Twenty-fine?

I took a blog vacation for a little bit, mostly because life was too busy to stop and blog. It’s true. In a nutshell, I was struggling with the greatest level of discontent I have ever experienced, coupled with big life choices, and employment decisions. And I was feeling antisocial in a way that extended to the blog world. I’ll touch on some of those details while I explore my thoughts on last year, and what I hope for this next year.

So, yesterday was my birthday, and I honestly haven’t ever wanted to celebrate it less. Seriously. For someone who has always loved birthdays, I just was not feeling it this year. “Twenty-fine” is really an appropriate play on words. Because while it could totally refer to my feeling oh-so-fine, it really relates more to my answering, “Fine” when someone asks me how I’ve been. You know, “not that fine,” but still breathing. This time last year, I started my “twenty-great” year with high hopes and dreams, but life’s circumstances just about crushed me. Clark’s pregnancy, health concerns, graduate school, work, finishing Ben’s degree, etc. It was truly an exhausting journey and honestly just a pretty shit year. One that squished out so much of my sparkle and has made me feel very old and very tired. I know, I know, people who have lived longer say, “Oh, but you’re so young! Life is just hard.” And I kill them. Well, in my head I kill them. In real life, I just give them a tight smile and say “Yep. It sure is…”

I’m feeling anxious because I was given the choice to choose an easier life and continue to be a nurse at my sweet little preschool; an easy and happy job with great hours and a steady paycheck. Or, I could finish my masters degree program and become the nurse practitioner I set out to be when I first began my nursing journey. Surely after this year, no one would begrudge me taking an easier route. But, because of who I am, I cannot. I am looking at all of the possibilities and responsibilities and MAN–the struggle! Yet, I am willingly, albeit hesitantly, choosing that harder path. The persistently nagging feeling about finishing this degree has shown me that despite my feeling puny and beaten down, I still have some fight in these tired bones.

So, for the last month, I have searched for preceptors (took about 18 different rejections to find an OB/GYN preceptor), paid off tuition, registered for classes, quit my sweet job, and just about lost my mind with these sick kids. Seriously Clark and Darcy have been sick forever and I’m about to give them away because if I get puked on one more time I will lose what’s left of my mind completely. It has been a busy month, but until I had preceptors lined up and tuition money paid, I didn’t know if I could quit my job or not. It took a while for everything to cooperate and fall fully into place. 

This past year, I have prayed, cried, rejoiced, and trembled in fear more than I have ever thought myself capable of in an entire lifetime. I have heard the phrase–paraphrased from Isaiah 61:3-that, ‘God makes beauty from ashes’ and mistakenly thought that the ashes were what I was dealing with when the ultrasound was bad, when the assessments were scary, or when the doctors speculated, but  I was wrong. It was then that I was in the flames, and it is NOW that I am looking at the remaining ashes wondering just what in the hell I am supposed to do with them at this point. I mean, how do you heal from the trauma of sustained, high-level stress? But I start with this. I need to finish this program. I need to rediscover my hobbies and passions, and renew old friendships. I mean I should probably take a yoga class, and spend more time on things that I enjoy. Hell, I need to try to remember *what* I enjoy.  I gotta water these ugly ashes and plant some seeds, so that there is at least a glimmer of hope that something beautiful can grow out of the scars of this past year. I AM thankful for surviving this past year. But I hope my twenty-ninth year is the year in which I thrive. Love to all.

Kidnapping a grown man

Ben’s 30th birthday

I’ve been quiet on my blog lately. Why? I don’t really know other than I haven’t particularly felt compelled to write. I’ve had enough adventures and happenings and thoughts to fill at least 4 blog entries, but I just haven’t had the itch? Maybe Raynershine’s days are numbered! 🙀

Anyway, in early May, I decided to begin planning for Ben’s 30th birthday. I had exactly zero clue as to what I should do. There are all kinds of ideas available on the world wide web: surprise cancun trips, surprise party, blah, blah blah. Ben is not what I would call the party type. He’s the spend quality time with family type. I even asked him offhandedly what he would like to do for his birthday and he said, “I don’t know. Nothing. Hang out with you and the kids.” Yeah… not giving me much to go on, dear!

So I decided to plan a getaway. I talked to my mother-in-love and scheduled her to take both kids for the night and booked a cottage in Ocean Springs. I asked one of my sweet Phi Mu sisters, a Gulf Coast native,  for her suggestions on what to do, where to eat, that kind of thing. Following her suggestion, I made reservations at a restaurant in nearby Biloxi, and I told Ben that he needed to come home early on the Friday before his birthday. And that’s as far as I got for a while. Ben’s starting of a new job combined with the end of the school year was even further complicated by Clark’s medical scare and kept me busy. So, before I knew it, the getaway was only 2 days away, and I didn’t even have anything else planned. Yikes. So, I decided that on Saturday we could have breakfast in Ocean Springs and tour Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, before heading back to Baton Rouge.

Friday morning arrived and I dropped the kids at daycare, got gas in the car,  packed our bags, put them in the car,  went on a quick run, came home and showered, and then panicked. Because I didn’t have a card or gift or anything cutesy to tell him where we were going and I needed a new dress because I hated everything in my closet and this idea was basically a stupid disaster. He was going to be home in an hour and there were no lunch plans, or any plans at all besides showing up at our cottage and our dinner reservations at seven. This is his 30th birthday, y’all. He just graduated from his third and final degree. I am trying to do this thing right! You see, fortunately or unfortunately, Mavis is my mother 😜, and I just couldn’t not have all these extras. I ran to the grocery store and picked up champagne, glass-bottled Cokes because they are way cuter (obviously), cheese, and fruit. I bought a funny card with naked old people on them (those always make me laugh) and a new dress.  I raced home and got out the picnic basket she gave us on our wedding day, packed it up and placed the card on top. I then “cleaned” the house with a quick once-over and waited.

Ben walked through the door, saw the basket, and smiled, saying, “What’s all this.” “Read the card.” The card explained that he was henceforth kidnapped and would be allowed a short bathroom break before following me to the car. He looked a little confused and said, “Wait. We’re going for the whole night? What about the kids?” “Your mom is watching them.” “Wow. Okay. Let me pack!” “Your bags are in the car. Move it! We’re leaving.” “Wow. Okay!”

And we took off to Ocean Springs, snacking on fruit and cheese and those bottled cokes. We got to our precious cottage, put our stuff away and then walked downtown to the stores in Ocean Springs.

There were so many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The downtown area is just beautiful with large live oak trees framing the shop-lined streets. We grabbed coffee and just enjoyed talking to one another without diapers needing to be changed or babies needing to be fed. It was incredible, and it struck me just how important this time together actually was. I could look at this man and remember the boy he was when we first got started. The first birthday we celebrated as a couple was his 23rd birthday. He had just moved to Michigan, I was still in nursing school in Mississippi, and everyone said we weren’t going to “make it.” Now we were hand in hand on a pier in Ocean Springs celebrating his 30th birthday after 4.5 years of marriage and 2 children. It was a strange, almost wistful feeling to say the least.

That night we went to dinner at the White Pillars restaurant and it was pretty amazing even if I did think that the tiny complimentary tasting was the appetizer we had ordered. I was feeling pretty cheated! The bourbon-based drinks and delicious entrees were only eclipsed by the amazing White Pillars chocolate bar dessert. Seriously, I was living my best life for that plate.

The following morning we had pancakes at a local breakfast joint and then went to Beauvoir. It was beautiful and coincidentally it was Jefferson Davis’ birthday so they did a whole salute and shot cannons to mark the occasion. Also. Cupcakes. So I’m counting that as a win in my book. Ben and I love history so it was the perfect end to our trip.

And that’s how I kidnapped my husband. It was great, and I highly recommend it. Also, that boy better spoil me for my 30th, but it’s a while until then because I’m his much younger and hotter wife 😈.

The 2nd anniversary of my motherhood

Or, Darcy’s birthday letter

Bittersweet. According to Merriam-Webster, bittersweet is defined as, “pleasure accompanied by suffering or regret.” I know for a fact (okay, not really) that this word was invented by parents to describe the landmark occasion of their child’s birthdays. Today, Darcy is two years old. That two years represents so much to me. Such as:

1. The death of my beloved sleeping patterns. RIP late weekend sleep-ins.

2. The death of my intense selfishness–thank you God for working some of that out of me!

3. The birth of my motherhood. I’m a mom, which has been my greatest blessing in this life.

Darcy-bird, you are it, man. You are the most precious little 2-year old on this planet. You love to play outside. You pronounce “outside” as “a-die” by the way. Your daddy and I had no freaking clue what you were saying for like 2 weeks. Mattie finally figured it out–yay Mattie! You stall like a pro when it comes to bedtime. You have to say goodnight to EVERYTHING. Including the “tash” on the floor which means “trash,” which reminds me of another thing you brought into my life:

4. The death of my clean house. I used to be able to walk barefoot (LOL) without that special *grit* you manage to spread all over.

I know all parents think that their children are beautiful, but you ARE. You have huge brown eyes with long, perfect eyelashes. You have a luxurious mane of hair. You can’t even see that big scar from your surgery. In fact, it’s very hard to get all that hair wet during your bath. It repels water like a dog…in a good way, though. Girl, you make me so proud with your “I do it!” attitude, even if it stings a little sometimes. By that I mean that while I am so glad that you are self-assured and brave and independent, sometimes I want to shrink you tiny again so I can just hold you. That’s the bittersweet part, love. I never despair the passing of time. Really. I don’t want time to slow down or stop. Watching you grow is beautiful and special, and each birthday we’re given is an absolute gift from God. ABBA–who prominently stars in our dance parties–wrote a song called, “Slipping through my fingers,” and it describes your growing up best:

Slipping through my fingers all the time,

I try to capture every minute,

The feeling in it

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Do I really see what’s in her mind?

Each time I think I’m close to knowing,

She keeps on growing

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture,

And save it from the funny tricks of time,

Slipping through my fingers all the time.

I want so many things for you, baby. I want you to always look in the mirror and smile, just like you do right now. I want you to continue to drop it like it’s hot in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store when one of your jamz comes on. People may laugh, but you’ll get to groove to some awesome music, and dance parties have always made us feel better. I want you to always walk into a room, belly-first, knowing that you sparkle, and that you are an important person. The world will try to smash that out of you, but I’m going to do my best to fill up your love-tank. Your daddy will, too. I cherish these times with you, Darcela. I really do, even when you’re unreasonable, which is a lot because you are two years old.

You are the answer to so many prayers, and I know you are going to do so many big things. I just pray I get to see you accomplish all that God plans for you. I’m so proud of you little girl.

Thoughts on turning twenty-great

Yep. As of tomorrow, it’s here once again. My birthday! I used to be such a firm believer in birthday weeks and celebrating every last minute of the 24 hours of my birthday. This year, well, I can’t say I’ve even noticed it creeping up. This summer I’ve been super busy with school, and a new job, and Darcy, and getting food poisoning, and being pregnant, blah blah blah.

So, I only get two more years in my twenties. I’m not particularly sad about that, but it has made me somewhat reflective on where I thought I would be 10 years ago at the ripe age of 18. If I look back 10 years when I was about to start my freshman year at Delta State, I can honestly say that my life IS different than what I had expected, but also not. I figured or hoped I would be successful and finished with any schooling, happily married to the man of my dreams with child(ren?). So okay, 2/3 ain’t that bad. I had also hoped I would be living in a city bigger than my small hometown and have my own dog. Check! Check! Oh and I *really* hoped there would be lots of money. Let’s just take a minute to laugh about that one. LOL

So as you can see, my goals have kind of been checked off, but I never really thought about the journey I would take to see these things to fruition. I didn’t think that choosing to major in nursing would impact my life as much as it has. That it would wholly influence my perspective and outlook on life. For instance, if you have ever witnessed a child dying of cancer and seen the absolute devastation experienced by her parents, the important things in your life will forever be exponentially highlighted. Small stuff is small stuff, and it’s usually stupid, too. Nursing has changed my life. Before I married my husband, I never considered the hearts I would break, or even my own heartache I would experience along the way. *Sidenote–he was totally the cause of a lot of my distress at one point* Just putting that out there. I never knew that having a miscarriage would be one of the most heartbreaking experiences I would face thus far in my life. I didn’t know the JOY a healthy baby could bring into my life, either! I didn’t know that the traffic associated with “city bigger than my small hometown” would steal large amounts of my time and happiness, THANK YOU FOR THAT, BATON ROUGE. Anddd I never anticipated the amount of “inedible” crap my dog could eat and survive. I have a sudden vision of Libby dressed in camouflage, running to the sounds of Destiny’s Child “Survivor”. She’s eaten: 2-3 pair of underwear, too many to count socks, a bottle of ibuprofen, a tube of mascara, an entire bag of Hershey kisses, at least three roaches that were poisoned, and god knows what else. She’s seven and never looked so good, although I wouldn’t recommend this tried and true anti-aging diet of hers to anyone else.

The point of my ramblings is that I’ve already “met” the goals that I think mattered most to my 18 year-old-self. My sweet family is everything to me, and adding my husband and his family and our daughter to my list of people to love on has been one of life’s biggest blessings. I say blessings because considering this gift an accomplishment of mine just seems so wrong. God so lovingly sent my husband to me, and has continued to bless and grow our family. School and career and money are all important things, but they pale in comparison to the Big Stuff. And one day I think I’ll have all that other stuff, too. But without them, my life still feels full and exciting. Without my family and the loves in my life, I don’t think I could get out of bed.

So at the end of the next ten years when I’m pushing forty (now that kind of hurts), I have a few different goals in mind; some material, some not. I want us to build our forever dream home. Where? I’m not sure yet. I want to be DONE with school. Whether I finish NP school or not, I just want to be done. I want to finish up my family. I have no idea what that means at this point. I want to grow in spiritual maturity and live a life reflective of loving Jesus. Maybe that will mean less cursing or more praying or not honking at people who ruin my chances of catching a green light or because they are just generally stupid drivers. Or maybe not. Honking is rather satisfying, after all. Love to all you people out there.