Disappointment is Simply Taking Score too Soon.

Disappointment shows up. A lot. I am clear that it is not just in my life, but everyone’s life. We are human with hopes and dreams. We have expectations of how we want things to go, based on what has already occurred in our life, or what has not occurred in our life. Yet with the highest of hopes and without fail, disappointment prevails.

My life right now seems to be jam-packed with it. Ok, maybe not jam-packed, but with an 18-year-old getting ready to leave the nest, disappointment is on the tip of my tongue often.

“I feel disappointed that you did that without caring how it might make me feel,” I say in a kind, loving manner.

I would like to tell you it is received in the same way I intend, but that would be impossible. I have no idea how my 18-year-old hears that mouthful. As a matter of fact, given that he is on the senior year roller coaster, I am sure he doesn’t hear much of anything.

I take score. A lot. And then get disappointed.

Like the seemingly slippery-slope-relationship my son and I have. I see the score board. Him: 18. Me: 0. And I know what it means. If he doesn’t come around much, he doesn’t love me. I can see the score. I’m losing.

Yet he doesn’t see those numbers on the board at all. He sees the field, the ball and the game. He then hugs me and tells me he loves me.

I try to sit in that. I wear it around my shoulders, and share it with everyone I knew. The disappointment continues to wash over me though as the scoreboard glares in my eyes.

It wasn’t until the other day that I recalled his newborn days and being caught off guard by his reactions. After all, I wasn’t a new mom at the time and had been well versed on parenting by my first-born: Put me down, I cry. Pick me up, I stop. Yet I remembered putting this baby in his bouncy seat and thinking, ‘Huh, look at that. He’s smiling.’ There was a moment of bliss, that was then followed with: ‘Maybe he doesn’t love me.’

That proved to be totally untrue. He loved me dearly actually and would began to show it in completely different ways than I was used to. Ways that screamed, ‘Moooom! Look at me! Mooooom look at this!’ He had a different way of sharing and being. He loved loudly in a full of life kind of way. A way that could be completely missed if not watched carefully. But I watched and I saw and I knew, even when faced with disappointment.

In hindsight, though, I know I spent too much time taking score. Plucking each petal as if each one was the final one of: he loves me, he loves me not. When in fact each time I took score we were in the middle of the game, with coaches still on the sidelines and half time scores offering possibility. It makes me wonder what disappointment really is.

Perhaps, standing in disappointment is merely an act of bailing out. A way for us to yell mercy so that we don’t have to try anymore. But why are we bailing out simply because things don’t seem to be turning out the way we had planned? What if it just means  the game is still on and there might be a different plan that’s even better?

Well for me, that perspective changes everything. It means that my life isn’t filled with disappointments at all, but with a home team that is always ready to play. A wide open field that makes me want to yell, “Game on!”

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And so I ask you: What if…disappointment is simply taking score too soon?

If You Want to See the Rainbow…Embrace the Rain.

I was gifted this quote from my best friend the other day (aka my husband) after a tortuous week, or was it a month? The words wafted from the small face of my phone, to my own face like the sweet scent of a candle might. Instantly, but unconsciously, bringing a calm over your body. I could picture the rainbow settling into the sky as if it belonged there, as if it was not a miracle of sorts but rather something that always remained, but perhaps could not be seen. I pictured the storm that had no doubt been present just before the beautiful colors arched along the skyline and smiled…

Embrace The Rain. 
I mean, embracing the rainy skies would allow us to be present in the darkness, knowing that just beyond our reach, something better was coming. But why did it have to be so hard? Why did it have to feel so cold and wet?

On the day before spring officially began, I walked through my garage and yelled to my husband, ‘wow, it is so nice to have our dry garage back!’ Nice, to be able to walk into the garage in my socks, grab some toiletries and head back into the house…socks still dry! Nice, in that just beyond the garage, was a dry driveway and clear streets. Nice, in that we could finally, once again, see the grass.

Yet none was quite as gratifying as the sight of the buds. On that particular day, one day before the coming of spring, I noticed tiny buds making their way through the dirt. I couldn’t help but cheer for them. I mean, we knew eventually the snow would end and spring would arrive, but deep inside I did have doubt. What if this time the winter was just too brutal? What if this time the flowers would not be strong enough to come back? What if this time, things would be different?

But there they were. Alive. Reminding us that winter was nearly done and a new season was about to kick in and give us an extra feeling of life.
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Or not. Because as spring arrived this year, so did another snowy winter storm. One so wild that we would head home from work early, make another pot of soup and hunker down for the night. This one seemed different from the others though, as it piled up around us and layered itself on the trees peacefully. This one, while looking remotely as the others, cast a deep sadness over me. This time, I did not notice the beauty of the snowflakes or the nature covered in white, nor the peacefulness of the neighborhood, but instead, my own disappointment. I felt betrayed by what I had seen the day before. Fooled into thinking that signs of life from those little buds meant warmth was just around the corner…

And while I knew that surely the snow falling did not mean we would skip spring completely, I felt trapped in my disappointment and disgusted at the idea of embracing it.

I just wanted the rainbow.
It felt similar to my 18-year-old taking an independent stand for himself senior year. Making a decision to change his daily habits, his weekly living arrangement and his constant whereabouts while finishing up senior year. I felt surprised and shaken. I felt imbalanced and confused. But mostly, I felt disappointed that while I had been waiting anxiously for this time in his life to come so I could watch in awe, he didn’t want me to watch at all. That what I thought was the beginning, the buds of a thrilling new season, wasn’t at all what he wanted. He wanted independence and he wanted it to start now. In came the rain.

I just wanted the rainbow.
The quote reminded me that the rainbow would surely come but not until the rain was done. Not until the dark clouds had emptied themselves and the skies cleared.

So I rallied. I embraced the last snowstorm snuggled under the blanket and relished in the bright sunshine that arrived the next day. I savored the grass doing its best to poke through the snow as it began to melt away. And when I looked real close, though I didn’t see the rainbow, I embraced the signs of life.

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I embraced my son’s need for independence as well. As he reached over to hug me after visiting briefly, I held onto his words “I love you mom,” and let them soak into my body and inhaled. For his need to be independent, as well as the skies’ need to let out some snow, wasn’t really disappointing or depressing, but instead necessary…if I wanted to see the rainbow.

Will My Real Life Please Stand Up?

     Are you still waiting for your life to show up? For the moment when everything will suddenly make sense? Waiting for things in your life to excite you? The morning that you will wake up feeling revived, self-expressed and motivated?

     If this sounds like you and your life story, I have some news for you. This life that you have right now, right this very moment, is the prime example of your life showing up. Everything that you see around you is yours. All the little pieces that surround you are exactly where they are supposed to be. And fortunately, or unfortunately, there is nothing to make sense of, because it is just what it seems. So if you have been looking for some deep meaning as to why all of this has been happening in your life or why nothing has been happening in your life, you can stop your search now. There is no deep meaning. Your life, just how it is in this moment, is just how it is supposed to be. 

     If you don’t find relief in that statement, but even less in control, then perhaps you simply need a new perspective. That statement alone should make you feel completely empowered, because your life has not just occurred that way it has by happenstance. Someone didn’t just throw a life into the air and you happened to catch it. No, this life is the one you created. The problem is not with your life. The problem lies within your constant state of waiting, instead of realizing that your life is all here now. And if you could simply declare that you created your world the way it is now, you could also declare that you have the ability to recreate it as well.

So tomorrow, instead of using that same old excuse that you’re still ‘waiting’, (you know, for the real version of your life to show up) plant your feet on the ground and take a real close look at it. Then decide what you will do next: embrace it, dance in it, fix it, change it. You know, like they do on that home show, love it or leave it!

But whatever you do, stop waiting for it and acknowledge that it is already here!

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In Case of Emergency…

Life would be so much easier with signs. Real signs. A sign like we saw while honeymooning in Mexico. While unclear, we had a good laugh trying to make sense of it and after several pictures, we began to ask around. Finally, a cab driver understood our question.

“Meet right here”, he said in broken English pointing to the sign. “In case of an emergency, meet here.” I wondered why we didn’t have signs like these at home, making life much simpler.

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 Back in my real life, though, different signs were present. They weren’t green, stationary, consistent or very helpful. Instead, they pointed to a case of senioritis that had gone on too long. Signs that said read: when committed to playing D1 lax a year and a half before graduation, it’s going to get messy.

Yes, these were different signs, and while not in Spanish, not easily interpreted either. Actually perhaps it was simpler than I wanted to admit. Simple in that even with free unlimited texting capabilities, all my questions were answered with 2 answers: No and IDK. Can’t get much simpler than that!

I began to think the signs pointed to: Let’s simplify.

Me: When will you be home?

Him: IDK

He couldn’t let me down if he hadn’t committed to anything, right?

Me: Do you want dinner?

Him: No

That way I wouldn’t be annoyed that I made it and waited for him, but instead he could show up and simply say, ‘I’m hungry, can you make me food?’

It was all going fine, or so I thought, until he pushed me a bit too far and I said ‘No.” Like, no, you can’t actually drive an hour in an ice storm. I said it nicely. I said it like I had said many times before. But this time was different because he had already endured one year and two months of senioritis and his lid was about to blow.

And so, he heard me, and went anyway. After all, he was heading to college in a few short months, why would he need my approval now?

I felt shocked, then appalled, then sick with worry. Mostly, though, I was heartbroken that I could no longer keep him safe. That my voice was not as loud as his. And that he suddenly belonged more to the universe, than to me.

I did what most would do. I took his keys temporarily. Senioritis or not, he was still here and there were still rules.

He did what most teens would do. He went to live at dads. This was an obvious sign.
It read: Fine. Be that way. I don’t need you.

It was a hard sign to read. The letters were sharp and jagged. Cold and calculated.

Each night I awoke to the sound of my pounding heart, acutely aware of the gaping hole. The sense that our ties had been cut, before I was ready to part from him. The sense that we no longer had five more months to hang on, but that he had left already…without saying goodbye. I cried a river. Every time I thought about him, I would cry some more. I would hold it together while my day ran amok, then would cry some again.

I questioned my ability to parent, and why he didn’t love me. I wondered how it was possible that he didn’t understand my love for him and my yearning to keep him safe. I cried as I thought about how much I wanted to cheer for him during his senior year, and how he had silenced me.

But what if that wasn’t what the sign read at all?

My mom believed the signs said something completely different.
“You’ve done a great job,” she said, “he feels almost ready to fly and is trying to convince himself of his ability to leave the nest and take off.”

That made sense to me. I could see him as a tiny 3 year old screaming, “I’m going downstairs!” and then looking for my approval and asking quietly, “Can I?” It was no different than now, minus the question mark. Surely he could see his shiny shoes of freedom just around the corner. The corner that lead to a life of doing, not asking. The corner that would call for his confidence and fearlessness on the D1 field and being a plane ride away. The corner that was going to rely on him making his own decisions and keeping himself safe. The corner that did not include me.

I wanted to call him and say, I get it. I understand. You should get ready for that flight, because you’re going to be great! But please know that no matter what comes along your path, no matter what time it is, or where I am, you just have to look for that green sign. In case of emergency, we can always meet up at the green sign. I’ll be here.

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I didn’t call, because the noise on his runway is way too loud to hear all of my words, but I sent him a mind pen pal. Maybe he can read it later…

I Remember When…

I can remember that one moment, when I needed him and he needed me too. It didn’t last for more than a second. Or so it seemed.

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“Five months until I can choose to do WHAT EVER I want to do,” he reminds in a voice that sounds more like a threat than a reminder.

I hear my 18 year olds stinging words and silently pull the knife from my back. I am bleeding. Quietly. He is my last born child, getting ready to head to College. It’s bad enough that he is leaving. But there are other factors that make his next exciting journey cast some shadows on mine. Like the fact that he is going to live out his dream playing lacrosse, in Florida, which means that while he is warm, I will be here in the cold, and no longer get the joy of watching his sheer grace on that lacrosse field.

I love this boy. From the moment he was placed in my arms, I have been in awe of his beautiful face, his incredible spirit to make us laugh and his uncanny athletic talent, even at the ripe age of 3.  Unfortunately, I am mostly in his way. So instead of doing what I really want to do, like pull his 6 ft long body onto my lap, I reach for my camera. My long lens seems to be the only way I can get that close without annoying him. So I click, click, click. Every event, game, occasion, holiday, vacation…click, click, click. It’s not that I don’t want to be present in each moment, it is just that I fear it will be gone before I am ready. Like the moment will pass too quickly, leaving me with nothing more than an ache in my heart.

Before age 5, he had figured out that I might not be cool enough to be his mother.

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I did my best to ignore that fact and continued snapping away on my camera, praying he would turn around. Maybe even ask for help. He grew to be the kind of person I wanted to be…light on his feet, confident to do as he wanted and no trouble speaking his mind. I grew to understand he needed space, and he grew to understand that I didn’t. We compromised. Well, mostly I did the compromising, but instead of feeling sad about him not wanting to let me in, I hid behind my lens. Pretending to be close.

He had a swagger, way before he knew what the word meant.
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Behind my lens I could feel safe. I could watch his face, his expressions, his laughter with others, his intensity and his skill and beauty on the lax field. Behind my lens I felt connected in a way that made sense to me. Yet even more importantly, it gave me the chance to be near him even after, as he would  scroll through them all with a smile.

I love him. Dearly. And as he pushes each of my buttons, claiming his stake in his 18th year of life, his freedom, his need to be separate, I feel dizzy as I move further and further into the backdrop of his life. Ironic how acutely aware I am of it now, when actually I have been here for quite some time. My brain scrambles to remember the short lived smiles and hugs he once gave freely, silently wishing we had more time.

I remember when his smile was a simple determination to make me smile along with him. When his energy was as contagious as he wanted it to be.
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And I remember when it changed. Way before I was ready, without any warning at all, he had that look. The one that turned all of my words into a look of ‘really?’  His head would cock to the side and his eyes would reveal his story, his complaint. His thoughts leaking from his brain: ‘Did you really just say that? How are you my mother?’

I did my best to smile. To cover up my undying love for him. To tone it down. And kept the camera rolling…but I knew what that smile meant and that if it could speak, it would surely say ‘Really???’
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I needed him way before he arrived in my life. I needed everything about him. I needed his electric world to light up the one I had carefully designed that was way too still. And I remember, the very brief moment when he needed me too. It was about a decade shorter than I had hoped and a very long decade of hiding behind my lens. But I have cherished every moment that allowed me to capture another memory. A piece of time I could carry in my heart and play over and over again.

“Five months,” he says loudly…as if he can hardly wait to be freed from me.
“I know,” I say sadly. I miss you already…but will always remember when.
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