I read something today that shook me. Deep. Way down deep, in a big WTF sort of way... it had to do with the local school wanting to arm security guards. And then I hopscotched to an article about the psychological effect of gun violence, drills, and paranoia on young children.
I don't think I have to describe the feeling inside. I think we all feel that horror; it's a mess. The uncertainty. The rage, the confusion, the sadness.
But, here's what I noticed, as I read through the inter-webs: my father's generation grew up this way, during the Cold War. They grew up (our Baby Booming parents) hiding under their desks, wondering whether bombs would fall from the sky. It was "war time." There was the big button. And then we were into the Cold War.
I had a chat with my Dad about his childhood. And it was so different... this was a war machine, not unpredictable civilians shooting each other and kids in schools and movie theaters. So much is different, but still, there were parallels. Duck and Cover, they called it. They hid under their desks when the sirens went off. They never knew when an air raid might materialize. This generation had its share of anxiety growing up, for sure.
I read here about the fear and anxiety over current politics and threats to our safety, and how they echo the fears of the Cold War era. We are re-living those fearful childhoods, through our baby boomers. It's palpable. The tension, the air thick with the memory of it, of hiding. Are we safe, are we safe?
And on the other hand, we have the current kids. The group my son will be joining in the fall. These kids are in the beginning stages of learning "active shooter drills." The Boomers had fall-out shelters, and now we are talking about "safe rooms." The threat is very different. But the fear is real, for both. I shudder to imagine my son growing up in such fear-based, dark world. And anxiety begins to tug at me, too. But then, I stop. I breathe. I ground myself. And I remember...
My generation is a special one. And I'm definitely talking about my own privileged youth: my friends, my school experience. Of course, not everyone had a positive experience, for personal reasons. But I'm talking about the vibe of the nation. The Reagan Years. We grew up in the age of bliss, in many ways
I watched the first choreographed music video, ever, on MTV (back when they just played music videos) along with many of my Gen X counterparts who were lucky enough to have cable. (You just heard Video Killed the Radio Star in your head just now, didn't you?) Oh - ah- oh...
I grew up with Dolly Pops and He-Man cartoons and Voltron and Smurfs. US in the 80s... in the middle class neighborhoods... there were TVs everywhere. Abundance. Too much, I think. We had it good. New Wave vibes and Boy George and John Hughes films. Lisa Lisa. Janet. Blondie. Bon Jovi. The Rubick's Cube. Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis? Different Strokes. Beepers and pagers. Madonna. Atari... Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger. The arcade. Neon shirts. Webster. Asymmetrical skirts. Princess Di. Skorts. Tina Turner. Scrunchies. Keds. Miami Vice. Knight Rider. Human League. Wham! Bowie. <3 The Go-Gos. Mr. T. FAME! Flashdance. Shoulder pads. PRINCE. Garbage Pail Kids. Whitney Houston. Mr. Wizard's World. Mall bangs. Mr. Rogers. Peak Michael Jackson. We Are the World. Hands Across America. Farm Aid. U2, The Police, Sting. Debbie Gibson. Selena. BRUUUUCE. Weird Al. COMING TO AMERICA. Roller rinks. New Kids and Tiffany... we crossed into the nineties and the Seattle grunge exploded! Kurt Cobain and the Nevermind album, oh my God! Chris Cornell. <3 We met John Mayer. Dial-up internet entered the home.
I could reminisce for hours. There was pretention, to be sure, but I remember the freedom, the bliss, the culture, the abstract art, the vibe... like it were yesterday. I think a lot of us do. TURBO AND OZONE! Sorry, that just slipped out. So, we sort of packed it up inside, and carried it along with us. Many of my counterparts still quote their favorite childhood shows and nostalgia. it was so much a part of us, and it was the beginning of an addiction to technology and instant satisfaction, as well.
For a lot of us, our parents worked outside the home. Latch-key kids. Oh, yes... who else had keys around their necks and walked home from school to empty houses? And usually, that was perfectly safe. Not a care. Our biggest threat was the potential weirdo in a van with candy. We had more TV time and we were a spoiled bunch... What we didn't grow up with...was a looming fear of danger and imminent death. We thought we'd live forever, we were invincible. Our battlefield was Love. <3
And for so many of us, it still is. We are Hippie 2.0, streamlined for greater efficiency. Hyper-Connected. Love x Love X Infinity. Nothing is impossible. Stubborn as all get-out. We will survive. Win. Achieve our dreams. Because better days are possible. We've seen them. Great things happen and dreams come true. And good guys win.
i mean, we wanted to solve our problems with dance-offs...
My point here... is that our kids have an amazing gift, to help them navigate through their childhoods.
They have us. The 80s kids. The Gen Xers. The hope-and-dreamers. The big Lovers. The idealists. We were in a magical sort of bubble, as far as violence went. Sure, skirmishes existed, but not in our backyards. Not at home, not in America. We didn't know about any of that, we were safe. We were eating Fun Dip and Razzles and learning about Aids and safe sex. We were saying no to drugs (well, some of us said yes. No, not me. I was a drama queen, but straight as an arrow.) We learned about global warming for the first time. We were learning joy and empathy, indulgence and moderation, not fear and paranoia.
Granted we still had socio-economic division and racial conflict and all the rest. We had the good ol' haves and have-nots. But we weren't living in a constant fear of destruction. As our parents did, and as our kids are. We're in that blessed middle. It's a sacred space, because we've known innocence. We know hope. We know Light and goodness and abundance and harmony. Believers.
We saw the end of the Cold War. We saw the Berlin Wall opened and then destroyed, joining the east and west. We saw resolution. Handshakes. We saw eruptions of joy, celebration, and community. Acceptance. Understanding between diverse groups. We've seen moments of peace and wonder. We've also seen riots and disruptions and worked to resolve them. And with so many social injustices, there is always more work to do. But we're doing it. Tables are turning, grounds are shaking, and ways are changing. Step by step. We've been taking down walls since the eighties.
Why are we unique? Because we are in the middle. And not in a holier-than-thou-super-special-snowflake way.... but, meaning that we are the balance. We can raise children with tools to dream and believe and hope, and to do the work. To imagine. To create. To manage anxiety and emotional eruptions. We can tell them that human beings can love each other, work together, trust each other, and succeed, together. We can instill them with beliefs that are empowering, because we've been there. We've seen bright times, and we know, they'll come again. We can infuse them with Love, in a time of fear. With our feet on steady ground, filled up with hope and that glimmer of Light and peace-time goodness... we can hold space for our parents and keep them grounded. We can comfort our children and guide them through. And we can continue to dream, hope, and imagine a better and safer world. We've seen glimpses of it. We're the ones. We're those people. We're that generation that guides the ship. That lifts and inspires and motivates and makes.
Change happens. Reform happens. Tragedies happen, but we rise from the ashes and demand change. We rip down walls that separate us, we celebrate each other, we Love.
We Love. And we'll keep on...
Oh...when truth hits you in the face. Do you know what I mean? You've got your reasons, right? The reasons, all sound and practical and proven, why it won't work, can't work, won't ever happen. And then one day, things get jumbled around: up is down, black is white, hope is all around you...and for a second... you try it, and it DOES work. Which turns all those tried and true reasons...into excuses.
What are you talking about, Stacie? Stop dancing around...spit it out...
Okay. I've had these reasons. Why sticking to a good fitness routine just couldn't work:
- I quit smoking, see, and my metabolism sucks, so...
- Who has time? I work. I'm not a stay-at-home Mom!
- Only when my boy is with his Dad, then I can do it.
- Joint pain. Hurts. Ouch.
- Can't afford to keep paying gym memberships and not going.
- Can't do it at home, my son won't sit still while I work out, it would never work.
- I need to write, there's only so much time!
- I'm healthy, my bloodwork is perfect!
I know, it's getting deep in here, right? Deep with BS.
I do believe that we have to want things...in order to commit to them. I believe we have to have the right mindset, we have to want what comes to us on the other side of our goals, we have to be ready for all of it. I believe in timing. All true. So, I don't know if the timing is just magically right...or if I finally just... stopped bullshitting myself. I like to think it's little bit of both. I mean, we don't intentionally get in our own way... it just happens sometimes. We don't see it when we're in it. And if you're me, you don't listen when people tell you that you're in it. You just say whatevs and keep wading through the lovely river De Nial because it's pretty there and the air smells like jasmine and honeysuckle and you don't have to get uncomfortable and exert effort.
Anyway. I'm outgrowing those bits. Shedding 'em like old skin.
I reached a milestone at the end of last year. It was a tough year in many respects, but also one that was filled with so much growth and expansion. Travel. Wonder. Connections. New experiences. New faces. Change. Pain. Hurt. Healing. Anxiety. Meditation. Massage. Reiki. More healing. So much healing. But... by the end of the year, I was at a good place... physically, mentally, emotionally. The trifecta! I felt as if...it was all coming together. Finally. My trip out west to see the horses really pulled it all together, in a beautiful way. They carry great medicine, these animals, and that's not just flowery talk.
Also, had I passed another birthday. Another year? They go faster and faster, don't they. And I knew that I wouldn't waste more time. I reflected back on 2015, a big year of changes and dramatic weight loss and pushing out boundaries and facing fears, and so many other things. And I always attributed my weight loss (95 pounds) to stress and smoking a few cigarettes every day. But... in retrospect, I remembered that I was doing hours of cardio every night. On top of spending hours packing, moving, repairing things, and walking. And working. And walking. And parenting. And writing. And walking. And writing. I was constantly moving. It wasn't the damned cigarettes. It was me.
I thought about that. And I figured... well... if that was me then, I could do it again. I had a much simpler and more concise goal, then. It was almost... survival... to keep moving. There is something to be said for that primal surge of energy, that momentum, that movement... in search of something or when running from something. That drive, the compulsion, the obsession, in it. And there was the issue... I'd grown too comfortable. I was tucked up in my hammock, relishing on the fruits of my labor, no longer running toward or away from anything. I was still. Being. Watching. Listening. Lazing.
I think everything happens for a reason and that I needed that time. I do. I think...I needed to go through the ups and downs, the trials, the surprises, the spiritual study, the internal healing, the quests, the mistakes and misjudgments, the letdowns and embarrassments. I think they all built my inner strength. I think that time focused and rejuvenated my mind, protected my healing heart, and reconnected me with my soul.
Because here's something I've learned, or rather, remembered: our bodies learn quickly and our muscles remember what we ask them to do. The challenge is in the mind. So it is with everything. Will I do what I said I would do? Or will I give in to quicker, easier fixes? It's not about the actual physical movement; it's not about the sweat. It's about the choice, the follow-through, and the resolve to finish. The mindset.
Every time I press play or lace up my sneakers, now, I hear myself...inside my own head: "how I do this, is how I do anything." I don't run or ride a bike, but I do hike, and it's what I said over and over as I hiked through Mashomack, alone, in cold, harsh November air. Whenever I hike the greenbelt. When I foolishly schlepped my luggage up seven steep blocks of San Francisco streets, when I was supposed to be resting from whiplash injuries. When I walked the northern tip from Embarcadero to the Presidio. When I explored the Pacific shore for hours, along Fort Ord's dunes... up and over jagged rock and sand. When I crept out of Austin's city streets and down to the river, into the woods, to the edge of the park, in unexpectedly stifling heat...without a bottle of water, and then all the way back again. Schmuck. And when I hike...anywhere, really. Yeah, the scenery is different, and nature compels me and invigorates me, for sure, but really...it's all the same. Start, continue, finish, stretch, hydrate. HYDRATE. And replace the negative talk inside my head with positive words. Just keep going. You're almost there. You can do hard things. It's funny...I had to travel all over the country to teach myself such simple discipline. Huh.
Also, here's the kicker: for a hoot, I loaded up a home workout and let my little boy in on it. Just to see...
"Mommy is going to do her exercise now, okay babe? Can you read those books, and do your legos for a bit?"
"Okay, Mommy." He was curious. "What exercise? Like this?" And he did his fancy yoga moves, from daycare. Can it be this simple?
The thing is... he watched the workout. And he watched me. He wasn't playing, reading, building, or doing anything... but watching me workout. He was learning. Imagine? I always say that everything is our teacher... so yeah, that applies to him, too! I even heard some "go Mommy!" And "this is how to be a hero! Yeah!" <---- PJ Mask thing. Honored to be among the ranks of Gekko, Owlette, and Catboy.
I think back to sneaking a smoke behind the garage. Washing my hands afterward, so he couldn't smell it, feeling like a dirty criminal. Vapes and oil and mood swings and more excuses. And how... if I didn't make the conscious choice to change... in so many ways... that is what he'd be learning from me. Smoking. Playing small. Hiding. Apologizing. Giving up. Eating crappy food. Laziness. Excuses. The opposite of what I'd come to recognize as... simple self-love. Nurturing. Replenishing. Nourishing. Strengthening. Persevering.
And here I was, coming through for me... and teaching him, simultaneously. Wow.
He can't wait to get his own little dumbbells and he's already practicing pushups. And PS, loves to box?! He was getting out his Lego-won't-work-angst by throwing jabs and hooks and uppercuts at my hands. He's got some fire in him.
And I said...what? What did I say? It would never work? Famous last words...
What the hell was I waiting for?
Ready or not...just like that, a new chapter begins...
I've heard from quite a few astrologer friends that when Mercury is in retrograde, as it is now, that all kinds of things go screwy. Gadgets don't work, electronics misfire, everything just seems to not work right. Including our communications with each other. I can' prove any of that, but I do have a iPhone story...
My little boy is in hardcore potty training. He is rewarded for long stretches of success with...toys. Yes. He's not punished when it doesn't work, but when he gets it right...positive reinforcement. Tonight's win was made possible by Addicted Consumers r Us: the Disney store. We stopped to eat dinner first, he even used the big restaurant potty! Yes, score! All was well.
And then to Disney for a toy. I admit, I am a fan of Walt Disney, the Mouse, and its kingdom. I grew up with the characters, the magic, the dreams...and find it all wonderful for engaging the imaginations of children. Jiminy Cricket and wishing upon a star? The Lady and the Tramp, love on the wrong side of the tracks. Snow White and true love's kiss. Sleeping Beauty, my all-time favorite, could you tell? Sweet Rose, raised in the forest by three magical, enchanted Aunties....she was friends with all the creatures, big and small, and joins them all in sweet song, dance, and frolic? Once Upon a Dream? Oh, I was hooked. Fast.
The boy wanted cars. The CARS-cars. I indulged in a small dancing Groot for my desk. Because focus. (Just kidding, I just wanted one. It's cute and fun and silly and makes me feel sparkly. I don't need to justify my Groot to you, so get over it already. I AM GROOT.)
We even get a reusable Disney shopping bag, perfect. Back to the car. All tucked in...WHERE IS MY PHONE? :gulp: (expletive, expletive, expletive.) Back in the stroller, power-walkathon. Weaving, bobbing, Nascar-esque diva speed. We get back to Disney. Tear the giant mound of stuffed animals apart, because...he was there. Sorry, Disney. The pile of Woodys. Sorry, again. A kind Mom with her own gang of boys felt my distress, she heard the sister-call. "Hang on, put your number in, let's find it!" She dials...we wait. Older boy #1 thinks he hears it. "DISNEY, CAN YOU TURN THE EMPEROR'S CLOTHES SONG DOWN, FOR TWO SECONDS?" They...oblige. Thanks, Disney. Sorry. Again. Pretty sure my phone is on silent, because "work."
No dice. No sound. Nada. Zip. Silence. Stomach convulsions. Every joint in my body aches, because stupid tension. Because missing phone. Thanked everyone, left my info with the patient manager, who of course, was super-Disnified through the whole thing. (EXCELLENT customer service, they train 'em right.) Forlorn. Exhausted. Annoyed. Frustrated. Wit's end. Imagining what I had to do...call phone service, freeze, lock phone, all this stuff which is making my head implode. But breathing, it's just a thing. I can do this. Handle-able. My little dude: "it's okay Mom, we will find it. Let's do this..." Cool as a cucumber.
"I hope so babe, I just hope no one stole it. Sometimes when we drop things, people walk off with them..."
"Maybe not, Mom, let's just see..."
Me: silent eyerolling and cursing. Oh, the innocence. Praying. Dear Jesus, Mary, God, Buddha, interdimensional beings of Light and wisdom, Shiva and Shakti, spirits, grandmothers, Gaia, Gods and Goddesses and guides and angels and legos and faeries and GI JOE AND MARY POPPINS AND ANYONE LISTENING ANYWHERE... please help me find this phone. PLEASE. I need this win. I just do. Puh-Lease. I'll do a hundred crunches tomorrow. AND squats. And I won't complain about my neck. Or other stuff. Please. Just please.
Hit the restaurant that we stopped at first...on our way back to the car.
"Did anyone, by any chance, turn in an iPhone?" Girl nods.
"Yes!" Insides stand up at attention, in wait.
"With flowers on the case, and cracked safety glass in front?" Please, please, please...
"Yes, hang on..." :tears, lip quivers still praying to anything not nailed down: Manager returns... IT'S MINE! Good as new. In my hand. I hold it tight as it it might fly away, into the night air.
"See Mom, there it is! We found it, I told you..." This kid. And here's what Yoda baby says next. Listen:
"when we're very nervous, we don't get it. When we aren't nervous anymore...we get it!"
Smiles. Me...barrels of tension roll off onto the floor. Oof. Really sorry, Disney. You were great. I was panicked But you were great. Really. I'll send you a card.
And we think we're raising THEM. We had a great talk on the walk back to the car. People don't always take things when they see them, sometimes people return things, because they know someone is looking for it. Because really, people care about each other, really. We just forget, sometimes, when we get scared. But mostly, we take care of each other. Mostly people are good.
What an adventure. This boy. My heart. xoxo
Super grateful to have my phone and am seriously considering backing it up and using alternative photo/video storage. :) Just in case.
(Get your sh*t together, Mercury. Seriously. Sheesh. it's nice blaming a planet...)
I didn't want to write this story.
I've been carrying it around since Thursday night, but when I do that, when I don't write through these things, the world gets uglier, darker, and more twisted...fast. No, I'm not that powerful, I'm talking about perspective. Which is at the root of everything.
I was out to the movies with my brother (the new Ryan Reynolds/Sam Jackson. So good! Yeah, that's a truth. I love my blockbuster-blow-shit-up-eye-candy. Deal.)
So, yeah, we're super weird. My family is still close, we hang and stuff. We like each other. <----- effing psychos.
Anyway. On-line for some contraband: popcorn and I'm NOT TELLING YOU what else. Nunya business. So, there's a man with his little boy, around my son's age, ahead of us. This adorable boy looks over to his Mama and Aunties, who are walking toward the theater. He wants to go with them.
"Mama," he yells over to her, teary-eyed. She smiles and says nothing. He cries a little bit. Big tough Daddy-man looks down at his toddler with a stern face and points at him. "Ah....ah...nope. Not even."
He tries to suck up his tears. He looks back at his Mama and this time tries a different call, "Auntie!" Still, they walked. They disappeared around the corner. Full-on tears. Big Daddy-man gives the boy his Batman mask. And here's where it gets fun:
"Here, go ahead, put it on. That way we don't have to hear you cryin' or, worse, SEE you cryin'. Put that on, maybe Batman will make you feel tough. Pathetic. Huh, feel better? Feel tough? Will ya stop now?" If someone spoke to my son in this way he'd still be recovering from backlash.
Both my brother and I recoiled in silent disgust. Uploading pain and psychosis into innocent child...now. I don't interfere in another's parenting: I don't know the whole story, it could be a different culture and tradition perhaps...so many possibilites. But... he was a baby. A sweet, innocent boy, younger than 5, that wanted some love and attention from his mother. But he was forced to stay behind and learn his "tough act." This is where we learn to start wearing our masks. Literally! Wow!
Can you remember when you were first told to wear a mask? And why? And do you know that all of that isn't yours to carry?
Wow. This is where it starts. All of this that we're seeing. Denied self-expression, acceptance, love, and nurturing at a young age. Leaving young, impressionable children in the dark, to sort out their own powerful emotions as they grow and learn about their world. It's a kind of neglect and abuse, growing up in a cold home. And it turns human beings into monsters, sometimes, as they grow.
The Paradox of it All:
A child can learn self-defense and confidence and still believe in the goodness and tenderness of people.
A child can be strong and raised with moral values and honored family traditions, and still be able to express sadness, loneliness, vulnerability, and fear, in a healthy way.
A child taught not to cry, becomes an adult who never feels safe enough to cry, which creates instability. I myself have only recently learned how to truly cry, and thereby, heal myself. <---big one
A child can be taught self-sufficiency and also be able and willing to offer and accept help.
A child raised to be blindly obedient, without a sense of self, becomes a weakened and confused adult who then, if they're wise, must take a lot of time and effort to understand their past, and to heal. As so many of us do. But not all adults want to heal. Many want to perpetuate a damaging cycle.
Add years and years of stifled pain and emotion, and here we are. Watch the news. Raised in fear, to see the world in fear, to act and react in fear.
When does it stop?
I'm not saying raise your children to be spoiled, self-indulgent, and disconnected. Silver spoon syndrome helps no one. I'm not saying to raise them to be dramatic martyrs, either. Extremes make headlines and get attention but aren't the only page-turners and makers of change. There is a healthy middle, there is a balanced place where the best of strength and compassion and cool heads meet... and that is my goal. To teach from that place. To parent from that place. To live from that place. it's quite a place to strive for. And I'm definitely not there, yet.
I screw it up a lot. I still catch myself reacting in heated and emotional moments, wanting to cast out blame. It't that! it's them! It's her, it's him! Oh, but those moments when I can see it, step back, recalibrate? That's where the lessons fly in. Here's the thing though, if we're not screwing up and making mistakes, we're not learning anything. We're staying still. Safe. Bubble-wrapped. Our world will never change, if we don't.
I am far from perfect, I put my foot in my mouth daily among other incessant mistakes. (Sorry...everyone, ever. Full-on human. Still working on it.)
But I'd be wasting precious time if I stayed there, in the mistake. I learn, I adjust my behavior and thinking about that sort of issue, and I roll on. As does anyone. We hope.
Dear Little Teary-Eyed Boy:
I hope that you grow into a wonderful and happy young man. I hope that your peers and your schooling and the books you read and the places you travel to and the people you meet will broaden your perspective. I hope that you learn how to let your cries out in a healthy way. I hope that you get in touch with what makes you come alive and what grounds you and brings you inner peace. I hope that you know...it's okay to cry, when you feel the need to release powerful emotions.
Grown men who are well-adjusted, successful, and happy...do cry sometimes. When they are vulnerable, when they are moved, when they are saddened, when they grieve, when they are terribly frightened. They just don't stay in it, they don't prolong it and hold onto it. It's a natural and cleansing gift to us, it's a reset, it's a clearing out of stagnant emotion. And when dealt with, head-on, it cycles through quickly. But when ignored, stuffed down, condescended to, forgotten, or worse, punished...those cries get stuck inside. They linger and fester and rot and get absorbed into our flesh and bones and memory.
And this is an aberration. It's a fear that we carry our whole lives, that was never really ours to begin with. And yet, when it becomes us, we inflict it upon others, when it wasn't theirs, either. This is a cycle that must end. This suppressing of human emotion.
Just find the middle. It's where all the best things happen. In harmony, with balance.
It's been just about two years. Since it all went upside-down. Meaning, life changed, in a big way. My marriage didn't work, we were new parents already dealing with so much. And there is...a lot... that goes on when major life-changes like this happen. For sure.
It can be very traumatic, even when things end rather amicably. It can induce severe stress. Body systems, hormones, all sorts of things can go offline and misfire and wreak absolute havoc on the nervous system. On every system.
It can be absolutely maddening, even when it's "easy." (PS, it never is, it's always a last choice.)
But here's what I want to, perhaps need to, press on. Someone, somewhere, some little boy, much like mine, needs to hear this.
Mommy is okay. Your Mom is the strongest person that you've ever met. You know, I came from a home where my parents split, in the 8th grade, my sister in 4th, my brother a year older than me. But here's the thing...just open your mind, and try to hear this, regardless of where you're at:
I know families where they stayed together. For too long. And fought, and argued, and fell apart and raised children in an environment that stunted them, when they got older. Do you know why? Because their models of love were broken. They grew up and thought love meant pain. They thought love meant abuse and depravity and bad decision making and slow endurance of heartache, until death. They thought love meant suffering and stifling dreams...but together. This is very damaging to the childhood psyche, even if well-intentioned. It affects all of their later relationships and only spreads more suffering to those that they meet.
Now, consider the flip-side.
My parents split, yes. I was an adolescent, yes. It was rough for a time, but...but...
Soon thereafter, my mother met someone new. A man who saw her differently, treated her in the way that was...closer to what she needed. So, I have been blessed with knowing what love looks like, what spontaneous romantic dancing on the deck looks like, what intrinsically knowing the other looks like, and what ... suffering looks like. Growing up in a stoic household, with miserable parents who no longer love each other...is a fate worse than living through divorce. Ideals get twisted, and these kids grow up and look for the wrong things, they look for silent suffering and sacrifice, they pick up harmful addictions, they seek more and more pain...rather than a joyful, rocky, but adventurous exploration of love, compassion, sharing, growth.
So, I guess my point is this: Mom is fine. Dad is fine. We all move on, and then put all that love into the children, and heal...perhaps on the lookout for what may be someone, somewhere, closer to the love that we really needed. And maybe we just weren't ready for that big Love, the first time around. Divorce isn't always tragic, and sometimes staying together for the wrong reasons...is tragic, as well.
It's hard for boys to see their Moms "alone." I hear it a lot and people warn me about the psychology of it. A growing boy, feeling as though...he has to step it up, be the 'man of the house,' and take care of his Mama. it's touching, but not necessary. I'm lucky though, I co-parent. 50/50. My son has equal access and time with both of us. He has his Daddy, and he has me, we just aren't romantically involved and don't live together anymore. And we're getting good at it, I think. Our son is thriving with the situation, all things considered. He's got a great support system and he's surrounded with love all over the place.
Sweet, sweet boy, as you grow, know that Mom is okay. She's probably the strongest woman you've ever met and you'll never, ever know what she went through, what she held together, what she fought through, deep inside...for you. To be okay...for you. Because you are her heart, always inside, even when you're apart. You grew inside of her, her ribs and organs moved to accommodate your growing body. You're never apart, really. That's how Moms work. It's an unconditional thing, it's just built in. At least it should be, I know it doesn't always work that way, and that truly breaks my heart.
But all she really wants? Is for you to forgive yourself for something that had nothing to do with you. Nothing at all. She never needed saving, she was saving herself already...for you. Going to battle, inside, facing demons, slaying dragons, finding her strength, her resolve, her best...for you. To provide you with a safer and more loving space within which to thrive and grow and learn to love in a more healthy way. She wanted better and more open and healthy relationships...for YOU. She went to the mattresses, healing herself, to provide you with a healthy foundation.
I'll make sure my boy knows, as he grows, that he is immeasurably loved. On both sides of his family. That he is surely treasured, but is not above anyone else. That he is appreciated when he is thoughtful and kind and helpful, and will be taught to honor and respect women and their opinions, but not be expected to be a stand-in, ever. That he will one day, be his own man. Strong and sturdy in his own confidence, from having faced his own battles within, as do any of us. As do any of us. It's the human condition. We can't shelter and save our children from their wounds, just as sure as our parents couldn't shield us. They did their best. I'm doing my best. He'll do his best. That's it, that's life. Do good work, have lots of fun, take chances, use your vacation days, and love over and over again.
If I could fast-forward...to his questioning years, when he looks back and digs into his own childhood, as I've been doing...for me... I want to tell him...
None of this is your fault. You were an amazing, bright-eyed little boy, who only wanted to explore. You chased butterflies through grass, you blew bubbles into the wind, you marveled at the sky, you rubbed Buddha's belly, and all with a smile and joy for life. You dreamed and imagined and wished you could take flight, right there, with a blanket tied around your shoulders. You wanted to be a superhero, you wanted to save everyone, everything. And one day, in your way...you will. Not with tricks and illusions, but with your heart. With your sincerity. With your courage and big ideas. With your problem solving and big thinking. With your measured and thought-out actions. With your willingness to face your troubles, head on, and see them through to the other side. And your ability to make people smile and laugh and not take themselves so seriously. You were a goofball, a troublemaker, and you loved, loved, loved your hugs, even if you started smushing Mommy's face away when she kissed you too much. You saw a beautiful, magical world, and even then, you took up your plastic bat as a sword and beat away invisible bats to protect your Mommy. Not because you are born to fight, but because you are born to LOVE. To love and protect is in you, but so is joy and wonder and exploration. Trust both, honor both. Find your sacred middle, dear one. It's there.
You can do absolutely anything in this world, if you set your mind right, if you practice and work at it, and if you treat people well, as you go. Your people are your currency. if they don't give you good feedback, then you retreat and figure it out, until they do. People, other human beings, are your gauge. Not money, not wealth, not fame. Financial security is important, to a point. But it's humanity that will steer you to true success. They are your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, friends and co-workers... human beings are your family, and they come in all shapes and sizes, ethnic backgrounds, they speak all different languages, and they wear all sorts of different clothes. And we're all in it together. See? We're all trying to figure it out. Make good friends, that you trust, and keep them. Friendships are important, family is important. Always honor and appreciate them, and remind them often, that you care.
Let them reflect you back to yourself, and dear one, pay attention. Stay humble, but be proud of the capable, dazzling, interesting, loving, powerful man that you've become and are always becoming. You are a miracle. I know, I made you in my body, I know what it took to bring you here. You can do anything, you can love anyone, you can help to transform this world into what you've always dreamed it might be. You can fly to the moon, maybe! Yes...you can. And you will, if you want it enough. If you're kind, if you're honest, and if you stay the course and do the work. Learn how to focus and hone your attention into your skills and passions, while balancing your time with honoring your heart, your relationships, your body, and your own inner peace.
Life is juggling act, it's all about balancing things out. You can have it all, but not all at once. Make time for what moves you, inspires you, heals you, soothes you, invigorates you, pushes you closer to what your want. Honor those people and experiences. Spend less time, or no time, on that which diminishes you, belittles you, takes advantage of or berates you, or takes for granted your beautiful, sensitive heart. Don't let the world turn you cruel, but build boundaries and guideposts for yourself. Know who to steer away from and who to let in. This discernment comes with practice and experimentation, and probably lots of heartache...as you learn. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil. We have to get hurt to know what we don't want. Not everyone understands a heart like yours, be alert, and patient, but stay open. And love, always love, this is what your special heart was born to do This is why you feel so much. And it grows back, every time, even when it feels like it won't...it's never really gone, I promise. This Love is your superpower! Because this Love, it's everywhere, in everything. It's in you. It's in me, when I lay down to sleep and visualize wonderful things for you. And you'll make mistakes. You'll say stupid things and regret them. You'll make a fool of yourself and feel awkward. You'll trust and get hurt. You'll trust and find love. You try things and fail, you'll try things and succeed. You'll do all of these things, and it would be a lonely and quiet life if you didn't.
The world is full of beautiful and magical things, just awaiting your keen attention and time. You'll be just fine, I know you will. You've got a kick-ass Mama who's walked through fire and back. Of course you'll be fine. Once you understand...that she is fine, too. And that she loves you, and your time, and your attention...but she doesn't need to be rescued. You'll need to focus on you. That's all she wants. Is for her boy to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted, confident, and to feel so, so loved. To be the kind of man that follows kind words with sincere and true deeds. That handles his inner troubles and expresses them in a healthy way that doesn't hurt others. That loves his life and always chooses the bright side, but also knows how to empathize with his fellow human beings. You've got a whole world out there, waiting for you. And you deserve it, you really deserve all the good things that are out there. Stay kind, keep humble, reflect and be proud, and keep dreaming and falling and dreaming again. This is how to make a great, fulfilling life. Kindness, compassion, adventure, and tranquility. And love. Always with Love in your beautiful heart, amore. Ti amo, mio Principe, per sempre. <3
***Big props to all the single Moms, divorced Moms, widowed Moms, who had to learn how to saddle up with a tool-belt and put down the tiaras (let's be honest, we never really got to wear them...) and learn how to spackle walls, lift heavy things, hang TVS, drill holes, pack and unpack, settle accounts, open new accounts, inspect wiring, fix ceiling tiles, unclog pipes, call in support, get the right help, hang and unhang curtains, de-stain bathroom tile, remove scary insects, relocate rogue birds, fix baby's boo-boos, fix their own boo-boos, put their babies' first, not gain 1,000 pounds, not give up... and then showing up, getting to work, getting healthy, staying sane, fighting through hell, keeping our wits, keeping our friends, keeping our GOALS... all while putting on a happy, smiling face...ever-grateful for those minutes with those precious, little angels that make it all worth it. Ladies, I salute you. I honor you. I deep bow to you. You're fucking badass, and we're all in this together. My sisters. We got this.
And to the men who get it and don't choose to exploit these women at their weakest: you are treasures and are appreciated. Life will reward you in due time, for your thoughtfulness, caring, genuine concern, and far-reaching, endless altruism. You are the ones who remind us of goodness, trustworthiness, and it keeps us going.
And...breathe...goodnight. My Loves. xo