Family Planning

When you are having babies people are very concerned about timing. Do you want to have them all in diapers at once or one at a time? Should siblings be old enough to help with the baby or better to just pack the car seats in in the back of the car like cordwood? Will they play together better if they are 2 years apart or 4 years apart? So many questions. So many debates.

But you know what no one ever considers?

Do you know what the big oversight in child spacing consideration is?

Middle school.

I just realized I’ll have a middle school girl in my house for eight straight years.

Eight. Straight. Years. Of. Middle. School.

Please send Bourbon and dark chocolate, we are going to need a lot of it.

Now, hold on before you feel the need to tell me how wonderful my eldest is. I know she’s a great kid, she has spent the past few years turning into a lovely, even keeled, responsible child. But now she is a middle schooler.   And she is just the stereotypical, grunting, lack of eye contact, hormonal, moody kid that you expect a middle schooler to be and, because we’ve been doing our parenting job tolerably well, she’s mostly just like that at home.

Ahhhh! The sweet, sweet rewards of parenting!

The look Ivy would give me if she knew about this post.
Never tell!

We have “discussions” about why wearing ear buds while talking to people is rude. There are tears and pouting that pass like summer storms and are replaced with a girl that exudes rainbows and sunshine only to have her fall to pieces later in the day/hour/minute. We have a continual one sided discussion about how words are an important part of conversation right before she chats at me non-stop for an hour. I know I can look at this as an excellent opportunity to practice my own patience and understanding. I can use these times to work on my compassion, even on a busy day, and to practice forgiveness, even at the drop of a hat. This is a personal growth opportunity presented to me on a silver platter.

And I try. I really do.  But see, here is the thing.

It’s not that fun.

It’s really hard.

And I fear for the future.

It’s all well and good to say practicing patience, compassion, understanding and forgiveness is good for you. But when the every day reality of life gives you opportunities for self improvement, whether you want them or not, it feels a lot more brutal and a lot less fortuitous than it sounds.  These great growth opportunities where one can practice all these skills are presented to you every single day. And not just once a day either.  Opportunities abound on days that you are sick and days you are tired and days where you already did a good job of being kind and understanding to the kid that screamed at you all morning and you really don’t have it in you to try it again.  It was one of those days that I accidentally did the math in my head and realized that I will have a middle school girl living in my house for the next seven years, eight years total. I’m not actually sure I can afford to consume that much dark chocolate and bourbon.

So, if you are in the baby having years consider this a warning! Think ahead, plan for middle school.  And when your baby has a meltdown in the grocery line and the mother of a young lady gives you a sympathetic, “Solidarity mama, you can do it!”  look, check her cart. If it’s got a stash of dark chocolate and bourbon, give her that look right back, she’s gonna need it too!

 

Advertisements

Who Invited the Dinosaur?

Christmas was shaping up to be a peaceful and joyous celebration, pretty much.

Kids were well behaved, mostly.

The collective pack of dogs was well behaved, mostly.

It was basically just right.

And then someone let the dinosaur in…

It was surprising for some of us.

It was death defying for others of us.

IMG_8630

There were tears, of laughter.

And Christmas was never the same again, but in a good way.

Happy Holidays!

May all your celebrations be dinosaur infested and full of laughter!

Tasting Memories

My cousin taught Ivy and I how to make deer hunter candy this weekend.

Only handed out to deer hunters during the gun season, the recipe is simple: equal parts of four ingredients, covered in chocolate, cut into slices and wrapped in wax paper.

We made the traditional treat together laughing and snitching bits as we did so and then, of course, we had to sample the final product. We wouldn’t want to give all those cold hunters a sub-par product.

I ate a few pieces but I still remember Grandma telling me I wasn’t to take any candy, it was only for the hunters. She didn’t reprimand often and her corrections stuck.  I still had a twinge of guilt when popping a piece into my mouth and it came with memories of Grandma’s scolding so vivid I could taste them on my tongue.

Some people scoff at tradition but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who tasted memories when we handed out that peanut butter treat.

Evidence of Early Writing Aspirations

I don’t remember wanting to be a writer as a kid. No keeping dairies, at least not for more than a day or two, or writing stories or anything else that required spelling.

But today my cousin and I spent hours going through old photo albums and letters from my grandparents house and there was a little story I wrote to them.

” Once upon a time, there was a cowpoy. He had a hevon. But he was very sad. One day the cowpoy came home with a surprise!! It was another hevonen!! And they lived happily ever after. Love Jessie”

I feel that in defense of my spelling it’s important to note that Grandma taught me Finnish words out of a Richard Scary book.  Hevonen is the Finnish word for horse and, while google translate doesn’t think cowpoy is Finnish for cowboy, I clearly did.  The only word I actually spelled wrong was hevonen and that’s far better than I’ve done so far on this post tonight.  As far as my formatting, that was clearly done by typewriter and I’m not sure I ever figured out how that worked.

In conclusion:

Maybe I have always liked telling stories. I’ve forgotten a lot in the last 38 years, (Like what year my brother was married  and, apparently, how to spell married). I could have forgotten that too. It’s completely possible.  And thank all that is good and true in this world for word processors and spell check.

Finding Beauty

Some times, when days are spent in the hospital ( Granny is recovering well from an unexpected surgery.) and nights are spent fixing plumbing (We have hot water again, even if new things are leaking and lets not even talk about the washing machine…) it’s hard to stop and find the beauty in the day.

But it’s always there, you just have to remember to breathe and look for it.

No Regrets

Gramps died last November. In his final weeks, with a terminal cancer diagnosis running him down, I heard him respond to every person who visited or called on the phone that tried to express their grief and concern for him with a single phrase.

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”

I could hear his words echo in my head on Saturday morning as we gathered outside the same church he was married in to bury his remains in the family plot. Our family dug the hole ourselves, as was his wishes, we sang the doxology and afterwards we listened to Granny’s stories about their wedding and Christmas pageants in the church they both grew up in. As we left the kids rang the church bells. I watched my nephew leave the ground holding on to the rope, kicking his legs all about, trying to ring that big bell, laughing through the tears as I remembered all the times Gramps had gotten my brother in just the same predicament.

Then we went home to the farm he lived on his entire life for a picnic lunch, a rousing game of baseball with the kids, (the kind that would have found him on the pitcher’s mound for sure) and an afternoon of fishing off the pier. Because he was a farmer who knew when to work and when to play too.

I can’t think of a more fitting way for the family to say one last goodbye to a remarkable man who lived a life that allowed him to look everyone in the eye at the end of it and say, with a boy scout’s honor…

 

“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”