Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Bracelet

After Wade was born I was a bit overwhelmed. Having four kids and a husband that worked all the time was a lot. I felt like I needed to walk around the world saying I'm sorry for [insert any topic like being late, my kid throwing a fit, my bad parking job at Kroger, my baby crying, not brushing my little girl's hair, basically failing at everything]. So my girlfriend made me a bracelet (pictured below) to inspire me to own it and stop apologizing to the world.

Some of the letters have fallen off, but you get it...

She got me to admit to myself and everyone my truth at that moment, being a mom of four little beings was consuming my life and even though I got a little overwhelmed and showed up a little late and lost the PTA paperwork, I loved my kids and my life and I was doing the best that I could at that moment to be the mother/person I wanted to be. I quit apologizing..."I'm a mother of 4. Fuck off."

Here's the thing, I never wore the bracelet and certainly never said it to anyone (okay, maybe to Tim once or twice). I hid it in a drawer in my kitchen and pulled it out when I felt like apologizing to the world for my shortcomings. It helped. 

I found this bracelet the other day. I hadn't seen it in almost  seven years. But you know the universe/God/whatever force you believe in has a way of showing signs to you just when you need to see them.  

When I started this blog Wade, the fourth baby that inspired the bracelet, was a toddler. Life was intense and busy. Looking back, it was mostly wild and colorful and loud and chaotic and silly and exhausting. It was also sweet and more simple than I really appreciated. That's how it goes though right? I mean just like I didn't appreciate my thinner thighs or wrinkle-free forehead in my early 20s...hindsight can be a bitch. But it also can remind you that time is the bigger bitch.

It has all gone so fast and seemingly goes faster and faster every year. 

When my kids were little I worried that I would get lost in all the beautiful chaos and have no identity but "mom." I worked hard to get involved in politics and advocacy, wrote a blog, landed a few fun freelance gigs, met amazing artists, traveled to conferences around the country and co-produced a live-stage storytelling show. I hustled to create a balance of sweet young children and a creative, political life that fulfilled me.

It worked for a while. But then my kids' schedules started making my projects harder to do. The freelance hustle became harder to commit to and I needed jobs that had a concrete pay structure. I started working two part-time jobs. I had to say no to a lot. And sometimes I said yes when I should have said no and I let people down. I volunteered but had to cancel. I started resenting my yes's and my no's and my kids' busy lives and started apologizing to everyone about my shortcomings.

Then I found the bracelet. And just like all those years ago, I had to get real with myself again. I had to say some tough no's to some amazing creative opportunities. Because to be the mother/person to the four children I love more than anything, I have to be fully present as possible. That bitch Time taught me it goes fast and I don't get a redo.

When I was a teenager my parents weren't around, mentally or physically.  They were going through their own heavy shit and boy do I have so much more compassion for what they had to figure out back then. I'm not mad. I'm just going to do it differently. My past is probably motivating my present. I don't know what I'm doing really, except worrying a lot and loving a lot and setting boundaries and really trying to not take things personally and trying to do the right things and say the right things and just be here. And my four children are pretty wonderful and smart and funny and challenging and well, I'm a big fan of theirs.

I will start saying more yes's again someday. And for real, wait until they grow up and I write the book or a storytelling show about their teenage years. Here's my working title- "Mom of 4, Fuck Off.--How To Be An Imperfect, Mindful yet Forgetful, Mostly Successful, Always Loving, Unapologetic, BadAss Mother."

Right now nothing makes me happier than all my kids around my dinner table telling stories and laughing. NOTHING.

Here's some of the stuff we've been busy doing the past month....