Grandparents

Grandma and I have fallen into a routine of sorts.
I go in and help her pick her clothes for the day, wash, and dress. I get her dirty laundry, bring it home to wash, hang up the shirts and fold her socks.
It’s funny the way something so foreign can become so familiar so fast.

Smells you used to notice when you walked in the door don’t seem nearly so strong by now, and strange sounds in the hallway fade into the background.

There’s really no secrets between us at this point. It’s our new “normal.”

I noticed that her papery skin was getting dry and cracked so I picked up some Aveeno lotion and brought it with me. I was rubbing it across her shoulders and my mind was wandering at all the weekends and summer vacations I’d spent at her house. And this is our life now.

I brushed her hair. I trimmed her toenails and fingernails and painted them ‘shell pink’–her favorite. Rosebud’s favorite, too. Then I got her Taco Bell because she’ll be 89-years-old this year, and I think if you live that long you ought to be able to eat what you want, when you want–salt or no salt. And if what you want is a Mexican pizza, two tacos, and a root beer, then so be it.

I have no idea why I’m even writing about any of this except to process it myself.

She looks at me the way I used to look at her. Expectant. Like I have the answers, when really I’m just trying to figure out how to manage all of this.

All of our lives, grandparents have this special ability to make us feel so loved no matter what.
Growing up, we know our parents love us, but they also carry the burden of disciplining us. There’s always that risk of getting in trouble–because they are charged with shaping us as people.

Grandparents, on the other hand, just get to love without the hindrance of the “you can’t do that’s” and “I said no’s.”

Or at least if you’re as lucky as I’ve been.

My grandparents had this special ability to make me feel so….precious.
Loved isn’t the right word. And neither is special.
They made me feel like I made their world a beautiful place.

When I would spend the night at Grandma’s house–whether I was 6, or 16–she would come into my room at night, pray with me and kiss me and tell me how much she loved me.
And I believed her.
That no matter what I did in life and no matter where I went, her love and her prayers would go, too.

Yesterday before I left the nursing home, I helped her change into her nightgown–all of the awkwardness about modesty and whatnot washed away by this point. I leaned down to hug her and she kissed me on the cheek and told me “Thank you. I love you so much. You’re precious to me.”

And just like that I was 5-years-old again, holding Grandma’s hand as we took one of our walks.
I cried the whole way home because it’s hard to see the hands that cooked you a million pancake breakfasts fumble over buttons.
I cried the whole way home because I’d give about a million dollars to go back in time for just one day–to get up at 1 in the morning just to eat cinnamon toast and watch an old movie together–for no other reason than to be together.

But mainly, I cried the whole way home because even now, when there’s nothing she can really do or give, she still makes me feel so loved and so precious.

One year for Mother’s Day, we got Grandma a wall hanging that said “God couldn’t be everywhere, so he made grandparents.”
And with my grandparents, I’ve gotten to experience the truest, most unconditional love this side of Heaven.
And I hope you have, too.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

 

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My Metaphor for the Month

There are very few things that I love as much as I love playing in the dirt. Mowing, weedeating, mulching, getting my hands dirty planting flowers, pruning my roses–all of it.

My Grandma used to tell me to plant flowers by moonlight for good luck. They’ll withstand the heat the entire summer. So each year, by the moonlight, I turn on my iTunes, I get out my flower pots and my potting soil and I plant.

I do my best thinking with my hands in the dirt. And as long as there is soil and sunshine, I’ll never have to pay for therapy, no matter how crazy I get. Because while I’m out there, pruning and shaping, my soul rests and heals from the business of the day. Instead of whirring and spinning, my mind floats. It’s my mental version of a lazy river.

When John and I moved to this house, we got some rose bushes to plant. Whether it was the location, the soil, or just some old fashioned luck, they’ve thrived, and are now taller than Rosebud, herself. We prune them at the beginning and end of each season, but the thing is, they’re getting a bit unruly. And while I was clipping the branches yesterday, a lightbulb went off.

Parenting is a lot like gardening. It’s our job to prune and shape our little flowers. If we hover and control too much, they’ll never be able to get to the sun and really grow like they were intended. But if we never temper them, they’ll grow wild and uneven and their thorns will overtake them. Even though their blooms are still beautiful when they’re wild and overgrown, you won’t be able to see them until you cut back the foliage and trim down their sharp edges.

I’m not saying it’s easy. There are days it would be so much easier to let Rosebud grow wild, and there are days it would be so much easier to just clip back her branches and trample her spirit. Finding and striking that balance is one of the hardest things Doc and I have ever attempted.

But we do try. Every day. Because in the end will stand a beautiful Rosebud that will be able to withstand life’s stormy seasons and life’s sunny seasons because her roots will reach deep and hold strong.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Marry the Man….

WARNING: I get what could be considered an annoying level of sappy.

Everyday I read some new article giving love and relationship advice to the millions of single millennials out there wondering: “Why doesn’t anybody love me?”

Google “marry the man who….” and hits start coming at you like crazy.

“Marry the man who loves you more than you love him.”
“Marry the man who makes you feel single.”
(wait wut. What does that even mean?)
“Marry the man who wastes your lipstick, not your mascara.”
(Now this is just getting silly.)

So I decided to add my own little relationship column out into the world wide web.
Because I really think I landed the winner, and so why not share my *love secrets with the world.
And also, because half of the articles/blogs that I read are just feel good, tell you what you want to hear bull, and the other half are boring.
*Reality: We have no love secrets.

Today, Doc worked a labor and delivery shift for 12 straight hours. He woke up at 5 am, when Rosebud and I hadn’t even turned over twice yet. He got ready, made the coffee (mine, too), and headed to the hospital. All of this after staying up past mid-night on Saturday.
Unusual as it was for a Sunday, L&D was wild. He had 6 back-to-back C-sections, and 2 vaginal deliveries. (On a side note, I never thought I’d write ‘vaginal’ in a post.)

He got home and made Rosebud supper because she loves his omelets like nothing in the world. Then we ran to Target to pick up a site-to-store order for a pair of Rosebud’s shoes. Then he got Annie Oakley (her new requested name) ready for bed, so I could work on paperwork for Grandma.

While he was applying for study away rotations, I interrupted to ask him to run to the ATM for Grandma. At 11:00 p.m. He did so. Not only willingly, but happily.
Then we tracked my textbooks for my block that starts tomorrow and found out they won’t be here until Friday. So Doc got on the internet, searching for a solution. He found the book at Willy T. So at 12:18 am, my sweet, exhausted husband drove to campus to check me out a book.

YALL.

Marry the man who will get up with the baby/toddler/kids on Saturday morning and shut the bedroom door while you hear him whisper: “Shhh. Let’s go play and make breakfast and let mommy sleep.”

Marry the man who gets you and your best friend wine and ice cream for Netflix marathons.

Marry the man who drags you out of bed for church on Sunday mornings…even the early service.

Marry the man who will drive 30 minutes one way to take your Grandma clean laundry and some potato soup and sit in the nursing home and hold her hand because you couldn’t get off work that day, and it’s finals week.

Marry the man who walks in with a smile on his face after standing through 9 hour surgeries and would much rather collapse on the couch than chase a 2-year old while growling like a bear.

Marry the man who knows nothing about stockings or hairbows, but tries really hard on a busy Sunday morning, anyways.

Marry the man who will clean up your vomit, and give you a bath to break your 104 degree temperature when you’re 6 months pregnant and get the flu.

Marry the man who puts the dishes away at 4 am before early morning rounds.

Marry the man who teaches your little girl how to pray. And when she says “Dear Lord. Please be wif my lips because they are chapp-ed and Daddy hada put medicine on them,” he doesn’t even laugh, but gives a very serious ‘amen.’

Marry the man who will fold your 88-year old grandmother’s panties on laundry day.

Marry the man who will drive to the library at midnight, after a 12-hour day, on 4 hours of sleep to get you a textbook. >Betcha won’t find that one on a Pinterest meme.

And who while on the search for said book at the library texts you to say: “I feel like Nick Cage.” Followed up by “The eagle has landed.”

Here’s a hope on a wing and a prayer that all you ladies find men like my Doc.
Here’s a hope on a wing and a prayer that Rosebud does, too.

Don’t settle for anything less. Because I have proof sitting on the couch next to me (still a little depressed that his March got too mad) that magic exists. He makes me laugh when I really want to punch him in the face, holds my hand during tornado watches, and wakes up six times a night to make sure the doors are locked when I hear a weird noise.

Keep on keepin’ on, and ignore all the articles that tell you what love is as they try to define Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now and whatever else.
[Except for mine. Definitely read mine.]

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Spring Break As a Mom: Heavy on the Spring, Light on the Break

Along with real housewife, mom, landscaper, maid, nurse, and official backyard pooper scooper I also wear the student hat. That’s one I just can’t seem to take off. 20 years and counting. And last week was Finals Week: where everything that can go wrong will.

We run on a full time block schedule. So we take courses for 8 weeks, have finals, then begin our next 8 week block. It took some adjusting to because my body was stuck in semester and you can’t teach an old sorority girl new tricks. It’s super fast-paced, and pretty intense and that’s the way I like life, so I get by. Also. If you have a really terrible professor, you’re only stuck with them for half the time. Heyyyyyyy.

I always have the best intentions to begin preparing for my finals far in advance. But after working 20 hours, cooking enchiladas, and trying to fit in some solid time with Doc and Rosebud, the time gets whittled away and I’m left scrambling.

Then, and here’s the kicker, I scheduled an interview, a conference call, and a dentist appointment all in one week. Guess which week. Go ahead, guess. Yup. Finals week. Because apparently I’m an unconfirmed sadist.

But I wasn’t panicked. No. I can get this all done. Where’s my cape? Hand me my cape! Watch me work(fail) mere humans!!! I was feeling cocky. And pride always goeth before the fall. And before the emotional breakdown.

Rosebud turned on me. The Benedict Arnold spiked a fever Sunday night and the days dedicated to studying started to look less hopeful. I should’ve known. It’s the curse of finals’ week. So everyday that week I spent at home with my snotty, grumpy, feverish 2-year-old, all the while making calls and doing policy reports for work and attempting to study and complete final exams and 15 page reviews over education finance laws. Gag me with a peanut butter covered spoon.

But there was a light at the end of this tunnel: Spring. Break. I knew that if I could only make it to Friday at midnight, the week from H.E.double L would end, and I would immediately slip into the cuddly comfort of sleeping late and relaxing on my very last Spring Break.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah. Right.

The weekend leading up to Spring Break was spent in bed alright, sick as a dog. Rosebud breathed on me just one too many times. Started off with a real bang.

Monday: I spent an hour on the phone with Best Buy trying to figure out where my Grandmother’s t.v. that I ordered her was. For the record, nobody knew. And then the next six hours catching up on the mending/hemming I’d been putting off for 6-months. I hemmed 10 pairs of John’s dress pants, 2 of Rosebud’s dresses, and fixed a few loose buttons. Then I went……….grocery shopping. DUH DUH DUNnnnnnnnn. We needed to hit up the whole shebang-Sam’s Club, Kroger, even Wal-Mart (where Rosebud found a pack of clearance big girl panties for $4.50 and wouldn’t put them down because apparently every 2 year old needs panties with birds on them, and “Mommy, I not has any bird panties at home.”) Home. Dinner. Got Rosebud ready for bed. Worked on policy reports for work. Went. to. bed.

Tuesday: I went to work. Got home and saw that Grandma’s new chair had been delivered, so I put the chair together. Made some homemade salsa, so the cilantro wouldn’t wilt like Rick Pitino’s career, then started dinner. Doc and Rosebud got home, we loaded up the glider and ottoman into the car and headed to Richmond to see Grandma. Got her laundry to wash and a list of things she needed. On the way home she calls to tell me that this chair just “doesn’t suit” and I’ll have to come back and pick it up. Tonight. I said no, because I’m trying to stay out of jail and I didn’t want to be the focus of an episode of Snapped. Got home. Ate the dinner I’d cooked at 4:30 (reheated chicken is yum) gave Rosebud a bath, helped her fill out her bracket for our family tournament, and put the babe to bed. Time change is a real friend to mom’s everywhere, and so Rosebud was up every 10 minutes for the next hour and a half. “I need to pee-pee.” “I need to go poo.” “I need some water. I sirstee.” Finally, bed. Also, Marco Rubio dropped out of the primary race so I spent a good hour mourning the loss of the Republican Party to Donald Trump. RIP.

Wednesday: I went to get a hair cut. Which every busy woman knows is basically a vacation. I spent 2 1/2 hours getting pampered, and walked out feeling like a new woman. Sigh. I wish everyday was haircut day. But then reality put its foot back up my butt and I started working a thesis assignment, and doing work for my real, out of the house job. The day hit a  high note with a trip to McAlister’s for dinner with a best friend. Then we went to Best Buy, picked up Grandma’s t.v. and headed home. Rosebud went down fairly easily, and I helped Doc edit a personal statement for a rotation application and took his picture so he’d have one to attach. (Note to self: Add Professional Photographer with focus on portraiture and headshots to resume.)

Thursday: Doc insisted that I sleep in today and relax. It’s so cute when he’s oblivious. I slept in until 8:00. When my phone started ringing off the hook. It’s currently 12:15 and I’ve had 5…wait. now 6. calls from Grandma/the nursing home. In between answering the phone, I cleaned out and organized the storage building, started my billion loads of laundry for Grandma and us, and got our spring/summer clothes out of storage and put our winter things away. Took a break to blog and eat a turkey sam. I will follow that up with an exciting afternoon of preparing our tax documents because we will be going to get our taxes filed this evening at 6. After that we’ll drive to Richmond, and I’ll hang up/put up Grandma’s laundry, pick up that chair and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine return it to Target, and get home just in time to put Rosebud to bed and watch Doc chew off his fingernails during the Cats’ first game.

Friday: Tomorrow I’ll be spending what I’m sure will be a lovely day at the office of community based services where I will spend hours fills out Grandma’s long-term stay Medicaid application. Whenever that is complete, I’ll finish my spring cleaning.

Saturday: We’ll be taking Rosebud to an Easter egg hunt and to meet the great bunny himself at Grandma’s nursing home, so that Grandma will be able to argue with all of the other old women there about whose grandkid/great-grand-kid is the cutest and the smartest.

Sunday: Church. And then I will be spending my day of rest on the couch, watching House of Cards. (If this actually happens, it will be a miracle.)

So here’s to all you women out there experiencing the joys of spring “break”. Shoot. I’ve worked harder this week than the rest of the year combined. Head up–summer is just around the corner. Oh wait. No summer break? I’ll graduate and have a real job instead?

Well. Dang.
C’est la vie, my friends. C’est la vie.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

 

 

My Scandalous Confession

Lately I’ve been finding myself fantasizing about living someone else’s life.
Pretty scandalous, huh?
Dreaming of being another woman, with a different husband, and a different child, living in a different house.

So okay. It’s still me. Still Doc. Still Rosebud.
…Just another life, further down the road. Our life, but different.
Our future life.

A life where Doc is in his residency–moving up from slavery to indentured servitude.
A life where I am graduated and working, instead of studying and working and trying to finish finals and a thesis.
A life where Rosebud knows how to sit still–okay, so that one’s a wash, but still.
A life where we have more than one bathroom.

In this season, I keep focusing on one day instead of today.

One day, we’ll be settled.
One day, we’ll have more in savings and be comfortable.
One day, we’ll have a bigger house.
One day, I won’t be terrified when I wake up and hear Rose laughing maniacally and wonder what destruction she created.
“Life will be so much easier, when….It will be so much better, when.”

I’ve been thinking about this whole “the grass is always greener on the other side” deal. I used to think it only applied in situations where we were jealously coveting the life someone else is living.
But now I think maybe the “other side” is over the hill from the struggle we’re wading through.
What happens when the life you’re jealously coveting is your own?
And in the end, what is more dangerous to our hearts?

‘I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation.’ -Philippians 4: 11-12

You should’ve learned by now that I’m a little bit a lotta bit high strung.
I don’t relax easily. I don’t “Just Keep Calm And….Whatever.” I don’t do still and I don’t do content.

And I think that’s exactly why Paul’s words touch me so deeply.
I physically yearn for the peace that contentedness brings.
I desperately desire to calm my spirit. I yearn to “be still and know.”
But it feels impossible.
Contentedness seems to go against my very nature and every basic instinct that I have.
If life is running smoothly, and I have nothing to worry about–I will literally invent things to worry about.
I will use my over-reactive, way-too-imaginitive, constantly whirring brain to think up new ways that something, ANYTHING can go wrong.
Because I’m crazy.

Because when life is happening, and the unexpected can pop its head in at any time and ruin the perfectly timed, perfectly choreographed ORGANIZED PLAN THAT I HAVE SPENT DAYS CREATING!!!!!…..
Well. Then peace seems simply out of my reach.

But that Paul guy. That Paul.
He has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” In need. In plenty.
He’s learned the secret. COME ON PAUL. TELL ME THE SECRET, PAUL.
Oh wait. There’s more?

‘I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.’ Philippians 4:13

One of the most familiar verses in all the Bible. But also: the most understated.
The secret to being content is to quit trying so damn hard to get somewhere.
Because you can’t.
You can’t find peace when you don’t tap the Source. Instead you’re going off on a blind hunt.

To find my peace. To achieve my contentedness, quit seeking contentedness, and instead seek the One from which the strength to be at peace is derived.

Mind. Blown.

I used to think that “content” was the easy way out. I actually felt sorry for those people.
I thought that waking up every morning and pushing for more and getting more was the way it is supposed to work.
Because that’s what the world told me.

But then I realized: peace is hard, people. And it doesn’t come gift wrapped on your front stoop.
It’s a journey and a process, and it takes lots of hard lessons–in need and in plenty.

But it’s worth it.

Because living life dreaming of the other side makes me blind to the opportunities and the riches I have in front of me.
Even if that treasure sometimes smells funny and has applesauce in her hair. Or he forgets to put the seat down.

So go enjoy your own treasure, people. And quit worrying about how you can increase them or shine them up.
Be still, and I’ll try, too.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

Why I Refuse to Vote for Hillary Just Because She’s A Woman

Hillary Clinton is running for President.
I’m sure you already knew that. I really hope you already knew that.
And she really, really wants you to vote for her. Especially if you’re a woman. Because. Well. We should stick together and all that jazz.

Hillary thinks that it’s high time we had a female President. And boy, oh boy, do I agree.
But should it be her? “No. No. Definitely not.” (Mr. Ollivander)

Can I tell you what is more damaging to women and feminism than anything else? Giving something to a woman just because she’s a woman.

When I was 10-years old, I hated typically “girly” things. I didn’t have the imagination for dolls and Barbies. I knew that they weren’t real and that this chick wasn’t really a veterinarian and so what the heck was the point in pretending?
I wanted to read books–they made up the stories for me, and were way better anyways.
I wanted to be outside–digging in the dirt with the spoons I stole from the kitchen drawer.
I wanted to build combustion engines and look through my microscope at slides of chemicals that I couldn’t pronounce.

……………..
Moving on.

I didn’t really travel in the girl circles. All of my little friends growing up were boys. So at 10-years old I was just “one of the guys.”
At recess in elementary school we would always line up for races. One end of the chain link fence to the other.
Most of the other boys would run with all of their might against me. They wanted to beat me as badly as I wanted to beat them. As badly as they wanted to beat each other.
But there was one boy–Adam Johnson. He would let me win because I was a girl.
Every. single. time.

It was absolutely infuriating.
Because even if I ran my heart out, even if I beat him fair and square, it was still assumed that he let me win.

There are always going to be people that think I shouldn’t have/do something because I am a woman.
And the satisfaction of proving them wrong is a beautiful feeling.

But far worse than these people are the ones that want me to take the easy way out.
The ones that want to hand me something because they assume I can’t take hold of it for myself.

The thing is, I get Hillary.
She came up in a time and in an industry that women were largely ignored. She fought hard to get where she is. For a long time she was “Mrs. Bill Clinton.” And that’s the worst.
I respect her fight.

But unfortunately, I don’t respect her ideologies. I don’t respect the decisions she’s made. And I don’t respect the plans she has for our country.

Above all, I don’t respect the fact that Hillary and her supporters have the gall to insinuate that as a woman my vote should automatically go to their campaign.

In doing so, they assume that I’m not intelligent enough to assess the issues and stances of each candidate and align my ideologies with the appropriate person, male or female. Instead, just pick the woman. Because she’s a woman.

In doing so, they ask me to undercut the hard work that women all over the world have put in to be treated as equals. Because asking for and receiving special treatment based on our gender is as bad as being belittled and ignored based on our gender.

And to be perfectly honest, it undercuts the hard work that Hillary Clinton herself has put in.

Hillary, I respect you as a woman. And because of that, I will not vote for you. Because I deserve better than that. My daughter deserves better than that.

She deserves a candidate that says “Vote for me because I am the better choice.” Not “Vote for me because I am a woman.”

If you are one of the men or women voting for Hillary Clinton because you feel she is the best candidate for the job, because she will push through the policies you support, kudos.

If you are one of the people voting for Hillary Clinton because she has two x chromosomes, stop and reconsider your priorities.

I will bust my butt to get where I want to be in life. If that is made more difficult by my gender, I will work harder. I will attempt to change that.
If that is made easier by my gender, it will weaken me and the generations of women that will follow.

And when/if Rosebud runs for President of the United States, I’ll refuse to allow her that cop-out.
“Vote for Rosebud because she is bi-partisan, she can push through real immigration reform, can fix the healthcare crisis in our country, and can create a balanced budget.”
Not “Vote for Rosebud because of some twisted notion of a shared bond thanks to our anatomy.”

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

 

When You’re a 20-Something Feeling More Like a 60-Something

Yesterday I was driving down the road. There was a cute white jeep in front of me with a monogram plastered in the back window, a “Life is Good” bumper sticker, and a dream catcher hanging from the rear view mirror (DOESN’T SHE KNOW THAT’S DANGEROUS?!) A perky girl with a messy bun bigger that my toddler’s head was driving along, bouncing–why do they all bounce?! and singing along to some really loud pop music. She was texting at the red light and so sat there when it turned to green, when she finally noticed, she squealed tires and went 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.

I sat back in my champagne colored, family friendly SUV while John Mellencamp crooned to me and assessed the situation. She could be in college, I thought to myself. But possibly graduated. Ugh. She’s probably one of those “20-somethings”.
Hmph. Kids these days.

It legitimately took me 6 minutes, 2 more miles, and three sips of coffee to realize THAT I’M ONE OF THOSE 20-SOMETHINGS.
#gross.

But let’s face the facts people, pay the piper, lay it on the line, put up or shut up: Hello, my name is Hunter, and I’m a crotchety old woman.

I submit Exhibit A to the court for identification: I say or think some version of “kids these days/young people these days/young punks/this generation” while rolling my eyes and sneering at least twice a week….a day.

Exhibit B: If I drink a soda after 6:00 p.m., I’ll be up all night.

Exhibit C: I say “soda.”

Exhibit D: I yell at the people shooting off fireworks after 10:00 when the Fourth of July WAS FOUR FREAKING DAYS AGO, because “DON’T WAKE UP MY BABY, TRICK.”

Exhibit E: I have to Google search hip words and phrases like “on fleek” and “basic”. I’m just still trying to make fetch happen, okay?

Exhibit F: I once called someone a “hooligan” and everybody knows you can’t say hooligan until you’re at least 40.

Exhibit G: My “squad” is a 2 1/2 year old, a nerdy doctor-to-be, and an overweight dog with uncontrollable flatulence that refuses to exercise.

Exhibit H: I wear a bathrobe while I sip my coffee and curl my hair. Not a silky, sexy bathrobe–like a thick, fleece, anything could be under here bathrobe.

Exhibit I: I fix tech issues by blowing in or hitting the broken article.

Exhibit J: I know how to make gravy.

Exhibit K: I see teenagers running around with shorts or sandals on and yell: “PUT ON SOME CLOTHES, YOU’RE GOING TO CATCH PNEUMONIA!!!”

Exhibit L: On Friday nights in high school, I’d hang out with my grandparents and their friends while they drank gin-and-tonics instead of with the rest of the 17-year olds in a field somewhere. I can mix a mean gin-and-tonic for any of you thirsty 70-year-olds out there.

Exhibit M: One time in college, I was in a car with friends, and they swerved on purpose to mess with me and I yelled “THIS IS HOW YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE WRECKS.” They all looked at me like the ghost of Great Aunt Sally had entered the vehicle.

Exhibit N: I yell at the tv. A lot.

OKAY. You get the picture.
I’m an 80-year-old white man that yells at the kids to get off his lawn and tells the Democrats they’re running the country into the ground.
We could go at this all day, but we’re eventually going to run out of letters.
I’m old.
AF. (<<—Googled it.)

Growing up it was cute to be considered an “old soul”, I was just mature beyond my years. Now I’m just a boring has been that likes bras with wide straps and hot tea, that falls asleep with her heating pad on her feet. So I see these viral articles targeting “20-somethings” and yelling that the time is now and blah blah blah, and I read them and nothing applies to me and I’m just like: um. okay, I must not be a “20-something”.
But I’m not really into playing Bingo every Thursday night, either.

So where does that leave me?
Well… I’ve decided that acceptance is key, here. No need fighting a losing battle.
Da nile isn’t just a river in Egypt, honey child. (wut.)
And honestly, I’m probably too old and crotchety to give a rat’s……

Shout out to my fellow oldies, but goodies. May we always be in bed by 10 and thank God for control tops.

Love and Other Drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

Are You There God, It’s Me Hunter

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with life that I could scream. The vein popping out in the middle of my forehead, really red-faced and sweaty type of scream.
Not that it would do any good. Like, at all.
It’s not exactly a healthy way of dealing with emotions, and it would scare the bejeebies out of Doc and Rosebud.

Lately, I’ve been tried. And I fear that I’ve been found wanting.
I keep waiting to find my footing, only to slip again as soon as I’ve found it.

The setting up of our first home and all the mishaps and curves that go with that, all of the everyday up and downs of raising a kid and all of the fear and uncertainty that accompanies it, AND trying to keep up with Grey’s Anatomy. That seems like enough, but then throw in medical school and crazy hours, me going back to grad school, trying to complete my internship placement to graduate, the job search, a locked up jaw, and an 88-year-old woman completely dependent on me and well, let me just tell you, there are days I want to hide under the covers and never emerge.

Because I’m 25 years old and I never thought I’d be responsible for so many things so soon. Life is in fast-forward at 8x speed, and I’m almost positive that I hit pause the spring semester of my senior year in college.

If this blog reads like one really long list of complaints to you, well, that’s because that’s exactly what it is.
A self-pitying, stomp my foot, temper tantrum of words.
This is me, standing outside, screaming to the Heavens: “CAN THIS GET ANY WORSE?!?” And then rain, a tornado, and a house fall on my head.

This is my “why me?” post.
Are you there, God, it’s me, Hunter, and I could really use a break. And if you’re feeling particularly generous, also could you do something about those student loans? Med school, though.

ANYWHO.

On top of it all, I have this tendency to internalize everything. Why is it my business to have constant anxiety about the public deficit? Or about the drought in sub-saharan Africa? Or how does the Internet really even work?
The pressure keeps building and it feels like it’s coming from everywhere at once. I have nursing homes calling me, Medicare representatives coming out my ears, life insurance policies to switch around, a toddler that I have to feed, a husband that would wear plaid with stripes if I didn’t keep an eye on him, and my dog constantly has a really weird smell wafting off of him.

I feel like I’ll collapse under the weight. Maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I was and so I second-guess myself. Then I look around and everybody’s hurting and I don’t know why and there’s nothing I can do, and…..See. See what happens when I pick up steam.

Do you do that? Do you ever feel so lost in all the mayhem that you just want a remote control to push STOP so you can finally catch your breath?
Don’t. Don’t do that, Hunter.
Don’t ever press STOP. Don’t ever wish your struggles away.
The truth is, no. We can’t control our circumstances or the things life throws our way. We never will be able to, and the sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be.
But it is always, ALWAYS our choice on how we cope, on how we rise.

When you find yourself wondering where all the good in the world has gone, remember this: Goodness still exists even though life is hard and cruel, and even though people suffer.
Cling to this truth: God’s goodness was never meant to take away the world’s suffering, but to provide a refuge in the midst of it.
The ONLY thing that God’s goodness erases, then, is hopelessness.
Because if God is good, then there will always be Hope: even in the presence of so much struggle and injustice that we want to scream.

My tiny, human brain looks around and says “Ew. This isn’t fair. I don’t like this anymore, God. No thanks.”
We see the hurting and say God must not exist. Not in a world this bad. Or even if He does exist, He must not care. Or maybe He’s just cruel.
We can’t perceive the ways in which the suffering we’re railing against contributes to the eternal benefit of the only real Kingdom that matters.
It matters. The struggle matters.

Hope.
Hope is the basis of our faith. Not a happy life. Not everything going right. Not the absence of struggle.

And remember. A diamond is a hunk of coal that did well under pressure.
So shine on, dear people. Shine on.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

If You Don’t Have Anything Mean to Say to Me–Don’t Say Anything At All

I have never mastered the art of graciously accepting compliments. Whenever someone tells me something positive about my appearance/work/anything, my brain trips over itself and I turn into a lipsticked version of a caveman and garble: “Asdfghj.  Me no cute. No. Blind. You. Akjflkgjlkd. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS.”

Why is that we immediately brush off any praise or flattery that we receive? Instead of a gracious ‘thank-you’, or the acknowledgement that yeah, you spent $80 bucks and 2 hours to look this good, we deflect it with a nonchalant “oh this old thing”, or we reverse the compliment to the other person. “ME?! Oh my gosh no. You. You are perfect. I am but a humble peasant in your presence.”

What is so wrong with saying “thanks for noticing that my hair is on fleek today.” (Side note: had to Google the correct usage of ‘fleek’….so. old.)

Example: When someone tells me how perfect/cute/precious/awesome Rose is I usually answer with some version of “Ohhh. She’s a mess.” or something equally blasé when what I really want to do is grab them by their shoulders and yell: “OMGIKNOWRIGHT!?! I can’t believe I made her and she’s awesome and perfect and the coolest/best/smartest kid on the FACE OF THE ENTIRE PLANET.” (catches breath) So there’s that.

Maybe that reaction is a bit over the top–and not really at all gracious, but neither is it gracious to take one’s compliment and unceremoniously brush it aside.

I find that I do it most with Doc.

“Wow. You look pretty.”
“I like your hair like that.”
“You’re awesome and perfect and always right and know everything.”
(Tossed that last one for posterity.)

I all but scoff at him.
And how wrong is that?
Answer: really, really wrong.

If you find yourself unable to accept a compliment, perhaps it’s for a deeper reason than just general awkwardness. Maybe it’s because you (I) find it impossible to believe these awesome, really wonderful things about yourself (myself). Maybe we should all take a step back and try to see ourselves how others see us.

Like when Rosebud walks in the room to see me getting dressed in yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and fuzzy socks and says “Aw-ww-ww. You look soo cutee, Mommy.” I don’t see anything special in the old, college sweatshirt and the fading pants with stretched fabric, and honestly she doesn’t either. She sees something special in the mommy wearing them.

And when Doc tells me I “look beautiful with my hair like that”–the right answer is not: “I always fix my hair like this.” Again. He couldn’t care less about my hair. It’s me. He sees me.

Don’t be afraid to accept just how incredible other people know you to be. Even if at that moment, you feel like you wouldn’t know beautiful and powerful if it bit you in the butt. Don’t brush aside their words, cherish them.

You are only as powerful as you believe yourself to be, so become your compliments.
It might be awkward at first but just. say. thanks.

And well…”if you can’t say anything nice about anybody, come sit by me” -Steel Magnolias

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.

 

Expect the Unexpected: Parenting a Toddler

Parenting a toddler is a funny place to be. Not funny like ha-ha, but funny like sometimes you find yourself weeping in dark places and saying things like “QUIT HIDING THINGS DOWN YOUR PANTIES.”

Parenting a toddler isn’t an easy job for anyone, but for a Type-A, planner, it’s particularly daunting. Because they never do what you want or expect them to. Even when you beg. Especially if you beg. No matter how much time/thought/effort you put into planning days/events/outfits they will step in and step up and shoot those plans to H. E. double hockey sticks.

A few examples:

Your plan: beginning your week by hitting the ground running. There’s a lot of work and studying that needs to be done and not a minute to lose.
Toddler’s plan: waking up and finger painting on the wall using the poop in their pull up.

Your plan: dress your toddler like an angel for church, and they’ll smile sweetly, fold their hands to pray, and sit silently listening to the sermon.
Toddler’s plan: play in the pile of dirt beside the car and ruin their dress, drag their feet to scuff their shoes, give every sweet old lady who calls her precious the stank eye, yell “I NEED TO GO POOP” at the top of their lungs during silent confession, and every 35 seconds say: “Look, my Barbie is naked,” while being shushed.

Your plan: an uneventful drive to drop Rosebud off at school and then head to work.
Toddler’s plan: nonchalantly drop her first curse word, momentarily stopping your heart and causing you to jerk the wheel and swerve the car off the side of the road.

Your plan: arrive everywhere 15-30 minutes early.
Toddler’s plan: arrive everywhere unfashionably late so that everyone in the room turns and looks when mom and dad stumble in with everything but the kitchen sink packed in a baby bag.

On Saturday, Doc got a lesson in toddler plan destruction. As I mentioned in a previous post, our anniversary was this past week. To celebrate, Rosebud is going to spend this coming weekend with her grandparents and Doc and I are going to dress up in something besides scrubs and jeans and go to dinner.

Unbeknownst to me, Doc and Rosebud snuck away to the mall and purchased a beautiful Pandora bracelet and charms. He planned to surprise me with the bracelet at dinner.
In doing so, he made one vital mistake: letting Rosebud in on the plan.

Saturday afternoon, one week before the big reveal, Rosebud walked into the living room and said: “Daddy. Where’s mommy’s surprise?”
Doc panicked, and stammering and stuttering, attempted to throw Rosebud off the trail.
“You mean the candy bar we were going to get Mommy? We ended up not getting one. REMEMBER, ROSEBUD??”

“No, Daddy. We got it at the mall. We got Mommy bracelet at the mall. I think it still in the car, Mommy. Want me to get it for you?”

I’ve never seen Doc’s face turn so red so fast, and he and I both burst out laughing.
And even though she had no idea what was going on, Rosebud laughed, too.

He brought the bracelet in and I unwrapped it in a dirty kitchen with a sink full of dishes instead of in a romantic restaurant, and wearing sweats instead of a dress and heels.

Doc apologized. “I’d planned on a little more pomp and circumstance, but I hope you love it just the same.”
Planned.
But the plans fell through. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

In ten years, Rosebud is going to be entering her teenage years, and she probably won’t even want to go to the mall with her kooky dad, let alone to pick out a bracelet for the mom that may or may not be ruining her life. And when I look down at my wrist, I’m going to remember the eagerness and excitement shining in her eyes when she ripped out the tissue paper to show me what Daddy got for me. And the pride that was in her smile when I told her how much I loved it. And that memory will sustain me on the lonely days when she’s gone off to college and I’m dreaming of the days when I’d wake up in the middle of the night to her jumping in bed with us, covered in marker, and screaming “LOOK AT MY TATTOOS.”

I love plans and lists and step-by-step instructions. I don’t really get much of that during this season of life.
And the funny thing is, I’m finding out how beautiful the unexpected can be. And that sometimes the best laid plans really suck compared to what God and your 2-year-old have planned for you.
So when things don’t go the way you expected, chin up–closed doors and opened windows and all that jazz.

Love and other drugs,
E. Hunter W.