Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ties That Bind

It is June.  June is the month of my oldest daughter's birthday.  June brings summer and June Gloom and eventually, July, which is the month of my birthday and my brother's birthday and some unexplained and mostly unexplored anxiety which I do believe that I must take some time to understand this year.  My favorite grandmother passed away on my birthday several years ago, but I do not believe that that has anything at all to do with my "July anxiety" because it seemed to have started well before her death.  Sometimes, I think that my grandma's passing on my birthday was sort of a Universal pox on my irrational anxiety.  Like "Here.  If you are going to be all weird about your birthday and stuff, we will add something else, something more concrete that will make it even more burdensome for you."  Or, "You really aren't that important, Debra, so do not believe that other people celebrating the fact that you are still here to be celebrated means anything more than that you are just another year older."  Silly, I know.  And the interesting thing is that I love life, I really do.  And I understand that in order to continue having a life to love, I must also have birthdays to grow older on.  Like my grandmother always told me, if you want to live, you have to get old.  And it isn't necessarily the growing older part of my birthday that bothers me.  I do not mind that at all.  There are many benefits to growing older and wiser and more comfortable in one's own skin.  But while I am contemplating this, I must ask if there is anyone else out there who shares in this birthday anxiety?  I witness other people getting very excited about their own birthdays and I do, too, but it makes me wonder where my own apprehension might have come from.

So here we all are in the month of June.  Angel Daughter Number One will be turning twenty-six at the end of this month which is almost hard for me to fathom as in my own mind, she is still a very young woman.  Truthfully, I am finally coming to the conclusion that this child of mine is finished being a child.  This has been a somewhat difficult concept for me to grasp as she has always been so easy to mother which makes it even easier for me to continue doing so.(She is a pretty good sport about it.)    But she does not really need me to do that part of the job anymore.  I mean, I know that she will always need me to be her momma, but as far as the unasked-for advice, etc., etc., I would rather not sound like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons.  I am learning to back off.  I am learning that when she needs me, she will come to me.  I am learning that AD1 is pretty much cooked.  I definitely cannot complain. Look at my girl, she is self-assured, considerate, compassionate and beautiful.  As her momma, there is nothing that I could wish for her to be that she is not already in the process of achieving.  It is a little bit frightening to know that I am on my way out of a job that I have so loved doing for twenty-six years, but this is the truth whether I want it to happen or not so I might as well enjoy the process.
So I move on to Angel Daughter Number Two...My wild child, per say.  The one who can cause my heart to pound wildly in the middle of the night without logical reason, but just because I know.  And yet, she always seems to figure her way out of the dilemmas that are sometimes self-created and sometimes, not.  This child is twenty-three years old and although she will tell you that she has been "on her own" since she was eighteen, that is so not true.  She flies freely under the very watchful eyes of her parents and her extremely proud, extremely supportive grandfather even when she sometimes flaps her wings like a wayward bird whose wings have been temporarily clipped by her own impulsive actions from time to time.  I cannot say that this one is fully cooked yet, but I do have to watch the way that I respond to the manner in which she approaches the world.  It it very different, not bad, just different and unusual.  She is, after all, a creative soul and creative souls can have a very different way of approaching life.  AD2 is a free-spirit who views the world from a distinctive and much further elevated perch.(If she can get there, it is definitely worth the effort of the climb!)  I often find myself observing this child in the way that I would view a very beautiful, rare bird that loves the idea of self-survivial but needs the security of others to occasionally feather her nest(and fill her refrigerator).  She wants, so badly, to do things on her own, but she just isn't as ready as she sometimes believes that she is.(Sir, I was born ready!)  It is all good, though.  I know that AD2 is absolutely capable of amazing things, things that other twenty-three year olds could not even imagine achieving.  Being her momma is something that I know that I was meant to do, so I will do it in whatever way she needs me to for however long it takes.  Nothing could make me prouder or happier.
Angel Daughter Number Three just completed her AA degree from a community college, received her first "A" in math, ever, and will be moving on to attend a college that is nine hours away in August to complete her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology.(Just like her momma:))  In some ways, AD3 is our late bloomer, but she is also very thorough in making sure that she is comfortable with one step in life before she moves on to the next one.  It is going to be very difficult when she leaves, I am fully aware of that and I know that I will come down with another case of "empty-nest syndrome" when she goes.    She has been dating Zach for a couple of months now.  He is the brother of AD1's boyfriend, Matt.  They fell pretty fast and quick when they met and have been inseparable ever since.  I'm not exactly sure how the Universe is going to work this one out come August, but it is all part of the major scheme so I am confident that if they want it to work, it will.  Mark and I both really like Matt and Zach so if things are somehow meant to be, we would not complain.  Life has a funny way of working things out, so we shall see what happens in the future.
Angel Daughter Number Four...What can I say about this little bundle of teenage energy.  She is like a whirlwind of enthusiasm and kinetic chatter that bounces from moment to moment, place to place, leaving people smiling from ear to ear in her path.  And although she is in the midst of her final year as a teenager, she is finally now going through a somewhat rebellious stage.  I should have known that it was coming.  It is normal and healthy and necessary.  I was just sort of hoping that we could just skip that portion of the process with this mostly happy, mostly agreeable little soul.  AD4 is still dancing up a storm, going to college, and working while also keeping up with her full social calendar.  Her ability to bring people joy through the art of dance is mesmerizing and I am so proud of her confidence and skill.  I only hope that she takes full advantage of the natural ability that has been given to her so that she does not look back with any regret.  She truly is that good.

The love of my life.  This man whom I have spent the past thirty-three years of my life with.  We have been together since we were freshmen in college and have been married for almost twenty-nine years.  We continue to build a life together that is both joy filled and upbeat.  Yes, we definitely share in the difficulties that being alive throws at everyone, but we choose to deal with them in a way that allows us to keep the bright side mostly in tact.  We try to remember that we are always in this together and we do our very best to work as a team.  Most importantly, we remain deeply in love with one another and that is something that sustains us through even the heaviest of storms.

Even as we watch our four children walking into their own futures, we steadfastly remain two people who will share in ours together and in that, we both find deep comfort.

The pelicans have been returning to San Clemente, and with them, another season has passed and another June has arrived.  Watching my children leave and return and leave and return and then, eventually leave without returning alone, has been a process for me.  It has been a process filled with the bittersweet proclivity of both transformation and also, displacement.  I am excited about what is to come for them, but I am scared about where it will leave me in my newest phase of life.  Who will I be when I am no longer known as my children's mother?  Where will my own purpose lie when the most important job that I could ever conceive of in my life is mostly finished?  How do I discover who I will now become?  I have so much to learn and for the first time in my entire life, I am feeling a little bit lost.    I always knew what would come next...College, job and marriage, children...Now, I am just not that sure.  I've never had a role model to guide me.  No other woman to look to as an example of how it is all done gracefully, at least not one whom I know personally.  It's a bit disconcerting.  I know that I can rely on the support, love and encouragement of my husband and our daughters.  I know that they will cheer me on in whatever direction I choose to fly.  But where do I even begin...I have most of the tools, but I still need a compass, and a map, and a GPS, for that matter.

Happy June!


Jessie Pearl Stuart said...

who will you be when you are no longer known as their mom?

uh, you've got like 12 kids, you'll always be known as someone's mom. till the day you die. which will be very very far off from now.

you guys have such a great relationship. i don't know that you'd ever not be known as mom, except for when you will be known as grandma.

Angella said...

as usual, we are in the same place, leading our parallel lives. let's just hold hands, shall we? and cheer our beautiful children and hold on tighter when they stumble and pray them back to their feet, always. love to you, dear deb.


Ginny said...

Hi Debra. I have neglected my most favorite blogs lately. I am so glad I stopped by and read this. Better late than never, I suppose. I love to hear about your beautiful girls and the love of your life. I hope July brings you happiness. You have done a wonderful job as a momma and a wife. 33 three years happy and 4 precious gifts.

Ness said...

Oh my sweet friend!

In a way we are living a parallel journey in the fact that we both have amazing phenomenal husbands who believe that he and his wife are a team and together they can get through anything along with the silent/not so silent partner named God.

We both were blessed/cursed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue system and then we each have our other issues. You have shown me how to traverse this with your honesty, encouragement and love. I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

We are both mega animal lovers with your dogs/cats and now my dog/cat.

You, with your four amazing daughters as well as I, with my two daughters and one son, have shared the joy, sorrow, heartache and worry of getting them from birth to flying on their own. I sometimes think it has been harder in the summer of their lives (now) than in the spring of their lives when I was their world, they loved my songs I sang them to sleep with and they snuggled sleepily on my shoulder fighting that last bit of wakefulness before drifting off to dreamland.

And we do differ, as it is designed, for being the same would interfere with what we learn from one another.

You live on the beautiful Western coast where you wake up to a fresh new day designed by God and His wonder. To see that every day and night must be like being in Heaven. I am in Illinois, the Heartland, as it is known, where it is as flat as a pancake and the days pretty well run together. I get the occasional plethora of Fall color and sometimes snow that is enough to build a snowman in the meadow. God has taught me that in whatever state I find myself in, I am to be blessed and I am. A cancer diagnosis reinforced that and drove home the point, as well as the sudden death of my BFF Kathy, that life is NOW, in the moment, and there are seldom do-overs.

You will always be a mother. You wear many hats. As the mother of an almost 36 year old I can tell you that I will be needed as her mother until one of us draws our last breath. You never get too old for your mother's arms. You will find the same with your angels.

Laura said...

such a beautiful family Debbie... things have a way of working out, they just do, you know? I hope you are taking good care of yourself as August and Elul have both arrived ushering us forward into a New Year of mysterious adventures.

Sharon said...

I could use a map, too. I don't know anyone who has the answers, so we will make our way, following our hearts.

Laura said...

miss your presence here friend, your words, you photos... fb just isn't the same. but you need to do what you must to take good care of YOU.

Laura said...

miss your presence here friend, your words, you photos... fb just isn't the same. but you need to do what you must to take good care of YOU.

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