"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~Agatha Christie
Step 1: Take a shower.
Step 2: Make an appointment for a cut and color. (I did say I wanted to be a blonde again, right?)
Step 3: Throw disappointments out the window. All of them. Especially the disappointments about people. I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else.
Those of you who read my other blog might have read this recent post. It was all about how excited I was for Christmas, how it's my favorite time of year, how it's so magical through the eyes of a child.
We picked up Miles from daycare on Wednesday (Christmas Eve Eve) only to learn that 3 kids were out sick with the stomach flu.
One hour later Miles threw up.
Christmas Eve Day he seemed fine. We all seemed ok, except that I was getting a nasty cold (that Miles already had). I thought we were in the clear.
Christmas Eve: I felt fine at church, then somewhere in the 10 minute drive to my parents' house for Christmas dinner I started to feel really sick. I hardly ate anything (which I was grateful for later). Halfway through the gift opening I waived the white flag. I knew I was not well, so we went home.
To make a long story short, I spent more time hugging porcelain than hugging my family members this Christmas and I am NOT ok with that.
Christmas Day was even more fun because Grant hopped on the stomach flu train. He called my mom and she immediately came over and whisked Miles away. THANK GOD. We were both so weak and sick...it was not pretty.
And to top it all off I also have this raging cold with the super bad cough, sinus pain and all. And Miles has decided to be a HUGE pill today and basically cry and scream about everything. EVERYTHING. My parents said he was an angel for them: he never once cried or whined about anything, slept 12 hours straight, took a 3 1/2 hour nap, was happy and playing so nice the entire time. Then he comes home to us and is a totally different kid: he hits us, throw his toys, cries about everything and wakes up crying at 5:30 a.m. WTF.
Now my entire extended family is sick. My nephews, my aunt, my mom...and the rest are to follow.
Merry Christmas to us.
I am not going to start my gratitude journal until this is all over. As you can tell, I am a little bitter about all of this. Christmas cannot be recreated because my parents are snowbirds and are supposed to leave for Arizona tomorrow or Tuesday. Or whenever they are well enough to travel.
Generally I would not be so negative about all of this. I would just say such is life and roll with it. Being sick happens. But it ruined our Christmas. And because of that I am just so so so sad. Yes, this too shall pass. It could be worse. Blah blah blah. I know, I know. But for right now I am allowing myself to mourn this magical holiday that didn't happen for us.
You really learn who your friends are when you are having a rough time of it. The notes and emails from friends who were checking in with us these past few days have been really wonderful. Somehow just knowing there were good thoughts coming our way helped us tremendously. AND this has made me appreciate, once again, what a wonderful family we have. My parents didn't even think twice about helping us out, even though they knew they were exposing themselves to possible illness. That's love, I tell ya.
The next post will hopefully be much less Debbie Downer and way more Pollyanna Sunshine. Here's hoping...
You will be hearing more about Elissa on All of the Above because, as I mentioned, she is a fabulous author. Her book is called Eve (coming out in paperback Dec. 29!) and she has graciously agreed to come to our February bookclub to talk about it! Again, SO grateful. It is sure to be a great discussion and I am really looking forward to it. I am in the middle of her book am loving it. Novelists have a gift that I certainly don't possess: a good novelist like Elissa can transport you to a different time and place...fully, completely. She does it with ease. I won't give my full book report here yet, but stay tuned!
Here is a New Year's Resolution: I resolve to write down 5 things that I am grateful for every day in my new journal. The first will be gratitude for the journal itself. Truly the gift that will keep on giving.
Anyone else want to start a gratitude journal with me?
Truth: I am one of those moms (or one of "those" moms, depending on how you say it) who thinks that a little TV watching isn't so bad for my son. In fact, there are many valid reasons why I think it's good for him. I can tell you that Miles watches some "TV" every day.
Before you call child protective services, hear me out:
1) He doesn't watch hours and hours every single day. We don't plop him down in front of the TV and leave him there to stare at it for an entire morning or afternoon. That is sort of laughable to think about because for Miles to sit still for that long would take an act of God, anyway. But the point is that a little DVD action in the car or to calm him down before bedtime is not going to fry his brain. My mom is a dietitian (ret.) and her mantra about food is: Everything in moderation. I apply this to many parts of my life, including TV. We aren't excessive about it. We practice moderation. Sensible, yes?
2) We don't let him watch South Park. Or even Sponge Bob. In fact, we don't watch TV channels at all. We watch DVDs only. That way we can regulate what he sees, and we can also cut out the amount of commercials that he is exposed to. Our choices are relatively educational in nature: Elmo's World, Sesame Street, Little People, Go Diego Go and Barney are the only DVDs that we own. He l.o.v.e.s. Barney. And (here's another moment of truth) SO DO I. Here's my defense of Barney for all you hecklers out there: If you have a kid that likes music and likes to dance, Barney is the way to go. Miles does the actions to many of the songs and dances his little tushy off, too. Barney teaches manners, makes it fun to brush your teeth and teaches kids how to use their imaginations. What's so wrong with that? Barney is not the most annoying fictional kids character out there. Not by a long shot. Yes, the kids on Barney are unusually smiley and disarmingly happy. Yes, the songs might get stuck in your head. But by and large Barney pretty much tops my list as the best of the best. I approve.
3) DVDs can be super good for your child's learning. I firmly believe that some of the DVDs that we watch have improved Miles vocabulary and language skills. They have certainly gone a long way toward him starting to learn to count and say the alphabet.
4) We spend way more time reading books than we do watching DVDs. Enough said.
5) We watch the DVDs with him, and engage him in conversation about what he is seeing. We do not set him down in front of the TV and walk away. We sit with him, snuggle and sing along to the songs together. You can't tell me that isn't good 'quality time' spent. It truly is.
6) Sitting down to watch a DVD gives Miles the chance to focus and calm down in a world where he is usually running, running, running. Believe me, his activity level is a gift not a curse. But I think that having a variety of activities is good for all of us. It lengthens his attention span and helps to prepare him for a time when he might be required to sit for a greater period of time.
In summation (I feel like a lawyer giving closing arguments), I will defend Barney any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I am not putting all of this out there to actually be defensive about it (although I know I will get some who disagree with my philosophy, and I fully expect to get crucified for this). I put it out there because I think we are quick to condemn things that might actually not turn out to be so bad in the end. I know that some will site research on brain development and blah blah blah...if I had any reservation at all about Miles' development you can bet your Barney I would think twice before letting him watch. But he's fine. It's fine. And again, everything in moderation.
I realize that I have many new readers who might not follow my other blog, The Chronicles of Miles. So, I would like to introduce my family! We are Grant (the dada), Anne (that's me) and Miles (our 20 month old). We are a family of three formed through love and adoption. Here are some of the pics that didn't make the annual Christmas card this year, but that I still think are pretty great. ;)
Guilt. I have a lot of it in my life, but never quite to this degree. I am riddled with guilt over a decision that I made yesterday and it's slowly eating away at me. I need to unload this, somehow. I believe in my heart that I made the right decision. But...still...there's lingering guilt.
Let me set the scene:
I have mentioned before that I work in a small church. And when I say small I mean I am the only staff person besides the pastor(s). Often, I am the only person in the building. We have been the target of many crimes, including break-ins, in the past. The evidence of those break-ins can be seen on busted doorknobs and cabinets to this day. The police have told us, because of our relatively secluded location, we are a prime kidnapping site.
I keep the door locked if I am there by myself and open it only if I know the person on the other side.
That is, until yesterday...
From my office window I can see the parking lot, and around noon I spotted a car pulling up. My first instinct is to run to the door to let whoever it might be in. As the person approached I could see I didn't know him, but for some reason I didn't hesitate to open the door.
He started to plead his case: They were from out of town, had a sick daughter, had an appointment at the clinic later that afternoon, and needed a place to 'hang out' for a while. He said he thought a church might be willing to help them out.
My heart was, of course, breaking a little bit for his poor little girl (who I never saw...I never saw anyone but this lone man) and immediately put myself in their shoes. Asking for help at a church makes sense, right?
I told him that I was there alone (in retrospect I should NOT have said that, I know) and that I just didn't feel comfortable letting them in when I am here by myself. I explained that he looked like a very nice person but we have had a little trouble in the past and I am instructed by our 'church council' to keep the doors locked when I am here by myself. If one of the pastors were there, if anyone else would have been there, I would happily let them in. We do that frequently. (And on a side note: if they had ALL come to the door--his wife and daughter, too--I would have been much more likely to let them in. But I was facing a lone man who was much bigger than me. I didn't know if the others even existed...) I asked them if they could go to the clinic early and hang out in the waiting room? Or go to the mall? I even directed them to another VERY large church just down the road that could probably help them out more. The weather was good, beautiful in fact...so I felt like they could probably make it somewhere else close by.
I told him that this was a personal decision on my part and was in no way a reflection of the church. Call it a gut instinct, call it intuition...I just could not bring myself to let them in.
He was mad. And I think he had a right to be on some level. He said he wanted our phone number so he could call and complain about me to the pastors. Sure, I said, Here you go, and handed him the info.
Then, the worst part.
As he was walking away he angrily yelled, "You should really open up your heart a little more."
I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. I felt nauseous. I questioned my decision. Did I do the right thing? If they were really in desperate and dire need and it was an emergency OF COURSE I would have helped them. But they were not. They needed a place to hang out. There are lots and lots of safe and warm and comfortable places to do that. Why drive to the edge of town to a tiny church up on a hill? It just didn't add up for me. I am not a cynic. I am not paranoid. I do not think people are inherently bad. In fact, I think they are inherently GOOD. But again, common sense told me that I had better be safe--or I might be sorry.
And with Christmas close at hand, the image of Mary and Joseph begging for a place to stay flashed through my mind. There was no room in the inn for them, either.
There's the guilt. Heavy, heavy guilt.
I believe the world would be a better place if strangers helped out strangers. I think there is far too little generosity and love for our neighbors. But in that instant, in that moment... I don't know. I just couldn't do it. It hurts me deeply that we live in a world where sometimes shutting the door is the best decision. I HATE that.
I work in a church, for God's sake. And I couldn't help them for fear of my personal safety. That doesn't sit well with me. At all.
I think I made the CORRECT decision, but was it RIGHT? Was it just?? Was it kind or fair??? I don't know.
Just yesterday I read an article about a man charged with attacking and sexually assaulting a 73 year old woman in a rural church. He just wanted a tour of the church because he said he liked churches. She was just trying to be nice. Who's to say that couldn't very easily happen to me? It could.
I read this article mere minutes after the stranger appeared at the church door. A sign from God? A validation of my decision? I don't know. And it doesn't really matter.
I guess all I can do is pray for that family, that they find healing for their daughter and that they don't find a world full of closed doors.
What do you think of the new blog look??? A huge thanks to my bloggy friend, Jenna, for hooking me up! We are still working on a few tweaks but the overall look is there. Check out her other work at Serendipity Designs. She rocks.
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