Thursday, March 28, 2013

If you had a do over, what would you change?

Earlier today I posted on Facebook that I wanted a "do over".  I want to know what to do and how to help someone in  my family who is having a hard time  I know what it feels to be depressed and unsure exactly what to do that doesn't let anybody down.

Life can be hard.  Trying to figure out what you want to do and how to do it.  It's hard.  Where do you start?  How do you put that first foot in front of the other.

Now I know that most of us do just that.  We get up and go to work and take care of our families.  We somehow know, or have learned what to do.  We may not always love what we do, but we are able to see it as a means to an end.  Work long, sometimes boring tedious hours with a view to having the rewards of a home, a family that is secure and not needing for much.  Yes, there are rewards, and I guess there is the grunt work that gets you there.  With the ultimate view to being old enough to retire and rest, or travel, or work on home and yard improvements.   It's hard to see that far ahead  when you are in your twenties and don't have the world view and experience that you acquire with years.

When the kids were little and all living a home, I sort of knew what to do.   I could talk about their dreams, and listen to their thoughts.  Nick and I were their rocks.  We were behind then no matter what.

They all learned to read and write and ride a bicycle and eventually drive a car.  Nick spent evenings packing brown paper lunch bags, each with a child's name crayoned on it to make sure everyone got the right lunch.

Getting the kids out the door, teeth brushed and lunch bags in hand was something of a Chinese fire drill.   Nick got the early kids- middle school and high school, out the door before leaving for work.  I got the later kids, the elementary school kids our the door later.

As soon as Nick and the kids were gone (seems that there were lots of years where at least one baby was with me),  would start my chores with a cup of coffee.   I seem to recall that I had a routine.  Clean off the kitchen table and take care of the dishes.  We ran the dishwasher twice a day when all five kids were still at home.   Next came getting the laundry downstairs and sorted and washed.   I am sure I did at least 15 loads a week.  Plus, for many years I washed diapers three times a week.

On Friday I would change all the bed sheets, the towels and generally clean and vacuum so I didn't feel over loaded with chores  on the weekends.

Afternoons when the kids came home there were almost always snacks.  Cookies, either oatmeal or chocolate chip.  Sometimes banana bread or cupcakes.  And most often, cut up veggies and dip.

It all sounds so idyllic, so Little House on the Prairie.  Well, no, it wasn't.  I was very busy with La Leche League work.  I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to new moms- this was pre-internet.  I would meet with other LLL Leaders and moms.  I did a lot of administrative work. There were moms and their nursing kiddos here a lot.

I used to get frustrated because someone had forgotten to clear the table, or had set it not quite right.

The kids messy bedrooms drove me crazy.  I told the kids that they were their own rooms and they didn't have to worry about sorting them out.  But sometimes it just had to be done.   

When I was a kid, I had posters and stuff on my bedroom walls like any teen.  My mother made it clear to me one day when my room was a mess, that it was NOT my room.  It was her and my dad's house and it was their room.   That made me so unhappy and confused, and sort of like the man without a country.  If my room was not my own, what was it.  So I tried to do better than that.  Though every so often I would crack and claim that it was a fire hazard and had to be cleaned.

I even invited the Fire Marshall in to inspect and tell the kids how bad their rooms were.  The main thing that that came  from that visit was being told that we have too many books in the basement and that the real fire hazard.    Oh well.

What happened today was mainly, things didn't go as planned.  I went to the gym [as planned].  Was planning to go get my oil changed in my car, and then make a home visit to see a new mom.

But, when I got home, the appointment that had been made had to be cancelled.   Everyone felt bad, but that's what happened.   I was too concerned and a bit overwhelmed with still having the mom thing to do so I didn't get my oil changed or go help this new mom.

The day is about done.  We all had dinner together, cooked by son Austin.  It was good to reconnect and talk about ideas and ways to make our lives better.

I have really learned about patience the last few years.   With young babies and toddlers, patience is sort of a given.  When you try to rush with a diaper bag and a little  one in diapers and the other in training pants, it does not work.  The diaper bag spills.  The toddler pees the training pants.  The baby wants to nurse, and then proceeds to barf on your clean shirt.

But when the people you live with age and mature, you do get impatient because you expect them to be mini "you"  (or bigger as the case might be).   With teens you yell because if you don't, you are likely to be half way down the street before you remember that someone was in the bathroom running the hair dryer.

And then they become adults.  And it is hard not to talk to them like the baby/kid/teen/ young adults you have know since before they were born.  Now there are adult people who needed to be treated as adults.  Yet, we are still their parents.  We are still here if they need a shoulder.  Or if something exciting happens in their lives.   

Sometimes they really want our advice.  Most of the time they want us to be pleased with them and proud of the people they have become.  We try to offer suggestions and guidance, not a shove (unless you think it might help)

It was a long time before I had a healthy, adult relationship with my mother.  The last few years of her life, while physically rough for her, were the best in terms of us being able to enjoy each other and talk to each other lovingly with no harsh judgement.

March 29, 2013 marks the ninth anniversary of my mother's death.   I held her hand as she took her last breath.  Funny how life works out.

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