In the midst of all the fuss and bother of the year’s closing days (clearly, I started this eons ago, in 2019), it’s important to take a moment to be grateful for what we have, lest we focus too much on what we don’t. There is always lack in our lives, but there is ever and always a greater amount of wealth. Day 7 of the Gratitude Challenge requires I select five elements of wealth on which to pontificate. So…
~I have a well developed sense of “No.” It helps that I am not a “pleaser” personality. I can’t make everything all better for EVERYone, as that kind of power is well above my pay grade, and I don’t necessarily want to. Certainly, if I can lighten another’s burden, and it is within my ability, I absolutely will- this is not about serving and helping; this is about overextending oneself, or rather, saying “yes” to everything for fear of disappointing others. The long and short of my philosophy is this: I can’t be everything to all people, and I know my limits. Others’ limits may be broader, others’ may be narrower, but mine are mine, and my obligation is first to God, second to my family, and third to myself & my clients. Everyone and thing else- take a ticket. Maybe you’ll get lucky! Maybe.
~Floor touching? Yes, yes, it sounds rather gross, or like some strange, off-kilter, never-gets-seen-on-TV Olympic event. But for me, “palming the floor” is something I’ve always been able to do- even after 3 hamstring tears 3 years in a row (I have long arms; it helps!). It is a solitary sign of my continued flexibility, even if it isn’t as comfortable or easy to do as it was at 40, nor can I always do it early in the day. Nevertheless, it’s important to maintain “stretchiness,” and I’m grateful that despite injuries and age, I can still touch the floor.
~“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The greatest blessing of my life has been the gift of faith. Despite evidences to the contrary at times in my late teens and early 20s, I have an abiding faith in God & my savior Jesus Christ. There have been difficulties with father-figures in my life, which I will not go into here, but suffice it to say that I stopped referring to anyone as my dad or father nearly two decades ago. Yet, I’ve never felt any animus towards my Heavenly Father; I’ve never sought a “divine feminine” or a heavenly mother to connect with over a father (although, as a latter day saint, I do believe we have a heavenly mother). It’s been quite the contrary, actually. To the core of my soul I know I have a Father in Heaven and that I am his daughter. No idea how or why belief is easy for me; I simply consider it my spiritual gift. And it’s one for which I am eternally grateful.
~Motherhood- not something I ever looked forward to as a child. I am the youngest of five kids, and I had nieces and nephews with whom I had to sit at the holiday kids’ table. Not cool. Hated it. My oldest siblings treated me like one of their kids more than like a little sister. Made me not like being a kid or hanging around kids. As such, I never babysat as a teenager. Couldn’t stand the noise and chaos of children (honestly, I still struggle with that!).
Though I married at 21, Blondie wasn’t born until I was 28, as it took years before I felt ready to be a mom, Gratefully, once I decided it was “time,” it didn’t take long for us to conceive. After that, it didn’t take long for me to determine I wanted to be a stay at home mom. A few months more, and I even decided to breast feed! In total, becoming a mom was a crazy, unexpected paradigm shift for me. And I loved it- hated pregnancy- but loved being a mom.
Fast forward to today, where I have a 20 year old wrapping college in April, then moving on to an internship or two, probably in the L.A. area. She is perusing a dream of working in the film industry, and I don’t expect her to be around our house by the end of 2020. Brownie is 17, and a handful. A very talented, hamstrung by head-issues, handful. She’s a whole lotta me and I pray she can get out of her own way in order to make it to Broadway, or at least close, some day.
Over the last two decades, I’ve laughed and cried through the ups and downs that children add to a life that can be every bit a roller coaster of emotion and a hodgepodge of experiences just in itself. I can see where kids can single-handedly destroy a moms’ feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment (I have cried in my closet, asking God if he sent my kids to the wrong mom); I can enjoy the moments when I’m called “the cool mom,” because of my innate silliness and lack of “helicopter parenting” genes which has so infected society; or I can pat myself lightly on the shoulder for the times my kids say ‘thank you’ for something I did (or didn’t) do that may make it easier for them to spread their wings when the time comes, and it will come.
Now that Blondie and Brownie are both so terribly close to being out of the nest, I probably spend too much time pondering my failings as a mom- things I didn’t do, require, or teach that I “should” have, and the list goes on forever ad infinitum. Still, the highs somehow make up for the lows, and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a mother.
~Friendships have always been difficult for me. On the surface, I’m a somewhat extroverted introvert, drawing my energy from quiet alone time, but in my heart, too, is a sense of loneliness that only friends can fill. In all likelihood, this stems from not having strong relationships with my siblings, so I look to others to step into my void.
As a kid, my church family filled that hole admirably, and as an adult it is friends. But there’s a caveat. Yes, I have my own nuclear family, but because my extended family roots are so tenuous, numerous though they are, I ache to be a part of a larger family, or at least to be cherished almost as much as a family member by friends. My BFF & I are quite close, but I know I am not “family,” not in that truly intimate sense, even though Blondie considers her an aunt.
Beyond her, I find the emotional energy it takes to maintain friendships…draining at times. Granted there were some bonfire-type friendships over the years that left me with 3rd degree burns, but mostly, I just run so hard and fast most days that it’s hard to stop and invite others along; being at different life stages with those with whom you’d like to spend more time doesn’t make things any easier, either!
Still, it is clear to me that we are meant for others, we are social creatures- even the introverts…even the extroverted introverts. So, hard as friendships can be, they must be, and I have committed to dragging myself to more social engagements and inviting more people in, or rather out this year- out to lunch, out to dinner, out to a movie, because there are just too many people that I truly adore, but see far less often than I would like!