March 4, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

Things I have lost

Socks (see also: gloves, hats, hair bows, etc.)

mismatched socks

Keys

Sanity

2 of 4 wheels that belong to the model car we bought at the beach three years ago

The backs to my diamond earrings

My motivation

My sense of self, separate from my sense of motherhood

Lazy Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper

coffee art

The ability to watch a Subaru commercial without tearing up

Patience

Opportunities

Naiveté – though admittedly not as much as I should have by the age of 34

The idealism of youth – though admittedly not as much as I should have by the age of 34

Grandparents

Friends

Boyfriends

The feeling that I am invincible that led me to wild adventures like canyoning and rock climbing and roller coasters that flip you upside down

A head of hair that is free of stray grays

Breastmilk

My nearly complete autobiography that was due as a school assignment at the end of my junior year in high school

The ability to stay up late with my head bent over my work

Bitterness towards friends and family

Faith in organized religion and/or the belief that there is only one answer to the question of why we are here or only one identity for a higher power

sunrisebeach

The ability to pray

Routines that brought comfort and joy

A taste for soda

An abhorrence of fast food

Admirers

And, also, haters

Cares about what other people think of me

And, also, the ability to disregard others’ opinions

fancydressocean

The belief that I know how to do good in the world

A sense of adventure that trumps the comfortable and known

Tethers to people who saw me through my childhood

Money

Moments with my children

The unique feeling of being a newlywed

The pin I was supposed to wear everyday while pledging the business fraternity my junior year of college

The courage to be vulnerable, honest, to put myself out there, to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself

Days

Sleep

The slip of paper I need to retrieve my dry cleaning

Track of time

Memories

baby and mommy at the beach

Vacation days

Respect

Weight

The ability to experience an unproductive moment without guilt or remorse

The feeling that all will be ok

The feeling that nothing will ever get better

Fear of endings

~~~~~

Linking up with Lisa. The prompt I chose this week was Lost. Many of these, of course, I have since found. And, perhaps, lost again and found again and the cycle continues. Some remain lost, living forever in the ether. Like those darned socks.

What’s been interesting is how much lighter I’ve felt since I wrote this list. We think of loss as a bad thing, a sad thing, something uncomfortable that requires mourning. And, it does. But after that, isn’t there almost always a feeling lightness? Also, looking over this list and realizing that lost things can be found is a hopeful kind of thing.

What have you lost?

March 2, 2015
by Tricia
0 comments

Come on, let’s play!

play dough and tea

“My children are small. Larger magic, bigger adventures, louder moments compel them. They want to get up and shake and move, their energy bursts at the seams. They handle my need for quiet time well but their growing limbs and minds exploding in synapses need more. I know they need more. I know how running through the house with voices loud in song is just as enriching as blending primary colors into a masterpiece, maybe more so. But at 4pm on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, when a long day isn’t even close to over, I struggle to match their energy. So when they run off to play on their own, most of the time I let them, breathing a sigh of relief that they, at least, have each other.”

I was so honored to join the amazing group of writers participating in Rachel Cedar’s 28 Days of Play over at You Plus 2 Parenting. This is the second year that Rachel has taken us on this journey of play – what it means, how it happens (or doesn’t), why we perpetuate this love-hate relationship with it, how anyone finds the time for it. I think about play, and my role in it, every single day. I’m not great at play, or, at least, not the kind of play my kids seem to favor, and on the topic of future regret haunting my present, that happens most often in the realm of play for me. I worry about missing tea parties and playing family when my family has moved on.

So I’d love if you’d join me over at Rachel’s blog today as I move towards a happy middle with play.

February 25, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

I’ll be the monster

closet door with tutu

I walk into her closet, leaving the light off, and close the door behind me. My socks are no protection against the floor which I am convinced is ice made to look like wood. Her closet is always so cold. I stand there facing the door and I begin to shake but not just from the chill. I am 34 years old and I’m not ashamed to admit that I am still afraid of the dark. Standing in there I can see just a few inches all around me but not much more. I’m thankful that I recently cleaned this space of its clutter but, still. Standing in her dark closet brings back memories of watching scary movies as a kid. To other kids my age, those movies were not all that scary, but they still frightened me. A scene from E.T. springs to mind, the view from the closet through the slats in the door. There was a time when I was too young to see the beauty of that movie and only saw the terror. For a while it was all frogs jumping everywhere and men in hazmat suits long before I knew what a hazmat suit was. So, of course, I was terrified. I try to remind myself that I’m an adult. I’m the mother now. I shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. I know that there is nothing lurking in her dark closet. But I’m still shaking, just a little. I don’t like to be scared.

My children, on the other hand, seem to love it. Or, at least, she does. He has just entered the scared-of-the-dark phase and refuses to enter a space that hasn’t been well lit, even in my arms. But he follows her everywhere and so if she wants to be scared, he’s usually right there too. And she often wants to be scared. She plays hide and seek because she loves the thrill of knowing we could jump out around any corner. She wants us to tuck ourselves away and spring out to surprise her. And she begs for us to be the monster.

Being the monster is quite simple, really. The two of them curl up in her bed, usually under covers, and, at my leisure, I sneak into the room and startle them with tickles, adding a growl for effect. They scream and squeal and their eyes grow with what they want us to believe is fear but is really just extreme surprise. And then the tickles and giggles finish it off. I wander off, folding laundry and doing other such monster things before starting the whole thing over again. I don’t get the appeal but they love it. And although I don’t love being called a monster, the invitation to tickle them and squeeze them and hear their squeals is one I don’t often turn down.

I love that she loves to be scared. Because it means that she is surpassing me. Or spinning off a different thread, one that I surely did not pass on to her. It means that she’ll spend fewer nights awake from dusk till dawn, the scary movie she watched that day playing over and over in her head. It means that the night lights that set her room aglow will dwindle over time and she’ll never find herself shaking in a darkened closet three decades from now. I like to think she has less fear than me and that this will take her farther. And I like how she surprises me as I surprise her.

“Mommy!?” I hear their feet coming down the hall, not their usual run because they are thrown off by not being able to find me. “Mommy? Where are you?” I call out that she should get dressed, knowing full well that she will be able to follow the sound of my voice but that she’ll pretend that she can’t so that she doesn’t ruin the surprise. The light clicks on in the closet and in another breath the door swings open. I form my fingers into claws and deliver my best monster growl and she shrieks and squeals and laughs out loud. “That was so much fun!”

And I laugh too. Yes, it was fun.

~~~~~

linking up with Lisa for 1-word prompts

February 23, 2015
by Tricia
2 Comments

Visit me On Parenting

ballet legwarmers

I’m so honored to direct you to The Washington Post today where you can read a piece by yours truly.

I have so much to say about this piece. The more I write, the more I practice my craft, the more I edit, the more I leave off the page. I feel more about this moment in the ballet studio, and all the other moments that I’ve tried to forget, then I could ever convey succinctly. I have more thoughts about shame and how it happens and the havoc it brings.

And say more, I will. I’m sure.

But we have to start somewhere and so I start, today, with this story. I’d love if you’d visit my words over at On Parenting.

February 20, 2015
by Tricia
7 Comments

Compassion. Adding my voice to #1000Speak

feet with hearts

I’m naturally empathetic.

A friend recently said that to me, about herself, but I’ve been using it to describe my own ways ever since. I’ve been doing that quite a lot lately, picking up on someone else’s reflection or self-awareness and weaving it into my own view of my world of myself and my ways. And I can’t tell if it’s my own way of questing towards self knowledge in these very busy times when the quiet to truly answer my big questions is limited, or if I am just cheating and copying answers off of the pages of those who are doing the work. As always, it’s probably a little bit of both.

Because the truth is, it turns out that I am naturally empathetic. When I see pain, I can feel it, almost as if it is happening to me. Naturally, it happens most often with my children. When they are sick, I can feel it. And when they feel better I feel the same release, the same relief, almost as if I had just recovered alongside them.

But it happens with others too. When the horrible tragedy happened in Sandy Hook, I spent weeks imagining the parents and their closets full of Christmas gifts that would never be gifted. I couldn’t stop seeing those closets and those parents and I couldn’t stop feeling the dread they must have felt towards opening them and sorting out what to do with those physical things and all of the emotion and sadness and loss. I haven’t been able to get those thoughts out of my head ever since.

It’s painful, this empathy. It hurts. It means that even when all is well in my life and I have no great pain, no great suffering, nothing to be down about at all, I can still find myself in a low just by turning on the news or reading a story. Things go deep with me quickly and they stay there, burrowing into my heart and for so long I’ve feared this makes me weak. Sometimes I feel that not being able to stomach such things or witness another person’s story without being pulled down into it means that I am not strong enough for this world and everything it seems to be these days.

So, for some time now, I’d stopped turning on the news. For some time now, I’d decided that I don’t need to, I shouldn’t, spend so much time feeling other people’s pain. That consuming my thoughts primarily with the happy in my life right this very second is the way I should live my life. I’ve run to the sunshine and the rainbows and the glitter that life with two small children provides in substantial quantities. I’ve run from the things that could bring me down or lead my thoughts down tougher paths.

But today, on a day when 1000 of us, maybe more, are writing about compassion, I’m considering that maybe I’ve been letting myself off easy.

The theme of the school year for my daughter’s school this year is compassion. So I looked it up, compassion being one of those words that we toss around so freely, one of those good qualities that we want to raise and encourage and demonstrate in our daily lives, but one that we probably couldn’t define if pressed. And I learned that compassion literally means to “suffer together.” As Greater Good puts it, compassion is “defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.” It goes beyond empathy, the ability to feel another person’s emotions, to the desire to help.

I have a desire to help. I always have. But in my mad dash away from the pain and the sadness, I’ve been running from the relief and the joy that I can provide. In my fear of the darkness, I’ve also been closing my eyes to the light. There is a flip side to my empathy. A silver lining to the pain. It’s that sometimes, not all of the time but sometimes, I might actually be the one to help relieve the suffering.

The 1000 Voices for Compassion movement started when a couple of writers ached for compassion so deeply that they sought out 1000 people to join them in spreading the word that compassion is still alive. It then inspired more than 1000 blog posts and stories and beautifully woven words. Like this one. And, of course, this.

And it is inspiring me to put my empathy to good use.

To learn more about compassion, to see it out there in the wild world, or simply to join the movement, join the 1000 Voices Facebook group and look around today for compassion.

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