Time Apart

”Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

Does time away from a loved one really make us feel closer to them? I can only speak from personal experience.

Our married life began with time apart. Soon after our May wedding, my husband, Gart, was hired as the band director in Hominy, OK. He would need to begin working in July to prepare for marching season.

We were so excited about this new chapter! Then reality hit. His first paycheck would not come until late August. We could not afford to go without income. I would need to stay with friends in Fayetteville, AR and keep working while he moved to the apartment where we would both eventually live.

During this time apart, we saw each other most weekends. Weeknights consisted of long, tear-filled phones calls. It was a long two months, but we survived. Looking back, I’d say the experience made us stronger.

Spending a week apart became part of our summers as well. While Gart worked at a summer band camp, I would spend a week with my parents. Once we had kids, it became a perfect opportunity for them to spend time with grandparents.

I believe those times apart early in our marriage helped us truly appreciate one another. It laid a foundation of security and trust. Knowing that even when we were apart, we were okay.

Fast-forward twenty-five years. Our kids are practically grown. That empty nest time is just around the corner. As I type, Gart is out of town for work. Not quite the same as our previously planned time apart.

Honestly, these days I prefer when we are both at home. Maybe it’s because I am getting older. This new life stage. Selfishness. I’m not certain. I only know that when it comes to time apart now, less is more.

As I drove my husband to the airport early this morning, all I could think was, “I’ll be so glad when he gets home this weekend.” ❤️

A Calvin-n-Hobbes t-shirt & James Taylor

My first memories of listening to music on my own involved carrying around my Bicentennial ’76 transistor radio. There were no headphones. I just walked around the yard holding this little treasure up to my ear. I’m certain I heard James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and “How Sweet it is” many times on that tiny device.

My first memories of actually playing James Taylor songs came from a pink songbook entitled, “Contemporary Sounds of Music of Today.” “Fire and Rain” & “Country Road” graced this collection, and quickly became two of my favorites. I would play them on piano and quite often an aunt or cousin would be standing behind me singing along.

Fast forward through high school. Although I heard some of JT’s new releases, I was busy working on my bachelor and master’s degrees in music. Much of my time was spent in a practice room or rehearsing with other musicians. Very little time was left to simply listen to music for pleasure.

But there were moments…a concert in Fayetteville, AR during grad school comes to mind. Here I heard “Your Smiling Face” live for the first time. This was like a second beginning of my love for James Taylor’s music, and the first of many concerts I would attend.

Though it feels like a lifetime ago, there is one song, one small moment in time, which stands out above the rest. Grad school again, my future husband, Gart, and I had just met. My life was kind of a mess.

He introduced me to the song “Like Everyone She Knows” (by James Taylor, of course.) I listened to it on repeat one entire weekend while visiting my family. The more I listened, the more it seemed to be talking about me.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/like-everyone-she-knows/169612785?i=169613674

The more I listened, the more I realized Gart was someone special.

I often tell people Gart rescued me. He would say I’m being overly dramatic, but I would have to disagree. Somehow, he was able to see through the mess and here we are twenty-six years, three kids, and six cities later.

I’m thankful for the way he encourages me while challenging me to stretch myself. He likes to say things like, “Life is hard, life is messy, but it is also awesome and beautiful.” And if feelings of doubt or guilt creep in, he reminds me that the difficult times helped make me who I am today.

I’m thankful for the beauty of poetry and music, creating a song with the power to touch my heart. A song which somehow felt like it was written just for me. A song written by my favorite singer, James Taylor (in case you haven’t already figured that out), and introduced to me by a cute guy wearing a Calvin-n-Hobbes t-shirt who was willing to take a chance.

Merry Christmas, Gart. Thank you for continuing to rescue me. I love you!

Happy Anniversary!

Fifty-four years
Quite a long time
To spend with someone
Morning, noon, and night

Coffee in the morning
Always a kiss goodnight
Moments in between
Praying for all to be right

An example for our family
And all others they may meet
Showing a love so strong
Though also simple & sweet

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!
Your wedding vows held true
Richer or poorer, sickness & health
To you both-a grateful Thank You!

Capturing the Moment

What happens when a special moment is captured only in our memory?  No witnesses or cameras present to record the details. Does that make it any less significant?  Social pressures to perfectly capture life events may unintentionally cause us not to be fully present in the experience, worrying more about the perception of others than our own happiness.

There is a big difference between living in the moment and living to make sure the moment is flawlessly planned and documented.  Personally, I love taking photos and reminiscing later while looking at said photos.  That is not a bad thing, but I am working to focus more on being fully present in my life circumstances. Realizing that even if I don’t get that perfect picture, the true beauty of the memory is stored in my heart forever.

My husband and I were recently discussing this notion, and he reminded me that the memory of when he proposed belongs only to us

 

Proposal

The ring was purchased

Permission asked and given

No plan in place

Waiting for the right moment

An evening drive~no big production

Castle in the park~no cameras~no witnesses

Two people

One kneeling and asking~One crying and accepting

Ready to take the next step

A forever commitment

Twenty-five years of marriage~the memory clear and sweet

Shared only by the two

As We Go

This past Friday was a rainy, inside recess kind of day.  My last class of the day is 2nd grade.  So I made a last minute change of plans and decided to teach them a game, Instrument Bingo.  Fairly certain they would at least be familiar with the concept of Bingo, I began to explain this particular version.

Bingo cards are made up of musical instrument pictures, each one also identified by written names.  Many types of instruments, representing all parts of the world, are shown on the cards.  Students listen to recordings of the instruments being played and a voice also tells them the name.  It’s a win, win kinda game.

I wanted this to be a fun learning activity-reminding them I did not expect them to already know all these instruments, and we would be learning them as we played the game. One sweet girl raised her hand, “You mean, we will all learn together as we go.”  Yes!  That is exactly what we will be doing!

That one statement from an innocent 2nd grader holds much wisdom.  As I wrote it down on my “positives” list, I began to think about all the ways it applies to life. Being a spouse, parent, and teacher are perfect examples.  Often our focus is on the big event-a wedding, birth of a baby, college graduation, our first teaching job-culminating in our suddenly taking on those identities.

Yes, those events are important and grant us that particular role or position in name, but time and experience are required for actual transformation.  And that’s what true learning is-transformation.  I need to remember this when feeling frustrated or disappointed with myself concerning my life responsibilities.

My goal should be learning from my own mistakes as well as from others who have more experience.  Followed by a willingness to share what I learn with those who may have just begun their journey down a similar path.  Always making sure to remember-we are all just learning together as we go.

 

As I Go

I am not the same wife I was

On my wedding day

I am not the same mom I was

On my first child’s birth day

So many people, places, events

Influenced who I am today

So many words, prayers, tears

Helped to light my way

 

As I continue walking along

This path we know as life

Will my desires be persistent

To become a better mom and wife

Should I choose to recognize

I am not alone in my strife

Transformation through lessons learned

Will prove worthy of sacrifice

Life’s Roles

Daughter first

Sister second

Years later wife

Mom times three

Cousin, niece, aunt

Friend and teacher between

 

Each role gives purpose

Brings responsibility

Delivers sorrow 

Causes growth

Provides joy

Creates life

 

 I look ahead

The future unseen

New roles yet to come

Hopeful to embrace each one

Through smiles, laughter, or tears

And continue down this path to becoming me

House to Home

Our family has lived in our current home for fifteen years.  Kids were nine, seven, and three when we moved in.  Prior to that move we had lived in four different houses in three different cities, and two different states.  I remember feeling so relieved to be settled.

As someone who spent the first seventeen years of my life (until I left for college) in the same house, all of our moves were challenging.  I worried about how the kids would handle each new place.  Would they make friends easily?  Would I?  Of course, we all adjusted in our own way.

This house has truly become home.  It’s where our kids grew up.  So many memories.  For example, my concern that Ryan would fall down the stairs.  He was so little when we moved in, and the kids bedrooms were all upstairs.  As it turned out, the concern should have been for me!  I was the first one to bounce down the stairs on my bottom.

Although there was the time Robert tumbled down the stairs.  Apparently Robert, Rachel, and Ryan were playing the game “follow your siblings directions while wearing a sleeping bag over your head.”  I’m sure you’ve all played that one before!  Some friendly advice; make sure the sibling giving directions knows their right from their left…

Many of the memories involve celebrations-and food.  Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night Chinese take-out, Dad’s burgers on the grill, my chocolate chip cookies, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Birthday parties, holiday dinners with extended family, graduation parties-so many things to celebrate.

Well…things are about to change.  We currently have a high school senior and a college senior, and an already moved out and employed teacher.  We know from experience these next few months will fly by.  And though our nest won’t be immediately empty, that is the direction we are rapidly heading.

Gart and I have talked many times about preparing for this next stage in life.  He would even joke and tell the kids we were going to buy a tiny house or move to a loft apartment downtown.  Neither of those is going to happen, but we are preparing to buy another house and sell this one.

Right now my thoughts are mostly in the details-time frame, moving boxes, etc.  But they  unexpectedly drift and I find my eyes welling with tears.  This happened while driving away from the home we eventually decided to buy.  It’s a beautiful home, warm and cozy.  I am excited.  So why was I crying?

Change is like that.  Even when the change is positive, it still comes with growing pains.  Right now my growing pains involve how my role as a parent is changing.  Since the majority of my parenting years took place in this house, leaving it will be emotional.

Sometimes when I’m at home alone, our once busy house feels like an empty shell.  I’m thankful for the flood of memories that fills the empty spaces.  Just as our family established traditions and made memories here, I must trust we will do the same in our new house.  And as old memories travel with us and mix together with the new,  a transformation will take place-one that will turn house to home.