Every day memories

We tend to wait for special days, holidays, family celebrations to pull out the fancy stuff, the expensive things. Sometimes there may be a feeling, niggling in the back of our mind, that maybe whatever we are doing just isn’t “special” enough to celebrate with the good stuff, would our mothers or grandmothers approve? So we resort to our everyday basics, saving the good dishes/linens/crystal for the truly special times. A better suited time.

But too often, a better time only happens once in a blue moon, or sometimes not at all. This is not a post about “life is too short”, not really. But it is something to consider, to remind ourselves, and something that I’ve been leaving myself open to recently.

According to various studies – and my therapist – there are about four or five highly stressful experiences in life that are common to most people:

  • marriage, divorce, death, buying a house and losing your job.

I’ve covered a few of those over the past year. A couple were even at the same time!

2016 was not my friend.

But now that I’ve come out on the other side of it all, my world has come into sharper focus. Colors are brighter, smells are stronger, the whole world is more vibrant and pulsating with possibility. I feel lighter, happier, full of appreciation. Fully aware.

I feel as if I’ve been reborn some days, as cliche as that sounds.

I appreciate so many things, everyday things, so much more now. I feel comfortable in my own skin once again, and it’s been a very long time since I could honestly say that. And this new attitude, or awareness, has led me to see my life and how I live it in a whole new light. I’ve started to let go of a lot of the usual expectations and instead have  decided to let the tide take me where it wants. It’s not giving up the fight so much as it is just not fighting the magnetic pull any longer. Following my heart, giving myself permission to not ask for permission, being open to more. Finding the joy.

Listening to my soul.

So, with this new enlightenment, I’ve drifted away from conventional ideas of only celebrating when it’s the “right time”. Everyday is the right time if you reframe it in your own mind. It’s your experience, and your chance to make memories any way you like.

After moving into my house, my first ever all-my-own house, I was putting away the dishes, glassware, the pots and pans, and I noticed how much I love my china. I kept it for this very reason, after considering the idea to give it away or even leaving it behind, fearing that bringing it into my new home would only be an ugly reminder of a twenty year mistake, but for some reason I just couldn’t let it go.

I chose the pattern twenty years ago because it spoke to me, it gave me a warm feeling deep inside, and twenty years later it still does. Oddly, it didn’t remind me of our wedding, or the broken promises and disappointments that I’ve encountered over that time, instead it reminded me of family dinners and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sitting at a big table with a group of happy, smiling people, that I love with my whole heart, laughing and enjoying each other. Special days. Days filled with love and joy and thanks.

And then a thought occurred to me, why should’t I feel that way every day?

Why do we have to wait until November or December, or a birthday or a graduation, to feel that warmth inside and appreciate the closeness that creates happy memories? Everyday that you gather around a table with your dearest loved ones, and maybe even a friend or two, is a special day. If you’re honest with yourself, you never know how many of these you will get over the course of your lifetime, why not appreciate them all?

So, instead of putting the fine china away in a cabinet somewhere “safe” to be retrieved for a special occasion, I put the entire set in my kitchen where my everyday dishes “should” go. My kids questioned my placement, almost panicked, asking what we would eat dinner off of on Tuesday night without “regular” dishes.

And then I unpacked the crystal and did the same thing.

I will no longer drink wine out of the “everyday” wine glasses, much as I love them too, only saving my crystal for a special occasion or “company”. Instead I will celebrate every sip of cheap red wine in my beautiful crystal glasses and feel special each time.

I will pour wine (maybe a better grade if you’re lucky that day) into the same glasses for my friends and family, and serve them my famous meatballs on the same fine china when they come to visit, too. Appreciating the moment, the shared experience, without worry about chipped dishes or broken glasses stressing me out, but instead relishing the happy memories being made out of our every day life.

I would love to know that when I die, while my children are cleaning out my house, they will come across the china and crystal and any other “special” things I’ve acquired along the way, and be able to say “remember how we ate off of this china every day in mom’s house while we were growing up? Just sitting at our wooden barn door table in the kitchen, eating spaghetti or meatloaf, and drinking wine or milk or whatever, but we ate it off of the china and drank out of our crystal glasses…on a Wednesday!” I want them to treasure those china plates and crystal glasses for the shared warmth of memories that have been etched into them. I want them to have everyday memories of us as a happy, loving family.

Happy memories without a special date attached. Happy just because. Every day memories of living our lives fully, and connected. Sharing love and laughter.

Just every day memories that make us special to each other.

 

 

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Ghost

Living each day, the same as the day before it, until the weekend comes again.

The weekend brings with it so many disruptions to the energy in my house, unsettling changes and uncomfortable feelings.

I believe I have a ghost. He visits on the weekends, and makes himself comfortable.

Sometimes he watches TV for hours upon hours. Football, baseball, golf or an old 80’s movie – complete with dozens of commercials so it lasts at least three hours. He likes to sit in the recliner, fully extended, and watch it alone. Or lay out fully on the couch.

Sometimes he sits at my kitchen counter, gazing at a laptop, drinking coffee that I just made or a vitamin water. He doesn’t speak to me usually, but sometimes he has questions about my checkbook, house repairs or what the kids are doing that day.

Sometimes he drinks wine with me, asking for a glass when I don’t offer. I don’t think to offer, of course, because he is a ghost.

Sometimes he does his laundry in my washer and dryer. Yes, a ghost that does laundry! But only his own, of course. And if my laundry is in the dryer he removes it, dumping it into a basket. He doesn’t fold or hang anything. I guess ghosts don’t do that for other people, just themselves.

Sometimes he uses the bathroom to shower, or brush his teeth, leaving behind a wet towel and a dirty sink. A toothbrush and toiletries. Maybe to let me know that he is here?

He has clothes hanging in our closet, but they’re not the ones that he likes I suppose. They haven’t moved in over six months. Shoes that are left stacked, gathering dust. Suits and ties, shirts and pants, jeans and sweaters dust filling the creases.

He doesn’t do anything in the house, or to the house to repair or improve it. The Christmas lights stayed up until March, waiting for him to remove, but my kids and I did it in the end. The repairs and tweaks in the house are done by a handyman now, not the ghost.

He doesn’t bring me joy. Quite the opposite. There is no comical relief of dishes falling for no reason, or spooky ghost stories of doors closing suddenly. I can’t imagine that he is gaining anything from being around me, either. He is the ghost of my marriage, my past, before it unravelled. He is the ghost of love that has died a slow, tedious death.

 

 

It was just too broken.

I am the child of divorce. Yes, that is actually a common phrase, a way to describe my upbringing, currently. Back when it was actually happening, circa 1975, the term was “broken home”. If your parents got divorced you then came from a broken home.

That seems so judgmental now, doesn’t it? Maybe it was broken to begin with and getting a divorce fixed it? Maybe it was never working? One thing can be said of being from a divorced family at that time, we were definitely trend setters. Truly. My family was the first that I knew of – and for that matter, that any of my friends or schoolmates knew of – to get divorced. My parents had boyfriends and girlfriends that I had to get used to, and possibly introduce to my friends and their parents in social situations.

It was odd, very different, and even exotic, back in 1975.

I remember watching a TV program called “Grace” in the mid-80’s. Grace was a divorced, single mother of three children trying to make a good, healthy life for herself and her kids. She left an abusive relationship to improve all of their lives. In one episode, a teacher is concerned about one of Grace’s children having problems at school, and attempts to blame it on the fact that he comes from a “broken home”. Grace’s response to that comment basically was “No, that’s where you’re wrong. They had a broken home, but I fixed it.” That sentence hit home for me, resonated with me, even as a kid . Nobody really understood what getting a divorce could be about back then, or what it meant to the people involved in it. They usually thought it was about two people not trying hard enough, or giving up. But it’s more than that for most couples and their families. That response still resonates with me today, as an adult finding my way through to the other side of this process, and trying to navigate it with my family. Trying to fix it, that’s all we’re doing. It’s no longer odd, different or even exotic these days. Sadly, it’s almost too common now.

Granted, our relationship was not an abusive one. Definitely not. Not in the common definition. There wasn’t any physical violence (like I witnessed growing up) or alcohol or substance abuse tearing a family apart. Nobody cheated. But our resentments and disappointments in our relationship slowly ate away at both of us over the years, creating a void that we couldn’t fill with each other. Making us slowly pull away. We weren’t good partners emotionally, and we probably weren’t the best parents sometimes because of it, too. How can you work well as a parenting team when you couldn’t talk about the problems you were having as a couple or work together to find solutions?

And that’s not saying that we didn’t try along the way. I truly believe that we both tried. Sometimes we tried excruciatingly hard. We had some really great days, weeks, months even. And then we had some not very good, too hard to look at, times that would last longer. We tried to make it work, but maybe not at the same time, always a bit off on our timing with each other you might say. I read “couples” help books, watched talk shows, googled possible reasons, brought up my feelings of unease and unhappiness when I just could’t stand it any longer. I told him that I didn’t feel important enough, interesting enough, he didn’t see me or hear me. I didn’t feel that I was enough for him.

He listened sometimes, he agreed sometimes, but nothing really changed overall.

During a recent conversation with a friend trying to help me sort through the beginning of this, she mentioned that maybe I was ready to accept divorce more easily than I cared to admit to myself since I have experience with it. I don’t see or feel the stigma of divorce, having lived through it as a child. I basically have always given myself permission, even before I got married. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe that’s why I invested twenty years of my life trying to figure it out and holding out hope that one day we would have the relationship that we both wanted and be happy with each other. Hoping that one day we would come out of our struggles stronger, more in love and glad that we stuck it out.

I wanted to beat the odds, I wanted to believe in happily ever after and growing old together. I wanted us to be “that couple”, the couple that was meant to be. The couple that fixed it and made it work.

But it was too broken.

 

 

In a perfect world

In a “perfect world” yesterday, Valentines Day, would have gone something like this for us:

After running all day between the three boys‘ classroom parties, and then to the religious education class that I teach and two of them partake in, I would have ordered the pizza for the boys while they did their homework. Once they were fed, I would have picked up a delicious sushi dinner for two that my husband and I would share – ALONE – once said children were tucked into bed. We would have opened a bottle of wine, shared the chocolate-covered strawberries that I picked up especially for us, and gazed longingly into each others’ eyes while reminiscing about how we met and what makes us so happy to have each other. We may have even gone to bed “early” to enjoy one last Valentines gift (yes, even on a TUESDAY! Unimaginable, I admit, but if I’m going to dream I want to dream big)

But, of course, we don’t live in a “perfect world” and really who would want to? Instead, our oldest son texted me that he needed extra help with math after school so he would LIKE TO GO TO THE TUTOR after school (I put that in caps because if you are a parent you know how jaw-dropping that idea is for your teenage son to request help with his schoolwork!) Not to squash his effort I agreed and promptly got him an appointment from 5-7pm, knowing that my class begins at 4:30 and ends at 6pm, but I was going to make it work. I spent the last hour of the day at their school, so I picked them up and headed directly to the tutor to drop off our son with snack money to hang out at Panera Bread while he waited for 5pm. Off to my religious education class with our other two boys to teach a double sized class to cover for an absent teacher. No problem, it went pretty well, but took a bit more time to clean up from the craft project I gave them to keep them busy.

Home with the two by 6:15, ordering pizza…oops I only ordered one pizza, not two, because for some reason I forgot that our oldest son needs to eat dinner! Ugh! Call back, add the pizza which adds time of course, but no worries. Try to call and order sushi for take-out…the line is busy for 20 minutes straight. What?! Off I go to stop at the restaurant to place my order, then go to pick up our son at the tutor, then back to the restaurant to wait 15 more minutes to get my take-out order. Back home. The pizzas have arrived, as well as my husband, but nobody has eaten yet. Why?? Because they wanted to wait for me, of course.

So, here I am with a fabulous sushi dinner for two that I pretend to myself I am not going to share with our oldest (even though it is quite possibly his favorite food group – go figure) as we all sit down as a family for our Valentines Day dinner. Whew!

It was actually pretty fabulous. We ate on heart shaped plates and used bright red cloth napkins, we talked and laughed and yes – I even shared my sushi. (I’m not an ogre…and he didn’t even have to ask) We opened that bottle of wine that I fantasized about all day and drank it all by the end of dinner! And once the boys were all in bed, we plopped down on the couch exhausted and happy, and opened another to have with those chocolate covered strawberries (I’m only willing to share so much)

Not what I had in mind, but maybe a bit better. Actually, a lot better because I’m still smiling thinking about it.