So, It’s Come At Last…At Last It’s Come

You can thank my grown, married son for this blog title. He and his wife went to see a production of Bye, Bye Birdie and he told me afterward that one of the songs, “A Mother Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, reminded him SO MUCH of me.

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. You see, I’m finally coming down off a cortisol high – for which I blame my children. It’s the result of many stressful months planning an execution for my daughter’s wedding (er, um…I meant PLANNING AND EXECUTING my daughter’s wedding) and adjusting to life with a son home for the summer from his first year of college (insert eye-rolling emoji). But after a couple days of thinking it over, or over-thinking it – if you’re me, I’ve come to realize that “I” do relate to the lamenting mother in the show as she says, “You sacrifice your life…then, BANG! You get the knife! No, a mother doesn’t matter anymore!”

Sound overly dramatic? Let me tell you, it’s not. Regardless of whether or not our children mean to hurt us, that is exactly how this difficult child/parent transition is for mothers (I’m sure there are thousands of them out there who would back me up!). The angst we feel is great and very real, but deep down we know it’s not our kids’ faults. It’s a natural part of life, a right of passage. We did it to our mothers! Painful? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Survivable? Yes, again.

Even as the knife plunges into our hearts, I think all of us – the mothers, instinctively know that it’s time: time to let go, time to adapt to and embrace a different way of parenting our children, time for us to move into a different season of our lives.

Despite what my grown kids might think (Ya, I don’t really want to know!), I’m there. I’m ready. My mind has not, to my surprise, been burdened long by the loss, or the feeling of guilt that I coulda, shoulda done more/better (there’s a topic for another post!), so much as it has been looking forward to new opportunities. Now that the lion’s share of my job as a mother is “done” (I got them to adulthood, didn’t I?), I can focus on other things, like myself, my husband and our life together. I’ve been thinking a lot about those new horizons.

I don’t know exactly what this future looks like. I might start walking again, as opposed to running marathons, but it’s all good! I can finally focus on myself, guilt-free, something I haven’t done in twenty plus years! I could, in reality, do any number of things, from accomplishing personal goals like getting in shape, to self-publishing my stories, to taking some classes, to going back to school full time, to starting a new career. In truth, this new phase in my life could be every bit as exciting and fulfilling as that of my grown children.

I think I knew all of this – knew what was going to happen, what had to happen, with my grown children, even as it was happening. In small ways I’ve been imagining it sometimes as I lay my head on my pillow at night, and thinking about what I will do with this new self. I’ve been making lots of lists, eyeing my project pile, and itching to blog again, which I wasn’t sure would ever happen. I can tell that my husband has been thinking about it, as well. We’ve started doing more things for ourselves, checking things off our personal lists and our couple list, and it’s been a lot of fun!

I will always cherish being a mother to my four kids, but the job description will surely change, as everything is bound to do in life; and, you know, that’s alright! My role in their lives, and their role in mine, will be different now, but like the lyrics in that Spinner’s song, whenever they call me, whenever they want me, whenever they need me, I’ll be there, I’ll be around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Trouble With Tribbles: Why I’m Not a Collector Anymore

Two years ago, I sold my rather extensive Snow White Collection – and made a pretty penny off of it. That’s what all collectors hope will happen…someday…after they’re dead, but it’s not like I woke up one day and just decided to dump the whole thing… Okay, it was pretty much like that, but it was a process several years in the making.

In my former life, I was a self-loathing, albeit expert holder-onto-er. I had my reasons, which  I don’t recall, however, I’m also fairly practical, and definitely lazy, and all those things everywhere started to become a problem for me, a problem that kept on growing (like the those darn tribbles on Star Trek). Eventually, the practical me beat down the me that was always bringing crap home and decided it was time to declutter and simplify.

I started with the stack of boxes of miscellaneous paper that I had collected through many moves and several years. No matter where we moved, that stack would reappear in a corner like a kind of crazy conceptual art installation. That’s what I’d tell people, anyway.

Paper is the bane of my existence – okay, maybe just the cause of my husband’s frustration and hence, the cause of much of my anxiety. That’s what happens when you marry a “touch it once” guy. (To clarify, that’s a guy trained in the fundamental principles of productivity and time management…He’s also a “Do what I say and not what I do” guy, so, take that for what it’s worth…) At any rate, it drove him nuts to watch me move papers from one pile to another, and possibly another. He’d be pulling his hair out and hissing at me, but loudly, to JUST TOUCH THE DAMN THING ONCE! (I always wanted to ask if “saying it once” was a thing, but I never did!) The problem was, I could never decide what I should do. Keep him, toss him. Likely as not, I’d probably need him one day and there I’d be thinking, “Damn. Should have kept him. He’d come in handy right about now.”

While the Snow White collection wasn’t the first collection to go, it was the first one I sold without regret. There was a period in our married life when money became very dear; dearer than my childhood Barbie collection and an old license plate collection my dad bequeathed to me before he passed. And while I was grateful for the money they brought, I was sad to see them go because they were things that had brought me endless hours of joy, and also held fond memories for me of time spent with my dad in his old, greasy shop.

Something began to change for me, though, as I began to get rid of the stuff. I began to see things in a different way. I began to understand why I was a holder-onto-er. I realized the state of my house was simply a mirror of the state of my mind. My mind was cluttered with feelings. My house was cluttered with things.  I realized I kept things for other people, not myself. I realized that I was overwhelmed by having too many things and it caused me stress. I realized that you don’t have to have things to have memories; and that there are other ways to love, honor and remember times and people in life that don’t have to take up physical space. I realized that I didn’t need to keep things in order to show my love for the people in my life.

One of the greatest realizations came the day it dawned on me that my most prized collection of Snow White memorabilia had not been curated for me so much as it had for my mother, whom I loved.

It all began with a little wooden box.  She gave me this treasured box that she’d made as a girl and had painted with the characters from the “new” to her Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I realized that Snow White reminded me of my mother and her life! I had never made that connection before. She was beautiful as a young woman, with dark wavy hair and big, brown eyes. She’d had an equally difficult and tragic life as the character, Snow White – until she married my father, who had provided a different and better life than she had known before. Prince Charming had saved her. Also like Snow White, my mother was a hard worker and spent her life taking care of other people, a sometimes thankless job at times. She took care of her alcoholic father, her mentally ill mother, her disabled sister, just to name a few. And while I’m not sure she would see in her story the same happily ever after ending, I did. In a weird way, collecting all those things was an important way to remember.

I was amazed that when I was emotionally ready to let go of my collection, someone magically appeared who wanted it. A friend of a friend, she is even more avid a Snow White collector than myself, and she, too, lives right here in New Mexico. As I got to know her, it became clear that she saw in her life something of the Snow White story, as well. Now really, what are the odds of that? Sue ended up buying almost everything I had. I couldn’t believe my good fortune to sell it all to someone who would love and care for it as much, or more, than I did.

When it was over, I thought I would regret it, but I didn’t. I felt free. Free from the burden of things. Free to make new, more meaningful ways of loving, honoring and remembering.

I kept my mom’s little box. It serves the practical purpose of holding all our keys! It makes me smile to think of my mom as a little girl, creating beautiful things in the midst of terrible hardship. Because that is the woman she was, the woman I knew. Being the practical person I am, I held out the best and smallest pieces of my Snow White collection, the watches, for my kids, hoping someday, if they find themselves in need, those watches will bring them a pretty penny, as well.

 

 

 

 

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