Friday, May 30, 2014

Be the change..

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

This quote has been in my mind a lot lately. Some work things have been hard lately and some life things have been as well. I find it ironic that often I find myself in a position of giving advice  when I am talking to patients who are struggling with a variety of issues and yet  I struggle to , "practice what I preach". The result of this lack of action in my own life is feeling pretty dang shitty about myself. How can a person have so much education ,experience, common sense and still mess up? Because we are and I  am..human.  Sometimes as much as we want to make the best choice or take  the road less traveled we instead find ourselves on that same road, that same path of destruction. Lately, I feel like I wake up many days and think..What the hell is going on in my life? I read a lot of blogs, most of them written by woman who fall into similar demographics as me. Married, mommy, daughter, working and you know what..WE ALL STRUGGLE. I think that part of my problem with my various struggles is that I have wanted so badly to  deny that I am struggling. No one really wants to be the person, friend, spouse, sibling, etc that is walking around complaining about how much they screw up. I want to be the woman, social worker, mommy, friend that has it mostly together. (Notice I am not saying all together! Apparently I do have some sense.) But, somehow I think changing what I do not like that I do or say will happen magically. My first semester of graduate school I had a professor who asked us to write a paper on the topic of how a person goes about change in their lives. The stages ranging from recognizing what you would like to change and then doing it. In theory it seems simple enough but in actual life, I have realized that it is much easier to stay in the contemplating stage of your problem, or what you want to change than to actually get off your butt and change it. I think I have finally gotten so sick of my current path that I actually will take the flipping steps to change. Am I making any sense here?? I am starting to think that as forty approaches it is time to truly figure how who I am and what I want to be. By the time March 25, 2015 arrives and with it the big 40..I want to have a better handle on me. I have had thirty nine years of living. All of those years have helped to shape who I am . I can't help but feel that at times I am just beginning to know who I really am. I feel like part of this next nine months, before I turn forty, is to discover who the real Susan Simpson is. She may be a little tattered, and there may be some wounds that I have been denying exist from the past, but with some hard work, dedication and certainly grace, she can find her way to a happier, healthier way of existing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nine years

This weekend marks nine years that we've lived in Michigan. Both Jeff and I were raised in Michigan. Jeff grew up in Portage and I consider Midland my home town.  It seems like a very long time ago that we packed all of our belongings and a three week old Matthew and headed north! We desperately wanted to raise our family in Michigan, closer to Jeff's family and in a more reasonably priced area! Not to say that we didn't love our Chicago years. Both Jeff and I moved to downtown Chicago when we graduated from MSU in 1998. When we moved to Chicago, we were just friends. We didn't start dating for two years, but we had many mutual friends and hung out all the time. I have never had more fun than during those single, Chicago days. Cubs games, gorgeous Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop, just blocks away from your apt, great bars, laid back people..GREAT times were had in Chicago. But, once we started dating, and eventually married, the reality of what it would mean to live and raise a family in downtown Chicago, had us high tail it out to the suburb of Rolling Meadows where we bought our first home, a sweet little town home. At 202 College Crossing, we went from a couple to a family when we welcomed Matthew at the end of April. Desperate to stay at home with my little guy, I began looking for job for Jeff in Michigan the year before. He was working for a CPA firm back then and barely had time to sleep, let alone job search. I remember him meeting his prospective bosses from Borgess at a bar in Mattawan for his interview, which had to take place on a Sunday, his only day off during the busy season. He came back saying he thought it went well(and that it had to be a good sign that they wanted to meet him at a bar), and a few days later we knew we were headed to Michigan. Soon after I was put on bed rest and so Jeff went house hunting all by his lonesome, armed with an extensive list of my "must haves" and a video camera. I still can't believe we bought a house without me ever actually laying eyes on it! We had Matthew, and thanks to my mom coming to save the day and literally packing everything, were soon on our way to Portage.
So much has happened over the last nine years. We added two more kids, we've gone through many stages, from the baby and toddler years to now having three school aged kids! We've met some awesome people in Portage and feel very blessed to have some wonderful neighbors who've become friends. We love living close to Jeff's mom and feel so thankful for the love she's poured into our kids. Portage is a great community with good people. I can't think of a better place to raise a family. This house, that I never saw, until I owned it, has been good to us. Sure, I'd love to change some things but I can't help but love this house we've become a family in. From a three month old Matthew, to two little girls who share a room and lots of mischievous nighttime giggles, Christmas Eve spent with our good friends and neighbors the Maynards, bonfires with gaggles of neighborhood kids clamoring for smores and adults clamoring for one more beer! Lively discussions and heartfelt talks on neighborhood decks. The annual caroling party that we've held for the past four years. Lots of good things have happened here and I doubt anyone has ever noticed that our carpet is worn and stained:) Living in a great community where you feel you belong and know without a doubt that you could count on  in good times and in bad is something I don't take lightly. We have loved these last nine years and the memories we've made and look forward to many more years of fun to come and maybe, just maybe, carpet!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Backpacks filled with unrealized potential...

I can't believe I have been mothering for nearly a decade. Sometimes it seems like I have just begun this journey. Of course other times it seems like I have been doing this forever. When I was little I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. I was the kid that was always pretending to be the mom. I had elaborate "houses" and pretend "kids". My imagination vividly created a world where I had lots of children and I was always the perfect mommy. I couldn't wait to grow up and have those dreams realized. As I grew older, I babysat all the time, and even as a young professional left social work for a period of time to nanny for two precious little girls in Chicago. I fully admit that BEFORE I had
kids, I thought I had all the answers. I was so smug, watching other people's kids, judging and always thinking, "When I am a mom I will never or I will always." Oh how I have eaten crow over the last nine years. What an idiot I was. While nannying children is a noble and sometimes difficult job, it has NOTHING on the real deal. Yes, I have loved and cared about the children I have watched during my babysitting years, but it pales in comparison to the love and investment I have in my flesh and blood. I never realized how much shame would be associated with mothering. I read an article by Jen Hatamaker last year about how most moms are "limping to the finish line to summer vacation." I feel like the Simpsons are limping from about October. For real. We never have gotten into a good homework rhythm . Our library books get sucked into the abyss,  our backpacks are filled with old cheese it crumbs and unsigned permission slips. Matthew's star of the week that was to be turned in around September is just getting finished now. The icing on the shame cake came yesterday in the form of a stern talking to from Matthew's piano teacher who basically said, "If he's not going to practice ,you're wasting my time and your money." Ouch. Sometimes I take solace in knowing that I am doing the best I can. But, more often than not, I feel ashamed because really, I am not. I could be more organized. I could forgo relaxing sometimes and get shit done. (Sorry, I felt the word was needed there) For awhile I blamed my working nights, but really, its been a year. I am used to the schedule so that is a sorry excuse. I have grand plans to get our crap together starting this summer. We've hired a nanny and she seems pretty on top of things, Oh, the irony that a nanny will end up getting this mom on the right page. Thankfully the kids are pretty bright and their academics have not lagged yet. But, as they grow older I know that we won't be able to get away with how we've approached their academics. That, and we certainly aren't setting great examples of how to be independent learners and establishing good study skills that will be needed as they enter middle and high school.
I guess I am wondering if I feel this much of a mess nearly ten years in, when will it start to get better? As they mature, their lives only get busier. This Spring sports season alone we have three kids playing some form of baseball, plus soccer for Caroline. We are running around like chicken with our heads cut off. At the end of the day, I don't like what being lazy about all this school business makes me feel like. We can do better. They say that the first step toward change is acceptance. I accept the mistakes I have made with Matthew and Caroline's schooling and really want to change that. I will even accept a 23 year old nannying showing me the way:)