This weekend, as per usual around here, was full of hard labor. Until our yard is complete, there will be many, many more weekends like those. However, some of the hardest labor was eased by the use of a skid steer we borrowed from my husband’s brother.
In the middle of our “leveling the ground” project, our youngest ran up to the skid steer and asked his father if he could drive it. I said nothing and wasn’t even surprised when my husband said yes. After watching my oldest child drive the tractor on the farm since he was eight years old, letting our youngest drive a different piece of heavy equipment at twelve wasn’t even shocking.
This is probably my husband’s greatest gift to our children. His endless patience with our children allows them to try all kinds of things, even scary, deadly things like saws and other power tools. Yes, their initial attempts often mean mistakes. Mistakes that could be avoided if my husband would just do it himself, but he won’t. It’s in those moments I have to remind myself that nobody can really learn anything just by watching. And when I think about all the things my children have actually learned to do on their own–change oil in a car, wire and electrical plug, shovel with some mad skills–I can see the proof that my husband’s do-it-for-yourself approach has been a very wise one.
As I’ve discussed before, this homeschooling thing has been a real challenge for me. But, there is one area that I’ve actually enjoyed–my daughter’s American Sign Language class. A long time ago, we’re talking decades, I was an interpreter of the deaf. I haven’t had the opportunity to really use it much, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the vocabulary. My daughter’s class is showing me just how much I’ve forgotten, but with the contextual gleaning skills I learned from the interpreting courses I took all those years ago, more often than not, I’m able to pick out enough to decode what the teacher is signing. And with each passing week, this old skill set of mine is getting better. It’s true, you’re never too old to learn–or in my case–relearn something new.
This week I spent a good deal of time unpacking the final boxes from our last move almost four years ago, and some of those boxes hadn’t been unpacked in almost ten years. We’ve had to move so many times over the years I sometimes feel like I’m living the life of Mrs. incredible, but without the superpowers.
In the middle of all the nicknacks and useless things I can’t seem to throw away, I found several journals. Though I love to write, I’ve never been a consistent journaler. My real life isn’t nearly as interesting as the characters in my books, so finding the motivation to catalogue one more boring day takes a dedication I can’t seem to muster.
While flipping through the pages of one particular journal, a small, yellow note fell out. It was the first note my husband ever wrote to me after being married for only a couple of days. The note was just a simple thank you for cleaning the house that day. I gushed in my journal about the thoughtful man I married. Our anniversary is coming up next month. And I can say, that even after twenty-one years of marriage, his consideration of me and my feelings have never lessened. How blessed am I? There’s never been a day since I married him that I regretted my choice.
I would like to say thank you to my loyal readers. While scrolling through my facebook notifications, I saw a ton of views going to my author Janelle Evans page. But these views were spread out over several days, not just on Mondays when I normally post. It got me wondering what the heck I had written that had so many people going back. A quick check to my blog showed I had forgot to post anything, not just for one week, but two. I’ve never done that before since I started this blog, but in all fairness nothing in my life is going like it normally does, so it’s even easier for me to be distracted and forgetful. I promise, I’ll try to do better from now on. Now, how about a funny insight for your faithfulness…
This week was supposed to be spring break for my kids, but rather than a trip to some new destination, we were home. And yet, I still found it to be a joyous reprieve. I got a whole week off from doing yeoman’s work to help my youngest son with his online learning. He has told me more than once throughout this ordeal. “Mom, it’s math, I’ll just wait for dad.”
No, math is not my most favorite subject, but I didn’t think I was a complete dummy in that area. After couple of days of Googling almost every problem he was given to figure out how to help him, I started to agree with his assessment. We needed dad. Ugh! I guess me being gifted in everything was never going to happen.
This week has been surreal, as I’m sure it has been for many of you. I struggled to fit my home-office job, my kids mounting online homework, and the extra housework their constant presence brought into my once balanced day life. By the end of the first day, I had clenched my hands in frustration so much they hurt. How would I survive another fourteen days like this, when I felt driven to the brink on day one?
That night it struck me, I had spent the day trying to keep with the status quo, but this wasn’t like business as usual. And I would never get through this if I kept trying to act like it was.
The next day, I stopped stressing that I wasn’t working in my office during my normal hours. Instead, I focused on the positives this quarantine had brought. My teenage children were now a literally captive audience. Beyond homework, we started a puzzle, played board games, even had a bonfire where my youngest ate so much junk food he gave himself a tummy ache.
Yep, I haven’t been nearly as efficient with my office work–most of it doesn’t happen until the evenings now. This won’t last forever, so I’m taking the opportunity to strengthen my relationships with them. Work will always be there.
I realized a long time ago that if I wanted things from life, I needed live with intention. What I mean by that, is everything I do should be for a purpose to help me grow into a better person. Though the purpose will vary depending on the situation, I don’t think “having fun” should ever be anyone’s actual reason for doing anything.
“Fun” is by product of our attitude toward a situation. With the right attitude, anything can be fun. But fun isn’t where we find growth so it shouldn’t be our focus.
For this reason I’ve stopped asking my kids “Did you have fun?” whenever they come home from school or an event. “What did you learn? What did you dislike or like? What would you do differently?” are common questions I ask my kids.
Most of the time they roll their eyes as they answer, but they answer. Even with the one word responses I sometimes get out of them, I hope that over time this conditioning will help them focus on finding greater purposes than having fun.
In my basement, for the last five years, has lurked a cedar chest that I’m grateful I was given but wished I didn’t have. It belong to my mother, and the fact that I had it meant she was no longer here. The last time I saw my mother alive, she asked that I take the cedar chest she was given as a young girl and give it to my daughter when she came of age.
“You’ll have to refinish it,” she said with the sweet smile she always wore. “You kids were hard on all my things.”
It wasn’t a lie. After the abuse of more than forty years and six kids, the cedar chest was in need of some tender lovin’ care. I walked past it often and smile at the broken, bronze feature on the front, reminiscing about my mom and this cedar chest that always occupied a space in her bedroom. I had a lot of fond and funny memories of hanging out with my mom in her room, and refurbishing the cedar chest felt like wiping those memories away, so it sat for another five years.
This week, my daughter’s upcoming sixteenth birthday forced me to finally honor my mom’s wishes. Power sander in hand, I scrubbed the marred finish away. I’m sure my husband kept wondering why I took so many breaks. But when I couldn’t keep the tears at bay, I walked away. I didn’t want my blurry sight to cause an accident, like nicking the wood.
The original finish is all gone now and I have many coats of new stain to apply, but I know my mother is grateful that her cedar chest is going to another young girl full of hope and dreams–another reminder that although she is gone her influence never will be.
As any girl will tell you, the teenage years are hard and sometimes downright suck. The past year has been especially difficult for my daughter. Her knees required one more surgery to remove the appliances repressing her growth plates for almost two years. We were able to do the surgery in the summer before school started, but opening up the old scars made them even more puckered and noticeable. Embarrassed, she wears pants, a lot. But being a swimmer, she has to trade in those pants for a leg revealing swimsuit at least five times a week, if not more.
This past week a group of high school boys at the pool noticed her knees and decided to pounce. Over and over they brought up the scars on the inside of her knees, calling them grotesque and hideous. Some of them even accused her of cutting her body for attention.
It was a quiet car ride home that day from the pool. When she finally came clean and told me what happened, part of me thought about driving back and punching every single one of those boys in the face. But I’ve learned over the years that running around demanding every wrong be met with justice is exhausting and seldom changes anyone’s behavior.
Instead, I pointed to her knees. “To me, those scars are a miracle. We were able to fix your knees without many, many surgeries. You can walk, and even run now without hardly any pain. I promise if you focus on the good things those scars brought, the taunts of others will fade, just like these scars will fade over time.”
I don’t show many pictures of my children, but, just help the reader understand, I’ve attached the before and after surgery pictures of my daughter’s legs.
The concept of “free” is thrown around a lot now days. I personally teach my children to be wary of anybody touting “free” anything. As my mother always said, “Nothing in life is ever truly free.”
This week my oldest son got his first W-2 ever. To say he was shocked at what the government had taken out of his paycheck in the six months he worked last year is an understatement.
“Why did they take out so much?”
Welcome to reality I thought, doing my best not to crack a smile. “Where do you think the government gets the money they give to other people and countries?”
Just like every teenager I’ve ever met, he made it all about himself. “Me.”
“Not just you, but all of us.”
“Man, this sucks.” He stomped down into his room.
Yes it does, and I hope he always remembers that. Maybe he won’t be so inclined to jump on the “free” train I see all around me. Because, eventually, any expanded “free” government programs will be coming out of his paycheck.