One bird, two nests.

Everyone knows that when your children grow up and leave home, the parents left behind may experience what many have termed, “empty nest syndrome”. For approximately 18 years, your children live under your roof and so much of your time and energy as a parent is spent watching over them, helping them, guiding them, teaching them, and so much more. Since my kids are still relatively little, I felt nothing in common with these Empty Nesters, nor did I really give that future phase of my life much consideration.

I had years and years before I would experience an empty nest.

Except I didn’t. No one warned me about the junior version of the Empty Nest: when all of your children are in school.

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When Missing You Never Ends

My Grandma was someone whom I didn’t fully appreciate until she was gone. We were close, but in her lifetime I didn’t get the opportunity to form a relationship with her as an adult or as a mother or as a friend. She passed away one month before I became pregnant with The Big and while I feel certain that she still knew him in a spiritual way, a big part of me will always mourn the fact that my Grandma and The Big (and The Little) never got to know each other here on earth.

My beautiful Grandma

Some people pass and we think of them from time to time: on special occasions or when we come across something that reminds us of them. But I carry my Grandma in my heart and in my consciousness nearly all the time. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and I often feel her energy and spiritual presence around me. There are parts of who I am that I didn’t realize came from both my Grandma and my own mother. Aspects of my character that I used to think of as weaknesses that I now cherish as family traits. I see now that qualities such as my highly sensitive nature are what make me my own unique square on a beautiful family quilt. Cut from the same cloth, indeed.

I am a highly sensitive person. When I read articles like this one, I think, “Ohhhh….that’s ME!”. If you know me personally no doubt you can see that, too. I look to my Mom and see where I get it from. A super awesome part about becoming an adult (besides choosing my own bedtime and eating chocolate in the morning) is forging a new relationship with my Mom. I always knew we would, at this stage, talk about “adulting” topics like finances and parenting and recipes. I didn’t anticipate talking about spirituality and personalities and deep, deep topics that many people simply aren’t aware of or don’t relate to. It is uber cool. I so badly wish I could speak to my Grandma about these things, too. I do, in my own way, but not in a way that would allow me to reach out and hold my Grandma’s hand or inhale her scent during a long hug (Snuggle fabric softener). What I wouldn’t give to know my Grandma in this new way. This way of being an adult and having a friendship that goes beyond the expected family ties. My heart aches to be able to pour her a cup of coffee on a sunny morning and sit on my porch with her in the flesh beside me, gently slurping as we both take in the morning sun and the sound of the birds. She used to do this when she’d visit (it drove my Dad crazy): she’d pour her morning coffee then take it down to the front door. Looking to the sky out the front of the house she would slurp a sip then sigh. A moment later she’d pad down the hallway to the back door, then look to the sky out the back of the house and slurp a sip then sigh. My Dad always wondered if the weather was very different at the front of the house compared to the back. Now I wonder if she was considering the weather at all, or if she was taking in something bigger. Better. Invisible.

This blog has no ending because the love I have for Grandma deepens all the time. I miss her more as time goes on. And while I intend to get her know her still, on a spiritual level, I will continue to ache for her. It’s been almost 9 years and I have learned that you never stop missing someone, you just get used to carrying around the ache of their absence. There is a quote by Jamie Anderson that says, “Grief is just love with no place to go.”. I couldn’t agree more.

For those of you carrying around this ache (now that we’re in our 30s I imagine that’s most of us), I am sorry for your losses…

Take care of yourself,
Mel

Grief is just love with no place to go

Jamie Anderson

Mother’s Day: Hallmark vs. Reality

Mother’s Day.

Hallmark and the like have created a vision for us of what this day should be….

*cue sentimental yet playful music*…

Mother is awoken from her peaceful slumber first by the bright rays of the mid-morning sun streaking across her pastel floral bedspread. The birds chirp and the sound of small feet coming closer to the bedroom door make Mother smile. She sits up against the plethora of tastefully chosen feather pillows, her hair a delightfully tidy messy pony tail, her smooth, young face and rosy lips show off her perfect white teeth and her dark and luscious lashes. The door opens and two children bounce onto the bed while Father brings in a wooden tray with a complete breakfast for Mother to enjoy. Somehow the coffee and mimosa avoid being spilled while Mother opens her gifts. Moments later, they’re gone again, leaving Mother to enjoy her breakfast, still piping hot, in peace.

Hours later and after a long bubble bath, she emerges from the bedroom like a princess from her castle. A picnic has quietly been prepared for her while she luxuriated in solace, and the children wait for her in the car. They arrive at the park, which, despite the beautiful weather, is remarkably free of other families, birds, bugs, or anything that may mark a pock in the perfect complexion of this day. They enjoy their picnic, where, miraculously, nothing is forgotten or spilled and the children both eat a generous portion of healthy delicacies without so much as a peep. Running off to play, Father tidies the picnic and then the happy couple cuddles in the sun while they watch their children play completely independently for what seems like hours.

Later, over hot coffees from the thermos, Mother and Father will blow bubbles and fly kites with the children. Everyone runs and laughs and plays. 

The day continues in a similar fashion, ending with dessert and cuddles before the children quickly and quietly retreat to their beds, never coming back out of their rooms until 7:00 the next morning.  

What a perfect day…not a hitch, nor a complaint. Mother moved throughout it like a soft, downy feather floating down a gently babbling brook…

But ACTUALLY…that doesn’t happen for very many. Don’t get me wrong: my Mother’s Day was absolutely lovely and I enjoyed nearly every moment of it. Husband and Father in Law (FIL) worked hard to ensure that Mother in Law (MIL) and I felt loved and cared for and we did. They cooked us breakfast and dinner and shooed us from the kitchen when we tried to help. They gave us flowers and facilitated gifts from the kids and we did go to the playground and out for ice cream. The food was delicious and I felt truly appreciated.

But also.
Also I couldn’t help but do a few chores that weighed on my mind and I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I did them the way I wanted because that’s how I roll. And also I was awake at 7:00am, in bed with The Little because he had a fever the night before and I wanted to be close to him through the night so I wouldn’t worry. And also there were blackflies EVERYWHERE when we sat outside. And also The Little was NOT pleased that McDonald’s doesn’t sell chocolate ice cream and was even LESS pleased when our attempt to create chocolate ice cream by mixing hot fudge into vanilla ice cream failed miserably because it was not “brown enough” and not even worthy of a taste. And also that same Little burnt his fingers on a sparkler at dessert and I behaved like an asshole and YELLED at him to stop crying so we could just eat the “damn cake” and then immediately felt like the *worst mother of the year* because not only does yelling at someone literally NEVER make pain go away OR help them to stop crying but I also single handedly ruined the very dessert that I was afraid his upset would ruin. THEN I carried the guilt and shame of that around all night long like an over-packed ruck sack that I just wouldn’t put down. ESPECIALLY because I was already feeling sadness for my friends who are Mothers and don’t have the option of having their children with them on this day because they live only in Heaven and in their hearts. And I was missing my Grandma. And I was thinking of my friends whose husbands are deployed and so Mother’s Day is just a regular Sunday and they don’t get ANYTHING special.

So, there’s that.
And I talked with my Soul Sister, Miss A. She’d had a rocky moment in her day, too. And I expressed that I was frustrated that, essentially, my day was anything other than the perfect flawless fairy tale. And it was she who pointed out that real life happens on every day of the year, whether or not Hallmark or whomever has tried to make us think otherwise. I sent her pictures of our time at the playground and of the happiest moments of our day and she reminded me that except for a few dicey moments, it was actually a pretty f*cking awesome day. And I really needed that reminder because it is so, so easy to focus on the sum total of maybe 90 minutes that were tricky and forget about the 12 hours that were great. If I were looking at someone else and listening to them tell me the very same story, I would be reminding them of that, too. So why is it so hard for us to do that for ourselves? I guess that’s why we need our best friends and soul sisters, isn’t it?

So thank you to you, Miss A. But also to Miss S and Miss J and to all of the women in my tribe, both here and all over. From each of you I have learned and continue to learn things about not only parenting but of being a real life human woman and there’s no way I could be even a fraction of who I am without literally every single one of you.

It is my hope that for all of your who acknowledged Mother’s Day yesterday, that you have a Soul Sister in your life to help shine some light on the dark corners and help you celebrate the light everywhere else. Whether you were with your own Mom or child, or whether they were elsewhere in the country or elsewhere in your heart, I hope you were able to find joy and to treat yourself with the same grace and compassion that you would offer to your own very best friends.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love Mel

The Boss

I have a really strange work environment. I’ve done a few jobs throughout my teen and adult life, and this one is by far the hardest, most complicated, and with the absolute worst pay.

My job demands that I start work really early, even if I had to work late into the night before. Usually I don’t even have time to shower or eat before the job begins. My job is partly in the service industry and my boss requires that I serve others before I take care of my own needs (can’t a girl just have a shower and a coffee before the day begins?).

The Boss can be really moody and even though I’ve been trained to assert myself and my authority, I still find myself bending to his demands and going back on my own decisions. A lot. I am constantly walking on egg shells so as not to upset him because to be frank, that’s not a road I want to go down if I don’t have to. Trying to talk him down from an “upset” can take ages and by the end, I’m sometimes more than a bit upset, too.

Oh! And this happens all the time: I’ll be working away at something (usually job-related and sometimes something FOR HIM) and The Boss demands that I stop instantly to help him do one of his jobs even if he is fully capable of doing it himself. Oftentimes, I’ll do what he asked me, and the moment I sit back down or keep doing other important work, he has me up again! And even though his hearing is perfect and English is his first language, I have to repeat myself a LOT and practically narrate and explain every single thing I do and every choice I make. Very, very often, The Boss will ask a question and even though I answer it assertively and succinctly, he will ask it again. And again. Trying to manipulate me into giving a different answer. Or he will argue with me that I’m wrong even though I’m not. It’s exhausting! And heaven forbid I show my exasperation or raise my voice or swear (because I *never* do that…especially not under my breath…or sometimes out loud…). That’s really frowned upon. Not just by The Boss but by everyone.

 

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A Different Kind of Baby Blues

Jellybean. Look at those rolls!


I always knew I wanted to be a mother. From the days of Cabbage Patch Dolls and onward, I tend to be a nurturer and knew I wanted my very own tiny Mels when I grew up. I figured I would have three since I am the youngest of three kids myself and loved having a “buffer” sibling if one of them couldn’t be at a family function.

When Hubby and I married we knew we wanted a baby right away. Five months later we got pregnant with Monkey and in December of that year he came earthside and turned us into a family of three. 

Most of my friends who had their first babies around the same time I did waited a little more or a little less than a year before trying to bake bun #2. I waited to feel that twinge of wanting a second, of feeling that we needed another child, but it didn’t come as fast as I thought. We even talked about stopping at one and just having Monkey. After all, we couldn’t ask for a better, cuter kiddo.

 

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My Pink Spectacles

If you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I’m the first to acknowledge the adversities of being a military family and, more specifically, a military spouse. Sometimes it seems like it’s just one thing after the next after the next. It can feel like the hits just keep on coming and we can’t stay afloat.

It’s so easy to say “This was a terrible day/week/month/deployment/etc.” There really often are big stretches of time, hours or days, that feel that way. But as I was reminded recently, not always, but most often, we have a few bad moments in a day/week/month/deployment/etc that cloud the rest of the time and make it all feel terrible. It’s like when you get a work performance review. Most of us could receive nine amazingly complimentary comments and just one negative one, and what do we focus on the most? The one, of course.

 

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Cleavage Sweat (I had you at “cleavage”, didn’t I?)

I thought it had been a few months since I last wrote. I was right…if by “a few” I actually meant “12”. Egads. Well, readers (and by “readers” I mean my friends and family and the few readers who clicked “I’m feeling lucky” on the Google home page and landed here by accident), I am long overdue for an update. I am hoping that by writing just an update today I’ll  get my writing mojo flowing again and will write on a more regular basis.

The last time I wrote I was heavily pregnant with Jellybean and was suffering from a pretty overwhelming dose of Mommy Guilt. At that time I had friends and family rallying and supporting me with encouraging comments like, “You’re a great Mom! Two kids will be no sweat!”,  “Of course you’ll love the baby as much as you love Monkey!”, “You were a kindergarten teacher. If you can manage 18 kids you can definitely manage two!” and “Three cheers for Mel!” followed by a rousing chorus of “Hip, hip, hooray!” by hoards of people at a local community event. Okay, that last one didn’t happen. But I’m sure it would have if I had simply been in the right place at the right time.

 

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The Second Time Around…

A second blog in just a few days – lucky you!

I had a fantastic coffee date this morning with a close friend whom I have really  missed while I was on holidays. It was wonderful to catch up, have our three-year-olds play quietly together, and snuggle her brand new baby. We got to talking about a topic that is currently a big deal to me and we agreed that it wasn’t something commonly discussed, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue.

Today’s topic is having a second child and Mommy Guilt.

 

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Three Nights

Oh…my heart….

This isn’t really how I expected to feel this morning.

I have been looking forward to today for almost a whole year. Today begins the Canadian National Training Conference for my home-based business. Thousands of people are coming to Edmonton, a stone’s throw away from me, including people in my own Area and Nation and I am beyond thrilled. It is a weekend away to develop both personally and professionally. I’m rooming with some girls from my team and it is going to be great. (*Re-reading this section just now I noticed the distinct absence of exclamation marks…)

Except that I just dropped Monkey off at Lady’s house for daycare and I feel closer to tears than euphoria. I thought I would see him off and then come home, crank some tunes, and dance around while I pack. Instead, I’m sitting here with a weight on my chest and uncried tears burning the backs of my eyes.

 

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