I am sitting in my home in London at the end of a very long and twisted year. It all started off with the right amount of Christmas cheer, but then the energy surrounding me, and Husband, took a turn for the worse. It truly felt like dark shadows were following us. People we love got sick; our home here got hijacked by squatters; our nanny betrayed me in the most profound way; jobs were dangled and then snatched away and I began to lose my confidence in my perception of the world. And all the while my boys seemed pretty oblivious which was wonderfully real at the same time.
That is not cynicism or a pejorative comment towards them; it’s the incredibly powerful ability children possess to remain selfish enough in their endeavors to not see or feel the chaos around them, and the expert ability of their parents to hide it. What I learned, again, is to dig down deep when pain and suffering or just pure fear enters the soul. Dig down and figure out what I am made of, how far can I push myself and what do I need to keep it all together. It is only when the chips are down do you really know who you are. The boys, for me, actually kept me sane because they were unaware enough and their needs remained constant.
When spiraling occurs, I tend to simplify life – it’s a control exercise that gives me the ability to have a greater cause and affect ratio in my day to day living. Stop spending, cut down on the social occasions where I have to lift myself up insincerely, and stay on top of the boys’ lives so there are fewer surprises. Oh…and keep the pile of unopened post at a minimum. And then, wait for the shift. Look for the signs and as soon as the light comes back into my life, dive in.
And that is what happened this year. Husband got his film and although he had to move away to do it…for SIX months!!…he was so fulfilled and happy it only brought me joy. (Until last week, that is, when I had had absolutely enough of being a single parent and hit the wall in the most spectacular meltdown). The squatters finally left our house and with a bit of sage (and an almighty legal bill) they were gone. Our nanny got replaced by a very sweet Manny – a much better energy to have in our lives all around. And most importantly, our friends and family got healthier, all of them. Obviously this all didn’t just ‘happen’ without a crap ton of worry and paranoia and tears and fears being rattled around on what felt like an emotional roller coaster, but each scenario did happen and the lesson for me was to dig down, find a new threshold for coping and give myself what I needed to not lose the battle over all the stress.
What I didn’t realize by Fall was that all my new found understanding about coping was to be utilized immediately as my eldest started applying to college/uni. My patience, love and understanding have never, ever, been pushed that far as I journeyed with him on the road to getting his applications ready. Oh, my, God. Pause. The reason being is that his method of work involves the deadline being so close to him he can smell it, feel it tickling his nose, and then he works in a frenzy of often genius to get it all done. All I need to say is that I don’t work quite the same way. I need to feel the deadline, for sure, but more boxes need to be ticked along the way to get my creative juices flowing. I gave myself the deadline of this morning to write this blog, and have managed to make a coffee and check my emails while writing…but I will finish. My son and I went through the entire Fall with the same conversations circling us like vultures preying on our relationship, until finally he was ready to rock and roll and finish, well, start and then finish, his applications. And while we were waiting for the results, I was finally able to express to him what was so palpable to me this whole year; dig down, find what you are made of and know that whatever the outcome from the schools, you will figure it out and be ok. It is in the darkness you know where your light is.
Sage advice; not really. But words that were very meaningful to me this year had resonated with him through their simplicity. He told me he was always the kid who didn’t get in, or got waitlisted, and even though he wanted this more than anything, my words made sense. He applied to a school that takes 3% of its performer applicants – he’s a musician – so the odds are stacked against most getting in. The day came for him to log in and find out if he was accepted to his school of dreams. His four best friends flanked him on the roof top of our house in LA to lend support which was a sight to behold. ‘Updated status of application’ button flashed on the school’s website. And in one push of a button, his journey would be revealed.
He got in! It was an insane feeling to watch him get the validation he wanted, needed, as a musician and as a student. His path was definitely not an easy one as he often fell outside the golden box where other kids sit comfortably. And as for me, I put every ounce of energy and wisdom I could muster into helping him so yes, it felt great to get the result we wanted as so many times before we watched from the sidelines.
Haven’t quite allowed myself to ponder the beginning of the emptying of our nest, but no doubt that’s for another post. In the meantime, a healthy and happy new year to all.