Sunday, August 7, 2016

June Cleaver

Two weeks from tomorrow, summer ends.

It's a bittersweet feeling for certain.

Our summer has been chock-full of traveling, swimming, garden tending, free library making,  ice cream inhaling, Lego building, sleeping way lating, sibling fighting, mama yelling, friend laughing, beautiful, chaotic, good times.

Two weeks ago, I took my brood along with my niece and nephew on an epic 1500+mile road trip by my lonesome, and so this weekend, my better half returned the favor and took the crazies on a dad's and kids camping trip.

I was elated to have the space and coveted breathing room.  I ran, cranked up the music, shaved my legs, drank too much wine and coffee, stayed in my pajamas until I felt compelled to change into yoga pants, spent time with friends and then made my way into my office.

Above my desk...I have these three mantras:

And while I was organizing Sam, Kate and Claire's school supplies into neatly arranged bags and bags within bags and labeling them with a sharpie marker and making notes to not forget socks for Claire's uniform or a ruler for Sam's pencil bag or Kate's rosary, I started to cry.

This is it.

Nine years of this full-time, stay-at-home thing is winding down.

And really, how did I get here?

My undergraduate degree is in philosophy from a liberal arts institution, my graduate degree is in conflict resolution from an even more liberal arts entity, I practically make my children wear tattoos on their arms that say, "Love is love is love is love."  I was hoping against all hope that Bernie would rise with the collective and have a fighting chance to earn the nomination.  I am incessantly advocating for the underdog.  My heart is alive and happy when inclusion and love are present for all and I'd give nothing more than to live in a world without guns (even the Nerf ones).

And so, the idea that I left my career as a mediator nearly a decade ago to make macaroni and cheese and read "Good Night Moon" and then Junie B Jones and then Harry Potter and sent my kiddos to Catholic school and carved smiles into the peanut butter sandwiches and cried at every preschool recital and religiously asked them at the breakfast table about their dreams and if they were happy in their hearts...feels like a far cry from my mantra, "Take the Risk."

As I look back, I guess I'm more like June Cleaver than Gloria Steinem...which I can promise you, I never thought would be the case.

But as the tears were flowing down my face looking at the Crayola markers lined up and the composition notebooks in a row, this was sticking out of a stack of papers wobbling on a book shelf.

It's a haiku that my son, Sam wrote many a moon ago:

It's hard to read but it says:

A Haiku for you

Mom you are so great

You get me through

Ups and downs

I love you so much!

And in that moment, I knew.  I did take a risk.  Even though I wasn't aware year over year of exactly what I was doing, I was hopeful that my 'why' mattered enough to keep trying.  And after countless tears and I'm sorry's and prayers and girl chats over wine and half marathons, I realized that I was living by design and indeed, via osmosis, I was choosing joy of a different kind.  It's the kind of joy that emerges slowly, steadily, ordinarily, quietly and now, nearly a decade later, I can say enduringly.

But it's still hard, there are days when I want to be entrenched in a protest that has nothing to do with battling my five-year old to brush her teeth or go the fuck to bed.  There are moments, when I see movements or career paths that seem exhillarating and I think, yes, I'll get my PhD in THAT and then, I quickly realize that for now, tuition dollars belong to my children.  And, that's okay.

I have a feeling that life is going to crack wide-open very soon and with it, I will too.  Finally, able to breathe and process where I am, which is a strange amalgamation of June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem wrapped in one woman, who takes unconventional risks, seeks to live by design and in spite of herself, chooses joy.

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