When In Doubt, Write It Out

When I played soccer oh so many years ago, I had a coach that would repeat the phrase “When in doubt, kick it out!”

As a defensive player, we were taught to move the ball from the center and clear it up field or, if we were in doubt, to just kick the ball out of the sidelines to give your team time to square up and get on defense.

Lately, I’ve had some doubts. Normal, healthy doubts about the big life change coming my way. I think a lot of people have them when they get mired in a pool of details and lace, flowers and invitation layouts.

As the to-do list gets shorter and the decisions get bigger, I become more prone to anxious overthinking and sleepless nights. Because my brain is all tied up in the costs and the size of this overpriced party, my heart has room to roam unchecked and without any logical supervision.

And in that freedom, doubt is uncovered and emotional anarchy takes over.

Internally I resemble a classroom where the teacher is out sick for the day and the students have taken over causing the substitute to cower in the corner, fearing for her life.

I need my logic back. And I need to address these doubts. They can’t just be tied up and swept away. The teacher needs to return and restore order while addressing the chaos unleashed while she was away. It’s can’t just be brushed over and put away. This needs to be talked out.

Or in my case, I need to write it out. To put my thoughts and feelings on the page and read them back to myself. A reminder of what’s flowing out of me as I sift through the concerns bubbling to the surface.

While I write it out, things come to light that I didn’t consider before. And sometimes just writing down what I’m feeling, giving it words and a description, can give me some validation.

My doubts come to focus when we are working in the area of the guest list. It fluctuates from conservative to outright the whole world. And finding a compromise has yet to be found. The bigger issue is not so much this one event but that in life, I see large parties and celebrations unnecessary and The Guy sees it as the only way to celebrate.

My family does not celebrate in a large way. We have small, intimate gatherings where the quality of the company exceeds the quantity. And there were the little special pieces of our birthdays that came every year: the story of the day we were born retold by our parents throughout the day, picking the place to dine for our special day, and a gift or two.

That was it. That was all we did but I never felt unimportant and lacking in that special day attention. I loved my birthday traditions! Picking the restaurant in which we’d eat that night was a big deal and hearing my mom tell my story was so special to me.

On the other side of the coin, more is better and so is bigger for The Guy. The guest list for a single birthday extends beyond the immediate family and includes cousins and friends and friends of the family. The food is unending and the drinks flow smoothly. People gather in groups and chat or laugh, all in the name of good times.

They’ve never had a bad turn out or a bad time but for an introvert like myself, it’s exhausting.

As we merge our two family traditions, we have yet to find a compromise. The Guy likes his birthday big and celebrated. I like mine small and cozy.

For me, less it more. For him, bigger is better.

Is there a middle road? Or can I find the energy to just go with it and prepare to plan party after party every year? Ugh…that makes my stomach turn.

And I wish I felt like my wishes were heard, like it wasn’t looked down upon that I honestly REALLY like my birthday celebrated in small ways. Hell, I was happy and excited about a small wedding in front of a justice of the peace! But in the end here we are, planning some huge to-do and I wish it was just something small and private.

At what point am I sacrificing too much to please others? And when am I pushing too much for what I want when what I want is not the norm?

There has to be a middle road. Until then I guess I’ll continue to write it out and work through all these complicated emotions.

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Letter To My Son: Separation Anxiety

Little Man,

Last night, I began to cry as I tried to fall asleep. I realized in all the change going on in our lives that we’re spending less time together. Not that that is a bad thing, necessarily. You are getting some much needed boy time at home with The Guy while I’m getting some much deserved me time more regularly.

We were attached at the hip for so long. For the last couple of years, I was your One and Only. I did it all for you: cooked, cleaned, bathed, washed your clothes, got you to school and picked you up. On the off chance our schedules conflicted, I called in the help of your doting grandparents.

Now you have two parents in the home. Two people who love you and all your antics. We laugh when you get over-dramatic about bedtime and we cuddle you when you are concerned about the future. We’ll kiss your boo-boos and send you to bed with lots of hugs.

While the notion of having a second set of hands to help take care of you and give me a few minutes of free time to myself is wonderful and healthy, it hit me: we’re no longer joined at the hip. We’ve slowly started to release each other and seek out new attachments.

I couldn’t be happier for us both to have found a love so deep and so unconditional that we feel comfortable no longer being buddy-buddy 24/7. But this mama is also a little heartbroken. You don’t need me quite the same as you used to.

You are stillĀ  my little guy no matter how independent of me you become. I guess I just didn’t see it happening so soon. While I’m blindsided by this revelation, I’m also in awe of how much you’ve blossomed as your own person.

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You have this big personality that’s vibrant and strong. You fight tooth and nail for things you believe are right or things that you believe you deserve. And you love just as hard. There are times I just stand back in amazement of how wonderful you are, how funny and how genuine you can be.

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You are so open and bright eyed. Everything you experience is new and different because you are constantly learning and reaching out for more knowledge. I can only imagine that some of your growing pains are because your brain is creating a new wrinkle of knowledge constantly! I’m always in awe of your observations and understanding of the world you live in.

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You’ve bloomed so much in the past year, trying out new things and putting to work your imagination in different ways. Raising you has given me a second chance to rediscover the things I love like painting and reading and playing.

While the adjustment period hasn’t been perfectly smooth and we’ve survived a bump in the road or two, we still manage to come back together as a family each time. We both love you, Jakey and while you slowly stretch out your wings and begin to fly off on your own from time to time, you’ll always have us to come back to.

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And I’ll work on not being so emotional over this. Because if this is how I’m reacting and you are only turning 7 next month, I’ll be a mess when you turn 18. And probably again when you turn 25.

Hell, what am I saying? I’ll be a mess every year you move away from being the chubby, bubbly baby that came into my life. I’ll always be the tiniest bit sad when you turn another year older. But I can’t stop time and neither can you. We both are growing and changing.

Bathtime!

So stretch out those wings and soar, my little man.

And don’t forget you’ll always have your One and Only back at the nest, waiting to hear of all the new things you’ve discovered on your own.

The Wall

I’ve never planned anything bigger than a birthday party for my son. When he turned 5 years old, we had a big shindig including uncles and aunts and cousins and friends and their kids. We had a man come out with reptiles and bugs. There were balloons and a cake decorated with creepy crawlies.

I even had plates and napkins to match the jungle theme.

So planning for 7 months a single day event is a big jump. Going from a simple birthday party for a kindergartener to a 150 person evening wedding is a bit overwhelming.

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Choices…choices…

Up till now, I had some concerns and things were a tad stressful but everything has worked out: our location was available and within budget, our photographer was open that day and had a package we could work with. The caterer we are using turned out to be better than we could have imagined for being a vendor we didn’t get to choose.

Even my dress practically fell into my hands.

All was going accordingly when suddenly we found ourselves at a stand still. No calls have been made, no quotes emailed and nothing is wrong. I think we just ran out of steam.

Planning such a big life moment is a lot of work. Maybe it’s my own fault for not considering that while things might go smoothly for a stretch, there will be moments when things slow down and seem to make little progression. Like being in the fast lane on a freeway when you suddenly find you are slowing down to a stop because you’ve run out of gas.

Yes, we are that annoying car clogging up the fast lane. I can see the open road ahead but in the rear-view mirror I can also see the cars piling up behind us. It’s a stressful feeling to know you still have so far to go and so many big decisions still to make but you are running on fumes.

For now we have our save-the-date cards and about half the addresses we need. We also have our hotel for our out-of-town wedding guests secured. We do have a cake in mind, flavor wise, but our menu is still pending.

But that’s about it.

A night-out may be necessary to revive our decision making process and get back out on the road again.

And soonish…

Worthy

When I was little, I never played Bride. I never dressed up and made believe I was a bride in a white gown walking down the aisle. Getting married was a step an adult made so it was tucked away as a distant option to consider one day.

As I developed and grew, it didn’t really cross my thoughts in a conscious way. Never at the front of my mind although I knew someday I’d have a partner and a family and maybe a house. Getting to that point in my life was never envisioned in any real way, just thoughts or ideas. That was it, nothing concrete.

Just a passing idea or a fleeting notion. Nothing in reality.

Then came a time when I saw numerous friends and family walk down the aisle. Lots of white dresses, big parties, and gifts upon gifts. It was then that reality set in. That a wedding followed by marriage was something many people did. And it was something I wanted to do, too.

From then on it was a thought that plagued me.

Would I meet the right guy? How would I know? Will I get married in a big wedding? When will it happen? Blah blah blah… Yes, like many women the world over, I was in my mid-twenties, done with college and ready to meet the person I would marry and I became obsessed with dating and weeding through many frogs to find that prince.

As progressive as I’d like to consider myself, in the end I had become like everyone other girl. I wanted the dream wedding, the perfect guy, the house with the fence and the dog followed soon by little feet pattering down the hallway. Never once did I actually think about the process of finding someone let alone the reality of the wedding and the work that went into said relationship.

No… All I could think about was how many of my friends had gone before me and how long would I have to wait.

Then a wrench went flying into my dreamy thought process and no longer was I pining for a man of my own to carry me across a threshold. No, it was at this point in my life I was having to consider another set of questions about my new role as a single mother.

How would I provide for my son? Would I be strong enough to be both mother and father? What will I say when he asks the tough questions about his upbringing? Will I be able to convince him that we are a family just like any other family, only smaller?

Suddenly the notion of meeting someone who would accept me and my son as their family and willingly take on the momentous task of marrying me seemed impossible. It was then I gave up.

I found myself lacking. I was not worthy.

As I watched countless friends become engaged and then wed while I picked out health insurance for my son and interviewed many day-cares to watch him while I worked 3 jobs, I slowly gave up on the dream of getting married.

No white dresses for me. No bouquet toss and no cake to cut and smudge all over my new husband’s face. I had deemed myself unlovable and broken.

No one told me this. No one labeled me negatively. I did it myself.

I saw myself as undesirable. Who would want a single mother with a handful for a son and shit ton of baggage?

Though I did date a small amount after my son turned 2, I don’t think I really really allowed myself to consider the possibility that I would be worthy of a proposal let alone a lifetime with someone I truly meshed with.

I did think I was fit to settle with someone that loved me but wasn’t honestly the right person. And I came close to sealing that deal with them until I found the strength to wish for more and walk away from a decent thing, even though it wasn’t the right thing.

Since then I’ve met that someone. Someone who looks at me and smiles because I’m just sitting there being myself. Someone who encourages me to push beyond my fears and to really be my best self. Someone who loves me completely. Unconditionally.

And, someone who loves my son as if he were his own.

It’s not been an easy path. He’s had to cut through all my red tape and obstacles I step up to reach me. It was as if I had booby trapped the way to my heart unknowingly. And yet, here he stands beside me, ready to take the next big step and get married.

He actually wants to marry me! Go figure!

And all he’s asked for in return is my unconditional love for him and for myself. He pushes me to really let go and love myself with no strings and no shadows. He only asks that I believe that I am worthy of love and compassion.

He tells me daily that I deserve all the good things life has to offer.

And I’m slowly starting to agree with him.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Have you ever had a task that required a to-do list? One that had steps in which you take one then another in an ordered fashion? Where number one had to be done before number two and without this order of events, nothing would come together just right?

Planning a wedding requires a certain sense of organization and order. You have to start from the big details then work your way down to the finer points. You start with some colors and a theme, get a general idea of what you want and what you see, then you start searching out locations and venues that fulfill all that you envisioned for your big day.

It’s a pyramid but tipped up on its end, starting with the big picture and working its way down to the details till you reach the finest point at the bottom wherein you have created a precise replica of what you saw in your mind.

Most people of a certain age have been to weddings and have seen that exact pinpoint of details all meshed together to create a cohesive event. The flowers and colors and centerpieces all flow together and create an overall feeling of togetherness. What they don’t see is theĀ  trail of paperwork and planning that goes into the overall feel of a Big Day.

They haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole. This downward spiraling dark tunnel that banks left then right, twisting and turning till you are head down, facing backwards and your pockets are empty of all your money.

Yes…planning a wedding is like tumbling through a long tunnel with no end in sight. You pick your venue, then comes the list of preferred vendors from which you pick other things like a caterer, florist, musicians and a host of other people you never knew existed till it came time to say I Do.

And each vendor has a list of packages and requirements, each of them vastly different from the next. Some require very little while others have a laundry list of dos and don’ts. It’s mind boggling how much shit must be picked through, decided on, and organized just to throw a wedding.

As we make a one decision, 3 more must then be considered. After that, you feel accomplished! I did it! I made a decision on the color of the napkins! But wait! Do you want personalized? Monogrammed? Paper or linen? Will they match the tablecloth? Or the overlay? Wait…what the hell is an overlay!?

The details send us spiraling further downward, casting us up against rock after rock, in between numerous hard spots and tight spaces. Must hit this deadline! Oh look, a sharp corner! Don’t toe that line or you’ll miss an opportunity.

The only thing I hold out for as I tumble through this dark labyrinth of decision and choices is that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. That light will be the smile as I walk down the aisle towards my best friend. Not many people get to be so lucky.

Not everyone gets to marry their best friend from the second grade.

 

Three Ring Circus

Weddings, I can take ’em or leave ’em.

I tend to have good experiences when I go to a wedding but I never walk away from one totally stunned and in awe. Maybe because to me it’s a big party and I’m good with a small get-together with close friends. I don’t need the whole glitz and glamor of a full shin-dig with tablecloths that match the napkins and centerpieces that cost WAY more than most know.

Weddings, they’re ok.

Now my opinion has changed. It changed because, I, myself, am having a wedding.

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Yes my very own wedding. And now weddings are a complete pain in the ass.

I feel like a tightrope walker in a big top circus. A big three ring circus with a thin wire strung from side to side with no net underneath! There are rings of fire to jump through and a lion on the ground snatching at me in the hopes I fall to the ground so he can have an early lunch.

I don’t want to be his lunch! I very much don’t want to come crashing down so I cling to this wire with my toes curled tightly around it making the smallest of baby steps. I’m moving, but slowly. Very very slowly.

For every step forward I make, I take a moment to stop and catch my balance. For every decision I make, I sit on it before making another. There are no easy choices because everything is coming from our pockets. From our son’s college fund. From our future travel plans.

I’m planning a party with our future. And this bugs me to no end. Each time I make a move, I breathe deeply and push past the feelings of unease rising up as I mistakenly look down and see how far up I am and how thin this damn wire is.

Nothing is taken lightly and I’m probably way over thinking it. But, to be honest, I never wanted to be a tightrope walker! I agreed to this job because, well, I am in love with my guy and he is my future. I plan to get married only once so why not celebrate?

I’m very excited about the marriage aspect and feel very confident that in rough times we’ll weather it together and in great times we’ll enjoy every moment by each others’ sides. This part I have no issue with. I’m ready to be married and to be a wife. To call him husband.

I’d be happy with a small party and a simple dress. And honestly, my frugal side is still angry with me at ditching this plan. But another side of me thinks that celebrating this day with the family and friends in our lives is pretty important so why not give it a go and throw this over-rated, way over-priced shin-dig.

I’ll grumble and get pissy throughout the process and I may kick and scream as I cut another check for unnecessary costs like flower arrangements and cake cutting or insurance. Ha… a day so “important” it needs to be insured…Oi…

But I’ll be there, all shiny and anxious, to walk toward my future and be together with him. My friends and family will surround us and then we’ll exchange our words of commitment to each other, kiss and be one. Dancing will commence alongside our closest and dearest and many, many beautiful pictures will be taken.

Then it’ll be over. And we’ll be married. Settled. Secure. A team united by our comfort in silence together, our ability to finish each others’ sentences, and our deep commitment towards our family, both present and future.