I started writing down”Things to remember” a while back, once I realized that I am going to forget so many of these moments. It is mostly for me and maybe it will turn into something bigger, but for now I hope that you can find something useful in my musings in-between the memories.
Things to Remember:
Washing dishes to music at the kitchen sink. Snow still falling outside. John reads to Ana in the front room. The realization that I will miss this as they grow and turn towards other things. Of how much this life is breaking my body and mind and filling my heart. A promise to myself to not mourn (well, not for long, anyways) the “emptiness” of the nest when that far-off, so-close day comes but rather to feel the fullness that moments like these ones bring.
Because even now, I have emptiness. A human, raw, unavoidable emptiness. They say that remembering love and gratitude, loving yourself, generosity- that all these things will make the uneasy feeling go away. But who are we without those depths that reach in the opposite direction of joy? Doesn’t some of the beauty and terror of our lives exist in the fact that the most beautiful moments can be borne of or followed by despair, and that we can find the seeds of great joy within destruction…especially of ourselves?
The first time I gave Ana a nibble of my dark chocolate, I promised her that I would always share my chocolate with her, no matter what. Little did I know how often I would have to hold true to my promise! I eat my words, Ana eats my chocolate…
I usually have some at night, when I finally relax on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. That and a cup of tea are special things that mean a lot to me. It might sound like nothing but at a time in my life where it feels like very little is about me at all, I need little things and little reminders of who I am. And who I am, is a lover of tea and dark chocolate.
The thing that I want to remember about this is that most nights I get very sleepy very fast and so I go upstairs to bed and leave the chocolate out on the arm of the couch and the empty cup of tea on the floor or the table. In the morning, once we head downstairs there is usually a little (or a lot) of cleaning up to do, and so I focus on that and breakfast while Ana plays and Deo jumps in the jumpy thing.
I remember the chocolate at the exact time when I start to hear silence coming from the other room…and silence usually means Ana is getting into some kind of trouble. I run to see what’s up, at which point I catch Ana in varying steps of demolishing my chocolate. Keep in mind that when I share with her I usually bite her off a tiny corner and not much more than that. Then imagine the thrill for her, a big chunk in each hand, running fast away from me, stuffing it in her mouth! She gets really mad when I take it away.
Truly it has become kind of a game for us. A game that always ends in sharing mommy’s chocolate! ❤
I don’t even remember what it was I heard this morning that made me realize that a huge part of overcoming my own challenges is simply (haha…like it’s simple) getting out of my own way. I think it was a song, and the woman was singing beautifully about getting out of her own way to spread joy around the world.
When I am in my own way, I spread no joy. I head down a very predictable spiral of negativity in my head, I think thoughts like:
- “I can’t live like this” Usually when I think this I am overwhelmed by the kids and the house and the sheer amount of doing.
- “I am going to fail” The biggest thing I fear failing in is my family, and it is crystal clear to me why. It is the young kid in me who saw her own family fall apart, and starting my own has brought up (yay!) so many of those issues. In the thick of it though, it is hard for me to see that and I often blame it on my current circumstances or even on John or my kids.
- “I am never going to amount to anything” This one is powerful. I usually start by comparing myself to my friends (most of them are in grad school, I stay home with my kids) and I think that my professional self is going to disappear, or even worse, that she will never emerge.
- “I have done it all wrong” Again, usually borne of unrealistic and unnecessary comparisons. Happens a lot when I feel stuck, or judged.
These are just a few but some of the most powerful ways that I get in my own way. I get in my own way by not taking care of myself (simple ways, like forgetting to eat lunch, or neglecting to do yoga or have just a few minutes to myself), and I get in my own way when I am tired.
But, when I can get out of my own way? That, my friend, is where the magic is. Letting life move. Small, important interactions. Creating. Enjoying the babies. Reaching out to people. Laughing! When I can do this, I start to see a future full of amazing possibilities. A present full of joy. A past that is what it is. Nothing written in stone.
In fact, if I could write just one word in stone…It’d probably be gratitude. I’ve been thinking that we’ll start the tradition of a family gratitude journal, writing down one or more things apiece that happened (apparently writing why they happened can also be very helpful) that we are grateful for. Maybe it will help!
Am I alone in this? I always love to hear feedback! How do you get in (or out of) your own way?