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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Been a while...

Hasn't it? It's been a while since I've revisited this page. The reasons are many and mostly mundane.
Holidays. Thanksgiving, and Christmas, while lovely, did take up a lot of my time and attention. I'm happy to report they were among the best we've had in the past 3 years. The kids were happy. I was relaxed. We all just enjoyed one another's company.

It was lean, as always. Their gifts required careful planning and saving, but the looks on their faces when they opened them, and the use they've put them to in the weeks following, have made it all worth the effort. I rarely see Babygirl without her phone (an unlocked, off-brand that works with our text-and-talk plan, with which she can pick up wifi when she wants "data.) Thing1 carries his camera- a beginner's DSLR with more knobs and twiddly bits than I could navigate- with him nearly everywhere.

And me? I got the precious hours spent with my kiddos. I got to welcome Thing1's girlfriend to spend time with us. She's got a very special place in his heart, and I'm dreading the day they split, and hope it won't be too high a drop from the clouds he's riding right now. Ah, young love... So precious, so poignant... and so fleeting. They've been friends for years. Dating for weeks. I don't know how long it will last, and, like, I'm sure, the adults in my life when I was young and in love, I'm not telling him that the ending will be inevitable and bitter-sweet.

The goofy pair at Halloween. 

They are too young, their lives yet unripe for the stresses of marriage and babies and commitments. (and yes, we've talked, extensively, and continue to talk about the more serious side of this floating infatuation he's in now. About respect. About care. About safety and using the upper brain to control the lower one.) Let's let it suffice to say that he knows, at the very least, to keep it covered or keep it zipped. I hope that, when they part, they will retain the depth of friendship they've enjoyed since he crushed on her in the second grade.

On a lighter note, I also got a gift from my kiddos, unexpected and beautiful. I had shown Babygirl a pattern online for an apron made of an old pair of jeans, and she tried her hand at sewing, with a little help and encouragement from her brother. The result was that I now have a beautiful apron, which I love. It has pockets. I love pockets. I also hate having flour all over my clothes when I'm done baking, and this is not only a beautiful gift, it's also functional. It's easily the favorite thing I've received for Christmas since I was 13 and got a Brooke Shields doll. (Hey, don't laugh! I'd just seen The Blue Lagoon, and Brooke was my heroine.)

You'll have to excuse the mess. It was the end of Christmas Day's
dinner and we were still cleaning up when Babygirl insisted on snapping this photo. :)


Life, especially life with the challenges of mental illness, is no easy task. I could say the same, of course, of life with Crohn's, or diabetes, or lupus. I don't think I have some special burden; just the same burdens that many carry, in different forms. Some days it's not easy to get up and get out of bed and keep moving forward, especially with the uncertainties of freelancing for a living. The income is sporadic, and a client's disappointment may mean the loss of a job. I have to strive, with everything I write, to stay on point, to stay relevant, to stay connected and to express the client's expectations and desires. That sort of constant effort can be exhausting, but it's also what keeps me moving forward. It gives me purpose.

Parenting is, in many ways, the same. We all carry our personal burdens, but the children we're responsible for must be shepherded, fed, clothed, sheltered, and led. Their disappointment doesn't lead to the mere loss of a job; it can leave lasting scars that destroy lives and carry forward into new generations. The time I've put in these past few months, the efforts to put together a simple holiday celebration and to invite in those who are connected to our family by the unfamiliar strands of teenage ardor, seem to me to be the most important job I could've been doing. I may be putting things too high, thinking that these  hours will have a stronger impact on my growing young adults' lives than they will. I could be wrong about Thing1 and his lovely young partner. They could go on to marry and have children of their own, as my own in-laws did, marrying when she was just 17 and he was 19. Fifty years and counting, they're a walking love story.

But for now, all I have is experience to go by. All I have is my own memories of young love, and memories of the hours contentedly dressing up a Brooke Shields doll while Mom prepared the meal and Dad smoked his pipe in his chair while watching the Macy's Parade. Those are the memories that reassure me that my son will come out of this relationship changed, with new experiences and a new perspective. Perhaps with new scars, but ones that will heal and that will shape him, and make him, in the end, a better man. Those are the memories that assure me that my own kids will look back, one day, and remember the holidays as a happy time with their family and loved ones, something that they will want to recreate for their own children.

All we can do is keep moving forward, and doing our best.
I hope, if you're reading this, that you had a beautiful ending to 2015 and that 2016 brings you new joys, new experiences, and new hope.

God bless, Friends.
A belated, but sincere, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

~Mary

There is no such thing as a "broken family." Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart."-C. Joy Bell

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