Words on the page

I would express my opinion

But someone would be offended.

So, I keep my mouth shut and try to love on people,

But that offends you too

Because I’m not doing enough.

There is no winning

There is only losing.

We are a symptom of being self-absorbed.

We’ve been reduced to our most animal instincts

Of survival – get them before they get you.

But the problem is we aren’t animals

We are humans…meant to love.

But no one wants to hear that,

For fear that there’s an agenda behind it.

So, we sit in a room, not talking, not sharing, not discussing

Because there is no answer that we can agree on.

Many of us won’t speak out

For fear of backlash.

Many of us retreat

Because we’re tired of conflict.

Many of us will shut you out

Because all the yelling is making us sick.

Many of us will be accused of standing idly by

No matter what we do.

Many of us know that this has happened before

And yet we’ve survived

Whether we deserved to or not.

Many of us are praying, quietly,

because we can’t see anything else to do.

Taking care of an aging parent

 

It’s been simmering for quite some time…the idea that my mom should not be living alone. There are a myriad of reasons to reconsider her current living situation.

The first and foremost being that her quality of life is diminished because she just can’t afford it anymore, and my brothers and I can’t afford to keep sending money to the money pit. There are also, of course health reasons that come with many septuagenarians that need to be addressed and watched over.

It’s a hard line to take: when the child becomes the caregiver of the parent. No one likes the ramifications of what that entails. There will be power struggles, the first of which is actually convincing her that her quality of life would be better living with one of her adult children. No parent wants to give up their independence, and having to rely on an adult child is not part of their plan usually. You don’t raise your children thinking “I can’t wait until I can get under their roof.” But there’s a whole generation of parents right now, who didn’t save enough for retirement because they didn’t have to. I know it sounds foolish to our generation, but for my parent’s generation, there was always going to be a pension that you’d rely on. It’s what their parents did, so why think to plan for anything different. But those pensions disappeared and here we are.

To my detriment, I’m a planner, and I woke up this morning around 6am and my brain started “planning.” My mom hasn’t even agreed to the new arrangement yet, and already I’m going through all the possible scenarios, the logistics, the financial and legal details in my head. I’ve made lists, and researched the possibilities, both good and bad, of taking in an aging parent.

But here’s what it boils down to: it’s my turn to return the favor. All the nights she spent pacing the floor, all the financial sacrifices she and my father made, all the emotional collateral they spent raising me has brought me to this moment. It’s time to give back.

I have a fabulous husband, by the way, who happens to share the same responsibility to family that I do. We decided long ago that whether it was his mom or mine (both of our fathers passed away years ago) that we would open our home if we needed to. It’s just what you do.

But convincing my mom to sell her home (that’s falling apart around her), move across the country, and move her entire life into one bedroom (basically) is going to be a hard sell. I get it. Would you do it? Things would have to be pretty bad for me to convince me to do something like that. The opportunity at the end of that bridge would have to be pretty encouraging. And my mom is not one that likes adventure – she’s a planner too.

Fortunately, my brothers and I agree on a plan for Mom. We support each other and her. We just want her to be better off. Her “Golden Years” haven’t been very golden so far, and now we have the chance to help her make them better.

I only hope I remember this when I’m aging and my kids step in to take charge. I hope I remember it’s because of love that they want to see me in a better situation.

Have you taken a parent into your home? I’d love to hear some of your experiences or advice as I go into these uncharted waters.

My Working Man

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I write about my kids on this blog, and about writing, and about myself (sorry), but I rarely ever write about my husband.

I should…I mean, he doesn’t even read my blog so I could post some really good stories and he’d never dispute them or even know they’re on here! As tempting as it is to tell some really juicy stuff, I won’t. Plus we have no really juice stories anyways. #oldandmarried

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day (a day early) – here it goes.

My husband is a good man. He’s a nerd, for sure. He’s a gamer, a reader, an introvert, and he enjoys being alone (that’s part of his introvertedness – is that a word?). With regards to those things, he’s everything that I’m not. We’re opposites. My 14-yr-old daughter teases me and wonders how we ever got together. There are days when I wonder that too.

Then I remember the circumstances and realize that there’s a good chance that God orchestrated our meeting in the first place. I can’t take the credit.

My husband is a good provider, and I sometimes forget to acknowledge him for that. He works at least 40 hours a week, and always has. He rarely comes home to a spotless house or a wife dressed like Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show. My “mom uniform” is yoga pants and t-shirts, and I work at home, so there’s no need to wear makeup. Ever. And he doesn’t complain.

He doesn’t always come home to a fresh cooked meal (I have no idea what I’m making tonight), and often will pick up dinner for me, even after he’s had a long day. He usually walks in the door to some form of chaos, though it’s gotten better as the kids have gotten older. But there’s usually some drama that’s gone on during the day, and it’s usually the first thing he hears about after “hello.”

When I do cook, he NEVER complains about what I’ve made. Maybe it’s because he knows not to bite the hand that feeds him, but I also think it’s because he knows that I get enough grief from the kids about dinner. (Do I have to eat that?!) If I ask nicely, he’ll even cook. He’s better at it than I am, but far messier.

He doesn’t nickel and dime me. Granted, I’m the thrifty one, but he’s never once complained about me buying something for myself or the kids.

He’s okay with watching the kids while I get away for a few hours. He’s seen me go a little insane after being with the kids day in and day out, and he wants to avoid that at all costs. He even watched the kids when they were babies and I went on a 3-day women’s retreat. And they all survived.

In every sense of the word he is my better half. He trusts me. Completely. And I trust him.

Why do I tell you all of this? Not to brag, but because he deserves a corner of this blog too. He provides a lot of the material, after all. And as a testament to his character. He’s a good man, a working man, a Godly man, a nerdy man…and he’s my man. I wanted to tell you there are good men out there, and they aren’t always the ones that you expect them to be.

Sometimes they’re nerdy, gaming, introverts, with weird senses of humor and a strong affinity for Godzilla movies.

Sometimes God sends them to you, even when you weren’t expecting it.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

10 Things I Can Promise My Kids

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  1. I Will Embarrass You…though not intentionally.
  2. I’m Going to Make Mistakes…a lot of them. Please be forgiving.
  3. I’m going to call your friend, your favorite band, or your favorite YouTuber by the wrong name.
  4. You’re First Boyfriend/Girlfriend will not be good enough for you…that’s just a fact.
  5. One parent will ALWAYS be more lenient than the other (but remember…we compare notes).
  6. I will make you spend time with the family.
  7. I will probably have a differing opinion about your “style” at some point in your life.
  8. Discussions will probably go longer than you’d like.
  9. I will probably tell you “I love you” WAY too much.
  10. There’s nothing you can do to earn or lose my love. It will always be given freely.

The Value of a Village

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

P1000038I love my village.

By that, I mean, the friends, family and acquaintances that touch my life in all different aspects, and in all different ways.

When we moved across country, my village changed. I lost the everyday interaction with most of the friends and family that I had come to rely on. I had to learn to establish a new village, and it’s been a struggle. My old village sort of happened organically. We grew up together, or met through our spouses, or raised our children together. But now, I had to figure out how to establish a new village.

I think connection is essential to our survival. There’s something about feeling responsible to one another, to being accountable to someone besides ourselves that makes us inherently human.

Your village may be different, but I think a village takes time, it takes commitment. It takes loving one another, not just texting one another. It means picking up the phone when it would be much more convenient to send a text or email. It means filling an empty chair and spending some of your own precious time on someone else.

I will never be able to repay many of the people in my village for what they’ve done for me and my family, for the support they’ve given, the prayers they’ve offered, and the times they’ve been there when I didn’t know where else to turn.

All I can do is love them back, and offer my support when they need it, and encourage them when I think they need it most. Being part of a village is not about owing. It’s about being willing to give…and then giving some more…happily.

Think about who makes up your village. And if you don’t have one, perhaps you need to find one. You will always have more to offer than you ever realize.