Friday, March 29, 2019

Entering The Middle

I came here because I miss writing. I write. It's one of the only things that I've always done. My mom came to visit recently and brought a bunch of things I wrote when I was in elementary school. There was a strong program at the school I went to from grades 2-5, and I didn't realize my mom had saved these books. They're cringe-y and sweet and sometimes- kind of good? I've always liked words. I've always been proud of how I can string them together.

It's time that I accept that I am in a different part of my life right now. For several years, I was absolutely obsessed with fiction writing. It was the biggest part of every day for me. I've spent the last two years, since I became a school media specialist and started library school, waiting until the next thing calmed down so I could pick fiction writing back up. Missing the process itself isn't even as exhausting as constantly feeling a like a failure for not getting it done. And yet the idea of shelving it is still pretty scary. I have a singular focus at most times (there is a lot to say here about things I'm realizing as I'm in the process of learning about ADHD through the diagnosis of one of my sons) and when something is in front of me, it's important to me. When it's put somewhere else, it can permanently disappear. I don't want my stories to disappear. But I can't keep tearing myself apart trying to do something that doesn't fit in right now. 

My undercut is growing out. For the first time since I shaved part of my head in November 2017, I'm really not feeling my look. And there is absolutely nothing I can do. I have half a head of past-pixie length hair, and half a head of hair that falls to my shoulder blades, and until I'm in a place where I can sacrifice my messy bun, that's just how it's going to be. An awkward in-between time. The end goal- having hair that's one length, a fresh canvas to play around with- is visible but still a good distance away. I've always been impulsive and bad at long term planning, but I'm holding on. Sitting in my awkwardness, because I know something better is coming. 

All my sisters are having babies. Five new babies to our family in a single year. That's a hell of a lot of beginnings. I'm watching the fumbling, the figuring out new routines, the rewiring of entire families, and I have so much admiration. It's such exhausting work to start completely over, to remake something that was already made to make room for new things that are not temporary. New normals. I don't miss the beginning. And yet I'm a little bit envious, because I am in a middle. An awkward, ever-shifting middle. I had gotten really good at the beginning, and then we moved out of it, and now I feel clumsy and unskilled again. Figuring out which things about my children are permanent, and not byproducts of flying through growth stages. Starting a new career (yes, a dream career) and realizing how it's less of shift and more of a COMPLETELY NEW THING that requires a completely new skill set. Realizing that life is never going to slow down, and making time for exercise, my husband, and my friends is non-negotiable.

Very often, I want to get in bed and sleep and sleep and sleep. This is not a reference to physical tiredness. I can't tell if it's a depressive episode, laziness, or overwhelm, but it's not the world's healthiest coping strategy. But at least in this middle, I can see it for the slightly troubling thing that it is, and wonder, "What's missing?" Schedule a date with my husband. Force myself to start a book that I know will suck me in. Let myself free-associate in a blog post, because nothing soothes my depression like the sound of my own voice. 

I've officially accepted it. I'm in the middle. 

Here is what I'm leaving in the beginning: the excuse "I have TWO KIDS" (this was something I said with panic/wonder/annoyed overwhelm the first three years that it was true), working on autopilot (acceptable when you've had the same career for a decade and your skills are fire- not when you're new new new and you've got a lot to learn), bonding with my husband only over our kids (this one is EASY to fall into), defining myself singularly (I CONTAIN MULTITUDES), taking friends for granted (oh my friends I love and need you and you're worth the work to connect).

Here is what is coming with me: recognition that I can be toxic and messy and need to keep working on myself (the pinnacle has not been reached), enduring gratefulness to have a school library position (a dream I didn't even know was a dream until a few years ago and I reached it SO FAST!), the work of letting go of needing to be liked (you don't have to like me), my three degrees (I can celebrate that! Three degrees! THAT IS BADASS), my mulletish undercut (grow, baby, grow), a newfound appreciation for identifying and nurturing mentor relationships, a closer connection to my mother and sisters, my planner habit, a fledgling bullshit detector, an understanding of when to stay quiet...I'm realizing that I could go on. I've got some tools.

Here's hoping I keep carving out time to write down my thoughts. Here we go, Middle.

(I'm struggling to find an image credit for this gorgeous picture- if anyone has any leads, let me know!)