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Embarrassing Reality

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Years ago someone told me that he didn’t get embarrassed by or for another person. His logic was if the person doing or saying whatever he was doing or saying wasn’t embarrassed, then why should he be?

I often think about this philosophy. Sometimes I think it works. . .for example, when your mother has one too many at a wedding reception and grabs your best friend’s husband and proceeds to instruct him on taking care of her, complete with slurred speech. Really no reason to be embarrassed. Shake your head, roll your eyes, and move on.

But what about that uncomfortable feeling you get when your mother treats the waitstaff as inferior, demanding ridiculous service, and leaving a paltry tip. Does the philosophy work here? Or is embarrassment not the right word for this feeling?

I mean, who wouldn’t do whatever she could to get one of those in her direction?

The concept of embarrassment has been much on my mind lately. Perhaps, in part, because I do such silly things in the hopes of being gifted with one of the Peter’s amazing smiles. And one day, I know, I’ll do something and instead of the smile I’ll get “Mom, gah, stop; you’re embarrassing me.” And I wonder how he will learn that response.

But, also, I have been contemplating embarrassment because someone said recently that she was embarrassed by the “estrangement from her son.” And I wonder why embarrassment is her feeling. I’m not judging her emotions. If that’s how she feels, that’s valid. My wonderment is in how she got to that emotion.

I would say that social media highlight reels are to blame for arriving at embarrassment over the messiness of family. But, while it does indeed contribute, the phenomenon existed long before the internet. Consider Norman Rockwell prints with their ideal depictions, and mild humor, of family life. Or sitcoms of years gone by where all problems are resolved in a short time slot and the family unit is preserved. Even within the church the “perfect” family is practiced. We wear our Sunday best, we sit quietly in pews, our children are proper at all times despite having emotions bigger than they are and attention spans equal to their age. Crying babies? No, no. Our babies don’t cry in church. And even if we just had a fight equivalent to WWIII with a family member make no mention of it, give no indication. We’re in church; we are a perfect family.

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But the reality is the perfect family is messy. There are different personalities, different beliefs, different emotions–despite living under the same roof for an extended time. I find this reality fascinating–how family members can be so alike yet so different. People clash with each other. And just like babies, adults have emotions that are bigger than they are.

And here’s the not-so-secret-secret. . .it’s in ALL families. What we see on social media, on TV, in church. . .it’s not the full picture. It’s not the reality.

In my experience, because I’ve done it, embarrassment leads to concealment. When we conceal we make it difficult not just for ourselves but for others. Concealment means we fail to seek guidance. We hide pain and hope others only see our highlights. We, perhaps inadvertently, promote the concept of being alone in this particularly situation . .because we don’t share it. Therefore, finally, we fail to be authentic with others and maybe even ourselves.

Maybe that guy was on to something all those years ago. But I’ll revise it a bit. If we spend less time worrying about being embarrassed by the hard work and messiness of being people, we can spend more time being real.

Three years

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It was a Friday. Weathermen were calling for snow, a significant amount.

I like to watch snow fall.  There’s something peaceful and cleansing about it. But I missed it that year because I was in a small corner room in the hospital after just being told Nugget was gone.  Even if he wasn’t, I would’ve been in that room because he was in my Fallopian tube.  {I say he, but we don’t know about Nugget.}

It was a whirlwind of life changing information in those few hours.  One of those moments that leaves you breathless.

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My dad and stepmom gifted us this ornament for Christmas. I burst into tears when I opened it.

There are moments when I forget exactly how long it has been.  Then there are moments when I’m fully aware of every day that’s passed and every event that hasn’t happened.  But every day I know that my life is not what it would’ve been. . .I’m living an alternate reality.

At times I can share my story without choking up.  I’m always astounded at those times, like I’ve done something miraculous.  Other times, out of nowhere, I can’t get words past my throat and my face contorts in that grotesque holding back tears way.  I’m always astounded at those moments as well.

In the last three years, Steven and I haven’t had one where we didn’t lose a child. One year, it was two.

It’s exhausting.

It’s redefining of who we are.

Every single time.

 

 

 

My Life with a Vampire

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countOk, so my husband isn’t drinking O negative cocktails, and he loves garlic, and the holy water at mass and confession isn’t leaving open sores.

BUT. . .he does work a 12 hour night shift as a paramedic.

Which means he sleeps during the day, and we had to make some adjustments to our lifestyle.lazy smurf

It’s difficult sometimes to explain to those who don’t live this lifestyle what it’s like and how those changes impact your day-to-day living, much less when you want to do something special.  Our culture is set up for day walkers, not night walkers.

When we first got married, Steven struggled with what to do with himself in the middle of the night on his off days.

{you see, it’s a strain on your physical and mental well-being to reset your sleep schedule every two days.}

I had to remind him that when I’m home on the weekends or the summer or the holidays, I don’t do nothing all day to avoid waking him.  I still use the kitchen, watch television, and if I need to, go in the bedroom.  Things around the house still needed to be done.

So, within a few weeks (or months. . .I don’t remember) we settled into the nice rhythm of him doing the laundry in the middle of the night, running the dishwasher, and feeding the worms (yes, we have pet worms). When it’s warm, he may take Daisy for a run near dawn or start mowing the grass at 6 in the morning. He also does things for himself like reading and devotions or playing Atari or Nintendo (yes, we have retro video games).

But what does that mean for our date life or social interactions? Well, date life happens at night when most dates would happen.  And social interactions are much easier in the evenings.  If you ask him to do something at noon, even on his day off, that’s like asking me to do something at midnight on my day off. And we’re not in our twenties any more so all nighters do not sound appealing!

We do, on occasion, decide that an activity is worth the task of resetting his sleep schedule.  For example, we wanted to participate in a Remembrance Walk for our babies in October.115.jpg  It was on a weekend he was to work.  For him to participate, he had to take one of the nights off–either the night before or the night after–so he could be awake during the walk and make sure that he could get his sleep back before working again.  No one wants a less than well-rested paramedic! When we go on vacation, the first day of it is him re-calibrating himself to a day walker and the last two days are calibrating back to night walker.  And if too many of these calibrations happen too close together. . .well, then it’s a mess.

I’m at least an 8 hour a night girl for sleep.  If I go too many nights without that or have to adjust the when I go to bed or get up, I start to get grumpy.  It’s the same with Steven.  If he has to stay up past about 9 a. m., you don’t really want to try to talk to him.  Or if he has to get up before 4 p. m., well, for me that’s like getting up before the sun. . .just no.

Lots of people in our young marriage have questioned this lifestyle for us.  How do we make it work?

First, Steven LIKES working nights.  He enjoys the types of calls he gets for the most part; he enjoys his co-workers; he enjoys that some nights there’s nothing. ambulance It’s reminiscent of the military for him where he always had to be prepared, the adrenaline bubbling just beneath the surface.

Second, Steven isn’t really a morning person, and if he were a day walker, he’d have to leave the house before 6 a. m. which means he’d have to get up at like 5 a. m. Makes me shudder just to think of it.

Third, it’s our reality, so we make it work. In all honesty, it’s probably best for us.  If he worked days, our interactions would be even less.  He would leave for work before I even got up and get home from work after supper time (and that’s without a late call).  This schedule means that on his days off, he’s just getting up when I get home from work, and we have the whole evening together.

It is a balancing act, as any co-habitation would be, I suppose.  We weigh what’s worth a change in our routine, just as any other couple does, I suppose. Does it mean that sometimes I do things alone in our day walker culture that I wish he were a part of? Of course! But I also know that he is providing for me and our home, and I love him for that {and for many other things}, so if sometimes I have to say, it’s just me today, that’s ok.