Friday, April 1, 2011

Simon Crosses The Border: Visits Texas

Little Man Simon was my traveling companion to Texas this week. The purpose of the trip was to help my parents while they watched my sister's two kids: Patrick is 3 and Thomas is 18 months old. They are very adorable little boys, and they are also a handful. My parents have made a bit of a situation with the boys by indulging just about every whim that either of them has ever had. It's pretty funny to watch Patrick boss my parents around all day long, but it was also somewhat scary and heartbreaking to see how tired my parents are after being ultra-permissive grandparents all day long. I really don't like to see that my parents are losing steam at an appropriate pace for 60-year-olds. I want them to be energetic and 30-something forever.

Anyway, my parents sounded like they could use reinforcements, so Simon and I hopped on Southwest Airlines and swooped in. I am not sure we were that much help to my parents, but I did use the iPhone to distract the boys at several critical junctures to avoid altercations over a train set.

I do what I can.

Simon was a great traveler. His very first blow out EVER from his diaper occurred 30 minutes before we left for the airport. I was grateful that didn't happen after we left for the airport. And, speaking of airport, Mommy and Simon took the blue line train to O'Hare and as soon as I stepped off the train, I realized we were supposed to be at Midway Airport. I was shocked that I made that mistake. More shocking is that Jeff-- Mr. Logistics himself-- didn't realize our mistake. We are definitely still skating close to survival mode. Jeff and I laughed at ourselves and then somehow managed to get me and Simon to Midway in time for the flight. With about 3 minutes to spare.


Sleep deprivation is a very harsh mistress.

Once in Dallas, I got the thrill of a lifetime when my best friend from high school and I were able to meet up at her daughter's soccer game. I can't tell you how happy I was to be able to take Simon to Caruth Park and meet Stephanie's two kids and her husband. I had not seen her since her wedding in the summer of 1999. So many times I came to Dallas wishing to connect with her and meet her children, but I didn't reach out. Lots of people say that are bad at keeping in touch. I say it all the time, and it's historically been true for me.

When there are things about myself I wish I could change (like I wish I could embrace Excel spreadsheets), the top of the list is this character defect about staying in touch. I don't like that I have let fears keep me from experiencing connection with people like Stephanie. We had such a nice visit, and her daughter scored the winning goal of the soccer game, which added to the sense of euphoria swirling around the afternoon. Driving back from the park to my parents' house I was struck with a wave of grief for all I had missed. Specifically with Stephanie. And sadly there are other connections broken because I couldn't take in the possibility that no one needed me to be married or have children or have a dazzling career or a perfect brownie recipe or a size 4 skinny jean. Those were voices in my head that told me I couldn't connect (or reconnect) until some magical time in the future when I would be bulletproof from any feelings of shame or any worry about whether or not I was right in the world. I kept telling myself I could get in touch as soon as I was married or felt more confident or understood myself better or never felt shame. When I was fixed I would have the relationships I always wanted.

I am sad to report that 2 decades went by.

It's bittersweet to report that I wasn't broken in the first place. I had some pretty ill-founded ideas about people and what they wanted from me. Worse than being ill-founded, they were persistent ideas that seemed smart, insightful, obvious and true as I walked the planet thinking about them. I am grateful I began to question these ideas before any more decades went by, but for such a smart lady, it took a while to learn that no one gives a shit what size my jeans are (except for me) and no one was repulsed by me when I was single and not yet a mother.

I actually treasure the grief that I felt driving from Caruth Park back to my parents house. The grief is proof that I had done something different; that I had taken different actions. After reading the Girls From Ames this summer and having a real Come to Jesus with myself about people I loved and missed and wanted to connect with, I was able to ask a mutual friend about how to get in touch with Stephanie. I emailed her this summer and felt happy to be in touch. It was not about having arrived at any specific place in my life, but rather, it was about being done waiting and being ready to offer and receive love. Had I not shown up at this visit, I would have never felt the grief at all. I would have just continued to live in the numb place of "I wish I could connect with my dear high school friend Stephanie," and motored on with a story in my head about how I am "not good at keeping in touch."

Happy as hell to report that I am giving that story the finger. The. Finger.

My hope for Sadie and Simon is that I can raise them to accept love and friendship and to trust their inner lights and to follow the laughter and love from one day to the next so that they can build unbroken lines of friendship no matter what happens along the way. I just hope they can gave the grace to let themselves off the hook and they can examine the stories they tell themselves so they don't have to lose time hiding out waiting to be perfect to show up for love that was there all along.

My hope for myself is that I continue to let the love of other people wash over me even when I am messy, and my brows need some waxing and my hair needs some washing; when I am irrational or lost or pathetic or big and shiny and happy and giddy and in awe of my own blessings. My hope is to show up as myself, with all my ambivalence and my talent and my joy and my sorrows and my yearnings.

My mantra for April is "there is only love." So far it's working, except for that guy who cut me off on Ashland. For that guy there was love and a little bit of rage that he would try to cut off a nice lady like me in a mini-van.

There is only love.

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