Tag Archive | family

Changes

A lot has happened since I have last blogged and hopefully with time I will get a chance to document it all.  But at the moment, my mind is on Marie and the changes that has happened in the last month.   Don’t worry, all the changes have been good, but they have been changes all the same.  On the second week of May, my first-born celebrated her 8th grade graduation.  I know that 8th grade graduation is not a real huge life changing thing for most people, but for our family it is.  Graduating from 8th grade means that Marie will be leaving the small, Catholic-based, safe haven that she has known for 10 years and continuing her education at a much bigger, public school setting.  However, that is a topic for another blog.  The only reason I mention it here is because that event was the beginning of the many changes in Marie’s life…and mine.

My mother-in-law was able to fly out for the 8th grade graduation and when she flew back home, she was not alone.  Marie was given a special 8th grade graduation gift, thanks to her grandparents.  She was given the chance to spend a month of her summer with her grandmother on the East Coast.  This was partly thanks to Frank’s father, who passed away in October 2016.  Months before my father-in-law passed way, we had visited the East Coast and Marie had expressed her hope to spend some time with them during the summer.  It would give her a chance to spend time with her grandparents plus an uncle, aunt and two cousins, whom she does not see often.  So my father-in-law made sure that our daughter got to have that wish come true, even if he had to watch it from Heaven.  So my 15-year-old took off on a new adventure, many, many miles away.  The fact that she has never slept away from home for more than one night, with the exception of the week she was in the hospital, is HUGE!  Which is what leads me to this new series in my life called ‘Staying Connected’.

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Family Hugs

If you have followed my series ‘Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom’, then you know that I have camped out at my sister’s house for the last four days.  Her willingness to let me and my kids stay at her house for free is what made it possible for me to bring my kids to the One Direction concert.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to afford the road trip and the motel stay.  So I am forever in her debt for that kind gesture.

But what she gave me the last four days is more than a floor to sleep on and a bath to bathe in.  If you ask my kids, they would say that their aunt also gave us good food to eat, new toys to play with and access to their pool.  But something that my kids might not realize is that my sister and her family has given us so much more.  It’s not a tangible thing that you can pick up.  It’s a feeling that can be relayed through words and actions.  The best way to describe it is the feeling you get when you are embraced in a hug from a loved one.

My older sister and my brother-in-law has blessed my parents with seven grandchildren.  Actually 9 grandchildren when you add my niece’s husband and my brother-in-law’s nephew who we consider part of our family.  Their children’s ages range from 10 to late 20’s.  Yet the vast age difference does not matter.  The little boys are best friends with the big kids.  They are a tight-knit family.

Although my sister only has her three younger boys left at home, the older kids are in town.  With the exception of one of my nieces who is roughing it out as a camp counselor this year…in Hawaii.  Boy, that gig must be pretty sweet.  🙂  She is the only one I have not gotten to see on this trip, but I did get to talk to her briefly on the phone.

I had stood there in awe many times this past week, as I watched the older kids stop by to see us and their younger siblings.  The younger boys greet their older siblings like they haven’t seen them in months and when the older kids say goodbye, they hug everyone like this could be the last time they see them.  That gives me such a warm feeling inside.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a house full of love, but I don’t recall this much hugging going on in my childhood.  In fact, this week has made me realize that my immediate family doesn’t hug one another enough.  We hug family when they have come to visit and when we are saying goodbye, but my immediate family is not hugging one another as much as we are yelling at one another.  This is something I will work on changing in the future.

Because I want my kids to be more like my nieces and nephews.  I want my kids to love their siblings so much that they hate to see them grow up and leave our house to make their way in this world.  Not be thankful that their sibling has finally moved out so they can take over the space.  I want my family to be a hugging family too.

Yes, my sister’s family will forever be known as the Hugging Family.  Because that’s what they do, they love one another so much they have to hug each other.  And it’s not just that, they don’t just hug the younger boys and then have nothing to do with them.  They talk with them, they play with them, they help them with things.  They walk back into my sister’s home and take on the role they had in the family as if their beds were still under that roof.  They are not visitors, they are family.  The older kids might have their own place they live at, but they still belong in their parent’s home.

My wish is that my immediate family will be that way too in the future.  That Marie will still feel like she lives at our house, even if she has her own place that she calls home.  That Christopher will look at Marie’s visits as a treat instead of an invasion of his space.  I hope I can get my family to be more of a hugging family now, so that my grandkids can witness this type of bond that my sister’s family has.

I have always been strong on saying “I love you” to my family, but I’m a little weak on my physical expressions of love.  So that is something I am going to try to work on more.  To embrace my kids more, while they are still around, so that they will come back for more once they leave to make a name in this world.

So thank you big sister, for all the many things you have given me this week.  You have not only provided me with a place to lay my head and food to eat.  You did not only help me care for my kids at the concert.  You have taught me some valuable lessons about life that I had overlooked recently.  You have such a wonderful, loving family and I just want to tell you that you and your husband have sown so many wonderful seeds into this world and we are all blessed by your bounty.

Although she can’t tell you in person, I know that Mom is so very, very proud of the family that you have created and the woman who you have become.  And I am very thankful that I have you in this world to file some of the void that Mom’s death has left.  I love you sis, more than words can express.

Mini Stay-cation (Life After Layoff – Chapter 14)

The kids last day of the school year was June 3rd and Ann’s birthday was the following day.  Frank had taken some vacation days off of work Wednesday – Friday, so we have had a mini stay-cation.

Frank was able to attend the awards and field day activities that the school has on the last day of school.  I know the kids loved having him there as much as I did.  After school was out, we took the kids to the local pool for the first time this summer.  We spent an hour trying to convince Christopher to get in the water.  We got him to go in a couple of times.  Yay!

Thursday we celebrated Ann’s birthday as a family.  We went to the zoo in the heat of the day.  Boy, was that a bad idea.  I had gotten overheated the day before, so this zoo trip had to be called short due to Mom feeling nauseous.  So we went home and opened Ann’s presents and ate cake.  While I recovered in the air-conditioned house, the kids ran through the sprinkler out front.  (and got into more fights with the neighborhood kids!)

Friday was a better day for me.  I had gotten rest and was cooled down, so we took another trip to the local pool.  We were able to get Christopher in the pool more, once we borrowed a life-preserver from the pool.  It was a fun day and it was great to have the whole family spend some time at the pool.

Saturday was Ann’s birthday party with her classmates.  We had planned to have the party at a different community pool.  This pool is free of charge and goes from 1/2 ft to 3 ft.  I suppose those two factors explained why the pool was packed when we got there.  When I say packed, I mean it had hit its maximum capacity level.  Thank God the park where the pool was at also had a splash pad.

We spent about 30 minutes getting wet in the splash pad, then moved over to the pool.  Ann had a couple of her classmates and their siblings attend the party.  We swam for about 30 – 45 minutes and then the life guard said we all had to get out.  Someone had vomited in the pool and the water had to be cleaned and treated.  It was about 3:00pm by then, which was when I planned to have cake and presents.  So the party moved to the playground area.

We ate cupcakes and played for a bit. Then Ann opened her birthday presents.  Before we knew it, it was 4:00pm and the party was over.  Ann was tired and wanted to go home.  So we loaded up the cars and headed home.  The older kids were upset they didn’t get to swim for long, so after we unpacked the cars we took the kids to the local pool down the street.  It was a good day.

We wrapped up the weekend by going bowling on Sunday after mass.  The kids had a good time bowling with Frank.  They didn’t understand how Dad could keep getting strikes.  All in all, it was a good and busy stay-cation.   🙂

 

A Happy Mother’s Day…for the most part

Just a quick note to let you know that I did not end up in a padded room or a jail cell today.  Nope, I still have some of my marbles left and my kids are all still breathing.  It was a good Mother’s Day…for the most part.  Maybe that is because I had less expectations this year.  I didn’t expect to spend the day doing nothing but chillin’.  I didn’t expect my kids to be perfect angels all day long.  I didn’t expect to feel cheerful and carefree all day long.  I just expected to spend the day with my family and not have to do as much as I normally do.

Believe it or not, I had some surprises throughout the day.  Breakfast in bed, take out for lunch, gifts from my kids, an afternoon nap, some unexpected help from my children, releasing balloons to my mom and our grandmother’s in Heaven and some kind messages from my family and friends.  Yes, there were some usual moments that I’m not surprised about.  Little things like the typical whining about going to mass in the morning.  The stressful moments during mass when the kids didn’t want to behave.  The complaining from at least one kid when Frank announced we were getting KFC for lunch.  The crying child that hadn’t made a special Mother’s Day gift at school for mom.  The typical bickering that my kids do every weekend.  The typical requests from the kids to help them with something they want to make or do.  The typical fight to help with a siblings school project.  The 9:00 pm crazy children routine.  These are all things that did not surprise me.  Because they are typical on a special holiday like Mother’s Day.

I guess you could say that I gave myself a special Mother’s Day gift to myself today.  I just let the day play out and did my best not to get upset or disappointed.  Yes, there were sad moments when I posted on Facebook, my message of love to my deceased mother.  Yes, I did say aloud a few times today, “Happy Mother’s Day to me!” with a sarcastic meaning behind it, because of some situation that my kids were in the middle of.  Like a glass of water being spilled or an argument that started between two of the kids or some stupid thing that resulted in some child crying.  However, all in all, it was a pretty good day.  I hope it was the same for all the other mothers out there in this world.  I hope there was at least one thing they can look back on and smile about.  Even if it’s just a look on one of their children’s faces or a kind word that reached deep, deep down in their heart.

Happy Mother’s Day to the toughest humans alive, because motherhood ain’t for sissies!  😉

To All The Mothers

Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I thought it would be appropriate to salute the life of a mother.  I am speaking out for all those mother’s out there, in the trenches, raising one, two, three or more kids.  This one is for you!

Don’t judge me…if you stop by my house and see the pile of dirty AND clean clothes that have not been cared for.  Although laundry should be a simple task, sometimes things get out of hand.

Don’t judge me…if my kids are late for school all the time.  Although the reasons may sound lame, sometimes the tardiness is due to a simple thing like finding a clean pair of underwear, matching socks or a lost shoe.

Don’t judge me…if you wonder why my kids or I appear to be disheveled.  Although we do our best to look presentable, sometimes we might forget to run a comb through our hair before we rush out the door.

Don’t judge me…if you see me pulling into a parking spot and notice my kids are not buckled or sitting in the proper spots.  Although I know it is a law and it’s for the child’s safety, sometimes things happen during the drive.

Don’t judge me…if you see a photo that was posted on Facebook of my family and you notice a lot of stuff scattered all over the place.  Although I would like nothing more than to have a tidy and clean house, I have not found a magic wand that would make all the stuff disappear.

Don’t judge me…if you think my kids have too many toys.  I am aware that they do, however, you are only young once.

Don’t judge me…if you notice miscellaneous things scattered in my yard.  They are most likely things that my kids have found, destroyed, invented or forgotten while they were playing with their friends.

Don’t judge me for these things and many, many more.  Because I have done more than enough judging for the both of us.  The worst critic to a mother is herself.  There are many times that a mother is walking around with this guilt of what they should have done.  In fact, there are probably times when they are sure someone is judging them and honestly, the only one that is point the finger is the mother in question.

We have this preconceived notion of what we should do as a mother.  We want the best for our kids, but sometimes the best is not within arms reach.  That’s when we have to accept the fact that we have to settle for being mediocre in some areas.

In a perfect world, my kids would pick up after themselves.  Keeping our house and yard spotless.  Getting themselves to bed at a decent hour and ready to jump out of bed and get to school on time.  In a perfect world, my kids would understand why it is important to be in the proper seat with their seat belts on.  In a perfect world, my kids would help with chores like laundry and there would be enough room in our house to put away the clean clothes.  In a perfect world, moms would not be so tired and stressed all the time.

But you see, it’s not a perfect world.  There isn’t a survival guide to read when you are a mom.  If there is, I can guarantee that for most moms there isn’t enough time in the day to read the survival guide.  There is no such thing as a quiet, stress free, car ride with children.  There is no such thing as a clean and tidy home that is really ‘lived’ in.

Kids are messy, that’s a simple fact.  Some might be more willing to clean up after themselves, some of the time, but all in all it’s normally up to the mother.  A mother has to choose between being a constant maid and servant of her child(ren) or actually be part of the family and just belong.  I choose the latter.

Yes, I want my kids to look their very best.  I want them to be on time for school and to be properly buckled in a vehicle.  I want my house to be less of a minefield of toys and my yard to look less like a city dump.  But I also want my kids not to fight with each other all the time.  I want the luxury of not worrying about money.  I want everything in its proper place.  But I also want to enjoy the time I have with my kids and capture the precious moments of my kids being young and carefree.

If you want to put a smile on a mother this Mother’s Day, tell them they are doing a good job.  Trust me, they need to hear that.  Because in their mind, they are wondering why they can’t be as ‘together’ as those other moms.  They are doubting every decision they make and they are praying that they are not screwing up the child(ren) God blessed them with.  They are doing their best and they need to hear some reassuring words from their loved ones.  It is the simplest gift you can give a mother on Mother’s Day, yet it’s not done nearly enough.

{Side note:  In regards to the seat belt situation, I want it to go on record that with the exception of running up the block to the school, I make sure my kids are buckled in the vehicles.  However, that does not mean that my kids might not try to unbuckle the seat belt before we get to our destination.  On times like that, I do my best to get one of the other kids to try to get the other child buckled again.  Whether or not they are successful depends on the day and time.  I have thought to myself many times that I will feel so guilty if one of my kids ever gets hurt in a vehicle because of me not taking responsibility over the seat belt issue.  However, I think back to my childhood and to people I know that would have not survived a car wreck if they were wearing their seat belt.  So instead of over thinking the situation, I just pray to God that the family makes it to their destination safely.}

It’s My Turn!

I’ve been a mom for 13 years now and you can imagine how many times I have heard the phrase, “It’s my turn!” being spoken.  Not by me, mind you, but by my children and by my children’s friends.  It gets to be like a skipped record that never stops.  Well, I finally decided that this time, it’s MY turn.

I have survived the loss of my mother and in my opinion, kept it together.  The last few years of her life was not easy.  During the most stressful and traumatic times of her health issues, I was working a full-time job and pregnant with my fourth child.  I was 40 years old and although it might not have looked very graceful, I kept it together.

Two years later, my 11-year-old daughter had to have brain surgery to remove a tumor.  During that time, the future of my job was questionable and our financial situation was not the best, but I kept it together.

These past few years, I have had a handful of friends pass away unexpectedly.  I have lost a job that I had worked at for fifteen years.  I have entered into a new world of substitute teaching and being a stay at home mom.  Even then, I have kept it all together.

So it occurred to me tonight, that the way I have behaved the last two weeks is justifiable.  Because, it’s my turn!  Everyone else seems to get a turn, so this time, it’s my turn.

It’s my turn to be sick and stay in bed as much as I need to.  Even if it means the rest of the family has to fend for themselves.  Yes, I have slacked on the upkeep of the housework.  But there are many capable hands that can wash a spoon or dig through the pile of clean clothes to find their own underwear.  Because it’s my turn to not be the hub of this household, just for once.

It’s my turn to wait for family members to call me with information about my dad’s health.  Instead of being the lead on all the new information and being the first to call or post Facebook updates asking for prayers for my family.  Even if I feel guilty doing it, it’s my turn to share or copy my siblings Facebook messages about my dad, because I’m not able to convey the news as well as they can right now.

It’s my turn to not go the extra mile and physically dress some of my children who are too tired to get out of bed for school.  Even if that means my children might show up an hour late for school.  It’s my turn to sleep most of the day, due to the emotional stress of my life at this moment.  Because sometimes you just have to shut down.

To my family and friends, it probably seems a little strange to see me react this way to my Dad’s health issues.  It’s not that I am not worried and scared, because I am.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not whining because I feel like no one is helping me.  On the contrary, I am stating all of the things that I feel guilty for doing right now. (Or NOT doing right now)  My family and friends have stepped up to the plate and been there for me, without complaining.

I guess, without even realizing it, I decided it was my turn to not be in charge.  Instead, it was my turn to just be.  A Facebook friend posted this picture on her wall the other day and it speaks volumes of how I am feeling right now.

 

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I strongly believe that we are in each other’s lives for a reason.  That’s why I would like to thank all of my family for allowing me “to just show up” for the moment.  Because that is all I am capable of doing right now.  I know there will come a time that I will take the lead again.  But for now, it’s MY turn to just be.

P.S.  My dad is doing much better.  He’s more responsive and has been moved out of the ICU and into an acute/long-term facility where he can recoup.  Thank you for your prayers during this difficult time.

Please Stop the Ride, I’d Like to Get Off!

My life is a roller coaster ride and right now I want more than anything to have the ride stop, so I can get off.  I am a mother of four and a wife of a diabetic.  This I can handle…most of the time.  I am going to be 45 years old in a few months, so you could say I am definitely a seasoned adult.  A pretty tough and strong adult that has stood her own ground.

BUT, I am also the baby girl of my parents.  My mom has been sent to Heaven to be there to greet me when I arrive.  My dad is still on this earth, but we don’t know for how long.  So currently, this little girl would like the ride of life to stop, so I can get off.  I want to go to my bed, pull my covers over my head and sleep until everything is over.  Because my Daddy is in the hospital and I’m not so sure he’s going to make it out alive.

Bare with me, as I create a timeline of the past few weeks.  I am honestly doing this for my benefit, not yours.  Because time really has went by too fast and I can’t keep up.

  • Saturday, Feb. 21st – I spoke to my Dad on the phone.  His surgery that was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23rd was postponed to Wednesday, Feb. 25th.  As we spoke that day, I commented that it was a good deal he had to wait, because he did not sound well.  He had a bad cough and was taking an antibiotic for some sort of infection.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25th – Dad has surgery on some disc in his neck and the surgery went fine.  He had had trouble with his legs and the doctor said there was a pinch nerve in his neck that was causing the problem.
  • Thursday, Feb. 26th – I spoke to my Dad on the phone, but the conversation was short.  I had come down with the flu, but had not been diagnosed yet.  I was coughing so bad, that I was losing my voice.  My Dad’s surgeon had to operate through the front of his neck to get to the spot he needed.  So my Dad’s esophagus was swollen and that made his speech was very heard to understand.
  • Friday, Feb. 27th – I believe my Dad was released from the hospital to go home and heal.  I have to go with that theory, because I was so sick that I don’t remember.
  • Saturday, Feb. 28th – My Dad had trouble breathing, so my step-mom, Naomi, brought him to an Urgent Care during the day where he was given a breathing treatment.
  • Sunday, Mar. 1st at 12:44am – Naomi calls to tell us that Dad had still been struggling to breathe, so she brought him to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted into the hospital and placed on a breathing tube.  Naomi said he was critical, but stable.  The doctors had told her that Dad was breathing with his chest muscles until they got tired, then he started struggling to breathe.  They are thinking he has pneumonia.
  • Monday, Mar. 2nd – The results from the throat culture had not come back yet, but they were treating him with three different antibiotics to knock out the infection.  He had been sedated when they put him on a respirator, but he had woke once.  They tried to lower the respirator and he was breathing without the machine, but they had to sedate him again, because he was getting to irritated.
  • Tuesday, Mar. 3rd – Dad was doing well.  They were treating him for pneumonia and they were sucking out some thick brown mucus from his lungs.  They had the respirator at 20 breaths a minute.  But when they cut it back to 9 breaths a minute, Dad was overriding the machine.  They are hoping to have him off of the respirator by tomorrow.
  • Wednesday, Mar. 4th – They had removed the respirator off of my Dad and they said he had the nasty type of pneumonia.  Things were looking up.  Although he was still in the ICU, they were hoping to get him to a regular room soon.
  • Friday, Mar. 6th – Dad was still in ICU, but still off of the respirator.  The speech pathologist check to see if he could swallow properly and he could not.  That was probably because in the short span of four days, my dad had two respirators down his throat and had his esophagus irritated during the operation.  Not to mention the infections he had fought before and after the surgery.  So at this moment, he was getting fed through an IV.
  •  Saturday, Mar. 7th – I got a call from the daughter of my Dad’s close friend, George.  She wanted me to know that her dad had passed away to cancer that morning.  When I heard the news, I called Naomi and advised her NOT to tell Dad about it yet.  She was already thinking the same thing.  Although dad was getting better, he was still very weak.  He still had a swollen throat, so he couldn’t speak well.  The news about his friend’s death would cause him to cry and build up more mucus, which he didn’t need now.  Plus, he would want to speak to George’s wife and his voice was not good enough yet to have a clear phone conversation.  On the up side, they had placed my dad in a normal room.  But he had a sitter assigned to his room, because he kept trying to get out of bed and was too weak to stand.
  • Sunday, Mar. 8th – My dad was placed back in ICU.  He was having too much trouble breathing.  They had said he had some carbon dioxide built up in his lungs.  So they were putting him on a breathing machine that would help him.  They didn’t want to put him on a ventilator again, if they didn’t have to.  So they had him on some type of CPAP by-pass machine.

It was at this time that I had to throw the ugly question out there. (That’s what my sister called it, “the ugly question”)  LOL  I sent a Facebook message to my siblings:

“I’m throwing this out there, because I don’t know the answer.  At what point do we need to talk about going to see Dad?”

I asked the question that none of us wanted to ask.  At what point do you say, that’s it…I’m going to the hospital?  Because it’s not like he is in the hospital a few blocks away.  We are all in different states.  In fact, my oldest brother and I are the closest to Dad and it will be a 12 hour drive for both of us.  So we had a conference call and decided to wait to see what my brother learned from the doctors on Monday.

Of course, my brother was not able to speak to a doctor on the phone today, but he spoke to Dad’s nurse.  The nurse said he didn’t think my brother needed to get on the next plane immediately, but that Dad was critical.  So my ever-wise brother found out that this nurse started his shift at 7:00am and would be getting off work at 7:00pm.  My brother made arrangements to call this nurse tonight, before he gets off of duty to see how Dad has been in the past 12 hours.  Hopefully, the nurse will be able to tell him if he’s seen any improvement or sudden decline of my Dad’s health.  Then we will make our plans for the next step.

Now do you see why I want this ride to stop?  I do not want to be on this roller coaster ride of unknowns.  I want to be a little kid again, with my mom and dad by my side and not have to worry about illness, death or responsibility.  Yes, I am shutting down.  Because just like a computer, a human’s brain can get overloaded and burn out.  So if anyone has a way to turn back time or can stop the roller coaster ride that I am currently on, I’d appreciate it.  I just need to get a chance to get my feet firmly planted to the ground for a minute and take a few deep breaths.  Because I’m not so sure I’m ready for what is coming up around the next turn.

I know I don’t need to ask, but I will.  Please pray for my Dad and Step-mom.  For me and my siblings and for all of our kids.  And for my Dad’s brother, during this difficult time.  We are all trying to keep it together and we will, but only by the grace of God.

P.S.  Thank you for letting me walk through the past few weeks with you.  It made me see that my Dad has fought and that we do have things to be thankful for.

Cabin Fever

I need to share with you the ‘not-so-lovely’ week I had.  Right before my Dad’s surgery, my youngest daughter Ann became sick.  She had a fever and a rash over her chest and back.  We took her to the doctor to discover that she had scarlatina Strep.  Which I find out through WebMD is also called Scarlet Fever.  “CRAP!” I thought while I was reading this.  But I did feel better in knowing that if treated it’s not as deadly as I had imagined.  So that gave me comfort in knowing that we were one step ahead of the game.

Ann was quarantined to the house and placed on bed rest and medicine. However, two days after Ann’s doctor appointment, I started getting sick.  I had a bad cough, congestion and chills.  So the day after my Dad’s surgery, I speak to him over the phone and neither of us could speak very well.  It was the mute speaking to the mute.

Instead of getting any better, I got worse.  My cough got worse, to the point it would shake my body when I coughed.  I had a headache, body ache, fever, chills…I was sick.  I made it to an Urgent Care later that evening and was diagnosed with Influenza  A.

Now this couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Ann was about to return to school after being out for two days.  Which was good, since Marie was scheduled to go to a school competition out-of-town that I had volunteered to drive for.  However, we had one of our good vans in the shop and it had not been fixed yet.  So I was hoping that the van would be repaired in time and Ann would be well in time for me to drive to the competition.

Then I get the flu!  What next?  I probably shouldn’t have asked, cause then my Dad gets admitted into the hospital and put on a ventilator.  My previous stories probably have you thinking that I am an unshakable woman of God.  Well, I’m not.  I am as human as the rest of you and all I wanted was my Mommy.  😦

My favorite saying is, “God works in mysterious ways.” and I’d have to say that he did not disappoint me this time around.  God knows what we need and how we react to things.  I look back now and know that all that transpired the last week was God’s divine mercy.  Some could say it was a test of faith, but I look at it as necessary distractions.

Ann had gotten over her strep and the weather caused the school competition to be postponed to the following Tuesday.  I was bedridden with the flu or at least I tried my best.  But any mother of four knows that it’s a little impossible to be sick and be a mom.  As much as I tried to delegate to the others in the house, I still ended up doing things that I shouldn’t have done.

Which is why my two sons were the next victims of the Influenza A.  So having me drive for Marie’s school competition that Tuesday was out of the question.  Which really bummed me out, cause I was looking forward to seeing her compete.  But I see now that God knew what was best.  Even though I was feeling better, I was not completely over the flu.  I would get drained easily and my patience threshold was a lot lower than it normally is.

I truly lost track of time.  There were so many people staying home from school and so many snow days being called, that I had no idea what day it was.  February went out as a blur and March came in as a blur.  So between illness and bad weather conditions, I have been home bound for too long.  I can see how people could get cabin fever during a blizzard.  It’s enough to make you go crazy.  But thankfully, I survived and the kids did too.  Oh, if you were wondering if Frank ever got sick…Yes he did.  See Frank, I told you I should have stayed in bed.  🙂  Surprisingly enough, Marie never did get sick.  Thank goodness.

Mother Gravity

I am sure that you have noticed by now, that I am a pretty straight forward kind of woman.  People will hear me say, “I am, who I am” and sometimes the person will reply back, “Are you Popeye the sailor man?”  🙂  No, that I am not, but I don’t get embarrassed easily.  In fact, I’m the first to laugh at something dorky that I have done.  I guess you could say that I am a little twisted, because I will think to myself, “Boy, wait until my friends hear about this one.”

With that said, let me tell you my latest endeavor and the lessons that I have learned.  My husband and I decided to treat our kids to a surprise trip to an indoor trampoline park.  If you have never heard of a place like this, think of it as an upgraded version of a birthday party bouncy house place.  But instead of inflatable slides, you have wall to wall trampolines to jump on.

My children had been invited to a birthday party before, were we had experienced this new bounce craze.  Ever since that party, they have wanted to go back.  In fact, many times during their Christmas Vacation, they asked if they could go.  Well, due to a few reasons, I had not been able to take them yet. Little things like money and car problems would not allow it.  Not to mention the fact that I would be taking them alone, since Frank got to escape to work for 9+ hours each work day.  I am the first to admit that I am amazing, but I know my limitations.  I was not going to go to this big place, alone, with four kids.  I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes on all of them at once and they would not want to stay together.

So I suggested to Frank that we should take them there on the last Saturday of the kid’s Christmas Vacation.  I decided that it would be a good end to a long drawn-out two weeks together.  Okay, the truth was that I wanted to get them out of the house to work off some energy.  What better way to do that than to bounce it off.  Besides, I was getting so stir crazy from being with these kids, that I wanted to do some bouncing of my own.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am not the athletic kind of mom.  I am not “in shape” and I definitely could lose more than a few pounds.  But as I said, “I am, who I am”!  I am a duplicate of my mother and proud of it.  You couldn’t hug my mom around the waist and clasp your hands together.  She was the definition of what a friend’s niece called “loveliness” or what some people in the past would call “A woman with a lot of girth”.  That was my mom and I was not ashamed to be like her.  Because it’s not what the person looks like on the outside that matters, it’s their beauty on the inside.  I could go on and on about the weight thing, but that is another story entirely.  However, for this story, I think you can understand that I was about to participate in an activity that would not show my most flattering side.  But sometimes you have to live a little and just throw caution to the wind.  Besides, there wasn’t anyone there that knew me, except my family.

So off to the trampoline place we went and I was ready to jump.  Well, I say I was ready to jump, but I was wrong.  I was not as ready as I thought.  Like I said earlier, I have learned a few lessons that I will not soon forget.  Once we got on our jumping socks, we headed for the trampolines.  Like I said, there is wall to wall trampolines to jump on, with padded barriers covering the trampoline frames.  Plus a trampoline wall, so to speak, so there is no way to fall off of the elevated trampoline.  It’s heard to explain, but I have to say it’s a pretty darn clever idea.

I hadn’t been on a trampoline since I was Marie’s age, so what I experienced might have been typical.  There is probably a scientific term for what I experienced, but I will call it “Mother Gravity”.  I took my first jump on the trampoline and while my body went up, my bladder content went down.  Yep, I had tinkled in my pants.  Just a bit, nothing my pantiliner wouldn’t catch.  So I stopped and suggested the little ones go potty with me, for their purposes.  😉

After our potty break, we went to bounce again.  Same thing, I would jump and Mother Gravity would rear its ugly head.  Did that stop me, nope.  I was having fun with my kids and I didn’t care.  Besides, I had my pantiliner to protect me from embarrassing accidents.  Did I wear the pantiliner purposely for this event, heck no!  I wear a pantiliner on a daily basis to keep me dry during the moments when I yell at my kids so loud that I lose all bladder control.  Or on those occasions when I’m walking along and sneeze or cough too hard and don’t have time to brace myself.  Or when I laugh so hard that I pee my pants.  Yes, my name is JoAnn Williams and I can’t control my bladder! I need to find some sort of bladder control support group or something.

I suppose this fact should embarrass me, but instead, I carry it like a medal.  I am a 44-year-old mother of four and I have every right to have a weak bladder.  I am woman, hear me roar.  (but there will probably be some tinkling during that roaring).  🙂  So as you can imagine, the more fun I had jumping, the wetter my pantiliner got.  But I bounced on, because I didn’t care.

Thankfully, I was wearing heavy blue jeans, so they helped absorb the little accidents that I was having.  Besides, when you are jumping on a trampoline, you sweat big time.  You don’t know your sweating, until you take a break and the breeze isn’t there to dry the sweat.  Then you realize your sweating your butt off.  What a way for a workout, too bad I couldn’t afford to make this a weekly fitness routine.  I was having fun and exercising at the same time.

Thirty minutes into our jumping Mother Gravity kicked in even stronger.  I’m not sure if it was from the fact that I was getting tired and couldn’t hold my stomach muscles as well or if it was from the laughing, but it wasn’t good.  My husband was taking a selfie on solid ground with me jumping in the background.  When I noticed what he was doing, I jumped over to a closer trampoline.  I was laughing so hard at what the pictures probably looked like, that I lost it all.  Yep, I peed my pants.  I didn’t just tinkle, the flood gates opened up.  LOL  I instantly made a dash to the restroom, with my little kids hot on my heals.  Because mom can’t go anywhere without my youngest following me.  I made it to a restroom stall and confirmed what had happened.  I am a grown adult and I peed my pants in public.  Oh well, it happens.

Now, most women would have packed their family up and headed home, but I’m not most women. We paid for a whole hour of jumping and the fact that Mother Gravity caused me to have an accident didn’t mean that I had to ruin my kids fun.  So what do you do when your pantiliner is so saturated that it doesn’t even want to stick anymore?  I don’t know what you would do, but I decided to use the napkins that I had in my pocket to create a make-shift pantiliner.  In fact, this could be how the first pantiliner was invented.  Who knows?!?!?!

Due to the fact that my ‘Loveliness’ causes me to look like an overstuffed teddy bear, I was pleased to discover that the area of my jeans that was wet was not noticeable to the human eye, if I was standing with my feet together.  For once, I was thankful for my extra padding.  🙂  So I decided to go back out and finish our jump time.  I didn’t jump quite as freely, but I did jump.  I had fun with my family and didn’t care how many fluids were coming out of me.  I must note that if the pee had run down my leg, things would have ended differently.

I know you are thinking that I was too embarrassed to tell my husband and kids.  Heck no, “I am, who I am”!  In fact, those selfie photos that my husband took, with me in the background, will forever be referred to as the pee pee photos.  LOL  Cause that is when mom actually lost it all.  When we recall this event in the future, I will remind them that I was a mother of four and had a valid reason to have such bladder problems.

Does this story mean that I will not be going to an indoor trampoline park again to jump?  Heck no, it means that next time I will come prepared.  I’ll be sure to wear an overnight maxi pad to hold the access fluids.  Heck, I might go and invest in some Depends just for those occasions.  Who knows?  But a little bit of tinkling isn’t going to stop this mom from having fun.

By know, you might be wondering why I shared this embarrassing story with you.  Because I believe I am not the only mother to experience this.  I truly believe that motherhood causes things like this to happen.  Your body cares an unborn baby for 9-weeks and it makes things a little weaker.  Is that a crime, no it’s reality.  Then for the next 5, 6, heck 9 years of that child’s life, the mother is still carrying them at some time or another.  It’s what a mom does, it’s part of the job.  But the weaker bladder doesn’t make the mom weaker, it makes the mother’s bond with the child that much stronger.  It’s a medal to be worn proudly.

It just occurred to me that there could be one more reason that might make my experience a little more different from some other mothers.  All four of my child were delivered as c-sections, not natural childbirth.  So that might play into some of my abdominal weaknesses as well.  So if you are a mother that delivered your child(ren) naturally and you don’t have this issue, it could be because of my c-sections.  But I do believe that all mothers would have some degree of “Mother Gravity” happen if they jumped on a trampoline.  If that is the case, then welcome to the club, the MGC (Mother Gravity Club).  I am willing to be the president of the club, but don’t be surprised if I need to run to the restroom if I start to cough, sneeze or laugh to hard during the meetings.  It’s just who I am!  😉

Work Families

If you work for a company with a lot of employees, you most likely have a work family.  If the company is small, all the employees are part of your work family.  If the company is large, your department is probably your work family.  If you have moved from one department to another throughout your working career, you probably have two work families (or step work family, if you will).  I think you get my drift.

Work families, just like your blood relatives, come in every shape, size and color.  You have some that you are extremely close to and others that you would rather not invite to your home.  Just like your crazy Uncle, cousin, Aunt, etc…you also could have a crazy work family member.  It just occurred to me that I might be the crazy work family member.  If so, I’m doing a great job.  LOL

Anyway, the point is that if you work outside of the home, you have another family that is part of your life.  Actually, you probably know more about your work family’s life, than you do your cousin’s.  And scary as it may seem, you spend more waking hours with your work family, than you do with your immediate family.  This means that your work family probably has more influence on your life, than your blood relatives do.

With that said, let me tell you about my work family.  My work family is sort of like the United Nations.  There is a variety of religious beliefs, generations, cultures, geographic upbringing, etc.  But there is one thing that we all have in common.  We all are there for each other…and we all would love to win the lottery and quit our jobs.  LOL

One of my work family members (I’ll call her Mary) passed away today.  She would probably be the equivalent of an Aunt to me, if you were going by age.  I didn’t work with her side by side, but being on the same office floor, day after day, makes it impossible not to get to know each other.  At least it is for me, since I’m a people person.  🙂

My “Aunt Mary” was someone who always had a grin on her face.  And when she laughed, she really laughed.  She was raised in a different generation than I was and I would surprise her when I knew some of the “old time” sayings and songs.  I loved to joke with her and she would give it right back.  Her job required a lot of printing and I would tell her that if she didn’t stop, she was going to get attacked by squirrels for stealing their home.  One of my nicknames for her was “Tree Killer”.  LOL

It is sad to say, but I don’t remember if I told her goodbye and good luck the day before her surgery.  I knew she was having surgery and would be out for a while, but I didn’t think she would have complications from it and die.  Makes a person stop and think about what we take for granted.

But through the sadness and shock, I rejoice in knowing that after struggling in the hospital for about a week and a half, she is no longer in any pain.  She is now walking among the angels in Heaven and has had the honor to see God.  How can I not rejoice for her?  She is in a much better place than I am.  She has won the lottery, so to speak.  🙂

There was one other thing that made me both sad and happy at the same time.  Through this ordeal, with the help of Facebook, I befriended her two daughters.  I knew “Aunt Mary” had two daughters and a grandson, but I had only met them once in the office.  “Aunt Mary” spoke often of all of them and was proud of them.  But it wasn’t until now that I had been in touch with either of the girls.  What I found, when I became friends with “Aunt Mary’s” daughters on Facebook, was that she had two very spiritual girls.

They both are younger than I am, but they have the kind of spiritual wisdom that my mother had.  When they posted prayer requests on their walls for their mom, they always included praise to God.  When it was becoming clear that their mother was not going to recover and was ready to leave this earth, they gave her permission, so to speak, to go home to Heaven.  They told her that they loved her and would miss her, but that they would be okay.  When their mom’s spirit left her body, they posted that she was dancing in Heaven alongside the angels.

They have been very strong through this whole ordeal.  They will greatly miss their mother, like all children do when their mother dies.  However, I pray that they can keep that faith in God that their mother taught them.  I pray that they will find comfort in times of sorrow, knowing that they have their mother watching over them from Heaven above.  I pray that they continue to reach out to their friends, as they have done this past week, and ask for help when it seems too hard to go on.  I pray that they will keep “Aunt Mary’s” legacy alive.

So what is the moral of this story?  I suppose you could say that the moral is to stop and look around you.  The people you work with are your work family.  You spend five days a week with them.  When times are rough, they are normally right there with your blood relatives, wanting to help you in any way.

So it is your choice to be the well-loved cousin, the crazy Uncle, the nagging Aunt or the critical Grandma.  You get to choose how much your work family knows about you and your immediate family.  Yes, just like with every family, there will be fights, laughter, bickering, joking, crying and celebrations.  That’s what life is all about.

I’m not sure what role you will choose to take, but for me, I think I’ll continue to be the well-loved, loony, cousin/sister that I feel I have always been.  I will accept my role into this work family and I will be there for my family members, during good AND bad times.  Cause life is too short and you never know if the last time you tell your co-workers goodbye, it might not be the last time.

You will be missed “Aunt Mary” and I am very glad to have known you.

Rest In Peace