The downward spiral of worry, motherhood edition

I remember being vaguely terrified by the great unknown when I was a teenager.

My terror revolved around my irrational concern that I might get a B in Math Analysis which would result in my rejection from the college of my choice which would ruin my life.  As an end result, I’d never be employed or meet my future spouse.

Therefore, I would end up living in a cardboard box wearing ill-fitting shoes without socks for the rest of my life.  And I would have no blanket.

I specialized in the Downward Spiral of Thought.  Excellent, right?

But, of course, all the potential tragedies never happened–and other, unforeseen tragedies really did happen–but here I am anyway.  Gainfully employed, married for almost twenty-four years and raising four children.  I’m a home-owner and I have friendships that have lasted over twenty-five years.  I have been blessed and challenged in ways I never expected.

Now, I find myself peering into my children’s futures and I quake with terror because I worry they will not figure out what type of work to do.  I worry that they will not marry well.  I worry that they will never get their driver’s licenses or rent their own apartments or live happily ever after.

I’m sliding around and around the Downward Spiral but instead of worrying about my own life, I worry about their lives.

Some things never change.

Being a mother seemed impossible when the kids were babies with all the not-sleeping and the fevers and the tantrums, but now it is much worse because almost nothing is in my control.  I can’t manipulate their futures or their behavior or their achievements.

Yet, I know that the same God who had a plan for my life has a plan for my children’s lives.

I have to stop fretting.

What kind of wife are you? (Why do you ask?)

I’ve been thinking about how I’m a pastor’s wife again.

Why are pastor’s wives labeled that way?  You never hear someone introduced as a “salesman’s wife” or a “janitor’s wife” or a “truck-driver’s wife”, but if you are a pastor’s wife, you are a Pastor’s Wife first and yourself second–if anyone actually can get past the fact that you are a Pastor’s Wife.

My husband has always tried to shield me from the icky parts of his job, but it doesn’t matter to most people.  They can’t see me past the giant flashing letters that announce PASTOR’S WIFE. I’m not the person you hang out with or the one you make inappropriate jokes around or the one you want to get to know.

But you should.  Really.  If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m just a regular person, like you.  I happened to marry a man who is a pastor, but we do not sit around and discuss theology or spend hours on our knees in prayer.  (I’m ashamed to admit that, because I have expectations for a Pastor’s Wife, too, and I fail to meet them.)

He doesn’t tell me everything about his day–especially if it’s confidential.  Just so you know.  If you tell him something assuming that he’ll tell me, you are so wrong.

If you really knew me, you’d know things about me that I am afraid to type on this blog, things that might cause you to judge me because a Pastor’s Wife doesn’t watch that show or read that book or skip church for no good reason.  A Pastor’s Wife does not yell at her children or have children that balk at going to church.

I’ve done this pastor’s wife thing at four different churches.  Each time I’ve blamed myself for my failure to really connect with people.  I was too young, too busy, too shy, or I had a new baby . . . but I have felt excluded and judged and on display everywhere I’ve gone.  Maybe that’s my own perception–I do have a little problem with taking everything personally.   Okay, it’s a big problem, but awareness is the first step!

And now I’m a Pastor’s Wife again.  I hope I will be brave enough to let you see behind the curtain.  I want to drop the shield and just be a normal person and hope that people I meet will want to be my friend.

(I feel like I’m in fourth grade when I say that, so I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.  We all just want someone to play with at recess and to know that someone will save us a seat at the lunch table.)

And now he’s gone again

My husband was home for a few days.  He arrived on Monday morning and I dropped him off at the airport today.

While he was here we borrowed someone’s pick-up truck so we could throw away broken and worthless things at the dump.  (Hello, faded red sandbox, I’m talking to you.)  It was quite satisfying.

We went to a movie (Lincoln Lawyer).

We ate Chinese food.

He took my van for an oil change and a car wash.  I refuse to drive through a car wash because car washes scare me, so I wait for him to take care of that.

He played games with the kids, drove them to their various activities and took Grace to school and picked her up when it was over.

I’ve grown used to sleeping alone, so my sleep was all disrupted by his loud sleep.  While he was here, our default t.v. channel was Fox News instead of HGTV.

Now he’s gone again and I’m back to being the only adult in the house.  Only three more months of this craziness.

Product Review: 3M Natural View Screen Protector

I’ve had my iPhone for a couple of years now and can’t imagine life before the iPhone.  How did I keep up with Facebook?  How did I manage without having a phone that takes photos and video?

What did I do in those dark days before I could check my personal and work email from anyplace at anytime?  Was there a time I couldn’t check my bank balance from my phone?

Not to mention the music, photos, text messaging, and dozens of amazing apps:  Flixster, Angry Birds (!!), and Shazam, to name a few.  (I cannot, I will not live without the GPS function in my phone or having the complete Bible at my fingertips at any moment.)

But the issue with fingerprints . . . well, that is an issue.  And the worries about scratching it or damaging it are also a concern.  I can’t help it.  I’m a worrier.

I’ve always had a silicone case for it but never a screen protector because once upon a time, I saw another mom with her screen-protected iPhone and her screen was all bubbly and cloudy from the screen protector.  And I will not tolerate a bubbly, cloudy screen.

So, when the chance came to try the 3M Natural View Screen Protector, I jumped.  (Not high, because I have an aching Achilles tendon, but I jumped high enough to be chosen for this review.)

3M Natural View Screen Protector (<—That is a video about this for you visual learners.)

Putting the protector into place was simple.  (Clean the screen, remove the protector from it’s packaging and carefully smooth it on.)  Once the protector was in place, I could no longer tell that it was there . . . other than the glorious fact that fingerprints because a much smaller, easier to deal with issue.  It resists fingerprints and the ones that do appear are easy to wipe off.

Hooray for fewer fingerprints!

There is absolutely no bubbling, no cloudiness, no indication that there is a screen protector on my iPhone.  Yet there is.

It’s pretty cool.

So I can wholeheartedly recommend this product.  And I’m not just saying that because this is a compensated review.

Do you have an iPhone?  Do you love it as much as I love mine?  What’s your can’t-live-without, most favorite app?

* * *

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of 3M and received a Natural View Screen Protector to facilitate my review and a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Why I should be asleep right this second

So I have just finished working.  It’s 12:53 a.m.

In six hours and thirty-seven minutes, I will be in my minivan.  I hope to be in my right mind, but I cannot guarantee it.

I will be driving an hour and fifteen minutes from home, across a toll-bridge, to sit in the rain and watch my 13-year old play lacrosse for two hours.  Did I mention he has to be there one hour early?  So, first, I will sit for an hour with my extremely awake and chatty eight-year old daughter, probably in the van, waiting for the game to start.

She is extremely talkative.  In fact, she has been moved all around her second-grade classroom as her teacher tries in vain to place her next to someone she won’t chat with.  She feels the need to express herself pretty much all the time.

This interferes with my ability to think.

Anyway, by noon the rainy game should be over and we will return to the minivan and drive an hour to Pump It Up, a facility full of giant inflatable toys for kids to jump in while celebrating birthdays.  The party starts at 1 p.m., so I plan to drop her off, then drive twenty minutes to deliver my son at home so he can shower and put on dry clothes and begin his long day of vide0-game playing.

By the time we get home, I assume the teenagers will be stirring but I predict they will not have taken out the kitchen trash nor noticed any undone household chores.  They will be in pajama pants and their room will be full of dirty dishes.

I’ll go back to the party and endure the noise and strobe lights and pounding music.

I will try not to eat cake.

I will not eat cake.

“No cake for me, thanks!”

At 3 p.m., I will escort my sweaty daughter out of that place and head home.

By 3:30 p.m., I hope to be stretched out on my bed, reading a book on my Kindle while watching HGTV.

Wish me luck.

EDIT:  It did not rain!  Glory hallelujah!

One stinky thing leads to another

It all started with three pounds of raw ground beef.

Sunday afternoon found me snoozing under the comforter I’ve had for twenty-five years. Despite my efforts to do nothing, those three pounds of raw hamburger haunted my dreams.  I formulated a sleepy plan.

By 3 p.m., I was downstairs in the kitchen, cooking hamburger  and tidying up the kitchen.  I deposited a Zip-l0c bag of chopped onions that had been stinking up my refrigerator into the pan.  Then I decided to add some garlic to the mix.

I have a giant Costco-sized container of minced garlic.  As I reached for it, I wondered if there’s any chance I’ll be able to use it up before we move in July.  As these thoughts crossed my mind, I grabbed the lid and pulled it out of the fridge.

The loose lid gave way and the 48-ounce container plummeted to the kitchen floor.  A plume of minced garlic flew three feet across the floor, splattering the floor and wall.

Bits of garlic slid down into the heat register.

I yanked the register out of the vent and rinsed the garlic off.  Then I peered into the open vent and wondered if my kitchen would permanently smell like an Italian restaurant.  I noted a lot of crumbs and grime in the vent, and decided to vacuum it out.

Here’s where things went awry.

I looked in the front closet for my vacuum cleaner.  It was not there.

I remembered that my son had used the vacuum in his room to clean up the shards of glass produced when he accidentally (!) hit the mirror in his room with a lacrosse ball.

I went to retrieve the vacuum cleaner and noticed my 13-year old sitting in a kitchen chair playing video games.

“Hey,” I said, “Why don’t you put that chair back up?”  I gestured toward the IKEA chair I purchased for full-price not so long ago.  It was a cool purchase, in my opinion, because it transformed from a chair into a narrow bed for guests.  Perfect for the boys’ room.

“It’s broken,” one of my other sons said.

“Broken?”

“Yeah, the metal broke last night when I pulled it open.”

I lost my mind and thus unleashed a frenzy of crazed activity and expressions of frustration.  In other words, I dismantled the chair and lugged it out onto the driveway while complaining bitterly about how my children break everything all the time and WHY IN THE WORLD DO I KEEP BUYING STUFF FOR THEM?  Something like that.

My 17-year old was all about telling me to calm down and relax and to stop overreacting.  I did not feel like calming down.  Especially when I saw just how disgusting their room had become . . . balled up socks everywhere, dirty dishes on every surface and under every surface, random bits of trash on the floor and to top it all off, a clump of cat vomit in the windowsill.

I was saying things like, “How can you live like this?” and “This is disgusting!” and “I SPENT MONEY ON THOSE CHAIRS!”  (There were two chairs, now both half-broken.  The 17-7ear old did manage to combine parts from both chairs and now we have one working chair.)

By the time the balled up socks were relocated to the laundry room and the dirty dishes were returned to the kitchen and the trash was in the trashcan, I was sweaty and irritable and rather unpleasant to be around.

And I still had to vacuum out the vents in the kitchen.

(To think, I could have avoided this entire situation if only I’d stayed in bed watching the “Snapped” marathon.)

Once I finished cooking the hamburger and wiping bits of garlic off my floor and vacuuming out the vent, I went outside and pressure washed my patio.

Then I went back upstairs to my twenty-five year old comforter and ate Girl Scout cookies and read a magazine while watching television.

The moral of this story is this:  Always tighten the lid on the giant container of minced garlic.

The end.

Our family narrator

My 8-year old told me how her 17-year old brother explains things to her in great but unnecessary detail.

“He doesn’t know how to summarize very well,” she said.

She is constantly studying everyone in our family, labeling our issues and describing them to me.  This is  mostly entertaining and only sometimes mortifying, like the time she pointed out that when I yell at the boys it makes her feel very sad.

She illustrated her point with a large picture of herself crying a copious amount of dotted tears.

Of course, today’s picture shows us both in all pink (pink curly hair, pink limbs, pink faces), labeled, “Me” and “You.”  (I am very skinny, just so you know.)  She penciled in green, “I love you Mom!”  And then in purple, “You are nice cool fun and funny!”

Besides that, I know how to summarize things, unlike some people in this family.

(I tremble to think of the day when this child starts her own blog.)

Thirteen

This weekend is my son’s last birthday party here.  When he was in kindergarten, he met a boy who turned out to have the exact same birthday.  The other boy’s mother and I discovered this when they were in first-grade.  Eight boys came to my son’s birthday party and then went to his buddy’s party.  (I felt sorry for  her since they were all crazed by the time they left my house, all high on frosting and hi-jinks.)

Ever since then, we’ve held joint parties, sharing the expense and the madness of a group of hyped-up boys.

This year, they turned 13 and we’ve planned a party at a laser tag place.  I am in charge of making  cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate.  But first, I will have to buy a replacement tip for my frosting-thing because awhile ago, the garbage disposal chewed up my favorite cupcake-frosting tip.  Alas.

I can’t even remember turning 13.  You’d think it would be a memorable birthday, but for me?  I can’t remember much of anything.  I mean, it was 1978, so I can rest assured that my hair was hideous and my clothing was probably polyester and I was not watching the popular movie of the day (“Saturday Night Fever”) or seeing the Sex Pistols in concert.

I was, however, watching “Mork and Mindy” and “Happy Days” and seeing “Grease” in the movie theater.  Of that I am sure.

But I have no recollection of my birthday.  At all.

Can you remember your 13th birthday?

And now for my weekly post . . .

Where does the time go?  Why do I post so infrequently for the non-existent readers of this blog?  Will spring ever arrive?

These are questions I ponder at 2:17 a.m.  Also:  Why am I awake?

Well.  I’m awake because I just finished working a little while ago.

My husband was in town from Thursday until today.  He flew back to San Diego tonight and I daresay he wasn’t too sad to be leaving our forty-degree rainy weather.

He came to help celebrate our son’s thirteenth birthday, which we did by taking the whole family out to dinner at Famous Dave’s and then surprising our new teenagers with his very own cell phone.  Which is awesome because now instead of tromping downstairs to tell him things, I can just text him.

I love technology.

We also had two snow days last week–one was a 2 hour delay and one was a cancellation.  The snow is disappearing thanks to rising temperatures and heavy rain.  Good riddance.  I’m itching to finish pressure-washing my patio.

I watched the entire Academy Awards telecast tonight.  For once, I’d seen every single movie nominated for Best Picture.  I enjoyed the whole thing, though I admit to downloaded a book to my Kindle and sort of reading while barely listening to the boring parts.

And now, I’m going to bed.  Morning will arrive way too early.

My weekend can be summed up in two words:

Pressure washer.

I bought a pressure washer and then proceeded to pressure wash the slime and grime off backyard items and the mossy patio.

I remember very little else.  I could barely stay awake during church this morning–as much as I love Mark Driscoll’s preaching at Mars Hill–but did not get a nap today at all.

This is tragic.

The children have no school tomorrow so we’re all getting our hair cut.  We really know how to celebrate President’s Day, don’t we?

Tuesday morning my son with his bluish-purple fingernails and toenails has a doctor’s appointment.  Wednesday is lacrosse practice for another son, Thursday my husband returns home for a few days, Friday is lacrosse again, Saturday is my son’s thirteenth birthday and Sunday my husband flies back to California.

I’m kind of tired just thinking about it all.  Well, that and I’m tired because it’s 1:47 a.m. and I didn’t get a nap today.

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