Friday, November 14, 2008

Loving the Good and the Bad

I remember a time in the last town I lived-a town of 300 people-when the electric company was doing repairs and maintenance and were going to shut the power off to the entire town at midnight. I worked at a truck stop then, and we got to leave early so that we could be home and do any last minute things before the power was shut down for the night. I went home and did what I needed to do, then went out and sat on the porch to smoke. Sitting there, it was the strangest sensation to watch each section of the town go dark, one by one. We lived in the country then so you would think it was always quiet, but you would be amazed at how much noise electricity makes without us even noticing it. It was almost eerie to be sitting in the middle of town, to see the shadows of the houses but not hear anything other than the slight rustling of the grain in the breeze and the sound of crickets. It was also at the same time very peaceful and strengthening in a way that only true quiet and solitude can be. My kids were inside the house sleeping, my neighbors surely doing the same, friends were just a phone call away; I did not feel lonely or isolated, just alone and quiet. At that time, I was in the first weeks after my then-husband's departure, and sitting there in the dark with nothing but the warm night air around me, I began to take apart my life bit by bit and try to figure out where I was going to go from there.

There was so much back then that I didn't like about my life, about myself, about where I had ended up. I can look back now though, over five years ago, and see clearly how much my life has changed. I can see how much I have changed, for better and for worse, and be utterly amazed.

I had a couple of interesting things happen last night. T. (the instructor I really like) was sitting with the kids and I at our table and we were having a really great discussion about politics and religion (the two absolutely TABOO things to being up, right?) and she said to me, "With as intelligent and political as you are, I am impressed with the fact that you and Eli can live peaceably in the same house with as different as your views are." And I am not saying this to toot my own horn here, but to say this: that I was disgustingly pleased by this comment, like a slavering dog; here is this woman whom I respect and admire and think is just pretty all-around great, and she likes me! She thinks I am a good mom! Wow! Talk about a ridiculous need for validation-and shouldn't I be past that? So I was disgusted with myself about that for awhile, that it still matters so much what some people think of me.

*****Though on the flip side I will say that I found out that a couple of the moms-the Bad Mom and a woman I will call the Bad Mom2-are friends outside of class, and they have apparently decided that I am The Enemy. Bad Mom wasn't there last night but Bad Mom2 was, and felt free to say that there are "some people" in the class who think they are better than everyone else and won't even let "their kids" give the Bad Kids a chance. I just had to laugh at that one, and I did defend myself there. I told her it was my responsibility as a parent to make sure my kids were hanging out with the right people, and when her daughter has been off of probation for 6 months she is welcome to call.*****

So much I still want and need to change; the way I look at certain things, the way I will hurt someone first rather than risk getting hurt by them, my tendency to judge people. I tend to be emotionally unavailable and distant, and I can really hold a grudge. Don't get me wrong-this is not a catalogue of " I am such a piece of shit I don't how I live!" but instead a very open look at some of the things I need to work on. I think it is really important that I am aware of these character defects so that I don't go too far the other way and think my shit doesn't stink; I am perfectly capable of that as well. I think it is, as April is so fond of saying (and she is right), all about finding a balance between the person I am and hte person I want to be, being able to clearly see both the good AND the bad, and loving myself anyway. I think I am in a good place to do that right now, and as long as I continue to do what I am doing, I might be okay.


April said...

You're already okay. But that balance thing isn't stagnant. We always have to work at it. Which you always will, so - even though things may fall out of balance once in a while - you will be okay.
Love you.

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly said chica. You sound like a pretty good mom to me.

Maggie, Dammit said...

I really love the image of the town shutting down into silence. Gave me goosebumps. How rare, you know?

(and my husband and I are ALWAYS at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Sometimes you keep peace by just not talking at all.) ;)

FreedomFirst said...

I HATE the sounds of electricity. I think I must be able to hear a lot more of it than most people, and it drives me nuts. But I suppose it's worth it for the convenience. Still, the thought of living in the mountains 1800's style appeals to me pretty strongly sometimes. Just to get a relief from the buzzing in my brain.

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with wanting validation. Especially when your situation is generally viewed as unacceptable. You have every right to be proud of yourself.

Mama Smurf said...

We all have flaws. We all have character defects. We all strive to do the best we know how.

The difference between you and those other moms is you recognize your flaws and strive to improve them.

J'Ollie Primitives said...

My BFF lives in the country. I love to sit outside on her porch listening to the quiet.
But we're usually too busy laughing & talking about our nails and boys to listen for long.
Some things never change. 30+ years....
Balance ~ it's an act.
get it get it balancing act. You sound VERY balanced from here.

hugabug1 said...

Your story of the town shutting down into silence reminded me of an old memory. My best friend's family live on about forty acres way out in the country. One time we were having a slumber party with several girls and we were allowed to sleep out on the big wrap-around porch. After everyone else had gone to sleep, I just laid there and listened to the sounds of the night and looked out at the stars. It was one of the most peaceful times I can remember. I only got a few hours of sleep that night because I got woke up at about 6 in the morning by all the birds singing. I didn't mind to much - it was better than an alarm clock, for sure!

Oh, and a need for validation is never ridiculous. I don't know anyone who doesn't need that now and then.

david mcmahon said...

Could not have said it better myself. And believe me, you;ve never heard silence till you've been in the Australian Outback.

Rachael said...

Is it weird that I totally want someone to shut off all the power in my town right now?

Gabriella Moonlight said...

What an amazing post, I think that acceptance for me has always come in the inbetween moments, between breathing in and's that at times I do have those moments of clarity that I am just another human among humans...what a brilliant post! And you do sound like a rockin' mom!!!

Momo Fali said...

I think you're doing great! It's hard to makes changes, and it's hard to NOT want validation. It's human nature, whether we like it or not.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I just love the idea of the silence.

The only reason why I go into churches. The clean silence.

Sandi McBride said...

What a great post. I know what you mean about that quiet. We live in the middle of the country with few neighbors and I love to sit on the porch at night and listen to the environment talk to me. And don't feel so funny about enjoying the fact that other people think of you as glad in it, it bolsters your life, use it to lean on!
congratulations on post of the day mention!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. You sound as if you are doing all the right things, though too much introspection can drive you doolally.

We had that deep thick silence when we lived in he mountains in France, deep in the winter all that could be heard was the snapping of branches under the weight of snow. Magic.
Noise is a pollution nowadays.

Anonymous said...

You definitely captured something there. I could feel and hear the scene. Before we moved downtown, we had a house in the old suburbs of Toronto with a ravine lot. I had a porch built on one of the hills and when Simone was a baby and asleep, I used to walk out there--sometimes at midnight--and soak up the dark and silence. At those moments I felt as though I were coming down from the whole day. . .it seemed like a question mark every day whether I'd be able to get through another day of work and single motherhood, but at those times when I knew Simone was safe and sleeping, I felt OK. . .even when I knew tomorrow was going to be another over-the-top challenge with the bus on the stroller, etc., etc.