BE PATHETIC, BE, BE PATHETIC!

Who came up with this whole "find your best, most wonderful, authentic self" crap? I mean really. How is it that so many people spend so much of their lives trying to "find themselves"? Is the world just one big department store and we are all toddlers wandering off and, at some point, we have to send out an AMBER alert for our souls?

I mean, I THINK I know the answers to these questions.

We are told by society and the world at large who we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to aspire to, how we are to become OUR BEST SELVES. But honestly it is just so exhausting. And frankly, also rather traumatizing to be always looking for your toddler-lost-in-the-department-store self. 

I feel like we've lost the ability to just BE. To revel in the mundane, the boring, the quiet and simple. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves and often on our kids to be THE BEST all the time at all they do. In all this striving for all the things one should be/do/have, are we not just creating more stress and anxiety for everyone?

The answer is obviously YES.  

In Janelle Hanchett's memoir, "I'm Just Happy to Be Here", she writes about one of her sponsors, Good News Jack, who says to her at one point in her recovery, "Wouldn't it be great if you could be OK with being pathetic?" 

This line has been stuck in my head for weeks since I first read it. Weeks of watching Nine in her MULTIPLE dance competitions dancing her little heart out and having a great time - regardless of medals or scores or placings. Weeks of me looking for the quick fix for my back pain. Physio and needles and injections and massages and OH RIGHT! I can't undo 20 years of Rheumatoid Arthritis and a compensating body in a mere 6 months. And weeks of me wondering what is wrong with my kid and why he keeps getting into scuffles at school and where we have failed as parents, only to realize that 11 is a tough age for all kids and tweening is HARD yo, and maybe we are all a little bit pathetic (read NOT perfect) and well, maybe that's OK. 

Here is the truth. Some days my authentic self wakes up, she gets the kids to school, walks the dog, comes back home, and falls back into bed into a deeper sleep than she had the previous night and sleeps for hours. Other days, she gets herself to the gym (even when all she can think about it falling back into bed), runs all the errands, arranges for the landscaping and tree-trimming to start, preps for soccer practices and games, gets groceries, and even plans meals for a couple of days. And then there are the days when it's a frozen pizza and a pre-made salad because that's all the energy I have to give to cooking that day. 

My authentic self likes to go hide in her office and watch too many post-apocalyptic Netflix shows (hello new season of #The100!) while also colouring in her Jenny Lawson colouring book and tells her husband that she is "working". Sometimes my authentic self wears full on makeup, including her ever improving winged-eyeliner, and sometimes she forgets to actually put anything on her face and oh-my-good-gawd-woman, when was the last time you cleaned your glasses? Do you even care what you look like? Did you brush your teeth today?  

As you can see, I am often authentically pathetic. And I am learning to be OK with that. Because nowhere in the manual of "How to be a Human Being" does it say that one has to be EXCEPTIONALLY EXCEPTIONAL AT ALL TIMES in order to be happy. (Also - there is no such manual - we are literally all doing this living thing on the fly!)

This is me being your very own Good News Jack and telling you, it is just fine to be OK with being pathetic. To accept that mediocrity is not a sin or a sign of failure. To love your people, let yourself be loved, and cut yourself a whole shitload of slack. In Brené Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection" she describes authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who you are". 

So let's all try to let go of the panic-stricken-parent-looking-for-their-lost-toddler-at-Target part of ourselves. And, oh, I don't know, maybe try to be more like the toddler who got fascinated with a display of colourful towels and decided to make a fort with them and then fell asleep. You know, metaphorically speaking of course, cause this definitely is not (probably is) based on a true story. 

 About to take a nap. 

About to take a nap. 

Be kind y'all. Especially to yourself.

XOXO,

N~

 

#draftfromthepast: March 2013 "more"

Draft Post written in March, 2013

Yesterday, I swept my floors twice, I cleaned four out of five of the bathrooms in our house (Why do we have so many damn toilets??), I made three square meals for my family, I wiped little bums, tucked in sleepy children and did two loads of laundry. If you threw in some ironing of my husbands shirts (which he has banned me from doing, because I suck at it), I would be the picture perfect 1950's housewife.

Trust me, this is not what I pictured my life to be like when I was a 20-something, career-focused gal, with sights set on MAKING MY MARK IN THIS WORLD. I am not quite sure what I had pictured, but it was probably somewhere in between these two. I have always been a bossy, know what I want kind of person, and I have a bit of a flair for the dramatic, so you see, equal parts Hillary and Gaga and there was my future me, Grown-up Natasha - Making her Mark!

Hillary and Gaga
Hillary and Gaga

So what happened? Where is that woman? Was that her yesterday, yellow-gloved and elbow deep scrubbing toilets?

I have moments lately where I look at myself and I wonder if I really do know myself. Do I know what my purpose in life is and am I living that fully? How exactly am I making my mark?

A lot of questions I know. Yes, I am a mother and I am making my mark by moulding the minds of these two little people in my care, and that is the single greatest (and scariest) responsibility and privilege in my life. Perhaps it is because I am not as young as I used to be and that feeling of "Go forth and DO something BIG and meaningful" seems to be slipping away as the years go by. Maybe this is a normal kind of thing that happens to people when a parent dies. We see their lives, their regrets, the things that they wish they had done differently and wonder if we too will be on our death beds, asking for forgiveness, wishing we had done more, trying to find peace, hoping it was all enough.

This grief stuff is tricky. I am fine for days and then I go through the so-called "five stages of grief" like it's some kind of morose Candy Crush game. Denial of my own still present anger, and then angry for feeling anger, then I think about how (or if) my life would have been different had he been in it, then I try to wash it all away in my happy place and be at peace with what is/was. Most days I complete all the levels and try to move on, and others I get stuck with that one piece of jelly that I just can't clear. One nagging thought that won't leave me, one piece of the puzzle that I wish I had, but that I know I will never likely find.

Right now I am stuck here: Am I enough?

I wonder if we all reacted so viscerally to the infamous "Are you Mom Enough" Time magazine cover, because perhaps deep down we really do wonder this very thing about ourselves? Are we mom enough? Are we woman enough? Are we wife enough? Are we contributing member of society enough?

The thing is, I don't want to just be enough. I want to be more. I want to be spectacular. I want my children to look at me and see the Hillary/Gaga Natasha and be inspired by her. To know that they can be whatever they want to be and then some! That yes, they can have it all, but perhaps just not all at the same time. Maybe this is my problem.

I used to be the primary breadwinner in this family. I was the one with the upwardly mobile career, the accolades and awards and incentive trips and an eye on climbing that ladder to the top. And then things changed. The new life growing inside me became the top priority, and life in general became less and less about me.

I feel like I am at a point in my life where I want that back somewhat. I want my life to be about me again. Not all about the mothering, the housewife-ing, the keeping it all together for everyone else-ing. Oh dear, that's it isn't it?  I am having a bloody mid-life crisis! The status quo is no longer satisfying me and I need more. More what exactly, I don't know. I have no desire for a sports car or a young Brad Pitt a la Thelma & Louise. I don't want to go back to my previous career path.

I JUST DON'T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE.

I don't want to feel this feeling of just getting through my days as fast as possible. How soon until school drop off, pick up, this lesson, that class, dinner, bedtime... My life in one to two hour increments of wondering how much of it I get for me. It really shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't feel like this.

I have a wonderful life. A husband who loves me, two amazing, healthy, beautiful children, an incredible roof over our heads, I do not want for anything.

And yet... this feeling that there must be more. That I should be doing more, being more. It's nagging me like crazy lately.

This might also explain my reluctance to get together with people. I can't handle all the questions. How are you? What are you doing now? What's new?

NOTHING! Nothing is new. And I am NOT well. And I am not really doing a whole lot of anything that would interest anyone outside of my immediate family.

But no one wants to hear that. No one wants to hear that I have days when I really wish I could be anywhere else but here. That I can hear my children asking me to play with them, but I just can't do it. That I hope that they can tell that my hugs are desperately trying to tell them that I am trying...

...really, really hard.

***********

I wrote this shortly after my father passed away in early 2013. It was before I started taking antidepressants and just after I started therapy as well. My kids were 3 and 5 and it was still 1 year before the Summer of Sepsis & Stroke (as I am now calling it.) 

It's quite the ramble and my thoughts are all over the place, which I believe is a testament to the chaos I was feeling in my mind that desperatley needed organizing. 

As mothers, I am not sure we ever fully believe we are ENOUGH in this life or for these little people we love. Since I wrote this, I have learned to make my life more fulfilling for myself and ask for or take what I need, when I need it - with a lot less guilt then previously. 

I am MORE now and I was always enough (and you are too!)

XO,

N~

P.S. ALSO - can I just say that I was totally #WITHHER (Hillz that is) way before the election!

#requiredreading: I'm Just Happy to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett

Ok, so here I am, writing another book review. 

Except I am probably really bad at this. Because all I really want to do is quote you all the things I highlighted in the book. I want to read you the parts that made me cry, the lines that made me laugh out loud, and especially the ones that I actually had to write down on sticky notes and past all over my desk/mirror/headboard/fridge. 

If I do all of that, I will of course ruin the book-reading experience for you. I'll tell you the ending before you even read the book. The funny thing is, you may already know the ending of this one, and it's the middle part where the real story is here - and it is for this reason, you need to read THIS particular book. 

I am talking about Janelle Hanchett's new memoir of mothering and addiction, I'm Just Happy to Be Here, available for pre-order NOW and being released on May 1, 2018. 

Like I said, some of you are already familiar with Janelle. She is the writing genius behind the blog Renegade Mothering. You know, the one who writes all the things we are all thinking about motherhood and life (with the requisite curse words), but are too nice to actually say out loud for fear of being thought of as an asshole, or you know, a person who is not the Valencia-filtered, my house is all white but I have three kids and two dogs and a goat and go check out my Instagram Stories for my DIY hand-scraped hardwood floors, perfect MOMMY!

You may think you know Janelle and her lovely brood of children with her equally lovely (read: hot, bearded, HOTTIE MacHOTPANTS) husband from reading her blog, and maybe we all do, to a point. #HappytoBeHere is the part of the story we don't know, the part where we see how far someone can go and how much they can lose to addiction. Janelle takes us along on her reckless journey to her lowest point and then, with repeated backslides and falls along the way, her climb back up from that pit. 

JanelleImage2

This isn't just a recovery memoir. It's a truth-revealing one. And not just Janelle's truths, but universal ones that we all need to hear, and maybe write on sticky notes and post them all over the place to repeat to ourselves like little daily mantras helping us get out of our own heads, you know, ummm... if that is something you do. 

Go and pre-order the book. Request it at your local library. Tell your book club to add it to their list for 2018. Whatever you need to do, just get it and read it. 

You too will realize, just how happy you are to be here. 

N~

Disclosure: Hanchette Book Group sent me an Advance Reading Copy of the book to read. All opinions are my own.