Christmas Tree Perspective

Background details: When Evan was born, I was a single mom. There's a story behind how he was conceived (besides, you know, physiologically), and where I was in my life. That's not this story - but I was single when I got pregnant with him, and remained so for 6 years after he was born. His Dad has always been here for him, they've always regularly spent time together. I knew when he was teeny-tiny that it was my mission to be there for him. Before he was born, I had the conventional mom-thought at that time: I'd go back to work when he was around ten weeks old. I thought I was being generous by going further than six weeks. THEN I met him, right after he was birthed at home, and I knew there was NO WAY I could go back to work. Through the years, I found ways to make that work - first, living with my mom, who had not become as cold as she would later, then bartending and cater-waiting on weekends when he could be with his Dad. We moved into a sweet little 2-bedroom house right before he turned 3. Money was always tight, but we had a life we loved. I started watching kids so I could be with him all the time, and his Dad started having scheduled visitation, rather than being there when I worked.

For those Christmases we shared when I was still single, and it was just me and Evan, I started a little tradition. Because we had NO extra money, a tree was mostly out of the question - unless we waited 'til late Christmas Eve, when the tree lots gave their trees away. I would get the tree with Evan, and tell him we'd have to decorate it on Christmas, but I'd actually put it up and decorate it while he slept - then when he woke, he thought Santa brought the tree in and decorated it! I did this two years in a row. I can see now it was magical, it was thrifty, it made sense. I'd love to say that I made the decision consciously and graciously, and stayed fully aware of the magic. Instead:

I was kind of a maniac! And I HATED myself, just absolutely hated myself the whole time, for not providing Evan with a "normal" Christmas, like "normal" families have. The first year, I had no idea we'd get a tree for free - I just drove into the lot hoping we could get a good deal on a Charlie Brown tree, and I wept when the owner just handed me a beautiful tree, and told us to take it home. I was stressed - WHY couldn't I put up a tree before Christmas, like everyone else? I was thinking, Evan's going to remember this! He'll be telling his therapist when he's an adult: 'My mom couldn't even get a tree up before Christmas!' I felt so disorganized, so... overwhelmed. This isn't how it's supposed to be done! I kept saying to myself. I know I wasn't fully present for Evan.

I had SO much to learn, about appreciating the moment that IS. About accepting where I am. About loving myself. About knowing what's really important. I look back now - and dang! That was creative! And practical - AND it was magic for Evan. But then? I couldn't see that at all. I send love to my younger self, lots and lots of love, to me so overwhelmed and stressed, but full of love for my child, this beautiful boy.

And it's causing me to ask today: What am I stressed over now, that if I give a different perspective to, I'll appreciate? What's causing me to not be present for my kids today? Where am I judging myself for falling short of where I "should" be? Can I breathe, and love everything about this moment?

Why, yes, yes I can. In the intervening years, I've learned what's important: us. BE-ing together. Doing what we need - and want! - to have an amazing unschooling life. This moment, this one, will never come again, so it's my job to move everything else aside, all the self-doubt, all the judgment, all the petty, petty money stuff to BE HERE NOW. Fully and lovingly.

I also send love to my younger self (and the boys!) for teaching me just that. Over and over again.

I hope you're able to appreciate all the moments you have this holiday season. Even stressed (you don't have to go there, you know!), even overwhelmed, even joyful and full of love. It's all magic.

Gassho ~

A couple weeks ago, I read this post by writer Jennifer Harvey. I started to write all this in her comments, then realized: 'blog post!' Also - 'Don't hijack the comments!' Thanks, Jennifer!


Well, It's True in My Case

I was playing that game I haven't yet gotten sick of, and one of the players was trying to get a chat started. After a few unpicked-up-on attempts, they finally just typed, "Any cute girls on here?"

Another player replied, "Dude, it's the internet. We're all cute girls."


Rockin' My World

Seth has been asking to hear this story over and over, and for me to tell it to nearly everyone we come across, for the past couple of weeks. He doesn't know I'm putting it on here - surprise!

About 7 years ago, we (my then-husband, Evan, Seth and I) were forced to move from the house we were renting. It was, quite literally, falling apart, and had been for some time. We were making things work; it was a blessing to rent a 2-bedroom home for $200!!! a month rent. That's right - $200. It's what allowed me to stay home with Evan when I was a single mom with him. Sure, it was drafty, and the heat sounded like a jet engine when it came on. Sure, only one burner on the stove worked reliably. Sure, the windows couldn't open. It was worth it! But the owner decided it was time to do some work, so we had to move. It was only supposed to take 3 months; we planned to move back in when he was done. For that short a time, my mother offered to let us stay with her, and we, foolishly, took her up on that offer. I didn't realize how mean and cold she had become since I had moved out of her home 6 years earlier. The brief times we saw each other were slightly stressful, but nothing out of the ordinary.

It was, without a doubt, the worse 2 months of my recent life. She put down Evan for the stuff he chose to do - he would write a comic book and she would ridicule the drawings. He wrote a story - he pretended like the conversation in the book Yo! Yes? was one half of a phone conversation, and he wrote the other half. It was funny and clever, and very inventive. My mother read it, sneered, and said, "Some story." He had just turned 9, people! Nine. It was AWFUL. It was painful and difficult. I have no doubt it was hard on my mom - used to living by herself, and here's me and my husband, and our 9- and 2-year old and our dog, too - but she made it a hell. We saved up our money and got out of there, even though our house wasn't finished; we ended up moving into an apartment complex. They had insulation! And windows that opened!

This was at the beginning of February, right before Seth turned 3. At that time, I used to get a bit down in the wintertime, and I could feel myself spiraling down that dark tunnel. The time with my mom was so stressful, and we couldn't move back into our little house, that I loved so dearly - John wasn't willing to break our lease to do so, when the house was finished a couple months later. One day, I was out walking with Seth, just taking a tour around the apartment complex. It was cold and gray, and my mood matched. I felt myself teetering on the edge of the abyss of depression, and felt powerless against it. On the walk, we passed a gravel driveway. Seth broke away from me, ran to the rocks, stood there a second and yelled: "Mama!! ROCKS!!" His face just glowing with his huge smile. He was in awe. Of rocks. He could barely contain himself. In that moment, I felt something inside break open, and I smiled, then laughed. How could I possibly be depressed in a world that had rocks?

It turned my view around. That one moment put me on a whole different course than I was headed down. I didn't fall into depression - I kept looking for the rocks. Then came Spring, and at the apartment we put out bird feeders, so we had squirrels we tamed to the point they'd crawl up my leg to get peanuts, and baby ducks would come feed with their Mamas on the seed that fell on the ground.

Rocks. Go figure.


Uh, oh.

I'm in trouble.

I've been on this game for a while this morning. Is there a way to block sites during working hours?

You get a word and you draw that word, and everyone else playing guesses at what it is, and you guess at their drawings.

The game itself is fun! No need to sign up, sign in or anything. Only one rude person so far, who had to draw a penis, no matter what the clue was, and after a while, that was funny. It IS called "Draw My Thing". Guess they took that literally. So stay with your kids if they play. 'Cause you know - penises. Can only lead to harder drugs and all that.

tee-hee... harder.