Sorry For What I Said When It Was Humid

Last night, as I was preparing dinner, my 15-year-old daughter walked up to me and asked, “Mom, what is wrong with you? Don’t say “nothing”, just tell me what’s wrong.”

I had to stop and take a deep breath, feeling bad that I was so irritable that my daughter was doing an emotional check-in on me. I told her she was right, I was feeling angry.

“I haven’t been sleeping well this week. I just can’t shut my mind off, like always, but this week has been especially bad. The air conditioner won’t be fixed until the part on back-order gets here.  It’s  81 degrees in here and I’m over it.  (Cooking dinner in a hot house, while fatigued is not a good equation for happiness. I wouldn’t advise anyone try it.)  I also have agreed to more meetings than is reasonable over the next few days and I am already dreading most of them.”

She tilted her head as though she felt bad for me and said, “I knew something was up with you when I told you that my shirt made me hot today at school and you told me to just shut up.”

Nothing quite makes me feel more like a loser mom than when my kid articulates a very valid point to highlight why her mother is acting a fool.

“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that to you. I am really sorry” I said to her, to which she replied, “It’s ok,” then returned to the couch with a bag of chips and her phone, seemingly satisfied with how the conversation ended.

I stood in the kitchen alone, fanning myself with the utility bill while finishing our meal.  I was feeling bad about feeling bad.

Dr. Henry Cloud, a psychologist who writes some of my favorite self-help books, once said, “Keep this question in your pocket and pull it out often: “Why am I doing this?”

Why did I leave my paycheck producing career 2 years ago to become a volunteer moderator/teacher/nurse/slave/cook/maid to the hormonal little monsters who I created and grew inside me approximately 14 and 15 years ago? This change was one that my husband dreamed of for years before I finally had the nerve to pull the trigger on it. It was discussed endlessly for months and prayed about so many times before I finally had peace enough to make the leap. It was a well thought through decision, yet now, I’m sweaty, in a hot house, mad at the world today forgetting why.

I am a person of faith and for that reason my ongoing quest to find meaning is centered around my beliefs that God has created me uniquely and with a specific purpose. I’ve read books about this. I’ve also taken spiritual gift assessments, which revealed that I’m gifted in hospitality and the opposite of gifted in administration. So basically I excel in partying and suck with anything that requires the filling out or filing of any piece of paper. Still, at times my purpose in life gets out of focus and a little foggy.

There may be days when I’m not clear on what my purpose is, but I know when I’m not living it by the discomfort that it brings.

“Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.” Lysa TerKeurst

My purpose during this current season of life is to encourage, model, instruct and provide a full life for my kids so that when they graduate from high school in only 4 short years and move out for college (did I really just say those words?) they will be ready. I want to be the safe place for them to ask hard questions and get honest answers. I want to be available to them as they have to navigate the very confusing teenage waters.  My purpose is to do my best to make sure they have strong faith and character when it’s time for them to spread their wings. THAT is my purpose.  That’s my why.  Everything else is just noise.

As I’m hot gluing cotton balls on a t-shirt for a sheep costume that I’m making my daughter for her cotillion initiation, I’m living my purpose. I’m showing her she’s important and I care about the little things she cares about.

When I sit in my car for what seems like forever on a Saturday morning waiting for my son to finish his guitar lesson, I’m living my purpose. It’s important to him. It’s important to me.

When I run them all over town to be at various youth functions, it’s again my purpose. Growing them into adults I can be proud of.

When I can’t sleep from the disappointments and frustrations of life, when I worry about things out of my control and when I commit to volunteer roles, even worthy ones, that rob too much precious time from my family then I’ve lost focus and am doing something wrong. When saying yes to everything thus effectively saying no to doing most of it with a joyful heart causes discomfort to my purpose then  I’ve allowed what is expected of me to trump what God wants for me.

When I tell my girl to shut up over a shirt she’s wearing I am not living my purpose. Something is out of order.

And it’s uncomfortable.

So I logged into my email and declined a couple meeting invites. I set up a few lunches with my friends. The ones who recharge my soul while we refill our cups. A blandness in life becomes more pronounced when I go too long without having the balance they bring. I even said no to a couple people who I had originally planned to say yes to, but my yes was going to be out of pure obligation.

I prayed that the air conditioner part will get here quick before I lose my sh@t with this August heat inside my house.

And I made some brownies for my daughter as a gesture of peace for the jerk I was yesterday.

No grit, no pearl!

Little Boy, Big Ideas

A few nights ago I was on the couch channel surfing for something good to watch on TV. There really are only three channels I watch. From the stories my mom tells, three channels is all she ever had growing up. I don’t feel sorry for her. Three is all you need. I have close to one bazillion channels, but the only ones I ever use are Comedy Central, a local channel to watch The Bachelor and local news and then a channel to satisfy my addiction to documentaries.

On this particular evening I ran across a documentary about the many affairs of John F Kennedy. We have all seen the breathy birthday song Marilyn Monroe sang for him.  It’s kind of easy to guess that one, but I had no idea about how many others there were.  There were many, MANY others.  This dude was straight pimp. These weren’t just average, low profile interns in blue dresses under his desk either. His affairs were with people who not only could have caused catastrophic damage to his credibility as president, but also could have caused disaster in this country had any of the scorned women decided to share information they gained from their pillow talk.  They were women with mafia ties, German prostitutes, famous actresses, strippers and well-known socialites.  He was a busy man.

He made great strides for civil rights during his term as president, no doubt, but how did his scandals not over-shadow all of it?  Why? Because the general public had no idea.  Had they known then how carelessly he waved his freak flag things would have been different.  Camelot wouldn’t have had nearly the royal luster it did among doting Americans.

The difference is that good ole’ JFK was privileged to live in a time where people didn’t know every detail about him.  Most people decided to vote for him based on the information they gained from reading three-day-old newspaper articles.  They formed opinions from short reports  they watched on their little static television sets.  Paparazzi weren’t hiding in every corner with long range camera lenses snapping every sultry detail to share with the world.  Despite his overwhelming poor decisions and the risk he put our country in because of it, he was still America’s sweetheart. Still the popular vote.

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

During this time people only really knew about the bad stuff that happened in the town where they lived. They didn’t have to process every sordid detail of every politician or celebrity around the world.

We are not made to handle all the information…in the amount of detail we get…in the volume it’s given to us. We are constantly made aware of every scary story that unfolds around the world, yet we aren’t equipped nor do we have the ability to make most any of it better.  There must be some connection to this and the increasing number of people who suffer with depression and anxiety. We cannot mentally process every bad scenario from all over the globe without it impacting us.  We aren’t wired for it.

I still still think of JFK as a good president…sucky husband, but good president. He’s far from the only politician with a shady past.  He just happens to be the example that got me thinking, thanks to that documentary I watched.

I’m wondering if the world is really that much worse off now or if it’s that we just know more about it now.

I’d love for the media to band together, requesting each presidential candidate supply them with a document which includes 2 columns. In one column, the candidate would list what they are in favor of. On the other side they list what they oppose. Maybe the last page of the document could be a list of experience and references. That’s all voters really need to know.

We don’t need to know how much Hillary paid for her suit or if Donald’s wife graduated from college or not. It’s doesn’t matter.

Since the media will likely never do this we could at least help keep ourselves sane by turning off the TV more.  Life hack, the hide feature on Facebook is a gem of a tool for frequent political ranters, bless their hearts. This feature has helped me continue to like people with loud opinions. It’s not that I don’t love them, it that I’m tired of seeing them jump up and down while driving a real, live, living person’s name and character into the dirt. I’ve not spoken to anyone yet who has read any of those posts and changed their political opinions anyway.

A friend of mine has a 5-year-old son, Asher, who has it all figured out. It’s genius really. She recently asked him if he knew what it meant when she said she was going to vote. He replied, “Sort of.” She went on to explain it to him by comparing it to how they choose which restaurant to go eat. He is number 3 out of 4 children in the family so he is used to this form of voting. He said, “Ok, I vote for Mexican (raises his hand like he’s voting). My sister will vote Chick-Fil-A. Even if I do this (jumping up and down with his hand raised) and yell “Mexican! Mexican! Mexican!” she won’t change her mind. She’s still going to vote Chick-Fil-A. So you should just raise your hand, say “Mexican” and vote.”

Yes, Asher, EXACTLY!

We are in the homestretch of this election campaign season. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but as of today we still have to get through the avalanche of election talk everywhere we turn. I wish my friend’s smarter-than-the-average-bear-cub’s epiphany could be promoted alongside all of it to serve as a reminder to all of us that jumping up and down and screaming who we are going to vote for, doesn’t change anything and only makes the person jumping exhausted.

It’s only 3 months until it will all be finally decided on and done.  We will be able to unhide our loved ones who drove us crazy on Facebook. The era of bumper stickers that say “Don’t blame me, I voted Trump” and “Don’t blame me, I voted Clinton” is just around the corner. Persevere my friends. Stay strong, we’ve almost made it through.

Let’s take a lesson from my friend’s wise little boy and vote. Nicely. Quietly and with consideration of others.

Let’s feel happy for the mack daddy, Mr. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, that he was alive during a time before the world wide web.