Saturday, August 30, 2014

For Arlo

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

                                                                                    - T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Dear Arlo,

We've learned a lot together, you and I.  These past 4.5 years of cultivating each other's lives have entertained a tangled yarn ball of every emotion I've ever experienced, multiplied by 8.  At times, I've felt I have been the ultimate warrior in shaping your identity.  But more often, I have felt ( and still do) the fool.

Apparently that's what parenting is. Feeling, more often than not, that you really have no clue what you're doing, but doing it anyway.

As I  head back into the workforce next week for the first time since the doctor wrestled you from my very oversized belly, I want you to know and fully understand how much the time I've spent at home with you has changed me. I am more of a fool than I was before, no doubt. Each year of being a parent makes me feel more and more confused.  But I am also much more comfortable being a fool... meaning that I now possess the confidence to laugh at myself, which I didn't have before you were here.  My confidence is the direct result of having you in my life. Your laughs, your screams, sleepless nights, power struggles, even your knock-knock jokes... everything you've ever done or experienced has been incredible, one way or another, and has significantly enhanced my life.

This next phase in our mother/son saga will be different. Not bad, just different. We'll both need to adjust to my work/life balance, and while I am obviously sad to be leaving this part of my life behind, I am truly excited to see how our relationship grows in other ways. I truly enjoy seeing you get older. I don't know many parents who say this, but I do. Your personality is unlike any other I've known. I love hearing you talk about dinosaurs and Canada and trains. I love watching you evolve as my determined, caring, dramatic,intelligent and quirky little man.

Mommy loves you more than anything else in the world, Arlo. Always.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What's Next?

Arlo loves to know what's coming up next. He is my mother's grandchild for sure, and if I'm being honest here,  I also thrive on knowing "what's next".  I'm guessing this is a hereditary thing. From the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed, he is always asking about what will happen in the next portion of our day. And sometimes, I don't have an answer for either him OR myself.

I finally graduated with my MSW in April, and the " what's next" portion of my brain is very active. I've been a stay at home mom now for 4.5 years... much longer than I had ever envisioned. Part of me is amazed at how quickly time has passed, and part of me feels like it has been 20 years since I last had a job.

I'm now at a point where I really, really want to get back into the workplace and use my degree and skills to assist others. I mentioned to my husband this morning that I just feel flat. I don't feel like I'm doing anything to give back to the community, and this bothers me. So this afternoon I spent my time going through endless papers and documents from school and organizing them... so much so that when I was finished, I decided to start working on weeding out all of the random papers I have kept from my mom and dad's house. In doing this, I found a letter that my dad had kept in a folder entitled " keepers ". In this folder,there were a couple of sappy letters from me with a barrage of quotes from other people-- this is how I usually expressed myself as a teen/young adult.  There were a few blank cards my dad had bought and never sent out, and then, a letter from my mom to me. On yellow lined paper, dated 3/21/79.  I had read the letter with my mom many years ago, and she explained to me that she wrote it the night before she and my dad had ever left me alone with someone else for more than an evening. She explained that she wrote the letter in case anything had happened to them. I remember her laughing when she initially showed it to me- I was probably like 12 or so- but after seeing it then I never saw it again until now. As she was most certainly planning for what might be next, her words were anything but anxiety laden. They were calming and loving, and more evident of someone living in the moment than I think she ever realized. Her words are timeless, and without the anxiety of someone needing to know the what comes next. She writes:

" I hope your life is full of love and joy. I know that there will also be pain and disappointment and I only hope that this will make you a stronger person... if I could choose to give you all the qualities that would make you have a good life, I would want you to have the ability to be unselfish and know the feeling that comes from giving to another without thinking of yourself. I would want you to be able to risk your own sense of security in order to gain and grow from new experiences. I would want you to know what comes from loving and being loved... I would want you to feel the specialness and uniqueness of yourself."

So after reading this tonight, I know what's next. Being the person she wanted me to be.