Normal is a four letter word. Extraordinary is the new black.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Embracing inner conflict

Last week I left the ranks of parents, who ferry children around with them during the day.

So many times in the past year, I have looked forward to this time with excitement, anxiety, impatience, fear, joy, and confusion.

We are well into our second week of school, and already into a routine. However, there is a keen awareness that parts of that routine are shiny and new and will fall aside fairly soon.

I made them sit on the grass for this photo, because to me, dead grass means we had a great summer.

For now, I am enjoying being the family that makes lunches, and lays out the next days outfits the night before. It's lovely to be the parents who read and complete school paperwork on time. Soon enough, it's gonna be rushed morning lunches, mad searching through the laundry pile for socks, and momma confessing to the office that I need another copy of the field trip form because I have once again lost it.

I've had more years of scattered school mornings, than organized. While I can claim to love the relaxed calm that comes with these organized mornings, it is a reality, that I am more inclined to drag everyone out after dinner for running races, or some time at the park. Before we know it, it's an hour past bedtime and, 'Oh well.'

Organization is nice, but it's not often the stuff that memories are made of.

Last night, Lorelei laid in bed with her dad and I after dinner. We had planned on an evening game of tennis (for hubby and I) and chasing each other in the field (for the kids). However, it was clear our girl needed a little reconnection.

She laid next to me and chattered in the way she often does, and we listened. Then she turned, looked me straight in the eyes and said, "I'm scared to be an adult."

It caught me off guard. I looked right back at her, smiling gently, and said, "There is a long time between Kindergarten and adult. By the time you get there you will be ready, but right now, your job is to be four and enjoy that."

Later, thinking about it, I realized that this answer wasn't entirely correct. Right now, she is learning that it's okay to have conflicting emotions. She was so confused to be excited about school, but also scared. She struggled with the idea that it was okay to miss me, but also be happy to start an adventure independent of our little corner of the world.

The better answer to her question would have been, being an adult is a lot like starting Kindergarten. It is an exciting freedom, and a terrifying responsibility. It is awesome independence, and longing for the safety of your childhood home. Like any big change though, you find your way through the conflict, or you get stuck. Don't get stuck.

Don't get stuck. I need to let those words wash over me. See, this momma is also working through her conflicting emotions on this next milestone. Having already rode life's roller coaster through some big ones; growing up, starting a life with someone, starting a family, dealing with challenges in our kids and family, it surprised me that this little dip was scary. I should be riding with both arms in the air, laughing and embracing the ride. After 13 years of having a little human home with me, it's time to embrace the conflict that is moving on to the next step.

There is freedom in realizing that I'm just as scared as my girl, but I'm also just as excited. Raising these little humans, I haven't been holding my breath, waiting for my turn. Rather, I found another joy to embrace, because I knew that while 13 years is long, it is also fleeting and in a blink you wake, and we are moving forward.

This is a new world and it's taken a little while to figure out the answer to the question, "What are you going to do with yourself now?"

While it is simply people making conversation, I will confess that this question started a panic in me. I didn't have an answer, and that felt indulgent and frivolous.

So now, I sit, for all intents and purposes, a tenured momma. Job security should be a given, but questions over the last two weeks imply that my job is being phased out, and it's time to seek employment elsewhere.

I toyed with flippant answers, "I'm going to look into this whole soap opera/bon bon thing everyone's always going on about."
However, then I realized that my answer is, "I don't know, and I like it that way."

I am a tenured momma, on a research sabbatical from expectations and perceptions on how I spend my time. With a child barely two weeks into her educational career, a little boy, who just happens to have autism, in a transition year, and a middle schooler, who needs present parents more than ever; it feels to me as though my duties and expectations have merely shifted, and this corporation still requires it's head zookeeper.

Soon enough, I'm sure I will be dropping them off in a rush, having places to be, appointments to keep. However, right now, it feels reluctant, and foreign, and it's really okay that it feels that way.

I started a sabbatical bucket list, realizing that I'm 36 and I've never learned to juggle. After 13 years of child wrangling, I've definately earned a leave of absence to breathe out. To some, that may seem indulgent and frivolous, but to me, it's what is right, and really, that's okay.


  1. As always a wonderful read. I love that i am miles away and your writing style makes me feel like we are just chatting over a cup of coffee/tea ..You are also making me consider my recent choices.

    This year I have decided to take a (small, but kinda big step for me)and work at a lodge (cooking) for 9 days(I will be staying there as it is out in Bittern lake)

    This is big for me because, I am (mostly) the organized, scheduled, everything laid out and lunches packed the night before type of mom and it freaks me out to be relinquishing my hard won control over the day to day school,doctors and therapy appointments and routines.

    I hope that what I have in place will be easy enough for Hubbs and Nana to continue while I am away.. It's funny how it gets to the point where being a mom is such a part of who we are and a major part of our identiy. and for me to n=be away sans kids means I will be leaving part of myself behind.

    But if I continued to turn down these opportunities when asked, what would I be teaching my kiddo's?
    I want them to know that it's ok to try something new and go out on a limb. I guess it's my job to lead by example,even if it means letting go and trusting that the others stepping in for me will do my "mom" jobs just as well as I can do even if they don't lay out the clothes the night before...


  2. I love it. I still have two kids at home and am scared of sending them off in the next three years. I don't much feel like tenured mama yet! But when I do, I will embrace the frivolity, because I've earned it.

  3. Beautifully written as ever Lisa. I loved the photo of your journal, how many people still write things down? and the last photos of your loved ones walking off on their own....gasp!

    Wonderful reply for how to deal with growing into an adult...Ive bookmarked it for later :-)

  4. You capture those feelings so well. I took a break at the beginning of this year to assess where I was headed, it was lovely. Still not sure where I'm going but I'm enjoying the journey and I hope you do too.

  5. I am a teacher and would love to use the photo of the young boy walking away down the street as a story prompt for my class. Will you give permission for me to copy it and use in my classroom lesson? We are talking about inner conflicts in a story.
    Hope to hear back from you.


Thanks for stopping in for coffee. I welcome a good conflab, and appreciate different ideas and opinions, and am always happy to listen to another take on things, just keep it respectful.