Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's fall :)

With fall comes nostalgia for me. I'm not sure why. As a child fall meant back to school, allergy attacks, closing the family pool, no more reading Stephen King til 3 am, and an alarm clock. But it also meant back to school shopping (we only got new clothes a few times a year when I was growing up) and a fresh start. Maybe the boys would like me that year. Maybe the girls would want to be my friend. Maybe I would have a really cool teacher again like I did in first and second grades (that didn't happen again until SIXTH grade!) And there was usually a play, theatre classes at the Players Guild...

As an adult Fall meant two of the best acting roles of my life- Laura in Glass Menagerie, Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. The former was the only play I did directed by a teacher of mine who has since passed away. I performed it with 2 wonderful friends and my mother. The latter was my introduction to the Kent Stark Theatre, which ended up a pivotal part of my future. Six months after that show I got divorced. The following Fall I did TWO plays at once - something I would never have been able to pull off while married. They were The Grapes of Wrath (with my oldest son Tanner
and...Independence (fitting title for that year ;)
The Fall after that I was enrolled in KSU returning for my BA. Going back to school was so rewarding it added new layers of nostalgia.

Ironically, Fall also housed one of the worst moments for my family. My brother was paralyzed by a drunk driver the fall of 1980. But I think the shock of that experience makes it disappear from my fall nostalgia because it comes to mind more factually, sort of an incidental afterthought, compared to my other fall memories.

Maybe I hold onto to fall because the early fall of 1980 was the last time my family was normal. That's another post ;)

So back to this post. It is fall. And I like fall. It calms me and I drink it in.

I couldn't wait for fall this year. After a summer with bored unappreciative kids lying around the house watching TV, forcing me to demand they go outside and enjoy the summer, I couldn't WAIT for school to start. Last spring the kids kept a calendar marking off the days until summer vacation. Then in the summer I turned it into a "Days til school starts" calendar.

The satisfaction as they loudly protested my calendar? Priceless!

So school starts (no these aren't all MY children- that's Tanner's best friend Ben and Adri's best friend Ashlee.)
Now I have an hour or two to myself between Anna sleeping til 8, and when she naps in the afternoon. With the older kids at school no one runs in and out the door letting it SLAM! And no one argues with their little brother til he yells and wakes up the baby. No one raids the pantry and fridge all day so that when I go to make a cake one day I find my frosting has been contaminated with two fingers dipped in, the lid reattached and placed ever so inconspicuously back into place in the pantry.

So I should be ecstatic, yes? Hmmmm.... not quite. Instead this fall hasn't quite kicked into that comforting soothing concoction I usually experience. This fall I have been struggling to find my gratitude. And for me, that's an unacceptable place to find myself.

And so begins my introspection...

My home is full with 2 teens, a ten year old, a two year old, and a husband who is very busy with his day job and starting his own business in the evening. In the next month or so we plan on adding a puppy to the mix. As I go through my day picking up after everyone sometimes it feels like though everyone contributes to the mess, no one helps with their part of the house work. And when I ask for help I am met with disgruntled commentary. When I voice my feelings about this everyone gets defensive.

Sometimes, I resort to the tactics of mine enemy. I know (just as well as my kids know mine) precisely what guilty mom buttons to push. I end up feeling like the biggest martyr/nag and doing stuff angrily and loudly on my own rather than ask. I check out and shut down. And when Mama's not happy...NOBODY'S happy.

So I have been reflecting some more on what might be bothering me. And here's a BIG one (no pun intended.) I'm still 25 pounds over my ideal weight. In fairness I was ten over when I got pregnant with Anna. But...ten? Big whoop. Twenty-five? Not so cute. Not just chubby. OVERWEIGHT. I have not had the motivation and will power to stop eating desert and work out. Or I do work out every day for months and because I still over eat nothing comes off. OR I eat healthier but then find it hard to get into an exercise routine. I lose and regain the same 5 pounds over and over again. What's up with that?I have been here before. I have been here after each pregnancy. With Tanner I lost it all plus ten by the time he was 8 months old. With Noah I didn't until he was two...AND I got divorced. At the time I blamed my weight problems on my inability to flourish in my relationship. But now? I have a fantastic relationship. I struggle with relating to the kids sometimes (never trust a parent who says they understand adolescents) but I LOVE being married to my husband, and nurturing Anna.

But I yell at my kids. Not like regular pick up your toys stuff. YELL. Cuss. Give them plenty of ammo for their future tell- all book about their mom and her "trucker with a sailor's thesaurus" expletive repertory. The kids are rude, unmotivated, act entitled, and ungrateful. They snap back at us which creates a cyclical discourse of anger and tension. Anna now says "Gosh!" under her breath when corrected, or an unenthusiastic, "K." when I tell her to stop doing things. This she picked up from her siblings.

Where's it all coming from?

I realize now that I used to take care of and nurture everyone, starting with me. And now it all goes to little Anna- who deserves it by the way. But there has to be a reason I keep giving my all to her while I neglect everyone else including me. Where am I? Who am I? How the heck did I get here??? took me over five years, one heartbreak I thought would kill me, and some illnesses that could get here. I now have a wonderful marriage,a degree, a baby, a complete family life. And some days I still work on appreciating all of it.

So this fall....rather than savoring the season I find myself romanticizing my single days.
I don't have much time to myself anymore. And I miss the independence, solitude, and self esteem I had then. When I was single I was engaged with the world instead of sitting at home with a 20 month old cleaning, doing laundry and dishes all day and and cooking and dishes again all evening. When I was single I was so young and free and thin and beautiful!

(Ummm... AND lonely, AND exhausted, AND wondering if I'd ever know romance again, AND afraid of going bankrupt to finish my degree. However my mind is very adept at playing down that part when I am in the throes of romanticizing!)

So while I'm romanticizing away of my glory days as an independent-single-working-mom- college student-actress, who could drink wine, sing and dance all night long

Anna comes up to me and says, "Up...hug pweeze mom-mom." She struggles to traverse onto the couch into my lap and hugs me like she never wants to let go. I remember what it was like to not see my kids (five and two when I divorced) for up to a week at a time.

Later an exhausted Rick rubs my back and asks, "How was your day? Did you work on your novel or play today?" I remember when no one really cared if my back hurt or if I was working on a creative venture.

The next morning before school Adri melts into my arms for the first real hug we've exchanged in months. Tears flow. I wonder what would have become of her without me in her life.

Recently Noah asked Tanner to do the dishes with him without me asking them. TWICE. I think of the times they gave me a back rub and Tanner took pride in his ability to get the knots out of my shoulders.


I know I need this and this is where I belong. Undoubtedly this phase of my life -saved it. If I hadn't rested the past year I might have just collapsed!

However, the rest period is over. I earned it. I needed it. But now it's time to get serious and lose 30 pounds so I can look like this again. (Yep I know I said only fifteen to pre-pregnancy and 25 to ideal...but I'm goin' for it!)

It's time to work on engaging myself with the rest of the world again. It's time for creativity before I go CRAZY! I have never in my life gone FIVE years without doing a play. If I don't get back to it soon, I never will again.

Alas there's no theatre that interests me right now.

So... I am writing a play. It's about a deaf blind woman who was institutionalized in an insane asylum when her father passed away. She stayed there for NINETEEN years until she was in her seventies. A deaf advocate found her then and fought for her release. She then went on to attend college, work with deaf and sight impaired teens, and traveled the state lecturing. If that doesn't encourage us more able bodied folks, then I don't know what can!

An online friend asked for inspirational words this week. So while I looked up my favorites for her I thought they'd fit right in here.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them."
~Louisa May Alcott

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well."
~Diane Ackerman

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."
~ Sydney J. Harris

"And yet dreams require sacrifices. The more magnificent the dream, the more one had to be willing to give up in order to own it."
~Lorraine Heath

"There are always two choices, two paths to take. One is easy. And it's only reward is that it's easy."!

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart."
~Helen Keller

"There's a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go."
~Tennessee Williams

"Don't search for the answers which would not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, LIVE your way to the answer."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


tiggysmum70 said...

All I can say is... WOW how insightful. I got lost in your post. It was very well written and made me feel what you were talking about. I too have to lose weight, take time for myself, and find the patience for my son. Recently I have been really short with him.

I remember the fall scent of the air. Reminds me of football, hay rides, and the end of summer!


state of grace said...

Thanks Tigs!

We can work out "together"!

I enjoyed my visit with the little man and DG this summer when she stopped by. He had his feelings hurt when my older kids (who had their cool thirteen year old cousin visiting to show off for) didn't play with him :( Teenagers!


Design Goddess said...

I was sure hoping that you acknowledged those times during your single period when you stayed at home....and I happened to be there too. We had ideas of grandeur. Thinking that there had to be something better for two single women to do on a Friday or Saturday night than rent a movie, drink wine, and order in. I am so glad that you've found your life and know that you truly appreciate it more than you think!

state of grace said...

We were very happenin' and wild back then, eh?

Remember when I started asking to get my sons on New Year's Eve after three years of sitting at home watching Dick Clark with one to three of my closest friends? The only New Years I went to a party was the year I went to the gay bash. Best food, lovely decor and kissed at midnight by five men!!!!!Whoohoo!


april said...

Great post - so glad to be catching up with you again. The play you are writing sounds amazing! Can't wait to hear how it all goes.

state of grace said...

Welcome back April!

I missed your blog :) I will be doing a catch up post this week about our crazy lovely beach vacation a few months ago. Then I will be catching everyone up on my latest venture as a playwright :)