Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Atlanta’

Seeing Evil

I had a nice Mother’s Day last weekend.  My kids know the drill by now.  They just need to show me appreciation.  Hand written cards are the best.

This Mother’s Day I got a little greedy.  I told my family I wanted a big, fat coffee mug.  The Friday before Mother’s Day I changed my mind. I was looking out at our patio, and thinking how nice it would be to sit in a gliding rocker.  I told Scott that I thought a rocker would be a nice addition to the back yard, and since it was Mother’s Day…

Scott said, “We never sit outside.”

I said, “YOU never sit outside.  I sit outside all the time.”

He said, “So, if we get a glider, you’re just going to sit?”

“That’s the idea,” I told him.

Scott has a keen desire for efficiency.  Sitting is not very efficient. He certainly sits.  He just generally pairs sitting with something else.   He grades paper or folds laundry while he watches TV.  He reads the paper while he eats.  He sits, but he doesn’t ever JUST sit.  I do.

Scott aims to please though, so he started thinking about this glider.  He asked if I wouldn’t rather have a patio table.  He made a good point.  The patio table we had could ALMOST  be trusted not to collapse when you sat at  it; really, it was a roll of the dice every time.

We rescued that patio table from my parent’s garbage many years ago.  We’ve done the same with their lawn mower and their TV’s.  When they think something is ready to retire, we bring it out of retirement, and give it another life.   This patio table was about to meet its second death.

I said, “Okay.  A table is a good idea too.  How about a coffee mug AND a patio table?”  We had a deal.

We started shopping for a patio table at an upscale store near Madison.  We were naive.  We loved the colors, and styles of everything we saw when we walked in that first store.  We didn’t love the price tags.  We searched and searched for something close to our budget.  We couldn’t find anything for less than a thousand dollars. That’s where the prices started.   We began to question our mission.  Then we started getting philosophical.

Scott asked me if I thought we would behave differently, if he had chosen a career other than teaching and coaching.  He wondered what would happen  if our income was triple or quadruple what it is now.  Would we walk into that store and think spending $3000 on a patio table and chairs was a good idea?  Because he wasn’t sure he would. He said that seemed like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on something you don’t need, no matter how much money you have. He pointed out that there are people who are hungry and who have real needs.  Could we really forget that?

I told him it’s likely we could.   We were doing that now.  Sure, we were only spending $200 for something we didn’t technically need; we were still spending it.  We weren’t giving it to people who were hungry.  I said that it is all relative, right?  Then, we started to get cold feet.  Was this really a good idea?  Why were we doing this?

And that’s just a small taste of the whoop-it-up, care-free fun you can have when you shop with the Smiths; indecisive and over-thinking.  That’s how we roll.

In the end, we decided to ignore people who are hungry and keep shopping.  We walked to the back of this fine store, and I got really excited.  I found a table that was much closer to our budget than anything we’d seen.  It was $320.  The kids and Scott were taking  a closer look.  Then someone noticed the tag was coming from the middle of the table.  $320 was the price of the UMBRELLA, not the table.    Why were we in that store again?

We did find a nice little table  at Costco that fit the budget.  Scott’s going to practice sitting this summer.  In my head I’m not sure how that looks.  I don’t see it.  He said he would try.

patio furniture

Here I am, teaching Scott how to sit. It’s not for amateurs.

We also  went to church on Mother’s Day morning.  It was sweet.  I love being with my whole family at church.  There were a lot of people I didn’t recognize there.

I couldn’t help noticing how many women were wiping tears away that morning.  I don’t know why, but I could guess: maybe they lost their mother, their mom failed them, their children failed them, they lost a child, they couldn’t have a child,  they are utterly disappointed by their own motherhood, their lack of motherhood, or someone else’s motherhood.  There are literally hundreds of reasons a person could be crying on Mother’s Day.

I try not to speak of things I have not experienced.  That would be ignorant, arrogant and unkind.   I have had positive and meaningful motherhood experiences.  I’ve only brushed up against bad ones.   Just being in proximity to bad mothering left me with sad and uncomfortable memories that I’d like to erase, but I can’t.

What if bad mothering was all I had experienced?  How do you emerge from that with faith and optimism?  I know some people do, but many don’t.

When I was 18 I rode a Greyhound bus from Georgia to Wisconsin.   When we started out in downtown Atlanta, there was a mom on the bus with her children.  This mom’s body was too thin, and her face looked old and tired. I’m sure she was overwhelmed and all that, but I guess I don’t care.  I should care, but I don’t.  I don’t care because she was an adult; adults can make their own choices in our country.  Kids can’t.

I never saw her oldest son make the tiniest sound. I just saw him keep his eyes on her.  He looked scared.  He was supposed to be helping her with the smaller children.  He was doing his best, but it was too difficult.  Those kids were squirmy. His mom kept screaming at him.  She was berating him, humiliating him,  and at one point slapped him across the face.  She did that right there in front of everyone.  I’m sure you’re wondering what she did when they were alone.  That’s what I was wondering

I wish I could tell you I did something to stop this.  I didn’t.  I was scared and not courageous.  I just sat there praying for that boy, and hating his mom.  Many other things happened on that bus trip 24 years ago; that’s the only thing I remember.

Another brush with rotten motherhood was when our children were young.  We were camping in Michigan.  There was a camper next to us that housed  a half dozen children and their parents.  Scott and I  became friendly with the kids and learned they were at the park with their foster parents.

I tried to offer a hello to the foster mom.  She avoided eye contact.   Something didn’t feel good about that family.  Don’t you think most moms have some intuitive radar?  We can just tell when something is “off”.  There was definitely something  “off” next door.   I tried telling Scott that I had a bad feeling about our neighbors, but he thought I may be imagining things.

One morning my kids were chasing chipmunks and running around like rabid little monkeys. It was a typical day.  I looked over at the family next door and they were eating together in perfect silence.     No one was laughing, fighting or talking. It was not the natural way of kids.

At one point during their breakfast,  I saw the foster mom reach across the table and pull her little girl’s hair very hard.  The girl’s neck jerked awkwardly. The foster mom yelled, “What did I tell you about not letting your hair hang in your face while you’re eating?”

I felt sick.  I was consumed by thoughts of this family.  But again, I didn’t walk over there to help.

After we all went to bed that night I thought I heard yelling from that family’s camper.   I laid in my sleeping bag worrying.  We didn’t have a cell phone then, and we were staying in a tent.  I got an idea that I would go to the camp store the next morning and call the police.   If they couldn’t help, surely they would know someone who could.   It felt better to have a plan.  I was finally able to fall asleep.  When we woke up the next morning, the family was gone.

It never occurred to me the day before to write down their license plate number; I didn’t know their last name. I didn’t help them at all.

I knew that foster mom was up to evil, and I didn’t do one thing to help.  I started praying for that little girl that day, and I still do.  That was 10 years ago.   She’s an adult now.  I hope God has answered my prayers, and that he protected her from more abuse.  I hope she is optimistic and has faith.  I guess that isn’t how things usually happen.

I have been a coward.  I have lived to regret it.  I wish I could apologize to those kids.  I have told myself to be ready the next time, and not to be afraid.

God regularly hears me cry out for children (and pets) who are at the mercy of evil.  I ask that my prayer will move God to protect the innocent.  I also pray that He will make my feet move, and open my mouth to protect anyone who cannot protect themselves when the opportunity occurs.

You might think less of me now that I’ve shared my guilt with you.  You should.  I think less of myself.

I don’t know why people choose fear over courage,  evil over good, hate over love, cruelty over kindness.  Some people assume this fact makes a case for the absence of God.  I believe the opposite is true.

I’m actually not very sold on humans.   I haven’t seen much evidence to convince me that we’re not born flawed; that we don’t need divine intervention.  We’ve been in existence a long time.  If we had any ability to save ourselves and to overcome evil, I would think that we would have done it by now.  Instead, we just keep making the same mistakes over, and over, and over again.   There are times that the magnitude of evil in this world just takes my breath away.

Over time, humans have developed technology and infrastructure that were once inconceivable.  Human’s souls have stayed the same.  We still hate, murder, rape, lie and gossip. We are jealous, arrogant,  angry, and apathetic.   We promote ourselves and we critisize.  We fight with our friends and family.  We fight over religion and politics.  We fight other countries.  We judge. We dislike people who don’t look and act like us.  We don’t root for others. We cheat on each other. We cheat. We don’t keep our promises.  Our inability to deny evil is exhausting; the consequences are soul crushing.

I see a need for a Savior.  A Savior makes perfect sense to me.

There can be a lot to cry about;  on Mother’s Day, or any day you choose.  I find comfort in a Savior.  I wish that was a comfort to everyone.

I pray peace, comfort and protection for all those who cannot protect themselves.    I also pray that some how the broken will know that somewhere there are people who’s hearts are burdened for them.   I pray that that through all the weight of evil, the broken-hearted will  hear the voice and feel the love of their Savior.  I pray that if God ever again gives me a moment’s notice to offer protection, that He will make me brave.












Why I’ve Been Acting Like a Brat:

I’ve been acting like a brat lately.  Well, maybe I haven’t been acting like a brat, but I’ve been thinking like a brat.

I’ve told you about our sweet little ranch style home that we live in, right?  I like our home a lot. A few  years ago, we put an offer on a larger, newer, nicer home.  There’s no reason in the world that I should not have been excited about moving into that home.  I wasn’t.  I was relieved when the deal fell apart.  I was just going through the motions, because I knew Scott liked that home.  It was nice. Who wouldn’t?

I’ve never yearned for a large home.  I remember when I was in college and I saw my first really upscale neighborhood.  This wasn’t small town upscale, this was big city upscale.  We were in a suburb of Atlanta.

The homes were beautiful and huge.  My girlfriends and I were impressed.  I didn’t tell them then what I was thinking; I didn’t really understand it myself.   I was thinking that I was happy for the people who lived in those beautiful homes, but for some reason I never wanted one of my own.

My favorite home in our town is one that I walk by in the early morning every day.  This home is a Cape Cod style cottage.  The exterior is made of large white and gray stone.    The home is extremely well maintained.   You can tell the owners pay great attention to detail: pretty planters in all seasons, welcoming patio furniture in the summer and nothing is ever out of place.  I love all that, but what I love even more is the cute little retired couple that I always see sitting in the 4-seasons patio in the morning.  The lamp is always on in there.  Their pretty dog lies between them while they read.  She usually has a book, and he reads the paper.  Doesn’t that sound nice?

One of these mornings I’m going to knock on their window.  When they look up, I’m going to yell through the glass, “Can I come in?  My house is a mess and we’re all on top of each other over there.  I really think I’d like it better in there by you.”

Don’t you think that will be a nice surprise for them?  People just don’t take time to visit the elderly much anymore.

cape cod

I like small houses, but lately I’ve been thinking that I get why people live in big ones.  We’ve lived in our house for 10 years.  From the beginning we have planned on finishing the basement.  A whole bunch of real life stuff has prevented that  from happening.

The basement has some paneling up now, but that’s about it.   We’ve done our best to make it feel like it’s finished with some paint and remnant carpeting, but you can only dress up a turd so much.   I know.  I’m pushing it a little far, but remember I said I was kind of being a brat?  That’s how a brat talks.

Unfinished basements are kind of like turds.  They smell bad. You just don’t care much for looking at them. And, you really don’t want to hang out in them.   We have a game system in our basement, wrestling mats and our ping pong table.  We go down there to play some games and do laundry; we don’t linger.

I would guess we exist in about 1200 square feet of living space.  NORMALLY that is fine.   But lately I’ve been thinking that it isn’t.  By lately, I mean since the start of this year’s NFL Draft.

Scott and Zeke are sports information junkies.  ESPN is successful because of guys like them. Scott and Zeke can NOT know enough about the sports they like, and the people who play them.

You may not realize it, but while you weren’t paying attention the NFL Draft has turned into this big, long, drawn-out and televised production.  That means for days and days there are men (mostly) sitting around hashing over the ins and outs of all the prospective players, and how to make the best picks.  I promise you not as much talk has gone into how to create world peace, as how to choose the right football players.


The detail these guys go into on this Draft thing  is mind blowing.   These guys talk around. the. clock.  They NEVER run out of things to say.  And that fact right there, is the source of my bratiness.

We have one TV that I watch.  Don’t even tell me to go watch in the turd.  I’m not doing it. And I’m sure as heck  not watching in the office-slash-Eddie’s-bedroom.  Eddie has a knack for leaving rotten banana peels under his pillow.  His socks can  be cracked in half by the time they make it to the laundry room.   You would need to sign a waiver before I’d let you go in that area of our house.

I can’t watch a darn thing, because every moment I’m home, Scott and Zeke are listening to and watching the latest released information on the corner back from Texas who may or may not have suffered a recent knee injury. Blaach!

In our house you can not say, “shut up”.   Saying shut up in our home is the equivalent of dropping the “F” bomb.  Well, guess what kids?  In my head, I’m telling the NFL Draft guys to SHUT UP.  SHUT THE HECK UP!   SHUT UP RIGHT NOW!!!!   I don’t know how you could possibly  still be talking about this boring subject.  Why do people care?  I don’t.  I don’t care the tiniest bit, and I only want you to, for once in your life…be quiet.  Stop talking.  Please.  Stop it.

As soon as Scott and Zeke leave the living room, I put the TV on mute.  I feel instant, physical relief.  It’s like I was being pinched before.  I hear the silence and I’m instantly pain free. That is why I’ve been thinking about big houses.  In a big house you probably have a place to escape the NFL Draft.

Another time I’ve been feeling bratty is in the morning.  We have one full bathroom.  It’s small, but it’s nice.  Then we have a half bath between our room and the living room; the room where the NFL Draft folks hang out, making the world a better place.

During the wrestling season I usually am out the door with the dog in the morning before Scott wakes up.   When I get back, Scott is gone.  We don’t cross paths.  Lately we’ve been crossing paths.

The other morning we were both in our small half bath.  We were jockeying for position in front of the small sink.  I am almost sure that he was hogging more than his fair share.  There is a chance he’d say I was  doing the same.  Scott asked me,  “since when do you use my bathroom in the morning?”

Where’s a girl to start with that?   I told him  I have been using this bathroom all year.  I said he didn’t know it, because he was still sleeping.   Then I said it must be nice to live a life of leisure and sleep in every morning (5:45 AM).  Because that’s how you hit Scott below the belt, you imply that he could try harder…at anything.

Then I told him that I was not aware that it was his bathroom, but we certainly could look into putting his name on the door.  See?  I’m just feeling bratty all the way around.

Now that the Draft is over,  we can resume our normal lives.    Or, maybe I’ll keep feeling bratty and tell Scott there’s a week long “Real Housewives” marathon that I have to watch.  I’ll assure him that there will be plenty of commentary to enjoy.  It will be very detailed, and  in depth.  I’ll tell him he’s welcome to watch with me, or feel free to hang out in Eddie’s room or in the turd.  We’ll let him be a brat for a while.

Tag Cloud