Growing Up Later In Life
Developing the maturity to get out of the rat race. Cultivating the mind in order to live intentionally and more slowly...
I went to a meeting this morning and the topic was “Easy Does It.” Inevitably people shared about meditation, balance, and busyness. I shared too. I shared about my temper with my children. I shared about mom guilt for having a nanny full-time when I own my own business and can technically delegate and set my own hours so that I can spend time with them all the time if I want. I shared about my fear of my childhood trauma getting passed down to them because I sometimes feel like I am on a train track that I cannot get off of when it comes to ingrained “rules” about parent-child interactions and deeply rooted reactions to their pain. I want to avoid the hard stuff and stare at social media dammit. I want to put on the TV so they will leave me alone in my own world or so I can make a meal without the shedding of tears because mama cannot stir and hold the baby (it is too overwhelming, some people are better at this than I, and no, she does not want to be in a sling). I want to avoid the difficult feelings at all cost, and in turn the difficult parenting, but I am starting to see that this is and was the problem all along. It was the problem between my parents and I and it will be the problem with me and my kids if I do not square my shoulders and dive in. They never knew me. Or, I should say, they did not have the capacity to sit comfortably with my emotions and help me regulate or resolve my issues, so instead the TV became my constant companion and mood regulator. Still, at work even, in the quiet moments, I want to watch TV. Being with myself has lost its appeal if it ever was there. As an adult in this modern nation, I doubt I am alone. Simply limiting the information coming into my brain has felt very frustrating and difficult. Yesterday I deleted the News App along with a about 12 others of my “distraction” apps on my phone. They do not serve me, and really, never have. My light phone is finally shipped and on its way to me (a minimalist smart phone). More and more days go by and the articles for my blog remain unwritten, the podcast has not been started, the ukulele is gathering dust in the closet. The cool, life-stuff is going asunder. Time is just ticking by, and I am missing It. I am missing my kids growing up because I am paying someone else, someone more even-keel, to raise them. (Expletive warning…) It is pretty fucked up. However, I know it is, and I plan on changing it. We are going to give our nanny notice and severance so she can find a new position. We are going to have someone come only a couple of days a week. We are going to dive in.
Now I am no hero, I know I need a break a couple times a week to run errands kid-free. I am fortunate enough to have a partner who considers himself a parent and not a babysitter (most of the time) and we can trade off. But we are in the middle of re-structuring the company and so our hours up here have been full-time since we got back from our 3-month trip out west (we live in our RV for those new here.). So, our kids went from full time parents to us being gone 40 hours a week. Now I am going to tell you, I have gotten a lot done at work. The women’s sober living house is coming together, and we are almost fully furnished. The plumbing is done, and it has been deep cleaned. But who effing cares man! Truth is, I could have delegated. It might have taken more time, but oh well. I could have taken the kids with me the majority of the time. My resentments about my family not being in my life to help with the kids has got to be done with. I chose to have them knowing full-well our family’s limitations. And I miss them. I love being with them. I love “just” being a mom. I love being there for them and watching them discover all the things. I asked my four-year-old a few weeks ago if she would rather go back to school or be with mommy and daddy still and she thought about it pretty hard for a few minutes and though she likes being with her friends, she ultimately said “I want to be with you.” And damn…I knew then that I was going to have to figure this thing out. I was going to have to figure out how to parent my little girls in this crazy world. I was going to have to let go of all of the “work” things that “needed” me. I knew I was going to have to figure out how to play with them. I was going to have to figure out, how to eat healthily, get enough sleep, and meditate so I can be present with them without turning on the Boob Tube.
We are all addicted in my family. The glowing screens have replaced endless hours that could have been dedicated to connection, sleep, exercise, play, curiosity, developing skills and discovering the world. The part of me that wants my hand held to do hard things is the same part of me that nags my husband for staring at his phone when I am making a conscious effort to put mine down. I want to throw his phone out the window and huff and puff and then get a big old pat on the back for putting mine away. I am also working on living in reality, which is not always my strong suit…
Plenty of better people than I have raised their kids and worked along side the chaos (or maybe your children are freaks, I mean angels, who sit quietly and play while you work). Plenty of people have raised their kids without smart phones and over-stimulating, terribly annoying kids shows that teach them a bunch of garbage. Right? Oh man, I am totally in over my head, but I am also kind of fed up with my head being the boss. My heart has gotten so much right when I really sit and listen to her. Yes, she is a bit dramatic at times, but really, who else is going to slow down long enough to listen if not me.
One of the good things about my mom recently freaking out on me over my blog and disowning me (she still texts occasionally), is that I am getting a good look at the fact that I have learned to be okay without my parents’ approval (by going to hell and back). I also have realized that it would have been pretty rad to have had their attention growing up, and also to have had their time (which they gave as much as they could). I do not believe I can keep waiting to “get more okay” in order to make them a priority and become a more effective parent someday in the arbitrary future. I think it is just going to have to be messy and I am going to have to say a lot of “I’m sorry” and be imperfect, but be there, and be joyful about the fact that I “get” to be with them, when so many want to and cannot.
What I am saying, is that we are pretty much living in the Matrix right? You already know that, intellectually. The problem is that it just gets in there, and the Matrix is comfortable and easy. Going to a job you hate, wearing clothes you hate, coming home to a neighborhood that is okay, eating crappy processed food-like stuff, sitting in front of a glowing box, and rinse and repeat until you are old, or die is totally the Matrix. But what about seeing the world, meeting fellow travelers, going on road trips, and seeing The Mountains, The Ocean, learning something new, or growing your own food? What about all the stuff you see on that TV, what about the Whales and the Planet and climate change or our great-great-great grandkids!? What about that hole in your heart, the one that you have been avoiding for so long you cannot even remember when it started. When are you going to sit quietly with yourself long enough to figure out who the hell you are and what the hell you stand for (I am directing this at myself mostly)?
This planet is so freaking cool. But I am saddened about how devastating human life has been to it. It breaks my heart that we cannot stop commuting long enough to get together and say enough is enough. So many people are so locked into their handed-down-ways of living that they do not even know they have a choice to do anything different. For example, my dad recently gifted me a free year of Amazon, right after I finally broke free about a year ago and was soooooooooo much happier without it. Go figure.
This is why I really hate nostalgia (and dogma). And some traditions (like hunting and racism in the south). In my family if you do not conform, you are not accepted. What total bullshit. This is not love. If you love your kids, but you tell them to be something they are not, then you have been given the wrong definition of love.
I am trying to break free. I am not perfect. I mess up all the time. I feel guilty a lot. I still have a lot of old programming to try to pull off of me. And the world is covered in it too. So, when I pull it off, other people notice, and they are mad because they have been programmed and they do not know it, so they do not like it when other people are free, and they think they “have to” remain in the cage.
I have to give credit where it is due. I have been reading a lot of Mr. Money Mustache lately and the veils have been peeling back a little, and damn that sun is bright. In a good way. Taking a good look at my consumerism and my lack of faith in my God-given abilities has made me think about the information that I consume on a daily basis, and I am questioning myself. In a good way. Also, we have been buying a lot of stuff lately for our business and the waste is driving me nuts. In a good way. I am tired of crap that wears out after a few years and then becomes more junk for the landfill. Sometimes being hard on myself for the right reasons is okay. We got to save this planet (ourselves) people. It needs us. In a good way. Amen