“Full of Feelings” Month: Mother’s Day

Well, it’s probably no surprise that there would be a lot of “feelings” floating around on Mother’s Day, another one of those days of expectations that are hard to realize. Harder even than birthdays, in my opinion. This year I didn’t even wait till the weekend to get emotionally riled up, so yeah, I’ve cried pretty much all day, mostly inside my head, but outwardly as well.

Earlier in the week I met several young mothers and got reminded of how exhausting and plain old “hard” it is to have young ones. Add in various degrees of dysfunction and things become heartbreaking, overwhelming, difficult to share with others who could possibly help. I also feel bad for family and friends who don’t have the children they want and generally feel left out of motherhood in one way or another. I accept these stories, and kind of embrace them because the women telling them feel like my people. They are my people. I pray for them and wait for the healing I know God wants to give.

And then there is the husband (mine). He has not been feeling as perky as before and is definitely not moving around well. He needs a lot of help from me to do basic activities of daily living – ADLs. When we have visitors as we do this Mother’s Day weekend, I become aware of the things that are hard for me to enjoy because I am coupled with him. It’s vastly different from being a nurse and having to help elderly patients. I had no trouble with that. The husband, who looks SO OLD, is my contemporary, my covenant partner. His life is largely my life for the foreseeable future. It is not a happy picture when I look at it from that angle.

And always on Mother’s Day, I miss my own kids. We can’t help that we live so far apart and can’t be together. Most days we manage not to think about that at all, but on Mother’s Day it’s a 24 hour reminder that people are missing from my life. This is also the first Mother’s Day that my sister-in-law is missing from our family. She died last August and there was an act of closure today, as we buried her ashes in a small memorial garden overlooking the pond behind the barn. That was a hard one, not because we have no hope, but because we believe in grieving well.

But, emotional exercise includes happiness and gratitude as well as sadness. How wonderful it is that I don’t have to miss having my own mother with me! I had time to talk with her and share all these feelings, knowing that she cares. I had phone calls and texts from my girls. And I had three of my brothers and a niece and nephew here as well to share the weekend and be family to me.

I am thinking deeply about all these events, all these people and trying (imperfectly) to lay the care on God, like he said I could. He wants me to know, to care, and to love – but then to hand it over and let him do any heavy lifting.

I have a regular job cleaning my brother’s business place on the weekends. I didn’t really want to do it today because … those expectations again. But as I emptied garbage and straightened things up, I got in the rhythm of work and started to forget sadness. Seriously, if you ever want to change the way you’re feeling, go find a mess and clean it up, focus on getting rid of some dirt, make a difference. What a gift work can be. God meant it that way and I am thankful for work, even on Mother’s Day. Or perhaps, especially on Mother’s Day.

A special rest spot on the hiking trail – my three brothers and my niece. What are they looking at?
They are looking out over the beautiful Namekagon River valley, one of the National Wild and Scenic River areas.

“Full of Feelings” Month: Fear and Frustration

Nothing makes me fearful like a letter from the IRS. It’s a different kind of fear. In my mind the IRS is a big office somewhere with a few tired people sitting at desks with large piles of paper. They are staring at the walls in a trance because there is no way for them to look at more than one paper each day, and they may not even get that far. I feel sorry for them.

At the same time, they have computers that randomly spit out scary letters to unsuspecting folks – none of whom are really trying to defraud the government by not paying their taxes.

This morning I opened that scary letter from the IRS.

It was a fearful time because I knew it would be like trying to reason with a big, lumbering giant who couldn’t read or hear me screaming. Once the giant thinks he is owed money he is deaf to evidence and arguments because my paperwork will be on the bottom of the pile on a desk in the big room with all the comatose workers. It may take two years before it gets read – two years of increasing penalties and interest on the money I never owed in the first place. I know all this from previous experience.

Supposedly I owe roughly (because I left the letter with my tax preparer and can’t remember the exact amount) $7,400, plus a $1,500 penalty for not paying this “substantial” amount, plus the interest on it for the last two years. It was from the 2019 tax year, which they are just getting to now. So, almost $10,000!

My tax preparer says not to worry. She already knows what the problem is. I hope she is right, but I’ve heard that from an accountant before – one who ended up as frustrated as I was after months of lost communications, numerous phone calls, and the hiring of a special representative to “walk” my paperwork through the big office and put it on top of someone’s pile. Before that whole thing got settled, the giant had withheld that year’s tax return and was garnishing my social security income.

It’s one thing to fear a system that works, but worse to fear a system that is pretty much broken. It’s like talking to a wall.

Bottom line: God is my provider and he knows what I need. Even if it were true, and I had to pay $10,000, I would probably survive. But it’s stressful fighting giants and I was hoping for a quiet year… just sayin’.

“Full of Feelings” Month: Social Awkwardness

Today I am basking in my role as Queen of Social Awkwardness. There are others who you might say look and act the part more than I do, but in my mind, I am it.

It’s not that I lack a proper degree of self respect, self confidence. For the most part I am comfortable with myself, and have grace for my shortcomings. It’s when I get around other people and want to feel comfortable with them that the awkwardness hits. I’m aware that I’m often the one standing by myself somewhere, looking for another person like myself, someone not engaged in a conversation, someone who’s not quiet sure what to do next. It’s always a relief to find this person because if they are ready to engage, I’m helping myself and them. Both of us can feel a little more comfortable.

I love people. Very much. I want them to know that. Truth, is I am also a people pleaser. I don’t have a lot of strong opinions, or dictates and the ones I do have – well, I’m okay with putting them second in importance to someone else’s once in a while. I think of it as flexibility. To me the question is, if they are the right people, why not please them? It gives me pleasure to do so.

But social awkwardness comes when I don’t know if I am doing that. I tell myself to stop wondering about it and just do the best I can, in those uncomfortable places that I might find myself. Because, maybe comfort is overrated. Maybe it’s more real and more “normal” to feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s a good thing?

The last thing I should allow that awkward feeling to do, is to be an excuse to avoid people. What if everyone has some degree of discomfort, at times, in some places? I kind of suspect that is the case. Maybe I should be uncomfortable and make the first move, even if I can’t remember the person’s name, even if they look hard to engage, even if my own discomfort is overwhelming me.

Ultimately I know that for me, God is the person I want most to please. I have to trust that he’s going to help me love other people as they should be loved. Even in my social awkwardness, and stumbling around with words, God can help them know that I care and cover over the mistakes I make. Maybe it’s part of being brave and letting God be my social director. Yeah, that might be it. Just sayin’…

Queen of Awkwardness and oh, so comfortable.