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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 25th Lunch of the week

Today marks the last day of the first week of school!
Obviously someone was excited by this. 
I have heard that moving and the death of a family member rank high on the list of life's most stressful situations, but somebody forgot this one.  We lived the life of a Jimmy Buffett song all summer.    They didn't wear shirts or shoes. Stayed up late playing outside, slept in, had cheeseburgers, margaritas (well I did), and if you look at a list of Jimmy Buffett songs, all the other stuff too.

Although we knew this day was coming for 2 months, it came as a shock to all of us. If I thought trying to put shoes on feet which hadn't worn them all summer was tough,  what was even worse was waking the boys up before 7. At one point I had to check if they were breathing because they would not move.

The first day was filled with excitement. The second day, not so much.  The third day someone puked.  Don't get me wrong, they actually like going to school, but they just don't like the act of getting there.

Several mothers celebrate the return of school. The kids are finally out of the house, but for me it is more work.  After coming home from work, I don't sit down until the last kid kisses me goodnight. But honestly it shouldn't be a goodnight kiss, it should be a see you later kiss because it is only a matter of hours before I see my four year old at the end of our bed.

The boys teachers must have major confidence in my ability because two of them required me to bring snack on the first week of class on the same day.  That was a lot of mini muffins.

One of the tasks that takes up so much of my "spare" time is making lunches.  At first I thought this would be a fun. Using Pinterest as my muse I was ready to shock and amaze.  I consider myself somewhat of a health nut, but by the end of the year I would have no problem sticking a hot pocket in their backpack if I could.   I admire the school having strict dietary guidelines in theory, but sometimes nothing would make me happier than a bag of Doritos. And if you know me, baking and cooking are not things I excel at.  They have made for some pretty funny fail photos however.

I have reusable lunch containers with four compartments and those compartments mock me. Challenge me to fill them up with nutritious food. And after a long day, I can't remember which kid is repulsed by string cheese. Or if any of the food in the compartments intermingle, they are tainted and considered uneatable.

Lunches are like a complex math problem of making different combinations for food each day without repeating one.  It's mentally exhausting.   Our school does have a hot lunch program but if I were to get hot lunch for every child everyday I might as well just hand over my salary.

I also make lunch for my husband.  It is the same lunch I make the boys. Some people may think that is unnecessary, but to me its not. It is the one way I can show him that I love him and care about him when I have forgotten to look at him all week. And, it is great ammunition when I need to one up him in an argument.  For example: "Who makes MY lunch everyday?"   Plus, if I didn't pack his lunch he wouldn't eat.  Then he would come home hungry and be an asshole, so its a win win situation.

As much as I hate it, making the boys lunch each day is a way for me to be part of their day when I can't be.  I have been their source of food since they were born and some how I still feel obligated to keep up with it. And even though I have opened the lunch in the evening to find the very lunch I took such care to make went untouched because I forgot somebody didn't like mustard that week, doesn't discourage me from doing it all over again the next day. Even though the boys don't notice, it is an extension of my love for them.

After a few complaints from the customers about my lunch packing abilities, last year I let Parker pack his own lunch .  It consisted of  pita chips, corn chips and sweet potato chips. That was obviously not acceptable even though it was delicious.

Plus, if I didn't make their lunch what would I have to complain about everyday?  I posted something on Facebook about how I only had a million more lunches to make before they graduated from high school. Then a friend commented how I'm already over half way there. Leave it to a guy to think that way.

When I read it, it hit me.  In less that a decade 2 of my boys will be in college. They will eat dining hall lunches that will be so much better than what I make, and they will love it and forget all the lunches I made for them.  They won't miss them, but I bet I will.

The every mundane tasks are what I'm going to miss most.

So, the next time I am rolling another tortilla into a turkey and cheese wrap, I will remember that this is only temporary.  A decade flew by and now my babies are boys and in a blink of an eye they will be men.  Well fed men at that.

So in order to keep our Jimmy Buffett summer lingering just a bit longer I will quote one of his songs, because even Jimmy had to go back to work.  It's all the way you look at it.

It's those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn't  laugh we would all go insane.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Walking the Dog

My second son is very…. well, unique.  First, he is really really smart, proving that intelligence can skip a generation.  He devours information and his appetite for knowledge is never quite satisfied.  I'm not saying that his father and I are stupid, but our interests are the opposite of anything remarkable.

Finegan has a mature book intelligence but his emotional intelligence is still developing. (Actually, so is mine).  In the past year, he has read too many books to count, learned to play the ocarina…yes ocarina, the violin, and composed several pieces on the piano. He likes Minecraft, magic and origami.  Not exactly your triple threat. Plus I have noticed that he is introverted.  We have tried to force him to get outside and play, but he always comes back defeated and sad because kids call him weird.   The truth is, he is weird. Wonderfully so. 
I told him that when I was a kid people called me weird all the time. His response was, well you are weird. And we laughed and I got up and did a jig, proving that weirdness doesn't wear off and he is pretty much screwed if he was hoping it did.

Even if you embrace your weirdness, it can leave you filling left out, and sad at times.  I have learned to channel my weirdness into humor and creativity.  Yet, to a nine year old, it feels terrible. As a mom to the nine-year-old it feels even worse.

You want your kid to fit in, yet when they get older you want them to stand out.

I toyed around with the thought that maybe it is okay he is an introvert. After all, he is happy when he is in his room discovering something new.  To what standard am I measuring happiness? Mine or his?

I have been walking our dog a lot lately.  Actually, he has been walking me.  This dog is stronger than a spastic horse. To get Fin out of the house I have asked him to come along. Most of the time he does willingly, the other times by force.  Once we catch our stride we have had some amazing conversations.  I feel that I can talk to him like an adult, until he reminds me he is a kid again.  He is inquisitive and I would be doing him a disservice if I wasn't honest with him. He told me he was going to build a time machine so after I am gone, he can still go on "our" walks.  I told him that he needs to secretly tell me the winning lottery numbers.  Sometimes our conversations take an unexpected hairpin turn. 

He asked how Robin Williams died.  I hesitated a bit and told him that he had committed suicide.  Some how he already knew what that was.  He asked how he did it. At that time I wasn't sure, but I told Fin that it didn't matter, the end result was the same.  Of course he asked why.  I explained that nobody will ever know for sure. He said, "maybe it was because he felt left out."

This kind of hit me like a ton of bricks.  Was he empathetically implying that feeling left out would be a good enough reason to kill oneself? It worried me.   I explained that he suffered from depression.  We continued our walk and he asked me what it felt like to be depressed.  In addition to being weird, I also have had to deal with reoccurring depression and as much as I have tried to leave the boys in the dark about this, they have seen it first hand.  I wasn't trying to hide it but I didn't want them to feel they were at fault. No amount of love or laughter can get you out of it.  That is why it sucks so much.

He said that he is going to find a cure for depression and then come back in time and give it to Robin Williams and me.  And as much as I admire him for doing that, and I'm confident he will,  I don't know if I would take it. Its one thing to manage it, but to just delete it?  What we perceive as wrong, may be what is right for us. Trust me, I have been to the dark abyss but the lightness that came out of it was beautiful.  I don't like it when I'm in it, but as a creative type, I respect it, I appreciate it, and after all these years, I have learned to cope with it.  Honestly, I don't know who I would be without it. 

It is what makes me unique.  And it has gotten me to this very moment where I'm walking with my son.   I made sure to let him know that just because someone has been diagnosed with depression it doesn't mean they are going to kill themselves. It is not black and white. And I assured him that I would never leave this Earth by my own accord. 

I explained that I can't judge someone who has taken their own life, and I don't want my children to either.  But if we are going to love this life, we have to travel through a couple hills and valleys.  And put more focus on others and less on ourselves. Life is about service, and on that path there will be a dip or climb. True love is supporting each other in the good choices and bad. 

I intend to walk together as long as we can.  To make him know that he is not alone, even when he prefers to be.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Keyhole Vision

We live in a very old house.  It still has the original doors. The kind of doors that don't shut correctly. Don said it is something about the temperature and the humidity bla bla bla.  All I know is that our doors don't shut.  They also don't lock.  Apparently in 1931 kids had enough sense to not just walk into the bathroom when someone was in there.  What is weird is that there are key holes.

This gives me the impression that they either used them to keep people out of the room, or in it. Either way it's kind of creepy.  I suppose some day we will get new doors, but Don is adamant about keeping the original ones.  The doorknobs are beautiful glass. When they aren't sticky, they are quite
stunning.  The people building the house didn't splurge on much, but by God they were going to have nice doorknobs.  They were on to something because 70 years after it was built a young couple fell in love with the house and focused so much on the doorknobs that they didn't notice the parts of the house that were falling apart around them.

The house has been a lot of work.  For 13 years we have been trying to get the place as we want it or need it, but by the time one project is finished another one emerges out of nowhere.  We grumble and stress but it is worth it to us to maintain it's original integrity and respect the intention of the house and the person who built it and choose the glass doorknobs.  It's easy to find the faults, but it is the small details that make it lovable.

Don was gone for six weeks for work. That is a lot of home projects he missed. I kept the house standing, but I missed him.  Yet, he has been back for about a week and I don't think he knows it.

I have a tendency to look at him with keyhole vision.  I focus on one thing, possibly two that he is doing wrong.  And because I can only have a narrow view, I can't focus on what he is doing right.

Yesterday I made this very clear.   When I met Don one of the things I adored about him was his laid back, easy going personality.  These traits were his glass doorknobs.  Not implying that he was falling apart everywhere else or anything.  But what didn't occur to me was that when we got married, he was still going to be the easy going, laid back person, but now my husband.   And these same traits I loved are what drive me cah-ray-zy.

Yesterday, we drove to Chicago and didn't leave as early as I wanted to because as I was loading everyone into the car I heard the blender.  He decided that this was a good time to make a fresh fruit smoothie. This includes cutting, cleaning, and blending fruit.  It's not a (let me grab a drink and go) type of thing. It's a 10 step process.   In addition to that, he decided to purchase an i-zoom pass but not register it.  We both know it's time we stop borrowing my parents pass, but who knew it took 3 hours to register a new one before you could use it? Well…...I did.  Which led to us searching the house (piggy banks) for change for the tolls. Again, not the thing you want to do when you have four boys waiting unattended in the car and now you are hearing screams because someone has spit in someone's ear.

You get the idea. I admit,  I'm not the world's most organized person, but I had packed a lunch for each of the boys including Don, and gotten them dressed and out the door faster than it was taking him to make this damn smoothie.  The first hour of the trip (it takes two) I let him (and the entire car) know how unhappy I was. At one point I even got tired of hearing myself complain but because I wasn't getting any sort of reaction I just kept talking.

By the time we arrived  I had managed to make us all in a bad mood.   When we entered the Shedd Aquarium Don took us up to a different door.  He had planned on purchasing a membership so we could go the entire year.  He had been searching for the email before we left and that is what was taking so long.  When we sat down for lunch, I realized I hadn't packed one for myself, he pulled out the smoothie he had made me.   I was so focused on what he was doing wrong that I couldn't see what he was doing right. Just like the house, its the little things that make a man lovable.

I was mad that I had to figure this out myself and felt like a complete ass, but that is where his laid back attitude is a blessing.  However, the i-zoom pass was still his fault.

It isn't just about him. If I focus on what goes wrong in the day like, my son almost falling into a stingray exhibit, I prevent the chance of seeing what went right . Like, the above picture that captured the tender moment when I was walking with Jack, so engrossed in conversation I didn't know it was taken.  Who knows if I would have even been able to focus on that moment if I hadn't seen the picture?

The person who took it wasn't viewing me with keyhole vision and it shows.

It is impossible to get an accurate impression of entire room if you are only looking through a keyhole. But when you open the door you can see it all.

It all depends on what you choose to look for. If you can find all that is wrong, chances are you can expand your view and find double what is right.