Jul 19, 2013

Inside Out

     Sometimes I feel fake. That's probably because there are times when my outside does not match my inside. Like yesterday, I took my daughter to a wading pool at a park. Shortly after arriving, a little girl not much bigger than Kayla walked up to her and took her swim toys--a dolphin, turtle and duck. Kayla isn't even two yet, so she can't exactly verbalize, "Hey, those are mine. Give them back!" The most she can say is, "no, no" and "nah no," which translates as "give me" in Kayla language. Side note: she's even taught a one-year-old boy to say "nah no" with the same meaning. Webster, you'll be adding a new word soon.
     At this point I'm torn. On one hand, Kayla is an only child, so I like to take advantage of any learning-to-share opportunity that presents itself. On the other hand, that was just plain rude. Give my kid her toys back!  My mind goes with the second idea, but my mouth says, "Kayla, you can share your toys. She'll give them back later." Kayla still possessed one of the three sponge animals. I figured she could only play with one at a time anyway.
     Here's where social etiquette dictates that the mother of the little girl--who was a mere yard away--tell her daughter to return the toys regardless of my calm demeanor. Or at least double and triple check to make sure her daughter really could play with the two toys. Did this occur? No. Did I really expect it to considering the area of town I was in? No. I kept one eye on Kayla and the other on those toys for the rest of our swimming adventure, inwardly wondering if these strangers would "accidentally" leave with them. The little girl's mother didn't intervene until her daughter came by and took the last animal from Kayla. Bless Kayla's heart. She didn't get angry. The emotion was more like shock. A bit older, and I could have said, "See, Kayla. This is how Dylan feels when you take away his toys."
     My friend congratulated me afterward on how gracefully I handled the situation, stating that she wouldn't have been as nice. She wondered if I truly didn't care or was just being polite. I told her my inner dialogue on the subject, and we laughed. Perhaps I missed my calling as an actress. Later in the evening I reflected on the reasons for behaving as I did.
     In a social psychology class, I learned about high and low self-monitoring, which is the characteristic of adapting one's behavior to fit different situations. Neither high self-monitors nor low self-monitors are right or wrong. However, HSM'S typically see LSM'S as insensitive because they don't read social cues well or generally adhere to them on the grounds of being true to oneself. Likewise, LSM's see HSM's as insincere because they willingly adjust to each circumstance on the grounds of flexibility and friendliness.
     Paul was a HSM. In scripture he claims to "have become all things to all people. (1 Corinthians 9:22)" His motivation was to share the gospel, but what was mine? I'd love to profess the pure drive to shine Jesus' light, but more likely I was avoiding a possible ugly dispute. Imagine two mama bears in the forest fighting over the the honeycomb their baby wants. Can't quite envision the scenario?  Just enter Wal-Mart on Black Friday...
     If I had been true to myself, I'd have removed my "mom" hat and dusted off my "daycare worker" hat and demanded the little girl give back the sponge animals with an apology. Timeout being the consequence for refusal. If the situation had been reversed, and Kayla had stolen the items, that's exactly what I would have done. But alas, the rage of a nearby mother is very unpredictable. I think I acted with wisdom.
     To my readers who own the "mom" or "dad" hat, please teach your children manners. Your community will appreciate this courtesy.

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)

Jul 12, 2013

Random Ramblings on the anniversary of my daddy's death.

     Today marks the year anniversary of my father's death. Thankfully, my emotions are in check for this occasion. I'm feeling a little sadness but nothing extreme. My greatest sorrow comes from the fact my "daddy's-little-girl" hat is no longer wearable. Father's Day was really tough. Today isn't as bad. My grieving process has had a very long anger stage (anger at dad for not taking care of his body; anger at myself for the denial that kept me from being able to physically say goodbye; anger at my family for, of all times not to tell me they were at the hospital and worried, this was it), but I'm slowly moving to sorrow and acceptance.
     My dad let his health go and thought the time for change had passed. Maybe to a certain extent that was true, but he could have tried. The same applies to the lost soul. Until you breath your last breath, you can still come into the loving arms of Jesus, who is always willing and able to forgive and help you. No matter what you've done or haven't done. If dad could visit the earth again, I think he'd quote Ecclesiastes 12. Read it, ponder it, learn from it and live by it. My "daddy's-little-girl" hat is not destroyed, just put in storage. I hang on to the hope that I will see dad again in the presence of my daddy of all daddies, my heavenly father.
     In my welcome blog, I called my Christianity a hat, but really it's the hat rack on which I hang all my hats. My every move and decision is based on my belief in a God who created this world, who loves me and has called me into his kingdom by sending his son to die for my sins. An interesting distinction, I think...

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)

Demonic Bomb

     Disclaimer: This particular entry is about female problems. Problems male readers will NOT fully understand or empathize with. Read at your own discretion.
     Sometimes my "woman" hat is literally a PAIN to wear. If not painful, my once-a-month episodes wreak havoc on my emotions. If this month was identical to the other eleven instead of maybe five, I'd be fully diagnosed with PMDD. I know a friend who truly has PMDD. It's no joking matter. According to WedMD, these are the symptoms:
  • Mood swings
  • Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
  • Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical problems, such as bloating    

         I bolded the symptoms I experienced. As you can see, my last week and a half were horrid. It started two Tuesdays ago. My mother finally did what I knew she would eventually do--run out of money with empty cupboards. I had to bail her out, which meant I had to take her grocery shopping to guarantee she would spend the money on food and not fill in the blank. Where had her grocery money go, you may ask? FOUR PAIRS OF SHOES! Shoes that she later decided weren't comfortable.
         So I'm getting ready to take her to Aldi's and my mother-in-law calls to ask what the plan is for the fourth. I tell her we are going to drive an hour and a half away and spend the day by a pond. She naturally hesitates. Remember, I didn't ask her, I told her. She lives six hours away. Who wants to drive another three hours the next day? Miscommunication leads to waterworks that I can't seem to control. Later, after we sort it out, I blame PMS. True enough, but I had no idea what was coming!
         My mood becomes more and more lethargic and irritable as the week progresses. Here is a perfect illustration of the cliche, "The calm before the storm," because a nasty demonic bomb goes off inside my brain the day before my period starts.
         At every turn, I hear a little voice say, "You are a failure." For instance, Kayla is pretty much ignored during the morning because Jon and I are working on a blueprint of our dream home. "You failed as a mom." The computer program we are using keeps crashing. "You failed as a home planner." I disappoint Jon by not wanting to deal with camping. "You failed as a wife." My new shorts that fit perfectly two weekends ago are super tight. "You failed as a woman." I can't remember the last time I cleaned my floors or bathrooms. "You failed as a housekeeper." Between each failure, I'd explode into bouts of weeping, not wishing to be consoled. My inner demons were speaking and I was listening.
         The breaking point was returning from the blueberry field. Being after five, I thought sunscreen was unnecessary. However, we left before even a full pound had been picked because Kayla was turning red. By the time we returned home, she resembled a lobster. My last string of sanity snapped. Jon told me to go see my best friend as I had planned and took Kayla inside while I wailed. Yes, wailed. The ugly crying that's loud and filled with despair.
         Before driving to my friend's house, I heavily considered driving into the garage, closing the door and keeping the car running. But suicide is, in my mind, the ultimate selfish thing a person can do the people who love him/her.
         My best friend helped me with a single word. From an earlier conversation, she knew I was depressed. She knew I wouldn't want to talk about it. When I said nothing, she sat next to me and forced me to lean against her (how she can do the impossible with me, I couldn't say. Jon can't even force me to be comforted). While I stubbornly bit my tongue, she waited. I can't remember my exact words when I finally gave in, but they were close to "I'm a failure." Her response was, "No." She didn't continue with a list of my accomplishments. She didn't scold me for my feelings. That one word stopped me short. What should I say next? She'd left no room for negotiation.
         In the end, I told her about my day and she understood as only a fellow female can. I thank God for a friend like her. Closer than a sister, she is often the difference between my sanity and insanity.
         Yesterday was my first day of peace and tranquility. I was never so happy to see the beginning of my menstrual cycle. As far as my "woman" hat is concerned, sometimes I'd like to throw it in the fire. I'm a believer in IMS (irritable male syndrome), but there is no way male PMS is equal to what my gender suffers--MONTHLY!
    Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
    hang on to your hat! ;-)

Jul 3, 2013

Welcome Everyone!

     Welcome to The Hat Rack. This is the place I plan to hang my many, many hats. What hats do I wear, you might ask? Well, I am a mother/caretaker for two (my almost 2-year-old and mentally handicapped mother), a wife of 9 years, a housekeeper (just mine; I don't get paid for it), a writer, a friend, a woman, and a follower of Jesus Christ. Every one of my actions, thoughts, and responses is defined by my past and my many roles in life. I see the world through the eyes of a Christian mother, daughter, friend, wife, housekeeper and caregiver who has lived my life's experiences. I cannot see the world through the eyes of a man any more than a mouse.
     The purpose of this blog is to sharpen my writing skills and have an avenue to voice my thoughts, ideas and concerns. I don't expect you to agree with me on any given subject, nor do I care if you do. You might ask why I'm blogging instead of simply typing on a word document and saving these ramblings into a file on my computer for no one to see. Where's the fun in that? Just the reality that these words can be read makes them worth writing. Brick walls are boring to talk to. People are far better.
   So, welcome everyone! Feel free to enjoy, criticize, love or hate this blog's entries.

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)