Therapy could probably work too, and would be much less public, but whatevs.
Anyway, I have been thinking about all of your comments and emails the other day I had a little epiphany so I thought I would share.
Obviously the uber-mommy-ness on Facebook gets me a little riled up – that was the main point of yesterday’s post; however, after sleeping on it (and all of your reminders that Facebook is doom!) I definitely agree it is just Facebook and sweeping generalizations about a person are never productive when they are primarily based on someone’s Facebook status or even Facebook behavior (although seriously if you send me another Mafia Wars request I’MMA CUTCHEW!).
When I wrote that post there was A LOT of eye rolling anger (this is how most rants start, eh?) but as I re-read it I kept thinking of two things: One was an adage my Mom used to repeat and the other was Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
What? You don't think of the Kardashian Klan when you are in deep moments of self reflection?
Well, then, let me give you a little backstory. Here, I'll put on my TV Announcer Voice...On a very riveting episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Khloe must attend an Anger Management course after hitting her sister's boyfriend Scott, even though he is a total douchebag and probably deserved it...Ok TV Announcer Guy probably wouldn't have editorialized, whoops. ANYWAY, her counselor explains to her that Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning when you feel it, you should figure out what the underlying cause is. Which then reminded me of the adage my mom used to constantly say when I was growing up: "Whenever you point a finger at someone, remember there are 3 pointing back at you." Meaning, if you are bitching about something, maybe it's time to do a little looking inside to see what you are contributing the situation, eh???
You get it. I did some reflecting.
Something you may not know about me is that growing up an only child I spent A LOT of time with my parents, and the best part was that we had this really great relationship the three of us. Yes, my parents were married and I was their child, but from my perspective it was the three of us against the world. They were my protectors, my supporters, my teachers, my cheerleaders -- and although my dad was VERY involved in my life, my mom was certainly the domestic ringleader because she stayed at home. Our family life was her life. She devoted herself to nurturing me and my creativity, as well as to my father and the business he owned and it was more than a full time job. It wouldn't be until I became an adult that I would really appreciate all the personal sacrifices my mother made to make our family what it was. My childhood was amazing. It was a really joyful time, and even as I grew older my family was my rock and my parents were absolutely the two most important people in my life. We all existed pretty happily in this cycle (normal teenage rebellion and my father's business woes aside) until I was 19.
Two months before my 20th birthday my father had a heart attack and died on our living room floor at the age of 44. And just like that, in an instant, one-third of our whole life was gone.
My parents, who had been together since they were teenagers, were no longer a twosome. I remember so vividly driving to the hospital behind the ambulance and having that fleeting moment of consciousness where I knew that a very large chapter of my life was over.
And it was.
And the year following that event was the toughest I have ever lived through. Although my mother an I developed a bond that is unbreakable to this day, my sense of safety and security died right on that living room floor with my father. It was the year that I felt most alone. But it was also the year that I was forced to discover the depths of my own strength. (Not trying to sound like a Lifetime movie here, I promise.) People generally do that awkward apology when they hear my father has passed, and because I know it comes from a good place there is always a little part of me that wants to give them a little wink and explain that yes, it was sad, but that I have chosen to let this event define my confidence and that has changed my life in the best ways. I now know in every fiber of my being that I can experience devastation and survive, and that (surprisingly) is a feeling so comforting that at times it abolishes rational fear. But you can't really say that in the moment without sounding glib, can you? I usually just say thanks. But it always gets me thinking, ss much as this has been an event that defined my life, it has also defined my mother's. And only through my adult eyes can I really stand back and experience just how devastating it truly was for her.
At 32 I have found a life partner and am on the cusp of being married. I am contemplating having kids and I am making plans for the rest of my life. I have these great expectations of having a loving happy family life just like my own, of growing old with Garrett, of carving out a life with my partner that is rewarding even when we are in our twilight years. Of seeing our children grown. Sharing that pride in a job well done. Enjoying our retirement by a golf course somewhere balmy and beautiful. I have these dreams about my future, and every time I see one, I can't help but think my mom had the same dreams. And on that day when my father died, her dreams died right along with him. And though I don't want to speak for her on something as silly my little blog, I know for a fact that she has spent part of the last decade trying to reconcile what this event meant for her life. What do you do when you spend a lifetime cultivating a family and then one day it is gone. Your husband is dead, your daughter is 20 and moving out of the house. How did you get to this place where you are alone?
And I really marinated on this the other day when I was bitching about THOSE moms on Facebook. As strong as the experience of living through my father's death has made me, it has put a bit of a fearful chink in my armor. I see couples deep in love and I think -- you never know when it is going to end. I hear people planning their lives and I think -- nothing is guaranteed. I hear people obsessing over their children on Facebook and I get angry, but what I'm really thinking is -- you never know when it is going to end, I hope you have you figured out who you want to be without that to define you?
And holy hell if that isn't some unconscious doomsday perspective I've got going, you all.
I don't want to live my life in fear of it all being taken away at any moment. I don't always want to be planning for the worst case scenario. And I guess I hadn't realized that this is what I do, my unspoken mental chatter, until that rant other other day. My irritation was never about mother's who love their kids. It was never about criticizing being a mother as a valuable experience in life that deserves to be shared. Yes, I am still annoyed by people who paint an unrealistic picture of motherhood and let it be the only thing that defines them, but I know now that my rage the other day really came more from a place of fear than anything else. I fear that I will define myself as a mother and it will all be taken away. And I fear the same for those who are doing the same thing.
I don't want to live in that place. The world is scary enough without it. So I will take this experience and be more conscious about what lens I am looking through when getting upset. Thank you all for your insights. You all make an impact in my life on a daily basis and for that I am grateful. I don't know what I'd do without you and Khloe Kardashian!
And people think the internet and celebrities are useless....