The school year is coming to a close. The days are getting longer and the weather nicer. My dinner menus start reflecting the hurried pace of evenings spent outside instead of in the kitchen. Quick standard meals pulled together in the 20 minutes bring back the feeling of the days of relay parenting and jam packed schedules. The menus come in handy for the after school bike rides, football in the yard, end of the year homework and baseball practices which guide my schedule now. I assure myself the taco night followed by spaghetti night isn't lazy for someone home all day. Digging through the frozen veggie blends, the waves to one of my all time favorite songs slows things down.
"Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" begins easy waves making way for Otis Redding's smooth voice. The lonely transient anchoring to the dock to accept the loneliness of life and struggles with conformity. At least, that is what I hear. Listening to it on this day in May, I feel the evolution of the past nine months.
When I sent my kids to school in August, I felt such relief. I was depleted, and I wasn't any good to them. Sure, I provided meals, clean clothes, mostly clean house, and whatever else was left of my time. I lacked consistency, vision, a support system and connection. Inside, I felt empty and restless. I hadn't spent consistent time by myself in seven years. I hadn't spent time confronting myself in forever. Since I was 12, I have tried to plan every minute of every day. Taking my cues from the expectations of the world around me, I strove to conform. All I found was more expectations to throw at my restlessness and bury myself. Inside, I had become the neglected vagabond on the dock.
Restlessness has consistently led me to two outcomes in the past, babies or jobs. I have no regrets of positions I have held or my babies which I love. I felt pressure to always have plan or live my life as soon as possible because it is all going to end. Swirling in my head has been the pressure of all those restless sayings like Life is not a dress rehearsal. Feeling so empty made me realize, I have been traveling through life so many years without asking myself what I really want and allowing myself to hear the answers. I usually give into the restlessness, and choose something quickly from the big checklist of life. So, as the school bus took the boys away for the first time I vowed to take this year for myself. No babies, no jobs paying or volunteer. Just me confronting my empty self.
With two weeks left of school, I started tallying things up. I did not get a job and I did not get pregnant. I did not organize my garage or my files. I did not complete my wedding scrapbook or even begin the boys baby books. I did not lose 15-20 pounds. I did not crack the code of keeping my house consistently clean. I did not volunteer for the PTO. I did not attend every school event. Considering these are the expectations I have saddled myself with for years, it would be fair to say I didn't do much.
At times it felt like I was wastin' time. Now that I feel more alive, I know now there are things to be learned watching the tide roll away. I listened to music again. I started writing again. I checked Facebook, alot. I discovered the joy of balance. I learned how to talk to my sons so I could help them with their feelings instead of trying to solve their problems. I slowed down. I started driving my kids to school. I played a lot of Scrabble. I started learning about food. I celebrated how far my body has gotten me given how little I have paid attention to it. I folded laundry. I learned about respecting myself and others. I did the dishes every morning. I learned about compassion. I got groceries. I forgave myself for all the harsh words I say to myself. I threw away all my coupons and magazines. I started yoga again. I went to Target. I finally understood what it meant when they say to really love something is to let it go. I learned to breath. I laughed. I allowed myself to cry. I stopped pushing and started allowing. I discovered and accepted me.
The spaghetti is quickly pulled together while singing along with Otis. Somethings will never change. For instance, spaghetti being a quick stand by will always be part of my summer menu. This spaghetti has few thoughtful changes. Trying out new spaghetti sauce made in locally, makes it feel fresh. Sitting down to eat, hearing the lively banter; I already feel full.