Sunday, January 29, 2017

Making Room to Grow

I am bone weary tired tonight. My finger-tips hurt, my back hurts, as do my feet, neck, and shoulders. With being a full-time employee, part-time student, full-time mom/wife, the live-in house-keeper has been unavailable to perform her regularly scheduled duties. With six people, three dogs, and one cat in a home the size of a large apartment, things tend to get behind rather quickly. It has improved over the years with the three younger kiddos learning to pitch in, and a significantly older brother and dad to prod them into doing their part. But I reached a limit this weekend where I can no longer pretend I'm ok with the quick surface clean which barely keeps the house from looking like it's occupied by hoarders/squatters.

Friday night I decided to clean the adult's bathroom as I was tired of the level of grime accumulated. (I hate cleaning bathrooms, and tend to procrastinate on them as long as humanly possible, before the "Eewww" factor is just too much to bear anymore, and then I bleach the shit out of everything.) Well, pretty soon I found myself going through and organizing shelves, throwing out old items, cleaning the cupboard under the sink, and organizing drawers. The trend continued the next morning into the kids' bathroom, although I did not look in their cupboards and drawers. The kitchen got a thorough scrub-down, and the living room got cleaned. I cleaned up the junk magnet of a book shelf next to my desk. And today I finished with the walk-in closet. The rest of my family pitched in on tasks when I asked them to, but otherwise did what I prefer, and left me to do things my OCD way.  By today I was moving at a snail's pace from sore muscles. It turns out eight years at a desk job is not great for keeping in shape. Who knew?

Bags and bags of old outgrown clothes finally made it to Goodwill today. Bags of junk made their way to the dumpster. Small broken things are getting fixed, for instance the loose toilet seat in the kids' bathroom no longer wiggles. And pictures which have been stored in the walk-in closet for the last five years finally found homes as a gallery of portraits on the hallway wall.

I wondered why it took me so long to get the photos hung. I've pulled them out more than a few times to organize them for hanging, and ended up frustrated, and just stuffing them back in the closet. I suppose I have been half afraid to get portraits of the children and other family photos hung. Doing so means I'm finally believing that we aren't moving, or being evicted (or in our case foreclosed on) due to financial instability. I'm beginning to trust that our roots are firmly in this Wyoming soil.

I'm finally settling into a mentality of "We can buy this right now, and get this fixed," instead of fretting about how bills will get paid. My husband and I work, we collect paychecks, and the bills get paid. Not always on time, but they do get paid. I finally am beginning to settle and accept that life is good. I don't have to wait for the other shoe to drop anymore. Our family is o.k. And we're going to be o.k. no matter what comes our way. In fact we're talking about getting a new-to-me four wheel drive vehicle with tax returns, so my oldest daughter can buy my car and learn to drive on it.

I've noticed other things too. I'm generally a difficult person to startle. Well... at least I used to be. Now it seems like people are able to do it left and right, and the only thing I can attribute it to, is I'm beginning to discard the need to be hyper-vigilant. It's a good thing.

Now I'm sitting here looking at the gallery in my hallway, and smiling fondly over memories made with the children, with my husband, and I really am looking forward to being a middle-aged couple with an empty nest. I'm so overjoyed at the wonderful, resilient, and brilliant people my children are growing into. And I feel I'm growing into something new too. Maybe that was why I had a need to purge and clean the house this weekend. We all need some room to grow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Retrospect

My oldest daughter is also now officially a college student... kind of. She is going through the BOCES program and taking dual credit college courses. Meaning, for those unfamiliar with the program, that she is earning credit towards high school graduation, but they will also count as credits towards an Associates degree. There are students who graduate high school, and also attend commencement for their Associates. My brother graduated just a few credits shy of his Associates a few years ago. I wish they'd had the program in place when I was in school. No matter though. I'm thrilled my children have the opportunity to benefit from it.

I let my mom know so she could share in the pride, to be able to know that not only is her daughter finally following through on a post-secondary education, but her grandchildren are getting a jump start on it as well. She reminded me today of how miraculous it is, that as a Sophomore in High School my daughter is already attending college courses a couple of evenings a week. When we arrived here in Wyoming, she was not in school at seven years old, and she couldn't read. It is astounding to me. Astounding that I should forget. Astounding that part of our life seems so far away now. Astounding the leaps and growth my children have accomplished while I was so focused on just trying to get some semblance of stability and normality established. I was building a foundation, and while I wasn't looking, they started building themselves into wonderful, brilliant individuals.

My life astounds me now, but in good ways. I say, "I can't believe this is happening," with as much frequency, but with far different emphatic expression.

It astounds me that my son is as tall as me now, and has the sweetest heart of any young man I've ever seen. He is a wonderful artist, and a deep thinker. It astounds me that my daughter on the Autism Spectrum had her ears pierced and is taking care of them, that she is learning to accept change, and that she hears reason where once there was only the ability to see her own point of view. It astounds me the goals she is starting to set for herself, and the talents she is beginning to share.

I look back, and am astounded at how far all of us have really come. Even as my biological clock ticks down, and I have dreams about holding newborns in my arms, and nursing them, I wake to look at my husband, and think, "If I did want to have more children, I would want to have them with this man. But thank god that's not going to happen!" I mean that sincerely, I would have loved to have had my husband's babies. But both of us agreed long ago we were done. Neither one of us wants to re-start THAT clock. And I think we both look forward to being a middle-aged couple with an empty nest, a chance to enjoy each other. Since we met, we've sort of been doing things in reverse. We built a house, and then got married. We started out with kiddos, and we'll finish with being a couple, although I know even after the kids are grown neither one of us will ever really stop being a parent.

We've a achieved a peaceful, and for the most part, fairly comfortable life. And it seems so miraculous to me. I can't help but smile. In retrospect, I have to wonder what else I expected with all of the effort expended to get here.

Southwest Florida Eagle Cam

Monday, January 16, 2017

Getting Set to Sprint

Tomorrow class begins. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I do not actually have to go to campus, my classes are virtual. I'm used to a tangible traditional classroom. So the sprint for the next leg of the marathon will begin. I've already done some warm-up, trying to get ahead on assignments, etc. I have a good foundation for the Accounting class, I at least know the jargon, now it's time to find out how much of a head I have for comprehending beyond the vocabulary.

So far the Pre-Calc class is review of the beginning of my last math class, with a couple of new concepts thrown in just to make sure you're paying attention. By the time this semester is complete, I will have my Freshman credits under my belt. I will officially be a Sophomore. It's hard to wrap my head around that. Before I signed up last Summer to go back, any kind of degree seemed like a far-off dream. By some miracle, my previous course credits from 2008 were accepted, and I am nearly half way to my Associates in Business Accounting. It's encouraging. It also makes me wonder, if after earning the degree, if I should take the test for a public accounting certification. After that, I'll need to figure out what I want to pursue, whether it's English Lit., Geology, or more recently I have been wondering if I would be any good at being some kind of counselor or life coach. Then I scoff at myself, because I have such a habit of making other people's pain personal, it's likely such a profession would leave me miserable. But I have time to decide, at least another couple of part-time school years in any case. Maybe by then I'll know what I want to be when I grow up.

My youngest daughter, who falls on the Autism spectrum, will be a Freshman in high school next school year. I knew it in the back of my mind, but for some reason, attending an Open House for a specific academic program gave me a severe reminder that my job as a mom is, and has always been about preparing her for an independent adulthood, these next four years more so than ever. The same is true of my other children, of course. But it is so difficult not to worry more for her. My other children are socially adept, academically skilled, and generally self-regulating. She is academically skilled, and we are working on the other pieces. It did give me hope though, to meet and interact with a young woman on the Spectrum in last semester's English class. I have such high hopes for all of my children, but more than anything, I just want them to be free to be themselves, to live the life they choose without constraint. That is all. I want the simplest and the best for them, whatever that may look like. I so often wonder if there is more I could be doing to prepare them for that freedom, and the responsibility which inevitably accompanies it.

So we are all stretching and taking our marks, waiting for that shot to fire, so we can make our next run, win this next race, and get ready for the next leg of the marathon we call living. For whatever reason, I feel incredibly optimistic about it all. I want to breathe that in, hold it in my lungs, because I know what's coming, what's always coming... that obstacle which makes you want to give up. I will need that little last bit of positive breath to clear the hurdle, and just keep going.

Little Eternities


I could just rest my head like this for small pieces of eternity, comforted in the warmth of your embrace. I listen to the steady beat of your heart, strong, true, and watch the rise and fall of your chest. I listen to the air move in and out of your lungs, as I melt into your warmth. I feel your chin rest on the top of my head, and I softly look up to let my lips meet yours before laying my head back down, with a contented sigh.

We often make love after moments like this, but this by itself is not sexual, or even sexy. It is not lust, not carnal. It is intimate. It Is the intimacy of hearing your heart, pounding steadily, driving life through your body, and feeling so close to that life. I live for these little moments, both of us so relaxed in the way we touch. No expectation of anything, except the comfort of shared warmth, and two beating hearts, enlivened by the breath we share. Little eternities, captured forever in my mind, as recollection leaves me with a smile.