On the verge

It’s quiet in the house this morning. It’s Friday, and summer is in full swing. Unlike the ten previous summers, this year, I’m not working a full-time job, and I’m more aware of the daily rhythms of my family at rest. The days are long right now, and the weather has been beautiful. Lately, I’ve been sleeping with my window open, enjoying the slight breeze and the night noises from outside our bedroom. Mornings come early, with sunlight streaming in to touch my shoulder while I burrow into the comforter, enjoying the contrast of cool air and warm blankets while my mind fires up and prepares for the start of the day.

My husband and I are up an hour or more before the teenagers, who have taken to staying up later, and sleeping in. It is a pleasant start to the day. Hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, staring out the kitchen window at the antics of the cats in the yard, shaking off the last bit of sleepiness before the house wakes up around us.

This almost-year of small projects and soul searching has been an unexpected gift. I’ve contemplated and rejected all sorts of ideas about what I could and should be doing with my time, and simply let the needs of my family flow around me. I bought a ukulele, a deck of tarot cards and a couple of new lipsticks. I grew out my hair color and embraced the grey at my temples. I reconnected with old friends and became truly present in my own life.

This last year, life served up markers and milestones for our family at every turn. As we navigated deaths, birthdays, graduations and memorial services, my heart was open, my head was clear and my lungs full of air enough to power me through. Each morning I count my blessings, and each night I list my gratitude. I’m so lucky to have had this time to loosen the knots, to reflect and to just be. It’s tempting to stay in this holding pattern.

I also know the power and fulfillment of finding meaningful work. For a decade, I had the joy of working for a company whose mission brought me deep satisfaction, and where my talents were acknowledged, nurtured and rewarded. I told my husband a few months ago that I wanted to work for a company or a cause whose mission created that resonant, booming sense of rightness. I want my work to have a positive impact. I want to empower and ignite a community. I’ve been waiting for the lightning bolt of “YES!” to strike.

This morning, as my house wakes up around me, I feel as though I’m on the verge of something incredible for my future. I’m realizing that I’m ready for the next challenge. Setting my cap for an opportunity that fills me with passion and purpose is a risk. However, having had the breathing room and opportunity to explore my needs, my values and my goals, I know that I’m at my best when I’m enthusiastic and engaged. I’m ready to make a difference. I’m ready.

 

Sixteen

My son just celebrated his 16th birthday on Labor Day.  I’ll never forget Labor Day 2000, when I sat the couch for hours, watching a marathon of TLC’s A Baby Story and wondered if the week-overdue monkey in my uterus had his or her toes wrapped around my rib cage or what while my oldest darted around the room, ate Cheerios off the living room carpet and pulled every book out of the shelves so she could sit on the pile of books like a chicken on her roost. Good times.  Still took him another day to make his appearance at five minutes to midnight, during the sports highlights on the evening news.

He still likes to keep us waiting.

At 16, my son is now just a hair shy of his dad’s height of 5’8? and his voice has mostly settled down, after a few hilarious years of random voice cracking.  Still, when we invited his long-time internet friend out to visit from Ohio for his birthday weekend, we got a few happy squeaks out of him, which secretly warmed my heart.

 

 

He’s now a second-degree beginning brown belt in American Kenpo, which is pretty cool, and someday he hopes to get his black belt. He likes to kick people in the butt when they spar, but other than that, I think martial arts has been really great for giving him an outlet for his Teen Rage ™ that occasionally surfaces when his expectations don’t match up with parental realities.

The love for dinosaurs continues unabated, and he’s still crazy about video games. He’s developing “mods” for his favorites, or so he tells me. The kid still loves to talk and talk and talk and talk and in the last few years, he’s really loved to start arguing, or as he puts it, EXPLAINING HOW WE ARE ALL WRONG.

Maybe he’ll be a professor, or maybe he’ll be an attorney? Or maybe he’ll be a talk show host because he wants you to know what he knows, and he also wants to know what you know, but if you’re wrong, he’ll be happy to correct you, even if you’re right.

His skill with art continues to develop, and he’s still playing piano and singing in the choir at school. He loves to dabble in many things, mastering few and abandoning plenty (and leaving the rubble behind while he lopes off in the direction of the next sparkly project.)  He gets that from me, I think.

For a few years there, the three kids didn’t always get along, and there have been alliances formed, dissolved and formed anew as they continue to grow into the people they are today. I’m reminded each birthday how much they’ve changed and grown, expanding and contracting to find their fit in the world.  Meanwhile, I haven’t changed a bit. (Ha!)

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