Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A note to future me

Today, things are good.

My health is good.  My kids are healthy.  My husband is healthy.
My marriage is fun.  It's happy.  We're communicating.  We're intimate.
My parenting is under control.  For now.
I have friends who love me and support me.
I'm seeking the Lord.

But thats... today.

Life is far from perfect, but with how things stand today, I can face tomorrow.  Sure, there are rooms in my home that aren't clean.  Of course there are things in my marriage I'd improve.  One kid has bad eczema that she itches until it bleeds.  I just wish it would go away.  One kid peed her pants THREE times yesterday.  I've had a headache for a few days now.  But those things?  I can handle those things.

There have been days, lots of days recently, that I just didn't know if I could do another day.  Seriously. I couldn't seem to see past the end of the day, and see that things could ever be different.  Sometimes I tend to get stuck in a deep hole of doubt; I convince myself that this bad day will last forever.  When you're in the midst of a string of bad days (weeks, months... years), it's hard to imagine life ever being happy again.  Or easy.  Or different.

I remember being pregnant with my first baby, and laying on my bedroom floor in tears because of sciatic pain.  The pain in my back and legs was so stifling that I cried, imagining myself never being able to get down on the floor and play with my baby because of the pain.  I'd never go to the park with her, I'd never ride a rollercoaster with her, and piggy back rides?  Forget it!  But oh, that pain was temporary.  However, in that moment, I couldn't imagine not feeling it.  I thought sciatic pain would be my constant companion through pregnancy and beyond.

I've had dark days as a mom, where my yelling and impatience got the best of me and I wanted to give up.  I was sure my kids would remember a childhood marked by a grumpy mom.  I imagined every day of my life being filled with anger towards my kids who wouldn't listen.  There have been times I resented them for turning me into such a grouch.

And marriage.  Ohhhh marriage.  I've had days when I wanted to throw in the towel.  It's hard.  We've gone through those phases where we're just roommates, coexisting and sharing few words or loving glances.  We've confronted tough stuff that would've been easier to avoid.  It's in the midst of those conversations that I have to fight the urge to run away because I just can not imagine it ever being fun or light-hearted again.  I've caught myself believing that it will always be a state of misery and feeling stuck.

I've walked the dark road of depression.  A heavy fog surrounds you and suffocates you.  You feel alone and scared and without hope.  I honestly couldn't remember how it felt to be happy, and I couldn't imagine feeling joy again.  

Today... things are good.  But I don't know what tomorrow has in store.

And so I'm writing my future self a note to remind her that things can be good.  That the bad doesn't last forever.  It's a cycle.  Things felt good... things felt bad... things turned good again... things WILL feel bad again.  Repeat.  

I don't have this false sense that life is good today and always will be.  John 16:33 says "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  It's not a surprise that life isn't easy.  But today I'm recognizing that there is HOPE.  Hope that the God who brought me through it before will do it again.

- - -

Dear future Angie who feels like life is going to swallow you whole,

You've got this.  God's got this.  It - whatever that may be - won't last forever.  Remember that day not too long ago when things felt good?  When you realized that you'd made it through dark days and emerged triumphant?  You will again.

Things might feel yucky today.  Tomorrow might be another story.  Hang in there.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'"
Lamentations 3:22-24

From the Angie who made it another day

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You won't die if you buy your valentines. It's true.

'Twas the week of Valentine's Day, when all through the town,
Moms stressed their little hearts out, for what was about to go down.
Pinterest was open on laptops and phones,
And cutesy ideas earned eye rolls and groans.
The children were oblivious to the anxiety brewing,
Because all they wanted was more Rainbow Looming.
The day was soon coming when to school kids would bring
The most perfect Valentine ever, an impressive thing.

When all of a sudden, mom said "This is it!"
She forgot to make dinner and ignored baby's fit.
She'd combed every blog, Pinterest board, and web page,
And at last found the one that would set the stage.
A Valentine with words so witty and punny,
Glitter that sparkled and glue that was runny.
"But no! I want Planes! I want LEGO or Mickey!"
Said the kids whose mom was really quite picky.
Mom was on a mission, it would surely impress!
(Wasn't that the goal? She'd never confess.)
She stayed up til midnight, til one and til two,
'Til her masterpiece was finished, the bags under her eyes too.

And so her kids took the Valentines to school,
They ate candy hearts and got things that were cool.
The truth is no one cared about the Pinterest bash,
And within 24 hours, they were all in the trash.
Oh sure, they were cute; they were funny and sweet.
But in the end, did her expectations they meet?
She stressed a lot over something so petty and dumb,
When her kids would've loved just handing out gum
(With a card saying "I'm stuck on you" -- no STOP!)
It's easy to get caught up in the comparison game,
And you know what?  It's really rather lame.
Let's stop trying too hard and feeling bad in the end.
Let's be real with each other.  Let's not pretend.

- - -

I started writing this poem out of frustration, and I know it's kind of extreme.  I'm all for creativity.  I run a business that thrives on creativity, and my hands and brain always have to be coming up with something.  A week ago when I realized Valentine's Day was right around the corner, I took a deep breath, pulled up Pinterest and began my obligatory search.  And then NO.  NO!  I looked at all that's on my plate right now and realized I didn't need one. more. thing.

I had to stop and question my motives.  Why did I feel like I needed to make creative, unordinary Valentines with for my kids this year, especially when I just plain don't have it in me?

We feel the pressure to, that's why.  Every year it seems like the creative Valentine ideas get bigger and better and more creative and more, more, more.  We feel like we need to keep up or be left behind in ordinary land.  If we succumb to pre-printed, generic, store-bought Valentines, we're sell-out moms who clearly don't love our kids.  We're moms that don't have the time and energy to devote to helping our kids tell others that they need "s'more friends like you!" or "you rock my world!" We're moms who are lazy and boring and need to put down our phones (oh, except let me get that Pinterest idea real quick) and pay more attention to our kids.

But who tells us these lies?  It's not the other moms.  It's ourselves.  It's not likely that another mom has ever marched up to you and belittled the Minecraft valentines you bought at Target.  We put it on ourselves.  We compare and we judge.  And we're afraid.

I ran into a friend at WalMart today.  I caught her red-handed.  She was buying - BUYING - Valentines in the holiday aisle.  Immediately she blushed and apologized and said, "I feel so embarrassed!  I'm buying Valentines this year."  I had to mask my shock and disapproval -- just kidding!  I WAS THRILLED.  She's like me.  A busy mom whose life is real.

So guess what?  For the first time EVER, I bought these the other day and I didn't die:

Store-bought Valentines.  And I didn't even influence my kids' choices.  Sure, I flinched a little and grimaced.  These will never be on Pinterest.  They will be forgotten in a month.  But my kids picked them out and were more excited about these than any of the amazing ones we've made in the past.

Because you know what?  We I have made some pretty cute Valentines in the past.  LET ME BE CLEAR:  I absolutely 100% support making cutesy, creative, over-the-top Valentines.  I've done it, I love it, I love seeing them, I love coming up with ideas, I love blogging about them, I love making them, I love getting them, I love getting excited about them, I love love love them.


Not at the expense of life falling apart.  Or making myself feel like crap because they're not as good as someone else's.  Or forgetting to feed my family dinner for days on end while I make them.  Or breaking the bank buying all the supplies.  Or finishing them up the morning of the Valentine's Day party IN THE SCHOOL PARKING LOT.  And these things have all happened!  And for me, it's something that comes easily, so I can't fathom the stress moms feel who are stretched in this area.

Sometimes you just have to say no.  This year I said no.  And it feels good.   

Monday, January 27, 2014

Illegal Formation

My sisters and I had a strict rule growing up:  no dating until we were 16.  This rule was always accompanied by stories of guns by the door and applications to date us, and we knew there would be no bending it.  

But then one summer, there was this cute boy at youth group.  I kinda liked him and he kinda liked me.  And I was 15.  I knew not to get my hopes up, but maybe, just MAYBE my parents would make an exception if he asked me out.  And then, one wonderful day, he did.  He asked me to go to the zoo, and so with great trepidation I asked my parents if I could go.  They said NO.  

My 15-year-old-not-old-enough-to-date heart was crushed.  It looked like my first date would certainly be when I was 16 after all.  Or maybe I'd lost my chance.  Maybe I'd be 17 or 24 or 39 or never and I'd end up wearing sweatshirts with cat appliques and dangly cat earrings.

But lucky for me, he did not give up.  He asked me out again, and this time, I felt like there was a glimmer of hope.  He asked me to a Denver Broncos game.  I repeat: this cute boy who I was crushing on asked me TO GO TO A BROCOS GAME.  I'd been a Broncos fan my entire life, faithfully brainwashed trained by my Dad to bleed orange and blue.  The zoo?  Meh.  Broncos?  My dad might be on board with that.  

And so with a deep breath and my love life hanging in the balance, I asked my parents if I could go on a date.  To where?  Oh, just Mile High Stadium to watch the Broncos play.  My dad's eyes lit up and I could see the inner struggle.  Or maybe it was jealousy.  Either way, it wasn't an immediate "no" and I was so excited.  My mom and dad talked about it and decided that YES, I could go if another couple went.  We'd start with group dating since I was a mere 15 years old.

I remembering shaking as I called the boy back and told him that I could go, as long as another couple was there, explaining the group date mandate.  "No problem!" he said. I couldn't believe it.  I was going to a Broncos game.  My first.  I was going on a date.  My first.  My first date would be to a Broncos game?  It was like the beginning of a Denver-based fairy tale. 

It's hard to believe my mom didn't snap a hundred pictures of me leaving for my first date, but I have no doubt I was decked out in Broncos gear, complete with blue and orange ribbons in my hair.  I remember being so nervous and so excited.  I remember waving to my mom and dad standing on the front porch as we drove away, and I'm sure they were just as nervous as I was.  We were meeting the other couple at the game, so we went straight there.

I don't remember much about the game.  I know I had my eye out for #7 and couldn't believe I'd be seeing John Elway in real life.  I think we were playing the Raiders, and I think we won, but I can tell you one thing for sure:  this group date was not what my parents had in mind.  

We found our way to the seats (his season tickets), and I was surprised to see two of his guy friends from youth group there seated next to us.  THEM?  THEY were the other couple?  Yes.  A couple of other people.  Four of us equaled a group, it's true.  No, of course they weren't on a date.  They were just there to enjoy the game alongside us.  As a group.

Oh, my parents loved that little detail when I got home that night.  I think they thought it was a little bit funny (maybe? Mom? Dad?) but they made it clear that it wasn't the GROUP DATE that they intended.  Lucky for me, they have a great sense of humor and tease me about it to this day.  And I learned that when it's time for my kids to date, I need to be very specific.  Especially if they're asked to go to a Broncos game.

But that wouldn't be my only date to a Broncos game.  Stay tuned...


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