Confessions of an Inner Child

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Do you have an inner child?  One who kicks and screams her little pig-tailed head off when things don’t go as you want them to?  I do.  Normally she is content to play with her dollies and not rear her spoiled-rotten head –but there are times when she just won’t stay put and remain silent; and no amount of ignoring her or distraction works to quiet her constant “woe is me” tirades.

She annoys me.

She frustrates me.

Unfortunately, she is me.

Any offense or slight can set her off.  Big or small.  Real or imagined.

She makes me forget the good things in my life. She causes me to be distracted from the beautiful moments that happen all around me every day. Her voice plays in an unending loop – a loop of complaints and offenses. 

Why not me?

Why wasn’t I invited?

Why don’t I have that?

Why can’t I be smarter, thinner, beautiful?

Why can’t my house be fancier?

Why haven’t I been more successful?

Why?

Why?

Why?

Waah!

Waah!

Waah! Continue reading “Confessions of an Inner Child”

So we got a dog today…almost

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I have wanted a dog for a long time.  Probably about 8 years or so but definitely since we moved into this house 4 years ago.  I had a myriad of pets growing up and am of the belief that all children should have the experience of having at least one pet in their younger years.  I think pets provide companionship and, if insisted upon by a child’s parents, a good dose of responsibility – which let’s be honest all children need to cultivate.

I had great experiences, for the most part, with animals growing up – there really is nothing like the unconditional love a pet provides.  I wanted that for my daughter.  Combine that with the fact that my kid is animal crazy – she loves learning about animals – she loves talking about animals – she loves reading about animals – she just loves animals.  What is funny, however, is that up until about a year ago she was deathly afraid of real live animals – dogs especially.  She would run screaming whenever a real live animal was anywhere near her. And, so I put my dreams of a pet for her on the back burner – there is enough trauma in this life – no need to add to her angst by forcing a dog on the poor child.

Something interesting happened about a year ago – her fear began to recede – she started to approach and even pet dogs when we would see them out and about; and she started to ask for a dog.  A real live dog – a pet of her very own.

At this point, I should tell you, my husband did not have the same positive pet experiences in his past.  The dogs he had, according to his telling of the stories, were second cousins to Cujo.  They were crazy, flesh eating, foam at the mouth, destroy the house dogs. Any time I have ever broached the subject of maybe, some day getting a dog his answer would always be the same – dogs cost $500 a month to maintain (exaggerate much??) and dogs poop in your shoes.  Every time – the same answer – for 8 years of marriage – $500 and poop in the shoes.  I would explain – I don’t want a big dog – I don’t want a greyhound for goodness sake – just a 20-25 lb dog – a small to medium sized dog. An adult dog – no puppies.  Just a regular old fun dog!  $500 and poop in the shoes!

Today we were at a local outdoor market.  The Animal Protective League had a mobile adoption unit out with animals who were available to adopt.  My husband took my daughter and niece to just go look at the cats and dogs, and came back a little while later saying that there were 2 beagles that he would be ok with us looking at to adopt – both were “middle aged”, so out of the puppy phase and both seemed to really be sweet.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  What??!?!?

I basically ran to the dogs to take a look – I mean after 8 YEARS of $500 and poop in the shoes – for him to initiate even the POSSIBLITY of a dog – I ran.  I took each of the dogs for a walk and they were both doll babies – so friendly and sweet and loving – but one was a little bigger than the other, so after a while we settled on the smaller, female – Breezie.  Isn’t that a great name!?!

We filled out the application – talked about all the vaccinations that had been done, when the next would be due, got a leash –because I don’t HAVE  a dog leash just laying around.  Talked about which vets are good.  What kind of food Breezie prefers.  Arden was literally dancing around squealing she was so happy – I have never seen such joy on her little face.

Our application was approved and we were finishing the paper work – and then it happened.  The main headquarters for the APL text the woman at the mobile unit and said that if we wanted Breezie we had to adopt both her and the other dog – Ace.  You see they were from the same rescue and had to go together or not at all.  The woman at the mobile unit pleaded our case to the headquarter chick – no way we could have two dogs.  These dogs had already been adopted out as a pair twice before and were returned because they were just too much together – maybe it was time for a new tactic.  Nothing worked. This woman, who I totally wanted to hug because she was as distraught as we were about us not getting Breezie – made tons of phone calls and sent text after text to try to get us that sweet dog.  But, alas, it was not to be.

So, after over an hour of paperwork, falling in love, and being heroes to my kid – my husband and I had the great privilege of breaking the bad news.  The face crumple and tears that followed were heart wrenching and pathetic.  I teared up behind my sunglasses as we explained that it was probably for the best – there would be another opportunity to find a dog – we weren’t ready for one today anyway – we will go this week to the shelter to look at what other nice doggies might need a home.

Y’all it was awful!  And to top it all off – I think I am taking it worse.  Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about level 10 – full-out, heart-crushing, tear-inducing, drama-filled devastation…that is what I’m feeling right now.  I am totally pouting.

I am telling myself that it is for the best – maybe Breezie was really Cujo’s first cousin and would have destroyed my home 10 minutes after her arrival.  I am telling myself that I am a planner and we had not planned for a dog today – we weren’t ready – we would have had to run out and buy a ton of stuff that wasn’t in the budget.  I am telling myself that the “no” today was just to ensure that the dog that we are supposed to have doesn’t miss out on the awesomeness of us.

But I am sad.  I had my heart opened and ready to love this little orphaned doggie and I had to walk away from her.  I couldn’t even tell her goodbye because I was afraid I would start blubbering like a fool.

So today was hard and disappointing and sad – BUT there is a dog in my future….maybe not today or tomorrow – but soon – and Breezie made that possible. So thanks for that, sweet dog, and I hope you find a great place with Ace!

Selfish???

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January 24, 2010

When I was 19, I came home from college with a perplexing medical issue.  I had been feeling “off” for several months of my freshman year and some issues had been becoming more and more annoying.  Over the summer, I went to see my family physician to find out what was going on.  I was sure it was just freshman angst and the adjustment of being away from home for the first time.  However, it turned out that I had a significant female issue that had the possibility of being a life-long struggle of fertility.  I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have children…at least not naturally…and that if I wanted to have a family someday it was going to require a significant amount of medication and possibly additional medical intervention. 

At 19, this was really not an issue for me.  I had never really fancied myself a mother and didn’t have dreams of being one in the future.  At this point in my life, I had dreams of being chief of staff to the majority leader in the Senate or a famous political commentator.  I wanted to do big things – I wanted to BE a big thing.  I didn’t want to be a mom or a wife or live in the Midwest or any of the things that this diagnosis deemed difficult if not impossible.  I was ok with it – I had moments of disappointment in the days and months following the doctor’s announcement – but for the most part I was cool.

I finished college and achieved my dream of moving to DC – I lived in the world of politics for 5 years and did things that I had only dreamed of as a political junky in Springfield, IL.  And then 9/11 happened.  The world kind of fell apart for me that day – I saw the plane hit the Pentagon – I experienced the fall out of anthrax and tanks in the streets – I didn’t deal with it well.  Several events conspired to send me back home about a year after that fateful day.  I spent a few years in Champaign and then moved back to Springfield to teach history at the high school I had attended 12 years before. 

While teaching at that school, I met my now husband – that story is long and fantastic and definitely the subject for another blog.  Suffice it to say, we met, fell in love and got married within 5 months.  It was truly magical.  He had been married before and had children from that union. We talked a bit about whether we wanted children of our own together, but I told him of the doctor’s predictions of significant complications should I want a child and we agreed together that children weren’t likely in our future.  We were both good with that decision.

Fast forward a year after our wedding and I discovered much to my surprise that I was pregnant. It was amazing.  I was thrilled. He was thrilled. We were so excited about the coming baby.  Arden Whitney Jones was born in all of her fantastic glory on January 23, 2010.  She was and is a miracle baby that was never supposed to be, but wow are we glad that she IS.

The above story brings me to the topic of today’s blog.  Selfishness.

Shortly after Arden was born many, many, MANY well-meaning friends and acquaintances started to ask when we would be having another baby.  Arden needed a sibling that could be a playmate and confidant. We made such a beautiful little girl, why wouldn’t we give another to the world?

Each time someone would say something like this, I would go into a list of reasons why we couldn’t or wouldn’t be having another baby any time soon – “one is enough”; “we got it so perfect with the first one”; “we want to have some time with this one first” – never the real reason – I am NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO HAVE A KID!

Once someone, who I know loves me and loves my family, said that to only have one child is selfish – and that our daughter deserves a sibling. Ouch.  And you know, I agree…my child does deserve a sibling to play with – a confidant to tell secrets to – a blood-friend who, even in the years when they would hate each other, will defend her to the end.

In the years after Arden was born I would pray with each cycle that somehow another pregnancy would occur, but it never did.  It has been 6 years since her birth, and she is still my only child.

Terry and I are “older” parents, and we know that Arden will be fairly young when she has to deal with the reality of elderly parents.  I wish she had someone to shoulder that burden with her.  I wish she had a built-in playmate on the days when Mom and Dad just can’t play with her.  I wish she had a little brother or sister to boss around.  Continue reading “Selfish???”

Disappointment

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This is a topic we have been addressing at home a lot lately.  There are so many things that disappoint us – and by “us”, I of course mean my 6 year old.  If a friend is not available to play, she is disappointed. If Mom or Dad can’t drop what they are doing to come running to meet whatever current need she is experiencing, she is disappointed. If she doesn’t get what she wants exactly when she wants, she is disappointed.

There are no degrees of disappointment with her – every disappointment is a level 10 – full-out, heart-crushing, tear-inducing, drama-filled devastation.  We try to navigate each of these with patience and concern, giving the situationally appropriate response to try to train her to recognize that some disappointments are more annoying than life-altering; but it never seems to make much difference.  She hasn’t figured out how to regulate her disappointment.  This may be the most stressing thing about being her parent – how to reason with the unreasonable level of emotion that is attached to every, single, stinking disappointment that comes along! It is quite simply more than I can take some days.

I’ve tried all the cliché statements – “sometimes life isn’t fair”; “everything isn’t about you”; “take a deep breath and think of good things” – I hold the line and stand my parental ground; I don’t cave to begging, bartering, pleading, crying, etc. – but my child is stubborn.  She can wallow in disappointment longer than anyone I’ve ever encountered.  She’ll figure it out one day – she just hasn’t yet.  It is annoying and frustrating and enraging. Continue reading “Disappointment”

A Promise to my Daughter

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You were a miracle from the moment I knew you were coming.  You were not planned for or even considered a possibility and then there was the reality of you.  From that moment, my life has been changed in so many ways.  Gone are the times of thinking of only how my decisions impact me.  Gone are the moments of guilt free laziness that used to fill my Friday nights.  Gone is the lack of empathy for parents whose children struggle to make friends or worry about how their children will succeed in school.  Gone is any moment that doesn’t have you in some part of it.  And I would not change that for anything.

You are the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind before sleep claims the end of my day.  You are more precious to me than any job, adventure, gift or achievement.  Because of you, I have a new name and a new purpose.  I am your mom, and that title has redefined every goal and direction of my life.

Yesterday, as we lay talking in the backyard, telling fairy tale stories of puppies and rainbow cities, I had a moment of deep awareness that every one of these moments will shape us both.  I want to be more intentional in how I approach these precious times with you, my angel.  I want you to be secure in the knowledge that I do not take these times for granted.  So often, we wait until life throws us tragedy to say the important and eternal things to the ones we love; I don’t want to wait.

So today, on a very ordinary Monday – as you are in school and I am waiting for the moment that I will pick you up and hear all about today’s adventures – I want to take a few moments to make some promises to you.

I promise to love you, unconditionally – no matter what choices you make – good or bad.  I promise to tell you in a loving and constructive way the truth about life and how all of our choices have consequence – both good and bad.  I promise to let you cry and console you when you make bad choices, because you will; and to help you find your way back to what is right.

I promise to help you feel good about yourself.  There are times when you just won’t feel good about yourself – puberty is not a friend to anyone – but in those times, I promise to help you find ways to look at things in a different way so that you are able to hold your head up high and be proud that you are a miracle – a treasure – a woman made in the very image of God.  Continue reading “A Promise to my Daughter”

The little fence that could…again

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Our neighbors put up a fence in the fall. It was an odd looking thing.  The posts were too tall for it and had weird spindle things on top – like someone had bought the left overs of different fence projects and tried to put them together as one. They assembled and set up the whole thing in one day.  It fell down during a storm a couple of weeks later.

A few weeks after the storm, they put the fence back up.  It fell down again during a particularly windy and rainy weekend.

Today they are out in their yard putting the fence up for the third time.  I don’t know about you, but I think this shows a remarkable level of determination. Each time the fence goes up again, the same two guys come over, drag out the same tools, place the posts in the same holes and attach the same fence pieces. It doesn’t appear that they ever dig the post holes deep enough or put enough support around the posts to keep them in.    The fence has never stayed up long enough for them to treat the wood with any type of water protection, so the whole thing will probably rot before they get it to stay up and I’m nearly 100% sure that this fence raising attempt will be as unsuccessful as the last 2.

But each time I spot work being done on the fence, I’m filled with a little bit of sweet hope that this time will be the time of success – that the fence will stand and will stay standing. This time will be the time that no wind or soggy ground will knock it over. This time they have learned the lessons of the last few failures and made the adjustments necessary to make it work. Continue reading “The little fence that could…again”

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