I can’t sleep. I can’t figure out if it’s the general head-spinning of too many things, or the extremely large ice coffee I had around 5pm. Either way, here we are at 4am.
While things have been quiet over here lately, it’s only because I’ve been working on writing my way through all my heartache, beginning with 6th grade. (6th grade was for REAL you guys.) Kind of like High Fidelity, except more involved and less interesting, because I’m no Nick Hornby. In the meantime, I thought I’d break from that to give my High Fidelity High Five list of the last year, because a few weeks ago, I turned 39, and it was the first time in I think 20 years that I was not depressed on my birthday, and the first time I didn’t write about the aging process, and that felt weird? Usually, I am on the floor surrounded by wine and chocolate and netflix for hours while reminding everyone within a 50 mile radius that I have made it through another year – but it just happened this year, like a normal person’s birthday. And even though my phone died the ultimate death, followed by my car, which resulted in my life being as chaotic as it could possibly be for the days leading up to, including, and following my birthday, I didn’t get depressed. I cried a lot – but that’s like – normal – for me. I cried twice yesterday, one time for this commercial:
Anyway – top 5 big things for my 38th year.
I continued to run, once through the night without sleeping in a van with people I didn’t know all that well. Each year that it continues to happen, I continue to be proud of myself, and hope that I continue to, because it’s not ever been in my nature to be athletic, or exercise, and I still hesitate to call myself a runner, but each time I run, I feel badass. Every time! And feeling badass (for me) is a good feeling.
I raised Anna. Somewhere between 5 and 10 times, I ran down the street (about a half a mile), cried and tried to figure out how I could magically not be a mother anymore, while still being completely in love with my daughter. The internal dialogue is something like:
So many people could do this better.
Is it too late for adoption?
Could my parents raise her?
I can’t breathe.
I am so selfish!
I would die without her.
At least I feed her and she has clean clothes?
I’m not the worst mom ever.
How long have I been gone?
WHERE IS ANNA?
It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour to move through. And at least 100 times, I watched Anna be Anna and realized how caring, compassionate, bright, talented and awesome she is – and realized two things are true – I am both responsible for that, because I’m her mom, and not responsible at all for it – because she is her own person. Realizing that your daughter is not an extension of you might be the coolest and most terrifying part of being a mom, or has been for me, and already has me feeling like my arms are tightly wrapped around her ankle while she walks away, begging her not to get older, while I’m simultaneously ushering her along her paths of independence in any way I can.
I left my job and got a job. I left the company I’d been working at for 10 years, not totally knowing what would happen, and started a new job. I have a million stories from 10 years of the old job (like the time I Facebook friend-requested the entire company, resulting in new employees thinking I was adding Facebook as part of their performance reviews), and a million stories from 6 months at the new one (like the below, which is not how I ever imagined I’d be spending any day at any job, ever?)
But the story behind the story is more important – that leaving a job I’d been in for 10 years was terrifying and exciting and the right thing to do. Are all things that are the right thing to do terrifying and exciting? I followed my instincts, and my heart, and trusted myself and pushed fear aside enough to do that, and it felt brave and crazy and stupid and amazing. And maybe a little badass?
I found my community. I have never relied so much on any community as I have in the last few months, on this one. A few weeks ago in the midst of an event, two moms approached me, knowing I was unable to leave my job, and gave me – without my asking – the rundown of how they were taking care of Anna that day – which involved her hopping from house to house with her friends, as I’d always imagined she would, as I did when I was her age, being adopted by other mothers and well-fed and well-loved and well-cared for. My mother didn’t need it like I did – like I do, but it helped me so much as a little person to have other adults that cared for me as well as my own mother did, and it helps me so much as a mother not just in the logistics of being a mom, but in all of it. Life in general.
I told stories that were painful and honest and important to tell. Like finding out about Anna, even though I sort of already knew. And being lonely. And forging a path to find a relationship with Anna’s father. And being a terrible mother, and a good mother. And watching porn. And falling in love, and getting my heart broken, and unknowingly undressing slowly (while backlit) for a college football team in the middle of Chicago. And every time I told one I felt better about what I’d gone through, and less alone in the world, and for real – pretty badass.
Because everyone’s story is important to tell and not always easy to.
So thank you family, and old friends, and new friends, and old coworkers, and new coworkers, and Reach the Beach runners, for everything. And thank you audience members who were friends and strangers at 3S and elsewhere – for listening.
Cheers to being a badass 39 year-old lady.