Today a homeless woman with three children reached out me. We were sitting in the library, my daughter playing with one of her daughters. She told me how she had left her husband, leaving her and her three children homeless and she didn’t know where they were going to get food today.
I didn’t have much to give, our family is struggling too. So many families are struggling right now. I wanted to help her though. We had some fruit in our car that we had just received. It was fruit that was supposed to last us through the week. We have other food at home though and I knew what our dinner would be, and that I am blessed to have a kitchen to cook that food in.
I pulled my daughter aside and told her that her new friend and her family didn’t have any food and that I was going to share what we had in the car with them. She agreed. I checked out our library books, went to our car and brought the fruit up.
I gave it to the mama and told her where it had come from. I told her this was all I had to give and I wished so deeply I had more. Tears welled up in her eyes and she thanked me. We didn’t speak another word until my daughter and I left and she mouthed the words “Thank you” to me again, with tears in her eyes.
My heart has been breaking for this family since we left them this afternoon. I am grateful that this mama reached out to me, and I am grateful that I was able to offer her something. I am mostly grateful for the gift she gave me.
You see, I’ve spend the last several days cranky. I was complaining to my husband this morning about how I’m so bored with the food we’ve been eating, how tired I am of cooking, how frustrated I am with the constant dishes and laundry and cleaning. In the last few days I have complained about how I don’t like our dining room or living room furniture, how our bed “needs” new bedding. I’ve been ungrateful for what I have, seeing so clearly what I do not have and wanting, grasping for more, more and more instead of being satisfied with the blessings we have.
We have a kitchen, dishes, a working dishwasher, a working stove and food. We have clothes, a working washing machine and a working dryer. In fact we have an over abundance of clothes, enough to get each of us through a couple weeks of me not doing laundry. We have multiple bedrooms in our home and we have comfortable beds to sleep in and sheets and blankets and pillows to rest our heads on. I’m in a beautiful, healthy and loving marriage and we have an amazing, healthy and wonderful daughter.
It is easy to get wrapped up in lack though. It’s easy for us each to forget all the abundance that we truly have in our lives. It is easy to see all that we don’t have, all that we want, all that we hunger for. It’s easy to tell ourselves the story of how our life would be better, happier, shinier if only we had this or that. It’s easy to sink deeper and deeper into a sense a lack, even when on paper and to others, our life looks amazing and perfect.
With practice, we can step into a place of abundance. We can see all that we do have. We can become satiated with what is, what we have in our life now, this moment. We can learn to unravel the myths and see them for what they are: stories, pieces of fiction. We can feel, deep in our souls, the abundance of our lives, even when on paper and perhaps even to others, it may not look or sound all that amazing.
I’m grateful for the family I met today. I am grateful that I was able to help them, in some small way and that in return they helped me a very profound way. I am grateful I was able to offer them food and that in return, they offered me my Soul.
When my daughter was a baby I was in overdrive. I worked outside the home, in a job that required 50 hours of time on a slow week and up to 70 hours of my time during crunch weeks. While I was being Super Career Woman, I was also determined that I would be Super Mom too. The problem was, I didn’t quite understand what being Super Mom truly meant.
For the first couple years of my daughter’s life, being Super Mom equated to what I now consider incredibly superficial and ultimately irrelevant things. Things that in the big picture absolutely don’t matter. Things that my daughter won’t remember or know unless I tell her. Things like being determined to cloth diaper, making *all* of her baby food from scratch, only allowing organic foods to enter her body and dear gosh there would never be sugar anywhere near her. No TV either. And all her toys would be wooden and there wouldn’t be a commercial character anywhere in sight. And of course all her clothes would be made of organic cotton or bamboo.
I laugh now at how much I just did.not.get.it. How I put such emphasis on these things that have nothing to do with our relationship or connection. I overwhelmed myself doing all the “right” things, when perhaps allowing myself to be human and having faith that my child would survive to see her next birthday, even if she did play with a plastic Disney Princess tea set. I focused on the outside things, not the inside things. I lost myself a bit, thinking that if I controlled all these outside things *that* would mean I was good mama. And dear god, I so desperately wanted to be a good mama.
Fast forward to today. This morning my daughter ate Oreos for breakfast (hey, she had organic milk with them, so it’s okay). She was outside in her pool before 10am and before the temperature had reached 65F. I did manage to get some apples and sunflower seed butter in her before she snacked on a cupcake. Lunch consisted of chili cheese fritos, a hamburger patty, three green beans and then some more cookies and milk. Yep, I’m going for that Mother of Year award, Nutrition division.
I played Barbies with her today. We did some painting together. We snuggled and watched a couple of TV shows. We cleaned our living room, dining room and kitchen today, without tears or screaming. I gave her lots of hugs and asked her for help and mentioned how she always makes the shoe rack look extra awesome when she organizes it.
We had a great day.
I finally have it (mostly) right. It’s not the outside stuff, like whether every meal is fully nutritionally balanced or whether she has branded character toys, it’s the inside stuff – the fact that we played together, that we created together, that we worked as a team cleaning our home – that matters.
It was quite a process of letting go and realizing what truly matters and what doesn’t. I was guided by not only my own instinct, but also by great mama writers and bloggers. Women who have been there and done that. Women like those in the Mindful Parenting eBundle (note this is an affiliate link – I appreciate your support). Parents and organizations who know what is important for us to focus on our relationship and connection to our children and all the rest is truly small stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter.
I’ve spent the last few days consumed by tears. Tears of frustration. Tears of disappointment.
Tears of grief.
Grieving a plan that refuses to come into fruition.
Grieving a dream of what my life would be like.
The Warrior in me rages against this grief. Fight! she screams. We have a battle plan, she insists.
I’m tired from the seemingly endless battles in this war against What Is. In these battles I have raged and fought against Truth and Reality for so many years now. I don’t have much fight left in me. I want peace. I want to Be.
To Be, I will need to walk away from this War, stop engaging in the battles. It’s time to release these thoughtfully constructed plans, these dreams, these expectations of what my life “should” look like and time to surrender wholly to what is. It is time to release what isn’t and allow what Is to be my Dream.
This release, this surrender will not come easily. I have held onto these plans, this dream, this vision of my life, for most of my adult years. This fight has consumed me and has prevented me from enjoying and being whole in what Is.
Many prayers will still be sent. I feel them in my heart, in my Soul, in my womb. I know the bargaining with the Universe is not quite over. This release, this surrender will be slow and at times over-whelming. I feel the Fight still strong within me. And yet, it is time. My longing for peace is becoming stronger than my longing for completed plans, accomplished dreams, plans and dreams that are clearly not meant to be.
Time to release the anger. Time to release the frustration. Time to release the blame.
Time to release the plans, the dream.
Time to Surrender to what Is.
Time to know in my bones, that this beautiful life of mine, that I have right now, is enough. In this beautiful life of mine, right now, I can be whole and happy.
I love this beautiful life of mine. As it is. Right now.
I’ve been clearing out our garage and in this process have been sorting through boxes of family memorabilia: photos, diplomas, report cards, letters, greeting cards. My grandmother, and then my mom, saved every single card she was ever given and after she and my grandfather were married saved every card he was ever given. I inherited these stacks and stacks of greeting cards and have been sorting through them, finding love notes and letters and viewing the love affair of Thomas Warren Goulette and Reta Fern Inman Goulette that extended over five decades.
There’s a depth to these Hallmark cards, a beauty of a love I witnessed as a child and young adult. My grandparents, while imperfect, were madly, deeply and truly in-love with each other their whole lives. They set the standard for me for what a marriage should be. My grandmother loved my grandfather, she cared for him and tended to him during his long battle with lung cancer and emphysema. She doted on him and the look in her eyes when she talked of him and to him was breath-taking. My grandfather loved my grandmother with a passion that can best be related by the story of his death: My grandfather had been dying, fighting cancer for over a year. The doctors had been saying that whole year that he only had a few months left and every time he lived past their prognosis they gave him another month, max. What the doctor’s didn’t know is that my grandfather had promised my grandmother he would live long enough for them to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It was so important to my grandma to have that 50th anniversary, my grandfather knew this. He fought to stay alive and they celebrated it with him in a hospice bed in their living room. Two months later he passed away.
My grandfather did everything he could, always, to give my grandmother what she wanted. This came through in material things of course, and also in non-material things: how he lovingly collected walnuts from the walnut tree and cracked them (hundreds of them!) by hand every fall and set them out to dry so Grandma could use them in her baking; how he stood by her, holding and supporting her while she watched her daughter and granddaughter’s relationship fall to pieces; making sure that she took care of herself instead of always taking care of others.
My grandparents set the standard for romantic love. I wanted a love affair like theirs, one that would last the test of time. I wanted a partner who would be as devoted to me as my grandfather was to my grandmother, fighting back Death himself, to give her her heart’s desire. I wanted to have a love that flowed so deep from my heart that people knew by the look on my face when I spoke of my husband how deep that love was. I wanted what they had.
I didn’t see their hard times, except in the last years when Death came knocking. I didn’t see them fight or argue. I didn’t see how hard it was for them to be parents or know of their struggles, financial and otherwise. I only knew they loved each other with a passion that couldn’t be measured or described.
And that in the end is what matters. Not the details of day to day living, but the eternal love we have for those we share those days with.
I’m blessed to share my life with a man who makes my heart sing, who makes me want to be a better person, who I enjoy staying up all night talking to and who I miss desperately when we are apart, even after our nearly two decades together. I am blessed that we have an amazing little girl together and that we have our daily struggles, as all families do, and at the end of the day we know that we love each other with a passion beyond measure.
I’m not reliving my grandparent’s love affair, theirs was in another time and place. Their love for each other was uniquely theirs and theirs alone.
I do have what they had though. Realizing this as I read birthday and anniversary cards from a time before I was born has been a beautiful, awesome, centering and humbling experience.
For all their flaws, and there were many, they showed me how to live passionately and deeply in-love. And in the end, I believe that maybe, that is all that matters: that we live each day passionately and deeply in love.
The mistakes we make, our flaws and imperfections, at the end of lifetime or the end of a day, can be forgiven if we lived passionately and deeply in love, every moment. The details of their daily foibles don’t seem to matter or to make these people I knew and love, what I remember is their love: their love for each other, their love for our family. This love is what has guided me even when I didn’t know it, it has defined me in ways I have been unaware of or unable to fully comprehend.
It all boils down to love. Our love of those close to us. Our love of our lives. Of love for the world. Expressing our love for all to see, stepping into that vulnerability and not caring what the world thinks, because our love is so strong, so robust and beautiful, the world can’t truly hurt us.
Acknowledging this love has been a powerful gift over the past few days. I’ve wept, missing my mama and grandparents. Having questions and wanting to know the stories behind certain photos or letters and knowing these questions won’t be answered in this life. Coming to a place of acceptance that those details don’t really matter has been deeply personally profound. Releasing and opening, breathing in deeply the lessons they offer me over a decade after their deaths, has shown me how eternal love truly is. And that is a beautiful lesson to receive.