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!
Right now I am sitting in a nail salon, in a pedicure chair trying to ignore the petite Asian lady with the sparkly pants pick at my toes. I’m watching the girl about ten feet from me getting her nails filed and painted. We decided that while her brother was at practice, we would do girly things. But this girly thing is giving me a heart attack…slowly and quietly.
My mother is the best. She has a straight line to God’s heart and His ear. She often knows just the right prayer to pray and at just the right time without a word from the person she’s praying for. She often sends cards and small amounts of money for us to just spend on things other than regular life. For the kids it’s often candy and for me it’s usually gas, even though her instructions are to use it on myself. Last month, I opened up the mailbox to find an unexpected card with an unexpected blessing in it. How did she know I needed it? I immediately put it up in a safe place and managed to make it to pay day without spending it.
It has been my goal to save it and keep it until I find something worthy to spend it on like a broken pinky toe cast…light bill…bail (just saying), but this afternoon I decided to spend it on me.
So here I sit, getting my toe nails painted practically having a stroke because this seems frivolous and irresponsible. Sure, the rent is paid and yes the power bill is finally caught up. The Boy’s extra curricular activities have a 0 balance and I even managed to get an oil change. But getting your toes and nails painted doesn’t help with putting food on the table or gas in the car (unless you are a porn star). I should have run like the wind when she patted the chair. I should have thrown up the cross and backed out of the door when she told me to pick out a color. I should have been more responsible.
The saving grace…the only thing keeping me from keeling over in this stupid, vibrating chair…is seeing the girl flash me her nails and smile. The anguish, the self-imposed guilt, and the continual running list of better things to do with $30 sorta fade away seeing her pampered and happy. Maybe she’ll remember this moment one day. Maybe she finally feels the boy’s shadow moving out of her sunshine, just a little. Maybe she just feels good about feeling good. It is tough being good to yourself, but sometimes it’s ok to be good to you even if it feels heart attacky in the beginning.
I am not one for a bunch of emotion. I think these past two years have been the most outwardly emotional I have been in quite some time (or maybe ever). I know what those look/feel like. I know what fear looks like; I know what joy feels like; I know what anger says….but as of late I am a walking cesspool of butterflies and smiles. WTF is that???
I caught myself smiling at the ceiling at work one morning–lost in thought. I found myself battling butterflies and squishy insides one afternoon. I called Brooklyn yesterday and literally screamed in her ear for no reason other than just to get whatever this crap is out. What is happening to me?
I left my car keys hanging in the car door. I left my office keys hanging in my desk drawer. I can barely string together a sentence or comprehend what people are saying because my brain is like scrambled eggs (gosh that sounds good right now…I’m starving…see what I mean…lost focus). My heart skips beats and I swear I blush about 50 times a day. I am a walking, barely talking skin bag full of squishiness and fog.
Even now I sit with butterflies in my belly, floating from one end to another. Do I have some sort of disease? Is it Shingles? I have had chicken pox, you know. Scarlet Fever? The Flu? It’s not crabs because my gentiles don’t itch. And, no, I am not with child–this uterus is on lock down. Perhaps the Zombie Virus is a real thing and my body is fighting it with a vengeance? Whatever is happening, it feels funky but it feels good. I feel like I am floating beyond Cloud 9.
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 😛
I have probably told this story 90 million times, but for those who do not know I was pretty fat (293 lbs to be exact) for my height and I needed to get rid of it. I had tried everything on this side of the sun and figured the only thing that would get me moving in the right direction was to challenge myself with something way outside of Zone Comfort. So…I did. I decided to run.
I got picked for the Peachtree Road Race that year. I trained. I ran. I wobbled for two days. I ran the following year and the year after that. The third year was the most emotional year. During this time The Marriage was in undeniable trouble and my life was coming apart at the seems. That year, I ran the entire 6.2 miles and Cardiac Hill (killer hill at mile 3). I ran to the finish line with Kay who pushed us and when I crossed I broke down. If I could have laid in the road and wept I would have. I was happy because I had beat myself and won, yet I was sad because I knew that at that moment everything had changed. The Spirit never lies.
The next year I didn’t get in and I didn’t really care to run either. I was sad and angry and I did not have the energy, nor the respect, for the process of running the Peachtree. But oh what a difference a year makes. This year I am celebrating my new found independence the only way I know how. Running. Running my race.
When the email came through congratulating me on making it in, I leaped out of bed and squealed with joy. I get to celebrate independent Me from where it all began. I get to do this not to prove someone wrong or to lose myself. I get to do this on my terms, for my reasons and be present for it all. When I cross the finish line this year, I cannot guarantee I won’t break down again, but I can be sure of one thing: nothing will be the same. I can’t wait to see the amazing things in store.
It is cool how Life works. It is even more astounding how the Universe rises up to meet you where you stand. This phase of my life is about celebration and enjoyment and pacing and exploring. I cannot possibly see tipping my hat to this phase in a more fun, liberating way.
“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….