Family Jewels

So this is it.  An ordinary day that has really big things attached to it.

And to be honest, I’m really excited.

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For every single day, three years in a row, I’ve sat down at some point during my day, usually after all have gone to bed and the house is quiet, and I’ve shared a little bit of my day or my story or my heart right here.

And you’ve read these tidbits from my life.

Thank you.

With all my heart, I thank you.  I know what it’s like to have all the things to do and little time to click on a link or pull something up on a screen and commit to reading it, especially when I get a little wordy–yes, I’ve been called out on this, you know who you are, and I love ya.  And still, you’ve done this.  You’ve listened to my stories about growing up, raising children, being married, struggling through food allergies, letting my oldest grow up and leave the nest.  You’ve multiplied my joys and divided my sorrows, and you’ve raised your fist at injustices right alongside me.

Thank you.

You’ve read the goofy and the serious.  The mundane and the meaningful.  The poetry and the prose.  You’ve sat on my front porch and watched the delight and joy of children and heard the beauty in the songs of the birds and the frogs and watched the sun go down as we sipped the perfect cup of coffee.  You’ve laughed with me and wept with me.

You’ve given me the gift of your time and your presence, and as long as I have my memory, I will treasure this gift.

This week, anticipating this day coming, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned in the past three years, and if you will allow me, I’d like to share them with you.

*Sometimes you can put your whole being–heart, mind, soul–into something, and it doesn’t resonate with a single soul.  Speak it anyway.  You need to let that light shine, y’all.  Just because someone doesn’t notice it doesn’t mean it’s not making the world a brighter place.  Shine on.

*People can be beautiful, broken, hard, kind, mean, intense, easy-going, light-hearted, broken-hearted, funny, somber, sarcastic, caring, compassionate, salty, loving, oblivious, and we need to love them all.  It’s basically our most important job and really, it’s what we were created for.

* My family–every last one of them–are incredible people.  They might not set world records in things that will get them in that book that was the most checked out one in our school library, but they set the world record at loving me and supporting and encouraging and taking my phone calls even though they have all the things to do.  My children and the Fella have put up with my glazed stares when they’ve caught me mid-writing or mind-writing, and they’ve supported my writing by giving me space and time to do it.  They’ve read my stories and they’ve proofed my writing and they’ve given me permission to share our life with others.  I’m getting way more love and good stuff than I could ever deserve in this life, y’all.  When I sit and ponder on it all, in the words of my oldest, Aub, “I. Can’t. Even.”

*I set out writing this in 2013 in the midst of the grief of having said goodbye to my Mama suddenly and way too soon less than two months before.  Mama told me a lot of things–two of which were “You might need a nap, go lie down, and you’ll feel better” (she was always right) and “Go write your story, tell all of this in a book somewhere.”  (Turns out she was right about that too.)  Writing has and continues to heal me.  The words that I’m able to pick out and put on paper take a confusing, wonderful journey and make a little bit of sense out of it.  For that I am thankful.  Every single day of it.

*The ones who have already left this world and headed on up to the House left me a few things.  Even some that could be loosely called “family jewels.”  What I have discovered for the past three years is that the most precious things my Granny, my Great Aunts, my Mama, my Daddy, and the others I love, who are gone from my sight, have left me are the stories.  The memories.  The joy, the laughter, the shared tears, the tiny little moments and the big ones–all which led me to this place right here in this place right now.  THOSE are the jewels they left me that I treasure the most.

And I hope that’s what these stories, these three years of writing will be for my own people one day.  The ones in my family now, and those who will be.  Because my family is not complete.  We’ve all kinds of branches and leaves yet to grow…..we’ve got strong roots to grow from, and that’s a precious thing.  I hope that all of them will find something here in the meanderings I’ve shared to lift them in the dark days and something to laugh about on the joyful ones.

*Finally, I’ve learned that there is something worth writing home about in every single day…..if only you are willing to look for it.  (And believe me, some days I was turning over rocks to look, but there was never a day without something, some thoughts or words or stories to share.)  This is a journey made of many footsteps and many stories.  One day, one moment at a time.  The truth is that February 29th comes around once every four years.  It is special.  But if we are looking for it, March 29th can be just as amazing.  As can September 19th or March 3rd or November 16th or February 10th or December 14th or the twelfth of Everyday.  Each and every day can have a bit of light in it, if we stop searching for the big and amazing and star-studded.  The journey of an earthworm can be just as fascinating as the snow that falls from the sky, if we open our eyes to the beauty embedded in all aspects of the journey.

All this leads me to this.  I am taking a break from writing for I Might Need a Nap for a while.  It might be a week (I have folks enforcing this, so yeah, it will be at least a week), a month, or maybe even longer.  I will come back and write here when the story is there.  But I am not going to stop writing.  It would be like no longer breathing to stop writing at this point in my life.

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One of my people sent me this. She will remain nameless but she can bake her own cookies and I’m pretty much almost done raising her, so there’s that.

I have a project I’m working on which I am very excited about.  It’s coming together nicely, but it requires more attention from me, and since that means letting go of the blog or my family…..well, in a saner moment, I made my choice.  I am looking forward to sharing more details when the time comes.

I’ve also had someone come round who wants me to tell her story.  I tried to explain real kindly that her timing wasn’t ideal.  That made her harrumph.  (That’s a real thing.  If you’ve seen it, you  know it.)  She crossed her arms and stared me down over her glasses and just nodded and kept on rocking.  That worried me more than the harrumph.  I have tried to placate her, but she looks up at the clock and back at me from time to time, and I realize our time to tell her story is dwindling, so that’s on my agenda next as well.  Helping her tell her story.  She’s a character for sure, and I love her.  So I’m going to spend some time with her.  Because that’s what we do for folks we love.

Unlike other times when I’ve contemplated stepping away for a little bit, I’m excited.  That’s how I know the time is right.  I will be back, as there are more stories to come.  But for now, I’m going to go to bed before the chickens are waking up, I’m going to read good books, I’m going to take long walks in the evening, and if anyone asks, I’ll visit and tell my stories in person.  Because that’s something I want to pursue as well.  (So yeah, holler, and I’ll come spin a tale or two–bring the back porch to y’all, so to speak.  Turns out I get a kick out of that too.)

Thank you for sharing the journey.  If you have a moment to click the follow button over there and sign up with your email, you’ll be sure not to miss any future stories.  No worries if that’s not your thing.  Just please come back to visit from time to time.  Like I said, all kinds of good things going on over here at the house.

But first, I might need a nap.

I’ll catch y’all later.  Make ’em be good to you.

Love to all.

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The Right Tools and the Right Folks

You would think with all my lists and planning and washing and packing and thinking and not sleeping and planning some more that I would not have forgotten anything.

I mean, I worked to give my oldest all the mental and emotional tools I thought she’d need to make this transition and be okay, better than okay.  As we’ve prepared and packed for college, I hope I put kindness and compassion and listening and strength and passion and faith and so much more in her carry-on of character.  Only time will tell what kind of job I did, I suppose.  But today, I found out that those aren’t the only tools she will need.

Practicality, one.

‘Dre, zero.

It was one thing or another, who remembers now, that needed a screwdriver.  And WE did NOT have one.  My Daddy would be so disappointed.  So would my cousin who came over to teach our girl about the most important things she needed to know for caring for her car.  I bet he would have had one on him.  I’m just sayin’.  Everything we needed the other day, he either had on him or in his truck.  (And he’s not a mechanic by trade.)  But I think the most disappointed would have been my Great Uncle.

Mama used to quote him, “Well as Uncle Ray would say, ‘The right tool for the job can make anything easy.  Or at least a whole lot easier.'”

And that is usually the case.

After we all unloaded and unpacked, I went to the local stuff mart to get stuff on our “oh you just thought you had your act together, Tara, but look at what you forgot” list.  It wasn’t horribly long, and in my defense, there were some things that just couldn’t be anticipated.  But yeah, some could.  And yes, I forgot the tissues for a second time.  So that first-year student carrying around a roll of toilet paper for wiping tears and blowing her nose?  Yep, that’s my girl!  We are nothing if not resourceful.  Ahem.  (Note to self:  Let’s try the old third time’s a charm and get it this time, okay?)

And in my searching for picture hangers (isn’t that the official name?) and a hammer and an all-purpose tool or a screwdriver, I found this.

I mean, some of this stuff, I don't even know, but it's got to be important.  This was the DELUXE kit.

I mean, some of this stuff, I don’t even know, but it’s got to be important. This was the DELUXE kit.

Y’all.  For the win, right?  I mean, there’s stuff in there I don’t even know what it’s for, but it has to be handy, don’t you think?  And it all came inside a lovely purple and grey canvas toolbox. (Can I call it a box if it’s canvas?)  I think I have found my new gift for…..well everyone.  I mean if you’re caring and compassionate and a great listener but you don’t have a screwdriver or hammer to your name…..well, we might have to rethink just how wonderful you are.

Just kidding.  But it is my hope that my girl will be able to be helpful and share this with those who need it and that this will go to her first house with her, where I am SURE she will need it.  Everyone needs a pair of channel changers, right?

So today I learned a lesson about being practical as well as philosophical in what I send my child out into the world with.  There will be some days that the practical will be way more important.  Like today.

And I also learned that while I know what my Daddy meant when he said almost eighteen years ago, “Ain’t nobody gonna help you raise this young’un,” today was the exception to that.  I’ve shared before about folks not setting good examples and what society deems “appropriate” and things like that–none of which make it easy to raise up a child. But today once again, I saw he could be mistaken.  Today friends were a huge part of my girl’s journey.  The love and caring that they shared with her and with my family today–you can’t buy that kind of friendship.  It’s a gift.  A gift of strength (hauling things up two flights of stairs–so thankful) and holding it together in the face of tears.  A gift of laughter (if you’ve never seen a big football player sitting on a color coordinated bed in a women’s dorm, I’m sorry, you’ve just missed out people).  A gift of stepping outside of the box and ingenuity (asking total strangers for a screwdriver for a child that isn’t your own; sitting in a van when it’s pouring down rain watching Gilligan with the littles *sigh*).  A gift of companionship (sticking it out and changing plans you might have had).  A gift of compassion (listening, sitting in the dark with someone, walking through the rain with them).  A gift of patience (my littles, long rainy day, ’nuff said).  A gift of shared joy (being there at the start of our girl’s journey and helping her get started).  A gift of caring (texting and calling and checking in to see how the new college student AND her Mama were getting along).  We are so lucky to have the kind of friends and family many folks only hope for.

This momentous day has been about the right tools and the right folks in our lives.  One you can find at the stuff mart for a price and the other is priceless.  Tonight I hope my girl and all of her classmates sleep well in their new home–tucked away under bedding that expresses each one’s personality or preferences.  And if they need to sniffle or cry a bit, I hope there’s at least an extra roll of toilet paper close by for them to use.  Most of all, I hope each one goes to sleep knowing how much she is loved–by friends and family.

Sweet dreams, Aub.  I love you.  And as Maemae would say, “Happy pink and blue dreams.”  And if you have trouble falling asleep, count your friends.  That will take you longer than it possibly could to fall asleep.  They outnumber the stars I think.  ❤ –‘Dre