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.