Friday, April 27, 2012

chin up

My little dude,

You've been such a trooper weathering all that I've put you through in this past year -- moving you out of the only home you knew, convincing you we were going on an  adventure, shuffling you between two homes, leaving you with half a dozen new sitters and then putting you in daycare while I went back to work. Through it all, you've been a courageous little boy and I've pushed you to be brave and more independent simply because I can't do it all.

I will never forget the morning I came downstairs and you attempted to make yourself oatmeal. You must have placed a full bowl of Quaker Oats under the tap and turned it on full blast because there were oats sprayed all over the walls, cabinets, kitchen counter. It's a wonder there was much left for you to eat in that bowl. You strategically placed paper towel over all the mess hoping maybe it would go unnoticed. I happily mopped up knowing how much determination it probably took for you to self serve yourself breakfast.

I know the transitions are the hardest on you. How many times have I picked you up from your father's apartment, you climb into the car, give me a big "mwah"and declare how much you miss me and then no more than 1/2 mile later, you admit you miss daddy, too?  I always say the same thing: "I know. It's hard. It's OK to miss us both."  

Sometimes we have to make really hard decisions -- painful ones because we know it will be hard on people we love. But sometimes it's necessary because it rights our course --  puts us back on a more honest path. It's amazing how much energy is sucked out of you when we hold secrets inside. All I can say is that I tried really hard to preserve our family but in the end, it's true what I told you -- sometimes grown ups are better friends when we live apart.

So hang in there, little dude. I know mommy is a bit scatter-brained right now and I'm so sorry I sometimes forget to pack you a snack or  miss your karate belt exam. And I know you miss your neighborhood friends and you hate being the last one picked up from daycare but know that I'm working hard for both of us. Chin up.



Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting to Goodbye

I've been away from Apple Moon for some time so I reread some of my posts hoping the distance would glean some objectivity. I came away from it wondering what Apple Moon is really about? One could justifiably criticize this blog for being ill-defined. In my defense, I think the lack of focus actually reveals something about my life right now. This year has been a never-ending game of whack-a-mole -- poised and ready to clobber whatever pops up whether it be a 6-year old's meltdown, coping with autism, insufferable pantyhose and returning to the workforce or conquering the weed whacker. My little snippet at the top of the page reads: "ramblings of a former stay-at-home-mom who said goodbye to the world she thought she lived in." (key word = ramblings) It started me thinking: how did I get to goodbye?

I spent years building up to goodbye. I kept waiting for certainty to strike but in hindsight, I think it was futile. Emotionally, I was already there but I was waiting for the practical considerations to resolve themselves and the trepidation to ease. That day would never come.

I'm not sure what made me lunge through that door to the other side of my life. Was it intense dissatisfaction or a streak of boldness? I'll never know but one early summer evening, the words I held in for so long came tumbling out. And there it was; the words, so palpable, hung in mid air. I don't think I was prepared for what came next. You rehearse it in your mind but not the part that comes after. Would I want to reel it back inside -- rewind and pretend it never happened or journey forward into a brave new world?

My true feelings simmered to the surface the morning after. Are you familiar with that moment when you first wake up? When you hover somewhere between dreamland and consciousness and all the "shoulda, coulda, woulda's" of your world are at bay? It's a time when your feelings are pure  -  undiluted by the fixtures of your mind. The first thing I felt the morning after my big decision was undeniable relief. To this day, I believe that sure-mindedness is a gift; a gift that fuels me for my passage to what comes next.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Walk into the Woods

If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. 
I often think in music. 
I live my daydreams in music. 
I see my life in terms of music... 
I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin.  
  - Albert Einstein

Help. I can't turn off the music. Friends tease me because they rarely see me without my ear buds in these days. I went to the doctor. I was sitting there, shivering in nothing but my paper gown listening to Mazzy Star when the doctor walked in, politely unplugged me from my iPhone and set it aside. He didn't seem amused by the silliness of it all. Just muttered that he thought he would have to surgically remove it from my body. So what if my iPhone is connected to me like an oxygen tank? I tell friends that I'm drowning out the thoughts in my own head with the music. But I think there's more to it than that. My song choice is a better barometer for my feelings than my own head. When I reach for my iPhone and select a song, an artist or a playlist, it tells me something about what I want; what I need at that exact moment. I know I tend towards the melancholy but it's not always so dramatic. Sometimes I just need a zippy tune to motivate me to do mundane tasks. 

Last week, a friend inspired me with Kiss's "Calling Dr. Love" -- a good one for attacking a sink full of dirty dishes. I have a playlist specifically for cleaning the house -- more classic stuff like the Stones, Springsteen, Bowie -- as of late a friend turned me on to Paul Weller. He's good for getting me off the couch. The other day, I discovered the Little Dude rocking out to a tune -- and he was truly feeling the music. No joke. I'm so pleased to say my son has rhythm and was really getting into it. I was amazed. Where did he get those moves from? I asked him expecting he would tell me he was hanging with some new friends at school. Instead, he laughed, kind of embarrassed even, rolled his eyes and said, "youuuu, mom."

Jammin' with the little dude to the Beatles -- that's the lighter side of music for me. Of course there is the other side. Times when I'm not willing to share my music with others. I have to be alone with it in my own head. Am I trying to block out all the other stuff whirling around in my mind? I used to think that but I'm not so sure anymore. Oftentimes my music selection is one step ahead of me -- conscious or not I think the music unravels stuff I just need to get out. And I don't have to work through my emotions alone because I have Ray Lamontagne or Adele crooning about their loneliness, their heartbreak. That's what sets some artists apart from others. They don't hold back, they aren't afraid to show their vulnerability in their music. It's brave.

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon retreated from the real world after his old band broke up, his girlfriend split and he contracted mononucleosis. Holed up in his dad's remote hunting cabin in Northwestern Wisconsin he wrote and recorded one of my all time favorite albums, "For Emma, Forever Ago." He's not always so literal in exposing his heartache. In fact, his lyrics are notoriously nonsensical. I used to pick apart his lyrics trying to interpret the meaning but now think it's a waste of time. He's been quoted as saying he chooses words more for their sound than for their meaning. And yet listening to the whole album, the hurt, the pain, the recovery are so apparent -- it's just there. We all don't have the luxury of taking a walk into the woods and escaping the real world but Justin allows you to come along -- at least for an hour or so. When your own world is crashing down all around you, it helps to know someone's been through their own hell and found their way out.

Nothing delights me more than discovering a new artist or the "perfect song." When I unearth it, I'm as giddy as a school girl with a new crush. The perfect song and I collide in synchrony at precisely the right moment.  It captures everything I'm feeling at the moment and I'm convinced it's flawless and no other song will ever compare. I can get really stuck on a song. Really. I will loop the song continuously for hours, oftentimes falling asleep to it. iTunes counts how many times you play a song and I have some I've listened to over 400 times. And then through no conscious decision of my own,  I'll be over the song. Just like that. The song helps me over a hump, to process something stuck in my head and then I'm done. It's over. And I move on. Great, classic songs can stand the abuse. Someday I'll return to the song. But sometimes I've really killed it. The poor song gave me all that it had to give and there's nothing left. The reason behind my love affair with music? When I'm certain I've found the perfect song, another one comes along -- it always does. I just have to have faith. How hopeful is that?