Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Princess Reality

**WARNING** deep secrets will be revealed below**

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a particular habit when trying to go to sleep. I would always daydream (or would this be nightdream?) about me and a certain handsome fellow. The fellow and what we were doing (ahem) changed over time, but the premise was always the same. I found it was always useful for turning my brain off and settling down for sleep. Very occasionally it would morph into an actual dream as well, always a bonus.

After meeting Tony, he was always the man of my dreams, literally and figuratively. When he got sick, it became harder because ALS did a serious number on our physical romance. ALS even invaded my dreams, and it's just another reason I'll never stop hating it. I could never work out a successful daydream of us heading into the sunset in his wheelchair.

After Tony died, that problem lingered and I still haven't really been able to settle back into this habit. For one, there is no one to star in my dreams anymore. And lately this type of daydream leaves me feeling more pathetic than anything else.

My new plan is to daydream about the thing that is even more elusive than the perfect guy... a capable and confident Amanda. It's still an incredibly unlikely thing, but it seems marginally more realistic at this point.

If nothing else, it is apparently maddeningly dull... I'm usually asleep within a few minutes.

A girl can always dream, right?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Unfinished Thoughts

When I write a blog post, I usually have it completely thought through in my head. I work out the theme, figure out why it's relevant, and then try to bring it to conclusion. But lately, I haven't been able to do that. Either I've got too many other things floating through my head, or I just haven't finished processing these things yet. Either way, I find myself struggling these days.

I've successfully completed one quarter of the school year, and things have gone fairly well. I am teaching two different social studies classes in middle school. My students are good, my colleagues are great, and I even survived parent-teacher conferences. My girls seem to have adjusted to me working fairly well. They have everyone at my school trained to give them candy, and this week spent some time destroying the superintendent's office (and somehow he didn't mind). I've never worked since Cora was in school, but since my hours are basically the hours they are in school, maybe it doesn't seem that different to them. 

Here are a few of my struggles...

Starting over is hard. I am starting over in about 5 ways and they all wear me down. I find myself so exhausted and drained that I can barely think straight. Lots of my responsibilities are suffering and I will probably never get a chance to catch up. I know this is probably all normal for a working single mom. What scares me is that I can't imagine it getting easier any time soon. This whole school year will be a grueling, uphill struggle. If I stay, next year I'll at least have some lesson plans, but teaching is never an easy job. 

Parent-teacher conferences served as a reminder of all the ways teachers need to support their students... the student who isn't capable of getting their homework actually home; the student who struggles socially and has trouble with bullies; the student who has a horrible situation at home, and is doing well just to make it to school. And it's not that I'm not compassionate toward them... I do care and want to help. But I barely have enough compassion and energy for myself. When I think about how much support my students need, I know I don't have enough to give them. 

I also spent a few minutes with a wonderful woman, mom of two, whose husband has ALS. This is the first year when things will really change for them, and the strain she is under was apparent. That was me four or five years ago. Just being in that room with her was hard. I wanted to run away, but at the same time wanted to give her a big hug. My palms were sweating, but I also wanted to go to her house and take over her duties while she went to the spa for several hours. 

I have a least learned to recognize the signs when I become completely overwhelmed, and when I feel that way, I just need to go to bed. I'm always glad to have survived another week, but then I remember I still have to get ready for the next week. 

My last years have been years of struggle. I was starting to feel better, more normal (whatever that means). I suppose going back to work has just thrown me back into the quagmire. I'm thankful for all that I have, of course. I'll be here, sleeping or struggling until I fight my way back out again. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Summer Playlist

I have quite a few posts floating around in my head, I just need to find the time to write them up. This one is brief though...

Summer has officially left us and it was another good one. I rediscovered some things that I had forgotten, and ran across some skills I thought I had lost. I found out that some people will never stop surprising me, and realized I could still surprise myself. These songs were with me along the way...

John Legend, Love Me Now
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay, Something Just Like This
ItaloBrothers, Summer Air
Macklemore, Glorious
Ed Sheeran, Castle on the Hill and Thinking Out Loud
Rag 'n' Bone Man (Calyx & TeeBee Remix), Human
Infamous Stringdusters, Gravity

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 5th again...

There seems to be something about July 5th that sends my life in a new direction.

It was that day six years ago that Tony first went to a doctor about his symptoms, two days before Louise was born. That appointment was the first of many, and my life was changed forever.

I have been reflecting a lot about where I am these days. It's been two and a half years since Tony died. Sometimes, it feels a life time ago... but just a few weeks ago, the thought that he was gone hit me so hard while driving that I nearly had to pull over. So, I'm doing better but I will still spend the rest of my life adjusting. The enormity of that has become apparent.

The girls continue to be amazing, and they are growing so fast. We are lucky enough to have so much love in our lives, and they show the benefits of that. They are friendly and outgoing, and are hopefully learning to appreciate all that they have. That doesn't erase all that they have lost, though. Losing Jake is another hard blow. Every parent wishes they could protect their children from pain and heartache, and I'm no different. Obviously, I can't change the circumstances of their loss, but hopefully I can help them live with it.

So even though we've started to emerge into the light, each new development rocks me. I feel unsteady on my own, and second guess myself constantly. I have learned that I need to allow myself a lot of time to make decisions, it seems to help and hopefully I eventually arrive at the right choice. But I suppose this is the struggle of life; no matter what your situation, things are often not easy. That's okay... struggle and stress is more than a fair trade for all the gifts of life.

This July 5th, my life changing event was signing a contract to return to teaching at Lylburn Downing Middle School. I am nervous about whether I will have the energy to teach and be a single mom, but I'll certainly give it my best shot. I've already tried to come to terms with the fact that I'll have to let a lot of things go... I just won't be able to do it all. Sometimes life hands you things before you are really ready... but it would be boring any other way!

Monday, July 3, 2017


I said a few months ago that I was ready for new, good stuff to happen, but I didn't anticipate the flip side of that. New things in your life often means saying goodbye to old parts of your life... and sometimes that is really awful. (more on this to come)

Last weekend, we had to say goodbye to Jake, Tony's loyal service dog. He was diagnosed with kidney failure a few months ago, and he had been hanging in there. He had special food, and medicine, and I was even giving him IV fluids for awhile. He had gotten very skinny and had lost a lot of his energy and pep. He couldn't jump in the back of the car or drag me along on a walk, but he still greeted me with a waggy tail. At the end of last week, he couldn't really keep any food down, and that was enough for me.

I can't say enough about what Jake meant to us and how much he helped Tony. He made it possible for Tony to work extra months when his arms were getting very weak, and he helped us skip the lines at Disney World. He threw away dirty diapers, opened doors, and even brought my lunch to me one day at school. More than anything, he was Tony's buddy and was perfect at his job. We miss him so much. He was a wonderful dog, but his job was done.

I could go on and on, but it'll only bring even more tears. Please, pet your own pets tonight and tell them you love them... maybe give them an extra treat. And please check out St. Francis Service Dogs who trained Jake and then taught Tony how to keep up with him. They provide dogs to veterans, and children and adults with disabilities and they are incredible.

Here's a few pics... now I've got something in my eye again.

Teeny Jake early in his 2 years of work to be a service dog
with baby Louise right after he partnered with Tony

Unofficial mascot of VMI Men's Soccer
Sharing the couch with his favorite humans
goofball in the snow

last pic with his adopted sister, Gemma