He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Facebook Meltdown

I confess that as involved as I am on Facebook, I do have mixed feelings about it.  I find myself being immensely frustrated one minute by the over-connectivity of today's world, and the next minute being super thankful that I have such an amazing tool at my fingertips to quickly ask for prayer or share family updates with my family and friends on the other side of the world.  I roll my eyes at some things that my "friends" (and seriously, the whole concept of Facebook friends is another topic altogether) decide to divulge for all the world to see and then find myself doing almost exactly the same thing (especially when Jason is out of town...).  The whole idea of creating a Facebook image for yourself and what that really means and especially what it means for teens and tweens is definitely a mountain of a topic that I'm not trying to tackle today, although it is something I want to talk about on a day that I have a little more brainpower..

This is more an account of how I melted down for all the world to see (or at least the 671 people that I'm "friends" with), and then maybe a thought or 2 on why I didn't delete it..

So if you read my previous post you know that the first part of May was more than a little stressful.  That was, of course, almost immediately following my hair-brained scheme to move our family across town while Jason was traveling.  Yeah, so life has been more than a little stressful.

What I didn't mention in my post about May was the following additional stress....A day before Jason and I left on our trip, Abbey came running through the house, "Mom, Mom, come quick!  You're not going to believe it!"  I hurried into her room where she had her face pressed against the window out into our backyard.  Looking at this...

Yes.  That is a mother cat and her 5 adorable little kittens.  In our backyard, behind the storage shed.  "Why in the world is that stressful?" you may ask.  Let me tell you.  First off, cats in this part of the world are not like cats in America.  They are not adorable, cuddly and clean.  They are dumpster cats.  Mean and often bloody and missing limbs or eyes.  Mangy, disease carrying yuckiness.  Well, she's just not a cat person, you might say.  No, I actually am.  I grew up with a cat.  Quite literally.  Charlotte Rose (the name of my cat, thank you very much) was given to me on my 8th birthday and she died when I was 24.  I do not dislike cats.  I do however dislike cats in this part of the world.  I also very much dislike stressing over my girls happiness and having to explain to them time and again WHY we are NOT feeding the precious, adorable kittens and why we cannot adopt them all into our home.  This my friends is stressful to me.  Also stressful is the fact that these cats that are now IN my backyard and cannot get out due to the size of the fence around our house.  They are IN our yard.  They are extremely small, and let's face it, the odds aren't great for their survival.  I do not LIKE to neglect a precious creature.  I do not however want them to stay.  I need for them to be cute and adorable and watched out our windows.  And then I need them to go away.  

They're very playful and very cute.  And of course they all have names.  NO, that does not mean they are ours.  The dumpster cats by our old apt also had names.  It simply means that my girls love animals and named all of them.  

So that happened.  And then Jason and I left for a week leaving Aunt AJ to deal with the constant "can we feed the kittens? can we touch the kittens?" questions...

(this is all relevant background to my meltdown, by the way)

So the latter part of May, Jason had another trip (the last one for several months, thank goodness!).  Sadly during this particular trip I got sick.  This was not what my exhausted self needed.  Honestly,  I'm truly thankful it was me and not one of the girls, but I think being sick while he was gone, was possibly the beginning of my pity party.  Let's face it, moms just really don't have the option of "being sick".  Even when you don't feel like doing anything besides crawling right back into bed and staying there all day long, you just don't have that option.  It's a generally known thing that moms just don't get to be sick- especially when Dad is gone.  (I know, I know- woe is me, right?)

Let me start to tie all this together.   I generally don't spend a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and just looking at stuff.  I look at what is there when I open it up, sometimes look at certain people's walls etc.  Sometimes I scroll through, but I try not to spend too much time doing it as I do know that I can get sucked in and way too much time passes with me staring dumbly at the computer screen.  However.  HOWEVER.  

When Jason travels, I spend a little more time there- sometimes more time than I should, but usually just in the evenings when the girls are in bed and I am unwinding.  I do like having the ability to catch up with people that I might not otherwise connect with.  This particular week- let's call it the pity party week, was around the end of May.  Stress had been abounding in my house.  Jason was traveling.  I was sick.  My girls were still plugging away in school getting ready for exams.  

And all my friends in America were celebrating.

School's out!

Headed to the beach!

Neighborhood pool is open!

And yes, I do realize that at any point, I can shut my computer and walk away.  I can choose to not read, to not scroll.  (notice I did not say that I can choose to celebrate with my friends about their beach trips and pool parties- I was not in that place of feeling happy over other peoples' R&R- I know, totally selfish, just being real...).  All that to say, I do recognize that I have a conscious choice in all of this Facebook jealousy.  

But Facebook was not the only contributor, people.  I already mentioned the sick thing.  And the cat thing.  Then there's just simply the "life is exhausting right now" thing.  We have made the conscious choice to plant our lives here.  To give up certain things: beach trips, neighborhood pools, backyard BBQ's with family to name a few.  Most days, I am able to embrace our lives here, count the cost of the things we've given up and recognize that it's ultimately worth it.  Because truly, there are also beautiful, wonderful things about life over here:  my children's love for and awareness of different cultures and peoples, the places we have the privilege of traveling to as a family, the slower pace of life at least in the sense of how quickly kids grow up.  All these things, and many others, are things for which I am very, very thankful.  

But there are days.   Oh there are days when I just do not see those good things.  I try, but I don't.  No, let's be real.  Some days, I don't try.  Some days, I want to feel sorry for myself, and, if I'm being real, I want others to feel sorry for me too.  Yes, I did just say that out loud.  I look around my house that I just dusted yesterday and I see this....
...and instead of wanting to pick up the can of Pledge once again (despite the fact that it's only been 24 hours!!!), I actually want to hurl the can of pledge out the open window at the construction site containing all the dirt.  What's that?  Close the window?  No, see, it's 95 degrees here and we don't have AC.  Windows stay open.  Ahh, life in the dessert...  See what I mean?  Not doing such a great job of choosing joy here!!  And that too, the whole choosing joy thing, is a conscious, very deliberate CHOICE  that I have to make.  And when I choose not to make that choice, oh it can be a day!  

Anyway, mostly these are days when I have not likely had my morning quiet time.  I have spent the day whining in my head about this or that. My girls are likely looking at me with this "wide eyed, stay away from Mom" expression.  I am not deliberately CHOOSING JOY.  It's just overall a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  

My Facebook Meltdown day was one of those days.  I was sick (have I mentioned that yet?), Jason was gone (not sure if I've mentioned that either), people in America were happy go lucky kicking up their heels, showing me their feet at the beach (you know the picture), and I. WAS. DONE.  

So I yelled at the facebook world about their happy little beach pictures.  And I hit post.  

It went something like this:
arggghhh! If I see one more picture of someone sticking up their pretty little manicured toes against the backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico it is going to be the end of me! Yes, I'm insanely jealous and I'm sorry, but after the month I've had I do NOT want to share in your vacation bliss!! so there.

In all honestly, I was truly trying to add some humor to my very woe-is-me-ish day.  And, maybe I wanted a little sympathy too.  Then after a few minutes, I felt a wee-bit guilty even though sweet friends were letting me know of their prayers and some even thanked me for being "real".

So I posted this:
Now I feel guilty for my previous post. To clarify... Jason has been traveling for 897 days. I am sick. I tried to snuggle my 7 year old tonight and she told me to leave because I "smell funny". My 11 year old who never rolls her eyes at me, rolled her eyes at me when I made what I thought was a pretty funny joke. And did I mention I'm sick? And Jason's gone? And I have a repetitive track of Veggie Tales, specifically King George and the Ducky running through my head at all hours. So yeah, have fun all you beach go-ers and soak up some rays for me 

Yeah, obviously I was a wee bit hung up on the "Jason's gone and I'm sick" thing.  And 897 days!  Let's just say that stress-induced exaggeration runs in my family...

So what's the point?

What's the point in melting down for all the world to see?  For me, at the time, it was truly not very contemplative.  It involved a lot of angry pounding on computer keys.  

I considered deleting it.  Then after reading a few people's comments who thanked me for being real I decided to leave it.  (to clarify this was all like a 4 second thought process at the very most).

But it did get me thinking about the whole Facebook image thing and the pictures we attempt to paint of ourselves and our lives, AND the fact that we even have the ability to do that in this day and age.  To post things and create this virtual world that kind of defines us- at least in cyberworld.  Our kids don't know anything different than that.  That scares me a little.  

Not that I would ever, EVER (just to be clear) equate Facebook world with the Body of Christ, but I did start thinking about how often, even within the Church, within the greater Body, we try to maintain these images of ourselves.  We make attempts, often unknowingly I think to meet certain expectations that we are sure people must have about who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act.  I come from the deep south, which I love and adore.  What I don't love and adore is the standard answer to the Sunday morning question of "How are YUUUOOOO?"  is "FINE!  I'm FINE!  We're all FINE!".  Well.  Sometimes we're just not fine.  And that's ok!  

We have to be ok with each others' "not fine-ness".  We have to be able to carry each other's burdens and hold each others hands up when we simply don't have any strength left, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.  I'm not at all saying that there has to be a constant airing of the dirty laundry and posting of all your deepest, darkest secrets for all the world to see.  I guess what I'm saying is, let's be real.  

Let's learn that the answer to "How are yuuuooooo?"  Can be, "I'm really not so great."

Then when we find out that someone is NOT fine- pray!  I mean how can we really truly intercede for each other if we never know that anything is wrong?! .... right?  We have to be "hand holders" for one another and how can we do that without knowing that one another's hands are tired?

So all that to say, I didn't delete my post.  I melted down for all the world to see and I left it out there.  

I wish I could say that I woke up the next morning, deliberately chose joy and everything was rosy and wonderful.  Not so much.   

I actually woke up the next morning in a tizzy having slept through my alarm.  Got the girls out the door barely on time to make their bus and was preparing to collapse in my recliner with my cup of tea and Bible before Anabelle woke up, but I happened to look out the bedroom window into the backyard first...  

OH NO!!!  No, no, no, no, no!!!  (and yes, I posted something along these lines on Facebook).  One of the little kittens was way too still over by the back fence.  The others were prancy around the fence and little Oscar was just too still.  I crept out into the backyard, and sure enough, Oscar had died during the night.  


Here's the thing.  I don't do dead animals very well.  I mean, who does really?  But I REALLY don't do it well.  There may or may not be light-headedness involved and extreme queasiness.  (YES, I'm a nurse and am aware that this makes no sense, nor does it make sense that I faint at the sight of blood on fingers or occasionally on my children, but that's another story altogether).  So yeah, dead kitten in my backyard.  Not excited about that.  

So as I'm fretting over the dead kitten, contemplating how I'm going to remove it from my yard and how I"m going to talk the girls through this.  (I know, I know- fabulous life lesson, teaching opportunity, blah, blah, blah).  Anyway, as I"m contemplating all of this, while washing the dishes from the morning, up out of the drain of my sink and up my arm comes a GINORMOUS cockroach.  (remember, stress induced exaggeration...) I scream, fling it into the pile of clean dishes and back away, quickly.  It had wings.  

So I mentioned I don't do dead animals.  Yeah, I don't do bugs either.  I kind of have this mental image of myself that I'm afraid is not too accurate.  I like to think I'm not too much of a girly girl but there's the whole needing my make-up and jewelry thing (from the suitcase trauma).  And then there's the whole not doing bugs thing.  I can do ants.  Can kill ants with the best of them.  Spiders?  Oh absolutely not!  Do not even get me started.  And cockroaches?  Are you kidding!  Have you HEARD the crunch when you kill those things?!  

Yeah, I don't do bugs.  

Especially cockroaches.  That come flying out of my sink and up my arm.  While I'm thinking about dead kittens.  

And in case I haven't mentioned it yet....  wait for it....  JASON IS NOT HOME!

So I can't cover the stupid thing with a tupperware and wait for him to come home and kill it.  NOT that I would do that...

It was taunting me, climbing around my dishes...
(that's big, right?!)  Those are the handles of scissors, people.  BIG scissors.  

And then it had the nerve to get on the clean utensils.  Hey, I don't think I've complained yet in this post about not having a dishwasher?!  Yeah, I don't.  Stupid cockroach made me have to wash my dishes again.  By hand.  With VERY hot water.  

But I conquered and I killed it!  And I did a little happy dance.  This was a major victory people.  

And then one of our dear friends came over with his wife and rescued me from having to do away with the dead kitten.  I don't think my heart could have taken it.  

And then, I just couldn't help myself, I posted this picture on Facebook...

Take that you beach go-ers!  My toes are ready for financial reports and more dusting!

"As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset."
Exodus 17:11-12

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