Let’s Imagine

Imagine, for just a second, what it would be like for both you and your partner to be working in a minimum wage job in the state of Georgia. One of you works full-time, then is at home with your two kids at night, while the other one works a full-time day job and a part-time night job. Both of you make Georgia minimum wage. Now keep in mind, I am not a math major and these are estimates based on the current tax brackets in GA.

So that is $5.15 an hour times 40 hours a week= $206 before taxes. For you. Then your partner makes $5.15 x 40= $206, but also makes $5.15 x 24= $123.60, bringing your monthly household gross income to a grand total of: $2,146

$2,146 – $129 (GA State Tax Withheld) = $2,017

$2,017 – $129 (Federal Tax Withheld) = $1,888

Okay. Whew.

Your monthly net household income is $1,888. That is from both you and your partner working full-time and your partner working an extra job. Now, assuming there is no money being taken out for healthcare (as most people who pay minimum wage do not provide healthcare benefits for their employees) you probably have no other money withheld, including 401ks and retirement. Because, uhh, who can plan for the future when you make $5.15 an hour?

Now, still here? Keep following me, it gets worse.

On average you spend ⅓ of your income on your house payment, which means your house payment hovers around the $600 mark. Now, because I have been recently looking at housing a ton, I am aware what $600 a month will get you. And to be fair we are talking about rent here, because again, when you make $5.15 an hour, you are not trying to buy a damn house. It’s not pretty. It’s usually, in most places, a mobile home. Nothing wrong with a mobile home, just saying, don’t expect a lot. It could also be an apartment in the “bad part of town”. Which is likely where you work anyway. People on the “good side” are paying their employees more because they can get employees from a wider net. (Read: The exploitation of the poor is real.)

Okay so, $1,888 – 600 (rent) = $1,288.

Now I am not factoring in a lot here. Like, for example, you can pay less for a home in some areas, though in a big city, not so much. You can also live with your relatives, or have two families working, both living together in a three bedroom home. You can also get government assistance for a home. It’s called Section 8 and it is provided through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but don’t even get me started on how they do things, so let’s just say, for lack of argument, you get no help with your home and you live alone (just the four of you). But you do get help with your child’s healthcare, which is awesome, because kids get sick. But, guess what?! In the state of GA you do not qualify for SNAP (Food Stamps) cause, you guessed it, you make too much money…

😮

Which means you have a weekly grocery budget of, oh a family of four, let’s say $100. So…

$1,288 – $400 = $888

Eek. Good thing the kiddos get free lunch at school.

Moving on.

Electric rates in GA hover around the 11.17¢/kWh which gives you an average electric bill of $160/month. Now you conserve energy when you can. You yell at people for turning lights off, etc, etc, but your rented trailer does not have high-effiency appliances, nor does it have good insulation. It’s a trailer. Also, the windows are old and never really shut right and the furnace, well, it has seen better days. Because of this, in the winter your bill goes up quite a bit. Keeping the chill off the air is expensive. But in the summer you just keep all the doors and windows open, choosing to be super hot and trap bugs and insects as they come in to save on the electric. Having said that, you may or may not be on a “Level Pay” plan. In GA you can choose to do a level pay electric bill, which will factor in the very high deposit most electric companies require of you (because you make so little money) and keeps your electric on and away from the constant fear of always being shut off. But you do pay a premium for this kind of monthly pay. So let’s say your electric bill is $200 a month, level pay.

$888 – $200 = $688.

Okay, okay, we are not doing so bad. Still alive.

I forgot to mention, however, that your youngest is in preschool. Preschool is not all day. After lunch (thank goodness) he gets sent by bus to a daycare, of which you have to pay half of the regular tuition because it is on a sliding scale (I’m being nice here).

Normal annual daycare rate for a four-year-old in GA = $6,500
$6,500/2 = $3,250 (half based on government help)

$3,250/9 = $361/month
$688 – $361 = $327

Now, it is possible that you would qualify for free daycare, or that you live in a county that offers all-day preschool (but unlikely in GA, as you know, “We don’t have money for all-day preschool, we only have money for walls.”) But for now, let’s say, since you are working you can afford it.

Okay, so we are here at $327 left for the month. But as you may notice the daycare was only good for nine months out of the year. Because your second grader and preschooler are both out of school for the summer which means one of four choices: 1. A family member baby-sits them for free 2. You enroll them in some kind of free summer school (unlikely as the state would have to foot that bill) or 3. You pay daycare for two kids all summer (how the hell does that happen?!) or 4. You leave the second grader in charge, and leave your two children at home alone all day in your trailer with the doors and windows open all summer. Seems safe.

Now, what are you going to do with all that money you have left?! $327!

Well, you still need to pay the water bill, unless you are on a well (which probably hasn’t been properly tested for a series of problems). But you know what, I am feeling nice, you are on a well and it is clean, good water. You know this because you took a sample to your local health department (where you got your preschooler vaccinated for free) and had them test the water. Look at you, good decision!

Cable and internet? Wait, you don’t have either? With two kids? That’s brave of you.

Okay, your two cell phone bills.

$327 – $150 = $177

Car payments? You only have one car, because uhh, that’s all you can afford. You bought it used at one of those buy here, pay here lots and it is old and routinely needs repair but you deal with that as it comes up. This month the car God’s are in your favor and you have only the payment and the gas. Luckily, the payment is based off your weekly pay, so you only pay $50 a week, so $200 a month. So that is…

$177 – $200 = -$23

Cool. Cool. Cool.

Now gas money. Your partner takes public transportation to and from their day job, while you take the kids to school before yours. The school is close, but your work is across town. At night you pick everyone up, then turn around and drive your partner to their second job, so that you can have the car in case of emergencies. Then you either go out after the kids are in bed to pick them up, or they catch a ride for a couple of bucks with a friend. So that is a full tank of gas each week. It is a small, compact car that gets good gas milage, so $40/week for gas.

($23) – $40 = -$63

Now imagine all this, but with that extra $2.00 an hour from the Federal Minimum wage. You would be “rich” with that extra $700 a month. Minus of course the childcare you have to pay, since you make too much to get a credit now. $700 – $361 = $339. Minus the cost of the state-sponsored healthcare you have to pay now for the kids (at $80 a kid, still way less cheaper than private healthcare) $339 – $160 = $179. Oh, your partner got sick and had to go to the ER for treatment and missed a week of work. Darn. That’s $179 – $15,000 (ER Trip) – $464 (Week of wages) – $100 (Medication with no healthcare). BUT! It is summer time so they can take care of the kids that week while they are laid up on the couch in pain! Silver lining!

Let’s see, what am I forgetting. Healthcare, check. Food, check. House, check. Electric, check. Transportation, check. Daycare, check. I guess that just leaves extra money to buy those boots that you are supposed to have, so that you can pull yourself up by the straps.

M.

Bentley

On April 25th of this year, I sat with my professors in a small conference room in the English Department at UNC Charlotte to defend my thesis. It’s an important step to graduation, though it sounds scarier than it is. It’s really just going over a year’s worth of work. Reading a bit, talking about why you chose that particular point-of-view, why you chose that subject, how you put all this love and sweat into these 60 pages. I was nervous, sure. But less about the conversation. Less about whether or not I would “pass”. I already knew I did what I was supposed to do to graduate. I already knew that my professors liked my thesis. I already knew this would end well. I was nervous instead that at any moment I would burst into tears and look like a fool. Not because of the very emotional subject matter of my three essays, but because I had just lost my best friend.

It’s almost humorous now, but I remember one of my professors walking in just before the meeting and I was just standing there, my items scattered all over the table. I remember looking up at her smiling face and wanting to burst into tears and tell her all about my Bentley-girl. And she would have listened. And hugged me. And told me that it would all be okay. But I felt so stupid. How do you explain to someone, anyone, how the death of a dog, a very mature, lived-longer-than-she-should-have-lived dog, was the second worst thing that you have ever lived through? How dumb would that sound? So instead, I nervously shuffled papers around, told her I was nervous about reading my work, and pretended to be the same, old hot-mess I always was.

I “passed”, as I knew I would, even with Bentley on my mind. I made it through that day and the next few days. I even made it to an awards ceremony where I was recognized for being a good student. Then, I hopped on a plane, flew to Arizona with my family and celebrated another best friend on her wedding day. All along, I held it together. In fact, I held it together through the next month. I held it together through my graduation, through a house full of guests. I held it together through a stay in the hospital, through a surgery, and a recovery. I held it together until the first time I found myself completely alone in my house, in nearly 14 years.

It was the first week of June. My mother had just flown back to Kansas from having spent three weeks with us while I recovered. Jackson was in school. Jerimiah was at work. I was up and mobile and feeling pretty good, physically. I went to sit down at my computer, I wanted to try to put words to the whirlwind that had been the last six weeks, and instead I sat on the rug next to my desk, and I cried.

It had been a long time since I cried like that. A long time since I had been under the grip of that kind of grief. Seven years, actually. And it hurt a lot more than I remember. I forgot how much you physically hurt from grief. How your body heaves up and down with each breath, until your stomach feels like you’ve done a million sit-ups. How your eyes burn from the rubbing, and the salt, and the strain. How at times you feel like you can’t control any of it. The emotions, the images floating in and out of your mind, the feeling that the walls are closing in on you. That the floor will open you up and suck you under. It’s how I imagine it must feel to be drowning.

I’m not even sure what sparked it. I suspect it was the pure silence of the house. Having a constant being near you at all times becomes comforting. After I lost Lydia I remember always having Bentley to talk to, to complain to when toddler Jackson was being unreasonable. But here I was, in so much emotional pain, and Bentley was not there to lay her head on my lap. Her brown eyes were not looking up at me in concern and love. I had always felt safe and protected with her around. I had always felt loved, even when I was at the very bottom and felt all alone. But here I was. Literally all alone, at the bottom, in another hour of dark grief, and it didn’t feel like there was a way out.

Of course I could have called a friend. I could have logged onto Facebook and shared, I could have had a thousand virtual hugs. I could have checked Jackson out of school. I could have called Jerimiah to come home. But I didn’t do any of that. I knew I needed to do this. I knew I needed to lie there on the floor, feel the feelings, remember her. All the years, the sadness, the happiness, all the moments, each one of them. I needed to do it to make it final. And so I did.

I realized then that I shouldn’t be ashamed. I shouldn’t have to defend this grief to anyone. Especially not to myself. It didn’t matter if it sounded stupid. If my grief was “normal” or even made sense. It’s when I realized that all of this, all this emotion that was flowing out of me, was very real.

In the months that have passed since Bentley’s last day with us, we have cried, we have laughed, we have shared memories, spread her ashes in Missouri, even adopted a new pup. But in all this time, the three of us still occasionally look at each other and smile. We linger at the spot on the floor by the front door, at the flowering bush outside Zada Janes Corner Cafe, at the parking lot of Dairy Queen, and at the bridge at Freedom Park. Remembering her short time with us.

Zada Jane's
Last Ride
McDonalds
J, Me, B
Daddy
Bridge
Ducks
Me and B Good
Pond
Picnic
Pic of three
Ducks 2
Bebe
Big Girl
Last Walk
Jackson and B
Zada Floor
Ordering
B eating ice cream
Ice cream
B Eating
vet 2
Vet 1
vet 3
cropped-family1.jpg
Smiling

RIP Bentley-Girl. You were always there when it mattered. In the important moments. You were my first baby, my second loss, my very best friend. You were all a girl could ask for, and you are missed every day. 

Mommy

Why Does This Happen?

Seriously, why?

Why what, Missy?

Why do I think, “Oh, I should start a blog, that would help me write more and not feel all alone in the world” and then about a year goes by and I’m all, “Oh yeah, that blog.” Look, if you’re still around, thanks. Thanks for sticking it out thinking maybe one day I will remember this little space and pop back in and say some whacked out shit like I usually do. Your dreams have been answered!

Here is the deal. I get into funks. We all do, right? (Just say yes.) And boy have I been in one. Any flip through this here page and you would notice some major life changes. There is the whole, one year ago I was talking about having another baby, meanwhile I went ahead and had a hysterectomy. That could make getting pregnant harder.

Then, wait Missy, last time we talked you lived on the lake in Denver, NC. Well, no I live smack-dab in “the city”.

Then, there is the whole last time we talked to, you were in grad school. (Good news there, I actually finished something for once. Not to my liking, but it’s done.)

Oh, and then somewhere along the line my best friend, my ride or die, my 14-year-old pupper went and died. RIP Bentley. Then we got a new puppy, Duke, and he hates me.

This has been a year, y’all.

And that’s not even bringing up politics, or the state of the world we live in.

Sigh. It’s too much. It’s just much too much, y’all.

I think what happens is I do things that I know are bad for me to punish myself, because, I dunno, I’m used to emotionally belittling myself, while I skate on that razor thin edge of self-destruction? Nah, I’m probably just bored.

This has the potential to be a sad-sack of a post, so let’s change gears, for your amusement.

Things are great, actually. Thanks for asking. Jackson is in fourth grade this year at his (new to you) school, a STEM charter school. He is way into cars, like he has always been. But now he is also way in to coding his own apps and games, building robots, farting, and girls (in no particular order). The last bit is fairly new. And in fact, it is one girl in particular. Her name is Morgan, and he met her last year in his third grade class. She is blond and super high energy. I hate her.

I know. How can you say that about a kid, Missy? It’s easier than you’d think. For example, the whole summer he was obsessed with Michael Jackson. Which is weird, but you know, fine. We even talked about how MJ was possibly a sexual predator (normal convo for us, since I’m always like, “Jackson, watch out for sexual predators man. They will prey on unsuspecting kids” and he’s all, “Yeah, I get it, Mommy. The whole world is out to get me and hurt me at all times. Tell you if anyone is every inappropriate toward me. Gotcha.” It helps my anxiety knowing he is super paranoid like I am.)

Anyway, I Amazoned him the whole MJ outfit, assuming that’s what he would want to be for Halloween. But true to Jackson form, here we are, two weeks before Halloween and he has decided to be something else. Turns out, one of Morgan’s favorite shows is “Stranger Things” (that’s weird, right?). We never let Jackson watch it because it was sort of scary. But then he came home all talking about “Stranger Things” and we were all, what the hell? Like, he is OBSESSED. So we let him watch the first episode and guess what? He had a nightmare about the damn Demogorgon!

Anyway (again), Morgan’s FAVORITE character is Eleven. So guess what my son wants to be for Halloween? Yeah. So here I am, ordering a pink dress, painting tube socks, and looking for the perfect blond wig for my son for Halloween, so when we do Trunk or Treat at his school on the 28th, Morgan will see him dressed as her favorite character (which happens to be a girl). Ohhh, young love. (To make him not feel so weird, Daddy is dressing like Joyce.)

Sigh.

Okay, so what else is happening? Jerimiah is in job limbo. Allow me to explain. His company was bought out last year by a much bigger company. This much bigger company has been letting go of a lot of people, but he keeps making the cut (whew). But, over the next few months there is more “restructuring” as it were, and he sort of has nowhere to go. So he has been applying for jobs within the company, because he does like it. No big deal. Except, well, none of the jobs are in Charlotte. This is a Fortune 500, nationwide company. And it appears that the opportunities for him are all, well, nationwide. We are talking, California, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee. Some of the opportunity is in good locations (read: Seattle, Boston, Chicago). Some of the opportunity is in, oh, let’s say, Houston. (Throws hands up in the air.) But for now, we wait to see how it all plays out. Short version: We may not be in the Carolinas much longer. Which at first made me happy, because you guys know I love adventure. But now I am kind of sad. I have started to build a little community here, a writing community, a friend community, a strong parent network. But, then again, life is constantly changing and if you are resistant to it, you will be disappointed eventually. Besides, how can you see the whole world, if you stay in one little space?

So, how are things with me? Well, like I said, funky. I have my ups and downs. More downs lately. This whole hysterectomy thing has jacked me up. It was a good decision, trust me, but the hormones, the night sweats, the lack of energy. I feel like for the first time since June I am finally coming out of all of it. Slowly, but surely. (Ps… if this is something you are even remotely considering, DO IT!) Jesus. DO IT.

Buuuuut, it does give your life a finality that you might not be ready for. So there’s that.

I think the real problem here is that I have been listening to a lot of 70s and 80s country music because I can’t find my damn Mumford and Sons record, and it isn’t as empowering as you would think it would be. Maybe. (Thanks for not asking the obvious question here: How do you lose a Mumford and Sons record? Those things are huge!) So I get sort of down (because Willie and Waylon are downers), and then I think, “Wait a second, I will never bleed out of my vagina every again!” And then I feel so good that I want to tell Bentley all about my good fortune and then I’m down again. Boo.

Well, that sort of sums up life now. I got myself roped into the PTO at the new school, even though when I left my VP role at the old school I was all, “NEVER AGAIN!” So I have a bunch of Box Tops to deal with today.

Thanks for reading. Or not. Not would probably be better.

Stay safe and sane out there.

M.

 

 

 

Closing Time

There are two things I know for sure about the South. It is muggy and people are friendly. I know more than those two details, of course, but these are the two on my mind tonight, as I sit on the front step of my house at two o’clock in the morning, half-waiting for my senior, overweight chocolate lab to do her business, and half waiting for something else. Anything else.

This isn’t a new experience for me. A couple of months after Lydia was born I started to wake up every morning at three am, like a clock. It didn’t matter what time I went to sleep. It didn’t matter what time my alarm was going to blare into my ear. It didn’t matter if Jackson was asleep, if the world was asleep. My hesitant eyes opened up at three am and listened. For something. For anything.

It is muggy out tonight. The kind of air that sort of just hangs in front of you. Like a bouquet of balloons with nowhere to go, but to float there, suspended in the air right in front of your face. You can move side-to-side to avoid the balloons. You can swat at them, but still, nothing. The thick air is silent. Save for a few frogs and the distant calling of a cat. It’s thick and it’s muggy and it is supposed to be.

Sometimes I lay in bed when I can’t sleep and I have imaginary conversations. Or maybe it’s real conversation with imaginary people. Conversations take place (even if just in my head) and they are between someone I need to talk to right then and me. Tonight I talked to my best friend who lives 1,000 miles away. Tonight I caught up with her. I told her that I miss her. I asked for her advice and I imagined her response. This is something I’ve always done, for as long as I can remember.

There is such a thing as “Southern Hospitality” and it is alive and well here in North Carolina. I remember the first time I was hugged by a complete stranger. I was standing in the middle of the Children’s Public Library in Charlotte with a very preschool Jackson. We had just moved to the area and we were spending our days exploring the summer before kindergarten started. Jerimiah had already settled into his new job and Jackson and I were looking for our routine. We had stopped into the Library one August afternoon after meeting Jerimiah for lunch in Uptown. I had been struggling, as I often am, with issues bigger than myself. I had been feeling sad and alone. I sat on the bench near the play area while Jackson happily chatted a little boy a year or so younger than him. He was another blond-haired little boy, big curls, blue eyes. They seemed to hit it off. I noticed that he kept talking with a robust, black woman who sat on a bench across from me. She didn’t look like she was his mother, but she certainly acted that way. She would call him over to blow his nose and put hand sanitizer on. She would tell him to cover his mouth when he yawned. She would say, “Play nice” when he slammed a car down hard on the carpet. He would look up, smile at her, and promise to obey. The woman and I exchanged glances, and then smiles, as the boys cozied up on the car rug and began a rousing game of flying-tiger-car or something just as fun. Pretty soon she was asking me questions over their heads. Pretty soon I was sitting on the bench next to her divulging my whole life (I’m that person, in case you didn’t know. I believe in attempting to make an immediate connection with people, when it feels right, and the easiest way to get that is to share and share and share, until your eyes are red and you’re reliving the loss of your first hamster to your brand new friend. RIP Miss Piggy. Why beat around the bush if you like the person and they like you? Too many things to talk about, too many small, furry critters to mourn. ) So there we sat, two women. One a mother struggling against all the odds in all the worlds to keep her baby a baby, to make her life slow down, to find answers in unexpected places. And one, a nanny with a positive attitude and enough faith in God and Humanity for both of us. Right before we parted ways, well into the balloons of the afternoon, she grabbed me. Her arms engulfed me like the heat that was waiting outside the doors. She whispered to me that I would be okay. That I would find my place here in North Carolina. And she said not to worry.

Here I am, four years later, sitting on the sticky, brick steps of my house, worrying. I’m worrying about a lot today, but that woman and her arms, her strength, and her positivity keep the anxiety at bay tonight. I’ve always been a “lady of the night” (not that kind, you perv) the kind that finds solace in the empty dark streets. The kind that waits for everyone else to go to sleep, so I can wake up. The kind that looks for answers in the blackness. In the darkness. I remember working at a bar way back in college (the first time). I remember walking out into the cool night air after two am. Closing time. I remember the feeling of being alive, and free, even in the darkness. I guess I’m looking for that feeling again tonight.

M.

Wonder Years

It’s been six years.

Six years. You’d think the sting of the day would have settled by now. The heartache, the brokenness I feel, would have melted away into some kind of memory that takes a little more time to recall, a little more time to conjure up the images of a hospital bed, a beeping monitor, a quiet ultrasound machine. But it actually doesn’t take much at all.

A kindergartner walking into her classroom for the first time.

A blond haired baby girl, full of curls and wonder.

A pink, polka dot blanket.

My son’s bright blue eyes.

Anything can spark a memory. And I know I am not alone in this.

Anyone who has suffered at the hands of grief knows this to be true. Anyone who has watched another being, one they love and admire, slip slowly away from them, has had to push through days, and weeks, and months like this.

For a long time I wondered when these days, and weeks, and months, and now years would slowly slip from my conscious mind, but the truth is it never will. This grief, this loss, this love, this is life. And life, as we all know by now, can be fucking harsh.

Today snuck up on me. Like it has for the last couple of years. I am busy now, not too much time to sit around and wonder anymore about how things could have been. Then a text message from my best friend snapped me back into this world late last night. “Thinking of you both and your angel baby” with a purple heart. I wasn’t sure how to respond, as I never really am. But there it was. In words again. And memories.

Today I will try to think of the good things. Not focus on the bad. Today I will try to appreciate what and whom I do have in front of me. Today I will celebrate a life that never came to be, but one that taught me immeasurable things about love, death, and my own strength.

August 25th is never a “normal” day for my family. And it never will be. But that is okay. We are okay. We still have the love, the warmth, and the smiles she gave us to keep the grief at bay.

May you be blessed to celebrate and appreciate all of life today. May you do it in honor of those you have lost. May you look at the world with fresh eyes and a sense of wonder, if even for a little while.

We love and miss you everyday, Lydia Elizabeth.

M.

Closets, Sleep, Guilt

Summer seems to be the busiest time of the year for me, while it is also the least busiest time of the year for me. Don’t ask me how that happens, but it in fact happens. I walk this tight rope of having planned activities for Jackson and me, for the three of us, for the visitors that inevitably come, and staying relaxed with an open schedule for fun, spontaneous things too. If that sounds hard and a bit dramatic, it is because it is hard and a bit dramatic. It seems to leave a messier house, a less stocked fridge, and not enough time to write. Certainly not enough time to write.

So here I am, taking an afternoon to get things off my chest and my mind that seem to creep in around this time of the summer. My mother was here for a month, and while we enjoyed having her, it sometimes hinders my plans for what I feel like I NEED to get done. She seriously keeps my house clean, all my laundry done, and can easily entertain Jackson for hours, but it is the feeling of always having to entertain someone that inevitably takes a toll on you, whether or not the feeling is substantiated. I start to question if she is enjoying her time, if I should be doing more or less with her, that sort of thing. This probably happens for most people who have visitors any time of the year, but especially around more stressful times like the holidays. Trying to be a good host, but also trying to make time for yourself is hard to do and it weighs on you from time-to-time. Learning how to straddle this line and how to enjoy your visitors is hard for me, but I am always working on it. And now that my mom and my visitors (my best friend Rachel and her daughter, Madison, came for a week) are back in Kansas I miss them all like crazy. It’s an interesting dichotomy.

This got me thinking about my life in general, and how much I spend trying to do for others, versus how much I do for myself. I started thinking about how I love to write, particularly blogging, but how I always seem to put it last in my to-do list. I started thinking about how I have committed to this Burn routine, but how might it be affecting the lives of my family if I am grumpy come 7pm in the evening. I started thinking about how I love to read, but when I get wrapped up in a book and Jackson is starting his second hour of Minecraft, I start to feel guilty and stop to play Legos or cars with him, then become sidetracked and never get back to the book. I do these things and a million other every day and it sometimes leaves little time for me, and it sometimes leaves me with a lot of guilt. I think as parents we all do these sorts of things. We all make small decisions that add up to big time; and the balance is not easy there either.

So what are some things I need to be catching up on?

  • Sleep: That is first. Always. Seems like it doesn’t matter when I go to bed, I am tired and can sleep more. Getting up at 5 am makes your day feel so productive, but by mid-week I sometimes feel like I am barely hanging on. So I have been trying to take small naps throughout the day lately. It doesn’t make me feel too bad, and I do wake up feeling refreshed and eager to get things done.
  • Writing: That’s another one per the aforementioned “blogging” comment. I really do enjoy it, even if no one reads my blog. It helps me get my ideas sorted out and can actually be quite cathartic. But I always think, why do I need to devote time to that? Well, because it helps and is cathartic. Man, I need to write that on a wall somewhere and read it from time-to-time!
  • Reading: I always have a summer list of books and I never finish them. I am too wrapped up in all that I should be doing when I am reading a book. Same goes for television. I wish I could watch t.v. more! Isn’t that weird to say. I really do wish I could just veg out in front of Netflix everyday and enjoy a new series, or I dunno, maybe finish a series that I started four years ago, ahem, “Sons of Anarchy”, but I just can’t commit that kind of time or I feel selfish and unproductive.
  • Prepping meals: This is a tough one because I sort of do it, but I get bored with the same old stuff and don’t devote the time to new recipes, so I just grill chicken and veggies for the week. I know this is an important start in good nutrition, but damn it, I can’t get it together for the life of me.
  • Cleaning and organizing my house: This falls into the “necessary evil” category. I have to do some kind of cleaning everyday just to keep my house efficient and not smelling like wet dog. How does it smell like wet dog when my dog doesn’t ever get wet?! Anyway, in the back of my mind I am always thinking things like, “My craft closet needs cleaned out” or “I don’t even want to start to go through Jackson’s clothes” but I have to do it. I just need to remember to do it when the urge hits! Strike while the iron is hot, or the iron will fall on my face and leave a mark. Probably quite literally if I ever get to cleaning out my laundry room pantry.
  • Relationships: Another tough one. How the hell am I supposed to foster that new friendship, have a nice date night with my husband, plan a girl’s movie night, or have a backyard campout with my boys if I am so wrapped up worrying about how dirty my closets are or how behind I am on my summer reading list? You see the trouble here?!

So, here I am. Whining to you all, instead of cleaning out my closets or finishing the book I checked out from the library in June. What are we all to do?!

I wish it were that easy, to just snap my fingers and have a plan, but in reality we all have to look at our growing lists of responsibility and decide what is important and what is not. Do I just close my closet door and turn on the new series “GLOW” or do I just get it done so that it doesn’t bother me for a bit? Do I write the blog and let Jackson play the extra hour of Minecraft? Do I mop my dining room or do I take an hour nap? I think I need to be more intentional with my decisions, so I don’t feel so bad about them when I make them. Maybe that is the answer, maybe it isn’t, but I won’t know until I try. None of us will, right?

So listen, I am not sure what this guilt about dirty closets is all about, but I suspect I am not the only one that has it, and I suspect we are all looking for some kind of answer to something that can make it go away. Not just dirty closet guilt, all the different kinds we carry around as parents and partners, as employees, and sons and daughters, and friends. I’m not sure if there is an easy answer or a magic solution to it. But we can all try a bit each day to elevate some of it. I think maybe it starts with recognizing that you have it. Sort of like being at an AA meeting. Recognize that you have guilt about (insert guilt) and then work on a 12-step plan to fix it? Yeah? I’ll start.

Me: My name is Missy and I have a dirty closet guilt problem.

You all: Hi Missy! You are not alone.

Me: Thanks. I plan on not thinking about my closet today. I will shut the door and do what makes me happy.

You All: Ohhhh, I don’t know about that Missy.

Me: SHUT IT! I don’t need your lip!

You All: Wow, okay. This isn’t how this is supposed to work. I thought maybe we could be friends, but…

Me: I quit this shit! Later Suckas!

Well that escalated quickly. I guess I will see you guys later. I’m gonna go close my closet and watch GLOW! You should do the same!

M.

Maxima Enim, Patientia Virtus

There is an oft-recycled quote you’ve no doubt heard. Many have wrongly attributed it to Jesus. Some say Robert Frost first wrote it. Others say Buddha, or maybe it was Oprah? Seems like an Oprah thing to say. But it actually stems from an old Latin phrase, “Maxima denim, patient virtue” or “Patience is the greatest virtue”. Today there is much debate about whether or not patience, is in fact, a virtue. Does it mean good things come to those who wait? I don’t think so. But I do think those of us who can wait for something without getting angry or upset, whether it is a long line at Target or the opportunity for a new job, hold within us a valuable quality. One that not many people have. It is a quality I have admired in many people over the course of my life, and one that I have been trying to get right in my own life. But it is hard.

I’ve had to remind myself over and over again the last few months to be patient.

Be patient. I whisper this to myself as I step off the scale once again to the same number as the week before.

Be patient. My mind says, as I watch another ovulation test go from neutral to negative.

Be patient. I scream at my husband while he sleeps next to me, after another holiday passes and I didn’t get a baby llama as a gift.

Be patient.

We all know the feeling that bubbles up inside of us when we are waiting on something or someone and we reach a point when we just absolutely think we cannot wait for one more second. And then we wait. Because what else can we do?

Sometimes we make rash decisions, clouded by the fear that we will be late, or we will miss an opportunity, or that the llamas will grow up too fast and we will miss the small window of time where they can be trained to spit at people in UNC hats.

Sometimes we make rash decisions when we are upset with ourselves. We have waited too long to go somewhere or make a decision and then we find ourselves in a time crunch and suddenly life seems out of control. We don’t like to feel out of control. We don’t like the chaos that comes with feeling out of control and we don’t like the fact that we have no one to blame but ourselves. So instead we say things like, “I wouldn’t be late if the car in front of me was driving faster!” or “I would have this done already if I weren’t waiting on someone else to bring me the supplies”. Those are excuses. Plain and simple. We know that, but we rely on them on days like that.

And we all have days like that.

Whew. So, what do we do when life throws these days at us? I have no idea, y’all! Why would you think I would have an answer?! I am not therapist! I usually roll down my windows, scream the words to my favorite Tanya Tucker song, and say something like “Come at me, Bro!” to the lady in the drive-thru window to make myself feel better. But maybe that isn’t the best way?

So let’s do this. Let’s all take a look at our lives. Get to know what makes us tick. Learn what pushes us over the edge. Learn better time management. Learn how to get organized, or more sleep, or less sleep depending on how much you sleep. That way we can start to learn how to be more patient with our kids, our spouses, and ourselves.

That way, when Mother’s Day rolls around and you don’t have a llama tied to your bedpost you won’t scream at your husband “This is why I want a DIVORCE!” You will know to just take a deep breathe and say, “I am sure that there is a plan in this universe for my baby llama and me. I will be patient and I will wait.” And you will feel much, much better.

M.