Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Just do it

It’s graduation time! Some of my friends are seeing their first-borns graduate from high school, and that brings with it all kinds of emotions. But others are seeing their babies graduate: take all the feels from the first-born’s graduation, expose them to whatever that bomb thing was that turned Carol Danvers into Captain Marvel (a story line I’m still not sure about), multiply that by a zillion and you almost scratch the surface of the crazy emotions you’ll have when you see your baby pick up that diploma.

That could just be me.

For you soon-to-be-empty nesters, be warned: when your baby moves out, you might do something crazy. Like redo the kitchen. Or re-purpose her bedroom into an office. Or get new carpet.

Or sell your house and move into an apartment. Because why just redo one room when you can sell them all?

When Rebecca moved into her apartment last fall, our house just seemed too empty. Heck, it didn’t seem it – it was too empty. What did we need with all that space for just the two of us? Besides, each time I’d go into the basement and see all that stuff we’d accumulated over our 26 years of marriage, I’d have heart palpitations. It seemed like this would be a good time to have a major purge.

Here’s something you should know about me: I am a major procrastinator. Oh, I put up a good front, looking all responsible, but unless I have a deadline, I am all kinds of distracted. That basement purge I was thinking about was never going to happen without an outside force moving it/me forward. So when I heard the real estate market was hot in DeWitt, I thought I’d found my outside force! If we sold the house, I’d have to clean out the basement.

I got all excited about selling and we started thinking about where we’d go next. And this fun apartment building caught our eye. And the thought of not doing yard work or dealing with snow gave me all kinds of warm fuzzies. And it would give us some freedom to explore what to do with our theater company.

We took the plunge and put the house on the market.

And it sold the first weekend.

And the new owners wanted occupancy in three weeks.

Talk about a deadline.

Twenty-six years of accumulated stuff all over our house had to be sorted. Decisions had to be made. Keep? Sell? Donate?

We cleared out our house in those three weeks like a bad furniture salesman: Everything had to go, go, go! Sean was a rock star - he worked like crazy and gave this procrastinator the shorter deadlines she needed to really make things happen. We got a storage unit for what I couldn’t quite part with (like my beloved kitchen table with indents of the Babe Ruth paper and multiplication facts) and some things the girls might still need, but we went from a 3,000 square foot, 5 bedroom house to 900 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment.

In. Three. Weeks.

And that, my friends, is the only way this procrastinator could have moved.

The fact that the deal fell through two days before closing but after we’d moved… well, more on that later.

To all you soon-to-be empty nesters, remember this: you may feel the need to do something major when the rooms of your house echo. You may think of all kinds of things you can do now that you’re the only one in the house. You may even think of moving.

And everyone's going to say, "Don't do anything rash. Take some time. Breathe."

But here's what I say: Make the plans to do whatever crazy thing you’re thinking of. Because why the heck not? The kids might not be thrilled that things are changing (sorry, Rebecca!) but this is no time to sit back and rest on the memories. Time to make new ones. I say that even after our deal fell through. Talk about new memories...

Besides, you just might find the motivation you need to clean out the basement.

This is what sold us - we love all the windows! Unfortunately, the girl didn't come with the apartment.

The kitchen, obviously before moving in.

The view right now.

I'm thankful for the engineer who drew this to scale so I could figure out where to put our furniture. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Goodbye Prince Eric

Here’s the thing about having a theater company: inevitably you end up with crazy stuff all over the place. Costumes, props, scores, tap shoes, programs – they wind up in your purse, your car, your house. All those things have been in my backseat at one point or another.

But the weirdest thing that’s found its way home with me is the head of Prince Eric, who has been living on a table in my entryway for the last three months. 
See, this past January we produced The Little Mermaid – it was a huge success and we had a blast working on it. But when the final curtain fell, we were left with gobs of, well, stuff. Costumes, props, scores, tap shoes, programs. Thanks to amazing friends and volunteers, most of the items were put where they belonged. But the bust of Prince Eric, which was used in Ariel's grotto scene, was rented from a local theater company and it was my job to return him.

Between missed calls and lost emails, the director of the other theater company and I couldn’t seem to connect. So, Prince Eric just hung out in our entryway.

Prince Eric greeted all our guests. Some noticed him. Some ignored him. Sean wondered if Eric was ever going to be returned. But the longer Eric was there, the more attached I became. Eric hung out right by my key hook so each time I left I’d give him a little pat on the head, and each time I’d come back, he was right there to welcome me home.

Thankfully I didn’t start talking to him, because that would have been a little worrisome…

Finally, last week the director and I connected and arranged a date for me to return Prince Eric. I bundled him up in the front seat and went to our rendezvous spot. Dawn was glad to have him back and I was glad to return him to her car’s backseat. She had two bags of costumes that she wedged him between – man, I cannot believe how much theater stuff can accumulate in a car! – and off they went.

He was so sad he couldn't even watch me drive.
 When I returned home, there was no one there to greet me as I hung up my keys.
Sean came home that night and said, “I love how the table looks now!” Eric was barely gone an afternoon and Sean was ready to redecorate. And by redecorate I mean by not have anything on any flat space in our entire world, especially not my piles. But that's another story...

Goodbye, Prince Eric! Your spot is clear for now. But only until I find an acceptable replacement.

I’m sure Sean will be thrilled.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Reboot #2

Today is my 49th birthday. I am well over the hill and quickly sliding down to the other side. The way that time speeds up with each passing year is nuts. And I’m officially old because I said that.

It’s crazy to think I’m past middle age. I thought I’d be middle aged at 60 – because math is not my strong suit. But once reality sets in and you find out the average life expectancy for women is 84, you realize you peaked at 42 and it’s been all downhill ever since.

So to all you 41 year olds: enjoy your last year on that side of the hill!

With my doom racing towards me, I’ve thought about how I want to spend the second half of the Christy Show. Obviously, I want to spend time with loved ones. I want to travel. I want to do all the thing old people say they want to do.

(One thing I don’t want to do is cook. I really want to be done cooking. Sean doesn’t want that to be part of the Sean Show so we’re in negotiations about that one.)

But something else I want to do is attempt to restart my little corner of the internet. It’s been 360 days since I last posted here. Almost a year since I wrote anything other than emails. There are lots of reasons why I stopped and I’ve just spent two hours writing about them, thinking that was going to be my re-boot post. After getting them all down, I realized it’s really not all that important to post why I stopped. Knowing why I want to restart seems like more valuable info. And those reasons get back to why I started in the first place: because I like to write and my family seemed to like what I wrote.

So here's to trying again.

Much has happened since I last posted and I’m looking forward to writing about it all. But I thought I’d start with this little clip from April 27, 2018. Three dear friends, Joanna, Sarah and Margie, went with me to an Amy Grant concert to celebrate my birthday. They had the brilliant idea to write Amy Grant’s tour manager to ask her to wish me happy birthday during the show:

Thanks to Joanna for letting her know where I was!

The number of times I’ve wished to hear something like that from AG is incalculable. But in God’s perfect timing, He knew exactly when I needed it most. And last April was definitely that time. 

This good Southern girl wrote thank yous to her friends, but not to the tour manager, Brooks Parker, who made that possible. Here’s hoping he sees this! Thanks so much, Brooks. And to Amy, too, of course. 

There’s more to share about that and I will – please, it’s Amy Grant. Wild horses couldn’t stop me from revisiting this. But I also want to write about becoming empty nesters and selling our house and moving into an apartment and starting a theater company and parenting adult-ish children and Amy moving to Georgia and Rebecca moving into an apartment and us getting a new daughter by way of Michael’s marriage… A lot has happened in the last 360 days.

But today, I just have to get this reboot started. Here’s hoping it’s not a fluke - and that I remember how to work this thing!

Friday, May 04, 2018

That's a wrap

Eighteen years ago, when I had Rebecca, I thought, I had all kinds of time. Like 18 years’ worth of time. And I thought those 18 years would take 18 years. But they actually took, like, 18 seconds. Because I swear to you, yesterday I had that child and today she’s graduating from high school.

What. The. Heck.

Rebecca is my last one to graduate. The Duffy Homeschool is done. If you had told me five years ago that this day would come, I wouldn’t have believed you. I mean, I would have believed you in theory; but as we slogged through math and science and spelling and writing, I would have assured you we’d never finish.

And yet, here we are. Done.

The girl is graduating.

Amy Grant wrote Missing You when one of her sister’s kids left for college. It 100% describes my feelings about this day:

Your smile lights up a room like a candle in the dark
It warms me through and through
And I guess that I had dreamed we would never be apart
But that dream did not come true

And missing you is just a part of living
And missing you feels like a way of life
I'm living out the life that I've been given
But baby I still wish you were mine

I am thrilled to have a front row seat to her life. I can’t wait to see all she’ll do and be. But dang I’m going to miss her.

Rebecca Hope, we love you so much! You are a gift from God and our family wouldn’t be the same without you!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Time's up

Here’s the thing about parenting: you eventually get timed out of the job. And my time is running really, really short. 

My baby turns 18 today.

When I was in the middle of changing diapers and midnight feedings and potty training and carpooling to piano lessons/youth group/soccer practice/dance rehearsals I couldn’t conceive of a time I wouldn’t do those things. Because when you’re in the trenches, you keep your head down and do the next thing that has to be done. You don’t look up much. And when you do, that 18th birthday looks far, far away.

But the milestones have a way of sneaking up on you.

I knew this one was coming, but things have been pretty busy around these parts. Sean and I have been in the trenches of starting a theater company and running a show. Which I so wanted to do so that Rebecca could be in one more musical with her Dad at the baton. But the curtain closed a few weeks ago and my head popped out of the trench and here we are: Big 1-8.

When we asked her how she felt about turning 18, she said, “Now I can buy lottery tickets and cigarettes.” Ah, she’s a laugh a minute, that baby of mine.

Once a mom, always a mom. I’ll always be her mom. But my role is changing, and we’ll have to navigate yet another new normal.

I was with a mom of young children last night and she said, “As soon as we think we have things figured out, they go and change something on us!”

If that is not the story of parenthood, I don’t know what is. 

Happy birthday to my dear Rebecca! We love you so much!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gotta know when to give

I am very fortunate that, unlike many of today’s politicians and Hollywood elites, Sean has no skeletons in his closet. He is a faithful husband and loving father. He is as decent in private as he seems in public. And he’s been that way as long as I’ve known him. Friends and family who've known him even longer agree: he is a genuinely good guy.

But there is one secret few know. It’s a love he discovered shortly after our marriage and it took me by surprise. I knew we’d have our differences – what married couple doesn’t! - and I knew we’d have to compromise on certain issues; I just never imagined I’d have to give on this front. But after seeing the joy this newfound love brought him, I caved and welcomed four more ladies into our marriage: Shelly, Denise, Terry and Heather, otherwise known as Point of Grace.

Point of Grace released their first album a year after we were married. And Sean fell hard. Hard. Those tight harmonies, soaring orchestrations and encouraging lyrics just did him in. He loved everything about the group. We saw them in concert several times and with each show and consecutive album, he was convinced they were the best thing going.

Four months ago, I found out they were coming to Jackson for a Christmas show. As a bonus, Aaron Shust would be with them. Aaron was a worship leader at our church in Atlanta and Sean has fond memories of playing in services with him. Major score for the wife! I bought 5 tickets and kept it a secret from Sean. I just told him to mark off that afternoon.

It got a lot easier to keep that date clear because two days after I bought those tickets, Amy Grant, the woman I brought into our marriage, announced she’d be in Grand Rapids the very same day. I was inundated with texts and emails, telling me about the show. Sean caught wind of it, and I knew he’d buy tickets for that and tell me to chuck the other plans because he didn't know Point of Grace was even coming to town. I cut him off at the pass and said, “Oh, that afternoon is blocked off for the Amy Grant concert. I already have tickets.” He didn’t give that one more thought. Of course his wife already had Amy Grant tickets! That was a no-brainer.

Both concerts were last Sunday, and until lunch that day, he was convinced we were seeing Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith that night. I had the Point of Grace tickets wrapped up and as the five of us sat around our lunch of soup and sandwiches, I handed him a package and said, “Merry Christmas! Here’s the first gift of the season!”
I can’t remember I time I saw him so confused. Or genuinely excited.

We made our way down to Jackson for the show and it was wonderful. Aaron and his band were amazing. It was great to hear him in person again. And those Point of Grace ladies did not disappoint. Even though they are now a trio, their harmonies were as perfect as ever. Sean loved the entire show and I racked up some serious wife points.
When we got married, I controlled the CD player. And that CD player played a steady rotation of Amy Grant music. I was upfront about who I was bringing into the marriage. And as much as I initially begrudged having to share CD space with Point of Grace, I must say they really grew on me. I am glad we welcomed them in to our lives. I enjoy them almost as much as Sean does. But not quite.

Thankfully, we love each other most.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Mothers have to stick together

Some people can sit outside, get some sun, sport a golden tan, and live their lives. Others simply step outside, burn to a crisp, peel and go back to looking like they’ve never seen a sunny day in their lives. Sean and Amy are in the first group. Michael, Rebecca and I are in the lobster category.

So, when Michael had a work trip to the Dominican Republic two weeks ago, I was very concerned about him burning. Yes, I know he’s 23 and living on his own – he was going on a business trip! – but still. The boy does not like sunscreen. And he does not actually think he burns. Seriously. It’s like in the peeling process a little bit of his memory peels away with the flaky skin and he has no recollection that every single time he goes to the beach he burns within an inch of his life. 

This is the text he sent me and Andi, his fiancĂ©*,  after we both reminded him about using sunscreen:
No. We didn’t believe him.

After he’d been there a couple of days, a few of the women he’d been teaching in his training sessions approached him with concerned looks. They said they had sons his age and wondered if they might help him with his sunscreen application. Because it appeared he was getting burned.

Y’all. If that is not the Greater Motherhood coming together, I don’t know what is.

He told them he was sure his mom would appreciate their help and actually allowed them to help him. He allowed complete strangers to put sunscreen on him!

He called us that night to tell me about the helpful moms in his group because he was sure I’d be pleased they wanted to help him. Oh, I was! And I sent him a text to show the moms:
Unfortunately, their help came at the end of the week, and the damage was done. But at least now I have photographic evidence that the boy does not tan. He does, in fact, burn. And he looks just like a lobster.

*More to come on this development.