*tap* *tap* Is this thing on? And where’s the damn light switch?
Unfortunately, I’m slipping. It’s a curious thing. You can literally be near death on the inside and no one can see. I was at the Jewel the other day, pushing my cart, blacking out on why I was actually there. Just………..pushing. I was looking at different people. Seeing if I could see into them. Is that guy in meat section ok? He looks ok. He looks like he is going to make a beef stew. He doesn’t look despondent. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t. Because I just don’t think you can tell.
In one month, I have to play a role in the horse and pony show performance I am forced to play a part in to celebrate the life of my father. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate him. He was absolutely magnificent. But I am not ready. I’ve been through 300 days of major trauma watching him get sick, disintegrate before my eyes and then, die. I am not ready, I said I wasn’t ready, I screamed and cried that I was ready, but I. Don’t. Matter.
The weighted blanket that clutches me in the belly of the beast is crafted out of my voice never being heard. And…isn’t that ironic? When I sing, people tend to listen. But when I speak…it must be made out of invisible ink. Maybe I should have sung my despair.
I just watched “1883” on Paramount Plus and I kept thinking, My God. They must have been SO BORED all day. She just sat on her horse, looking gorgeous, flirting with cowboys and watching cattle for like, eight hours; she couldn’t even check social media. Mostly, she was just there with her thoughts (sappy voiceovers). I can’t get away from mine.
Sadly, social media is making me sicker. I just paused FB today for a week. Didn’t tell anyone. Just did it. I couldn’t look at one more thing that reminds me that I am hanging by a thread.
When I went to Florida to help pack up my dead dad’s house, I finally was able to go to our beach and say goodbye to him.
I also thought about swimming out into the ocean and never coming back. I fought that for about an hour. Then it started to rain and I didn’t want to get hit by lightening, so I figured that meant that I still want to stick around. Mostly because, me lost at sea would fuck up my kids. So I live another day.
Netflix is my BFF. Amazon Prime squirrels my sadness for chunks of my day. Swedish Death Cleaning* my house is “giving me purpose”. Today, my goal is to clean under my bathroom sink and then find one other thing to look forward to in my life to “give me purpose.” Still looking. Still looking.
The Sea Island sun blinds me when I look up to see your face. I stop-salute you and squint to block it from my eyes. You and your mustached-face looks down at me, smiling. You reach down to grab my nose and peek your thumb out of your knuckle sandwich. You hold it up and say, “got your nose!”
“Give it Back!” I yell, but I’m laughing and I’m chasing your serpentine. Back and forth, in and out of the water. I follow your footsteps and try to match them. I put my foot inside yours and I squish it all around. The waves are awfully loud, but I love them and then you grab me and give me my nose back.
I love any beach or water anywhere forever and ever and it’s because of moments like this. It’s safe, you are relaxed and it just means love. I have to run fast to keep up: one-two-three-four Heathersteps, in and out of the water, equal one big Daddystep. You laugh and stop and wait for me. Then you grab my hand. It’s so windy and the waves are so big and they break the silence in a way that makes me close my eyes and be happy. It smells so good. You are so tall and I look up at you and you laugh out the words, “hurry up, twinkle toes.”
I giggle when you take the shells I give you and you say “Ooooooooh, that’s a good one“.
I feel proud that I picked it and you put it in your pocket. I am twirling round and round with the sand between my toes. When I dizzy-stop, stumble and laugh, you are walking back. You’re done. I stop-salute and squint, watching you get smaller as you walk away. You yell back, “Go to mom now.“
I’m a bad actor and I can’t fake it anymore. I am screaming inside and crying and keening and wailing. Every tiny cell of me is tired. We are now in Defcon 1. I can’t control you. You can’t figure out reason or make sense of anything. There are not people in the corners trying to hurt you. You are not being poisoned. We are not trying to kill you. I wish I could rescue you from the alien world that you are living in your head. It seems so scary and mean and awful. I’d give anything to Stranger Things you outta there.
I spend hours trying to show you how much I love you. Even when I am not with you, I still worry and wonder if you are ok. I’m so sad that you are leaving me; that you have already kind of left. The other night in the wee hours, you were yelling at me:
You do not care if I die.
You are out to get rid of me.
You are not on my team.
You don’t have my back.
When you say these things, I can handle it. Your words bounce off me onto the floor. I can step on them a little and kick them under the couch. I know you don’t mean it. I know you are sick. I am tough and I can fight them off.
Your face looks so different now. I remember being little and tracing your face with my fingertips. “Oops…got your nose.”
I know you can no longer read your books; now it’s only faces. I am sorry that sometimes I don’t look at you when we talk. I try to make my face happy, but sometimes, I just can’t.
Feelings transition to some kind of desperation. I want someone there with me to see what I have to do. I need a wingman. I want someone to hug me. I need help with you. I need you to help me with you. I long for the dad I had, to give me advice about the dad I have now. I feel desert Island lonely.
This journey has given me some useful takeaways and Heather 2022 has a new criteria for friendship.: Choose the right people who deserve to hear your story. I love hearing stories of the people I love and I know they hear me back. There is nothing worse than realizing that someone don’t want all of the sides of you. I have been screaming from the inside of insides. I don’t have the energy to only listen and not be heard. I hope to replenish soon.
I think I am spending so much time writing this to procrastinate making phone calls. Calls to find somewhere we can move you away from the home that you worked so hard for and away from the life you knew. Can I call in a sub for this too? Inhale…exhale…
I took a night off from being with you last night to sleep in a real bed. Today, I head back to you and the couch. When I get in the car, I will cry. I will walk in the door with a smile. I will try not to lose it, but sometimes I do. You threw a box of tissues at me the other night. I karate-chopped it from my face and the box went flying. It was actually super funny. Wish you were there.
Loved to see my husband donating his time to bring music to such a fantastic and meaningful event in our lovely town of Wauconda, Illinois. Proud that my number one, who is working hard to get his five year Master’s in Criminal Justice loved the event and loved talking to a bunch working officers. Love that I have awesome friends who are also superheroes.
I loved that we all saw our police department and other community servants as real life proud, hard-working residents walking around our Main Street with their families, showing everyone that they are human, kind and just like every one of us. (But also, super brave.) Loved that mom my could be there to see how lucky we are to live in a blissful place.
Love that my family loves our community. That our oldest son is helping to build a house on Bang’s Lake while he is home from college, my second son works his tail off at Bulldog’s, the best best burger joint around, and my daughter loves to shop local, dreams of someday working at Lindy’s and is only mildly embarrassed about her performing parents…
Loved to see another day that our community rallies together to make 60084 a special place to live. We love this town.
In January, I got a new day job, so I went a little crazy and bought a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s a 2010 and kind of beat up, but it’s been my dream car ever since I can remember and I just went for it. It’s a lot of Jeep for a “little” girl, but I was sure I could handle it. We named him Hank the Tank. I know that you are supposed to refer to your car as a girl but I think that’s sexist. Mine is a guy and he is a beast. My husband and the kids even got me the Cubbie tire cover. Bucket list item,√.
Unfortunately, I obtained him in January, the night before my husband was diagnosed with Covid and we were in quarantine, so I didn’t drive it for the first three weeks. Hank and I had a rocky start, also because the windows didn’t work and I have yet to fix a broken blinker, but still we seemed to get along ok. I couldn’t wait for summer and to take the hard top off…whip around Lake County feeling the breeze in my hair….
Did you know there is a “Jeep wave”? I didn’t know. I had some wave at me when I first started driving and I just chalked it up a bunch of really friendly people in my town. Then my good friend, who is a Jeep owner, asked me, “So you know about the Jeep wave…”
OK. Aha….got it.
It’s a thing.
I was pretty excited about it. I felt like I was in a cool, new club. The next 3-4 times I drove, I did not see one Jeep. But I was on the lookout and I was going to be ready.
At last it was time. I saw one coming my way…My hands got a little sweaty and my stomach dropped.
And then it happened…They did it! They have me the wave!
They were like:
The I was like:
I’ve chillaxed now and I think I’ve got it down. I also got “ducked”. There is something cute with squeaky ducks and I bought a whole bag of them from Target but I need to Google to figure out what to do with them. Again, nerd alert.
Truth be told, my dirty little vehicle secret….I’m so lucky and I am so grateful…I’ve been wanting a Jeep for so long, but now that I have it…well, meh.
it’s hard to get in and out of it. I almost have to take a running leap and dive in. It’s not very Rheumatoid Arthritis-friendly. I totally need one of those shelf things. Also, another problem with being so short; I have to do circus-like trapeze artist calisthenics to climb up the Jeep to put the soft top down myself. Forget about putting it back on when I’m alone. I actually have to get number one and/or my husband to help me. We are always battling with Car Tetris in the driveway, so it’s not even possible to just leave it off and park in the garage. It’s a work in progress. Someday soon I hope to make some real actual progress.
I can definitely see me pawning it off to one of the kids in a year or two. If I just had a car with a little button I could push and the top would go up and down. Up…and down….If only…
I need to put one of my new iTags on my actual purpose, cause I’m having trouble finding it.
I’m not even a week in with my 365 blogapalooza commitment and I’m already dreading writing about my One Big Thing today. It’s depressing.
I’m flailing. I’m in a funk. I’m blue. I’m lying here trying to find my damn solace. I’m feeling it’s somewhere along the lines of pulling up my big girl pants, getting over my bad self, making a list of things I need to get done and just freaking doing them.
But from the minute I woke up this morning, I’m finding it really easy to be sad. Sad about being sick, sad about my dad, sad about number one going back to college, sad about the sinking ship that is my music career, sad about the Rizzo, sad about not having a job.
Maybe I should just give myself a day to BE. I’ve been doing such a bang-up job for the last seven months wearing myself thin, not taking care of myself and treating myself badly, that it’s become a hard habit to break.
Welp, there you go. This is why I love writing. I just spoon fed myself my answer and found my literal purpose for the day. I’m going to give myself a hug, lay on my hammock, go out to lunch with my parents, enjoy my family. I can continue to wallow tomorrow. Today’s mission: Sunday funday.
Things effected by Covid that are ok, but still not quite right: movie theaters, music concerts, some shopping experiences and the freaking DMV. It’s never been a walk in the park, it’s always usually a total PITA, but now it’s kind of a mess.
We had two reasons to go to one of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.
1.) New Driver’s License
Number 2 sadly, because, genetics…lost his wallet last week with his license, debit card, and some special un-needed but sentimental keepsakes. Some of those things include his Great America pass since he was nine, an old school ID, his social security card….YOWZA. Ok, that one was needed. Insert super big face palm. I feel like we need to report that or something.
And he also lost $100 in cash; hard-earned tips from the restaurant where he works. The day he lost it, he spent three stressed and upsetting hours retracing his steps, talking to all the management he could at the three places he went, searched his car multiple times, left his phone number everywhere. It’s gone. A bummer of a life lesson.
Sidenote: I just can’t relate with a human who would find a wallet in a parking lot and not try to do the right thing. It makes me so sad. I hope they get a flat tire, they ruin their favorite shirt in the laundry and a bird poops on their head.
2.) Driver’s Permit
Number three needed her drivers permit. She finished the class part weeks ago and was scared she was going to forget everything. Which I get. But dammmnnnn it’s hard to get an appointment. You have to wait weeks. It’s such a clogged drain that they have given people who have an expired license a six month extension. The best option for us with a busy schedule was just to suck it up and go.
The first time we tried to get her permit was a disaster. It was about three weeks ago. I had to take a half day off of work, which was hard in itself, and I was not having a good tummy day. I was trying my best to smile and be excited for her, but inside, it felt like there was a tiny, little angry person living in my intestines, repeatedly stabbing them with big fork.
A lot of my stomach issues are stress-related, so this wasn’t helping. I raced home from work and grabbed all the essential documents needed: social security card, a bill with her name on it, her driver’s school paperwork, a copy of her birth certificate. Let me repeat that, a COPY of her birth certificate. That’s what the school told me. A CO-PY. Or maybe they didn’t say that. Maybe it’s just…me. We all know it’s most probably just me.
The facility wasn’t close. We make the trek out to Schaumburg and got there at about 1:30pm. We pull in:
That scenario, for me in particular, was like an irritable bowel horror movie.
We waited in line and soon we were not the last people; we were giddy. She was so excited to get this…I was a little teary that I was already at this milestone with my baby. I had also already quietly made a plan that if I needed leave the line to run inside to the bathroom, I would do it very stealthily and with conviction. But so far, so good.
There was an older gentleman busker playing mediocre violin, but I was feeling jovial and supportive, so I gave #3 twenty bucks to go toss it in his guitar case. I told her to do it dramatically so everyone could see. I thought we would start a tip trend when everyone saw us do that. Crickets. Come on, humanity!
Finally, an hour and a half in; we were about 30 feet from the front door. An employee was checking people’s documents to prep everyone who was about to enter. I handed him everything, while I made what I thought were witty, funny and adorable side comments about our line wait. Number 3 nudged me a little, rolled her eyes almost out of her head and pretended that she didn’t know me. Then the man said, “I‘m sorry but this is a copy of her birth certificate. We need the real thing.”
“What?” I said?
“This is acopy of her birth certificate. Do you have an original with the stamp on it?” When he said that, I started to get a little dizzy, I couldn’t seem to find any air and his voice was warped like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Number 3 was shocked and looked at me like a just ran over a baby bunny.
I was horrified, She was horrified. But…I…you see…I ….was digging in a dark closet, trying to grab things out of our file cabinet…it’s looked like a birth certificate, it felt like a birth certificate, it smelled like a birth certificate…I was going to throw up. My sweet daughter. I’m not sure what embarrassed her more, the fact that we had to leave in front of everyone or the very obvious crying of her very distraught mother. What a SHIT. SHOW.
Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.
Three weeks later, we tried again. I grabbed number 2 to kill two birds….This time we got up at 6am, headed out to Waukegan, whipped through Dunkin’ and pulled in…
OK, ok, ok, OK. It wasn’t that bad. The weather wasn’t horrible and we actually kind of had fun. In true Moran fashion, we made lots of new besties around us, with people we will absolutely never see again. Number 3 was so nervous for her test, so we pulled up an online practice test and she was asking me for all the correct answers. Dear Lord…the wrong parent took her. Number 2 wasn’t much help either…who can remember these little things?
We made it to the hot spot; the entrance door (past the scene of that last crime), so I felt victorious. You can’t see it because of the glare, but right in the doorway behind the glass, the security guy had this huge Uzi megaphone thingie and it was right near me when I was waiting there and it took every little strength in my body not to pick it up and yell “BREAKER BREAKER ONE_NINE!”
Number 3 said, “MOM, NO.” She knows me.
Inside, the employees were wonderful. Kind, helpful and sweet, we went through both processes painlessly. It’s not their fault that China created Covid and now we have long DMV lines. #2 and I had to go outside and wait for #3 to take her test and when she came out smiling, we knew she passed. Easy peasy.-ish. We were home by 10:00am!
The Chicago cubs organization just ripped the heart out of the Cubbies.
I grew up sitting in the 11th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8. It used to be the 10th row, but they added another row and we moved with it. My dad first got the tickets in 1971. Near the end, I could hardly get to a game because of kids and life. The last few years, my dad’s health prevented him from being able to maneuver through the crowds to get to the seats.
I remember entering the park as a girl, running behind him, looking up at the back of his head, reaching out to grab his shirt, while he masterfully serpentined between the crowds of people. He would turn back and smile his golden smile to me to make sure I was keeping up. We’d stop just for a quick second to get a scorecard and he’d get a beer (Later on, one for me too). We loved our seats. We had all the chances to move aisles closer to the field, but we loved being able to just jump over and fall into ours. Easy in, easy out. Perfect for raising a hand to buy a Home Run Hot Dogs and Budweisers.
In my early 20’s, while I was attending my fourth and last college, I rented an apartment on Broadway one block south of Addison. It was kind of a dump and it was next to The Jewel and that SUCKED during Christmas season because those damn Salvation Army bells would ring all the freaking time. But I was so close to Wrigley. My dad was a commodities trader at the Board of Trade and he was off work at 1:30pm. On game days, he would sneak out a bit early and hop in a cab. I would ride my bike, walk or rollerblade over to the park and meet him at The Cubby Bear. We bought the peanuts outside because they tasted better. He’d hand me my ticket and we’d start the mad dash. Even going to the games as an adult, I still felt the rush…I still always wanted to reach out and grab his shirt. Sitting there watching the game was our catch-up time, it was relaxing and it just felt like home.
Sometimes I would take the train in with my mom and we would go Cubbie nuts. My mom is still a die-heart fan, too. She was raised a Sox fan, but we don’t hold that against her. (So was my husband and his family is not happy.) We really had the best of times through the years. Our favorite thing to do after the game was to go to the Wild Hare and get our reggae on…so many laughs. Those were the party party days. We were always meeting new people and chatting up our “seat neighbors.” Some we knew for over 30 years. They saw us grow up. They saw us bring all of our babies there for the first time. They saw the last days of dad being there.
My kids were raised in the red, white and blue. They didn’t know anything else. They all went to the the park as babies and they all had their personal Cubbie adventures. Being a Cubs fan has been a big part of who they are today.
Every opening day, my brother and I would trade off going with Dad. Some days were filled with freezing rain, some were sunny and beautiful, but they were always perfect. The timeline of the day, the routine, the songs, the stretch, it was all so comforting like a bug warm hug. I will cherish those days forever.
Of course, I fell in love all the time. My first boyfriend was Billy Buckner. He was a dashing hero to me. My dad is the kinda guy who knew everyone and somehow he finagled us having an official “Donaldson Day” at Wrigley. We were able to go on the field, lay against the Ivy, see the locker rooms. I sat in the dugout on Ivan Dejesus’ lap. Hell yes, I did. Oh, and this happened.
My dad did this Randy Huntley fantasy baseball camp and it was pretty darn cool. He was able to play alongside Ryno, Durham, Jody Davis, Fergie, Lee Smith…It was a total dream come true for him and it was cool to watch. Years later, my brother did the same….
Years later, my brother did a cool thing for my dad. Let’s the face it. THE.COOLEST. THING. Jim Donaldson day.
As we got older and started our families, it was harder to see my brother and his family. He and his wife lived a block away from the park on Sheffield and could hear the crack of the bats through his open windows. Wow. He was able to still go to the games all the time and I know that was another dream for him fulfilled. It was always fun to go to the games with him and catch up….always a beautiful bonding experience with him at the park.
I did marry a sox fan, as I mentioned before, but I would like to formally thank the Cubs for helping me woo him. Wrigley with my family was a great way to get him to marry me. We have flirted there many times at the park over the years.
And oh my word, THE FOOD. If you go old school, there is nothing like a Home Run hot dog from a park vendor…mustard only. Second place for me is a dog from inside with grilled onions. Great link HERE for the park food. We loved going to the Club before the games, during a rain storm or when it was just too damn HOT.
The Friendly Confines have changed. First it was cool things like the statues…Captain Morgan expansion was interesting…they fancied up the bleachers…Gallagher Park was a cool addition. Then they started to replace the premiere seating. Finally, they were ready to upgrade our box. And they changed the ticket prices to obviously separate the wheat from the chaff. They tripled them. Insert middle finger here.
So now, where I grew up, there are a bunch of corporate people who are in town to drink $20 IPAs and don’t give a shit about the Cubbies. Stay classy, Rickett’s.
And…because they Yankees could afford it and the Rickett’s clearly need more money, we just lost our Golden Child. I’m grateful for the years we had him. He was a bright shiny light with a giving soul. He was not only a phenomenal player, but a funny, charming, philanthropic Chicago lover. Rizzo is cancer survivor, a hero to so many of us, a complete inspiration. He helped make IT happen. I am so grateful we had him for so long. I wish him and Emily the best.
I just heard Javy traded to the Mets and Kimbrel to the freaking Sox.
I try to think when my loseeverything-itis started to get really bad. I think it was after I began having babies. Maybe not, but I usually blame everything else on that. Even as a kid, I was always flighty. I was perpetually ditzy, often confused, very emotional, constantly disorganized. However, I was kind of adorable and that helped me get away with a lot. This very annoying problem I have has definitely gotten worse over the years. Also, I am also not so adorable anymore, so it’s harder to get away with it.
My incredible friends get the brunt of it. I am constantly leaving my shit everywhere. Boat days are the worst. Shelly has my flip flops, Hank has my towel, Evelyn has my sunglasses and we are all still looking for my phone. I think for awhile it was funny, but now it’s just annoying, sprinkled with a hint of sadness. This one time, I left my iPad on the top of my car. You heard me right. I was in between two back-to-back gigs and it was a very stressful day. I had to run home to get something (probably something I forgot) and I totally also forgot about the iPad. It fell off my hood and someone ran it over with their car.
My iPad is my life blood when it comes to my singing jobs. I was devastated, disappointed, ashamed. A week later, for Christmas, those same incredible friends all chipped in and bought me a new one, so I could keep on playing music. Yep. Incredible. My heart still overflows, because they love me so much, despite…me.
So it was cute my husband bought me the key ring. The truth is that I just recently lost my keys and it had all of our new car FOB’s on it. I think I threw them away by accident. I guess you can say this gift is more for him, than me. He can finally take a break from digging in the garbage.
It’s not the first time someone I love has bought me a lost and found tool. A dear friend of mine gave me a purse a couple of years ago and three Apple tiles. We hid the first one inside the very cute purse. We put one my wallet. Super helpful. Then we put one my keys. That was blissful and happy time in my life. I knew where my shit was. Eventually they lost their charge and chaos ensued. And here we are again.
I can kind of guess what you’re thinking. “Pull yourself together, Heather. Put everything away in your purse and put it in a safe and remember-able place everyday.” Now YOU’RE adorable, but nay, nay. Too easy.
Picture, if you will, a big tornado of chaos. That’s me. I am always in a hurry, always late for something, always in a perpetual frenzy of mayhem, bewilderment and perplexity. In short: it is very, very difficult to be me.
Recently, I bought a key hook to put right in the doorway when you walk in the house. Brilliant, the family said! Well thought out, the family said! You actually have to put your keys on it, the family said! They use it. It comes in really handy when you have four drivers and we play car Tetris every day. The only problem is just that I keep forgetting to put my keys on it. DAMMIT.
I feel like there is money to be made on my imperfections. I smell invention. I’ll see your tiles, Apple, and I will one up you with little chip stickers. Cheaper, more compact and you can stick them on anything. For instance, I really also lose my lip gloss about for times a day. It’s incredibly frustrating because I love a good moist lip. What I need is an affordable little itty bitty sticker on there, with a microchip, that I can program in my phone and when I can’t find it…push the button…beep beep beep….lip gloss found under my car seat. Lip crisis averted.
I could put one on the portable fan in my room because my freaking kids keep taking it. It’s really not that HARD to find it when it’s missing, because I just have to burst in yelling to one of their rooms. But If I had an annoying little alarm, I could really drive it home with them to stop taking my stuff. I could just incessantly beep it in their rooms until they can’t stand it anymore and they bring it back. I absolutely need one for my hair straightener. Number three is a double dog down thief. She’s definitely at her absolute worst when she steals my very posh shampoo and conditioner, brings it in her shower, leaves it there and I don’t discover it until I am naked, wet and super pissed off. Definitely need a little sticker for that. *Add waterproof to business plan.
Those are instances of criminal thievery by my children. But I also need help with things that I lose like…documents. Medication. Numerous articles of clothing. Clothing tags….I can sew them in like camp. Yes! *Add name tags to business plan.
While I am at it, “it” being creating new things to help me get through my day, I should also look into memory care. Things that help preserve the brain I still have left and try to stop it from rotting, or whatever it’s doing up there. Maybe I will start doing Sudoku with a clicky pencil. I can suddenly take up gardening and consume fish oil. In the end, I think I just need to slow my roll. Continue my quest to heal my sick body, gets some damn sleep and stop sweating the small stuff.
“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.” ― Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look
Inspired by a really cool friend, I have decided to commit to a 365 day blogapalooza. Read it, don’t read it…do your thing. Share with me if you want, no worries if you don’t. I’m up for the challenge. Writing is my therapy and I am always very interested in knowing if or not I am not alone in my chaos. As I sit and think about what the hell I want to write about for a year, I start with something that I have had so much guilt about as a parent. It’s THE thing. The one I wish I could take back. Deep breath…we were nomad parents. And there was damage done.
Our kids are all old souls. I’m still trying to figure that out, because growing up, I was super immature. Total idiot. Insanely social, I spend most of my time flirting with boys, dodging getting grounded and plotting underage drinking with my girls. All three of my children suffer from various degrees of “peer shy.” It’s like it was concentrated with the first one and trickled down. Number two is finally coming out of his shell. Number three is definitely the most social. It took me years to figure it out, but I think it’s because we moved 11 times in ten years. That’s…not an exaggeration. And that…comes with a ton of guilt.
Our Moving history in a nutshell:
Hubby to Lincoln Square: Summer, 1999
Heather to Lincoln Square: Fall, 1999
Hubby, Heather and #1 to Lincoln Square North apartment: Summer 2000
Hubby, Heather and #1 to New Buffalo, Michigan family home: Fall, 2000
Hubby, Heather and #1 to the Mundelein teeny home. Winter 2001
Hubby Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment one: Summer 2003
Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment two: Fall, 2003
Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Naperville: Don’t remember, 2004
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and SURPRISE! #3 to Crystal Lake, home of the orange water: Summer, 2006
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to dream house in Wauconda: Winter, 2007
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to not-dream/current home in Wauconda: Fall, 2009
We were, the entire family, exhausted in every way. We needed to stop and plant.
The relocation motives were mostly job-related. Although one time we moved because the water was disgustingly orange and the kids were getting dyed in the bathtub. Grody to the max. After that, we rented my dream house, but had to move because we couldn’t afford to actually buy it. Probably a blessing in disguise, because there may have been a little problem with the fact that I was deathly allergic to the backyard horse farm. (Note to self: blog about how I almost died from an asthma attack at Medieval Times).
Then there were the city days. We were kicked out of an apartment because the man under us couldn’t stand toddlers running. We tried duct taping them to the couch, but eventually we were forced to make the move to the apartment across the hallway. Our savage running beasts were finally free to do horrible things like…just be children. There were quirky memories that we took away from every place, all adding to the Moran Clan tapestry of chaos.
Looking at the big picture, it was rough, but we loved them so much every step of the way, and I think they will be okay. I really really hope they will be ok.
My oldest son had the hardest time, not only because he was the one who moved around with us the most, but also because he already started out shy. Then every time he started to get close to a kid, we’ed freaking pack up and leave. By the time we really settled here…all the friends were kind of taken. Can I say that? Is that a thing? It seemed like it. We really tried to help him. Groups were established and it is sometimes really HARD to make new friends. Senior year of college, last year to play lacrosse, graduation in May. Next year he finishes up his 5-year Master’s in Criminal Justice. And he’s an RA. He may not be the cool life of the party, but we think he’s a very decent human. He’s kind, happy, has a service heart and he’s also quite charming. Some girl out there someday will be very lucky. We can’t wait to meet her.
My second son, our Irish fighter, is a whole other beautiful, layered story of survival. He is constantly beating adversity, questing to find inner peace and he possesses one of the sweetest hearts made by God. He’s a lovely novel; a book you don’t want to finish reading. I can’t wait to wax poetic about this gorgeous soul.
Our baby, our daughter, our empath: my darling, Dad and I promise you we won’t move. For the next three years… live your life. Make memories with your friends, learn how to drive a car, play your sports, nail your education, jam your guitar, sing like a bird and for Christ’s sake: be a kid. We are not going anywhere. Until you graduate. Then, we will see 🙂
As parents, we try to do our best and we count our blessings. We fail, we apologize, we learn, we hug them, we dust ourselves off and we keep on going. And sometimes, we pack boxes.
Yesterday I did what I’m sure looked like an obligatory Facebook brag post. Especially to people who probably don’t have school-age children, or …any children. But the ones who had to hands-on watch their children navigate their education through a pandemic every day for the last year, I bet they got it.
I didn’t post that for myself. I already know how neat my kids are; I get to live with them every day. When I posted that, I posted that for her. Whether it helps her read it today or it helps her when she reads in 20 years, she needs a reminder that her mom loved her and what she overcame. She will see what I wrote, remember the lovely comments shared from people who are dear to us and see a picture of what she looked like at that moment.
Just because she did well and got straight A’s, doesn’t mean that she didn’t work. her. ass. off.
It’s not a scenario where things come easy to her, look at how perfect she is, blah, blah, blech. The real truth is that I watched her study and worry and plan and make goals and work really hard to finish them. That’s all on her.
And she did all of this basically sitting on a mattress, on her bedroom floor, surrounded by Cheetos’s, our loyal dog and a teenager amount of dirty laundry.
Please make no mistake, as a mother trying to help my children learn through a pandemic, I’m an idiot and can’t teach them anything, but I can online shop. I transformed the loft and I set up quite the beautiful school area. It had wonderful lighting and it was comfortable, with productive desks and chairs. I tried to give both her and her brother, who was enrolled in some CLC college courses, an environment where they could concentrate when they needed it, and then walk away when they were done.
I’m pretty sure they used it for about a week and a half. And I didn’t push them because this wasn’t about me doing all that work and me getting upset because they didn’t use it. (Truth: It gave me something else to do during the pandemic besides putting booze in my coffee and overeating. ) Nay, nay: It was about them being comfortable when everything around them made no sense.
Her freshman year in high school should’ve been filled with nervous giggles, experimenting with outfits every morning, walking to classes with new friends, sneaking out to get ice cream on her lunch break, walking in the halls and blushing when she passed somebody she had a crush on, laughing with her friends in the locker room about how much swimming class sucks with their period, going to a pep rally…going to a football game….going to Homecoming, going anywhere…with anyone…
Our walls are thin in our cookie cutter home. Her bedroom is next to mine. I know the sound of fear, frustration, angst, anxiety and sadness. Her teachers voices came out of her laptop sounding legit Charlie Brown. I heard late-night heated and passionate conversations, but couldn’t make out the words. Those emotion-filled moments made my tears run all the way down to my pillow.
But, there where lovely noises. She taught herself some pretty bitchin’ guitar playing. Her lovely voice, soft and lilting, wafted into the hallway. The strumming was comforting, the sounds of her trying to figure out the Bohemian Rhapsody solo, endless Fleetwood Mac. She had the lonely time to do that. l will cherish those sanguine sounds that seeped through my bedroom wall.
Another sound that didn’t make me feel sad to accidentally overhear: the laughter with her friends. They found a way to make the “pandemic sleepover” work; messy but still with laughter and love.
What one wouldn’t also post on social media is that she battled two significant and private medical issues that most don’t know about, and one very significant dental issue that meant literally 30 doctor and specialized dentist appointments in a year. In one year. In a pandemic.
Could she cry to her friends at the table in the lunch room, where she could get hugs and whispers of support? No. But she could talk to their faces on her small phone screen and at least feel some love, however she could get it. Funny…it’s the one time as a mother I have been grateful for my children’s social media.
Life has gotten slowly back to “normal”. She eventually went back to school, picked out cute outfits, walked the halls, snuck off to The Jewel with friends on her lunch break, met her teachers face-to-face for the first time, played an actual high school lacrosse game, even laughed on a bus with her teammates…normal things started happening again. I think the kid is finally able to realize that she is going to be okay.
My life purpose is to love and protect my family; keep them alive for a life that is worth living. I have two other great kids who are creating their own life journey tapestries, but I celebrate this moment for the little one who won an epic battle this year in her bedroom. Shine on, little diamond.