Our Blog Writing Reflects Our Many Characteristics

My youngest called from college, distressed about boy #1 talking to boy #2 on her behalf. She did not approve. She believes that any young man worth dating in the future would need to personally get to know her – through her.

The conversation progressed into fully analyzing the words boy #1 used to describe her to boy #2. She disagreed with one of the adjectives.

My daughter’s voice elevated. “Am I like that? What does that even mean?” She thought it may have a negative connotation which in her case, would be impossible. No, I’m not just wearing Mom-goggles. That child was the easy teenager…her siblings view her as annoyingly good.

I tried to make a joke because gosh, it was all positive and she was just being a 20-yr. old. But, she wasn’t having it. After all, she really does like boy #2 and was highly concerned about the chosen adjective. Ultimately, after discussing the various meanings of said word, my daughter concluded, “I am many things…I live life to the fullest and I laugh a lot. I think quite a few different adjectives would be used to describe every individual girl.” True. But most girls would have giggled. My girl gave me an analysis!

That got me thinking about words, sentences and adjectives…

Later that evening, I was reading through blog posts from several of you incredible writers. I was suddenly noticing the array of candor, personality and diversity of posts…within the same blog. While most blogs have one strong theme, individual posts reflect several different moods, tones, frustrations, interests and joys. My own blog included. The content evolves over time. In a word, the diverse writings echo our lives.

Poets who insert periodic posts about family happenings.
Photographers who sometimes tell short stories.
Blogs devoted to depression but also include occasional bright happenings.
Inspirational quote sites that sporadically contain fiction excerpts.

Although often our own worst critic, as writers we have something of value to offer. We care about “words” and spend considerable time trying to determine the best ones to convey our meaning. Ultimately, we do the best we can with the time we have to post something thoughtful or thought-provoking or entertaining or just plain ‘ol pretty to look at. No matter what we write, it often encompasses many different adjectives which ultimately convey the many different aspects of our lives.

Unlike Most People, I’m Glad It’s Monday

It’s seven weeks into the semester and I’m profoundly feeling the effects of the empty-nest. The weekends are the worst, especially Sunday evenings. Some Moms get through this easier than others, but I’m struggling.

Saturdays were always slow mornings, since we went to church on Sundays. Breakfast, hanging out in PJs and then usually a soccer game in the crisp, fall air surrounded by the changing leaves. We would stop at the local cider mill afterward, picking up donuts and cider slushies. I stopped in on my own recently and wow, it just wasn’t fun.Sundays, I go to church alone. Sometimes I run a few errands and write a bit. I always cooked on Sundays and that heightens the sadness.

No, I don’t miss being in the kitchen for two hours chopping, preparing, cleaning and cooking…I do miss the end result of everyone around the table, eating and talking and bonding. I miss hanging out in the living room on Sunday nights deciding on a movie everyone would like. My older daughter made popcorn. I would yell at my son to put away his phone and just watch the movie :).

It sounds simple, but the little things like sports games, church, meals, their friends coming over and just the constant activity brought our home to life. It feels strangely lifeless.

Make no mistake, with all of that activity came frayed nerves and craziness that wore me out. My son annoyed me. My older daughter sometimes prioritized friends over family. Funny how when they are at college, I tend to forget these things. A little peace and quiet should be welcome.

My work is isolated. I have a home office and in the last year (ironic timing with the baby leaving for college), I decided to teach exclusively in our online program. It pays more and I live in the country. I don’t miss the drive into the city campus, but now I have even less communication with other humans. So, I’m looking for a different job. Not to mention, higher education is nothing like it once was and I’m eager to move forward.

Last month, I started volunteering more, began a couple projects I’m really enjoying and made sure to book some girlfriend outings on the calendar. Still, I’m a Mama. It’s not only how I largely defined myself but I actually enjoyed it. They still need me but it’s sooooooo not the same.

My kids all face time me, call and text every day. We also have a family snapchat and family group text. I hear all of this communication is unusual so I’m really grateful. They are cool kids who tell me all about their experiences (good and bad!), and I am truly thankful.

Like starting the first day at a new high school, groups have already been established and I’m wandering from place to place, looking forward to landing in two or three new things that will slowly build this new, peculiar life. Other parents move on and I will too, but it’s a struggle. I also recognize that I must because my kids need to see their Mom happy and secure.

My twins are a few hours away so I was able to see my son a couple weeks ago and we got a hotel room to extend the time we could visit. Quite joyfully, my daughter recently called to say her roommates are leaving this coming weekend and she wants me to come and stay at her apartment just the two of us! She’s making all sorts of plans and I’m stupid-excited. I’ll be cooking on Friday, jumping in the car with the birds on Saturday, stopping at my son’s apartment to drop food and treats to him en route to my daughter’s university an hour past his.

Mondays are welcome mornings for me. After feeling sad on Sunday nights, Mondays feel fresh, like anything is possible, I just need to keep working toward the new goals.

“For everything there is a season…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Perfection Is Not The Goal

I dropped off my twins to their freshman year of college in late August. Separated for the first time in 18 years, they are at different schools, in the same state, but two states away from the nest. Like many parents, the lump still forms in my throat as I type the words.

For me, the last year and half were a thousand times more challenging than having three children under the age of two. The baby and toddler years? Easy-peasy compared to raising teenagers, going on college visits, and the actual moving-away-to-college process. Can I tell you? I. Was. Emotionally and Mentally Exhausted. by the time they left.

The last few weeks leading up to their departure, our dining room and great room were overtaken by the massive amount of stuff needed to dorm. My Mama’s heart comforted itself thinking of how neat the house would be when the “stuff” was out. On many summer days, I briskly wiped away tears, reminding myself of all that I would have the time to do after 18 years of parenting busy-ness. With now only one athlete at home instead of three, games and practices would be minimal, and the baby got her license the week after her siblings left for college. My goodness… the time I would have!

I would join another Bible study; preferably Beth Moore, so there would be plenty of homework to keep me busy.
Organize more, exercise more, volunteer more, restart my blogging…
Adopt at least one new hobby that I’d pushed aside over the years as I bought groceries washed and chopped vegetables cooked the meals cleaned the bathrooms cleaned the floors did the laundry …

If you’re a parent, you get it. You also know that all the same chores are required post-college-drop-off, just perhaps a bit less frequently and the cooking, a bit less plentiful.

Then I decided to go from part time to full time (temporarily) for the first time in 20 years, and I continued doing all that I had previously. My goal? Do all things perfectly (or close to it). This would surely bring satisfaction.

Within two weeks I felt worse than ever, exasperating the sadness that was just settling in over my half empty nest.

My baby came home from the 11th grade and said she was very excited about her guest speaker in entrepreneur class that day. “Mama I wish you could’ve been there. I thought of you the whole time.”

Did she think I was soon to be an entrepreneur?

“The lady was a life coach and she said that taking care of yourself is important. It’s not a bad thing and that everybody should do it. And, I don’t mean exercise mom! I just mean doing something fun just for yourself.”

While my mind and heart raced, thinking that I was a terrible example for her, I was at least grateful that she recognized that I exercise regularly. I was also terribly sad that in her eyes, I don’t have much “fun”. And, it’s true. I don’t.

Unless my kids are around.

We sing.  I dance to just about anything, making all three of them very uncomfortable. My youngest and I have full-blown Taylor Swift concerts on car rides. We just goof off. My fun is largely dependent upon them and as any mid-life Mama knows, those bursts of laughter in the kitchen and silly games and endless flows of teenagers in the house   s l o w s   d o w n …

Adding more to-do and adding more pressure to make everything great – (since remember:  now I would have the “time” to make all things even better), just left me miserable.

Since that late week in September, I pulled out bunches of scribbled-on papers. The words that a writer keeps writing, even though she doesn’t think it’s “perfect enough” to post to her neglected blog site.

I upped my yoga to four-five times a week. In my living room, on my yoga mat, with the same 4-pack DVD. The poses aren’t “perfect”, but my herniated neck disks feel much better.

I returned to the gun range and even though my target practice is far from “perfect”, I love the focus of the sport.

When I’m tempted to skip the yoga because the carpet needs vacuuming, I remind myself that 20 years of vacuuming has not gotten me anywhere. I’m a firm believer that a house should be in order, but as my kids get older, my example as a woman is just as important as it is to be their Mama. (See, like that sentence is not perfect, but I’m not going to revise it. And, this post is longer than it should be but I won’t proof to shorten it.)

I cannot wait to exercise until all the dishes are done and the floors are picked up like I’ve always done. For me, I can’t just do the dishes and be satisfied. I must clean the sink, wipe the edges, it’s ridiculous. There are always chores. It never ends. Then there are holidays and birthdays to plan, to prep, to make p e r f e c t.

When I run down to the basement simply to put away the pumpkin lights and I’m tempted to re-organize all the Christmas boxes for three hours, I don’t. The only one who cares about that “perfect” organization is me and it’s again, ridiculous.

I won’t be proofreading and revising my blog posts 17 times before publishing them. This bothers me greatly, but I’m doing it anyway :). The themes of my posts will also be all over the place, and I’m going to post them anyway. Thanks to all the followers who stuck around this year and kept peeking to see if I was back on line. I was humbled and grateful when I logged back on.

I wrote this down years ago and apologize that I don’t know who said it: “Perfection will kill your giftedness.”

Perfection is not my goal. If I’m supposed to be more perfect in Christ that means leaning on Him, and not continuously, silently labeling myself “less than”. This is part of why I’m no longer very much fun: if “it” – whatever “it” is – isn’t perfect, then I’m dissatisfied. I know, it’s ridiculous, but feeling this way has been very normal for me. It’s also been normal to only have real “fun” if my kids are around. This too has to change.

It’s been a little nuts becoming a mid-life Mom and raising three teenagers. Perfecting what I could helped me cope with other things that spiraled in ways I couldn’t control. But, no longer. Now, I’m imperfectly moving forward.

Is College Worth It?

There are two dominant themes throughout the book Is College Worth It? by William J. Bennett and David Wilezol:  1) overpriced higher education and 2) considering the heights of underemployment and unemployment currently rampant among recent college graduates – a questionable return on students’ investment.

Bennett and Wilezol provide an impressive amount of outstanding and worthwhile research connecting everything from the underlying social reasons for attending college, to the “prestige” associated with high priced universities. They ask meaningful questions with potentially life-altering high priced answers.  Should everyone go to college?  Does higher education actually produce graduates who are trained to begin working?

This book is an excellent read for parents and students who are starting to consider their college decisions.  While the research and tone of this book are largely designed to inform families with traditional-aged college applicants, the book contains information for non-traditional students as well.  I also recommend searching out and reading the highly informative charts in the book, such as: Best Value Schools, Colleges Ranked by 30-year Net ROI (Return on Investment), and Top Ten Majors by Midcareer Earnings.

Bennett and Wilezol aren’t saying that no one should attend college, but they subtly question whether so many should be attending.  As a college educator who has taught adult students for 16 years, I have some insight into this topic.  Observing the financial strain and severely limited professional opportunities for those who do not have a college degree, my verdict is:  everyone needs some form of higher education.  To even have an average middle-class lifestyle, my personal primary research indicates that an “affordable” college degree is a vital means to that end.

BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. pic_giant_is-college-worth-it_051813_A