I have a pantry in my basement. This is an old photo, taken when all the kids still lived here full-time and we went through several boxes of cereal each week. My pantry is less crowded now, because there are only three of us here full-time. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of shopping for only three (or four, when my daughter’s home from college). This means that I wind up buying too much, and some of it gets wasted because it goes bad before I can use it.
But I feel the need to keep that pantry (and my upright freezer) full.
There’s this threshold in my mind — this imaginary line I must not cross. I was down to less than a quart of milk on Wednesday, and I knew I wouldn’t get to the store before Friday. Never mind that I live 1/4 mile from the nearest gallon of milk; I was expending a lot of mental energy over the lack of “enough” milk in my house. It’s not like anyone around here (except me) even regularly uses milk. But that milk level was below my threshold of comfort, and it bothered me until Saturday morning when I finally made it to the store. We still had some milk in the jug. We had not run out. And as I said already, my neighborhood is not food-insecure.
Thinking about this gets me a little anxious — even now that I have almost a full gallon of milk in the fridge.
Where do I draw the line between having too much stuff that I “might need someday” and having enough to use for what I need right now, as well as something to share?
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12: 25-26)
As for the other things, how do I stop feeling that I must fill that available pantry space and instead be grateful for what is there? How do I dial back my threshold of “enough” when there is obviously plenty there? How do I trust enough to share from that abundance?
Because I really want to stop the worrying that kicks in when there’s only a quart of milk in the house.
There’s a fine line between oversensitivity (and the inability to take a joke) and advocacy. I was reminded of that this morning when a friend of mine posted the same Facebook joke that inspired my post from July 2015 about algebra.
Some days I can roll with diabetes jokes, like the song lyric from Shrek:
“. . . like donuts and . . . (what goes with donuts?) . . . donuts and . . . DIABETES!”
Other days, my hackles are raised by a joke that has absolutely nothing to do with diabetes, but I’m making that connection based on my experience. That’s the case with the Facebook joke in question. Four years ago, I’d have shared the same joke.
Seen on Facebook: a T-shirt that says
Well, another day has passed and I didn’t use algebra once.
The person who posted it observed, “Still holds true!”
My fingers have been hovering over that comment button…that’s because there’s algebra right on my kitchen whiteboard, algebra that I use almost every day.
Algebra for diabetics and the people who love them. Because sometimes a person just doesn’t want a whole serving of something, and then you have to do some math.
I can’t afford to indulge the thought that algebra is useless and that I haven’t thought about it once since I took the GREs in 1986.
It’s more useful than you think.
I’m not bitter about having to use algebra. I’m grateful that my husband has a better grasp on it than I do, because he took several semesters of calculus, so he helped work out the formula that comes in handy when The Kid wants something other than the labeled serving size of a particular food. I’m grateful that I can remember a little bit of algebra, thanks to my long-suffering Algebra 2 teacher who never gave up on me.
And I wish, very sincerely, that the people who posted that photo of a T-shirt implying that algebra is useless never have a child with diabetes. I hope they never have to use algebra like I have to use algebra.
As the mom of a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes I often encounter well-meaning misunderstanding about his disease. I try to understand that in most cases, it’s just because people care. Just as I’d ask a person with a known food allergy if the food I am planning to serve is safe for them, so I do appreciate that people think to check in with me about my son’s needs.
It’s all a question of how I deal with the misconceptions. He didn’t get diabetes from eating too many donuts. He can have a donut. He should not have six donuts (then again, neither should anyone else).
I find myself, sometimes, growing impatient when people ask questions, rather than appreciating that they care enough to ask instead of just making assumptions based on bad information.
And sometimes, like today, I just can’t take a joke.
I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!
A theatre box office is an interesting place. The hour before a performance is a frenzy of activity that includes handling the voice mail that has come in since the last time the office was open, selling walk-up tickets, printing will-call tickets, printing tickets for people whose printers ran out of ink or who forgot them at home or who didn’t realize that they had to print the tickets immediately even though there are instructions that say just that.
Those are the easy jobs. It’s pretty simple to make a theatregoer happy when you can reprint that ticket she left on the table near the front door.
But sometimes you have to do difficult jobs when you work in the box office. Sometimes you have to return phone calls and let someone down, because the show is sold out. Sometimes you have to turn people away who show up in person, hoping seats will open up. When the box office is part of a small theatre with no space for extra seating, you don’t get to be flexible there. But I can assure you that the box-office staff and the house manager do their best to find seats to accommodate people whenever possible.
I staffed the box office for 10 out of 12 weekend performances of a community-theatre production these past two weeks. And I did all those things I listed above, and then some. Most of the time it was enjoyable work. But it was Saturday’s final show that did me in.
The show was sold out, and we were able to scrape up a couple of tickets here and there (like when someone realized they really wanted two tickets to Sunday’s show instead of Saturday’s.) So on Friday night when I got a voicemail from someone’s dad with a sob story about how Grandma changed her hair appointment so she could see a show on Saturday that she didn’t even have a ticket for, I got to be the hero of the day. I didn’t have such great news for the mom who called wanting six tickets and telling me a long story about how her child was in the show and she hadn’t seen it yet and she’d promised her daughter that she could bring a bunch of friends but by the time they all got back to her, the show was sold out.
I had two tickets available at that point. The best I could do was to sell her those two tickets and put her on the waiting list for the other four.
At 8:30 Saturday morning that mom called to let me know she only needed three more tickets, and to ask if I had found any yet. I apologized, but promised that I’d put the word out among the moms helping in the green room and the moms selling candygrams and the mom scanning tickets at the door. If anyone heard that someone had a ticket they wouldn’t be using, they promised to send them to the box office.
I never did get those extra tickets. The dad, with Hair-Appointment Grandma in tow, picked up his ticket with a charming smile. Then No-Ticket Mom asked, and was disappointed, about those extra tickets. Suddenly that dad was back at the ticket window.
“Do you see that lady with the three little girls?” he demanded. “She’s going to have to leave here and take them home because there aren’t any tickets for them.”
I apologized (again) that no more tickets were available. I politely refused his request to have extra chairs brought in, and his subsequent demand that the three little girls stand in the aisle during the show. There’s no room for either of those things. But this guy was clearly used to having his own way and did not like hearing me tell him that what he wanted wasn’t going to happen.
It’s not fun to have to say no to someone who wants to watch their child/grandchild/friend perform. But in a small theatre, shows do sell out quickly, and everyone was reminded of this several times before the show opened. And we tried (as we do anytime a show sells out) to scare up extra tickets–we just couldn’t get enough.
Dad, Grandma, Mom and the little girls disappeared into the crowd. I was busy distributing tickets to other theatre patrons and feeling more than a little upset about the way I had been treated over the whole issue, when one of the staff members realized that the whole bunch of them had probably gone into the theatre, somehow making an end run around the person scanning tickets. The grin Dad flashed our way on his way out of the theatre confirmed our suspicions.
I was angry. I don’t like confrontation, and I’d had my fill of it already. I skipped out on the cast party, because I didn’t feel like I could stand there and schmooze with other kids’ parents with a smile on my face. What disturbs me even more is that those little girls were just taught that if someone says you can’t have what you want, you can just go ahead and take it.
Providence. That’s when God gives you what you need, right when you need it.
I’ve had a few experiences of providence recently, and it’s an amazing thing.
Sometimes it happens in unexpected places.
Last Friday afternoon, I had a lot of work to do. I was already tired, and I just couldn’t write a coherent sentence, never mind a feature-length magazine article. So I set it aside and decided to read for a little while.
This YA book is about a high-school theatre geek who doesn’t fit in with the cool kids and who’s been the target of some in-person pranks and cyberbullying.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m extra-tired, I’m extra-vulnerable. I was having those “I don’t fit in” moments myself: the kind where my mind runs nonstop through the long list of ways I’m different from just about everyone else I see (hair, makeup, fashion and wine are always at the top of the list.)
Right after I began reading, TheKid texted me to ask me to pick him up at dismissal, because he wasn’t feeling well. If I left right then, I’d be in prime position in the parking lot to get out of there quickly after the bell rang. So I jumped into the car and headed over to school, Kindle in hand, because I’d be sitting in the parking lot for 10 minutes.
And right there, in a YA novel, I was hit between the eyes with something I needed to be told:
“You need to spend as much time as possible with the people who make you feel comfortable–the ones you can safely share your dreams, secrets and problems with. . . .Help others. When you help those less fortunate, you start to see what’s important and you don’t have the time or need to pretend to be something else.” (Loc 2711-2717 in Kindle version)
This is my every day. I can’t figure out how to fit in–never could. This advice–words from one teenager to another–applies just as much to me, at age 51, as it does to the main character in Wahl’s novel.
I should have been writing, not reading.
I should have been reading something off the stack of books I’ve promised to review.
But I was reading that book, at that moment.
This month I’m joining all the cool kids in the #Write31Days adventure! I didn’t pick a keyword or a theme, because just getting something written for all 31 days is challenge enough for me right now.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links; your purchase through these links helps support this blog. Thank you! I was given a free review copy of this book, but no other compensation. Opinions expressed here are mine alone.
It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy driving TheKid to school in the morning when he’s missed the bus.
TheKid misses the bus daily. He doesn’t even try anymore. Hubs doesn’t mind driving him, so it works out for both of them, and Hubs enjoys the time in the car with TheKid.
But then come the days when, for one reason or another, Hubs can’t drive TheKid to school–and I have to. With 10 minutes’ notice.
Today was one of those days.
Mornings are a busy time for me. By 8 AM today I showered, made coffee, prayed, woke TheKid, cooked the bacon, woke TheKid, packed a lunch, woke TheKid, measured bags of popcorn and pretzels for TheKid’s lunches for the rest of the week, tossed in a load of laundry and made a batch of chocolate-chip cookies. I wanted to get that laundry out on the clothesline and make my grocery list before 9:00 Mass. But at 7:45 I found out that I was driving.
That’s at least 20 minutes out of my schedule right there, 10 of which are spent arguingfighting tooth and nail negotiating over the choice of radio station (another point on which Hubs is more flexible than me).
So I was grumpy. Until I reached the corner with the second-last stop light before school.
There’s a crossing guard at that light, and TheKid’s school arrival time is not in sync with the public school’s, so the crossing guard is just waiting around for the next bunch of kids when I reach that intersection.
He fills the time pointing at drivers, then giving them a thumbs-up as he stands there with his cool mirrored sunglasses, his reflective yellow jacket, and his STOP sign.
In other words, he’s The Fonz, Crossing Guard.
And it’s pretty much impossible to stay grumpy when The Fonz greets you on your way to school.
17 shows in 7 days, Living Stations, Confirmation, a birthday, and I don’t even know what else anymore.
I’ve done early-morning Wawa runs for theatre-lunch hoagies.
I’ve baked and cooked for the cast party–and organized the donations. I worked the box office for 15 performances (2 more today).
Hubs has driven to (and bankrolled) at least 3 post-performance “Happy Hours” featuring mozzarella sticks, ice-cream sundaes and root beer–plus one ticket to watch a fellow actor in another show.
Middle Sister has been home from college this week for spring break and we’ve barely had any time to spend with her.
This morning I went around the house and updated all the clocks that don’t automatically update themselves.
At the same time, I woke up TheKid, whose insulin pump needed replacing, and faced The Wrath of Teen.
He had to get up anyway, because we have 10:00 Mass this morning–and we can’t go to a later one and make it to the theatre by 11:30.
But he’s gone from this:
We’re both tired. We’re both in the throes of seasonal allergies. His blood sugar’s still off, thanks to that bad pump site. It’ll take a little while to undo that.
I’m sticking by my response to his uber-grumpy protests about going to 10:00 Mass. Being tired and diabetic is no excuse for rudeness. He was told that he’s going to church and that if there’s much more rudeness, he’ll be dropped off at home afterward instead of taken to the theatre to hang out with his friends and help where necessary (it’s not a performance day for him). I’ll leave him here, with no internet access until I return from the box office for his show.
I guess age 14 is kind of young to expect a little gratitude for the sacrifices we have made as a family for his participation in this show.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cancel out my healthy breakfast of oatmeal with almonds and dried cranberries with a handful (or three) of M&Ms.
I’ve been driving everyone around me crazy lately. There’s a lot to worry about, and if there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s worrying.
For my birthday, my folk-group friends generously gave me 3 tickets for the Notre Dame-Temple football game. That game’s happening this weekend. Middle Sister loves football a lot more than Hubs, so she’s appropriated his ticket.
As the game approaches, I’ve found more and more things to worry about.
It’s an 8:00 game. That’s PM. I have a hard time staying awake through an 8:00 game, and now I’ll have to drive home afterward.
We’re fans of the visiting team. In Philly, that can be difficult.
I’m going to have to navigate TheKid, and his string backpack full of diabetes supplies and snacks, past whatever inspection stations you have to get past in order to get into the Linc.
Middle Sister wants to take the subway and meet us at the game. But it’s at night, and the return trip to LaSalle (past Temple, with all the Temple fans who will either be super euphoric or super angry) wouldn’t be pretty for a fan of the other team. And a 19-year-old girl traveling on the subway alone at that time of night? NO.
The game’s on Halloween. And did I mention that it’s an 8:00 game?
I just want to enjoy the opportunity to see my team play. And I know that’s all my friends wanted for me when they gave me those tickets.
Right now I’m deep into a state of general anxiety that makes me pretty difficult to live with. I’m getting ridiculously worried about all kinds of other things, things that I normally don’t think about. For example, last night we dropped TheKid off at the play. We had tickets, and he was called early, so we decided to go out to dinner before the show. I was wearing a white fleece jacket. All I could think about was that I should have packed a complete change of clothes (down to shoes) for both of us just in case a waiter spilled something on us, because we wouldn’t have time to go home and change.
I didn’t even say anything about that to Hubs, because how insane is that?
This morning I headed out to Wawa to get a hoagie for TheKid’s lunch today (he has two more shows, and we have to head straight from Mass to the theater to drop him off.) As I was driving, it occurred to me that no one knew where I was; they were both still sleeping at home; what if I got into an accident? How would they even know?
I need to make it stop, but I’m not sure I know how. I’m manufacturing worries here.
There are enough real things to worry about, and I suspect that I’m inventing fake worries to take my mind off the real stuff. I can’t do anything about the real things.
In four days, Hubs has an appointment at the cancer center for his 3-year, 36,000-mile checkup. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years. It feels like yesterday, and it also feels like forever ago. But that appointment is coming up. He’s super-stressed at work; I don’t know what’s going on there, because he has never been one to talk about things that happen at work. (He says he thinks about work enough while he’s there so he doesn’t want to talk about it at home.) He’s stressed about his mom in the nursing home. He doesn’t take good care of himself. Put all that together and you get a perfect storm for health problems.
I can’t control whether or not Hubs’ cancer has returned. There’s nothing I can do to change that.
Controlling every other little thing isn’t going to keep Hubs cancer-free either. So why can’t I make it stop?
The other day I lived through an example of how things said online aren’t always what they seem. After a Murphy’s Law hour, when everything that could go wrong did, I blew off a little steam on Facebook and then got down to the business of dealing with All The Things.
My oven is broken and there’s a mouse in the back porch. Also, I’m all out of Milky Ways.
Yes, I was whining. And venting. And trying to make light of the situation, all at the same time.
After the fact, it was interesting to do a little people-watching in terms of the reactions.
Some people sympathized.
What a bummer of a day for you.
Some people got the joke. And the need for chocolate at a time like this.
The worst was the last one. 🙂
Me: I’d definitely be dealing better with the first 2 if that last thing wasn’t also a factor.
That’s some serious <redacted> you’re dealing with!! lol
Without the chocolate, I would not be able to deal with the other two issues! LOL! 😉
You can’t handle all that stress without chocolate!!
Local friend who understands my weakness for ice cream: Guess you need a trip to The Meadows
That last one is the deal breaker really
Noooooo!!! Not out of Milky Ways!!!! I’m sorry for loss.
This ranks as a State of Emergency.
Barb, you were on the Nightly News no Milky Ways !!! lol
Local friend 2 who likes my homemade cookies: It was the Milky Ways that really make this sad! Oh, and your oven, too (no cookies)!
Crumb. Any other chocolate?
Oh no! Out of Milky Ways!!!
Then we got down to solving some problems.
Me: Mouse-in-the-porch plan: when Street Urchins arrive, promise them donuts if they find the mouse and safely relocate it OUTSIDE. Not that it couldn’t get right back in again, but…
Friend: broken oven– I switch to the steel wok on the grill, or a crock pot– but that last one– out of chocolate with nuts– oh that is major bad!
Me: I have a toaster oven and a Nesco roaster, so I can make it work (though there won’t be cookies).
Friend 2: I have made cookies in a toaster oven…cannot be helped when you have a cookie craving in the middle of a heatwave… Lol
Friend 3: First things first: Make a run to the drug store!
Friend 4: Tomcat traps are great. You never have to touch the mouse’s carcass —- OR you can get a humane trap and bait it with peanut butter and/or chocolate. You just have to be sure to haul the catch far, far away (3 or 4 miles, or on the other side of a creek or river) so they don’t return.Then follow Friend 3’s advice and run to the store for those Milky Ways! LOL
Me: Street Urchins are currently debating whether a donut is “worth it” in this case.
Friend 6: You can solve that milky way crisis pretty easily. The others, not so much….
Friend 7: Mice hate peppermint and a mini peanut butter cracker on a mouse trap works quite well. you’re on your own with the oven. I’d call a repairman or someone with those skills.
World-traveling friend: It is too hot to turn on the oven. Pay the urchin five bucks for catching the mouse. Amazon should take care of the Milky Way problem, unless you want British ones and then I can bring some back next week. Let me know.
And then, a progress report:
Me: Looks like the Street Urchins have prevailed over the mouse! (And killed a giant bee as a bonus!)
Friend 4: HOORAY!!!!!
And then, a ray of hope for my broken appliance:
Friend 5: Barb, my husband repairs ovens! What’s wrong with it?
Me: Well, it is flashing E2 F3 in the display and burning SUPER hot.
Friend 5: I will have him call you! What make oven and how old. Gas or electric?
Commence discussion re: make, model and what’s a good time to call.
Further resolution of the situation and other good news:
Street Urchins have been repaid for the safe capture and relocation of the mouse with donuts. And I have a caramel iced coffee, so I think we’re pretty much all set.
AND things keep looking up. I requested jury duty postponement so it wouldn’t be during TheKid’s summer vacation, and I just got a postcard saying I’m excused!
(And there was rejoicing in all the land.)
The urchins caught the mouse for 2 donuts each plus Klondike bars. 🙂
World-traveling friend: Excellent financial negotiation skills! Amp him with sugar and send him home
Further on down the line, after it was all over:
Friend 8: actually, i don’t like this like this. i am saddened by this, but like that you find humor even in the broken mousiness and the absent milky ways…
Me: That’s my survival skill, 🙂 At least we got the mouse safely to the woods down the block instead of my porch.
Friend 9: This sounds like a very bad day! 😦
Me: Fortunately, it got better. But all that in one hour was not fun.
And then there was this:
First world problems …
Now that’s the comment I don’t know how to take. Because it didn’t come with any emoticon to soften it, and the person who typed it isn’t someone I know in person (but who is a friend of many of my friends, and professionally I do wind up “friending” such people).
I am well aware that the lack of a working oven and the presence of a mouse are not major crises, and that not having any Milky Ways in the house does not constitute a State of Emergency.
So, OK. I was complaining about some pretty minor stuff. My friends got that it was minor, but upsetting, and the back-and-forth helped me get through the afternoon with some semblance of my sanity intact.
But now I feel like I am being judged, like I’m being told, “Suck it up, buttercup! There are starving people in <insert Third World Country here> who would love to have your ‘problems’.”
I wasn’t kidding when I told that one friend that finding humor in this situation is my survival skill. The humor here was that there were no Milky Ways, and bargaining with the Street Urchins for donuts in exchange for safe mouse relocation.
I can’t be sure that this person’s comment was meant as a put-down, but that’s how I interpreted it. Again, it’s hard to tell, just based on text and not knowing the person behind the words.
This may indicate that it’s time for me to evaluate whether it’s a good idea to have people as friends just because we have 47 mutual friends on Facebook. I might need to make an announcement that if I don’t know you in person or work with you, I’m unfriending, and then direct folks to “like” my author page.
(And yes, “work with you” counts because I work with over 100 people whom I’ve never met! If those people send me friend requests, I grant them.)
This is shaping up to be one of those days where things just don’t fall into place, where you have to push and shove and jam every puzzle piece and hope it will lock into the right spot–because if not, it’s locked into the wrong spot and God help you when you try to get it back out.
I’m going to need a little extra help today–not because anything big has gone wrong, but those little things are going to be the death of me. For example:
The Kid missed the bus. Again. I didn’t want to have to leave to drive him, because…
We have a contractor coming to do some repair work around here. He spoke to Hubs yesterday while I was not home. Hubs told me the contractor would be here today, but hadn’t asked the guy what time he’d be here. I don’t do uncertainty well in circumstances like this.
Middle Sister woke up and told me that the contractor had said he would not be here today but would start on Thursday.
I found this out just 10 minutes too late to be able to get to daily Mass (which, I’m sure we can all agree, I could have used).
I have to untangle some stupid prescription red tap regarding pen needles for The Kid’s insulin. I placed an order yesterday with our long-term prescription plan, who apparently contacted the endocrinologist for confirmation, who sent the renewed script to CVS, who cannot fill it because we have to use the long-term prescription source for stuff like this. I’m already 2 phone calls into the process. What’s the over/under on how many more I’ll need to make before it’s worked out?
All stupid little things, so why am I sitting here ready to break out in tears over them?
Not the walls of my home (thank God!) but the emotional walls that I use to hold everything in and keep it all together. Sometimes there is just way too much for those walls to hold. And usually it’s some stupid little thing that causes them to cave in.
Who’s the patron saint of people who sweat the small stuff? Maybe it’s Martha:
Martha, you are anxious about many things. –Luke 10:41
What was I thinking? I have a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes. While he’s quite independent and generally adept at handling most of his own care, Hubs and I are still, most definitely, his caregivers.
That means we wake him up in the night to give him juice when he sleeps through his continuous glucose monitor’s alarm. (Last night, 5 times. That’s unusual. But it can definitely be frustrating and exhausting.) It means we measure his food and calculate the carbs on every recipe. It means we cannot let him leave the house without his backpack containing insulin, a juice box, and emergency glucose supplies. Ever. It means every-3-months visits to the endocrinologist and the dread of ever having to repeat the emergency-room episode just before Thanksgiving 2013 when we learned his diagnosis and just how sick he was.
Jeannie has written the book on caregiving–more accurately, the workbook on caregiving, and I’m going to be working through that book. It’s called Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. She speaks from her own experience as a mom of two young daughters with special needs: one child on the autism spectrum and one with a craniofacial disorder called Apert Syndrome.
You don’t have to be a caregiver, or a special-needs mom, to appreciate the wisdom in that article. But if you are, you’ll understand just how priceless a gift Jeannie has given you by taking the time to write and share from her experience.
Please note that the link to Jeannie’s book at Amazon is an affiliate link. Your purchase of this book through my Amazon link costs you nothing extra but helps support expenses associated with this website.