Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oh, Honestly.

Let's talk about a bit of a downer people...

For the past several months I've been talking to an editor for our local paper here, and she had offered me an opportunity to write as a paid blogger for the paper's online publication. It was supposed to be geared around health and fitness tips for moms. I know for a fact that I totally would have nailed it, and I was so excited to cheat on this blog with that one, but alas--it never came to be. womp womp.

My wonderful and supportive husband had mentioned that I should post my pilot blog in spite of the situation, and Lord knows that is what I would normally do. (And Lord also knows I still probably will one day...) This isn't really what I wanted to blog about, though. It is more of an aside that I needed to get off of my chest. People don't want to pay for my writing yet, but that's okay. Will blog for free. As a bit of a consolation prize, here's one for the moms about mental fitness.
One thing that I have been noticing a lot in the blogging realm is the rise of the "Mommy Martyrs." If you have no idea what I'm referring to, then I'll quickly spell it out for you here.
In essence, motherhood is a soul-sucking, sanity-stealing, sleep-depriving occupation that kills any amount of human joy that may be physically possible and replaces it with a never ending cycle of butt-wiping.

In case the previous description left you thinking that I don't like reading those blogs, then let me tell you plainly: FALSE.
I am of the opinion that if you can't read satire or understand sarcasm without getting offended, then you should probably get off the Internet. Also, you can please take your lame excuse that one can't convey tone in writing with you. Allow me to introduce Mr. Winky Face: ;)

That being said, I try really hard to keep things light and rosy on my end. I may be up to my elbows in a land of smushed fishy crackers, but I am by no means drowning in it. And while I enjoy a good snot-out story as much as the next mom, we have more or less outgrown that phase and I already miss it. (Some days.... Kind of.....)
Moreover, in case you haven't noticed a bit of a trend, I try really hard to look for the joy in life's little things. (If you are confused, please reread my entire blog.) Truth be told, most of that joy comes from learning to laugh at my "martyr moments."

Some days it is really easy. Like the time I awoke in the middle of the night to find that both of my children had woken from their sleep, crawled into my bed, and snuggled up so tightly to me that I actually wound up sleeping on the footend of the bed with no pillows or blankets. Or watching my kids reenact every line and musical number of Frozen...In its entirety...Including the extra scenes and the Spanish rendition of "Let it Go."

Some days I get to laugh a bit after the fact. Which happened the day my daughter told and retold a fart story starring her mother to complete strangers in a restaurant. Or a little while after those instances when my son wakes me up in the morning by getting right up to my sleeping face and yelling "COCKADOODLE DOOOOO!"

And then there are those days where it really is just.stinkin.hard.
Last week I had about seven of those days in a row. In addition to the realization that my new blog opportunity was probably never going to be, everyone got sick with various ailments and I just couldn't keep them well. Even the dogs got in on it. Fungal, bacterial, and allergic. Thanks for sticking with the rule of threes, Murphy. We felt icky. We were cranky. We were tired. We were lonely. We missed Daddy. We felt low.
I looked and looked for the joy, but my own pessimism just wouldn't let me push past only seeing the crap. Literal crap. (That happens with bacterial ailments, folks.)
It took everything in my power not to complain with a snarky blog entry. Truly, all I wanted to do was vent and have people pity me. But instead, I called my momma, cried to my husband, and reread one of the classics. (And one can always glean something from the classics...) Like this gem:
Don't try to be cynical. It is perfectly easy to be cynical.

One of my favorite things about children is the openness with which they speak from their hearts. It's all beautiful and silly, of course. But there is also always so much truth in it.

Like in the pureness of their forgiveness: "It's not your fault, Mommy. You didn't know what was a fungus and what was a bruise."
Or in their unfailing optimism: "It's okay. At least I don't have to get cut apart and put back together!"
Or in their refreshing perspectives of wellness: (as the dog does a complete leap over the furniture and lands on us with his freshly muddied paws) "Mommy! Mommy! He's back! He's back!!!"

This week, during one of my roughest weeks in a while, the joy I found is that my kids have not yet been warped by the world's cynicism. And that they are so wonderfully and perfectly honest.

Sending us off with a "real life" selfie.

Here's hoping your joy is easy to spot today and all of your tomorrows.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Ol' Me

I am not one for keeping up with pop culture. This is not new news. Yesterday I discovered that Mandy Moore is the voice of the calico cat in the new Disney Jr series "Sheriff Callie." That will be as close as I get to being "in the know" regarding pop culture for at least the next 6 months... Because I'm a mom.

Last week I attempted to take a break from the preschool programming and watch the CMA's--like an ordinary, yet slightly more hip mom.
(FYI-If you actually use the word "hip," it pretty much guarantees that you aren't. Dangit.)

As I watched all of these extra-ordinary people get up on stage to perform, I noticed some things:
-They make the same faces at awkward dance moves that I do.
-They are just as tired of hearing Florida Georgia Line as I am. (It was a good song. It wasn't worth making five songs about. Sorry.)
-Their voices shake when they are scared.

This is not to say that I am usually starstruck. I'm not. I hardly know who the stars worth being starstruck over are anymore. But it's nice to see extraordinary people looking ordinary. (Which happens a lot when they insist on wearing Hanes undershirts like they are actual clothes. I will never understand...but I am getting away from the point of this story...)

As the writer of a blog with a poster on the side of it that promises not to be boring, I will be the first to admit that my life is so very ordinary. I wouldn't call it boring. It's just not all that noteworthy.

I think that's why I write it. I want to find the redeeming value of my ordinary story.

When my husband's grandfather passed away a couple years ago, we each took turns reading his memoir. He had lived through the Great Depression, fought during WWII aboard the U.S.S. Swasey and Brough, fathered three children, taught as a university chemistry professor for over 30 years, was an avid birdwatcher, an active member of his community, and a very interesting man to talk to. As I read his autobiography, I couldn't help but think to myself that I would never be able to write stories as wonderful as these to leave behind for my loved ones--I would never do anything as grand or awe-inspiring as this man. But to talk to Delbert, he probably would have told me that he lived an ordinary life. Not a boring one, but that his stories were shared by many others of his time and just so happened to be puzzled together uniquely into his life.

The thing that is important to remember about being ordinary is that ordinary people are capable of doing big things. That our ordinary stories are being puzzled together into a bigger picture.

Occasionally, you recognize that you have a story slightly outside of the norm.
Once upon a time, I went to college and earned a degree. While that used to be impressive, this has turned into somewhat of an ordinary story now.

But my study buddy didn't look like other people's.

Passing out with a bottle meant something entirely different.

By the way, thanks for that, Babe.

And "Hey, y'all want to come over for a party?" didn't mean what it used to.

(Although the boys did still try...)

Whenever I have a rough season in my ordinary life, I go back to that time. I play it all back in my mind. The shock. The fear. The tears--happy and sad. The drive. The determination. And ultimately, the feeling of victory that I get when I realize I have accomplished something noteworthy. Maybe not to everyone, but certainly to me.

Of course, I didn't do it on my own. I had ridiculous amounts of help from people who love me. And I hope that if they are ever feeling anything less than special, they remember that sharing this one story with me makes them really big in my eyes.

And isn't that a golden nugget? Even when we are feeling ho-hum, we may actually be living a life that is a key part of someone else's big story moment.
(By the way, using the term "golden nugget" also takes away hip points.)

As much as I love to joke that I am getting old, I realize I am still young. God willing, I have a lot of years left in me. A lifetime of achievements left to live, if you will. And if they are half as good as Pappy's, then maybe one day I will write a book about it. And I think I will title it "My Ordinary Life."
Just for fun, one of my favorite excerpts from Pappy's book:

My first date with Margaret [his wife] was on Halloween night, 1941. The college had a Halloween dance in Whitley Gym. There were several girls nominated for Halloween Queen and the Marpessa Club had nominated Margaret. In order to raise a little money, we voted on our favorite with a penny vote. Each club got the money that their candidate brought in. I think I spent nearly a quarter that night voting for Margaret. I only had a dime left over. She won! She didn't have a date so I asked her to go to the Chatterbox with me after the dance and she accepted. I spent my last dime on cokes for the two of us. Our first date was on Halloween night, October 31, 1941, and three years later we were married. The rest of these memoirs is a true story of "they lived happily ever after!"

Swoon. Gonna go have a coke now.