It's no secret to my friends, family and anyone wandering the cleaning aisle of the local grocery that I don't enjoy cleaning. I enjoy cooking, eating, reading. I do not enjoy cleaning.
With Spring Break now over, the writing is on the wall. And as hard as I try to keep my eyes tightly shut, whenever I open them just for a moment, I can see the "Year of Madison" quickly coming to an end.
We had a death in the family last week. While the deceased has (or had, rather) four legs, this did not make his sudden passing any less painful.
It's not like we can't remember the deadline. Just like Christmas is always on Dec. 25, Uncle Sam's birthday presents from Aunt Becky are always due on April 15. Even so, every year, I find myself scrambling through faded receipts making sure to count every deduction.
With Snow-mageddon- Part 2 finally behind us and spring looking like it's here to stay, I did what many of you probably did this weekend. I broke out the summer wear.
Children, teenage boys in particular, are wonderful... most of the time.
It started happening again. I can't sleep. Rather, I can sleep, I just can't STAY asleep.
This leads to a frame of mind that's an ideal breeding ground for worry production. So I worry. Worry about getting back to sleep turns into worry about work, bills, taxes, life insurance, dementia, cancer, Ebola, my car's engine light that keeps coming on, my oldest driving, even deflated footballs - stupid Tom Brady.
I am writing this letter as I would like to lodge a formal complaint.
I've done it. And if you are being honest, you have too. My mother warned me about it. It happens all the time. And sometimes the damage is done before you get a do over. Just ask former GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten.
When something bad happens, that bad can reach in and pull the breath right out of your gut. It feels like suffocating. But as your arms flail and you gasp for air, the light turns green, traffic starts to move, pedestrians take to the cross walk. No one notices. It's as if the people in cars, on cross walks, in the grocery or at the DMW don't care or don't feel the shift on the planet when life as you know it forever changed.
It's that time of year again. Relatives are heading home. We bid adieu to the tree and that stupid elf till next year. Returns are made. My jeans feel about three sizes too small and I've not even put them in the dryer. Regret from my over consumption of cheese balls, peanut butter balls, chips, dip, wine, cookies fill my head every time I see a new 'NOT APPROVED' photo floating around on Facebook. I have to diet and lose the weight that crept on between October 31st and January 1st. I knew it was time for an intervention when I bit the inside of my cheek while noshing on a handful of fried peanuts (Seriously!).
There's few places as beautiful as Middle Tennessee in the fall. And one only needs to visit Facebook or Twitter to take in all the beauty. Changing leaves, crisp air, family photos in all orange or red surrounded by a bevy of changing leaves posted all over social media, and general giddiness of the season make even this girl excited about football...for the social atmosphere, not the game.
Everyone is thankful for something. Even on the day of Thanksgiving, when 40 members of your family are talking loud, complaining about the food temp, and wondering "out loud" if the serving dish used for stuffing belongs to them. As much as my family and close friends may test the limit of my nerves, I still say a silent prayer of thanks. It's not a prayer you are familiar with I'm sure. In the chaos of the holidays before I let myself utter or think, "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M COOKING THANKSGIVING!" I stop (obsessing), drop (the attitude), and roll (add Parker House to my grocery list) and instead say, "Thank you."
Thank you for a husband who helps with everything and doesn't complain about it (to me anyway). Who doesn't mind coming in second to so many things; work, kids, friends, sisters, the housewives of BRAVO TV, dad. Who just like me rolls his eyes when people talk about "soul mates." Because it's more important for us to simply be "mates." We can save the soul part for the afterlife. We've built a life together. It took us a while to finish the foundation but when we did, the rest just sort of fell into place. So thank you for him and keeping us smart enough to know that just because one day is bad doesn't mean tomorrow will be.
Thank you for a 15 year old who still talks to me and talks back to me. A boy/man who is trying to find his way and his identity. And a boy who still let's his mama run the bases with him when life throws a curve ball his way.
Thank you for an almost 11 year old who is so much smarter than all of us but doesn't rub it in. My youngest babe who makes very grown up observations like, "You know the "E" means you should stop and get gas?" or "Why are you always trying to lose weight? You don't need to." Oh! And he still loves to snuggle while watching "Elf" this time of year.
Thank you for my sisters and brothers. Those connected by blood or connected through life. Without a single one of them this island of misfit toys wouldn't be fun at all.
Thank you for my mother-in-law. Yes, you read that right. I'm thankful that she accepts me for who I am, messy kitchen and all.
Thank you for the dementia that changes our dynamic on a daily basis. It's not always fun. There are days when I'd love to stay in bed, watch bad reality television and post anonymous messages on political websites. But instead, I listen intently as dad tells me about how he met mom during the 1961 fall quarter at Western Carolina University. And for a moment I wonder if this is real. Maybe it's not as bad as the neurologist says. Then he sits to eat his soup with a butter knife. No big deal. I hand him a spoon, we giggle and he reads Jon Saraceno's latest. We go on. And so does life. Because while he will inevitably forget many things, his family will remember for him.
So for these things and so many more, I'm truly thankful.
A guide for my boys...whether they need it or not.
As of Thursday, September 25th I've been on this earth four decades. That day usually gives me the opportunity to reflect. 40 seems so grown up. 40 is the deadline for having your life in order. Over the years I've looked to friends in their 40's as my own personal Dalai Lama; full of wisdom and experts at living a life full of intent. But the closer I inched to this decade the more I began to realize it wasn't that all of my Dalai Lama's were given the wisdom gene much like someone born with red hair or freckles. Instead they embraced the "what is" and tossed the "never will be." They didn't, like I assumed, wake up on the first day of their 40th year with a brand new perspective that was delivered while they slept. They learned through trial and error, just like me and eventually my children will. Sometimes it takes a 40 something's opinion or insight to make people realize that just because Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing it doesn't mean it's the best choice for you. And while there's plenty of mistakes in my future, I wanted to share a list of a few of the lessons I've learned as a helpful guide for my children.
Have you ever been involved in a verbal confrontation and, after it was settled, thought about the perfect comeback? Of course, we don’t ever do that because that would be stupid. If we counter with the best comeback one day or even one hour after said confrontation, that person would now think you were even more inept than before. Not to mention, “crazy.” I’m the worst at comebacks. But afterwards, I. AM. AWESOME. I keep these little snappy retorts on file just in case the need to use them in the future ever arises.
A couple years ago I wrote an article that I often still hear about today. It had to do with my tendency to take down names...in sharpie. I'm not sure when or the how the practice first started, but at some point in my life my Oprah inspired gratitude journal went to hell in a hand-basket.