Oh, Oprah, I Miss You So!

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It wasn’t until I was driving in my dad’s car a few weeks ago that I realized how much I could have used a little Oprah in my life these past few years.  Dad came to babysit while I went to an unemployment meeting and I happily took his car (equipped with satellite radio) my messy mini van and I needed some time apart!  And oh I how loved the satellite radio.  Poor Griffin, who was tagging along for the meeting (I was hoping an antsy baby would speed up the process at the unemployment office ;)) had to endure me belting out one broadway song after another on the way there!

However, after a painful meeting hearing that “there isn’t much they can do from me” from a young 20 something woman, I was in no mood for show tunes on the way home.  In a horrible, disheartened and over all angry mood I searched the radio for something that fit the bitterness that had taken over my mind.  And then I heard it, the calm, logical, caring voice of Oprah as she led her life class on forgiveness.  That voice of reason and compassion was exactly what I needed to get me out of my angry funk as I drove home.

I always liked Oprah when she was on the air.  I admired her spirit and integrity as she approached guests and offered support.  Call me crazy but when I heard her talking on the radio, sitting there in my place of self-pity, it was like hearing an old friend.  In this life class she was using clips from old shows and stories from guests to examine the difficult task of forgiveness.  I listened because it was her, and since true forgiveness is hard I was interested to hear what she had to say.  But I wasn’t listening because in that moment in the car I thought my issue was a lack of forgiveness.  It is funny how advice and guidance find you when you need it.

Oprah’s first guest was a woman who was married for several years to man who turned out to be gay.  When he came out to her, she exploded, he in turn sued for alimony and most of her riches.  She of course, stayed angry.  They both came on the Oprah show, she still harboring lots of anger.  Oprah explains that during the show she kept thinking that she was in over her head.  That this anger that was festering in this woman seemed to be untouchable.  Years later the guest came back on the show – with her ex husband, to discuss her journey to forgiveness.  She explained that it came to her after she realized that all the anger she was directing at her ex husnabd did nothing to hinder his life, only her own.

Next, Oprah talked to an expert of some kind on forgiveness, maybe an author, a psychiatrists?  I don’t remember the particulars as I was driving, and busy self-reflecting as I listened.   She talked about how it was in that interview that she changed her entire view on what forgiveness means in a tangible sense.  Her guest explained to her that “forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could be any different from what it is.”  And in her “Oprah way”, she repeated the statement over and over again, changing a word or two each time to help us understand.

“Forgiveness is letting go of the chance that the past will change.”

“Forgiveness is accepting the fact that the past cannot be anything other than what it was.”

“Forgiveness is understanding that the past will not change.”

As she spoke, I got to thinking.  Why am I mad?  What about this unemployment meeting got me so fired up?  Here it is, I was mad that I had to go there at all.  I was mad that this young woman didn’t know what to say, or how to help me change careers.  But I was really mad that I lost my job.  Losing my job is in the past.  It cannot change.  Until I can forgive my district, the decision makers that decided to shrink staff to save money , I was still going to be angry.  My anger wasn’t going to change what happened months ago.  And so, as I drove I forgave them.  Not because they asked for forgiveness, and like Oprah’s first guest – not because my anger was bringing my district down – but because it was bringing me down.  I didn’t forgive them for their peace of mind – but for mine.  What is done is done, there are no “take backs”, I must forgive.

Hearing Oprah repeat this statement, now another mantra for me, led me to think about all the other things that I have gone through in the past few years.  Have I forgiven myself for choices I had made, things I did or didn’t do?  Have I forgiven people close to me for saying things that may have hurt, doing things that I disagreed with? While it is unfair to blame her, in the early stages of my grief I was mad at my mom for dyeing.  Have I forgiven her for leaving me?

I think when life gets hard it is easy to be angry.  I think it is easy to play the blame game, to look for scapegoats.  Sometimes others are to blame.  Sometimes things happen that deserve anger.  I think it is fair to say that I have gone through some of those things.  But anger is cantankerous, left alone it could fester.  You have to address its cause.

What a freeing feeling it was to drive along, listening to the ebb and flow of Oprah’s easy conversations on forgiveness and examine what it was in my life that needed my forgiving.   I felt a release, as corny as it may sound, of a weight that I had been carrying around since the bubble that protected my world a few years ago started getting holes.  I was holding on to those hard times not always as badges of honor for a battle hard-won but sometimes as excuses to play the victim for all the unfair things that I have had to endure.  As I thought of each one I heard Oprah repeat, “Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be any different from what it is.”  And as I heard her say those words in my head, I let go.

So thank you Oprah!  I needed to hear this.  I needed to be reminded that my anger does nothing except hinder me, I needed to be told to let go. 

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Disclaimer

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It is not the four kids, I was made for that – in fact as I type this post Addison is climbing on me while Carter and Griffin are sleeping on my chest.  And I am loving every snuggly minute!  It isn’t that I can’t sit down without a child wiggling their way onto my lap, or wanting me to get back up to get them something.  In my house someone is usually crying, about to cry or just got done crying.  These aren’t the things that wear me down or make me so tired at night that I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.  I am not denying that all of this can be a bit tiring at times and my husband usually has to kick me out of the house to enjoy some “me” time every week I take all of it in stride and really do feel so blessed to be a part of it.   God made me to be a mom.

Unfortunately, God didn’t make me to be a particularly tidy person, or  very organized for that matter.  I don’t like to pick up (I hear some people do, strange!)  and I detest putting away laundry.  Anyone who knew me as a teenager and saw my bedroom can attest to my weakness when it comes to putting things away!  This is where I find myself utterly exhausted.  Even if I got a full night’s sleep (which I don’t see happening anytime in the near future with two baby boys) I can’t see myself escaping the complete and overwhelming exhaustion that follows the dishes, laundry and general mess of having four kids and two dogs!  Let me clarify, I’m not gross – I do like to clean when it involves dusting, Clorox and the like – it is the picking up to get to that point which holds me back.

I have friends who have four kids, and they always seem so calm about the messy things in life – I have always admired their relaxed approach.  Now I know it is because they are too tired to exude the energy to get worked up about the small stuff.   Sure their personalities lead them to take things in stride but I bet a lot of their approach comes from their drive to survive the mess without going insane!

So this is where I sit today, at the bottom of a pile of clothes to be folded, dishes to be put away and toys to be picked up.  And I am too tired to pull myself out from under the heap!  But I will, not to worry – because if I don’t I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the park with Addie this afternoon, snuggling with the boys without guilt, or enjoy watching Kennedy master her forward roll at gymnastics because all I would be thinking about was my to do list that never gets shorter.

So instead of fretting over the mess that never goes away, I write this disclaimer:

I will be doing my best to keep up with all that goes along with four kids and two dogs.  However, if you come to my house you can expect that there will be dishes in the sink, laundry to be washed, dried, folded and put away, toys on the floor and a toy room that has a magical ability to make its own mess – no matter how much I try to organize and clean it.  So be ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work or look away – because I will be too busy being a mom to four wonderful kids to worry about impressing you with my housekeeping skills! 

Okay, enough sitting for one day…time to go do the dishes!

What day is it?

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Today in a casual conversation with the bank teller I told him it was Friday.  He looked at me for a moment and said, “Is it?  I think its Thursday.”  It took me a moment to agree with him.  He continued to work as I stood there, kind of in a daze.  It seemed so strange to me to be standing at the bank, not sure what day it was.  I remember this feeling from when Addison was in the NICU.  I remember walking through Walmart with my MP3 player on looking around me thinking how foriegn the world around me seemed.  Life with a child in the NICU, or hospital at all I assume, is like living in an alternate universe.  The world that was so normal before suddenly is strange, and the world of the hospital, you knew nothing about before your child needed medical care seems perfectly natural. 

Luckily, the other part of the equation I remember from Addison is how quickly you transition back into the world of bank tellers and checkout lines when your child comes home.  You adjust quickly because now you have a newborn at home who needs to also assimilate into the “normal” world.  The NICU experience has changed you forever but the details fade in a way. 

Other than not knowing the day of the week we are slowly adjusting to life with children in the hospital.  My aunt has been staying with us (since I can’t drive yet and still need lots of rest to recover from the surgery) and we have developed a nice routine of time at home, running errands and visiting the boys.  Our nanny still comes to take care of Addie while I am with the boys and Tim stops at the hospital on the way home from school.  The evenings we try to keep normal for the girls.  It isn’t so hard, juggling our time, and we all seem to adjusting – for the most part. 

The boys continue hold their own.  Carter still has more respiratory issues than Griffin but we are told their issues are nothing outside of the norm for babies their size.  We were approached about enrolling them in a study to give them more  of a lung stimulating drug (surfractant) than a normal preemie would get and we can only hope that   A. both boys are getting the drug and not the placebo and B. that it works in opening their airways and getting them off the ventilators sooner.  Griffin has steadily increased on his feeds and is up to a whopping 3ccs as of this afternoon.  Carter is getting 2ccs of my milk and I am feeling fulfilled that I am able to help their development in some way. 

As always, only time will tell how they do and each day provides new conditions to understand.  We truly believe that our boys are strong and are tiny little fighters.  We also believe that your prayers and support is a great asset to them and our entire famiy as we navigate our way through the next few months.  So keep them coming!

This was not our plan…

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If we have come to learn anything over the past couple years it is that making plans and expecting them to turn out the way you want is just plain silly. 

First, in 2009 Addison was born two months early.  Next, in 2010 I was laid off when my district faced low enrollment and budget issues.  Later, in 2010 my mother unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 63.  And now, in 2011 we have two teeney-tiney little boys who will spend the first part of their lives in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  We know better to plan out how we want things to go – we know that the big things in life cannot be planned, we know that God has the plans – our job is to be present in the moment!

So this is the attitude we are going with for the next few months.  We have no plans for these boys, or how we, as a family, will deal with what comes our way.  Instead our plan is NOT to plan!  We have heard from friends who have been in our position, doctors, nurses, strangers on the elevator that the next few months will be really hard.  That there will be major setbacks with babies this young, that there will be days when we will celebrate successes and days that will be overwhelming with issues.  And we will be dealing with all of this times two!  

So we delve into what we have been given cautiously optimistic, knowing that it will be hard and we will face really bad days and really good ones.   We also know that we have faced challenges in the past and we came out okay – we in fact, danced in the rain to get through the storm.  We will do it again.