When I turned 10...
Gosh at first I didn't remember much about that milestone into double digits. My initial thoughts conjured up a three tiered cake with a golden ballerina on top. That ballerina still exists somewhere in my father's house, as well as in this badly fading photo. But after I started digging through my childhood photo album I discovered that cake was in fact, for my ninth birthday.
My tenth birthday was the year I had a huge sleepover for my best girlfriends in my fourth grade class. You turn ten in fourth grade right?
Standing behind me are (L-R) Beth, Lana, and Michelle. Sitting are Sherry, me, Raquel, and Renee.
Wow...fourth grade. We had a miserable crabby old teacher named Mrs. Street who, due to what I now know was an extreme case of Strabismus (wandering eye) could see you doing something bad without seemingly looking your direction. She often confused me with Renee, which I now attribute to what must have been amblyopia (as in lazy eye, as in vision, likely caused by the Strabismus- wow- can't take the ophthalmogy out of the assistant even four years later!)
That sleepover was a wild time.
Looking at these photos for the first time in years, I realized that thanks to joining my class reunion committee, I have had a chance to either see or email Beth and Raquel.
I always thought Renee was so pretty and glamorous that I didn't understand why Mrs. Street got us mixed up all the time. Looking back we did favor each other, and were almost sisterly in that we actually shared the same birthday, as well as hospital room when we were born. I wonder what my "twin" is up to now.
Sherry moved away during elementary school.
Sadly, Michelle, never got past the milestone of thirteen. She became ill with leukemia the same year these photos were taken. She passed away in seventh grade. That loss is the first I remember of someone so young that I knew so well.
Turning twenty was bad. So bad in fact I couldn't find a picture of celebrating it. This one is from turning 21. Much more important milestone than twenty after all. Legal. Grown up. By the time this picture was taken, I was well on my way to dropping out of my first stint at college. One of the first of many twenties regrets.
When I turned thirty, my life took off.
I was a stay at home mom in an unhappy marriage. I had two children, then about to turn 4 and 1. I felt unfulfilled and in need of change. The milestone of thirty propelled me into realizing that I had not even begun to figure out what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. And I was evolving toward an understanding that the current path I was taking, wasn't one I would look back on one day and be proud of. I was "getting by" "making do" "content". But far from happy.
The year between thirty and thirty-one was a metamorphosis of sorts. A cathartic awakening. And shortly before my 31st birthday, I decided to listen to a quote I heard...one that haunted me every time I was afraid to take a risk for happiness.
"Leap and the net will find you."
I felt my first husband couldn't join or even follow me on that journey. So I left my safety net and filed for divorce. I went back to work and school. Life was stressful, but for the first time it seemed heavier on the "Full" than the "stress". By my 31st birthday, thirty pounds of emotionally fed layers melted off as easily as a Hershey's kiss on a summer day in Miami. Or Hell...whichever's faster.
Today, as I turn 40, I find myself full circle in many ways. I now have a total of four kids. I am a stay at home mom with a toddler. I am now happily married, and know that my husband of three years will not only follow, or join me on my journey toward fulfillment, but...
Encourages me to stay on the path.
However, I am still struggling with unhealthy relationships, both with teenagers, and chocolate. The chocolate I can walk away from. The teens I cannot, and that makes it hard to leave my friend, cocoa behind me either. Teens definitely challenge the art of unconditional loving. The difficulty lies in the fact that they see themselves as mature and full grown. You know they are not. Therefore you as the parent, the grown up, must attempt to let go just enough, so that you don't all go down in a cesspool of contempt and bitterness, while still finding ways to teach them, guide them toward responsibility and self sufficiency. Knowing that reaching that place took me til the age of thirty...well, lets just say it seems a daunting task.
Every angst filled glare, baiting of arguments, every eye roll or questioning of my right to request anything of them and...
I just get that jonesin' for some cocoa, mocha, bittersweet, tollhouse, fudge. And unfortunately, when I go into denial about my chocoholic tendencies, well....as Shakira says, "My Hips Don't Lie." Neither does the full length mirror in my bathroom, or candid photos at family events. The same emotionally fed thirty pounds are back to haunt me.
This year for me is about finding that balance. How do I find that thirty year old woman who was so unbelievably certain in her path that she leapt for the proverbial net, knowing that it would find her? Where did she go? Did I wear her out the five years I was single-mothering, working, schooling?
I hope not.
I did have an incredible week I am still trying to sort through. I had a lovely time with my friend Lorie, my mom, her friend Stella, my cousin Amy, and so many wonderful friends I have come to know through the Company of Women retreat. One, as I posted earlier this week, we lost the day after returning home, and that is still sitting with me as well.
Then I barely had time to exhale when I was off to Meadville Lombard in Chicago. Spent three days (on top of the past year) pondering a Masters of Arts in Religion. Knowing it's the next step, but not being able to take it due to other obligations is hard.
Something is still holding me back, still waiting to show itself in the next year.
I have a feeling....
That soon my dear old friends catharsis and metamorphosis will show up at my door once more.
I am anticipating their arrival. We have a lot to discuss over a cup of mocha java....
Decaf with a double shot of fat free cream.