Monthly Archiv: December, 2013

Holidays and THANK YOU!

Happy times, retro ski clothes and all.

Happy times.

I am taking time off from the blog to do things like watch musicals, play games, visit family, and skate on the pond. Three items of business follow. If you only read one, read #3!!!!

1. Blogs will be intermittent (and written only if something really compelling occurs) until after the New Year.

2. If you want a quick e-mail to let you know about the occasional post between now and when regular life resumes, now is a great time to sign up for County Road 21 updates by clicking here . The system is very old school for the techno world. If you sign up, here is what to expect . . .

I send out an e-mail with a link to the blog anytime there is a new post. Normally, this means one e-mail a day, five days a week. The e-mail is from countyroad21@gmail.com and is sent manually using blind copies in a group e-mail. I do it this way because I could figure out how to do it and because I don’t personally like to sign up for things where I get notification every time someone comments, or even puts a smiley face.

3.  IMPORTANT.  VERY IMPORTANT.  PLEASE READ.

I want to say thank you, to you, my readers. You have been such a gift to me. It is a privilege to have a place to write, and the fact that you show up and share the space with me both humbles and blesses me a great deal. Blog readership is growing, and that can only be thanks to you as well. Thank you sincerely to each of you for your support. For those who like to just read and not comment (a lot of my male readers fall into this category :) ) THANK YOU. For those who respond with comments, either privately by e-mail/facebook or on the blog, THANK YOU. For those of you who have read something you liked and passed it on to a friend or two, THANK YOU!

I pray for all of you often to have joy and love and all manner of good things caught up in your feet every time you try to take a step.  A very Merry Christmas to you and those you love.

With many thanks,

Michelle

 

 

 

Forgiveness Project Last Chapter

I’ve tried to write what comes for the Forgiveness Project. I considered something on liars.  I wondered about failed friends. I am both these things, but neither piece seemed like it needed that much attention. The most compelling reason for writing them was so that I didn’t have to write today’s post.

With admonishments to myself to suck it up and be a real man, I proceed.

What I would really like for Christmas is to be perfect. In thought, word, and deed. (Not to mention appearances, impressions, and memory.) I am far from these things. For this reason, I am running madly through the house tearing apart the cushions, looking under couches, beds, and in the closets, trying to find any last pieces of bravery I can muster to forgive myself. I do not want the harsh emptiness that comes with refusing to accept forgiveness. This isn’t about not saying sorry. All of me is sorry. This is about accepting freely offered forgiveness. I don’t want to smile, then quietly spit the gift back out, insisting it is ill advised and undeserved. The burden of my failings is heavy. It’s time to let go.

For not being the person I dream of becoming, I forgive myself. For not loving as gently as I picture myself doing someday, I forgive myself. For being a nasty, finger pointing, flaw finding person, I forgive myself.

Sometimes I take other people so personally that it short circuits my insides and I can hardly function. It doesn’t matter if the slight came from someone insignificant, if it hits just right, it can shake me for days. I dream big, talk big, then let the little stick girl living inside the inflatable body of me, go hide in the corner because she’s just so tiny and she’ll be lucky if she can figure out how to brush her teeth properly, much less be a truly decent mother, or make it as a writer.

I don’t like to write about my husband. In my head, I picture us as two oxen hooked to a plow, pulling side by side. Not the usual description of love. I know. The other ox doesn’t feel like something outside of me. He’s at work, he’s at home. It doesn’t matter, he’s pulling with me, loving me and cheering me on. The days I do that for him too, feel good. The days I change from dearest friend to behaviour modification specialist with charts for subpar oxen performance . . . well I hate that self. When I’m not being her, I want to take those damn charts and shove them down her throat. Anything to convince her to be human again.

I am not who I wish I was, but I am forgiven and I am trying.

I accept the beautiful gift of forgiveness offered to me. And I forgive myself.

A thousand pounds gone.

Music. Dancing. It’s almost Christmas.

Forgiveness Project Part IV goes in unexpected direction

I have never been a baby person. My own babies were the only exception. I’m in a strange phase now. I physically ache when I see a baby. I want to run because it hurts. The chances of a baby from me surviving pregnancy are too tiny to risk the battering of my body. It has had enough, and so has the rest of me. I dream about more children anyway.

My brain has informed my heart about reality. I am working to get rid of every single baby thing we own. It is over. Time to move on says my brain.

In May, I called the public adoption agency. I asked if they would even read the paperwork or were we a write off with four kids already in the family. “Definitely not a write off. I like what you bring to the table,” she said. By the time we hung up I was so excited about the possibility of adding a few siblings to our tribe I was dancing.

We filled out forms and more forms. I drove them in so the mail couldn’t slow them down. The next step was an introductory meeting, followed by a course. I waited for a call. I started figuring out our fall schedule so we could attend the course. I called for a date so we could plan our vacation around it. No answer. I drove in to ask. “Don’t worry. We’ll let you know.” I called in again anyway. “Sometime in August. Don’t worry. We’ll let you know.”

We got back from a long weekend and opened an invitation to an introductory meeting that had already happened. I tried not to panic. I called. I left messages with the lady. I drove in to talk to someone. They wrote everything down and said they were sure something would work out. I called again and left a message with the lady’s boss. Then I didn’t call. If God could part the Red Sea, surely He could get a phone call returned.

Every month or so, I want to drive in and make her tell me why. Then I let it go again.

It isn’t meant to be. I try to accept this. Then I hear about a pregnant girl not ready to be a mother and I’m gone. Dreaming. Wondering if maybe this is the child I couldn’t let go of.

I started out to write about forgiving the adoption worker, but I guess this isn’t really about her.

Dear God,

This aching. I hate it. I can’t figure out how to resolve it. I like my life tidy. Dreams exist to be realized, not to gnaw at your insides like a tape worm. Down here, we take medicines to kill tape worms. I want the ache realized or gone. Nothing in between

I am waiting for peace, but it is taking a long time. If you were running a business, you would get hammered on wait times.

I hope the answers and the peace are so good that I forget about everything else once they come. I forgive you for having a different schedule, and not keeping me in the loop on everything. Sometimes it has to be that way with my kids too.

The Forgiveness Project Part III . . . Incompetents among us

Forgiveness would not be sincere if it involved the humiliation of the forgiven. For this reason, today’s forgiveness focus persons cannot be named. While they work in very different places, they fit the shared description of incompetent professionals.

These people grate me like there is no tomorrow. They sit so pleased with themselves and proud of their station. One in particular loves to discuss himself in the third person. (As in, just call Mr. Wallaby if ever you have a question.)

My professionals are madly in love with rules as they apply to me and mine. Never mind that things aren’t working. Never mind the point of why we’re here. Refer to a manual. Quote something, and everything will be ok. There is a remarkably common love for taking everything I say under advisement. I would think they knew each other and were consulting, except they don’t and they aren’t even professing professionalism in the same worlds. They respond to questions and concerns with nonsensical rule quoting or the infamous, “Hmmmm……I’ll have get back to you.”

The Forgiveness Project is falling apart you say. I have reduced myself to blathering about people far away out there somewhere. No, my friend, the colour of white hot that describes my disdain for these people is more real than I like to admit. The particulars of note manage their way across my landscape frequently. I am at most a few days without the intrusion of one of them into my world. Ideally, they would all be fired or transferred to Hollywood. Instead, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how to forgive them.

Grudgingly, I admit that I have also sought to do jobs for which I was inadequate. Taking on the promotion of a failing private school at a time when the entire boarding school market was also failing, with no training or experience in advertising or recruitment is probably one of my more glaring stupidities. Remembering my own incompetence pains me whether or not I drive by the now defunct buildings.

Dear Frustrating Professionals,

I cannot pretend I think you are good at what you do or that I find you easy to work with. But I don’t have to hate you for failing me or mine. Whatever is going on in you, isn’t personal to us. I know the feeling that any second now the game will be up and you’ll be standing naked in the corner with a hundred flashlights pointing at you from the darkness. It makes me a little testy and defensive too. Before you were a person with a job, you were just a person. I will try to remember this and I will pray for you. I forgive you for not being who I wanted you to be. If I end up seeking professional services elsewhere, I’ll try to do so with a little grace. Please forgive me for all the ways in which my interactions with you have been so lacking in grace. For the ways I have run roughshod over the dignity of our shared humanity.

Sincerely,

Michelle

Forgiveness Project Part II (The people at the hospital that day)

file000640497966  I am sorry to be bringing up a very, very bad day again. Blame the forgiveness project. After the whole miscarriage, pass out repeatedly, call 911 incident in the spring, I ended up at the hospital of my not-choice. The paramedics were wonderful. They acted at all times as if something was wrong with me and I needed help. Given my state, I found their attitude encouraging.

Once at the ER, I was left in the hallway for more than an hour. This did not feel nice, but at least I got to keep the paramedics. After that, they rolled me into an empty room and shut the door. Here, I inherited nurse primary and nurse other. For another couple of hours they did as little as possible to assist me. By request of my husband, I received oxygen and an IV drip. Otherwise, I was told to walk to the bathroom and sighed at when it was explained that I couldn’t go two steps without passing out. Help bells were rung and ignored when my husband was worried about how long I had passed out for, or about me having a seizure. Nurse primary was rather uncomfortable with the sight of blood. (It made it hard for us to develop a positive relationship as my entire condition was all about continual bleeding.)

Dr. in charge, came by a couple of times, as in twice, possibly three times, for about 45 seconds each time. He was sure the worst was past and I’d be going home soon. It was difficult to see what he was basing his diagnosis on, as no one, nurse or doctor, ever did an assessment of me. In fact, oddly, until I was transferred to the angelic OB/GYN’s no one actually touched me, except to draw blood. They glanced briefly at my face, but mostly they looked at their charts or the machines that told them about me.

That was in March. This is December. I know. I should have forgiven them by now. I have tried not to think about them. They kind of popped out after I thought about vegetable man. Did I mention also that my disgust for them feels justified?

Deep breath.

And again.

Ok.

I too have treated people as interruptions rather than human beings. I have failed to see fear and vulnerability, and so failed to provide empathy or care. I have failed to see the people I am assigned to care for, bleeding to different kinds of death right in front of me.

To the nurses and doctor assigned to me that day, I forgive you. I have been you too. May we all have fresh eyes to recognize the very real needs around us. May we have to grace to respond with compassion, and the humility to say, I’m sorry. May you and your families be much blessed this Christmas and always.

Forgiveness Project and the Vegetable Man

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If were I to stay at home (my preferred location 98.5% of the time) I would not have to pass the vegetable man’s house. Boy one’s bus stop is a few miles away. I get in the car to pick him up because otherwise he would be late for dinner. This forces me to drive by the vegetable man’s house and therefore to think of him. Driving by a few weeks ago, a terrible thought came. Perhaps I should forgive the vegetable man.

I do not want to forgive the vegetable man. The thought of him rankles me. Seeing his gardens are bad enough, the few times I saw him out working, disgust darts were sucked out of my eyes and shot out through the windshield towards him. The vegetable man didn’t have the decency to hurt me, he hurt my son. In case it is not obvious, I am justified.

I spent a lot of the summer hoping for a new kind of blight to strike certain fields of vegetables. For the fall I hoped that pumpkin sales were plummeting. Technically, my family has been informed that we will be in a state of vegetable starvation for a very extended period of time before I would ever deign to buy that man’s produce.

The last day I picked up boy one from his first summer job, he wouldn’t get into the car until he’d picked beans for just a little bit longer so the bucket would be extra full. He carefully bagged up the vegetables I had bought in silence. When we were out of the driveway, he told me in tears that he no longer had a job. Vegetable man had fired him an hour ago with odd comments that didn’t add up, not much warning, and not much dignity.

On forgiving the man, I feel like I am stuck in the Cat and the Hat book. “But could you, would you . . . for the baby in the manger?”

“I could not would not . . . ”

And then it’s all downhill.

Like vegetable man, I have been unmerciful and unkind. I too have failed to see the tenderness of those I dismiss with little or no grace. Sigh.

Dear Vegetable Man,

I forgive you.

May the year ahead see your gardens overflowing.

Truly, may the taste of your beans be the talk of the town.

 

 

 *****Unfortunately, the vegetable man was not the most irritating person to cross my path this year. Hence I am launching a forgiveness project, directed at my objects of indignation as they come to me. If you want to join me, do. If you don’t feel the urge, that’s ok too. I am getting ready for Christmas. Starting with the vegetable man. Because you have to start somewhere. And because there’s no way to get half the places I need to go without passing his house.

Quintessential County Road 21

Chickens woken up by irritating photographer turning on the light.

Chickens woken up by irritating photographer turning on the light.

And the log stools for the one that can't get up by herself.

And the log stools for the chicken that can’t get up by herself.

Hole in sink leftover from husband's faucet switch.

Hole in sink leftover from husband’s faucet switch.

What he proudly refers to as the one dollar solution.

What he proudly refers to as the one dollar solution.

The Canadian dollar at work indeed.

The Canadian dollar at work indeed.

Temporary solution to effects of tennis ball. Six weeks and counting.

Temporary solution to effects of tennis ball. Six weeks and counting.

Roof ice on wrought iron. Scratching our heads for a one dollar solution on this one.

Roof ice on wrought iron. Scratching our heads for a one dollar solution on this one.

My reminder that it's all good.

My reminder that it’s all good.

With thanks to boy one who has been suggesting the pictures for a few weeks now.

 

Girl two on day three

Mom

Yes?

Can I have a drink?

Mom

Yes?

How long til you read me a story?

Mom

Yes?

I don’t feel good

Mom . . .

Plus five. Times ten. So eighty or so times later . . .

Mom

Yes?

Will you say soothing words to me tonight?

Sorry, dear, what did you say?

Will you say soothing words to me tonight?

Will I say soothing words to you tonight?

Yeah

Yes, I will say soothing words to you tonight.

Good.

 

Later . . .

Are you going to say soothing words to me?

Yes. I’m just thinking of them. I can think of some words that are not soothing right now. Can you think of some?

You shouldn’t say I hate you for soothing words.

No, you really shouldn’t.

I love you.

I love you too.

You are a very beautiful little girl.

Thank you.

I’m going to finish clearing the table now.

Ok.

 

And still later . . .

Time for bed beautiful girl.

Are you going to say soothing words to me now?

Yes, but let’s get you tucked in first.

 

Good night little one, I’m so sorry you aren’t feeling well. Mommy loves you so much.

I love you too. Are you going to say soothing words now?

I’m trying to think of more.

I don’t know soothing words.

You don’t know what soothing means?

No

Where did you hear it?

From Christopher Churchmouse. The mother in the story said soothing words.

 

So I explained soothing words and said as many as I could think of. Girl two smiled, closed her sleepy eyes on puffy exhausted cheeks and made me very happy in my messy house and life that can’t quite keep it together.

Mom, me and Florence

Depiction of the real Florence Nightingale   http://media.photobucket.

Florence Nightingale, mother of modern nursing
http://media.photobucket.

My mother was a nurse. My husband is a nurse. I wanted to be a writer, a teacher, a missionary, a social worker, and run an orphanage. I never wanted to be a nurse, but have come to believe it to be part of who I am. My first nursing role was taking care of my mother when she was sick. She wasn’t a terribly good patient, but I liked doing it. It was a good way to say, I love you. Something that helped me with goodbye.

My mother’s lifelong love of nursing didn’t translate into a degree until I was in my twenties, but to me she was always a nurse. Some of my warmest childhood memories are of her nursing me when I was sick. I often had terrible sore throats. During one particular illness, where I was dizzy with an especially painful throat, a bell was found so I could ring for help. That silver bell became my special privilege for every sickness thereafter.

We weren’t an overly physical or affectionate family. We practiced humor more than touch, but sick meant my mother sitting on the edge of my bed, running her fingers through my hair. She would wipe my head with a cool cloth, feel my neck to see if my glands were swollen, listen to my endless thoughts and questions. When I was sick, my mother belonged only to me. Our family troubles were a fuzzy dream. My mother was present then in a way that allowed me to let go of all that. Her fretting about me set everything right. If we went to the doctor, I believed it was to get what my mother had already figured out that I needed.

It has been difficult this fall to get the kids healthy and keep them there. This weekend we cancelled everything, but at the end, everyone was closer to beating the extremely tenacious hacking cough that has plagued us.

Monday morning, girl two arrived downstairs with cheeks blazing and a sore stomach. Boy two was looking cadaver like, still not hungry, and exhausted after 12 hours of sleep. My partner in crime felt lousy as well.

Boy two is better now. Girl two spent most of Monday night throwing up so was fit to go nowhere Tuesday. It was slow going but at least her stomach had settled. The waiting game of, “who is next or is it done?” has begun.

I wish I could tell my mom that I take kids heads off over stupid things (wet boots kicked off in the wrong place, toothpaste spit dried on the sink, doors shut loudly), but I get up fifteen times in the night to clean up puke, rub backs, and wipe heads gently without any effort at all. That I always want them well, but I cherish the exhausted moments spent beside a fevered head, whispering soft words, and running my fingers through their hair.