Hugging a Cactus

I write most often about my life as a mother, but another large part of me is my role as a daughter...

I recently heard a powerful comparison by writer Angie Warren that loving an addict is like hugging a cactus. From my own experience, the same thing holds true when you love someone with a mental illness. The tighter you hold, the more painful it can become. It can be difficult, and emotional, and some days it leaves you completely undone. But still, you hug, because it’s your cactus, darnit, and because you worry about how it would get the water it needs without you. So tonight, we hugged my mother in the form of talking in the dining hall, taking snapchat photos because she thinks they are hilarious, and playing with a toy that is just as fun for her as it is for my four year old.

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I’m not a saint, and I still get frustrated. There are still times when my heart hurts because she doesn’t remember our birthdays, or because she says things that are painful to hear. Depending on the day, our visits may be long or they may be short. Nothing is predictable. Never has been. Never will be.

 

But the single most helpful “a-ha!” moment I ever had was realizing that there were other people out there who walked a similar path. Who had a cactus of their own. For the longest time, I guess I thought I was the only one. If you love someone with a mental illness, and you don’t know this already, then I’ll tell you now: You are not alone, my friend. It took me a long time to realize that, so I just wanted to pass it on to anyone who might need to hear it.

31 Days of Real Life: Day 19

It's funny, because a picture can tell a 1000 words, but it can also hide 1000 more.  

Chris has school on Wednesday nights so he had to leave as soon as I got home from work. Time being in short supply these days, and knowing that we needed to accomplish our annual Jack-o'lantern carving tradition soon, the kids and I said goodbye to daddy, climbed in the van, and headed to a Farmer's Market just down the street to pick out some pumpkins. I snapped this picture right before we left the market, and while I love their smiles and while our pumpkins are just right for the five of us, this picture doesn't say it all.

It doesn't say that Evelyn gave me copious amounts of sass because there wasn't room for her to sit on the wagon, or that she and Christopher had been bickering like an old married couple all evening, or that a second later, she dropped her pumpkin on Jackson's head (purely on accident though!) and then it fell and rolled under the car parked next to us. It doesn't show Jackson being upset because he didn't get a chance to pull the wagon, or one of the kids tripping as we walked under the awning of the market to pay...it shows the smiles and the pumpkins and the happiness of the moment, and for that, I'm thankful. But it's also important to note that the unhappy, gray-hair-inducing moments DO happen...for EVERYBODY. Sometimes we tend to forget that, at least when looking out in the great beyond known as social media. We look at everyone's highlight reels and don't believe that they ever have any bloopers like our own. But we ALL do. Not every moment is perfection. There is always a mixture of highs and lows. But what we choose to remember is up to us. 

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31 Days of Real Life: Day 18

The past week has flown right by. First the hit and run incident from last week, then getting ready for and having Jackson's 5th birthday party, and busy schedules for Chris and I both between work and his college courses. Between all of it, I've been feeling wiped out. So today, the best part of my day by far, was forgetting about all of the to-dos, and playing with Play-Doh with the kids after dinner. Little moments of playing on their level means a lot to them, and I'm not the best at doing it as often as I should. But tonight, this took precedence, and I'm glad. 

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31 Days of Real Life: Day 11

Today when I got home from work, the boys were in the front yard, learning how to use their new slingshots that my husband had made for them this afternoon. After they got home from school, they went on a walk to find the prefect branches and then did some slingshot engineering. He is great with the fun stuff and I'm thankful for that. They though it was the coolest, and I was happy that no one shot their eye out. We've had enough excitement for one month already!

 

Jack selecting the perfect rock. 

Jack selecting the perfect rock. 

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31 Days of Real Life: Days 9 and 10

Y'all, my brain is mush. I have 12 minutes to go until midnight, and I already missed yesterday's post so I don't want to delay any further. It seems to me that the best method of tackling today's challenge is to present real life as it actually happens...in a scattered delivery, full of quick transitions. Here goes...

  • Yesterday, my oldest son forgot to put his shoes on when we left for church. He didn't tell me this until we pulled into the parking lot. I was incredibly frustrated by this, but helped immensely by a lovely grandmother at my church who suggested that I give him a hug, explain that I accept his mistake and am not going to stay angry, and just bring him inside. There's a bit more to it than that, and you can check out the full story on my Facebook page, but I learned that getting, and staying, mad does not solve your issues. 
  • Every day, I get to drive Evelyn to and from pre-school and it's one of my favorite parts of the day. She tells me stories, we sing the Christian songs on the radio, I ask her questions, and sometimes we just drive in the quiet and are comfortable enough to be okay with that. I am so glad God picked me to be the mama for her and her brothers. 
  • On a less blissful note though, she has been waking up crying the last few nights almost as if she is in a stupor and not realizing that she is awake. I am wondering if it is a phase of night terrors, and am hoping it passes soon. Not only is uninterrupted sleep a precious and beautiful thing, but I hate to think that anything is terrifying her enough to wake her up and make her so sad (maybe she's dreaming about the upcoming presidential election?).
  • Chris had school tonight, so I took the kids out for a picnic dinner at the park. It was a nice chance to enjoy a beautiful fall day. I was shielding my eyes from the bright sun, watching them slide, balance, and run around, when I heard the clashing thump of metal on metal and saw that someone had read ended my van in the parking lot. Surely they must have noticed, for the noise was so cacophonous that everyone in the park turned their heads to see. When I realized that he wasn't stopping, I tried to wave him down, but to no avail. I did, however, snap a picture of his vehicle, filed a police report, and with the powers of word of mouth in small town America and social media, found out who it was very quickly. My insurance company will cover most of the damages, and in the end, I'm just so glad that none of the kids were standing anywhere near the back of the van when it happened. Maybe more on that saga tomorrow...
My poor mom-mobile suffered some damage, but at least no one was injured! 

My poor mom-mobile suffered some damage, but at least no one was injured! 

Other quick random thoughts over the last two days:

-I'm thinking again about writing a devotional book for moms. Yikes! Just need to DO IT! 

-Don't fight evil with evil. Overcome evil with good. 

-Anger solves nothing.

-And last but not least, God is bigger than all of our stresses. 

Days 9 and 10: The End

 

31 Days of Real Life: Day 8

Our days have been so busy lately, even on the weekends, and this was the first Saturday in a long time where we haven't had to rush out the door early in the morning for something. We had a glorious lazy morning, taking our time getting ready, making a big breakfast of eggs and sausage instead of rushing out the door with granola bars and baggies full of Cheerios. It was a nice change of pace. 

Then we headed to a cider mill for the traditional Fall experience of mowing down on fresh donuts and apple cider. I've said it once and I'll say it again, Fall is my favorite.  

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There is nothing like the donuts and cider combo on a cool but sunny Fall day. Christopher and evelyn insisted that they would love to try apple cider slushies, so we broke down and said yes, only to find that they didn't like them that much after all, just a few sips later. Luckily, big Chris loved them more than anyone so he downed them both. Dad saves the day (and risks a sugar coma in the process--the things fathers do for their children, right?).

 

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After the cider mill, we had the opportunity to help some great friends move into their beautiful new home and make some headway with the unpacking process. It's funny how much I love cleaning and organizing other people's houses so much more than my own. If only I could figure out a way to fully enjoy both! 

At some point tomorrow, I will grade my students' spelling and vocabulary tests, so I'm sure we're in for a super thrilling update for Day 9. Stay tuned. 

 

31 Days of Real Life: Day 7

Here's my quick thought for the day, as I come off the heels of a busy work week:

It's not worth it to try to stress yourself out and cross off every to-do list item. It's just not. Why? Because the list will always be there. One thing gets done but another thing inevitably pops up. It's the nature of life, and it's okay. It's okay if you feel like something has slipped or if you're running behind. At least that's what I'm telling myself. So much to do, with seemingly not enough time. BUT if I pressure myself to do everything and do it all perfectly, I'm doing a disservice to myself and those around me. I guess the moral of the story today, is let's all give ourselves some grace.

Day 7, done.

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