this update is way overdue. but wow ... how fast does time fly?
one year ago, i was in the midst of stressing about when the deck would be finished, planning a graduation party, and coping with all of the emotional trauma that goes along with your first little bird leaving the nest. looking back, it was one big blur from march to august. it can't be overstated how quickly a child's last year of high school goes, and how lightning fast their last month of school is. prom was in april, dual enrollment classes ended in may, he graduated in june and left for college in august. it went faster than any four months of life have ever gone.
i'm grateful he and his girlfriend let me take way too many pictures for prom ... there's a very good chance it's the only prom i'll get. henry didn't go his junior year, and this year his girlfriend doesn't want to go to her prom. so ... one. (jury is still out on whether harper will ever choose to get dressed up and go to a school event. if you ask her now? nope. never.)
i'm doubly glad, in hindsight, that they looked happy and gorgeous and excited last year.
the day of graduation came, with rain in the morning and threats of rain in the evening. but the clouds cleared and it was a beautiful, perfect night. somehow, i made it through the whole event without shedding a single tear. if i'm honest, though, i totally lost it earlier in the day while taking pictures of henry in his cap and gown, and harper lost it after graduation, which about made me lose it.
the deck was finished mere days before family descended for graduation. it was stressful right up to the end, especially with ongoing issues with the door that still aren't perfectly resolved. the furniture for the deck was actually IN our house until just days before the party, which made it hard to clean around. but it all worked out at the last minute ...
... and then the day of the party arrived, and it poured all. day. long.
the tent and tables and chairs we'd rented for the backyard sat unused in the downpour. the screened room, where all the food was going to go, sat filled with folding chairs so we could get some of the people out of the house. the sign and balloon we put at the end of the driveway were beaten down by the rain, and laid all sad and soggy on the yard. just before people started to arrive, the deluge lightened to a drizzle, but it was too late to save any outdoor plans.
at the end of the day, more than 150 people filtered through our house over the course of three hours. many stayed longer. some stayed longer still. when henry's buddies arrived, they grabbed plates of food and headed to the basement to play video games. i had no idea at the time that they did that, but when i heard about it, i was tickled that they all felt enough at home to take that initiative. one hot dog full of ketchup got dropped on the white living room rug within the first 15 minutes of the party, but my mom (super stain master) was here and quietly took care of it. we ran out of food an hour in (how do you prepare food when you invite more than 100 people and get 11 rsvps??), but my wonderful sister-in-law and mom made emergency runs to the store. it was a madhouse, and i know i didn't get to talk to everyone who came, and i didn't take a single picture during the party, but it all worked out in the end and everyone seemed to have a great time. we literally could not have pulled it off without my parents, marc's parents, and his sister. even harper and our niece jumped in and helped with decoration and treats. it was an all-hands-on-deck moment, and all the hands were so appreciated.
and then it was over. prom ... graduation ... the party ... all done. he was again a lifeguard for the summer, again swam on relays that got age group state records, spent time with his friends, went dorm room shopping with his buddy/roommate. then august arrived, and we drove him to south dakota and left him there to start the next phase of his life.
over the past nine months, he has excelled in the classroom (dean's list with a double major: political science and spanish, in the honors program, started his freshman year with enough credits to be a sophomore), in the pool (he was just named most improved for the season at the team banquet), and as an emerging adult. i'm not a horn-tooter for myself, and i don't want to sound braggy about my kid, but here's the deal: this is all stuff that is just true about him, and i didn't have to pay anyone half a million dollars to make it so. i continue to be amazed by the young man his dad and i created. i wish we could take credit, but he's just a freaking special human being.
his freshman year of school will be done within the next three weeks, and he will again be under our roof for three months. i can't wait. i know summer break will look different because now he's an adult and used to autonomy. but i also know our time with him at home is waning. i'll take what i get, and will be grateful to have both of my little birds home for three months. because now i know how fast three months ... or a year ... can go.
it's been a long time since i've written anything down, and i hate that it's a habit i no longer have. for years, most of my day was spent documenting memories and stories, writing down facts and milestones about the kids or our family, keeping track of all the things we will want to remember.
i haven't touched paper and glue for years, i no longer write on a daily or weekly basis, and those are things that need to change.
the days and months are speeding up, and i'm afraid they're going to pass right by and i won't have paid enough attention because of the constant busyness, and not being mindful in the moment.
say what you will about scrapbooking and memory keeping: you have to be present, and you have to pay attention.
the coming nine months will find me pulling out all of those rusty skills for a very important reason: henry's graduation.
because that little pork chop just started his senior year.
last year, the big milestone was that he drove himself to school. this year, he didn't even go to the high school on his first day ... instead, he's enrolled at the local community college for the year. he's ready to be done and on his way; the next phase can't come soon enough for him.
we're knee-deep in college talk. he has his first official visit with a coach and a school in september ... the swimming will continue. i can't even begin to comprehend how quickly this school year will go, and if i dwell on that too long, it breaks my heart. and yet, i'm so excited for him and what comes next. i know he will have a great time wherever he goes, and he will love the challenge of the classes he takes and the opportunities that are presented.
but that's next year. 12 months away. i'm not going to think about it. instead, i will cherish that he will be home for lunch most days, and because of his community college schedule, we will actually have a bit more time together during the week than if he was at the high school.
looking for those things to remember and hold on to.
yesterday, he texted me from the parking lot when he got to school, just to say he was there and he loved me. today, he met a girl friend at the mall after school and had lunch and did a little shopping. one foot still here, one foot halfway out the door.
and that's as it should be, i guess.
ten days before july ends and we start the lightning-fast slide to the end of summer, here is a brief look at where we are and what we've accomplished in the past two months.
harper's room was going to get a new look
henry's room was going to get a refresh
something about shelves in the basement
veggies in the garden
as of today, we've accomplished precisely zero of those things.
unless you count three tomato plants and the herbs.
so what HAVE we been doing?
henry swims at 8 a.m. daily for 2-2.5 hours, at either a pool that is 15 mins away, or a pool that is 45ish mins away (depending on traffic).
after swimming, there is a one hour or so time gap until he needs to go to work.
dude's a lifeguard:
marc traveled literally all of june.
harp WAS swimming ...
but kept having stomach issues, so she opted to sit out the rest of summer.
those stomach issues? last week they became a seven-hour visit to the emergency room, during which time she had not only a blown vein while trying to get her iv started, but both an ultrasound and a CT scan to check her liver, gall bladder, appendix. verdict? high likelihood of a ruptured ovarian cyst. poor kiddo.
other than that, she had a sewing camp for a week,
got some new socks,
and is now in summer band.
on the few days that henry doesn't work, he's usually either doing summer homework or out pokehunting with friends.
and just yesterday we finally managed to make it to the dmv so he could take his driving test.
now we have to let him drive.
which ... remember what i said about 8 a.m. swim practices?
and right as the concert was starting, i got a text from my mom that my grandma had passed away.
sooo ... yeah. fun stuff.
summer's been super productive and relaxing.
we have a very fun trip coming up, though, and then: school.
and then, maybe, i can get stuff done around the house.
how does it all keep going so fast?!
the day i've been dreading for nine months has arrived, no matter how much i willed it to not happen.
it's the last day of school.
not that i'm not looking forward to having more time with the kids. (though, any introvert worth their salt will tell you that alone time is a must if we are to function and get through the day.) but ...
this last day of school is too big for me to take in right now.
this kid ...
today is her last day of elementary school.
this is the last time she will climb onto the bus as a little kid.
and in three months, these buddies will separate into two different middle schools.
where they will be middle schoolers.
i mean, what the heck?!
who said they could grow up??
and as hard as that is to take, it pales in comparison to this guy ...
who will be a junior in the fall.
who will drive himself to school. no more bus. today was the last time.
just ... nope. can't think about it yet.
makes my heart hurt.
i now have three and a half hours to enjoy the silence, gather my emotions, drink some coffee, and put on my big girl panties so i don't have tears in my eyes when they get home.
i mean, when the littlest kid gets home.
because the big kid is going to a pool party for the rest of the day with friends. and the girlfriend. and he'll get a ride home.
and i just can't.
one month ago, i wrote that we were almost done with swimming - sectional finals were that night, maybe state ... we were close to a break.
we had sectional finals. henry was sitting in a great spot going into the meet. and then right before warm-ups, he was in the bathroom and a teammate kicked the stall door in ... literally onto henry's head. a one-plus-inch bleeding gash in the top of his head. when the coach finds you and says, "have you talked to henry? i don't think he needs stitches, but you might want to check on him ...", you know it isn't good.
we got the bleeding to stop, but he was off his game for the meet. while his individual events suffered, he brought it when it came time for the relays.
he helped his teams place fourth in one relay and second in the other, earning spots at state the following weekend.
so another week of swimming later, we went to state. and to make it more fun, it was the same weekend that harper swam at the minnesota regional championships. and my parents came up so they could cheer on both kids. we watched five different meets over three days. it was amazing.
(that was sarcasm.)
but actually, it WAS amazing, because the kids did an awesome job. henry got bumped from one of the relays so four seniors could swim it, which felt right even though it was a bummer. (and henry used that free time to provide comic relief. as always.)
but he kept his spot in the 400 free relay, and they placed fifth in the state.
and harper swam seven events in two days, and dropped time in all but one.
but wait!! there's more!!
henry had gotten so close to a junior nationals cut time in three events (he actally HAD gotten the times, but in relays, so they didn't count) that he jumped back to club swimming to ALSO swim MRCs the day after state ended, time trialing to see if he could get the cut in any of the events. he ended up .3 seconds away in the 50, and .2 away in the 100. close, but not enough.
which meant the following weekend we went back to the pool at the university of minnesota so he could swim at senior state to try and get those cuts. and on saturday, he got one: 48.25 in the 100 free ... .3 faster than the needed time.
he was beyond thrilled and so proud of himself. which, he should have been. he wanted it, and he made it happen.
but that meant that on saturday afternoon, we had to make plane tickets and a hotel room in florida happen, because junior nationals would start three days later.
sunday was a quick shopping trip, when we realized henry had no shorts that fit, monday was laundry, and tuesday ...
well, tuesday was harper's 11th birthday.
we had breakfast, then henry and i headed to the airport. (and i felt just awful. how do you pick one kid's event over another? ugh. unwinnable choice, right there.)
for the next five days, henry swam in four individual events (the one he made the time for, and three bonus events) and five relays at junior nationals. which is crazy. he's been swimming less than five years, and he made it to junior nationals. that felt like kind of a big deal. we were down there with 12 other kids, the coaches, a few of the parents, and it was a really fun experience.
the 15-16 boys relays placed fourth in one relay, and fifth in another, which i thought was a pretty great way to walk out of the meet. and henry is already focused on getting more cuts for more events next year. the kid has goals, now, and he's focused.
which means he's growing up. and that's both weird and exciting.
the past two weeks have been pool-free, which lasts until ... well ... monday.
and then off we go again.
so - hiya.
i've been taking a break from blogging, but not for any sort of big secret reason. i've just been too busy.
there are a million things to do during the day ... really exciting things like laundry! and cleaning the kitchen!! and making food for my family, who never stops eating!!
we've been spending our lives at the pool over the past three months, between high school season and harper's club season. but that is finally winding down. tonight is high school sections final, and this guy ...
is in two relays, in 16th place in the 500 free (which isn't even an event he does well with or *likes*), and is in 9th in the 200 freestyle - and about a second away from a state cut in that event. he really wanted this to be his year to make it to state in an individual event, he just thought that event would be the 50 free or the 100 free; the 200 and 500 were never on his radar. but he's put his head down and worked hard to make the most of new events, and it is paying off in the 200.
(truth be told? i'm nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety for him. i want him to make the cut SO. BADLY. his heart was a bit broken when he found out he wouldn't be swimming his best/favorite events this season, and he felt a little blindsided by that. and to get so close in a different event ... well ... you mamas know how it is. you want your kids to succeed and reach their goals, especially when they work so hard, and for him to do it in an event he never considered would be so amazing. i'm definitely a ball of nerves going into finals night, though ... i mean, one second!! one! gah!!)
and if he doesn't make the state cut? well, he'll attempt another event at the club regional championships next weekend, and he should have three events at club state - and maybe some relays? - in two weeks. and then he's free until may.
and this girl?
she has a full line-up this weekend at the minnesota achievement champs, a busy weekend next week at the regional champs, and then she will get a break until may.
which means we ALL get a break until may!
dinner at a regular time! homework finished before 1 a.m.! no more loads of towels and swim suits and warm-ups in the laundry every three days! no more weekends of bleacher butt!
and in between all of this swimming, henry turned 16 (more about that soon ... i'm still processing ...) and went to another dance with his girlfriend. yup ... they are still going strong!
sadly for them, now that he will finally be able to have some time to spend with her, she starts softball and won't have time for him. it's probably why they're still together ... they never, actually, get to spend time together. and isn't that really how we decide we don't like people anymore? by spending time with them?
is that just me?
and coming in march is harper's birthday (11! seriously ... kids grow up too damn fast.) and a visit from my parents and spring break, after all that swimming.
(the ides of march are looking pretty attractive this year.)
and then i will be back.
all last year, i freaked out about the whole "my kid is in high school!" thing. the idea that henry is almost out the door and on his way into adulthood - and into the years when he doesn't need us and won't be around - doesn't exactly fill me with glee. but for the most part, his freshman year looked a whole lot like middle school: same friends, same swim teams, same interests, no major changes.
then his sophomore year arrived.
and with it, hours a day spent on homework (i mean, pre-calculus? who is this child??) drastically increased, making time to let him drive the car became a thing, and ... then there was a girl.
it started with:
him: is it okay if i go to homecoming?
me: game or dance?
me: of course. why wouldn't it be okay?
him: well ... wouldn't i have to get a suit or something?
me: are you thinking of taking a girl?
him: ... maybe.
and then he DID ask the girl. and she said yes. and then he asked her out for a date before the dance to make sure they were comfortable together. and then they decided to label themselves a "couple".
this is so, so new. and different.
but she's an adorable girl, and they seem to really get along well. and the dance came, and with it plans to hang out with friends before and after, and they had a great time (from what i hear).
these are great kids. and i know they will have great times in the next three years. and it's fun to see them becoming young adults ... especially the ones i've known since they were in first grade.
but it's all just another reminder that they are growing up. and it's fun to watch.
but it also kinda hurts.
as we get closer to the mid-point of the year, i'm realizing that this has been a hard one on me. i'm exhausted. i feel beat down. depression that i've controlled and kept in its cage for a dozen years has tried desperately to escape and chase me down. i've let go of relationships that do nothing but hurt me, and have tried to be mindful to nurture the ones that build me up. i've also learned to become more vocal about my needs and concerns, and advocate for my own well-being and desires alongside everything i do for everyone else.
now that i am in my 40s and have one child who is getting ready to leave the nest in the next few years, it has started to sink in that i have no idea what is next. 20 years ago, i had it all planned out. super organized, hyper-focused, type-a ... i had a goal and by god i was going to get to it.
and then i didn't.
i can't tell you where i went off the rails, but somehow i started to put the needs of others ahead of my own - my husband's career and ambitions, my kids' schedules, etc. ... everything else seemed to need my attention more urgently than anything i wanted. and suddenly, it's 20 years later, my husband is a success, my kids are great, and i'm left looking at the rest of my life and wondering, "now what?"
it all came to a head a few weeks ago. marc and i were having our typical bi-annual "disagreement", and - bless his heart - he was trying his best to be a help and be supportive. but the problem was, he didn't know what needed to be helped or supported, so i heard his words as patronizing and clueless. which, of course, didn't help anything.
and i heard myself saying the words, "sometimes i just want out."
in all honesty: i don't. i don't want out. i love my husband, i love my kids, and i love my life. however, i am not IN any of it. i am stage crew, in the black shirt, invisible in the dark yet maneuvering all of the ropes and props that makes those on stage look flawless. and i sit there in the darkness, going through the checklist of all the things i do well, and think, "what the hell?? why am i doing nothing with the talents i've been given? i'm in my 40s and have nothing to show for it."
yes, i have a lovely family and a lovely home and i can make a kick-ass pot roast. and if that was all i'd wanted for my life, then that would have been great. but it isn't. i wanted more.
somehow, my subconscious figured it out before i did, and in the middle of sobbing, i confessed to marc, "this isn't who i was supposed to be."
turns out, it's not that i want "out" of my life ... i want "in".
i'm not a 1950s housewife. i never relished the idea of being a stay-home mom, whose day revolved around my children. deep down, i know i am capable of more, and have just never done it out of fear that putting myself first would look bad. or that i might be good at something and would then have to sustain that. my life hasn't been full of successes or praise, so i think i'm genuinely confused by it and scared of it when it happens. so i don't let it happen very often, and don't offer up my best for fear that it will raise expectations that i am bound to dash. and then i'll be right back where i started, only more disappointed.
there are times when i wish i could start over, make different choices, follow a different path. but i can't. instead, i need to find inspiration in fearless women like julia child, who was nearly 40 when she said, "you know what? i'm gonna go to cooking school."
there is a lot of maneuvering that would need to take place in my life in order for me to pursue anything - marc still travels, we still have no family nearby to help out with the kids, henry doesn't yet drive, there is still school and transportation and swimming and meals, et cetera, to work around. and much of that is why i haven't done anything for or with myself. i don't want the kids to get the short end of the stick when there are so few years left with them. i know many families in which both parents work and yet they manage to coordinate the kids' schedules. however, in most cases, either they have family nearby, and/or they are both home in time for activities. if marc is in dallas or san diego or boston, he can't by home by 5:00 to be part of the swimming/meal/homework/bedtime conveyor belt.
which is the wall i beat my head against every time. there are hours in my day when i could do something, but i haven't figured out what to do when that "something" butts up against all of the roadblocks in my way. and in his desire to help, marc suggests, "i'm sure there is something you could do for a few hours a day, something that would reconnect you with adults." but it has nothing to do with being with adults; i don't need to be with adults. truthfully, i don't need to be with people. and i don't want a job for "something to do"; i want something to do with my life. that's different than part-time at starbucks.
or maybe i just learn to let go of the frustration and discontentment, and make peace with the fact that in this lifetime, i didn't get to be what i thought i might be. i'll get to my late 40s and find a hobby instead of a career. play the cards in my hand instead of reshuffling. but then i wind up at the end of my life wondering why i didn't do more with it when i had the chance.
i know where my passions lie, the trick is figuring out what to do with them, and how to get over the hurdle that i have placed in front of myself, the one that says, "if you don't do it the right way then you are a fake, a poseur." i've been so convinced my entire life that action requires education and preparation, but maybe that isn't the case? i read this post today and it screamed at me in the way that only a serendipitous message from the universe can.
i just need to do. where i am, with what a i have.
stop putting off, stop feeling unworthy, stop feeling unprepared.
if it's meant to be, a way will show itself, right?
the inertia needs to be replaced by excitement and possibility, and that will all start when i stop being afraid to say, "this is what i want and this is what i need."
i'm an adult; i've earned the right to stand up for myself and make the rest of my life what i want it to be. and i need to take ownership over the skills i have, work hard to teach myself what i need to know better, and put myself out there. because the universe may speak to me, but if i keep it to myself, then i have only myself to blame.
so ... did you all know that easter is this weekend? am i the last person to be aware of this?
in other news: i shall be taking harper shopping for nice shoes this week.