The Art of Persuasion

“What do you guys want to watch? You can choose between Zootopia, Moana, Secret Life of Pets, or Trolls.

Eddie: MOM! You always give those four. I want to watch something different!

Charlie: ZOOTOPIA

Eddie: You knew he was going to pick that! I’m not picking from that list.

Charlie: It’s Zootopia then because Alice will pick Zootopia and Eddie votes for nothing, so no matter what mom votes for we win. Zootopia.

Eddie: Maybe not. Alice? What do YOU want to watch?

Alice: TOPIA!

Eddie: UGGGGGGG!!!! I’m going downstairs to watch what I want.

Me: No popcorn then. Only movie watchers get popcorn.

Eddie: UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! This is not fair!

<20 minutes later>

Eddie: Charlie! Here comes our favorite part! “You’re dead, Fluff Butt!”

Charlie giggles

Alice: “You dead, Fuf Butt!”

Me: (munching popcorn) told ya so.

We all know that sometimes it takes a bit of creative persuasion to get someone in our house to watch what we want to watch. To be honest, I would have been cool with any of the movies I listed above, but I love Zootopia and I know if I throw it in as a choice, Charlie will pick it every time.

But sometimes, rather than give choices, I just start something. You all want to watch a show? You will watch what I put on.

Ok, some shows don’t take a lot of persuasion.

“Who wants to watch some Beat Bugs?”

“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

But other shows…

Eddie: Hey Bird, ya wanna watch Trollhunters?

Charlie: No.

Eddie: But it’s really good. There are trolls. And they get hunted.

Charlie: No.

Eddie: You would like it.

Charlie: No.

Maybe Eddie needs this…

This works for grown-ups too. For instance, I love Star Wars. A lot. But I haven’t seen Rogue One yet because it’s apparently hard to get out of the house to go to the theater without kids. Cortney, however, is cool with Star Wars, but hasn’t even seen all of the Original Three.

I KNOW!

Thankfully I have this handy dandy guide to help me persuade him:

Just kidding. All I need to say is, “Hey. Ya wanna watch Rogue One after the kids go to bed?” And he’d be like, “Sure. Let me grab a beer.”

The art of persuasion man.

*************

*Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Netflix supplies the streaming and a device to stream it on; we provide our opinions. Beat Bug merch available at Target. Netflix did send us that too. We love it.

Fall Frenzy

Do you see that? Those red leaves? Last week those were not there. The calendar turned over to September and BOOM the tree-line started to turn.

Tomorrow the kids go back to school. I’ve been back to school for two weeks. Things are going to be the same, but very different this fall. Alice will be going full time to daycare all by herself. For the first time in five years, we only have one kid in daycare!

Charlie has graduated from daycare! He is starting Kindergarten tomorrow, and he is so dang excited! Eddie has always loved school, but starts the year cautiously with some worries. Charlie has no worries at all and cannot wait to start. We have had to count “how many days now?” since early August.

Eddie is starting 3rd grade tomorrow! This means he’s officially an “upper el” kid at their school. He moves to the Upper El” playground and gets to be a reading buddy for a lower el kid. He knows almost everyone in his class, but he is nervous about not knowing his new teacher’s rules or the consequences. He has trouble controlling his socializing, so he worries about whether his new teacher will like him. Spoiler alert: everyone loves Eddie because he is helpful and kind, but sometimes he thinks getting redirected means someone doesn’t like him. We are working on that anxiety.

Eddie is continuing scouts this year as a Bear Scout. Charlie could start as a Lion Scout, but we are not sure if we will start him this year or wait until next year. We are just so busy already as it is because both boys are doing soccer this fall too!

Eddie took last fall off, but he wanted to play again this year. He is a little slow, but he’s got pretty good footwork and I think he could be a good defense player if he practices and tries hard.  He says it’s fun, so we are supporting his efforts and cheering him on.

Eddie is the jogging green shirt in the center of the pic

Charlie is doing soccer for the first time this fall. He is ridiculously excited about it. He is a pretty natural athlete and loves to learn and get better at things. He’s pretty quick and will great on offense. He is willing to go all in and sacrifice his body for the game…which I’m sure will make me nervous more often than not.

Charlie is in the yellow shirt to the left of the pic.

In two weeks all three kids will start Children in Worship (our church’s Sunday School Program) after church. Since Cortney is a deacon and has counting duty this fall, Sunday mornings will be my writing time. This is the first time in a long time that all the kids will be occupied for an hour after church and I’ll get some alone time to work on my PhD application writing. This is giant relief since the weekly schedule of scouts, soccer, and Cortney’s bowling league night had me panicky about when I would actually have time to sit in front a keyboard.

I’m not a huge fan of having something on the calendar every day. It feeds my anxiety and worry that I won’t have enough time for myself which means I will overload on anxiety and then fall into depression.  However, we do have a Game Plan and Plan B’s for when I feel like it’s all too much.

Oh and we took the kids to the zoo as a Fun Family Adventure before all the schoolscoutssoccerbowling madness hits the fan.

And yes, we actually let them choose something from the gift shop. Their minds were blown too. We had a moment of weakness.

Oh and yes, Eddie chose a Snowy Owl because Harry Potter has one. We are reading Harry Potter together. It’s my first time too.

Happy fall.

Reflections on a Summer Almost Gone

I’ve been back to school for a week. Our kids still have one more week, but soccer practices have already started. The calendar says it’s still summer, but as far as our schedules go, it’s fall.

I wasn’t the fun mom or the productive writer or the great house organizer I wanted to be this summer. I didn’t do the things I wanted with my kids, I didn’t meet my self-imposed deadlines, and exactly zero of the organization projects I wanted to do this summer got done.

I keep blaming the fact that my summer break was shorter by two weeks and that I had less kid-free time, but to be honest, I just didn’t manage my time well.

But the kids loved the summer. We made trips to the library, walked to the donut shop, splashed at the splash pad, played at parks. It wasn’t such a scorcher this year, so we were able to go outside almost every day. Cortney expanded the sandbox so all three kids could play in it, and they took advantage.

It wasn’t a super busy summer, and that was Ok.

We did go again with my parents up to Pentwater for a long weekend. It was pretty windy and a bit chilly, so my dad didn’t take his boat along this year, but we had fun anyway.

We went from a Thursday to Sunday, and we packed in a whole lot of sitting around, not sitting around, and yummy snacks.

Grandpa made breakfast every morning and since the Sluiter children could basically eat ONLY breakfast foods for the rest of their lives, they were thrilled with homemade french toast, pancakes, and breakfast meats each morning.

And even though it was cloudy, windy, and sort of chilly, we still went to the beach on Friday because guess what? Kids do not care. They just want to play. So we adults sucked it up, and let the kids play for a few hours.

While Alice and Charlie stuck mostly to the sand, Eddie (who may be part fish) was in that chilly water almost the entire time we were at the beach.

Last year Alice wouldn’t even let her big toe touch the sand. This year she literally rolled in it as if it was the best thing ever to touch her skin. Kids are weird. And awesome.

My mom and I planned the meals/groceries a few weeks in advance, and we kept it pretty simple: grill foods and snacks. Of course my mom brought the fixing’s for s’mores even though the cottage doesn’t have a fire pit. But we had a charcoal grill!

Mmm…s’mores over charcoal!

Of course beach + s’mores = messy toddler, so a sink bath was in order. What cottage experience is complete without a toddler in the sink?

And just because it was cooler than usual, didn’t mean that the grandpa couldn’t take the boys fishing each day. Or that we couldn’t do a little ring toss, badminton, or card games.

Grandpa even helped Eddie with some of his cub scout adventures. They spent a lot of time on the fishing adventure learning types of fish in Michigan, Michigan fishing regulations, and of course catching fish!

They even learned about canoeing since the wind died down on Saturday.

Charlie got a ride in the canoe too!

Sunday was warmer and sunnier, so we hit the beach one last time before heading home. And of course Grandpa and Grandma had to treat us to ice cream!

I love that we have this summer tradition with my parents. It’s so fun to spend time together playing for four days.

Plus it’s a nice way to wrap up summer before I go back to work and the craziness of fall kicks back in. Even though the summer didn’t end up being exactly what I had in my head that it would be, we still had a great time.

And now I have to get back to lesson planning and making seating charts.

 

 

Sneaky, Sneaky

Recently I read some survey results that Netflix did indicating that 71% of moms admit that they “sneak” in Netflix time between all their busy momming duties. Some of the even hide in bathrooms and closets to catch the next episode of the new favorite show.

This statistic really didn’t surprise me at all. Staying home with my kids during the summer definitely makes me feel like hiding–and sometimes I do, but with a book on the deck. And that is usually only in the summer since I’m at work teaching during peek Netflix sneak hours of the school year.

But we do have a Netflix sneaker in our house: Eddie.

He knows there are certain shows that I’m fine with him watching, but that I don’t want his younger siblings watching yet. Anything fighty like Pokemon or Troll Hunters I would rather he watch on his own. So while I’m doing something with Charlie and Alice upstairs, Eddie will suddenly disappear. When I head downstairs to do laundry, I will find him curled up in front of Netflix binge-watching every episode of shows like Buddy Thunderstruck.

StreamTeam

Buddy Thunderstruck is one of those “choose your own adventure” shows like Puss in Book is. Speaking of that boot-wearing cat, there are new episodes of Puss in Boots that Eddie likes to watch too.

While he will sneak away during the day, his prime sneaky watching time is early morning. He tends to wake up around 6:30am, well before his siblings and I get up. This morning, for instance, I found him in a little nest he built himself watching Sing, which was just released on Netflix and which he absolutely couldn’t wait for the rest of us to enjoy with him apparently.

If I did stay home with my kids every day, all year long, I would probably become a Netflix sneaker too, to be honest. I imagine myself making the kids all rest during Alice’s nap and then I would binge on my ipad or something. Those surveyed said doing the sneaking gives them much-needed “me time.” What do you think?

What kind of sneaky sneakerton are you? And what would you watch? I would catch up Orange is the New Black since I haven’t watched any of it since my maternity leave with Alice.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Netflix provides streaming and a device on which to stream. All opinions of shows are those of our family. Some more unfortunate opinions than others.

Three Middle Grade Books Dealing With Loss

I’ve never been drawn to middle grade books. I think by the time middle grade literature actually became good, I was an adult. It took me long enough to realize YA lit was fabulous, and as my friend Trisha says, I seem to not trust people’s opinions and have to experience stuff on my own…slowly.

Over the past year, I read three middle grade books that I really wanted to share. They all deal with loss to a certain degree that is age-appropriate and encourages discussion and critical thinking. Plus they are all beautifully written.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt

middle grade books

In January, we had Gary D Schmidt visit the junior high where I teach. All 8th and 9th graders read his book Orbiting Jupiter in preparation. Because I knew I would be teaching it, I read it in two sittings the summer before school started.

The story is told from 6th grader Jack’s point of view. His family takes in 8th grader Joseph as a foster kid. Joseph has had a sorted past: he has an abusive father, no mother, and somewhere out there, a daughter. He has been in and out of juvenile detention centers and it seems Jack’s family is his last shot.

Like I said, it’s a quick read, but a powerful one. I sat in our front yard when I was finishing it. As I sat in my bag chair under our front tree, tears streamed down my face as I closed the book. I walked into the house and my husband said, “Aw. Did you finish your book?” I nodded. “Did you come in the house so the neighbor kids playing Pokemon Go wouldn’t see you crying in the front yard?” I nodded again.

Orbiting Jupiter was easily my students’ favorite book of the school year, and they read a lot of book! We read three together as a class and they read a minimum of five more on their own, yet this one came up over and over again as we talked and discussed themes, characters, etc.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

middle grade booksIn November I went to the NCTE and ALAN conferences that were held in Atlanta, and received a TON of free YA and Middle Grade books. After finding The Thing About Jellyfish in my pile and hearing Ali Benjamin speak about writing about loss, I knew this one needed to be on my To Read pile.

My only regret is that I waited until summer to read it rather than reading it during the school year so I could book talk it; it sat untouched on my classroom library shelves all year.

That will change this year!

Told from 7th grader Suzy’s point of view, The Thing About Jellyfish is about the loss of friendship and the death of a classmate. When Suzy finds out her former best friend drowns, she decides to quit talking. She also becomes obsessed with jellyfish. The story is perfect for middle grade readers, but it’s also beautifully written prose that any age can find meaning in, like when Suzy thinks about how things are changing with her best friend:

I think about my hair, about the tangles I battle every morning. I have spent so many hours of my life trying to brush out tangles. But no matter how carefully I try to to pull the individual strands apart, they just get tighter and tighter. They cinch together in all the worst ways, until they are impossible to straighten out. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to get out a pair of scissors and cut the knot right out.

But how do you cut out a knot that’s formed by people?

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

middle grade booksThis one was suggested to me by a student. It’s another one that I received at ALAN and although I hadn’t read it yet, I put it out with my LBGTQ display. It was quickly picked up and loved and recommended to me.

This is a dual narrative book and almost reads like both Lily and Dunkin are writing in a diary of sorts. Lily begins the book. She is a girl who was born with boy parts. She is going into the 8th grade and hoping the bullying and harassment stop this year. She is hoping her parents agree to getting her hormone blockers. She struggles with being Tim at school, but knowing she is really Lily.

Dunkin is the new kid in town. He and his mom moved down to Florida to live with his Grandma (who he calls Bubbie) after something happened with his dad who struggles with bipolar disorder. Dunkin’s real name is Norbert, but he hates that name. Dunkin also struggles with bipolar disorder, but doesn’t want anyone to know about it. He just wants to fit in for once and he thinks he has found the way to do that: by joining the basketball team. The problem is, if he wants to be popular and well-liked, he can’t be seen hanging out with Lily. They both have a secret and are not sure they can trust each other.

All three of these books are quick reads; I think I read each in just two or three days. But they each really stick with you. They all have an element of loss in the form of death, but they also deal with loss of friends and the naive childhood that is enjoyed before the turbulent middle school years.

I’m excited to be able to book talk these right off the bat when we start school in a few weeks.

 

The Recovery Letters

recovery letters

It’s been over seven years since my original postpartum depression diagnosis and over ten years since my general anxiety disorder diagnosis. Since that time, I’ve tried my best to be open and honest about my struggles while celebrating the victories of living with a variety of mood disorders.

I don’t always feel great about the stuff I admit online; in fact, I feel very vulnerable letting people know that I don’t always love being a mom and that there are days that I struggle to find anything joyful. However, I know what it’s like to feel alone.

Flipping through social media is a great way to stay connected, but it can also create a feeling of being left out, being alone. The images people put out there are carefully curated to look like their best life. I totally get that. I am guilty of that too. But I have also always tried to put the not-so-perfect stuff out there; because really, my life is very much not perfect.

I want people to know that they are not alone, but also that things can–and do–get better.

Two years ago I was honored to be included in an anthology of personal essays specifically about Postpartum Mood Disorders. When I first sat in my doctor’s office, I had a really false idea of what PMDs looked like, and it’s always been my goal to put a face on these disorders for others.

This summer I am honored to be included in another collection, this time of letters addressed to all sorts of people who suffer from depression.  One of the editors, James Withey, approached me because he wanted PPD represented.

recovery letters

The result is a collection of letters edited by James and his partner Olivia Sagan called The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression. Along with my letter are many, many others that are encouraging and uplifting and filled with hope. The message is loud: you are not alone.

The book will be officially released on Friday, July 21, but you can pre-order on Amazon. If you suffer from depression, this is a fantastic book to have on hand to flip through during your tough times. If you know anyone who suffers, this would make a lovely gift when you know they need a little extra hug.

Suffering from depression makes me vulnerable, but not ashamed. I am honored that I have been offered so many opportunities to put my words to good use to let others know it is a survivable disease.

Other anthologies I have been included in:

Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience (2015)
My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends (2014)
Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss (2014)

*None of the links in this post are affiliate. I gain no monetary compensation for sharing these books with you.

A Break from the Break

Summer is supposed to be a break, right? The kids get a break from school and/or full-time daycare. I get a break from work. We get a break from School Year Schedule that is full and rigorous, and exchange it for a slower, more open Summer Schedule.  It’s supposed to be easy…well, easier anyway.

Except that a lot of times it’s not easy at all. In fact, summer can be downright difficult.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to have something for us to do each day whether we head to a park, the library, the splash pad, or the farmer’s market. But sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bickering and whining is too much that I don’t even trust that leaving the house will help–and it might actually result in a worse meltdown, and in public.

We need some sort of break from each other on those days.

Because we (let’s be honest here: I) need these breaks often, my kids probably get more screen time than most during the summer. Alice’s break is her nap (thank the Lord), but the boys need to be separated for part of the day too.

Days like yesterday that are lovely and not so horribly hot that we feel like we are on the face of the sun, I shoo the boys outside. In fact, I may have even been so desperate for them to stay out of the house that I tossed their afternoon snack of a Popsicle off the deck and made them catch them. Allegedly.

But on days like Monday and Wednesday when the storms started around 9am and continued ALL DAY LONG, they needed something else.

You know this means Netflix.

Netflix is the way we take a break from each other. Our house is not that big. It’s easy to be all in each other’s business, so the boys can either sit in separate chairs and watch the same thing like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale–which is kind of cool because it’s like a choose your own adventure show.

They giggle about songs and choose which way to have the story go.

Or if the need to be physically AWAY from each other (or I get sick of the stupid “trout” song on Puss in Book), one can be upstairs watching Octonauts (Charlie) on our smart TV, and the other can be downstairs watching the latest episodes of Dawn of The Croods (Eddie) on the Wii.

Sure we also play games or read books, but let’s be real. The best way to make the house quiet is to turn on something everyone wants to watch.

Which is probably why we watched Zootopia again this week. Twice.

What?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and devices to watch it on, but we choose what we watch and provide our own opinions. And yes, we really do love Zootopia that much. It’s almost a sickness.

Not Yet

We had plans to move this summer. We created a list and even started checking stuff off (but not much): clean the walls, repaint the trim, fill holes in the drywall (thanks, kids), wash the cabinets, purge the closets and toy room, replace the carpet, and a few other odds and ends.

We saw a few houses we liked, but not loved.

And then…nothing.

I knew it would happen as soon as summer hit. We would stretch beyond the walls of our house into our yard and never want to leave. Sure enough. That first warm day after working around the house, we pulled out the bag chairs and beers while the kids played, positioned ourselves under our anniversary tree, and the feeling washed over us: we weren’t ready to let go just yet.

The view to the back when we sit under our tree.

Our house is not tiny; in fact when we walked through it that first time twelve-and-a-half-years ago as an engaged couple on a budget, we thought it seemed huge! A bi-level with a finished upper-level: two bedrooms and a bath, an open-concept kitchen, dining, and living area with an unfinished downstairs: large potential family room with drywall, but nothing else, a laundry room, and the potential for a third bedroom and second bathroom. It was brand new still being built. There was no lawn or any landscaping to speak of. It was snowing the first time we saw it.

I was moving from a tiny single-level house that my grandparents owned that was over a hundred years old. Its beginning was two chicken coops literally pushed together for a long-distant aunt who was coming to live on the family farm. We had to add a stand-up shower in the “mudroom” because the bathroom was just a toilet and sink that my grandpa had put in himself (which, let’s face it, is better than an outhouse). There was no laundry–I still took my stuff to my parents’ house every other weekend. Heat was a giant heater/boiler thing in the middle of the living room that was LOUD and HOT when it was on. In the summer, I cooled the whole place with one window AC unit.

So our current house seemed ginormous compared to that. Plus we were about to get married and had no idea if we even wanted children. This place was perfect.

Now we have three kids and all their stuff jammed into this house. The boys share the room downstairs and Alice has the second upstairs bedroom. There is stuff crammed into every closet, drawer, cupboard, nook, and cranny. I curse at the lazy susan every time I have get a plastic storage container and they all topple over me, or I pinch my finger trying to cram everything in before it swings around.

I blow a gasket every time I open the pots and pans cupboard and stuff slides around and falls on my toe. I sigh when I open the hall closet the we converted into a pantry when I see how jam-packed it is when looking for the popcorn popper. My counter tops are full (which I hate. I like bare, neat counter tops). There are always piles of change, Pokemon cards, and pebbles (ahem, Charlie) on my island. There is a play kitchen in my real kitchen. Books are exploding off shelves.

Things are not ideal.

But right now, the deck is my personal space. There are no stairs going down to the backyard and there is nothing but my chair and the grill out there. It’s sort of a kid-repellent and I love it.

Sometimes these goobs haul chairs back by me though. I suppose I’ll keep them.

Our yard looks better than ever thanks to Cortney’s hard work out there. He expanded the sandbox for the kids, and created a new perennial garden for me. We are talking about ditching the patio table we never use and getting a picnic table we can move around–I’d like it to live under our front yard tree.

Right now–in this moment–we are comfortable and content.

And honestly, Cort and I just can’t find what we are looking for in our price range. We absolutely do not want to settle. We plan on this being it: our home until our children put us in the The home.

We know we don’t want less land than we have now. We want a master suite, preferably on the main floor. We want main floor laundry. We are ok with the boys continuing to share a room while Alice has her own, but we know we would like an office area with a desk and book shelves, so at least one more bedroom than we have now. We know we would like a larger kitchen/dining area. Cortney wants a front porch and I want a back deck. We would like a three-stall garage or at least an out building where we can store the lawn mower and various lawn care things.

I need lots of natural light. Cortney needs a special place for his beer fridge (and craft brew collection, ahem).

We want to be in the kids’ current school district.

I’ll be starting grad school again soon, so maybe it’s not the best time to take on a move right now. Some day, because this is not our forever home.

It’s definitely our home right now, though.

A Decade of Words

Ten years ago today I opened up a new blogspot account and started Sluiter Nation. All of our closest friends had moved out of state, so I thought maybe having a “website” to post pictures would be a good way to keep everyone up-to-date.

I’ve been consistently (sometimes more consistently than others) putting my words here. They range from the mundane (updates and giveaways and some product reviews) to the deeply personal.

I believe this blog made me the writer/teacher I am today.

This little blog of mine reunited with me with a high school friend named Emily (formerly known as DesignHER Momma) who had moved to Indianapolis. She connected me with Indy bloggers like Casey (Moosh in Indy) and to Curvy Girls like Brittany Herself who made me want to write better. They also showed me BlogHer.

Emily’s honesty helped me recognize I had postpartum depression after Eddie was born.

That led me to all the Warrior Moms.

I started to write very honestly about my struggles.

I went to BlogHer. I tried to find myself as a blogger for a long time. I did product reviews occasionally, giveaways here and there, and tried to separated my writing and teaching lives.

It wasn’t until after Charlie was born that I realized that my writing and teaching actually fit better together than trying to be a mom blogger.

It was also during this time that some of my personal essays about my struggle with my mental health were published in anthologies. I started to realize that maybe I have a gift. I’m not a best-selling author–nor will I ever be–but I have the ability to put my thoughts into print.

I started to read Young Adult Literature and become passionate about my career in a way I never did before. I began writing for Education sites, (currently I write for The Educator’s Room). Friends and colleagues encouraged me to write about my teaching experiences and research for education journals.

Now I am in the process of applying to a new graduate program to get my PhD in English Education.

Wednesday I was trying to trace back how I got to this place, and I believe it comes back to this space.

I’ve made true friends because of this space. I’ve traveled across the country by myself because of this space. I have taken so many more chances on opportunities that I would have NEVER done because of this space.

On an internet where more and more bloggers are closing up shop, I plan to keep my little space open and chugging along. This is our life right now. It’s who I am right now.

Yay, Ten!

Summer FOMO

FOMO. Fear of Missing Out.

Mix in a little Paranoia that Nobody Likes Us and you get my signature summer mental cocktail: Fear of Missing Out because Nobody Likes Us.

It’s not as tasty as it sounds.

Around May I start getting the itch for the long, lazy days. Warm, but not too warm. Slight breeze. Beers under our tree. Books in the sun on the deck.

School lets out and I allow myself to indulge in these things a little–mostly on the weekends. June however brings a whole lot of busy-ness. We have Eddie’s birthday and our anniversary. And at some point in the spring, I start saying, “let’s wait until school’s out in June to do that.” Suddenly it’s June and all “that” hits us.

Glances onto social media show family and friends at beaches, on boats, in pools, and at cottages. They are making memories. I’m wiping up lunch crumbs and telling kids to get outside so they don’t wake their sister.

A few open weekends allow for us to do some much-needed outside housework. Cortney checks a bunch of stuff off his list, cracks a beer, and feels good about it. I log on to Facebook and inform him about what everyone else is doing.

“Do you think people don’t like us? Are we downers? It’s me, isn’t it? The boys? They are always fighting. No one wants us along. Or maybe they forget we exist.”

He has been sitting, leaning his head back with his eyes closed, listening to me blather. He lifts his his head, scrunches his eyebrows, and says, “I don’t think that’s it.”

He’s probably right. After all, isn’t this what we wanted? Time to get stuff down and to be able to sit back and relax after we did it?

But neither of us has put on a bathing suit yet this summer. It’s July. We live within throwing distance of lakes. We have friends and family with boats and beaches and pools.

“Do you even WANT to go to all those places every weekend?” He asks me?

“Not really. I like to sit in peace and quiet.”

“Then why…mmmm.” He doesn’t finish. Just lays his head back again and shuts his eyes. He worked hard today and is probably sore.

“But I would like the chance. It looks fun.”

I hate getting the kids all ready to go somewhere fun. I hate the stomach I give myself imagining every single worst case scenario. I hate how I talk too much when I am finally with people. I hate that I don’t listen to others better. I hate that it’s my kids rolling around screaming at each other. I hate it when people say, “they are fine. It’s fine!” because I can’t even believe them.

It’s not fine to me.

I hate the hot tears and nauseated stomach and tight chest that all threaten to take me down in front of people.

But sometimes it is super fun. Sometimes the kids and my brain cooperate. Sometimes I am able to relax.

On a Saturday night, Cortney will sit down and turn on a ball game. I put my feet in his lap and flip through social media on my phone. Everyone is out doing something fun: outdoor concerts, beer tasting, movies, dinner and drinks out.

I’ll tell Cortney what everyone is doing.

“Mmm hmmm. Sounds fun,” he will say as he either flips through is phone or watches the game.

“I wonder how come we weren’t invited. Do you think no one likes us?”

“No. That is not it.”

I know I frustrate him with our paranoia. He points out that then we would have to find a sitter. It’s hard to do that and we feel guilty asking our parents and our regular sitter so dang often as it is. I also have a hard time feeling Ok about spending money on fun stuff like that all the time.

“It would be fun, but it comes with having to set it all up and that stresses you out.”

He’s not wrong.

I’m known to wish for invites, but when I get them go back and forth about whether I really want to go. I am known to bail at the last minute, and then take a nap because I have stressed myself out so badly. I’ve been known to accept and get super grumpy with my whole family while we get ready. My stomach eats me from the inside out.

But sometimes we end up having fun. Sometimes everything aligns and I don’t freak out and my stomach and brain stay under control and we laugh and have a wonderful time.

I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to say that my brain is always trying to make me miserable, I think. I mean, I know things logically, but my brain tries to override the logic with feelings of self-doubt and paranoia. It’s dumb. And also if you are like this, you’re not alone.

And people probably don’t hate our guts.

And maybe I should just stay off Facebook in the summer so I don’t see what I’m missing. Because really, we have a pretty good time here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...