Not even a little funny

Don’t Freak Out

Dex Easter for The HubShe wasn’t expected; she just arrived at my front door and said “Hey!” as she walked in like she always does.

She may be 30 but she’s my child and this was her house at one time and there is no need to knock. I’m glad we have a ‘just walk in’ house. I like that.

She was toting the car-seat carrier with the heavy sleeping baby as she breezed into the family room.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I have to tell you something and I didn’t want to do it over the phone.” she said. She was casual, setting the baby seat down and keeping busy with putting the diaper bag and her purse on the breakfast bar. She walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator looking for something to eat. I’m glad we have the kind of house where they just head to the refrigerator and look for something to eat. I like that.

She came out with some cheese and was busy breaking it into pieces and popping them into her mouth as she picked up the story.

“Don’t freak out.” she said. “Dex’s pediatrician referred us to a specialist and we just came from the appointment. They did some tests and we don’t have the results yet, but they think he may have some neurological disorder, a degenerative one.”

She was minimizing it. Her every action said “This is no big deal. We will not over-react.” but I’m a mother too and I know this child of mine and I know how strong the gene is to minimize something on the outside while you’re falling to pieces on the inside. That’s my gene. I gave her that gene.

While her actions belied the situation, her eyes gave her away and the quiver in her voice was, well, degenerative. She continued “If he has this, over time he will lose muscle control on half his body. His mouth will droop, he will list to one side, he will shuffle when he walks. He will drool a lot.”

She was barely holding it together now.

I didn’t hesitate. I used the only comfort that I am comfortable in giving, my words.

“Well, first of all, let’s wait for the results. But guess what? If he does have this, here’s the deal. That boy is the luckiest boy in the world because he will be surrounded by a huge army made up of the Metzler family and the Murphy family and the Doty family and the Hemenway family. This is where having a huge family of freaks comes in handy. That boy? He will be loved on and laughed with and laughed at and challenged and fought with and the only thing he will be allowed to feel amongst this crazy parade of freaks and weirdos is normal, because he will be.”

And I held her as she let the tears flow and hoped she knew that what I said was both wise and true.

I woke up then, the morning light creeping around the edges of the window shade.  I was shaking and crying myself, this awake me.  In the dream, I didn’t crack. In the dream I was strong and confident and wise but in the hangover of the dream I was shaken.

It was just a dream, I knew. But every aspect of it was so real – the house, the actions of my grown daughter, her mannerisms, the way the scene played out, all fresh and real in my waking mind.

I lay there and reveled in the wonder of my own imparted wisdom. Would I have actually come up with that in a real situation? Could I have?

I realized the mom I was in that dream is the mom I aspired to be, hoped I would be when called upon by a crisis.  It has a tiny element of the “Suck it up, Buttercup.” for which I am known, perhaps, but it had an emotional fortitude that I wasn’t sure I had a right to claim – that hasn’t yet been tried and tested in the real world.

My husband rolled over, feeling the bed shaking from my silent crying. I told him about the dream and said “That’s the mom I should be.”

“That’s the mom you already are.” he said nonchalantly as he wrapped his arms around me. He comforts with his arms and his empathy. I comfort with words of strength.

I hope that if the day comes when both of our methods to comfort are needed to face some crisis, our children feel the fullness of what the two of us bring to the table on our parenting journey.

As parents, we may list to one side and drool occasionally, but we love them and, in the end we all have a little bit of freak in us anyway.

I didn’t freak out. I came downstairs and wrote on my blog.

 

By |May 21st, 2014|Married Life, Not even a little funny, The Parent Hood|Comments Off on Don’t Freak Out

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Linda

Are you there LindaDear God,

It’s been awhile. I feel like I should start with an introduction, maybe an apology, or perhaps an explanation is in order.

You see, I haven’t called on you in… well, years. And the truth is, I don’t really believe in you.  I’m not sure if I do, to be honest. If you are there, it’s kind of pointless to lie about that, I suppose. You know.

I grew up with you, visiting often.  I said the words they taught us to say.  I guess I believed in you then, but it wasn’t this deep and big belief – it was just sort of expected of me and I usually did what was expected of me.  I still do, mostly.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I didn’t really believe.  Or maybe more accurately, I just didn’t feel it – didn’t feel your presence, didn’t feel an absence of this missing thing inside of me.  I didn’t need you, or maybe you didn’t need me.  If you exist.

Most people I know who believe feel your presence, and they feel you fill this need in them.  I’m happy they have you for that.  I always thought if I had that hole – felt I was missing a piece of a puzzle and you were just the right fit – that I would embrace you.  But I never had that, that missing thing.

Now? Well, there’s a hole.  I don’t know if it’s a God-shaped hole or not.  It may be a midlife crisis shaped hole.  Or maybe it’s a hole burned into me by the hormones of peri-menopause.  It could be the hole of being unfulfilled in the ways of this physical world – realizing I’m coming up on 50 and I have a big dream that isn’t getting any closer at all, one I always thought would be closer by now.  Or perhaps it’s because of that other stuff – the stuff I won’t talk about here, but you know what I mean, ’cause if you are receiving this message then I assume you are able to see into my head and my heart and my spleen and my soul and you know.  You know.

It’s kind of nice to think words aren’t necessary, but then again I am overflowing with words.  You made me, if you exist, so I guess I kind of blame you.  I open my mouth and words just tumble out.

I have a friend who said “If you’re struggling, reach out to him. He’s been known to help others.  Maybe he can help you.”

Last night, as I lay in bed drifting off, I did just that.  It wasn’t prayer in the way we learned when I was a kid.  It was more like a letter from camp.  And then it turned into a blog post.  And, well, here we are at 4:57 AM and I can’t sleep so I’m writing to you on my blog.

I think I’ve just admitted that I’ve used you for blog-fodder, God.  I don’t know if that’s a sin or not.  If it is, it’s one of vanity – I’m using you for a self-serving purpose.  But sometimes my words here touch others, connect me to them, so maybe not.  Maybe it’s a good thing.

See how confusing it all gets in my head, God?  I blame you.

I’m not sure what the point of this is.  I don’t feel that I’ve a right to ask for anything.  I feel grateful for so very much – there is so much good fortune in my life.  If you are real, perhaps I should thank you for that.  So, thanks.

What I want, if I were to ask for anything, is for peace.  You might think I’m a real saint to seek peace for the world, but I’ll confess, God – I’m being selfish. I want peace for myself.  Peace of mind.  Balance in my life. Acceptance of what is, or a clear path to change it to what I think it should be, could be.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep muddling through.  There are moments of great joy – sometimes even days and weeks of it.  I appreciate the hell out of those.  Maybe that’s poor wording, but you get my point.

I want – need – my balance back in order to find my peace.  I don’t mind life being hard.  I don’t mind being tired all the time.  I accept that I will work until two weeks after I die. I get that I will gain 3 pounds when I glance at a cake.  I’m not happy about it, but  I get all that.  But I need to feel I’m more part of what I’m working for – that it’s half mine, that it needs me in ways beyond the ones that aren’t fulfilling.  I need to be connected to it, to share in it equally.  I’m missing that.

Now that I put it all down into words, it sounds like the age-old quest of the human race.  Peace, acceptance, balance, fulfillment.  Maybe it’s a midlife-crisis shaped hole I’m trying to fill after all.

And God?  Maybe it wouldn’t be too much to ask for me to find a more efficient way to wrap things up and bring them to a proper conclusion without blathering on and on and on.

Amen.

(See what I did there?)

 

 

I Have a Pimple

Linda ZitI took psychology in high school.  It was one of my favorite elective classes, right after study-hall and fundraiser candy-bar selling.  I found it interesting, which means that unlike all the rest of those classes, elements of it really took root and stayed with me.

One of those lessons had to do with problems.  I remember my teacher telling us that a problem is a problem and someone struggling in the midst of something doesn’t have the immediate ability to keep things in proper perspective.  He shared some stories of teenagers who had committed suicide over acne.  Now, the truth is, these kids were probably suffering from a lot more than acne – perhaps they were teased or bullied, perhaps there was untreated mental illness, abuse, who knows what.  But in the class, the premise was that even though acne seems like a very inconsequential problem to most of us, to a teenager struggling in the midst of it, acne can be a debilitating problem.

I have a pimple.

I’m not going to tell you what my metaphorical pimple is all about.  If you want to know that, you’ll need to read everything I’ve written on my blog, Twitter, Facebook, my message boards, and maybe even Post-Secret and you’ll put all those tiny, boring puzzle pieces together and likely you’d still not know.  Or maybe you would.

It doesn’t matter.

I have people I care about dealing with much bigger things – death, disease, infidelity.  My pimple hardly matters in perspective to that.

And yet there it is, day after day, taking all my energy.

I’ve started to refer to the whole situation as my midlife crisis, and maybe that’s what it is.  Who knows.

This post had a purpose when I started but now I don’t know what it was. Maybe I meant to say I do have perspective – I know that I am fortunate in a million ways.  I know that there is so much good in my life.  My husband is a loving man.  My kids are healthy and smart and gorgeous and funny.  I am financially secure.  I have something like 7,000 channels of television programming available to me, and a Jack-in-the-Box only a mile away.

My pimple is dwarfing all of that some days.  You know it’s a problem because Jack-in-the-Box has these mini-corn-dogs now and my pimple is STILL overwhelming that awesomeness.

We all deal with our pimples differently.  Me? I do this passive-aggressive thing where I talk about it all the time in vague and nebulous terms, using analogies and allegories, without giving any specifics.  Annoying, right?  Actually, I only do a little of that.  Really, my way of dealing is to write angst-filled, dramatic blog posts, and then to practice total escapism on fourteen other social networks out there, and pick my private message board to vent all the bloody details on.  You should say a prayer for my private message-board friends because someone could get hurt if this pimple were to explode all over that place.

Another reason I wanted to write this is because I know that many of you have pimples, too.  Your pimples are probably not at all obvious to people from the outside, but they may be keeping you awake at night, making you cry until you can’t breathe, making you sign up for Twitter.  Who knows.  Maybe you don’t have a blog where you can write angst-ridden teenage drama posts like me.  If that’s the case, then this post is for both of us, for all of us.

I’m sorry about your pimple.  I know it hurts and you feel like you have no way to vanquish it, you have no one to talk to about it.  After all, other people are dealing with real problems so you can’t whine about your pimple.

I get it.

From now on, let’s all just do that subtle thing where we make eye contact, give a little nod of the head, and keep going.  It will be like our secret-handshake, like we’re saying “Yeah, I acknowledge your pimple, I have one too.  I’m sorry man, this life stuff is damn hard some days.”