A Disaster In The Making: Thanksgiving In Atlanta For My Family Of 8

I am a natural-born planner, and I’m OCD to the ten-millionth degree. If you have a picture on a wall, then by God, there better be a complimentary picture equidistant on the other side or I will go nuts. And this is how I approach my life and all the plans that I attempt to make. Not such an easy task for a 43-year-old mother of 8 children ranging from the ages of 21 to 2 (some in Georgia, some here in Texas) that’s married to a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy. So why am I always surprised and agitated when things go a muck? Who knows, but it gets me every time! And here we go again.
About a month and a half ago (47 ½ days to be exact but that’s neither here nor there), I asked my husband if he would like to drive to Georgia for Thanksgiving so that we could get the whole family together and visit our parents. He was all for it and promised he would help me with whatever arrangements I deemed necessary. I should have been excited, but instead I kept hearing that little voice in the back of my head saying “let the nightmare begin” and of course, I’m finding out that the voice was right. That voice is almost always right, its number 17 of the 21 of us in my head (one is a goat), and it tends to be the most reasonable and intelligent of us all. I really need to start listening to 17 a little more, but instead, I began planning.
I’ve been nervous from the beginning since I am such a creature of habit and am quite content in my own little bubble. My 4-year-old daughter, Bug, is head-strong, way too talkative, and down right difficult sometimes. My 2-year-old son, Bubby, is a momma’s boy at a ridiculous level. So the thought of taking them on a 13-hour drive into pure chaos was already overwhelming me and my over-active nervous system. But still I planned, they should see their other sisters and brother more often so this was a good thing. And of course, they really needed to see their grandparents.
I started plotting our time line right from the beginning, but no one was cooperating. I kept asking my husband, B, to contact his ex (that is a whole story in itself, she is a rather large useless piece of flesh sucking in precious oxygen) to see how many days we would be able to get “his” kids while we were there. Of course, I heard “I’ll do it tomorrow” so many times, I almost forgot what day it was. My mother is a planner as well so of course I needed to tell her how many of the 8 of us would be at her house for Thanksgiving dinner, so I just kept asking him every day. I kept hearing “I’m sure whenever we want”. So frustrating, but that’s the way he is, so I will just plan around that and revisit later, far in advance of course. I told my mom to plan on all 8 of us just in case.
Plans were made for the four of us traveling to stay with my oldest at her and her friend’s one-bedroom apartment, and of course, my 16-year-old daughter would be staying with us as well. OK, so seven of us in a one-bedroom apartment might be cramped, but it was only for a few days and I convinced myself that we would be fine. Although 17 still kept chiming in, the rest of us had decided this was the most logical, peaceful choice for our stay as it was the center point of all of our many travels while we were there. Then slowly but surely, we had decided to spend Thanksgiving day at my mom’s house who lives with my sister, her husband, and their 5-year-old daughter. There have been issues over the past two years in our relationships, but for our mother, all of these would be overlooked and we knew we could all visit in peace and harmony for our brief stay (well 17 still isn’t convinced of that either). We would go to my mother-in-law’s on Friday for fellowship with them (again more issues/drama but it’s all good). Then a nice peaceful day on Saturday at my daughter’s apartment just enjoying some quality time with the kids before making the long journey back on Sunday. So it wasn’t a perfect plan, but it was a plan, and I was sticking to it. I was beginning to feel like I had won this battle and that things might actually be falling into place and then last night, the bottom fell out! Damn you 17 for always being right!
At approximately 6:27 pm. last night, B gets a call from my step son saying “When are y’all going to be here? I am not going with her (the mother) and I want you to come get us the minute you get here.” What? Wait? This was NOT fitting in with my plan. We won’t be getting in until about 1:00 am., then we need to get some sleep so that we can get up in the morning to round-up the troops and take them to my mom’s. This in fact was the plan, and plans are NOT meant to be broken. I’m starting to feel sick. B senses my pain so he calls the boy-child back to see if we can make “better” plans. So as usual, the plans are bent to accommodate the waste-of-air’s schedule and it was determined that we would get the kids on Thursday morning and they would stay with us through our entire visit. Now in case you’ve lost count, that is a total of 9 people in this one-bedroom apartment. Although I’ve been told at this point, we have plenty of air mattresses for us all, I’m wondering if there is even that much floor space. Then of course 17 just had to remind me that there will only be one bathroom as well…thanks for that tidbit! I did have a melt-down at this point, calmly (that was a joke) expressed my concerns to my husband, fixed their plates for dinner, and left for the store by myself. When I got back home, I actually did calmly explain my grievances and asked him to call his mother to let her know that we would be there on Friday (I had just found out that he’d never bothered to do that). What is wrong with these people? Well, at this point, it is what it is and we can’t change it, and the plans are set.
So I woke up this morning with all intentions of getting packed and ready to go tomorrow once B gets off of work. As all good planners would do, I looked up the weather only to find out that on Thursday, the high in Atlanta will be 54 and the low will be 30, these degrees are listed in Fahrenheit not Celsius in case you were wondering. Are you serious? Now we have to go purchase warm clothing for my youngest two and I am babysitting all day, guess packing will have to wait until this evening. My oldest calls to tell me she just found out that they only have three single air mattresses, sure that will work! My husband calls to tell me that he will call his mother some time today to let her know we will be coming on Friday. Bubby’s over-active bowel system is acting up and he has a rash. Bug has decided that she doesn’t even want to go now. We haven’t even left yet, and I’m a wreck! We are leaving tomorrow, I’m not packed, we have nowhere to sleep, and no one knows we’re coming. And people wonder why I try to make and stick to actual plans. Spontaneity is over-rated, OCD rules! Yes, this is great….a true disaster in the making! Wish me luck and stay tuned! Oh and send in the Calvary if you haven’t heard from me in a few days, but for God’s sake, make sure they organize the posse before sending them in!

REMEMBERING WHAT I AM THANKFUL FOR

So far this year, I have been unable to get myself geared up for the approaching holidays, not in the slightest, not a twinge of holiday cheer. The balmy Galveston Island weather isn’t helping the situation much, and although it sure as heck beats the cold weather that I’ve lived in the past, it doesn’t instill the urge to cook turkeys, sing carols or put up Christmas trees. I’m broke, as is at least half of the nation, so the idea of trying to squeeze enough money out of my already dry pockets to buy gifts is bothersome at best. I miss my oldest children horribly, to the point of depression at times. I babysit a couple of real troublemakers (and their mother) for peanuts. Sometimes, it’s just easier to dwell on the negatives in life than it is to embrace the positives. So rather than fall into this vortex, I decided to break out and think about the things that truly make me happy in life, the things that I forget to focus on all too often, and amazingly, these things popped into my head quite easily and made me smile.
  1. I am thankful for the six beautiful children that God placed in my hands and entrusted me with. There is no greater honor in this world and if you are one of the chosen ones (no matter how He chose to give them to you), you understand this concept. My children all have their issues (as do I), but they all have something to offer this world and I’m just proud and honored to be a part of it!
  2. I am thankful for my husband, my best friend, my soul mate. We certainly have our ups and downs (the ups are really great, and the downs are really, really bad sometimes), but when push comes to shove, we always come out and back up together. I feel blessed to have someone who I can connect with on so many levels, yet so different in so many ways that we can still learn from one another.
  3. I am thankful for my mother. She has been my hero, my mentor, and my biggest fan since I can remember. A little over a year ago, she suffered a major stroke, and I am truly blessed to still have her in my life. Without her, literally and figuratively, I would be nothing!
  4. I am thankful for my true and close friends. They are few (some are even family members), but they are kick-ass and I consider myself extremely lucky that they chose me to be a part of their lives.
  5. Finally, I am thankful for my health. I used to take this for granted but as I’ve gotten a little older, I’ve learned that this is something to be cherished. I have watched friends suffer (some lost the battle, some are still struggling) with cancer, family members and friends fall ill with other various ailments, and people who I love battling with life threatening conditions such as depression.
So since Thanksgiving is this Thursday, I wanted to share my little, but oh-so-important list with you and challenge you to do the same. Not only will it put a new perspective on your current situation (and we are all struggling our own battles these days), it will also put a little bounce back in your step, a sparkle in your heart, and a new reason to be thankful for and enjoy this holiday season! So, what are you thankful for? God bless you all, and I truly hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with all of the little blessings in your own life!