Tom Cruise Running

Friday was a rough day at our house.

Let me be clear: it wasn’t the kind of rough day we’ve had before. We’ve had the kind of days that shifted our very foundation before and this wasn’t it. It’s easier to maintain a certain perspective when you have had those kind of days where you weren’t sure if everyone was still going to be on this side of the dirt when the day was over.

This was your average rough day and it was all mine. Lately I haven’t been writing much of anything because that would mean I’d have to write true things. And my truth these days is that I’ve discovered that I don’t know how to rest

I have been running at such a hot operational tempo (being married to a military guy tends to rub off on a person’s vernacular) for so long now, my gears have gotten stuck in overdrive. I only know two speeds at which to plow through my life: fast and the even faster Tom Cruise run.(photo cred The 10- Minute Ramble)

I’m just going to be frank right here and say that this discovery about myself sucks. The meltdown of epic proportions at our house Friday was similar in scope to what you might see a tired, cranky, overwhelmed hangry three year old have in the middle of the Target aisle that’s suddenly populated with other parents whose children are actually behaving. And it was all mine as well. 

I was the one who was having worry-related stomach aches for the third day in a row. I was the one losing sleep and not stopping anywhere on my journey. I was the one who had the full plate and the fuller burden for all the people who are relying on me. And without pausing, without rest, I was running on empty.

My husband, Mr. Wonderful, is like a giant St. Bernard in these situations. He’s born to rescue people. Before he dove into the situation though, he prayed for us. For me. For all the crazy glue that was slowly coming undone in all those places I had so quickly run by the past few years.

As we talked I began to realize that because so many of our family’s burdens have been on my shoulders the last few years, I’ve gotten really bad at asking for help. And along the way I have forgotten how to slow down, how to really give myself permission to let things go for a little while and rest.

I used to be the Nap Queen. This was my actual nickname in college. My roommates were amazed at the chaos and crazy I could manage to sleep through and that I would just crash whenever I needed to.

Fast forward a few years (ok, obviously more than a few but don’t tell my kids-they think I’m 28. I’m rolling with it.)–

I. Can’t. Rest. 

I’m talking physically, but more importantly, mentally. I can’t stop Tom Cruise running through my mind or my To Do List. My caffeine consumption is enough to single-handedly keep Columbia in business. In fact, what we spend on caffeine is probably nearing the gross domestic product of several small countries.

I have managed my juggling act for quite some time. But then I dropped a ball. And another and another until now our floor is littered with them.

Friday felt like I was in the middle of one of those giant ball pits that are in kids’ play places. You know, the ones you thought were the best time ever as a kid but now that you think of it as a grownup it kind of makes you throw up just a little bit in your mouth?(photo cred weheartit.com)

Mr. Wonderful did something that allowed me to stop drowning in the ball pit of my own making. He wrote down each worry I have been juggling–including the ones on the floor. Then he told me just for the weekend, he was going to take them and work on whichever of them he could help with. And I was not to do anything about them. In fact, he took that notebook so I couldn’t even look at them.

The act of putting everything on paper and then physically giving them to someone else for awhile sounds really simple. But don’t mistake simple for easy. Many times this weekend I have wanted to look at that book, cross things off the list, take them all back and start worrying about them but since Mr. Wonderful is way to big for me to wrestle the notebook away from, I couldn’t.

I have rested and relaxed. I got sleep. I finally did with those worries what I should have done long ago–I gave them away to my Savior. Though Mr. Wonderful was my earthly guard over that notebook full of my anxieties and what ifs, Jesus was the one I really entrusted it all with. I know better, but sometimes it takes a Mr. Wonderful-sized reminder to actually do better before we give it away.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So if you see me Tom Cruise running, you have permission to tell me I need to slow down-

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2017. Click here for my new book, Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story or connect with me on Instagram or Twitter.

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Monday Madness

By 8:03 a.m. today I lost my mind and frankly, my will to do anything. Everyone at my house was off their game. 

Everyone.

The twelve year old left everything everywhere as if the magic cleaning fairy would be arriving soon to clean up after him. 

 (Photo cred thefunnybeaver.com)

The eight year old woke up late, moved slow, worked my last nerve with talk back and outbursts. I also found out why I keep getting a bill from the school cafeteria: despite making and taking his lunch every day, he was getting a tray instead of eating his lunch. So I do indeed owe the school $16.47.

The Little Sister of the bunch spilled her milk, threw a fit, spilled more milk. I still hadn’t lost it yet though. I was still slogging through getting the oldest two out on the bus at two different times and then getting the two littles ready while the baby was spilling yet more milk and the dog was drinking out of the toilet and I had so much work to get done today and it was time to cautiously wake up Mr. Wonderful (cautiously because he has the PTSD, we have a process) when I realized: 

This is my life. For realsies. 

 (Photo cred curiano)

Confession: I’ve been a fraud. Faking it with optimism and gratitude til I make it but never really making it up that hill. Working three jobs to make ends meet. Raising four kids, sometimes by myself. Caregiving for Mr. Wonderful. Waiting for someone else to come and claim the life they lost because this can’t be mine.

A few short years ago I had a working husband who was able to help a lot with our busy household. I only had three kids and two jobs. There was no VA battle, no PTSD, no ADHD, no running around constantly like a crazy woman. I only had to run around like a crazy woman sometimes back then.

I’m so tired of pushing and straining and striving to try to make changes and have nothing budge. I’m exhausted from not seeing more progress to spur me on. I’m tired of being tired and worried and unable to sleep or find time for working out or finding joy in time spent with my kids instead of hauling them from point A to point B just hoping I get them there on time.

I’m sick of fighting the VA to get my soldier the care and benefits he deserves. I’m afraid I don’t have any fight left and the battle’s not done yet. 

I’m weary today. And overwhelmed. And claustrophobic by the walls of responsibility closing in. I’m ready for the spring of my life and it feels like the winter winds have just begun.

The one thing I have going for me right now is that in my hardest moments of realness and raw honesty God meets me where I am. He comes to me with comfort, hope and peace, somehow knowing that this Monday, when I’m on the edge of losing my mind and my hope I need his steadying hand more than ever. He changes me from the inside out, even while He upholds me. 

I find great comfort in knowing that the orchestrator of the chaos of the universe cares about each hair on my head, on each worry and heartbreak and tear and breath of little ol’ me.

I remind myself that things can’t be too bad if I am loved, both by God and by my tribe. That I have a life that some others would trade me for in an instant. That as hard as things are today, today is only temporary. 

 (photo cred Instapray.com)

And the God of my today is the God of my yesterday and tomorrow. He will see me through. He has gone before me, walks beside me and is behind me.

I just have to get out of the way of myself, surrender to his scandalous grace, and remember it’s not over yet.

He’s not finished with me. 

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

It’s Not You, It’s Me

The sentence, “Yes, you’re grounded from skipping!” just came out of my mouth.

What kind of dictatorship or regime am I running, you might ask.

In my defense, I had just said that the four year old was to lose her privileges for the evening because of poor behavior at the speech therapist’s. 

She doesn’t even go to speech therapy but when Mr. Wonderful isn’t home to watch the Littles while I take the seven year old, my trek includes two extraneous (small) children. 

In response to the privilege removal, she asked if that meant she was grounded from everything.

Of course I said yes, lured into a false sense of security by her innocent question.

That’s when she asked if she was grounded from skipping too, so to prove a point I said yes. Just to show the seriousness of privilege loss.

Just to show ’em who’s boss.

It’s all encompassing ’round these parts.

So we’re at the aforementioned speech therapy and I’m trying to type this while keeping an eye on the Littles while also trying to field calls from the dentist and the insurance company because my seven year old–the one with sensory issues, a latex allergy and a horrible dental experience to boot–has to have more work done. 

For his safety (and probably everyone else’s), the new dentist won’t do the work without putting him under. And since anesthesia is apparently made out of gold dust, we’d like insurance to pay for this. Or at least help us out.

Some days I find myself running and gunning so hard that I crack. I get caught up in the busyness-phone calls, plumbers, a stinky smell coming from my fridge, a weird new sound my car makes, a call from the school-and it makes me so overwhelmed with the details and nastiness of life that I forget the goodness.

There is sweetness to life-even on the frustrating endless To Do List days if I just get my head out of my posterior.

As I tried to type that sentence for a good fifteen minutes, I find myself sighing. A lot. Which is ridiculous. I’m a grown woman in control of her own emotions, not some crazed teenager. I’ve already done that. 

And now I hear the four year old singing a song that goes like this:

Everyone’s cranky! Tate is cranky and Jack is cranky, Mama’s cranky and Lucy’s cranky. Even Daddy’s cranky and he’s not here. And our dog Charlie is cranky. We all love, love, love to be cranky!

Oh the humanity!

I’m just a Mama trying her best, and today is one of those days where my best definitely does not feel like enough.

Which means it’s time to pack it in, order a pizza and give everyone, including myself, an early bedtime. 

(Photo credit unknown)

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015 

Writing as Procrastination

Do you ever have those days where your To Do List is so long that you’re completely overwhelmed? So instead of tackling the list you find something to do that’s not even on it?

Yeah, me either.

Truthfully, this post is in direct response to the pile of mail on my desk, the pile of laundry that needs attention (oh laundry, why must you vex me so?), the pile of bills that needs paying, and the pile of poo that a Mama of young kids often finds herself up to the elbows in.

Rest assured, the diaper has been changed. As for the laundry, work and bills, no thank you. Maybe if I’m polite enough it will all just go away so I can take a nap.

Some days, like today where I can use writing as a brain dump and a procrastination technique all at once, I love it. I relish it. I crave it like chocolate. Ok, maybe less than chocolate but still. Rats! Now I’ve just convinced myself to procrastinate writing by finding chocolate. 

Sheesh.

Other days I get so angry at writing I could just wring its scrawny little neck. Stop tormenting me already! I just wrote yesterday! I can skip a day, right? Quit flirting with me, calling me like a siren to her sailors. Don’t tease me, offering a reprieve from my daily workload only to turn me away with nothing to show on paper for my efforts.

The writing life is something that’s always followed me around like a little lost pup. I could ignore it for so long before I had to take action. (You can buy the resulting book of my action taking here.) And now that I’m writing and speaking about topics important to me (like adoption and PTSD), it’s become my pet. Writing has become my passion and distraction.

I know there are a thousand other things I should be doing right now, but putting words from my mind to the paper is like meeting an old friend for coffee. It’s time well spent, a relief to pick up where you left off, and a warm fuzzy for the heart.

I really wish this didn’t have to end. 

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

 

 

Something’s Gotta Give

We hit the ground running after our getaway this week. We’ve been back in our regular lives for 24 hours and I’m already tired. Lord love a duck, I’m tired!

Mr. Wonderful had a doctor’s appointment today, one of several that we have each week. More meds added. I wonder if there’s a limit to medication that the human body can handle. There must be, right?

And I worry. I’m not even the worrying type until I look at all of Mr. Wonderful’s meds and realize he’s only 35 and if we continue on this trajectory…well, I can’t even go there.

Today we decided now wasn’t the time for Mr. Wonderful to do school. That takes pressure off him but adds financial pressure to us since he won’t be receiving GI Bill help. It feels as if things are unraveling but I can’t find the thread to clip so the unraveling will stop.

I’m coming unraveled a bit myself. And right now my faith is worn. I had a moment-a tiny second-where I wanted to throw up my hands and cry Uncle! Enough! I have had enough!

The worry at all of our situations piled on the giant mounds of PTSD poo and kid demands and work overload-gah! I just feel like quitting.

Grrrrr.

I’m no quitter so this isn’t really a viable option. And there are a lot of things going right. I’m sure I’ll make a list of them soon. Right now I need to vent. Because I’m frustrated. Aggravated. Blusterphated. Ok I just made that last one up but I was on a roll there for a second.

I’ve resolved to tell the truth about my world, even when it’s not pretty. Even when there are ugly scars that still need healing. Wounds that need scabbing over. Bruises fading from black to that weird yellow because of the hits life takes at me.

The one thing that I have going for me is that even though I’m a hot mess right now, I’m Jesus’ hot mess. And I’m leaning on his promises that he’ll never leave me. And for today, that is enough. No answers, just promises.

So thanks for listening.



Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Not Ready

We’re packing our bags to go home. I find that though I’m ready to see all my babies and be in my own space again, I’m not ready to leave these relaxed vacation feelings behind. Please don’t judge me, but I’m so not ready to have responsibility other than my own needs yet. I’m not ready for the weight that is my world.

I still have a few hours of weightlessness yet. Some of it will be used up by sleep. As much as I love sleep I’d rather spend my last free moments leaving the house spontaneously or shopping or smooching Mr. Wonderful wherever and whenever I feel like it without eight eyeballs watching or a chorus of “Mamas” every minute and a half.

I’m so grateful for time free from being a grownup. This is a hard gig, one that I feel ill-equipped for most days. Between all the kids, jobs, book promotion, PTSD, events, lessons, homework, groceries, laundry and bills I feel like I’m drowning sometimes. This week has given me a chance to breathe air again.

Believe you me, I’m sucking it down like breathing is going out of style. I’m cramming every moment of this getaway with Mr. Wonderful full of fun and laughing and reconnecting and smiling for no reason and food runs and silly pictures with large inanimate objects and eating candy and ruining my dinner with dessert first.

And I’m going to try my hardest to keep some of this lightness, some of this vacation mindset for my real life. Steal kisses from Mr. Wonderful. Smile at nothing and everything. Ruin my dinner with ice cream. So that my kids will see Mama, not Mama with responsibilities weighing her down but Mama embracing them while sailing thru and finding reasons to be joyful. Free. Light.

I’m not ready, but by tomorrow I will be.



Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015