Surviving kids, marriage and life with only the suggestion of sanity
A caffeine fueled, smart-ass Mom blogging about her three oddly charming children, all the while trying to sound very busy and important. A woman striving to elevate small talk to medium talk, and relearning how to navigate in the adult world in spite of herself. Lover of chocolate, and occasional runner (because of all the chocolate). Not just another paper cut survivor.
Yesterday morning as Dennis and I groggily trudged downstairs, we realized right away that something wasn’t right. The house was eerily quiet, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee was surprisingly absent. Within seconds of entering the kitchen we discovered that our coffee maker was in the process of dying a slow and confusing death. Panicked, we rushed to its side. I threw open the cover and saw fresh, untouched coffee grinds still sitting in the filter. I desperately grabbed hold of the sides of the machine and frantically tried to bang some life back into it, a low moan escaping my lips. Water sloshed messily out of the top of the reservoir, like tears from a heartfelt ugly cry. I poked and podded my coffee maker’s buttons, but they did little more than flicker wearily at me. Then I heard a soft click, and silence. It was gone.
I ran my fingers lightly along my coffee maker’s power cord, then gently pulled the plug. Memories of delicately exquisite caffeine filled mornings washed over me, weighing me down with longing and desperation. Thoughts of a coffee-less day were almost too much to bear. Caffeine withdrawal and partial brain paralysis were beginning to set in, so I did what any true Canadian would do. I made a slow and sorrowful trip to Tim Horton’s to bring home some warm cups of love in order to ease the pain in our hearts, and to stop the shaking in our hands.
Not the story that you share with acquaintances whom you haven’t seen in a while; practiced lines exchanged like trading cards in the school yard. Simple, yet interesting; exciting, but safe. Not the story that you have built up in order to please your family, to pacify your coworkers or to reassure your friends. Not the story that you tell yourself as you push forward, image built up, smile bright, head high, ready and waiting for the world to see you shine. Not those stories. Those are the pictures that you hang on your walls, the paintings on display for all to see. Beauty, creativity, dedication and talent; your presentations and offerings to the world.
No, I want to know the story of your soul. The story of who you are; the brushstrokes upon your canvas. I can see who you are now, but I want to know how you became this way. I want to understand what can’t possibly make any sense when you put it into words, but I want you to say it anyway. I want to know you in that messy, beautiful way that is raw and uncensored. I want to see you, but not just with my eyes, and hear you, but not only with my ears. I want to figure out how you work until you no longer need to explain it. That is when I will finally know you, and that is how I want you to know me, too.
This is what I want to say to people, but can’t, or won’t, because this kind of intensity is frowned upon. It’s outside of our comfort zone, as it leaves us vulnerable and exposed. It’s what I need though in order truly know you, and to feel comfortable with you. It’s a compliment of sorts, for if you are someone I like, then I want to know you as well as you know yourself. A dazzlingly disheveled kind of friendship; a breath of honesty, a sigh of relief.
The simple truth is that painful memories, regret, and even flashbacks don’t just go away. They are always there. We just learn to manage them better when they come rushing back to us.
We are like boxers who train to take a hit. It hurts like hell until we figure out what we are doing. We learn to manage pain, to block it out. We learn to breathe. We become stronger. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we can sidestep a memory and avoid the agony of being hit hard enough to drop us to our knees; other times, the times when our guard is down, we aren’t so lucky.
We carry these sorts of memories like slow healing bruises, and we hope that the smiles we wear are wide enough to cast those bruises into the shadows where they can be seen only by those who take the time to look closely enough.
When I buy my children bubble wands, they carry out legendary sword fights; dueling bubbles, battling blades. When their warrior muscles grow weak, they shed their armor and transform into mild mannered scientists. They spread their bubble mixture across the grass and sand, blending, mixing and creating potions filled with magic and wonder.
When I buy my children sandbox toys, they set them aside in favour of rocks and sticks; the most authentic and trustworthy of childhood tools. Their shoes are their buckets, their hands are ready scoops. They are the builders and masons of the future.
When I buy my children expensive toys, they quietly tuck them away in order to make room for the boxes that they came in. They discuss building plans and architectural style in earnest. They become engineers, planning, designing and constructing the bridges, towers and highways of tomorrow.
If I give my children mud, they will build a majestic castle. With water, they will create a magnificent waterfall. If I give my children nature, they will discover adventure, independence, confidence and a chance at the kind of childhood that will shape them into creative, grounded people. If I give my children the time and freedom to play, to get bored, and to be themselves, they will explore, create, plan and invent. Their energy is boundless; their imagination is inspiring. They are children, and this is what they want most of all. How could I give them anything less?