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Article: Launching a Life…Part II


Launching a Life…Part II

launchingpartIIRBCatch up on Part I of Shannon’s “Launching a Life.” It’ll take you to out of this world, trust us. Traversing The “Identity” Cloud Saturday began with a tremor: 7:40 in the morning and my alarm had been talking to me for 15 minutes, unbeknownst to my brain. Tyde, my eldest, needed to be at soccer by 8:10 and it was a 30-minute drive. Do the math. In a panic, I pulled the youngest out of bed (wailing from his cocoon), and ran upstairs to whip up granola-to-go, and toss shoes, clothes, water, tea, purse, and jackets in the car, then get the beep on the road. Tyde, an early riser, in his shin pads since 7 am, watched me impatiently, “Mom, are we going to be late?” I, in my usual morning panic, said, “Just get in the car!” After turning around for a forgotten wallet and cell phone (did anything make it into the car?), zipping through early-morning weekend traffic (why aren’t they asleep?), then arriving at the wrong field in disbelief (there’s a team with the exact same uniform — tricky!), we finally got to the correct field 20 minutes late, only to discover it was “scout” day, and Tyde really wanted to make the development team. Seems I was not helping. I broke down and cried — it’s been quite a week: a government audit, a mortgage refi, friend drama, work, and no husband for another month still. It wasn’t a loud, heinous cry, just a soft, helpless murmur, sort of a pathetic cry — but not unnoticed. As we were about to get out of the car, Tyde put his hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay, Mom. It’s going to be okay,” and does his best attempt at an 8-year-old shoulder massage. Precious. To our chagrin, he proceeded to play an unusually mediocre game of footy, while his mates smoked the other team. Not exactly a happy ending, but I guess I got mine in the car and Tyde got his later in a brand-new box of Legos.


What does this have to do with “traversing the identity-cloud”? Well, we moms live for moments like that. The moment that says: “You’re doing something right. Look, he has a kind heart. I’m not just launching rockets into the ocean.” Because there are many days — when you’re late, when you yell, when the kids are sad or play a bad game, or don’t want to play any games at all, or feel like their friends hate them, or tell you they’re embarrassed about what you put in their lunch and on and on—when motherhood can feel like one failed launch after another. It’s all consuming, leaving your identity hanging firmly on theirs, and their every up and down. Not fabulous. I need cruise control, not a 24/7 roller coaster; I need some me. So who the heck is me? I’ve been grappling with this for a few years now… The first 3–4 months with a newborn is scary and heavenly all rolled into one, but the last thing you’re thinking is, “Who am I?” You’ve been tossed to the fire and you better survive, because this precious little thing requires you do. Somewhere around 6–8 months, maybe a year, you start to think about the previous you, the you you were before you were mommy and you think, “Holy crap, that person no longer exists! For real, she’s gone!” Which is fine because… it’s time to decide if you’re going to have another. Why not!? Let’s launch another rocket. More haze, more fog and three years later you wake up to discover you’re in a large Magellanic cloud, more daunting then any nebulous mist you had ever seen before. Yikes. That girl is totally buried. launchingpartII Deep in your bones you yearn to answer — who am I? — but you’re too damn busy to consider it…until, you have to! Because you can’t live another second without being you, without your own dreams, without something that’s just yours, something big, something meaningful. Now if you think I have some magical answer stolen from the goblets of Zeus, keep smoking. And if you want the textbook answer — do something for yourself like yoga or a facial, make new friends, retail therapy, yadda yadda — then go drink a wine spritzer. But I do have a word: growth. For me, it looks like this: I write. I have half a career (I work part time in my pre-baby field, and don’t care much if I move up or sideways on that once-beloved ladder). I’m doing a two-year correspondence course on something I love. When I make my kids hike with me, it’s so that “I” can get a workout, and they can suck it up. Next month I will do a two-day yoga retreat, sans kids, sans guilt. I still can’t define who I am in any neat or succinct way. I am a mom and I am Shannon. My life is messy. Some form of crazy weasels its way into my every day. There’s never enough time. I do too much. But, big but (not mine, the one in this sentence), I do things so that I will grow. Just for me. My growth. It’s called survival. Talk to me in five years and I’ll have reinvented myself, methinks. Not because I want to, but because I have to. The things I used to care about have changed. The things that matter to me are bigger. Is it daunting? Hell, yes. Will I curl up behind my children’s lives and bury myself in their routine at the expense of mine? Hell, no. Will I do everything in my power to make them good humans, the kind that’ll give a little shoulder rub when they see someone cry? Damn straight! That is me. I am that and mommy, too. I launch kid rockets and I get under the hood of my own, because my own rocket still has galaxies to explore…  

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