Monday, July 29, 2013

The Longest Roller Coaster

I have a love/hate relationship with roller coasters. I usually spend the trip to the top of the first drop gripping my husband's arm with two hands, doing my best to leave black and blue hand prints before it's all said and done.

Then the coaster peaks, and we plunge downward. I'm terrified and ecstatic. I'm shrieking at the top of my lungs, my heart is in my throat and I'm laughing so hard the tears are flying out the sides of my eyes and streaking back along my temples. I love it. I hate it. I can't wait for it to end. I wish we could go again without having to wait another half an hour in line.

I'm on a coaster today, most days really. I love my children, I really truly do. But sometimes, I wish I could pack that coaster back up in the delivery box and ship it back to where it came from.

This morning, my oldest daughter got out of bed on the wrong side. She came out of her room, a thoroughly irritable, grouchy, grump of a grump. Everything I asked her to do, she whined about until I had had enough and sent her back to her room for a time-out. She could come out when she'd changed her attitude. When she did come out, her attitude hadn't changed much. She cried because she didn't want to make her bed. She cried because her brother was on the swing, and she wasn't. She cried because she didn't get the "good" car, and her brother did. She cried because her little sister tried to play with the dollhouse at the same time as she was, and heaven forbid that anything resembling sharing occur in our house!

Then, something clicked - I don't really know what it was, but I wish I could do it again - because suddenly, she was all sunshine and roses. Her brother and sister played happily in the den, while my oldest daughter carefully made sure that each played happily with their toys. She refereed them, she made them laugh, she picked up the toys they (and she) had strewed about and put them all away. She was a perfect little girl.

Apparently, she knew she was a perfect little girl, because she asked me, "Mommy, aren't you happy that we're all playing nicely together?"

"Yes," I breathed in profound relief. "It makes me so happy when you all can get along."

Then a few seconds later, "Mommy, we're getting along; aren't you happy?"

"Yes!" Apparently, there had been doubt before.

Another ten seconds passed. "Mommy, are you happy that we're all playing together?"

And on it went. I did not hold back my approbation, and my daughter basked in the light of it.

Then it was lunch time. I called the kids to lunch, but my oldest daughter wasn't done. She dissolved into weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Well, not really the gnashing thing, but it may as well have been. The coaster had plunged again.

Looking back, I see that it's been quite a ride. Looking forward, I know I've still got a long way to go. I guess the lesson I'm learning is that I need to take the bad with the good. The heights and the depths, the climbs and the plunges. Sometimes, the awful feeling I get on my way to the bottom hits, but that only serves to kick-start the adrenaline. Overall, when I step off the ride, I can't wait to go again.

I hope it's that way in another sixteen years when my last baby leaves my nest on her next big adventure and I look back over the long, long coaster. I think I'll come to the conclusion that it was all worth it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Clicking The Post Button, She Watched It Pop Up On Facebook..."

If someone were to listen to an audio track of the inside of my brain, he might hear scenes from my day scripted carefully like a page out of a novel he picked off the shelf at the library.

"She folded the dishcloth and slung it over the faucet with an unnecessary thump."

"Grimacing, she wadded up the stinky diaper and threw it into the trash, watching the lid fall shut with a satisfying thud."

"The boy glared in defiance at his mother and shook his head. 'Oh yes, you will, young man,' she snapped. 'You will eat every single green bean or there will be no dessert. Do I make myself perfectly clear?'" 

"She approached the spider, carefully, methodically, her sandal in her hand. Ignoring the racing of her heart, she looked that spider in all four hideous eyes and brought the shoe down with a bang. Victory. The gasps of her children were thanks enough. Mommy was the hero of yet another day."

"Overwhelming drowsiness closed in. She struggled to keep her eyes open, but slowly, the lids slid shut. 'Just... one... more... word...' she thought as her fingers relaxed on the keyboard."

'Max and Ruby's tinny theme song played on the TV as she stole carefully into the kitchen, unwilling to distract the three wide-eyed children who stared at the screen. She reached the 9x13 pan sitting on the counter and ever so quietly peeled back the Saran wrap. The brownies lay inside, moist, delicious, brimming with chocolate. She stealthily slid a spatula under not one, but two, pieces and hightailed it to her closet, closing the door behind her to eat in peace.'

Since the publication of my second book, I've had three separate people comment to me that they thought my brain must be very interesting (and by interesting, I'm sure they meant: whacked out, totally missing a few screws, lights-on-nobody-home, craziness-lives-here kind of place).

Yep. I admit it. I turn my life into a novel with my own inner narration.

Granted, my life's not much of a thriller novel, but my day-to-day doings gives me inspiration. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jealousy, the Green Monster

Yesterday, I read an online news article that a man named Robert Galbraith had published his debut crime thriller novel, and it was racking up great reviews from many celebrated critics.

Since I've got two thrillers on the market, of course the article snagged my attention right away. Who is this guy, and how did he gain so much notice with his first book?

Reading on down, I stumbled across the fact that Robert Galbraith is simply a pseudonym for none other than J.K. Rowling, author of the multi-million selling Harry Potter books. She had managed to keep the pseudonym a secret, and said in an interview that writing as an "unknown" was an "incredibly freeing, liberating experience."

On one hand, I can see her point. She's so well known as the author of Harry Potter, that trying to come out with anything in any different genre with any different sort of audience would be a hampering experience.

On the other hand, the green monster of envy rises up in me and bleats (yes, my envy bleats), "I wish I had even a teaspoonful of the talent that Rowling has." She writes a wonderful series of books in one genre, then turns around and seemingly without making much of an effort, becomes well-known for a completely different genre altogether.

While the rest of us struggling authors strain our brains and read our rejection letters and growl at the one and two-star reviews that inevitably come in, Rowling rides the crest of the wave of success, even under a different name.


So. While I was wrestling with my green monster yesterday after reading this news article, flashes of memory began to sprinkle around me.

Once when I was playing a lovely song on the piano at church, and when I was finished, I looked up to find a man at the back literally choking on tears. "Beautiful," he told me later. "God's given you such a gift."

Once when a fellow camp counselor came to me sobbing because of something she'd heard someone say about her, and I offered to pray with her. "You don't know how much of a blessing that was," she said after we'd opened our eyes.

Once when I was swimming in a pool, and a young girl fell into the deep end. "Help!" her mother screamed from the edge. I waffled my way over as quickly as I could and pulled the girl out. She immediately started choking up water and sobbing. Her mother wrapped her daughter in her arms and looked at me over her head. "Thanks," she said.

Once when I'd baked cookies for a neighbor...
Once when I'd washed somebody's windows....
Once when I'd written a note of encouragement...

Etc. etc. etc.

The thing is, none of these things I did because I was talented or good at it or wanted to toot my own horn. The thing is, the person on the other end of the action needed something, and God used me to help meet that need at that point in time.

It's not so much about the things you do.

It's a lot more about how God uses you to do those things.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Perfect! ... Except for the Broken Window

The last couple of days, I've gone on a spring-cleaning kick. Yesterday, I washed seven ginormous loads of laundry, dried seven ginormous loads of laundry, folded seven ginormous loads of laundry, and put away seven ginormous loads of laundry. Plus a few extras, cooking, washing up, spending time with the rug-rats.

Know what the best part of the preceding paragraph is? My spell-check didn't even highlight "ginormous." But I digress.

Today, I was so inspired by my success of yesterday, that I decided to tear into my bedroom and give it the best cleaning it has had since we moved in almost 4 years ago. I even made a list.

Declutter dresser. Check. Dust all important-looking furniture. Check. Organize headboard and night-stands. Check and check. Dust blinds, wash curtains, wash dresser scarf and various doilies. Wash windows, vacuum rug, vacuum rest of floor, Swiffer, make bed, wipe down baseboards. Check times ten.

The kicker happened when I started washing the windows. We have those fancy-schmancy double-hung windows that you can wash on the inside and the outside, all from the comfort of your square foot of space in front of the window. Double-hung windows may be run-of-the-mill now, but I'm still excited about them, since I grew up toting the step-ladder around to every window outside our house to clean.

I pulled the bottom pane out towards me and washed it, then lowered the top pane and pulled it out towards me.

A sickening twist and crack shot through my eager fingers, and the entire top pane of glass dropped out of the window onto the bottom pane of glass, which couldn't be good. Thankfully, both panes of glass were not cracked or broken. However, the top pane of glass was hanging in my hands as my astonished gaze took in the mangled metal hinges that kept the pane in place.

So, what do I do? Fix it, of course.


After much sweating, heaving, and grunting, I at last wrangled that pane of glass back into the runners. Unfortunately, as it finally clicked into place, I realized the pane was much too low. It had taken the slot of the bottom pane of glass, which still stuck out horizontally from the window opening. I stuck my shoulder under the ledge on the top pane's edging, and shoved upward with all my strength.


It didn't even budge one iota of a millimeter.

I shoved, pushed, heaved, grunted (I did briefly consider telling that window exactly what I thought in not so nice terms, but besides the obvious taint to my kids' role-model, you would have the interesting picture of me talking to a window. Which, in point of fact, is crazy).

That window did not give.

Discouragement set in. I boo-hooed to myself that all I wanted to do was clean my room. Besides the inward sobbing, a growing, disturbing presentiment boiled like a black cloud on the horizon.

What was Tim going to say?

I didn't want to tell him. But honestly, he'd probably have a hard time ignoring the horizontal glass pane sticking across our room, propped up by a fan for the moment.

"Good night, honey. What? No, I don't see anything hovering over our bed. Sleep tight."

I wanted so badly to fix it myself. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! But unfortunately, I had to ask for help.

Fortunately, I am a blessed individual because I can ask for help!

Asking for help isn't so horrible after all.!

My trembling fingers dialed my husband's number. I told him my story, waited for his tirade, which didn't come, and listened as he calmly told me he'd look at it this evening when he got home.

Team Shoemaker for the win! We. Can. Do. It.