If you are anywhere near my age bracket (we’ll just call it middle age) you likely have experienced or will soon begin to experience a reversal in the relationship with your parents. I often said during the 8.5 years that my husband’s mother lived with us that we were “raising a mother-in-law.” We never had children of our own so this was really a first for us in the parenting department. Sure, we have raised dogs, but providing a proper upbringing for your parents is an entirely different thing altogether.
When my husband’s mother moved out a couple of years ago I was ecstatic. I imagined myself to be like many moms who have fresh cans of paint ready and waiting to makeover their kids’ rooms when they finally go off to college.
My husband and I have been empty nesters for two years now and I had almost forgotten what it was like to rear your parents in the way that they should go, that is until a wedding this past weekend that brought many family members together. Everything was going reasonably well until most of us parted ways. My husband was really worried about his dad and step-mom, both of whom are well into their 80s, when they set out for the four hour drive home. The conversation went something like this:
My husband: It is 4 p.m., dad. Do you really think you should be setting out this late in the day?
Dad: We’ll be fine.
Me: Perhaps you two should change out of your tux and evening gown before you leave.
Dad: We’ll be fine.
My husband: Do you have our cell number?
Dad: We’ll be fine.
Later that evening…
My husband: I’m really worried about them; I better call.
Dad: I’m not sure how it happened but we ran out of gas on the way home.
What my husband wanted to say: But didn’t I tell you to always have at least a half tank of gas in the car? YOU ARE GROUNDED!
I have many stories I can share about those “teen” and “prepubescent” years with the parents we have been raising, but it may be some time before I can share those…you know with the whole protecting the names of the innocent thing.
I hope this post does not seem disrespectful in any way. But what I learned most from raising a mother-in-law those 8.5 years is that without a sense of humor you cannot survive parenthood, especially when you are parenting your parents!
Words are amazing because, by themselves, they can take on a whole different meaning depending on how they are used. I’ve seen words crafted to make the impossible happen. Some people don’t think about words before they use them. I feel sorry for those people because they are missing out on all the wonderful things that can happen when words are used wisely. Things like friendship and trust. Seeing people begin to care about issues that previously had no relevance to their lives. Yes, words are wonderful, but some words I’d like to strike altogether.
I think we’ve all felt this way from the earliest of ages when our preschool peers used words like sticks and stones. Mind you, I am never one to spend much time seething over a poor use of words when used to describe me in ways I don’t prefer. But it would be fun to do a makeover of certain words. Please feel free to play along with me. Let me start with the words used to describe me…
A makeover of words
Obsessive now equals focused
Driven is really the pursuit of excellence
Procrastinator shall now be called thinker
Crazy daredevil is now adventurous
Impulsive is really seizing the moment
And finally, my favorite: introvert…. This word really needs a whole set of phrases: detail oriented, thorough planner, strategic, problem solver, sees past the surface of things, can use wits to make anything happen. People confuse introvert with being shy, but as any real introvert would know, you can be extremely introverted and friendly at the same time. Can I hear an Amen to that?
I like to consider myself among the 100 percent. No, I don’t mean among those who sit in parks without showering for days, demanding their fair share. I am talking about people who give their all to whatever they are doing and don’t whine or complain when not everything goes as planned.
I am also encouraged when I witness “100 percenters,” as we’ll call them, doing what they do best in their natural element. In this blog, I hope to share stories about people I observe who are living life like they mean it. Doing so gives me hope for the future!
I witnessed a fun example yesterday in my husband. He may not find this as comical as I do. I’ll just say it like I said in a Facebook post yesterday:
You know the dad in the movie Christmas Story? How he is when he’s working on the furnace? It’s kind of like that every day when my husband gets home and finds more plants devoured out of his gardens, except instead of hearing a foul mouth in my basement I hear the sounds of all kinds of power tools buzzing away with intensity. Then within a few minutes I see new contraptions forming around the gardens. In a way, our yard is becoming like a continually changing display of abstract artwork. It’s kind of cool!
Living life to the fullest, I’m learning, is not all fun and games. But it is the fun that keeps me coming back. I admit that I’m not as young as I used to be. My husband reminded me of that yesterday after I started the day by getting my car stuck in a ditch at the beginning of the day and coming home with a severe sunburn at the end of the day. He said, “You just can’t keep doing this to yourself.”
“Doing what,” I exclaimed as if I had no idea what he was talking about.
Granted, I am still in great pain and can’t laugh or cough without causing severe pain to my abdominal muscles following a slip-n-slide party with many of my 40 and 50 something friends this week. There were a few juniors at the party but I think we showed them how it was done! The slip-n-slide was great fun and I enjoyed comparing grass burns with another slip-n-slide competitor who had fewer wounds to show than myself, and she is 20 years my junior! That was a proud moment for me, I must admit. : )
To my friends and family who wonder what has happened to me: I am starting to wonder about you… Perhaps you are suffering a little dementia. I am the same girl who broke her collar bone at age 2 while trying to climb a chest of drawers to get her shoes so she could go to school with her sister. I am the same girl who re-broke that collar bone a few years later pretending to ice skate in the living room (sure that was Lana’s fault for swinging me into the couch but I don’t blame her; it’s just another trophy for the life of an adventurer). And don’t forget I am the same girl who spent 47 days in the hospital after taking a thrill ride on a neighbor’s mini-bike at age 14. My competitive spirit has also landed me some other trophies over the years. I will always remember the time I broke my middle finger playing softball and still continued playing with the plastic guard on my finger. I took great pleasure in going up to bat with that middle right finger standing straight up, taunting the pitcher each time I stepped up to the plate the rest of that season. And you may not remember this one: the time at Ball State when I broke my toe playing badminton.
Maybe living life to the fullest isn’t exactly a safe bet, but living the life of someone who lives in fear is not me and never will be. Sure, I try to learn from my mistakes. The biggest lesson this month: it’s okay to scream with your mouth wide open while falling out of a plane but not while sliding down a slope on a sudsy slip-n-slide!
Until next time, live like you mean it!
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