Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Mid-Life Crisis

I hadn't really thought about mid-life crisis until the past month. I googled it, read a bit and laughed and cried and realized that I was indeed in the throes of it.

I don't have profound comments, witty jokes or significant answers that cannot already be found if you just google it yourself, but I have my story.

My mid-life crisis snuck up on me. I was tired of having to battle some thing all the time... Really. Having a large family, having a blended family, having a divorce in my past, watching children hurt and fall and get up, working through court issues where I've been attacked as a permissive parent who is incapable of raising successful children, being lied about (hey, at least I know who is telling the lie and it becomes predictable)... So, part of why I haven't blogged over the summer is simply because I turned rebellious. I was tired of being stoic... strong... and stepped out of that zone.

I've never cared about having birthdays and growing older. You cannot avoid it unless you die young and I've been far too busy for that, so I just accepted it without a blink. But, this year, I suddenly hated the wrinkles near my eyes. My smile lines aren't looking so happy. I've become more aware of if I look like I am in my 40's. Most of my life I have not been one to wear make-up regularly. I tell you, the mascara has been going on this lady most days... I dropped 25 pounds because I desperately needed to feel better about myself and felt like that would help. I had lost the value of my own life...

It's not like society was telling me that I wasn't good enough... that I didn't have a solid career and had chosen to stay home and raise my children, so I wasn't as valuable... Oh, no! Society doesn't send us moms that message, right? Yeah. But, I was working two jobs all summer, struggling to pay bills. So, I should have felt good enough. After all, I am an elder care giver by day and a fast, fun and friendly cashier by night.

So, that's where I was a good bit of the summer. We had get-togethers and family activities and I really enjoyed a good bit of it. But, honestly, all the while my mind was distracted and I felt dissatisfied. I was unhappy.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend while looking up "mid life crisis" web sites and declared to her that I was having one. She was awesome. She could relate to a lot of what I was saying. She helped me see that I could choose to make some changes and she challenged me.

It hasn't been easy. I made a Dr. appointment and got a check up and talked about some "sensitive issues" and ended up beginning to wear estrogen patches. TOTALLY FUNNY HERE! I had been lacking hormones for so long and had not realized how hardened I had become. How insensitive to others (as well as to myself) and had seen "things" so black and white, with little emotion. Then come the estrogen patches. I have feelings again! My boys are all singing the hallelujah chorus... their nurturing mom is back. But, don't worry, the no-nonsense gal is just a heartbeat away... I can count on her. I have never liked crying and try at all costs to not allow myself to cry. Good grief, that doesn't work with this estrogen. I cry now. Shoot.

I had stepped away from hobbies and habits that had held me for years. But, they are there for me again. They have just been a choice. Since I am a "list person" by nature, I made myself some lists... I have a "Blog about this" list (writing about my mid-life crisis was 2nd to the top). I have goals for my education and future. I have a list for activities that I can pick from that I've missed out on because I've been out of sorts. Rebekah gives me photography challenges (she is taking photo-journalism at the University, after all).

And I stepped away from God. I remember thinking, "Why does everything have to be SO DIFFICULT?" And I have felt let down by God. I've battled that question and that feeling over the years because a lot of things that meant so much to me were ripped apart over the years. It's easy to be on the outside and hear that and correct the person saying that. If I were on the outside and heard myself say that I would say to myself, "Betty, you had choices all along. God didn't let you down." This has been a difficult year and I remember times this summer where I felt rebellious in my spirit... I never said it, but I felt it and this is what I felt, "Fine. If everything is so difficult, I am done!" And I stopped praying. That is changing, too. Because I do have choices. I can choose to look at how difficult certain parts of life have been, or I can choose to look at all the blessings. What about the joy of having a child get through recovery and make progress? Yes, events that led up to that were incredibly stressful and difficult. But, it is worth all the effort and work to have my child text me "I love you. You mean the world to me."

Each day is new. It IS hard. Honestly, it's easy to write about it and it seems like I am saying, "Hey, I was messed up with mid-life crisis and TA-DA! I am all better now!" I am choosing, though, to be open about it and surround myself with friends and family. That helps. I am taking this "new day" theme and running with it. I am renewing parts of the home... that gives me a happy, satisfied new joy. I am renewing my heart. And I got a new hair cut!

So, here's to overcoming! Here's to letting go of hurts. Here's to letting go of rebellious acts and attitudes. Here's to loving... caring... nurturing... forgiving. Here's to hair mousse and mascara...


(My new hair cut)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Time, Part 2

It was a big summer for all of us...

A very dear person in my family spent some time learning and growing at a recovery camp for several weeks. I am very proud of said family member. It was scary time, intimidating, and oh-so-necessary. We spent many moments together during visitation or counseling sessions where I thank my God that I held my tongue, listened and took all I could learn to know how to be a better parent and to love more. Our relationship grew by leaps and bounds. The story isn't mine to share, so that's about all I will write publicly. It was a huge part of my summer, so I needed to mention it. A few moments stand out above the others... When I took my person to check in, there was such anger towards me. I had no choice but to turn and walk away... leaving behind someone who refused to look at me or say good-bye. A few weeks later I spent an afternoon there and a good bit of tension was released. We walked down a path as far as one is able to accompany a visitor... there were wee little orange flowers growing along the way. I said, "When you see these, think of me and how much I love you, okay?" We shared a tight hug and an "I love you" and I turned to walk away to hear a voice call out, "Mom, turn back once more." And saw my brave child signing "I love you". Tears ran down my face all the way to the car. Oh, how a mother loves her children. Then came the day when it was time to move to a new place. I helped load up, gave hugs, thanked some really terrific people, watched more hugs and good-byes and we were off. Several hours later it was time once more to say good-bye. I looked up and saw the time and knew I needed to get on the road and come home and the tears began. I was handed this little paper stationary heart and told to keep it with me to show me the love... I think this was the hardest time I had to leave. I sit crying once more as I type. I wanted to stay. I wanted to do for my child what had one had to learn to do for one's self. I wanted to protect. I was afraid for the choices ahead. We now share texts, phone calls, jokes and songs and laughter and tears as this journey continues. Perhaps one day I will be able to share more of the story, for it is certain to help other moms and family members who struggle with addictions.

A few odds and ends... I made a quilt for Jayden out of scraps from the fabric I made his nursery curtains and bedding from... It was fun because I just made it up as I went. I only do tie quilts, so that's what it is... and I do my best at binding, but that's not my favorite part... so, here is the quilt I made:

Early summer I picked out this garden girl... she reminded me of Bek as a youngster and just stole my heart.

Speaking of Bek... She has had an incredible summer turned fall! She has been San Francisco State University's poster child for students earning their way through college... struggling... fighting for their ability to earn an education. She has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle a couple of times, been followed by camera crews and has been quoted on a large billboard near the University... not to mention she joined Senator Barbara Boxer at a press conference where she was introduced by the Senator and shared a bit of her story. She now has her Junior year at the University underway... but, guess what? She was also chosen as an intern at the San Francisco Chronicle! Which is amazing and her dream... she is a journalism major and it is such a joy to watch her grow. I wish at times that her struggle wouldn't be so hard (financially), but it also shapes her. She is determined and ever so delightful. She is still my Rebekah and we get together when we can and laugh at the ways we mirror each other... she is the apple that fell from my tree! I remember wanting to be a journalist at some point... called myself the "Roving Reporter"... and my grandmother, Betty, wanted to be a reporter/journalist as well. How cool is that? She came home for a couple of weekends this summer... and I met up with her a few times on her turf.

So to not leave anyone out... Shasta made a commitment this summer to get in shape... to make better eating choices... and along with her best friend began working out daily. She surrounded herself with notes and inspiration and followed through. It began with Jillian's 30 day shred (not one day missed!), followed by a multiple disk program called "Insanity". It has been transforming for her and I am proud as can be that she did this for herself.

And that will do it for my summer review... I am almost ready to enjoy fall... Not quite because I cherish warm summer nights... However, I have no choice but to embrace the next season, so, I suppose I will.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Review, Part 1

Well, hello there!

Quite obvious is that I have not been writing on my blog for the past few months. So much has taken place and although I have had the time, I haven't wanted to write about life. As I sit searching for some profound, deep reason why, nothing really great comes to mind. Some seasons in life you just keep tucked deep in your heart... kind of like catching that one really magnificent photo of your newborn grandchild and you don't want to publish it online because it just feels too incredible to share... as if no one can treasure it quite like you can...

Anyway, summer came and went and there were a lot of great things experienced, so I figure a photo recap with notes along the way will suffice.

Let's start with the garden... I took control of the garden early on and enjoyed it's great benefits and blessings to the table. However, as usual for me, by the end of summer I just didn't want to spend any more time there and have ignored it for a few weeks.

Oh, the jalapenos!! I found an incredible recipe for homemade poppers and made them several times this summer, particularly when I had company over. I also cooked down a whole lot of tomatoes for home made tomato paste so that when I am feelin' it I can made home made ketchup and stuff like that...

I also made home grown pico de gallo!

We grew a patch of corn that fed us a few nights...

We had quite a sunflower explosion behind the garden. We like the large ones that we can get seeds from for Starburst (our sun conure).

Sleepovers with grandchildren happen any season of the year... but I really liked the summer sleepovers! Particularly because we could slip over to the park, play with the hose and water the garden or just play with water toys and not be concerned one little bit about getting cold. We just had to stay hydrated is all... Here are fun favorite shots of the grandchildren:

I particularly like this shot that I took. When you are a parent the first time around, as much as you love them and enjoy them you don't fully comprehend how much you will want a moment like this back once more... So, one day I just snuggled Jayden, who is far too busy to be snuggled nowadays... And I breathed in deeply and cherished each little heartbeat with him.

Well, those were several shots from summer, with very little journaling by me... I will add in a summer part two post with shots from a couple of visits by Rebekah, Cody's first fishing tournament and fun family time... Perhaps I'll find my writing voice by the time I add in the rest of the summer shots.


Friday, June 8, 2012

My man-child has graduated!

This graduation was particularly emotional for me. Life has lately been a whirl of ups and downs as we work through raising several teens at the same time, dealing with the attitude, ingratitude, judgements and even joys of the teen territory. However, it was my goal to step out of that zone and be ever present with my son in celebrating his first graduation!

With two days off, I excitedly packed bags, charged the camera battery, swooped my grandson (his mommy asked if I could take him with me, as she had to work), headed over to nab Rebekah from her job and took my place in line in the sea of traffic (really, right on time for the 4:30 rush!).

Great-grandma watched Jayden while Bek, Stephen and I headed out for a most delicious dinner at an enchanting location.

Bek wore heels and sported her new hair cut, which I believe makes her look her age!!

There was no way for me to capture the beauty of this restaurant that is nestled along the hillside, all the way down to the river's watery edge.

After a lovely dinner we thanked Great-grandma for keeping Jayden (She was awesome! Watching her watch Jayden was like seeing her 15 years ago!), then we headed over to the hotel. Stephen and Bek relaxed in the hot tub, catching up with some much needed brother-sister time, reminiscing while I waded through the heated pool with Jayden. The water was about 80 degrees, the sky dark with scattered stars, palm trees nodded every so sweetly to wish us a great time and Jayden loved it!

Then the big day was here!

In the parking lot, prior to the ceremony:

Joseph and Victor walking by to find seats:

Teachers lined up, providing the walkway for students:

There's just something about Pomp and Circumstance and young people in cap and gowns... makes me cry every time. Particularly when it's my very own child right out there! I worried that I wouldn't be able to tell which one was my son as they walked through the arch and pathway, so I zoomed in with my lens and looked for Stephen's shoes and jeans and that worked! I knew that was my son. This week I kept remembering those early years... how he loved his first Pookie Bear... then how each day we'd sit on the couch together reading nature books and working on the alphabet... then when he and I went to a workshop by an amazing man who records great books on cd and were inspired by what an adventure reading could be. Yep, the years go by... I cherish every memory. And here's to you, Stephen! You've always been a gentleman, rarely needed correction and I know in your heart who you are and I am proud of you!

When divorce impacts family, holidays and celebrations are most times tricky. My mother's heart panicked a bit this past week, wondering if my son would have a moment to connect with me and take in the moment together. We did share hugs and I was able to slip in the "I love you so much" a few times. What brought peace to it all, though, was knowing that I am his mom. I held him first, nursed him, cared for him for many years... from the first owies of childhood, through sickness... I taught him to read and what homeschooling mom can not realize what a treasure it is to have Saxon's "math meetings" with your child every day of kindergarten, first and second?! Someone wisely shared with me as I headed out for his graduation that most coming of age novels involve kids leaving home or new people coming to town. It's not a discredit to the mom/family. A lot of intellectual growth as young adults occurs outside the relationship with "mom". Mom was the original nurturer in that inner circle of life, but the circle gets larger. Mom is never less important in the circle. I really liked that! It is also like life's timeline. I am at the beginning of his life timeline and am critical to those first 15 years! From there it is only natural that other names are written in on the timeline and dates penciled in for the dates where he left home... where he met that special someone... where a mentor influenced the course of his life.

So, I treasure who he is and thank my Heavenly Father that I had the honor of being his mom.

How do you get through a graduation ceremony with a wiggle one-year old? You take Bek with you, of course! Actually, we had juice boxes, sweet potato puffs and tried to tag team it! Bek was awesome, though!! She has a heart that goes out to help the situations of life... She would say, "Mom, I want you to enjoy watching your son graduate. I'll take Jayden." And if she were to sit and write on my blog, she would declare that when Stephen's row stood up and walked forward, she was on the sidelines, Jayden on hip, calling out his name and waving and embarrassing him!

And my son receives his diploma:

When Stephen and I talked about his graduation, he said that the exciting part of it all is what lies ahead. He declared how this wasn't as big a deal because a lot of people graduate from high school (A lot of people don't, also! So, congratulations, Stephen!), and that the big celebration would come in future graduations! Here's to you and your future, son!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wrapping up our day trip to Yosemite

Jayden looking over a rail of a bridge at Mirror Lake.
The water was cold!

And his daddy taking a breather...

My two oldest sons at Mirror Lake:

Nathan (above) was the best uncle ever! I love his love for Jayden. I remember how tenderly he held Jayden as a little baby and the expressions on his face are priceless.

Grandma had to try for a quick photo shoot... lol. Most of the time I wasn't thinking about photography, I was simply in awe of the surroundings and figured I would capture whatever I captured on my camera and check out the photos later. I think if i had more than one day to be there, I would have calmed myself down a bit, breathed in the beauty a bit more and paused to think about what I was doing with my camera!!

If you look at half dome and notice the straight side to the left (the curved to the right), this next shot is taken below that left side, looking up.

The deer arrived on cue to escort us from the park...

So long, Yosemite! I'll be back!