Settling Into Oldish

Whenever I would tease Mommy about getting older, she would smile and say she was happier to be getting older. At twenty years her junior, I could not understand. Older meant things were falling apart and wrinkles. Older meant menopause and drooping everything. Old age meant walkers and medicines. Why be happy about that? Seventy-four days away from the big four-oh, I think I get it.

As you age, you settle more into yourself. The tightly wound ball of confusion that once was you at twenty is now settled and relaxed at fifty. She was excited about the relaxing part. The settling. I get it.

Now that it is my turn for ribbing from youngins, I find myself thinking about Mommy. She hasn’t quite embraced the housecoat (with the snap buttons, ‘member those?) but she has settled in. She isn’t wearing weaves and lashes, but upon suggestion (from The Boy) she will listen to a little Chief Keef. She often proclaims her ‘too old for [insert foolishness here]’ motto and leaves it where they land, but she can entertain an in house Nerf gun fight foolishness, too. She is where she is and that is okay. As I slide into another year, another grey I find myself working toward okay as well.

I’m is what I’m is, all greys and droopy whatever. It takes a minute to remember things and I can’t handle too much nonsense (my patience is -5). I own a housecoat with snap buttons and side pockets. I listen to Young Thug religiously and I live to binge watch Riverdale. Yes, I know what Bitcoin is but I also remember when pay phones were a thing and they took actual coins. I groan when walking up/down stairs, and I swear when it rains my bones hurt. But as I come ’round the mountain, I am quite all right with all of it. With every year I am blessed enough to see, more wisdom and more comfort are settling in. Thank God.

~SM

Thou Shalt Not Give

The Baby laid in her crib wailing. It started as a soft “Hey, parents, I’m waking up” and graduated to a “Yo! Let’s go, let’s go!” It was about 2 or 3 a.m. I had been with her around the clock, milking myself like a cow, changing diapers, entertaining blank infant stares and nursing a body slowly coming back together. The last thing I needed (and wanted) on an early Saturday morning was another dirty diaper and a sleepy breastfeeding session. So…I let her cry.

I refused to get up. At that moment, I was being selfish and quite honestly, I did not care. Her father, snoring softly beside me, was just as capable of changing, feeding and patting to sleep like me. Not only was I in recovery, but I was also smack dab in the middle of my fall semester and dealing with a heap load of OPS (Other People’s $#!%). I lay there, pretending to sleep and listened as she wailed louder and louder until YG struggled from sleep. YG had worked all day and a part of me felt terrible, but the sensible twin ordered me to stay in position. “Be selfish,” she said.

Why when we need/want to do something for ourselves do we think it is wrong? Is sanity wrong? Is loving yourself first wrong? In all actuality, it is perfectly healthy to put you first. Children do it all of the time, which is why Big Bird and the like teach sharing is caring. And it is. Sharing is an act of kindness. It is love…but, err, are we expected to be kind all of the time? It is impossible. Even Big Bird has his days.

Giving to you is more important than doling out pieces of yourself to others. Sure, what they need may be urgent and of course, some self-sacrifice might have to happen, but no one is in constant need of your everything. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not do for others so you can do for you. You are in the right for turning that love and kindness outside in.

Don’t wake up with the baby if someone capable is within three feet. Let them gladiate. Refuse to not get in the shower first. Jump in and use all the hot water. Sorry, not sorry. Rebel against not spending that measly $15 on yourself. New planner? Why yes, you will. Stand firm and wave off the dinner inquisition with a loaf of bread and a jar of PB. They will live. Do. You. It is okay. The kitchen might be a little worse for wear or the fam might have to eat ramen noodles for breakfast, but taking a moment, your moment, will create a healthier, happier you. Because let’s face it, misery invites grays and wrinkles–and we are all better off without those.

~SM

There Is Good In Receiving

Rent is due, as of three weeks ago. The car is in the shop and there is only enough money in the bank to cover a pack of hotdogs and a pitcher of very much needed sangria. As you complain to a friend over said pitcher, she pulls out her checkbook, writes a check and slides it across the table. You immediately slide it back. You were just letting off steam, not begging. She sternly pushes the paper rectangle in your direction and you just stare. This money would help but…do you take it?

The short answer? Yes.

Accepting help is one of the hardest things we get to do in this life. Yes, I said get. Young versions of us were taught that giving is better than receiving. During Christmas, sure but what about when you are drowning? Is it better to waive help?

The short answer? No.

When people help people it is not (generally) out of obligation or return. Helping others helps them. If we think about receiving from the perspective of being helpful to the giver we would have less of an issue accepting the help. If we felt as though we were worthy, we would be able to accept the gift without the extra mental baggage, too.

Oh, yes, receiving has to do with worthiness. You are worthy of help and love. Something about you and your struggle touched the innermost part of the person extending their hand. Why insult them and yourself by refusing it?

Battling foot and knee pain recently, Young Gun and I concluded it was my shoes. For our anniversary, he took me to the mall and, against all protests, bought me a new pair. I refused to wear them. My intention was to purchase a cheaper pair and return the more expensive ones. Upon further protest, he said “Fine. Do what you want. I just won’t buy any more. I’ll give you the money and you can do what you want.” I felt two inches tall. All wind had been sucked from his sails–and I was the sucker.

The gift was not 100% about my needs–it was about his, too. He needed to be able to take his wife’s pain away. He needed to be able to provide a fix to the need.

When someone asks you for help if you can you do without hesitation. If you can fulfill a need or fix a problem, you do. There is something within your heart that swells when you are able to make shit happen. If I got it, you got it, you think. You need to be able to provide a fix. And you do. Kudos! But, uh, if the shoe (no puns intended) were on the other foot, could you also be willing to accept? Could you see their heart’s need to swell, too? Are you able to stand down and be willing to be helped?

The short answer? You’re definitely going to try (wink).

~SM

Late Is Right On Time

I am always late. Even when I don’t mean to be, I just am. I am late to lunches, brunches, dinners, parties, weddings and sometimes funerals. It never fails. I live life behind the clock. Tick tock…tick tock…

LinkedIn (much like Facebook) is the devil. Or, it is to someone who always feels like the last one to the party. The back of the line bringer upper. I got sucked into the LinkedIn vortex the other afternoon, scrolling through forgotten invitations and messages and noticed a few familiar faces. Men and women I had known long ago as silly teenagers and bundles of hormones were all professionals now. Like serious professionals. Lawyers, doctors, rocket scientists, teachers, heads of departments, therapists and owners of things. There was no mention of meager titles like poop scooper or wanna-be novelist. Nope. They were all pretty impressive.

I imagined somewhere in their corner offices and big palatial homes, their degrees printed on expensive paper were tucked into equally expensive wooden frames. Each degree hung as a reminder, to all those who entered, the accomplishment. I did this. Did you do this?

I spent my high school years playing and running headless. Meanwhile, everyone else was keeping their eyes on their own personal prize. I knew what I wanted I just didn’t work hard enough to get it I suppose. Then, before I could wrap my head around my potential to be great, marriage, two kids, a cat, a dog, and a house came. Full-time jobs and the importance of medical insurance lept into my life before I was legally able to drink. The constant back and forth, up and down of littles and their activities ruled my life. All the while, those silly teenage boys and girls were growing up and gaining college credits and snazzy job titles.

By the time I picked up the pace, the class had moved light years beyond the starting point. There she is again, the back of the line bringer upper. Late, as usual. Always struggling to keep her foot in the inner circle, not fitting in and most definitely never on time.

Yesterday, one of the teachers at the school came and wrapped me in a hug. “Thank you,” she said. “Your book has blessed me so much.” She had told me this before, but never like this. I stood, trying to focus on what she was saying, but I couldn’t. I was too busy wondering Who, me? I didn’t do anything special. I am nothing special. I have no amazing titles it stories to tell. I have the bills and scars of adult living to share, but nothing beyond mediocre. But her words and her spirit was so sincere, I could only smile and nod. Her excitement ensured me whatever I didn’t do compared to others was just fine. What I had done was right on time for her, her spirit and her family.

Life does not keep score. Neither does God for that matter, but we do. We secretly keep score and carry our measuring sticks where ever we go—especially when we venture into the past. But here is a thought: what if everything we do or don’t do is actually placing us exactly where we are meant to be? What if our tardiness to the party is exactly how it is supposed to go? Who you are, right where you are is right on time, every time. Maybe, just maybe, the back of the line bringer upper isn’t so late after all.

~SM

Keep Going & You’ll Be Dead Soon

“If you keep going, you will be dead soon.”

Not words you would like to hear doing eighty-five miles per hour on a busy interstate. Or for that matter, any time, but there they were. Loud and clear.

I learned a long time ago (say, 20+ years ago after playing bumper cars with real cars) when The Voice speaks–I listen. “Don’t…” and I don’t. “Go…” and I go. I will do a cartwheel in the middle of Target if told to do so. So to hear I will be dead sooner rather than later because of stress, my ears perked up and I took my foot off the gas (literally).

We are not bottomless pits. We cannot take and take and take. Our wine skins eventually will pop. But we certainly live like we are bottomless. We take on projects and make promises we kill ourselves to fulfill. We soak in all types of information and believe we can process it. If we continue to stack it and pack it in, we will most definitely burst.

Our bursting comes in the form of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and on and on. For some, it is a slow burn (little diabetes here, little hypertension there) but for others, it is a drop dead in the middle of Wal-Mart type of deal. I’ll take neither for $200 Alex, especially the dropping of death.

When The Voice sounds, I do not dare tempt fate. I listen. I did an assessment of what needed to be dropped like a bad habit (because it probably was) and did it. I have a few more items on the ‘Don’t Die’ list but all in all I am making the appropriate steps to reducing stress. I take time off from work whether I have vacation time or not. I completely stopped worrying about money. Completely. I try (key word: try) hard not to road rage. Most importantly, I do what needs to be done without any other thoughts about it. Yes, it is one more thing on the list. Yes, I wish I had a maid to do it. Yes, I would rather eat fake food than cook. Yes, I would like to sit down. Sure, sleeping would be nice. But if I do what I have to do now…well…you know the rest.

Sometimes it is mandatory to push. There is no other way to get to the other side. However, I now recognize just because I can 25/8 does not mean I should. Just because it is possible it doesn’t mean I have to hold it all. I am at capacity. It is about time I regurgitate some of this and leave it where it lands….before…you know, dropping dead n’ all.

~SM

Faith Over Fret

In just a few short months, The Boy will be living on his own hours away. Over the summers, he would be far away for weeks and months at a time. I never worried much. He was safe. He was not out in the world alone, figuring it out. He was never really far from reach. But with adulthood looming ahead, I am worrying myself to death.

They say when you are close to death life flashes before your eyes. Welp, I can tell you when your kids start driving and becoming more independent, their life flashes before your eyes, too. All the wonderfully wicked things that could happen run rampant in your brain. Suddenly, 48 Hours Mystery and Dateline are all too real and you twist your stomach into a pretzel imagining the worst. The thought of following them everywhere or at the very least putting a hidden camera in their car no longer seems far fetched. Them walking the dog at dusk feels like a kamikaze mission now when before you wished they would go outside if only for five minutes. My days and nights are spent in a silent panic over the inevitable–they are leaving.

This place is big, bad and scary. And sure, really, really icky stuff happens out here, but if we worry too much we will have ulcers and wrinkles. Fretting never did anyone any good. Part of growing is falling. Part of getting the recipe just so is taste testing. Worrying about the parts of life we have no control over is worse than the thing we fear happening actually happening. There is nothing, no ting, worse than the thought of something fearful. When the Boogie Man jumps out and the roller coaster ride is over, all is right with the world. It wasn’t as bad as you thought.

Faith is an important part of life, whether you believe in a higher power or not, we all have faith in something. We believe in the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Whatever we are fearing, it just simply is not that bad. It may feel bad and it may cut to the marrow, but we are capable of making it through. We were built to make it through.

By the time I hand deliver The Boy to his new life, I will have a handle on the fretting. It feels worse than it is. He is right where he is meant to be, going on the path he was meant to be traveling. He is here for a reason, unbeknownst to me. I was just the vessel and the taxi and the caf and the atm. I have to have enough faith to overcome the fret and trust the process. Besides, I don’t need not one more gray hair–I have a complete collection already (and you don’t even want to know where).

~SM

My Wife Did That

Yesterday evening I was watching a friend and his wife interact. I thought about how far he had come since we met and I knew she had something to do with his current position. I flashed back to a bit of a conversation Mommy and I had and she repeated something my dad said.  “I have nothing to do with that. My wife did all of that.” I imagine my friend said the same about his wife too. My wife did that. I reflected on my own doings and wondered—am I making people better oooorrrr…..?

Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty sure I have bettered the life of a person or two, but how well? And who exactly am I making better? As a mother, I should be elevating The Kids to be better, not just feel victorious when they remember to brush teeth or there are no dried boogers on cheeks, right? As a daughter I should be doing more—old age cometh quicketh, am I right? As a wife, I should be helping my husband get into position. True?

One important gig we have is to not only grow and elevate ourselves but to also add to those we touch. Life boils down to position. If we are out of position, we can barely change our socks regularly never mind help someone else. In position, though, we are able to assist those around us while still growing ourselves.

The measure of a person is in their reflection. If you are an a-hole, your reflection is most likely an a-holish collection of goodies. If you are happy, the same. Giving, same. The lives you touch will be reflective of you. That is not to say people will not take advantage or be dicks, but in some way, shape or form your influence will be reflected in their lives—even if fleeting.

I suppose the children going out into the world speaking proper English and not terrorizing old ladies is sufficient enough. The Parents’ getting to enjoy four extensions of themselves is okay for now. Young Gun having enough room to figure it all out is what he needs most presently. When I check outta here, I want to hear the words ‘Well done’ and get a holy high-five. The fruits of my labor and love should be enough to feed those who pass by and in turn feed those they pass. I want to know that I was able to add to someone more than take away. I want to be a help and a blessing. I want my reflection to be better than mediocre. Or at least have someone say, My wife did that.

~SM