Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hurricanes, Whirlwinds, and Tailspins

Hurricanes like tailspins and whirlwinds spin and spin and spin until eventually they just....stop.  As Hurricane Matthew continued its northbound spin leaving destruction and devastation in its wake, I was left to count my blessing and to consider how tailspins and whirlwinds are much like hurricanes of emotional devastation and destruction.  They spin and spin until they stop.

As we were preparing to move almost nine months ago it was a whirlwind of activity.  We had been in our house almost sixteen years.  We knew most in our neighborhood and had many connections in our community.  It took nine months to sell the house but once we did it all happened very fast.  Packing, planning, preparing, and compartmentalizing every detail both physically and emotionally.  An overwhelming whirlwind of activity with not much time to really process.  Until we were finally moved and everything just ...stopped.  Sure we unpacked after living a week in an empty house because we ran into holidays with the moving company but for the most part the spinning just ceased.  Just the five of us in an unfamiliar area with no family, and four busy friends, and none of the comforts of home.  We arrived to an empty house and not a home.

Looking back I think I truly believed it would be this grande adventure.  That it would all be so much fun exploring and learning a new area and all it had to offer and what's more it would be warm.  How much better could it be?  I believed that there was nothing that the five of us couldn't do.  That all we needed was each other. We would grow closer as a family.  I thought all of those things and more.  I thought we would have no trouble finding friends and integrating ourselves because, why wouldn't we?  It's the south.  Southern hospitality rules require people to just bring you into the fold and love you and offer you tea and biscuits or something, don't they?  I thought many things and I thought many things wrong.  We were an island unto ourselves...for weeks that turned to months.  In retrospect you can think of all the ifs and what ifs and buts but time doesn't stop and it doesn't rewind. It doesn't care about your timetable and what and how you think things should be and how things were supposed to go.  The reality is this:  Being the ones that left can be harder than being left behind.

Do not misunderstand me.  I know being left behind.  I know it to the core of my being.  But being the one that left is hard when you realize that perhaps you didn't have as much of an impact as you thought.  Maybe they don't actually miss you now that you are gone when you were sure that the ones you left loved you as you did them.  It is hurtful. It is raw and it is real.  Maybe we had misconceptions about staying in contact with people.  We thought people would call.  We thought we would be overrun with visitors.  We just thought..it would be different.

I love my new home nine months in.  I love my messy disorganized house.  I love that it is warm in October and my pool is still open.  I love that I have found some of the kindest people I have ever met.  I love that since coming here I have become braver than I may have otherwise.  Nine months in and I can find my way around without fear of the traffic that I was once overwhelmed by.  There is never a shortage of things to go see and do but I'm just as content to stay at home.  I'm also not afraid to just walk up and talk to random strangers...ok maybe I wasn't all that afraid of that one before. We have had some grande adventures and for the first few weeks or so we were top notch in the family togetherness realm until our island unto ourselves started feeling too small.

The thing is that while it is hard to make friends as an adult it can be equally as hard as a kid.  My son is the funniest, kindest, most entertaining boy I have ever met.  He's also very calm and laid back.  Perhaps being the youngest in the family he learned early to go with the flow.  Maybe it is a trait that he inherited from his father.  My husband is like that.  His very nature is calming.  I wish I could be like that.  He has made some friends at school but he doesn't have his "crew," his "cast of characters" if you will.  We come from a place where we are used to six boys running in and out of the house and that doesn't happen here.  He misses that but acknowledges now that there are things that he does like about being here.

For the others in my family it hasn't been so easy.  It has seemed that we have been in a tailspin at times.  Not something that we haven't encountered before as it seems with life you will have your share of whirlwinds and tailspins.  It also seems that tailspins like to follow whirlwinds.  Reminders of what we had and what we no longer have tend to do that to you.

I'm not sure how men make friends really.  As a woman I made a lot of friends through my kids at school functions.  Not something that I have been able to do here as my kids are a bit old now for class parties and such.  Men are a different species really in my mind.  My husband had the same friends as he had when growing up with a few others mixed in and a few of those were made through the kids.  What I do know is that men, like women, need people.  They need other guys to unwind with.  To have guy talk and play cards and watch sporting events and whatever else it is that they do.  Finding your people when you word ridiculous hours and even when you are not scheduled to keep things running is hard to do.  It takes its toll.  One I hadn't anticipated paying.

I also didn't count on it being hard for my young adult children to find their people.  In a generation full of people with their heads down looking at screens and no idea how to connect on a human level and I didn't think it would be difficult.  Perhaps as a mother I am blinded by my love for my children and thought that people would flock to befriend them.  The lack of interaction with peers has taken its toll.  Another toll I hadn't counted on paying so highly for.

In life it seems when dreams come true they come at a price and you have to decide if it is worth the price.  Whirlwinds seem to always be followed by tailspins.  We had our whirlwind and we have slowly been entering a tailspin.  It starts slow and picks up steam as time progresses.  It doesn't care that you didn't sign up for the hard.  But getting through the hard I believe is what makes us stronger and makes it all worth it.

I know there will be some who will read this and get it.  They've been there.  Maybe they are still there.  There will be some that will read this and think "I knew it.  I told you so!"  Perhaps they don't know what I know.  Perhaps they never will or maybe they just don't know me....or my family.  Not like I do.  My own family may not even know what I know.  Maybe they have forgotten.  Because what I know is that after every storm comes a rainbow.  I have endured many storms and seen the other side knowing that I didn't get there alone.  I can't get there alone.  I'm broken.  But I've tied a knot in my rope and I'm hanging on tight during this particular storm in this paradise.  I haven't lost all hope.  Those who will question have forgotten that God has said, He knows the plans he has for us.  He didn't bring us down here to fail or fall in despair.  I also know that His plans are better than my own.  The plans I had....  well it hasn't gone exactly like I had planned.  But what has?  In the history of all the plans I have ever made well I don't think anything has gone the way I wanted or planned.

In the molding and shaping of the bundle of brokenness that is me, what can I learn if things always go the way I want them to?  How do I learn to trust?  How do I learn that I can't fix it.  I can't fix anything.  I have control issues.  Odd from an only child, I know.  I have trust issues...OK we can establish here and now that I have many issues.  I get it.  I am not unaware.  I'm a work in progress.  I tend to forget that too.  I want to fix every problem that everyone has here and I can't.  It is breaking me.  I pray for God to fix it.  I fall asleep in exhaustion from running "the complaint department" and not having the answers and not being able to fix it.  I feel like a failure because I can't do it.  Who am I?  I'm the mom.  It's my job to fix it.  If it isn't my job then what is?  I must have some purpose. Am I just supposed to sit and watch as everyone falls apart around me?  It occurs to me that that is exactly what I'm supposed to do because it isn't really MY job.  Not really.  It might just be that just as I have to be broken in order to learn to trust God, my family may also need to learn a lesson as well and instead of trying to fix it I should take a step back and watch God work.  Quite the revelation to have on such little sleep today.

I tossed and turned all night last night.  Perhaps knowing that you will be more forgiving of this post with so little humor and probably many errors that I won't find when rereading.  I once had an editor to keep me in check.  I had dream after dream that didn't make sense to me and at the end of it all I'm wrung out and this is what was left.  I have found my eternal summer paradise but seasons of life still occur.  This particular season feels like a tailspin but like hurricanes they eventually subside and cease their spinning.  My God is stronger than this tailspin and He has great plans at the end of this.  I mean GREAT plans so you should all just get ready for it. We are a pretty scrappy bunch and God is on our side so....we might get knocked down but we will always get back up and keep moving forward.  Hurricanes, whirlwinds, or tailspins....we are getting back up and when we do....
Watch out because I still believe there isn't anything the five of us can't do, I just believe we don't and we won't and we can't do it alone.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A New Job, A New Experience, and More Movie References

This week I received a job offer.  It is interesting the way of the world and how things are done now as opposed to how things were done before.  It is also interesting that I am old enough and make it sound as though I have so much experience in how things were done when in all actuality I have very little experience.  I have interviewed and received jobs before but I have never gotten an offer for a job via email.  Is this what it is like when girls get asked out on dates via text?  Do people really not do things in person anymore?

Anyway....I received my job offer via email and had to accept it or deny it (circle yes if you like me and no if you don't) and then receive further instructions via email as to my next steps.  As I type this it makes it sound like it involves much more intrigue than it actually does.  It sounds like a mystery or perhaps that is only how my mind works?  My next step was to approve a background check then go get a drug test.

I have been a mother for close to twenty one years.  While I have had just a few part time jobs in that time frame I mostly worked for and with people I knew and while I did have to have a background check to work at the schools I do not recall having a drug test.  Point being...I was a newby to the drug test and had no idea how it worked.  I did know I was going to have to pee in a cup but I didn't really understand the gravity of the situation.  I have never been exposed to drugs, I hate the taste of alcohol and even my coffee is decaf.  I showed up with my work out clothes on so I could go to the gym right after.  I had an arm band with my ID and gym membership card and a belt that can only hold my phone around my waist plus my shorts didn't have pockets.

I checked in and when I was called she asked me if I had to go.  I said, "Well... I have to go in the way that I'm old and I usually have to go but I don't have to go like gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now."  (I do believe it is possible at this point she tried to restrain herself from rolling her eyes) She says, "Well you have to be able to give me this much." and indicates how much with her fingers.  I say, "How big is the container?"  and again she indicates with her fingers and says, "If you can't give a full sample you have to wait around for forty five minutes then try again."  OK now this is when I started to panic.  How does one know for sure how much they are going to produce at any one time?  I remember giving samples when pregnant.  I remember giving samples when I had bladder infections.  I do not remember ever having a quota to fill regarding giving samples.  I am then asked if I want to try or if I want to drink some more water.  Lets be real here for a minute, ok?  I am forty four years old and I have birthed three children via c-section.  Everything I have has fallen or shifted or been moved around and put back in some way from where it once was.  In addition to that I drink a full gallon of water a day so I usually have to go to the bathroom.  I have to go to the bathroom regularly.  Like to the point I think of The Santa Claus movie with Tim Allen and he says, "I shave in the morning and in the afternoon I look like this!"  I go before I leave the house and by the time I drop my son off at school and get to the gym I have to go again.  My ability to go is not in question here.  My ability to produce a sufficient amount that my husband who is waiting to go to the gym with me and would really rather this not take all day is now in question.  The pressure was real.  I chose to drink a bit more water just to be sure.

I chugged water for maybe ten minutes and people started filing into the facility so I figured I had better get a move on and get this over with.  I told her I was ready and was told to go wait in a room and she would be there in a minute.  Had I known the room would be the temperature of a meat locker I could have saved us the trouble of me downing as much water as I could for ten minutes.  I waited....and waited.  Finally she comes in and walks me into a room, tells me to empty my pockets and lock up all of my belongings and bring her the key.  OK???  Is she afraid I will spend time playing 7 Little Words on my phone while I potty?  I cannot very well do that and hold the cup can I?  But whatever... I did as told and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm new and I don't know how all this works."  She says, "You've never had a drug test?"  I said, "Uh no, I've been a bit busy being a mom."  She says, "Well I guess there are people who have never had one."  She gets my information, I sign my life away and am then released to give my sample.  I am proud to say I was able to give my full sample.  I also wasn't allowed to flush or turn on the water to wash my hands until I gave her the sample.  So gross!

I am naive of the ways of the world I suppose.  When I told my husband about it and asked him where on earth on my person would I have been able to bring the pee of another he said, "You'd be surprised.  People do crazy things."  I imagine he has heard his share of stories. Although now that I think of it.  People do do crazy things.  My daughter while working at a fast food restaurant had a guy take a cup for ketchup and pee in it and bring it to the counter and hand it to her and tell her it was his sample for a drug test.  She was so grossed out I think she is only now getting over it.  She washed her hands and sterilized them nonstop for weeks.

I have been very lucky in this life to have worked when I was able and wanted to with some great people and I have been very lucky and blessed to have been able to stay home and raise my family.  I recognize that not everyone is able to do so when they want to.  This hiring process has been different from anything I have ever experienced.  It has made for some good stories though.  I'm excited and nervous and a little bit scared of this new adventure.  I'm hoping to meet some great new people and make some new friends.  My last job was the best job in the world. I'm hoping this next one will at least be in the ball park.  If not the job itself but in the relationships I will have the ability to build while working with new people.  I'm a person who enjoys being around people.  I also enjoy being of help to people.  I am an acquired taste though.  Not everyone speaks fluent sarcasm and not everyone speaks in movie quotes.  We'll see how it goes.  For now I am waiting for my next email for further instruction...I think.  I does sound mysterious to say it that way...very True Lies.  I wonder what adventure I will have next?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Interview

For the last week or so I have been having an interview....every night.  Perhaps that sounds odd and to be honest it started out that way.  It seems odd to go to bed and every night when you lay down and close your eyes the interview begins.  I suppose I should say that I did have an actual job interview this week so the thought of that coming and then the disappointment of being so stunned at my surroundings during the interview and not being able to think clearly enough to say all I wanted to say has added to my subconscious's way of dealing with that disappointment.  As the nightly interviews began before that I think it has more to do with my perception of my worth.

To say that I have issues would be an understatement.  I teeter between complete disdain and Meghan Trainer's Me Too when thinking of myself.  Mostly I hover closer to the prior than the latter.  My perception of success has been askew.  It has not always been this way...or maybe it has.  Most recently I have been looking for a job.  I've been looking on job finding websites and when I find something that sounds like fun I click to get the details.  As it turns out I do not meet the qualifications for most of the jobs that I find interesting.  Computers will always be my downfall.

When I went for an actual interview this week I didn't get to say all the things I had thought I'd say.  Mostly because I was uncomfortable with my surroundings.  I am not accustomed to being alone in a room with men I do not know.  Honestly, to be fair, I'm not used to being alone in a room with any man aside from my husband.  In general, I'm uncomfortable with men, a trait I'm trying to overcome.  The manner in which I grew up has a lot to do with that.  The programming I received during my formative years has made me leery and distrustful of the male species.  My husband and other male family members such as my son, my father in law, and my late grandfather being the exception.  What I learned from my father is that men leave and I am disposable.  What I learned from my mother's ex-husband was that I was ugly, worthless, and I would never amount to anything.  All things that I know are not true but also things that like to creep in when I'm not paying attention.

So every night I have been interviewing when my eyes close.  I cannot see the interviewer.  I can only hear a voice.  The interview that I imagine starts out the same way every time.  They ask me about my experience.  Much like my actual interview when I explained that I had worked with children in a school and prior to that I had spent eleven years as a stay at home mom raising my children, I get the look.  Perhaps you have seen the look before yourself.  The look that says "Oh so you have not been working.  As if raising three children and taking care of a household is not work.  As if it is just...nothing."  What I am learning during these interviews however, is that it is not nothing.  I may have spent a great majority of my adulthood raising my family and not working outside the home but it has been one of the hardest job that I can imagine one having.

My life experiences have been plenty.  I know what it is to have a child and have no idea what I'm doing.  I know what it is to have two under two and in diapers.  I know what it is to have those same two go through puberty and get introduced to "Aunt Flo" way to early in their young lives and if that doesn't strike fear and make one learn to deal with adversity I don't know what does.  I know what it is to have the surprise baby when you thought you were done and going back to the diaper stage again.  I know what it is to watch a loved one's health decline and stand beside them during their diagnosis.  I know what it is to hold that person's hand and feel the life leave them.  I know what it is to suffer loss.  I know what it is to fall.  I know what it is to fight and claw your way back and then fall again because the promise of a fourth child falls away because that child was so special God needed to keep him for himself.  I know what it is fight my way back again and again.  I know what it is to fail.  I know what it is uproot and start over away from everything and everyone I ever knew and I know the loneliness that can bring to not only yourself but those around you.  I know how to keep a schedule for five people and be responsible for their well-being.  I know a wealth of things.  Things that aren't listed in job descriptions.  Things that make me feel weak to the point of crippling and things that make me strong too.  Things I would like to explain when I get "the look" especially from a man who looks at me like growing a human and giving birth to one is easy even though he cannot do it.

I've had a hard time seeing it.  I have felt like I was failing at the job I've had for nearly twenty one years and even if I'm not and even if I know many things I am still unqualified to work outside of my home because I don't meet the requirements they are looking for.  Many people will say that anyone can have a family.  Teenagers have babies.  Crack addicts have babies.  Having babies for some is easy.  I know many who would give anything for the privilege because they are unable.  They would make wonderful mothers and I pray one day that they will one day become mothers.  It is something that when growing up I never aspired to be.  It wasn't in my plan but it was in God's plan and I am blessed beyond measure to be given the opportunity to be their mother.  During my interview last night I was reminded of a few things.  All of my days were written before I ever came to be.  Nothing I have experienced or am experiencing is a surprise to God.  Also, of all the people that He could have chosen to be the mother to these three children He chose me.  A fact that I should not take lightly.  Why He would choose me for anything I have no idea but what that means is that He thought I was the best one for the job.  He CHOSE me.  I saw saying this week that said " I don't have ducks, I don't even have rows, I have squirrels and they are at a rave."  I'm not sure where it came from originally another author I follow shared it, then I shared it because it was basically describing me.

Every night I interview and every night I learn a little more about who I am and my worth.  But I also am learning that when I interview I already know what I can bring to the table.  What I need to find out is what my potential employer brings.  I want to know what they stand for.  I want to know how they value their employees.  I want to know if they value teamwork.  I want to know if they are open to new ideas.  I want to know if they know who they work for because I already know who I'm working for and it isn't a stuffy CEO in a suit somewhere that has no idea what it is to do the jobs that he oversees.  I work for the CEO of the entire world.  Ultimately He is who I answer to and who I work for so when I come into a job situation I am going to work as though I am working to please Him.  I am going to treat people how I would want to be treated. I am going to treat people as though they are valuable because they are whether they are co-workers or customers or patients or whoever.  God made them and they have value and I want to work for a company that knows that.  I want to work for a company that is more interested in doing the right thing than the bottom line.  I want to work for someone who respects family because my family will always come before any other job I may acquire.

I am learning that I may be interviewing for a job but they are interviewing with me as well because I do have value no matter what my resume might say.  What I lack in experience I make up for in spunk and spunky people get things done.  I'm starting to like these nightly interviews.  I'm learning quite a bit.  I do hope they start getting shorter though as I'd like to get a good nights sleep before my next actual interview which happens to be tomorrow.  We'll see if we pass each other's tests.