Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Monday, July 30, 2018

Slow down, and nobody gets hurt with a fork

Some days I go too fast. The summertime is no exception. I try to rush and fill their days with ‘summer fun’ or check activities off our to-do list. “Hurry, we must have fun, only a couple weeks left!” my brain screams.

I rush around keeping things in order — picking up a million toys or nerf bullets, scooping poop from the yard, folding endless laundry. That’s a switch many mothers just can’t turn off. Things must be in order—there is no other way.

We rush out the door to make it anywhere. After we leave anywhere, it’s usually a rush to get home for dinner and bath and a rush to get them to bed so I can sit down for the first time that day. It’s always a race to the sweet freedom that bedtime brings each night.

Sometimes my rushing around causes some guilt at the end of the day. Did I hug them enough? Did I tell them ‘I love you’? Did I really listen to their knock-knock jokes or just drown them out with the vacuum?

Sometimes the rushing around causes a nagging sense of being unfulfilled, even though everything technically got done that day. I hate the feeling that I rushed around all damn day and did a million things but not one of them made my heart happy. I don’t remember laughing at anything with them most days.

And then sometimes all my rushing around can cause me some pain. Not emotional pain— I’m talking about real, physical pain. Like ‘being-impaled-by-a-fork’ kind of pain.

That kind of pain came tonight when I was again rushing, racing to do the dishes so I could finish the laundry to get the beds made up to get the kids in those beds. My hands were not running as fast as my brain was, so when my left hand was putting away a stack of forks in a drawer, and my right hand decided it was time to slam the drawer shut, that was when one dinner fork sticking up got caught on my middle finger (the same middle finger that is put to good use sometimes while I’m rushing in interstate traffic) and pierced through the bottom half of my fingertip then came out the other end of my fingertip.

My rushing around mentality failed me tonight. It’s not working anymore. Being everywhere and anywhere at nonstop speed just can’t be maintained.

While I’m ok and my finger is ok (ask me how fast impaled forks can be ripped from human flesh)— I learned a lesson here. F-ing slow down. Your life isn’t a race. My kids won’t remember if I left a dirty pot in the sink, or that I didn’t fold the towels, but they’ll remember if mom listened to their stupid jokes. They will remember my laugh. They’ll remember that I kissed them goodnight.

So just slow down.

Because being impaled by a dinner fork is seriously not fun. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I played fortnite with my son, maybe you can too

I lost my son for a bit. 

He doesn't talk much. I know 11-year-olds don't talk all that much anyway but I'm surprised if he says more than a few sentences out loud each day. It’s been eight months since his dad went to heaven. But before he left, he somehow handed down to his son his introverted, quiet demeanor that both intrigued and irked me for the past 20 years. I guess his little sisters do more than enough talking for him these days, but I really don't see or hear from him outside a grumble when I tell him to put his laundry away. This boy does his summer homework, goes to basketball practice and occasionally rides bikes with his buddies, but as every mom of a boy this age can attest, our sons are most likely holed up in the basement playing Fortnite. And it's hard as hell to get him out of there when he's lost in that game.

So I recalled that old saying the annoying one my mom burned into my brain as a child "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

So I joined him. I asked my son if I could play Fortnite with him. You would have thought I just told him he could pack up and go live at Dave & Busters forever and eat Twizzlers for every meal. I never knew such excitement still existed in a boy whose life has been a whole lot of grim lately.  

I hadn’t touched a video game since I played Nintendo Super Mario Brothers in my next door neighbor‘s basement in 1989so this was going to be quite comical, I thought. My son definitely agreed.

For the next hour, I jumped out of a flying bus thing (or what looked like a bus) onto several different terrainsbecause, of course, I got killed many times right off the bat. I ran through bushes and alongside mountains. My son showed me how to bust through cabin doors and showed me how to get what was inside the treasure chests. He told me all about the tricks in each world Lucky Landing, Anarchy Acres, Tilted and he tried to give me the best way to stay alive and ultimately win. I screamed at a scary guy dressed in a black suit that I was told, "never gets killed, mom."

I was completely focused on staying inside the 'circle' thing before the 'storm eye 'thing caught me. I was dizzy trying to get turned around because I didn't know which buttons controlled what. I never knew how to acquire any guns or new ammo and I would somehow get stuck in a corner just whacking a wall. My son found my skills amusing every time I went the wrong way and he laughed his hardest when a gamer called Speckled Sauce killed me from behind. "Well, that wasn't very nice of him," I said, enjoying my son's laughter.

I can see how these boys are tuning their moms out, as we yell from upstairs to turn it off. Because I wouldn't have noticed if an intruder was burglarizing my house that night and stealing away with everything but my kitchen sink. I was taking in a moment. A moment of happiness with a boy I'm so in love with but I can't tell him that, because it would shut him down. He laughed with his momma and joked how terrible I was with the controller. He'd grab the controller and help me stay alive. He talked more in a span of 58 minutes than he has in his entire life it seemed. He was happy (and I was happy because he told me I came in 11th place out of about 50 people, so I'm definitely winning at the Fortnite thing).

I got caught up in a moment of happiness with a boy who is and forever will be that beautiful baby boy that his daddy and I brought into this world to love and protect at all cost. Sometimes it means you jump out of a bus thingy. Sometimes you run through bushes or alongside a mountain. And you run into walls. Sometimes you face scary guys, too. Sometimes you have help, but other times you are left to it on your own.

Moms know we will go to any lengths, to any world, to find our lost child. To find and give happiness to our children. That's the win.

This post was published July 19, 2018 here at Scarymommy.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The words that got me through another day

I’m on vacation alone with four kids in Florida for the next two weeks. 
I thought getting away would be fun. I thought I could take my mind off missing him, looking for him, wanting him back here with us. Maybe it would help my heart, help my anxiety and guilt —about being seven months out and life around me is going on like normal... the people go on. They post normal things, they celebrate their birthdays and go on date nights with their husbands and take their kids happily on boating trips and to summer festivals together and all that fun crap. But all I feel is anger, envy, horrible guilt and regret and heartbreak that I’m the one left here and he’s not. 
I have a fear so profound of being alone (long story short I’ve never really been alone— I always had a boyfriend and then I got married) that it physically makes my heart hurt. Maybe coming to the beach watching all these couples walk hand in hand was a stupid idea after all.
While watching the sun set on the Gulf tonight, I witnessed a couple get engaged —their family and friends cheering with joy and excitement. So much love and promise for the future before me but all I felt was sick seeing them. I felt annoyed and bitter and sad. I wanted to tell them it’s all fun and games and love and big diamond rings until you’re sitting in front of that once strong, virile man who now weighs less than you clinging to every breath as he remains alive only from the shit in a feeding tube and a vial of blue liquid morphine.
Will they love and forgive each other when they still have time to do it? Will they squander years fighting the same fights and spend countless nights going to bed angry at each other? Will they realize the things that are truly important here in this life before it’s too late? 
I’m tired of being the only one here. Tired of hanging on by a thread every day. Tired of yelling at the kids for misbehaving, not listening or bickering over everything when we have everything we ever could need (thanks to him). I’m tired of telling them how much I miss their daddy.
I’m tired of these shitty widow feelings and lack of love, empathy or feeling for anyone anymore. Tired of not seeing beauty in anything anymore.
I let the kids stay out late tonight, collecting shells in the water as the sun set. Still mad that he can’t be here with us like all these other people around... my kids pointed out the pinks, oranges, blues and purple in the amazing sky over the sea. 
I mumbled through tears to my 6-year-old, “I wonder if your daddy can see this sunset too.”
She said, “Mommy... maybe he IS the sunset.”
And just like that, I saw the beauty in the things tonight. One more day that I made it through.

This post was published July 14, 2018, here at Today Parents. 
This post was published July 27, 2018 here at The Today Show Facebook page. 
This post was published July 27, 2018 here at the Kathy Lee and Hoda Facebook page. 
This post was published June 17, 2019 here at Kidspot, Australia. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Making a house a home

After a few months, the kids and I are finally settled into our new house. We bought a big white house with a pool. It’s a house that daddy would have loved, I tell them. 

Now we’re doing our best to make it a home.

We picked out new paint colors. Payton picked purple to match her princess canopy bed drape. The twins chose a green so lime you'll ask for a Corona when you walk in their room. Brayden chose grey, which I liked so much I carried it through to much of the first floor and my bedroom too. 

I remember when I tried to get him to paint his office at work a nice grey and accent it with light couches. He said no. It was my Fifty Shades phase I suppose. I realize now you can't turn a country boy into Christian Grey. Maybe he'd laugh at all this grey, I think.

The kids love the pool. We invite friends to swim with us and I'm pretty sure the neighbors are tired of hearing "cannonball!" every three seconds. One of the twins said she thinks daddy would have liked to swim with her and show her the butterfly stroke. I tell her he absolutely would have loved that. 

That was his best stroke —and it was fascinating to watch. The girls started swim team last month and after a couple false starts, some crying about the backstroke and a first place blue ribbon—I think he'd be proud of how amazing they are doing carrying in his (footsteps) wake.

I tried to grill burgers a couple times this summer. I burn the shit out of them every time. After they keep accidentally going up in flames and I douse them with a little beer, it looks like we are eating charcoal briquettes. The kids remind me, "Daddy's burgers were way better."

They are right. My husband used to make the best burgers. He added just the right amount of Worchester sauce and salt and pepper and he sliced the tomato perfectly symmetrical to go between the buns. He always remembered to put the tater tots in the oven, too. He freaking loved tater tots.

I try to mow the lawn like a normal person. By ‘normal,’ I mean as normal as possible while mowing in a bathing suit and flip flops uphill in 99-degree heat. There are zigzags and lane changes and circles around trees, you'd think I was running the mower around with a swarm of bees chasing after me. 

I am remembering the beautiful straight lines he left in the grass, two houses ago, back when I took for granted that the yard was always edged. 
I tried dressing up the yard by decorating the beds with special rocks his co-workers painted in his honor after his funeral. I wonder if he can see me pulling weeds and scheming to chainsaw down a couple trees out back. (I'm waiting for his sign to tell me 'NO' on that one.)

Juno the German shepherd has decided she doesn't care for the plush dog bed we had hoped she'd sleep on here. When she isn't guarding the foyer, she takes her place as the warm body next to me in bed. She is who hears me say "I miss you Matthew" every night.
I remember back when he and I wouldn't allow dogs upstairs, on couches or on beds. We set those rules presumably with hopes for a cleaner house, an easier time with our babies sleeping and peace at our own bedtime. I think he'd probably agree with me this time around, that sometimes you just need an 80-pound stuffed animal cozying up to you at night. She helps make this a home too. 

There is still some yelling around here. There are still some tears. But there is also laughter and goofy smiles and playing with friends and living loud going on. 

That's how you make a house a home.