It’s a Process

lunaAnother pomegranate martini lingered in front of me; its sweet red nectar glistening in the glow of lowered lights and laughter. Two of my girlfriends flanked the table and I was absorbed by their presence.

I’m realizing that everyone suffers from some level of loneliness or discontentment. The stay-at-home mom, the working mom, the mom with grown kids, the working woman with no kids, married or not married…we are all the same. We fill the emptiness with food and drinks, shopping, random busyness, excessive exercise or dieting, unfinished projects, sometimes absorbed in self-doubt and gossip. We sabotage our relationships by assuming our significant other innately knows our sadness, this unexplained emptiness, and we carry secret grudges that spill out in bursts of unexpected emotions.

We are surprised by our seemingly sudden lack of emotional endurance and struggle to get through each mundane task.

The first week of school I overheard a group of moms half-joking about their increased anxiety and chaos of trying to maneuver successfully through school schedules, carpool lines, after school activities, dinner, and homework while still keeping the household together and their husbands happy.

“It’s all a process,” one mom said to the other, “eventually it works itself out.”

But maybe it doesn’t ever really “work itself out”.  Perhaps what really needs to happen is that we work it out with ourselves, change our perspective and expectations of what life is supposed to look like in this moment.

There have been different moments in life when I felt content and filled with purpose. Some moments lasting weeks, months and years. Some simply just that, a moment. And then there have been all the “in-between”, the days where the world felt like it was suffocating me and abandoning me all at the same time.

So there I was, having dinner and drinks with a couple of friends last night. We were doing what we’ve done a thousand times before, venting about life and love. There was a fair amount of wallowing in self-pity too, swallowing up the conversation in “If only” and “I need” statements. But as I replayed the conversations in my head this morning, when I really listened to myself, it struck me that these feelings of discontentment are just strands of all the things about myself I don’t really like but could change with a little effort. My loneliness is also me digging in my heels, desperately trying to stand still as my children and my life  have marched forward.

It truly is always a process and a constant state of change. Life doesn’t just work itself out – we have to work harder at finding our own happiness, seeing our own worth and moving towards it every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Here

5-minute-friday-1I have five minutes to write, five minutes to breathe creativity into my day. But nothing enters my head or rests on my heart this morning. I listen for inspiration. I listen to the purr of the refrigerator and the heavy breathing of the furnace. My mind is a jumble of thoughts. There are dirty dishes piled high in the sink, beds unmade, and clothes needing to be washed. My desk is buried under running schedules and history books. I’m not even sure what is for dinner tonight.

I’m still thinking about this week’s unfinished lessons, only 8 more weeks of school. I panic, a little. There is still so much left I want to accomplish. We are studying force and motion right now and it makes me think about moving forward. It makes me think about pushing past obstacles. It makes me think about finding balance.

My legs are sore and achy from pushing myself to finally start running again. I have only completed two workouts this week, and yet it feels more like twenty.

Here is slow and steady, spitting rain speckles the windows. Luna sleeps soundly in her bean-bag chair, curled up in a ball so tight someone might mistake her for a furry pin cushion. The Hare will sleep for another two hours. She will have to be woken up, in fact, or she might sleep until noon. I am tempted to go back to bed too. I could work on incomplete chores, I could print and prep next week’s lessons or spend more time on the couple of volunteer things I need to finish, but I won’t. Instead I will have another cup of coffee, listen to the morning birds chirping and read.

Outside it is cold and damp here, and I miss my family living states away. I miss my mom. I miss being in school. I miss sunshine and flip-flops. I miss lunch outside, sipping freshly made Margaritas on the rocks, laughing with my friends. I miss the smell of Mountain Laurels and Magnolias.

And yet, in my heart, there is no question that here is still the only place I really want to be. Here is where my life resides. And it is a good one.

Five Minute Friday: After

5-minute-friday-1As I sink deep under the covers, the dog snuggles on my left side, DW on my right, and my breathing slows down. I arrange and rearrange the covers and the pillows, prop them up higher, pound them down lower. Luna backs into me every time I move, trying to bury herself in my side. DW quickly drifts off to sleep. All the muscles in his body relax at once, his face buried in his pillow.

My mind wanders, picks up pieces of the day. At first I struggle with guilt for all the things left undone, and all the things I shouldn’t have done. But the longer I lay there, the longer my eyes adjust to the dimness and my ears zero in on creaky floor boards or the rush of the heater, I relax too. Because after every long day, every mistake, or half-finished project, I know that I can come back to this moment.

This moment of quiet and safety. This moment of calmness and peace. My family is asleep in their beds. The bills are paid. Our health is well. My marriage is solid. Before I turn out the lights, or shut my eyes one last time, I reflect on the goodness of my life. Regardless of how often the pendulum of emotions sway back and forth through out the day, there is always one moment that resolves me. There is one moment after repeated self-deprecating  that I force myself to shrug off the burdens and open my heart to joy.

And then I am ready for the morning after.

 

We all need our own space

Although it was the right decision to home school this year, it did not come without some sacrifice. My time, attention and goals have been revamped to accommodate one busy fifth grader during the day and the rest of my family in the evenings and weekends. It has been a wonderful transition, but still requires work and compromise.

Originally, our living room was set up as a partial sitting area and work space when we moved in a few years ago. My laptop and writing took up one small corner, while my music stand took up another. The room was multifunctional but still a pretty space. But as we turned it into a home office and classroom, the space went from pretty to practical. I was a little disappointed to see the overhaul, but knew that having a dedicated work space was going to be essential to a well-organized school year. Having school on our kitchen table was not a good option, and I was optimistic that placing my beloved love-seat in our bedroom would still carve out a little place for me to steal a few moments alone with my thoughts and a cup of coffee.

house organization 006
A bit of a dumping pile at the back of the room, but a manageable mess.

Things never turn out the way you think. For starters, I have a preteen and a teenage daughter who both need their own spaces to entertain friends or even watch their favorite TV programs. In addition, I have a very hard-working and generous husband that needs a space to regroup after a long day or week of work. On any given day, especially if we are all home, the family room belongs to The Hare, the finished basement belongs to The Tortoise, the bedroom belongs to DW and the playroom is overrun with Barbies and Lego. It isn’t very comfortable to sit at a desk to read a good book or talk to a friend. The dining room isn’t any cozier either. In fact, it is even more sterile since we aren’t a formal dining room kind of family.  The dinky little table in that room was actually the table I bought for my first apartment back in 1995 and the other two large pieces are family heirlooms. I was prepared for being a little home bound and isolated this year. What I wasn’t prepared for was feeling displaced.

Since July, I have found myself wandering from room to room trying to find my own space. I gave up the one room of the house that wasn’t over run with toys or computers. There were no piles of laundry staring me in the face, no bins of art supplies or unfinished projects. It was quiet and peaceful, a place to just “be”.  As a mom, I know there are many times in our parental journey that we must compromise parts of ourselves to help the family as a whole, but sometimes, we sacrifice just a little too much and risk losing a part of ourselves.

On Friday, I had an epiphany.

“DW,” I asked tentatively, ” how would you feel about getting rid of our dining room?”

“Sure, I’ve never wanted a dining room anyway,” he responded, “but what would we do with that space?”

“How about turning it into the office and classroom space?” I asked.

“Makes sense,” he said, “then it would be right off the kitchen.”

A few minutes of silence passed.

“But then we would have an empty room,” DW stated.

“Sort of. Temporarily,” I answered.

I could see dollar signs floating over DW’s head and his eyes glaze over a little. We’ve been married long enough that he knows that there is usually a price tag attached to a room rearrange.

“Sounds great,” he said without flinching.

And so, the transformation started Friday night and finished Monday evening. The last thing to do is remove the chandelier from the dining room and swap it out with the light fixture over our kitchen table. The damage hasn’t been too bad. One chaise lounge, an area rug and a bench have been purchased for the new living room. Everything else was re-purposed furniture hiding all over our house. The only glaring hole is the love-seat from our bedroom that is now back in its original position. Our bedroom had been reconfigured to accommodate it last summer, and DW has grown quite attached to lounging on it in front of the television. That purchase will need to be made soon or risk him displacing The Hare from the family room, forcing her to hide in my bed eating snacks, to watch HGTV.

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The re-purposed dining room as an office and classroom
Living Room Re-do
My new space from all angles

My house has suddenly felt so much larger over the last couple of days, and I feel more at home. This morning I sat in the sea-foam green chaise lounge drinking a steaming cup of coffee, watching faint snow flurries outside the windows. There were no projects or workbooks to distract me, no laundry or toys to overwhelm. I got to enjoy the moment, prepare for the rest of the day.

And then tonight, I’ll drink a hot cup of tea in there and call it a day.

A good day.

Girls Night Out

At 10:30 pm last night I was zipping down the highway with the sunroof open, letting the night air dance through my hair. Banging bass beats of music rumbled around the interior. My rock star partner and I were singing at the top of our lungs  the lyrics to Taio Cruz‘s Dynamite.

throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Sayin’ ay-oh, gotta let go
I wanna celebrate and live my life
Sayin’ ay-oh, baby let’s go

I felt free and young. Memories of Friday nights cruising around singing A-ha and Journey in the car with my high school girlfriends flashed in my mind. My car-mate and I couldn’t stop giggling and singing all the way to Chili’s to eat celebratory desserts. We had just spent four hours at a community theater audition for the musical Annie. We were both fueled by leftover adrenaline. Vocals were strong, smiles were big and readings were enthusiastic, overshadowing inexperienced dancing skills and first time jitters. Optimism is good.

Yet this elation was more than that – it was knowing that this was not my dad’s car, but mine. The money in my pocket was not from babysitting. At the end of the evening I would be sleeping next to my sweet husband in our home.

But the best part of the night?

That this was not my girlfriend next to me but my daughter, The Tortoise.