More Truth than You Need

If this post smells like vomit, it’s because I’m typing it while we’re in the midst of the three hour drive from the airport to western Kansas, where we’ll be spending Thanksgiving.  I’m not usually prone to carsickness, but my beloved husband keeps attempting to put us all through the windshield with his overzealous braking.  

My attitude about this trip isn’t terribly healthy.  Chris and I returned home from Croatia yesterday and had just over 24 hours before we had to head out the door for the airport again.  First world problems, no doubt, but I’m jet lagged.  I’m filled to the brim with 40-something year old woman hormones.  My kids are filled to the brim with teenage hormones.  And I’m so damn broken and introverted that the mere thought of five days surrounded by people, even those I love dearly, ties my stomach in knots and leaves me weary.  I miss my house.  I miss my dog.  I miss my routine.  And I have zero patience.

E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is driving me bonkers and I want to punch all the people.  

The guy in the row in front of me on the plane, who was typing a document entitled, I shit you not, LEADING THE WAY TO WHERE CHARACTER MEETS DESTINY AND PURPOSE.  Really dude?  Take that shit and get off my plane.  

Chris has asked Jerod to quit slurping his drink about 740 times.  Jerod hasn’t heard any of them because his headphones* are on.  I should tap J on the shoulder and get him to listen to his dad, but I’m weary of Chris’ inability to deal with any sound he doesn’t like so I don’t care that J’s not responding to his requests.

Elise spent a good 15 minutes in hysterics because Jerod looked at her wrong, and then Chris didn’t stop for supper when she wanted him to, and she feels like this family isn’t a ‘safe space’ for her.  

The *headphones mentioned above are actually MY headphones that Jerod’s using because he dropped one of his apple wireless dingleberry boppers (or air pods maybe?  I don’t know what the hell they’re called, but I’m still super pissed about Apple removing the headphone jack from iPhones).  Which means no noise cancellation for me.  Which means I have to hear my husband’s singing.  And incessant chatter.  And ever-present VOLUME.  All things that are par for the course when he’s driving and bored.  Nails on a fucking chalkboard, my friends.  

Western Kansas smells like shit.  Literally.  Cow shit.  And my husband’s ‘Smells like money, ha ha ha’ routine never ever gets old.  

There is absolutely, positively no point to this post.  I’m blogging for catharsis, which is strictly against the rules.  But, it’s Thanksgiving Eve.  Maybe you, too, are currently annoyed by every molecule of your environs.  Maybe you, too, are homesick.  Maybe you, too, are entering the holiday season with a shitty attitude.  Maybe you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone.  Probably not, but maybe.

Parenting While Stupid

I’ve written before about the relentlessness of parenthood.  Even in the best of circumstances (whatever the hell that means), it’s stressful and has no off switch.  On top of everything else, my husband and I have an additional handicap of being the stupidest parents ever.  Which, by the way, doesn’t come with a trophy.  I totally think there should be a trophy.

At any rate, we’re really damn stupid.  Our 16 year old, who bestowed upon us the title of supidest parents EVAR, has mountains of evidence.  And teeming pools of testosterone.  And feelings as deep as the ocean.  And horribly incomplete neural pathways (I’m not a psychologist, but I play on TV.  Neural pathway probably isn’t the right term, but teen brains are, um, perplexing.  Especially to me,  because I’m the stupidest).

All this being the case, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised yesterday morning when my kid straight up left worship service, exited the church building, and walked home.  Right after the passing of the peace, during which he had informed me that, “this is total bullshit” when I hugged him. All of this, of course, after a good half hour at home, before we even left, of him arguing his case of why he shouldn’t have to go.

He’s trying on atheism.  And while it may surprise people in certain circles of my life, I don’t have an issue with that.  I’m not worried about eternal damnation for his soul, or fiery bowels of hell; because I’m actually a heathen my own damn self and don’t worship a god who is a schmuck.  And yet, making our kids go to church is a battle we’ve chosen.  Loving son has informed us it is egregious on the same level as white people forcing native Americans to cut their hair and adopt Christianity.  Hashtag eye roll.  Sorry not sorry.  It is what it is, because I said so, and all that other nonsense, son.

Side note:  Clearly all that worrying I’ve done about whether or not my kids understand their privilege has been completely unfounded.  The lad’s obviously got a perfectly healthy grasp on the concept of oppression, what with his being on the same level of native Americans and all.  In his defense, we’ve received some REALLY oppressive messages at church of late.  Things like ‘doubt is holy,’ ‘you are enough,’ ‘you and your wounded faith are welcome at the table.’

If you’re asking if this is really a battle worth picking, you’re frequently in some damn fine company.  I find myself asking the same question every Sunday morning at 8am, when the teen rage hits full throttle.

I contend it is, and here are some of the reasons I’m telling myself:

  • Kiddo doesn’t have a monopoly on doubt and anger.  I’ve been dealing with a steady stream of both for something like the past six to eight weeks.  Or maybe even 30 years.  I dunno.  It’s complicated.  If I have to drag my cynical self to church, so does he.  This is where you could also ask why I’m claiming it a requirement for myself to go to church.  Insert shoulder shrug and blank stare here.  I’m actually a teenager trapped in a 42 year old body.
  • I believe people need a place where they can be broken.  And I think that’s especially true for anyone sharing DNA with me.  I do NOT believe this is something provided by just any ol’ church, but I generally feel our community of faith can deal with all the messiness that is the Holt family.  Someday, I think my kids are gonna get that, and they might even be grateful.
  • I believe in community.  And I know Chris and I alone cannot provide our kids everything they need.  I wish we could, because Jerod’s not the only one who’d like to sleep in on Sunday mornings.  But we are WAY too screwed up.  We need any and every available safety net.
  • This.  I don’t know where else to get this.IMG-6012
  • And, finally, of course.  Because I’m the stupidest.  Which I can totally live with.

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I don’t have a trophy.  But I do have a message board.  With stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prattle

The word of the day is PRATTLE.

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This is at least my 10th attempt to sit down and write something since my last post.  What can I tell you about why?

That I’ve been too busy?  Nah.  I have no job and my kids are school aged.  If there’s one thing I’ve got, it’s time.

That I’ve been focusing on fall cleaning and organizing the house?  Nobody who knows me would believe that noise.

That my current foster dog is taking all my energy?  Well, she was really sick the first week we had her, and required lots of meds and multiple trips to the vet; but let’s go back to that unemployed mom of two school aged kids thing.

That my husband has been traveling?  No.  He’s actually been home.  A lot.  Perhaps he’s my anti-muse.

That I’ve simply had nothing to write about?  Sure.  That’s it.  Everything around here has been completely copacetic and free of any drama whatsoever.   Can you hear my eyes rolling?  My daughter turned 14 last week.  My son’s 16.  My house is a veritable shit storm of hormones and stereotypically bad adolescent decision making.  I know I’ve said that before.  But I can officially tell you I underestimated what was to come.  And that’s probably still true today.  Shudder.

Truth is I’ve had plenty to blather on about, but I’ve possibly felt a little too overwhelmed to do it.

I could go on about how losing a pastor unexpectedly, which is something I’d have expected to be hard, is actually hard on steroids.  And about how I constantly struggle with feelings that the intensity of my grief is unwarranted.  Or about how, although it does seem to be easing a bit, I still have a knot of dread in my stomach when I have to enter the church.  The place that always felt like such a solace and refuge from the outside world now comes with some seriously heavy baggage.

I could write an entire post on how heavy it has felt to parent teenagers the past few weeks.  How hard it is to watch them do stupid shit (that I won’t tell you about here, in an attempt to maintain a wee bit of privacy for them).  Even though I know it’s part of the deal, part of the process; I still long to cocoon them from the big bad world and protect them from their own stupidity.  Or about how sad it’s made me feel to know that one of their friends is dealing with stuff that’s so much heavier than the normal teenaged BS we’ve got going on at our house, and how powerless I’ve felt to do anything to help.

Or the downfall of civilization; evidenced by pipe bombs, murdered reporters, attacks on the rights of our transgender sons/daughters/sisters/brothers, and shamelessly hate filled political ads.  And let’s not leave out the existence bratwurst with pumpkin spice and cranberries.

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Instead of writing anything of substance about any of those topics, I’ve thrown together this POS simply touching on all of them.  Blogging goals are a tricky thing.  Mine is to post something every week, and it’s been three weeks since I’ve posted.  There’s a fine line to be walked of meeting the goal, yet posting simply for the sake of posting.  Is it more important to meet a goal or to attempt to stay relevant?  Today I’ve decided I was never terribly relevant to begin with, so I’m focusing on getting back on track with the goal.

Here’s to hoping for more coherence and less prattling next week.  We shall see.

 

 

 

I Believe You

A few weeks ago, my 13 year old daughter approached me (via text, of course) about the possibility of dropping out of Spanish class.  She gave a whole host of reasons why:  The teacher is lame, I’m going to switch to sign language once I get to high school, If I drop out of Spanish I can take study hall, which will help me to excel in my other classes.  

As is frequently the case with us, an arduous exchange of text messages ensued.  It was late in the evening.  Dad was out of town.  I was dealing with other stressors that I’ve already blogged about ad nauseam.  There was no way I was going to concede and let her drop Spanish, and there was no way she was going to go down without a fight.  And, I was ready for bed.  Like, really, really ready for bed.

And then we got to this:

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Oh my.  Oh my oh my oh my.

None of this was about Spanish. 

She had sent signals, albeit very cryptically, that she was dealing with some shit.  I had managed to miss them all.

A very not nice rumor had been spread about her.  I really want to tell you all the gory details, but it’s not exactly my story to tell.  But it was gross and awful and any 13 year old girl would’ve been mortified.  As would any 42 year old woman.  Or any human being of any age or gender with even a mere semblance of a moral compass.

Boys in her Spanish class were giving her a hard time, based upon said rumor.

None of this was about Spanish.

Never in a bazillion years would I have believed what was being said about her, and yet I felt I had to ask.  You didn’t do what they said  you did, right?  If you did, you shouldn’t have, but it’s a mistake and we can learn from it.  

I suppose on some level it was parental due diligence to ask that question.  Even when parenting in the midst of tumultuous emotions, one needs to be thorough and analytical, right?  But my having to ask that question sent a message to her:  I don’t believe you.  Knowing I sent that message to her makes me physically sick to my stomach.

SHE IS 13 YEARS OLD AND IN THE EIGHTH GRADE.  And already, it has begun.

She did absolutely nothing wrong, and yet had to be questioned.  By her mother.   And I suppose whether or not my questioning her was the right thing to do from a parental standpoint, the fact remains that it made her feel shittier than she already did.

Thankfully, this episode of angst seems to have blown over.  But it’s part of her story now.  And the kid who said these awful things about her will suffer no consequence.  Because what my daughter really wants is for this to go away.  And if I approach the school or the kid’s parents, the effect will be the opposite of going away.  In trying to do or not do what may or may not be in the best interest of my daughter, I’m complicit in letting this shithead get away with being deplorable.  The only thing about any of this that is straightforward is that it completely sucks for my daughter, and this kid’s likely never going to even think about it again.  Boys will be boys, don’t ya know??

When we visit Croatia and converse with the locals, they frequently reply to our statements with, “I believe you.”

Me:  The frittes are delicious.
Croatian:  I believe you.

Or

Me:  I love being in Croatia, but I really miss my dog.
Croatian:  I believe you.

Perhaps it just an effect of being near the ocean, on vacation, away from some of the rigors of everyday life; but I love it when they say it to me.  It’s validating, I guess; and I cannot deny I am always seeking out some validation.

At any rate, it’s lovely.  And we need more of it.

I believe you.

The Both/And

Is this bunny white, or is it fuzzy?  

This is the question Pastor Jeff posed during the children’s sermon last Sunday, as our congregation gathered to worship while grappling with the reality that our other Pastor, Stephanie, was lying in intensive care in a hospital across town.  

The answer, of course, is both.  The bunny is both white and fuzzy.  

He went on to explain how people can be both happy and sad.  We can be both happy to be together in worship and sad and worried about Stephanie’s precarious state.  

Being that I lack a Master of Divinity, and pretty much any of the other necessary qualifications to be a pastor (tact, patience, respectful demeanor, etc.), I cannot express it as beautifully as he did.  But it was an incredible message in a time of great sadness and uncertainty.

Today, I’m still sad, and I’m still uncertain; but Stephanie’s outcome is not.  She died on Thursday night. I can say definitively that she left one congregation who loved her tremendously, and while I don’t know any of her former congregants, I feel pretty confident in saying they loved her tremendously as well.  And I know for a fact she was adored by her husband and babies.

Since her passing, I have been in a state of both/and. A state of near constant contradictions.

I am both certain that our church will endure this, and wondering how we possibly will.  And pissed off that this scenario even exists.

I both believe our community is so much more than any one person or pastor, and yet feel we are so broken and incomplete without her.    

I am both so very grateful to have an incredible beloved community to bear this pain with, and so very pissed off that we have to traverse this awful path.  Because it is awful. And yes, there’s a lot of pissed off in this post.  Hello, stages of grief.

I am both happy to have stumbled into such an amazing faith community 12-ish years ago (after being fairly certain I had written off faith completely), and wishing I hadn’t.  Because if I’d have stayed away from faith, I’d have stayed away from this gut-wrenching pain.  

I am both grateful to be part of a faith community who is ok with me expressing anger and despair, and wishing I could quit being sad and pissed off and just find some damn peace.  

I am both trying to endure this with grace and altruism, and feeling very personally cheated that she won’t be there to confirm Elise or go on a pilgrimage with either of my kids.  

I am both grateful for the prayer services that have been available to us, and prayer’d out.  What’s the damn point?  

I both love the Taize songs we’ve sung, and yet never want to hear “Oh Lord Hear My Prayer” or “Take Oh Take Me as I am” again.  Ever.

I am both happy that the traveling peddler has been in Asia for the past eight days, giving me space to work through this; and utterly pissed off that he’s not here.   

I am both selfishly grieving and yet I would take on this grief a hundred times over if it meant Stephanie were home enjoying a normal Sunday evening with her husband and three preschool aged children.  

I am both certain the rules of blogging dictate that I should not post anything when I’m wrought with grief and exhaustion and under the influence of two glasses of wine, and have exactly zero effs to give.  

Prayers/Sadness/Rage/Despair

I’ve spent a good portion of my week asking, perhaps one could even say begging, friends to do something I rarely do myself:  to pray.

Perhaps there is some irony in me telling you I rarely pray, since I’ve talked before about being a fairly regular church going person of faith; but I’ve never told a lie here before.  And I don’t see any reason to start now.  Reasons for my lack of prayerfulness are many– busyness, laziness, deep theological questions about God and humanity and free will, and the belief that my higher power already knows what’s on my heart and what I need– are the first few that come to mind.  Please don’t tell Martin Luther.

But my faith community, Edina Community Lutheran Church, is living through desperate times.  And whether or not calling prayer a desperate measure is acceptable to people of faith who are more devout or more standard issue than myself, I’m calling it that.  A desperate measure.

Our beloved young pastor is suddenly and unexpectedly very, very ill.  The prognosis is uncertain.  It has left me in a state of fragility.  I hate fragility.  I like strength, predictability, reliability, and control.  And fairness and justice.  Nothing about this feels fair or just.  I fluctuate between rage and sadness, oftentimes with despair thrown into the mix.  I am mad and sad that she is in ICU and not writing one of her thought-provoking sermons for me to take in on Sunday, or putting final touches on the plans for Elise’s final year of confirmation, or practicing for the next time she’ll grace us with her beautiful violin music during worship, or fretting about the rife injustice in our world and working out a plan to make it better, as she is prone to do.   But most of all, I’m mad and sad that she is in ICU; and her husband, children, and family are forced to wait, and to live without her whole, vibrant, wonderful self.  She should be with them at the Minnesota State Fair, walking her dog, settling into their relatively new home, or reading bedtime stories to her kids, or doing any of the everyday mundane tasks that moms of small children do.  My powerlessness over the situation, and my lack of control of my feelings about the situation, feel paralyzing more often than not.

And so, I’ve prayed.  And asked others to do the same.  I want to tell you it has comforted me, but it feels wholly insufficient, which pretty much brings me back to sadness and rage.

And yet, I’ll keep praying and asking you to do so as well.  For there is simply nothing more for me to do.  I am grateful for a higher power who can meet me where I am in times like these.

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Are we having fun yet?

Believe it or not, I don’t write/rant about everything that annoys me. I do, with very limited success, try to present a balanced picture of life as I know it. But. I am 100% losing my shit today.

We are traveling. Our family has had the opportunity to travel. A lot. But, thanks to our record setting level of dysfunction, we can never seem to board a plane without the process making me want to gouge my eyeballs out.

Packing. I’m told there are people who enjoy it. Sadly, none of them live in my house. The days leading up to a trip typically consist of denial and procrastination.

Elise, in her defense, is coming to a point where she’s a little more organized, and does pretty well with writing out a packing list and proceeding accordingly. She also gets ample help from her task master pal Izzi who keeps her focused. If we could get to a point where she didn’t have to ask me where 70% of the listed items are, we’d be cooking with gas, but we ain’t there. And it drives me bananas.

Jerod refuses to travel with anything other than a backpack. Which is great, unless it leaves him without room to pack clothes for a wedding when the trip is to go to a MOTHER TRUCKING WEDDING. But, hey, no worries. Mom can just throw it in her suitcase. Yeah, her bag’s kinda full, since she packs things like beach towels and sunscreen for the entire family of ungrateful asshats, but WHO CARES?

Chris mercifully packs himself, doesn’t tend to have any trouble locating anything he needs, and generally takes care of himself. But he didn’t pack a single stitch of clothing until this morning. Our flight was scheduled for 9 a.m. I guess I’ll describe that as ballsy. It’s all good and well, but last night while I was running around the house like a headless chicken and he was watching netflix with his whiskey glass in hand, he let us know that our packing efforts were stressing him out. I didn’t verbally respond, but GOOD GOD Y’ALL, I may have secretly prayed for him to acquire some sort of horribly itchy and irritating rash in the groin area. But really, that would just mean I’d need to find and pack the itch cream. One problem just leads to another.

The morning of travel is always extra effing special. My children endure the horrible injustice of having to get out of bed before 10 a.m. Jerod deals by moping. Annoying, but at least it’s quiet. Elise chooses the more vocal whine about ALL THE THINGS approach. She can’t say the word mom without it turning into a multi-syllabic plea that sounds like a tortured goat. And everything I do is wrong, wrong, wrong. And when I get randomly selected for an electronics check in the security line, you’d better believe that’s my fault. And if, God forbid, I get a little discombobulated by the extra security and leave my watch behind? Well, then I’m just the sorriest excuse for a human being ever known to planet earth. And then there’s this:

Getting to the airport. Yes, you’ve heard this refrain from me before. I like to go early. Husband does not. We’ve never missed a flight, so I usually don’t pick this battle. But, at 7:20 this morning (9 a.m. flight, mind you, with at least a 20 minute ride to the airport, maybe more, because rush hour), while he was on a call (don’t even get me started on THAT), I waved my uber app at him and asked if I could go ahead and request a ride.

We got to MSP and were doing ok on time. But then we had to stop in the sky club. Because heaven forbid Chris board a plain without eating watery eggs first. And, while we were in there, the daughter who wishes I’d never been born suddenly wanted me to toast her a bagel. SHE IS 13 YEARS OLD, Y’ALL. But whatevs. I’m here to serve. By the time Chris was appropriately sated, it was about 8:30, and we really needed to get to the gate. Let the speed walking commence. I hate speed walking. I hate doing it. I hate other people doing it. Couldn’t a person just leave the house 20 minutes earlier??!!

We somehow managed to board the plane. We’ve reached our first destination. I’d like to tell you my frustration evaporated once I stowed my carry on and fastened by seatbelt, but I just finished listening to my kids bicker for an hour about who is going to sleep where. The fun is just getting started, y’all. Jesus take the wheel.

Piper hates packing as much as the rest of us. Thankfully she keeps her mouth shut, though.