Capturing Me

Once a month, two of my favorite bloggers, Galit from These Little Waves and Alison from Writing, Wishing, host the Memories Captured link up.

I adore this chance to choose a moment to focus on. A moment to cherish the growth, the fleeting beauty of my son’s childhood. This chance to choose one of the many pictures I snap of my son and showcase it; showcase him.

Mostly, I identify myself through my motherhood. I thrive in my role and I always use memories captured to capture the center of my world; my son.

But this month, this link up coincides with another at Just Be Enough, with the surprisingly challenging task of focusing on a self portrait. This month, I am capturing me.

My husband took this picture of me in our front yard last week. I had spent the day taking my son to a playdate and doing my regular chores of dishes and laundry. When my husband got home from work a little early, I asked him if he could take some pictures. We played in the front yard for a little bit, launching my son’s model airplane into the sky and sitting in the grass to observe the crickets crawling over the blades. In this shot, my son is sitting in my lap, right out of view of the camera.

Maybe it’s the striking colors of the green grass against my pink shirt, or maybe I just like the way my hair fell that day. But, in a somewhat rare occurence, I really love this picture of me.

Me in all of my moments of confidence and insecurity, of strength and weakness, of human frailty. Me with my sometimes conflicting roles of mother, wife, and self. I may not always know who I am or where I am going, but here in this picture I feel perfectly captured. A memory of my own complexities, on a random day in the grass with my son in my lap.

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I Am

I Am

I am strong and hopeful
I wonder if everything really happens for a reason
I hear laughter
I see tomorrow
I want to be happy
I am strong and hopeful

I pretend that I have it all together

I feel lost

I touch my toddler’s sticky fingers
I worry about how it will all work out
I cry when I allow myself to let go
I am strong and hopeful

I understand that life is never what we expect
I say that I can handle it anyway
I dream for all the pieces to fall into place
I try to focus on the moment
I hope that one day I will KNOW I made the right choices
I am strong and hopeful

*This poem was made with the I AM template through Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop. It’s funny the things you discover about yourself when you are given the right prompt. What would you discover if you tried?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Ten Years

Ten years ago today, I graduated high school.

Ten years since I donned a slinky black dress under a red graduation robe. Ten years since I paraded down a football field in a cap and gown to achieve the milestone that is high school graduation.

I was excited and terrified. I was not ready to leave the comforts of a life I had always known but had grown uncomfortable there. I was ready to spread my wings but was too scared to jump out of the nest.

The world was too big for me to navigate but the town where I grew up had grown too small.

It’s been ten years since I was the girl with so much potential and so many dreams.

It’s been ten years since I was sure about who I was.

My 18-year-old self was smart, pretty, and talented. (And tiny. I only weighed 100 pounds when I graduated high school.) This girl was going to go to Broadway. With an all-A GPA after a course load of honors and AP classes, a music scholarship and a two page long list of various honors and accomplishments under her belt, this girl was going to be somebody. This girl was going to be the perfect mom to four children. She would always look pretty and have a clean house. Beside small teenage dramas, this girl’s childhood had been pretty idealistic and she expected nothing less as she leapt out into the world.

A lot happens in ten years.

This woman may still be smart, but no one really recognizes that now. This woman may still be pretty, but not in the head turning way she was at 18. The weight she’s gained over the past ten years and the way having a baby changed her body will never allow her reflection to be the same in the mirror.

This woman stopped trying to pursue her singing talent after life starting throwing her curve balls that she couldn’t get away from. This woman never went to Broadway. This woman experienced the loss of her father and depression. This woman excelled in college but became a teacher instead of a performer. This woman became a mother through a very difficult pregnancy and delivery, and struggled through another bout of foggy depression. This woman sometimes flounders just to hold it all together with one baby, and the thought of having another one terrifies her. This woman’s dreams of being extraordinary washed away over the past decade and this woman struggles with the fact that despite all of her potential of ten years ago, she really grew up to be quite ordinary.

The ten year highschool reunion will be held in August. I had a wonderful high school experience, but as I reflect on these past ten years, I can not convince myself to go. So much has changed since then. As I look back into my highschool past I realize how much of who I was is not who I am. Sometimes I grieve that. I am reluctant to go to the reunion because I feel that somehow I have failed; failed at becoming who I could have been.

In October, it will also be ten years since my dad died. Ten years in which my world shifted and my experiences grew and my understanding of life changed, because my life irreparably changed. I never figured out how to build a sand castle when part of my foundation washed away with the waves.

I once read a quote that said, “When something tragic happens in your youth, you tend to feel that age for the rest of your life.”  I have often felt this way. I feel like I spent the past decade kind of lost. I have made grown up decisions without feeling grown up. Time and life have moved forward without my permission and sometimes I feel like I am digging my feet in the sand and resisting with all my might, but no matter how hard I try, I am pulled into the future anyway.

I will turn 29 this fall and officially be in the last year of my twenties. And I’m oh so glad. I’m so ready not to be in this lost place anymore. I am so ready not to feel like I am still 18 holding on to dreams that will never come true. I am so ready not to spend the next ten years of my life in a blanket of fog, stuck in the middle of who I was and who I am. I am so ready to embrace myself as a woman.

Sometimes I miss the 18-year-old girl. Almost all of the time, I miss her dreams of grandeur. But as much as I may want to,  I will never be that girl again. I think it’s time to let her go. I think it’s time to stop holding on to her standards of beauty and dreams and perfection. I will never be a size zero again, or be famous, or look at the world through the innocence tinted glasses I wore at 18.

If you google my full maiden name, you get a lot of links. She was important. But she’s not here anymore.

If you google my name now, you will not find me. I am lost among laundry and dishes and toddler tantrums. I am buried under bouts of depression. As it turns out, I never turned into anything special.

It took me 18 years to become the person that had so much going for her before. It will take time to create myself again.

It’s not too late to start, is it?

Unexpected Gifts

Sometimes the thoughts in my mind are so intense and feverish and many that they threaten to trample over each other until they erupt from my fingertips onto the page.

Sometimes the darkness in my mind contrasts so sharply with the bright white of the screen that I can not organize a thought.

Sometimes the blank canvas in my mind so is so accurately reflected in the blank canvas of the screen that I hate to dirty it with the stain of intimate thoughts.

But always, I find this space to be calming. Always waiting for me to come back and fill it. Always there to let me explore the collage of thoughts floating in my mind, tearing through to the surface, gasping for the first breath of life, when I type them here and give them a voice.

Always, here, I find myself at peace. In the solitude of writing, in the solitude of self exploration, where I allow my world to be quiet and listen to myself. Always, here, I find a new piece of me. Always, here, I discover inspiration.

I listen to myself most often at night, when the house is dark except for the faint light coming in through the window. When the world is quiet except for the sounds of my husband and my son breathing next to me in bed. Where my cat curls up at my feet and my breath falls in tune with the people I cherish. It is then that I can stop, and listen, and learn things that I already knew, but never took the time to process. In these moments I am at peace. And in these moments I can reflect here.

This blog is my place of peace for my thoughts and my inner stillness. Listening to the words that so desperately accumulate in my mind and then pour onto this page has inspired me. Giving myself this place of solitude to write and reflect and grow has turned into an unexpected gift.

Have you given yourself an unexpected gift?