Dude, Where’s My Porch?!

I need a bigger porch. Attached to a house measuring over 2,800sqft, my porch is the size of a postage stamp in comparison. Not that I’m trying to complain; I’m grateful for my postage stamp and the enormous quantity of happiness that has occurred under the roof attached to it, but it does make it hard to sit outside and write when my nephews keep hitting me with the screen door every 2.7 seconds. I thought about bringing coffee out with me and enjoying the temperate weather, listening to the birds sing, soaking up the sunshine while I peacefully mind-dumped, but then I realized the only thing I’d be dumping is hot coffee all over my MacBook when the 3 year old plows the door into my shoulder for the 57th time.

What comes next is just a tiny glimpse of my real life juxtaposed with my fantasy life.

All parents have a fantasy life I think. All people, really, but since the only people I know anything about happen to be parents, we’ll just narrow it down to all eleventy billion of us. maxresdefaultIn my fantasy life, I get paid to travel to beautiful places. When I’m not working my “real job” I earn “extra” cash for effortlessly churning out brilliant blog-posts while a soundtrack of ocean waves crashes in the foreground and my toes are resting in the soft white sand (which doesn’t fly all over me & my computer when the wind blows). In this fantasy, I also have a perfect, sun-kissed body, look good in wide-brimmed hats & enjoy a never-ending supply of books, as well as free beverages ranging from water to coffee, to sweet iced tea, to bourbon depending on my mood. sourceAdmittedly, the need for bourbon may alter in direct proportion to the number of children trotting in and out of this fantasy. At this point that number is nil. The space in front of me is vast and insanely gorgeous, and there are no screen doors within 1000 miles of where I sit. While I’m at it, I’ve taken all the fat and calories out of food & chocolate is now the most densely nutritious thing on the planet.

In my real life…

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Again, I’m not trying to complain. My real life is more wonderful & full of blessings than I ever could have imagined, but the closest I’ll ever come to getting paid to write is being awarded a $1,000 grant for school based on a two page essay about my personal goals. And I’ll be doing that writing (in hours rather than minutes) with a caffeine headache on a partly cloudy day from a small porch in a small town while listening to a combination of train whistles & the screeching sounds of my 4 year old nephew doing what he calls laughing while repeatedly smashing a poor pink monster truck on the concrete as hard as he possibly can, and being jostled by the repeated opening of the screen door as the 3 year old comes out to play with my ears. The cute little weirdo has a thing about ears.

Still…while I wouldn’t ever say no to a deserted island with clear, turquoise water, palm trees and a bottomless sea of books, my current circumstance is – in its own much less serene way – a sort of paradise. I am fortunate enough to have the privilege of being a full time parent to my three children and a temporary surrogate to my nephews. It’s a hard job with long hours, few breaks & infinite shoulder bruises, but as challenging and frustrating as it can be it is equally fulfilling. To see the fruits of my labor progressively manifest in these little people is pretty awesome. I won’t be able to do this forever though. I’m usually not a plan-for-the-future sort of person, preferring to usually just go with the flow, but my husband has rubbed off on me in that way recently and if things go the way they should, our home will be empty of ear-pulling, truck-smashing toddlers & fridge-emptying, soul-sucking, ride-needing, wallet-draining teens and pre-teens in as few as 8 years. I’m going to need something fulfilling to do other than stay home & watch Supernatural reruns & flip through baby books. Something that will help me to afford all this fantasy traveling I want to do.

That is the reason I’m sitting on my 8×4-foot porch procrastinating writing potential grant-awarding essays to help afford a future education in a field that pays in a more practical currency than ear-tugs and kisses. Unlike my husband, (who worked very hard & deserves every single benefit he sacrificed for) I don’t have a service-connected education allowance to pay for things like that, so essay-writing it is. My ultimate goal is to get myself trained in something that might get me a little closer to my fantasy life and still benefit my family in the meantime.

Why am I telling you this?

I hadn’t intended on producing (or publishing) this particular piece; it was meant to be a warm-up exercise destined to live out the rest of its days as #64 in my drafts folder. Yet, here we are. CgY5Qi8WEAAkU39I decided half-way through to publish it because there’s a parent somewhere who has a fantasy life they’re not expecting to even partly achieve & I want to encourage you to take steps now to make some version of it happen. Our circumstances could change at any moment & while I don’t want to take for granted the blessing I’m currently living, I do want to set myself up for a future that contains a little bit more than Empty Nest Syndrome & some kind of life crisis. Who knows? Maybe I’ll need this post in a year for my own encouragement or as a reminder for why continuing my education seemed like a good idea at 32 years old. The only way I’ll get to spend my 40s on a beach is if I take steps in that general direction now (I imagine it takes a while – & a sprinkle of Jesus juice – to walk to Hawaii). In the meantime, I’m going to sweet talk my husband into building me a bigger porch.

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What are you thankful for right now? Tell me about your fantasy life! How close or far away are you? Is there any small thing you could change right now that might help put you on a new, potentially more positive path? Is chocolate also nutritious in your fantasy? (I’m asking because I wonder if we might make it happen if we put enough heads together. We should work on that fat and calorie-free thing while we’re at it).

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And by this I mean that I really need to get to that grant essay & having finished this post, I now have no excuse not to be working on it. Pray for me. Lol
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My Proudest Moment

30 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 5. If anyone is curious or wants to do it as well, this is the one I’m doing:

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I know it breaks some sort of rule not to have shared it on Day 1, but I wasn’t kidding about that “Bad Blogger” thing. #Rebel

As you can see, Day 5 is to share my proudest moment. I did not expect these challenges to be as…well…challenging. At first glance, you look at this list and you think “I could write about those things in my sleep.” Well so far, I’ve discovered that my blog didn’t have an appropriate name or tag line (until now), more people related to my silly facts about myself than I thought, I don’t have a favorite quote, I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life aside from what I’m already doing, & I struggled with picking my proudest moment, but after some deliberation I think I’ve got it.

It has to do with my family. Recently I was telling my husband about the kind, thoughtful choices our children made. The kids had some Christmas money they were itching to spend so I took them to spend half of it, with the stipulation that the other half was to be put away for savings. During the course of this shopping excursion, my son bought several things which he fully intended on sharing with his sisters. There was no arguing, no selfishness, no sense of ego behind it…it literally is simply the type of boy he is. He’s caring and thoughtful. He’s always been that way so – rather unfairly at times – I expect to see this sort of character from him. What is shocking is when he has his moments where he is not this way.

Not the case for my middle child, my oldest girl. If you know her, you know she’s super sweet, but also sassy as can be. She’s not quite as overtly & outwardly caring as my son is, (i.e. he wears his heart on his sleeve and she does not) but she has that potential & that’s not to say she isn’t compassionate; she absolutely is…she just mostly reserves that compassion for animals & really small babies. On this particular day she only had $10 to spend and she refused to spend any of it on herself until she got her aunt, her uncle, & both of her siblings something. This is really unusual behavior for her. She loves her siblings – don’t get me wrong – but she’s the one out of the three of them that would be most likely to say, “you have your own money; get your own stuff butthole” but then beat up anyone else who tried to speak to them that way. (I admit to feeling a mild sense of pride at that last part.)

She ended up spending $1 and some change on herself with the rest being allocated to what she picked for everyone else. It was a small act of kindness and yet it was so huge for her. She never has more than a couple dollars of her own money at any given time (though we give them plenty of chances to earn it) and yet, when she does get some, she spends the majority of it on others?! I enjoyed getting to witness that. However, that in itself isn’t the proud moment I chose.

The proud moment came when I was telling my husband about the events of the day and he said something to the effect of, “that’s all you babe. That’s you coming out of them. I didn’t do that. That’s happening because you’re doing a great job raising our kids.” I didn’t quite know how to process a compliment like that (from him specifically) so I don’t know that I responded appropriately. I remember saying “thanks” rather lamely. :/ I should work on my acceptance of compliments, clearly. But, it did mean a lot to me to hear him say that.

Side note: He compliments me all the time, but they’re mostly superficial compliments that, while nice, aren’t exactly in the habit of giving me the warm and fuzzies. When was the last time “nice ass” made you feel special? In James Dean Land, that’s a great compliment so I take it for what he means it to be, but for me personally, well…let’s just say it’s not my idea of a quality compliment. He tells me I’m beautiful. Again, really nice, but I’m usually looking for something a little deeper. This moment was that for me.

He went on about how he was gone through a lot of their early life & even after he got out of the military, how their manners & their character is all from what I’ve taught them. It kinda blew me away to be acknowledged and appreciated that way. Obviously, no parent expects to be praised for raising their kids, but when it happens it is so, so wonderful. It’s like being rewarded twice really, because seeing your kids act out things you’ve tried to teach them & watching them flourish into the amazing human beings you hoped they’d be is such a great affirming sight for any parent, but verbal affirmation is just as sweet. Especially when it came from my human. 🙂

Have you had a similar experience? What is your proudest moment? And just for fun, what is the sweetest thing your spouse thinks they’ve said to you vs. the sweetest thing they’ve actually said to you? How do you respond to compliments? Better than I do, I hope. :p