Saturday, June 6, 2015

I brushed past my 10-year-old bundled head to toe, 
shoveling snow from the steps as I barreled down them.
A Diaper Genie, a potty seat and a Johnny-Jump-Up tucked under my arms.
All I could see were his eyes peering out through his face mask.
I kept my head down, so as not to make eye contact with the memories of babies,
nor the one in my path.
He pulled the scarf away from his mouth.
"Mom!  What are you doing with those?!  Are you throwing them away?" he yelled through the heavy wind and snow that blew around us.
I held the little potty seat up over my face and yelled back through the hole in the center.
"Um, are you planning on using this any time soon?"
He snickered and shook his head, got back to his shoveling.
Yes.  Yes.  I'm moving on.  It's time.
This winter, even in the thick of ah, what should we call it. . .my little transformation?
(Bruce/Caitlynn isn't the only one transforming these days.  Mine just isn't as visible.
Refer to previous blog post if you missed the debacle.)
I dropped off bundles of baby things at the local Pregnancy Help place in town.
I was met warmly at the front desk by a kind 60-something,
me, exasperated from all the hauling of the things purposely collecting dust in our basement.
Instead of a "hello" I was greeted with an, "Um, are you sure you're done?" 
As if she knew this was a dilemma in my mind for the past FIVE mother-loving years.
I dropped the two-ton bin of baby onesie's at my feet.
There was a pause.  A long one.
You know how people describe what they think it's like before you die?  
Or when they have a brush with death?
Well, that occurred.  A quick screenplay of my life up to that moment. . .
The positive pee-stick, the first-felt flutters in my belly, those mind-blowing movements of life to solidify their place in my womb and soon entrance in to this world.
That first scream of earth air into their new lungs and that cry of utter, utter happiness and aliveness I felt, from a long delivery(s), God's face smiling from above at this miracle.
THESE miracles.
My God, there's nothing on this earth like it.
A flash of little baby butts bursting out of bathing suit-bottoms,
little fingers wrapped around my own as they fall asleep in my arms, their little breath warming the crux of my neck, early morning snuggles in the middle of our bed and quiet walks in the stroller at dusk to wind them down while the sun set.
Chubby little rubber band thighs and feet stumbling awkwardly across our wood floors to my arms.
Shit.  The memories.  The joy.  The pain.  It's too much.
"Yes.  Yes we are.  I'm pretty. . .sure?" I responded.
I don't doubt I will be caught up from time to time in what was.
(Actually, I'm sobbing as I write this.  So there you go.)
That those beautiful moments and memories of my life as a young mother, pregnancy, birth, babies, breastfeeding, 
will be willed forward and reminisced over through pictures and stories for the rest of my life and theirs.
But the importance of finally acknowledging I can't go back and it's perfectly okay to move ahead.
Difficult, but good.

So I spent months (ahem, years,) thinking,
brooding over this prior to finally arriving to the dark corners of my basement (and soul,) approaching all those bins labeled "bottles" and "burp cloths" and "jackets," with WILLINGNESS, terrified, but ready to clean house and let go.
It doesn't feel like I thought it would.  But then again, my expectations for anything are pretty low.
So it just is.
Finally giving myself the opportunity to step up my motherhood duties to be more to the three I have,
wholeheartedly, instead of half-assed.
So now what?
I've thought about taking that, ALL of this, to a therapist.  
(If I didn't make this clear in my last post, I'm all for therapy.  I love therapists.  I've been with some good ones who helped me dig out of some big holes.  Don't begrudge help from someone.  Just TALKING to another human who will listen without judgement and offer suggestions or simply a hand to hold, can be a Godsend.)

But there are so many questions I know have no answers yet, no matter who I talk to.
So I'm letting those be. 
And you know, talking to God more about things (which one of my lifelong friends is quite excited about, as she's been trying to sell me on God for years.)

But it helps.  To say to Him, (yes, capital H,) "I have no idea what to do here, so. . .um. . .maybe if you could help? Or at least steer me in the right direction?  Because I'm totally at a loss and can't seem to see my way out of this tunnel."
Rarely do I get a direct answer, but learning to surrender to the questions themselves,
helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The most challenging thing, I'm learning, is to abandon ourselves to the day (whether you believe in God or a higher "being" or not.)
Surrendering to whatever comes.
Living this way is one of my biggest challenges and (as you might have read,) left me in some despairing moments.  
Feeling overwhelmed by the state I was in and all the unanswered questions in my mind.
And throw on some of the most bewildering physical symptoms 
and you've got yourself a nice little mid-life crisis sandwich.
So, while I learn to do that, I parent.  The best I can.
(Well, not really the "best," but working towards that.)  
Back to the basics. . .before I had photography and Yoga and writing and everything else to distract me.
My children have never known such freedom. . .to eat breakfast in front of the TV, to have unlimited access to all electronics all hours of the day (working on that one.)  
To have a mother say YES!  to everything because she's too tired to defend a NO!
(That was this winter.  It was kind of pathetic.  And continues a bit.)

As much as I have felt guilt and shame for not being a fully "committed" parent, there were a few times I kept each one home from school for the company, to have someone just to BE with.  
Jack nearly lost his mind when I told him he could skip school to hang at home with me one day.
As if it wasn't amazing enough to skip school and lay around in pajama's on a Tuesday,
I took him to Buffalo Wild Wings (God, kill me now.  Please.)  
The over-stimulation of the senses, the going out in to the daylight, (sporting sweat pants, yes,) the getting there, the sitting upright, ACK!
But we went, because you know, that God thing. . ."Keep going."
I sat across from my beautiful 10-year-old man on the brink of teenager-hood, enjoying every second of ditching school per his own MOTHER'S suggestion, 
his colossal cherry coke and getting to experience hot wings when he would otherwise be suffering through lukewarm Carne Asada in the school cafeteria.
I sat like a turd in sweatpants, willing myself to be present.
"So, mom.  You seem kind of. . .ah, depressed."
How could he tell?  Was it the unwashed/unbrushed hair that gave it away?
Or the hangdog look about my face?
And then the guilt and shame washed over me.
And how the hell does he know what that word means?  Depressed?
We've never used that word in our house.
He's a smart kid.
"I'm okay honey.  Just tired today."
So disturbing.   So humbling to not be full of strength, vigor and vitality whether truly ill or in mental anguish and unable to show up for your children.  
But we do, with will and some sort of God-given shove, lots of rest and prayers to God to JUST help me be better for my kids.
A better mom. 
That's all I want.
Never mind photography right now.  Yoga.  The endless stream of ego-driven projects.  Whatever else I was doing before to feed my ego and make me feel like I was too good to "JUST" be a mom.
I just want to be awake for this.
For them.
(A walk in the rain with Jack.)

My unraveling to my true self includes learning to BE in the world without an agenda or ego and wow, sure isn't for the faint of heart.  
It seems an impossible feat most days.
Our ego's and need for approval, acknowledgement, the constant urge to receive those little moments fed through Facebook and Instagram (I'm seriously guilty of that,) is a hard thing to disconnect from and not have to rely on to feed our soul's need for love and recognition.

But I want to be able to boast about my weakness and vulnerabilities and overwhelming fear, more then my strength or superficial successes or endeavors of the day.

I wanted so badly to be strong and in control and in charge, but realized the colossal illusion of living that way, as painful as it is to have to back-track to simplicity and the bare bones of my human self, is the only way.
The only way to true freedom and a life without fear.

So what do we do when we've opened the "Pandora's box" of our past thinking, judging, living and learn that, wow, that really wasn't conducive to true "success" at all?

Well, you just move forward.  You don't rehash, try to figure out, try to explain, dwell.
You keep putting one foot in front of the other, let natural healing take place as the layers fall away, one, by one, by one (so frickin' slow.)
Not for your husband or your children (although their little faces and the future of your marriage are great motivation,)
you do it for yourself.  
Because you OWE it to yourself and this life you've been given,
to do something with this pain and God-willing, use it to help someone else.


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