I am their mother. This is my job.

standard March 1, 2017 Leave a response

When my children were little, the urge to guide them, protect them, shield them from the world was something I felt deeply in my bones. Even as I watched them struggle to learn new things, I found it hard to stand back, to not rush in to make it easier for them. I remember knowing, deep in my gut, that they needed to struggle, needed to feel the rush that comes from hard won success, needed it to grow and learn, but, nevertheless, struggling with it.

I’m their mother. Their guardian. Their protector. Their teacher.

It hurt to not fix, smooth, facilitate.

Logic almost always won out and I held myself back from intervening (unless they were in danger, because come on, mother, not monster). I even coached various family members who had a tendency to jump in with help before it was really needed, held them back gently so that the kids could claim their victories.

And then, as they grew, the challenges got bigger.

Instead of learning to scale a chair, they had to face the first day of Kindergarten.

Instead of figuring out how to tie a shoe, they had to learn to navigate the friendship seas.

Instead of puzzles featuring puppies and ponies, there were schedules, homework, relationships.

And, in parallel, the urge in me to fix, smooth, facilitate has gotten stronger and stronger.

I don’t remember the first time I tried to get on a chair, but I remember trying to understand how I fit in with the other kids at school.

I don’t remember struggling to tie my shoe, but I remember the pain of losing friends.

And every day that my kids come home, hurt because of some slight, or upset because they don’t quite understand the murky interpersonal waters of the pre-teen pool, a piece of me shrivels up a little.

I want to fix it. I want to make the pain just go away. I want to find the magic words that will make it all better.

And then tonight, as I was doing some much needed laundry, I remembered, that’s not my job.

My job is to give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, whatever that will look like for them.

My job is to encourage them to be their truest selves and gently guide when guidance is requested.

My job is to send them off with hugs and love so that they know that, however far they roam and whatever they do or face when they get there, they do so knowing that they are unconditionally loved and supported.

My job is to offer a safe place to land, a warm set of arms to hold them when the world is proving inhospitable, a soft kiss on their brow creased with angst.

And then, my job is to send them back out to keep on trying.

Because my job isn’t to fix them, to fix their path, it’s to be their support, their safety net as they become who they’re meant to be.

I am their mother. My job is to have faith in them and in everything they have learned and continue to learn from me, from their father, from the rest of our family, and to believe that they will be OK, even if their path isn’t the easy one I would have chosen for them.

And damn if it isn’t the hardest job in the world.

toddler walking away

 

Celebrate the Successes

standard January 6, 2017 Leave a response

There is a sign that lives above my desk that reads “Celebrate the Successes.” It’s something my sister once told me as I related to her how I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy and stagnation. About how life sometimes just feels so hard and how everything feels like just one long series of failures.

We had that conversation long ago, maybe last year, maybe the year before. I can’t remember, but the paper the sign is printed on is pretty tattered, so it certainly wasn’t recently.

And yet, today I need it more than ever.

Because life is hard, yo. It’s a constant struggle. And, yes, it still feels like one long series of failures.

I was going to come here to whine about just how hard it all is and how low I feel right now, but then the sign caught my eyes and I realized that maybe, just maybe what I need today is a moment celebrating the successes instead of going over the list of failures one more time.

  • I have work. I even enjoy some of it.
  • I’m successfully working from home.
  • The kids are having great years.
  • I’ve started working on a new novel.
  • I’m making time to make more family meals.
  • I’m making more time to walk and take care of myself.
  • I’ve cultivated and nurtured some amazing friendships.

When I stop to think about the successes in my life, both big and little, it’s like a weight lifts from my shoulders and the dark clouds over my head get a little less heavy.

It’s been a rough few weeks. So much angst and worry and sadness. So many burdens to shoulder. I know I’m not the only one struggling this month. I see it all over Facebook and among my friends. January is hard. Brutally, unapologetically hard. It’s good to stop and remember that finding a little light to make the darkness more bearable is within our reach.

The other day when I was organizing my office, I moved the signs on my wall around. I think I need to move this one sign back to where I can see it easily so I keep reminding myself that success lies everywhere and it’s up to me to look for it.

Celebrate the Successes

My truth

standard August 12, 2016 1 response

After hearing her speak on the Beautiful Writers Podcast, I bought Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, because I do that, buy books after I hear author’s speak, and then I popped it into the bathroom, because, let’s be honest, that’s what I do with 99% of the non-fiction books that I buy.

Having read a few chapters already, I have to say, this book might actually make it out of the bathroom. But let’s not hold our breath. Because non-fiction.

In any case, after reading the bit (at the very beginning) where Glennon explains how she came to the conclusion that her thing, her way she could give back and help, would be to speak her truth, her whole truth, so that others would hear her words and maybe no longer feel like they were alone, I thought “I do that! I speak my truth online too!”

Patted myself on the back. Smiled a little. And then my smile faltered as I realized… wait, maybe, just maybe I don’t speak my whole truth. Maybe I speak a sanitized version of my truth. Maybe I should grow a pair and try it the Glennon way, the whole unvarnished truth. The kind that resonates with people and helps them on their own journeys.

So I sat down and I opened my journal, because I’m a chickenshit and I had to see if maybe I had the guts to write my truth somewhere hidden before I could maybe share it here, this truth that has been sitting heavy in my gut for weeks now.

I have to say, it flowed easier than anticipated.

So here is my truth.

I am 40 years old and I don’t know who I am. 

I know I’m a mother, a sister, a daughter a friend.

I know I write, though I struggle with defining that part of myself. 

I know I love to watch TV and read stories. The more fantastic the better. 

I know I love to help people, to guide them and advise them. 

But, at the core, I genuinely don’t know who I am. 

I have no strong convictions, nothing I believe in passionately. 

I struggle with my weight, and have done so my whole life, but only because others have told me I should be concerned about being overweight. 

I am a rule follower because it has always been expected of me, not because I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do. 

I am 40 years old and I have always done what my family, my society, my community expects of me.

I am 40 years old and I don’t really know who I am. Nor do I have a clue about figuring it out.

 

This little block crafted by Robin Plemmons has sat on my desk for years. Maybe I should read it more often.

This little block crafted by Robin Plemmons has sat on my desk for years. Maybe I should read it more often.

I forgot rainbows exist

standard November 10, 2015 Leave a response

I turned the corner, driving that fine line between driving the speed limit and going fast enough to get to school in time to collect the kid getting out of her after-school activity. I snarled at the rain starting again, at my broken windshield wiper I didn’t even know was broken until this morning, at the blister forming in the rain boot that only gets worn once or twice a season.

And then I saw it. And I gasped.

A rainbow. A silly, stupid, glorious rainbow, stretching clear across the sky. A perfect shining rainbow.

And then I laughed.

Because for a minute I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing.

I’d forgotten about rainbows.

What can I say? It doesn’t rain very often in California.

So, I’d forgotten about rainbows.

Rainbows in all their magical, improbable selves. A thing that children color, because they’re so darn pretty and shiny and irresistible.

Rainbows, reminding us that there’s beauty and magic to be found in even the dreariest of days.

I seriously can’t believe I’d forgotten about rainbows.

Just how grown-up and jaded have I become?

What happened to the girl who always looked for the silver lining in every situation? Who always tried to tease the fun out of every moment?

2011 was a brutal year of unending big catastrophes that kept knocking me off my feet.

This year has been less obvious in its relentless sly attacks, and yet, apparently no less draining.

I keep trying to pull myself up from my bootstraps, keep trying to jolly myself out of the gray area I seem to wallow in most often these days, but it’s hard. There are constant reminders about my father. Constant little challenges to overcome. Constant reasons not to smile, but to, instead, force a grin on my face a bear another day.

It’s not how I want to be, not who I want to be.

I want to be the girl who looks for rainbows, not the one who forgets they even exist.

Rainbow