And watch the sun sink like a stone
I’ve had some time to think about you
On the long ride home”
Two months ago I went to the lady doctor for my yearly check up. I had been experiencing some symptoms so I told her about them. I had (obviously) googled the symptoms and self diagnosed myself with Ebola but I figured I should check with a professional just in case. This bitch looked at me and said “oh…you’ve entered menopause”. To which I said “uummmm WHAT” then turned around to see why she was speaking to my Mom who clearly wasn’t there (sorry Karen). I’d like to say I handled the news well. Id like to say I was mature about it. Id like to say I didn’t cuss at my doctor……I’d also like my little boobs to be 3 inches north of where they are now….but…..life aint all roses and rainbows.
I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.
Someone once told me I was doing it wrong. DOING IT WRONG. It doesn’t matter what “IT” was. I saw a quote that says “Just because someone is on a different path than you does not mean they are lost.” That person who told me I was doing it wrong….she was wrong. She was very wrong. I have made a million mistakes, some bad decisions, said some words I regretted, hurt some people I shouldn’t have, and all of it has me right here, right now. And there’s no place else Im supposed to be.
So there’s a few things adults were wrong about. Things they told me when I was young or things I heard. Quite a few things actually but I can’t name them all. A few stick out. And I tell you these things now. That may be wrong. Whatever….as we all know I long ago surrendered my “parent of the year” award. First of all…YOU WILL NEVER EVER USE ALGEBRA. Unless you become some sort of mathematician, teacher, or some career Im too dumb to know the title of…you. will. never. use. it. And trust me….if by some crazy, rare situation occurs that I cannot foresee right now in which you DO need Algebra…..you can google it.
Did you ever have a Monday you just wanted to go back to bed. Curl up in a ball. Disappear?
I hate complaining. I hate complainers. I hate excuses. I’ve made no bones about that stuff. So this blog goes against everything I say I stand for. I wasn’t going to write this. Or at least not post it. We’ll see if I do. I think its important, though to share our struggle. To be honest. To let anyone who might be suffering out there know that they are not alone.
When Im stressed I hold it in my shoulders and neck. It doesn’t help that I have some cracked vertebrae in my neck that flare up once in awhile. So when stress is at an all-time high I can barely move my head. It hurts. Like SHIT. I still workout- because I need to and want to and it is what I do. I woke up today with tears rolling down my face the pain was so bad. But I wake up next to a dude who’s brain is shrinking. Complaining seems idiotic. And selfish.
My business is growing quickly. That is NOT a complaint. I could not be more thrilled with that. I am ecstatic. Its amazing and a blessing and Im so grateful. My “why” for doing this coaching thing isn’t just to “help other people get healthy”. Thats a big part of it. I love fitness and exercise and feeling great. But lets be honest- there’s good money to be made. And with Patrick’s very unknown work future I feel a serious obligation to my family to keep us financially secure. He makes very good money. I have not worked in years. I cannot express how grateful I am to him and to this situation for allowing me to be home with my kids all of those years. I am one lucky girl. So it feels so ungrateful to bitch about the pressure I feel when I know there’s single Moms out there that have been dealing with this for a LONG time. Who never had a supportive partner. But I can’t help but feel the pressure. Im sure my husband has felt this pressure to provide for 18 years. It’s my turn. And lets just say Im great at the “people and parties” part of this job. I love socializing, I love working with my team, I love working with people to find the appropriate fitness program and watching them succeed. The stupid ass taxes and administrative shit can kiss my ass. I don’t do “business stuff”. And now Im forced to. I know- poor poor me…business is doing well so I will deal. Its just me having a bitch session about the fact that I HATE dealing with numbers and taxes and accounting and crap. I went to a party college- and got a degree in Psychology because it required the least amount of math classes. And holy hell I need help because I don’t want to end up like Wesley Snipes and make a bunch of money then lose it because I DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HELL IT IS! OK- rant over about that.
People are relying on me. My kids, my husband, my customers, my coaches, my team. I love that. But it is stressful. My husband has been VERY wobbly this past week. And his speech is worse. It seems to be progressing. I knew it would. But for some dumb reason I ignore it. I love the little world I love in called Denial. It serves it’s purpose. It keeps me sane. It helps my neck. It helps me continue functioning. But he’s getting worse. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. And it fucking sucks. And 99% of the time Im ok and happy and embracing life and knowing each moment is precious and appreciating it. Today is a 1% day. Fuck you Brain Rot. And I want to call my Dad for help. He’d run here. He’d move here. He’d be here to help me. But I don’t have him. I have me. And when I Iook around for the grown-ups to FIX this. For the support of a more mature person. For a place to fall down and cry while someone else cleans it up I realize there is no one. Its ME. Im the grown up. Fuck.
I got some sweet messages from people about my video I posted on Facebook last week of me dancing in my driveway to my new CIZE workout. Very sweet. And some saying- “wow I could never look that good dancing” or “wow you’re in great shape I could never live up to that”. And I feel like some people get a picture of a perfect girl with a perfect life who’s thin and in shape and happy all the time. I want those people to know that there’s REAL shit in everyone’s life. I am thin. Born this way. Im the bitch who can workout twice and have muscles. I’ve never been overweight. I was too thin at one point due to severe IBS and stomach issues. I feel great now physically- Im healthier than I’ve ever been.. I can climb a mountain. My husband can’t.
And he texts me that the wobbliness is even worse today. And I have 500 things on my list for work to do. And I have 35 messages to return. And a new coach basics group to help run. And new coaches to train. And a kid to take to the orthodontist. And a light bulb to change. And dishes. And laundry. And a health check up for school athletics. And a workout to do and video and post. And so, so , so many other things. And all I really want to do is cry. And go to sleep.
And that is me bitching unnecessarily. Because I know that there are a million Moms, a million people out there who have it WAY worse than me. I get to travel. I have amazing friends. I have a nice house. A great family. An amazing “job”. And it all looks perfect. Perfectly perfect in that dance video. And maybe thats why someone WONT think they can get fit or find their healthy or “look like me while dancing” (good lord aim higher). Dont do that- dont think its all roses. I am one tough ass girl. I am strong willed and capable and I never give up! NEVER! I love my work and I will pour my soul into that. I love my family. I know how damn lucky I am. I don’t dance because my life is perfect. I dance INSPITE of the shit and BECAUSE it is so imperfect. Now Im going to have a cry. Then Im going to put on my big girl Nike Pros and kick this week’s ass. I hope you all do the same. Thanks for letting this girl bitch a little….or a LOT!
I think I’ve gone through life thinking there is a perfect whole I am aiming for. A goal. A final destination. So Ive hurried through time trying desperately to get to that perfect destination. It took 41 years to realize there is no perfect final destination. There is no final perfect whole. That dumbass saying about life being about the journey and NOT the destination is true. Dammit. It is. There is no perfect whole final destination. But there are some very perfect moments. The secret to life is recognizing them, slowing down, and enjoying them.
Sunday night I drove home from the cheer competition alone with Maddie asleep in the car next to me. It was dark and very, VERY snowy and slick and a bit scary. Just me and the radio for a few hours was nice though. And I looked at her curled up in a ball in her cheer uniform with a blanket and thought…this is one. This is one of those perfect moments. She’ll have her drivers license in just over a year and she won’t need me to drive her anywhere. That is such a weird realization.
I remember when I had Andy and Patrick had gone back to work and it was one of the first days I was home alone with an 18 month old and a 2 week old infant. And I remember rocking him in a chair while Maddie toddled around and for the first time in my life, at age 29, I felt like a Mom. Im not sure why it didn’t hit me like that with Maddie. Believe me I would have killed anyone who harmed my kids. Still would. But that overwhelming feeling of “God I am someone’s mother…I am two people’s mother” hit me in that moment. It was one of those perfect moments of panic and joy and fear and gratefulness all in one.
A few years later I was sitting in my parents driveway in a lawn chair drinking a Coors Light with my Dad. We were the only two outside and Charlie Robison was playing on the stereo (yes the garage stereo). We were discussing politics and music and how to change the world. It was important shit. All the important shit is figured out over Coors Light in a lawn chair. We sat well past dark and stared at the stars. Perfect. PERFECT. Moment.
In the past few years I’ve slowed down. Mentally I mean. And no jokes please. Im just as quick witted as I’ve always been so shut it…I mean Ive slowed my brain down, calmed the rush up there. Its been so nice. I truly honestly enjoy the moments more now. I don’t rush through things like I did. I don’t wish the days away. I don’t hurry. And I like it. Its ironic that this most beautiful and favorite time in my life is also filled with crap. Maddie’s health problems, Patrick’s brain rot. But somehow in the midst of all of that…and maybe BECAUSE of all of that Ive come to accept that there is a sadness in acceptance that your ending may not be the “Happy Fairytale” that you dreamed of or expected. It is sad. But acceptance is good because it leads to new discoveries. There may be no perfect ending…but there are absolutely perfect, beautiful, amazing moments that take your breath away if you let them. If you slow down and SEE them.
I’ve been lucky enough to have many. I had one in college, with an old friend. I had one at my wedding. I had one in high school at a football game while cheering. I had one on a mountain recently. I’ve had 42 years of many perfect moments. I know I’ll have many more. And now I know Ill actually be RIGHT enough and happy enough and slowed down enough to recognize them. And I’d give up a perfect ending any day for a million perfect moments.
She keeps saying it and I keep glossing over it. But for some reason this weekend it hit me. She is leaving in four and a half years. “Going faaaar away to college” she says. UGH. My stomach HURTS. I swear to you she was just yesterday four and a half years old. We were trying to decide if we should hold her back in Pre-K for one more year since she has a summer birthday. Thank God we did. I got one more year with her. Or this blog could be titled “THREE AND A HALF YEARS” and I’d be having more of a nervous breakdown than I already am.
So in my head I am still about 19. My body sometimes feels every bit of 42 but Im pretty sure Im still the idiot 19 year old girl I once was. How the hell I have a kid talking about college is beyond me. I swear there are days I still wake up and think “shit there are 2 humans relying on me to keep them alive”. But really they aren’t. They are potty trained (for the most part 😉 ), they make their own plans with friends, they shower themselves (mostly), they feed themselves, they come and go as they please and Im pretty much done parenting Maddie. Andy still needs reminding that his teeth are not self-cleaning.
I always heard adults saying “enjoy their childhood it goes VERY fast”. They were so right. I blinked and she was a lady. A person. She’s always been opinionated and wise beyond her years but SHIT. College? She’s asking to visit campuses and discuss what places have what majors and what universities have strong support for women on campus. Seriously? My college search criteria consisted of “what school has bars within walking distance?”. Who’s kid is this?
Looking back on Elementary School it is mostly a blur. All of the grades kind of run together. Literally FLEW by. We are about to register her for High School classes. I will likely vomit during the process. How am I even old enough to have a high school aged kid? Wasn’t I JUST in High School? She gets her driver’s permit in 8 months. Holy Hell. This is all going way too fast at this point. I am so very proud of my daughter. She gets straight A’s in honors classes, is the Secretary of Student Council, is very disciplined in Cheerleading and works hard three to four times a week at practice. She is a decent guitar player and at times I see her be so sweet to her brother when she thinks Im not watching. She truly loves her friends. She is a good person and we could not be prouder. I often say she ended up great DESPITE her Mother but Im just going to go ahead and take a little credit…my mini-me 🙂
Above all of her accomplishments I am most proud of how strong she is. She battles a daily barrage of health problems, weakness, exhaustion and aches and pains that a stupid autoimmune disorder dishes out to her and still pushes on. And God Bless the man who decides to spend his life with her. She is a HANDFUL. Strong-willed, opinionated, and mouthy. I have no idea where that comes from….yes I do. A long line of Ellis/Cannon/Harris women that don’t take any shit. A kind heart and a strong gut.
Four and a half years is going to fly by. I know it. I dread it. Its a funny mixed bag of emotions. A sadness that my sweet first born, beautiful child will fly away from home and things will never be the same. Alongside a swelling pride that I helped raise a person I know is going to change the world. I guess its true that kids are just on loan to us…and the goal really is for them to fly. I plan to enjoy every second of the next four and a half years.
You know that saying…Life never gives you more than you can handle? I call total Bull Shit. I know life gives you more than you can handle you just have no choice but to “handle it”. However you can.
My daughter, Maddie is 14 years old. Several months ago she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism with an underlying autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Disease. Big fancy words for fat swollen thyroid and exhausted ALLLLL the time. The doctor is great…I like her. She’s young and cute and funny and does NOT wear a white coat. These qualities are a must in a doctor. Even my husband’s new neurologist was picked based on these exact qualities. * An aside note- I have fired several of his neurologist based on lack of humor and insistence on wearing that stupid lab coat. HIs new one kicks ass. She even said “shit” in our initial meeting. I hired her THAT SECOND!
So back to Maddie- the medication her doctor put her on several month’s ago was not working. Her thyroid was growing even bigger and her blood work showed it to actually be getting worse. She was more tired than ever and things were not good. So I scheduled an appointment. For Yesterday. And I took her by myself (which I rarely do) but my husband had to tend to our son’s four thousand activities. You people with more than two kids amaze me!
Me, a hospital, and running tests on my kid = a level of anxiety that my Xanax could not touch. But oddly enough I remained semi-normally calm. At least my face did. I might have had a mini heart attack in the ultrasound room as they were scanning her neck for cancer. Yep- cancer. Fuck. After the doctor examined her she felt the need to send us immediately to radiology for an ultrasound of her neck. To look for cancer. Or some other shit-tastic thing that could be causing this. But all I heard was “cancer”.
My entire family has thyroid problems except me. Mine is totally normal. TOTALLY NORMAL. I know this because I just got it checked. My aunt even had thyroid cancer as a teenager. And as my kid laid there on the exam table with someone running an X-ray ball all over her I sat frozen. Three thoughts went through my head. I remembered 15 years ago lying on a table and having a sonogram with Maddie in my tummy. I remember crying because finally I was having a healthy baby after several miscarriages. I remember finding out she was a girl. I remember all the wonderfully fabulous things I wanted for her future and her life. Not once when you’re pregnant do you envision broken arms, braces, boyfriends, hormones, dirty rooms, algebra homework or your kid laying on an exam table at 14 finding out if she has cancer. Thought two was of that scene in Steel Magnolia’s where Sally Field screams “I can run to Alaska and back but my daughter can’t”. The complete gut wrenching inner plea you have with the universe to please allow you to switch places with your kid. I would in a heartbeat. All parents would.
The third thought was of Sydney. Maddie’s friend that died over a year ago from brain cancer. My gut churned and my heart flipped and I came close to vomiting because I could not begin to fathom how her Mom feels. Cancer fucking sucks.
And I will admit that several times today I have wondered what I did to have all of this crap land on us. MY HUSBAND HAS BRAIN ROT. Is that not enough? Really? REALLY?
I often say Im a tough girl. I am. But my definition of tough is putting one foot in front of the other while crying and barely breathing and wanting to lay in a ball and stab someone. Im THAT kind of tough girl. But I am tough. And my amazing kid is tough too. She is SOOOO tough. On the way to the ultrasound room she said “Im not scared of thyroid cancer…I googled it…high survival rate….it won’t kill me for sure”…and then she added “Mom my only real concern is if I have to have chemo & my hair falls out how will I wear a cheer bow at competition?”
Thats MY girl. TOUGH.
And not 3 hours later we get a call from our cool doctor saying “ALL CLEAR”. No cancer. No fucking cancer. Halle-fucking-luyah.
And my heart goes back to all of those people in Children’s Hospital today that I saw who will not get good news. Sometimes life DOES give you more than you can handle. You just have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other. And if it takes pills or drinking or going crazy or counseling or taking up taxidermy or smoking pot or cleansing your aura or acupuncture or speaking in tongues or running away then SO WHAT. Deal with that shit anyway you can. Survive ANYWAY you can. No one in the world has the right to judge you or how you handle things…. NO ONE! And if you do have an opinion of how someone might handle something like this…if you think YOUR way is the ONLY way.…well…Im waiving a very well manicured middle finger at you right now…BLESS YOUR HEART.
Here’s to all those Moms and Dads who will not get a “good news” phone call. My heart is with you. Go punch a wall…sometimes it helps.
I started this Beachbody thing in February 1st of this year so it’s been 8 months that I have been coaching. I love it. I work from my kitchen counter. I don’t love that. We have these swively stools and I sit and stare at the cabinets as I work. My printer is downstairs in the basement. So when I print something I have to run down there. My workout space is also set up in the basement. All of my Beachbody DVD’s, my weights, my yoga mats, my exercise ball, my husband’s weight bench, etc, are all down in the basement.
I also started my term as Colorado Springs Chi Omega alumna Secretary recently. And Im pretty sure my sisters are concerned about their dues checks and membership forms floating around in my chaotic house. Im not exactly what you’d call organized. I may be Type A with my workouts and my social life but not so much in my business life.
My daughter claimed this amazing little nook in our basement when we first moved here for her art supplies and desk. She has a great desk and a bazillion art supplies, paints, brushes, charcoals, sketch papers, etc. We set up the area when we first moved in. She used it quite a bit for awhile. She is in 8th grade now and her interests have changed. Her LIFE is cheerleading. I cannot IMAGINE for the life of me where she gets that!!?? Her little art supplies have not been touched in months. Instead she tumbles across the basement, stretches, back bends, jumps, practices cheers, and coordinates matching hair bows to workout outfits. Oh…and her makeup has taken over the art supplies. 😦 I think I am sad. I am so happy she is growing into such a beautiful, smart, responsible, driven young lady…despite her crazy mother. But a little part of me is sad. The art brushes are all dried up.
I realized recently I cannot function on my kitchen counter. There are Chi Omega alumna forms, checks, and letters everywhere. There are scratch papers with Beachbody notes, my spirals, and my workout schedule scattered on the counter as well. Beachbody and Chi-O have merged to create some crazy sorority workout mess that I cannot keep control of on my kitchen counter.
So I asked Maddie if I could have her nook. Her art nook. She didn’t seem to mind. She just asked that we organize (and by “we” I mean me) her art things and put them in the storage closet. We have 2 HUGE storage closets so there is plenty of room. I spent last night (while she was at cheer) emptying her desk of art supplies and filling it with my spirals and Chi-O forms. I even STARTED a little bulletin board to decorate with inspirational things to hang above the desk.
She came home last night and said “wow you just really evicted me from my nook, huh?”. I asked if she was ok with it. She said yes. She didn’t say much else. I went to bed.
This morning I went down to “work” at my new area and glanced at my bulletin board. Right there in the middle was this big green “child-like” note pinned to it. I think Maddie and I both knew that putting the art supplies away was more than just putting the art supplies away. Time moves too fast sometimes. ENJOY. EVERY. SECOND.