“We Will All…Fall”

“We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point of our lives (pause) fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts, that what we have is special. That it can be taken away from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves.”

Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights

Life is brutally hard, sometimes. For me, anyway. I have found great solace lately in focusing on the positive, whether by changing my thought patterns or through my own vision. Seeing with my own eyes the dazzling natural beauty we are surrounded by, observing the goodness of the mundane: it helps. I use my curiosity about the world to wonder why my tomatoes didn’t grow very well this year, and why my chard did. I enjoy satiating my own children’s curiosity by exploring topics they want to know more about. I make their lunch with homegrown apples and carrots and fine organic yogurt from our local creamery: this makes me happy. I keep up with the laundry, taking pride in the excellent folding I do. I provide the twins with fresh, downy sheets and towels and underwear and socks. I rearrange my closet with cute, pre-arranged outfits, complete with jewelry and shoes, to make getting out the door easier. I try to outfit our life with beauty.

Even reading the list above makes it easy to remember that I did some good today, even though I failed more than I succeeded, that I feel so alone in my day-to-day life. That I feel so achingly responsible for everything and everybody.

Infertility and loss (and did you know that it was pregnancy and infant loss remembrance month?) is when I fell, to quote Coach Taylor. Those experiences tested me, severely. They isolated me. They made me look inside myself.

Today I was chatting to Darcy about my college experience (a four year sojourn in one of the most beautiful places on earth where I made many friends and spent most days in yellow sunshine), as opposed to the miserable East Coast weather and highly academically competitive university he went to. He often thinks I went to the wrong school: that those sunny, mellow years didn’t suit my personality or make me as tough as I need to be. I don’t know: in some ways, he’s right. But in other ways, I’m glad I have that bedrock of happiness to look back on.

Because when I fell, first during my illness and then my failed IVF cycle and loss, I needed to remember what happiness was. Happiness was running on a warm abandoned beach with the surf gently beating a slow tattoo, while I gazed upon a sailboat harbored, glittering in the sunlight. Joy was boarding the EuroStar and arriving at the Gare du Nord, and noticing that even the ugliest buildings in Paris had beautiful architectural details and balconies that welcomed coffee breaks.

Parenting twins is not parenting triplets or quads. But it is the Mt. McKinley of parenting, especially when your husband works such tough hours and the kids are testing boundaries like those Velocirapters in their pen in Jurassic Park. My children are wonderfully bright. But precocious as heck.

Sometimes my mood goes from zero to 100 and back all in one hour. How can my mood swing so dramatically based on parenting? Yet it does.

Somedays, like today, I think about all my friends still in the trenches and I grit my teeth.

I think: I am lucky. I am lucky.

***

I am lucky.

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11 Comments

Filed under Discovering joy, Family

11 responses to ““We Will All…Fall”

  1. SRB

    Holy cats, did I ever need to read this this morning. It’s only time to sit with my coffee and I had already graded today as F. Been having a rough SAHM week, in terms of self-with and “fail rate”. Thanks for the reminder to be mindful of the positives I create.

    • SRB

      Holy cats, did I ever need to read this this morning. It’s only time to sit with my coffee and I had already graded today as F. Been having a rough SAHM week, in terms of self-worth and “fail rate”. Thanks for the reminder to be mindful of the positives I create.

  2. Wordgirl

    Dear Sweet J —

    I had a friend once who said something to me I will never forget (and for some reason it mattered at the time that he was a thrice-published author, a NYT contributor — etc.) “You would never ever treat a friend as harshly as you treat yourself” — and he was right. I would never have turned the harsh glare of criticism on anyone the way I was and am able to turn it on myself — I try to remember that… try to treat MYSELF with kindness…who, if not ourselves, is going to really do it?

    Be gentle with your beautiful, smart, elegant, funny, talented self.

    I try to tell myself the same.

    XO

    P

  3. Your college experience sounds WONDERFUL. You did not go to the wrong school at all! I remember being in college, having a ball, thinking, “this time will never come again. This time is finite. Enjoy it.” I think it’s so important to have those sunny days to look back on because that was the only time that we could be carefree, and it was OK (or rather encouraged) and expected.

    It is so hard to not feel responsible for everyone and everything. I hate making restaurant recommendations just in case the people end up hating it. I would forever feel responsible for their awful meal. So stupid of me, but it’s there.

  4. Yes, it is a practice learning to be gentle on yourself. I know. I once did an acting exercise where people had to come up with a list of all they things they did well and all the things they did not. Guess which list was longer? We are all imperfect as someone once reminded me. (You know who you are.) I also think you are terrific, you never give up, you shine the light even when you don’t feel like it, you remind people that it is indeed possible.

  5. I love this post, for so many reasons, but especially this line:

    “That I feel so achingly responsible for everything and everybody.”

    Ah, I know this feeling so well. I look to my partner and to my daughter for clues to how they are feeling and I take responsibility for how they are doing, whether they are thriving or not. I do the same with my students and when they haven’t learned what I’ve tried to teach I feel I’ve failed them in some horrible way. I feel this with my family and my friends, with everyone. I ALWAYS feel responsible.

    I’m envious of your “bedrock of happiness” to look back on. I’ve been afflicted with depression for so long that I don’t even know what real, true happiness looks like. There are no times in my life I can look back on to remember that feeling, they are all scarred by depression, some more so than others.

    I think these early years–and I imagine this is only magnified with young twins–are really hard and that the specific things that make them so hard, especially the isolation, improve over time. I hope that in the coming years, when the twins are in school and you can carve more time for yourself, that it will feel better. I’m banking on that fact myself. 😉

  6. I need to figure out how to change my thinking to be more like yours. I’ve always been a glass half-empty person and focus on what I didn’t get done, what I failed at, what sucks.

  7. This is such a beautiful post. I love how you are embracing All, taking the duality of the pleasure and the struggle and finding unity.

  8. Yes, achingly responsible. And yet we take on so much responsibility that isn’t ours, or isn’t ours alone. It’s the relinquishment of those responsibilities that’s allowing me to begin building my bedrock. My sunny, mellow days are right now.

    I am lucky for reading your words.

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