Puzzling through Life with all the Gratitude I Can Muster...

 I survived birthday month!!

You guys...my baby is 20!!!

Well...barely.  I have to admit, I was on the verge of a breakdown, when my keenly aware husband intervened and exonerated me from his birthday family movie extravaganza.

Does that make me a party pooper?  Yep.  I think it does.

Does it make me a bad wife and mom?

He just...can't be normal.  I think that's why he gets me.

Hold it, right there.  I going to go ahead and put mom guilt and perfectionism right where they belong...out of my head.  Seriously.  It is a thing.  No matter who you are, you are never going to measure up when you compare yourself, and your idea of what a mom "should" be is just inhumane.  There are enough people out there who will shame you, for the love, quit shaming yourself.

It helps that I have some experience with what a bad mom can look like...even to them, I have offered empathy.  We are all only playing with the cards we are dealt, and some of us have been dealt a short hand.  Suffice it to say, if you care...if you are concerned...if you worry that you are not a good enough mom...you are probably doing just fine.  (And a good counselor could help you release that worry and improve on your deficits!!  Even a counselor needs a counselor!)

Because, I'm serious. November has just about done me in.  Work is at a peak.  I had the birthdays to plan.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are too close to neglect...there was, actually, a day when I wrapped both birthday and Christmas presents.  I am scrambling.

Puzzled, you might say.  (It's a terrible pun...I know.)

And one thing I know about myself is that I have a desperate need for uncommitted free time and QUIET. Truthfully, one morning, I woke up thinking, happily, that I had only a short morning commitment and the rest of the day home WITH Matt.  Then, I remembered an evening commitment, and my heart sank.  (This is about the time Matt insisted I skip the movie and spend time in peace and quiet.)  I have to wonder if I am the only one who would be so downcast over a social commitment (about which, I would think, most people would be in excited anticipation).  I know there was a day in my life when I couldn't get ENOUGH social engagement.  I was bored and lonely about 99% of the time.  It's funny how we change over time.

I can't, exactly, put my finger on the cause.  Age?  The shift from staying home to working?  Who knows?

I remember, at one point in my life, I quit listening to music while I drove.  (This was the same time when I would walk slowly around the car from strapping in one kid to the next, just to get 5 seconds of quiet.)  Before, quiet had been threatening and scary, but when I became completely deprived of it, a little silence began to rank on the scale of oxygen for my survival.

Don't worry...I've filled the "toddler gap" with Jesse.  Ugh!!!

I used to spend days alone with the kids, and I would be desperate to get out of the house...to socialize with adults.  Now that I spend most of my days socializing with people of all ages - toddlers to teens to adults - I am desperate for time alone.  I find myself,  at times,  hiding from exposure...

Listen...if I see you in the store, and I knew you maybe 20 years ago or one time on a ball field, etc.  I will probably avoid eye contact and move on.  There was a time, when I would have shouted across the aisles just to have someone to whom I could say hello.  I don't need that, now.  I'm sorry.  Plus, it's not worth the risk of mistaken identity.  So, feel free to reach out, but please don't be offended when I don't.  I am over-peopled.  It's not you!!  It's definitely, 100% my circumstances and me.  It has nothing to do with how I feel, specifically, about you.  Except...unless...I've made it clear it IS you.  (But then, you wouldn't be reading my blog, right????)

Because...sometimes...this girl is on FIRE!

It's just...we are, most of us, trying.  And we could all use a little more grace for ourselves and, even more from one another.  My boss used to say, "I like to always assume positive regard."  And, while, that is NOT exactly my forte (I mean, I tend to assume the worst and expect that everyone is out to get me.  Haha!!  I was talking about laser tag in my work group, for an upcoming event, and I said, "You are ALL going to be dead!"  When, the sweetest co-worker looked at me, appalled and said, "Kristen...we are on the same team!"  Yep...I tend to lose track, sometimes, who is my friend and who is my enemy.  Please forgive my lack of trust.  Again...it is 100% me!!)

So...I refuse to feel guilty about missing the party and refueling my soul.  Though, Shang Chi did propose a challenge for the whole "quiet time" plan.  The family movie room happens to sit right under my bed.  Fortunately for me, over 200 years ago, a man was born who wrote my heart in song.  Even more...Chopin's legacy remains readily accessible to fill my needs, today, on Amazon music.

We are a privileged people.  I hope I never take that for granted.

My heart...

So, I smiled at the bombs and blasts, knowing Evan was, for sure, enjoying the show.  And, then, I proceeded to  drown out the sounds of carnage with my favorite piano classic, and I breathed into my soul the quiet intensity of my current book (The Last Duel).


Do you remember that moment, when my heart sunk?  I was standing in the kitchen, reflecting on the minimal commitments of my day.  And I remembered an evening one, and I panicked.  What if I am too tired to go?  What if I am overwrought and high strung?  What if I am miserable and exhausted?

Well, it just so happened, I looked out the window, just then, and I saw a plump robin in a barren tree.  And the colorful glass on my window, and that precious robin, filled the barrenness with life and hope.  And I knew I was going to be okay.  Why worry?  Be like the sparrow.  Do you feel me?

There is gratitude all around us...if only, we hunt.

Having time for a nap in between...maybe that saved me.  But doesn't that remain God's provision???  I think so.

I am going to do everything in my power to cherish the week ahead.  The boys are in party mode.  Their AMAZING school gave them the whole Thanksgiving week off.  I don't have a lot of outside commitments, but I am grateful for the built-in childcare on the days that I do.

Of course, Matt works the holiday, and that is just fine.  When you (or your spouse) are in healthcare, you learn to be willing to adapt.  We will choose to be thankful together, every day...even in the midst of strife.  We will celebrate when our schedule dictates we can.  

As for myself...I have secured our plans so that the kids and I will not be alone.  And this year, I don't even have to host!!  

(I didn't get the selfless gene.  That's the cool thing about "everybody has their own strengths."  We each play our part in the puzzle of life...)

My current one happens to be Charlie Brown...thank you Father Matthew and sister Kaci!

I'm doing my best to find my spot.  Amen?!!

Amen and good night.  I hope you find many things for which to be grateful on this blessed holiday week.


Beauty and strength.  Admirable qualities.  We are more than we feel, most of the time...