Thursday, September 15, 2016

Jumping Back Into Life

It has been so long since I’ve felt like myself, let alone had the urge to write.  Like a button without a switch, it shut off and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where it had gone. But today, I literally jumped back into myself. 

Before I get to that, let me back up.

To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. I mean we have three kids, and we just moved to a new city, so the google mapping alone has pushed my brain and writing quota over the top.

The kids are having a tough time adjusting.  Nothing out of the ordinary for kids who were uprooted and trying to grow accustomed to a new school, a new home, and no friends to call on next door.  I have no worries that they will find where they fit and excel.  Both of the older kids already have a few friends at school, and with sports and activities they are constantly making new friends.  But, in all the time I spent helping them get settled, staying positive when they were crying, and organizing the new house, I had kinda forgotten that there was a person that hadn’t had any energy spent on them.  In a shocking turn of events, it was me, mom and wife.  I realized I was running below empty.  On fumes, unhappy, accidentally teary, fumes.

Part of it was that I spent the majority of my day inside my house with a three-year-old with a propensity to watch bizarre toy videos on YouTube (especially in Cantonese for whatever reason) and no real desire to sit and talk about world events, politics, or the fact that I finally found hummus that I like.  Which, was pretty monumental for someone who has developed the level of hatred for the chick pea that I do. 

I haven’t written in so long I was starting to despise the look of my laptop on my new desk in the bonus room.  It overlooks the pond we live at, it is always plugged in, and it is the perfect situation for me to sit down and get to business. I have a manuscript with edits done by an award winning writer, that I haven’t touched. 

Isn’t that crazy?!? I mean I’m currently a stay at home mom with aspirations to be a full time writer and there, sitting two feet away was a very real document I could work on and enhance and instead I hit ‘continue watching’ on Netflix.  Over, and over again.

Not to say I spend my days watching TV.  Oh my god I wish I could.  Mostly I am in a minivan driving my three nuggets all over.  I spent the last six weeks, since we moved, driving the kids to camps, clinics, parks, vacations, and whenever I pulled back into town, I never really felt like I was headed home.  Under all of the weight of trying to get everyone else to settle in and embrace our new city, I had far from done the same. 

This isn’t my first rodeo, this certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve moved, and not even the first time I have moved with kids, so I couldn’t put my finger on where the lag of acclimatizing to my new home was.  And then it hit me like the waft of super strong cologne on the boys in middle school. 

This was the first move that had me coming to a new city in exactly the same time I was coming to a new part of my life. The part where there are no babies to be had, there are no mat leaves after working at a job I only sort of cared about, there was no more automatic out and time back at home with a newborn.  This was real life.  And pretty soon, like within two years, I was supposed to get a REAL job in my real life that I actually cared about. 

And oh my god I feel totally unqualified to do anything.  I mean I caught myself watching the girls at Starbucks making my coffee in between refilling coffee jars and I thought.. wow.  I don’t even think I would know how to do that.

What happens to a mom, and a wife who has moved around all of her post university life whilst pushing out babies, when there is no more pushing out babies to be had? How do I come to terms with a future where I could actually find work somewhere fulfilling?  And… would I? Is there something out there for me? I mean my most recent job was as an Executive Assistant where I basically tended to all administration needs (sometimes super crazy) of a director and board and helped write grants.  My job was essentially being a mom on steroids.  Most days I felt like I took care of everything and helped with homework. 

My kids do not want me back out of the house.  They asked as we were unpacking the new house if I would be getting a job.  When I said ‘eventually’ they wanted to know if I could do it from home.  And only when they weren’t here.  I mean I don’t wanna toot my own horn but apparently I’m doing something right if they want more of me. (Just kidding they like the snacks and food I make when they get home from school.)

My husband doesn’t necessarily want me out of the house either. He works a crazy schedule, and he likes to hang out with me away from the kids.  (We would actually gladly run away together sans kiddos but biology and attachment would have us come home.)  And honestly, in a lot of ways either do I.  I love to cook and bake and have freedom to grocery shop at 10 in the morning.  I also enjoy partaking in a siesta every now and then, so that works too.

But what does a woman with a degree and an active brain who loves to learn and read and create do?  Seriously? This isn’t rhetorical.  I have no idea.  Notta one.  (Please.. if you suggest some home based pyramid scheme I’ll scream.  I will.  Also please take me off your lists.  And don’t’ try to sneak me over for a girl’s wine night and when I walk in there be a presenter and a display of whatever it is you’re selling.  I mean I’ll buy some crap but I’ll be mad at you…. Just FYI.)

So here I am.  At the precipice of my life.  MINE.  Where being a good broodmare and baby whisperer are behind me?  Where I can have some moments of clarity (still very little fucking sleep) and can go on to conquer more than just two seasons of Gilmore Girls in a week (I did that.  My husband figures I have to watch at least 3 episodes a day in order to meet my goal of re-watching all seven seasons so I’m refreshed when new episodes come back on Netflix.  He does not support this addiction, he’s just very logical and sensible and would like me to get that outta the way before he gets home.)

In celebration of my new found ‘non-baby-making-or-baby-raising’ life, I decided to do something I hadn’t done in a really long god damn time.  I got my two oldest out of the door, I dropped my little one at preschool, and I drove to the pool and jumped in.

OK it wasn’t that easy.  First I got a pass, and at 8:40 am in the morning, makeup-less, and unaware I was having my photo taken, I was given a card with a terrifying photo of me on it, and wandered into a change room.  (Where I avoided the hall of lockers with the older ladies and their freedom of nakedness. and giant bush)  I found a locker which I only used WITHOUT a lock because this wasn’t something I was prepared to pay for, grabbed my towel (turned out it was my daughter’s.  I was at 32 year old using a little girl’s princess towel) and sauntered out to the pool deck.

And what did my eye behold but SIX beautifully chlorinated lanes of water without a single person in them!?!  I jumped in (which, in retrospect was a little much since there was about five ladders I could have gracefully entered upon), looked at the clock to see the time, and off I went. 

As the laps went by it felt like time melted off. 

I was on the boat headed out on the water in Maui at 5am, ready to do my first open water dive (which also happened to be my first dive ever.  Let me tell you, be a strong swimmer to do an open dive as your first with the waves crashing over your head, and some chubby Hawaiian pushing your head under water and forcing you to start your decent. 95% of all scuba accidents happen at the surface.  And, as statistics would say, and as my soul would agree, he ended up being a lifesaver since I don’t think I would have ever swam with giant green sea turtles next to me, listening to the song of the humpback whale under the water without that beautiful Hawaiian cherub).

As I went underwater and made my turn, commending myself that I still ‘got it’ (which is exactly the opposite of the way I feel when going for a jog.  Jogging, for me, in unnatural.  Me in the water.. natural), I became that girl working so hard on her synchronized swimming routine to qualify for summer games (which I did).  Of course in a small town it was newsworthy, and so my photo showed up in the newspaper in a swimming cap, wearing a nose clip.  Not my finest hour of being famous but I took it nonetheless.

Every different stroke I started brought up memories I had forgotten. Some I hadn’t.  Like being a little girl at swimming lessons in the outdoor pool where I grew up.  Where I was the only little kid to jump off the high diving board resulting in one of the WORST wedgies I can ever remember. Ever.

Finally, as I was feeling my body get tired, I couldn’t help but be transferred back to swimming lap after lap at my grandparent’s pool, with my Gramps sitting in an Adirondack chair next to the pool encouraging me and telling me I was a beautiful swimmer, pushing me to go faster, hold my breath longer as I flew through the pool.

As I cooled down I just was.  I was that person who was in the water doing something I enjoyed for no other reason than the sound when you go under the water.  The complete lack of sound except your own heartbeat and your own breath.  I wasn’t a mom of three, a wife, I wasn’t anyone’s anything.

I was Brittany and it was freeing. 

Let’s be honest it was also freeing because I don’t know AYONE in this city yet.  No worries of being goggled up, speedo swimsuit squishing your boobs (proper lane swimmers wear proper swimwear ya’ll) when I see basically all the women I know taking their toddlers swimming with makeup and a cute suit on.

No, today it didn’t matter that my hair was knotted at the back of my head and I had red eyeballs because I forgot goggles.  Today I gave zero shits.  Ok I gave like, three.  Which is lower than the standard 10,000 shits I give about every single moment of my life.

I finally jumped back in.  Figuratively and literally. 

Perhaps next week I will write an entry called “how I gracefully got back into my professional life” but knowing my general attitude and disposition I don’t believe it will be so.

I’m a jumper-splasher-totally-submerge-myself kinda person.  And dammit, today I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

We should all take cues from 3 year olds.  Maybe then it wouldn't take so long to feel like ourselves.  ;)