A Cure For Chaos

20170827_161409It’s that time of the year again. The slow trickle of the back-to-school celebrations have commenced! Newbie back-to-school parental units, fret not. You’ll catch on.

This is the time of year that your home becomes more hushed during the day and bedtimes arrive a little earlier at night.

For parents that means the first and last sips of your coffee, tea, wine or beer and that relaxing sensation from that shower, bath, or book will be accompanied by the heavenly AAAH of our mental do not disturb feathers ACTUALLY not being ruffled.

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Much like the changing out of summer clothing for fall attire, our school aged home dwellers must change from vacation mode vigilantes to studious independents.

That means homework takes priority over leisure and outdoor shenanigans may be cut down as an earlier curfew takes the lead.

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That means our big little people will be standing at attention ready to start their day every morning and armed with energy and enthusiasm to finish strong every evening.

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*sigh* Yeah, I didn’t believe that one bit while I was writing it either but I figured it was worth a shot. You know how that whole “Speak It Into Existence” concept goes…

Everything always looks better in black and white. In reality, however, it sometimes looks like chaos.

During the summer vacation, there were probably things that you loosened the reigns on and other things that were easier to keep up because there was no early morning wake up calls or late night homework sessions.

Now that school is back in the equation, it can quickly become exhaustively overwhelming trying to keep your home in order and your kids motivated to stay on track without becoming a nagging, screaming, scowling sea witch.

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Whether you work outside of the home or are a SAHWAH parent, you need to begin your bid for organization early to combat the back-to-school crazies.

Your method of organization may vary greatly depending on the ages  of your children but the need for organization will remain, nevertheless.

I thought I’d share a few things that have remained consistent for me year after year and how I’m combatting my biggest pet peeve.

Most kids are never ready to go back to school. Usually, the only time they, happily, wake up early is the only day mom and dad can afford to sleep in late.

Getting your kids back on an appropriate sleep schedule before ‘D-day’ (or Yay-day depending on which side of the spectrum you stand) should be on your top list of things to do. It helps the morning madness when they have had their practice bedtime/wake up drills.

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Make Space. It’s a new school year. Get rid of the old items taking up space in your home. I don’t know about you but I find it extremely hard to focus around clutter. Less clutter means less cleaning.

Those old books, clothes and shoes can and should be donated. Those papers that you have that you may need one day but haven’t looked at in the last year…GARBAGE! If you absolutely can’t part with them, use bins and folders.

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Bins are your friends and folders are your soldiers. Use them to keep track of assignments, trips, projects, and notices.

Kids are huge contributors to the thumbs down movement for homework, chores, curfews and early bedtimes.

Are your army fatigues washed and pressed? You may be going to war on this one because none of those things are fun but someone has to do it…and it shouldn’t just be YOU!

My sweet not so little dust bunnies are a very soon to be 13-year-old, young lady and a stuck at age 10 for 5 more months, young man and they are chairpersons to the cause.

In the years past, I’ve spent immeasurable amounts of time stuck in repetitions of “Is your homework complete?” “Are your chores done?” “Who left dirty dishes on the table? Or in the bedroom? Or in the living room? And yes, there has even been a cup or two found in the bathroom. WTH???!!

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(Can you tell what my pet peeve is?)

This year, I’m rebelling. I am going to stomp my feet, fold my arms, and put in a lot of pouting and eye rolling work…or, maybe, I can teach them the pros and cons of responsibility vs. irresponsibility.

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Now, I don’t want to come off as superhero Mean Mom (M&M for short) but I do want to give my kids an incentive to be a bit more responsible while maintaining some levels of my sanity.

Let’s be honest. It’s a struggle to maintain the activities of daily living for more than one person. Heck, sometimes it’s a struggle to manage them for just yourself. That’s why the word HELP is a common daily verb in my home.

With all hands on deck, our day-to-day activities are accomplished in a timely fashion without much hassle and headache.

My solution? A chore chart that will help them stay on top of their responsibilities and their math $kills!

I used a similar chart for my two oldest children, who are now in their 20’s. They survived!

This is an example of what the completed chart could look like:

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Grab your chart here!  Print it out and customize it to suit your needs.

I include duties that are non-negotiable non-payable requirements. These are things that MUST be done, like it or not. While they will not earn an allowance for them, duties can affect the amount of their payout at the end of the week.

Chores are those things they can help you do around the house to make it run smooth…that you don’t mind rewarding them for.

Bonuses are those extra odd and ends that they can do. In my home, if one washes the dishes, the other can get the bonus for sweeping the kitchen floor or emptying the dishwasher. (Hi-five that teamwork action 😉).

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Penalties will pretty much speak for themselves. After the first 2 weeks of being penalized, my beautiful doves prefer not to use it at all. (Responsibility download complete).

Best wishes to you and your scholars for a successful and less stressful school year!

 

 

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Hey, hey, hey…It’s Mother’s Day!

IT’S THE FREAKIN’ WEEKEND, MOMMY’S!!!!

I know this weekend is supposed to be extra special for the maternal role model but allow me -if you will- a moment to tell you why we are more than just a single recognized calendar day (that some of us try to stretch out over a couple of days [#weekendwinning]).

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Let me be VERY clear, I love the thought of a designated day reserved just for me. It makes me feel all warm and cozy on the inside.

BUT….

Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we decide to embark on the journey of motherhood…even before the very moment of conception…there is no longer any day that is JUST ours. Every waking hour is filled with thoughts of our  widdle shuga bears.

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Prepartum thoughts are filled with the wonders of what he/she would look like, what type of parent you would be, and all of things you would definitely do with/for/to your baby.

Antepartum thoughts are fueled with emotion and anticipation. The joy of knowing there is a person growing within your body and feeling every twist, turn, hiccup and kick is mind-blowing. You only want the best for that baby and you plan on how to make it happen.

Postpartum and beyond he/she needs to be bathed,  fed, dressed, taken to school, homework must be done, play dates arranged, and time-outs enforced.

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We worry about safety and we plan for the future. We manage the household EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. that resides there. We inventory everything from the attic to the basement and back again because  “MA HAVE YOU SEEN” and “HONEY WHERE’S MY” is a real thing.

The list is infinite but we get it done.

We are nurses, private investigators, chefs and referee’s. We are educators, dream builders, and support systems. We are designers, artists and entertainers.

And sometimes we are all of these things all in one day for 365 days.

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It doesn’t matter what stage you’re in, a true mother will always be in mommy mode.

It’s impossible to cram appreciation for all the love a mother’s heart contains in one day when we love for 365 of them We deserve daily recognition. No matter how seemingly small.

I don’t know about you but I’m pretty simple. I get over the top excited for things like completed chores (unscripted), manners, good grades, thoughtfulness, and a show of appreciation for the little things.

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I don’t want to see that 1, one, I, ☝️ day out of the year. I want to know that, from January 1st through December 31, I raised or am raising decent individuals capable of and willing to exhibit acts of UNselfishness and unwavering will and determination to succeed.

I don’t want to wait for the next Mother’s Day because the only days that were guaranteed to me were yesterday and all the days before it.

I don’t want my appreciation in one lump sum and you shouldn’t either. So as you receive your wishes of happiness, flowers, hugs, kisses and whatever else makes you feel like a queen for this one day remember that you are a queen everyday, flowers are available year round, and hugs and kisses are free.

A lifetime of memories is never created in just 24 hours.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY EVERYDAY!

A Special Motivation Because Today Is Not Just Monday

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Today’s motivation is in honor of my son who gave me purpose 25 years ago. He exhibits this daring, free spirit that confuses and wows me all at once.

Where I am introverted and-as he reminds me regularly-less festive (ok he says NOT festive at all but…), he is extroverted and will celebrate the alphabet at the drop of a dime.

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He is everything my inner self was screaming for me to be but fear of the unknown kept me complacent. For years (my younger years), I drew blueprints of creative ideas but the thought of actually having them take flight was frightening!

It was easier for me throw away my ideas and, in a sense, my personality, my character, my dreams and my potential than it was for me to grow with pride or lose and learn with dignity.

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I cannot say that I now live vicariously through my son-xanax can’t be manufactured fast enough to cover me on that-but I am elated to see that the best part of me is renewed in him. He validates the message in “I Can”.

To you, YES YOU, The person reading this right now. Don’t let twenty years collect idle dust. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Go places that you’ve only imagined going. Create that bucket list and COMPLETE that bucket list. Seek new business opportunities and leave complacency behind.

This week do it different. Whatever “it” is to you, turn it upside down or right side up. Paint it blue or rock it in purple. Sit at the bar, instead of the booth in the corner. Be seen. Be heard. Be remembered. Whatever it is, make memories with.

Fear only lasts a long as you feed it. Don’t let it cause you anymore disappointment.

PS…. Son, I love you infinity x infinty!

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Some Days I’m Like Finding Dory

img_0078Let me get started on my next blog post.

…OH LOOK, a Facebook notification!

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That is the story of my life! It amazes me at how fast I can get side-tracked and go from having a list of 10 things to do to still having a list of 10 things to do all within a 24 hour period.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I say to myself “let me get up and get started” but I never really move an inch…at least not the FULL inch…towards what needs to be done. There always seems to be something that gets in between me and my duties.

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Writing this post was far less easy than it should have been not because I was at a loss for words but because my brilliant idea to listen to some smooth jazz while I wrote turned into a maybe I should play an audible book instead. That meant looking for a new audible book because I didn’t want to hear the ones I previously purchased but have not listened to.

…On a side note, I didn’t purchase any this time BUT I did add 5 of them to my wish list for further consideration…

Deciding against listening to anything, I picked up my pen to slather my paper with content when this video that I had seen earlier on Facebook popped into my head. How adorable! I thought how cool it would be to experience that. My guardian angel woke me up with this. Maybe one day, though…Maybe one day. In the meantime, I felt the urge to hit up google to indulge in an animal cuteness overload.

EARTH TO DORY…

Oh yeah. What was I doing?

Most of my writing takes place in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep except for my brain. That’s when all my thoughts become active and if I’m not ready to write them down the odds are highly in favor of me not remembering half of them the next day.

So I get started.

OH! HEY! I have unread emails.

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Yes, I have thousands of them that I never read from last year. Why do they look so interesting now?

GET TO WORK DORY!!!

My Dory syndrome is not just limited to the early mornings when I’m doing my writing.

Going to the grocery store for two items.

OH, LOOK! A CART! LET’S FILL IT UP! (but don’t include the two items we came for).

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Could be Dory…on the master cleanse…

I know I can’t be the only one that participates in this comically serious issue. Who else will force themselves to grab a handbasket so as not to overdo the shopping only to end up filling the basket and then going back for a cart because the basket is too heavy. Am I the only one?

The Dory syndrome is all to real but how do we overcome it? Especially when we have deadlines to meet and budgets to keep. I have begun being more mindful of how I deal with my distractions.

Social Media- I, purposely, do not have any social media apps installed on my iPad where I create the majority of my posts. My stylus is addicted to those social media icons.

Email notifications are turned off! I get email notifications at odd times. Blogging is a gem for meeting people all over the world that wake up when I go to sleep.

My cellphone is also a distraction magnet and is not kept in the same vicinity when I’m writing….well, I’m working on that part anyway. DON’T JUDGE ME!

 Shopping is more of a challenge. For some reason I need everything I see, if not now then I know at some point in the future I will. Gotta be prepared, right?

I try to combat the case of the spendies by taking a limited amount of cash with me and leaving the card home for small purchases. I can’t pay with a smile so if I don’t have the funds it stays!

For larger purchases, taking inventory of necessary household items and making a list is an absolute must. Taking my husband to enforce the list or, at the very least, my steps in the store is also very effective. I got it bad.

Where are my fellow Dory’s? How do you manage your time and your spending?

In the arms of depression

Life is definitely like a box of chocolates. You never know what each second of it will reveal. It’s no surprise that there will be moments of joy, bouts of sadness and periods of loneliness. These are all normal growing pains that we are bound to by default.

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Feeling down is nothing to be alarmed about. We all experience situations that tug at the strings of our various emotional stages. We struggle, we experience loss, our ego’s take a few hits and, usually, we bounce back.

Sometimes, however, some of us lose our bounce. The continuous pounding from the fists of life come too hard too fast. We lose are footing and we slip and, while we’re down, it seems the fists keep pounding. Relentlessly.

When the sun isn’t shining on the inside there are a few things that you can try to do to boost your mood.

  1. Connect with friends and family that you enjoy spending time with.
  2. Get in touch with the beauties of the world. Visit an art gallery or botanical garden.
  3. Grab a book in your favorite genre and get lost in the pages.
  4. Music soothes the savage beast! Turn it up and dance!
  5. Turn on the comedy. Watch your favorite movie or stand up comic.
  6. Pets are very therapeutic.
  7. Treat yourself to a spa day. Massage the tension away.

There are many factors that can lead to depression. Abuse, death, illness, family history, medications and drug abuse are just a few of those factors.

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Symptoms of depression include:

  • Lack of energy. Depression has the ability to absorb all of your energy. Many people with depression report being lethargic and sleeping more often.
  • Loss of interest in things previously liked. People with depression may become withdrawn from activities that were once pleasurable for them. They may no longer want to hang out with friends and family or participate in their favorite pastime hobbies.
  • Restlessness/anxiety. Where others may sleep, there are some who just are unable to. Their minds are constantly rotating thoughts and their adrenaline is pumping ferociously, making it difficult to relax and rest.
  • Change in eating habits. For some, eating more may be a symptom of depression or way of dealing with it. For others, eating is all but forgotten.
  • Emotional roller coaster. Unstable emotions can manifest during depression as uncontrollable outbursts of crying and anger. The seesaw effect of your emotions can leave you feeling over-stimulated in an undesirable and overwhelming way.
  • Giving up. People who become severely tangled in the grip of depression often give up on themselves and the idea that things can get better. They lose their desire to live and feel that the only solution is to commit suicide.

Signs of suicide ideation include:

  • Talking about killing oneself.
  • Voicing feelings of hopelessness.
  • No longer showing interest.
  • Constant sadness.
  • Fluctuating moods.
  • Participating in activities that could lead to death.

If you or someone you know are being held captive by thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is there to help at 1.800.273.8255 or 1.800.784.2433. 

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Feelings of depression are nothing to be ashamed of. Some people think they would be looked at differently if they were to admit that things were not quite right. You are not alone!

Millions of people suffer from some form of depression all over the world. If you feel your ordinary ‘down’ feelings are being a little to persistent or if there are changes in your behavior or that of someone you know, seek professional help. Your doctor can help guide you in the right direction.

The world is unique because of you! Don’t let depression tell you otherwise!

 

Blended Families: The Brady Bunch of today.

The family unit has undergone so many structural changes over the years. The traditional mother/father/children household structure has transitioned, for many, to include stepparents and stepchildren.

For those who have undergone the ritual of blending a family, you know all-too-well, the importance of preparing the home team for the new teammates. If you’re successful you will meet with minimal to no resistance but if you are like the majority you should expect to hit a few bumps along the way.african-990326_640

The process of blending a family can be a challenging one not only for the adults but also for the children involved. It may not be easy for someone to transplant their old habits into a new habitat or readily adapt to new living arrangements for many reasons.

In their own right, the combined matriarch and patriarch of the new household will experience their own challenges. They will have to learn to manage the different emotions that present from each individual involved, including themselves.

They must adjust to each other’s differences that weren’t prominent in the separate living stage of the relationship.

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They each may have different parenting styles and may fall on different sides of the spectrum where discipline is concerned. Those two issues alone are enough to tear down a marriage if it is not addressed immediately and properly.

Balance is everything.

Both parents (because a step parent is a parent) should be on mutual ground in the decision-making process when it comes to raising the children, if the plan is to do it effectively.

One very damaging habit biological parents have is wanting a step parent to be an active caregiver but then disagree with every decision they make because he/she is not the (biological) parent.

Flip-flop much?

It’s confusing. It’s sets a tone that minimal respect is necessary from the children and it’s a marriage killer. If you marry someone you should have done all the necessary research to feel certain that person has the best interests for the family. If you have to second guess that then maybe YOU made the wrong decision. Message.

If all is good then your priority should be to formulate a parenting plan that you can both agree to and, for those occasions where there may be a difference of opinion, keep it between the two of you.

In addition to forming a cultivating relationship with each other, bonding with the children is also very important. Step parents should place emphasis on gaining the trust of their stepchildren but also need to construct boundaries that will balance that trust with expectations.

Creating an open line of communication early on is the best ally you can have. Remember, they are just children but they have a lot of personality and opinion. Allow them to share it!

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In the face of change, children may have the most difficulty adjusting and accepting the new arrangements. Children who have been at the center of a breakup or divorce are more emotionally prone to resist the new norm and will require time and patience to help them come into full understanding and acceptance.

During the process children’s emotions may come on faster than you can blink.

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Here’s some jealousy?

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With a side order of sibling rivalry.

And that’s the fun stuff compared to the fears.

Fear that the biological parent will love the new additions more than them.

Fear that having a step parent means they cannot love the other biological parent.

Fear that the biological parent who does not live in the home will be hurt or angry if they like or even love the step parent.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Help your child get over those fears. Reassure them that 1) their parents will always be their parents, 2) their parents will always love them no matter what and 3) its ok to get along with the step parent. If both biological parents, along with the step parent, can be on board with calming a child’s fears, you’re already at the success finish line.

The pink elephant in the room.

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There may be resistance from the biological parent who does not live in the home regarding the new arrangements. This may be the biggest factor in the success of acclimation into a new life and, sadly, this makes the children’s acceptance of the situation that much more difficult.

Biological parents who do not live in the home and who harbor bitter feelings over a break up, divorce or an irrational fear that the new parent will “steal” their child away from them have the ability to create unnecessary additional stress for the live-in parents and emotional distress in the children.

They may hold on to this false belief that it is better for children to grow up in an unhappy dysfunctional home with biological parents instead of a rational functional home setting with a blended family.

Unfortunately, not all originals work best.

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A child who lives in a home filled with anger, animosity, hate and, in some instances, violence and fear is not an emotionally healthy one. Teaching your child to be angry and fear the moment both parents are in the same room is a horrible trait to pass on.

Fighting against a biological parents new relationship, especially when there is no danger or inappropriate behavior towards the child, is not in the best interest of the children and can be very damaging to a childs emotional state.

If all else fails.

If your differences can not be worked out and, the child’s best interest are truly on the table, it may be time to call in the help of a professional.

 

Your Home is the Holder of a Myriad of Memories

Everyone can agree that any house with children is a busy one. There’s no shortage of laundry, mess, or noise. On one of my late night up alone excursions (anytime you find time to be alone when you have children is like going on an excursion), I had some time to think.

The house was a totally silent work of art and this was the perfect time to enjoy it. There was no need to ‘fear the silence’ as most people residing in a child inhabited home has done all over the world. You know the formula- silence+child=trouble. All was well in the McKenzie household. The children were peacefully asleep as well as my husband. The dog was curled up with me as I lay on the couch watching the hilarities being displayed in the reruns of the TV sitcom Family Matters. The cat didn’t need anything so he didn’t care what I was doing as long as I didn’t disturb him.

Looking at the silly antics on TV, I began to think about all the funny things that go on in my home on a daily basis. First, I began comparing the difference in behavior between that of my cat and dog. My dog thought he was a huge 70 pound cat on most days and my cat thought he was an 11 pound compact pit bull on others. Their personalities were like night and day. My dog was always affectionate and my cat only displayed affection, annoyingly so I might add, when he wanted you to know that his food bowl was empty or, at least, what he considered empty. Together they are a modern-day Tom and Jerry or Roadrunner and Wile E coyote duo. One is always chasing the other. Which usually starts with the dog trying to greet the cat the way dogs greets anyone. Unfortunately for him, the cat is not fond of anyone sniffing in his ‘backyard’ and he is very animated in letting the dog know this.

Those two alone can give you hours of laughs but what about the rest of my crew? I did a mental review of days past and concluded that my house has seen many eventful times. If it could talk, oh the tales it would tell. Each member of my immediate family has contributed their share of fun and laughter throughout the years. The invisible eyes of my home, I am sure, has laughed until it cried and shielded its vision because the outcome couldn’t be good.

Children have such a fantastical way of adding charm to a home. My oldest son, for instance, thought it would be appropriate to rub ketchup on the cat. His reasoning was that he wanted to prove that the dog would not eat him. Hypothesis proven true. This same dog had a whole jar Vaseline rubbed on her. (This was our first dog, in case you noticed a change of gender from above. She, sadly, passed on at the ripe old age of 16 a few years ago). We still have not been able to determine what my oldest daughter’s reasoning was for that one. My youngest daughter was the queen of getting her head stuck between the bars of the banister. Finally, my youngest son developed a foot fetish before he developed his motor skills for walking. He had very strict rules. If you had pretty feet, you were allowed to pick him up. How did he know what your feet looked like? He would, wordlessly demand that you take your shoes and socks off so that he could see them. An example of how serious he was; he would not let my sister pick him up if she did not have socks on and her feet really weren’t that bad. He just had higher standards for the toes.

People who are fortunate enough to grow up (or survive) living in a house with children have the greatest stories ever to be told. The smallest things can make the best memories. I think I will always give an embarrassed laugh when I see a particular friend of the family who once wore a purple suit to my son’s 1st birthday party. He was greeted by the excitement of a child who has just received the biggest bestest gift in the whole entire world. My oldest son ran over, hugged him super tight and called him Barney… the Dinosaur! That was probably the first time he had ever spoken with such clear precision.

Even with the embarrassing moments, I wouldn’t change the times I’ve had with my children. These are the memories that I will enjoy retelling for infinity. It’s not always easy, but even in your most difficult times any moment spent with your family are memories in the making. Try to enjoy every moment you have with them. They don’t last forever and you don’t realize it until that moment is gone.

Spending the Holiday with Family

Finally got a chance to see Almost Christmas and I loved it! Aside from it being reminiscent of a Soul Food/This Christmas hybrid, the casting was the perfect recipe for endless laughs and foolery. Just in case you haven’t seen it, I’ll try not to spoil it for you but I do recommend it! Check out the trailer here (Warning. Contains profanity).

At some point in our lives, we have all had that Almost Christmas experience. We have been in attendance to a family gathering meant to eat, drink, and be merry with those we are closest to and love. But, what is a family get-together without the family drama? There’s nothing wrong with a little clash of personalities, right? How often have you witnessed this clash? How many times has the clash of personality turned into this scene from the movie 300? Ok, maybe this hasn’t actually happened but you have probably thought about it on a few occassions. I’m sure we all can pinpoint those family members who match up, perfectly with the characters of this movie.

We all have that one strong, independent, don’t need anyone to help them type of family member.

The one that always puts work first. This one might not even show up.

The one that used to be successful and still is…in their head. You know the one.

The one that thinks everything about their life is better than the rest of the family. (Sparta kick).

The one that can’t cook but is always trying to feed everybody. Gosh, and always makes A LOT of whatever that’s supposed to be.

The Peacemaker is always 2 hugs away from making everyone sing Kumbaya My Lord.

The ones who just can’t get along. Get the popcorn because the movie is about to start.

The Joker. You gotta love this person. He/she keeps the laughs going.

The one who is addicted to something. This person can’t sit still to save a life. Every 5 minutes he/she has to ‘use the bathroom’ and every 6 minutes everyone else is touching their pockets and purses to make sure they still have their wallets.

The ones who are always pulling out their phones or other electronics. What ever happened to family games. Today’s technology keeps everyone tucked away in their own personal bubble.

How many of these characteristics come to visit during your family gatherings? I’m pretty sure…NOOO, I’m absolutely positive I have quite a few of them in my family tree.

A Happy Family New Year

This past weekend was absolutely amazing! I celebrated my one-year wedding anniversary on New Year’s Eve at my favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot and brought in the New Year with my family.

I can remember, not so long ago, when New Years Eve signified party time. I wanted to hang out, have a drink or four and dance the night away surrounded by hundreds of people I didn’t know. Now, the best way to ring in the New Year is with my family. Whether we are at home or in another family friendly environment, nothing is more appealing to me than the time I spend with them. I have spent a lot of time, in my early adult years, growing up. Being a single, childless adult is a wonderful thing. The list of responsibilities are, compared to that of someone with a family-someone like me, minute. I’ve learned that it is not only tiresome to try to juggle a single lifestyle in a family style frame but it is also non productive. If I am going to be tired, I would like to invest that spent energy in my home and all those who reside there.

The home is the first learning institution a child will attend. If the lesson plan is poor the child will not be enriched. -Liz McKenzie

I recognize that, over the past few decades, the dynamics associated with the family life have changed in drastic proportions. With the most recent addition of technology, the existing dynamics have almost faded away completely. It’s a sad state that I don’t want my family to succumb to and that is why I made the decision to want to cultivate a home life for them.  It’s the simple things that mean so much and teach so much more. We have family movie night, family game night, we even do family date night, the point is we make time to spend with each other and that’s what makes me proud. In our home, my husband and I put strong emphasis on respect and communication-something we see less and less of in many children as the days go on. We are teaching them but they are also great teachers and I am glad to be apart of their learning experience.

Life is so much more than just personal indulgence, especially when there are other people who depend on you. Too often, we take for granted the people we have around us. We think they will always be there, but they won’t. As we grow older, so do our children. Eventually, they will leave the nest and create a life of their own. Enjoy them while you can. I know I do!

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!!

Featured Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Through the Looking Glass

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with the husband of a woman who had recently passed away. This was my first time ever speaking with him but I immediately felt a connection. He wasn’t sad about her passing. In fact, he was happy to share feelings about his wife’s life and death as well as his own. He said talking about it kept the sadness at bay. Listening to him pushed a multitude of emotions through my system. It made me happy, sad, nostalgic, curious and enthusiastic. It also made me appreciate and respect all that life is and can be.

He spoke about his past and, being an older African American man born and raised in southern Alabama in the late 1930’s, his past was full of good, bad, and ugly. He talked about cousins lost to lynchings, brothers tarred and feathered, sisters raped by white men, and friends beat beyond recognition because they looked at a white woman.

He talked about watching his mother struggle to make ends meet when his father had to leave home for long periods of time just to find work, and often coming back empty handed. Altogether, there were 11 of them-his father, mother, 6 brothers, 2 sisters and himself.  The lucky seven. That’s what his mother called them. All 7 of her sons lived through a time when many became strange fruit or alligator bait. He remembered how they all would pitch in to help earn money to put food on the table-cleaning yards, chopping wood, delivering groceries and anything else they could find to do. He remembered a time when the only thing he could call shoes was the 2 pieces of cardboard that he had to tie to his feet-but he still went out and chopped that wood. He said his momma taught him how to cook, too, and that’s why his wife married him.

When he and his wife met they were both getting over previous relationships and had children of their own. He remembered how fond his mother was of his wife. She told him, ‘don’t you hold that gal in a drawn out situation if you dont want to hold her heart through life. She’s better than that last one you had and she deserves better than that last one she had’.  He told me he was almost certain, to the best of his old mind, that those were his mother’s exact words. Then she asked him what he was going to do.

I now pronounce you husband and wife…

As a couple, they had been married for 54 years. They had their ups and downs, which is to be expected in any relationship, but they never gave up. I listened to him reminisce about the different things that they did together. He laughed at how often his southern charm put him in hot water. His wife was a firecracker and she didn’t take no mess. She had been sick for a long time, cancer, and as much as it brought him joy to see her smile, his heartache tripled to watch her suffer.

Towards the end, he had become sick himself and had to be admitted to the hospital. “I got that wheezing problem and have a hard time breathing”, he told me-asthma. His wife was supposed to come visit but his daughter called and said she hadn’t been feeling well and was taken to different hospital. He said when he was discharged, he would go visit his wife and, even laying in the last bed she would rest on, she would vibrantly cuss him out for that old southern Alabama charm and those nurses.

Till Death, Do Us Part…

On her last day, he had an appointment and wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital until later in the day. He said she called him. She sounded tired but he was used to hearing her like that. He said she asked him how much longer before he would get to the hospital because she was trying to wait for him but it was getting too hard. He knew what she meant. He said he told her not to worry because he would be there even if she wasn’t. They exchanged I love you’s and said their goodbye’s. That was the last time they spoke.

I allowed him to speak for well over an hour and in that hour he was able to recount what took more than 54 years to live. Yes, he was going to miss his wife. Their lives together was the equivalent of a single strand of dna. He would miss her but he will always find her in those memories as long as he was able.

Remember those emotions I mentioned earlier? Well, I was happy because I was blessed to be able to get a glimpse of the past through the eyes of a stranger. Nostalgic because he made me think of my childhood and how vastly different it was from his. My sadness was because, like most children, I didn’t recognize or appreciate my parents and the sacrifices they made as much as I could have. My curiosity and enthusiasm made me think about all the things that were to come. I don’t know the order of my steps but I’m looking forward to where they may lead. I appreciate this man for allowing me a glimpse at his life. I now have a more heightened respect for those older than myself. The next time you encounter an elderly person, I hope you are as lucky as I was to have been taken through the looking glass. I know I will never speak with this man again but I thought it would be appropriate to give him recognition.

Thank you, Mr. Gordon!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.