11.11.11

I am not versed in numerology. But this seems like a pretty auspicious date, wouldn’t you say? This is the day I found out our family of 4 was going to be expanding to welcome one more. That little lady is going to be eight years old already tomorrow. And I am reflecting on the circumstances that surrounded this stunning news.

My two older children were eight and ten years old at the time she was born. I was inches from heading into a new decade. Things were kind of on auto pilot and we were in a groove.

I now laugh at how anxious I was to go back and do it all over again. I remember lamenting to my husband “I don’t want to be friends with the 27 year olds!” I am one of the older Moms. I have a recent high school graduate and an incoming Junior who just got her driver’s license. My husband will be Medicare-eligible by the time she graduates from High School…and I’ll be nipping at his heels. But how many times in the last nine years have I heard “She will keep you young!”? Too many to count.

Her arrival expanded my heart, opened my world wider, humbled me and allowed me to become more mindful and more of who I was meant to be.

There is a path you are on and you get comfortable there. In my experience, comfortable is never a place I can nor desire to stay very long. And the arrival of my youngest put me so far out of my comfort zone and yet so comfortably in a space I needed to be in.

Time slowed. For the first time I felt like I knew what the word wisdom meant. And the four of us could not remember what life had been like before she came along. And we didn’t want to.

Too soon for my comprehension our family will be forever changing as we launch our son to his next adventure of college. All too soon thereafter our daughter will be following suit. And then there will be three. She will help us hang on to the identity that we have lived and breathed as parents for so many years. And help us to stay connected to her youthfulness and spunk. Life sure got more interesting eight years ago. And I am forever grateful for the curve in the road she brought.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mother’s Day 2020

Recently a comment jumped out at me on social media about this time our world is in. It stated something to the effect of “not everything has to be transformative. Just survival is good enough”.

This has stuck with me for weeks. I guess it depends on how you look at your own life and what we are here for. This experience has produced much isolation, suffering, depression and sadness no doubt. I am ever mindful of this and grateful for my blessings.

Have I taken time to eat badly, gain weight, binge watch, be down and confused by it all? Yes.

But I guess at the end of the day, I am here to be transformed. No matter the circumstance. Whether it be hindsight 20/20 or an in-the-moment club over the head of insight…I am here to improve my capacity for learning, wisdom and experience. And it’s my responsilbility to share it with others and to serve in my best capacity. Yes, I want to survive, but I crave being able to THRIVE.

I am a Mother. And this new and strange journey with all of my children these last 7 weeks has been one of great reflection, observation and inspiration. We have done our best to thrive together.

A drive-by birthday celebration for my Father.

New places to complete homework (in an unseasonably warm, early Spring day)

Mixed in with creativity and fresh air.

The Moms are doing the home schooling, communicating with teachers, coordinating the virtual play dates, exercising, online shopping, working from home, working outside of the home, sanitizing, cleaning, coordinating different kinds of celebrations, keeping it together and being hopeful, modeling strength and positivity. This is transforming me the most.

I want my kids to be able to thrive. They are missing out on a lot of traditional things we take for granted. And some very important rites of passage. But I would much rather try to help them with focusing on the positive and working through ways to overcome and adapt than just using every day as a means to “wait it out” until whatever new normal we will return to.

The homemade cards today, my favorite french toast and sweet smiles and hugs is showing me we are transforming together and thriving.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother. Next year at this time we will have come so far.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Senior Year…a cliffhanger

The big hair and bangs. The scrunchies. Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby and Pretty Woman. Some pop culture things I remember from my Senior year.

The parties, Senior skip day, spring break, prom and graduation – for some even working your first jobs…all rights of passage for Seniors.

Since the “safer at home” order I had an intuition this day would come. And even though I have been preparing for it, the news hit me quite a bit harder than I had anticipated today.

School is closed for the remainder of this year.

Senior year for my son and his classmates has become like the show you watched that didn’t get picked up for another season…what happened?! They left me hanging! No closure. It just faded to black…

The kids my son grew up with were born during the time of 9/11. In their Senior year the unforseen and unprecedented global health crisis that is unfolding every day places the cap on the end of their youth. It is like a surreal dream. I know there are SO many sacrificing so much. I keep snapping my thoughts back to this reality and the repeated realization that one person’s problem with this situation pales in comparison with another and we are ALL not alone.

However, today – THIS day – it sinks in hard and I can’t brush it aside. I am going to be sad for my first-born. The things that will not be. The graduation somehow orchestrated or ?? For all the Moms and Dads of the Class of 2020, this pity party is for you and your seniors today. Want an invite?

Tomorrow will be time for the forward-looking hope that something wonderful is on the other side of this unexplainable loss. History is being written for the books right now and generations to come. THIS generation is on the brink of a new way of life, new issues to face and new ways in which to manage them.

I do wonder what my son’s reflections will be on this when he is decades out of high school like his Mom. What lessons learned now will drive where he and his classmates go in the future?

There is some grief I don’t want to overlook or deny. But it’s also my responsibility to make sure that I honor it and let it pass. That is what I would want my son to do so he doesn’t waste a minute being anything less than excited and hopeful for what awaits him around the next corner. The sun will rise (presumably!) tomorrow and we will look forward to the pilot episode of the next chapter. I know in my heart it’s going to be a good one. We may even binge watch.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

New Habits

Got on the scale this morning and to my shock the number was something higher than I had seen in about 20 years (minus an impending birth of one of my three kids) OUCH! I mean seriously, I was stunned. It takes about 21 days to build a habit. And well, here we are… I am building habits, people!

I am in the habit of looking for Easter chocolates at lunch, dinner and beyond. I am in the habit of binge watching my favorite show every night with one of my ultimate snacking weaknesses, pretzel pieces – cheddar please – and a glass of red wine nearby. I am in the habit of deciding it’s a better idea to stay up til midnight (watching said shows) and pull the covers over my head far too many cold mornings than I should rather than taking a brisk walk before home schooling my second grader begins.

“The new normal”, a common phrase right now. This is my new normal. And I am raising the white flag right now. I need to make some changes!

Some of the habits I do not want to change:

  • resurrecting Harry Potter and reading it aloud as my little discovers it
  • baking with my sophomore and cooking dinners with my senior
  • walks alone where I can breathe and think and pray
  • phone calls to my parents and siblings replacing endless streams of texts in between all the busy
  • more family dinners together
  • board games
  • time to journal and write
  • mailing more letters
  • living for today

In my heart I know there is no going back. Just like our worlds were forever altered in some capacity after 911, this global emergency will leave a long-lasting mark. The bell can’t be unrung. But out of all this new habits have formed that I know will leave long-lasting marks that I want to be left.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hope Isn’t Canceled

This thought ocurred to me one morning this week: As we Christians are heading into an unprecedented Holy Week in modern times and being told that this week “it’s going to get bad”, I am reminded that over 2,000 years ago the events of that week were unimaginable. The fear, hatred, unrest, anxiety, grief, pain and sorrow were at an all time high in Jesus’ corner of the world.

What good could possibly come from that kind of suffering, loneliness and isolation? I trust, dear reader, that you can fill in the blanks.

I am not assisting in the saving of lives in health care or public service. I do not work for the United States Postal Service or at the check-out counter of my local grocery store. I am not in a chemical manufacturing plant trying desperately to keep up with demand. Nor do I make my living running a restaurant or tavern.

My knowledge of anyone personally who has succumbed to this horrible virus is void. Though my husband just discovered yesterday that he knows someone. I am hopeful it does not hit that close to my circle, but sadly and humbly I know it may. The collective awareness of how close to home this pandemic is affecting people who daily put themselves at risk to serve others weighs heavy. And it permeates and it alters everything.

These last three weeks have been surreal and confusing and yet a blessing. The morning news just doesn’t get played as much. 7 am walks and living room Yoga have replaced that time. Home schooling my second grader and keeping tabs on the constant communication for my self-directed high school students is at a premium. Working from home is a great portion of what I do. These new guidelines have forced me to be solution-focused, creative and in service to others more than ever with my work.

Family dinners that happened but once a week, if that, are abundant. Games, art projects, books, movies, chalk drawing, baking and connection are the order of the day in my home.

The thing is, this has forced me to realize that in these uncertain times or in the “old normal” we were all used to – nothing changed. We only have the day before us. Then and now. And we are guaranteed nothing after. In the “old normal” I was planning for trips and celebrations, car pooling and tournaments, business events and doctor appointments. Under the circumstances it is day-to-day now. And I am on-board. Only having the day before me to plan and steer has been quite frankly an exercise in increased happiness. The pace has slowed, the connections have grown in my own home and I find myself in a certain space of peace.

School is canceled. Senior Prom is canceled. First Communion is canceled. Driver’s Education is canceled. A college orientation is canceled. An Easter Service celebrating in physical proximity with our community is canceled. Will there be celebrations later? Will there be a way to catch-up with some of these experiences in their entirety? I hope so. Who knows what is beyond this day?

But Hope is not canceled. From the darkness comes the light. And from the darkness came The Light. Sunday is coming.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You are my sunshine

Yesterday was a gray day, cold. A light rain mist.
Not my favorite walking conditions but under the circumstances I wholeheartedly embraced it.
I needed a mental health break and to get my heart rate up and all the feel good endorphins before starting with homeschooling.

I only encountered three people in my 3 miles.
I made a special point to say good morning to the elderly gentleman walking in the same direction as myself but on the other side of the street.
He greeted me back and said,

“We’re the only ones out here!”

I responded,
” If we keep looking, I bet we’ll spot some more!”

I did encounter a smiling woman and another elderly gentleman on my walk who appeared appeared to be sporting a veterans hat.

I happened by a local boutique I have not been able to visit in a while and miss frequenting.
It is obviously shuttered for the time being. There were beautiful clothes in the window that just called to me and I thought it would be fun to peek in and see what her Spring displays looked like.

What I was not expecting was to walk away with tears in my eyes and a feeling of Hope in my heart. The first thing that greeted me was a sign with the words:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
you make me happy when skies are gray..m

Words to a song I sang over and over as I sat with my grandmother and held her hand as she was living out her final days in a hospital bed.

It was gray, and it didn’t look like the sun was coming out again. But it was a wonderful message of hope that hit me from a place I can’t see or get to. But I know she’s there.

I collected myself and walked away… tears disappearing and a smile in my heart.

No matter where you are or what you are going through, I encourage you to look for these signs of Hope every day. It might be the only thing that gets you through. It might be everything.

What are your signs of hope? I would love to start a conversation here and be filled with it!

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No Resolutions Here

Not a resolution fan? Me either. Packing all your hopes and dreams into some pressure-filled time frame known to be so quickly abandoned it’s a cliche?…I’ll pass. But I so love some quiet moments at the end of the year to reflect on what has happened, lessons learned, goals met and how I want to direct the upcoming year.

Holy cow. At first pass I say “buh-bye” 2019. Parenting was Haaaaard. My Dad was fond of sharing “little people, little problems, bigger people, bigger problems”. Some around me seem to sail through their kid’s teenage years. I have not found this to be the case. And as we have gotten deeper into them, I have tried so hard to remind myself what it was like to be there myself a million years ago. And how utterly selfish and ridiculous some of my own antics were. And I know more patience is required and always love. There will never be a higher calling for me or a more important purpose that I am destined to fulfill than Motherhood. Yet it is tough and this past year I needed a helmet.

But amidst all the parenting gyrations, some of the most joyous moments were those spent with all three kids tucked in under our roof, just hanging out and being together. My oldest is in his Senior year and things will soon be forever changed. It’s a little easier to be more patient with this focus in mind.

A cancer diagnosis made it’s way into the fabric of my family as well as a scary and sobering surgery for my husband this Summer. Amidst the stresses of work-life balance, parenting teens and oftentimes retreating to our own corners just to survive the day-to-day, we emerged stronger.

We said forever goodbyes to family members and friends.

When these moments in life came wave after wave, it pushed the boundaries of what deserves my time and attention and what can be left behind. The clarity it brings is stunning. Some things just don’t make the priority list anymore. And that is okay.

Two words emerged and they will direct 2020: Simplify and Self-care. I will be able to keep up with the pace this year will surely demand if I put on my own oxygen mask first. And I am evaluating ways to increase my odds of being successful in this area.

Last year Gratitude and Joy were the anchors with which I started the year. And experience taught me to find the joy in the midst of moments I felt most ungrateful for. And the joyous moments became all the more appreciated.

What about you? Have you felt compelled to reflect and evaluate? If you do, I would love to know what you come up with. Leave me a comment.

Happy New Year.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gut Punches and Gratefulness

How do you pull yourself out of despair? What do you do to get yourself back on track when everything feels like a struggle? This last week brought me pretty low. One bit of bad news led to another. Emotions were running high within my family. And for some reason beyond my understanding I kept replaying in my head the morning I woke two months ago and was so profoundly moved to tears when I saw this particular sunrise outside my window.

It is nowhere close to one of the painted sky, stunners anyone who follows me on social media knows I am obsessed with capturing. This one was pretty run of the mill as they go. But it wasn’t until this particular sunrise appeared outside my window that it became clear to me just why they captivate me so much. If I turned to the East, this hopeful vision greeted me. If I turned more to the West, this gray, cloud-filled sky was the view.

And that is where the profound sense of emotion came over me. A friend of my husband and I had recently been transitioned to in-home hospice care after a long and valiant battle with cancer. We live across the country and I felt helpless for want of being able to offer some daily help and assistance to my dear friend, his wife. Or be more readily available to comfort and just be there for her and her kids.

But in this sunrise it all became so clear to me. The view is so vastly different depending on your vantage point. I had the opportunity in that moment to see both perspectives. And it hurt. I felt her cloudy view and just sank into it. And I saw the hope in this beloved sunrise. And therein lies the fascination. With each sunrise and sunset I relish the wonder and beauty for sure. But the hope with which it fills me is incomparable. And comforting. And necessary.

Despite the challenges my family and I have experienced recently and the feeling that all was not right with the world and when would it be? this sunrise reminded me there is always hope. Our friend let go of fighting his battle last week. Even in her darkest hour, I know my faithful friend is grateful for the love and support of family and friends. I know she is grateful her Love is not suffering anymore.

The dark finds us. The clouds close in. But just knowing there is hope, believing there is another opportunity to see the light around another corner and so much to be grateful for even when it feels the darkest – that is what I find in the sunrise and sunset.

This sunrise was probably nothing compared to what our friend is seeing now, wherever his soul is. But this is what greeted me yesterday. Yeah… one of the painted sky stunners.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Transitions

I’m a summer girl. The frogs and birds in the wetlands out my window sing me to sleep. Easy breezy flip flops, sun up in the 5 o’clock hour gives way to my favorite road biking rides before my household wakes up. My husband and I enjoy date nights strolling by the river walk downtown. I adore outdoor concerts and the sounds and smells of Lake Michigan.

Yet so many claim fall as their favorite and look forward to the cooler temps and the change in season. I always long to hang on to Summer. Why?

Fall colors are stunningly beautiful around here. Memories of apple and pumpkin picking field trips and hayrides with my kids hold wonderful memories. Halloween festivities and the search for that perfect costume were always a childhood delight for me. And the big event that so many Moms look forward to for the return to routine and a break from siblings getting on each other’s nerves: school starts.

Bingo.

School always pronounced the passage of time and put an exclamation point on it for me. Whether it be a favorite teacher I would no longer have, the cast party capping off an amazing drama production or the incredible sports season coming to an end. School years were season after season of concentrated, elevated emotion. And I find even as an adult that a little bit of melancholy sets in as autumn approaches. Kind of like a strange knee jerk reaction. Change is coming. The falling temps and the fleeting beauty of the colorful leaves show me a preview.

The view from my kitchen window

Last weekend before the sun rose in the 4 o’clock hour, my oldest and I set off for a road trip adventure. I hadn’t stepped foot on the campus of my alma mater in over 20 years. I thought it would be a great way to share a bit with him about my university experience, take an official tour, soak up some of the campus life and enjoy a short walk down memory lane. It was a trip I had been wanting to make for a couple years. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since he is a high school senior and we are exploring his post-graduation options.

In his eyes he was along for an interesting ride. He has had plans of serving in the military since he was young. And he is still exploring those details and gathering more information. However, he was game for my plan and was a good sport about it. And when was the last time he and I had a weekend just the two of us?! Ummm…Unheard of.

What ensued could not have been crafted more perfectly if I scripted it. We met up with one of my former college roommates who I hadn’t seen in forever and hung out at her house catching up with her and meeting her husband. Together with my friend and her husband, we all visited one of our old college Friday night hang-outs and enjoyed a meal with her daughter who now attends the university.

Bright and early Saturday morning my son and I took an official campus tour with an admissions official, visited my Freshman residence hall, walked a significant amount of the campus and ate lunch in a residence hall restaurant.

He was enamored with it all. And I remembered once again why I loved it too. And ironically, the campus never shines so bright as in the fall. That’s how I remember it most – with all the old brick buildings and the amazing old trees and yes, a little of the melancholy of transition and change mixed in.

campus grounds

I don’t know what this next season of motherhood holds. But the excitement I felt watching my son’s eyes light up and see his wheels turning inside his head was so gratifying. The sun is setting on a huge chapter in what I have known as a mother. I am savoring each night all of my children are safely under our roof and every meal we can all look each other in the eyes.

I don’t know what, but I do know next fall at this time something will be very different. And with the spectacular autumn sunsets and the changing leaves we will work our way through the next transition.

the sunset that greeted us our first night on campus

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Make Peace

I love being a work in progress. I’ve made so much peace with that.~Mariska Hargitay

A quote I heard yesterday in an interview with the actress. YES!

Resonated with me so strongly. It is a hard-fought road to get to the place where one can say this and mean it to the core. It is a messy, painful, glorious, emotional, blessed and treasured journey to get there.

It is the very reason I have not lived in this precious space for over two years. Too immersed in raising teens, journeying through several serious health conditions with three generations of three of the most important people in my life, nurturing some intense personal development and just trying to breathe. I could not bring myself to carve out the time to create. It was a marathon for reflection, focus, faith and acceptance.

How I have missed this outlet. It’s been getting to a crescendo and then the voice in my head bent on sabotage snuck in one too many times. But this time, I have a much more forceful reply. It will not dictate where I can go or what I can do. It might be a daily reminder. It might be by the hour. But I still hold fast to dreams, to growth, to hope and to new adventures. And I will be working some of that out here once again.

Feels good.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.