Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Love You More

I messed up dinner so bad last night, it was like I didn't cook at all.  Oh wait! I didn't cook. The Trucker did. I'm not going to complain either, he did a great job. I will choke back that cranky side of me that wishes he had done this a few weeks ago when I was really lost in my own mind. I am grateful that he noticed I needed some help even if it was later than I'd like.

That's the cool thing about my marriage these days. Not long ago, he would have stayed away from my angry bitter self and that would have pushed me farther over the edge. Not long ago, my state of mind was the last thing on his list of things to worry about. Things are different now. 

I can think about the number of bad times we have faced and how many times we had a very serious divorce discussion. At some times we even had the division of property and childcare covered. I think about how a 60 year marriage like my grandparents seemed like such an insane idea. But I understand better now. I think we both do. 

There is something that made you fall in love with this person in the first place, right? And even though you have hard times, there are good times to remember. When you fight over raising your kids, or fight because one parent seems to be doing A LOT more than the other - oops, a little bitterness seeping through - there is the plain and simple fact that you are both actually trying to do what is right. The goal is to raise decent human beings who are fully capable of taking care of themselves, so that one day... 


...they will be off on their own. And THEN you have the freedom to go do the things you loved in the first place. Some of those things will change but many will be the same.  I know that the night I looked into his eyes when we were sitting in the minivan in a school yard parking lot, hardly 50 feet from where the kids were with a sitter, everything changed for me. And I told him.

We were deciding how to deal with the end of things for us and in that tiny moment I could see us at 70 years old. Still side by side. Still doing things together and still doing our own things also.  We are not growing apart, we are simply growing up. We argue that we don't want to change, but realistically we DO change. And that's okay.

There was no big vow made to each other that we would work harder to get through the tough times, there was just an understanding that our goals are the same. We both want to be there to live life together.  Simple. There is no perfect world, no perfect marriage. There are just no perfect people in the world. It's the mistakes and difficulties we face that make us strong. When I was young and we'd first met and I was so madly in love with him, I really didn't think I could ever love him more. But I do, more and more each day.

I'm not sure exactly when it hit him, but I can see that it certainly did. I see that he is stepping out of his comfort zone. He is more attentive than ever, even when I don't think he is paying attention.

I'm impressed. I think I'll keep him around.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Crash Of The Waves

Like standing on the shore watching the tsunami swell out at sea, fear and anxiety grip her and she is paralyzed. As if a scene from a horror movie played in slow motion, she watches the deadly wave rise and gain power as it edges closer. She begs her feet to move, wills her arms and legs to pump and get her away from the swell. She feels shame along with the growing fear. She feels like a failure, can't even run away right.

Day by day the sea rises and edges closer, finally towering above her. The sea looks hungry, anxious to slam down and pull her under.

As though the waters reach an invisible wall all around her, the wave breaks and rushes over her. She steadies herself and prays for life. She just wants freedom, she wants to be able to move. To do anything at all.

It rains down hard, washes over her, around and right through her. It pours under her, pulling the entire world out from her feet. She is sucked in and tossed hard, then just as suddenly dropped to the ground. Cold, hard, empty.

A few minutes pass and she cautiously looks around her. There is no shock and wonder, she's been waiting for the storm. The sea is calm, the waters receding. The land below her is steady. The world around her unchanged. And yet, she is changed.

She starts to move, relishing the regained ability to do so. She sees that the world did not end. She steps forward. And then she stops.

She is no longer frozen and feels the strength of the ocean surging through her veins. She is finally free of the fear and anxiety. But as she hesitantly steps forward, she understands that she does not know where to go. The paths are open, lying and waiting for her to move on. After so much time was lost, staring at the sea, waiting and wondering what would come, she is weary. Her soul is tired. She is free from the grip of fear but lost.

She's been disconnected from herself for so long. Spent hours agonizing over one small piece of the life puzzle. And now it is gone and she survived, as she always does. As she always will.

An emptiness fills the spaces of her mind that have been painfully overworked. And again... she's frozen.  She is really free, she can chase her dreams again and live her life. She just needs to know where to start. And as she stands facing the roads that lead away from this dark place in her mind she begins to find guilt spilling into the empty places. Guilt, because she can't keep going, because she is still lost and unsure, another tide trying to pull her back into the sea.

Screaming voices in her head tell her to "Get off the beach! Just start going and things will fall into place." She knows the voices are her own... but she wants to retreat into the water. She feels the sand shift beneath her feet, she is sliding down again. Fighting her way up to the solid ground, desperately wishing she knew which way to go, she dives forward head first.  The first step to freedom and happiness.

She accepts that she doesn't need to know where the road leads, she just jumps into one and starts running. Doors will open along the way and change her route. She is ready. She knows that sitting in the sand waiting for the darkness to pull her back down promises to keep all the doors closed. She wants more and she is going to find it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Waiting For The Tide

Stress and frustration manifest themselves differently in her. Each day she wakes up, plants her feet on the floor and summons every ounce of energy she has left to push her way into the day.  The days are often the same and life easily blurs into a mist of half-living. There is a strong difference between getting through the day and fully living life.  She addresses and accepts her fears and tirelessly pushes her way through each of them. Some things are beyond her control. Those are the fears that feed her nightmares or leave her lying awake at night searching for a way to change it. Each day she takes a forceful step to break down another barrier within herself.

There is an unseen division between right and wrong. The haziness can make it hard to determine which side of it you are on.  Fear is her response, initiated by trying to figure out where she stands. She may be fighting for the right reasons only to find that she is fighting for the wrong cause.  The fight can not stop, that would be giving up and losing the right to a choice. So she fights. With all of her heart and soul she fights for life. She can never be sure if it is the right cause or not, she simply trusts her instincts to guide her. Sometimes she's wrong, but it is never a serious consequence for trying. Other times, she is right and the results are phenomenal. Those are the days she feels that she can conquer the world.

Those successes are the reserves in her soul that she draws upon when she feels weak.

When she feels stress or fear, it becomes a physical pain in an instant. Perhaps it is a subconscious reaction; if she feels ill she can not push the boundaries and, therefore, can not fail. A fight for what feels right can become an arduous task. There is no reprieve from the physical pain until the final result is achieved. Regardless of the steps taken, forward or back, the end is the only relief.  Each hurdle that is jumped is momentarily celebrated and just as quickly replaced with fear and worry about the next step. It is her life, standing in the ocean waiting for the next wave to crash. Wondering if it will carry the current that finally sucks her under.

She wished once that she could be someone else. She prayed that she could deal with things the way others around her can. She wanted to be able to 'shake it off' as easily as closing a door or window would stop the wind.  She knows that many of the worries that she carries are unsubstantiated, simply exaggerated versions of what is real to the rest of the world. Sometimes the worry results from things that simply should not matter.

Many times, she finds that focusing on someone elses worry could grant her a reprieve. She can push down her internal voices, block them out entirely, and pick up anothers burden. At some point, her own world will crash back down on her and remind her that she is not done. Her own life can not be avoided.

The fear and anxiety are the barriers that hold her back. The fear often brings nausea or headaches and almost always a sharp pain in her heart that sucks the air right out of her lungs.  The only thing preventing her from an easy life is all within her own mind.

The fear is also what drives her forward. Obsessively searching for ways to control her life and her thoughts, no matter how much they race and tangle in her mind, she pushes forward. She hopes for peace one day, that one day the fight will be over.

As painful as it often feels, there is no end and she is aware. The burdens she carries are entirely her own. She knows that the fight to live, the fight to be free, can never be stopped. In order to be happy and comfortable, you have to chase your dreams. No matter how silly or small they seem to others. The fights she takes on are for her own peace of mind. As such, the line between right and wrong choices is essentially meaningless. She fights for the right reason, no matter the battle.

She will never stop believing in dreams.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raising Readers

Last night as the Trucker was falling asleep, listening to a bedtime story of his own by way of the baby monitor, I was reminded of the joys of reading.

Both of my boys are avid readers. They have always been ahead of the pack in their reading skills. Last night, I saw the spark in the Angel Baby's eyes as we read Green Eggs And Ham together. This was the first time she really sat and looked at every page with me. She sat and listened to the story, pointing out things in the pictures as I read about them. She didn't try to turn the pages hastily, she didn't take the book out of my hands. She truly enjoyed the book.

I've been lost in books over the last few months and sometimes I forget that I need to read out loud with them more often. I have taken that time for granted in a way, as the boys have grown older and less interested in my story telling. I have had many nights recently that ended at 3 a.m. simply because I could NOT put that book down. I am loving every second of it. 

I have noticed a difference in my writing as well, I know that reading is a vital tool in developing good writing habits. I find my mind wandering and my creativity growing. I also find my happiness growing and my stress levels decreasing. Sometimes escape from the real world is a solution to the problems we face. Sometimes I just worry too much about things I can not control, reading makes the rushing thoughts stop.

Macboy is stuck a little between books, he's not sure what type of books he wants to read.  I've gotten him an E-reader now and taught him how to download books from the library. He loves this, but still has a hard time choosing what he'd like.

Little Art - not so little anymore - is reading a lot lately too. He's just about caught up to all the books that Macboy has read and he's four years younger. I think he'll be reading the same things as I am, very soon.  They have a leveled reading program at the school for all kids enrolled. Art is currently half way through next year's books. 

The frustrating part of this leveled reading stems from the teachers not wanting the children to read beyond their capacity. They do not want the kids to get too far ahead and thus, hold them back on a lower level for much longer than they really need. Practice is practice, yes. But if there is no challenge in it, don't we all lose interest?  This afternoon, I will be meeting with his teacher to discuss it. I know that the school would like to see him have a few books unread from the reading program next year, so I'm going to propose we read books of our own choosing for a while. 

I know that Art's comprehension is beyond a grade 2 level by quite a bit. I know that if he is held back on anything, he will resist. We have read together through relatively large novels in the past, whether taking turns reading or jumping ahead on our own. I think he is capable and willing, and definitely ready.

What is your favorite book to read with your child? 
Have you ever tried a novel together?  
Can you recommend some titles that might be of interest to 8-12 year olds?

Comment here, or give me a shout on Facebook or Twitter. We certainly can't run out of things to read!