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  • Writer's pictureAngee Stevens

This is 42. (Day 03)

Just be.

A concept I have been at war at within myself. If only it were as simple as telling myself to "just be." Or even when I tell myself "it's not that big of a deal", "calm yo' tits", or "chill the fuck out!" All of which are records often stuck on repeat in my brain.

The kids are home for thanksgiving break so I decided to fill the day with fun activities for them. You see, I absolutely love my children and desire to see them full of joy and wonder for the world around them. I desire they accept themselves fully and strive to make the world a better place by spreading kindness and love wherever they go. I hope for them to just be.

To just be requires peace and safety within, a concept often nonexistent within the trauma response body. The truth is, I thrive in chaos (yet another gem carried over from my childhood) and learned long ago the importance for me to work within chaos so that my home life could be, well, less chaotic I guess.

You would think knowing this about myself would have prevented me from quitting my full time job back in July to pursue my own endeavors, but nope. I assumed I had grown out of it, so to speak. You COULD have argued the struggles my toddler was having at daycare resulting in us making the decision to keep her home fulltime in early October could have been the chaos distracting me from my career goals. Unfortunately, you'd have been wrong, just as I was.

I find myself taking up a space I wasn’t prepared for. The space within myself to just be. I am confronted with defining myself beyond my career and my ambition (need) to "make a difference." Even more so, I am confronted with my shortcomings as a mother. I feel as though I have failed my children in some way. As though once again my childhood wounds have weaseled their way into even my best intentions as a mother.

Putting my child to bed used to be one of my favorite activities. Snuggles. Tickles. Lullabies. Connection. It was just the "feel safe" moment I desired for my children. Yet over the years, and several children later, it has become exhausting. It's this hour long affair, after an entire day of Stewie Griffin in my ear...

...and I've had it. All I want is 5 minutes of peace and quiet, without having to act as referee, teacher, therapist, drill sergeant, psychopath, or mary "mother fucking" poppins shoving a god damn spoonful of sugar down their throats because the doctor said so or it's for their own good!

Now enter the familiar bitch, "mom guilt".

Mom Guilt: "They are only young for so long, you know. It's not their fault they just love you and want to be near you."

Me: "Yes, I know this. But I can't continue to burn the candle at both ends. I need time to myself too, you know?"

Mom Guilt: "You soundin' reeeeeeeeeeeeal selfish right now, Angee. Gonna be honest."

Me: (Spends an hour singing, tickling, negotiating, threatening, and cuddling with her children.)

In an attempt to complain with a friend of mine a few weeks back about the differences between men and women when it comes to responding to the needs of children, I was both confronted and enlightened in a way I was unprepared for.

Friend: "Angee, do you think perhaps the reason you struggle to set boundaries at bedtime for yourself is due to your childhood?"

Me: "I mean, EVERYTHING stems from childhood, doesn't it?!? How specifically do you mean?"

Friend: "Well, I mean you didn't exactly have consistency in caregiving, let along bedtime from ages 0-5, right? It would make sense you'd feel guilty for not providing what you so desired as a young child. It would also make sense you'd struggle to create boundaries surrounding bedtime when you were never taught them in the first place and put yourself to bed more than you can count."

Me: ...

Needless to say, my inner child sobbed for the next 2 weeks. How was I so blind to this realization? It was like being confronted with perspective photography and finally seeing the "it" that everyone else sees and you're like "Oh my gosh, I now can't unsee this!"

For example, how many people do you see in this photo?

At first glance, I would have answered two. However, upon closer look you will see it is simply one woman holding a sea urchin within her palm.

I feel this is my life now that I am home. When I was working 40-60 hours a week, raising 3 young children, and dealing with whatever life handed my way, I could ONLY glance at the photo of my life. There wasn't really time for more. Yet now that I am not only home full time, but my career goals were put on hold, I am forced to take a closer look.

A closer look at myself and how I choose to define my life. A closer look at the ways I have been trying to prove that I am enough by reaching that next finish line. A closer look at the ways I have attempted to either fulfill or ignore the needs of my inner child and the effects that has had on my children.

I was never taught how to create healthy boundaries. I was taught to find places of shelter within the unpredictable chaos that was my life. I was taught how to play the game of life and get my emotional needs met, no matter how much of myself I had to sacrifice or forfeit in the process.

The safety to "just be" didn't exist within me. To be fair, it still doesn't. Not yet, anyway. I know I will get there but it is a journey, just like anything else in life. People tend to see both healing and happiness as end goals to have "finally arrived". They are, however, better compared to a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Some might see this as frustrating but I see this as beautiful. If I see the former, I can assume I have failed in some way when life inevitably knocks me down. The latter, however, allows for grace and hope. Grace for the low points and hope for the high points, because there is a balance between the two.

I had a very real conversation with my kids tonight. I expressed my frustrations with the chaos and apologized for not having taught them differently. Upon completion of the conversation, my 7 year old daughter asked permission to run upstairs to her room to grab me something she felt summed it all up. She brought me down this fortune...

Maybe I'm doing better than I give myself credit for?

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