration or one can take each day and work the problem. It is true when the phone rings and my son’s contact pops up on my phone, I never know what I am about to hear. Oh, the excitement of a sixteen year old boy’s life…

Just one week after gaining possession of “The Big Truck”, I had fallen asleep early on a Saturday night, leaving my husband the duty of waiting up until all the teenagers were tucked nicely into their beds. I remember awaking from my slumber to the sweet voice of my son explaining in the kitchen how “it” was not so bad and “it” was easy to fix. I sprung from my bed to see what was the matter only to find the quite common scenario of father and son negotiating the “it” of the day. This warm, spring Saturday evening of driving through empty fields of wet mud had resulted in “it” only being one unattached passenger side mirror…”it” could have been much worse, I admit.

Along with sixteen candles and the big truck came the necessity of putting a reliable cell phone into his hands (for my peace of mind.) One week after the mirror misfortune, my son’s varsity soccer team played a game on a Tuesday night two hours out-of-town. It was a hectic evening corralling and chauffeuring a team of twenty a good distance after school for a seven pm game only to lose after overtime in penalty kicks. What sealed the deal, though, for us, was to have the less than two-week old phone make the two-hour trip to the soccer field but not make the trip home, never to be seen or heard from again. Good times.

If the month of March and the sixteen year old birthday were to have a price tag placed upon it, what would it be?…The Big Truck. The first mirror that went away. The first phone that went away. Let us not forget the increase in the cost of the car insurance premium when a boy makes a wish and blows out sixteen candles. Or, would it be sixteen years of good memories, talents that have flourished, personality traits and personal values that are to be commended and celebrated?

These may, in fact, be some of the most expensive years ever experienced in parenting. These years will also provide some of the most memorable times. Some day, when he is all grown and mature and serious, the adventure and excitement will be no more, and so I challenge myself and others in my position to never lose perspective of the big picture, never lose hope in stressful circumstances, always have self-control when challenged, and keep loving people. Stuff is stuff and it will break, get lost, stolen and destroyed. Time and money can fix or replace any possessions. Time and money cannot always fix broken and damaged relationships.

Be careful with your people out there, folks.

The Promposal

It is prom season and my twin daughters are graduating from high school this year. Starting about six or eight weeks ago, the cute, unique pics started appearing on Instagram documenting ways girls are being asked to prom this year. Some are poster boards with clever poems and plays on words. Some are donuts and other food products spelling “Will you go to prom with me?”. In many cases, the girls are asking the boys.

So. Much. Pressure.

As with a lot of what I experience with today’s culture and parenting teens, I find myself thinking of the good old days. I remember my prom days. Of course there were certain stereotypes that went along with “prom” and what prom meant and what would happen at prom and after prom. It was the ’80s after all. My junior year of high school, I had a boyfriend so having a date that year was a no-brainer. By my senior year, he was old news, and I went with a guy who was a bit of a bad boy. This new guy was the total package, with the big house, out-of-town parents, and THE after party. I was one of the book-smart girls, but one who still had it going on just enough to get the invites to the social events and be on the outskirts of the popular crowd, and that was good enough for me.

Lots of years of experience have led me to where I am today. I have God, a hard-working husband, three children, and the privilege of time and availability. I hit the ground running every day hoping for the best. Every family is going to have bumps in the road and the goal is to not stay down for too long.

Navigating high school in the years leading up to 2015 with my two daughters has been a unique experience. Let’s just say for some reason I did not get what I deserved in this department. They are nothing like I was in high school. They are smart, focused, dedicated to their pursuits, mature, talented, beautiful, and pleasant individuals.

So, what were their “promposals” like, one may wonder? Recently, my daughters performed in their last full length ballet as senior company members with their dance company~Cinderella. Of course, everyone knows how this story ends. For my daughters, unfortunately, the Fairy Godmother does not make an appearance. In this day, thanks to social media, girls who do not get asked to the ball see all of their friends going through the process from start to finish. There are manicures, pedicures, dress shopping, hair and make up appointments, dinner… it actually makes me cherish those memories I have (only in my mind) of my prom when I was hiding in a closet in my date’s house because all the kids were smoking weed and I was afraid the cops were on the way.

The good news? I have raised strong women apparently. I am very happy to say that my daughters have lived through two prom seasons, not been invited, survived, and seem no worse for the wear. This year, they even helped friends pick out dresses and wore the prom-themed t-shirts to school on the day of the prom. My two beautiful ones are looking ahead to bigger, better, more important things in life and I could not be prouder.

The beginning of a small makeover…stay tuned

I am accused sometimes of having too many irons in the fire and not following through on any one thing, and in my defense, the excuse is usually one thing…money. I always think I need more to complete “my vision.” My twin daughters are graduating from high school on May 21. They say there is nothing like a good deadline to get projects completed when it comes to the house. Unfortunately, there are too many uncompleted projects to number at our house coupled with twenty years of one income, medical school student debt, raising three children, private school tuition, and the list goes on and on. Oh, don’t get me wrong…We have had a great run of “Keeping up with the Jones'”,”Fake it ’til you Make It”, or however it might be described. #blessed Still, though, keeping up a large household is not an easy or cheap job.

For the twins’ graduation, we have the unique opportunity to entertain multiple family members from out-of-town. We rarely entertain nor have family visiting from out-of-town. I am so excited!!! So excited, in fact, that as soon as the Christmas decorations went into the attic, I started creating design boards in my brain about how this should all happen, including my completely redesigned rooms and twenty year old furnishings that must be replaced.

Well, people, don’t get too excited. I have a good friend who always says, “All in good time.” So, to appease my decorating itch, I have made some minor, not so expensive, refreshing changes around the house, will put some band-aids on other household issues to distract the guests, and have chosen one “project” on which to focus~the back porch. It is going to have a DIY feel to it with me on “Pinterest” and hubby on “power tools”, but my hope is that it will be lovely and satisfying in the end.