There’s No Place Like Home

I’m home. I had a day to rest before jumping into day job work. It’s been pretty much non-stop all week, and today I finally have a whole day off. I’m worn slam out. I love to travel and visit, but it’s exhausting so I’d be tired even if it weren’t for the day job.

Luckily, I’ve been around this block a few times. Rather than trying to get caught up on everything today, I took the morning to read, made a concerted effort to eat well and drink water, and played in the mud. The garden soil has been turned and weeded, and the pot of potatoes that didn’t have any drainage holes does now. Hopefully the sunshine will hang around for a few days and my potatoes won’t disintegrate in the mud. Besides writing, dirt and sunshine are my therapy of choice, followed closely by chocolate. I’d say coffee, too, but that’s medicinal at this point.

Now here’s a question for y’all: What do you do to decompress when life gets stressful?

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Letting Go

When Alex went to college, I was prepared to miss him. I was so prepared, so determined not to cry when we left him, that I didn’t cry at all, apart from tearing up a little once in the van twenty miles away.

I was fine when Vicky moved to St. Louis to go to school. I had my writing and my volunteer work at the church. She came home two or three times a month for real food and laundry facilities. While I enjoyed getting caught up on her life and taking care of her for a few hours, it was a relief when she piled her laundry baskets in her car and waved good-bye. The house was quiet again.

Then Eric got laid off. We were enormously relieved when he was offered his current job. I threw myself into sorting and packing. It was a stressful three months. I knew it would be a relief to finally get everything moved so I could settle into the new normal.

It wasn’t a relief. Everything in my life except the cats and Eric was unfamiliar–the neighborhood, the incessant noise from the road next to our apartment, the snow–dear Lord, how could I ever have been happy to see it snow? Why was I excited about the lake effect again?*

One day, I was unpacking a box and ran across a passport. I opened it to see whose it was, and Alex’s 13-year-old face looked back at me. I lost it. Full-on, instant ugly crying. It wasn’t just that I was in a new place. I was there without my kids.

I’m not writing this for sympathy. I’m getting help and working through the grief. That’s what it is, too. I’ve touched on this before–I was grieving my old life before our final move.

I’m writing this for my friends who have kids in or going to college. Don’t think you get over it and move on. There may come a time when something changes so much or so fast that you realize your old life is really over. You invest all those years nurturing your babies–the sleepless nights, the fights and broken hearts and tears, and then they’re off on their own adventures and you’re left wondering how it happened so quickly.

Whether you were a working mom or a stay-at-homeschooler, you’re going to have regrets. You’re going to miss the pudgy toddler. It’s okay. You don’t let go overnight. I’m not sure you ever completely let go at all.

 

*Almost without exception, when people find out I moved here in January, they apologize for the weather and promise me this is the worst winter they’ve ever seen here. The city can be scary, but the people have been really nice.

Worn

This has been a crazy year for us, and the last couple of weeks have imploded. We’ve had employment issues, the possibility of relocation, my uncle’s death, and this morning I found out my cousin’s husband, who I just saw at the funeral last week, is in the hospital with heart issues. There have been other minor disappointments that have felt bigger because of the stress of the circumstances, and yet, when I compare my circumstances to other people’s, I can see how blessed I am. That makes me feel guilty, like I’m not grateful for what I have despite my troubles.

Early this year, I heard “Worn” by 10th Avenue North on the radio for the first time. At the time we were planning Eric’s graduation celebration. All of our parents wanted to come. All of them. I don’t have room for that many people in my house, and I was trying to work out the logistics in my head. When the song came on the radio I almost cried because the lyrics said exactly what I was feeling. Everything turned out better than I imagined, and I’m sure they will this time, too. In the meantime, this is my theme song.