Friday, November 27, 2015

The Black Friday Blues

I used to go out shopping every Black Friday(what we in the States call the shopping day the day after Thanksgiving). On Thanksgiving day my family and I would lay out the advertisements and put together a plan of action, then we would get up at the crack of dawn and tackle the sales together before celebrating our frugal finds with a lunch together. It was a fun was to spend time together and get a jump start on the many chores that come with the Christmas season.

I began to notice years ago that the tradition was losing its shine. Black Friday was no longer fun to me when being pushed around by other shoppers and standing in line for hours on end just to save a couple of bucks. Then came September 11, 2001. That day- the tragedy itself, the senseless loss of life and the newfound fear for our home country and all who lived in it seemed to change our thoughts in this country. We became softer, kinder and wiser to what was more important. I ventured out that first Black Friday after September 11th determined to provide a great first Christmas to my firstborn child and also wanting to give to those less fortunate while thriving on a very tight budget. I cannot remember what I bought that year. Our purchases rarely matter in the way that we hope for them too. What I do remember from that post-September 11th Black Friday was the kindness and compassion that abounded. I remember standing in line in the cold while a woman with a shaky voice began to sing Silent Night and we all joined in, most of us crying at the same time. When the doors to the store opened, we finished the song before stepping into the store- the rush for the deals not nearly as important as coming together in the cold night to sing a song that bolstered our hearts and reminded us of our togetherness. That shopping day was full of politeness and joy. My love for Black Friday was back en force.

The next year I ventured out again on Black Friday, sure of the wondrous experience that awaited me. Unfortunately, in that year we had forgotten what we had learned and back again was the rudeness, the pushing, the anger and the frustration that permeated everything. There was no Christmas joy to be found in the gluttonous consumerism that year- or any of the next few that followed. After a time, I chose to forgo Black Friday altogether, no longer deriving any joy from the unconscious need to consume or the sales that continued to bleed further and further into my sacred Thanksgiving holiday.

I'm certainly not discouraging those that derive joy from their Black Friday traditions. I think that if it brings you joy, you should do it! After all, joy is not always easy to find.

For me- I choose to spend the day after Thanksgiving with my family- in my home with Christmas music playing and a joy hangover in our hearts from the day before. We will venture out on Small Business Saturday with some conscious consumerism to benefit our small town shops and will find time to buy a present or two over the weekend for ourselves and the children whom we "adopt" to spoil each holiday season. I'm well over Black Friday for now, however. Until that day when I can again feel the joy of a society coming together again in celebration and gratitude. I believe that day will come again, and I hope it does not take another national tragedy on our own soil to remind us all of what is important.

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever holidays you do(or don't) celebrate, I wish you the joy and love of the season. It cannot be found inside any package that we can buy in any store. It's right inside each of us. May you never forget that. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Lesson in Giving

I work in low-income areas and am surrounded by poverty during my workday. It is humbling, to say the least.

 Today a disheveled and dirty man approached my car and asked me if I had money to give him for the bus. He held up a single bag of food and explained that he'd come to the food pantry to get food for his family and did not have enough money take the bus home. I reached for my purse and realized that the only cash inside was the money that I had been given for my birthday. I'm ashamed to say that I paused for a moment because, as a mother, I rarely buy myself frivolous things and had plans for that $25. However, I could see this man, shivering in the cold next to me as a sat in my heated car, and I decided to give him all of it. This man, a grown man that has seen the troubles of this world firsthand and had possibly the saddest and most tired eyes that I have ever seen, saw the amount of money that I had placed in this hands and he cried. He cried breathless tears while simultaneously grinning a gap-toothed smile and thanked me a dozen times. I cried along with him as a accepted his thanks and watched him literally skip away in joy. Happiness was swimming around us as fervently and true as if happiness was a person itself. Joy was rising. I could almost hear the heavens open up and sing, so joyful was my heart. 

Then I watched him walk past the bus stop that was just a block from where I sat. And, my joy came crashing back to Earth. I wondered if his story about needing a bus token had ever been true. I felt duped. I felt as though the gift that I had wanted to buy myself had just been stolen out of my hands. I felt shame at being taken advantage of. It was not my finest moment. 

As I watched him continue to walk, I saw the joy in his steps and felt my own happiness return. I had just had a moment of absolute beauty, a moment of purity in a cruel world. I would not allow my mind to imagine ways out of the joy. 

The truth is that the joy in that moment of connection was beyond worthy of giving up what was a small amount of cash for me and likely a large amount to him to receive. In that moment of joy rising, we experienced a minute of divine human connection that transcended the dirty, urban street that surrounded us. Here's the other truth- once I had given the gift, what that man did with the money was none of my business. That's right- none. My karma, my joy, my role was as the giver and as such I do not get to quantify what the recipient does with the gift. To do so is like giving your child a Christmas present and demanding that they play with it how and when you tell them to. There would be no joy in that gift. It really isn't a gift at all of we choose how the recipient enjoys the gift. Now, I believe that this man likely did take a bus from another stop or was so thrilled with the money that he bought more food before getting on the bus...but no matter, it's none of my business.  It's not my karma what that man did with the money. 

I'm sitting here tonight allowing myself to replay, over and over again, the joy of that moment of humanity- the pure joy of being able to give something that was desperately needed by another human being. It was a sublime moment. I am grateful to have experienced it, no matter how the gift was spent. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Magnesium for Anxiety Reduction and Sounder Sleep(and a giveaway!)

I am a huge proponent of the use of magnesium to help with anxiety reduction and sounder sleep. No supplement/mineral will work for everyone and each individual should talk with their doctor in deciding if magnesium supplementation and transdermal(simply magnesium absorbed through the skin, some studies show that our bodies gather more magnesium via skin versus through diet) use is a good idea for them.

What is magnesium and why is it important?

Magnesium is a vital nutrient that should be found in our body in large amounts. Magnesium is used by your body in many different biochemical reactions. Our ancestors likely kept their magnesium levels high with a steady diet of meat(including organ meats), water that naturally had magnesium in it and vegetables and fruits grown in soil rich with magnesium. In modern times many of us rarely consume organ meat, water processing methods now remove magnesium for our public drinking water and our soil has been depleted of magnesium. The National Institute of Health reports that the recommended daily intake of magnesium for adults is 320-420 mg and the average daily intake in the US is just 250 mg. In addition to the low daily intake of magnesium, stress also causes our bodies to waste magnesium. In our hectic and stressful modern society, I can only imagine that we are wasting magnesium in our bodies at a high rate.

There are many ways that low magnesium can impact the human body. In my personal experience, low magnesium appears to cause depression, anxiety and increased insomnia.

How do I increase my magnesium other than dietary changes?

Epsom Salt Baths

Insomnia is something that I have struggled with since childhood. So, when a friend told me several years ago that she was using epsom salt baths several times per week to increase her magnesium levels for better sleep at the suggestion of her doctor, I decided instantly that I would try it. After all, I loved to soak in the bath with a good book so what did I have to lose?

You can pick up epsom salts online such as at amazon -(Epsoak Epsom Salt 19.75 Lbs - 100% Pure Magnesium Sulfate, Made in USA) - however, you can find it at any drug store or with the over the counter medication in your local grocery store for much cheaper. I don't recommend the scented types as I have yet to find a brand scented with essential oils or other natural scents. I do, however highly recommend adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the epsom salts before putting them in your bath- it just adds to the lovely experience.

For a good epsom soak run your bath water very warm and add a minimum of 2 cups of epsom salts. Soak for a least 20 minutes and hopefully you will be as utterly relaxed as I am after an epsom bath!

Oral Magnesium

I sometimes take oral magnesium at night before bed. It does help me calm down but it does often cause some loose stools, as well(magnesium is also used as a laxative). If you are someone that struggles with constipation, as well, this may be a positive side effect. If not, start with a small dosage to see how your body adapts. I use a brand called Ultra Calm found here- (Natural Vitality Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon 16 oz). I have also tried the generic brand and you can save quite a bit of money that way- I personally found the taste to be terrible on the two generic brands that I tried. I imagine if you added the generic brands to juice instead of water it would be tolerable. 

Magnesium Lotion or Oil

I have not been able to find magnesium oil or lotion in my local area, so I purchase this from amazon. I began using the magnesium oil on my neck and shoulders when I would get tension headaches(which start in my neck). It really helps to relax the muscles and seems to ease the headache, as well. The magnesium oil I use is found here- Magnesium Oil 8 fl oz (237 ml) Liquid. I find that it lasts a very long time.

I started rubbing magnesium oil on my girls' feet before bed to help them sleep(it has been very successful) but they did not like the consistency of the oil so I purchased lotion for them. You can find the type that I used here -(Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion - 8oz Bottle).

After we ran out of the lotion one night, I improvised by adding the magnesium oil to some whipped coconut oil and lavender essential oil and the girls loved it. We did this for several months until I decided to look on Etsy to see if someone was already making a similar product(hey, I'm a working Mom of three- I'll cut corners anyway that I can!)

Low and behold- I found exactly what I was looking for at a cute little shop called Simply Owl Natural. This product is now a standby at my house.

The use of magnesium supplementation has, over time, decreased my anxiety, dramatically decreased my migraines and increased sleep quality for myself and my children. It is something that I recommend everyone research and decide if it would be helpful in your own life. 

Note: I was not paid for my mention of Simply Owl Natural products. All opinions are my own and I am simply a fan of the brand! 

Also, all Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase the item I receive a very small percentage of profits. I am a huge proponent of shopping local so please check your local stores and buy your products anywhere that works well for you!

Giveaway! *******giveaway has now ended- Mama On A Mission is our winner!********

Now, the fun part! I reached out to Simply Owl Natural to tell her that I was including her product in my blog post and they kindly offered to give away a care package for one lucky blog reader! 

The products that one winner will receive are as follows:

2 oz. magnesium lotion
Lip balm
Itch Stick
2 oz. vapor rub

Such a decadent care package for yourself or a loved one for the upcoming cold and flu season. 

Entry is easy! There are two methods of entry and you can do both for two entries into the giveaway. 

1) Favorite Simply Owl Natural's shop on Etsy here and comment below noting that you did so. 
2) Like Simply Owl Natural's Facebook page here and comment below noting that you did so. 

Please use separate comments for each entry. Giveaway will end at 8 pm Central Standard Time on Sunday, November 1st and the winner will be chosen via the random number generator at US entries only at this time, please. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hospice Nursing and Lessons in Parenting

We all know, as parents, that the days are long but the years pass quickly. Any parent has had a myriad of people remind them to enjoy the moments when your children are young because they pass so quickly. I imagine the reason that these words are so often spoken is because they are true, if over spoken.

I realized as soon as my first child was born 14 years ago that it was true. It seemed as if he would grow before my very eyes in that first year. However, as I added two more children to the mix the days seem to pass with an ever faster and alarming speed, I imagine due to the busy days of chasing after three children and shuttling them all to their activities.

The largest revelation for me was not in my own experiences but in watching my elderly hospice patients. Yes, observing the end of life had many lessons for me about the middle of my life.

Most of my nursing career has been in pediatrics, but there was a brief year and a half span where I gave hospice nursing a try. It had been something I'd wanted to try since nursing school and the perfect opportunity presented itself and I went for it. Hospice nursing was a temporary career turn for me, but the life lessons were forever imprinted on my heart.

Several of my elderly hospice patients were lost in a world all their own and no longer recognized themselves in their current form nor their family members. What was very profound for me was that nearly all of the women in this state that I cared for found themselves lost back in the days of their early motherhood, many of them carrying around baby dolls that they were convinced were real and would spend most of their waking hours caring for the dolls. I asked a staff nurse at one nursing home I was working at why she thought they all became lost in the same imaginary world. I remember this old, battle-ax of a nurse tilting her head at me as though she couldn't believe the question and replying, "Why honey, why wouldn't someone want to be a mother again? Those were the happiest days of their life." I was immediately struck with reflection into my own life, the frantically busy and sleep deprived life that was mine when I wasn't wearing my nurse's badge. I knew with every ounce of my soul that I was in the midst of the best days of my life and had not realized it until this moment. 

A staff member at one nursing home had a drawer of baby dolls that she would give to any woman who was comforted by this. She told me that she had found that women who had been mothers could not bear to be without someone to care for and if these plastic dolls brought them peace in their final days, who were we decide that it was a strange thing for a grown woman to tote around. Her observation was that the woman who lost themselves in this imaginary world often died in peace, happy to relive the long days of caring for their babies.

At the end of my shift I would go home to my children and I realized that I had a renewed sense of myself as a mother and how important these days were to me- not only now but for forever. I knew that I needed to squeeze out every moment of this time as well as I possibly could and the memories of these years, busy and exhausted as they are, will be looked back onto for the rest of my life.

I am exhausted. Weary to the bone most days and collapse into my bed at the end of the night with the exhaustion of one who has run a marathon. It is often hard. It is also blissful. I am harvesting as much bliss as I can out of every day in my home full of children. I can thank those women in the nursing home for the reminder of just how lovely these days are, even when I am bone tired and worried.

These are the halcyon days of my life. I must make memories to sustain myself for the years when my home is not so full. I am so blessed to have been given the gift of a house full of love- I will not waste this time.

Live every moment, Lovelies. This life is short and full of wonder.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Social Media and Our Collective Voice

This modern world can be tough to navigate. The internet has given us many blessings. However, It has also made our lives feel as though we are often living under a microscope.

It is easy to look at the social media posts of others and feel as though our lives are small in comparison. Facebook and Pinterest feeds of perfectly decorated and tidy homes, Instagram photos of lovely beach vacations and international travel and Twitter feeds full of witty quips, all of which often leave us feeling as though our lives aren’t quite living up to the lives of those around us. It is ever so easy to forget that these perfectly curated moments on social media never show the full and true picture of someone’s life.

The ever-present false perfection of social media tends to cause me to spiral into an unhealthy and unable to be won comparison game. My inner critic feeds off of this game and can always find more and more ways in which I lose- I’m not as thin as everyone else in their perfectly styled photos, my house doesn’t seem to be as clean as the photos of everyone else’s stylish and tidy abodes, my children’s birthday parties could be much more fanciful and full of handmade decorations and homemade gourmet food…It is never ending.

However, even beyond the comparison game, social media has a way of leaving me with a sadness hangover. There are so many that use their social media feeds as a way of venting all of their problems, worries and hate of the world. It is hard to scroll through Facebook or Twitter without a sickening feeling that the world is full of deep sadness and hate. I have taken to unfollowing those with a persistent doom and gloom but, if I know the person personally, end up feeling a bit sad about doing so.

I know that taking breaks from social media, attempting to control my feeds so that they are full of positivity, kindness and a willingness to make a change in the world and reminding myself constantly that no social media account shows a person’s life in it’s entirety is helpful to me.

Beyond the unhealthy comparisons that social media can encourage, as an introvert I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have a voice in this world even as my voice in person may fail me. I am grateful for the like-minded friends that I have met, whom I never would have known without social media. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a voice of kindness and encouragement, even when the collective voices on social media seem to be dreadfully discouraging.

If you add up the number of friends and followers on your social media accounts, how many people do you have collectively following you- Hundreds? Thousands?

Can you imagine standing on a platform with all of those people standing in front of you waiting for you to speak into a microphone- listening to the words you speak, the pictures you will share?

In this modern world, we each have a voice. How are you choosing to use yours?

If each of us was to vow to use our voices less for complaining and spreading hate and chose, instead, to be the collective voice of compassion and honesty, can you imagine the change in humanity? The human condition is one of contagion. It is not only illness that can spread-hate, love, shame, kindness…everything is contagious. As much as we like to stand in our individuality, the truth is that we are each connected. Social media has connected us as never before, without boundaries of location, time and space. The way that we use this massive connection, this massive opportunity to bring humanity together is completely up to us. I empower you think before you share.

“You are what you share.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Nurse's Stethoscope and Why I Am Proud to Be a Nurse

The following was originally a post on my Facebook page, but many have requested that I place it here for a more permanent home. It is a response to the ladies of The View who made some hurtful and uneducated comments in regard to the monologue of Miss Colorado, who beautifully spoke of the importance of nurses.

I am saddened to browse my social media feeds and see The View co-hosts disparaging Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, for her monologue in which she proudly spoke of the importance of nurses. I am sorry for the uneducated view of nurses that these catty women have chosen to share with the world.

These women of The View have been given a massive audience to speak in front of. They sit, carefully made up and manicured in a comfortable chair in an air-conditioned studio, and use their voices to tear down and mock their fellow women.  We nurses do not often have such a wide-reaching voice. During our shifts we see only a handful of patients and their families, often in sweaty scrubs(which one host unkindly called a "costume") which are stained with the numerous bodily fluids of our patients, mentally and physically exhausted- and, yet, we choose to use our voices to educate, empower and to save the lives of our precious patients. We nurses, men and women alike, have chosen to be voices of kindness and compassion in a world that has often been cruel to our patients.

I am an educated, skilled, kind and compassionate nurse. In my nursing career my hands, often sore and dry from all of the hand washing between patients, have been the first to hold a baby new to this world and have been the last to comfort a patient who is leaving the world. I have made assessments and administered medicine and procedures which have both saved lives and improved them. I have used my stethoscope(not a 'doctor's stethoscope' as one host embarrassingly stated) so often that it feels like an extension of my body and have used that assessment tool to save lives.  I have witnessed humanity at it's absolute worst and it's redeeming best. I have given education to patients and their families that have led, in ways both big and small, to better lives for my patients and their families. I have done chest compressions for hours while allowing a family member to make it to the hospital while their loved ones' heart was still beating. I have held a mother for excruciating minutes in which she wailed an otherworldly scream and mourned for her dead child. I have held in my own emotions until the blissful moment when my shift is done and I can weep in my car until my eyes are raw, so much is my desire to save every patient.   I have borne witness to the very worst hours of the lives of many. I have spent overnights, weekends and holidays away from my own family,  ensuring that my patients get the care that they deserve even as I miss family dinners, my children's ballgames and birthday parties.  These hands will never be carefully manicured as the ladies on The View. Nor do I wish them to be, for the important work that is done by nurses cannot be done from a comfortable chair in a studio.

I hope for a day in which nurses are lauded for their great works. I have many co-workers and fellow nurses that are incredibly deserving of such recognition. Regardless of whether or not such a day comes, nurses will use their education, their hard-earned skills, their hearts, their compassion and their kindness to continue to make this world a better place. And, for that and many other reasons- I am damn proud to call myself a nurse.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Technology, Connection and Modern Day Prisons

The above picture showed up in my Facebook feed this morning. It is an older Twitter post by the artist Banksy(click photo to be taken to his original post). It is an iPhone depicted as a prison.

I was frozen by this image.

At the moment that I came upon the picture, I was sitting in my bed with my two girls while they watched a Disney movie- waking from their slumber slowly and cuddled around me. I wasn't present in the moment as I should have been. These moments of my children's childhood are fleeting and I have been painfully aware of how quickly they are growing lately. Yet, instead of basking in the warmth of their cuddles and laughing at the cartoon along with them I was... on my iPhone.

My morning tradition has become browsing through my social media feeds while my first cup of coffee swims into my veins. Usually, I do so before my children wake up. However, it's not unusual on weekend morning for me to do this with a sleepy child on my lap.

Has my smartphone become a prison for me?

The thought swam through my head with fervor after seeing the Banksy image. I believe that it has. Social media has allowed me to connect with many people, both personally and professionally. It has been a blessing in many ways. But there is another side, isn't there?

I wonder if I am losing the ability to be present in my life, to experience joy without sharing it with my myriad of friends and followers. I no longer appreciate the beauty around me without pulling out my phone to snap a picture, edit it and post it to Instagram. If I have a thought which seems to me to be profound, I share it on Twitter. If my children have a program or a ballgame or a dance recitals, the photos are loaded onto Facebook for all to see.

I find myself wondering...

When is the last time I stood in front of a sight of great beauty and kept the image only in my heart and mind, trusting memory to hold it for me?

When is the last time that my children had a great accomplishment and I  did not share it publicly but instead trusted that my fervent praise and pride would be enough for my children, without sharing it with the entire world for their praise to be added?

When was the last time I stayed off social media for an entire day and trusted that anything that I missed did not matter at all? After all, important news always found its way to me before Facebook and Twitter, didn't it?

I am losing myself and many precious moments in the time spent in front of my phone, mired in the harsh light streaming from my iPhone and missing the life that is happening beyond the screen in the moments of now. 

The photo that I posted on Instagram of a summer's day cannot replace the memory. My memory is complete with the feeling of the blades of green beneath my bare feet, of the smell of summer- hot sun and sunscreen, of my heart singing with the magic of the day. And, I cannot have that memory if I stand at the corner of the world and hide behind a camera screen.

The status that I posted on Facebook of my child's latest accomplishment will never light up my child's heart. The moment spent writing that status would likely be better spent hugging my child and telling them how much I love them, accomplishments or not.

Browsing trending Twitter hashtags will not help me to better understand the world. If I want to have a better understanding of the world and the people in it, I must be present.

Here's to a life of breaking out of our many prisons, Dear Ones. Life is too short to be trapped inside anything that does not serve you. A life trapped in the hypnotic trace of social media is little life at all. I demand of myself to be more present and less a slave of modern, shallow connections. I want deep connections, moments of wonder and a life lived to the fullest.

 Let us all live every moment of today. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tips from the Zen RN: May Cause Miracles

I am starting a new series of resources that have been really helpful to me in search of the zen life. This book is at the top of my list.

I have had a really negative inner-voice for all that I can remember of my life. A REALLY negative inner-voice. If I were to be truly frank, I would say that the voice in my head is a raging bitch. She tends to criticize me in every way that she can.


A few years ago, I happened upon some podcasts of Gabby Bernstein's and fell instantly into adoration for her candor, kindness and optimism.

In the spring of 2013, I found myself deep in a depression and anxiety filled darkness. When I saw this book on the shelf at my library, I snapped it up and began the work the very same day. My life was completely changed in that forty days- no exaggeration.

Gabby Bernstein

The daily work(taking only a few minutes per day, preferably in the morning) truly transformed my inner critic into a more loving voice(hey, it's not complete magic- the bitch still rears her head but now I know how to turn my fear around). It took my anxiety from a 10 to a 2. Those changes alone were true miracles for me and I have now purchased the book for a multitude of friends, who reported similar dramatic change.

This book is now in my toolbox of tricks to make changes when life overwhelms me and I have read it three times now. Highly recommended if the voice of fear has taken over your mind on a daily basis.


What books have you read that have changed your life? I would love to hear from you!

Friday, August 21, 2015

School Supplies and Gratitude

The end of another summer break has come to pass.


I love having my children home on my days off and long to live the summer over again. (Just one more time, Universe? Please?) Alas, it is not to be.

So, with the end of the summer comes the inevitable back-to-school shopping. Summer's easy livin' shorts, tanks and flip-flops are replaced with school clothes one size up from last year as the kids have grown by leaps and bounds under the summer sun. Feet are crammed into new tennis shoes as the children look longingly at their flip flops, dirty and ragged from a summer of adventures.

And, then. The school supply shopping. Ugh. You know my frustration, don't you Mamas(and Daddies)?

back to school Lists which seem to grow every year.

Searching high and low for the one item that the teacher was very specific about(brand, type, color) and going to several different stores before -eureka!- you find it!

Dragging your children along so that they can buy the items that suit them best, but finding yourself frustrated one minute into the several hour shopping trip because no one wants to be there(including you).

Feeling as though you are scrounging out every last penny to make sure that they have everything they need.


It's frustrating, isn't it?

This year I found myself nearly in tears as I shopped with my three kids. We were in Target(ironically, my happy place) and were trying to get the majority of the supplies for my three children in one trip. Each child had a list that was a full page long. The school supply aisles were full of children and parents, several of whom were screaming at said children. I was trying my best to ensure that my kids were getting the right supplies and that they were able to pick out colors and such, when they could. I wanted this to be a FUN experience, a little boost for them to get back into the swing of school. However, we were all just flustered. After an hour and a half and tears from two of my three children, we determined that we had everything that we needed less the items that we would need to make a special trip to another store for.

The cart filled until it was literally heaping and things kept falling of the top and toppling to the floor. I dreaded pushing the cart to checkout. Just looking at the amount of supplies in the cart made my checkbook tremble. But, we pushed our heaping cart(ever so carefully, while occasionally picking up the boxes of crayons that kept sliding to the floor) to the check out and, as expected, I was a little shell-shocked at the amount. The amount was about what my family would pay for about 3 weeks of groceries. I handed over my debit card with a grimace and could feel my kids watching my reaction as I did so. This had not been the fun back-to-school outing that I had hoped for.

We packed up our bags and walked out to the car. As I was loading the many bags into my trunk, I noticed the family in the car next to ours. There was a Mom and her son getting into a rusted, older model car. She held onto one, single bag that appeared to be full of school supplies and he proudly paraded to the car bearing his new backpack on his little back. I could hear a snippet of their conversation. She was saying that they would buy just a few supplies per week until they had them all and trying to reassure him that it was okay if they didn't have them all on the first day- everything would work out. They made their way into their car(which took several tries to start) and drove off with their small bag of school supplies in tow. We sat, humbled, in our car which was full to the brim with the supplies of my three kiddos.

It was good to be humbled.  I deserved to be humbled, for I have so much to be grateful for:

I am grateful for being able to buy my children everything they need and some of what they want.

I am grateful for my children's education at a great district.

I am grateful for my children's teachers and know that they would never put an unnecessary item on that list.

I am grateful to have the money to donate for families that aren't lucky enough to have all that they need.

My children and I sat in the parking lot and talked about that gratitude for several minutes. The three crumbled supply lists in my hand that I had been cursing moments before had become lists of grace, a reminder of our own abundance- an abundance of finance and a great abundance of love.

So, in the midst of the blog articles and social media statuses that are damning the purchase of many school supplies for their children, I choose to be grateful.

I am grateful for my children's school supply lists and the abundance that they represent for my children. Abundance of education. Abundance of items that will help foster their growth this year. Abundance of love from their family and their teachers and school staff.

I am thankful for the start of a new school year, even as a mourn the end of summer with my littles. I will do all that I can to hold onto the gratitude as the blessings of fall roll in.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Motherhood and the End of Summer Sadness

I must admit that I love the lazy days of summer. On non-work days, the kids and I stumble out of bed when our bodies are ready to be roused and spend the day together, at home or off on an adventure somewhere. The pace of our lives becomes so relaxed and, spending nearly every waking minute together, we become even more familiar with each other and my heart sings with joy to get to learn a bit more about each of my children.

Then there are the final weeks of summer. I admit to a rising feeling of panic at the end of summer vacation. The first day of school means not only that our summer days together are over for this year, but also that each of my children are now a year older. Each year my children seem a little less my babies and a little more property of the world at large.

For years I didn’t talk about my end of summer feelings. My social media fills each year at this time with parents screaming out how ready they are for the summer to be over and their children to be in school again. I long wondered if I were alone in my feelings of sadness, if I were the only mother that clung to the last days of summer as if they were my life raft in a turbulent sea.

I know that there will be many blessings in the upcoming school year. I look forward to those moments of watching my children learn and grow. There will be many moments of joy.   

And, when school begins, I will bask in the knowledge of how lucky I am to have healthy, growing children that are a year older. I know as a pediatric nurse, that not all parents get to have that joy.

I will bask in the knowledge that my children are in a great school district and will thrive and learn under the tutelage of their teachers.

I will bask in the knowledge that I am lucky enough to work outside the home only a few days per week and have enjoyed many summer days with my children.

I will bask in the knowledge that my children will thrive under fall’s routine and find joy in the extracurricular activities that they will each choose.

There will be so many joys to come in the fall season. I know this.

But today and tomorrow and every day until that first day of school, I will allow myself a moment of mourning for these summer days of this year that will never come again. Never again will I hold my children in my arms at these ages. Never again will this summer come to pass. There are many wonderful days ahead, of that I am sure. My sadness of the passing of this summer does not mean that I believe the days ahead to be anything but wonderful. Yet, if given the choice, I just might choose to live in these days forever. A forever after of a mother with her young children immersed in the bliss of summer days.  If I tuck enough memories deep into my heart, maybe I can have just a bit of that forever after.

Back to school blues