Family, Life, Parenting

If You Love Someone, Let Them Lead. Sometimes…

I swear sometimes I feel like the universe is laughing hysterically at me. Parenthood is the ultimate paradox — we are hardwired to risk our lives protecting our children from harm, and yet at the same time we can’t suffocate them from experiencing life. Whether we like it or not, we have to allow our children to feel disappointment. While I know that’s what we should do, it’s not always something that I want to do.

We have to let them struggle.

We just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas for Mardi Gras break. It was our kids’ first cruise and a much-needed getaway for our family. There is nothing quite like lounging poolside, basking in the warm sun, eating endless soft-serve ice cream. (By the way, I never want to eat again.)

Once on board, we saw that there was going to be a talent show towards the end of the cruise. Immediately, my son declared that he wanted to sign up for the show to play piano. We headed down on day two for him to sign up. We were greeted by the happiest Activities Director named Mauricio who sadly informed us that the show was for adults only. We were about to leave when he stopped us, “Look, let me get an idea of who will be performing and I’ll let you know.”

I put it out of my head. He had scribbled my stateroom number down on a scrap of paper – unlikely he’ll remember us and even more unlikely that he’ll ever find us.

Four days later while we were headed out of our stateroom for breakfast, the phone rang. (What? Who calls stateroom phones anymore anyway?)

“Heelllooo! I hope you recognize my voice! I have some fabulous news!”

It was happy Mauricio calling to tell us that William was going to be in the show! (holy crap) “Meet us in the theater for 10:00am today for rehearsal!”

Then he quietly whispered, “Ok momma, he can really play right?” (holy crap)

We show up in the theater, and as expected, William was the only child there. Mauricio went over a few logistics for the show that would be held for about 350 people later that day. (holy crap)

Brian and I asked William what he was going to play and encouraged him to practice on the piano on the huge stage. He sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m okay.”

Oh my god small child, you are NOT okay. You are going to play the piano in front of 300+ strangers, you better start rehearsing.

Thankfully Mauricio asked William to come up and get comfortable with the piano.

BRRRING – BRRRONG – BLLLONG

He cranked out about three chords and came back down to our seats.

That’s it? What the hell is happening.

We encouraged him to practice an actual song but he just gave us a shrug and said, “I’m okay, mom!”

I was feeling a bit nauseated and Brian was on the verge of having a stroke. We calmly tried to encourage him to practice a bit more – in less than five hours he’d be performing in front of 300 strangers. Not to mention several friends we had made along the way and who William had joyfully invited to come to the show.

I could feel the mood within the family begin to tense up. We are the adults, and in may cases, we do know what is best. We know what it’s like to fail, to get hurt, to feel embarrassed, and feel regret. We have been through it all and want nothing more than to protect our children from experiencing these things. We know that sometimes we need to practice and prepare! We also know that it’s usually a horribly crazy idea to plan your performance in a big talent show by just winging it.

Maybe.

I turned to Brian and tried to get us to focus on letting go. Clearly William is comfortable with his choice and maybe we needed to follow his lead on this one. It makes zero sense in my adult brain, but the last thing I wanted to do was to make the experience a negative one for him. My gut, although I was questioning it, said to let go and let him take the lead. We’ll be there to help him over the bumps. No matter what.

Two o’clock rolled around and all I wanted was a really large margarita.

Mauricio open the show and introduced the first performer — William. (holy crap)

“Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome, all the way from Louisiana, with nerves of steel, William!”

(holy crap)

Brian and I could not have been more proud. (or relieved)

After the trip, I sent the video to William’s piano teacher to show him the performance. I was a little perplexed when he responded with this:

“WOW! That was awesome, love how he started with an altered version of the chord progression and slowly built it up until it sounded like Heart and Soul. Everyone knows it and the crowd loved it. He’s got a good sense for how to move a crowd!”

What the hell? Altered chord progression? Seriously, that’s a thing? And my kid knows how to do it?

I showed the response to Brian, then we asked William about it.

“You were playing an altered version of the chord progression??” As I read it from my phone.

“Yes.”

“You knew that all along?”

“Yes.”

“Without even really practicing?”

“Yes. Mom, I told you I was okay.”

And he did. And he was. He told us all along he was okay. Although it was not easy, I’m so glad we listened to him and let him take the lead.

I often hear people describe parenthood as a journey and I’d say very much that it is. A journey in which the line leader may change. The key to making the best of it, from what I can gather, is to know when to let go and follow along. xoxo

 

 

 

Humor, Life, Parenting

#LTYM LIVE!

FINALLY!!

The videos from the Listen To Your Mother Baton Rouge show have finally arrived! I couldn’t be prouder of the show and having been a part of it. It was a true honor to share the stage with the other women and I hope to work with the show in some capacity in the future. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.

I wanted to be sure the link to my closing piece had a permanent home here, on my blog, especially since this is really where it all began. Here, in all its glory is,  I No Want It.

 

XOXO

 

Family, Health, Life

Just Ask.

So, I’m pretty sure you have figured out by now that I didn’t die. Thank the good Lord because that would have sucked so terribly bad. The days leading up to surgery were filled with stress and anxiety. To fix that, I decided to clean my house from top to bottom – steamed bathroom floors, cleaned windows inside and out, and washed basically everything in the house that was made of fabric. I can’t imagine how bad the cleaning tirade would have been had I not had the Xanax to keep my feet on the ground.

While stress and anxiety were completely expected, what was completely unexpected was my willingness to ask for help. How in the hell that happened, I have no idea. Look, I will be brutally honest, I make no effort to hide the fact that I’m a kick-ass working mother of two and wife who has all of her shit together. I mean, aren’t we all? The absolute last thing I need is help. No thank you, I’m fine. F-I-N-E. Right? F-I-N-E.

Well, maybe I don’t need help on a random Thursday around 10am but after a cancer diagnosis and pending surgery, more than likely, I do need help. In a big way, actually. Asking for it wasn’t something I normally did or necessarily liked to do. At all. But in this situation, there really wasn’t an option.

I first asked for help when I called that awesome receptionist at the Baton Rouge Clinic. I so wish I had asked for her name because she needed to be recognized. That woman was a true-to-form rock star. I’m still amazed that I did it but I actually accepted food from total strangers! Friends from church organized dinner for my family for over ten days. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done without these gracious people feeding my family day after day.

I needed someone to watch my kids. All day. On a Wednesday. Throughout all of this my brother’s wife had said repeatedly to me that she’d help in any way. She offered to watch my kids numerous times so I took her up on her offer. I hated making the request – it felt like so much to ask! She immediately assured me that she would be there, just for me to tell her what time to show up.

The requests for help continued. I need ice chips. Please may I have something for the pain? Mom, can you stay at my house another night? Please can someone help me to the bathroom? What about something solid, like something that I can actually chew. Can someone please make that happen? None of this was within my comfort zone but I focused on my family – our children. If I didn’t ask for help now, I would not be able to help them later. It was for my own physical and spiritual good.

I can only blame it on the pain meds but I took this picture the morning after surgery:

IMG_5674

I call it my ‘proof of life’ photo. I survived the surgery and lived to tell about it. I never needed that emergency trach that sat ominously next to my bed, with a label “DO NOT REMOVE FROM ROOM!” I asked for help a million times and I didn’t implode. I showed the world that I couldn’t do this alone and not a single person pointed or laughed. It’s a good thing because I’m fairly certain that my requests for help will continue. I’m still not sure how to process what lies ahead.

Thyrogen…injections…levels…scans…levels…isolation…radioactive…ablation…

What I can process, though is the love that I see and feel around me. I can process how I much I love my kids. I can process how I feel about my husband who has been an absolute steadfast rock-of-life throughout all of this. (The next time any of you see Brian, please be sure to give him a high-five or a hug, or whatever you deem appropriate because the man has been AMAZING.) I can also process the fact that I’m ready and willing to do anything and everything to get well and be healthy, even if it means asking for help.

Truly, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for all of the help. xoxo

 

 

Family, Health, Life

Love in Action.

We say it all of the time:

“I love you.”

“I love her.”

“I’m in love.”

Years ago before I was married my mother gave me some powerful advice about love. “Be Missouri. Make sure they show you.” She reminded me that the words are really easy to say, but it’s the actions that count. Love is a verb.

As mothers, it’s easy for us to love our babies and children. We cradle them, gently sing to them, rock them, prepare meals for them, engage them continually reinforcing our actions of love. We hug them, we listen, we pack lunch, we make them laugh. We show them each day how we love them.  I honestly haven’t thought that much about how this is expressed between adults. Romantic love, well that’s easy. What about ordinary, everyday love?

We see the true face of humanity; the wonderous good and dismally bad, within the space of two life changing experiences: 1) winning the powerball, and 2) a cancer diagnosis. I’ve only had the pleasure of experiencing one of these experiences and it is through this that I have witnessed love as an action and it’s beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Love is stopping me in the hall to ask how I’m doing and standing there long enough to listen to the entire, oddly crafted, winding answer. Love is sending a hand written note with words of support and encouragement. Love is praying with me. Love is sitting with me, crying alongside me while I worry out loud of the possibility of death. Love is laughing while hugging me and exclaiming, “But you’re not going to die!” Love is beautiful hand-made pajamas. Love is offering to watch my children and taking off work to actually do it. Love is calling daily and simply asking how I’m feeling. Love is reminding me that I am never alone. Love is hot food waiting at my door.

I don’t think I have ever witnessed a greater expression of compassion, love, and humanity as I have in the past few weeks. On the eve of my surgery, I don’t think I’ve ever seen love in such full and complete action. I feel it. Brian feels it. Our children feel it.

My deepest and most sincere gratitude to everyone who has reached out and truly loved our family.

Peace out! See you on the flip side…

xoxo