Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

On Everything and Nothing March 31, 2015

It starts the same every time. I can see it in the eyes of my dear forever mom from the moment she wakes. This is going to be a good day, she thinks. Today I will get it all done.

I have to say it has intensified since she became a mom to dear baby Carter. I guess it makes sense since he is a reason the list itself is naturally longer now than it was before. From laundry to doctors appointments to simply cleaning up after the messes a toddler tornado can make in a day, he is his very own list maker. Joy

Today was no different, as she set out to accomplish x, y, z for work, and clean the house and take Carter to the doctor over lunch, squeeze in a run to the store, accomplish a, b, c for work and make dinner. In itself, it wasn’t that unheard of for her to think she could do it all. Except that she’s still sick. And Carter is a little sick. And none of that is as easy to accomplish under those circumstances.

It hit her hard around 3 p.m. when she realized basically the only things that got done were x, y, z for work and Carter’s doctor appointment. The visit to the store was a failure, since she forgot the two things she went for in the first place. And she hadn’t had a second to eat a proper breakfast or lunch, let alone give a second thought to dinner or cleaning the house.

It ends the same every time. There’s a sense of defeat in the air and I can feel mom’s heavy heart weighing on her as if it were my own.

The thing is, I know she knows it as well as I do: the problem is sometimes “it” is legitimately impossible. Sometimes the list literally is too long to achieve. Sometimes you can’t do it all. And that’s okay. Because sometimes when you feel like you got nothing done, it means you got everything done you were meant to that day. And everything is always better than nothing.

 

 

How Stories Are Born April 7, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:08 pm
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I wasn’t expecting it. Which made it so much worse. Tears. From the ground up, they happened quite unexpectedly tonight.

It was mom’s first night away during baby Carter’s nighttime routine. You know the one, with the bath time and the singing and the praying and the rocking. It’s a family affair, and tonight mom missed out. And while everyone will admit it wasn’t the end of the world, even I could sense a certain sadness in the air.Use The Force

Mom was busy listening to local residents voice concerns about a cell phone tower obstructing their view of rural suburban life instead of being there. Rocking and praying and singing. I know it probably sounds silly because dad is obviously perfectly capable (and willing) to take over in her stead.

And, I won’t be the one to tell mom this, but he did a great job. I don’t think he missed a single step, and Carter smiled like a doll the entire time. But that’s not the point.

Not when mom doesn’t’ want to miss it. She doesn’t want to miss anything in our dear little person’s life. Therein lies the reality of life as I know it.

I don’t think anyone ever sets out to miss something. Especially when that something is deemed by the powers that be as one of life’s important once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment. But that train is one of many that leave the station every day, and you can’t be on every train. You can go crazy trying, but I’m certain it’s not possible no matter how badly you want it.

It wasn’t an easy night around here, especially since it took me by surprise. I wasn’t ready. But are we ever ready for moments of distinct change? I will never know. Instead I embrace what I do know, which is that no amount of change goes without missing something. But that’s how stories are born.

 

Two Weeks Notice March 18, 2014

May 15, 2009. That’s when it started. I wasn’t around then, but I’ve heard the story dozens of times. Mom was called into that place called work (which at the time was a newspaper newsroom) and told she would be one of about half of the staff to be let go that day. She was okay with it because she knew in her heart then what she believes now. The world is our oyster.

Two weeks later, her dad died. Suddenly and unexpectedly. She didn’t get to say goodbye. So begins the blip of time that spreads over the last five years.

What to say?After a few months of helping her mom sort through the details of the estate, a new job in a completely different position in wealth management (for which she was technically incredibly unqualified) fell into her lap and she seized the opportunity to rejoin the workforce. She studied hard, learned fast, and within a couple more months earned her Series 7, 63 and life and health insurance licenses. With absolutely no prior experience or education in anything relating to finance or financial planning.

I don’t know if she believes it, but I know she can do anything she puts her mind to. Because now, five years later, it’s almost like it never happened. Literally. And yet it did. It so vividly did.

I’ve learned something through all of this – it turns out I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. First, with news of the baby, then with the sex of the baby, and now this. I’ve known for a while it was happening but I couldn’t share the good news until now.

Mom put in her two weeks notice yesterday. She will no longer be going to that place called work. Well, technically she will still be working. But I’ve always been a believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And if there is something out of the ordinary that mom and I share it is our love for writing.

Alas, mom’s old beat at the newspaper just happened to open up recently. The exact same beat covering the local news in the exact same communities as she covered back in 2009. I call that a God thing. She will definitely have more time with baby Carter than if she kept her current job, while maintaining the majority of the necessary financial support I need to ensure I keep receiving the appropriate amount of dog treats and new chew toys. It’s the best of both worlds.

February 11, 2014. That’s when it started again. It’s like mom’s life hit the refresh button. As much as the job in wealth management has been good for the last few years, this is what is good right now. They say everything happens for a reason. Now I know it to be true.

 

When It Rains March 17, 2014

It started at 1:23 a.m. That is when baby Carter started crying (all right, more like screaming), almost an hour an a half before he usually wakes up hungry this morning. So mom and dad got up, fed him, and went back to bed. Mom wasn’t sleeping very well to begin with, so I snuggled my best. I’m not sure it mattered.

Then at 5:36 a.m. the phone calls and text messages started. My dear grandma, who was all set to babysit baby Carter on mom’s first day back to work, couldn’t come. She broke a tooth eating breakfast of all things, and needed to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. Thank goodness for my aunt Morgan, who swooped in to save the day.

Though I’m not entirely sure she saved much other than Carter and I, since it was definitely one of those days for mom. The kind that never ends even though you wish you could just go to bed and have it be tomorrow. The polar opposite of the kind of days you savor. The kind that when it rains it pours. Because when she got back to work, she was greeted by far more than she expected. Far more than she would be capable of catching up on in a day (let alone a month or two). For some, this would be an easy enough mountain to climb. Slow and steady. For mom, who cares so very deeply for doing the right thing even if it hurts, it was like a punch to the stomach.

I know as well as anyone she hates to let people down, and that is exactly what she felt like from the moment she got to back to work. She was letting Carter (and me) down because she left. She was letting her clients down because she couldn’t take care of them all at once. Ultimately, she let herself down because of letting all of this get to her.

Meanwhile, I was home monitoring the Carter situation and he was not happy. It started again yesterday – after days (or maybe weeks?) of fairly decent behavior, he started crying inexplicably. All the time. Morgan rocked him and sang to him and fed him and changed him and dressed him and nothing seemed to work. If I didn’t know better, I would say he and mom are on some sort of level emotional playing field. The way she has been crying the last couple of days mirrors his cries in a way I can’t think is a coincidence.

But it ended at 9:08 p.m. Baby Carter finally fell asleep. And mom and dad breathed a collective sigh of relief. Because let’s be honest. Sometimes there are days like this. Days with very little (if any) silver lining. Days that just plain run us down. When it rains it pours. But at least I know one thing for sure. That rainbow always follows the storm.

 

A Sea of Gray March 13, 2014

Apparently it’s normal. But I’m not going to lie, it is kind of freaking me out. I haven’t seen mom cry this much (this randomly) since the last time we watched Marley and Me. Which, coincidentally was today. (Probably not the best idea, given her tender emotional state).

I’m just glad it doesn’t seem to involve me. Or at least it didn’t, until I involved myself. She was crying tonight (for what seems like the millionth time in the last 48 hours) as she rocked baby Carter to sleep because it’s the last time she will do so on a weeknight before she’s working again. It seems a silly reason to me, since it will clearly not be the last time she rocks my dear little person to sleep. But its all going to be different now, she told dad. This Too Shall Pass

It has definitely become one of those lose-lose situations for dad and I, since neither of us can seem to say or do anything to help. So he did what he does best and gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead and told her we have a lifetime of nights like this ahead of us. Which made her cry more. So I did what I do best and shoved my way into the love fest. Which made her cry more. You see? Lose-lose situation.

But as I thought more about it, it’s not so much the situation itself that seems to be causing these emotions. It’s the thought of transition. The fear of the unknown. I know it all too well. As a family we have been in flux for some time now waiting for the baby to arrive and living through the first precious months, and now moving on with life involves a different kind of change. Transition. From the ground up, it can be a pretty scary thing.

It reminds me a bit of the situation in our backyard right now. As much as I love snow, I cannot stand what it looks like in transition. It’s sloppy and goopy and (worst of all) an awful dreary mixture of gray and brown. A sea of gray. Not to mention the stuff underneath that apparently used to be grass. Now it just looks like mushy brown death.

Just as this is a normal occurrence, apparently this emotional struggle mom is encountering is also fairly common. But here’s the important thing. Eventually all of the gray snow melts away. The grass doesn’t stay brown and sloppy forever. In just a few weeks time, it will be vibrant and beautiful again. My backyard paradise will be restored. The same can be said for this time we are in right now – it’s messy and emotional and that’s okay. Because I know in my heart these fears will be brought to purpose and the sun will shine again.

 

 

In Spite Of It All February 13, 2014

It’s kind of a mystery to me. And I think dad feels the same way. Lately this thing has been happening that doesn’t really make sense. At least not when you hear of this thing called post partum depression. It’s apparently fairly common for women after they have babies to feel a little blue. For some, it’s manageable and goes away on its own. Others need help working through it.

My mom has needed no such managing or work. She has looked at baby Carter through the eyes of joy and love from day one. This, in spite of her incessant lack of sleep. This, regardless of spit up and stinky foofters and messy diapers and occasional bits of screaming for no good reason. This, even after what I witnessed the other day.

There she was, holding Carter in the air above her, telling him how much she loves him when bam. Spit up. In her face. And it wasn’t a little bit. We’re talking little bits of partially digested milk clumping in her eyelashes. But still she didn’t crack.Love

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so happy as she’s been the last six weeks that she’s been home with Carter. So today I found myself wishing. Dreaming. It’s been so nice having her home all this time instead of at that place called work. She’s been a little preoccupied with Carter (obviously), but just having them both here with me during the days has been such a joy. Add to that how happy I’ve seen her and I’ve been one pretty blissful doggie.

I wish it could stay this way forever. I wish she didn’t have to go back to that place called work. I wish it could just be us three amigos against the world every day. We could go on adventures and explore new places together and I could show Carter my favorite hiding places at the dog park. Life could be grand.

Except for one thing. Mom is a pretty smart lady. I know she has a lot of schooling under her belt. And I know how happy she is when she accomplishes something or makes a difference at that place called work. I’m being selfish, I realized, and selfishness doesn’t get you anywhere.

It’s all a big mystery to me right now. A big mystery I can’t control. All caused by this one little person. It’s a wonder how something so little is actually so big.