I'm a full-time working mom of 3, grandmother to 2. I have one child left at home, the older two are married, each with a daughter. Like any working mom, I struggle to find a balance between work, family, friends, etc.
Last night it hit me.....soon the room across the hall will be vacant. That room has been occupied by one of my children since October 4, 2004 when my daughter was born. It was once pink, loaded with tiny baby things & Winnie The Pooh decor. As she grew, it was decorated with Dora then Disney Princesses. When the first child graduated and left home that room transitioned to a teenage boy's room. Pink became khaki, Disney Princesses became posters, football pictures, a Fathead of Lebron James, prom pictures, manly colors like gray & black decorate the room. At the end of January, my 2nd oldest child who turns 20 later this month will embark on a new adventure in his life in the US Navy. That room that has held one of my children for 8 years, will be empty. A house full of children will have slowly become a house with one child. My heart is full of pride that my boys have chosen to serve their country. My heart is full of pride with the wonderful men my sons continue to grow to be but there is this space in my heart that misses those little boys with eyes wide with wonder and hearts full of dreams of what the world holds for them. I treasure each moment with my children as they continue to grow and hold on a little tighter to my youngest as know how quickly these years will pass and I will have not only an empty room across the hall, but an empty room next door. My son needs to go on this adventure. It will help him to grow and shape him in ways that myself and my husband could not and cannot do as parents. I look forward to watching him move on to this next phase in his life, but as I walk past that room each morning I will be reminded how quickly time passes and how you never know what life holds in store for your children. The room will become something....we have yet to decide. I have distracted myself for months now trying to figure out what. This morning when I got up & saw that door open with an empty bed, reality smacked me in the face and reminded me of why that room across the hall will be empty and what it means.....I will have successfully sent another child off into this world as a man....I love you Dylan.
This is the first year in a long time we have not taken a summer family vacation. Funds are low & our time off is limited. So we opted to try to utilize the fact that the 4th of July fell on a Wednesday. My husband & I took off Thursday & Friday. I also took off Monday. How was the "staycation"? A success! I feel refreshed & relaxed. I can't say I am raring to go back to work tomorrow but I can feel good going in tomorrow knowing that I spent quality time with my family, especially my little girl who was really longing for some family time...and some mommy time.
Tuesday night started with an attempt at a backyard campout. Bella invited a neighbor friend over. We tried to sleep in the tent but it was 100 that day, the inside of the tent felt like 150 degrees. The air mattress came inside & the girls camped out in the living room instead. I had them do a backyard scavenger hunt & paint water worn rocks from last year's vacation to Lake Michigan. In the morning I made them chocolate chip pancakes. Dinner was quick & easy.
Wednesday, July 4 was spent at the pool. Cocktails and water games were in the mix. I ended up babysitting my granddaughter. We took her to her first fireworks, which we left early because Bella was so tired and my daughter-in-law came to where we were to get the baby. Dinner was something quick & easy.
Thursday, July 5, I took care of my over-due oil change & interior & exterior car wash. I took Bella to breakfast at her favorite place, Bob Evans. We attempted to get pedicures in the a.m. but our efforts were thwarted by a too busy salon. We opted to go to the pool after an inexpensive trip to Claire's for some goodies. We spent the afternoon at the pool, then went up for pedicures. Dinner was quick & easy.
Friday, July 6, my husband & I got up early & tackled projects around the house. Gutters were cleaned, garage was cleaned out, an old broken fridge was hauled off, weeds were pulled, flowers dug up & moved...all before noon. We spent several hours at the pool. I came home & did a power/speed clean of my house & got it ready for my girls night out. I did get up & run to the grocery store. Stocked the cooler with drinks & ice. Girls night out was a blast!!!
Saturday, July 7, another fun & lazy day. We watched movies, went to the pool...I actually went alone for about an hour. So nice but so strange! It's been a long time since I did that alone!! Bella went to a friend's house for quite awhile on Saturday. Saturday evening was just plain relaxing & I had ran to Kroger for a couple of things. My husband made us steak hoagies...I hadn't had them in years but they were so tasty! I also made the buffalo chicken from Pinterest that day.
Sunday, July 8, another day at the pool & a little cleaning up around the house. At 3:30 my friend Karen picked Bella & I for a pre-concert dinner. We took our girls to see Big Time Rush. We had a great time!!!
Monday, July 9, got up & got some things ready for "back to real life" tomorrow. We left the house by 10:30 to go to the waterpark where we stayed until about 2 then headed to a friend's pool to swim there for a few hours. I have a few things left to take care of around here to prepare for tomorrow but we are pretty set for the week! Yay! I will definitely do this again! I have had a fun & relaxing time & enjoyed my family!!!
Pinterest....a serious addiction. A woman's wish list of crafts, DIY projects, recipes, wardrobes, hairstyles and the list goes on. One can easily burn through hours viewing & pinning everything that their heart desires. Although I know a lot of pinning goes on, most women I know don't end up actually trying many of these things that they pin. Those that do, share their successes & failures. I have tried a few things....a few have been a success...a few have been failures. Mostly failures for my lack of patience with the project. The most recent success is this yummy recipe! I love buffalo wings. They are not very healthy. This is a pretty good alternative for the buffalo wing lovers in our house. A Pinterest success! Yippee!!! This blog below is fantastic & is where I tracked down the buffalo chicken in a crockpot recipe. Now...as to my other attempts at creating the masterpieces I see on Pinterest...well....more on those later.
I have some truly amazing friends.....One of my friends & I were emailing back & forth one day last week....the day AFTER I posted about tipping my toes in the sea of depression. She offered up some "unsolicited advice" (her phrase). She had not read my blog post yet she had hit the nail on the head in her email to me. Just the thought that she knew me well enough to know what I was feeling without me coming out & telling her spoke volumes to me. A few years ago, I did not know her & now I wonder how I managed without the incredible blessing of her friendship. She is not only my friend & neighbor, she's an amazing person! She's helped me see things in a different way more than once. Her unsolicited advice was what I needed to hear. It helped me so much. Friends are such an amazing blessing....I am truly blessed by all of mine but last week, especially blessed by one sweet friend in particular! Thank you!!!!
Today I allowed myself to dip my toes into the sea of depression. Once I dipped my toes in, I found myself allowing it to swallow me and wash over me...I began to sink to the bottom. Why I allow this I have no clue...I knew where I was going when I teased that water with my toes. What brings on my sadness that I allowed to consume me? Summer. Yep. Summer is bittersweet for me. I enjoy the homework free evenings, evenings free from sporting events and the constant running. What I don't enjoy is that I am at work five days a week & gone for around 10 hours a day. I miss my daughter, I miss spending afternoons at the pool or mornings at Kings Island with her. These are the things I enjoyed when I worked from home. Had I never known that life, I probably wouldn't miss it so much. Having lived that life for 6 years, it's a tough thing to let go of. Last summer was horrible because I was adjusting to the new job, new schedule and a completely new life. It was a blur. Summer is back and today, it made me sad. I wish with all of my heart I didn't have to work a full time job outside the home. There's no way for us to make it without me working full time no matter how many corners we cut. Today, I yet again mourned the loss of my previous life and I began to wonder if I would ever not allow my mind to go there and to think about how good our family had it when I worked from home full time. I try to remind myself of the benefits of working outside the house now...that my evenings (most of the time) are mine & I am not chained to my computer working until the wee hours making up for the time I spent doing things to entertain a child who clearly wanted to be with other children not at home with me all day. My weekends are mine (most of the time), I no longer work 7 days a week as I did when I worked from home. My vacations are mine, they are no longer working vacations...that time is time that we get to be a family & the focus is on that, no work is hanging over my head. My mind wanders to the things that my child cannot do because many...well, most, of the summer camps & activities are designed for kids who have a parent at home, family that can cart them to & from or a parent with a flexible schedule. None of those are an option for our family & I feel like my daughter is missing out on things...is she? I'm not sure, she doesn't know what's out there that she's not getting to do but I do. I struggle to let go of all of these things and that's what pulls me under into that ugly sea of depression. I need to just move on from it....I'm working on it. At least I allowed myself to float back up to the top today and found myself using that frustration to accomplish some long overdue tasks.
Back in September I got a call from my then 20 yr old son (only 8 days from 21) who was deployed to Kuwait while serving in the Army Reserve. It was September 20. How do I remember....because it was 4 days before my 40th birthday. The call left me stunned, shocked and my head spinning. My son's girlfriend of a little over 2 years was pregnant. This is not what a woman that is about to turn 40 wants to hear. Turning 40 in itself brings so many thoughts & emotions. Mind you that 39 was a terrible year of my life & I was ready to say goodbye to it. In my mind, I had already declared 40 would be better. I thought to myself, this is not what I had in mind & I told my son that this was not the birthday present I was hoping for. Fast forward, I reached out to the Colonel's wife for help with the situation knowing that my son & his girlfriend wanted to get married so that they could utilize the military insurance my son was getting because he was deployed. November 10th I gained a daughter-in-law in very small & intimate ceremony at our church when my son came home for a 2 week leave from Kuwait. Still having mixed emotions, I muddle through things, mostly realizing that my son was now a man, with a wife & baby on the way. No longer my baby, no longer needing me to mother him but just be his mother & allow him to live his own life. As I have learned, it is very difficult with the first child that leaves the nest. It gets slightly easier as the next one grows up...I said SLIGHTLY! We were blessed by the fact that my son's deployment was cut short & he came home much earlier than expected. We have enjoyed having him back in the states & close to our home. I found myself becoming more excited about the arrival of a granddaughter. Mind you...I have a 7 1/2 yr old too! As the due date approached, I really began to embrace the idea of being a grandmother....I am Gigi though...not grandma. I have a first grader for crying out loud....when I envision grandma, I envision my own. She was what a grandma typically is...a sweet & fun little old lady who showers you with love & shares all of her knowledge of the world, good & bad, but mostly fun! I may be sweet, but 40 is not a little old lady, unless you ask my 7 yr old.
The evening of May 23, a call came. My daughter-in-law was in labor. The baby was coming...this was my daughter-in-law's actual due date. How often does that happen? I arrived at the hospital with my daughter around 3:30 on May 24 after getting a call from my son saying she would begin pushing at 3 (this was the time my daughter's field day would end too & I happened to be off work attending it)...expecting to get there after the baby was born. I arrived to find my daughter-in-law in labor still...still pushing. At first I thought, no big deal. But then the hours went on. I knew my daughter-in-law was exhausted...as most mothers are when they are in labor. At 8 p.m. the decision was made that a C-Section was necessary. My granddaughter was born at 8:15, however, we knew nothing until about 9 p.m. when a nurse came out & said that the baby was here and that was it. About 10 minutes later (but it seemed like an hour) my son emerged with a smile on his face to tell us that his daughter was perfect & beautiful & my daughter-in-law was beyond exhausted but doing well. Close to 9:30 we got to see sweet Evelynn Jade for the first time. I looked at that precious little extension of my son and of me and I fell head over heals in love with her at that exact moment. At that moment, I became a grandma without the little old lady. Knowing that I would love & adore her, do my best to protect and care for her, to share with her all things that grandmas are supposed to...although...I stick with Gigi and know that she'll be able to say that much sooner than grandma. I have embraced my 2nd new role within a year...first mother-in-law, now grandma & I am loving it!
Like so many of my friends & neighbors....I am running on empty. Between soccer, swim, Girl Scouts and social comittments, there's not much time left to relax. It's almost over...soccer comes to an end on the 19th. I have enjoyed watching B play and seeing her truly enjoy a sport. A big change from last fall's season of cheerleading. She doesn't dread practice or the games. Her only complaint? Getting up early for games on Saturday. Mind you, she's had 1 of those to date. The second and last one comes on the last day of the season.
I thought that this year, I would have less on my plate as I let go to several time consuming volunteer comitments and I would be down to juggling a schedule for one child since D graduated last June. It seems I am busier than ever! I look back and wonder how I juggled the schedule of myself, my husband and 3 kids! We moms just suck it up & charge forward. We do what needs to be done even if we run on empty we find that there are rewards along the way that fill us up. Doing good deeds & nice things for others, seeing a smile spread across a face of child & knowing there's pure joy & delight behind it, so many other things...I try to find those things in each day as I find myself dragging. I cling to the compliments, smiles & laughs to help me push onward. I am fortunate to be healthy and have healthy children...others I know do not have that & it's hard to be a bystander in those situations. I do what little I can to help knowing that every little thing that someone does is a help & blessing to that family. So while I run on empty a few more weeks, I count my blessings & know that I will do it all again & again....it's just part of who I am.
Today my daughter was attending her first rollerskating party. She was so excited to go! An hour into the party, during the 5 minutes I took my eyes off her in the rink so that I could get drinks, she fell & broke her arm. She broke both bones down by her wrist. I raised 2 boys who did tons of stupid & risky stuff...they are 19 & 21 & have never broken a bone. My only girl who is 7 falls & really messed up her arm! It was a scary experience because at first they were concerned about her nerves in her hands and they told us she may need surgery to repair it! We went to an urgent care, then the hospital to see a children's orthopedic specialist. After many hours and x-rays, they sedated her & set her arm. The new x-rays show her arm looking like brand new. I've been through a lot with my kids through the years but this scared me to death! My husband was the one who laid my guilt to rest reminding me that even if I had been watching Bella out in the rink, I couldn't have stopped the break from happening. My wonderful friend Deb drove my car with me & a very upset and hurting Bella in the backseat. Leaving her own girls with friends at the party to help us out. I am so blessed to have such wonderful, loving and supportive friends who not only care about me, but care about my kids. This broken arm is going to present some new challenges for us but we'll muddle through it just fine...another opportunity to learn & grow for all of us.