Sunday, January 26, 2014

The definition of exceptional...

You gotta read this.  It is an amazing article about differences in opinion and how we can all think differently and thank God we do!


Whoa Nelly...this is some kind of writing, huh?

As you all know, I am a mother of 3.  They are almost grown and I can say, that besides being a hospice nurse, raising them is my most prized accomplishment.  To be able to experience the love and exhaustion of shepherding another human being, let alone 3, as they learn, grow, make mistakes while becoming who they are meant to be...that is what I was put on this earth to do.

But being a mother...caring for little human beings is not what every female is meant to do and that's just fine.  

The writer of this article states:
"Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same. It’s hard for me to believe it’s not just verbally placating these people so they don’t get in trouble with the mommy bloggers.
Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing, why on earth are we settling for average?"
I guess I respectfully beg to differ on what she calls "super easy tasks".  Finding and staying together with my husband for 25 years has been anything but easy.  Negotiating raising three kids and finding common moral ground in this crazy world isn't "super easy" either.  It has been amazing, trying, scary and boring but I would never say, that it has been "super easy".

The author goes on:
If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?
I want to have a shower for a woman when she backpacks on her own through Asia, gets a promotion, or lands a dream job not when she stays inside the box and does the house and kids thing which is the path of least resistance. The dominate cultural voice will tell you these are things you can do with a husband and kids, but as I’ve written before, that’s a lie. It’s just not reality."
The funny thing about this opinion is, she is right on.  If you were one of my buddies, I would applaud you if you backpacked through Asia, got a raise, promotion or made it through the day without screaming at one of your teenagers.  I would applaud you for doing what you do, whatever it is.  I guess it's because I am a celebrator and think we should celebrate all of our accomplishments as humans, whatever they are! 
You see, we all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses and to call another woman average because she chooses to take a different path than you choose to take is unfortunate.  As far as taking the "path of least resistance", only we know what that is and  is our own call to take and how we choose to live our lives.  We are all "wonderfully made" with gifts for all different things!
The article goes on:
"You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.
I learned from a wise 2nd grade teacher this quote..."you can do everything you want to but you just can't do it at the same time."  For me that rang true.  I was not able to raise three kids, run a house...even an average one...and work full time.  I did a lousy job at all three.  So I chose to pick the one that made my heart sing, hoping when that time was through I could find something else.  And I did.  I would say, without being humble at all, I mothered the best I could at the time and felt exceptional and now that I am a hospice nurse, I do that and feel exceptional.  But, I still have a husband and kids.  If exceptional means rich with money...forget it.  I guess I am not.  But if exceptional means that I have gone above and beyond to raise kids and to care for my dying patients...yes, I am exceptional.
Finally, the writer says:
"I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments. Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”
"Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back."
Is it the word play holding us back or just the back biting?  I mean, who cares if I stay home and you build a multimillion dollar company if we get our souls fed and make the world a better place?  I think we all need to figure out what matters...to us and to the world.  That is what will differentiate men and woman between average and exceptional.  Whatever you choose, do it well and go above and beyond...be it a stay at home mom/dad, a president of a company or both and let's honor each other always choosing to hold each other up and not push each other down.  Don't you think life is hard enough?

That's just my  two cents...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

No low T here...

Yesterday, I met the gang at school.  There are 5 to start, four  of them 17 and  one of them sixteen...all handsome boys.  Today, there are five more to show up...four more who are 17 and my oldest son who is 19.  

They loaded the back of the truck with skis, snowboards and gear they needed to spend the weekend on the slopes.  They joked and jabbed at each other while loading, but it was an easy banter and I could tell they are pretty good buddies.

As I drove the truck full of young men for an hour to the ski area, the snacks came out, one had a bloody nose and all of them laughed pretty hard at some of the stuff said.  It was a sweet time to remember back to a time when life was ahead of you and you didn't have to be a grown up.

We found our condo, unloaded all the gear and they were gone...off to get a few runs in at night before the place closed.  Two of the boys stayed  back to catch up on homework...calculus and literature.  They were quiet and thoughtful as we sat peacefully in the condo doing our own thing.  So nice...

I lead with that story because up until 3pm yesterday, life has been very intense.  I have been taking care of families and patients that cannot believe that there isn't something to do to help their loved one stay on this earth longer.  They cannot accept comfort without treatment and that soon their hearts will be broken in half from pain.  No way, no how...

While all that intensity is noble, when a patient has fought so hard and is so tired and makes the decision to spend every last minute at home being comfortable, it is a negative thing.  The patient feels like they are letting the family down or that they they want to leave them even though they are just tired.  When a person chooses comfort care neither is true...they are letting no one down and they do not want to leave...they just want relief.

Listen, I am all for treatment and for doing whatever you need to do to get well.  I am, really.  When my collegues and I walk into the home of someone who is still fighting, we honor that and do whatever we can to help.  We don't talk end of life and we pray we don't see them again.  And sometimes we do see them again and sometimes we don't.

Families are so random, so different in how they love each other, communicate with each other and handle crisis.  For a group of humans so invested in each other, there is no right way...there is only the way that family does it.  So while I describe the time as intense, I guess a better way is "intense with feelings."  The feelings are all over the place and they change from minute to minute.  The family and I could be counting our blessings that they are at home in bed comfortable and then guilty because there must be something else they could do...from contentment to guilt to fear to love and peace and back again.  

For most of my families, we wanted to have a nice Christmas or nice holidays with the kids home, grandkids home and friends over. We were very successful and the time was described as "wonderful".  Each visit after the holidays were spent rejoicing in the time spent with family, saying what needed to be said and making the most of it.  Now, three weeks later, my patients are tired and slowly shutting down.  Their race is coming to an end and although we all knew it was coming, it is just so difficult.  

My collegues and I spend a lot of time encouraging these folks and telling them how they are doing such a great job taking care of their loved ones, but that isn't enough, and it isn't enough that they are home and comfortable either.  They want all of this to be a bad dream that they want to wake up as soon as possible.  While I can try every trick in the book to make this time better and easier, it is a bad dream and also a hard time that is real.  

Believe it or not, I totally understand.  I have lived a lot of this as a family member and it feels unreal.  And, honestly, if I want to be truthful, nothing anyone said made it better.  The only thing that made it less painful was time and the fact that I felt comfort from caring for my mother as she died in a hospital bed in her livingroom.  It took years for the pain to stop stabbing and turn into an ache at the thought but then remembering how she was with us and she was comfortable helps.

So....when I got in the truck and got on the highway, the thoughts in my brain turned to living, to teenage boys, to thinking about how to feed them all and turned away from dying.  Yes, we are all going to die and yes, I believe we should have the choice to fight until our last breath or give in and find relief any way we can.  I also know that even families that meet me at the door with the family problems love and adore each other in their own way.  Yes, they do.  My job is to help in any way I can to make this transition easier for the patient and for the people the patient loves.  Then, when I do that, I have to let it go.  I have to turn my thoughts to the living, to my family, my husband and daughter and boys and the time enjoying and raising them.  Because some day, hopefully in a long time...they will care for me.

Around 8:30, the cell phone rang and the boys let my know they were on their way back and "we are starving."  I put the 4 frozen pizzas in the oven along with the 50 mozzerella sticks and set the timer.  15 minutes later, the condo door opened, snow pants, ski boots and coats were shed on the floor and they loaded their plates with junk food.  The banter started again as I sat in the corned looking at the fireplace and putting the week behind me.  I said a small prayer in my head for the families of my sweet folks for peace and good time and threw in the same for me.

This morning, I could feel the testosterone pulsing as they woke up, started getting dressed and raiding the kitchen.  My almost 50 year old body's estrogen can't even compete a little for balance but really, who cares?  The day is sunny, the snow is perfect and hopefully those boys don't have a care in the world...as it should be when you are a teenager with your whole life ahead of you.

Enjoy time now and every chance you get it...and today, I will do the same, as I hold a little spot of tenderness for my families loving and caring for their loved ones this weekend.

We'll tawk tomorrow,

I love you all,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

25 years ago...

25 years ago on January 1st, I woke up a married woman.  On New Years Eve 1988,  Jim and I stood at the altar at Prince of Peace Lutheran church and promised we would take care of each other, love each other and keep our promises to each other.

At the time, it seemed like it was gonna be easy.  I loved him, he loved me, we both had jobs, we loved animals and we loved to do fun things outside. Isn't that all you need to make a marriage work? 

Our first year was hard and intense.  There were boundaries to be established and personalities to figure out, goals to set and agree on and a puppy to train.  Let's just say that because you don't fight when you are dating, doesn't mean you don't when you are married.
We learned this the hard way...

In the years to follow, we settled into being parents and trying to be the best ones we could be.  I appreciated that in him and I am sure he appreciated that in me.  We made tons of mistakes but we never wavered on our priorities...our kids and this family.

Then they started to leave and go to college.  My Queen left in 2010 and hasn't looked back.  She will graduate next year from CU with an engineering degree.  We are so proud of her.  She is her father's daughter, quiet and smart, brave and kind.  Then in 2012, my middle son left for college.  He too, is doing well and we are so proud of him.  He is more like me, quick to open his mouth, to get a laugh out of you but no less gifted than his sister.  We have one left and he is a junior in high school.  This guy is quiet, smart and determined to get away from his two old parents and make something of himself.  Finishing strong is our goal as parents, remembering that even though the others did well, it doesn't mean we need to pay attention to him because he's got it.

It's interesting though how things work out.  After 25 years, of course things change and soon it will be back to Jim and I.  It was him and I for 2 years and then we became Mom and Dad...

He and I were never very good at taking time for ourselves.  I would hear my friends talk about "date night" and getting a sitter every week and envy their devotion to their marriage.  Or when they went on vacation and left the kids with grandma and just devoted time to each other.  I'm not sure we ever did that or wanted to...

I guess we thought pulling the band trailer and feeding the band was devoting time to each other or changing the oil in the car and taking out the garbage without being asked...now that was  a sign of deep and abiding love.  Or, coaching the boys baseball teams, watching every soccer game, or even when the kids and I would come home with another animal, (even though he begged me not to) would hurry up and figure out the cage it was to live in.  That's what I figured love and devotion to a spouse was and is.

But...soon, it is going to have to look like something else, I guess.  There is another couple of high school baseball seasons, helping with kid things and then as fast as it began, it is done.  Jim and I will be home at night...just him and me.  Wow...

Last night, the phone rang from Acuna, Mexico and on the other end was the team he and my boys were building with.  He and the boys headed out Friday after Christmas to lead a group and give a family without a home, a place to be.  They yelled "Happy Anniversary, Honey" all at once and then Jim got on and said it again.  I started to cry a little but I didn't know why.  Maybe because I wished he was home with me, or because I am so proud of the father and example he is.  Probably a little of both.  

When he got asked to lead this build over our anniversary, part of me wanted him to stay home...to want to stay home with me.  The dreamy part of me wanted him to sit on the couch and have him tell me all the things he loved about me, us and our life together over 25 years and then we would look romantically into each others eyes and share a kiss.  One of those kisses like in the beginning when it was all you could think about.  

Then I remembered who he is and who we are together and told him he should go and take his boys.   Leading builds in Mexico is the action that brings him closer to his God and makes his heart sing...anyone who has seen him on a build knows that.

I guess it's the part of the deal when we promised to take care of each other and love each other.  Over the last 25 years, we have done that part again and again.  Not in the romantic, flashy way but in the head down, plow through way that attracted me to him 26 years ago.  He was quiet and kind and thoughtful, smart and capable...all the things I wanted in the father of my children.  He has been that and more...

So the question begs...do we change what we've done for the last 25 years or do we just keep going?  If he was here and I asked him, he would say, "Well, what do you think honey?" and I would launch into some romantic notions about trips and new hobbies and more animals to which he would respond...."We could do that if you really want to."  A little later after I thought about it, I would go find him in the garage  and ask him if he wanted to sit on the couch and have a beer while I have a glass of wine and he would say yes.  After sitting for a few minutes,  he would methodically fold up the newspaper to the Soduko, find a pencil and start figuring out the numbers.  I would open my computer and we would sit in quiet comfort, every so often bringing up something to talk about but mostly just being quiet and peaceful...being comfortable.  

I guess that's not so bad for the next 25 years...is it?

So, Jim, I know you are finishing the house today and are probably smiling from ear to ear as you do it...Happy 25th Anniversary and happy new year.  Here's to those promises we made a very long time ago and to trying to keep them again for another 25!

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,