Super Mom.

Supergirl

I am raising a seventeen year old teenager, along with two other strong, determined women. And, on most days, I feel pretty competent at how I parent. I feel protective, loving, open, and honest. I am grateful for the conversations that my teen and I share with one another. I feel scared, when it would seem logical to feel that way, and confident most of the rest of the time.

Today however, I felt differently. You see, I walk a very fine line between feeling fully confident in who I am as a parent, and feeling like a complete failure. And, on some days, like today, it only takes a light breeze to blow me off that line into the abyss. When I fall down this self described rabbit hole, even though I have plenty of people in my world to tell me otherwise, I feel like a complete failure.

You see, even when I think I am doing a pretty good job at navigating parenthood throughout adolescence, and beyond, I have self doubt. I wonder if I am royally messing it all up, or if I am hitting the mark. I envision myself as super human as a mom, at the same time that I have no idea what the hell I am doing.

So, tonight, I went down the hole, by thinking that all that I have done so far on behalf of my child is an epic failure, and that the shortcomings in my parenting will certainly bring ruin to the future that lies ahead of this brilliant human being. That if I am not doing it perfectly, by a standard other than my own, than I am failing. That I am never good enough and will never measure up. It is a thought train that I am willingly riding on, until I am not.

I take a long bath, until I am shriveled beyond recognition, I cry, hard and long, and then, I put on my jammies and decide that I have had enough. Decide that if I am going to have any effectiveness in my parenting, I have to trust and believe that I am doing right by my child. For the simple reason that I am only ever doing my best.

We have been facing some pretty challenging days recently. We are in new territory that I didn’t anticipate one year ago. Yet, we are learning, growing, changing and loving one another fiercely through it all. And, today, I learned two big lessons to take forward with me.

First, I need to trust and believe in what it is I am doing to raise a beautiful human being in this world, and that even if others around me might do it differently, it doesn’t mean, I am doing it wrong. It just means, we view it differently. The second, and more profound lesson for me, is that no matter what, I need to keep loving myself, as fiercely, consistently and openly as possible.

For, the truth is, I am only doing my best, in every moment. And, that always has to be enough.

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Triple Layer Chocolate Cake.

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This past weekend, I went home to Massachusetts to visit family. Last weekend, much of my family were together there to celebrate the life of my great aunt Marion, who passed away a few days ago. Since I was not able to be there with them last weekend, I wanted to be near them this past weekend, and so we took a road trip there. We stayed with my Aunt Ruth, visited with my cousin and his wife, and got to go visit my great Aunt Theresa who also lives in town.

Seeing Theresa felt extra special, because usually I find it difficult to visit with her. She can’t hear well, she has a hearing aid that doesn’t help much, so communication is limited to writing messages to her on a white board, and then she answers me. It seems tedious and frustrating that I can’t just talk with her. Yet, it seemed so much easier this time.

I sat on the floor in front of her, and just kept asking her questions on the board. We had some laughs, she shared a lot of information with me, and she even expressed how happy she was for me that we are getting married. It was magical. And, it made me realize yet again what an amazing life that I have.

I would say that I live a triple decker chocolate kind of life, most of the time. It is sweet, delicious, and a favorite way for me to be present. This weekend, being with my family, walking and driving through my old hometown, and enjoying the trip there and back with my beloved, was truly the icing on the triple layer chocolate cake of my life. It only enhanced the sweetness and magic that was already present.

Maybe it is in remembering my loved ones’, and my own, mortality, that makes time with them seem so much more precious and rich. I understand that death will continue to visit my life without end, and so it seems so much more enjoyable for me to be in the moment, whenever I can, in this life that I am living. Savor every bit of it that may not be here again, or for long.

Keep having dessert!

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The ABC’s of Making Friends.

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I have a pretty contented life. I am a fulfilled mom. I have a beautiful partner relationship with a woman that I get to marry in a few months. And, I have interests that keep me engaged in my life, from writing, to traveling, to music and reading. Yet, there is a part of my life that seems to be lacking for several years now, and I am finally summoning up the courage and self awareness to take steps to change it.

I don’t have a whole lot of friends. Sure, on Facebook, I have over 400 friends. And, even though Facebook gets dissed for not being “true” friendships, I have stories in my mind and heart about each one of those friends on my list. We went to college or high school together. I met them through my blogging over the years. We dated in the past. They are my family members.

But the ironic part is, I have very few friends in real life, ones that I spend time with, go out for coffee or wine with. That I share my deep secrets with. My fiancee is my closest and best friend, the best friend that I have ever had, actually. But, I find myself looking for more friend relationships in person, in my daily life to have fun with and get to know better. Yet, at the same time I am looking for that in my life, I am scared out of my mind.

Even though I find social situations fun, I am really scared about meeting and getting to know new people. The reasons are various, including the fear that I will be judged or not liked; that I will have to make known personal parts of myself; or that people won’t find me interesting or fun enough. Pretty funny, right?

So, I decided to face this fear head on, and made plans this week with a new person, a person that I have met a couple of times but would like to get to know better. I am scared at the same time that I am excited for the new adventure. So, as I was anticipating our get together later this evening, I thought of the beautiful simplicity of meeting a new person, and the basics of what it takes to make that happen.

A: Make an ACKNOWLEDGMENT of what it is that I want. Am I looking for companionship? Fun? Someone interesting to talk to? A new adventure? Once I have that in mind, it makes it a bit easier to seek what I am looking for.

B: Be BOLD. Ask. Call someone. Strike up a conversation with a person that seems interesting. Go against all of my fears and just DO IT.

C: CELEBRATE, both myself and another human being with whom I get to interact. I can make it dramatic, as in, this is so hard, or I can have complete fun with the experience, no matter how it turns out. Simple.

My desire is to enjoy this so much, that I just keep doing it and doing it, with new people or people already in my life. Taking the first step of knowing what I want and letting go of my fears is going to get me there.

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Traditions, and a Christmas Miracle.

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I LOVE Christmas. Once Thanksgiving has come and gone, I am in full Christmas mode. I love finding the perfect gifts for my loved ones, getting and putting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, and listening to Christmas songs. I also enjoy driving around town, taking in all of the pretty light displays. I love seeing the joy and excitement in the eyes of children, anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. And, I always enjoy picking just the right homemade cookies to leave on the plate for him, along with carrots for the reindeer, of course.

I have also loved other parts of the holiday over the years. When I was still living at home, every Christmas was a magical, special time for me. Most years, all of my siblings would be home with us to celebrate; we would decorate our tree on Christmas Eve, blasting Johnny Mathis on the stereo, eating fondue and having a ton of fun. We would be up at the crack of dawn, or before, even when we were in our teens and early adult years, peeking for our name on packages under the tree, and anxiously awaiting our parents so we could open our bulging stockings and have a family breakfast together. They are really great memories.

Somewhere along the line, however, I started to judge Christmas, and the quality of it, on whether or not my current and future observances of Christmas measured up to what I had as a child. I became really focused on tradition, and for years, followed along with my then partners’ traditions in her family, and didn’t even visit my family at Christmas time for years. I missed having all of my siblings under the same roof. My older brother died. My older sister drifted away. And, my younger siblings got married and had families of their own. The hopes for tradition, and a yearly ritual for the holiday, seemed dim.

So this year, I had a complete breakdown of sorts. I yelled at my fiance, I cried a lot, and I reluctantly admitted that I was holding onto a belief that no longer holds true. You see, every year, I anticipate ways in which my family of origin can come together, like we did years ago, and have a genuine, family Christmas. I have expectations galore, that no one ever measures up to. And, then I get disappointed and angry and start planning for how I will make it different next year. Closer to the traditions that I so desperately crave.

By focusing on the past, or the future, I am denying myself the pure joy of living in this moment, right now. Being with the people that I love, when I can, whether that is December 25th or not. Staying present. Laughing. Crying. Finding the magic that exists in my life every breath that I take.

So, the irony is, today as I am letting go of the expectations, for myself and others, to have a Christmas that feels traditional, I am experiencing the truest meaning of Christmas there is: to choose inner peace; to love others deeply and as they are; and to be present and grateful to all that I have in my life.

And, in that irony, lies a true Christmas Miracle.

Let Go, Mama.

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I worked really hard to build a solid, open relationship with my teenaged daughter. Over the years, I have been more successful at it than others. One of the lessons that I learned early on, was to watch over and be close, at the same time as letting her go. Letting her use her wings.

Letting go lessons came in the form of the first day of Kindergarten, getting on a school bus all by herself. Her first day in middle school. First day in high school. Driving alone for the first time. Going on a date, without a chaperone. And, although I had a bit of anxiety about each of those milestones, and sadness about time gone by, I was ready to watch her fly.

However, more recently, she has been struggling a bit. There has been much weighing on her mind and her heart. And, I find myself not being so willing to let her figure things out, and be close when she needs me. I feel more like wanting to hover, to stay with her, to find ways that I am able to keep protecting her, even at seventeen.

What is at the root of that is fear. Fear that maybe she won’t open up when things have gone terribly wrong. Fear that she will be in a situation that she doesn’t know how to get out of. Fear that she won’t need me to be here for her, or that she will feel alone or abandoned without me around.

This morning, I realize that although we are close, and she knows that I am here for her always, I need to also let go yet again, and to stay near while letting her sort things out. I can do both. Even when I am afraid, I can observe the power of her getting to choose, and me offering extra support if she needs it. I get to trust that she will know, and ask, as she goes forward.

Parenthood feels so scary, and freeing at the same time. I know that what I have done so far to be her mother, and friend, will guide her in the precise direction that she needs to go. That she knows best what to choose. And that I can trust in that.

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