And Then There Was 40…

Today is the day. The day that in my younger mind I would never really reach because I would always be young. 40 was old.

Now part of me thinks, “There is no way I could be 40! I don’t feel any older than my teenage self.” But the other half of me says loudly enough so that I can’t ignore it as it creaks and cries, “Oh but you are! You are probably actually older than that.” My children who are fast approaching their teenage years also tell a different story.

My life at this point is likely mostly half over. People are living longer all the time but when you’re 80 you know that life is fast running out. So I have now officially reached middle age. I’d say it was time for my middle age crisis, but I’m already in the middle of that.

Turning 40 makes you stop, think, and wonder. Has my life been valuable? Have I made a difference in the lives of others? Have I done with it the things I wanted and hoped to do, or if my vision of my life has changed am I living it? Half my life is done. What do I have to show for it?

I always wanted to be a wife. I accomplished that 15 years ago and in spite of better or worse, we are still hanging in there. We often joke that if we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all.

I always wanted to be a mother, and I have become one. I think it is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. I would say it was the most rewarding but I’m at a really difficult stage of my motherhood right now. I’m sure that I will feel that way again. Right now I’m merely surviving and praying that I don’t do something that really messes up my kids right now.

As a child, some of my dreams were to be a writer, and a singer, visit Switzerland, Ireland, and Scotland. I haven’t made it to Switzerland yet. But I am a published writer, I have recorded an album (which is hidden somewhere in all my collection of life…), and I made it to Scotland and Ireland. I think that that is pretty good at midway through life accomplishing so many things that you wanted to do as a young girl.

I remember when I got married, I went through a time of introspection. I knew who Calleen Lyman was. But who was Calleen Petersen? For a year or so, that thought flittered around in my head. Who was this new person with a new name and a new status? That’s sort of where I am now. Who is this person who now claims 40 years? What does she want?

I want to keep writing. I am finding my voice as I do so and I can feel it growing stronger the more I write. I have something to say and I want to be able to say it. To share it so others will understand.

I want to find my inner peace and strength that I so often forget along the way of life. God is in control. I don’t have to worry about it. (At least not that much…)

I want to be a homeowner. We have moved around a bit throughout our married life and we have never taken that leap. It’s an important leap to me and in the next 40 years, I hope to accomplish it.

I want to see more of the world. I want to check off Switzerland off my list. I’ve added Germany and Israel to the list and there is so much more of the world I would love to see and experience. The older I get the more I realize that many times there is more than one right way of doing things and perspectives I haven’t understood. Spending time among people and places that are foreign to you helps broaden that perspective.

One day, I want to live. That’s a weird statement. But it’s true. Too often it has been all I could do to just survive the day, the hour, the situation. I want to live and enjoy life. I want to make memories along the way as I go.

Due to the nature of our situation, my birthday will be a quiet affair. My husband is out of town for work, my son has been going through a difficult time and just got out of the hospital. No big grand parties or exciting times for me. Maybe in another 10 years when I reach 50.


Medical Professionals- Find Out Our Story

Those of us with children with Special Needs, or with chronic pain and illness see a lot of medical professionals. To the ones who go out of their way and listen and help, we are FOREVER GRATEFUL!

But there is another class of medical professionals. These professionals don’t listen. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I don’t know if they are just so rushed trying to care for everyone and don’t have time due to the way our medical system is set up or if they are burnt out. I really hope it isn’t that they just don’t believe us or care anymore.

This is the nurse, that when I went into the ER for the second time that week due to back pain so severe I could barely move, couldn’t put any pressure on my spine, or urinate. She seemed to think I was faking. She tried to forcibly pull me out of bed to make me walk to the bathroom where she was confident I could go. My screams brought the head nurse. -Later that day I was admitted to the hospital for my first emergency back surgery.

This is the technician who called with the results of a test for my son. When it wasn’t what we had hoped, she accused me of just wanting a vacation in Seattle. (We lived in Alaska at the time and medical resources can be difficult there.) It wasn’t like I faked or manipulated his test results.

This is the Urologist that asked me what I was doing there with my son. Um. Well, his former Urologist had previously told us that if he ever had an infection he needed to be seen immediately due to the issues he has with his kidneys. This new Urologist told us to go home, there was no reason for us to be there.

This is the doctor who refused to treat or see me simply because I had a child with me. I had an infection and needed antibiotics but she refused to do anything. Instead, I was charged a copay and had to make another appointment to be seen by a different doctor and pay another copay.

This is just a sampling of the experiences my family has had. Luckily our good experiences far outweigh the bad, but it happens often enough that it is really disconcerting.

My plea to the medical community is to take the time to find out our story. Don’t make immediate sweeping judgments from the moment you walk into the room. 99% of us would rather be any place else and spend our money on anything other than copays, medication, treatments, and tests.

My promise in return is that I will take time to give you the same consideration of your story when you are an hour late to my appointment and I have been sitting there in pain waiting to be seen. None of us are perfect but together we can make these medical experiences better and offer kindness and courtesy.

Evil Stepmother Wanted: Make Me Clean My Bathrooms


Evil Step Mother Wanted.png

If there is one part of my life I really hate, it has nothing to do with motherhood or being a wife, a job or etc., it’s cleaning a bathroom.

I despise it, I hate it, I loathe it.

There I said it.

I suspect that my loathing started when I was a young girl and my parents ran a small motel. Only 12 rooms, but I grew up cleaning those 12 bathrooms and then the one in our house as well. Cleaning a motel bathroom is a little different than cleaning your own unless you have OCD. Those bathrooms have to look pristine. Not only do they have to be clean, but they have to sparkle. No watermarks on any of the water fixtures, no stray hair, towels and toilet paper have to be folded just so, no streaks on the mirror. I think perhaps that that perfection screams at me when I clean my own and is probably one of the reasons I fight cleaning them so much.

When I was young I used to imagine that I was Cinderella and my awful Step-Mother was demanding that I clean the bathrooms. Somehow that helped and I didn’t mind it as much, probably because I was living out a fantasy in my head which I’ve always loved to do.

I no longer live at home where I imagine that my Mother, is the evil Step-Mother who is making me clean bathrooms. I need to find a Cinderella story as an adult that will make cleaning the bathroom less of an ordeal. Can you be my evil Step-Mother?

Every time we move into a new house the number of bathrooms is something that can make or break whether we can move into that house. Due to my son’s medical issues and his need to spend an hour in the bathroom every night, we always have to have a minimum 2 bathrooms. Which means I always look for housing with 2 bathrooms. Somehow though, we always end up in a place with three bathrooms. I just want to run and hide from bathrooms. They don’t all need to be clean right?

I’ve seen lots of polls lately as to what you would rather have, a nanny, a maid, personal chef, personal shopper, etc. Every single time I say a maid. If I didn’t have to clean bathrooms my attitude about life would be so much better.

I’m working on teaching my kids to clean the bathrooms and do a good job at it. This is a work in progress. My daughter did a fairly decent job on one yesterday, but her mopping skills left something to be desired when she didn’t move anything on the floor when she mopped. Mopping the floor will have to go back on her list today which will make me “The Evil Stepmother” figure in her life. Ah, the circle of life…

What is your go-to to get you to clean the most disgusting place in the house? Suggestions for me to make it more palatable?


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Marigolds and Memories

Last summer, I was watering my neighbor’s plants. I discovered they had planted a bunch of Marigolds. I was thinking, they must really want a Marigold bed because they reseed themselves every year. I know this because of memories from my childhood.

When I was a child my parents ran the family business of small motel in Southern UT.  My Grandfather had built it, and when they retired my parents took over running it. In the front, there was a flower box built into the cement and every year it would be overflowing with Marigolds.

My Grandmother LOVED Marigolds. My mother, however, did not. While Marigolds are bright and cheery, they don’t smell very well. For years my mother put up with them in spite of hating them and their smell until finally she pulled them all up one year and planted other flowers.

While it is a little memory, it’s something that sticks out in my memory bank when I run across Marigolds. And while it’s not a particularly special memory, it made me sad to think my youngest siblings (I’m the oldest of 11) would never know how much Grandma loved Marigolds or what a bane they were to my mother.

Memories, stories, and families are important. They are the touchstones to those who came before us. They provide clues as to who we are and why we are.

Last Christmas my Mother in Law gave me a hummingbird bracelet and necklace. I’m sure she thought they were pretty. When I opened my present and saw them, I thought immediately of this same Grandma. She LOVED her hummingbirds. There were always several feeders with its red nectar hanging in her yard so she could watch them.

These are the stories I will tell my children. They met my Grandma once but they will likely never remember it as they were so young. All my children will have of her is my memories. Memories that I will pass on and hope that they help her come alive for them.

Originally published December 20th on Parent Co.

When Discipline Goes Wrong (Or Unexpectedly Right)

My 5-year-old daughter’s room was a mess, like, can’t even get through the door mess. It didn’t matter how many times I cleaned it. It would always look like a tornado had hit 5 minutes later. Her habit of changing clothes 5 times a day since she was 18 months old didn’t help either.

I had been trying all day to get her to help me clean her room. She would do what probably happens at your house too- Pick up one toy, start playing with it and forget that she was supposed to be helping. Or I would find a toy under all the mess that she hadn’t seen in a while and it would be like Christmas morning all over again. She was SO excited. I was SO frustrated.

In exasperation, I climbed the stairs, got a trash bag and headed back down the stairs.

”If you aren’t going to help pick up your room I shouted in frustration, I will pack up all these toys and give them to a child who doesn’t have any toys. There are a lot of children who don’t have any toys or a place to live.” I then followed with my generation’s version of “There are children starving in Africa”.

Furiously, I started throwing one toy after another into the bag. When I was done I walked over to where she was still playing.

“See these toys”, I said. “These are going to kids who don’t have any toys. You have too many because you won’t pick them up.”

She looked up at me with her cherubic face and wide eyes, picked up a few more toys and came over and handed them to me. “Here are some more toys”, she said. “The kids without any toys will need these too.”

I stood there speechless.

I was trying to punish my daughter and teach her an important lesson about being responsible and taking care of your things. She didn’t learn that lesson that day. Instead, she taught me that we should always share with others less fortunate. Things don’t really matter. That there are more important things in life than a clean room.

She is now 10, and occasionally her room is tornado free. She didn’t learn the lesson that I wanted her to that day but she is slowly learning it. As I reflect on the lessons of that day, I’m more inclined to believe there is a chance that she won’t ignore everything I am trying to teach her (though it certainly looks like it at times). Often learning needs to take place at their own time, space and place. In ways, we don’t always comprehend and cannot manufacture.