Where I gave up

Flash forward.

It’s been over two years since I made my blog/website private despite amassing thousands of page views. It’s been a year and a half since my last (private) post. It’s been over three years since my life hit the multi-slide down-slope carnival ride that tossed me around and left me silent for awhile.

I couldn’t tell you where exactly I gave up, like the exact moment my silence began, but I could give you the landmarks and directions to guide you there. They would be closely approximated through jaded sarcasm, a naive kind of hope, and a memory clouded by work stress, childbearing, friends who were not friends, friends who were, and the furious final breath of my 20s. Couple that with a rebellious spirit, a suspicion of all religion, and a hundred different efforts to prove myself. Suddenly, there was no time, and certainly no energy, to simply speak. Everything was a calculation, a plan, a hastily scribbled to-do list written on the back of a bill.

Motherhood is hard. But I think being a wife is harder. You may not agree, but that has been my experience in the last 10 years. Through all challenges and every measure of exhaustion, my soul has always been filled to the brim with love for my children. I’ve always spilled over with dreams for who they will be, coupled with absolute, nauseous dread for the personality archetypes I shudder to imagine them developing into. But marriage? There is no guessing there. The man is standing before you in his current incarnation, whatever that may be, and there’s no dream of the future because the wedding cake has freezer burn (or is all gone), you can’t remember who gave you that china, and the mortgage is due.

Remembering to give yourself daily to the commitment you made when you were, in my case, very young and a complete idiot (I didn’t know that then, but I know it now, cause I find my old writing and I sad-laugh at how awful it is instead of thinking how right I was). Now, that is beyond difficult. That is a war, if you will. My marriage has been a war – and I don’t mind telling you that honestly. I wish people talked more about the struggle of married life, honestly, to demystify it for younger couples. For us, we fought each other, savagely and bloodied, for a very long time (nearly 10 years) before we decided to team up and actually fight side by side.

So, when I say “where I gave up,” I do not mean my marriage. We’re clearly still here. While we may not quite be a classic, fully restored model from days bygone, I consider us the equivalent of a 90s Mercedes. Beat up like hell, one headlight is missing, and the sunroof stopped working during the Bush administration, but it runs like a dream.

So…where I gave up? Depends on what I’m chucking to the side. In 2010, I birthed my first baby boy and chucked my identity as anything other than a mom.

In 2013, I chucked my stay-at-home-mom identity to the side and became career-hungry. Going back to work was, at once, an infuriating and intoxicating mission to apply my crazy-quilt of skills and experiences and find someone willing to hire a woman who had been out of work for two years. Granted, I had not actually “been out of work” (as it was said, irritatingly, pulling the truth of annoyance from my honest face) – I was freelancing and doing contract jobs the entire time I was at home, whilst wiping the ass and snotty nose of a helpless and wonderful little person.

In 2015, I left a job I really loved because it seemed like the only way to stay in motion. That won’t make sense to a lot of you, I know – there were some other reasons, too. I’m still sometimes iffy about whether that was the right move or not, but I’ve never been what you call a “strategic” person, nor do I feel like that’s something I inherently need to be. I make moves and changes when they feel right to me, and for better or worse, that is how God built me. I would probably always struggle not to obey my own (imperfect, impertinent, but completely innate) compass, so the compass wins. I find you can only believe half of what people say anyways, peoples’ “direction” is so colored by their own agendas and beliefs. Some folks would say my way makes the trail bumpy (they’re right), but it also makes for a hell of a ride. And I like to drive.

And about two weeks ago, I left a job I honestly did not love, but with incredible people and in an industry that I do adore. It was time to come home again. This supposed evolution, it turns out, was just a rotation.

I don’t know what is next. I have clients I’m taking on freelance, some good projects to look forward to, and a third baby expected in October. But this is miles away from where I was in 2010 the first time I did this. There aren’t many expectations. I’ve given up the idea of perfection or even the desire to get as close to it as possible. The truth is, I’m sort of living between sleeps (I’m exhausted – this first trimester has unceremoniously kicked my ass beyond anything I’ve experienced before).

I used to be sweet – sure. My sweetness is still there, as it always will be. I will always be the person who talks to strangers, or cooks for new parents, or offers a shoulder to cry on when no advice seems adequate for the despair of a situation. I will always offer the unconditional – I’ve realized THAT is what I have been chasing all this time. Those are the places where I excel. In building connections out of thin air, in having a heart for the sleepless mother who is still bleeding everywhere and has no clue what to expect tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. In staring in the face of unimaginable heartache or struggle and saying “I will not leave you, I will be here on the other side of this.”

But that sweetness had to take a break for awhile. And my fingers had to stop typing and be confused for awhile, while life unspooled before me and forced me to knit it in a different pattern. Some friendships had to weather a storm, and some had to be burned at the stake (spoiler: they weren’t real anyways). And I had to be really, really honest with a lot of people in ways that made me terribly uncomfortable.

I’ve stopped this business of putting lipstick and a skirt on the reality of 32, married, two (coming up on three) kids, and still not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up (but knowing I want to spent it helping people, not selling them stuff). There will be yoga pants (dirty ones). There will be God. There will be midnight deadlines on a Saturday because it’s the only time I have to finish the job. There will be F-word. There will be a lot of coffee.

The Angel in the House came back, despite my efforts to leave her in the dust. Virginia Woolf be damned, I’ll not kill her, but conquer her.