Monday, November 3, 2014

Flight Risk

I don't know what's keeping me in this chair.  Whatever it is I imagine it to be the strength of a hair.  If I so much as indulge one thought that tether will break and I will find myself at a bus stop making the greatest mistake of my life - one that I would never recover from.

But the desire is overwhelming.  The desire to quit is more than I can take.  I imagine a life of freedom where I am responsible for no one - where I don't have to monitor my every word, facial expression and tone of voice. I beg to just be myself (whoever that is) and do things I want to do without the guilt of how it might negatively impact someone else.  I want to scream and hit walls and throw glass and curse loudly.  And then I want to be done and not have any consequences.  To just walk away and find myself unleashed from guilt, shame, obligation and responsibility.  I'm sick of doing the right thing for everyone else.  I'm so done dying to self.

So why am I still here?

Because here is the lesser of two evils.

I'm not trying to destroy anyone.  And leaving would destroy my son.  It would infuriate my husband and break the heart of my youngest.  But it would destroy my oldest.  I can't imagine that my presence is really of benefit to him but my absence would be deafening.  And as much as I want out - to just run away - I could never survive the guilt of hurting my husband and my children.  I would live in a whole different kind of agony.  So what's the point of trading one misery for another?

It makes me wonder what the difference is between me and those women who just go out for a pack of cigarettes one day and never come back.  How do they live with themselves?  I wonder, since I don't have the luxury of a silent conscience, what will it take to become content where I am?  What would have to change to bring me some peace in these circumstances?

I believe the answer is in the Bible.  I know it is.  But I never seem to be on the right page.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I'm a harper.  I harp on my kids.  Say you're sorry. Have some integrity.  Always be honest. Take a shower!  But one of the things I have been really stressing lately is the notion of using ones talents and gifts.  My eldest, in particular, is forever talking about how he's not good at anything.  If he tries to build something and it doesn't modify the molecular structure of the universe, he's a failure.  Two problems with this self-image.

   1. It's not true
   2. It bugs the crap out of me

Some other time I will have to vent about why God gives us the children that are the very embodiment of our greatest struggles, but today it's simply a tangent.  Or maybe a foreshadowing.  "Victims" bug the crap out of me - people who are never at fault and talk of life's trite tragedies just so others will say something that's patronizing at best - yeah....drives me to drink.

Anyway, in an effort to combat his perpetual negativity without using words like "annoying" and "get over yourself", I try to focus the both of us on his gifts; his talents.  Because, his opinion to the contrary, he does have a few.

And here's how I often finish the conversation: "you know, the Bible says if you don't use the gifts you have, God will give them to someone else".   I know.  It's parenting vomit.  This is the stuff that doesn't really "agree with me" but I keep stored away somewhere until suddenly I unload it onto my children with the most unladylike sound effects.  It's a mechanism I use to manipulate my children into believing something I myself find difficult to choke down.  Then the other day I was talking to my youngest about this very issue when suddenly I find my back firmly slammed against the far wall of a room with no door:  "Mom, what are your gifts?"

This, see, is what I call parenting heartburn; when you are forced to eat your own words and then they gurgle at the back of your mental epiglottis for days until finally you're forced to medicate or swallow your own hard truth.  And here's the real problem with my little angel's question.  If he doesn't know what my gifts are, then clearly I'm not using them.  Ugh.  Pass the Pepto.

So I'm fighting with this notion for days, right, and trying to convince myself that I actually know what my gifts are and certainly use them regularly.  But I've got no proof.  That's the problem.  Nothing to speak of that I can hold as testimony to my own offspring.  I used to.  Once, when I was 22, I had a great job that should have been filled by a Dr. Someone but thanks to my relational abilities I was making a hearty sum sitting in a leather chair.  A few years later I'm the "visionary" of a new company because I dream big and have "wisdom beyond my years".  Then when I was in my 30s I started writing a blog as a means of therapy and suddenly everyone I know (and some I don't) are telling me I should write a book.  Even God Himself once told me "This is what the Lord the God of Israel says: write in a book all the words I have spoken to you". (Jeremiah 30:2)  Newsflash: no Barnes n Noble, Walmart or garage sale carries anything with my name on it.

But here's the heartburn: it's been nearly a year since I've had the desire or ability to write more than a "get out of gym class" note to the school principal.  "For whoever has, will be given more.  Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them". (Matthew 25:29) 

I never wanted to be a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parent.

So that's why I'm here tonight.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Moment Theif - by Just Gotta

It’s the kind of day where my kids get in trouble if they even ask to watch TV.  A little sun, a breezy 75 degrees, perfect for batting practice or fort building.  So perfect, in fact, even I was eager to abandon all chores in exchange for a bit of quality time with my boys.
And there it is: the conception of disappointment.  It’s not like I laid on my back and closed my eyes, designing the fantasy. In fact, I didn’t even know it was there.  It simply appeared in my head and at the exact same moment, my heart latched on like a bottom-feeder on a hot dog.  What I now find fascinating, is how completely unaware I was...until the Moment-Grimm-Reaper danced away with my fantasy stuck to the bottom of her tiny shoe.
We’re in the baseball phase.  Both boys have decided they are only one pitch away from a home run even though “novice” is a word reserved for kids two bases ahead of my children.  Nonetheless, I’m not a dream damner - I’m a fantasy finder.  And today my whim demands a mom with a glove and a barrel of patience until alas, a Mario Andretti is born.  Wait...hmm...
Anyway, they were already out the door when I uttered my first ‘just gotta’.  It’s hard to gain enthusiasm before breakfast and a shower.  I just gotta grab something I can hold in one hand outside the shower curtain while using the other to lather.  I won’t even dry my hair or put on make-up.
Flicking off the bathroom light I flew to the laundry room.  “I just gotta get this load started - it will take me two seconds.”  I didn’t even take the time to check for crayons, pennies, rocks or pocket knives.  I threw in the colors and pushed Quick Wash.
Suddenly, my fantasy returned in the same fashion as all things I deem important; instantaneously.  There and then gone.  But it’s a good thing it came at all.  For what I had failed to realize the first time was the essential ambiance my fantasy required.  Three glasses of ice cold water and my mini-Bose sound system blaring Tim McGraw.  Yes..that will make this “moment” perfect.  I just gotta get my iPhone and empty the ice cube trays.
I made it to the front porch before I realized my own baseball glove is in the garage downstairs.  I’m back in the front door when it occurs to me, our dog would probably love to be outside playing with the family.  I just gotta find her.
Back out on the front porch without my glove - again - I travel around the house and down to the basement.  There are three mitts in the bottom of a milk crate.  I just gotta figure out which one fits.  None do. No problem - I just gotta put on a batting glove to add bulk.  None of those either.  Now I just gotta find a ball.
Finally I’m ready - the fantasy which has been lurking near my consciousness now comes just behind my eyes.  I travel up the gravel driveway just in time to see the Moment-Grimm-Reaper standing in my front lawn.  I stop as I watch her red hair blow in the breeze and her innocent smile captivate both of my sons.  A 9 year old girl who loves to play catch and build forts sweetly asks if they want to go play in the sprinkler.

I can’t compete with that.