Resounding Affirmations

It is April in New England. Snow flurries and warmer weather collide in a mess of transition of the seasons. Transition and changes and awakenings and reckonings are happening.

I am trying in the midst of this transition to listen. There is a lot to take in. I know it is time to make some changes. It is inching closer to me returning to the workforce and having my own income. I just have been circling around trying to figure out what that will be. What do I want to do with my life?

Weeks ago, I asked my people for permission to do something. Well, let’s clarify, I asked my people who would tell me “Of course you should do that.” But in fairness, they are the people who have loved me during stupidity, triumph and for many years. If the idea was really dumb– they would have told me. I would have listened. We’ve earned each other’s honesty after twenty plus years of being friends. They know me in ways I don’t even know myself.

I asked Match. We are partners and he deserved a say as it would impact a credit card I just paid down and add more to my plate.

I want to pause and say this: If I never have another blessing in my life, I got the ultimate payload with him. I did. He is just it for me. He gets me, loves me and stays even when I’m prickly.  I get it now, you guys. That person you lie down with every night should make you deeper in life. Hold you accountable. Tell you you look pretty, but point out when you’re being stupid. We are in the doldrums pattern of everyday life. If you only get one thing in life, I got him and the kids.

I told him this hokey, impractical thing I wanted to do. Match didn’t call it stupid. He didn’t say it was a waste. He just echoed my fear that I don’t have time to commit to something that would cost me money AND time. I am an over booked by nature. I mulled it over in the 48 hours I had to join this online course called The Bigger Yes by Laura McKowen. I thought about if I could make time. I decided it didn’t matter. I wanted to be impractical. There were signs.

Over the past two years, I have been finding, following and growing these people who speak to me via Instagram, Facebook and their written words. It started with Elizabeth Gilbert and her book “Eat, Pray, Love.” My world was falling apart and she gave me hope there was life after divorce. Then a few years later Glennon Doyle Melton’s words about parenting felt so good. I revisited Anne Lamott who’s “Bird by Bird” was part of my college education in Literature and Publishing. I found Rob Bell. Brene Brown. Mari Andrew. Cheryl Strayed. Martha Burke. And this person who found herself in sobriety named Laura McKowen.

A lot of the people I follow spill their personal truths, life messes and encouragement into the world. In print. Like me. And it sparks something. So while not everything that I come across with these authors, light seekers and activists speaks to me or aligns with me, but that experience of “Hey, me too!” is such a powerful moment. And in the doldrums of trying to navigate adulthood, parenthood and relationships… it is nice to know that all of us are somehow in the life thing together.

So, I signed up for this course called The Bigger Yes. I don’t know exactly what I hope to gain from it except I feel like it was time to jump into something for me. My last baby is nearing two and no longer needs me the way an infant does. There is a little room for me that hadn’t been there before.

I haven’t quite figured out a few things now that I’m signed up and committed. There is this interesting juxtaposition that much of the pain these souls were carrying was being dulled by chemicals and my pain was born from the life with an addict. Often I feel like we are coming to the same space from opposite directions. Which is the thing that makes me feel the most unsure– but the conflicted feeling I have will only be assuaged by jumping in, right? I think by listening to those who lived through things like my Ex will give me better understanding of my story. That has some merit. I think it may be pretty profound in a way.

This course is about figuring out your life’s purpose in a way. Which I think is an actual thing that exists: purpose. I think that the universe unfolds itself in the most interesting ways. I know I need to make some decisions. And, at the very least, I might make some new friends, be able to understand my dysfunctional marriage better, or sort through the many futures of life that are ahead of me to pick a road to start walking down.

And weirdly, after I signed up, I have had this weird focus. Clarity or a plan at the end of this course would be great. The class hasn’t started yet. I want to make some promises to myself:

Miss M says I should be an author. Not just her, actually. I get told to write or do something with this fodder enough that I know there is something brewing here. I love that this place does a little good. Yet, her thoughts are real ones that make all the difference some days. I want to write a children’s book. I think this is the year, I try.

I thought about opening a place for kids and moms in my local town because I love community, food and kids. I had begun a business plan. I had thought about working in a school and finishing getting licensed to teach. I thought about going back to school to pursue social work. I thought about foster care. I thought about going to work with domestic violence groups or homeless shelters. I have thought about a mommy blog and making that a bigger thing. I have thought and thought and puttered and played with– but here is the thing:

I cried for hours Saturday night looking at the humans who live miles away in Syria dead and dying.  Gassed. Again. I am very tired of the things we are doing to each other. Domestically and internationally.  Getting hokey again, I want to work for a group called Preemptive Love who is helping on the ground in Syria. I want to end a war. Which sounds crazy. But, everything is life good or bad starts with a simple ambition. And if it can’t be that exact ambition, then I want to find another place that is helping us kill each other less and save each other more. All those ideas about jobs and careers I have had kind of boil down to that one statement: Hurt each other less, save each other more.

I want to marry Match. I want the kids to be happy that day. I think we might be almost there. I want to believe I can get myself together enough to handle planning a wedding.

I want to make my house a little prettier and more ours. That just takes time and a little money. Both of which are in a short supply. But little by little, it is coming along.

I want to family vacation. With all the stress and short tempers and frustration. And all the fun and love and smiles too.

I want to being income into this household to make us more stable for our future. I want to spend less on stuff and more of doing things.

But right now, the dog is scratching at the door, the baby needs a diaper change and I have another half of a book to sneak in before Wednesday’s welcome call. I guess that is as far as I can mull this over for now…

 

 

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The Longest

Miss M turned nine a over a month ago. Usually, on their birthdays, I write the girls a love letter of sorts. This year, I have a lot swirling around me, and getting here, like always, hasn’t been an easy task. But, timing usually works itself out:

Dear M,

In a year from now, you will have existed out in the world a decade. I will no longer be able to write your age with a single digit. It will, for the next 10 years, be accompanied by a number 1. I think that makes being Nine special in a way. We get to savor it a little stronger because it has that bittersweet tang to it of being a last. Lasts are just new beginnings in disguise, but they also wake you up a little to pay attention. Paying attention is a wonderful gift. Your mama is paying extra attention this year… I don’t want to miss a thing.

So much has happened in the last 9 years. You grew too tall for me to carry. You read now. You write stories. One about our life. Like mom. We’ll post them soon. You make the most ridiculous jokes and they are belly-laugh funny. You stick up for yourself in ways I never would have done and I hope you are always that fierce. You are a caretaker more than I give you credit for. Although, you still have a hard time looking at things from other people’s perspectives. You take your responsibilities seriously for only living nine years and it makes me proud. You have a sense of dedication that lives inside you and pushes you. You have hobbies and interests. You still can climb walls– literally. Although you do it a lot less. Now you contort your body into back bends and kick your legs over or hang like a monkey from whatever you can pull yourself up onto. You are strong and muscular and more athletic than I ever could be. You are surrounding by some really wonderful people that you picked to be in your life. I am so glad you have great friends. Friends make life better. M, I don’t know how you see yourself, but know– You are strong, full of magic, and beautiful from the inside out.

Trust your judgement. It will fail you here and there, but you get better at being in the world each time you make a mistake. But you have a good, level head on your shoulders. You like your mischief and jokes, but you know how to keep yourself safe and when to ask for help. Those two things will frame the rest. Trust your gut– you know what is bad news, what is too far, and what is the right thing. Be true to it. Always.

Shortly after your birthday, you started a new schedule to spend time with Dad. You pretty much hate it and I feel awful that I didn’t really include you in the discussion. I make a lot of decisions for you and with this one I made things harder for you. I want you to know, I didn’t mean to make things harder. When Dad is healthy and doing well, you should pack the time in, Kid. I never know how long it will last. You are right though, it was a big change. I should have worked in time to adjust. So just know, I’m sorry. I’m here to help you through it and I’ll do better next time, peanut.

Third grade is almost over. I am excited for our summer. I have a lot of things I am hoping to cram in. Toes in the sand. Spray parks. Museums. Long, wooded walks with the dog and your slow-poke sisters. BBQs. Jumping into pools. And reading to you some favorite stories in the hammock. It is a big list, but I can’t wait to try our best to fill your summer with it. The years coming will have you with your friends more and me less… and I want all the time I can get, frankly.

When you were born, I thought I would never forget your weight or the hour of your birth. Those details though are lost in my brain– yet immortalized on paper and your birth certificate. I have not lost that feeling that something magical had just happened.

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You were so small. Rose bud lips. Chunky wrists and thighs. Baby smell. The most favorites thing I have ever inhaled. You came in the middle of the mess, but it was so perfect. At the time, Miss M, I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew it was gonna be together. We would do it together and everything else would fall into place. I held you sleeping little body, your weight settled deeply into my arms, and I knew having you  was going to change my life is ways I couldn’t even comprehend. Which was crazy, kid, because I had no idea how to be a mother. I hadn’t done it before. So happy birthday to you, my first. You made me my favorite thing: a mom.

I have loved you the longest.

xoxo,

Mom

Mantra

  • I can only control my intentions entering a conversation and my reaction coming out of it.
  • I do not need to be demeaned. That is a fair boundary and I am right to leave a conversation where there is no respect of my position as her mother.
  • It is okay to disagree. We are two different people and have two different sets of values.
  • It is not okay to give him my time or effort if it won’t yield results. Summarize and walk away.
  • He is my coworker in the business of raising our daughter. He is not my boss. He does not understand all the facets of my position. Nor can I understand his.
  • His digs are insecurities or concerns expressed dysfunctionally. The concerns are valid. The dysfunction is not.
  • I only have to answer concerns that involve parenting. Everything else isn’t his domain.
  • He doesn’t own my truths. I do. I am good at this parenthood thing and my instincts got me this far. I am alright.
  • He owns his own feelings and narrative. I did terrible things to him. When I look at our history, it boggles my mind that I am the villain in his narrative. IT IS NOT MY JOB TO DISENTANGLE IT.
  • It is okay to stop talking if he doesn’t respond to my boundaries. It is okay to set boundaries. And I have to defend them until he recognizes that they exist. Boundaries matter.