I left my kids on the other side of the country

standard July 14, 2015 1 response

On Saturday I flew the two kids to the Midwest so I could drop them off at camp. Overnight camp. For two weeks.

I went to camp as a kid and loved it.

M went to camp as a kid and hated it.

Two differing opinions that warred in my head when we first learned of the camp this winter and I asked the kids if they’d want to go.

In my mind there was no doubt that camp would be a fantastic experience for them. Two weeks on a gorgeous lake surrounded by kids, going from one activity to the next…heaven to most kids. Right? I was even hopeful that a little separation would be great for Little L, help her become a little more self-reliant and a little less prone to asking for help before even trying something.

But I worried, because, in so many ways, they’re very much M’s children and taking them to camp halfway across the country didn’t leave many options for middle of the night pick-ups should things not pan out.

That said, the whole halfway across the country no middle of the night thing is also good. Sometimes not having an easy out is a good incentive for pushing yourself through the hard parts so you don’t miss the good parts.

But I still worried.

And then Sunday dawned and I had to load them into the rental to take them to the drop off spot. And then I had to hug them goodbye and leave them behind.

I was fine until that point. Riding my “Camp is a GREAT THING” wagon all the way. Until I realized I left my heart behind with them.

I drove away from the camp, headed into town for a few hours of sightseeing and reminded myself of all the good things camp does for kids.

I reminded myself that my job as a mom isn’t to shield and protect my kids from everything and anything, but to help prepare them for adulthood. Because, after all, we’re raising adults, not children, right?

My heart broke at the thought that I wouldn’t be there to cuddle Little L at night when she felt homesick, but I comforted myself with the thought that any one of her three counselors or the camp mom would be there for her.

My heart squeezed when I wondered who C would discuss her worries with, and then relaxed when I remembered she had her journal and a slew of new-found friends.

My breath hitched when I realized I’d forgotten to ask the director to make sure Little L ate, because she sometimes doesn’t and then she gets cranky, but then I reasoned that it would probably be apparent, very, very quickly.

And then I stopped myself from thinking of any other ways they’d be missing my ministering and doting.

I dropped my kids off at camp and I will not be privy to their day-by-day feedback. They’re going to have experiences I won’t be able to picture and might never hear about. And that’s ok. It’s sad, it’s hard for me, but it’s great for them. I will peruse the camp’s nightly picture uploads to look for smiles and happiness. And I will try not to worry if they look tired or a little sad. Because a nano-second captured on film doesn’t tell the story of a whole day, or a whole week. And I will remember that this is a GOOD thing.

For them, for me, for us.

I won’t always be there to hug them and pick up the pieces. I won’t always be close by for instant feedback or advice. One day they will be spreading their wings and going to college and then off to their own lives, and it’s never too early for them to know that I know they are smart, strong, resilient, and I trust them to stand on their own two feet.

Even if it makes me feel like I’m walking around completely empty when they are away from me.

Looks like she's not the least bit traumatized by camp.

Looks like she’s not the least bit traumatized by camp.

Celebrating the most deserving dad of all

standard June 16, 2015 1 response

Please note: this is a sponsored post. But it contains all of my usual wit and wisdom, so, please, read on.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I was going to be ok with all the Father’s Day stuff that was starting to hit the airwaves and every other available advertising surface. I blinked at her, totally not getting what she was asking. Then she gently nudged me.

“You know, Father’s Day? Are you worried it’ll be, you know, painful because of your dad?”

And I had to laugh, because my dad loathed Father’s Day. With a passion. We were never allowed to even wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Which is good, in many ways, because for us, Father’s Day has always, and will always, be about M as a dad and it won’t have any negative connotations this year or ever.

And boy does M deserve to be celebrated.

He comes home, exhausted, after a long day of wrangling challenging clients and difficult cases, and he dives right in. He tidies, deals with kid demands, makes dinner, plays endless board games, teaches the kids to play the Ukulele and the piano. He sings to them and talks to them, and sometimes just cuddles. He’s quick to take up the slack when I need him to step in and never, ever complains when I duck out for a much needed Girl’s Night Out to catch my breath.

If ever a dad deserved to be celebrated it’s him. If ever a dad deserved to have a day all to himself, not haunted by specters of other dads, it’s him.

So I asked him what he wanted to do for Father’s Day. His reply?

“Whatever you want.”

And I asked what he wanted as gifts for Father’s Day? His reply?

“New socks.”

No, seriously. That’s what he always wants. New. Socks. The gift that keeps on giving.

Lucky him, I already got him new socks last week. This week we’re going for something a tad more fun.

Now, clearly I can’t tell you exactly what I’m getting him, because he reads this and that would totes ruin the surprise, but I can tell you some other things he’d love…things you can find on eBay if you’re still looking for great ideas for the dads in your own life.

Because eBay. Endless treasure trove of dad approved goodies.

So, without further ado, I bring you 5 things I know M would totally love to receive from eBay. Other than socks. Even though I could get those there too. But I’m not gunna. So there.

Celebrate Dad with eBay

 

Ukuleles

Ukulele on eBay

So, M’s a tad obsessed with Ukes. Which is great. But maybe I shouldn’t let him see just how many are available on eBay. Though I have to say, I’m rather tempted to expand his collection myself. Some of the options are truly unique and exceptional.

Art Supplies

Art supplies on eBay

M dabbles in art. He colors, he paints, he sketches. It works out nicely, because I have a bit of a thing when it comes to purchasing art supplies. As in, I like to buy them. Lots of them. eBay has pretty much everything you could ever want to buy when it comes to art supplies. It makes my little heart go pitter patter.

Recording Studio Stuff

Recording Studio on eBay

Ok, I admit, I know exactly nothing about recording studios, what they require, what’s good, what’s worthwhile, or anything. But M does. He also knows what he already has and what he might need or want. So, basically, this would be the ideal opportunity for an eBay gift card.

Meditation supplies

Meditation bowl on eBay

Apparently you can never have too many candles, guided meditations, or other meditation inspired things. If it helps you create a nice, safe, inspiring space, I say go for it. Which is probably why we have more candles in our bedroom than the average candle store. Not sure where to get started? Check out some of the collections put together by eBay users.

Gift Cards

Ebay Gift Cards

Nothing ever feels more lame than handing someone a gift card and saying “Have a Happy Whatever, Man.” And yet, when you’re dealing with someone like my husband, who finds it almost physically painful to spend money on himself, sometimes a gift card is truly the best gift in the world. It’s like giving him permission to go shop. Which he loves, especially if he feels it’s with “free money.”

At eBay? You can get pretty much any gift card you could possibly imagine. Seriously. Go look. Best part? It’s not too late to score the perfect gift card. You can shop for them all the way until Saturday.

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I barely scratched the surface of everything that can be found on eBay. It really is the ideal place to shop if you’re looking for something a little eclectic or something totally run of the mill. More than 70% of what’s sold on the site comes new-in-box and shipping tends to be fast.

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eBay Father’s Day Sweepstakes!

Want to win some handy shopping cash this Father’s Day? 

ebay logo

You can enter to win $1,000 for Dad this Father’s Day by tweeting at @eBay and including #eBayCelebratesDads and #Sweeps in the tweet. Share something a dad in your life would love this Father’s Day from their Father’s Day Gift Guide or just tweet why Dad is awesome!

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Please note: In case you hadn’t guessed yet, this was a sponsored post written on behalf of eBay. My passion for all things eBay is 100% genuine and all the thoughts contained here are all mine.

How is it already summer?

standard June 10, 2015 Leave a response

One of the things grief seems to have stolen from me, aside from my usual sense of humor and desire to hang out with tons of people whenever I can, is time. Or really the sense of time passing.

I woke up this morning to the excited chatter of kids about to be freed from the yoke of public education for a brief 9 weeks and I couldn’t really comprehend what I was hearing.

How is it possible that they are out for the summer? That they’re home for the foreseeable future? That I haven’t purchased their plane tickets yet for camp? That I have nothing planned for them to do until then?

How is it June?

Where did the last three months go?

Heck, where did the last 9 months go?

Didn’t school just start?

The school year often feels like it flies by in a blur, but this year? It’s like someone hit fast forward.

I lost most of November and December to post anesthesia fog,* the start of the year to frantic trips to Canada to see my dad, and the spring reeling from his death.

It’s a good thing the girls had a good year and that they had fantastic teachers to support them so that I could bob along in my fog of grief and work, but I’m bummed that I feel like I missed their 2nd and 4th grades.

I was here. I helped with homework. I read in the classroom. I had deep and not so deep conversations with them in the car. I hugged. I laughed. I packed lunches and checked test papers. But it really feels like I was going through the motions, waiting for my everything to click back into place and start feeling engaged again.

Guess it didn’t happen in time for the end of the year.

Here’s hoping it happens before the next year starts.

First and last day of school 2014-2015

First and last day of school 2014-2015

 

*Don’t bother searching, I didn’t blog about the surgery I had back then.  I might soon. Not sure. Just know it was elective and that I’m a-ok. 

Parenting: The balancing act

standard May 11, 2015 1 response

Balance. It’s that elusive thing we’re all after all the time.

Balance between productive time and down time. Between being a firm role mode and a fun parent. Between work and family. Between being a parent and spouse. Between all the people who need you and, well, you. Between taking care of the house and taking care of the people in it.

It’s the thing that makes parenting feel like a never ending tightrope walk. You’re focused on taking the next step, placing it carefully down, balancing everything at the ends of your hands… and hoping against hope that nothing will come shake your wire and make you drop everything.

Because when you drop everything it takes forever to pick it all back up and feel stable again.

At the beach this weekend I spotted a row of stacked rocks. It happened to be Mother’s Day so I had mothering on the brain, but the rock formations reminded me of the balancing act we all constantly do.

Rocks on the Beach

 

As we walked by the log on which all the little towers perched on, my sister offhandedly asked if I’d noticed all the sand under each one.

“The sand is what keeps them balanced.”

It reminded me that even though it often feels like we’re balancing up there, on our wire, all by ourselves, juggling all the things life throws at us, we’re not alone. We have lots of little grains of sand helping us balance. (And yes, I know my metaphors are all tangled up. Just go with it.)

We have friends who stop by for coffee and offer a supportive ear. We have family members who know us better than we know ourselves. We have spouses who share the burdens. We have teachers who share the kid worries with us. Some days, we even just have the person who smiles knowingly as they pass you at the grocery store. Or the friends in the computer and in our phones, who aren’t with us, but are still doing this thing alongside us, ready to offer a quick word of encouragement, commiseration, or even levity.

Parenting. The ultimate balance. And the ultimate test of our ability to notice the grains of sand that hold us up.

Grains of sand