Monthly Archives: April 2015

When it Rains…

There was a time that I used to say, “I just don’t know how single parents do it.”  Now I know the answer to that.

You know the saying “When it rains, it pours”?  Well, I’ve been living that this month.  And I’m not just talking about the extreme Spring weather we’ve been having for the past week, which is typical in the Midwest this time of year.  We’ve had tornado warnings, golf ball sized hail dumped in massive amounts, thunder that shakes the house like an earthquake and severe flash flooding.  There is even a video going around of my friend Jay’s brand new truck that literally floated away.  Insane.

And yet, when I saw Jay yesterday, he was his usual smiley self.  He even had us take a selfie to give a shout out to our friend Mike who ran an impressive marathon time at the GO! St. Louis marathon yesterday.  His first ever brand new car, only 3 weeks old, totaled.  Ugh.  And yet, he is a perfect example of strength and grace under pressure.  Peace.

In addition to the literal rain, I’ve had a metaphorical downpour happening for the past week, as well.  The kids are with me full time this month since their dad is litigating a trial in…somewhere, Wisconsin, maybe.  That started last week, so while most people were saying “TGIF!” I was bracing for the weekend.  Let me give you a rundown of what the past 72+ hours looked like around here.

Friday, we were up at the usual time and I dropped the kids at school by a couple minutes after 8.  I ran by the bank, filled up the car with gas, stopped by home to pay a couple bills and grab my bag.  Then I was off to school for Orientation.  When Orientation was done, I headed straight to work and got there just as the clock struck 1.  I did a quick costume change and settled in for the afternoon.  I was starving, so I shoved a chicken salad sandwich in my face as fast as I could.  The afternoon passed into evening and the last customer left the store just minutes before 8.  I got everything closed down and then did a quick change into the warmest items I had with me.  The temperature had dropped with the sun and I still wasn’t done for the day.

While I was at work, the kids had been picked up from school by their grandparents.  Papa had taken Ethan to the Chesterfield ball fields for his first game on the season, starting at 8:00.  Again, I was starving, so I swung through the McD’s drivethru on my way to the game.  Don’t judge me, it was desperation.  I got to the field, just as Ethan walked up to the plate for his first at bat of the season.  Ethan’s team, the Blaze, won the game 7-5 and it was finally over by 10 pm.  I was really glad I’d had a blanket in the back of the car.  As we rolled back through the drivethru to get Ethan a smoothie, I promised the guy in the window that I wouldn’t be back again, 2 visits that night was all I was planning to make.  He chuckled and Ethan asked, “You were already here?”

I dropped Ethan back off at the Grandparents’ house with his brother, sister and cousins since they were doing a group sleepover.  I was thrilled at the prospect of a “night off”.  I said a quick hi to Ally since Silas was already asleep.  Then I jumped in the car and drove home where I finally unloaded my new books from school, threw in a load of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher and sank onto the couch at 11pm.  Some exciting Friday night, huh?  After a 16 hour day, I was exhausted.  But I pulled out my Biology book to get a jump start, until I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

Saturday morning…sleep in?  No.  The alarm went off at 7am and I was back at it.  Since I opted to hit snooze a time or 3, I only had enough time for a short run.  I went out for a sluggish 3 miles, but at least it was something.  I jumped in the shower, packed up a lunch, made a quick stop at Walgreens and made my way over to the O’Fallon store for another full day of selling shoes.  As we neared the 5:00 hour, Sarah was highly concerned about getting me out of the store before my stress level went off the chart, so a few minutes before we closed, I took off to grab Ethan for his second baseball game of the season.  I arrived at the Grandparents’ house, again, and got hugs from all my kiddos.  Ethan was ready to go, but the other 2 had persuaded Mimi to let them stay rather than sitting out at the ball field.  I got Ethan to the batting cages for a warmup and then found a spot on the bleachers with the other moms.  Ethan’s first at bat, he walked on 4 straight balls, then scored on a long fly to center by Oliver.  His second at bat, he was facing the pitcher who was wearing #24 Jacobs, which I found very weird since my brother used to wear #24 and our last name happens to be the same.  The first pitch was outside, but Ethan swung anyway, and missed.  Second pitch was pretty much the same.  I wondered why he was swinging at those, but I didn’t want to be the mom who yells criticism from the stands, so I just yelled an encouraging, “Let’s go E!”  The next pitch was a ball and Ethan let it go by.  The count was 1-2.  Jacobs wound up and threw the ball toward the plate.  Ethan swung and made contact.  It was a shot right out to center and it bounced right past the fielder.  Ethan stepped on first and headed toward second.  He kept going.  As he rounded third, the throw was coming in from the outfield.  Ethan slid into home just as the ball reached the catcher’s mitt and he dropped the ball.  Safe!  Homerun Ethan!

I can’t think of too many sports moments in history that have gotten me that excited.  (And that’s saying something since my Spartans just made it to the Final 4 as a 7 seed last month.  Again!)  My heart was racing and I was beaming.  I couldn’t have been more proud.  And the look on Ethan’s face when he stood up and smiled at me as he jogged back to his teammates in the dugout was priceless.  I tucked that moment right into my heart for safe keeping.

At 8:00 as the team wrapped up, I got a funnel cake from the concession stand for Ethan and I to share, since I hadn’t eaten anything since chicken salad 2.0 at 1pm.  As we walked back to the car, we talked about his homer.  The Blaze won 14-2.

We got back to the Grandparents’ and picked up the other two, along with backpacks and gear.  We got home and I sent Ethan to the shower.  I started another load of laundry and began the process of emptying lunchboxes and going through Friday folders from the day before.

By 9pm, the boys were in bed, both sound asleep.  I sat on the couch with Ally, her watching TV, me with my nose in a Bio book.  2 days down, 1 more to go before the weekend was over.

Sunday…again up a little after 7.  When I came downstairs at 8:15, still with wet hair, the boys were still in pajamas watching tv with Brian.  I hadn’t even heard him come in, but it was nice to see him after a few days apart.  We had coffee and I sent the boys to get dressed for church.  We drove separately since we both had things to do afterward.  Pastor Greg talked about “Shalom”.  Peace.  It made me think of a card that reads, “Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

After church, I dropped the kids back off with their Grandparents, did a quick grocery store run, home to put stuff in the refridge, and a quick change for work.  Then I was back at the store with Hannah.

At 5:00 when we closed, the race was on again.  Somewhere in the past couple days, I got a text from Silas’ teacher that he was going to help do introductions at the Grandparent’s Day event at school on Monday.  He was supposed to dress as a Grandpa.  So I thought it would be hilarious to send him as Carl, from the movie Up.  Balloons and all.  I had preordered a bunch of balloons from Party City, so I swung by to grab them on my way to pick up the kids.  After retrieving the crew, we went home and my beau got the grill fired up for dinner.  I was so happy the weekend was OVER!!!

By 9pm, everyone except Ally was in bed.  I followed shortly afterward, snuggled up with my Bio book.  And when the alarm went off at 6:15, it was go time.  I finished making lunches, gathering props for Silas, packing my bag and I shuffled everyone into the car at 7:20.  I only made one accidental wrong turn on our way to drop the kids at our friends, the Thompson’s, house.  It was force of habit, I was already heading to my school.  I delivered the kids, and the balloons, and all the stuff.  And then I went off to school for my first day of class.  I am hoping to pop over to the school and see Silas in costume before I have to get to work.  I still haven’t heard back from my sitter yet, so I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen with the kids later.  I have mouths to feed.  I have homework to oversee.  I have my own homework to do.  I have little people depending on me. I have…chaos.  I have noise and trouble and hard work.  But I’ll get through it.

Because the thing is…even being in the midst of all that I have peace.  I have laughter.  I have homeruns!  I have so much joy.

So, if you’re still wondering what the answer is to the question, “How do single parents do it?” The answer is…it’s not so much about “how”, we just do.

Resilient Spirit

Do you ever have one of those moments where something triggers a memory and it just stops you in your tracks for a second? You stand there sort of frozen and think, “Oh…huh.”  Well, I had one of those this morning.  My friend Phebe is celebrating her 4th wedding anniversary today.  When I saw her post on Facebook, I had to stop and think for a second about why I couldn’t remember her celebration.  The reason is because I wasn’t actually there.  I was supposed to be.  I had RSVP’ed.  I had bought a great dress to wear for the occasion.

But the day that her fairy tale started was the same day that mine was officially over.  Worse, it was the day that I would have liked nothing more than to slip away into an abyss because I was already living in a black hole of hopelessness and despair.  It was the day I was faced with a false reality that I had two choices: Stay trapped or lose everything.  I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that if I stayed in that place of turmoil, it would continue to eat away at my core and slowly kill me.  It had already killed my spirit.  Or so I thought.

Let’s fast forward to a happier time for a moment, shall we?  The last month has been outrageously busy.  In a good way.  I took my kids on an amazing vacation to Florida for Spring Break, including a few days at Disney World.  Just before that, I made the decision to go back to school.  I lined up my financial aid and have everything ready to go to start classes in just over a week.  I will be a certified medical assistant by the end of 2015 and to say I am excited would be a massive understatement.  I said I wanted to make this year big, and I’m making it happen.

Recently, I’ve come face to face with the amazing strength of some incredible women in my life.  My Grandma turned 90 last week.  I was ecstatic to get the kids over to Quincy to see her on her birthday and celebrate all that she is to me.  Last fall, Grandma Norma had major heart surgery and she came through like a champ.  We’ve seen her slow down from the energetic go getter she was, but she is still the same witty, hospitable, feisty, and accepting, tell it like it is lady that I have tried to model myself after.  She makes me proud to be a Jacobs.

Last Friday I received an email from Teri.  You remember Teri, the one who completed the Ironman World Championship in Kona while undergoing chemo for Stage IV colon cancer?  Yeah, THAT Teri.  She had pulled some strings and arranged for us to throw Inga a surprise 40th birthday party unlike any other.  Myself and a couple girlfriends were supposed to take Inga to lunch that day, but unfortunately, her chemo had to be rescheduled for that very day.  So, in typical Inga fashion, she got her kids on the bus, then drove herself to the hospital for an all-day chemo session.  I’m not kidding, it was All Day.  She was the first one in and the last one out.  But she got a surprise mid-day.  A group of us formed in the waiting room and then paraded through the infusion center with all the makings of a 40th birthday party.  Flowers, balloons, cupcakes, ice cream, we had it all! I couldn’t contain my joy as it overflowed out of my eyes while I watched Teri present Inga with a Powered by Hope medal, two incredible women that I had brought together.  Two incredible women, with incredible stories of strength and incredible faith.  Oh to have the courage of these ladies!

So, for the past couple weeks I’ve been pondering, what is it that makes a person strong?  What is the definition of strength?

Webster’s definition of strength is: the quality or state of being strong.  Uh, gee thanks, Webster, that’s super helpful.

So, I went to the definition of strong: having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.  That’s not exactly what I was looking for either.  My Grandma is 90.  She sits in her recliner most days, the only thing she is capable of moving is herself, but she is no less strong that anyone else I know.

Webster’s second definition of strong: able to withstand great force or pressure.  Ok, now we’re getting somewhere…

Inga has been fighting cancer for 7 years.  Monday was her 82nd round of chemo.  But Ironwoman Teri said it best when she told Inga, “you inspire people around you without even saying a word”.

All of these words kept tumbling around in my brain.  What does strength mean to me?  The other day when I was running, I was searching for an answer to that.  I was thinking about a conversation I had with my Aunt Nancy while I was at my Grandma’s.  We were talking about how everyone has a different reality, but we all have hard stuff in our lives.  Every single one of us.  It’s how we respond to those circumstances that shows who we really are.  And finally the definition that came to me was this: being strong means to have a resilient spirit.  No matter how many times we get knocked down, or fall down, we continue to get back up and keep on going.

After I left work today, I went to Babler for a run.  I haven’t been there in ages.  I used to go there all the time, especially on the really hard days because the hills are intense and I’ve always said that there’s nothing like running hills to remind me that I’m a fighter.

Today when I got to Babler, it was raining.  But I didn’t care.  I got out of my car and started to run.  Almost immediately it occurred to me, it was just a few weeks before Phebe’s wedding that tornados had ripped through Babler and leveled part of the park.  The park had been closed for a few days for the cleanup crew to make it safe again.  But the first day it was open, I was back there.  That particular day, for no special reason, I ran the loop the opposite direction from the way I always do.  Maybe I knew deep down, that I was about to set my life on a totally different course, I don’t know.  As I neared the end of that run, I came to the section of the park that had the most devastation.  There was a news crew there filming.  I even ended up on the news that night.

Today’s run was a couple minutes slower than that girl a few years ago.  Ok, if I’m being honest, it was several minutes slower.  When I ran that day years ago, I was training on pace to qualify for Boston.  And I am significantly slower now. I was physically stronger then, but at what cost?  My mind and heart were a mess. Today was different.  I wasn’t running to prove anything to myself or anyone else. It didn’t matter how fast I climbed the hills, it just mattered that I kept going and I reached the top.  I enjoyed the rain on my face, the atmosphere, the sun on my shoulders, the reminder that I am who I am now is because the storms ripped me apart, but my resilient spirit kept going.

Today I was reminded of where I was 4 years ago, and I was taken aback.  I honestly can’t believe that was the same person I am today.  I look at how far I’ve come.  I’ve made a life for myself.  I’m going back to school.  I’m an Ironman.  I have done a lot of hard work and I really like the person that I am today.  I am proud of the Lindsey that I’ve become. I know my purpose, which is simply, to love and be loved.

It was raining when I started, but after a mile the rain had subsided.  The only water on my face was from sweat, and tears.  After another mile, the clouds were moving and the sun was trying to shine. And by the time I finished, the sky was blue.  It was temporary.  The thunderstorms rolled in again shortly after. But that’s usually the way it goes.  So I’ve learned to enjoy the sun when it shines.

Today, as I stood in the road looking at that clearing, I was amazed at how much growth had occurred, the flowers were blooming everywhere. The very thought made me laugh out loud at the symbolism. It was the blooms in the broken wreckage, the old and the new all mashed together, it’s resilient spirit, which made it so beautiful.