You’re going to go through tough times-that’s life. Nothing happens to you, it happens for you. See the positive in negative events. Joel Osteen
In July of 2012 I had a life changing experience. Body altering surgery, pain both physical and mental and at times feelings of pure helplessness. Over time, those feelings became ones of freedom. Receiving the news that my post BPM biopsy was positive for lobular carcinoma in situ at first set me into a pure panic. I remember the doctors call, feeling as if the room around me was closing in and the tears rolling down my cheeks. Then the realization, I made the right decision. Years of biopsies and worries of cancer were over.
From then on I have really seen things differently. I refuse to allow the negative things in life to control my day. Sure, I have moments but as a rule I am trying to live more of a “glass is half full” kind of life. For years I often found myself in the middle of others drama or tried to mediate others dilemmas. Recently, I have had to remind myself of what I realized almost 3 years ago, life is too short to be surrounded in negativity.
Not only is it too short but life moves way too fast! It seems like just yesterday that my girls were born and today I watched Madison perform on stage at her first talent show. Megan attended her first dance the other night and both are growing into such beautiful girls. Allowing myself to live in anyone else’s negativity removes my focus on what is important in life. I will no longer feel guilty for allowing myself to focus on the positive things, I will not apologize for looking for the sun instead of the rain and I will not ask permission to smile. I WILL surround myself and my family with others who feel the same!
I am not ready! The other night I attended the middle school orientation for the parents of incoming sixth graders at one of the local middle schools. The school itself is beautiful and huge. It was a bit intimidating to me. The high school I attended was tiny in comparison. It scares me a little to think of my baby walking the halls in September. In my mind, she is still the little baby who loved to be held and cuddled. Of course she is no longer that baby, she is a beautiful, intelligent, strong and confident young girl who is not only ready for the next stage but excited for it to come.
The process of our 6 elementary schools folding into 3 middle schools is actually a very well planned out chain of events that started a few weeks ago. A counselor visited the elementary school and talked to the kids followed a week later by the kids boarding a bus for a tour of their soon to be new school. Last week, the parents met with the Principal and in August there is a several day program in which the kids get used to the school, lockers and all of the wonderfully High School like world that our Middle school will provide.
When I went to school (way back when) I went to the same building for 8 years. There are more kids in the elementary school that Meg attends that were in my entire school and the middle school has almost 200 more kids that. I am finding myself a bit overwhelmed but like I stated earlier Megan is so excited. She has already been studying the list of clubs and is putting thought into how to decorate her locker. I am not ready!
Every night before I go to bed, I look in on the girls and stand for a minute and watch them sleep. Often I kiss a cheek or the top of a head and smile. I think of just how proud of them I am. I can not imagine a life without my girls, my family. Lately, when looking at Megan I wonder when it happened. When did that shy, timid little girl become the young lady who is about to become a middle schooler and test for her black belt in karate. It all happens too fast.
So here we sit ready to embark on another first, another new adventure. I will be there to celebrate the wins and to dry the tears. I will hide my unease because this is part of life, the necessary part where mommy can not control everything, the part where my little girl must take steps to build her future. I may not be ready but my wonderful, brilliant beautiful daughter is so I will kick and scream,(quietly behind a door) and probably shed a tear or two but away we go. Ready or not, I will be with you every step of the way!
When I was younger I swore I would never have children. They were dirty, needy and would just get in the way. I had visions of being the CEO of IBM. As with most of us, the visions of a young person grow and change as we do.
I did well in my career but something was missing. I remember when I held my Megan for the first time, her wide open bright eyes looking up at me, I swear she actually waved. That was it. That was all I needed to know that there was no job in the world that could ever be as fulfilling as staying with my baby. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of every aspect of my girls development. Financially it has not always been easy but it has been the most rewarding job ever!
Being a Mother has been an adventure, figuring it out day by day. Frank and I don’t have any parental guidance and I never had the perfect role model. My relationship with my mother was not perfect, whose is? At the time it was all I knew. Some will say she was a difficult person and I would agree. She was a functioning alcoholic and in those days this was acceptable. She had a temper and was not what anyone would call “warm and fuzzy”. There were not many hugs or “I love you’s” in our house. With that said, she raised three children alone, kept a nice home for us against all odds and ensured that we had the best education possible to enable all three of us to improve our own lives. I am blessed to have had such a strong woman as a mother.
As I raise my own children I struggle to find the right balance. Many of their friends are handed everything with no understanding of the value attached to the items. Too many parents would rather be a friend than parent. I never want to have the heavy hand I was raised with yet I want to ensure there is structure and discipline, but discipline filled with love. Yes there is such a thing. The ability to say “no” to your children, to realize that they may get mad at you and life will go on.
Being a parent is not always easy, as a matter of fact uneasy is how I feel much of the time. So many firsts in life that need to be explained. Hurt feelings, confusion and the unknown are all a part of everyday life and I love it! Each day is an adventure and I look forward to every one of them!
Life is messy, and hard and sometimes downright mean. I would like to be able to tell my kids that it is filled with unicorns and roses but that would be silly, untrue and would not prepare them for the reality of the future. I would like to tell them that they can just shut the door until the hard stuff is over but that would just make them victims to the evils that would eventually consume them. I would like to tell them that they could close their eyes and wish it all away but in my opinion that would ensure them a future of failure.
No, I tell my girls the truth. The cold, hard and often ugly truth. Life is unfair, hard and dirty at times and often it will disappoint you. With that truth comes the real lesson, a lesson of perseverance that those who keep their heads up, those who work hard, those who strap in for the rough ride will succeed in the end and be the stronger for it! My girls have lived this lesson from early ages. I am sure they feel that their lives have been often unfair to this point, Madison being witness to my miscarriage, major health scares for both of their parents and more hospital visits than any child should have to endure. They have seen their father work non stop only to have his pay cut and eventually be laid off by the same company. I am fully aware that our lives are a paradise when compared to others. We all have our struggles, how you deal with them makes us who we are.
I try to teach the girls that when life gets tough to face it and never give up. I hope that my husband and I have modeled this same lesson for them. There is often an easier way but it does not make it right. Never run and never bury your head in the sand. Do not be afraid to try, to fail, but NEVER stop trying, learn and grow and always keep smiling.
As meaningful as those lesson are, it is also important, more important to celebrate the wins, the glass is half full side of things. The fact that my girls are healthy and smart, athletic and kind. The fact that after a tough search my husband has found a wonderful new job. From time to time, it is nice to live in a world of unicorns and when life is on an upswing you grab on with both hands! How do you best celebrate the positive turn in events? With a trip to Disney World of course! Very soon we will be off to see that amazing Mouse! For our family Disney is that place where you get to close your eyes and wish it away, that world where fantasy is reality and pixie dust rules the land! I can not wait….Mickey we will be there soon!
Our entire lives are spent working to prepare for the next thing. Kindergarten is spent getting kids ready for first grade. Stand in any first grade classroom throughout the day and you will hear continually that they will need to know this for second grade. Elementary school is all about preparing for middle school, middle school for high school and the four years spent there is all about getting into the right college (or for many of what you could afford). We go to college to be prepared for the real world and once there many feel they are totally not prepared!
What no one ever tells you is that there is just no end to the cycle. When we are young we assume that it is all for a purpose, as if we will be rewarded as a result of our years of preparation. Once out of school it is about working to get ahead or more the norm just to stay afloat. Work hard, hard, harder just to pay your bills and don’t forget the outstretched hand of the government. Property taxes, sales taxes, federal income taxes and for many of us state income taxes and now a presidential election where some say we still don’t pay enough.
Our lives lived as if we were merely hamsters on a wheel, running in circles.
Recently there has been much sadness around us. Cancer, a very rare medical situation and a massive heart attack. Taken much too young, a friend, an acquaintance , a relative of a friend, all under 50 years. Why does it take such tragedy to make you say STOP, if even for just a little while. We spent the weekend as a family enjoying beautiful weather and some great soccer.
Sure the bills must be paid and the tests taken. The days will pass but we all need to make a conscience effort to enjoy the little things. To stop and recognize the beauty of each day. I am not an extremely religious person but I thank God for each morning I get to kiss the girls as I wake them or see them smile with each new achievement. Life is too short, before you know it you are looking back wishing for one more moment. Enjoy the moments while in them, smile more and worry less. It’s easy enough to say right? I am willing to put in the effort!
At the end of the year WordPress sent a recap. I glanced at it but did not really read it. I have not posted regularly in a while. Honestly it sat unread in my inbox until the other day. The recap itself was not too interesting since it only covers what I posted, which was not much, but it brought to mind a very stressful year. It brought to mind laughter and tears, memories that were at times busy, frustrating, exciting, painful, stressful and of course love filled. At many times I thought of posting to help me clear my head but for so many reasons at the time it just did not seem right.
Sometimes the weight on your shoulders seems too heavy. It often seems to great to bear but when you are about to scream, it is good idea to step back and take a second to look down the road you have just traveled if for nothing else than perspective.
Early in the year I was approached to run for political office with 2 others for township council. We won the primary but in the end I fell short by about 30 votes of winning in the general election. Months of meetings, greetings, hand shakes and campaigning. Politics can be ugly. It was a very interesting experience that I am thrilled I attempted but to be fully honest I am just as thrilled to leave behind. It was time consuming and stressful on my family especially my girls who have grown accustomed to my being home every night to put them to bed. We could have done good things for our township had we won but each day I know I do great things for my girls, and in the end that is enough for me.
At the end of May I received an emergency phone call from school to pick-up Megan after a recess accident. During a kick ball game she had run into another student and had fallen. She hit her head on the concrete and was cut up pretty good. An urgent care visit and many tears later we realized we had our first broken bone of the family. Much celebration came when the cast was off at the end of June in time for swimming.
Sadly this was actually the second experience with emergency rooms for us in the year. One of the more stressful and downright terrifying events of the year was in early May when Frank fell short of breath and began having chest pains. Within a few short minutes he could barely stand on his own. We rushed him to the hospital where he stayed for several days. After a cardiac catheterization, a heart attack, along with any heart issue was ruled out thankfully. No perfect answer was ever fully provided to us as to the exact cause but again, thankfully, he has been fine ever since.
Of course we had the normal hustle and bustle of travel soccer, basketball, music lessons and Karate. Both girls achieved their red belts this year. Years of work and focus, not an easy achievement.
We went to Niagara falls Canada in July and had a wonderful time, although the prices were ridiculous. We did the normal tourists things and enjoyed some nice family time. We also took a ride to the Toronto Zoo to see the Giant Panda’s. Amazing creatures!
During the holidays we were treated to a performance of the school’s fifth grade chorus, of which Megan is a member, singing along with the South Jersey Philharmonic Symphony. Megan was so thrilled to be on stage. It was something special to witness!
My husband worked for a well know large company which I will not name. Over the years he was subjected to pay cuts in the name of streamlining which we accepted. Things over the last year had been stressful but came to a head in mid November when he was notified that the decision had been made to lay him off along with hundreds of others. (Yes the media says things are so much better, question what you are told). Christmas was both a blessing where he was able to enjoy the girls without work but also extremely stressful since he had not landed a job. Tomorrow 2/9 he starts a new chapter in our lives with a new company. Good luck to my Frank and we love you!
I continue to turn to this forum as a sounding board and I apologize if this is a bit rambling. I realize it is late but I wish everyone a happy New Year and say cheers to new starts, new years and new opportunities!