Friday, November 22, 2013

A Shift in Perspective

It doesn't take long after having kids that you begin to realize how like you they really are.

Maybe for some that is a good thing.

I'll be honest, at my grandma's funeral many of my extended family had a chance to see the darling daughter of mine, some for the first time.  After two years of hearing, "She looks JUST like her daddy," it was a blessed thing to hear, "She looks just like YOU did at her age."  Because, sometimes, you want to be more than just her avenue into the world.

But that is neither here nor there.

As far as appearances go, I'm sure I'm more than a little bit biased, and I believe both of my children are gorgeous, but what parent doesn't?

The likeness that I'm talking of here is the other kind of likeness.  Those little personality traits that you carry that make you up and characterize you, that your kids either pick up or inherit genetically.   Don't ask me on the science behind it.  All I know is I have two distinctly different children that somehow both tend to possess some of my most wretched qualities.

B.  He's a worrier.  That's all there is to it.  This child will express concern if we take a road he's not familiar with from point a to our destination.  He overthinks everything.  He can't perform well in high pressure situations.  Even if that is just a routine eye test at the doctors office.  (Did I mention that I HATE having my eyes checked at the dmv?  Blast! The pressure!)

Add into the mix that he's recently become very... I say it again... very effected by words, and that, my friends, is a recipe for me.  And not the me that I want to pass on... the me I wish wouldn't have existed... especially as a child.

I want his heart to be light, his step to have pep, his world to seem easy right now.  There's plenty of worries to come, plenty of stress to be had.  But not now.  I want him to simply be a little boy.

And A.  It may be best to describe her going at an opposite angle.  When I was pre - school age my mom quit working... completely because I could not handle daycare.  I mean, I could not handle it.  I cried day in and day out.  Drop off was intense for everyone.  I can remember the sickness I felt in my stomach.  I can remember the despair and urgency I felt as she stepped through the door.  Mom had it, I had it.  She was done, and I never went back to daycare.

A needs me.  As in, can't control her emotion, can't think logically, can't completely function, when she fears she's fittin' to be left.  It's exhausting.  It also used to be very frustrating.  I'd become mad, like I didn't understand, and then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks.  She is me.  This was me.  And I understood for the first time.

And that broke my heart.  I'm going on 29 years old and can remember the fear I felt of being left.  I handled the emotion better as an elementary schooler, but still worried that something would happen and I'd never see her again.  Is this something my own daughter will carry with her?  I've been banking on her not remembering this... but I do!  To say that I hurt for her is an understatement, and I've found myself trying to be more understanding.  More compassionate.  More caring.

The worst thing my mom could have done at that moment in my life would have been to discipline me harshly.  Even when it feels like a battle of wills, it was a feeling of abandonment and fear that I could not control.  Reassurance and love covered a great deal of my heart at that time, and for a mother who was often honest, blunt, and to some degree strict, she knew the battle was not against my will, but my heart, and could not be won with harshness.

Add on top of A's separation that she is even more effected by words than her brother, and you have me in a little nutshell.  Words pierce her deeply.  Tone pierces her deeply.  Physical rejection pierces her deeply.  And I can totally relate.

And I just want to love them and I wish I could change them to be carefree and bubbly, to throw off from themselves the cares of the world.

And in some ways they do.  A is the comic relief our family desperately needed.  B the athlete and 'spunk', if you will.  Spunk and sass... we have them both.  I think they get both from their dad.  The good traits.

*whine alert*
And here I sit, 29, ok, almost.  As if being utterly and ashamedly aware of your own junk isn't hard enough, seeing it characterized through your children is almost unbearable.  You deal with it for you, and you hurt about it for them.  And it makes it worse in your own life.

There's a healthy balance of being able to see the good and bad in ones self, and to be honest, I've never really seen that.  It's true, if there's any good you see in me, it's Jesus, and if there's any bad, that's me.  And from my perspective, I feel like people see a whole very lot of me and not any of Jesus.  The enemy has a way of reinforcing this in area after area of my life, even when the 'good' become evident, they are usually product of the bad.  (Even when I'm asked to say something good about myself, it comes out like, "I don't worry as much as I used to."  This is how I'm used to being complimented.)

And I fear this for my kids.  I fear that the enemy will feed these lies to them.  They are easily consumed, easily believed, and very... very difficult to conquer.

My prayer is that I will be the one speaking truth in their lives, that God has made them uniquely, wonderfully, specially, and that I see Him in them.  Not just when A doesn't cry when being dropped off, or when B chooses to trust rather than ask questions, but when there little smiles light up the day of their friends, or when they choose to share because they want to, or when they show loyalty and grace to others.  May I always be their biggest cheerleaders, not so they don't see their sin.  I'm sure I'll have to show them that a time or two as well.  But God is the convictor, and the world will magnify their shortcomings.  May I remind them of the Him that they possess.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Great Loss

October 26th was the date of my last blog.  I was immersed in Cardinal baseball.  I was praying, quite literally, over a little boy to not be sick for the huge weekend we had coming up.  (Consisting of a fall fest at school, a fall fest for church, a 5K family run / walk, his last baseball game for the season, game party, birthday shopping for Cowboy boots, friends coming over, with the finale being his birthday party.  Phew.  I'm tired just writing it.)

Anyhow.  Life was banking along. Maybe moving so fast I failed to really see it.

On October 30th I talked with my mom again on the phone.  Her mom was in the hospital... again. This has been a going trend since May.  In and out.  Good and bad.  But never that bad.  Turns out she'd had a minor heart attack earlier in the week, probably due to the fact that her heart wasn't keeping rhythm and was just getting worn out.  The agenda for the next day was to physically 'shock' her heart back into rhythm.  Mom had left the hospital feeling better about the procedure than she had in the months prior.  There had been talks of doing this for some time.  Grandma was in good spirits when she left, with her last remark being that she was sad she couldn't be home to scare all of the kids on Halloween.  The woman loved her holidays.  Especially Christmas.

I passively said on the phone to my mom that night, "Mom, she'll be next."  We both knew what I meant, but as much as I meant it, I didn't expect the phone call at 6:30 the next morning saying she was gone.  To be honest, I wouldn't have expected that a year... or two... from now.

It all happened so fast.  Out of the blue she had severe back pain and no feeling in her legs.  After that she flat lined.  They brought her back twice before my mom could get to the hospital.  Her body was functioning, but she was gone, as my mom and uncles waited... for five hours... for her to go on.

It was Halloween.

The series of events that follows is a whirlwind.  I had school that day to function through.  Trying to know the right thing to do and the thing you want to do at a time where you can't really function anyway, all while being 700 miles away.  That's hard.  Especially when it's unexpected.  Especially when the weekend is supposed to unfold as previously mentioned.  Especially when your five year old's birthday is coming.  I was heartbroken, longed to be with my mom, and confused.

Once we had decided that we were going back come hail or high water, the hubs got rear ended in the car we were supposed to drive back only an hour or so before we were scheduled to leave.  It was also the little man's birthday.  The funeral was only 36 hours away.  Hubs was fine, car was not.  (We would find out later it was totaled.)

I went to bed with a pounding headache that night and no idea what the next day would hold.  A couple hours of talking and $450 for a rental car later, and we were on the road.

We literally made it to the steps of my parents house in time to change clothes and get back in the car to go the cemetery.  A cremation and an intimate graveside service was all she wanted.

I felt blank.  No chance to see her again.  Just a friggin' pot sitting there where at least a casket should be.  All I can think of is the last hug I gave her at those same steps at my parents house months earlier, along with a promise that the next time we went back we'd drive over to her apartment to see her.  This was not in the cards.

My mom held up ok, until the pastor handed her a rose from grandma's spray.  The kids sat on her lap the entire time.  She needed them.

I stood out from under the tent, still utterly shocked that we were doing this.  Ladybugs were everywhere.  Kamikaze ladybugs.  Flying into you like mad, sticking to all of your surfaces.  The infestation of these things were even on the front page of the paper that contained her obituary.  Fitting.
And as mom cried, and I cried, I realized something, my mom had lost her best friend on this earth. The only person who has always been there for her... always.  Her confidant, her listening ear, the crying shoulder... all in that urn.

We spent the week going through paperwork, running errands that no person should have to worry about in their grief, going through every piece of jewelry the woman owned (and it was a lot).  We laughed about that jewelry and about her crazy colors of finger nail polish.  Apparently she'd been complimented on her blazing blue polish in the hospital the day before she died.

She loved to dress up.

She loved shoes.

She loved jewelry.

She loved food.

She loved Jesus.  She was the first person I talked to about Him.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I can remember all of the weekends spent at their house, playing in their yard.  I have this whole collection of holiday memories.  I can remember her laugh.  She had the greatest laugh ever.  She, my mom and I would do these shopping days where we'd go all day and have lunch and hit every store our feet would carry us in.  I'm so thankful for those times.

She went with us to pick out my wedding dress.  She liked one, mom liked the other.  I chose hers.  I'm so glad I did.

And the week passed, and turns out we had to drive two cars 11 hours back to Texas.  And the sweet hubs knew I just needed some time.  And he led.  And I followed.  And for the first time... really... I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I kept watching the clock thinking it would stop, and it would, for moments here and there, but for the most part, I cried the entire way home.  I needed it.  I needed to think on the good times and mourn the loss.

But mostly, I spent time despairing in the fact that my kids won't have the same relationship with their Gaga that I did with my grandma.  11 hours pretty much prevents any random shopping trips and weekend sleepovers.  I cried for myself, who can't stop by my grandma's anymore... but can't even stop by my mother's when I want to, just because.  And she's living.  But she won't always be.

Like I said... I cried.

I think about her often each day... and have tried to be in contact each day.  She's struggling with not being able to pick up the phone to call her mom.  I'm going to take advantage of being able to do that for as long as I can.

And each day that goes by is different.  Some days are hard.  Some days are easier.  Some I really can't stand the distance between my mom and I.  Some days I can't help but hug on my own kids a little bit more.  All in all... I'm discovering that life will never be the same... it's a new kind of normal that's going to have to happen... and the process is going to be slow and somedays it is going to be painful...

One thing is for sure, I have been able to appreciate the loved ones in my life more.  I know that they, or I, won't be here forever... like this... to call on the phone whenever I want.  Maybe I'll be a little more apt to make phone calls...