This is a bit crazy…or I am.

Once again, I am using this blog as my therapy. No editing, no rewrites, just putting it out there.  Writing what is swirling around in my head helps me to bring a bit of peace to my troubled heart. So here we go…

I have battled depression for the last few years. If I really looked back, probably longer, but it became much more pronounced after my hysterectomy. Medication has helped for the most part, but I still have little episodes where it just sort of overtakes me.The dark cloud settles around me and I feel it pressing in. It becomes overwhelming. I just want to curl up in my bed and squeeze my eyes shut as tightly as I can and wait for it to pass and leave me back at a place of wobbly balance. This point of wobbly balance is my normal. It is the point that I can enjoy what life has given me. At this point, I can see the beauty in what is around me. But if I wobble too far to the left or too far to the right, the darkness is there. I live for wobbly balance.

This move to Steubenville has been a test to my balance. In my heart, I know that this move is part of God’s master plan for my family. I am 100% certain that this is where we, I am supposed to be. I am just not sure why. The “why” is throwing off my wobbly balance. The darkness is present in a few different forms, most notably, an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

I miss my family. I miss being able to go to my mom and dad’s house for lunch just because I want to see them. I miss sitting on the back porch of my grandparent’s house and visiting with them, sharing funny stories about the kids. I miss my sister. I prayed and prayed that she would be blessed with another little one and she added twins to her growing family. So what do I do?? I move away. I miss my church family. I miss knowing all of the faces at mass each week. I miss my FIF’s. I just miss it all.

We have only moved 1 1/2 hours away. It is a trip that can easily be made back and forth in one day. My head knows this. But my  heart knows that, regardless of this fact, it just doesn’t happen. I have to take the kids to school and pick them up. There is seldom and evening that doesn’t require at least one pickup and drop off for an extracurricular activity. It is just not feasible. On the other hand, we live in a time of social media. It provides the ability to stay in touch regardless of distance. I “am with” my friends and family every bit as much as I was when I lived in Dayton, thanks to facebook. I “talk” to many of them daily. We are still in touch. But still my heart hurts.

So here I am, trying to figure out what my purpose is here. We are settled in and the kids are doing fantastic. Check. The house is unpacked and at a point of maintainable tidiness. Check. The husband is working at a job that he loves. Check. Everything is great and we have a routine, which is why I think that it has finally hit me. With nothing left to worry about or focus on, this overwhelming homesickness has pretty much knocked the wind out of me. It has thrown my wobbly balance off and I am flailing about in the darkness. Enter in weepy days, not wanting to get out of bed, impatience (more than normal), and just a feeling of loss.

It always me takes a few days to realize that I have lost my balance. I don’t know why, but it does. I guess that I am a slow learner. And to be completely honest with you, I don’t really have time to deal with the depression. I don’t have the energy or desire to deal with life, but there really is no choice. So each morning I have been prying myself from under my covers. I have been forcing myself to shower and dress ( most days). I have been packing lunches and making school runs. Things slowly come into focus and while I am still overwhelmed by the dark cloud, I can usually figure out what has knocked me off of my balance. In this case, I have it pinpointed to homesickness and loneliness.

In an effort to pull myself out of this funk, I have been making a concerted effort to work on my prayer life. The darkness tends to cloud that too. I go through the motions and say my rosary and read the daily readings, but I feel nothing. I keep trying to get back to my wobbly balance. While doing this, I have recently started to read the 33 Days to Morning Glory preparation for Marian consecration. In this book is a chapter on Mother Teresa. This tiny nun changed the world through her love and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her mission in life was to bring souls to Jesus to help to ease the suffering of His aching heart. She taught such a lesson of love, not only love of God, but love of neighbor, the love of each other. But throughout all of this she suffered greatly. She experienced what she called, “a terrible darkness” in her soul “as if everything was dead.” This little beacon of His love and light, was overwhelmed with a darkness of her own. And it lasted for years and years.

After a decade of the “darkness,” she came to the realization that this painful longing was in fact a share in the thirst that Jesus felt. She persisted through the darkness that lasted until her death, because she realized that this darkness was a link between her and Jesus. She wrote, “Suffering, pain, humiliation- this is the kiss of Jesus. That suffering that came in the life of our Lady that has come also into the life of Jesus-it has come in our life also. Only never put on a long face. Suffering is a gift from God. It is between you and Jesus alone inside.”

Wow. This little paragraph spoke to me. I am not in any way saying that what I am feeling is even remotely like the darkness that the tiny Saint felt. But it is my suffering, however insignificant. As I said, this move, which I believe is God’s will, has brought about so many gifts. But the broken, sad, lonely and human side of me feels this darkness pressing in. I want to fight it. What would my weapons be? Medication? Therapy? Or rather a shift in perspective?? Should I, instead, look at this loneliness as a gift? Is this loneliness placed in my heart so that I will search more intently for Him? Is that why I feel so off balance? Is the darkness, the sadness, actually a loneliness for Him, for the parts of Him that I saw in my family and my friends? I don’t know.

The darkness that I feel is often unsettling. It is a feeling of being on edge and being uneasy. But there is a quiet that sometimes accompanies the darkness. Rather than run from the darkness, should I embrace it and just listen? In the darkness, in the quiet, I believe that I will find Him.  That still small voice will call to me. The question is whether or not the noise of life, the noise of sadness, will drown Him out? So, now what? How do I find Him when I am lost in the darkness that is swirling around in my own head? I don’t. I don’t find Him. I let Him find me. As a parent, we tell our kids that if they ever find themselves separated from us and lost, STAY PUT. Just stay where they are and let us come to them. He is the Good Shepherd after all. He will not leave his little sheep lost and alone, even a sheep as whiny and pitiful as me. So, I will stay put and wait. I will keep on crying out and then silence myself to try to hear His reply. He will come. And until then I have medication and wine.

Bleacher mom for life…

 It is ridiculously hard to make friends as an adult. Seriously. If I didn’t have kids, I think that I would still be sitting in my little craft room drinking wine and feeling sorry for myself. But thankfully, I do have kids and that means that I have kids’ activities to attend. Kids’ activities = other parents( ie adults). Even still, being surrounded by other parents is no guarantee of interaction. Every sport has it’s own level of parental involvement or rather parental investment. If you have kids in sports you know what I mean. If you don’t, allow me to enlighten you.
Soccer parents: most of them have more than one child playing so they move from field to field, chatting with different people along the way. Usually you end up spending the most time at the youngest child’s field just because they like to see you around, where as the older kids roll their eyes at you and are not a big fan of parental spectators at practices. Games are another story, but, “Oh my gosh mom, you don’t need to stare at me all during practice. It’s creepy. geesh…” Because of the rotating nomadic nature of parenting soccer kids, there is usually some overlap of parents and you can usually connect with a couple of them, giving you a core group of parents to talk to as you move from field to field. This is where I met a few sweet moms that invited me to join their Mom’s In Prayer group. This was a godsend. I was able to met and befriend several really great women. I found a little bit of a sense of belonging that I really needed.
Football: It’s been a while since I have had football players, but from what I remember and from what I have witnessed, they are a hard core group of dedicated parents. They usually practice 5 days a week with games on Friday or Saturday. That is 6 out of 7 days of nonstop action-packed commitment.  That doesn’t even count the never ending off season training, lifting, etc. You are your own breed of sports parent. I applaud you football parents. I don’t want to be you, but I applaud you.
Baseball: Another outdoor sport. You can be sitting in the sun baking  or under umbrellas shivering and soaked. You feel a kind of solidarity among the parents, because you are all in this thing together and it could go on for hours…literally hours. (They should really consider having a time limit on baseball games because, OMG, they can be ridiculous!) You sit and cheer on one another’s kids because you know that each out and each run gets you closer to the end. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy baseball games, because I really do, but seriously people…HOURS!!
Volleyball: The first of the indoor sports to discuss. I never played so I don’t really understand all of the rules and things ( I still don’t understand the square dancing thing that the girls do at the beginning, but that’s just me.). But I love to watch the kids dive all over the place after the ball. The games seem to be so brief and if you are at a tournament, there is a lot of shuffling around, but the parents that are there are in it for the long haul. This allows for some parental interaction. Nothing super intense, but pleasant.
Finally Basketball: I will admit that this is my favorite sport to watch. I played basketball for years (I wasn’t very good, but I loved it.) so I understand it. There is just something about the smell of a gym, and the sound of a ball swishing through the net that just warms my heart.There are a few types of basketball parents.  I am one of those…ummm…vocal (some might say obnoxious, but I prefer enthused) parents. I can get a tad bit carried away during an intense game, and I tend to cheer a bit too loudly for my husband’s liking.( I can usually tell when he has had enough of me when he a) puts his finger in his ear so that I don’t  “blow out his eardrums” or b) he starts to scoot a little bit farther and father away from me and is eventually three rows down and 5 seats over. ) These parents are usually there for every game. We are all cheering for each other’s kids and love it when the kid that doesn’t get a lot of playing time sinks the basket. There are the parents (and also grandparent) that are there strictly to be good parents. They aren’t really interested in what is going on during the game, but they are dedicated to their kid and want to be there for him/her. They are talkers. They like to talk about everything but what is going on in the game. Then there are the parents that would love to watch the game but have other, smaller kids with them, so that the majority of the game is spent making trips to the bathroom and the snack bar. These poor parents never have a clue as to what is actually going on during the game because they usually don’t see more than a minute and 15 seconds of the game at a time. Been there done that. (Thank heavens for older kids that can babysit!!) While basketball parents cheer for all of the kids and there is a definite feeling of camaraderie, it is a hard group to crack. It is frustrating to me because I had my group of baller parents. We had been in the bleachers from the time our kids were old enough to shoot a ball. We had watched the kids grow from little 3rd graders that could barely dribble and walk at the same time, to high schoolers flying up and down the court making passes without looking, just sensing where the other players were. We stood side by side on senior night, with tears in our eyes as we looked up to our graduating players. It was my basketball family. With Isaac entering 7th grade, I was ready to watch the next wave of bballers grow from little 7th graders to big bad seniors. I had been watching these boys for the last 3 years play ball in elementary school and it was time to move up to the next level. And then we moved.  Not only did Isaac leave his teammates, I had to leave my basketball moms. This sucked. It still sucks. There have been a few nice parents that have reached out and talked to me, but in general, I sit with Brian and whichever kids wanted to come, or I sit alone. Not fun. But I know that these things take time. I have to stick it out and so does Isaac. And just as Isaac and his new team develop their chemistry and find their groove, so will I and some bball parents. I hope.
**As a brief side note, I have actually met several perfect lovely people that I would consider friends since moving, several being neighbors within walking distance. (One that has a particularly sweet brand new baby that I could just scoop up and steal…but I won’t…maybe.) So I am not sitting here wallowing in loneliness as I stare at the wall all day. I just wallow in the bleachers.