Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Insane Behavior of a SHE (Sidetracked Home Executive) of If you Give a Mom a Task

So I sat down today to write a blog post on my new resolve, to take the bull by the horns, and how I plan to do something about the chaos and mess, starting with baby steps.  Well, I quickly realized I hadn’t finished part two of “In the Moment”.  Must finish part two before I can compose a new post.  Has it really been almost three months since I wrote that?  Let me see, I know I made notes on what I was going to write about in part two, where are they?  Dining room table, last I remember.  Oh my!  Look how much stuff has accumulated on this table in three months.  So many piles and containers filled with papers, school stuff, who knows what?!  How have I gone three months and not seen this mess?!  OK, let’s back up, regroup…notes, notes where might you be?


It was clear I was not going to find any notes in that mess quickly, only one thing to do, clean up the mess, go through everything piece by piece until I find them.

That decision was made at 2:00 this afternoon, it is now 10:25 at night.  I have thrown out an overflowing Wal-Mart bag of trash.  I shredded several items, emptied the shredder and replaced the bag.  I have filed a very large stack of receipts, statements, cards etc.  I created a pile, organized and ready to be dealt with, for The Director.  I compiled a smaller pile of things that need a lot more attention than I had to give today, for me to deal with this week.  I listed a massive stack of school books to be sold, on two different web sites.  I entered a long list of movies I would like to see some day, on the computer.  I answered several e-mails that needed my immediate attention.  I figured out, with The Director, plans for the little kid’s bed modification for when we re-do their room.  Cleaned out The Little Man's school bag.  Typed up and saved four recipes.  Typed up, printed out, and hung up new chore assignments, list of paid jobs for after regular chores are done and current projects I would like to be competed  by the end of 2014.   And finally I tried tirelessly to enter some info into the computer so that I can save it in one location and not have pieces of paper everywhere but I’m having computer issues so I’m still working on that, uugghh!

Here I sit at 10:33 at night, my table not completely cleaned off but looking much better than before, feeling unaccomplished because I still don’t have any notes for “In the Moment Part Two”.  My actual plan for the day of reading my meal planning, budget book then making a meal plan and blogging about it is not done.  I’ve missed out on time with my family and I’m just as frustrated now as when I began this endeavor.  I wonder if I will ever really get it together and live a semi-uncluttered, boring life?  I guess I should go get kids in bed and see if The Director can fix this computer mess.  Now where did I put my drink?  I now I had a cup going somewhere, I wonder where it is?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In the Moment Part One

Sometimes it’s funny how life gets your attention and other times it’s like a cold splash of water in your face. Several events this past Memorial weekend got my attention. By the end of the weekend it felt like a cold splash of water in my face, leaving me breathless, gasping for air.
First you must know I have a couple of addictions, one is containers, baskets, any sort of interesting or useful storage item. I love them! I love all stores that have wonderful storage items! I could get in big trouble if I actually gave into my addiction.



The other addiction I have is books. I love books, I love the smell of them, I love to hold them and read them. I love my Kindle and Nook apps because I can carry several books at once, everywhere I go! I’m usually reading at least two books at all times, right now I’m reading four of them. Two of them are self-help/info sorts and two are stories; one fiction, one not. I could probably read a lot faster if I would just read one book at a time, but I can’t help it, I get interested in something and the next thing I know I’m into another book. Some books I have read over again. Some of them I’ve read cover to cover in a week or less. Many books, like my writing, have kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. Often at the end of a good story I find myself melancholy because I am no longer apart of the character's world. I hate when a good book ends!

Because of my book addiction I have piles and piles of books that I have bought and haven’t read yet. I want to read them, I just haven’t had the chance thus far. I also used to collect lots of little slips of paper with book titles written on them hoping one day to compile them into a master list and read them all. Well, with technology I don’t have to do that anymore, I now use Goodreads.com and have several lists of books, pages and pages long that I want to read. Anytime I hear of a good book or see a book I want to read I add it to my “To Read” list.



Anyway, in one of my weaker moments I came across the book Your Time-Starved Marriage: How to Stay Connected at the Speed of Life by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. I bought it immediately, took it home to share with my husband, got all excited, ordered the workbooks that go with it and proceeded to put it on my nightstand with all the other piles of unread books. However, before I added the book and workbooks to the pile I went on their web site and took their Time Style Assessment. What I found out is that I’m predominantly a Planner. Surprising to me because I’m so disorganized most of the time. Not surprising to The Director, he says I plan everything!

Here is the description that came up after I took the assessment.

*The Planner

You relate to time more objectively than subjectively, that is, you tend to be more scheduled than unscheduled. Relative to others, you live more by a timetable or calendar. You often enjoy executing a plan. You also tend to enjoy structure and, if at all possible, you like to know what’s going to happen next.
That’s due to the fact that you are also more oriented toward the future than the present. You have a vision for what could be and, generally, you’re willing to delay your gratification to be sure the vision is realized. As a Planner, you are typically prepared. Or at least you’re in the process of preparing. You plan your work and work your plan. You’re goal oriented. You’re often thinking about what step to take next. And you are sometimes urgent about what needs to be done now because it will impact what can or cannot be done later. And like any good Planner, you don’t want to be caught off guard or miss a good opportunity.
More than any of the other time styles yours is the one that is most likely to try and protect time. Generally speaking, this makes you industrious and productive with your time. As you practice delayed gratification, putting off an immediate pleasure in order to realize a greater payoff later on, you get things done. This doesn’t mean you are always punctual, but when you are late it’s usually by your own design.
You might be likely to say things to your spouse like, “Give me just a minute,” or “Let me finish this one thing and I’ll be right there.” Under stress you can become discontent and withdrawn. Or, depending upon your personality, you may become insensitive and even impatient. And because you may tend to multi-task, you may need to learn to live more fully in the moment. In fact, this may be your greatest challenge in managing your time in your marriage. While you are busy getting prepared and being efficient (to save time) you may tend to miss out on the joy of savoring what’s going on right now.

 You may need to learn to live more fully in the moment. You may need to learn to live more fully in the moment! Humph! Was all I had to say! I was irked, downright angry when I read those words. I tried to conjure up every excuse I could to defend my planner ways. It wasn’t happening. The Director told me it’s not bad to be a planner, you just need to have more fun. I hate when people tell me that! Loosen up, have more fun, lighten up! My siblings tell me that all the time. Sometimes I hate being in the same room with my siblings, my husband and my kids. They start acting silly, and laughing and goofing off at the most ridiculous times! It infuriates me! Especially when there is stuff to be done, things to take care of, and things to finish. Can’t they see what needs to be done? How can they just sit back and laugh it up and have fun?!

Years ago when The Organized Child was a baby I went to a Christian writer’s conference with a friend. In one of the classes we were given a section of the newspaper, asked to find something that stuck out, relate it back to a biblical story and present an article idea to the class. You know what section of the paper I got?! The classifieds, what in the heck are you going to do with the classifieds. I felt like the girl in the play Chorus Line, the one who sings “Nothing”. You know the one where it’s her first day of acting class, she sings

“Mr. Karp... Oh, Mr. Karp...
 Anyway, he puts us up on the stage with
our legs around each other,
one in back of the other and he says:
"Okay... we're going to do improvisations.
Now, you're on a bobsled. It's snowing out.
And it's cold...Okay...GO!
And everybody's goin' "Whooooosh, whooooosh ...
I feel the snow... I feel the cold... I feel the air."
And Mr. Karp turns to me and he says,
"Okay, Morales. What did you feel?"
And I said..."Nothing,
I'm feeling nothing,"
And he says "Nothing
Could get a girl transferred."

They all felt something,
But I felt nothing
Except the feeling
That this b------t was absurd!”
The song continues with all the kids feeling SOMETHING and Morales feels nothing. That was me, all the people in the class picked out these fabulous things and had concocted bylines and stories and there I sat with the classifieds. And, then I saw it, it hit me, House Cleaner needed. That was it! The story of Martha and Mary, I created something to present to the class, although I couldn’t tell you today what it was. But you know what? That experience stayed with me the rest of my life because I am Martha! Every time someone is having “FUN” I’m brooding, doing whatever task needs to be done. I’m so wrapped up in my planning, my job, that I end up being angry and missing out on all the fun. How can a kid who grew up with a professional magician and clown for a father possibly be this much of a buzz kill!

You know what else? I hear it in my head, when they say lighten up, loosen up, have fun, I hear it, it plays like a broken record. What’s wrong with you, why can’t you just let it go and have some fun? It will be there in a few minutes, an hour, tomorrow. How long is it really going to take you to stop and be silly, laugh, have fun, what are you afraid of? What are you afraid of?! It plays every time, every time! And yet, I can’t seem to let go, I can’t stop myself, I have to press on. I don’t know why, I just do. And then I brood, I pout, I play the martyr, at least in my head. Then a new broken record starts, don’t they get it, if I don’t do this whose going to, don’t they see what life would REALLY be like if I stop, if I join in? Don’t they get that I’m doing all this for them and like Martha, I think if they would just help me I could join in.


And so, here this weekend with my Planner personality, my Planner ways, God says “ENOUGH!” At first He tries to get my attention with subtle, gentle whispers. By the end of the weekend I am soaked, breathless and gasping for air.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Hero

REPOST from August 23, 2013

I have written on my blog about the heroism of and my admiration for the Organized Child's godfather.  I was in awe as I learned even more about his bravery and heroism at his funeral.  I had an admiration (and still do) for the Godfather because of his patriotism and devotion as a man, father, grandfather and soldier.  However, I am ashamed of my lack of admiration for another man who deserved it just as much as The Godfather did.

For years growing up I heard the story of my grandfather's heroism, but that's all it was, a story.  A story that went along with a picture of a handsome, young, man that hung on the wall.

The story was never quite clear and seemed to have a few variations.  I knew that he had died saving some men in a fire.  What I took away from the story was the devastation and pain it had caused my grandmother, aunts and mother because he had died.

After my grandmother died I learned a little more about my grandfather and decided that I would like to name my first born son after him, in honor of him.  Naming Oldest, was the extent of my interest.

Three years ago several coincidences started an investigation and a research project into the events leading up to my grandfather's death.  Again, I followed along with what I would consider an apathetic interest.  Not because I wasn't interested or didn't care, but because it was still just a story to me.  I know this man lived and affected lives but for whatever reason it wasn't "REAL" to me.  He wasn't real to me.

Finally after three long years and lots of hard work, a monument and memorial service were planned for yesterday at Fort Drum.  It wasn't the ideal time for me to travel and one thing after another seemed to impede me from attending.  I had ideally wanted my whole family to go and when it didn't work out, I thought I would just skip the whole thing.  Finally, The Director encouraged me to go and my most generous aunt paid for The Middle Child to go with me.  After venturing out for an over night trip with The Middle Child, we again ran into several road blocks.  Those blocks almost discouraged me enough to get back on a plane and head home before I even arrived at my final destination.  I am so glad that I didn't go home, that we endured and finally made it to Watertown NY to be present for the momentous occasion!

Yesterday I learned about a most amazing man, my grandfather, an Officer in the US Army in 1947!  He was a hero who changed the course of history.  I will never know the amount of lives he affected by his act of heroism.  He suffered tremendously because of his selfless act of courage.  While his act was not a game changer for the masses, it was for ten men.  (Sitting there yesterday I was reminded of The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley.)  And, while my grandfather didn't die in combat, he still died serving his country, saving men he more than likely didn't even know.  Because of the fire that claimed my grandfather's and four other men's lives, and some events that followed, the Feres Doctrine came into place and is still referred to in court cases today.  This fire and his life, are a very important part of history that was almost completely forgotten.

My grandfather arrived at the base only nine hours before the 2:30 a.m. barracks fire broke out.  He is credited with saving the lives of 10 men after he sounded the alarm and searched the barracks to help all of them escape.  Trapped by the debris while attempting to jump from a second story window, my grandfather suffered burns to approximately 90 percent of his body, and later died 18 days after the fire with my grandmother at his side.


I am so grateful I was able to attend yesterday's memorial.  I am grateful to all the people at Fort Drum who investigated and researched this event, to learn what they could, and bring the story of the handsome, young man, in the picture on the wall, to life.  I am in awe of the man who gave his life, so selflessly and courageously.  Who fought to stay alive for 18 days, I'm sure for his wife and three small daughters.  The man who died at just 25, but seems to me must have been wise and mature beyond his years.  A successful, accomplished and decorated soldier.  The man I never met, but named a child after.  The one I now call my grandpa. He is no longer just my "grandfather", the handsome, young man in the picture, who had a brief, unclear, lore attached to his name.  He is my hero!

And, I am so proud of my mother and my aunt for their part in bringing this event to being and persevering all of these years without their father.

While I am EXTREMLY proud of my grandpa and his heroism, it is IMPORTANT for me to keep the anonymity of my children and family.  This is the ONLY reason I have blocked out my grandfather's name on the picture of the monument, placed where the front door of the barracks was.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Ugly Duckling

When I was little probably five or six, I took ballet lessons along with my friend that lived across the street from me.  To be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about the lessons themselves.  What I do remember is the recital we had.  This is probably because of the two 8 x 10 pictures, featuring the group of us little girls, in our costumes, in my baby book.  (I just went looking to see the pictures and verify there weren’t more photos.  When my parents moved into their motorhome I was sure my mom gave me my childhood photo albums, but if she did I don’t know what I did with them.  So, note to self, check with mom about photo albums.)

Anyway, what I remember is being able to wear make-up, and getting to dress up in costumes.  We must have had two numbers that we performed because we were all wearing two different costumes in the pictures.  In one of the pictures we are all wearing pretty, royal blue, sequined ballet costumes.  We all wore the same costume.  Precious, matching ballerinas!  In the other picture there were three different costumes.  A bunny costume, a puppy costume and a duck costume.  Now I know if my mother is reading this, she is rolling her eyes and saying something along the lines of “Here we go again with the duck!  Let it go!  You were a precious duck, adorable, blah, blah, blah!”  I love my mom, and I especially love my mom for saying those things.  However, I’m a mom now and I know there are times when we moms have rose colored or in this case cuteness glasses on.  There is nothing that could make our child not precious or adorable when they are performing, no matter what they are wearing!

For me, seeing myself in that duck costume makes my skin crawl and brings back all sorts of “little girl” memories of pain.  I was a round, stout little girl.  When you enter the world at nine plus pounds you are bound to have some weight issues.  My father referred to me as “so cute, what a chubber”.  I never remember being aware of taking that in any way other than a compliment and with pure delight, love and esteem from my father.  Nonetheless, somewhere down the line, at school I imagine, while I wasn’t an obese child, my weight was brought to my attention.  I’m figuring this because when it came time to be assigned our animal costumes I distinctly remembering wanting to be the pretty pink and white puppy or white bunny and not the duck!  Not that the duck costume was ugly per say but because I remember all the chubbier little girls being chosen for the ducklings.  As we were getting assignments, I remember thinking, I want to be a puppy like Michelle or a bunny.  I noticed as it went along that all the tiny, petite girls were getting the puppy and bunny costumes.  I’m looking at the other not so tiny or petite girls getting the duck costumes.  And then it happened the dreaded assignment I somehow knew was coming!  I was made a duck!  I know I complained, I hated the idea of being forced to wear that stupid costume, I absolutely didn’t want to do it and looking back now, I think I felt humiliated. 

The costume did nothing for me in terms of looks!  Let’s be honest, if the teacher was going for nice round ducklings she sure got one in me.  I looked like an overstuffed, miniature, big bird!  The puppies and bunnies got cute, little headbands with ears on them.  The ducks wore this full head things that only our faces peered through.  As I remember it, we were short, fat, rollie, pollie, yellow, fake fur, umpa loompas forced to dance in the back so that the cute, petite, puppies and bunnies could be showcased. 

I don’t know maybe the ducks weren’t the graceful ones (I’ve never been very graceful).  Maybe we didn’t have as much experience or maybe it’s just that we were all chubbers and she thought it would be adorable.  Nevertheless, for whatever reason seeing those pictures, even just thinking about them, conjures up anger and resentment.  I mean SERIOUS anger and resentment.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t remember who my teacher was, if I did I might have cornered her by now demanding an explanation!

I have read that all anger comes from pain or fear.  Think iceberg with anger being the tip, what lies beneath is the pain or fear.  Thinking back on this situation I can most assuredly say my anger comes from pain!  I’m learning as I get older that in life someone can do something absolutely right!  As perfect as a human can do something!  However, another person affected by those actions, right and perfect actions, can be injured or hurt deeply because of their own flawed perceptions.  So, maybe my perceptions were wrong.  Maybe it was my own insecurities because of something someone said to me at school, which made me feel like a yellow, fluffy, bowling ball.  I don’t know.  For whatever reason I have a scar, it’s my scar and it’s no one’s fault.  It’s not my parents fault or the teachers fault or the kid or kids who drew attention to my weight.  Real or perceived it is an old injury that left a scar that is now part of my stuff.  My baggage that I have to work through and figure out.  Do I think it plays into my body self-image now, you betcha!  Does it add to the tapes that play over and over in my head probably!  Do I have adverse reactions to duck costumes unquestionably!  But you know what?  Just knowing that it’s a scar, knowing that it’s my “STUFF” brings me one step closer to letting it go, changing the tapes in my head, and seeing that I am so much more than the number on the scale.

Am I there yet absolutely not!  Am I working on it, oh yeah!  My head knows that no matter what I think I looked like, most people were probably so focused on their own kid they never even thought twice about me.  That my parents thought I was adorable and that I was completely loved as that yellow ball of fake fur.  And in reality it means nothing forty years later.  The trick is getting my heart to that understanding.  Healing the pain that little girl felt, so that the scar goes way and no longer affects my adult thoughts, emotions and behaviors.  The only balm that is going to go that deep and heal it, is first recognizing it.  Then second, asking God to fix it.  Kiss it and make it better, fill the opening in the wound that’s still there with His grace and love.  Real or perceived it is an injury.  Like my child that comes to me with a skinned knee asking me to make it better with ointment, Band-Aids and kisses.  God is the only one who can soothe and heal my pain, but I have to ask.

Figuring all this stuff out is hard!  Often times I would rather stay in bed with the covers over my head, but then I wouldn’t be growing and not growing can be just as scary.  So, I’m praying and breathing and writing so that God can go deep to the source of my injury, heal it completely, and then just like The Ugly Duckling I will one day see that I am the beautiful swan just as He created me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Today I had to take The Informer to the doctor for a follow-up appointment.  They asked us to be there a half hour before our appointment, the doctor ended up being late by an hour and twenty minutes.  So, this meant that my very active eight year old ended up waiting almost two hours in a very plain and very boring exam room.  Now she brought in some school work but only four books.  She plowed through those pretty quickly.  I suggested we do some extra pages to get a jump on the week and maybe finish out the year a little bit early, at least in those books.  She did a little more but quickly decided she had had enough.   We read the one and only story book they had in the room.  The nurse took The Informer’s blood pressure and all the other diagnostic things nurses do before the doctor comes in.  That burned up about forty minutes.  We played eye spy, but here’s the thing, it’s really hard to play eye spy when the room you’re in is all white, there is one picture and a clock on the wall.  There was on off white cabinet and counter, a beige exam table, a black rolling stool and two purple and green print chairs.  Not much to spy in a stark room!

Throughout our remaining hour and ten minute wait I heard “I’m bored!  This is boring!  I don’t like waiting!  Where is he?!”  She stuck her head out the door about 30 times looking for him.  I went out and asked when we would be seen and heard we were next in line.  OK, back to the room for more rolling around on the rolling chair.  “How much longer?!  I’m hungry!  Is he coming yet?!  I’m bored!  They need to have kittens for you to play with while you wait, THEN I wouldn’t be bored!”  All the while my response went something like this “I’m sorry you’re bored.  I know it’s hard to wait.  Sometimes we have to practice being patient and having control of our bodies, that’s what big girls do.  It is very hard to be still I know, we just have to try.”

Honestly, all the while I’m telling her this, I’m thinking in my head “YOUR TELLING ME IT’S HARD!  DON’T YOU THINK I WANT TO RUN AROUND AND SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE – HEY!  YOU PEOPLE TOLD ME TO BE HERE A HALF AN OUR EARLY AND NOW YOUR DOCTOR IS AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES LATE!!!!  I’M TIRED OF SITTING HERE!  I HAVE THINGS TO DO!  DO YOU THINK IT’S FUN SITTING HERE TRYING TO AMUSE THIS CHILD IN A STARK ROOM WITH NOTHING TO READ AND HAVE HER SIT AND BE PATIENT WHEN I’M GETTING READY TO GO OUT OF MY MIND TOO?!”  Inside I was screaming and wiggly, on the outside I did my best to be still and quiet.  We had several conversations about memories, how much she wanted a kitten, what she wants to do this summer, how she needs new clothes etc. etc.  Anything her little mind flitted to we discussed, all the while she’s rolling around in the chair, hopping on floor tiles, up on the exam table, off the exam table, lying on the exam table, sliding off the exam table, rolling around on the exam table.  At times she looked like Curly Sue rolling around on the ground, complaining about how itchy tights are.  When we were finally seen I felt like I needed a nap from watching her!

We began to play the Guess Who I Am game when the doctor finally came in.  He examined her, we talked a bit and when it was almost over she threw everything in my lap grabbed my calendar and was out the door and down the hall before I could say thank you and good-bye.  There were two doctors sitting at the computer in the triage area, when The Informer passed by they asked her where she was going – her reply “I’m out of here!”  She wasn’t disrespectful, she was just determined, she was done, she had waited as patiently as she could and was ready to go.  I quickly followed apologizing for any rudeness, explained she had waited a long time and that she is full of energy and tenacity.  When she is done, she’s done.
Later I tried to explain to her that there are going to be times in life where you have to be patient and that you aren’t always the first priority.  It is important to learn self-control, patience and understanding.  She didn’t like that, she said it was boring and hard.  I agreed but reiterated we still have to learn to do it if we are going to be big, grown-up girls.  She said “maybe I don’t want to be a grown-up girl!”  Boy did I want to say “I get it completely!”  Sometimes I would love to behave like she did.  There are lots of things I want to whine about and roll on the floor and complain about doing because it’s hard.  There are lots of times I don’t want to be a big, grown-up girl either!  Think about how ridiculous I would look behaving that way.  What would life be like if none of us had self-control and we behaved like little children?

Sometimes I know I behave like a child.  I complain even though I have so much to be grateful for.  I stomp my metaphorical foot and demand to have my way.  I yell and whine to try and get what I want.  I’ve even slammed doors to prove my point.  I’m sure I look ridiculous!  And yet, I still do it more times than I would like to admit.  Thinking about our day I realized I need to practice what I’m preaching.  Behave more like a big, grown-up girl when it comes to self-control and patience.  However, I definitely need to be much more childlike when it comes to fun, silliness and spontaneity.  I need to learn from The Informer how to be like a child.  I mean Jesus commands it after all, if I want to get to heaven I must act like The Informer at least some of the time.

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
                                                                                                               Matthew 18:2-3

Image bookboxdaily.scholastic.com, wallisty.com, www.allgraphics123.com, picturebookillustrators.typepad.com, nonicoclolasos.wordpress.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN24OchgytU

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chosen Mom

There are several Mom Parodies using the “Let It Go” song going around right now.  Some of them are hysterical.  This one in particular brought tears to my eyes. 

In the beginning she sings of aggravation and the day to day stuff mom’s deal with, dirty socks, laundry, fighting, tantrums, trash etc.  However in the end she nails it!  The lines that got me, put the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes….

let it go
let it go

I just have to keep my calm

let it go
let it go

cause I’m their only mom

here I stand and here I’ll say

cause I’m their mom

that stuff never bothered me anyway

Wow!  It hit me like a ton of bricks because I very rarely keep my calm and all that stuff usually bothers me a lot!  I’m working on letting go VERY slowly, at a snail’s pace.  I wish I was mastering it at Turbo’s pace, but not the case. 
The line that really got to me was “cause I’m their only mom” I never stopped to think I’m it!  Just me!
Yesterday was Middle Child’s birthday.  Whenever one of my kids has a birthday I post on Facebook a baby picture and a current picture with a small explanation saying however many years ago I gave birth to this child.  I list all the wonderful blessings they have brought to our family and how honored and blessed I am to be their mom.  Blessed and honored to be their mom.  When I type that, I truly mean it but I haven’t stopped to think I, me, am their only mom and what does that mean to me or them?
I didn’t choose these kids, they didn’t choose me.  God in His infinite wisdom saw fit to bless me and The Director with each individual child.  For some reason He felt each one of them needed me as their mom and The Director as their dad and each other for siblings.  I focus so much on the mess and the “what ifs” that I fail to see that there has to be a greater plan here.  I may be a mess and I tend to be a pretty strict mom and I blow it a lot of the time, but I love these five people, my kids, so much that sometimes it feels my heart would burst.  I overflow with pride at their accomplishments, gifts and talents.  They move me in ways no other person ever has.  Because of that love, even through the mess, I really try to do the best I can for them.  I want only the best for them.  I want them to be able to stand on their own two feet and navigate the world with morals, values and success.
I never wake up in the morning purposefully intending to mess up, so maybe I need to work on not focusing so much on the messing up and more on the fact that I am their only mom.  Another woman can come in and do mom jobs, but no one is going to love them the way I do.  No one wants for them what I do.  I am their only mom!  I am the mom!  No other woman will love them, pray for them and lead them through the mess and chaos the way I will.  I was chosen just for these particular ones.  Chosen, entrusted with the rearing of these five lives through thick and thin, better or worse, I am grateful and I am blessed.  I’m in it for the long haul!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In Honor of My Mother-in-Law

This will be the first Mother’s Day without my mother-in-law Lynda Allen.  She went home to be with the Lord on Black Friday last year, a truly black day for our family.  In honor of my mother-in-law I thought I would share my eulogy with you.

December 6, 2013 - Over the past week, preparing for this funeral I have learned a lot about the woman that raised my husband.  Part of me is sad because I didn’t learn about these things while she was alive, but another part of me knows it’s because in many ways Lynda was a very private person and didn’t share much of her past with us.  So, let me tell you a little bit of what I learned about the woman I called Mom A.

Lynda was born in Chicago, Illinois on Jan. 20, 1925 she was one of 5 children.  Her mother Susan was born in Poland and came to America when she was 17.  Her father Jim, was American born, of polish descent.  Lynda grew up in the Chicago area and had a happy childhood.  When she was 16 she quit school to go to work in a factory because she wanted to have nice clothing.  At the age of 19 she enlisted in the Women’s Army Air Corp but later transferred to the Women in the Air Force where she achieved the rank of sergeant.  She served as a cryptographer and teletype operator in communications in San Francisco and later volunteered for overseas duty in the European theatre of war, working in Paris, France and later at the Schweinfurt Air Force Base, in Germany.  While she was in the military she also finished high school.

From the time she was eight, Lynda dreamed of becoming a glamorous and wealthy movie star.  She studied drama at DePaul University of Chicago for two years.  She continued her drama education and in 1954 she graduated from Pasadena Playhouse Association College of Theatre Arts in Pasadena California.  Over a four year period Lynda enjoyed performing in 35 school and semi-professional plays.  After not breaking into show business she returned to the Chicago area where she worked as a secretary.  She met and fell in love with her husband Doug when the companies they both worked at underwent a merger and she was employed as his secretary, they married in 1958.

Lynda relocated to New Jersey with her husband and had two children my brother-in-law in 1960 and The Director in 1964.  In 1972 she moved to Orlando because as she says “I had always like Florida on the many visits I made when I was a single gal.”  It was around this time that she entered a new phase of her life, she became a divorced, working woman.  To her dismay, the salaries for secretaries in 1972 were very low.  It also didn’t help that she had been out of the work force for 14 years.  She fought an uphill financial battle from that point on.  She worked two jobs in order to meet her financial obligations and maintain her home.  For about seven years she worked as a secretary, then she became a claims analyst servicing large accounts in the area of unemployment claims and continued to do this until she was let go due to down-sizing, she was 77 then.  (As a side note, while cleaning out paperwork, we found employment applications dated 2002, so she was looking for work after she was let go.)  Her “moonlighting” job was a sales associate for a large department store.  She worked in the woman’s dress department and outlasted the store itself as it changed hands numerous times during her employment. 

When asked how she could work two jobs she hesitated before answering, because she thought it was no big deal when working two jobs was a necessity.  She said it helped that the two jobs were diverse.   The thing she hated most about moonlighting was that she felt she hadn’t lived a normal life in years.  She didn’t get very many Saturday’s and Sunday’s off together, and she didn’t have much of a social life.  In addition, she was concerned about the state of her home, in her words, “My home would not pass a white glove inspection as it would have when I was married and a homemaker.”

From 1972 to 1988 she also managed to return to school and get her real estate license, but because she didn’t have the capitol reserve to get started, she was unable to do anything with it.  Then she became licensed with a large insurance company and began selling insurance on a part-time basis on the evenings she wasn’t working at the department store.  Yes she worked three jobs at one time in order to support her household.  She also became a notary, anything to bring in some extra money.

She was very active in several church ministries (I don’t know how she did it or where she found the time!)  Until a few years ago she had been a member of one of the local Catholic Churches for years.  It was there that she was a catechist, a lecture, and served in the Ministry to the Sick.  In 1983 even though she and her husband were divorced, after he suffered a stroke, was hospitalized and later confined to a nursing home, she acted as his representative.  She visited him regularly and saw to his needs over a four year period before he passed away in 1987.

  As Lynda got older her values changed considerably.  In 1988, she wrote that her interests now lie in the miseries of humanity.  “Working through the trauma and adjustments of my divorce, visiting the forgotten in hospitals, and witnessing the negligence in care of the sick and elderly in a nursing home has filled my heart with compassion and concern for people in this world who need help.  I am most interested in the homeless population of the country.  Since I love my home and have always lived in a home I believe every person should have a place to live.”  Her love for her home was evident even up to the end of her life, days before her death she told us she just wanted to be home.  She also had a great concern for the drug situation in the country and felt that if we could solve the drug problem, the crime rate at the local and national level would drop.  Additionally, she was also concerned with the illiterate, she was trained and began teaching illiterate adults how to read.

Lynda has always been an unselfish person; even when she had very little money, she donated to many charities and Catholic missions including the Lasallettes.  She was a very generous gift giver, I found note after note after note of thanks for the gifts she had sent to family and friends for various different occasions.  She helped both her sons while they were in college.  She allowed them to live at home with her and financially she helped when she was able to.  Once she even purchased her younger sister Dee Dee a bicycle when their parents could not.

In her later life when she retired Lynda had dreams of selling real estate and felt that she would be really good at it.  She always wanted to visit Mary’s house in Turkey.  She wanted to get more involved in the local literacy groups and teach adults how to read.  She wanted to play with her grandkids and help out with their schooling.  She wanted to get more involved at church, swim, garden, and read.

While I felt like her daughter-in-law long before, in 1991 Lynda officially welcomed me into her family when The Director and I were married.  In 1994 Lynda became a grandmother for the first time, she would go on to fill that role for four additional kids.  Until she was afflicted with shingles she worked very hard at being the best grandmother she could be.  Her home was filled with all kinds of toys (even obnoxious noise making toys that you would NEVER find in my house!), books, VCR tapes, play-doh and treats for kids.  When my older two kids would go over to her house to play she would put a big sheet on the floor, pull out the play-doh and toys plop down on the floor with them and play for hours.  Even though she hated it, because my kids wanted to watch it every time they went to her house, it was their favorite movie, she would always put on The Little Engine that could for them and then watch it with them again.  When The Organized Child was about six, Lynda took her out shopping and to lunch.  Lynda bought her a whole new wardrobe.  In fact from the time they were born she bought my older two kids just about all of their clothes.  At Christmas she asked for a list because she wanted to get the kids what they really wanted.  When Oldest was about four she bought the kids a motorized Jeep.  Over the years she bought them bikes and other large ticket items for their birthdays and Christmas’.  I never realized she didn’t have a lot of money and probably really couldn’t afford to buy this stuff for my kids.  She always had a huge smile on her face when they opened their presents, I know she really enjoyed giving to them.

For the past ten years or so, because of the shingles, her health and her demeanor had deteriorated.  She struggled with debilitating pain, lymphoma, which did go into remission, and I what believe, depression.  All she wanted was to be able to drive again and live out her dreams, when that didn’t seem to be what her fate was going to be, she seem to give up.  It was very hard for me to watch her choose to essentially stop living.  I feel very sad that my younger three kids didn’t get to fully experience the grandma that my older two kids did.  I was also unhappy to hear recently, that Oldest realized several years ago that grandma wasn’t going to be like she once was, had already mourned that loss.  Preparing for her funeral, learning new things about her, like her dreams and aspirations has made me even sadder because I realize how much I have missed the Lynda prior to 2002.

I think I will miss Christmas time with her the most!  One year a few years back despite her not being able to drive, she managed to order everyone a Christmas present from a catalog.  She ordered The Director and me t-shirts that were personalized with our kid’s names on them.  I will cherish that t-shirt even though my two youngest kid’s names aren’t on it.  She also ordered The Director these massive, overstuffed, fluffy green and white Irish slippers that are made to look like sneakers, they are hilarious!  I know I’m going to miss the box of citrus fruit, with the jelly and candy delivered to my house, even though I live in Florida and only twenty minutes from her house and the box of Whitman’s chocolates she got us each year.  And, I’m going to hate not buying Fiddle Faddle, citrus fruit, a box of Russell Stover’s nuts and chews, Hickory Farms cheese, cracker and beef stick and Winn Dixie gift card for her each year.  I’m really going to hate not seeing her smile as she opened each of the same gifts year in and year out.

Like every parent I believe she did the best she could with what she had at the time.  She raised two very good men, she loved them deeply and did the best she could for them.  The man with kids, the one I claim as my husband, is a great dad.  She fought hard for what she thought was right.  She was feisty and stubborn.  She worked hard to make a life for herself and her kids.  She played hard with her first two grandkids.  She was a generous and loving woman, one that I am proud to have known, I am truly honored to have been her daughter-in-law and will miss her very much.

I pray this mother’s day Lynda is resting in the arms of her savior and spending time with Our Lady whom she loved dearly.

All names have been changed for anonymity.