Monday, October 28, 2013

The Things That Matter

I wasn't in the best mood this morning. I was irritated by how something was going in my life when I went to bed the night before, so I didn't sleep well. I was looking forward to some extra time with my kids later in the day because they were out of school, but upset that I was going to be missing time at work and that meant not getting paid.

Then my ex-husband called and told me that someone had passed away. One of the kids in my oldest son's grade at school had been battling Leukemia for a long time, and it finally took him in the early hours. I sat in my car outside my office and cried. just isn't fair. This is not how death is supposed to happen. It was all I could do to work the few hours I could be at work and get back to my kids.

I decided to take them to let my oldest spend his birthday money, then I donated blood, and decided to get them a pizza for dinner. One the way to get the pizza, I popped a tire. So the rest of the afternoon was spent dealing with that. I ended up spending $130 for a new tire. This has been a really tough month for me financially and that was not money I really could part with. But I did and my car is back on the road.

Ordinarily I probably would have gone home and gone into a funk for the rest of the evening. I did eat some ice cream, not going to lie. But, all I could really think was...we are all OK. I didn't wreck when the tire popped. No one was hurt. Yeah my wallet is lighter, yeah Christmas will be smaller...but we don't need a bunch of stuff anyway. While I'm thinking about what I can't buy my kids, another mother just down the road is thinking about burying her child.

A year ago I didn't have the money to fix that tire, and now I do. I used to tell my mom when we were struggling that the money always comes...and it does. Yes, there are lots of things about my life that I might change if I could, but the things that really matter are here and I have to start remembering those.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Does It Always Have to Be About Them?

I'm sitting in a busy coffee shop and it's impossible not to hear the conversations at the tables around me. There are a few people working away alone, but several tables that are groups of women. Hearing the snippets of what they're talking about it reminds me of another episode of Sex in the City when Miranda freaks out on the other women and screams "Christ, does it always have to be about them?". She was referring to the fact that they had spent all of their time together talking about the men in their life.

The women at these tables have been talking about the men in their lives since I sat down. Talking about who their dating, how it's going, who is getting married, and various other topics all surrounding the men they're involved with. I get it, we are women, and if we don't analyze every detail of our relationships then we just wouldn't be normal. It's the most popular topic when we get into groups. There's nothing wrong with it. We need to get those thoughts and feelings out. But, they don't sit around talking about us.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately because I have a lot of female friends who are going through some tough times in their relationships. In listening to the issues they're having and how they're feeling, it makes me think about how we are once we get involved with someone. Now, I'm speaking in generalities because I know that there are plenty of exceptions. But why do we always make it about them? The women sitting at these tables look to be college students, and the fact that I'm near campus leads me to believe that they are. So, that means they're doing all sorts of things now. Why aren't they talking about the classes they're taking, the work they're doing, and the plans they have for life?

It seems that when we love someone, we wrap ourselves up in every aspect of them. We often lose parts of ourselves to make room for those parts of them in the process. I'm not saying this is all bad. It's good to find common interests with the person you love. It's good to show love by showing interest in their life. But so often I see a huge discrepancy between the amount of things a woman adopts of her partners interests vs how many he adopts of hers. Now, I know plenty of couples who share a lot of common interests, so there is a much more even playing field. But I also know a ton that can't remember who they were before they got married and had kids. They can no longer separate their life from their husbands.

Some of this is just love, devotion, and the nature of women. But sometimes, it makes me really sad to see how much some of us give up and compromise. Why does it always have to be about them?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What Does Love Do?

Two things happened today that made me think about what it really means to love someone. What a person will do, and what they won't do to the person they love. I'm talking romantic love here, not the love we have for our children or other blood relatives, but the person whom we choose to be with.

I won't share the specifics of either so as to protect the privacy of those involved. But one was something someone said, and one was an act that I suspect was somewhat cultural, but appeared to have been the norm from my outside observers eye. Both made me hurt for the women involved. Now, it's very possible that neither woman actually felt any pain themselves because this might be acceptable to them.

But I have been thinking all day about both women, and all the women I know going through one thing or another in their own relationships. It's also made me think a lot about what I have accepted over the years in my own. What does love do to us? What does love do for us?

It's really the most amazing feeling in the world. To be in love is just fantastic. No relationship is perfect, we all have our fights, our things that we just learn to live with because while they may annoy us, they're certainly not deal breakers. But what makes us just take it when something isn't right? Even if it isn't something that we want to end the relationship over, why do we let it pass?

I guess those involved would say that it isn't that big of a deal or they would say something. Or that it's just the way that it's always been done. Or, they've learned to live with it. But, I know myself that these little things are sometimes bigger than we let on. That they eat away a little at a time at our soul. Maybe it stops with those little things, or maybe it grows into something worse. Maybe it impacts who we choose in our next relationship.

What keeps us from demanding better? Are we so scared of losing someone who loves us that we don't teach them a better way to treat us? What does love do for women that so many of us will give up part of who we are to keep it?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Caught Between Carrie Bradshaw and Minimalism

I'm a huge Sex and the City fan. I've seen every episode and both movies multiple times. It's certainly not the best TV I've ever watched, but I wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw (with kids). I've always wanted to be a writer and the idea of living in a cute little apartment writing when the inspiration struck me is what I think many writers dream about. Not to mention that she has amazingly loyal friends, and an amazing wardrobe. Her wardrobe! What girly girl wouldn't want her amazing shoe collection?

For a very long time, I did want her life. I wanted it altered to fit having children into there, but I wanted to find a way to be able to buy $300 shoes and still pay my rent all from writing. But then over the years I learned that I really don't want a closet so full that I never wear the same thing twice. I discovered Project 333 and decided to whittle down my closet to only what I actually wear. I was able to easily remove most of my clothes...but I kept all of my shoes. I don't even wear most of them anymore because the heels I love so much started damaging my feet. I just can't let them go though.

I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores or places like Old Navy. Nothing in my closet costs more than $10 except my running shoes. Even if I had the money, I'm not sure I could ever be someone who would spend $200 on a pair of jeans. In the first Sex and the City movie when Carrie finds the suit that she wants to marry Mr. Big in and reveals that it's a label-less thrift store find which she later pairs with Manolo's I realize that even if you're someone who wants to live a minimal life, you can still appreciate fine things. Sometimes it's better to buy the one more expensive thing that will last longer, than the multiple cheap versions of the same thing.

I'm probably always going to shop at thrift stores even if I some day find myself independently wealthy. But if given the opportunity, I'd wear a pair of Jimmy Choo's to the grocery store too.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Hardest Job

There's nothing so gut wrenching as to have your child look at you and say "I just wish I had a friend to talk to". As a parent all you want to do is make this little life the best it can possibly be. You want to shield it from every bad thing, give it ever chance at it's hearts desire, and keep it from feeling any pain. So when your child looks at you and mirrors a feeling you've had yourself many times over, you would do anything to fix it.

My oldest son said that yesterday on our ride home from school after telling me he'd had a stressful day, and that having a good friend would have helped a lot. I had to try very hard not to cry while trying to talk him through this situation. Often I look at my kids and think that every quality that I don't like in myself I've sadly passed on to them. I've felt that they were dealt a poor hand in the genetic lotto of what they could have received from me.

The lack of friends, and the inability to make them is something I really hoped my kids wouldn't inherit. But sadly, one of them did. He's brilliant. Straight A's, miles ahead of his age in reading ability, athletic, funny....but a social mess just like his mother. The funny thing is, we aren't wallflowers. We will talk your ear off, and we've never met a stranger. We do pretty well in large groups even thought they make us nervous.

But one on one, or even small groups...forget it. We lack that part we need to fit in enough to form those tight bonds. I took a picture of him on "hat day". One day a year where they're allowed to wear a hat in school as part of spirit week. I'd venture that the majority of boys in his school opted for a baseball cap of their favorite team. My son sported a pink scarf, and grey fedora this day. I'm sure at lunch he sat with one group of kids, spent time with another in bad, and yet another at cross country practice later that day. But his best friend isn't in any of those things this year, so he never sees him. I did the same thing. I was the only girl who wore a cowboy hat and boots to school nearly every day. I sat with cheerleaders and the basketball team at lunch. I chatted about my favorite books with the other people who worked on our literary magazine, and I had one true friend. That was high school for me, and she lived on my street so we could see each other. My son's only in middle school. I blocked middle school out it was so awful.

I wanted to fit in and have a big group of friends. I wanted to be invited to parties, and have those big group pictures at the football games, homecoming dances, and weekend outings. I just didn't know how to be that person. I didn't know how to form those bonds with people, and I still don't. I still only have a few close friends, I almost never get asked to do anything, and when I do, I'm anxious about it.

So, I looked at him with my heart breaking for him not knowing at all what to tell him to do. If I'd been different in school, if I'd forced my way through those anxious feelings, if I'd conformed a little more to "normal" I might have those friends now. But, there are probably things I would have done in the process that I wouldn't have liked too.

I had no answers for him. It's a choice of changing some of who he is, to be less "weird" and more likable. Or staying who he is, and hoping more people come into his world that accept that. I lean toward the latter. But knowing what it still feels like after all these years, I had to give a small nudge for him to find someone with whom he shares something with, no matter how small, to forge a bond. I don't want him to change a thing about who he is, but I don't want him to miss out either.

It's the hardest job in the world.