Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What if We Just Got Real?

We are down to soap chips rather than soap bars, and I was very disgruntled to find my face soap in the shower when I was finally able to jump under the spray twenty minutes before our departure for morning carpool. Hudson screamed and cried all through breakfast because I served him water instead of Capri Sun, then trashed his room with Lincoln Logs when he was sent to calm down. He and Lawson took great pleasure in punching, kicking, and pinching each other from that point on. When I rolled up to Camden's school with only seconds to spare, the teacher who opened his door was bombarded by the screams and hums of my other three children. She let an "oh, my" slip from her tongue before the van door closed behind Camden, and I could only nod my head in silent acknowledgement of her bewildered expression.

When one of my mommy partners in crime offered to walk Hudson and Lawson into preschool, I gladly accepted and raced home to try and dry my heavy, wet, tangled mop that masquerades as hair and still make it to my MOPS meeting in time. I attend these meetings because they give me a sense of belonging and sisterhood I haven't experienced since I found my best college girlfriends. These women are worth my fighting for a shower every other Wednesday (though I know they would gladly take me as I normally am with greasy hair and grubby clothes). They were pillars of support when I came to them very nearly broken with loneliness back in September, and they continue to inspire and encourage me months later in a variety of ways.

When I attended my first MOPS meeting, I felt somewhat out of my element. I'm so open and outspoken with a crass sense of humor to boot, and I was intimidated by some of the mild-mannered, godly women I encountered. I can't quote you scripture, I have a recovering potty mouth (motherhood does require censorship), and I love so big and bubbly that sometimes people aren't really sure what to think of me. MOPS is a Christian based organization, and though my faith feels more secure than it has in a long time, participation in organized religion has ebbed and flowed throughout my adult life.

The more time I spend with these women, the more masks I take off. I'm learning to love myself the way God made me rather than doubting myself for not being more demure. In taking off my own masks and accepting who I am and why I am who I am, I've come to realize all the moms at MOPS are united by the same insecurity. We all want acceptance for what one of my favorite mommies put so plainly this morning--for being real. For being someone who has endured pain and heartache and understands strife and the isolation of living in fear. For someone who has gone to the depths of self-destruction or self-loathing and fought hard to come out on the other end intact. Or for being someone who isn't perfect but struggles with the understanding that it's her idiosyncrasies that make her so special.

The women who surround me at the tables are real. Only in the last four months have I begun to form deep connections that reward me so richly with laughter and fellowship. It's easy to become so engrossed in my own insecurities and desires for love and acceptance that I forget those around me are looking for the same thing. We're united by love, by the pain and joy of our life experience, by the desire to be great moms, and by the support we have to offer each other. There is little room for judgement when you choose to be real and in doing so, allow others to hold the confidence to be real themselves. My heart has grown a little more each meeting and with each new friendship, and it grew exponentially today in watching moms lay out their struggles and let us all in to their little worlds.

My dear friend who spoke today has no idea how much less alone I feel just hearing her testimony and watching God grant her the bravery to give it. I suspect she stood up there feeling vulnerable and fearing judgement for removing a veil and exposing her private life to us. She inspired me today more than she ever has (and this is a mom who inspires me regularly), and I once again come to a place where I passionately and whole-heartedly tell God thank you for leading us to Savannah. Thank you for my beautiful husband and for the blessing of his job. Thank you for my spirited children who scream and fight. Thank you for MOPS and the sisterhood of women you've brought into my life. I truly believe it's no accident I'm here.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

We're on the Move...Again

This week I'm packing up and moving out for the fifteenth time in fifteen years. Eight of these fifteen moves have been made with my handsome attorney. Six of them have happened when we had kids in tow. Two happened while I was pregnant. You get the picture. We move A LOT. At first our moves were due to the fact that Jason was from a real estatae family, and buying and selling is just what real estate families do. Well, what we real estate families used to do before the market turned on us and bit us in our unprepared rears. I never minded the change because I get bored and restless very easily, and moving always seemed exciting for me. We moved down here out of a necessity that turned into a wonderful blessing, but I knew going into our current house it was only temporary.  It was simply the best we could find with two weeks' notice.

When we settled into our life in Savannah, I started to become keenly aware that my kids might not share the same sense of adventure I have when it comes to feeling settled. They need a home at this point--not just a house. They're in big-kid school now, so staying in the district is important for their stability and friendships they've formed. Having four kids has provided me with quite the adventure, but moving with four kids has proved to suck, for lack of a better word. Basically it's time for me to tame my restlessness and channel it into something different and healthier for my kiddos.

I hope with this latest move to put away my packing tape and take U-Haul's 1-800 number off my contact list. We're headed to a great house in a great neighborhood, so I know it's time to be a grown-up and become more "settled." I'm lucky to have fantastic friends who have come through for me during my first move without our family's help. I know Jason's gaggle of brothers-in-law are feeling they dodged a bullet now that we're too far away to enlist their brute strength. I did cheat a little and ask my dad and stepmom to come for a portion of the move, but I know my dad is ready to hang up his work boots after this relocation. For everyone's sake, I hope I can pour all of my excess energy into writing and maybe another adventurous hobby. I hear knitting is fun.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Illusion of Balance

Balance is a simple word that manages to confound us all. It's the reason I've attended yoga sessions for the past six years and why I spend so much of my time analyzing my place in this world. I'm searching for the key to mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional balance. Sometimes it feels as if my life is dictated by the whirring spin of the washing machine or the persistent glub glub of another tubful of dirty bathwater swirling down the drain.

Today I sit at my computer with the all-too-familiar sounds in the background. Libby the Farting Dog outside growling at a squirrel, the buzz of the dryer as my fourth load of towels finishes its cycle, Hudson and Lawson turning the pages of books in their beds, and Scout's sound machine lulling her to sleep in her room. My hair is saturated with the "color in a box" I've grown accustomed to since the real estate market went belly-up, my Crocs are riddled with sand from yesterday's beach trip, and my neglected fingernails are tip-tapping across the keys as I attempt to put my jumbled thoughts and feelings into words. I'm counting down the minutes until I load up the gang to go get Camden from his long day at kindergarten and contemplating how to orchestrate the inevitably necessary chore chart for my spirited little men.

I'll get ready for bed tonight wishing I had found a way to walk on the treadmill and wondering what part-time job might be right for me next fall. But at the close of the day, I'll be lying next to a true partner who has the power to both infuriate me and inpsire me, sometimes in a single breath. A challenging, intelligent, dry-witted mess of a man and someone I love more than I ever felt was possible. The laughter, stories, and sass of my kids will still be ringing in my ears, and I'll wonder which one of them will clamber into our bed in the middle of the night. The tomorrow that awaits me will present its own set of balance beams to walk, and I'll be ready. I may never fully achieve the delicate art of balance, but at least my clumsy attempts at it are infused with joy in the midst of exquisite, life-fulfilling chaos.