The last real day….

This week it will be a year since Hunter died. On October 1st he went into the hospital and October 5th he died.

I don’t want to commemorate his death. Why would I want to give any focus to the worst week of my life? That’s not how he wants to be remembered anyway. I’d rather focus on his life. His birthday. Our anniversary.

And today.

September 30th. This was the last real day Hunter had. A year ago tonight, sleep apnea would damage his brain and he wouldn’t recover. But let’s not think about that. Let’s focus on the day.

Most weekend afternoons after running kids all over town to different activities, Hunter would be in his office watching football, paying bills, reading. I would be running around the rest of the house, yelling at kids, making lists, pretending to get organized for the week ahead but really just procrastinating on social media. We’d catch glimpses of each other but no real connection. Until the weekly budget talk…which never ended well for me. Then we’d give each other a quick peck on the lips and I’d go upstairs for the night while Hunter binge watched some  20 part documentary on quantum physics.  A typical day without a moment of true awareness of each other. Or what we mean to each other.

But last year was different. We went to the beer festival!  We were out of our routine and out of the house. We held hands. We talked about life. We said I love you a lot. We kissed more.

What a blessing that on the very last real day of Hunter’s life, we were a couple. We loved. We connected.  September 30th will always be a reminder to me that life is short and that daily connection is important.

I was lucky. Not everyone gets a beer festival on the last real day of their loved one’s life. If I hadn’t had it, then we more than likely would have had a typical weekend of passing each other in the kitchen. No hand holding. No kisses. No intentional connection.

So on this day, September 30th, and every day after, I want to encourage you to take a moment to connect with your person. An intentional connection. It doesn’t have to be an afternoon at the beer festival. It can be 15 minutes of coffee, or even 2 minutes of really seeing each other and saying I appreciate you.

I hope you can go for longer than that though.

And I hope you hold hands.

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So…..my husband died.

I know that’s blunt. But what is the right way to let you know? Might as well just say it.

4 months ago my husband died. It was unexpected.

 Who knew sleep apnea could kill you. 

Maybe you did.

We thought it just interrupted sleep and could wreak havoc on your body long term. 

We were wrong.

I’ve always been a positive person. In high school I had to come up with a phrase in theater class. Something like a motto I guess. Mine was “Let a smile be your umbrella and no one will rain on your parade.” My theater friends aka cynics loved giving me a hard time about it. And I do know that I built off of a phrase that already existed. lol But it seemed to fit me. 

And through the years there were lots of times when someone tried to rain on my parade, but it didn’t seem to bother me too much. I knew I was strong. I knew I had something to offer even when someone else didn’t see it right away. I believed that my thoughts create my reality. If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Energy goes where attention flows. A positive outlook can create a positive outcome. <—— I think I just made that one up. It’s pretty good. Can you tell I love self help books? 

And then my husband died. 

Positive thinking was not going to change that. 

So I had to decide pretty quickly….was I going to keep my motto? I never imagined it would be my husband that rained on my parade. He was always helping me hold the fucking umbrella. Can you tell I love metaphors? 

We had a few days with him in the hospital before he died. I remember thinking, “What a blessing. He could have died in a hotel room on a business trip. He could have died at home before I came downstairs and noticed something was wrong. What a blessing.” 

His parents and brother were able to say goodbye. His kids could see him one last time. He became an organ donor. Those are blessings.

And that’s how it started. That’s how I coped. I started looking for the blessings. OK fine… I also started binge reading any book I could find on the soul or the afterlife. It was a problem. I had like 4 books going at once along with multiple videos open to mediums connecting to the dead. I know that freaks some people out. It comforted me. I wanted to talk to him again. I wanted to know he was around. I believe that the soul lives on. I believe that some are more connected to that world than others.  

I started looking for ways to connect with other widows. I needed to see what it looks like 6 months in, 1 year in, 10 years in. So I met some amazing women. And connected. And I thought, what a fucking blessing. To be inspired by them. To learn from them. To connect. Because that’s what my soul wants to do. Connect with people. 

I wear his watch. And his wedding ring around my neck.

I also got a tattoo of his pet name for me in his handwriting. He called me Sweetie. I swear, it takes everything I have not to become the painted lady and get his handwriting all over me. Kind of like Angelina Jolie but maybe a bit creepier. Although she wore a vial of blood around her neck, so maybe not. I can feel him rolling his eyes and saying- stop using me as an excuse to get a tattoo. lol sweetie

I’m not sure why I am writing this out with the intention of posting it. I think it’s partly because I’ve been MIA on my Carpool Confessions page and I wanted to let you know why. I think it’s partly because I feel proud of myself for how I’m handling it and I want to share it. Maybe it can encourage or inspire someone else to look for the blessings. 

In one of the million books I’ve read, it said something like “In the midst of tragedy can come great beauty.” I’m paraphrasing, but I love that idea.  I’ve seen a lot of beauty in the last 4 months. Because of my family, my friends, my community, my kids, my own strength. Connections.

I did have to look for it. The sadness can definitely cloud your perception. But I am holding on to my umbrella. And it seems to be working ok. 

I just wanted you to know.

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Smells like Tween spirit

I am the parent of a tween girl. I had heard the term tween before, but I didn’t truly understand the term until now. I thought it was just referring to the age. Nope.

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It’s mental.

It’s emotional.

It’s crazy.

One minute she is asking for lip gloss and rolling her eyes, the next she wants to snuggle with me and watch cartoons. (Don’t tell her I told you that.)

She holes up in her room most of the day, “doing Instagram.” but when her brothers get all geared up to play Clash of the Clans, she’s the Queen fighting for her kingdom! (Don’t tell her I told you that!)  She wants a purse AND more stuffed animals!

4th of the July at the lake, it was all about the sun bathing and the hair, but in the blink of an eye, she was jumping off the boat doing flips and having water fights. I want to do flips off the dock! But I don’t want to get my hair wet. Do you know how long it takes me to dry this mane straight? And it’s dangerous! What if I crack my head open? People can get paralyzed you know. Stupid adult rationale.  I want to tell her to be young. Maturity isn’t all its cracked up to be.

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It sure is a confusing time….for me. Yes me. That’s my baby and she wants to be a grown up. But then she doesn’t.  I know the feeling, honey. I don’t think anyone ever wants to be a true grown up.  That’s why I sometimes wear a Turkey Suit!

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My hair stays dry, and although somewhat dangerous,

 no one’s head is getting cracked.

So just like with every stage in my kids’ lives, I am trying to figure out how to help her.  How to guide her through the tween spirit. It’s a balancing act. Encouraging childlike qualities but expecting adult like behavior.

Actually the more I think about it, we are all tweens. Right? I am still trying to hang on to that childlike carefree attitude. I like hugs. I like lipgloss. Life is hard as an adult. You can get too serious. You forget how to play. You walk on the sidewalk instead of tightrope walking the curb.

I know how I’m going to handle it. This tween spirit.

I’m going to embrace it.

Whatever side my daughter is on. Lip gloss – check!  Crying for no reason- I’m there, girl. More stuffed animals- ummm. I may try to guide her in a different direction.

It’s actually not a balancing act. It’s about having both feet completely in that one moment.   Yep. That’s what I will do.

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“Your breath smells like diarrhea!” and other helpful information.

“Your breath smells like diarrhea, Mom.”

I was taken aback because I had actually just brushed my teeth.

“Does it smell like diarrhea or like coffee?”

“Like diarrhea flavored coffee.”coffee-wink

I don’t think I’ve ever written the word diarrhea this many times.  I still don’t spell it correctly on the first try. Ok then.

“Thanks for telling me, buddy. I will try to correct the situation.”

(I also used it as a teachable moment because I’m a great parent!)

“You know, sometimes, if you only brush your teeth and not your tongue, your breath can still smell.

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*Blank stare.

Sometimes, my words of wisdom take awhile to sink in. I’m sure he will thank me for this later.

Kids.

They say the darndest things. Like:

“Mom, you aren’t 25 anymore.”

and

“Mom, are you sure you aren’t pregnant?

Because that dress says you are.”

But I have to say, this is also one reason why I was excited to have some. How many times have I tried to smell my own breath, or desperately wanted to check my nose or teeth for indiscretions, but was unable to get to a mirror? (One time is too many.)

I could ask my spouse, but then that last bit of mystery is gone. I’ve been married 20 years this summer, and I can proudly say he has never seen me sitting on the toilet. I hate even writing that word. We say potty. Anyway, that’s another post.

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I may or may not be sitting on the potty in this photo. 😉

Kids are another story! I can ask my kids (or more often, be told by them without even asking!) and there is no judgement. They tell it like it is and still think I’m pretty. 😉  Except when I wear that one “pregnant dress”…which is now in the trash!

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So if you have children, and they aren’t as forthcoming as mine….now you know they can come in handy in certain situations! Start utilizing them! (And always brush your tongue.)

Forget Stranger Danger- I’m scared of the Good Samaritans!

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The situation is out of control. Did you read the story about the mom who was arrested because her daughter was at the park alone? Cliff notes:

Mom works at McDonald’s. 9 year old kid sits at Mcdonald’s while mom works. Kid begs mom to go to the park nearby. Mom gives kid a cell phone. Kid goes to park. “Good Samaritan” sees kid alone and calls the cops. Mom gets arrested.  Kid goes into foster care. And they all live happily…wait, nope that’s not right.

Or what about the parents who were investigated for allowing their daughter to walk to the post office? These are just two examples out of many.

Are we so far removed from the days when kids left on their bikes in the morning and didn’t come home til the streetlamps came on that we call the cops on parents before knowing the full story?  Most of these stories are not about neglected children. The kids are well taken care of, given a cell phone and allowed to head to a neighborhood park for an hour or two.

Listen, I don’t know if I would trust my 9 yr old to go to the park alone, but not because of stranger danger. I would worry about the other people at the park….and the park itself. My 9 yr old is a bit mischievous.

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I don’t know the kids in these stories. I don’t know the parents. I also don’t know the area in which they were “left.” All of those things are factors in how I would handle the situation. What I do know is that kids from the 70’s and 80’s were left to their own devices ALL DAY and we not only survived; we thrived.  We had street smarts. We gained self confidence and independence. We knew how to entertain ourselves.  And yes, we also all have a story or two about the “strange man down the street.”

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I worry that the kids today, my kids, are too supervised, too protected, and don’t get the opportunity to explore and use their instincts.  I’m trying to find a balance.  I don’t want fear to raise my kids. And now while I’m attempting to find that balance, I have to worry about police showing up at my door.

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 Is it more dangerous today than when I was growing up?  It seems all the 24/7 “bad news” is having quite an impact on us but is the threat real? I don’t think so. I think now we are so afraid of the 10% chance that we forget to focus on the 90% chance that it won’t happen.

Like I said, I’m working on a balance. I’m going to squash that lump in my throat when I say yes, you can walk to the neighbor’s house without me watching you. I’m not going to sit out front when I agree to let the kids play in their own front yard. Hell, I may even get crazy and let them ride their bike around the block by themselves! Try not to judge me too harshly.

And if you happen to see my kid, alone but happy, please don’t call the cops. (Unless that cop comes to my house with his own boombox.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about sex, baby…

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And by baby I am referring to my actual baby. She is 11.  I think she read somewhere that she is supposed to ask sexual questions every night at bedtime.  Mother daughter bonding or something.

So it starts with ..”Mom,  will you sit with me for a minute?” I’m not gonna lie…most of the time I really want to say no. I mean it’s 9:30pm and I’m ready for some deep conversations with my wine glass. 😉 But I sit down anyway and take a deep breath.

“Mom, where else do people have sex besides the bed?”

“Mom, do you have sex in the shower?”

“Mom, do you have a baby every time you have sex?”

“Mom, are your boobs part of your body or will they fall off when you bend over?”

What? That last one I feel like was just a stall tactic to keep me in her room longer.  But I answer every question. She’s 11 and these are things she wants to know.  And those questions seemed pretty tame. I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me….even if I don’t feel comfortable talking with them. lol

I do have boundaries though. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it bothers me to see so much sexual content out and about in public places.  This isn’t about putting parental controls on my tv or internet. These are things we see in our neighborhood. I wish advertisers considered themselves part of that village that it takes to raise a child.

If I had a dollar for every time I saw sex written or overly insinuated on billboards etc while driving my kids to school…I’d have at least $10. (That didn’t have the impact I had hoped for, but 10 times on a 10 minute drive, that’s ridiculous.)

When my 9 year old said he knew the movie Sex Tape was about having sex, I asked him how he even knew about sex..his response, “Mom, when you have been around as long as I have, you start to know things.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

He didn’t need to know about sex just yet. And he certainly didn’t need to know that people video tape it. That’s for later, when he is married and trying to “keep the fire alive.”  Luckily, he did not ask a question so I did not go further with that particular  conversation. 

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Kids see sex without even trying. What happened to the good old days where you had to see sexy things by sneaking into your friend’s parents room and look under the bed to find a Playboy or convince a babysitter that you were allowed to watch Blue Lagoon on HBO while your parents were out.  (yes dated references, but you knew them, didn’t you?)

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Some parents like to get started early. I know people who lay it all out there when their children are 6 and 7.  I wonder if that works. Some of it is still a bit confusing at 43, so how is a child processing that?

Recently the term 69 was brought up with a few 5th graders. Some parents are of the philosophy that when a question is asked, you answer it completely, no holds barred.

I am of the philosophy that you pretend that someone is calling you and you have to go.

No, not really.  My philosophy is that you give an answer that best fits the age group.  There are some images a kid brain does not need to have. It’s a sex thing and leave it at that.  When I was 10, 69 was just another odd number. Besides, I don’t care what you say about keeping it in the family.  That kid has some interesting information and she wants to share it. And share it she did. 

I don’t want to have lots of graphic sex conversations with my elementary school aged children. (Truth be told, any age children.) “Hey kids, forget the movie night, mommy is going to pop some popcorn and we can all settle in for a night of explicit discussions regarding sexual positions and why people video them.”

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And for the record, I am by no means a prude. As a matter of fact, within my circle of friends, I’m the girl that makes everything seem like a sexual innuendo. It’s my thing and I’m good with it. (That’s what he said!)

I don’t mind answering questions, but I am more prepared for PG than R. I just feel like some of the questions that come up now aren’t because their brains are ready for it, but because they were exposed to it accidently.  In those situations, less is more.  Anywho, I was just sitting here thinking about all this and thought I’d share.

Feel free to do the same. xo

 

 

 

Just the tip!

Let’s play a game. 😉 Why are you looking at me like that? Have you heard of it? Well, let me tell you how it works.

I will give you a tip and then you give me a tip. It will be fun! But it’s not a game you can play alone. So are you in? Come on…it’s just a tip. I will only love you more.

I’ll start and give you a few I’ve heard lately.

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1. Keep flossers in your car. Then when you are driving kids around town, you can pass them out and make them floss! (It also comes in handy when you had spinach for lunch!)

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2. Kid always rolling out of bed? Line up a pool noodle with the edge of the bed and under the fitted sheet!

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3. Want apples for your kid’s lunch, but hate the browning? Cut the apple and then put it back together with a rubberband!

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4. Crazy coughing at night? Put Vick’s Vapor Rub on their feet, cover with socks…. a little more on the chest and they are off to Dreamland… uninterrupted!

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5. Easily peel your banana! Find the end of the banana opposite from the stem. Pinch and twist. Then you can peel your banana and uh take a bite!

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Ok! It’s your turn! Leave a tip! Don’t be scared.

It’s just a tip.