Time

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My oldest turned 33 today. My memory of my own 33rd year is mostly taken up with the fact that I gave birth to my youngest child. While there were times during that pregnancy that 33 felt to my body like it was 45, I also finally felt like I knew what I was doing, like I had the whole mom thing figured out with my third and last child.

When I looked in the mirror it was still fairly easy to see the 20-year-old me. I could still relate to quite a bit of that person as well. I assume that my daughter can do that today. I assume that she can look back and easily imagine herself at 20: in college, trying to decide where to take her life, if or who she might find to share that life with, where she would live, perhaps not giving a second thought to children…

I can almost say for certain that she wasn’t spending time wondering what is was going to be like to get older. I didn’t at 20 and I didn’t at 33. By the time 43 came along I found myself thinking more about age and aging. I wondered why I had so little information about what was coming, but 43 was still young. I could still see glimpses of 20-year-old me in the mirror.

Thirty-three years is a long time. I still recognize the person holding that adorable baby…but not as often as I used to. I also have the unwavering realization that 20-year-old me is long gone. Now I seem to be stuck somewhere in my 40’s, remembering when my skin was a bit more elastic, my post baby bulges weren’t clearly overshadowed by my growing post-menopausal middle, when the gray in my hair was only the occasional strand here and there versus the silver that would fill my head without a box of hair color, when skin tags and brown spots and wrinkles were still something that belonged to “older” ladies.

Who knows when all this happened. It was gradual. Can you imagine going to bed at 33 and waking up the next morning looking like a 58 year old. Thankfully my daughter doesn’t have to endure that. She has many, many years to embrace that gradual change. Someday though, she will wake up and realize that her 20-year-old self is gone. Replaced yes by an aging body, but full of a wisdom and maturity that makes up for the dryness, and weird skin, and extra weight, and aches and pains. There are just under 26 years separating us in age. That means when she turns 58 I will be nearly ready to turn 84. I remember when 84 sounded ancient. Now it’s just down the road.

And her own daughters…at 58 will she be looking back on their lives, on past birthdays. Will she look down and see how her body tells her that time has not stood still? Will she look at me and see her future? I wonder if she does that now…

 

 

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We ARE the Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World

At least according to our town’s city council that is.

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Mother Nature Network

As with any small town that enjoys hosting and celebrating small town events, today and tomorrow heartily marks all things Rhubarb around here. Funny, I have no recollection of this event even happening last summer. Perhaps I was still buried in boxes as I suspect I had just moved into this apartment and didn’t have even a minute to look out the window. Or maybe I just didn’t care…

Also, while the town is surrounded by farmland, I really can’t place where all this rhubarb might be grown. I pass fields of corn, pumpkin, strawberries… I don’t ever think I’ve seen any rhubarb except for one small plant in front of my neighbors house. Maybe we have secret rhubarb farms hidden up in the hills.

Folks all around my neighborhood are taking advantage of this celebration by holding yard/garage/tag sales. Smart people. Part of the rhubarb festivities include a big push to visit the local Main Street antique stores for high priced used goods. I bet many of these little yard sales can turn a nice profit for their versions of antiques.

Did you notice in the promotional website that they mention, besides the quintessential pie eating contest, that  rhubarb races are also being held? Any one have any guesses as to how a rhubarb races…

I’m not a fan of crowds so I think I will listen to the music being played in the park from my own front lawn. I’m also not a fan of rhubarb, and a little secret…the highly promoted Vintage Market is the same collection of shops that I can walk by, or into, any day of the week, minus the hundreds of other people.

Do I sound rather unneighborly? I think, if 90% of the collective citizens of this town are honest about this event, that all these cars and all these people don’t come from my little town. We could/would walk to Main Street. My neighbors, if they aren’t selling their own stuff, are out doing what they typically do on a sunny Saturday. They are gardening, or over in the park with their kids. We know what we have here and we’re willing to share on occasion with others. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in for a slice of pie.

Reflections From Year One

Today marks 1 year since a judge signed my divorce petition and my marriage was legally dissolved after 33 years.

Yep, 33 years. Not all bad, some actually good, but the reality screams that with all things considered, the end should have come at about year 20.

Do I want to re-hash the good, bad, and ugly of all of those 33 years? Not here, not now. I’ve done that already. Do I want to reminisce, or blame, or post some sort of list on the “what-if’s” and “why nots” and “how comes”? Nope. I do have some reflections though.

I know the man that I am no longer married to. I know just how much he struggled in life, and continues to struggle because of the circumstances surrounding his life. I know that he never had the ability (or perhaps even the real desire) to move beyond those circumstances. I also know that I married this man for the wrong reasons. Did I love him? Yes, I did. The love I experienced was not false, but it also was not the correct reason to marry. I married the image of the man I believed he could be. Despite what many believe, love was (is) not enough. I believe I loved him more for the potential I thought I recognized than for the real person he is. Marrying someone for the person you believe they are, or for the person you believe they will become, is fraught with all sorts of issues. Marrying someone when you are still unsure of who you are, or who you will (or want to) become is also not the best recipe for success.

I chose to overlook a lot. I chose to believe that I had some ability to mold, change, or guide this man into the person I believed he could or should be. I was wrong. And because I did not have the ability to achieve those goals for him… goals that he didn’t even know existed… I became filled with doubt, self-blame, regret, anger, and finally over time, a deep loss of respect for both him and myself.

Please take note of that line: “because I did not have the ability to achieve those goals for him…”

Yep, I was completely invested in helping him achieve goals that I believed he needed, wanted and would buy into. The problem then, only realized by me much too late, was that his interest in these goals was riding at almost zero. And yes, I believed that my role was to bend over backwards to help him achieve something he didn’t know he wanted. The sun would shine, rainbows and unicorns would fill the sky and life would be perfect. If only…

The inevitable if only I could enable him…change him…perfect him. Create a perfect man.

Have you heard this story before? How many of us, as women of a certain era truly believed this “I can change him” garbage? How many women or men of today still believe this, still put all their hopes and dreams into the ideal that we must take responsibility for shaping someone else? How many humans feel that the only way to validate themselves is to lose your core self by focusing solely on achieving the perfection (the fixing) of another?

Those delusions of grandeur are not attainable. They are not even highly recommended as viable in my opinion. An adult must “adult” for themselves. They must take responsibility for themselves. I’m not saying that an adult cannot change. I believe change is possible, if one wants change. I am saying that one adult cannot and should not feel responsible for bringing about change in another adult. The man that I was married to is a human who will allow others to be responsible. He will advocate for change in others, but facing his own challenges and then making attempts to address them was never something he desired to do.

I certainly am not blameless. I am flawed. I have my own past and circumstances. However this idea of responsibility has loomed large in my world for as long as I can remember. Somewhere I learned that I had to be responsible for myself. I know that conceptually I believe that responsibility begins at home so to speak, within the individual. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I allowed that belief to be almost completely overshadowed in my marriage. I allowed myself to take on the responsibilities of another capable adult. I have used excuses to justify my actions…

His job takes him away so often…

I just can’t always wait for him to get this done, or take care of that project, or make that decision…

He isn’t here enough to really take part in all the kids activities…

It’s just so much easier, faster, better if I just do it…

I allowed the patterns developed early on in my marriage to continue year after year, right up to the time that we agreed to divorce and I once more took on the sole responsibility to get the job done and move the divorce ahead. As I write this now, I am truly embarassed to admit that even in those final months my role did not change. I can easily use the excuse that I simply wanted everything to be over, or that I wanted things to be done right or that I feared that the process would drag on or run into issues if I didn’t handle it all. We did agree that we wanted to avoid lawyers and their fees if possible, but rather than expect him to step up and handle half of the process I jumped right in with both feet and did it all, and he willing let me.

Why take responsibility when you have been taught that someone else will do it for you?

On the morning of July 21, 2017 I watched a judge sign a paper that in essence was to legally give me my freedom. Once signed however, I turned and walked out of court knowing that I must respect myself enough to take back what had been mine. The weight of responsibility for another adult was gone. Freedom to be the person I should have been all along waited on the other side of the courtroom door.

As I reflect on this past year, the image that has headed my blog since I decided to divorce in late 2016 cannot be more true.

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I really don’t know what the future holds. I do know that my life is much less stressful. I know that my responsibility lies only in making decisions for myself. I know that distance is imperative and healing and welcome. I know that there is no reason to continue to look back. I know that I am strong.

As I move past the end of this first year, if I was to say anything to my former husband, it might be these words, also by Iain Thomas:

You were a dream. Then a reality. Now a memory.

 

 

I Saw An Interesting Bird Yesterday

I was almost home from work, just two blocks from my apartment. I rolled slowly up to the stop sign. No cars on my left, but an older pickup truck was coming from the right. The male driver, wearing some sort of reflective safety vest, had no stop sign of his own, and therefore the right of way.

I sat patiently, ready to give my usual nod and smile acknowledgment that we tend to use around here. We are a polite group in this little town, and more often than not we give a courtesy nod or wave or smile when we encounter other drivers or walkers.

The truck approached and I noticed the drivers window was down about 4 or 5 inches. Then I did a double take, and my mouth fell open. Clearly, and may I say rather artfully arranged, was  the drivers left hand, flipping me the bird! If you are unfamiliar with that phrase I will provide a non-human visual aid:

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techcrunch.com

In that moment of realization I actually tried to rationalize what I was seeing.

Could his other fingers have accidently slipped from the door frame at the precise moment he rolled past me? 

Could he be unaware that he is passing another driver, one who clearly was waiting patiently for her turn?

Does he have his polite “I see you there index finger wave”  confused with the meaning of the middle finger wave?

In the few seconds that my brain was attempting to make sense of all this I watched him slowly remove his hand from the window opening.

I saw intent there, so I think I must assume intent in the gesture as well.

Clearly this driver does not understand the rules around here. I might even assume his name is Dick.

Self-Renewal

I am relishing the fact that spring has come to my part of the world. The sun is out, the temperatures are verging on hot, at least during the daytime, and my entire outlook is bright. Oddly, even working the same amount of hours and spending the same amount of time on errands and other things that I have to fit around my schedule, these last few days seem to be endless. There is a sense of calm, a sense of relief, a sense that not just the plants are awakening, but that I am as well.

The amateur psychologist within me is wondering if I might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So of course, I googled it.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that:

“To be diagnosed with SAD, people must meet full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons (appearing in the winter or summer months) for at least 2 years.”

I checked the symptoms of major depression and added my personal analysis:

Symptoms of Major Depression

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day — Not at all
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless — Nope
  • Having low energy — Well do get up at 4:30 AM and often chase a 2 1/2 year old around so…
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed — No
  • Having problems with sleep — I’m nearing 60. I think I read that it’s common to wake up at night, and take naps during the day. Also see the low energy answer.
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight — No, and my weight has held steady for quite some time now. A nice surprise at my last medical checkup.
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated — This one’s a no as well.
  • Having difficulty concentrating — I can concentrate just fine, I just don’t always remember things after I’ve concentrated on them.
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. — I will admit that hearing that Barbara Bush just passed at 92 years, and that the Queen of England just turned 92 has made me quite aware that I am closer to those numbers myself, but I plan to stick around for some time yet.

I would have to say that I don’t really qualify for the major depression diagnosis. As to the winter symptoms associated with SAD (plus answers again):

Symptoms of the Winter Pattern of SAD include:

  • Having low energy — I think we covered that one above.
  • Hypersomnia — While I have never fallen asleep while driving, or dozed off while screening a baby, I can easily fall asleep during toddler nap time after lunch.
  • Overeating — Don’t think so, but where does having a strong desire to visit the snack chip aisle in the grocery store fall? I admit to giving into that urge a few times too many. By the way- Lays Kettle Cooked Olive Oil and Herb chips are excellent!
  • Weight gain — No, really I have not gained weight so I think you need to stop asking.
  • Craving for carbohydrates — I always crave carbs. Winter, spring, summer, or fall I do not differentiate with any season regarding my carb craving… ever.
  • Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”) — Maybe when the thermometer says 20 degrees, but I got a nice new down jacket this past winter so I was pretty toasty warm.

Apparently I appear to be fairly stable in the depression arena, and based on subjective opinion, may or may not have some of the symptoms of the winter disorder, but given the definition above, I don’t think that I qualify.

Perhaps seeing my garden bloom, the birds flying past my window, planning out delicious recipes that highlight all the upcoming spring and summer vegetables, looking forward to getting outside more with the granddaughters, and sipping some chilled wine while relaxing on summer evenings on the front lawn means nothing more than my life is normal. It is falling into place. I am settling in and settling down while moving forward. Perhaps the residual stress of that long journey that I was trying to endure at this time last year is really no longer a part of me.

The road ahead is open and I don’t think that I have to look back anymore.

Momentous Day

You all know that I’m not here much, writing anyway. I read your blogs without fail, and comment on most on a regular basis.

Because I am so random in the writing portion of this blog, I have also become incredibly lazy when it comes to checking most everything to do with my blog. All the background stuff like those hilarious spam comments trying to sell me Viagra or sex toys, or even my stats-which to be honest I don’t care about in the slightest because that’s not why I blog.

It seems that I will garner two or three new followers every few months or so, usually around the time I actually publish a post. A fellow blogger just noted that he has been getting some new email subscribers with the possibility of some sketchy addresses. Nothing like that here, but that issue led me to zip over to my admin pages and do some looking around.

I have, for years, desperately wanted WordPress to allow bloggers to remove followers. The trolls, the sites trying to sell you something because you happen to have a tag that relates to their product or company, the new bloggers who follow everyone but never make an attempt to engage. Even those who have been a part of the loyal followers group, but who haven’t blogged themselves in years and have almost assuredly let their blog die.

What a glorious surprise (thank you WordPress) when I opened my followers statistics and saw that WordPress now allows me to remove followers. When did that happen??This is a grand day indeed and I quickly set about clicking remove with abandon. Just like with stats and views and all that, the number of followers I have is irrelevant to me. Click after click after sweet click quickly took my 450+ followers down to 42. Yes folks, those are the people who engage, who comment, who at the very least like a post every so often. Those are the folks I am keeping in my list. Goodbye to all the rest.

Please know, that if you find yourself suddenly not in the newer, greatly compacted following group, but really, really REALLY want to be, then please click that follow me button again. I may have inadvertently clicked you away in my zeal. But if you have never engaged beyond your initial follow click (and you are likely not reading this anyway) you are no longer on my list. Thanks for stopping, but you just took up too much space for my sensible, organized brain.

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http://love.catchsmile.com/stop-following-me/

I will now also excuse WordPress from trying to maneauver me into paying for their services with email after email telling me how great my blog “could be” if I gave them money. I can overlook their promotions a lot easier now that they have finally listened to me. I have power, and I am deeply enjoying that control.