Sunday, April 7, 2013

Keeping up

Lisa Congdon drew this.

You know what's really difficult? Living an authentic life. You know what else is really difficult? Hang on. I'm going to make a list because
A) It's easier.
B) It's too much to explain in paragraph form.
C) I got a lot of things that are really difficult and just telling you "why list making is easier" is easier to do in a list.

So here we go, in no particular order except the order that I think of them, which might mark them as "in order of importance," but I don't know. My brain doesn't function in Excel.

The schedules of my family.
I find their schedules to be ridiculously hard to track. When is Husband going to be late from work? When is he leaving early for a meeting? When is he out of town? When is Boy1 to be at his one sport? When is Boy2 to be at his only sport? If I have managed to keep three friends, when have I committed to seeing them? Am I going to yoga? What day is it? We are not, by any stretch of the AMERICAN imagination, an over-scheduled family. Each child is allowed to choose one spring and one fall sport. Summers and winters are off seasons for extra-curriculars. This marks me as a wildly lazy mother and yet....I still can't keep up. Is there something fundamentally wrong with my brain? It's possible, but there's no effing way I can make it to the doctor to find out. When am I scheduling THAT??

The school work of my children.
"Uh, hang on," you say, "Aren't kids supposed to be in charge of their own schedules lest we become 'helicopter parents'?" (For the uninitiated, a "helicopter parent" is like the worst insult these days. It indicates that you micro-manage the small people whose very future you're charged with shaping.) I'm supposed to let Boy1 and Boy2 fall flat on their faces and feel failures now, while the stakes are low, rather than later on when they'll undoubtedly land in jail because I made sure that their homework was on time. Of course, the natural flip side to this Wild Boy mentality is that I'm a fantastic failure if the boys actually DO fall flat on their faces. Because honestly. What kind of parent A) raises a child who falls flat on his face? and B) lets her child fall flat on his face in abject failure? Don't we all know that small things to us are big things to them? And allowing them to fail because WE FAILED to provide the firm structure and guidance is the very definition of derelict parenting. I can't keep up with which parenting model is the right one.

Being true to myself.
--This includes, but is not limited to, letting go of the expectations of others, demanding my own good health and practicing what I preach...say, like in the blog directly preceding this one.
Oh sure, I talk a good game, but crawl inside my head at 3am on any night of the week and you'll find me berating myself for something I did or said to someone my freshman year in high school. Or last week. Or at any point between right now and the moment I have a first memory of getting a bath in a sink at Aunt Dottie's house. If I have said it or done it, or let's face it NOT done it (because I kill myself over things I should have said or done) then please believe I am mentally pistol whipping myself on a fairly regular basis. Live zen? Channel Buddha? I'll put that on the schedule I can't keep up with, m'kay?

Although here's the thing:
I think I must be doing something right. Even though I fail a lot of people, a lot of the time, there must be times when I'm getting it right. Sure Boy1 is going to fail his 40-books reading requirement. He did last year, he's going to this year. He loves reading books that don't count towards his forty...like manga and online publications where he learn fifty different things I never knew about light refraction. He'll decide one day, at age 11, to get his first job delivering papers, all on his own; seeing it through, and introducing himself to every neighbor he meets along the way. Boy2 may be a soccer-ball hog, and an emotional roller coaster, but at age 8, he knows everything there is to know about Leonardo da Vinci . And he'll see a friend get out of a car with an armful of books and ask to help carry them. And somehow, fifteen years later, I'm married to the same man with no signs of stopping. He's still the guy I like to hang out with on a Friday night. Or a Wednesday night.

I have a few friends who get it about me. They know I need the kind of open door policy where we just ARE friends. Six days, six months or six years between conversations. And they know that the hard shell on top is just protecting the totally exposed underbelly where my feelings and heart reside.

So yes. Keeping up is so hard to do that one really needs to make a list of the ways it's practically impossible. But maybe it's not about keeping up. And here's a lesson I should probably write on a sticky note and post everywhere that my eyes wander: Life is about letting go.

Because I'm only me and I can only do what I can do in the moment I can do it. Maybe there are people ten times stronger than me, who think in Excel, who thrive in chaos and busy-ness, who seek constant motion and light and sound. But I'm not one of them. I need quiet and calm, slow and peaceful.

I bow out. Again. The reminder is that we have only ourselves (and maybe whatever god we might believe in) to honor and serve. Will it really matter on our dying day that we got our children to seventeen different sporting events and made all the cookies, and went to every dinner party and kept the cleanest house, if the life we reflect upon wasn't OURS? If I'll never know when the cancer cell is going to explode or when the other driver will plow into me, I'd better get to living my life. Because it's the only one that's going to count when it's over.