Geez. It's like the end of times out there

I thought I might give everyone a little something to read while waiting in those long gas lines around Dallas.  Geez.  It's like the end of times out there .

It's been three weeks since I've been on the blog.  And in those three weeks I've sent the boys back to school, had a nervous breakdown in the car driving to church and gotten robbed.  Uh Huh. 

Here are some pictures....

1. Kids 1 and 2 wouldn't let me take their back to school pictures this year.  Kid 2 is reeling from another bad haircut decision, and I feel his pain - being crowned the Queen of Bad Haircuts many years in a row.  Anyway, I think he looks as handsome as ever, but he promised a picture later when he adjusts his self image.  But here is Kid 3 and let me just say it before anyone else.  He is a giant.  I  know.  

2.  Since we are obviously not doing a home renovation any time soon, we decided it was at least time to buy a new couch and get rid of some of the beat up clutter that we've called ours for too many years.  We Walters have a way of making a couch feel at home, loved, but then eventually trapped in an endless cycle of co-depency for far too long.

I don't have the couch yet as it is being made special for us, and now I've had time to re-consider my almost white fabric selection.  Especially since the boys have been making pitcher after pitcher of red Kool-Aid lately.  The first person to spill dies. 

3.  Now that the couch is coming we decided that our yellow-ish paint color won't work so Fireman Dave decided to paint the den all by himself.  For about 2 weeks.  And for that time, we lived like this. 

And this...

And this...

Because during all our work on the house, the guys at the fire station who have been restoring this boat for the past 2 years, were told it had to find a new home.  And that would be my driveway. Hoping it will be the lake very soon. 

And finally, this.... 

This will be a space to either send the boys and their video games, or for me to run and hide.  Yes, that's Fireman Dave out there building things.  Because he can.  

So the chaos of the noise and the mess and the longest summer in the history of summers got to me and I finally broke on the way to church last Sunday morning.  And by broke, I mean hysteria close to the gas shortage kind we are seeing around here right now.  I was driving and telling Fireman Dave about how he acts like I don't do anything around the house when he's gone and how I actually do about 10 million things around the house while he is gone, and how the boys are the ones that don't do anything but eat, sleep and make messes and how they're really more like pets than people - and suddenly I started choking on the water I was trying to cool my steaming self off with and I ended up  spitting it all over the car and myself.  And then I cried.  Yes. 

Then he felt bad for leaving me in the black hole of home improvement for so long and probably decided that he should've married someone more resilient. 

4.  Then on Monday my wallet got stolen while I was at work by a lady who got into the facility somehow... then pretended to be interested in observing my class.  Then she went to Home Depot and bought something close to the value of a small car, and proceeded to go steal some other things. I got a call from a neighboring police department yesterday that they found my wallet while the gal was stealing someone else's purse.  She got away but tossed her loot bag when she ran. 

But then, and really I can't make this stuff up.. she came back to my work today, same time, same place, and when I saw her I called security.  But because they are so (not) awesome, they let her go so she could get back to doing her thing. Again, Geez.

But here's the thing....  I stick by these last weeks being hard.  They have been.  But it could be worse.  When I went to have my stolen library card canceled the other day, the librarian commented about how cheerful I am for someone whose wallet was just stolen.  And I told her... at least there's not an alligator under my bed.  Which sounds like something crazy I would've said on my meltdown morning... but whatever... 

A while back when I had another particularly stressful time going on... there was a news story about a man that woke up in a hotel room and found an alligator under his bed.  Seriously,...y'all, that's bad.  And that sounds like a decent benchmark to me to compare my smallish frustrations. 

These last weeks have been frustrating and dirty and long and exhausting.  But then I look around the world in all its torn and tired state, and see that my house is still standing.  And it is dry and somewhat comfortable and I'm safe.  And yes, I had to go get a new drivers license and the picture is at least 50% less cute than the one I had, but I'm still safe.  And I'm healthy and I have a job that I love even though the occasional wallet thief surprises me there.  And yes, this summer the kids made me re-think my original desire to become a mom, but only for a itty bitty part of a second.  

And David is working like a mad man to get all the house chores done and his work and his overtime at the hurricane shelters, and still trying to be husband and father. And I'm more than lucky to have that to count on.  

So,  be careful in the gas shortage hysteria out there y'all.  Or just go somewhere else.  That may be better.

There may even be notes and pictures to prove it

What would I tell my son about love?  I guess first I'd make it very clear that I've been trying to figure it out for decades - and for decades the perfect answer has run the other direction.  But I would tell him that in chasing that answer, I've found some pretty good examples of what I think love should look like.  What I think it should feel like, and mostly, what I know it shouldn't. 

This has nothing to do with anything other than me feeling the pressure of being a fire-wife.  Last week Fireman Dave worked 136 hours, the week before that was similar - I'm actually too tired to remember - and he's working a straight 72 right now.  Which means that I am, too.  What I'm trying to point out is that nothing exciting, eventful or scary happens when he is at home.  The general rule of fire-wifery is that everything should break, burn, or explode only while the fireman is on shift. 

Here's my story. 

I woke up last night to the sounds of anger and sadness and frustration - all rolled into one teenage boy who didn't know how to best handle whatever was happening on the phone with his girlfriend at the time.  Actually what I heard was hitting and yelling and I immediately thought the brothers were killing each other and should I or should I not risk life and limb to go check it out.  ......  I ended up going to check it out.  What I saw was a kid trying to navigate an adult-like relationship while only equipped with adolescent emotions. 

And this wasn't the first time.  It seems there's always something to apologize for, to ask forgiveness for, to make up for.  There always has to be contact, permission, check ins and notifications.  And there has to be constant togetherness - in person or on the phone.  Even if that means the phone just stays on all night while they sleep miles apart in their separate houses. 

Maybe its the girl's fault.  Maybe not.  As much as I would like to blame her for all the drama, we all know there aren't too many lone character soap operas on TV......  One person creates the drama, the other has to allow it - it really doesn't matter who did what or in what order once it becomes a regular part of the deal.  And its a regular part of the deal.

So as I tried to go back to sleep last night and ended up crying over more things than I started out with, I prayed simply for me to be the mom that my kids need right now.  But I'm not sure I really know what that is.  I think I may text this particular kid later, once we've let some time pass between the loud and the quiet.  Here's what I'm thinking it might say.

Love doesn't have to hurt.  In fact, love shouldn't hurt.  Most of the time, anyway - but on occasion it might.  But know that when we feel pain and claim it in the name of love,.... it should be for the sake of the one you love, not for the sake of trying to make a relationship something it was never supposed to be.  I think that when we feel sadness in love, for it to actually fit into the love category it has to be because we want so badly for what is good for the other person that maybe it hurts us to step away and let the right things happen.  I'm positive I've cried my fair share over some mixed up emotions in this general area.  Maybe I should say arena.  Because arenas are huge and areas can be small.  My heart aches and heart breaks fall into arena size.  There may even be notes and pictures to prove it. 

But when a relationship brings constant stress, worry and doubt; when it makes us feel afraid of another person for any reason - or even afraid of ourselves and what we become when we're too close to see what's really happening - that's not love.  It's something - and I know you feel it is more real than anything else you can think of at the time. But its not love. 

When you're in constant fear of losing someone over just about anything, when you're in such doubt over the strength of your relationship that you have to remind each other through words and time and desperate pleas and promises, that's not love. It's something - and I know you feel it is more real than anything else you can think of at the time. But its not love.

So here is a pretty good test to see if what you feel is really sent as a gift to you.  Is it a love that God planned for you?  Or is it something else?  Insert your girlfriend's name in these statements .... does it sound true?

......        is patient

.....        is kind

.....        does not envy

.....        does not boast

.....        is not proud

 .....       does not dishonor others

.....        is not self-seeking

.....        is not easily angered

.....        keeps no record of wrongs

.....        does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

.....        always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres

I also want you to know that I'm not fighting against you in this relationship, and even though you can't believe it now - I'm fighting for you in this relationship.  I want you to have and experience these young relationships, because they are teaching you how to navigate the bigger ones yet to come.  But I want you to experience them in an age appropriate way.  Which to you right now sounds like the words, blah, blah, blah,... my mom is mean and crazy. 

But I think more than anything, your dad and I want you to work out whatever is going on to the best of your ability.  And when your ability runs out, we're here to listen.  We can't fix this, but we can help you try to figure out how. 

Y'all, I know this isn't my best work in this post.  But its accurate and truthful and it serves as a good reminder for me of all that I went through in my younger years trying to figure out the age old questions of love.  And maybe that's why its so hard to see my own kids try to learn those same difficult lessons.  If only I could tell them all my mistakes, sometimes I think.  But they're not at the age of understanding.  They're just reaching the age of trying things out for themselves.  Me too, said a younger Kristi.  If I could just tell them to look over here or over there or take a few steps back or away to see what I see now..... but I know they can't.  

So last night I prayed, as I always do.  And I asked a friend that I knew has the the power of prayer in her to pray in that moment over the events of the night.  Because I wasn't sure how I was going to.  And I am asking you to pray for this, too, wherever you are.  How ever often, how ever long or short.  I ask that you pray for my son that his eyes be opened to possibility and promise that he can't even begin to imagine.  And I ask you to pray for the young lady involved, prayers of the same. 

And I ask that since you're already there and in it... go ahead and ask God to work in the lives of young people as they are trying their best to grow up in such a different kind of time.

It takes a village, people. No, not THE Village People.

I needed to show y'all this see if you may have gotten an invitation too...maybe we can go together.

It seems I have been invited to a free meal and a unique opportunity to pre-plan my own funeral.  They even sent two actual meal tickets to let me know that this is indeed a REAL deal.  All I can say is, For the love of God, a girl gets a couple of cosmetic refreshes at the dermatologist and she's suddenly old enough to be on the mailing list of the local funeral home.

I'll leave you to ponder that one.

Moving on....

I believe it was one of my most recent requests of the boys....  

Please do not tape gym shorts to the ceiling anymore because its tearing up the plaster

They must not have heard me. 

And I believe I told Kid 1 to be home at 9:30 last night - and that didn't happen either.

So I've decided that my first book should be titled,...  

Ineffective Parenting Techniques from a mom who has tried them all.  
How to get your kids to do the exact opposite of what you ask of them every time.  

I had a couple of mothering conversations today.  It started out with me telling the world how Kid 2 used his own hard earned job money to buy a refurbished iPhone off eBay - but then he jumped in the pool with it in his pocket and quickly learned a very expensive lesson.  He is definitely in the phase of life known as scatterbrained adolescence.  And Kid 3 is on a giant growth spurt and turning into an actual giant, and honestly, I think the brain is still trying to catch up - on sleep anyway.   

But one topic led to another and I got lots of feedback from women who are mothers and some who are not.  I have to say that sometimes I think that the non-mothers and not yet mothers actually have such a fresh perspective on it all because they've spent their lives watching the rest of us get it all wrong.  And there are plenty of times that I really need those fresh eyes to take over where mine can no longer see.  It takes a village, people.  Not THE Village People, but just a village of people who care enough to share and teach and represent the goodness of the what we all need a healthy dose of. 

I listened to a young mom in the locker room the other day - getting her toddler daughter ready for swim lessons.  And all across the land all any of us could hear were the unhappy cries and pleadings of another child somewhere in there who obviously was 100% sure he didn't want to get in the pool.  But the mom that I was listening to talked to her little girl and said, I sure hope that baby feels better soon.  And the little girl repeated mom's exact words, I sure hope that baby feels better soon. First lessons in compassion and understanding,  and what a sweet lesson it was.  For me, too.  

I like to think I taught all the important things to the boys.  Lately I'm not sure.  I guess I may never be.    This week my thoughts go mainly to Kid 1 and Princess C again - not the whole, I can't manage to make it home by curfew thing.  He has his consequence for that.... but more about the whole, I can't see past the day I'm living now to invest in my future or anything beyond my teen love state of mind.  You have to read the aforementioned statement with a sigh of exhausted desperation in your voice, and maybe some emotional angst.  Because y'all, let me tell you... I see plenty of emotional angst.

People always told me to be thankful I had boys and not girls.  Number one, it makes weddings cheaper and that can't be a bad thing.  But I think they were mostly referring to the general emotional instability stability of the species known as the teen girl.  But I think my second book should be an in- depth study on the lack of emotional anything that teen boys feel unless it involves being bossed around by a teenage girl.

There is so much I want to say - yet so much I need not to say.  Remembering that I'm not the one living the choices, I'm just the one watching it from a very big screen, high def, mom TV - called my eyes.  And yes, I get a little emotional when I hear a kid unable to complete his assigned potential college research that I asked him to do - but completely able to speak the words pizza and marriage in the same sentence.  Such a mixed bag of messages going on in that handsome head.  And did I mention that Kid 1 has the world's best hair?  Gorgeous, full, thick, and wavy, lightened to a beautiful shade of blonde from the life-guarding job this summer.  Maybe I can just put this into the category of things blondes think and do.  I've kept a running list my whole life.

A while back, Kid 2 asked me what it feels like to see my babies all grown up into the super sizes they are now.  And I believe my answer was something to the effect of.... the young men I see now are different people than the Kids 1, 2 and 3 that I knew back then as infants, toddlers and other forms of little bitties.  And I loved each of you a million special ways in each stage, but at each stage I always felt like I was loving an all new kid.  Maybe only moms can understand that concept.  Its like there's a photo album of each stage, each with its own look and feel and memories, and thinking back to those times can bring me back to the kids that I knew then.  But then I close the book and return to living loving life with the people I love now.  They're just bigger and different -  and in some ways, maybe even better.  Though that estimation might depend on the day you ask me.

I think, though, that we as moms get so tied into the people that our kids are,  that in a way, we can't help but take on responsibility for all that they do and become - as well as all that they don't.  And that can be good or bad, once again, depending on the day.    

post script...  So... the neighbors next door put up a giant fence.

And I do not exaggerate the qualities of this fence in any way.  Let's just say that if the giant fence was my date to the prom and tried to make small talk with me during the slow dances, it would need a microphone to reach my ears down below.  If the giant fence was a fast food meal, it would be the supersize triple meat burger with bacon and cheese with a side of fries and a coke.  You can read more about THAT craziness HERE...

post post script  - those cosmetic updates?  No surgery was or has ever been performed -  just in case your mind traveled that road and tried to decide which parts of me are genuinely mine or possibly purchased.  Y'all, I admit that I've gone down a dark path a time or two of doubting myself enough to consider drastic measures, but then I remember that I'm scared.  So what you see is all me, though maybe just a little more buffed and scrubbed than before my appointment.  Just trying to be the best looking gal in the room at my funeral planning session. 
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