Monday, April 26, 2010

2nd Best

We have all been there at one point. 2nd place. Not quite good enough for first, but still “acceptable”. More than acceptable by some people’s standards.

I know this really amazing guy. He’s funny; he’s smart, good-looking, sweet, selfless, and thoughtful. I could go on and on. He is just a great guy. This guy did something that most people wouldn’t have the guts to tackle and see it through. It probably isn't amazing by some people’s standards, but for him, it was.

At 29 he went to college. For the first time. Ever.

While that might not be a big deal to some, it was to him. It still is. He works full time, travels out of town every other week so that he can do his job. He helps care for a 77 year old man, as well as his house, when he is home. To say that he is busy is an understatement. Yet, he still manages to find time to spend with his wife, and maintain an A average.

Sure, some people would have it worse, if they were to go back to school today. They would have kids, chemo, jobs, friends, spouses, and families, all to deal with. I’m not trying to diminish their own obstacles, if they were to go back to college. They would have their own struggles and probably see his as a walk in the park in comparison. They might be right.

He has a younger sister, who is also going to college. She has been going quite a while, and changed her major several times. If she had stuck with one she would probably be working on her master’s degree by now. I can understand changing your major, you might as well find something that you love to do, so you didn’t waste all that time, and money.

When this guy shared with his family that he would be graduating with his associate’s degree several months before his baby sister, he was told that she had so many problems, and that her life was so much harder than his. According to him, and my impression from him, they made his accomplishments seem less than stellar. They made his hard work, seem like nothing. Like he was just “playing” around with school. Like it wasn’t important. Like no matter what he did, it was still just 2nd best.

I have spent the better part of today wondering why he got such a raw deal. Out of his siblings, and I have met them both, he is the more upstanding one. He is there in a bind if they need him, he is honest, decent to his parents, has worked since he was 16 years old. He never expected a handout. Maybe just a hand guiding him, not pushing, maybe just a hand pulling him up, when he fell, but never a handout.

Instead he just doesn’t quite measure up. Oh sure, they are proud of him, but his brother cooks better, or his sister has a B in chemistry. It just doesn’t ring true when they say, “You have a 4.0, that’s great. Well, your sister has a B in chemistry and she has tried really hard. You know how hard she works and studies. It’s just so hard to believe, and she has a B. We are so proud of her.”

And instead of lashing out, that wonderful man, sits there, silent. While his family, oblivious to the hurt that they just inflicted to their 2nd born child. He sits there, and silently prays for understanding, and patience, and for an escape.

It hurts me the way that parents, sometimes unintentionally hurt their children. His parents have no idea, nor do his brother or sister, what his never measuring up is doing to him. It’s changing him. It will make him work harder, so he can finish what he started. It will also make it easier to walk away.

Trust me. I know.

My “father” (at least on paper) did the same thing to me as a child. I was never good enough, my grades were never good enough, and nothing I did was ever good enough. There was always someone who did it bigger and better. But instead of having a sibling to compare too, I was compared to my friends. One of which wouldn’t have known what to do if she saw an A on her report card. Yet, me, making the all A honor roll, wasn’t quite good enough.

And it changed me. It made it easy to walk away, and not see him again. To be thankful that he lives across the country from me and that I don’t have to worry about running into him when I go back to my hometown. He didn’t make me try harder. The people who cheered me on, who were proud of C’s, who were proud of zits on prom night, crunched fenders, and everything else that meant something to me, they were the ones who made me try harder. The “father” made it easier to walk away from the people who wouldn’t cheer me on.

He talks often about moving away. Far away from his family, brother, and sister. Just packing up his wife and dogs and moving somewhere, where he can’t always be reminded of how he just doesn’t measure up.

Do you know what bothers me the most? His family. They don’t realize the damage that they are doing. They don’t realize what they are losing. Perhaps, like my “father”, it will take them a few years of not having him in their life to see what they are missing, what was right in front of them the whole time. For their sake, I hope not.

That man. That wonderful, sweet, selfless man doesn’t realize how many people he has cheering him on. And that he isn’t the one “missing” anything. His family is. That man also doesn’t realize that to me, and at least a dozen other people, he will never be 2nd best with us. He is 1st class all the way.

“How do you know?” You ask.

Because I am honored to be his wife. And I wouldn’t settle for 2nd best.

~Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland

~It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e.e. cummings

~Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep. ~Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, 1750

~Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. ~Harvey Fierstein

~Learn to... be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not. ~Henri Frederic Amiel

~It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not. ~Andre Gide

Friday, April 23, 2010

Because I said so

Do you remember asking to go somewhere or do something when you were a kid? When the parent’s answer was NO, and you asked why; and their response was ‘Because I said so’.

That used to infuriate me. It still does. I hear my sister, mom, dad, my brother-in-law, my mother and father in law tell their kids and grandkids that same line. It still drives me nuts. Why?

I wanted a reason. Not because you’re the mommy reason, a solid reason. You can’t go because you have homework to do, your room isn’t clean, your grounded; just give me a reason. Explain your thought process to me and why I can’t go.

Hmmm…the parents never say that when you CAN do something. Interesting.

Then again I was a weird child. I guess that makes me a weird adult. I like explanations. I like to know the “why” to your reasoning. All the ‘because I said so’ did and still does is piss me off. Give me a reason. You obviously have one or you wouldn’t object. Tell me why. I may not like the reason, but at least you aren’t taking a cop out.

I think that parents often do that because they don’t want a confrontation. They don’t want their child all pissed off and slamming doors and giving them the silent treatment. Why? You, as an adult get mad; you slam doors and say cuss words to vent your frustrations. Why can’t they? They get frustrated too; why not teach them how to vent, so they don’t think that it’s ok to beat their child or wife or dog or wall.

Why? Because they are learning; they are growing up, and even though your 8 year old may not completely understand your reasoning behind your choice, they at least will know later that you had their best interests at heart. On occasion my mother did give me a solid reason, I often didn’t like it, but I was less pissed off than when no reason was given. Weird, I know. As an adult I know that my mom was just trying to make my childhood miserable and not let me have any fun. Ok, not really. I know that her reasons were because she had more experience and wisdom than a 10 year old. As an adult, I understand the reason for her “no’s” more than I did at 10.

Everything you do or say your children pick up on. They learn by example. They learn that it’s ok to tell “white lies”, to avoid issues, to be nice to animals from watching you. Right now, as you are raising your children, you are teaching them how to raise their children. You are teaching them how to be a responsible adult. You are teaching them how to take care of you when you get old. Is that really the example you want your kids to see? Are your actions showing them how to be the people you want them to become? What are you teaching them? What kind of person will they become based on your example? Are you sure that’s what you want?

Perhaps you should take a good look at the things that you say and do. Perhaps you should make sure that you are teaching your children how to be a responsible adult, and not make the mistakes that you have made. Consider this…if I were to ask your child or grandchild, what the most important thing to you was…what would they say? Is it different than what you would want them to say?

After spending some time with my niece and nephew this weekend I realized that the example that I am providing them hasn’t been what I wanted it to be. I also don’t want to know the answer to the above question, if I were to ask them.

I remember as a kid my mom used to tell me that I needed to be on my best behavior because I might be the only chance that “they” had to see Jesus. As a child and teenager that really didn’t have the profound impact on me that it does now. It is a powerful thought, one that we as adults, and even children shouldn’t take for granted.

Look around you right now. See that waitress, husband, parent, pet, child. You might be the only chance they have to see Jesus. What kind of reputation are you going to give Him?

Maybe you should take a look at your actions and words from their perspective.

“Why?” You ask.

Because I said so.

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. ~Franklin P. Jones

Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. ~Author Unknown

It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help. ~Author Unknown

Monday, April 12, 2010


What a profound thought.

What is a miracle? According to Webster’s 800 year old dictionary that I have at work:

Miracle –n. 1. An event or action that apparently contradicts known scientific laws. 2. A remarkable thing.

So I ask again what is a miracle?

A friend on facebook today made a profound comment. Maybe not to most of you reading this, but to her, and those that know her family know how true and life changing this statement was and is.

I believe in miracles.

She believes in them, because without them, her daughter, who turned 4 several weeks ago, would be spending her days with God. Dani was born premature, and her mother May, faced life-threatening pre-eclampsia. We very nearly lost them both. In the weeks that followed Dani’s birth, May saw and lived through a miracle; the miracle of her daughter growing and getting stronger and eventually going home with her.

I believe in miracles too.

I saw them several times, when my grandfather was having heart problems and the doctors couldn’t understand what was causing it, or how to fix it. There were several nights that we should have lost him – but we didn’t.

My husband had a wreck. A car pulled out in front of him, and he T-boned it. It should have been a lot worse, and all he had was a heck of a headache, torn rotator cuff, and dislocated shoulder. Yeah, it was bad, but it could have been worse; the same for the people in the car that he hit. It was bad, but it should have been worse.

My father had two heart attacks within weeks of each other. They should have been fatal. But they weren’t.

I was reminded today that sometimes we focus on all the things that are wrong in our life that we often forget about the things that are good. I have been guilty of that here lately. I have been so focused on what is missing in my life that I have forgotten the “miracles” that I have in my life, that I have taken for granted, as well as the people.

Sometimes with school, and work, and a family it’s hard to remember that there are miracles all around us. A facebook friend of mine, who has struggled with infertility and has 4-year-old triplets, just found out that she is expecting a baby. With no doctor intervention. While most people would think that she is nuts having another baby with 3 kids already, I know, better than most, what a miracle this is for her.

Apparently I spend way too much time on facebook.

And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

And sometimes we forget that miracles happen in hindsight.

And sometimes we forget that even the good things falling apart are miracles in themselves. It’s a blessing in disguise. How many times have you lost your job and something better comes along? Losing the job was most definitely not a miracle, especially the days and weeks following losing it. But when that awesome new job came along, hopefully you realized that the job you lost was giving you the opportunity to find the better one. Because now you can look back and see what a blessing it was.

My husband lost a job that he loved. They fired him with no warning. We moved home, to where we both grew up. Although we have regretted the move, we don’t regret him losing the job, especially now that another company who provides the exact same product, is “taking over the world”. He would be losing his customer’s, which would hurt his bonus, which would hurt him in general, as he is big on customer satisfaction and service. Losing that particular job – definite miracle.

But ole Webster only has it partly right. Maybe a miracle should be defined as simply a remarkable thing. Just like faith should be defined as simply believing. The rest is up to you.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” ~Albert Einstein

Friday, April 9, 2010

Life Changing

Something is seriously "off" with me. Twice in the last few months, I have felt compelled to send a message to "friends" on facebook. And I've followed through. Better check me for a fever.

I'm not an outgoing person. I don't like the attention and when all these eyeballs are looking at me, I begin to stutter and stammer and second guess every word that comes out of my mouth. Until I get to know you, then I don't shut up. I just don't do well with people I don't know. And these "friends" I don't really know anymore. One of them, I worked with many moons ago. She had been on my mind when I wasn't on Facebook, so I sent her a message. And we talked for hours one morning. There was alot going on in her life, a lot that she was struggling with. The funny thing is - she helped me more than I could have possibly helped her.

The second message, sent just yesterday, was directed to someone I went to high school with. Which was ?? ago. What? You didn't think I would reveal my true age did you. (Hint look at blog title) I haven't seen her in that long, nor talked to her. So I don't really "know" her anymore. I sent her a message too. I didn't even proofread it for fear I would change my mind.

Lately I have struggled, again, when having a baby. I whined to the doctor about it on Tuesday, I whined to my husband, and my dogs. Guess what?!? I'm..still not having a baby. I've been unhappy, and I have let this problem become larger and more in charge than it should. I have let it rule my happiness. My sanity. While it has every right too, require thought, it shouldn't rule my life.

The doctor suggested that I make up a list of things that I hated about my life. Things that if I ruled the world I would change. So I started naming things - like my weight, my unhappiness, I came up with 5 things. One of which was the child I long for. Did you know that all of those things but one are within my control to do something about? All of them. I can go on a diet, I can exercise, I can manage my time better. All of those are within my control. All it takes is effort on my part. Faith. Faith in me mostly.

She also suggested that I write a letter. A letter to the child I miscarried, and a letter to the child I haven't conceived. A letter that "lets them go". Just like when my grandparents died, I have to let that baby go. I have to grieve. I have to experience the loss and then move on. Move on. It's hard. It's scary. It's something I don't want to give up on.

The high school friend said something about praying "Lord, your will be done" and "Lord, when will". I can so relate to that. When we were first trying to get pregnant it was, if we are meant to have a baby, then let it happen. The more time passed it became when will I get pregnant. When did I lose faith? When I got tired, because I wasn't getting the results I wanted in Abby Time. I forgot about God's plan, about His bigger picture. About being right where He wanted me to be.

Last night I had an epiphany. Brace yourselves. This is big.

I realized that maybe, just maybe, I have dealt with all of this, suffered through it all it, so that for these two people, I could use my pain, to help them deal with theirs. To help them remain faithful. To help them, help me. God has plans for me. Plans so great that I can't even begin to imagine them. Plans that I'm excited to learn about. Plans that may or may not be the things I want for myself.

I had wanted to change their lives, their perspectives, and instead they ended up changing mine.

~The best way to change your life is to change someone else. ~Author unknown

"It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away.""
~ Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's!!

I missed my snow phone call this morning. I missed it last year too. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the...

My grandfather called me every year before i went to work, or school, usually I was still sleeping when I got the call, urging me to get up and look outside at the snow that had miraculously fallen overnight. Not once was there snow. One year, he had my grandmother call, and when I finally caved and looked out my bedroom window, there was his face. He scared me half to death. He walked away chuckling and I probably thought evil thoughts about my revenge. Revenge that never came. See, April Fools wasn't the only day of the year he made up "lies" and fed them to me. He did it every day of the year.

One year, my husband, thought it would be amusing, and I am sure from his standpoint it was priceless, called and told me that he had been fired. At the time I was delivering the newspaper, and he was our sole source of income. While I helped, we needed his check too. So naturally I was worried. And he was lying. How he kept a straight voice, as he did it via telephone, I will never know.

I have tried to come up with something equally believable every year, and yet most of the attempts that have been made, are done, are not successfully pulled off. Not because I can't keep a straight face or anything, but because they start chanting "April Fool's! April Fool's! Before I even get halfway through my explanation. Maybe I need a new strategy. Maybe I will never be the "fooler" quite as well as my grandfather, or my husband (but don't tell him I said so). Maybe I am too sweet for anything that I say like that to be believable. No comments from the peanut gallery on that one.

Pregnant? Odds aren't likely. Becoming a lesbian and moving off with my best friend? Might be believable if she lived closer. Moving? Tried that one-didn't work the first time. Lost my job? Yeah right. Divorce? Interesting. But probably not believable either. Hmmmm.

I guess I am just stuck with snow, for now.


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