Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stuff I Didn't Instagram in 2015

My blog and I have been in a fight. We haven't been on speaking terms and it's a little bit hard to explain why. The easiest reason is that I just haven't felt like talking, but that's not really an answer. A better explanation would be to say that I have been oddly melancholy. Not sad or broken or in pain, but blah. And blah does not want to write. I miss her (my blog), though. We think about things together and she helps me organize my thoughts. She also becomes a set of talking points with my actual friends in the actual world in between yelling at children and folding laundry.

So I decided to mend the fences and return to this old friend by writing about some of the things I didn't bother to talk about while they were actually happening. Here are 5 things I didn't share on social media in 2015:

Travel Fails
As part of our desire to live "more closely" we made a pact to visit all 50 states as a family over the next 2-3 years. We wanted to show our children adventure, the beauty of our country, and that Jay and I are not always completely in control of what happens in life. We have been to 31 states so far and it looked like this:

Beach in Los Angeles
And this:

My 7-year-old Contemplating the Grand Canyon

And this:
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Clearly these would be the kind of pictures that I DID share on Instagram. But right after that shot at the beach we got on a plane for Atlanta. Which meant I had to wash off sandy children. Which meant that there was a moment when I shared an outdoor public beach shower with a naked three-year-old and a Russian man. And then I put wet, sandy clothes into a plastic bag to carry onto an airplane. Well played, Sally.

That day at the Grand Canyon was pretty amazing. I saw it for the first time with my babies and it was beautiful. But that picture was taken in the brief few moments that weren't pouring rain or covered in fog. Fog settled so deep into the canyon that the canyon itself ceased to exist. That fog stayed there for the rest of our time we had inside the park. I still had a good time, but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

The last picture is of Yellowstone and I would go back there in a heartbeat. It is as amazing as you've ever heard. It is also where one of my children caught an unfortunate stomach bug from one of the other children. The end result was that I spent a good three quarters of an hour cleaning both vomit and diarrhea out of a car seat in the parking lot of some fascinating geothermal features. The upside was that the horrible sulphur smell made the horrible car smell a lot less noticeable.

There are so many more trip stories that didn't go as we planned; kid meltdown in the airport security line of the world's busiest airport...getting kicked out of Independence Hall in Philadelphia... our first attempt to see Mount Rushmore that resulted in me crying in the car in the dark. I didn't share any of these events because it sounded totally whiny in my head--we have been on several amazing trips this year and I certainly wouldn't trade them.

But I realized, especially through the holiday season when I kept seeing people I don't see very often, that other people seemed to think our trips were easy. They were not. They take effort and lifestyle sacrifice and planning (but not too much planning) and a healthy dose of reality at every turn. When we hadn't even made it to Birmingham, Alabama (about 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta) before a kid lost a pair of underwear in a Starbucks bathroom on our drive to Wyoming, I had some serious doubts.

I wish I had written more about the difficult parts because I'd love for more people to believe that they can take their kids anywhere. There may be poop to clean up, but that's true at home, too.

Homeschooling is Hard
I fully admit that until three or four years ago I thought that anyone who chose an option other than public school was a weirdo. As with all generalized judgments, I began to change my mind when I actually met some people who were making different choices and it broadened my mind. But, seriously, I never EVER thought I'd go down this road for my kids. It has allowed freedom for our family to travel more, certainly a degree of close that we didn't have before, and I have been amazed at the conversations I get to have with my tween kid. BUT.

It's hard.

What I shared about homeschooling did not reveal that.

Adorable 5-year-old Working on that Tricky S

Amazingly Fun/Cold Field Trip to the Etowah Indian Mounds
I shared an occasional pic of domestic adorableness with kids crowded around colorful school work. Or shots of field trip days while other, sadder, children were cooped up in cement block walls. I did not share moments like today, when I yelled so loudly that I kind-of hurt my voice. Also, I put a kid on the back porch to calm down and HE screamed so loudly that our elderly next door neighbor was on my back porch checking him for injuries when I came to check on him. So I expect DFACS any day now.

I don't even stay home with them every day. The kids attend a nontraditional private school two days a week and then complete their work with me. I don't make up the curriculum, they're not home all the time, and I'm still a horribly yell-y person. I'm confessing this because every mom I've ever told that I homeschool has said, "oh, I couldn't do that. I don't have the patience."  Yeah, well, me neither. But here we are.

My House is Broken (with rats)
Here's what I shared about my house this year:

This Super-Awesome Wallpaper. And I own a Record Player

More Super-Awesome Wallpaper with Snowflakes and a Mirror I Love
What I did not detail was that everything is broken. We have replaced the electricity. And the roof STILL has leaks..the new leak is THROUGH the stove's exhaust fan so now I'm afraid to use that. We replaced a toilet, but it still works funny. Also, the pipes leak..it's too long of a story to explain why. The yard is mostly moss. We hired a guy to replace the counter top that was broken in the kitchen and he disappeared before the job was done. We hadn't paid him or anything, so I have no idea where he went, but it's been months and months and I still haven't dealt with the functioning chaos that is the stupid freaking kitchen.

I didn't mention any of this because it is warm and safe and the roof mostly works. I am very lucky to have these things. But, again, I feel like I gave off the impression that downsizing into an old house has been emotionally freeing when the reality is that I have felt like I had a splinter under my fingernail for a year. It's not debilitating, but it is a constant irritant.

Oh, and there were rats. RATS, I tell you.

I Gained 30 Pounds
I gained 30 pounds and I only posted pictures of myself that didn't make that obvious. I am not going to change that pattern now, but I will admit to it. I have, in the past, shared marathon and half-marathon and triathlon successes, but I didn't at all mention that moving and suddenly having my school-aged children home with me really screwed up my workout plan. I apparently also eat when I am stressed, nervous, or worried and that has been all of 2015.

The friends I have mentioned this to have seemed surprised I've gained that much weight; that either means they're lying so as not to offend my jiggly-stomached self or that I am a terrible dresser who really needs to wear better clothing. Both are strong possibilities.

Anything Actually Sad
O.k., I realize that social media is not exactly the place to deal with deep dark personal problems, but it's why we all feel totally inferior when we see other people's lives through the lenses of Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/FuSizzle. (I made that last one up, but I think it could catch on.) Actual sad things deserve face-to-face conversation and prayer and maybe a casserole.

A man I went to college with committed suicide and for some reason he contacted me a few hours before he did so. Another friend has a child fighting to regain a childhood while dealing with cancer. None of my problems or musings for the last six months have been because of my own deep struggles so I just didn't mention any of my stresses or annoyances. How can I chat away about parenting irritations or travel snafus or my damn kitchen when so many people are in pain so thick they can't breathe? So I didn't say anything.

I don't know what any of this means for my 2016 blog. I miss it and I miss connecting with friends I see out in the world who say "I feel the same way!" and then suddenly this fake community is tangible and real. So for now I'm committing to posting throughout the year and I'll see what that means as I go. I'm also really sorry if my scatter-shot sharing of my life made any of you feel jealous or inferior or randomly annoyed. You're welcome to come over and hang out in my little house and we can chat about life face-to-face and remind each other that our lives are all more alike than not. (I promise we got rid of the rats.)


  1. Sally I love your honesty. One thought about guilt over our own suffering versus others. Victor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning talked about suffering as a gas, that no matter how much, or little, you are feeling it fills the whole room. I read this year's ago and it has stayed with me and helped me on many occasions. Margaret

  2. Sally I love your honesty. One thought about guilt over our own suffering versus others. Victor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning talked about suffering as a gas, that no matter how much, or little, you are feeling it fills the whole room. I read this year's ago and it has stayed with me and helped me on many occasions. Margaret

  3. I'm smelling the moldy insulation in my own house as I write;) Yes to all of this - the good, bad, and the ugly.

  4. Thank you. Amazingly comforting.