Laughter and Noise

I have given an art print as a gift to many women upon the birth of a child, it reads, “There are lives I can imagine without children, but none of them have the same laughter & noise”   I realized Friday night that perhaps I need a refresher course in child rearing and care…I don’t know if it’s because I only had one child of my own, that sometimes tending to three seems to overwhelm and exhaust me, or if maybe I am simply too old or set in my ways to be anything other than a babysitter, although Halle Berry is a year older than I and pregnant, so I’m young enough still to be a mother, but I don’t know if I am still any good at “mothering” as they are not at all the same thing…

I love the daughters of my daughter and son-in-law, and often, when I watch them walk the few hundred feet home, as they leave my house for their own, I feel my heart swell as I see the sun glimmer off their hair and I feel this intense sensation of adoration, and realize that they are really the light of my life and that my world in many ways revolves around them.  Every other weekend my world grows more full when the daughter of my boyfriend is here too.  Why then, I asked myself  late Friday night, do I get so irritated over the clothes left on the floor, the Monster High shoes strewn about the coffee table, or the sticky fingerprints from lip gloss and eye liner dress-up time near every light switch and every door jamb??

After they were kissed goodnight and tucked into bed in the loft, I went downstairs to read and I fell into a deep sleep…I awoke two hours later and heard laughing and little feet running around and I stomped upstairs and expressed my annoyance and told them to get back to bed and that, “I don’t want to hear another word,” but when I got back to my room I felt a deep sadness and regret for what I had said, I thought, wow, what would I feel inside if I never heard them again…you see, it’s been a sad many days here…my son-in-law and daughter lost their dear friend last week, a death so unexpected and so unfortunate in so many ways, and Friday morning’s funeral memorial was so sad…I hugged and cried with a woman who I had never before met, who I am quite sure wanted more than anything in the  world to hear her son’s voice, even just one more time…so I felt awful for what I had said to the girls, because I suddenly found myself thinking about what my father always says, “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon” and I felt an ache for how awful it would be if I died and those were the last words I said to these children, or if something happened to one of them, and those were the last words they heard come from my lips…and I started to cry.

I don’t want to be so consumed with my neat and orderly house that I miss the life that should be lived IN the house.  I don’t want to care so much that they go to bed when they are supposed to, it is the weekend after all…I don’t want to care so much that I have to spend an hour or two reorganizing and picking up after they leave, I don’t want to care so much that they change their clothes four times in a day, or scuff the toes of their shoes while they ride their bikes…I want to be better at mothering, although I am not their mother…and I apologized to them Saturday morning for raising my voice, that I want their time here to be joyful and fun and I want them to feel nothing but loved when they are in this house…I realized this weekend that I cannot imagine a world without them in it, and if I had to live a life without them, I would so dearly miss the laughter and noise…

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Necessity is the mother of invention

I’ve ‘reinvented‘ myself many times in my adult life; played roles, some I liked and some I loathed, changed the way I thought, changed the way I looked, changed the way I cared for myself, or in some circumstances, didn’t.  I have over the years of my life re-imagined myself countless times…always able to change a scenario in my head in order to get a feel for what might be my future, if only…if only I did what I thought about doing…It is time for some changes, it is time for some reinvention, it is time to make the idea of what can be, be.

In my past there were so many variables…so many things at once that needed changing, that I felt like I could dream it, always, but never TOTALLY succeed, but things have changed…When I was young there was the worry over whether I was doing a fine or poor job raising my child, worry over getting good grades in college, worry over working enough hours to cover my expenses, then years later the worry over if I sold my house where would I go, the worry over my daughter living an 8 hour drive away and what if she needed me…always so much on my mind that the ME was always pushed to the bottom of the list. I found I was continuously and consciously putting the needs of others ahead of my own, and I suppose, any mother will tell me, that’s simply how it is supposed to be.

Things were different then, all is different now…things have changed.  My child is grown, my work is fulfilling, my house is built, the grand-babies live right next door…I am at a point in my timeline where I can focus on me, 100% if I so choose.  This is exciting and daunting simultaneously…because, there is no longer an excuse for NOT putting myself;  my wants, my needs & my wishes, to the top of my list.  I have run out of excuses as to why I do not force myself to make changes that need to be made, or to put my well-being & contentment first and foremost on my ‘life-list,’ I do not have to care for anybody but myself, if I so choose.  I do not have to do anything for anyone that I do not want to do.  I know people my age with toddlers and children in grade school, I am done with having to care for someone, and am free to choose to care, and they are completely different…I am obligated to no one, but myself.  It is time to love me as much as I have loved others… It is time to transform, again…necessity is the mother of invention. This is liberating and this is terrifying.

Once we were strangers

How does it happen…how do we go from strangers to friends?  It’s a curious thing, curiouser and curiouser…how we meet new people and how a relationship grows, or doesn’t.  I am fond of saying and writing that I am a work in progress, and do believe that all of us are,  in some way or another.  There are always elements of who we are and how we act and what we think and do that we can improve.  I think sometimes about how we come in and out of each others lives and what we bring to relationships and what we take.  There are lessons we learn with every goodbye, every bad break-up, every ending, and I think if we are wise, or at the very least aware, we start every new friendship, every new love, every new interaction with some level of understanding about ourselves that we did not have, or perhaps were not conscious of, before.

I suppose that in some circumstances the time it takes to know, or believe that somebody “fits” us or will suit us, is quite short and at other times, well, we could spend months with a person and come to find that we really did not know them at all, they are completely something “else”…with some others, in a matter of days we can wonder where they had been all our lives, how was it we never crossed paths, how is it that it feels like we’ve known them forever…I’m sure that for many social scientists there are algorithms and formulas that can answer these sorts of questions, but for those of us who just try to “be” there is not much in the way of rules or recipes, we simply must follow our instincts, that gut feeling, always.  I’ve learned that when I don’t, it is a grievous error.

Last June, one night while perusing cyber-space and enjoying some ice-cold vodka, I took notice of the little sidebar on Facebook called “people you may know.”  It is something I had never looked at before and the first picture on the top of this list was of a man and a little girl and it indicated we had 41 mutual friends.  ‘Who on earth is this person?,’  I asked myself, that I had no idea who he was and yet we shared quite a number of mutual acquaintances…so as I am prone to do, I wrote him a note, and remarked simply that I thought it funny that we went to high school together at the same time and knew all these same people and that I had no idea who he was.  A cyber friendship developed and after three misses, well, to be clear, three times he asked me to come see him play the drums and meet, and three times I chickened out, we finally met eye to eye in the early morning hours after his show on July 4th.  He smiled at me when he walked in my door and I got butterflies in my belly like I had not had since I was a 14-year-old girl.  Our first kiss later that night was far more exciting than the fireworks I had seen hours before.  We talked until the sun came up and I went to work wondering how I had never before known this person who suddenly I wanted to know more than anybody in the whole world…

It’s inexplicable, really, how the chemistry happens, how the sparks fly, how we went from strangers to friends in a matter of hours and how before the week was up,  I felt I had truly and finally found my match.  I am, and have always been, something of a hopeless romantic, but that does not diminish the reality of how it happens, or in most cases, doesn’t.  My daughter went to Myrtle Beach for spring break in her senior year of high school and arrived home to tell me she had met the boy she was going to marry…I thought it could not possibly be true, that she could not have made such a connection in only a week, but seven weeks later I watched them get married in my sister’s gazebo, and here they are, soon to celebrate their 9th anniversary, still in love and having created a beautiful family together.  My mother and father were acquainted for years, he a summer boy here at the shore and she a year-rounder, but their first official date was on Easter Sunday, walking the boardwalk in Atlantic City and they were married 8 weeks later, and here they are, still dearly in love with each other…so I KNOW it happens, or can happen, and fast.  They just knew.

A few days after I met this man last summer, we were in Atlantic City watching a great “hot girls” dance show, and they performed a number to a song whose lyrics were “where have you been all my life” and I laughed that night, so full of joy and wonder and excitement, that it was a very valid question…where had he been all my life?  You just don’t know, do you?  When a stranger becomes something more, something else…it’s magical really, how once we were strangers, and now we have this.  We have smiled at each other every day since we met and we have found that perhaps we were at the same pit parties in the woods, at the same beach parties here at the shore, in and out invisibly of each others lives for so many years since we were  teenagers, and we talk and wonder what our lives might have been like, had we met sooner…but I do believe that we meet people we are supposed to meet when we are supposed to meet them, so I no longer waste much energy wishing we had met when we were young, I just am glad we met at all…