Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.


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Nostalgia [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] noun 1. a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time

DNE age 7

As summer winds down and the kids head back to school, we fall into my favorite time of year. But the arrival of cooler temperatures and changing leaves always makes me nostalgic for my childhood, of which there are two versions. Today I’m yearning for the idealistic one. The one where my sister and I were home for the entire summer break, (which used to be closer to 3 months and not this “barely there” summer vacation our kids get!) The summer where we built popsicle stick houses and raced our Charlie’s Angels van against our Barbie corvette down the driveway. The summers that included playing with all the kids on our street until the sun went down, which is when we should make our way back home. The summers where we rode our bikes to the mall, and walked to the library. The days when I could follow my dad on his mail route, which just happened to include our street and surrounding ones, where neighbors would yell, “Hey little David!” because I was his mini me. Or the days when my mother would put on a .45 record and get her groove on to Minnie Ripperton or the Bee Gees, and I would sit and watch her, taking in the words and sounds. I couldn’t fully comprehend the meaning, but today when I hear “Back Down Memory Lane”  or “How Deep is Your Love” I can close my eyes and transport to my easy childhood.  Now, when I reread my childhood diaries, they are filled with angst about being in love with just about everybody, being overweight, overdeveloped and bullied. But nostalgia is funny in the way that when you replay the events of your past, it can be as though there is an instagram filter, shading the not too pleasant parts and illuminating the wonderfulness of the moment. Middle class life in suburbia. Ahh, good times, good times. If only I could have cherished it more.

I’m sure one day, years from now I will look back on this time and remember how great it is. Raising my beautiful kids, finding my voice, building a community. But more often than not, I find myself saying,  “I don’t want to adult today!”  I long for those simple times when my meals were cooked for me, my clothes were washed for me and I was given allowance on my Dad’s payday. I possessed a talent that granted me confidence despite the bullying. I was known as “the girl who could sing.” I didn’t have to do anything but be me.

Now ‘being me’ means worrying all the time about everything! How can I stretch this money until next payday? (Nevermind, I’m buying shoes!) How do I get the kids to learn responsibility and do chores (unlike myself growing up)? How do I give my kids all of me without losing myself? How do I stay connected to my husband when we’re both so busy trying to make a better life that we hardly see each other? How do I comfort friends and loved ones through illnesses and unexpected losses that usually come around this age? How do I keep us safe in a world where black people can’t even be happy without getting in trouble, let alone drive, walk down the street or enjoy a friend’s pool party? It’s no wonder I sometimes need to bury myself in nostalgia-it’s self preservation!

Adulting is hard. But there is something redeeming about being grown and that is the gift of wisdom and perspective. I know, having lived almost 42 years that things always get better, that you can’t live in the past and that as an adult, you can choose to keep the parts of your life that you like and disregard the parts that you don’t. I am responsible for creating the life I want. And that is both hard and simple.


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My Stint as a Stay-At-Home-Mom

spent

Its been almost 2 months since I lost my job and about 3 weeks since the kids have been out of camp. As a working full time mother, I used to fantasize about being home with the kids and I’d concoct a whole agenda for our days: we’d do storytime either at the library or at home, then we’d go to the playground or the rec center so we could get some exercise. We’d follow that with a healthy and nutritious lunch, some quiet time in the afternoon for reading, writing and puzzles. Then while I prepared dinner, the kids would have some free time to play or watch a couple of their shows. We’d sit down to have a home cooked meal and have our bedtime wind down activities. Ahhh, dreams!

What has actually happened is quite ugly and very different from what I just described. Xander the early bird, usually wakes up on his own before everyone, so he sets himself up with his TV shows of Pokemon and Bey Blades, while I sleep in. Then Addie and Andrew wake up, they all fight over who’s turn it is to watch their show, nobody takes the dog out (oh,we got a dog!) and then Drew wakes me up to say that Mimi pooped on the floor. I get up, clean the poop, then try to make a healthy breakfast, which hardly anyone eats, because while I slept, they gorged on fruit snacks and poptarts. Then I shower and figure out what we need to do that day. And its always the same, either grocery shopping, laundry, or somebody’s appointment somewhere. Then I have to scramble to figure out lunch, because by now everyone is starving. In a panic, I resort to hotdogs or chicken nuggets and argue with them over whether or not they can have juice, which I try to ration out every couple of days, trying to explain to them how important it is to drink water. By now, they are bouncing off the walls, as am I because I’ve already heard “mommy can I have….” 1,600 times. At this time, I need to start thinking about dinner, so as not to find myself in that last minute food panic again. I run through the options of who will eat what based on what we’ve recently had, with Drew’s allergies. Contemplating dinner alone is exhausting. I am overwhelmed, not just with food options but with the stink that is coming off these kids. How are they so funky when they’ve barely done anything all day? I dread the fight that’s coming later when I force them to take showers, which they will debate is unnecessary because they aren’t going anywhere.

Rinse and repeat. For 17 days. We manage to squeeze in a mini vacation which is a wonderful break from the monotony described above, but as we return, school begins the next day. A whole new kind of crazy is set to begin.

My conclusions are that this shit is hard. Parenting that is. Whether you stay home or go away to grown up land, its all hard. Trying to produce happy, healthy, productive little people, and create a clean, happy home, while maintaining a bit of sanity is hard. Because while all this stuff is going on, there’s more real life stuff also happening. Like unexpected deaths, birthdays, bills to pay, hair to wash (believe me, for a naturalista that is a job in and of itself,) work to be done on the house, jobs to apply for, etc.  I’m always striving towards balance and as of yet, I have not found it.

We always think the grass is greener on the other side.  Oh, if only I didn’t have work in the way, I could be a better mother! I could get so much accomplished and be present for family! Remove work and there are still the same 24 hours in a day. Its not until you are on the other side that you realize that most of the grass is brown on any side. It comes down to what color tint is on your sunglasses.

I could judge myself harshly for what’s gone down these past few weeks, (which I’ve done) or I can look at it as the break we all needed. I’ve been going, going, going trying to be a super hero for my family since its inception in 2006 and sometimes, you need to let crazy happen. Without those poptarts, how will they learn to appreciate the home cooked meals? I push them while they’re in school, so a few weeks of Uncle Grandpa won’t undo their intellect. I’m often the last one to go to sleep and the first one up during the school year, so I deserve those days of sleeping in.

My stint as a stay at home mom won’t last too much longer because I actually got my old job back, holla!! But for the time I have remaining, I will embrace those messy days and ugly moments because that’s part of the balance, and this whirlwind called life.