Monday, December 30, 2013

Letting Go Is Hard

Last night, I left my daughter with my oldest son and his girlfriend to drive my middle son to his friend's house to spend the night. I hopped in the car and suddenly, out of nowhere, started to tear up. What it was I couldn't name right then. But I knew the feeling. It was the feeling of losing. Of having to let go. Jack is very perceptive and picked up on my mood right away. "You okay mom?"
"Yeah. I don't know. I guess."
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, really. I'm just... you guys are just... growing up really fast."
"Oh. Like Connor has his girlfriend over, and I'm going to my friend's...?"
"Yeah. Exactly. Silly, huh?"
"No. I'm still your little boy."
He hugged me then, before jumping out of the car, with all the confidence of a successful adult.
I allowed a few of those tears to fall in the few minutes I spent alone in the car on the way back home.

Letting go is hard.

I remember being sixteen. I had no clue - just no idea whatsoever - that my mom might have been going through growing pains of her own in my growing up and away. I was so very immersed in my own world. A typical, selfish teen, finding her own place, her own way. My friends were my world. Where did she fit?

And today, where do I fit in my boys' respective worlds? I hate to think I'm just the dictator. The homework task master. The rule enforcer. The dinner-maker and clothes washer. I would so much prefer to be the confidant, the friend, the wise woman they might look up to. Hey - check out our mom - ruler of her own universe - business owner, healthy, boot-camping, Insanity-crushing warrior!

Letting go is hard.

And not just as a parent. As a lover. A friend. A partner. Knowing when to let go is painful in itself. Trusting the instinct, even when everything looks great "on paper." When we know in our hearts, from somewhere deep inside maybe we can't even explain - it just "is" - we have to learn to trust that, and know that it's enough. It is enough.

Or when your heart wants so much to hold on, but your head knows. Your head knows that it is time. Beyond time, maybe, to say goodbye. But I digress.

Letting go is hard.

I just finished a beautifully written novel by John Green called "The Fault In Our Stars." How, I still wonder, right in this moment, how did he write that novel? How did he flesh out those characters? How? Because it seems so easy - for him. I am dually touched and tormented by this heart breaking book. Not just because it is sad - which it is. But because it's so honest. It's so real. Yes of course the author Hazel admires is a jack ass. Certifiable. Of course he is. Because only in a cheesy, Harlequinn romance or sappy Danielle Steele book would he be a true keeper of dreams. A hero. It's just not real. Real life hurts.

So does letting go. It hurts. And it is hard.

But if we do it correctly, with love and respect, then maybe the pain will be worth it in the end.
Because I believe that you learn more about a person at the end of a relationship than you ever could at the beginning.

How do you handle the letting go? It can be a painful, angry slice of the wrist. Or it can be agonizing and slow, but beautiful in its own way. It may hurt more to let it happen gradually, to feel the hurt. To understand the reasons and just be okay with it all. But, just as raising our kids, and then watching them slowly, sometimes painfully, learn their own way, we can look back and know we did the right thing. We can't hold on forever, but maybe we don't have to completely let go. There are bound to be stops and starts, bumps in the journey. But it's all a part of the life we're living. And someday we'll look back and smile through our tears and remember it all. The good, the bad, the heartbreak and the joy.

And maybe, just maybe, these children I worry about constantly and love more deeply than I can say will one day look at me and be grateful. And know that deep, crazy love I have for them. And they'll be better for it. Smarter. Successful. Happy.

Letting go is hard.

But maybe it's not forever.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas! OR... Holiday Shoppers You Love To Hate

Last year, I wrote a little blog post about the various types of shoppers I run into during the Christmas season. I thought I'd repost the list, and even add to it this year. So, hey, if this post reminds you ofa certain type of shopper you are forever running into (and never able to avoid), please feel free to add your own description in the comments!

I couldn't be happier that I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. I finished it up this past weekend, traveling from mall to mall to get everything checked off my list. The parking lots were a train wreck, but we Catholics have a very special prayer for that. So, I drove slowly, weaving through the lanes of vehicles, praying quietly... "Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space." It always works... eventually.

Every year, as I fight my way through the crowds, I bump into the same types of shoppers over and over again…

The Professional Shopper...On a Mission (from God)

This gal takes no mall prisoners.  She walks with a purpose, cutting a swath through the throng of holiday shoppers that would impress Moses. She checks off the items neatly listed in her iPhone notes page one by one, heads to the check out where she whips out that debit card (not a credit card for this pro, no, she's got her budget down to a science) like she's ten paces out in an old western.

The Stressed Mom
Not only has she lost the napkin on which was scribbled her list of gifts to buy, but she can't find the damn coupons she's been saving for just this day...this ONE day that she was able to escape without the kids. She's got exactly two hours and 14 minutes left to get ALL of her shopping done. Her husband just called to ask her where the number for Pizza Hut is, and she can hear screaming in the background. She starts grabbing things - any things - off shelves in an effort to buy something - anything. She fishes in her purse for a credit card - any credit card - and pulls out used tissues, a pacifier and a half-eaten sucker in the process.

The Lost Husband

He knows he hasn't bought a single gift yet, but he's so enjoying himself at the Apple store. When he finally realizes the mall closes in 45 minutes, he gets nervous and heads straight for the only place he knows he'll find something his wife will like...the jewelry store. There he stands, hands leaning on the glass, eyes peering into the long wall of cases. A diamond heart necklace is on sale - especially for the holidays - the ad says every woman wants one.  He is about to do something he'll later regret, but right now, the game is still on, and he could use a beer. So he buys two: one for his wife, and one for his mother. Poor bastard.

The Hungry/Tired/Bored Toddler (aka "Screaming Kid")
There's one in every mall, isn't there?  Poor thing. She's been dragged around for hours, had a lunch of dry cheerios and a seventeen minute nap in the car, and is made to walk right past all the shiny toys, beautiful dolls and cozy stuffed animals.  No, her mama tells her, you must wait until Christmas.  Here come the tears.  The kicking.  The screaming.  The making-my-whole-body-like-wet-spaghetti-so-you-can't-pick-me-up-and-drag-me-out-of-here.  What this child needs is a babysitter.  And an hour of fresh air.

The Young Couple In Love
These two are joined at the hip. They simply must stay together, and no mere shopping mortal will pull their hands apart, even for a moment. They swing their connected arms up over children, dance around groups, squeeze in closer to let people pass around them. But try to walk between them and you’ll get “Red Rover-ed” right into the sunglass kiosk. They’ve got lots of shopping to do, and their eyes are on… each other. So much so that they bump into anyone who dares to stop in front of them. They ohh and ahh over the same merchandise, share a pretzel and fountain soda at the food court, and don’t’ get a single present bought, other than those matching sweaters they found.

The Besties
(this one's for you, Kim...)
These two gals are the best of friends. And holiday shopping is just one of their time-honored annual traditions. From the moment they are in the car together, they have much to catch up on. Other drivers on the road should beware... the one driving is paying more attention to her BFF's latest story than to the traffic signals. Once they arrive, they focus hard on finding a parking spot, and then promptly forget the location in all of their extremely important conversations. Inside the mall, their pace matches that of their mouths, and they speed-walk past half the stores they might shop in - if they were paying more attention. They each buy a gift or two, and one or two things for themselves before deciding it's really just too difficult to carry on these important conversations and shop at the same time. Lunch break!  One appetizer and two glasses of wine later, they are feeling much more relaxed. So much so, that they each buy themselves something to wear next weekend. They weave through the crowds like professional track stars, hitting sales and picking up a few odds and ends and then... would you look at the time? It's happy hour! The time spent searching for their car eats up a bit of their happy time, but they end up at favorite restaurant with a glass of wine, great conversation and, well, a few items checked off their respective lists.

Don’t you just love the holidays?

Merry Christmas everyone!!