Writing Wins and Woes: Role Playing

I’ve been struggling with my roles lately. I’m not sure what my function is now that I no longer have kids at home. On the one hand, I am still me. I’m still a mom. I’m also a wife and a grandmother. I’m an employee and when I’m at work, I don’t really think of myself in terms of being a wife and mother. I’m just a worker. Lately,  I feel more comfortable at work than anywhere. It’s not because I love my job. It’s because I know exactly what my place is at my job. When I am working, I know exactly what to do and when to do it.

But when I’m not working, I’m not sure what my true purpose is. I’m not satisfied with the few menial tasks I do at home. My writing has somehow fizzled out. I’m not sure why. Some of it has to do with the avenues I once wrote for have dwindled. Some of the publishing places have closed. Guardian Angel Kids has gone from a monthly ezine to a bi-montly ezine. I’m at a loss to know how to proceed with my book and all of the remaining publishers I formerly looked to just don’t interest me anymore. Most of the time I’m just too tired to write anyway.

So, what am I now? Am I still a writer when I’m not really writing? Am I still a parent when I’m not really parenting most of the time? I’ve begun to realize that I identified myself by these things I did, and now that I no longer do them, I don’t feel like I’m much of a person anymore. I feel like I’m nothing. A Hollow. A Shell.

When I was young, I used to feel as if I was invisible. I would go to school and few people would ever talk to me. I would hear other kids talking around me and even sharing their innermost secrets right around me without even noticing I was there. To them, I wasn’t there. I was a nobody that didn’t factor into their lives. At work this week, I remarked that when people were absent, they were talked about more and I said I realized they probably talked about me when I wasn’t there and my co-worker said, no you’re pretty boring. We don’t really talk about you.

So maybe I’m still invisible. I guess I can be thankful I matter to God. I may not be sure of who I am right now here on this planet, but I am sure I’m a child of God. So for now I’ll focus on finding Him. When I find Him, maybe I’ll find myself, too.

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Writing Wins and Woes: Grandparenting

It’s birthday party time! This week my grandson turns one. When I look back over the year, I wonder where this year went. What a blessing Miles has brought to my life. I remember the first week when Miles was in the hospital and we were scared that he might have health issues. Miles was born with the cord wrapped around his neck. Because of the oxygen deprivation, we wondered if he was normal. While he was being nursed back to health, we couldn’t hold him. He had so many tubes and monitors attached to his little body. And what a joy when we finally held him in our arms. Despite all that he came home in 5 days.

Two days after he came home, I spent a week with him and my daughter at their house. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my life. Not only did I bond with my grandson, I bonded with my daughter. We spent time talking, watching movies and sharing Miles. I read to him, snuggled him, fed him and cuddled him. I often slept right beside him. I went with my daughter for his newborn pictures.

In the months following, I have had many opportunities to spend weekends with Miles. I’ve watched him grow from immobile to very mobile. We’ve gone from bottle feeding to spoon feeding, and now he has even started feeding himself. I remember being so excited when he started smiling and now he laughs all the time. He babbles and is on his way to talking.

He used to love being rocked on a chair while I sang him lullabies. Now, he squirms out of my arms so he can chase the dog. He pulls himself up and walks around the furniture. He picks up toys and holds them out for Lucy to grab and sometimes he even throws them to her.

He stacks blocks and puts together stacking cups. He grabs things he shouldn’t, like my glasses and dog fur. He holds out his arms to be picked up. He is just starting to give kisses. Although I do miss the little bitty baby days, I can’t wait to see what comes next. I know it’s going to be a blast! Happy birthday, Miles! Grandma loves you and can’t wait to see what God has planned for you. I bet it’s going to be great.

Writing Wins and Woes: What I Learned from Generosity

Generosity is a great thing. Showing compassion to those in need is a blessing. But in this case, I’m not talking about the kind of generosity that involves giving to people. I’m talking about the board game. I’m sure most of you never heard of the Generosity board game. I bought it about 20 years ago and played it with my son back then. Just recently, we relived some of the childhood nostalgic fun with our son by playing it again. We had a blast.

Here’s some things I learned that mirror life from this board game:

You don’t get heavenly rewards unless your attitude is right. If you have no love, or you’re on a ego trip or you’re a showboat, you don’t get anything deposited into your heavenly treasure chest.

You don’t always get to choose your life course. Although I always wanted to be a teacher for most of my life, I ended up a janitor. My husband wanted to be an artist. He ended up a route man. My son wanted to be a professional basketball player. He is a Fed Ex driver for now. My oldest daughter wanted to be a cartoonist. She does work comp. for a great company.  But this goes to show, you don’t always get what you want in life. But yes, you may get what you need.

Life deals you a lot of sucker punches. What do you want to do with them? Sit and whine or journey on? It’s your choice.

Having children, if you are so blessed, contributes to your heavenly treasure chest even if your attitude wasn’t always right. And believe me, mine wasn’t. Parenthood is trying. I wish I had learned sooner that what they most wanted was my love and support. Luckily, they still do.

In life, it’s best to make a will. Ha Ha. In the game Generosity, if you have a will, you spin the spinner and get 50,000 times the amount in your heavenly treasure chest, but only if your attitude is right. This may not happen in life. In fact, I doubt it will, but even so, a will is a very valuable thing. For one thing, it prevents many disagreements between your children.

God blesses those who give. I’m so grateful for the time I had training up my children. I didn’t always do it right, but when I sat down with my son playing this game again, I was satisfied that I had done something right after all.

Writing Wins and Woes: Curve Balls

I must admit, my life didn’t turn out to be anything that I expected. I expected: to be a veterinarian, then a missionary school teacher, then a writer. I turned out to be a sometimes writer, sometimes preschool teacher but mostly a school janitor. I expected: to be a mom forever with my kids close by. I turned out to be a wanna be mom with one of my kids far away and the others not needing me near as much as I need them. I expected to be: happily married to my Prince Charming just like in the Disney movies. I turned out to be tolerably married to someone who’s a work in progress. That’s all right. The only way I qualify for Cinderella is the work I’m always doing around the house. I expected to be: put together by 54. I turned out to be still a mess.

Why is it that our hopes and dreams don’t match up to our expectations? Did I not try hard enough? Did I settle for less than what I imagined I could be? Did I just give up? More than likely, I just took what life offered and made the best of what I had.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately. If we keep telling ourselves that this is not the life we want, we start believing it. Instead, I need to believe that what I have is a good life, and that it can be better if my attitude is better. If I say to myself, I’ve got a good husband that is trying to improve. He just recently started helping me with the dishes and the wash. If I say to myself, I’ve got good kids that for some unknown reason still want me in their lives. If I say to myself, I’ve still got my parents when many others my age have lost theirs. If I say to myself, there’s still room for achievements in my life and try to be more thankful for the ones I’ve already had.

Then the curve balls in life won’t become foul balls. They might even turn into home runs.

Writing Wins and Woes: Family Firsts

I’ve had a lot of firsts in the last couple of weeks. First time I traveled 1000 miles away from my home. First time I stayed in a home of practical strangers. First time I’ve traveled through Indiana, Illinois and quite by accident, Michigan. First time I’ve ever been in Iowa. First time I hugged my youngest daughter in almost two years. There’s quite a few more firsts I’ve experienced but it’s too many to relate.

There was a time I never would have done any of these things. This is what love will enable you to do. Love will make you travel as far as you need to go to be with the one you love. Love will help you cope with new surroundings, new people, new ways of doing things.

Here are a few things I did on my trip. I visited the Amana colonies. I walked a gravel road to a deer farm. I fed two very sweet alpacas. I waited up nights for a raccoon to show at the back door. I prepared many dinners with my daughter. I watched the Babadook on Netflix. Don’t bother doing that. It’s not worth it. I visited a beautiful park with waterfalls that looked nothing like Iowa.  I traveled with two of my favorite people. I shared my life with people I didn’t know. I won a game of Uno, played against a master Uno player.

If ever God orchestrated anything, I know God orchestrated my trip. He allowed a person to enter my life who grew up in Iowa, who just happened to be going to Iowa at the time when my daughter moved to Iowa. What are the odds of my oldest Pennsylvania daughter meeting the son of an Iowa girl while my youngest Pennsylvania daughter met an Iowa boy? God is so good even when you think everything is bad. He will always make a way.

 

Writing Wins and Woes: Comfort Zones

This will be my last blog post for a little while. I think what I’m doing is called vacation but as I’ve never done anything like this before, I’m not sure. I’ve never traveled 1000 miles away. I’ve never been past my surrounding states. I never stayed with people I barely know. And I’ve hardly ever went anywhere without my husband. The last place I went without him was three years ago to a ladies retreat. This is all way out of my comfort zones.

But I am going to do it. I am going to see my daughter. There have been a lot of changes in her life. There have been a lot of changes in my life. I am naturally apprehensive. Seeing her to me right now seems like I will be seeing a different person. She will no longer be this little girl I once played Littlest Pet Shop with and watched Disney movies together while eating microwave popcorn. She won’t be the same girl that journeyed all the way to the top of Turkey Hill Trail with me and then joked about the creepy people that we found there when we arrived. She won’t even be the same girl that I watched proudly graduate from Charter School all the while knowing we’d be separating in just a few short weeks.

She is a new independent girl now. She journeyed far from home and started a new life, much different from the life she lived with me. She acquired new habits and tastes. She wears different clothes, has different colored hair and make up and she has somebody else as the center of her heart. But do you know what? I don’t care about any of that. She is my daughter and I love her. Distance, after all, is just miles to be bridged.

Writing Wins and Woes: Strolling Down Memory Lane

They say when you get older, your memory fails. But I’m not finding that to be true. I may forget unimportant stuff like where I left my purse or my keys, but the most crucial events of my life are planted forever in my brain, and in fact, are becoming more substantial and poignant as time flies by.

For instance, I remember vividly when each of my children were born. I remember the surprise I felt when I fell head over heels in love with my firstborn. I didn’t expect it. I never liked babies much. But when I held her in my arms, I never wanted to let her go. She was the reason for my existence all of a sudden. Then my son was born. We like to joke and say he was an ugly baby. He was all red and hairy. He even had hair on his back, but he quickly grew into one of the most handsome men I know. His compassion and sense of humor has always brightened every day of my life. And then there was my youngest child. Words fail to describe how much I loved her and still love her. The ache in my heart became a hole when she left to live 1000 miles away.

Why am I so nostalgic all of a sudden? Two reasons. We are celebrating my oldest daughter’s birthday this weekend. I am so blessed to have her in my life. Especially since the birth of my grandson, we have grown closer. Miles has fulfilled his name and took those miles that separated us, not physical miles but maybe some emotional ones, and tied our hearts together so tight, I hope they never unravel.

The other reason is in one week I’m going to be going on a journey. It’s been long overdue. I’m going to finally hold my youngest daughter in my arms. I’m going to see her face to face. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half. That’s a lot for someone I spent practically every waking moment with prior to that time since the day she was born. After not seeing her for so long, seeing her again will be almost surreal. I wouldn’t be able to go on this trip except that an angel volunteered to take me to see her. She says I am doing her a favor so she has company on the trip as she is going to her daughter’s wedding, but I know she is doing this because she is such a caring person, and I am grateful that she has made this extraordinary offer. She will never know what it means to me.

This is where I thank God for his blessings. Being able to see my daughter again. Being blessed with three beautiful children and one handsome grandson. And having friends who are willing to go way beyond what I could possibly hope so my heart’s desire could be fulfilled. The Bible says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart has been ailing for a long time. There were times in my life when I couldn’t see my way out of the darkness. But there is no darkness that God can’t shine His light through.