Go shortay…it’s ya birthday…we gon party like its ya birthday

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Well, it was my birthday. And it was fabulous. Baseball game with kids and fellow 30-something’s in the backyard. I was obviously the MVP — got on base at every at bat. Then followed by karaoke at what I thought was going to be a happening bar but what turned out to be a little sad. Misfits and me and my friends. I don’t know what that says about us.

I sang “Let It Go,” dedicated to my daughter, even though I got totally lost in the middle. And “Ni**as In Paris,” dedicated to me and my girls as we are on our dissertating grinds. There’s just something about that song, the hype that comes over me as I hear these words:

You are now watching the throne
Don’t let me get in my zone
Don’t let me get in my zone
Don’t let me get in my zone

I’m in my zone. I’m doing what I love, even though dissertation writing sucks. Hard. But this is my zone. When I’m in it, I’m alive. It’s not easy. God is forcing me to live my values, and while it doesn’t feel so good right now, I know that it’s all good. I got disappointing news over the weekend, but that’s all it was — disappointing. Not catastrophic. Not unbearable. The worst case is still a good case.

And my children are healthy and happy. Some days I think they are straight up nuts, but beautiful anyway. My husband is a gem. A diamond not in the rough. Just sparkling for everyone to see.

I’m 33. Jesus was 33 when he died. I think God wants me to remember that. Jesus did his job. I need to do mine. I’m here to do my job. Five years ago today, the day after my 28th birthday, I checked myself into Stanford Hospital’s psychiatric ward. I was despondent and felt so lonely. I believed in God and Jesus as my savior but I didn’t have a relationship with him. I was floating — really fighting — through life alone. My illness had me.

It’s been up and down since then. But I’m still here. That is a victory. I am victorious. Because five years ago I didn’t think I would be here. Standing. Thriving. Worrying, but trying not to. Confused, but reassured. Down but hopeful. Knowing every day is not going to feel like this. Not taking how I feel today as indicating how I will feel tomorrow. I’m stressed out. No doubt. But I’m in my zone. Watch.

It’s the final stretch on this part of my life. And right now, at this moment, I have a smile on my face.

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The Kids Will Be All Right

The kids will be all right.

The kids will be alright.

The kids will be all right.

I’m trying to convince myself of this sentence. This short sentence of five or six words, depending on how you spell “alright” (are they two different words/phrases ‘alright’ vs. ‘all right’?) It is these five or six words that have been nagging at me the last two days as I struggle to bring more calm to my life so I can finish my dissertation.

I had a talk with the older two yesterday morning at breakfast. As they ate their waffles and I sipped my coffee, I pointed to our schedule chart, and I said, “Mommy can’t do that anymore.” I explained that I had eight months to write a book so we could leave here and I could start a new job. I reminded them of the things we want as a family, like to go on vacations and to buy a house. I have to write my book to do those things. But with an activity every single evening, I couldn’t write my book.

I also explained that our family couldn’t be the type of family we want to be RIGHT NOW either, where we can watch movies together, play games together, and eat dinner together. For the last two months, we were not doing any of those things, all five of us (well four, after we put Destructo, otherwise known as Baby A, 18 months old, to bed). And the weekends — activities on the weekends were killing any down time I thought I had. I explained to them that in addition to wanting to write this book, I also wanted to be healthy. I told them that both my mind and my body get too exhausted with all the activities. I hate when I’m depressed and my kids see me in the bed all the time, labeled with “sick.”

So we discussed it. Big A was all too happy to be stopping martial arts. Little A was disappointed to be stopping soccer. But we told her coach and her team and she seemed okay with it. She’ll play one last game on Saturday and that’s that.

It feels nice, tonight, to have been able to put my Baby A to bed tonight. Usually, I am not here, chauffeuring one child to an activity, sitting through said activity, and then driving home.

But I feel bad about them not being able to do something they wanted to do.

But just now I hear the squeals of laughter between the two older ones, when usually on a Wednesday night we’d still be driving home from somewhere. And I am so grateful to the advice from friends that lead me to this decision. God-given advice, I am sure. Because I asked for clarity, and I received it. I asked for a way, and now I see the way. I asked for calm and simplicity, and now I’m getting it. I asked for my kids to be all right, and they are.

These are hard choices, but good decisions. But not just because I’m writing a dissertation. I don’t want my kids over-scheduled any time and I want to have family time always. I want to be able to put my toddler to bed.

In the darkness, there are treasures.

But something is still picking at me and worrying me and the anxiety is still there and I’m still grieving SOMETHING. So as I pray, in addition to “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” and in addition to Romans 8:28, I am also praying “may my kids be all right.”

Amen.