Best Laid Plans

Just on the off chance that you are tone deaf to emotion and didn’t pick up on it in the last two posts, I’ve been kinda down of late. Monday was particularly bad. Tuesday wasn’t shaping up to be much better until I decided to throw caution (and responsibility) to the wind and leave work early to go run.

I was giddy with excitement as I walked to my car. I had great plans. I’d run outdoors for the first time in weeks. It was a beautiful day! And then I’d take a nice long shower before picking up the boys. Hal, from his friend’s house and Daryl, from basketball practice.

But plans – especially happy plans – almost never work out. Especially if you have kids. You never get to do what you want when you have kids.

Jane had left school early for a doctor’s appointment, which was not likely to interfere, I thought. How naive…

I finished my run to find Jane baking a cake (from scratch). The darling had decided to make a cake for the Angel Mom picking up Hal from school as a thank you. There was just one problem. She had forgotten to preheat the oven and now needed to leave before it was done.

“It’s just another 12 minutes, mom. Can you finish it? You just need to add cocoa and melt it all for the icing,” she said, gesturing to a saucepan already holding milk and butter. “Then once it’s all liquid, add the vanilla and half that bag of sugar.”

I was standing there bathed in sweat, looking forward to my shower, and was now, instead, going to stand in a hot kitchen.

“Ok,” I said.

“Thanks, Mommy!”

While I waited for the butter to melt, I checked my voicemail. Someone had called during my run. Turns out it was Daryl, who had had to borrow someone’s phone since his was sitting in a bag of rice at home.

“Mom. There’s no basketball practice.”

That was the entire message. And no way to call him back.

Now what?

I tried to hurry outside and wave Jane down but she didn’t see me. I called a friend but she had already picked up her son and was home.

Now what?

The cake still had 10 minutes to go. His message was a solid 15 minutes earlier. Nothing to it. He’d just have to wait until I was done icing the cake.

And I’d just have to wait on that shower too.

The best laid plans of mice and men, folks. Best laid plans.

This is our life. For now.

To say it’s been rough the last few weeks would be a major understatement. I just looked at the calendar and saw that it’s really only been 22 days since the chaos truly started. It feels like a lifetime.

We traveled back home 3 1/2 weeks ago for three reasons: participate in my husband’s grandfather’s memorial service, celebrate our children’s birthdays with my family, and visit my father-in-law. At that point, my father-in-law was living at home by himself.

The first blip of trouble came Saturday night when we were visiting with my husband’s family on his mom’s side after the service. His dad called. He was in severe pain. Off my husband went to help his dad. The level of medication hospice administered to get him back on track left him pretty out of it.

Really out of it.

As we built a ramp for his front porch on Monday, we came to a grim conclusion: he shouldn’t be left home alone to fend for himself. There was no chance that he could keep his mountain of medications straight. And so… my husband stayed and I drove the kids home, getting in after midnight.

That week was a blur of shifting responsibilities. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. To have him suddenly not around was more than just an inconvenience.  Jane had thankfully passed her driving test the previous week. Hal’s best friend’s mom agreed to pick him up from school as long as needed. Jane and her boyfriend, between the two of them, made sure Daryl made it home too.

And we just worked on surviving.

We returned to Oklahoma the next weekend, but had to wait until after halftime Friday night to leave, meaning once again I was driving hours after I would normally be asleep. But there was hope when we arrived. Poppy, as the children call him, was doing much better. Maybe Daddy could come home.

He gained some concessions from his dad – the most critical being that he would not drive. The truck was removed from the premises. Arrangements were made for a friend to come during the day. My husband would return on the weekends. We had a plan. My husband came home.

The plan lasted two days. Just enough time for him to keep his doctor’s appointment and vote early. By Wednesday afternoon, the friend was calling to say his dad was “not snapping out of it.” He shouldn’t spend the night without someone there.

My husband started packing. I left work to see him off. We hugged and hoped and wished each other well. And he was off. Again.

Circumstances changed for the weekend, making it possible for me to visit him. The kids, on the other hand, had plans – and were wearing down from all the traveling. Next thing I knew, I was making intricate plans to get each kid from place to place in my absence. The Angel Mom who was picking Hal up from school each day said he could spend the weekend with them. Daryl had a slumber party to go to. Jane had a parade to march in.

I drove back to Oklahoma, not as late on the road as other trips, but still… I was making the trip. Again. It was a lifesaver for my husband, who was having trouble keeping his days straight. His dad basically slept the entire time I was there. He was extremely unstable, falling repeatedly, and he wasn’t very coherent when awake. He was in terrible shape and the hospice nurse was predicting not much time left.

But then they put him on all liquid medications the next week, due to his difficulty swallowing, increased some dosages, reduced others, and suddenly, he was stable again. He could walk without his walker. Walk without falling. Spend a decent amount of time awake. Be a little more understandable when he spoke.

Was this the “last hurrah” before the end? Or was this the start of something more long term? We didn’t know. And this – this is probably the hardest part. The not knowing. If you know, you can plan. If you don’t know, you just wait. And react. Everything is on hold. You can commit to nothing.

And so, even though it would make four weekends in a row for me, and the kids all wilted a bit when I told them, we decided to return the following weekend. What if it was the last opportunity?

This time, we had to attend a Destination Imagination training event Saturday morning first, so we didn’t make it in until Saturday evening. The change from the previous weekend was remarkable! He seemed to be doing so much better!

Sort of.

It’s like he’s nesting or something. He keeps wanting to rearrange things in the house. He wants me to look at stuff and decide what I want. But he gets distracted in a heartbeat. So he might run dishwater and then decide he wants to move a dresser and then as you unload things from the dresser, start going through a cabinet and then leave the cabinet open and announce that he’s going to lay down. The nap might last 10 minutes before he’s up again and starting a new task.

I began to understand why my husband was exhausted. It’s hard to keep up when someone isn’t making sense. We left less than 24 hours after we arrived and my worry over my husband skyrocketed.

There are good moments. They might occur at 3:00 in the morning, but there are moments that my husband will cherish. Time spent in conversation or just in the pleasant company of his father. The full and sincere hugs. The beatific smiles.

But there are bad moments too. Moments when his dad chafes under his loss of independence and dignity. When he decides he’ll drive and his son will have to call the police to stop him. When he decides he wants to cancel hospice because he doesn’t trust them. When his mind is messing with him.

All of this wears on my husband, who is now a full time caretaker and away from the people who give him strength and stability. And it wears on me, as I worry about him. I’ve been walking in a haze for awhile now. I haven’t been feeling much at all. Emotion, that is. The stress I’m feeling stronger than ever.

This is our life. For now.

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!!

Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.

I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.

When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.

What does that have to do with my children?

Let me tell you.

You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.

And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.

But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.

By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.

I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.

I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.

Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?

Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?

No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?

My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.

He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?

Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”

He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”

“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”

Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.

“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”

I must have looked defeated.

“Would you like a hug?” he asked.

I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.

“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.

“I know honey. I’m sorry.”

I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.

I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”

He began to laugh.

I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.

I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.

Rare treat, indeed.

Missed Me?

I’ve been silent for the last week and I’m not quite sure why. I have a lot of stories floating around in my head. Some of them are about the kids (what I am supposed to be writing about) and others are commentaries on stuff around me or current events (what I find myself writing about more and more).

Those ideas are composed and recomposed over and over again as I walk or drive from place to place. I would gladly write them instead of working but… well… I’d like to keep my job. I keep doing the mental composing throughout my day. Then I get home and take care of the myriad obligations there. Eventually the kids go to bed and that’s my usual blog time.

Except I haven’t felt it.

When I list the things I need to do and I hit “write a blog post”, I think Man. I really don’t feel like doing that right now. When that’s happened before, it’s usually been because either a) I don’t have anything to write about and don’t have the energy to come up with something or b) I’m angry about something and don’t feel that’s the right state of mind to be in when writing for a blog entitled “My Bright Spots.” But that hasn’t been the case lately. I just haven’t felt like it.

So… nothing.

It’s been an interesting shift. Used to be, I consistently wrote my posts because I wanted to. But lately, I’ve been writing because I felt I had to. I needed to be predictable. A post every day Monday-Friday, with a “Throwback Thursday” post on Thursday. When it was getting late and I realized I hadn’t written one, I felt obligated to sit down and churn one out.

I’ve been having a similar reaction to reading blog posts. I’ve been feeling like we are all chattering magpies yapping away at the wind. What’s the point? Are we all just producing this stuff for each other? Why? Has my blog just become a more refined version of a “share every thought that comes into my head” Facebook life?

I’m not sure.

But the interesting thing is that as I write this, more topics are coming into my head. Everything from baking cookies with my mom last week to my thoughts on Ferguson, MO. So I don’t think I’m coming to feel there’s no point. I think I’m just tired. Really, really tired.

It’s not easy to be a full time engineer, mother to three kids (from a Kindergartener to a teenager), church elder, Sunday School teacher, club volunteer, DIY home rennovator, regular (almost obsessive) exercise practioner, and a blogger. Sometimes I get tired. Ok, not sometimes. I’m always tired. And I have to let something go. I’ve chosen not to let up on the exercise. I committed to the church for a three year term. The club needs me. The projects at the house still have to get done. And I can’t really drop my work and parenting obligations. That leaves the blog.

I don’t want to quit though, and I’m not going to. I’m just going to try telling myself that I don’t have to publish on a schedule. I don’t have to do it if I don’t feel like it. I can skip for a week or two or longer if I want to. And it’ll all be ok.

Now, don’t be surprised if I end up publishing something every day this week. Now that I’ve primed the pump, so to speak, I may find I “feel” like writing and easily fill my week with posts. But if I do fall silent for a bit (again), just say a little prayer or send kind thoughts my way. Something simple like “I hope she gets some sleep” will do. Thanks. 🙂

How about you? Do you keep a schedule or have a guideline of how often you want to blog? Do you fall into slumps? Does it bother you? Do you ever feel obligated or is it always an act of joy?

What’s For Breakfast?

Sometimes life outpaces blog writing.  It doesn’t matter how many drafts I have started.  It doesn’t matter how many ideas are in my head.  It doesn’t matter whether anything is close to ready for the next day.  Sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to write the next post.

I strive to publish a post every day.  Sometimes I wonder if this is too much, but usually the ideas are flowing.  I can often churn out all five for the week on the preceeding weekend.  Unless the weekend is too busy.  But even then,  I can usually find an hour each day to settle down at the computer and write whatever story I’ve been composing in my head.

This past weekend, though, was booked solid.  The laundry didn’t even get folded until Monday night.  Monday night, I got a post ready.  Tuesday morning, the bathroom flooded and we suspected the drain in the master shower.  We expected to spend the weekend ripping out our shower to get to it.  Tuesday evening, I spent my time volunteering at the high school.  Way too tired by the time I got home.

Wednesday morning, the bathroom flooded again – this time when the other shower was used.  And when the toilet was flushed.  Good news: we didn’t have to rip out our shower.  Bad news: we had no shower or toilet facilities.  I spent the late evening (after we returned home from church events)  holding the flashlight as my husband finished his repair job on the septic line.  Way too tired to flesh out a blog post.

Thursday morning, I took it easy on the treadmill, having pulled a muscle in one leg.  I had finished all the episodes of BBC’s Sherlock – that’s another yet-to-be-written post.  Easily the best show ever.  Anyway, the husband recommended Orange is the New Black.  He made it clear that it wouldn’t hold a candle to Sherlock, but admitted that by my standards, nothing would.  I might still enjoy it.  Well, I watched it while walking slowly and I did enjoy it.  I think.

Anyway, later that morning, I found myself laying on the floor with my toes hooked under the couch.  I was preparing to do daily sit-ups with my husband.  And I was whining.  I had the same headache that had prevented treadmill activity the morning before.  The pulled muscle in my left leg hurt.  I had slept hard so my neck was stiff and painful.  The inside of my left knee hurt.  And as I lay there, my right butt cheek began to cramp.  I was a pitiful mess.

{{WARNING: Minor Orange is the New Black first episode spoiler}}

After the sit-ups, he rolled over to give me a hug.  A kind of mockingly sympathetic hug.  “Oh, well,” I said. “I guess it could be worse.  At least no one gave me a used tampon in my breakfast.”  I smiled, expecting him to catch the reference to a disturbing scene in the show he had told me to watch.

He pulled away and looked genuinely confused.  I smiled sweetly at him.

“Am I supposed to know what you are talking about?” he asked.

“Well, I would hope so.  You recommended it to me.”

He pulled even farther away.  “I did?”

“Yes.  You said you liked it and you thought I should try it.”

I’m usually the clueless one so I was finding this very satisfying.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

With a sigh, I said flatly, “Orange is the New Black.”

“Oh!  You watched it?  Did you like it?”

“I suppose.  I think so.”

“You suppose you think so?”

“No, I meant:  I suppose.  Period.  I think so.”

“Ok, I think we’ve discussed periods enough this morning.”

Ba-dum-dum.  Ching!  And there you go folks, I know you all wish you lived with us so you could revel in this kind of humor all the time.  Lucky for you, I found enough time to get one last post in this week and share it with you.

You are welcome.

I Want the Epidural

Birthing a child is painful. Birthing a teenager is more so.

I believe in natural childbirth. I do not personally find the avoidance of pain worth the risks (no matter how remote) of an epidural. I also believe that the process typically has fewer complications and a swifter and smoother outcome when the mother stays directly involved and can feel what is going on.

I’m ready for an epidural now though. I no longer wish to feel the pain of raising a teenager. I still believe the outcome is better if the mother stays involved, but I want the relief of pain avoidance. I want a block between me and her harsh words. I want to withdraw.

Yesterday was the last day of school. My husband opened the boys’ bedroom door that morning and cheerfully announced as much. On impulse, forgetting months of experience, I attempted the same with our daughter.

She didn’t blow up at me. At least, she didn’t until I forgot to close the door as I walked away. Then she angrily and loudly yelled, “Will you please shut the door MOTHER?!” Her incredulity at my thoughtlessness was remarkable and I found myself shutting the door with too much force and then fighting back tears as I stumbled into the boys’ room to wish them a good morning.

See, that door haunts me. It is always closed. I would love to take it off the hinges. It’s not that I reject the notion of her having privacy. It’s that she has to have that privacy 24-7. The door is never open if she is in her room. In fact, the door to any room that can be shut off from the rest of the house will be closed if she is in there.

The door is a physical representation of the emotional distance she has put between herself and the rest of the family. I recognize that this is a fairly normal part of passing through the teenage years. That doesn’t mean I accept it easily.

She tried to indignantly claim from behind the door that morning that she was naked except for her underwear. That, she believed, was sufficient justification for the door being closed, despite the fact that she was still wrapped in her sheets. Despite the fact that she regularly walks the house in nothing but her underwear. It was not accepted as valid justification. Nor was her tone or attitude acceptable, as her father attempted to explain to her.

I did not leave the door open out of spite. It was not a passive aggressive response to it always being closed. It was not deliberate. It’s just hard to remember that while no other door is routinely used, that one must be. When our bedroom door opens in the morning, it stays open until we retire again that night. The same is true for the boys’ door. I think that by my action, I was greeting her and then subconsciously inviting her to join the family.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” my husband said when I expressed my frustration. “But it will pass.”

It’s getting harder to resist the spinal block that is available if I just withdraw and don’t interact with her. Such withdrawal is probably just a fantasy anyway since we live in the same house. And she’s not always so difficult. Sometimes, the contractions ease and I have a blissful bit of time that is so peaceful and magical, a time that is perhaps magnified in its perfection because of the memory of pain. But then the next wave hits and I’m thrown back into the chaos of surviving, forgetting the peace in between.

I’ve learned to accept the mild pain reliever injected in my IV at various times as I struggle with this process. When I entered the boys’ room after shutting her door, the pain on my face must have been clear. The continued shouting from the next room definitely was. My middle child sat up in his bed and with complete sincerity and a soft,gentle tone, said, “I love you Mommy.” He then reached over the edge of the top bunk and embraced me, holding on until I was ready to let go.

There are great pains in raising children. But there are great joys too. I can’t responsibly avoid the pain so I will have to hope instead that the joys can anesthetize me enough to still consider it all worth while.

Mother’s Day… Just More of the Same

I had a crummy Mother’s Day.

Moms aren’t supposed to say that but there it is.  And I wasn’t alone, trust me.  Moms all across America were having crummy Mother’s Days.  I know because I ran into a couple of them.

My husband and daughter rose early to go prepare breakfast at church.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I got to pick the menu but it’s not quite the same as getting served breakfast in bed.  Especially since their early absence meant I got to rustle the boys out of bed and get them ready for church on my own.  That’s about like most Sundays except this time, they had been out very late the night before and wouldn’t get out of bed.  Exasperated, I attempted to employ Mommy Guilt:  “Come on boys!  It’s Mother’s DayCan’t you please do what you are supposed to do without me having to fight you?!”

That met with limited success.  Still, we got out the door earlier than usual – mostly because I dragged myself out of bed earlier than usual.  Sane moms like to sleep in on Mother’s Day.  I am no longer sane.  I had a long list of responsibilities waiting for me at church:  I needed to replenish the papers in the children’s worship notebooks, teach Sunday School, practice bells, and perform in three different bell pieces, oh and check with a number of other people about upcoming events.  Then my daughter called asking me to pick something up at home and also get some milk from the store.  I didn’t get to church on time.

That meant I was rushing around trying to take care of everything.  In the midst of all that, my husband reminded me that the older two kids had a recital at 2:00 in the afternoon.  So much for fixing tacos and watching Dr. Who after church.  More on the recital later.

As I sat at a table, snarfing down my breakfast (which, I must say, included a cup of my favorite yogurt purchased especially for me by my husband and daughter), a friend walked in with her two kids.  Jane looked up and cheerfully wished her a Happy Mother’s Day.  She smiled in that sweet, ironic way that we use when we appreciate something but still aren’t happy.

“Thank you!” she said, turning to glare at her kids. “You are the first person to say that to me today.”  She then went on to rant about her allegedly unappreciative children as they stared sullenly at the table.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist or even another overly taxed mother to recognize that she wasn’t getting a great start to her Mother’s Day.  I tried to calm the nerves and lighten the mood, which didn’t work too well since I wasn’t exactly starting from a happy place myself.

Before long, I was attempting to teach Sunday School, which I had not prepared for, which meant I knew I was not making it particularly exciting for anyone and I had no clue what was coming next since I hadn’t read it ahead of time.  Then I went to practice bells with such a jumble of nerves that I just felt like nothing was clicking.  I didn’t play well and Hal was pouting because I wouldn’t let him go out to play.

I encountered yet another mom a short time later and attempted to wish her a hearty Happy Mother’s Day.  She rolled her eyes at me and indicated that none of her three children had yet said those words to her.  Must be something in the water, I said, telling her about the earlier mom.

“Well,” she clarified, “My oldest did send me a text.  That’s all she could manage.  I ranked high enough for a text message, not a face-to-face or even a phone call.”

“I got tagged in a selfie on Instagram taken in our bathroom this morning,” I said.  Although, to be fair to my daughter, she did remember to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day before I got out of bed too.  Still, the selfie tag was distinctly odd to me.

It was, of course, difficult to settle into the Worship service with so much going on.  I didn’t get to watch my children sing in the children’s choir because I played bells for one of the songs and then stayed trapped behind them for the other.  Turns out that Hal had remained on the pew anyway and neither of his siblings had thought to drag him up front.  He still expected me to give him the gum I had promised him after he sang… even though he didn’t sing.  That resulted in a quiet, prolonged fit next to me.

The boys and I were able to leave the church shortly after 12:30 but Jane and her Daddy had to clean up from breakfast.  We didn’t have much time before the recital so I reheated some leftover pizza that we all ate quickly while my husband baked the cookies we needed to provide for the reception after the recital.

Now, I suppose many people think it is sweet and endearing to have a solo recital on Mother’s Day.  I’m not one of those people.  At least, not anymore.  I get it.  Moms love their kids.  They like to see their kids perform.  But, it’s a lot of work to find clothes sufficiently dressy for them to wear.  And I’ve been attending these recitals for eight years now.  There’s only so much scratching through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that one woman can handle.  Yes, I love to watch my kids play but a recital isn’t just about them.  It’s also about all those other kids too, who, I’m sorry, in my stressed out state, I really don’t care to listen to.  But I have to sit quietly with a pleasant smile on my face and clap at the appropriate times.

It was just one more obligation in a day full of obligations and responsibilities.  I was tired.  I was stressed.  My time was not my own.  The one day when I should have gotten to set the agenda, I did not get to.  And that was my biggest problem with the day.

Things improved when I got to the reception.  We sat down with some friends we don’t see often and just talked.  The one nice thing about parenting a teenager is getting to talk with the parents of other teenagers and receive confirmation that you are not alone.  That that sweet girl smiling at the nearby table secretly turns into a witch at home just like yours does.

And eventually, we went home.  And after I took care of some church business and some volleyball business and some laundry, I finally got to start my day roughly how I wanted it to go, sometime around 5:00 in the evening.  We fixed tacos together and watched an episode of Dr. Who, while I folded laundry.  And then the boys went to bed reasonably easily and Jane retired to her room and then we watched Grey’s Anatomy while I folded more laundry and drank a glass of Orange Moscato.  And my husband didn’t even get upset when I knocked over his favorite tumbler, shattering it on the floor.