Absolutely love this post!
Absolutely love this post!
I am so glad to be home this afternoon. After a full week of being a department chair, I can appreciate some advice given to me by the outgoing chair. She advised to “fiercely guard your time”–yes, I can see why that would be important. Minutes turn into hours in the pursuit of solutions for problems that present themselves from nowhere. One phone call turns out to require three more. Extra duties blossom from a place of –oh, we thought your knew about that.
Oh well. Nothing I didn’t expect. Or maybe better to say, nothing more than I expected. I knew when I accepted the position that it would eat up time, that it would be hard, and at times frustrating. All I can do is do the best job I can, within the boundaries I set, and leave it at that.
On the home front, pizzas will be made and consumed. Wine will be drunk. Brownies and ice cream will be eaten. Movies will be watched.
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware
of what they’re going through
(Turn and face the stranger)
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
David Bowie said a lot of things best, but this may be most apropos to my life right now. Our girls, newly graduated from high school and 18 are personified by the verse, but also me. I often don’t know where to flop with all the evolving dynamics and transitions at work in our family.
David and I have always been the kind of parents who try to give their kids ch-ch-ch-Choices. I never wanted to “lay down the law” to my kids or be the type of mom who says “because I SAID SO” although I know there is a time and a place for these things in the complex parenting continuum. We have wanted the girls to be able to make a decision and live with that decision, good or bad, so that they could learn the value of consideration, reflection and sometimes, recovering from mistakes.
That said, it is so hard right now to stick to that strategy.
18 year old choices are so much more complicated than 4 year old choices. And, while David and I don’t really remember too many of the mishaps and bad decisions of our early youth, we certainly remember and sometimes lament the choices we made when we were young adults. I know that my girls are not me. I know they have been parented differently than I was. I know they are bright, level-headed, good people. And I trust them; let me just say that.
But there are tricky people out there. There are temptations beyond measure. There are sure mistakes wrapped up to look like fun and games. There are doubts and regret. There is pain and heartbreak and dark, seething wounds waiting to be opened.
David and I always characterize parenting this way—It never gets easier, it just gets different. We have always been concerned about our girls’ safety—and now we can’t hold their hands anymore. We can’t protect them like we could when they were much younger. We have to let them go. This is the difference of this time. This is one of the oh so many ch-ch-ch-changes.
On top of that whopper, David and I are dabbling in the “empty nest syndrome” and what that will mean. Right now, we get to test it out in increments. We can leave the girls home alone overnight and take little trips. The girls are often off with friends and boyfriends and so we find that we have more time to be us, do things that are not related to parenting and enjoy each other’s company without it turning into a discussion of logistics for our family. This has been nice.
And then, WHAM, one of the girls has a dark night of the soul and NEEDS us. We have been involved in long, convoluted discussions and tearful sessions of searching for the right mix of us as parents “being available” but not stepping across a boundary (that seems to always be a moving target) that the girls feel is tantamount now that they are “adults.”
It is a weird place to be. Needed and then not needed. Wanted and then unwanted. I often feel like I am on a programed treadmill that tries to take you through your paces—up and down hills, faster and slower–and I try to respond in kind. I fell off a treadmill once and it hurt like hell. I STILL, seven years later, have a damaged spot on my leg from this fall. I am constantly afraid, in this newly minted changeable atmosphere with my daughters, that I will fall off the treadmill.
I don’t like the unknown and I am certainly a control freak. (I’m working on it, OK?) I think this probably exacerbates the feeling of being stunned that I experience every time I’m told by the girls that I’ve overstepped my bounds, that I am butting in where I’m not wanted, that they are already fully aware of what I am trying to convey to them. Some people say this is good. That David and I have prepared them for their lives and that their pushback is a sign of this.
So I try to listen more than I talk. I try to be available but not in a hovering sort of way. David and I are doing our own thing when the girls are doing their own thing. And we’ve re-instituted some of our family traditions that fell by the wayside as they have grown older–like each parent spending a day with one of the girl alternately so we each get each girl to ourselves on a regular basis and each girl gets some quality time with each parent alone. And the girls are happy about this. They still like our attention. They still think that we are cool and want to spend time with us. They just don’t really want unsolicited advice that they feel like they’ve heard before.
And so it is. Change is the only constant. Once this phase passes, another will move into its place in that “stream of warm impermanence.” Trying to be a stone in that stream is the difficult part and one that I will be striving for until the day I die.
Today was especially nice—a trip to a local festival with my hubby, planting and harvesting in the garden and a nice dinner with all four of us at the table. Will happen less and less often, the four of us at the table I mean…change is inevitable.
Speaking of change–I was thinking a lot today about my Afib and how I haven’t had it for almost 6 months now. I’ve had a few weird things happen, some PACs and other little blips– and I am supposed to do a monitor this week to make sure I am absolutely “all clear”—then I can get off of the rest of my medicine—but all in all, it has been such a relief to count on it NOT HAPPENING instead of waiting for it TO HAPPEN. Afib sucks, make no doubt about it. Thanks Dr. Darbar….or Dr. Bomb Diggety as I like to think of him 🙂
Change is also represented this week by high school graduation for D and Z. It seems so soon. And yet, I know for them, it can’t come soon enough. They are so ready to spread their wings and fly. I only hope that David and I have given them all they need. We will always be here of course, and so will all the other wonderful friends/family that they have to count on whenever they need them. But I know it is time for them to fly–soar, really–into their own lives and passions and loves. They are gorgeous, intelligent, compassionate women—I am proud to call them my daughters.
David and I are already anticipating the “empty nest” and envisioning what that might mean for us. We are rearranging some of the household spaces to make them more work/play-centric for us. We’ve been gardening and home-improving. We talk a lot about “dates” and making time for each other as we prepare for what we feel will be an intense shift in our attentions and responsibilities. I will be taking on the responsibility of being the chair of my department next fall. David will be teaching more newly minted classes. Both of us are committed to upping the ante on our creative output and weeding out those things that distract us from what we feel is important. Oh, and simplifying. That’s the overall priority, I think, behind all of this dreaming.
In the meantime, for the summer, there will be hiking and classes taught. There will be curating art and lounging on the beach. There will be sewing and gardening and cooking along with teen angst and soul-searching. And as always, there will be constant, undeniable and ever-present change that will require tenacity, flexibility and the ability to embrace it all with grace, gratitude and wonder. God willing and the creek don’t rise 🙂
Yesterday David and I had a day to ourselves while the girls were at a band competition. We traveled up to Sautee-Nacoochee for “Swinging in the Vines” at our favorite local winery–you can find them here. We had a wonderful time sipping wine slushies, tasting some new wines and listening to jazz while rocking on the outdoor deck of the tasting room facility. The owners are so great—it is a real down-home atmosphere. We scored a case of our favorite wines for Thanksgiving and Christmas drinking as well as gift-giving. The owner also gifted us a couple of wine glasses with their logo, which I love, and we chatted about the possibility of offering some Wine and Craft events with me leading some craftmaking—
After our wine fun, we ate at the Nacoochee Grill. Good food, great server although the front house service was scrambled at best. Home to a fire in the chiminea and talk of the future.
A good day even though I was in Afib for parts of it. I just keep reminding myself that change is coming and it will be positive and good.
I think it is fair to say that I have all sorts of issues surrounding weight, health, fitness and food. I grew up in a family that in many ways celebrated its brief periods of being flush with $$$ ( the tax refund came in, the Christmas bonus, etc.) with what was to us expensive and exotic foods—Kraft cheese spreads in a jar instead of American cheese slices, Sociable crackers instead of saltines, Fiddle-Faddle, and all the Hershey’s kisses and miniatures that our money could buy. As you can see, most of these foods were sweet or fatty and processed. It was quite a triumph to my family that we could buy Colonial white bread instead of having to bake our own, eat TV dinners and other “convenience” foods. My dad grew up on a farm where very little was bought, so these conveniences were progress. Oh, we had a garden every year and my grandparents for most of my young life had a farm, so we had fresh veggies-but more often than not these were fried and/or baked into a casserole with cheese and crackers.
So I’ve had a long journey of embracing more healthy fare. Of trying not to associate food with success. Of overcoming what has become a lifelong battle with weight. I’ve been successful in this journey and I’ve failed MANY TIMES.
I am in need of a surgery to hopefully correct my Afib. Last month I saw a great doctor who believes that I am a good candidate for the surgery, except, that he would like to see me reduce my weight by about 45 lbs before the surgery to reduce my risk of complications. OK. That’s fine. I’ve been losing weight pretty steadily, although slowly for the past year. I can ramp it up.
I lost 11 lbs in the first 2 weeks that I was trying to lose weight. Now, that seems like a lot, but when you are starting at 298 probably 5 or 6 lbs of that was fluids. Anyway, a good start and always encouraging.
So, 2 more weeks have passed and I got on the scales today—on my Wii. Naked. Hopeful.
I had gained .9 lbs. *large “whoosh” as ego deflates* So I fall into a funk. I went to the store and bought pansies to plant. I came home and made a healthy breakfast (popcorn and a green smoothie) and I got onto Sparkpeople to start tracking my food and exercise—again.
And a funny thing happened. My data from the last time I had weighed and measured myself was on my profile. According to the profile, I was down 10 lbs from my last weigh-in there. So I decided to grab a tape measure and re-measure my waist, hips, etc. Turns out, I have lost 5 inches in my hips, over 3 inches in my waist, and around 3 inches everywhere else I had measured. That made me feel better.
It’s a long road—I hate being fat but I do love good food. Like everything else, it is a state of balance I need to strive for—easy to know in your head—but seemingly hard as hell to put into action. I know that food is my drug and maybe I’m lucky that I never became addicted to anything else—well I used to smoke. But when I quit smoking, I just quit. You can’t just stop eating.
Stiff upper lip and try not to think of chocolate.