Reopening the Wound

It’s been ages since I last wrote. There hasn’t been much to share because life has been just that. Life. It’s busy, chaotic, hectic, and beautiful. All these things rolled into one fast 24 hour span, seven days a week.

We’ve celebrated a first anniversary and a signing of a second lease. We’ve survived a new sport and second grade. We’ve lived through a tough year of trying to conceive without any success. Together, we’ve survived.

I come back to writing when I feel like my soul needs to get something free. To loosen the words floating about my mind and to clear my thoughts.

Today, I renewed my credential. Renewing this document has caused a rise sadness and anger of the likes I’ve never known. The resentment, the rage, and frustration all swirling together, making it hard to think or talk without stumbling on all those words tangling together. So tangled I felt the need to write about it. To work out the knots that have formed in between my synapses.

In 2005 I got my credential and taught for about 4-5 months. Then I discovered I was pregnant. In light of this discovery I turned down a job opportunity, packed up, and moved home. There I got back into teaching by way of subbing in my hometown. Little could I have known, or anyone else for that matter, that the job I turned down to raise my son would be the last job opportunity I would be offered. Each year I would apply to teach full time and each year I would sign back up as a substitute when no interviews or opportunities opened for me.

After so long I knew I needed more. I needed insurance for my son and consistency for both of us. I needed an income that was steady and a work schedule that never deviated. So I left. I turned my back on teaching and did what any parent needing to care for a child would do: I sacrificed.

It’s been seven years and much has changed in the classroom. New policies and laws have made their way into the schools. Now that my child is in school, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground and watching with a keen eye on the changing face of education. Larger class sizes and a new curriculum. And most recently, talk of ridding the state of teachers’ tenure, a ruling I’d happily stand up and clap for. No teacher has earned a lifetime job after only 2 years in a classroom and it makes it difficult to file against a teacher that isn’t pulling their weight and relying on their tenure to secure them a job each year.

With this news, it was suggested that I update my resume and make sure my credential was in order. And I balked.

“What resume?” I said. I hadn’t stepped foot in a class as a teacher in seven years! All of my references would be no good and I would have no letters to show off all my glowing achievements. Instead I would have empty hands but many years of loving my child. I don’t regret becoming his mother and I can’t regret stepping away from teaching. It was a decision that had to be made. But now, I’m nothing in the realm of education. I’m practically the same level as a student still finishing their student teaching semester.

Even so, I went along and updated my credential. My name has changed since and it was coming up for renewal anyway. I so did just that. I removed my maiden name and filed for renewal.

When I was done, I felt a warmth rising up my face and over my whole body. I wanted to cry. The dream of being a teacher, something I’d wanted since I was a little girl, had been shattered long ago. But renewing my credential almost feels like picking at a scab that had long since healed over only to discovered a festering wound still open beneath.

I’m still angry and frustrated at the hand that I was dealt. The bad luck that followed me down my path. As I waded through these hot angry tears surfacing through all my rage and angsts, I started to realize something else was bubbling to the surface. I am scared. I’m scared to leave my nest. I may be miserable here at times but I’m comfortable. I also carry the family on my insurance plan. I can’t just leave. I’m also afraid that I no longer will want to teach. It was easy to flow from school to the classroom. I had been teaching for years. But being away for so long has made me reconsider whether teaching is even a vocation I want to pursue.

This last thought, this realization that maybe teaching isn’t what I want to do anymore is devastating. Like a big eraser, this thought wipes away all the years of wanting to be a teacher. All the years of working for it and wanting it with every fiber of my body. The sudden idea that maybe this isn’t the dream I thought it would be breaks my heart.

Under the surface of all these warring feelings and thoughts, another realization is slowing rising like a patient balloon reaching for the sky. While I renewed my credential I also changed my name. I’m the same person but with a new name. Maybe this could be my fresh start?

For now, I wait for the notification that my renewal has been approved and that my credential is now legal for another 10 years. While I wait for this response, I will spend my time reflecting on the changing surface of my feelings. The anger and fear and hope and sadness. They swirl and swish together like an oil slick riding the sloppy waves along the coast. I’ll ride them out, address each one and allow them to each sink below until my mind and heart are clear.

 

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The Reality Of It All

Reality. Real life. That constant current flowing through our days and nights. It’s always there whether you choose to see it or not.

I can say, as a human being, that reality isn’t something I ponder often. It’s just there, taken for granted. Like oxygen. Reality is that thing we fall back on when our dreams and hopes and wishes aren’t coming to fruition. Reality is the warm blanket that’s not pretty or special, it’s not fancy or exotic. It’s just there, waiting for us.

I’ve noticed that reality isn’t as bad as we can make it out to be. Yes, our dreams are brighter and our future hopes glimmer oh so enticingly but reality, the solid consistent mass that sits in the back ground patiently, isn’t as dark as it seems. It’s nothing more than a basic thread in our lives, weaving the background together while we frolic and dance about hoping for more.

We’ve been married for 5 months. In those five months we’ve planned big, taken huge leaps, and we’ve loved passionately in that blinding newly wedded bliss that happens to everyone. But that isn’t reality. That is the post-wedding/honeymoon glow.

What is in actuality our reality is homework. Monday through Thursday homework. It’s rescheduling doctor appointments and juggling after-school pick up. Reality is going to bed to read a book while your partner works through the night to support the family. It is the dirty socks that must be turned right side out and the grocery shopping list for all the dinners to be made that week. Reality is the linen closet that needs to be organized and the light bulbs that need to be replaced.

Reality is boring. It’s basic. It’s everyday. But it’s unwavering and reliable. There will always be dishes to be washed and toys to be picked up and bills to be paid. And as a married couple, our reality is that even when the flames dim a bit due to the hectic family life that’s being created and executed, there is still a strong foundation of respect and love. Reality is that married life isn’t the blasting heat from a raging bonfire but the glowing warm embers of a fire that never dies.

I realized today as I paid off a credit card and added my husband as my additional payee on another bill that I was allowing myself to slip into the realness of everyday life and that I was forgetting to step out of it for a moment, for a quick second, to remind him that I loved him. Those glowing embers are there and I bet he knows how I feel for him without saying it but I didn’t want to rely on that. I wanted to take that second, grab it tightly and to say what I felt.

And most importantly, to say it without the expectation that I will get something in return. Instead, I said it because I meant it and I wanted him to know.

Reality. It’s not glamorous or special. It’s real and constant. It’s there whether you think about it or not. And in married life, reality is what kicks people in the face after the excitement of a wedding wears off. If you don’t plan for the everyday stuff and you go in with the expectation that your married life will be just as special as your one big day was, then you are in for a real surprise, and not the good kind.

Instead of mourning and clawing ferociously at the slowly fading shimmer on our post-wedding bliss, I’m settling into my warm, comfortable reality and wrapping it around me. These embers are still glowing and are scalding to the touch because even in the comfort of reality, the passion and love is just as present even if the folded laundry does need to be put away.

chamfort

Letter To My Son: The Hairy Summer

Dear Jacob,

When you were seven, we had a very big, busy summer as a family. It was the summer we got married. And by we, I mean me, your dad, and you. It was also the summer that you came into your own.

You discovered your hair.

Your hair was a beast unto itself. It didn’t curl like mine but laid straight against your head in a perfect shag. It grew more and more blonde with each passing warm summer day in the pool and outside playing with friends. Your perfectly chestnut hair changed over the summer to a perfect golden hue.

That summer, you were determined to grow it out long and you wanted so very badly for it to curl. Every other day or so you’d plead for me to curl your hair with a curling iron. Of course, those requests came at a time when I was busy cooking or doing something else so I had to say “not right now” more often than not. Even though it wouldn’t do it on its own and I wasn’t available to curl it for you, you found that your sleep habits helped create that wave and style you so hoped for.

I’ll be curious to know, when you read this as a grow adult, what your memories are.

Do you remember, as I do, the tangle that was your hair most mornings?
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The way it would flip out and scrunch up all over your head?
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It had a life of its own.

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Along with your hair, you also discovered your own style. You preferred a hat and jacket on most days. Your nice dinner jacket had become more of a costume piece. You wore it so often it had tears and rips in the lining. So many that I couldn’t keep up with them so I just let them go, figuring no one would notice…

Some days you were a super spy.

 photo null_zpsf2ea54f6.jpgAnd boy, were you a stylish super spy.

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And other days…well…I guess you went for that lazy beach bum look.

Other times you straight up wore a costume, becoming someone completely different. Comic book heroes were a big hit for you.

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As were comic books. That was the summer you discovered reading and the joy that a book could bring.

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Even if you read at the most inopportune places like in line at the grocery store or well past your bedtime. Many nights we’d find you wide awake with a book in hand and flashlight to guide your eyes when you should have been fast asleep.

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And just between us, I got a kick out of it. It brought me a special kind of joy to find you still reading when you should have been asleep. Though I had to act like an adult and take the books away so that you would go to sleep, I secret was dancing a little happy jig in my heart.

The best part about it was watching you develop before our very eyes. Rarely did you care what others thought about you. You did your own thing and walked your own road.

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Like the time you wanted blue hair.

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Or the time you dressed in long pants and a collared shirt in 90 degree weather.

You looked so spiffy even though I knew you’d be super warm and sweaty when I picked you up later that day.

Living life to the fullest, you pushed boundaries and found your own pace. Much of the time, it was appreciated by your dad and me. Other times, well…you’d push those boundaries and we’d push back only to find ourselves in a deadlock with you, head to head. It was at those times I’d remind myself that it was good for you to have a strong personality. It would serve you well as an adult, even if it would make your dad and me go grey early.

This was the summer you discovered more about yourself, about your interests, and about your personal tastes.

This was the summer I fell more in love with you, my son. I didn’t think it was possible because I loved you so much already. And I also worried, with the big responsibilities that came with a marriage, that I’d somehow fail you in some way. Instead I found new ways to love you than I had before. I loved your ingenuity, you curiosity, your creativity and I loved watching you discover new interests.

This was the summer you discovered your hair and it was the summer I discovered my love for you was endless.

xoxoxo,

Mama

Guilt Trip

When the Mr. and I dated, we had a healthy relationship that included time together and time apart. I had my girls nights out and he had his dude days. We also had friends together we’d hang out with and date nights just for us along with family nights with the little man.

I never once felt guilty for spending time away from my little family. We felt our time together was wonderful but our time apart was just as important to maintain our sense of self and our friendships outside of each other.

But all that seems to have changed. We said our vows and signed the legal document making us husband and wife about 6 weeks ago. In that span of time we’ve done what we usually do: family nights, date nights and our own separate nights out with our friends. Nothing new and shnazzy other than us being able to call each other Mr. and Mrs.

Things are only different in the legal sense, we are still the same couple. Then why do I feel so guilty?

Yes, guilty. Suddenly, as if things have changed drastically, I find myself struggling to make plans with friends and not feel bad about it. Weird…

Take this past weekend, for example. Before the wedding, my sister and I made plans to go to San Diego to see The Postal Service perform. It would be our weekend away after the hub-bub of the wedding was over. This plan seemed awesome until the time came to pack up and head down south. I was suddenly struck with concern and worry about leaving, feeling some unspoken fear of abandonment. It took much encouragement from the husband and from my sister to continue with our plans. In the end we enjoyed the time and show together immensely.

So none of this is coming from the husband. He’s completely supportive of me to make time for friends and to explore new things like painting and wine tasting nights. And I encourage him to do the same, have time away with his friends and do their guy things (whatever those might be).

Then why am I suddenly regretting any plans I make away from my guys? Is this some magical thing that overcomes you when you get married? Does it creep up your arm as your sign the license and take over your body and mind?

It’s odd how suddenly this change happened. Maybe it’s because I’m happiest at home having dinner and watching a movie with my son and husband. Maybe it’s because this marriage is still so new and fresh that I’m still intrigued by it and want more of it. It must be that honeymoon phase people talk about. I must be knee deep in it and it pains me to take time away from my home.

I wonder how long this phase will last. For now, I’ll just roll with it.

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.

A Letter To My Child: Someday, With Love

Peanut,

You are not real. You are not even a physical being, just a thought, and yet here I sit writing you this letter.

The other day Jake, who will be your big brother someday, was asking about you. He wanted to know when you are coming and when will he get to be a big brother.

Sadly, I couldn’t answer with anything definite. I could only give him the understanding that someday, it will happen. That someday you will come into our lives and then he will be a big brother.

I explained to him that before he was born, I loved him. I didn’t know him or if he would be a boy or a girl but that it didn’t matter. I would love him no matter what. And that I looked forward to the day that he would be in my life.

Your big brother Jake then told me that until you were born, until you make your appearance in the world and bless our lives with your presence, he would love you in his heart.

He made me realize that he is already a great big brother.

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You may not be in our lives yet but we talk about you constantly. We wonder if you will be a girl or a boy. If you will have your dad’s nose or my mouth. If you will be a happy baby like your big brother or if you will be a quiet observer, taking it all in.

This made me realize we are ready for you. We are ready to be your mom and your dad. To be the team you need to grow up strong, confident and happy. We are ready for the sleepless nights and the nursing and dirty diapers at 3am.

Our love for you grows each day and we can’t wait to learn that you will be joining us soon. It’s with all of our hearts together that we wait and hope to share the news of your coming with the family. Not yet, but someday.

Until then, we wait. We share and talk and wonder.

And as for me, I am ready. I’m ready to hold you, kiss you and tell you stories like this one. Stories of the life we led before you and the dreams we all held in our hands until they held you. I can’t wait to hear you cry and watch you learn to smile. I can’t wait to listen for your first words and when you call your big brother for the first time.

It’s hard to explain, the love you have for those who don’t exist yet. But it’s there, deep and very real.

So we wait for you, to welcome you and love you in the flesh as we do now in our dreams.

Someday.

With love…

Mama