My mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts lately. Spending 80 hours driving in a car with three small ones probably didn’t help matters. But recently life seems to have been going in fast forward. I would just like to hit the pause button just for a minute. Just to take a moment to soak in these moments of my three little ones.
Now, here’s the thing. I get really irked when people tell me to treasure these moments before their gone. Wait, let me elaborate. I don’t dislike the advice, except it seems to be spouted to me at the worst times. No one says it to me when my kids are giggling and squealing as they tickle each other, or wrap their little arms around me to give me hugs and kisses. It is always at those difficult moments. I once had King Toot in full melt down mode punch Urpling in the head so that she started wailing…while I was in the check out line trying to pay for food and grab bags of stuff to put back in the cart. I gave an exasperated sigh and the little old lady waiting in line behind me told me to treasure these moments as they fly by. I promptly assured her that I did treasure moments with my kids…just not these moments. I stand by that. I’m no expert and my kids aren’t grown so I cannot say definitively, but I’m willing to go out on a limb with this and say certain moments will not be missed. Never peeing alone, trying to take a prison shower before Chernobyl erupts in the living room over a bent up card from a game we no longer have, cooking every night only to watch three little beings poke at it for an hour claiming to not be hungry even though just ten minutes earlier was pleading for gold fish or cookies because they were SOOOOOOOOOO hungry…these moments are not something I will cherish. I’m fairly certain that the passing of these moments, never to return, are the silver lining to help ease the pain of your children slowly growing more and more independent and needing us less and less (that and grand babies. I’m pretty sure grand babies are a good salve on the wound of our children leaving us. They are the rewards for putting our time in with our kids. Little ones to love and dote on, spoil and pamper, and then pass back to mom and dad at the end of the day. I do plan on cherishing those moments!)
These ponderings were prompted by my preparations for the coming school year. Our family has a fairly strict routine we follow. Why? Because the elaborate schedule gives me peace. Everything I need to get done in a week has a place. Since it has a place, I can let go of it and stop stressing over it the rest of the week. I digress. As I was reworking our schedule I had to adjust several things. For example, last year Sasquatch only went to half day kindergarten. So she was gone for the morning, but I got to keep her the rest of the time. But now she will be gone all day. Which really hit me when I realized that she wouldn’t need to help pick up each day…because she wouldn’t be there to make a mess. *insert a few tears and a small and delicate sniffle for dramatic effect.* No more elaborate forts. No more “decorations” to make the house pretty that consisted of whatever random toys she found coating every surface of every shelf and door knob and bed and chair. No more elaborate Calvin and Hobbes books that she drew for me. Okay, I know, she still will have the weekends and evenings to do these things but it’s a really big jump in my life. For 6 years it’s been just Sir Smiley, Me, and the kids. We occasionally made excursions into the real world but usually it was our own little world. We’ve slowly been losing that and this feels like the big moment, the end of an era. Sasquatch will be in children’s choir at church, and be with the big kids (at least they’re big in my mind), she’ll be eating multiple meals a week without me, and will be having all these experiences that have nothing to do with me.
A sudden desperation to squeeze in as much time with her as possible has seized me. She is, of course, excited to finally eat lunch at school with her friends. I’m, of course. worried that she won’t have friends, or someone will be mean to her and I won’t be there to talk her through it. I am not a worrier by nature. I don’t often cry. But this one really hit me. Kindergarten didn’t…but first grade has.
I have about two weeks to go treasure these moments…and I intend to do just that.
I took a very long trip a week or so ago. By long, I mean I drove over 5,000 miles, through 15 different states and back, with my three small children, in a tiny car, all by myself. Sir Smiley flew out to the ultimate destination for a few days and flew home. When I got back I experienced a drain that I have never experienced before. I’m an introvert who spent over two weeks with absolutely no time to myself. Add that to the fact that I had an ablation three days before I left means I was physically tapped out. I had no energy reserves…mentally, emotionally, or physically. The result was a very disconcerting week. I have always struggled with feelings of self doubt…but they always sit in the back, hidden. But I was faced with a situation that brought it glaringly to the surface. I was so exhausted that I was relying on my husband and others to do it all while I kept having to sit and rest. The kicker was there was no real medical condition, no surgery or illness, to justify my “laziness” (as in my mind that is how it felt).
I could no longer earn love. I had to just receive it.
I’ll let that sink in because I am betting that a lot more of us suffer from this than would care to admit. Those of us who keep a hidden tally, a mental scorecard, and make sure they’re always ahead. Who work so hard to keep others happy so that in the end any affection and love they receive they can be comfortable with…knowing that they deserve it.
But this is the complete opposite of what God wanted. So far from the truth. As Martin Luther put it, “The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands.”. I was falling prey to this sin. I had never felt so vulnerable when I realized how much I was motivated by this very wrong perception. I knew the truth in my head, but wasn’t following it with my heart.
And beyond earning my husband’s love, I wanted to earn God’s love. But to rely on my own actions and behaviors is an unstable place to rest. Every mistake, every moment of weakness is more crushing because I’m resting my worthiness on actions I can never fully live up to. In a way, I’m treating other people as though I have to buy their love in some way. Their love is for hire…and I want to be the highest bidder.
Of course, I didn’t see how much I was relying on myself and what I do to create my worth until I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t see because also thrown in the mix is my honest love for God, for my husband, for my kids, for my friends and family. In part, I do things for them because I love them. There is nothing wrong with that. I will continue to do things out of love for them. But I need to learn to accept their love. Not a love that is a response to what I’ve done…but a love that is a response to who I am. I can only accept love when I accept the truth. God loves me. He will not love me any less if I mess up. He will not love me more if I achieve some new level of greatness. He will feel pride and pleasure in my accomplishments, and will be my unwavering support when I fall. He does not love me because I am involved in my church. I could be a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) Christian and he would love me the same. He does not love me more than others who “do” less. If I can truly learn to accept this truth, the more free I will become to love Him back…and other’s as well.
So it’s only taking me months to finally get caught up on my blogs about my trip to New Zealand.
I left off with a good day of scuba diving (which was epic enough to make up for a damaged car and epic vomit). We started off the next day with an amazing breakfast:
Then we headed south to Hobbiton. One thing you should know about me. I’m a huge geek. I already have my Dr. Who and Supernatural attire all picked out for comicon this year. I embrace the geek side of myself frequently and often. So to be able to go to Hobbiton was literally a dream come true…and this place was amazing! Because of the start of the cyclone, it was cloudy and misty. But no real rain, and because of this instead of a tour bus full of 60-70 people we only had 13 in our group! So I got pictures that were amazing….without having to push through crowds of people. Here are some of my favorites!
We stayed that night in a wonderful bed and breakfast. It was called Lakeview Heights and the hosts were amazing and the accommodations were fabulous! At this point we didn’t see much of a view because of the cyclone and had to follow our alternate itinerary. We headed south for our Lord of the Rings tour (the one we almost missed…). Again, embracing my geek side we had an amazing full day tour! We got to see Weta Cave where they do all the effects for LOTR and The Hobbit movies as well as Iron Man 3, Avengers, Avatar, and other movies. It was an amazing place!
Then we visited some actual filming locations. We actually visited about 6 locations but I’m just including the ones where the pictures turned out the best.
First we have the scene where the hobbits have just taken a tumble and landed on the road. This scene here:
…and this is what the site looks like now…you can still see the three trees that were behind the hobbits.
Next up is that actual studios. The gate was actually open so I snapped a shot of the giant blue (now green) screen they used to film the marshes.
Next we went to a park where they filmed Gandalf riding to visit Saruman.
Here is what it looked like in the film:
Here it is in real life…you can see the shot was inverted so the tree on the left is on the right in the film and vice versa.
Finally we saw the greenway where Gandalf and Saruman were taking a stroll together. Here is what it looked like in the film:
Here is what it looked like in real life:
It was a wonderful few days for a geek girl like me! The scenery was beautiful and the tour also included lunch and all kinds of interesting facts not only about the LOTR films but about Wellington as well. It was well worth the money if you are a big LOTR fan!
These were the amazing high points that accented the crazy and mortifying moments.
It’s Mother’s Day. That day that honors mothers and the work we do. I love the idea. Motherhood is the most talked about calling. I can find hundreds of blogs, memes, internet threads, articles, trending hashtags, and any other media bit about motherhood. Yet it is also the most controversial.
I was pondering this today. I’ve read blog posts comforting mothers. Telling us it’s okay that we don’t have it all together. I’ve read posts commending mothers who haven’t caved to consumerism and instead stick to old fashioned ideals. I’ve even seen posts stating they refuse to celebrate Mother’s Day because mothers should be celebrated every day. Everyone looking to cleverly offer a new perspective on motherhood.
I am not that clever. Unlike Matt Walsh’s mom, I did take my kids to Disneyland. I do let my kids watch movies. I’m not perfect. I also wish I had clever words of comfort on this day of all days for all us hardworking mommas. For those of us who feel like we fail each day to be that perfect mommy we see plastered on our Facebook walls. But I have none.
All I have is a life lesson. I used to get my hopes up when Mother’s Day would approach. This day is MY day. It will be a day I get to do what I want and relax for a change. Each year would leave me disappointed. My husband didn’t do enough. My kids were naughty. Angels didn’t follow me singing a chorus of alleluia behind me. But I eventually learned that Mother’s Day works much better if I approach it the way I have learned to approach life. Prepare for (and then promptly discard) the disasters and enjoy the successes. Don’t know what I mean? Let me give you some examples:
I woke up at 5:45 am to get the grocery shopping done since our bare essentials were now non existent and I would have to resort to eating hamburger helper…without hamburger…and juice with a suspicious expiration date. Not exactly pampering. So I discard that…and remember that I also woke up to several notes taped all over the house:
I also got to walk out to the car and get into it without negotiating three peace treaties and a cease fire…and I drove to the store without listening to Let it Go, the most ironically named song I’ve heard. Definitely something to enjoy.
Of course King Toot proceeded to smack me on the face when he was angry today…twice. The kids spent at least 90% of the morning shrieking, yelling, and tattling. I cried. Also, several preschool workers were unable to do nursery this morning so I spent much of the morning scrambling to get the nursery classes covered. I’ve discarded those moments…in favor of the moments where several people stepped up to help. I even got to attend service instead of working in the nursery myself.
My husband had to work on Mother’s Day so I have spent most of the day without him. But I choose to instead enjoy the fact that my sister, who has lived half a country away from me for several years, moved back to my city this week and we spent the afternoon together. Our kids played well together and it was a fun and (mostly) relaxing afternoon of conversation with my life-long best friend.
So yes, parts of the day sucked. There were some tears. There were moments where I felt I had failed. But there were beautiful moments filled with family and friends and selfless love. So I guess today is a pretty good representation of motherhood in general. There are moments of beauty. There are moments where you soar and you finally feel like maybe you’ve got it figured out. But there are also moments of failure and compromise. Those moments where you just hope to make it to the end of the day in one piece. We just need to choose where to focus. It’s Mother’s Day so I will focus on the positive…today and everyday.
Now excuse me, I must go feed my children cold cereal from a box while watching a movie because…Mother’s Day.
Some selfies with those little people who made me “Mom”
So, I have now shared with you the horrors of my trip to New Zealand and the process drained me to the point I could no longer type. Well, not really. I just had a lot of that stuff called life getting all up in my face and so I figured I should probably focus on that instead.
Sir Smiley promised to pop me some yummy pop corn but then got wrapped up in making himself a wallet from leather he bought (to replace the one he lost…) and is right now pounding divots into the belt he also just made himself.
I digress. I started to ponder the fact that since my trip I have only shared the horrors. I am putting a black mark on New Zealand’s name! It must be redeemed! So, I wanted to briefly share with you some of the joys of our trip. I will start with scuba diving. Yes, I did puke all over myself and damage the car getting there. But none of that was the fault of Dive Tutukaka…our dive company. They did a fantastic job, despite the weather and the experience was fantastic. We saw nudibranchs, scorpion fish, moray eels….and a bazillion fish. We swam into a cave, and even drove the boat into the larges marine cave in the world. Here were some pics of our adventures that day:
This more than made up for the vomit. I will share more joyous fun later. But Sir Smiley has adjusted his new leather belt so I will leave you now to eat homemade popcorn. Yum!
So yesterday I gave you the backstory leading up to my epic adventure that was New Zealand *
I have two disclaimers.
First, New Zealand is amazing. Nothing more I can say because the country is too beautiful for words, the people are nice and considerate and full of common sense (Which was soooo refreshing), and the food was fantastic! I absolutely love New Zealand! The problem was that New Zealand did not love me.
Second, these posts are not for the squeamish. In our Bible Study, Sir Smiley made a rule that we could not talk about bodily secretion. Mainly because there were a bunch of mothers in our group which ultimately led to conversations of poop, breast feeding, and periods. I break this rule here…frequently.
And so this epic saga begins. I will be going through my vacation a few days at a time… twice. First, I will be focusing on the insane and horrifying things that tainted so many parts of our vacation…and then later I will be elaborating on the amazing and awe inspiring moments of our journey. This trip needed a good dose of Prozac because the high points were euphoric and low points were truly mortifying.
Possible names and slogans for our vacation:
Adapt, Overcome, Conquer
Roll with it. No regrets.
When life gives you lemons…make L&P (a popular New Zealand drink)
Our flight out of LAX was pleasantly uneventful. After we landed in Fiji we had our first set of dilemmas. Yes, I said set. We had a three hour layover in Fiji. There were two lines to join when we left the plane, one for reboarding another flight and one to leave the airport. Not wanting to risk running late after going through customs twice, we opted to reboard. This sent us into the airport where we checked in for our next flight…only to find out it had been delayed a couple more hours. So no we had five hours to kill instead of three and the airport was the size of a small food court…only with less to do. So we looked for an exit to go exploring out on the island. But there weren’t any. Once we were in airport we were stuck there. Almost all the staff left and those that were there just shrugged and sent you elsewhere. Fed up we finally went downstairs past the one store in the airport and found a small set of cushioned and long benches we could stretch out on so I took a nice long nap.
A few hours later we decided to get something to eat, at the one small and sketchy “cafe” they had in the airport (and I use that term very loosely). This is when Sir Smiley discovered his wallet was missing. His driver’s license, credit cards, police commission card, ems cards…all gone. Thankfully his passport was stored in a money belt so we still had that but now everything else was MIA. The irony here being that I always lose stuff and he never does…but I was the one who managed to keep track of my wallet the entire trip (thankfully, as we would have had no money otherwise). We tried to call the card companies to cancel the cards…only to discover that none of the phones in this insane airport worked. By this point we were cursing the hell pit that had become Fiji to us (it does redeem itself…more on that later).
We finally board our plane and head off to Auckland. We land at about 3pm instead of 1pm and then sit for thirty more minutes as the stairs to disembark did not fit our plane. After much shoving and ramming and shaking, they finally gave up and went to fetch a new set. So now it’s 3:30 and we head off to rent our car…now in the middle of rush hour in one of probably three countries in the world that think driving on the left and sitting on the right is the way to do it. Sir Smiley can’t drive now…as he doesn’t have his license. So I’m driving on about four hours of sleep in the past forty hours, through rush hour, trying to get to our campsite that closes at 8 and is at least three hours away. By the time we finally escape the city we realize there is no way we’re making it to our campsite before it closes so we get some food and head off to find a hotel. Only, everything is booked. No vacancy, after no vacancy, after no vacancy sign. Finally at about 9:30 we pull into a hotel without a no vacancy sign. Nope, they’re packed. She then informs us that the local mine laid a bunch of people off and for some reason that caused people to flood the hotels. So nothing is open. She pulls out a phone book and someone in the neighboring town takes pity on us and gives us a room.
Pretty much how I felt when we finally got to our room..
Thus ends day one.
Day two begins bright and early as we pack up and head off for our dive, a dive they had been threatening to cancel due to weather but thankfully we were still on for that day. Sir Smiley is an excellent driver and a terrible navigator, I cannot focus worth beans at this point, and when we pass our turn I have to make a u-turn on the wrong side of the road (in my mind anyway). In the process, I get too close to a fence post and two bolts sticking out gouge the whole left side of the car adding a decal that would ultimately cost us $2k. This may or may not have led to some marital strife…something along the lines of “You need to be more careful!” “Well, if you hadn’t lost your wallet you would be driving not me!” “You gouged the whole side of the car!” “Why didn’t you tell me to turn when we were supposed to!” “This will cost us the entire deductible!” “Anything you say right now, I’m thinking a million times worse in my head! I feel terrible!” Followed by uncontrollable sobbing.
How the accident looked in my head…
We have three minutes to get to the dive center so I slowly drive us there through my tears and then sit in the car crying while Sir Smiley checks us in. I finally compose myself, quickly down my breakfast of a muffin and apple juice and immediately hop on the boat. The staff were friendly and helpful, and gave us a quick warning that the boat ride may be a bit choppy. Neither Sir Smiley nor I were concerned as sea sickness was never an issue for us (*insert ominous music here). We go to the top of the boat for a better view and thus begins our boat ride out to the Poor Knights Islands. A little rough apparently means at least 6-7 foot waves that we were fighting the entire way there. I was doing great until the last ten minutes of the trip when I suddenly started to feel funny. One of the staff members runs downstairs to get me a barf bag just in case…but alas he was too late. I started spewing everywhere. Sir Smiley has been a paramedic for ten years and has never seen such and epic barf. It ended up on:
- the boat floor
- the bench I was sitting on
- Sir Smiley’s arms and legs
- my entire front of my shirt, my pants, my sandals, my watch, my arms…even my face and hair.
Sir Smiley shoves some barf bags at me. Paper thin bags that were neatly folded shut. I was spewing so much I couldn’t yell at him to open them, and since I couldn’t get them open with all the puke already on me, I tried to cup one like a bowl up to my face which served more as a sprinkler effect…spraying all my vomit right back at my face. The staff just stared at me frozen in horror. They very obviously had never seen anything like it and had no idea how to help, Meanwhile we are still going over these huge swells but I’m so busy puking that I’m no longer holding on. Sir Smiley is holding me still so I don’t fly off the boat, but over a particularly large swell he slips on all my puke on the floor and scrapes the whole side of his back on the bench.
A fairly accurate depiction really…
It finally ends and I feel much better and now smell strongly of apple juice. We make it to the islands and are sheltered from the waves. I sit and try to recover while Sir Smiley snags my shirt and pants (I had my suit on) and did a bit of laundry off the back of the boat and then hangs it up to dry. We get suited up and go diving successfully. Around this time we discover it’s not just a bit of rain, but a tropic storm cyclone named Lusi. Upon arriving back we discover that the roads are lined with emergency response vehicles, emergency generators, etc. in preparation for this storm. So again, we end up looking for a hotel room back in Auckland instead of camping on the beach in the middle of a cyclone.
Thus ends Day 2.
Chasing Lusi to be continued tomorrow.;