Friday, May 31, 2013

Forts > Sharpies

This is the tale of two moms.

While at Target the other day, I happened upon two different sets of mothers, each accompanied by a child.  The first mother-child pair I observed was leisurely shopping around the hardware department and the second pair was on a not-so-leisurely mission in office supplies.  Both mothers were talking to their children, but each with a different purpose and in very different tones.  

I won’t say I was eavesdropping, but…

Who am I kidding? 

I was totally eavesdropping.  

Leisurely Mom was so engaged with everything her kid was saying.  He was telling her about the fort that he was going to build when they got home. Leisurely Mom asked Leisurely Kid lots of questions about said fort.  Questions like: “Where will you build the fort?” “Will your fort have windows?” “Can I come in your fort?” “Can your sister come, too?”  She not only listened intently, she completely hung on his every word and with each answer he gave her responses made it obvious that she was both listening and genuinely interested in what her kid had to say. It was a precious dialogue, really, and they both appeared to be enjoying themselves and each other's company.  At one point I even gave her the “I’m eavesdropping on your conversation and your kid is darling” wink and smile.  When I finally stopped following them around shopping near them, I left the hardware department and headed towards office supplies, all the while thinking about the sweet mother-child exchange I had just witnessed.

By the way...  Target's hardware "department" is more like an aisle-and-a-half instead of a whole department.  I don't even know why they bother with it.  Let's be honest... People don't go to Target for hardware and what Target lacks in their hardware selection is made up for in baby stuff. And candles. And housewares. And shoes. And feminine products.  If you're going to Target solely for hardware then I hope it's only because Home Depot is closed.  On the other side of that coin, I hope you don't go to Home Depot for feminine products 'cause I'm pretty sure you won't find them there.  That's what I've heard, anyway.  

This is going downhill fast.  Let's pick up where I left off.

...And then I ended up in the office supplies aisle where the warm-and-fuzzy buzz I got in hardware was officially killed.

It wasn’t the office supplies that killed my buzz; I love office supplies, especially binder clips.  It was the mother who was stressed out and snapping at her whining her child that brought me back to earth.  Not-so-Leisurely Mom was obviously in a hurry and the Sharpie selection was perplexing her.  Seriously, the Sharpies were getting the best of her.  There were either too many to choose from or too little, but she couldn't seem to find what she was looking for.  She ignored half of what her kid was saying (even when he wasn't whining anymore) and the other half was met with short, "I'm only pretending to listen to you" acknowledgements.  Not-so-Leisurely Kid wasn't moving fast enough for her, either, because when they left she took his hand and told him “WALK FASTER” (yes, she used her bold and all-caps voice).  I felt sorry for the Not-so-Leisurely Kid and when I stopped being judgmental, I felt sorry for Not-so-Leisurely Mom, too.      

Once again, I had witnessed a mother-child exchange that I couldn’t stop thinking about.

And it quickly dawned on me…  I’ve been there.  I’ve been both of those moms and Susan has been both of those kids.  And chances are I’m the Not-so-Leisurely Mom more often than I’d like to acknowledge or admit.

So I started wondering… When I’m the too-rushed-to-talk, Not-so-Leisurely mom, what is it that makes me that way?  

And I don’t really have a good answer for that, other than that I might have a skewed idea of what’s important sometimes. 

And I’m not trying to put pressure on myself or any other mother to be Leisurely Mom 100% of the time (because really, how do we deal with whining in a leisurely way?) but maybe when I take the pressure off of myself when it comes to "finding the perfect Sharpie" (or whatever it is that’s stressing me out), then the Leisurely Mom within me will naturally emerge. I think it's worth a try.

So yeah... Forts > Sharpies.

Speaking of Leisure…  My friend Melody introduced me to Prancercising today.  Not literally (although the thought makes me laugh), but through this gem of a video:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eating Crow and Hometown Pride

Susan getting her awards next to
the most dapper kid at school today.
I don't know him but I sure love his style.
And his smile. Precious!
Today was Susan's 1st Grade Awards Program at school and I am still having a hard time believing that "School's Out for Summer". Actually, school's not officially out until Thursday but I can't wait until then to write this post and I don't want to write this post without mentioning that song.  Let's just not get too caught up in the details, OK?  

As many of you know, Susan started a new school this year.  It was new for her, anyway.  She was at a private school last year but we just never really felt like that was where we were supposed to be so after a lot of thought, prayer, and a great visit with Mrs. Laura Hartley - the Principal of her new school - we decided to make the move to Southview Primary School in the Opelika City Schools System.*  

For those of you who live in/around Auburn-Opelika, you've no doubt heard people say they choose to live in Auburn for the schools.  I get that.  Auburn City Schools (ACS) are among the best in the state of Alabama and I could never fault a parent for wanting the best for their child.  What I don't get, however, is the connotation that Opelika City Schools (as a whole) are sub-par. On paper do they we score as well as Auburn?  Maybe not.  I've never really studied the systems' documented performance and I'm not claiming that their stats/scores/whatever are equal.  I'm only suggesting that just because one school system is awesome doesn't mean that the neighboring system is not awesome.  Not in this case, anyway. Nope. Not for a second.  

For Opelika City Schools, I think it's kind of like being the middle child.

Well maybe it's not.  I don't really know what being the middle child is like but I've heard it can be rough and when I read about the phenomenon known as "Middle Child Syndrome" (MCS) I think the analogy is actually a fair one.  

Yeah, I know you didn't come here for a psychology lesson.  And I do realize I've only mentioned two school systems, which makes the "Middle Child" analogy seem somewhat obsolete.  And maybe it is.  But I'm in too deep to turn back now so you're just gonna have to humor me and pretend my lack of details isn't an issue here.  Again.

Moving on...

There was a time when Mike and I considered selling our house to move into the Auburn City Schools system and if it weren't for the economy and the fact that I'd have to keep my house clean in order to show it to potential buyers we probably would have**.  And I will admit here - publicly - that we chose to send Susan to a private school to avoid Opelika City Schools.  We were drinking the anti-OCS Kool-Aid.    

But boy oh boy...  We were wrong. So wrong.  

I cry when I think about how wrong we were. Really, I do. Just ask Mrs. Hartley or Dr. Brenda Rickett, one of OCS's Assistant Superintendents.  They've seen me do it ("it" as in cry).  

But today, I advocate.  I advocate for OCS and I'm proud to do so. I advocate because I believe in OCS and know, without a doubt, that my child is exactly where she needs to be.  As a mother, this is exactly what I hope and pray for when it comes to her education.

What a great year First Grade has been for Susan!  She has worked so hard and learned so much from her amazing teacher, Mrs. Huddleston (not to mention all of the other teachers and staff at her school!), made some sweet friends (and we've gained their fun parents as friends, too!) and we've all had a lot of fun in the process.  Every time I step foot into her school I feel at home, just like I did over a year ago when Mike and I showed up for our tour.

I could not be more thrilled with our experience with this great school system and I am so proud we are a part of this family.  

I wonder how many other blessings we're missing out on because of some false or unfair perceptions we may have? Mike would tell you sushi is one of those blessings.  He thought it was disgusting until he actually tried it and realized he loves it.

I just wanted to share something that's been on my heart for a while so thanks for letting me do that here. Not that you had a choice - this is my blog - but you read this far and definitely had a choice in that matter.

I'll leave you with a Tweet I posted last fall:
"I don't cheer for red and black Dawgs often, but when I do it's for the Opelika Bulldogs!"  

*If you follow the link to the OCS website, don't be surprised to see the current Miss America gracing the homepage.  She grew up in Opelika and we claim her even though she's "technically" Miss New York. Again - don't get too caught up in the details.  She's one of us.)

**We still wouldn't mind selling our house so if you know anybody who needs one, please send them my way.  Our house isn't actually for sale or anything; I still can't bear the thought of keeping it clean.  It's just that there's a beautiful house that's currently on the market and I would love to buy it.  It's also in the perfect location for us: Opelika.  

Mrs. Huddleston and "her babies"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


You know how I said in my last post that I've written a bunch of blog posts in my head in the nearly two years since I last posted here?  Well this is one of them.

In one word (at a time), here are words I can use to describe myself:

not awesome

When I ponder the above adjectives/feelings, I just can't wrap my mind around the fact that at any given time I can exude all, some, or maybe even none of those descriptions.

At any given time I can also trick myself into believing that I AM one or more of these descriptions... Like my entire existence is so unvarying that only one word can describe it.

These thoughts can be dangerous and lead to self-criticism (or self-adoration) that serve no purpose other than to artificially deflate or inflate my own self-worth.

I doubt I'm alone in this, too, so if you're telling yourself today that "I AM so     " or "I AM such a     ", I've got news for you (and me)...  We're not. Not always. Maybe for this moment or this day or this season in our life, but we can't be defined by one single word*.  Let's try to let go of those words we use to define ourselves and JUST BE.

* Except for this word: LOVED.  And the same goes for you. YOU ARE LOVED.

Make sure you remember that the next time you tell yourself you are not awesome.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Just Write

"If, anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write.  Write as a gift to yourself and others.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the "right" words.  It's just about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice.  When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone...  If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you're good enough.  Just do it.  Be generous.  Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself."

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Wow.  I can't believe it has been nearly two years since I have posted here... Of course, it was only two weeks before that last post that I even started this blog so I should probably use the term "blog" lightly.  But whatever.  Here I am because I felt like writing today.  

The truth is that I feel like writing everyday.  I'm just actually doing it today.  There have been so many blogs written in my mind since my last post but none of them have ever made it to my fingers - which operates the keyboard - which makes the actual blog post happen.

I'm like a Ninja Blogger.  That sounds way cooler than an Inconsistent Blogger, right?

But I digress.

So today was Mother's Day and I forced myself to take some time to relax in the hammock while Mike and Susan were slaving over the dishes from the breakfast they made me earlier in the morning.  Well, I doubt Susan was slaving over anything, but whatever.  The bottom line is that I got some wonderful "me" time to just enjoy the beautiful day, the breeze, the sun, the trees, and the neighbor's yapping dogs.  It was wonderful.  Except the yapping dogs.  Those dogs really test my ability to "love thy neighbor"* sometimes.

I read the above quote in Glennon's book several weeks ago while I was in an infusion chair receiving my final dose of Tysabri, a medication I have been on for about 18-months (and for those of you who don't know, I'll save you a Google search:  I got Tysabri infusions because I have MS).  I have read a lot of books and a lot of quotes and a lot of quotes in a lot of books, but this one nailed me.  It totally messed me up to the point where a nurse came over to check on me because she saw the tears streaming down my face.  As much as I wanted to have a good sob (as in a snot flowing, shoulders shaking, can't-get-the-words-out sob) right then and there, I was able to control myself for like a whole hour.  But then "it" happened and at lunch I excused myself to go to the restroom and I just sat on the toilet and cried.  And prayed. And cried some more.  It was ugly.  And it all went down right there in that stall at The Fish Market. The people at the table next to us probably thought I was having "stomach issues" or something because poor Mike was left alone at our table for so long.  Now he knows how I feel during his "awkwardly long" visits to the restroom when we're dining together. I'm so glad I have my smartphone during those times.  That's all I have to say about that.

Back to the issue at hand.  You're probably wondering "why in the world would that quote make you want to sob?".  Or maybe you aren't wondering that... But imma tell you anyway.

Earlier in that day I met with my Neurologist and although I am doing well physically, the effects of MS have taken a toll on me emotionally and cognitively.  While I know, without a doubt, that the disease is responsible for most of these struggles, I also acknowledge that there are pieces of ME that have been missing - or at least neglected - in my life for some time now.  I have not been whole and I think know that writing is one of those missing pieces.  And as soon as I read that quote it was like God was reminding me of this.  Seriously, it was like he was telling me (I'm pretty sure it was in the voice of Morgan Freeman in my mind) "Child... You need to write. This Ninja Blogger stuff is not enough."  And he's right.  It's not enough.      

Anyway, that was like a month ago.  

But I'm here now because I felt like writing and while I was in that hammock I promised myself  I would actually do it today.  Here's hoping it's not another 2-years before I do this again.

Are there activities/hobbies in your life that you know are missing?  Things that help to make you whole?  If you feel inclined, please do share them with me in a message or in the comments.  Sometimes acknowledging these things to others gives us the boost we need to get going.

*Those are red words.  See what I did there?