Why is so hard to just be me? Is it because I still live so close to family and although I love them dearly I am not fully myself with them. Would it be easier to be me if I wasn’t so physically close to people that I tend to hide with? If I were to move away would another Kimberly emerge and would I like her better? Is there a new, improved version of me out there waiting for me to show up? Or would there just be another version of hiding? Is the only thing that really stops me……ME?
All I know for sure right now is that I have a husband who works 40 or more hours per week. Add to that 10 hours of travel time and the fact that he works at a job that he hates. He only puts in the time for the invisible transfer of funds every Friday morning from one bank to another. A family needs to eat and yet the man who makes their survival possible is doing just that….surviving. Surely, we are made for more than that. We have so many projects that never seem to have an end to them. Family living close means many blessings and it also means that when anything breaks down they call the family fix-it man….my husband. Sometimes this is a beautiful thing because it is family showing up for each other. Love in action. It is making sure everyone is safe. It is also a burden to have multiple projects everywhere we look. It’s not small projects either like: let’s make a vegetable garden or retile the bathroom or paint the kitchen. I would welcome those projects. Truly. It is more like: What will we do with the house we use to live in that now has a tenant but the rent doesn’t cover the mortagage and my father’s workshop is on the property and the garage was accidentally built 10 feet on my sister-in-law’s property and it is surrounded my family owned land. Or a lake cottage that could be sorta-kinda salvaged but it might be easier and faster to buy some marshmellows and light a match. Or multiple lawns that need mowing every week. Or a house that my in-laws live in that has been in my husband’s family for 7 generations but the upkeep of it would be a full time job for 2 or 3 people, and that is NOT an exaggeration. A 4000 sq. foot home, 7 or 8 barns FULL to the brim….like can’t even walk in the door FULL, a bulldozer or two, an old school bus, random old cars that just got parked when they no longer worked….and on and on and on and on. We live in a house we started building that was perfect for our family at the time but now feels like trying to eat three Thanksgiving dinners. IN A ROW. Again, the property is surrounded by family owned land. The house isn’t finished because our dream was bigger than our checkbook. Which leaves us asking do we create more prosperity or sell it all and buy a vintage camper and fill it with only what we absolutely love, attach it to the back of the truck and take off for a gypsy adventure. It is true that I have the spirit of gypsy. There is a restlessness in me that I have resisted as often as I have embraced. And because life is always full of opposites I also love the comforts of home and familiarity. I call myself a domestic wanderer. Can you relate? My eyes crave seeing new things. I love to see and experience the new and unknown. It makes me feel alive in the best possible way. Out on the road I have a much less defined role. I am free. Free to explore, not only the physcial spaces around me but the interior spaces within me. Then there is the other side of me that loves to paint up some old vintage dressers and surround myself with family photos and treasured posessions and claim my space. When I tried to explain how I feel to my mother she said ‘everyone likes to go on vacation’. That’s not it…..I don’t really care for vacations. I like to travel. And they are different. VERY. For me a vacation is trying to squeeze 2 weeks out of 52 where I can enjoy life. It might be super planned so I can fit everything in, or it might be a relaxed camping trip to the same place every July. That’s fine. It has it’s place….but for me…I need to travel…to go where I have never been. To experience a place. To pass through. To move through the landscape. To have no real plans. To have no idea where I might sleep that night. To go for a day and stay for a week. To be continually surprised and amazed at the wonders of the world.
I love this. I love the contrast and it is my goal to create a life in which I find a way to have both. The comfort of home and the adventure of the road. A life made just for me. Nobody can create this but me. Nobody may understand it but me. My husband gets it but 2 0ut of my 4 kids don’t. I never imagined a day when my kids would not think I totally rocked and ruled the world from my kitchen. I did not realize my superhero days were numbered. They were. Now, I am vulnerable. Exposed. My kids see me through older eyes. They have their own ideas about life. I get the feeling sometimes that I am speaking a language they do not understand. The constant shifting of life, this is the only thing I can be sure of now. One moment my son is holding my hand sitting in the front seat with me telling me that we should plant one flower for every person who died in 9/11 and the next minute he is a young man joining the Army. One minute my daughter is hauling every single stuffed animal she owns outside for a tea party on a summer afternoon and the next minute she is wearing the cap and gown, contemplating her future. HER future. NOT mine. This is how it should be and yet it causes me to take pause. To wonder if the job I did was good enough. Far from perfect I know, but was it good enough? Do they feel unconditionally loved? Will they be respectful and kind out in the world? Will they treat chidlren and elders and animals with compassion? Will they buy organic vegetables or will they hit the drive thru on the way home? Will they practice safe sex? Will they have children with someone that they love and will continue to love through the twists and turns of life? Will they love their life or will they trade it for a paycheck? As I look at my nearly grown children I find myself making a mental list…I did that good. check. This…not so good. Oh, but this I did really good. check. Yeah, but remember when….not so good. And on it goes. All I can really say now is I did the best I could and sometimes were better than others. I don’t have major regrets like drinking too much or being at work instead of cuddling them after nap or physically hurting them. But still….if given the chance to push rewind I most definitely would. Oh, the power of retrospect. I would have focused much less on what we didn’t have and taken them to the park every single chance I could. I would not send them to
prison school. I would have thrown my phone in the garbage or at least found the silence button much sooner than I did. I would have focused more on making memories. I would have made sure that we were clear about our priorities and traveling would have been at the tippy top of that list. I would have made sure that stable finances were a non-negotiable for the peace of mind it would have created for me which in turn would have made me a better mother. I would have gone swimming with them instead of sitting on the edge because I thought my legs were too fat. I would have pursued something that made me, ME so that the kids could see a passionate mother who had qualities and gifts that were not just about mothering. I would have saved for their education. I would have listened more. Deeper. Played in the snow when they asked instead of saying “I’m too cold, but you go have fun.” The list goes on and I realize that no matter my regrets there is no going back. BUT….there is going forward. There is what I know now. And as Maya Angelou says ‘when you know better, you do better’.
Which leaves me with letting myself love what I love. I want to create the most authentic life I possibly can. I want the outer to reflect the inner. I want people to feel this when they meet me in person or here on this blog. I want to be the Kimberly that I came forth to be. I want to discover and share my gifts. I want to go deeper into my mothering and into myself. I want to fall in love with life. I want to love what I love. I want to live Mary Oliver’s words…..
You do not have to be good
you do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles throught the desert, repenting
you only have to let the soft animal of your body
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.