one year ago, today, forever family day. but it’s not the day i actually met Marlowe…with some pics!

Standard

This post has been a year in the making.

Sure, the obvious is that one year ago today our family received the final piece to the puzzle and we became whole. My sons and daughters and husband took this adorable and tiny baby into their arms and into their hearts and she came home with us and hasn’t left us since.

But I got to meet her before that.

And THAT has taken me a year to talk about, to write about.

There are many reasons for this, but primarily, it was such a special and personal day for me, and for her, and actually, for a few other people too….so I have held it close. I share it now because the anniversary of this day is special, deserves something special, and as such, I write. So I now write to her directly. To my Marlowe.

Marlowe baby…this is for you to read, and to know about your special day. Every last moment of it that mattered and that impacted me, and probably you, on levels we don’t even understand, is forever etched on and in me.

Saturday morning in China. Everyone else got dressed and ready for an adventure and some touring. Me? I showered quietly, preparing alone. I didn’t put on perfume, because I was thinking of you. I was thinking of how, a few months earlier, I sent you a special blanket. A blanket I had slept with for weeks so that it would smell of me. So I washed, my normal soap, my normal deodorant, my normal body lotion. I smelled of the blanket I sent. I hoped you would recognize me. Newborns do, you know. Newborns recognize the scent and sound of their mothers both in and out of the womb. I never carried you there. But I still wanted to make a primal connection. A connection deeper than a photo or a cute outfit.

While your daddy and brothers and sisters sweated and toured in the China summer heat, I drove to you. I had been told it would be over an hour from the hotel in Beijing. You were somewhere special. You were in a foster home. A group foster home. A place where you had spent several months after your first 10 months in a medical care home. In my hand I held the bear…the bear you still have. The driver I booked, from the hotel, let me know we were almost there. Only 15 minutes had passed! We made our way through this tiny little neighborhood with narrow, curving streets. Homes close together, laundry on lines out the windows. We were 15-20 minutes outside Beijing yet it felt much further.

He slowed to the stop. The driver. And he turned and looked at me, asking in broken English, “Miss you here. This right? No look right. Where you go?” I answered, also broken, but for a different reason, “This is right. I am here to meet my baby. My daughter.” He understood. He pulled back, eyes wide, and looked away quickly.

I opened the car door, got out, and approached the entrance. I knocked, then entered tentatively. Shoes were in a pile by the door, so I added mine. I looked forward and saw many little children in a kitchen area. They were all being put into high chairs for snack time. All but one. You sat on the floor, centered in the play area, with one nanny, one ayi. Everyone smiled, and pointed to you. No one spoke English; the coordinator had yet to arrive.

the outside of one of these special group foster homes

the outside of one of these special group foster homes

your bed in the crib room

your bed in the crib room

you and one of the aye's as you walked us out to the car

you and one of the ayi’s as you walked us out to the car

the ayi with whom you were playing when i came in

the ayi with whom you were playing when i came in

the babies having snack while we played.

the babies having snack while we played.

Oh baby. You were so beautiful. Tiny and pale, and dressed in the size 6 month dress I had sent for the family day we would all meet. You were dressed up, in the little matching socks too! You looked up and saw me, curious, and went back to playing with your own foot. I dropped my purse, the bear. I walked over, opened the gate, sat down on the floor next to you. Talked. Touched. Smiled. We giggled and smiled together. The nanny watched, smiling. She then picked you up, and led us upstairs. Showed me your crib. Your room.

Sweetheart, they loved you there and cared for you but yes my heart broke. The windows were all open or broken and the heat was stifling, as were the mosquitos. You were covered in bug bites! I finally remembered the bear, and ran downstairs to grab it. We played with it together and then I held you. Oh baby you were so tiny! The dress was huge on you; I guessed that you were maybe 15 pounds. Your hair was so short, although they had honored my request not to cut it again. For over an hour we played, laughed, snuggled, talked, babbled, played with my phone, took pictures, sang and clapped, and danced with the bear. It was amazing. Holding you? It was heaven. I knew that you completed my family. I knew you were my daughter. I knew you were mine, as much as a human can belong to someone else, and equally, I was YOURS. I would be yours forever. I swore it then and I swear it again now.

At this point a door opened and closed, and one of the foster coordinators came in. She was not the one with whom I had corresponded. She was younger, and she met me with immediate affection and enthusiasm and expression, something not generally seen in China so openly, especially with a Western stranger. Within moments she shared her story with me, weaving many comments about God into it. I hugged her again, explaining we shared the God connection and she was thrilled, hugging me again! We talked a bit about your schedule, habits, preferences, personality…she spoke to one of the ayis and translated my questions and the ayi’s answers. I learned much, but you never left my sight. It was almost time to go and I was absorbing every moment.

Suddenly, a door opened and closed again.

My driver. He came inside to ask to use the restroom. As he started speaking to ask, he looked around and saw.

He SAW.

Not with his eyes….with his heart and apparently with his soul.

He saw the play space. He saw the nannies. He saw the kitchen, the high chairs full of little ones, the one in which you now sat, barely touching food. (They said you were a slow picky eater….not the case. I just discovered you still needed foods fed to you at this point.) He stood there, mouth open, eyes turning red. He then quickly turned away and ran off to the restroom, then out the front door.

Nap time had arrived and schedules in a group home are very important. It was time for me to go. Walking out that front door was one of the hardest things I have EVER done. I gave you hugs and kisses. They were obviously foreign to you, but you seemed to enjoy them, and even gave me a few giggles as I nuzzled your neck and rasberried your cheek. You stayed in your ayi’s arms as she walked me out. The coordinator was heading far into Beijing so I offered to give her a ride as I had no time restraints. I never took my eyes off you as I got into the car. I snapped photo after photo of you, the house, of you, and more of you. MY DAUGHTER. I felt the eyes of the driver burning through the rearview mirror, but I never looked. Even as the car pulled away I watched you, my tears flowing, until you went back inside and the door closed.

The woman in the car with me, barely a woman as she was so very young herself, maybe 22 or 23, held my hand tightly. She spoke to me of forever and soothed my heart as I so did not want to leave you for even a moment. At this point I finally looked at the driver. His eyes were almost as wet as mine. I spoke quietly to the woman, mentioning the driver. She spoke to him and his eyes returned to the road. Over the next 30 minutes they spoke, her mostly, while he said bits and pieces, alternately balling his eyes out openly and then smiling. She too, began to cry, then grabbed my hand again, and spoke words that will be hard for me to ever forget, not that I would want to… “He had never seen this. He saw all the children. He felt shame. He felt sad. He could not pretend this not happen here, that China does this. But so many little ones, so bare their home. It saddened him they have no hope. But I explain to him the great hope that they have. Yes, your baby has you. But all the babies have the hope of a heavenly Savior, a Creator and Father no matter what! He tell me his family never speak of God. No God. And he has never known hope. I tell him of the hope we all have. We talk much. He say he want the same hope and he prayed with me to know God. He will bring his family and his brother and family to my secret church this weekend. He believe!!”

I cried with her. I cried and looked at him as he began to cry so openly. I had never seen such open expression of emotion. In America we hide our feelings like these. Feelings of pain or loss we share but feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness are supposed to be hidden and locked away so no one can know our hurt. And he was so present with it. Marlowe it was so beautiful. Being a part of it, even watching, was precious. And it made me think so much.

My precious baby girl….this is the hope for you. Me? You will ALWAYS have me. I am your mother, forever and always. No human being on the planet will love you more than me. But my life is finite. My brain is limited. There is a hope and a love greater than mine, and that is in the One who created you, breathed you into being, gave you the spitfire stubborn will and strength and gusto that made you fight tooth and nail to stay alive when the odds were stacked so high against you. My love, you are a fighter. You are precious and perfect as you are. Meeting you that day changed me forever in so very many ways, ways I can’t and won’t even describe here but will whisper in your ear. My love for you has only grown. And as we “met” on forever family day, as we “gotcha”, it was actually you who GOT US. Wholeheartedly and completely. Man, did you get us. And we all met you two days later where you remembered the bear….

holding you in my arms knowing this was it, this would be forever

holding you in my arms knowing this was it, this would be forever

And fell completely in love all over again as you truly met the whole family which was now YOUR family!

you were a tad overwhelmed as we all smothered you!!

you were a tad overwhelmed as we all smothered you!!

Happy Forever Family Day my precious baby girl. I love you more than there are stars in the sky, and more than there are fish in the sea, and more than there are grains of sand on the seashore….

no one giggles the way you do, baby. love you soooo much!!!

no one giggles the way you do, baby. love you soooo much!!!

Someone PLEASE hand Anna Duggar a pen and a set of divorce papers

Standard

Go ahead Christians. Skewer me.

You see…I love God. I love His Word. I love His son, His people, and His promises. One of His promises is pretty brutal – that we will encounter tribulation and have a hard life.

Molesting our sisters and then cheating on our wives and having that exposed publicly will tend to make that life harder.

Good.

Can marriage be restored after infidelity? Absolutely. I have several, actually many now, sets of friends at this point who have awoken in the abyss of adultery only to rise above it stronger and more vibrant than ever before. But they all had two things in common…1.) none of them started with a history, a violent and deviant past, of child molestation. And 2.) none of them claimed repentance and wholeness from one whole sinful lifestyle while willfully and continually living in another sinful lifestyle.

Now I am gonna say the tough stuff. Hey Christians! Hey you! You, the Christ follower!!! Man, Jesus was cool. He was all about grace and beauty but He called it the way it was. He never made excuses for it. “Oh woman at the well. You shouldn’t whore around, but yeah you had a lousy upbringing with an absentee father so it’s understandable.” Or “Oh woman at the well. Your first husband had a duty to love and cherish you and show you enough sexual affection and he didn’t so it is on his shoulders that you cheated.” Or my personal favorite “Oh woman at the well. Go and sin no more (in the area of adultery.) But an encounter with me does not really result in a life change so it’s fine to dally in a whole other arena of sexual sin now like child trafficking.”

Yeah. Those scenarios won’t exactly be found in the Bible cause thy are CRAP and yet THISis exactly how the majority of Christians have approached the entire Duggar situation. Gag gag gag.

Look. Do I believe in redemption and restoration and repentance and a whole bunch of other Christian terms? You bet your ever lovin Bible thumpin biscuits I do. I live by them and I cling to them. DAILY.

But let me explain something. I have an almost 12 year old son. He absolutely, positively, hands down knows not to touch a girl in those ways, much less his SISTERS. Even the thought is so perverse it is beyond comprehension. 5 girls??? 5 young women??? And in May Christians are all running around like “all hail Josh Duggar! Grace!! Forgiveness!!!” And that may be the case. But do a little research. Sexual deviancy is a big, big deal when it comes to this stuff. The attraction to and action upon the pre-pubescent child is an aberration in psychology that is DEEPLY rooted and is one of the psych anomalies that has the least predilection to change. What does that mean in basic lay terms?

perverts who like little kids almost always remain perverts who like little kids.

Prison populations and reform, social experiments, EEG testing, blood work and heart rate monitoring – all of these things have indicated for years that an unnatural attraction to children is something that is rarely eradicated from the individual who struggles with an unnatural attraction to children. Look it up yourselves. Easy to find the data.

A porn addiction, double lifestyle, and repeated adultery on top of this? Anna honey…the Bible is more than clear here. If you truly want to work it out (like a real desire and not just the brain washed, indoctrinated, peer pressured version of this), at the very very least separate. Josh needs hard core, professional counseling as do you. And your children? They need therapy and medical evaluations. Maybe they are too young to have caught his interest. I pray that is the case. But they deserve the protection, advocacy and all encompassing love of a mother not blinded by the expectations and false truths of a faction of Christian bullies to make SURE they are and will be ok.

Maybe you can work it out. Maybe with therapy, prayer, time, and healing where there is true fruit you guys can return to life together as man and wife. But in the meantime? You and your children deserve more. Way more. And if no one else will tell you that? I will. And if no one else will take you in? I will. There are many people who love God, love Christ, and love His word who won’t force you to subject yourself or your children to this absolute sickness. Get out. The sooner? The better.

summer road trips….and why today’s jaunts into lunacy are far more riddled with the potential for disaster than in the 80’s (despite better seatbelt usage)

Standard

Until recently, I had been giving serious consideration to the thought of taking a two week road trip.

Me, my trusty huge steed (SUV), and my 5 kids ages 2-11 on the road for 2 weeks or so. Heck, my cousin and her husband and kids were doing it at that very moment!! The texts bombarding us daily were inspirational. “Magical family time together!” “Unplugged and loving it!” “Best trip ever!” and more were the comments they were sending us and posting online. I became nostalgic, thinking back to my own many family road tripping adventures.

However, memory is rose tinted like classic Ray Ban sunglasses looking romantically aloof, off into a distant and glimmering sunset. Memory is you wearing those Ray Bans and looking like Maverick in Top Gun.

That pretty pink sunset right before the BIG storm. Cause the reality? I look like crap in Ray Bans.

How do I know this? Because over the 4th of July weekend we held a practice session. A trial run of 4.5 hours in the car, emphasis on the word “trial.” The awful part? Not the kids actually. I mean, in all seriousness, that is what had me worried going in. All those kids, so much time SITTING….definitely awful, right? Nope. Not so much. They handled it like champs to be honest, and only got whiny at the very end. I mean, I am not minimizing. By “whiny at the end” I mean that they went from 0-60 on the behavior spectrum during the last half hour to the point where I wanted to shave all their heads and pull a Britney Spears on them but whatever. I digress.

You remember. Back in the day? Most of you reading have been on a road trip before….station wagon with dad driving, mom navigating (and napping??), seats turned down, sleeping bags laid out, boom boxes and toys and puzzles and books “kids do your summer reading!!!” all rolling around back there as YOU rolled around back there. Yeah. Good times.

But according the the department of highway safety, not very safe times.

So those times had to change. Thus, problem one. 8 hours laying around, doing situps, punching your siblings, having relative freedom in a confined space? That is GONE. Now? Kids have to sit there, all buckled in, probably in a car seat with a 5 point harness even though they are 14 years old and ready to get their drivers’ permits. Crap. I digress again.

As a result I figured going in that this would be the issue with the kids. But it wasn’t. Not even close. So before I keep blabbering on about the past and wax poetic about the near death we all surely faced in such unsafe driving conditions, let me get to the problem with road trips today.

1.) Sitting there, for hours, strapped in. No, not the kids. ME. MMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEE. That was problem one. I meant it when I said it wasn’t an issue for them. They never even mentioned discomfort in the seating arrangement. Me? I was one ring away from the 5th ring of hell that I usually reserve as the descriptive phrase I only give when discussing my trips into, gulp, Walmart. The thought of that strapped in time, that whole time, made me worry for the kids when in reality it was my ADHD brain and body that nearly lost it. Repeatedly. And I was the driver in this scenario.

2.) Bose noise canceling headphones. These sound like a God send right? And for my husband, surely they were. But I remember my dad saying, “Kathy, you deal with the kids. I am driving.” I now know this was code for, “I could literally drive this straight one lane farm road with my eyes closed but make those kids shut up because the Doobie Brothers are playing and I can’t hear them.” Bombs could go off back there. One kid could literally murder one another, slowly and loudly and painfully and Ken would be oblivious (unless maybe some blood spatter crossed the screen of his iPad that was streaming Netflix Bates Motel???) Meanwhile, by the time we arrived, the sound of their BREATHING was annoying to me.

3.) Wifi minutes. My humongous rolling igloo has wifi. We pay for a certain number of minutes per month but we don’t let the kids use them except on driving excursions lasting an hour or more. Also, Ken is able to work and do his school stuff online, giving more family time when we reach our destinations. A no brainer, right? We left town on July 2. New month. All minutes were dispersed between 5 mobile devices far quicker than one could imagine. Having a kid CRY because he is out of MINUTES during an online clash of clans battle is SO much worse than a kid crying because someone held her nude barbie up to the car window for passersby.

4.) Tinted windows and license plate holders. These two things destroy the purity of games that define the classic road trip. The stupid “Schillers Cadillac!” and the “Save the Turtles!” are surely great promo’s but you can’t see the county names or the details on license plates anymore!! And that doesn’t even matter because our windows are too dark to see out of anyway. On top of that everyone else’s windows are dark so you can’t hold up weird signs or read the weird signs other kids are holding up. “Help Me!!” “My sister eats poop!!” “You are a huge turd!!” and so on are the stuff of legend and that has all been taken away. Seriously. My kids missed OUT.

5.) Movies. We also have these tv screens in the car. Lego movie, Here Comes the Boom, the Pacifier (my friend Jimmie’s FAVORITE), Annie, and Willy Wonka had all made the rounds recently. (Again, only a weekend thing or during road trips). Finding a movie that appeals to kids ages 4-11 (2 year old doesn’t count in this one, sorry Marlowe) is tough. It’s gotta be cute, but appropriate. Fun, but not too babyish. Well, I made a poor choice. I put on this great older movie called The Saint starring Val Kilmer and Elizabeth Shue. Solid movie – action packed, good story line, interesting, funny, adventurous, good triumph evil, etc….and apparently with a few more vocabulary lessons than I would have preferred. How I missed (forgot???) that it had the F word in there I will never know. Oops. Thinking Happy Gilmore would have been a safer choice but not sure anymore about my movie choice credibility. I am voting myself off the island for this one.

6.) Bluetooth. Along similar lines, I suppose, is the issue with Bluetooth, but this one is my husband’s fault. Two back stories on this. Firstly? Look. I don’t even get the bluetooth thing. I don’t use it. My phone connects and then the calls are sometimes on speaker, sometimes not, they interrupt good songs, my playlists pop on and off….it is a technological mystery to me that is simply unnecessary so I never connect it or do the plug in option. Secondly? Yes, my husband is the whitest man on the planet. Look up the combined terms of white republican capitalist and in the dictionary you will see a photo of my husband (um, not like the Trumpmeister thanks, but you get the drift.) However, Ken’s taste in music is closer to Jay Z than Kenny G. The guy likes rap, hip hop, and even techno. It is, honestly, kind of ridiculous. His iPad has some of the weirdest music compilations. I mean, to keep it real, yes, he does have the requisite Kenny G as well, but also some Warren G and Nate Dog, Tone Loc, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop, Diddy (Puffy? Piddy? whatevs) and of course, the lowest of the low, the worst of the worst of rap from all genres and eras….2 Live Crew. I mean, UGH!!!!! (not quite divorce worthy but, well….) Ok. Now to the point. As he sat up front, headphones on, running out of iPad battery, he plugged a little cord into a little place but instead of charging or whatever it was some kind of input thing and the screen changed and all of a sudden lyrics and words came out of the speakers of my car that were so disgusting, so awful, so 80’s derogatory and gross and just SO BAD I almost ran off the road and freaked out, screaming and hitting the screen and pulling cords and plugs. Ken, in said headphones, had no idea it played out loud, and thought I was a lunatic. By the time he pulled off the headphones, I had gotten everything unplugged and the car back on the road. My sanity was intact. The kids? They didn’t notice a thing. After all. They were too busy learning the f word from the movie I put on for them.

#mommyfail

for the love of Pete and all that is holy and good BRUSH YOUR DAGGONE TEETH!!!!!!!

Standard

Do I need to pay them?

Beat them?

Reward them with new cars?

Dangle them over a balcony ala Michael Jackson?

Seriously. It is not like this is some mystery ritual that I just started. I get the deodorant surprise. Kids don’t notice when they smell, unless it is to smell each others’ hands and feet or farts. They don’t sense their own BO, or the BO of others, unless it is a parental figure, in which case they are VERY quick to tell you that you have BO. Either way, one day they start to smell and you have to train them to use deodorant. It’s hit or miss for the first couple of years.

But teeth brushing??

We have done this FOREVER!!

And I make it SO easy! I am not a flossing mom. I know, fail fail fail. But I don’t make them floss. I should, but I don’t. You would THINK they would recognize that. You would THINK they would appreciate it. But nooooooo…..brushing your teeth is a concept as foreign, day after day, as the idea of drinking tap water in Mexico. Oh, the horror! The surprise of it all! The shock!!

What??

Whatever. All I know is that every day, twice a day (ok sometimes once a day I admit it) I tell them to brush their teeth and every day, twice a day (shut it), they freak out like I just hit them with a tax bill after the Reagan years. Whatever. Brush your teeth or don’t. Get all rotted out. Have kids run screaming from you because of your stinky breath. Never get a date. Ever.

I.

GIVE.

UP.

Summer 2015. Peace out.

the fights our kids have at the end of the summer…..

Standard

I am one of those annoying moms. (22 readers just said “um, DUH!!”)

You know, the moms who are THRILLED when school lets out for the summer and is horribly SAD when the kids go back to school?? Come on. You know you hate me. Everyone is like, “Yes! Kids go back to school in two days!” or “Yes! I can actually enjoy my morning coffee now!!” and then my post is like, “I am devastated that the kids will be back to school in a week! I will be so lonely, having a quiet leisurely breakfast, watching Ellen, crying because I miss my perfect angelic children SO much!!”

Let’s be honest. Most of you want to punch those moms. You feel about me the way I feel about the moms who post their Pinterest worthy craft skills. I hate them. With a passion.

Our normal summer routine is a family vacation at the very beginning of summer, then one at the very end. In this way, we all escape the last days of school and hit somewhere awesome. Then by mid summer, the kids start to fuss and I can bribe them with the next great adventure….even a weekend camping, overnight at Disney, whatever. Bribery is key #1 in parenting. (Ok. love is #1. Bribery is #2.) But this year we had our awesome trip in the beginning, and the next trip in the middle.

Thus, for the first time, I am bribery-option-less and the kids are OVER it. Over each other, over the heat, over the house, over the beach (how is THAT possible??), over the pool, over ME. They sort of want to go back to school. And although they are making me nutty, and I am not quite at the point of wanting them to be gone, I do understand for the first time what people are talking about.

This past week took the cake. So here are the crazy fights/arguments/discussions/debates that have been had (ok, screamed) in my house (car, and Target, and the gym) in the past 6 days. Please, by all means, post your kids’ “discussions” in the comments.

1.) Which Paw Patrol character gets the least screen time. Not joking. (I did share this one on FB already but here it is again.) They finally settled on Everest because there are not a lot of snow rescues, which resulted in another debate about where Paw Patrol lives, works, operates. This then resulted in the 3rd fight in that Paw Patrol is not real. 4 kids were in on this fight, ages 5, 7, 9, 11. Marlowe watched, and surely mocked them in her mind.

2.) Whose pear was on the counter first. I would NEVER punch a child. EVER. But did an image flash through my mind of me just flat out cold clocking 3 kids, who were SCREAMING at the top of their lungs, over the bleeping pear? Maybe. Maybe it did.

3.) Who gets to stuff the baggies and who gets to put the baggies in the bin. Tears were shed over this one. Every few months I buy super size snacks – whole wheat goldfish (like that makes ANY difference in these delightful, smiling, processed fishies), pretzels, veggie chips, animal crackers, etc. I then individually bag them and put them in bins. The kids wanted to be my helpers. Then before any work got done two kids were in tears because they wanted to stuff the bags instead of putting bags in bins. (more on this project for another post.) One kid ended up on the floor, laying there, SOBBING, about not being able to do the baggie because he or she couldn’t close the ziplock thingy.

4.) Which one constitutes a “touch” on the thru game. This is a pool game in which the adult, moi, stands up in the shallow water with legs spread and the kids swim between your legs trying not to touch your feet, calves, etc. With each round, you stand up more and more which makes the opening more narrow. My kids can play this for hours. My tolerance for it, however, has diminished to about 2 minutes, the timeframe at which the first touches start to happen. “It was my hair.” “It was my suit.” “He pushed me.” “She bumped me.” They start to yell, then they start to rush, and at some point, I get kicked in the va*ina by a flailing kid taking his turn even when he was told he was out.

5.) What racism actually is. Sounds serious, I know. It wasn’t. It was deemed racist that our school wants the boys to have their hair cut shorter and girls can have any style they want (racism? yeah not so much. or at all). Another kid said that’s not racist (duh). Screaming began that the person who doesn’t think it is racist doesn’t understand or appreciate that God made all people beautiful and thus that person is a racist (can’t even follow that one). Someone else was insistent that when something is unfair to one group of people that makes it racist (could be partly right). Someone else insisted that it would only be racist if they said the black people could have longer hair but the white people had to have shorter hair. (this was closest, obviously,) at which point someone else said we forgot about the Chinese people and that Chinese people can have any hair they want because they are all princesses and THAT is racism (don’t even know where this came from). Apparently, we need more discussions on racism at age appropriate levels for the children as individuals and not group discussions on the matter as some of the finer nuances concerning racism were lost.

ahhhhhhhh…..ok this feels good again….finally.

Standard

There is something about doing something because you feel you have to versus doing it SOLELY because you want to.

Examples?

Men taking out the trash. I mean, puhLEEZE. Even the most slovenly bachelor does not want rotten food and roach problems and rats. So they take the trash out regularly. However, add a wife into the mix who explains that yes, even now, after 14 years, trash days are STILL Tuesday and Friday, and suddenly, they could go weeks at a time, never taking out the trash, on sheer principle.

Summer reading. Most of my kids don’t mind reading. They have a decent appreciation for the literary word and can enjoy a good story or adventure. However, add the title of said good story or adventure onto a printed piece of paper that says “summer reading list” on top of it and suddenly those book options suck and they HATE READING.

Me making the bed. The feeling of sliding into crisp, cool, clean sheets at night is such a wonderful thing. I have always appreciated it, even as a child. However, make it a daily morning chore as a teen when every last second of morning sleep time matters? I would rather donate a kidney to science than devote those few seconds to the making of a bed. Thus, months (years off and on, really) spent sleeping on the floor on a sheet. (Then simply ball up sheet and shove it under the pillow that you lay back on top of your perfectly made bed.)

And yes, even blogging. I have loved it. For 3 years I have enjoyed writing every post. Even the posts that were also torturous….painful to write and read afterwards, tough to process and portray things about myself that are brutal and obvious and really really OUT there. I still loved it. But this year has been tough. Marlowe has been an easy kiddo. But with her transition while Kenny returned to school to get a masters in business and him being gone ALL the time and me having to hire babysitters literally to just to help drive my kids everywhere? And of course a crazy weird thing happening every time he leaves town two cars dying, electricity turned off, gas turned off, pool heated to 105 degrees – this time – spider infestations and bites and on and on)? And in the meantime our marital struggles that are always there (marriage does not come easily to either of us haha) compounded by the fact that he is gone between 10 days and 3 WEEKS every MONTH????? It has been really hard. And even though writing this thing takes me less than 10 minutes, it is also the total reflection of my heart and mind. I don’t hide and it is all raw – in both good and bad ways. Add that all up and you get me feeling like I have HAD to write even when I felt like I COULDN’T write.

It was overwhelming.

So unlike the last 9 months where I have written sporadically and then felt guilty, this time? I made a choice to take a break. I made a conscious decision to say “Leah? I just don’t want to write for a short bit.”

So I didn’t.

And it felt good. I don’t feel like I need to apologize this time…as if I was letting anyone down, or not being real to myself.

While things have not calmed down (quite the opposite in all honesty) I do feel like I have a better grip on my life. I feel like I have found a routine as well as an acceptance for how things have to be for now. Again, not easier, but I sort of get it.

Of course, school starts in another week. So I am guessing I may end up back at square one. Sigh…..