Monday, April 23, 2012

Five for Five: Change

It seems like an eternity since I sat here, in this place, writing about my life.  A year ago, I was working on recertifying for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and was knee deep in the aftermath of birthdays, a cruise, a communion, state testing and finishing up that damn box to send away.  But I had no idea how many things would change in next 12 months.

My unmarried, childless uncle had a MAJOR health crisis that landed him in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for the better part of three months.  My sister and I, with five kids in tow, had to clean up his mess.  It took us from May through December to get everything straightened out: from housing to finances, legal aspects to just general " you're going to be okay, okay?" stuff.  A summer from hell would be a very pale description of what those months entailed.  In the midst of all these changes, I had no words for this space.  That was the hardest part of the change, and the one I found the most difficult to swallow.

In the fall, my already frail mother was diagnosed with an incredible rare form of stomach cancer.  Her successful surgery had major complications that landed her (and us) into ICU for a week.  The drain of this next challenge, and the physical changes my mother would now be faced with in her recovery made it impossible to sit in front of the computer and write.  Six words was all I could manage, some days with incredible difficulty.  Again, I would look at my blog, which had once been this source of incredible pride, as something I had abandoned because of life.  And if I wrote of these changes, they would be really real.  And even though I was living through them, I was not really ready to accept them.

The good news: everyone is okay now.  We've experienced some hiccups, but nothing more hair-raising than that.

The real news: Something in me finally clicked and made ME change.  Not in some wild, crazy, I am going to run away and join a circus kind of change.  But for someone like me, who changes at a turtle's pace,  this is BIG.

I've decided that getting older is fine.  It's better than the alternative.  And I want to be one badass old lady and give my kids years of endless  memories.  I want to get even and spoil the hell out of my grandchildren.  I want to get those kids riled up, sugared up and indignant that their parents don't let them get away with shit, and when it hits the fan, I want to climb into my two-seater convertible and drive off into the sunset, waving and blowing kisses to my angels,  planning my next visit.

I've decided to welcome the teeniest of wrinkles that now embrace the outer corners of my eyes when I smile or laugh too hard.  I will not find the grays that now spot more areas of my scalp.  I will thank the Lord above that I have never had to endure chemotherapy and hair loss at a young age like some of my friends.  I have earned every line, wrinkle and gray hair.  They are medals of honor.  The chest heading south is another story, but hey, that's why we have underwire, padded bras, no?

I am TRYING so VERY HARD to change my mothering.  By saying yes more when I can.  By living in the moment more.  By realizing that this is it.  My oldest is on the cusp of adolescence.  My baby is starting kindergarten.  THESE are the best times.  Right now. 

I am learning to be who I was meant to be, who I want to be.  Not a preconceived notion that I must act this way or another because I am a mother, a wife, a teacher.  I am authentic.  I should act as such.

The hardest changes are those affecting my children.  Each one of them is changing, morphing into these incredible people that can be alternately incredibly sweet or defying difficult.  Their physical changes as they mature are hard to witness as a mother who loved the tiny baby stage.  Their emotional growth is difficult to keep up with, as I alternate between goddess and devil's mistress.  Growing up is hard.  For kids.  For parents.  But oh, what a ride!

The biggest lesson I've learned this year is that change comes, whether you are ready or not.  It sometimes helps not to be so dead set against it.  It also helps immensely if you have people around you that love you and are willing to assist you.  It is extremely important to value the ones you love (and generally make you seven kinds of ape-shit crazy) when you have no crisis at hand, so you are ready for the crisis when it comes.  And people, it ALWAYS comes.  Trust me.


  1. It is so, so hard to remember that these are the best times, that saying "yes" more is a good thing. Bravo to you, for making it through your own year of tough changes and reminding us to savor it all.

  2. Change IS so hard, and I need to not fight it so much. It drains me, every day.

  3. Loved hearing this, knowing this. What a year. And such a blessing of a lesson that came through it all. I'm glad you stayed connected through 6 Words and I look forward to reading much more!

  4. "The biggest lesson I've learned this year is that change comes, whether you are ready or not."

    Yes. Yes. Yes. This is so simple, so true, so real. I think the quality of our lives is directly related to how we cope with, and embrace, change.

    This post is so real, so raw, so filled with light and dark and plain old REAL. It made me nod and smile and smile some more. I am really happy to be here reading your story. Thanks, Sarah & Jen for the kick!

  5. What a year! Glad to see that you are coming out on top! Good luck with all your changes!

  6. This is the first thing that stood out for me: "And if I wrote of these changes, they would be really real." I didn't write for the better part of a year+. I think I needed that time to stay in my cocoon and figure some sh*t out. And I did. I did figure a lot out. A lot of what you concluded with, actually. I still have a really hard to putting it into words, though. I come off as way more negative and wishy-washy than I am. Oh good, something ELSE to work on. :)

    So glad to have you along for Five for Five!

  7. I love that amid the crisis and all the changes that are rocking your household, you stop to remind yourself that despite everything, these are the best of times.

    Indeed. The fact that we have this moment to remember and appreciate? It's a wonderful thing. And change happens whether we want it or not, like you said, so why not embrace it?

    Love your shift of perspective in the end!

  8. Sometimes it takes hard emotional work and the chaotic passage of time to open us up to the truth. Change is coming. How we handle it is the only thing we can control. (Also? Glad that your mom and uncle are doing better. Caretaking is tough on its own, even more so when you're doing it on all sides.

  9. Seeing the changes other people are going through gives me so much perspective. Thank you for sharing your changes. And I totally get that writing it makes it real thing - I avoid writing about things often, because I don't know if I can cope with admitting something is real. And I think that's okay, we get to these things when we are ready and then someday we see why the timing was actually perfect after all.

  10. What a year! Thank you for sharing this, and I'm so pleased to read that things are now ok. I'm also pleased to read that I'm not the only one that accepts change; that believes that change a trophy of sorts.

    You keep on working it, mama!


  11. You've had a very difficult year. Change definitely is hard, I don't think we are ever ready for it. Good luck with your changes, though!

  12. Being in the midst of some serious change myself this past year, I can relate - change comes whether you want it or not, whether you need it or not. But part of me also believes that change is good and necessary and helps us grow as people. Best of luck to the health of your family - and your new resolve.

  13. Change is certainly an equal opportunity employer. It comes. It sometimes wreaks havoc. But there are other times, it makes you appreciate what is around you. And change starts the domino effect of feeling really grateful for what is in your life.

  14. "I am authentic. I should act as such." It's funny how often this word has popped up in the Change blog entries. It's a great word, and I love that so many women are after it.

  15. hey there stranger! So So sososo nice to be back here reading your beautiful and REAL words. I'm sorry you've had such a tumultuous year but so glad that you're enjoying some new changes. I need to live by your new changes as well. I just turned, gulp, 40 a few weeks ago and really having a hard time with it. A really hard time. And I'm not sure why. I'm happy with my life. My achievements. My family. But something feels lacking. And I don't want to get old and then realize what I wish i had done. When it's too late. But you're right. These grays and wrinkles ARE badges of honor. We've certainly earned them. So I'll go with the flow. And with you. And look forward to the future, instead of warily enduring it.


  16. I know, it is coming. It always does.
    Unfortunately, I have spent my whole life waiting for It.
    That, in itself, is surely a blog post...

  17. I try to say yes more too to my kids. It's something I need to remind myself of - especially when I'm stressed about something. It's then that I really need to say yes to make all of us happy.

  18. What a year! May you have a touch of peace and much laughter!


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