awakening, clarity, family, identity, life, peace, purpose, respect, responsibility, self esteem, time

I guess that’s why they call it work…

I have been in a working relationship with a difficult person for 10 years. I have attempted to look at this problem from so many points of view and perspectives that I have exhausted myself time and time again.  I am a fixer, if there is a problem I want to fix it. This one, there seems to be no fix. I have had to learn to “fix” from within.  This has been such a growing period in my life that I honestly feel as though this situation has been given to me. Like maybe I should even thank her for the struggle, because I am a stronger person for it.

I could call her names (I certainly have done that over the years)… she’s controlling, she’s heartless, she’s self-centered, she’s C-R-A-Z-Y!   What I’ve come to see and understand is that this doesn’t help me. Finding her faults and focusing on them doesn’t help me be better at who I am and how I conduct my work.  I have become stronger because I have learned to see my strengths and weaknesses through it all and work on them instead.  I cannot work on her… I cannot help her, I have to concentrate on helping myself.

Leaving was never an option. I absolutely love my job. I am very clear that it is my calling. I am very good at it, it is aligned with my passions and beliefs, and I will not give it up because we cannot get along.  I have been supported by my administration which has been a blessing. They see how valuable I am and I am proud of that.

My advice to people struggling with co-workers is to take all of it and look inward. Do not allow your ego to get involved. When my ego steps in and wants to take over it gets all befuddled. I need to stay focused and calm with my eye on my goal. The goal isn’t to beat her, be better than her, or to prove anything.  It is to personally have a good day, to do the job I am there to do and do it well. I have learned to leave my emotions at the door.  We do not speak about our personal lives to each other, we are strictly business and this works for us. I am such a social person that not having a personal relationship with someone I spend so much time with has been an adjustment, but with doing it I see it is for the best.

I do have to admit that I am in a new stage of life and it has helped me at work this year. My husband and I became empty nesters this year, our youngest has flown the coop and my home-work life balance is feeling much better. I believe I contributed to much of the “stuff” at work by having inner turmoil about not being able to be 100% at either place. I like to give all of myself to where I’m needed and I never felt fully respected for what I have had to give to my family over the years of working in this job.  I am on the other side of it now and my family is strong. My kids are succeeding, I have raised good humans and I am in my 25th year of a beautiful marriage. I pat myself on the back for where I am today and have also learned that I don’t need anyone else to do the “patting”, I know what I’ve done is right and I am stronger for it all.

As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as an employee I feel I have had to make my decisions day to day to where my loyalty has had to be. I will have to continue to do that and go forward having faith that it will feel balanced.  I plan to continue on this journey becoming stronger and better than I was yesterday. I’m happy with me!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

adult children, clarity, family, life, marriage, raising kids, school, time, writing

The Sound of Silence

Yes… it’s a Simon & Garfunkle song… a beautiful song etched in my memory from childhood… but it also the phrase that came to me when I arrived home from work today.

You see, it has happened. Almost every post I’ve written since I began blogging has mentioned it at one time or another… today it is my reality.  We spent our weekend moving our two youngest children into college… we are officially “empty nesters”.  This term has been thrown around for years as my husband and I have approached this moment.  Well, the whole weekend went well… We spent it together as a family in a rental home.  Our nephew, our oldest son and his girlfriend joined us and we vacationed a few days of the long weekend before the “move in”.  I did great… the diversion of disguising the whole good-bye weekend as something else really worked for me.  I didn’t even cry at the moment of good-bye at the University.  You see, our two youngest are going to the same college, only a 45 minute ferry ride and a 1 hour drive away.  I have felt good with the whole transition… “they have each other and they are close to home, easy for me to get to them if I need or want to”… these are the words I’ve uttered to myself and others literally thousands of times in the last few months.  I had adequately prepared myself… all went well at move in and drop off.  They were happy, we were happy… “wow that was easy” I thought yesterday as I drove out of the parking lot of the University with my husband.  I had worried a bit about my over-looking the fact that I would be saying good-bye to many of my loved ones within the same half hour, after our wonderful weekend together, but I did great.  Boy, I impressed myself.

About a mile into the drive, the car was silent.  There were no more piles of “stuff” to move, there was no more grocery bags of snacks and dorm room essentials that had been jotted down on lists for the last month or more… it was just me and my husband.  I realized we were driving further and further away from our children… each rotation of the tires meant we were entering brand new territory… our “new chapter”… uncharted waters.  Tears began to flow.  I know full well that we will be fine, we “may even enjoy it” (like everyone keeps saying) but if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that transitions can be hard for me.  We wept together on the highway on the drive home, not many words between us, we didn’t need them.

Well today… today is a brand new day!  A new school year started today… as a school teacher that comes with its own mix of emotions.  I had to switch gears last night and focus on today.  A busy morning of the new routine… what I was wearing, timing of the dogs feeding and going out, just all my own stuff!  I had even reached the point last night that I convinced myself how wonderful it will be to not have to share the car, my day would be my own! Bring it on!

So my first day back at school went well… a day of firsts for all the kiddos at school. New outfits, new schedules, lots to focus on!  I just moved along so easily… no tears when colleagues asked how the “drop off” went?  I was good.

I then left school and drove home. On my drive I saw the bus in my rear view mirror and saw parents waiting at bus stops to greet their children.  Ok… So? It entered my mind… those fond memories of yesteryear came and went quickly and I moved on… no tears, I was ok.  I then arrived home and the dogs were there to greet me (perfect planning on my part to have dogs a part of our life just as the kids were to begin leaving us) … That was great, I let them outside, we visited a bit in the yard.  We then came inside, they were content to go to their water bowl, the excitement of my being home had wore off for them.  I went to the back deck to water my plants…  As I pruned and watered I became fully aware of the silence.

It was my first day back to school… for 18 years it has always been someone else’s first day back too… someone to share with.  Before I worked at the school, I was the bus stop greeter… it was a hand-in-hand walk home talking about the days events.  When I began working at the Elementary School my kids attend in our home town I drove us all home… a sometimes quiet or sometimes enthusiastic exchange in the car about how our days went.  When they started high school it was different, I could feel it changing, but I was still the driver… picking them up at practices and having good conversation in the car with them and their friends.  Then licenses were acquired and it seemed they needed the car more and more … they became the drivers and they would pick ME up… they were older now and conversations got even better.

Well, today… today on the deck I realized there was only the sound of silence.  My mind went to the fact that I COULD call them, or text them… check in and see “How’s it going?”  Initiate that conversation I need so bad.  But I know I won’t… I remember the same head & heart battle I had when my oldest left for college… Wanting to reach out so bad with my heart but knowing with my head that it’s not in either one of our best interests.  It is healthy for them to not need to talk to me ~ It’s healthy to allow distance right now.  Knowing that and wanting to ignore my wisdom made it harder of course.

I cried on the deck alone today, I am crying now!  Coming to full realization that this is life now.  My children will only grow older by the day and need their mom less and less.  It is the way it is supposed to be.  They will have other people to share stories and days events with. Oh My God…. How did I get here??? My heart aches so terribly with this transition… my writing always helps me… this, this I am finding hard to write. Silence will become a new norm at our house.

I will eagerly await each day for my husband to arrive home so we can share stories. We will begin our new chapter.  We started last night after arriving home from move-in weekend … we tried finding a program on TV we both might like… we tried Episode I of Game of Thrones — I can say with absolute certainty that THAT WILL NOT be our new show… I can’t say it works for both of us! What I do know is we will figure it out.

I will pray for the strength that each day of silence will get easier.  That I will begin to smile easily through the memories and not cry as much.  I will envision their smiling faces on move in day and know they are where they want to be.  I know that growth doesn’t come without feeling uncomfortable… this is something I’ve always taught them and I will once again take some of my own advice.  I sincerely love them and achingly miss them… but I know I will be ok.

 

adult children, clarity, family, identity, life, marriage, purpose, time, Uncategorized

Time

When I think of time and question if I use it wisely… I am conflicted.  Overall in my life I would say that we use our time well… we use it for creating precious moments, being together & building family memories.

But do you see how when I think of “my” time my response turned immediately to a “we” and I referred to family memories, being together and creating precious moments… Well, that is the conflicting part now that my children are grown.  They are creating there own memories now, elsewhere, without me.  I know that’s the way it is supposed to be, I know this means we’ve done a good job at parenting… but this is part of the transitioning process I am finding to be so difficult.

When I think of “my” time when my kids were young ~ my time was always dictated by their schedules.  School activities, sports practices, rides to friends houses, appointments… you name it we were doing it and all of these things were written out on a calendar ~ my life was based on their schedules ~ I didn’t have to think much about it. We were always in doing mode!  Now that they are grown, and two of them out of the house, my time is becoming my own and I have NO IDEA how to use it!  Literally… even dinner has been a struggle… even our dinner time was dictated by practices and activities.  With no instruction, no have-tos, I find myself not knowing how to manage my own time now.  Our youngest is 18 and a senior in high school, we are doing college visits and we use our time these days for senior year basketball games and keeping busy helping with all aspects of the basketball program… this has always been our normal with our kids activities.  With that on the horizon of no longer being our reality… it frightens me. I’m not sure how long it will take me to stop mourning that part of my life and begin to know how to live the next phase.

I believe my husband wishes I would figure it out. I think that even though we speak of the major differences in our lives since the kids have grown, I realize that the running the kids around, the hours in the car with them, the scheduling of activities, all those aspects were mine during his work hours… although he understands the changes, I do believe they are impacting my life differently.  I do know that I am happier when I’m busy.  I cannot sit idle too long or my energy is used to overthink things, and when my mind is racing it often can turn negative and I beat myself up for not doing anything.  I need to find ways of keeping busy and my mind hard at work.  I’m not sure what that looks like for my future.  When I think of next year, I think of our youngest son playing basketball at college and the potential for us to travel to games, I think of our oldest with his new promotion, his steady girlfriend and his life direction and the possibility of weddings and grandchildren… but again, do you see that my thoughts revolve around our children?  I can’t envision my alone time with myself or with my husband yet.  This is frightening.

As I have stated in many posts before, I am a work in progress. There are changes ahead and I can’t see my life’s direction clearly yet.  For 23 years (our oldest son’s age) I have had my daily decisions made for me…I dealt with things directly in front of me. I’ve been a mom, I’ve poured my whole soul into that one job… my role as my children’s mom is changing. Even with each day I am learning how to fit into the role of a mom with adult children, their needs are so different now…  I think I’m doing okay.  I will continue to grow as a person and learn my own likes and dislikes again… I will be patient with myself…I will learn to focus my energy on me and into my relationship with my husband.  After all, we just bought his and her bikes… spring days riding by the beach with my love… I can see it!

 

 

 

communication, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, teenagers, time, trust, writing

The taste of my coffee, the feeling of my couch throw…

Saturday morning silence.  Husband’s left for work, college-break daughter sleeping late, high-school son at team sleepover, dog at my feet, coffee in my hand, blanket across my lap. Wow…Saturday!

My five senses are happy this morning. I can taste my coffee differently than on weekdays. I can be present and feel grounded, it’s a satisfying feeling.  Slowing life down enough to feel and experience…I live for these moments of satisfaction.

Our family was all home for the holiday.  Our oldest son has come and gone.  At age 22, he is on his quest to live his own life. If you’ve followed any of my other posts you will know that I am learning how to make this transition.  Today I am at peace. There is a story for how I got to this peaceful place this morning…

After Christmas our oldest told us that he was going to head back to school 2 weeks earlier than anticipated.  His girlfriend was coming to visit us and he would plan to head out when she went back. I had a difficult time with the news. I had prepared myself for this potentially being our last holiday break together, as Del graduates from college this May and it will just never be the same, but cutting that time in half threw me for a loop.  In fear of seeming selfish for the sadness I showed when he told us he was leaving I wanted to share my recent struggle with my children.  I wanted to be transparent in my feelings so they were not perceived wrong. I read one of my earlier posts about what I believe to be transitional depression to them.  I felt it would help explain a mother’s pain in letting go and that I wouldn’t ever be asking him to be doing anything different, that it was just the feelings that were emerging from me and the struggle between my heart and my intellect again. I hoped reading this would help them understand.  I read it with great difficulty, I had no idea I would be so emotional as I read it out loud. They heard me and I felt it helped.  I took their hands and told them that we all have a journey and that this is just part of mine. I am learning to let go.

A week after this talk we kissed Del goodbye and bid him farewell for a while. We went about our family Sunday, at bedtime I pulled back my bed covers to find an envelope with “Mom” written on it.  I knew it was Del’s handwriting and I instantly welled with tears.  My husband lay next to me while I read it out loud. The words that flowed from my child were so eloquent, so beautiful.  His words and feelings put so much into perspective for me, his words were so powerful and healing. Part of me wants to share that letter with you here, but selfishly I also want it just for me. Maybe one day it will make sense to share it, but not today. His words are my strength.

In one of my former posts entitled “From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow” I stated that as my children have grown they now help to give me cover and shade when I need it.  This letter is proof of that.  The maturity he showed and the insight he shared has strengthened me. Since I read my post about transitioning to my children, I have found an even greater understanding between us. We have always had great understanding, but with each new beginning I find communicating what it feels like to each of us is important.  If we don’t share our feelings with each other then assumptions are made. I would have never wanted the assumption for my oldest son to be that my sadness was a reflection of us being disappointed in his decision.  I needed him to know and understand that my sadness is something that I am working on within me.  That we support his decisions wholeheartedly but that there is an emotional process of letting him go that we continue to go through.

I am at peace today because I believe we understand each other.

communication, family, life, marriage, purpose, raising kids, time, trust

Pondering… Wondering… Searching…

I’m pondering life. I’m wondering if I could be going a bit crazy. I’m searching for answers to where I’m headed. Is there any wonder why my head is spinning and I have a hard time functioning these days?  I have had some side effects of a new generic brand of birth control pills.  My hormones have gone array and I am literally spinning. I am weepy, I have episodes of depression that are scary and I feel very anxious.

Maybe with all of this happening with me it’s not the right time to ponder, wonder or search? But it’s part of my normal daily existence anyhow, it’s just a bit more emotionally heightened these days. Because I’m feeling out of sorts, I look inward.  I am so aware of myself and my feelings that when I am not acting like “me” I can’t stand it!! I don’t like to pretend to feel okay, but I also don’t like to burden others with my negative feelings and concerns. therefore it feels better just to recluse and not be bothered (or bother) anyone else.  But I can’t, I have a job, I have a husband, I have children… I still have many roles to fill each and every day.  I have been told by others who dealt with similar feelings that it’s best to just keep working, just keep moving, keep your mind busy.  I have been attempting that for 3 days now and I have cried on my lunch break, I’ve cried in the fire escape stairwell, and have fought off feelings of hopelessness, frustration and fatigue throughout each day. I have glimpses of ‘normal’ (What the hell is that anyway?) as my day goes on… This sudden change in ups and downs of my emotions is my very reason for wondering if I may be going a bit crazy…? I work with kids at my job, so my very best moments are when I am directly interacting with them, I feel lowest when it’s quiet and my mind isn’t busy… But I know myself, I know I can’t continue to suppress these feelings and be just “okay” or “fine”. ” My norm” is to be energized by life itself and filled with joy (even when I’m alone). I feel like part of my ‘purpose’ is to bring joy to others, I just can’t continue to feel this way.  I have a call into my doctor to answer some of my questions… is this really hormonal? Will I get back on track with the re-taking of my old birth control pill? Do I need another type of medication to get regulated again? What is happening???

In my first paragraph, I mentioned searching, searching for ‘where I’m headed’? When I say this, it is because I feel like a lot of what I am going through right now may be something I read about as I searched my odd symptoms on the internet the other night.  I was fishing for others who may have been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, looking to validate some of my own strange thoughts and behaviors.  My thoughts and behaviors clearly are defined by depression. But, what I found that seemed to make sense was something called “transitional depression”.  It is defined by people who have a hard time with transitioning and often become stressed and depressed in the process. Well, that could be me!! The answers I was searching for was ‘how can I be clinically depressed when on a normal day I am an extremely happy, positive, and optimistic individual but then sometimes I reach these points where I can not get up and function as myself and have a negative thought pattern?’  The answer is that transitional depression can strike at different times in your life and you kind of get off track.  When I analyze my life right now, I am clearly in a transition.  Our oldest son is in his senior year of college, graduating in the spring and doesn’t know yet if he will be coming home or getting an intern somewhere and moving to begin his life somewhere else. Our daughter is in her first year of college (4 hours away), we said good-bye to her in August and have only brief conversations and minimal visits since she’s been gone. Our youngest son is a junior in high school, got his license this week and will begin the process of figuring out his next step in life in the coming months… WOW!! Could I give myself a break? These are H U G E transitions for all of us! I have always prided myself in being so intuitive as a mother, my heart so attached to my children, our closeness and our unique way of communicating… now I am not sure if setting myself up for all this confusion was such a good idea?  Because of our tight bonds I am often talking each one of them through the emotions that come along with what they are going through…helping them to process and transition.  Well, in the meantime I am having a flood of my own emotions.  Learning how to let go of them… allowing my heart to break while my intellect tells me I am doing it all correctly!?!? Am I really? Is this correct??  My heart tells me to call or text them every evening (every hour) and check in, my heart tells me to visit any chance we get, my heart tells me to smother them with hugs and kisses whenever they an arms length away…. But, my intellect demands that I leave them alone… let them text and call when they have time… let them figure things out until they need to ask for help… let them spend weekends on campus to meet new people and navigate new territory.  I mentally exhaust myself by knowing the right thing to do for them, but struggling a constant struggle with what my heart feels like in the process.  The truth is… it just hurts.  Them being away from our family unit hurts.

Then all in the same moment I get mad at myself for spending that kind of energy on what that feels like when I still have my almost 17 year old right in front of me.  Believe me… I snuggle with him every chance I get, just him laying on the end of our bed staring at his phone brings me more joy then he could ever even imagine! I still refer to him as my baby, and although I suppose I should stop calling him that he forever will be just that! My husband and I have the same bond with him as we do with our others, so the thoughts of him leaving us too, is almost too much to bear and I cannot allow my thoughts to go there at this time.  Soon, we will have to.  He will begin college visits and his own life decisions… I do believe this road I am on is a long one.

I will try to be patient with myself.  I will continue to talk with my husband and my friends about how hard it is. I will embrace the moments I have left with our youngest at home and learn new ways of finding joy in my life.  They have always been a ‘built in’ joy for my husband and I.  For 22 years we have had external joy, living life through the trials and tribulations of our children, we will now find joy in each other, again.  I look forward to it actually… I would just like to be better at transitioning. 🙂changes-ahead

 

 

family, identity, time

Who am I?

I find this is a common question for mothers & wives.   I remember when I began asking that of myself… I remember my children were all school aged and I began to struggle with my own identity. 

I could define myself as a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  But at this time I had plunged completely into my role as a mom and a wife and I could feel that the other areas of my life were beginning to feel it.  I was never sure how to fix it and began to learn I didn’t need to “fix” anything.  Being tuned in and ‘present’ to my children and my husband seemed to be all I had available, and I needed to learn that I did not need to feel guilty about that.  My life had become sporting events, homework, school meetings, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, after school friends and play dates, and in the midst of all that it was learning how to nurture my relationship with my husband. Learning how to make sure all my children and my husband felt ‘heard’ when they had something to share, that I was ‘present’ when at their activities and speaking with them, that I knew their friends and their friend’s parents, and the list of important things grew and grew.  I needed to teach myself that those things all deserved my full attention and that I would one day be able to nurture other parts of me, but for now I needed to be 100% for them. I had certain people in my life who always understood the importance of these life roles.  My parents have always supported my husband and I completely and they are so very proud of our family.  They have always worked extra hard to find ways of us all being together through the years.  They would attend the kids sporting events, invite us to dinners at their house, make holidays extra special, and plan vacation time together.

  My husband and I would find ourselves closest to the people we spent time with at our children’s activities.  We began to have certain ‘circles of friends’ based on what sports season it was.  We always felt content and nurtured by these relationships.  As time went on some of our friendships began to struggle.  We would have friends who didn’t understand us not making time for them.  We always stayed the course with what has always been most important to us,  that is our family being together, our children being happy and healthy and the two of us being available to each other.  I believe the strength of our marriage and the ‘awesomeness’ of our children is a testament to us making the right decisions.

As time has passed and my children have grown I have been able to expand my answer to “Who am I?”.  I am still a mom and a wife first (I put those roles above all else).  But I have also re-entered the work force after having been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years. I was so Blessed to be able to stay home and care for not only my own children but my niece and nephews as well.  I can now add Assistant Elementary School Librarian to my identity and have wonderful co-workers of whom are my dear friends.  I am also beginning to find more time to nurture my parents and other friendships. I know how important this is!  We still prioritize our time, as our children need us tuned in more now that they are teenagers than ever before, but my identity is beginning to shift and expand.

How do you answer the question “Who am I?”