Friday, July 22, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--July 20, 2016

Overwhelmed. That word perfectly describes me last week. My husband attended a weeklong church convention in Milwaukee, and I held down the fort with my little troopers.

I have no idea how single moms manage because by day two, I was ready to wave the white flag in surrender. That afternoon, most of the children were playing nicely together in the basement, and it was finally quiet enough for the baby to fall asleep in my arms. 

Then the boy in the shower started hollering for help. I hurried to him with the awake-again baby crying on my hip. After navigating the hallway cluttered with boxes and piles of junk from the girls’ newly-carpeted room, I learned the shower head had fallen off. Then the rest of the children, now rowdy and fighting, came thundering up the stairs.

Somehow I managed to fix the shower head but not the fussy baby or the wild children. With no adult backup, I had a meltdown.

Less than 48 hours into my week, I was sobbing with hungry children who still needed to eat supper, take baths, and dig paths to their beds. I was overwhelmed by the work and chaos and had no clue how to carry on.

I pulled myself together long enough to do what was right in front of me-- set the macaroni and cheese on the table, and that felt a little bit better. How can homemade mac and cheese and full bellies not make life a little better?

And then, because the food-covered toddler was about to throw yet another tantrum, I distracted him by suggesting he go splash in the bath with a big brother. The girls stopped fighting when I turned on the television.

As I scurried to get the little ones bathed and supper cleaned up, my eldest organized the mess that was flowing out of the girls’ room into the hallway and beyond. The next oldest washed dishes.  All by themselves and without being asked, they made things right in at least two parts of the house. I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness. 

Girls' room--painted, carpeted, and cleaned!

The next day a friend brought fried chicken for lunch and made brownies with the kids. In the evening we were treated to a cookout with swimming-- such a wonderful help for me and a delightful distraction for the kids who were missing Daddy terribly. It was overwhelming generosity.

Throughout the rest of the week, I was on the receiving end of phone calls checking in to make sure we were okay. On short notice, a friend babysat so I could take my daughter to have a painful cavity filled. My husband sent flowers. Overwhelming kindness.

My week wasn’t easy, but with the help of others, we managed. Now, most thankfully, I am just overwhelmed with relief that the week is over, my husband is home, and everything is back to normal. 


Overwhelming isn’t always bad. Now that gardens are producing, overwhelming can be quite yummy. While there is a time to give away the bounty, excess in the garden forces us to get creative. I found this recipe on a blog written by a lady who was swimming in garden treasures. It’s different, and I can’t wait to try it.

If you don’t like spicy jalapenos or feta cheese, feel free to leave them out or improvise with some other garden delight (blanched green beans or sliced zucchini?). Don’t have white wine vinegar? Try whatever vinegar you have. Also, if raw onions are too hot for you, try soaking your cut-up onions in a dish of water for a few minutes and then drain them before adding them to your salad. I learned this trick recently, and it really does take out the hot and leave the onion flavor.

Summer Corn Salad

6 ears of sweet corn
1/2 large red onion
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 red pepper
1/2 cucumber
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup feta crumbles
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cut corn from the cob. Dice onion, jalapeƱo, pepper and cucumber. Mix in a large bowl with the black beans. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, lemon juice and spices.  Stir into vegetable mixture. Stir in feta. 

*This post has been shared with Strangers & Pilgrims for the Art of Home-making Monday.


  1. Oh you poor thing! What a week you have had but with plenty of blessing mixed in :) I too agree with you, I always marvel how the single mothers are able to do it. My hubby is so very helpful and needed!

    1. You know, the worst of it was that I just missed him. The kids aren't used to not having Daddy, but I think I just miss him most!