Life’s Work

When did that child stop taking my hand to walk down the hall to pick up his sister from her afterschool class?  Did I miss something in the progression of time?

I don’t think I stood still long enough to recognize the time passing.  I was always on the go, needing to do this and that, driving one here and the other there, wishing I had a moment to myself.  The days of not being able to go to the bathroom without a knock and someone yelling, “Mommy!!”

Now my child has his first job offer, and offer that is better than my first offer, by far!  And, he’s ready to head off into the large work world.  I hope he does well, enjoys himself and takes the time to stop, look around himself, and listen for the sounds of everyday.

My life’s work has been to raise my kids, and I and my spouse did pretty good.  They are good kids for the most part.  (Besides being awful at home at times, they are the perfect angels at someone else’s home!)

Friends hope for the day when they have grown-up kids.  But, the parent burden continues to be part of my life.  I worry about them still and am available to help out. I  I had promised myself, a much younger self who voiced this a lot to my spouse, “they need to grow, experience, and learn” from life’s disappointments.  We needed to allow them to learn from their mistakes.

But, being a mom means you kiss the boo-boo, wipe away the tears, and help them stand back up. Parenting is complicated, it never ends.   It’s a life’s work.

Sadness

Sadness is something we all experience at one time or another.  It can be due to the wrong word said in anger, the inability to repair that beloved teddy bear, or the death of someone important to you.  Sadness overwhelms us, making the thought of that person a feeling of loss.  An experience of never being able to reach for that emotional connection again.

Memories remain.  But they are not the same.  The picture is a bit clouded over.  The sounds muffled.  The feeling dulled.  Nothing remains the same.  We are still here and that most important person/experience is gone.  There is a hole where contentment, happiness and that feeling of fulfillment had been held.

How do you replace it?  How do you cope?  What can you say that doesn’t bring tears to your eyes and sadness to your soul?  You are drowning in sorrow, believing the loss is too great to bear, overcome with despair.

But, being part of the world we come to understand sadness touches all of us. Sadness remains as do memories.  Though with each remembering something changes,  colors brighten, sounds are sweeter, emotions more loving.

With the need to look ahead and be part of the present, looking at a future, we carry the sadness.

Life’s Decisions

I wonder a lot if I’m doing the right thing.  Am I helping or hindering?  Am I being a parent or a teacher demanding perfection? Am I the confidant or the crying child wanting to be soothed?  I can see myself in all these roles, changing from one to the other, questioning the choice I’ve taken.  As always, concerned as to ‘what’s the correct choice, the best choice, and how do I get to where I know for sure’?

Decisions, alternative choices, options.  These are difficult areas, unknowns in outcomes and emotionally charged.  The best choice depends on the situation.  I prefer to be more accepting and look at the whole situation I’m presented with prior to making up my mind.  But I am also aware that in making a quick decision the alternatives may not be thought out well.   Do I take the best option, or the easiest alternative, or the most politically correct stance?  Decisions are difficult.  They exist and therefore produce an outcome, an alternative that may lead to a great change or a horrible experience.

So how do I decide?  Do I take knowledge from previous mistakes or grand results and make an ‘informed’ decision?  If  knowledge of what has been tried before is the only way to decide on the present with a resulting future, do I take the risk of new or stay with the known?

Maybe knowledge doesn’t grow on trees, but what we gain in each days’ experience does make connections with past memories. It’s a lifelong process of learning the whys and where’s and hows of actions. We each remember life differently, and these memories are kept by each of us, taken out at times and explored.  Sometimes remembered well, sometimes only a whisper waiting for the thoughts to co-mingle with other memories bringing with them joy, hope, sadness, anxiety, despair, and love.  Memories of a lifetime’s decisions, alternatives, and actions.

So, does this mean as I get older, I’ll make better decisions?  I certainly hope so, but also hope  with those decisions where I take the wrong turn don’t end badly. And if they do, I hope I can see the good, that glimmer of positive in each outcome.

Stress

 

Stress is a normal part of life.  What is not normal is the amount of stress we accumulate and take on as part of the modern world.  When is the last time you took a moment and said,  “I’m not doing anything for the next hour but enjoy doing nothing?”

The modern concept of living is a daily schedule filled to the brim with activities and goals.  When we don’t reach most of those goals or participate in activities we view ourselves as failing in a monumental way. We feel we are lacking in something. Maybe this is the perpetual goal of ‘keeping up with the crowd’, a type of mentality that encourages cooperation, inclusiveness.  On the other side, what happened to individuality?  Can we not follow our own dreams?  If we do so, and don’t fit into the approved social scenarios are we then excluded from all group interactions?  How do we find that fine line of being yourself or loosing your individual identity within the group?

Is it really that important?  That’s the greater question.  When is the I more important than the group?  Is there an age, a social environment or designated life skill role?  Or, does it really matter?

Is the norm stress?  Is stress a part of life that is acknowledged, but is almost automatically adjusted to, a concept we have innately  learned to dance with?

 

Fear and Loss

Fear of the unknown, fear of grief, fear of loss. These are some of the fears that become more of an issue as we age.  We fear and grieve the loss of others, the loss of friendships and lifelong relationships with that one person who knows us,  both the good and the bad.

We fear the most important conversations,  especially those that need to occur before the loss.  The “I’m worried your health may not improve”, “time may be short” conversations. We need to hear its okay to go on, to live with grief, to cry, to express our emotions and be heard as the living.

Those whom we will be grieving want to express their fears and worries, want to tell us when we can no longer push for a medical miracle,  when it’s time to allow a graceful bow out and stop facing fear with anger and hostility.  We need to be able to hear the desires of the other and realize it is their right to define their fight.  We need to recognize the fine line between our wants for that person and the fight they don’t have the strength or desire to continue.  We need to allow their choice, how they live and how they die.

Death with dignity is not all that grand. We don’t usually go out with a roar, but a whisper. But is is our choice.

Hopefully, with calmer emotions…

Experiencing anger as a response to the actions of another person can cause us to loose control over our emotions and behaviors. We may explode verbally on the other person, get extremely “pissed off” which can be expressed by throwing, hitting or start shaking due to the unfairness of life!   None of these actions resolve the actual feelings or thoughts we may want to speak or lead us towards an appropriate action or behavior.

Many times I have wondered if people are unaware of how words affect their emotions, behaviors and thoughts.  It’s a circle, as thoughts affect both emotions and behaviors and emotions affect behavior and thoughts, and behaviors definitely affect emotions and thoughts. What we experience in our environment is transferred by our brain into thoughts/beliefs, emotions, and behaviors.

I am human, and do make mistakes.  What I need to remember is that what I say cannot be taken back.  I am able to show by behavior, my outward emotions, and verbalizing my thoughts that anger does resolve in time.  And, maybe I can learn from past mistakes and think, behave and develop a more stable, calmer response to life’s irritations.  After all, what is most important is our relationships with others, the enjoyment, love and strengths these relationships bring us.

Anxiety and the Cat

The family cat will whine, not meow, but a short abrupt sound stating he wants to go out. When questioned, of course he doesn’t answer but runs to the door and sits.  If he is not followed he continues to whine.  Once out, he enjoys the woods for about an hour.  Many times he meows when he wants in, or will come when called.  I am comfortable with this behavior, but others in the household are not.

The cat being a cat, does not always respond to his name.  The calls become more desperate, with one of us going out and  hunting for him. Anxiety over the ‘lost’ cat increases. With the fear that he may be lost, injured and unable to return our anxiety and growing frustration of not knowing result in the “why did you let the cat out?”  The blaming anger towards another in a situation where we have no control.

Our increasing anxiety can be controlled.  We can learn to identify tiggers, the situations that seem to increase our feelings of anxiety, fear, and how we react. We can learn how to control ourselves, our reactions to stressful, anxious moments.   The most important part of learning how to control anxiety is to be able to identify what may cause an increase in these feelings.

The anxiety that comes with any action can affect how we respond to that situation in the future.  We can shy away, decide not to let the cat out ever again, but listen to the meow’s and use earplugs.

Until we figure out what we can tolerate, what level of being uncertain, taking that risk is tolerable, that cat might just have to stay in.