The Worst Way to Wake Up

Apr 14 2015

I have woken up over the years to all kinds of sights and sounds, friends.

I have woken up to spread butt cheeks and an anus inches from my nose. “MOM! My butthole hurts REALLY BAD. Do I have a rash?”

I have woken up with a dog on my face.

I have woken up to the smoke alarm when a teenager put cookies in the oven and then went to a movie and forgot.

I have woken up to projectile vomit projecting onto me.

I have woken up after someone else has peed my bed.

I have woken up to a preschool penis and its proud owner. “CHECK THIS THING OUT, MOM. It is hard and HUGE. Isn’t it, Mom? Isn’t it hard and HUGE? It did that all by hisself, Mom, while I was sleeping! And when I push it down – WATCH, Mom, WATCH – it springs back up. ALL BY HISSELF, Mom. I sure like this thing. Do you feel sad you don’t have a penis, Mom? Mom? Mom, why is your pillow over your head? Mom? MOM? CAN YOU HEAR ME, MOM? I AM TALKING TO YOU ABOUT MY PENIS, MOM.”

I have, in other words, awakened to all kinds of terror over the years, but nothing quite compares to the sudden gasp and instant something-is-wrong – SOMETHING IS REALLY, REALLY WRONG — middle-of-the-night awakening. It’s sound sleep to FULL GO in 0.6 seconds. Terror. True, deep, abiding dread. And it doesn’t matter that the rational person who lives in my brain is saying, “It’s nothing. It’s probably just a dream you can’t remember,” I get up anyway to make sure the children are still breathing. I get up anyway, even though my husband always sides with Rational Brain. I get up anyway because I know – I KNOW – Rational Brain and Husband are Incredibly Stupid and Not To Be Trusted in the middle of the night. They know NOTHING. NOTHING, I tell you, and so I make the rounds, just to be sure, and, when all’s well again (only because I checked, of course; if I hadn’t checked, something would’ve been wrong), and Rational Brain and Husband say, “I told you so,” I do NOT punch them in the throat because a) I am a paragon of virtue, and b) being punched in the throat is only temporary suffering and they deserve much, much worse.

The other night, I woke up that way. Sudden gasp. Sound sleep to FULL GO. Deep, abiding dread.

So I rose from my bed, as I do in these circumstances, to check on my children.

I rounded the bed and made for the door, feeling my way, mostly, but also aided by the tiniest sliver of moonlight seeping through the window.

My heart thumped in complete fight-or-flight panic mode, and Mama Heart overrode Rational Brain. “If there is an intruder in this house, I WILL BRAIN THAT F*CKER,” I thought. Mama Heart doesn’t always use her nice words, and sometimes she forgets she’s married to a nice Christian pacifist. Also, Mama Heart’s not the one you want against you in a knife fight because SHE WILL CUT YOU.

Heart thumping, I quietly slid my feet along the floor, careful to push Legos and discarded kid undies out of my way before planting my feet because I AM EXPERIENCED, and I know what I’m doing, and I passed the dog crate which has stood empty for months now that the dog has graduated to sleeping on the kids’ faces.

I passed the dog crate, and I glanced down at it as I passed.

IMG_2922I glanced down at it as I passed, and it was not empty.

I glanced down at it as I passed, and it was not empty like it should be.

There were EYEBALLS in there, looking at me.

Eyeballs that did not belong to a dog or to a child, which I briefly considered, because, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t put it past my nutjobs to sneak into my room in the middle of the night, curl up in the dog crate, and FREAK ME THE HELL OUT.

But no.

There were eyeballs that did not belong to a dog or to a child, and THEY WERE WIDE OPEN LOOKING AT ME.

They were wide open looking at me, and they belonged to something – some Chucky-like, non-living, but TOTALLY ALIVE AND MENACING thing – trapped in the dog crate.

Here’s what happened next:

I screamed inside my brain, high and LONG, I backed away from the dog crate, I scrambled backwards into my bed, I pulled all the covers over my head, and I hoped we weren’t all about to be slaughtered in our sleep by that thing.

I did not check on my children.

I did not make sure anyone was breathing.

I did not Fight.

Nope; I Flew.

Turns out, when Fight or Flight are my options, I’m a flyer, y’all. A gigantic freaked out bird hightailing it out of the danger zome.

GOOD GRIEF.

Mama Heart talks big, friends. She’s a braggy bragger who brags, and she swears like a sailor while she does it, but when Rational Brain yelled, “RUN! EVERY WOMAN FOR HERSELF. GO, GO, GO! SAVE YOURSELF,” she was all, “Yep! You betcha. I’ll just be right here in my bed under my titanium covers where huge, Chucky-like, middle-of-the-night eyeballs can’t get me. You go ahead and take the children, Eyeballs. Do what you gotta do.”

And then, because I always put my children’s welfare above my own, I went back to sleep. I mean, I felt guilty, but I went back to sleep.

In the morning I discovered this:

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Tickle Me Elmo, whom I have always despised, mocking me from the dog crate.

I have known for a long time that Tickle Me Elmo is evil.

Now I have proof.

Unfortunately, I also have proof I’m a pansy who will scream and run and save herself.

Let’s just keep that last bit to ourselves, though, OK? No reason to tell the kids.

With love (and no dignity left at all),

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25 Signs the Mombie Apocalypse Is Upon Us

Apr 13 2015

Listen; I know we don’t want to believe it. I know we’re in denial. I know we like to think it’s not that bad. But, friends. FRIENDS. I think we need to face reality, take some deep breaths and acknowledge the Mombie Apocalypse is upon us. 

Now, I’ve written about being a Mombie before. Like when trying to answer questions which were once straightforward. Once obvious. Once easy. Questions like How are you? and Do you want a receipt? and What’s for dinner? and Are you finished in the bathroom?

SOMETIMES I DON’T KNOW.

I’m not trying to avoid the questions; I just honestly have no idea. None. 

But I admit I hadn’t realized how far spread the Mombie epidemic has become. How many of us are affected. How deeply rooted in society Mombism now is. Not until you started sharing, momrades. Not until you confessed did I realize WE MUST LET THE WORLD KNOW. Not to eradicate Mombism, of course, because HAHAHAHAHA… good luck with that… but to let our fellow momrades know WE DO NOT SUFFER ALONE. No. There are thousands of us out here, bumbling along, longing for brains.

In case, you, like me, would appreciate some hard evidence, here are:

25 Signs the Mombie Apocalypse Is Upon Us

1. We don’t know how to check out at the store. “Target is the worst… I usually end up standing there like the now extinct Do do Bird, looking at the cashier waiting for the receipt….while she’s waiting for me to answer the machine this MIND BOGGLING question, ‘Do you want it all on one card?’ YES, DAGNABBIT, Just let me Mother Flipping check out.” Bethany

“I have actually yelled at that swiper thing at Target. “OH MY GOD YES I WANT IT ALL ON THE EFFING CARD WHY DO YOU THINK I JUST SWIPED IT CASH BACK ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHEN WILL THIS INTERROGATION END?!”” Kimberly

2. We don’t know how to shave our legs. “Standing in the shower holding the razor, thinking “which leg did I already shave….either? Right? Left? Neither? Both?” Eyes not focused enough to see which had a week’s worth of stubble….finally after about five minutes of stupidly standing there, it occurred to me that I could probably feel them to tell the difference.” Cher

3. We don’t know where we put our cell phones. “I have wandered my home or driving my car, talking on my cell phone while simultaneously looking for my cell phone.” Laura

4. We don’t know when our children were born. “The lady on reception at my doctor’s surgery thinks I am a terrible mother because I couldn’t answer this simple question: What’s your daughter’s date of birth? It took 10 minutes to established which daughter we were discussing and work out which month goes with which date.” Gemma

5. We don’t know our children’s names. “My oldest son is Robbie and my husband is Frank. Do you think I can get them straight??? The other three sons have J names. Really, who thought this was a good idea?? I can usually get my daughter’s name right, but there are times even she gets called by the wrong name. Let’s face it, I gave my brain away.” Cindy

“I’ve been known to address my children as “whoever you are” when, having gone through all 4 names, I still can’t get the correct name out.” Manic Mama

6. We buy things and don’t take them home. “When I was pregnant, I went to the supermarket to do a big weekly shop. On my way out, I returned the trolley and took my token, walked to the car and had the sense that something was amiss. Face bright red, I walked back in and reinserted the trolley token so that I could this time take out my bags of groceries before driving home.”

7. We forget where we put the baby. “Days after I had my second son I was (stupidly) attempting to leave the house for a friend’s son’s birthday party. After probably hours of preparation to leave, I was locking the door to our house when I was struck with panic: I forgot the baby! I remember saying out loud, “Oh my god, where’s the baby?!” My 7 year old son looked at me like I was nuts and calmly said, “He’s right there”. I was carrying my newborn in my other arm.” Summer

8. We’re not sure where the dirty diapers go. “I find myself standing in front of the diaper pail, holding the baby in one arm and a dirty diaper in my other hand, and think to myself, “Okay, now slow down. This is not like putting the milk in the pantry instead of the fridge, it’s important to get this one right on the first try.”” Vanessa

9. We can’t remember where we put the steering wheel. “When I was pregnant, I visited my husband at work, then went out to the car to go home. I opened the door and stood there wondering where the steering wheel had gone. Then, I had a chuckle at myself and walked around to the other side of the car and opened the door. Now I was stumped, there was no steering wheel on that side either. Then I realised, the steering wheel was on the other side of the car and I had opened the BACK door instead of the front.” Lisa

10. We can’t understand questions, much less answer them. “A couple of months ago, after buying groceries at the local produce store, the cashier asked “Do you want a copy?” obviously referring to the receipt. Obvious except to my sleep-deprived brain. I asked him to repeat what he said because I thought he asked, “Do you want a coffee?” Even the second time he said it, that’s what I heard. I was so confused…Why is he offering me coffee right now? I don’t drink coffee, but I don’t want to insult him. Is he asking me out for coffee, and if so, WHY, because my husband and kids and I go to that store all the time and have had several conversations with this man, who seems to be married to one of the other people who works there! I stammered and blushed and made some unintelligible sounds until he took mercy on me, pointed to the receipt machine and carefully enunciated every word, “Do you want a copy of your receipt?” Ah, right.” Andrea

11. We can’t remember which way the Letter S goes. “The other day, I couldn’t remember which way the letter “S” goes. I wasn’t writing it, just thinking about it, not sure why it was on my mind, then I started to panic – I’ve been writing S for like 35 years.” Kelly

12. We don’t know if the kids took a nap. Stop asking stupid questions. “Last night my husband asked me if the twins took a nap. I said firmly, no. WAIT! Yes. WAIT!! No? YES! He looked at me like I was insane.” Robin

13. We go to appointments we’ve already gone to. “Yesterday (Tuesday), I took the bus from work to a physiotherapy appointment, only the appointment was LAST Tuesday. Yes, I went to the appointment last Tuesday, too.” Gaylin

14. We make teeny, tiny messes. “Last night, I put the ice cream in the pantry instead of the freezer. It was quite a surprise this morning. And gross.” Tiffany

15. We can’t remember how to drive our kids to the schools they’ve been going to for years. “I drive my kids to school EVERY DAY. First the middle schooler and 45 minutes later the 3 elementary schoolers. We have had this routine for Two YEARS. My 13 yo now has on an endless loop as we come to the stoplight to leave our neighborhood “left turn mom; drivers side; we are going left to the middle school; no mom the other way; left turn mom” because otherwise automatic pilot kicks in and I turn right to drive to the elementary school.” Katrina

16. We have to make in-depth assessments and risk management plans before we can complete critical tasks like peeing. “Often when I sit down to pee, I assess everything. “OK, the toilet seat is up. My pants are down,” etc., because my brain is so destroyed that peeing just feels wrong and I’m positive I’ve missed a crucial step in the urination process and I’m about to feel warmth in my pants or pooling at my feet.” Ashley

17. We need a little help from our friends. “We just bought some chickens and I’ve been reading up on them. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what a “roo” was – I’m sitting there thinking, it’s not a kangaroo; what the heck does this word mean? Eventually, I asked a friend, and he looked at me and very slowly said…ROOster. Seriously, I have two university degrees.” Sim

18. We can’t get dressed without assistance. “I went to church with my dress unzipped. Not just a little bit and I may it through a very welcoming crowd that way before someone I didn’t know pressed herself up against me to zip it. We’re totally friends now.” Heather

19. We never forget a face. “I USED to pride myself on never forgetting a face. Once I birthed that second baby though, my memory just flushed itself. I am constantly seeing people and thinking, “how the “h” do I know them?” I spend long periods of time staring at their faces trying to remember. When my kids were much smaller we took them to a children’s museum in the Los Angeles area. This man, who I kept seeing at every turn, was SO familiar, but I couldn’t place how I knew him. We kept making eye contact and I knew he was thinking the same thing. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I asked him, “Have we met before?” and he replied (with a nervous little laugh), “uh, I don’t think so.” My husband grabbed my elbow, steering me away and whispering, “That’s Brendan Frasier!” Ugh.” Anjanette 

20. We really need people to direct traffic and not rely on our brains. “I’m ok when a traffic light doesn’t change. If it is red, I’ll stop (especially if people are already stopped). If it is green, I’ll go. But if I am driving toward a light and it CHANGES?? I am flummoxed. I really have to think hard which color tells me what.” Em

“How about the times when you stop for a red light, then go as if it’s a stop sign and it’s your turn? Or slow down for a green light? That one gets me a lot.” Margaret

“YES! The green light slow down. And the more I do it the more I keep doing it. It’s like my brain has altered the meaning of green.” Laurie

“Or when you stop at a stop sign and wait for the light to turn green, and all the other cars pile up waiting for you to go, but the light (that you can see down the street half a block) is still red, so you don’t go until people start honking and you realize… oh, right. Stop sign.” Betty

21. We forget to bathe. Or we bathe extra well. “I’ve spent many mornings in the shower doing this, “Did I forget to wash my hair? I think I did. I better wash it to be sure. Wait, I remember doing this 5 minutes ago. Crap! Now I’m going to be late for work because I just washed my hair AGAIN!” At least my hair is really clean.” Laurie

“YES. I do this ALL THE TIME. Get in the shower, shampoo hair, forget I shampooed, shampoo again, ask myself: “WAIT. Did I shampoo yet?”, think about it for a while, shampoo again just in case, reach for the conditioner, PAUSE, “Did I shampoo? I think I’ve been in here for awhile. I must have.” Then I repeat the whole process with the conditioner. I have the cleanest hair EVER.” Nita

22. Those gadgets that unlock things… suck. “I recently tried fervently to unlock the front door of my house using the remote car unlock button do-hickey. I couldn’t understand why the darn door wasn’t unlocking. Took me several clicks to figure it out.” EConnell

23. We’re not sure how sunscreen works. “Yesterday, my brain shut down beyond questions. I forgot to put sunscreen on my (super white red haired) daughter and we were outside ALL DAY. Finally, around 5ish, I looked at her and thought, “pink”. And I couldn’t figure out why I would be thinking about “pink” and it took way too long to realize that I was thinking “pink” because that was the color of her cheeks and her arms. And then I realized I had forgotten sunscreen. And then I tried to remember if I could put sunscreen on her right then to “reverse” all the sun she had soaked up that had turned her so pink. I literally could not remember if that was how sunscreen worked or not.” Angie

24. We say cucumber and mean excuse me. OBVIOUSLY. “In the grocery store I wanted to say “excuse me” to a woman as I passed her but I said, “Cucumber,” instead. (I was thinking of cucumbers!)” Hillary

25. Hedgehogs are just completely confusing. “I had to actually think whether a hedgehog has four or six legs.” Outi

In conclusion, momrades, it’s OK. YOU’RE OK. Technically, yes, you’re operating without a brain. And sure, there’s probably no cure other than weeks and weeks of regular sleep, which we’re unlikely to get. Neverthless, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, momrades. You are not alone, bumbling around here. You are not alone. We are right here with you, sitting in the mud, holding hands, and waving to you in the dark

X’s and O’s, friends. X’s and O’s.

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In Case You Missed Sibling Day

Apr 11 2015

Yesterday was Sibling Day.

If you were on Facebook, I’m sure you noticed.

Your Facebook feed probably looked like mine, with pictures like this one:

Becca

And this one:

Joelle

And this one:

Monica

And this one:

ErinCollin

And this one:

Sarah

And this one, which is my favorite, because it’s my friend, Mike, with his brother, Shane, and,…

IMG_2878

…as Mike wrote, “Shane lives with autism, and I live as his little brother. Shane uses the Bert and Ernie puppets to express emotions he can’t express on is own. So of course they were invited to our wedding. They wore bow ties.”

Which is RAD.

But just in case you’re like me and you didn’t look at Facebook ’til late at night which is when you went, “SHOOT!” and “CRAP!” and “I MISSED ANOTHER IMPORTANT FACEBOOK DAY!” like that time you missed International Women’s Day and, even worse, the time you missed National Doughnut Day, I want you to know It’s Not Too Late.

It’s NEVER too late to participate in important occasions

All you have to do is this: figure out what the spirit of the holiday is — the real, TRUE meaning behind the day — and do something that honors the intent that underpins it all.

For International Women’s Day? Honor an important woman in your life.

For National Doughnut Day? Eat the heck out of fried, sugary dough.

And for Sibling Day? Take a minute to tell your sibling you haven’t forgotten him. 

Like I did for my brother.

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“How come you didn’t post a cute picture of me with you for Siblings Day, Jeff? You’re a jerk.”

Which is TOTALLY as sweet as what Mike did for his, and is, I’m sure we can all agree, completely in keeping with the spirit of Siblings Day.

Happy Belated Siblings Day, everyone.

In conclusion, don’t wait another day to tell your brother he’s a jerk. I’m sure it’s what Jesus would want you to do. (Or Jesus wants you to be like Mike. Whatever, Jesus.)

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How to ReLent

Apr 10 2015

I wrote to you a few days ago about ReLent, which, OBVIOUSLY, means “to Lent again,” or, in other words, is Lent for those of us who missed it the first time. 

Lent for procrastinators. 

Lent for the wildly busy.

Lent for the forgetful.

Lent for the chronically behind. 

ReLent: It’s like Lent, but with grace for imperfection.

Lent for People Who Need Second Chances.

Sometimes I wish you could spend time in my brain so you could see how substantially you impact me, how much you change me, the ways you encourage me, and why I insist you’re my real life friends even if we’ve never met in the flesh. After all, we’ve met heart-to-heart, and that’s more important anyway. Of course, there are other times I think about Clark, my right armpit skin tag, and then I’m glad you don’t have to spend time in my brain. Really; it’s mostly a win for you.

Still I’ve spent time this week thinking about ReLent after reading your comments and emails, and I have a few things to say to us, heart-to-heart. Friend to friend. 

In that original missive about ReLent, I suggested a path forward, in three steps. 

1. We will take the next 23 days — until the end of April — to celebrate ReLent. Yes, I know Lent is 40 days, but that is LENT. This is RELENT for the wildly busy, and we are not going to string this out. THIS IS OUR GIFT TO US. Twenty-three days. Can we build it? YES, WE CAN.

2. We shall answer three critical questions:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?

3. We will work in concert with Love to refill our souls. I mean – we will really LISTEN to Love loving us, and we will be open to receiving that.

But some of you got stuck on Step 2. 

Which DUH — I should’ve known. Because I forgot to mention that Step 2 is practically impossible and is more a set of questions for, oh, say, A LIFETIME. 

MamaJedi wrote, “What drives me? EVERYTHING! Everything either drives me crazy or drives me to distraction. I have gotten so lost in this that I have no idea what inspires (breathes life) into me.” 

And, man, do I hear that to my toes. 

There have been times in my life when I was so busy sinkingso desperately trying to stay afloat — that questions like “what is actually relevant to you and what drives you” would have been wholly laughable. My answers would have been “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, MAN” or “BREATHING. BREATHING IS RELEVANT TO ME, BUT I DON’T GET TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I AM DROWNING, SO STOP IT WITH YOUR EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS, LADY.” 

True truth.

Those would’ve been my answers.

And I would have been right to give them.

So I want to make a suggestion for those of you who tripped over Step 2. A stumbling block if I ever saw one. 

REMOVE IT.

I mean, just shove it aside if it doesn’t work for you.

Step 3 is the important step anyway. I mean, Step 2 is good. And I do think those questions are critical — you know, eventually. Someday.

But Step 3?

Step 3 is Where It’s At.

Step 3 is Gold.

Because Step 3 is where we learn to listen to Love loving us. Love, which is God’s other name, you know. 

Step 3 is where we begin to imagine it’s possible to even be lovable.

Step 3 is the place we quiet the constant criticism of ourselves long enough to wait on the Still, Small Voice who whispers that we’re made in the very image of the Divine and that Love and Light long to embrace us.

Step 3 is where the deepest truths I know — that we are not alone in the dark; that dawn is coming and is, in fact, already on its way; that we are, all of us, created to be worthy and treasured – stand a chance of being heard.

So if you have to abandon Step 2 in order to ReLent with us, please do, friends.

Kick Step 2 to the curb.

Do things out of order.

Break the rules.

But don’t let go of Step 3, friends. 

This is how to ReLent: Work in concert with Love. Let Love refill your soul.

Love’s waiting. I swear it. Love is, in fact, already here.

I’m sending you love tonight, too, friends. And waving in the dark.

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Please Help: Teenage Boy Room Smell

Apr 9 2015

Dear the Internets,

I have a situation.

A dire situation.

And I need you.

PLEASE HELP ME.

The thing is, my teenage son’s room smells terrible.

TERRIBLE.

Or, in French, which is the language of high drama, his room smells TERRIBLE.

ÉPOUVANTABLE.

EFFROYABLE

Now, before I had a teenage boy child, I heard other parents talk about a teenager’s room smelling bad. It’s not like this is a surprise, you know? It’s just, I assumed they meant body odor.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to correct that misunderstanding. 

THIS IS NOT ABOUT BODY ODOR.

It is not – I repeat NOT – a B.O. smell I smell every time I’m in, oh, say, a 100 foot radius of this child’s room.

I WISH it was a B.O. smell because B.O. smells can be fixed with bathing and deodorant, but nooooooo. We are not that lucky, and washing does not fix this.

Instead, this smell is… I don’t know… the smell of hormones? 

The smell of hormones plus nervous energy plus angst? 

I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS IS. 

No idea. 

NONE.

But I need a solution anyway.

A solution that’s NOT extreme like washing all the sheets and blankets and pillows and pillowcases every week, because I WANT to be that mama, but HA! That is not happening, friends. 

So I need a non-extreme solution, please, like moving my son into a tent in the backyard. 

Or to Tahiti.

Or moving ME to Tahiti.

Or buying some of that anti-hormone spray they sell at the pet store, except for teenage boys at a teenage boy store. 

Or heavy chemical fumigation where they have to wrap the whole house in plastic and we go stay at a hotel with a pool.

Or nose surgery where they remove my sense of smell.

Or… I DON’T KNOW, but SOMETHING.

This is a cry for help, y’all.

Help a mama out.

What’ve you got??

Sincerely yours,

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P.S. To be crystal clear, this is no reflection on my teenage son. He’s doing nothing wrong, other than growing into a man like all the other teenage boys around him. Turning Into a Man is, of course, problematic in its own right with its emotional / hormonal upheavals, but it’s no one’s fault, per se, other than God’s. I am working on that problem, particularly as it includes a disturbing amount of sparse facial hair and the occasional straggly pit hair I’m supposed to marvel over, but I’m tackling that whole issue separately by sending emails to God. Now, I realize God is Very Busy, but I have yet to get EVEN ONE response to my multiple missives and concrete suggestions for improvement. Should God respond in the future to my email string titled “Adolescence. REALLY, GOD??,” you will be the first to know. ‘Til then, we’re on our own.

P.P.S. HELP.

5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital (And a Message for the Nutjobs Who Work There)

Apr 8 2015

After the last month’s maudlin, weepy, emotional post about my Dad’s open heart surgery, I thought I’d provide you with the other side of hospital life. The fun side, man! ‘Cause the hospital isn’t all bad, you know. It can actually be pretty fun.

Without further ado, here are:

5 Fun Things to Do at the Hospital

IMG_25791. Science Experiments

Hospitals are all about science, so hospital staff LOVE IT when you conduct science experiments there.

“AWESOME,” they think when they see you Doing Science. “We ADORE science, and there you are DOING it. What a GREAT IDEA,” and then they are very encouraging and want you to continue.

If you’re not sure what kind of science to do at a hospital, I can help you.

IMG_2578Did you know, for example, that if you buy a Seltzer water and then decide you wish you’d bought a Diet 7Up or Diet Sprite or Diet Anything That Doesn’t Taste Like Seltzer Water, you can add a yellow packet of sucralose like Splenda or Sweet Life, and the result is a geyser?

It’s true!

A GEYSER.

An enormous, spewing geyser of soda and Splenda all OVER the place.

Of course, it’s important to choose an appropriate spot to do science. Personally, I recommend the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit waiting area. I’ve found the quiet atmosphere really makes the exploding soda sounds and your cries of, “OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH,” reverberate, and causes the most people possible to pay attention to your scientific demonstration. 

P.S. Be prepared to be soaked by the end of doing science. I hear that happens.

2. Case the Joint for Good Advice

You can find informational signs just everywhere in a hospital. I didn’t have a ton of extra time on my hands while I was at the hospital, but I did find some helpful new information, like this:

IMG_2584

Keep that in mind next time you’ve punctured your groin. SAFETY FIRST.

3. Photograph EVERYTHING

Photograph everything — EVERYTHING — so your friend or family member who’s hospitalized can relive it later. They may THINK they don’t want to scrapbook this experience, but they’re probably not thinking straight what with all the surgery and trying not to strain their groin punctures. Ignore them and take pictures anyway. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY, I always say. 

For example, when that large, burly man appears in the doorway with a razor and a grin and says cheerfully to your macho, Marine father, “Hi, I’m Gavin. I’m here to shave you.” YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT MOMENT BACK, friends…

IMG_2581

… not EVER.

4. Decorate

Decorate the patient’s room. This is crucial. Hospital rooms are, well, a little cold, emotionally speaking, and scientific studies have shown conclusively that patients recover more quickly in warm, home-like environments. (I can’t site a reference for those studies because I just made that up, but that’s no reason to believe it isn’t true.) Therefore, you owe it to your friend or father to decorate his or her room with comfortable, familiar items.

picstitchThis does NOT have to be expensive or break the bank.

picstitch (1)For example, we decorated my dad’s room with artwork from his grandkids, cards from well wishers, and pages from his favorite magazines, like People and US Weekly.

Yes, my dad says he detests People and US Weekly.

And yes, he always grumbles and groans and generally throws fits while my sister-in-law and I thumb through them and talk about Kim Kardashian’s latest hair change. 

But he is just kidding. He secretly, deep down inside loves People and US Weekly. Deep, deep down inisde. And he doesn’t think we’re “wasting our lives” or “carelessly throwing away brain cells” for devoting an afternoon here or there to discussing who wore it best or why everyone’s wearing pasties to awards shows these days. 

That’s why we tore our favorite pics from these magazines and put them on his wall, far, far above where he could reach with his newly cracked chest and included encouraging messages like, “Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Cher and Nicki Minaj are rootin’ for you, Dad!” and “SEE? Kim’s TOTES sporting a ‘get well soon’ face for you!” because the only thing my dad likes better than People and US Weekly is when I butcher the English language with words like TOTES. 

5. Ask Questions

Seriously. ASK QUESTIONS, friends. Good healthcare means being part of the team. While doctors and nurses are specially trained in medicine, YOU need to advocate on behalf of the patient. 

Good hospitals, like the one where my dad was treated, will give you a number of opportunities and various methods for communication with the medical team. USE THEM.

When there’s a white board, for example, with questions like What Is Most Important To Me Today? and Questions for My Care Team, USE IT. ASK QUESTIONS. Important questions, so they know how to help.

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Which brings me to the end of my list with one final, important note:

Dear Doctors and Nurses and Hospital Janitors,
and Dear Night Shifters, and Food Servers, and Bold Blood Draw-ers,
Dear All of You Nutjobs Who Make Healthcare Your Life’s Work,

Thank you.

For all of you who are spending your lives serving yahoos like us,
who went to school for countless hours
to learn to do work for which people aren’t always grateful, 
giving your time and your energy and your love

day in and day out,
to make the world a better, healthier, happier place,
one person and family at a time,

THANK YOU.

Your work is
outrageously beautiful,
and super gross,
and wildly awesome,
just like your patients,
and our family joins millions of others
(even the ones who forget to tell you),

in abiding gratitude for all you do.

With love,

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Announcing: ReLent! It’s like Lent, except after Easter is over.

Apr 7 2015

Today is April 7th. Two days after Easter. So it’s about time I got around to participating in Lent.

I mean, sure; Lent is the 40 days before Easter. And yes; that means it’s already over. But I don’t think that’s a very good reason for not participating, do you? Especially because Lent is a good idea. I like Lent. And I seriously meant to do Lent this year. I did. I meant to participate the heck out of Lent. But Lent showed up on time like it always does, making those of us who are tardy for the party look procrastinate-y instead of fashionably late. In other words, ugh.

Now, I realize not all of you are familiar with Lent or the High Church Calendar or any of those Strange Christian Things I talk about from time to time. I deconstructed Lent once here, which includes why I care about it and why I’m taking up all this space to talk about it again:

According to Google, which we all know is the very best place to get religious information, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.”

Lent starts today and continues for the 40 days (not including Sundays) until Easter. In practice here in the States, it’s the time when each participant fasts from something specific to himself or herself. Facebook, traveling by car, mojitos, nachos bell grande – the more creative you are about what you give up, the more Lent points you’re awarded. Minus the part about Lent points, which aren’t a real thing but which would totally make it WAY MORE RAD.

The truth is, Jesusy people in America freestyle when it comes to Lent. We like to participate for loads of reasons. Sometimes to feel closer to God, sometimes as a spiritual discipline, sometimes to draw attention to a cause, and sometimes because our best friends in the whole entire world, Caffeine and Chocolate, come to us in our dreams dressed in red riding hood cloaks with cloven hooves and horns on their heads and tell us with maniacal grins that they own our souls, and we wake up screaming and sweating and longing for big cups o’ Joe and entire bags of Hershey’s nuggets. Lent – it’s a high church synonym for Caffeine and Chocolate Rehab.

At its center, though, Lent, like other cultural and religious observances, pulls us into community with each other and ties us with thick cords to our historical roots. It makes us stop for a season to reconsider who we are at our core. It forces us away from the insignificant things that entangle us and turns our eyes to examine what’s relevant, what drives us.

At its best, Lent isn’t about deprivation. At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls.

At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls. And I missed it. I miss it.

IMG_2823So I was a little bit mopey about not Lenting this year. I’ve just been busy, man. My dad had open heart surgery the same week our kitchen flooded. OF COURSE IT DID. The water mitigation people came. Our floors are still ripped up. Wheeeeee!

And even with everything else going on — surgery and work and water and the occasional full-family bout with incessant, vomittous flu — my kids still wanted things like attention and dinner. Lent just blew by, in other words, and now here I am, Lentless.

Lentless in a season when my soul could’ve used a little refill.

Lentless in a season when I suspect our community could’ve used an infusion of Love and a little reminder that Love pursues us.

Lentless when I wanted to be Preparing for Rebirth.

That’s when I stopped.

That’s when I decided to break the rules.

That’s when I decided to ReLent.

ReLent, which means “To Lent Again” (OBVIOUSLY), and is for those of us who forgot to Lent the first time.

It’s Lent for procrastinators. 

Lent for the wildly busy.

Lent for the forgetful.

Lent for the chronically behind. 

ReLent: Lent with GRACE for Imperfection. Lent for People Who Need Second Chances.

Because, honest to God, if I never did anything I’m behind on – anything I’m late for – I’d never do anything at all. I am behind on All the Things, after all. Always. Always behind. Which, whatever. Just whatever, friends, you know? WHATEVER. I am behind on All the Things, and so I shall do Some Things and not Other Things, and that will be Enough. Which is one of the miracles of life, after all, and of motherhood; that we cannot do All the Things, and so we do Some of the Things and we learn they are Enough, and we are Enough, and we are, in the midst of it all, wildly worthy of Love. 

So. Here is what we shall do to celebrate ReLent:

1. We will take the next 23 days — until the end of April — to celebrate ReLent. Yes, I know Lent is 40 days, but that is LENT. This is RELENT for the wildly busy, and we are not going to string this out. THIS IS OUR GIFT TO US. Twenty-three days. Can we build it? YES, WE CAN.

2. We shall answer three critical questions:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?

3. We will work in concert with Love to refill our souls. I mean – we will really LISTEN to Love loving us, and we will be open to receiving that.

You, of course, are invited to join me for ReLent. I’m going to answer those three questions below, and I’d love it — if you’d like to participate with me — if you’d answer them in the comments section as an encouragement to our ReLent group and so we can do this together. Here goes:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you? Spreading Love. Sending Hope. Helping my fellow momrades and dad-rads and rad people of every variety know we are not alone in the dark and that dawn is coming. Already on its way. 
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant? I clam up sometimes, and I’ve been in a season of clamming, uncertain my words are compelling or even relevant. I worry, still, even at this stage of my life when I’ve learned to love much about myself, about being Too Much. Too Loud. Too Big. Too Irreverent. Too Jesusy. Too ME. And so I sit quietly in this space because I’m afraid of blabbing too much and being irrelevant and laughable. 
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days? I choose to release worries about being Too Me. So I will put my butt in my chair and I will write to you every day for 23 days. Some of it will be drivel, and I will publish it anyway, believing that this discipline — this ReLenting to be fully who Love made me to be — isn’t just OK or Enough… it’s where Love calls me. 

So, friends, what do you say?

ReLent with me?

Who’s in?

Sending love… always, always,

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P.S. Just to be clear, ReLent is also for those of you who already Lented and want a do-over or a repeat, because we are a radically open community here, and we welcome everyone, even you overachievers who do things on time and are Pinteresty and stuff. Love to you, TOO.