The biggest problem with loss is the feeling of being replaceable. Sure, it is nice to be the dumper or the two-week-noticer, but when you are not, it doesn’t feel so good. I got a taste of that when I was unexpectadely reminded that even though I am the mother, there is always room for one more.
It is something you think about when you have an ex anything and there are kids involved. You forget there is the potential for your off spring to bond with another adult. You ex has bonded, but you could give two shits about that particular bond (matter of fact you have often wished they got stuck together like humping dogs in the street). No. What worries you most is her (or him) glopping themselves onto your kids with fun stuff like shopping and outings and your kids sticking. After all, you are the rule setter, the drill sergeant, the taxi, the bill payer, the yeller, the spanker, the bad guy and on the tired days the ‘i don’t care’ guy. You don’t get the luxury of every other weekend fun in the sun spoil time with your children. Your spoil time and your mom time is intermingled together and it can be hard to tell the difference. To them…you are just mom…and to you…well…maybe you are not entirely replaceable but you certainly aren’t alone and it hurts.
It hurts somewhere way deep down, in a place no one can quite touch, when you think about being replaced. When your boss lays you off to replace you with someone younger and cheaper–it hurts. When your significant other breaks it off to replace you with whomever–it hurts. When your kids replace you with a girl/boyfriend, or just activities and friends in general–it hurts. But I suppose it doesn’t have to.
Looking at it behind mature lenses, we are truly irreplaceable. Someone can fill our seat momentarily, sure, but we are marvelously, wonderfully made uniquely enough so that no one person can step comfortably in our footsteps. There is only one you. There is only one me. Of course…I prefer to seethe and throw a tantrum about the potential of the Replacement, but that’s only because that feels better than being all yogi-om and mature. Realistically (here’s the mature crap again), I should know my worth and I should know my place within this world and in the hearts of those who truly love me. Why…I am smwart. I am kand. I am impowtant. Can’t take that away, no matter how much glitter and gold is thrown in the air.
Every year, usually about 2-3 weeks prior to my birthday, the Universe plops a big gigantic A-Ha on me and I am enlightened. Every. Single. Year. I have yet to get my A-Ha (mean face). Or, perhaps I have.
A couple of mornings ago, I was flipping through Facebook and felt completely over it. Sure, it is nice to see people’s updates and pictures and it is as equally as nice to share my own random thoughts and photos, but in all actuality….who gives a shit? I mean, realistically, how many people care I had Mommy’s mac & cheese or if you found a t-shirt 50% off? Who cares if you write a dissertation on your wife and how great she is or who really wants to see you and your phantom boyfriend holding hands at the movies. Quite honestly….do you care? I suppose the same could be said for BSM. I mean, who cares if I am struggling with running 3 miles or having a parent breakdown? Somehow, though, this seems different…it seems…helpful.
Anywho, I have the overwhelming need for balance. I feel the need to cut off everything that is a distraction and get back to the basics. And by basics I mean pen, pencil, notebook, board games, no clutter, GNO’s with just a great movie and the couch, books with actual bookmarks, the Bible and Beethoven. Oh…and Being Sadie May (of course).
It should be fun and exciting to actually take a summer break from all of the junk I allowed to slip in. Maybe I will actually be able to complete some things I have been desperately trying to get done. Maybe I can focus long enough to finish my novels. Or perhaps I can actually lose weight. I could possibly get back to centered. Maybe…just maybe…I can slide my way back to beautiful Me (smile). Sommertime Vacation just might be my best A-Ha yet. What fun this is going to be!
With The Kids pulling the growing up move on me and with my life starting sorta over from scratch, I took an inventory of where I stood and where I wanted to end up. Clearly there was a gap. I work a part time job that does not quite capture my attention. My bank account sees more negative signs than a false E.P.T. My debt to income ratio is hysterical and I don’t see any of this getting any better without some work on my part. Enter the never-ending BA quest.
The first step in changing anything is to actually want to change it. The second step is to plan to actually change it. Step three is holding your nose and jumping in (with intention that is). I recognized something had to change. I had the opportunity to re-do somethings and rearrange some others. I had a second shot at this and I wanted to do it right.
I pulled the trigger and stepped back into the classroom–virtual anyway. I decided it was not too late for me to move into the educational system (teaching adults…not kids….I shudder at the thought). And, sure, I had attempted to go back to school before, but this time it is different. I have no partner to hide behind. No kids to use as an excuse. No more years to waste. There is just me and the goal. That is it.
So for weeks I have been reading, studying, doing homework and making a real effort to be an intentional student. I have kept up with assignments, read during baseball tournaments, spent off days writing papers, and stayed late at work to finish up homework. Presently, I have purposefully made room for obtaining a degree so that while The Kids are off doing things college kids do, I will be settling into The Beach House teaching at a University.
Plans change. We know this. But I am willing to take the steps to make the plans possible. It is exciting and rewarding to know that if I keep pushing there is an obtainable goal at the end of the yellow brick road. Dr. Van Dunk never sounded so good 😛
“Nooo moore wire hangers!” Everyone (even if you have not seen the movie) knows the epic, crazy mother, Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) line. Obviously, she would not have won Mother of the Year, but it is also obvious that she had no clue what she was doing (as a parent) and perhaps wanted to. We can all relate to that–can’t we?
I am just going to put it out there for those who do not have children and for those who do but live in a bubble: being a parent sucks. Of course it is a blessing to be in charge of another human life; to watch them grow and blossom; to carry on a part of you–probably the best part of you; but the guilt and the mistakes and the many no-take-backs we as parents endure makes the job pretty sucky. Just sayin. Would I trade it? Absolutely not. Would I trade the parental guilt? Hellz yea I would.
I have been mulling this parental guilt thing over for about a month or so. It started when some kids we knew had private school interviews. Suddenly, thoughts (more like questions really) of why weren’t my kids doing that, am I a slacker parent, did I not work hard enough, did I not make them work hard enough burst any sort of happy bubble I had. Yesterday, while taking a 15 minute walk in the park, my mind was swimming with thoughts of fitness, weight loss, races I wanted to run, new running shoes–and suddenly the parental guilt came. There I was walking, thinking about myself (literally) and The Boy was at practice down the hill. Shouldn’t I be there watching? Should I have stayed in the car with The Girl and talked to her? Shouldn’t I be thinking about them and school and making flash cards and pounding Life’s rules and regs into their heads? Was I a selfish parent?
Half of the time I have no clue what I am doing. The other half of the time I just throw my hands up and hope for the best. I feel terrible, quite honestly. It feels like everything is moving so fast and I have no control over what is happening. My life is moving in a positive, yet Sadie-centered direction, but at the same time The Kids’ lives are moving at the speed of light in an unknown direction. How does a parent parent that? Am I no better than Joan Crawford when I have a ‘no more wire hangers’ melt down over gum wrappers or shoes or cups being left in random places like the bathroom? Am I a detriment to their success? Am I creating monsters? Are they going to be lazy or driven? Will they aspire to succeed or live on my couch forever? Is it okay for me to live my life too? Are they spoiled? Do I not say no enough?
Ugh…all of these question with no answers is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps I should neutralize that with some cake and think about this later….
When I decided to leave The He, my first inclination was to go home. Pack our crap and burn up the road. I wanted to take my ball and run home as fast as I could. It is coming up on a year since moving out and the urge to leave is still there, but The Kids…not so much.
My life still feels up for grabs when it comes to leaving Atlanta. I have been here for over 10 years and this was the first year I actually explored and enjoyed the city. I still have so much to see and do here, and there is a growing appreciation for the things it has to offer. When I go home, it feels slow and sleepy. But then if we move home we will also be moving all of our activities with us so would it really feel so slow and sleepy?
Part of me also feels by not moving home I would let down the people who want us to come back. The other part of me feels by moving home I might possibly be leaving behind various possibilities not yet unearthed.
My parents are getting older and so are the children. Luckily for them they have had summers of Carolina livin’ and their relationship with The Grands has not suffered because of distance. But if we stay, what will they miss out on? No one is guaranteed another day…what/who will they miss if we stay here? On the other hand, they have been here all of their lives. We (The He and I) managed to do something for them I was not able to experience as a kid: They stayed put. The Girl and Boy stayed in the same elementary school K – 5. They lived in the same house since they were babies (until recently). They were stable. This past year their stability went out the window. So, in light of Life changing events, do I stand still and hang on to their last little bit of stability? Or do I plan to throw caution to the wind and leave?
Quite honestly, I have 5 years left. The Boy will be off to college in 4, the Girl off in 5. If they want to stay, as their mother, I can sacrifice that small piece of time….right? Home will be there and I suppose if God sees it fit for us to leave, we will. Some days though…just some days when the weather is beautiful and the wind is blowing just right, I want to be home. I want to be in Mommy’s kitchen listening to Daddy mowing the grass, watching the Kids do kid-at-grandmas-house things. I want to have get togethers with the Crew on Friday nights and see the Nephews. Some days I just want to be with family and not so much on my own. This is quite a conundrum to be in. *sigh*
There is a picture of me with a pen to my lips smiling. I was about three. I remember Mommy reading to me at night and being drawn in by the words more than the pictures. When people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say a best selling children’s book author and Shelia E. It is quite obvious I haven’t quite reached either goal–yet.
When I reached high school, I decided being Shelia E was a long shot, but becoming an Editor-in-Chief of a major magazine, living in an NY loft apartment with a closet full of amazing clothes and a revolving bed full of Adonises was achievable. I could graduate early, go to college early, BS/Masters/PhD in one six year fell swoop, retire by 35, dedicate 10 years or so to writing books, maybe get married, perhaps have one kid and by the time I was 45 settle down at a university and teach English to uninterested 18 year olds. I was a woman with a plan.
I understand the journey I have been lucky enough to take is just that–a journey. Journeys are not meant to wrap up nice and neat. They are continuous excursions with moving parts. They are never point A/point B simple. That’s what trips are for. This journey is ever changing and nothing is set in stone, and after some growth it finally clicked: My travels are not done until I am taken outta here.
I have 5 years until my nest is completely empty and what happens after that? I want to go back to school. Yes, I have attempted it before–quite a few times actually–and yes, I have said I was going back before only to get derailed. The plan (EIC, Adonises, NY loft, etc) was skewed a bit. It got a little clouded, but why can’t I pick up where the dream left off? I am 35 now. Not retired, but I am 35. I can still dedicate 10 years to writing. I can still maneuver through BS/Masters/PhD landing in a classroom at 45 with uninterested 18 year old students calling me Dr. Van Dunk. That is possible…all of it…and for once I am not afraid of any possibility.
Young Gun came in knowing I had children. He understood the dynamic of my family life. He knew my rules about coming to the house, and meeting the children. He was patient and kind with it all. Still is actually. The children understood I would date. They understood there would be phone conversations and dates on kid-free weekends. The children knew I would not bring anyone into their lives or their home with out careful consideration. Everyone understood that separation, for me, was paramount. Soooo why now does it seem like everyone is moving ahead and I am standing still?
When I left The He, I had a long list of rules. I would not date anyone right away. I would not sleep with anyone right away. No one was allowed in my home. No one was allowed to meet the children. (There are more, but I won’t dare bore you with the rest) I have stuck to every rule, except now, things are moving faster and they are changing.
One of the many bullet points in the parental job description is to protect. As a parent, my job is to shield the kids from as much harm as I can. Logically, I know I can’t protect them from life itself, but I can protect them from the mistakes I make. What if it doesn’t work? What if we end up hating each other? What if it’s too soon? What if the kids love him but he doesn’t like them? What if he gets too attached? What if we all get too attached? There is an intricate web being weaved here and I am desperately trying not to get the kids caught.
I suppose it is a mute point, right now anyway. No one is hanging out with anybody just yet. I still have to wrap my head around a few things as it is. When the time is right, when I am comfortable with it enough to consider letting both parties mingle, it will happen. Until then, I just need for the outside to slow down….just a little.