The worries of a mom when work changes up….

Parenting is tenuous. Every single moment, there are worries. Are the kids okay? Are they healthy? Are they safe? Are they well-rested? Are they fed?

And above that level is the bigger picture. Are they in the right school? Am I parenting them well? Am I doing everything that I need to be doing for them? And for a single parent, there’s always the “big” worry of providing for the kids. Because you can love them and you can kiss their “boo-boos”….but if you can’t keep a roof over their head and food in the fridge, then there’s a lot more stress in this life.

We all know that life is fragile. At least we say that we know that life is fragile. But when you’re texting with a friend and mother of four who has been sick in bed for over two weeks and not able to work or get up and really care for her kids, you know that life is fragile. You can’t imagine how stressful that must be.

And when you’re sitting in a board meeting and talking about cutting your work hours and eventually closing the non-profit that you work for because the state in which you live has not passed a budget and therefore no money is flowing to the non-profit sector, then you know that life is fragile. You realize how much you take for granted that you’re going to go into an office every day and you’re going to have money magically appear in your checking account every two weeks and you tend not to stress about it.

But then one day, you’re really stressed. And you spend the weekend trying not to snap at the boys about every little thing they do because you know it’s just your stress within that makes you so cranky. And you wonder how much to share with your kids and how much you protect them from the fragility and the stresses of the world.

And you try not to worry. You know that you have umpteen degrees behind your name and are capable of doing so much. Yet you mourn the loss of your current job and the way that you have been able to have flexibility with your hours to be there for the kids and help with the parties at school. How life was going smoothly for a moment and now the next bump is hitting you in the journey. You know that you will bounce and come through it, but as the kids yell and scream and cheer and jeer in their football game on the road out front, you still sit inside worried. Worried about the next step. Worried about making it through the valley.

Working hard to be Superman in the dark world of Batman….


Mr. Ornery’s new T-shirt front

Oh to be a kid playing football without a care in the world except to the fairness of the game. But the game of life is not really “fair.” It’s fragile and tenuous. It’s stressful and scary sometimes. Yet we still play and give it our best, knowing that the Lord knows what’s on the other side of this valley.

I sure do wish that I did.

Onward, SuperWoman!

“How high is the sky? Bigger than 12 feet?”

I don’t like to lie….but I’m okay with making things up.  Especially when it comes to answering the rapid-fire questions of 4-year-old Mr. Ornery (he’ll correct me here – he’s technically 4 AND A HALF!).  This interrogation is most frequent in the car where I cannot possibly get away. His current favorite question is “how high is the sky?” “Is it IMG_3276higher than 12 feet?” (all size is now measured in comparison to the depth of the swimming pool where he would jump off the diving board into 12 feet of water. For example, “Is the big rubber ducky in the water bigger than 12 feet?”)

Back to the sky though….after numerous “I don’t know answers” I finally said “10,000 feet” and I’ve stuck to that pretty faithfully. And now, after a few weeks of lying to my innocent child, I finally decided to look it up. Technically, the “sky” going all the way to the edge of space is 250 miles (the distance between D.C. and NYC – now that’s fascinating!) which would be 1.3 million feet. So….I’m off by a few (ahem) decimal places. And since I prefer to feel “right” – we’ll go with the definition of “sky” between the ground and where the weather occurs (clouds, etc) which is 3 miles and about 15,000 feet (making me much closer to right than the first definition – and this is important in whose book??!?!). At least tomorrow I’ll have a better answer for Mr. Curiosity!

This weekend the question stream shifted a little to the power of God: “Is God bigger than 12 feet?” – yes.  “Can God pick up the Hulk?” – yes. As well as a string of queries about what God eats: “Can God eat a tree?” – yes. “Can God eat the ocean?” – yes. “Can God eat the whole earth?” – yes. And on….and on…. “Wait a minute….I don’t think God really eats anything….come to think of it.”

And I realize that one of the things Mr. Ornery is doing is processing his place in the world. How big is he? How old is he? How strong is he? If he puts on his Batman batmancostume, is he now stronger and more powerful than he was before? Is he bigger than 12 feet? Where does he fit into the pecking order of all these boys? It’s a challenge being the middle guy.

And it’s a challenge for me to remember to pay attention to him and his social and emotional needs (and not just his incredibly soft curly hair and impishly sweet smile). I have to remember not to snap at him to stop crying because the noise is bothering me while I try to address the offender (typically older brother, sometimes Little Guy). Not to shut down his line of questioning because I’m tired of making up answers. Not to forget to read bedtime stories since I’ve already done two sets in putting the other two to bed.

I have to remember that he really is only 4 years old (despite the fact that he usually runs with the 7 year-olds and seems quite mature). That 4-year-olds are not always in control and sometimes melt into tears, or throw toys in anger, or wet themselves (despite repetitive prompts to “go pee” based on tell-tale signals!). That 4-year-olds crave attention (“watch my cartwheel”) even if they can entertain themselves well for quite some time (while you sneak in evening treadmill runs). That 4-year-olds have figured out how to deflect consequences – “no, that’s not my candy wrapper”….”I didn’t do it, The Rascal did.” That 4-year-olds need to know they are loved even when they try to stand on their own two feet (and on the couch and the monkey bars).

Most of all, I have to remember to pause in the morning when the 4 (and a half)-year-old asks me to sit beside him for his morning cup of milk and put my arm around his shoulder (despite lunches to be made, homework to be done, diapers to be changed). I must remember that it is so important to take that time with him – for 4 is such a fragile age….. when you’re figuring out your place in the world.