Anyone who’s under 40 should definitely read this. Maybe even under 35.
I have a few observations that might be helpful to you as you get older.
The rules change as you get older, and although it might not have done me any good, I wish someone told me these things. Here’s what I have noticed.
1. In any group social setting, assume that, if you are older than the people around you, they expect you to initiate the conversation. This applies whether you have never met them or whether you already know them. So it wouldn’t hurt to stop worrying about whether anyone is noticing you, and notice them by saying hello, smiling, or whatever comes to mind.
2. People will also assume that, because you are older, you are wiser. You know things they don’t know. This is, I suppose, true. A practical application is that they think you already know things, already have friends, already made it through that problem or situation, and they won’t realize you may be just as lost as they are, just as in need of friendship as they are, just as in need of wisdom for the next life event as they are. They will most likely look up to you for what you have accomplished and assume that it was some special knowledge that got you there.
3. Be OK with the fact that you will not be noticed for your accomplishments, your looks (because you probably don’t have those any more), your hipness (because you aren’t) or your cuteness. And if like me you have been a big pea in a small pod most of your life, realize that will change. All you’re experiencing is what other people live every day. You don’t need other people to ask you how you are, what you think, or what is new in your life, as much as it may feel that you need that. God will provide exactly what you need, and his attention and regard is yours, all the time. You have the opportunity to really get to know the people around you, by initiating contact with them and listening to how they are doing and where they are in their lives. You have something they don’t: experience. Let them benefit from it.
Acceptance of your new role and position is a hard change, but it’s your best option. I have wasted too much time analyzing what is different now, what am I doing to put people off, why are people here less friendly than everywhere else I have ever lived, and all of those questions have not really gotten me anywhere. What I want is to go with what is, and be content.
I hope that for you forewarned will be forearmed. Just go with it. It will be different, but different is not necessarily bad. (Yes, I know it’s scary, but repeat with me while I keep repeating to myself: different is not necessarily bad.) Hard, yes. Different, yes. New, yes. Feels odd, yes. All that is true. But I am confident that there is a divine purpose to go along with the new reality.
And hey, being perceived as an expert is part of your new reality. And I like that.
You probably have seen the quote. I did around the time I was first pregnant, 19-some years ago.
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone gets the credit for putting this into words, and maybe it’s what I deal with, but I don’t think so, close though it comes.
Of course, yes, this is true, if it means that what is most dear to me is not mine and cannot be kept safe. Can’t argue with that.
However, for me right now, one of the hardest things about being a parent, and one that I don’t remember anybody mentioning to me before I had children, is this.
I want so much for my children to get what they want, that sometimes it gives me pain, emotional and physical. When contemplating longings my children have, my chest literally hurts.
Now please tell me I’m not the only parent who experiences this. I really hate it, because I know well enough that reality is we cannot make things the way our kids want, we can’t keep them happy, we can’t smooth their paths through life. It’s impossible and that’s the way it should be.
And it’s not that I don’t want my child to be unhappy because it’s unpleasant for me, although certainly there was a time when that was most of what I was about when I was trying to help them: avoiding the meltdown, the scene and the stress. It’s definitely more fun when your kids are not unhappy.
And it’s not that I want them to have things they want that aren’t good or safe. I have no difficulty ignoring what’s simple foolishness. But that doesn’t really happen that often.
Nope, this is different. This is really seeing who they are, and where they want to go in their lives, and agreeing with them in heart, mind, and spirit, that their desired path would be a great and wonderful thing.
And knowing that as much as I want it, my wanting won’t make it happen.
And I would give up quite a few wishes of my heart, vacations, favorite foods, you name it, just so that child could have what he wants.
Nope, can’t be done.
I think I’m not the only one who knows this situation. When I was 10 years old we had a bazaar for Halloween in the school gym. My mom dressed up as a gypsy and was in charge of the wheel of fortune. There were little prizes to be won when the wheel stopped on the number you guessed. Somehow I got my heart set on this little transparent cat figurine. I was so disappointed when the wheel went past my spot. Bad place for my mom. I don’t remember begging, although it’s certainly possible, but a few minutes later she gave the thing to me on the sly.
Looking back on that event, I now understand the thoughts and emotions driving that small act of illegality.
You want your kid to have what she wants. I guess that’s a natural part of mothering. But it’s one I certainly have to moderate.
I can intellectually align myself with this reality.
But the heart sure has a hard time keeping up.
Today I will have absolutely nothing to say, in solidarity with individuals like myself who live in Turkey and thus are not allowed to blog on a WordPress site.
So — silence.
Mesmerizing. Peaceful. Flickering. Colorful.
I wish I could come up with some more words that would really do a warm fire justice. I built one last night as the temperature dropped all day, and by evening I wanted to enjoy the delights of laying on the tinder and logs just so, lighting the newspaper, and watching trickles of orange travel upward.
What is it about fire that is so entrancing?
I could sit and look at the interplay of orange, yellow, blue and sometimes green flame, and hot orange and russet glowing coals all evening, and be perfectly happy.
When I’m watching the fire my brain disconnects from the current projects and stress. I feel peaceful. I am pulled into an eternal place where I’m at rest and nothing is changing. I don’t know about you, but some part of me believes when next to a fire, that the present moment will not ever end, even though the rest of me knows no moment does that.
It’s interesting to think that this sensation is one that human beings have been experiencing for a long time. If the theory of the collective unconscious is correct, this experience might even partly be driven by memories of my ancestors.
But why is it that a visual experience that seems timeless, is in fact completely transient?
A fire by definition is entropy, matter and substance becoming more dispersed, not less. How can something that will burn out that very night before I go to bed put me in a place that will never burn out?
That’s how long it took.
I finished a great week last night. Somehow, despite my efforts to have social occasions spread throughout the weeks and months, I had five get-togethers with important people in the last seven days. It made an extremely enjoyable week for me, however, and since we were on winter break, I was doubly able to enjoy it.
In fact it was probably the nicest basic week that I’ve had since we moved here in 2006.
Last summer I realized that I was no longer lost when trying to get somewhere, no longer at loose ends either at church or in general as far as picking up conversations and seeing friends. Sure there are always slow times, but something was different.
I know how to cut through neighborhoods and take the short cuts. I know that if I cut through on English Station, I’ll end up at Shelbyville Road. I have an intuitive sense of which way to go in the city, that is actually right, thankfully.
And while I don’t usually see that many friends in a week, and I don’t get to see them often, due to living the country life which means that my social interactions are of the Pioneer Woman Quilting Bee frequency, I do have friends that I see on a regular basis and not only that, friends with whom I have actual history.
That’s it then, many of them are no longer new friends.
And there are things about the city that I want to share with people who come to visit. So that means that finally, after seven years, this place finally feels like home.
And I’m thinking, doggone it, it took long enough!
I had no idea when we moved here that it would be like that. I’m an expert mover and I know how to make friends, so I assumed that, after a year or two of basic effort, we would have a network of friends and feel like we belonged.
But that did not happen.
I’ve given that situation way more thought than it deserves and still don’t really have an answer beyond a few thoughts. I mainly think that our culture has become much more disconnected and busy and fragmented during the 90s and early 200os than I realized. So that by the time we moved, after twelve years in one county, things were truly really different, and I was not prepared for the sheer amount of effort and work it takes to develop one single ongoing friendship.
So, 7 years.
It wasn’t ideal, but I certainly have a high level of appreciation for the friends I now have.
Before you even go to the psychiatrist or your doctor, unless it’s a pressing or urgent situation, the first thing I’d recommend is the MSG free diet. Thank you Ruthie for exposing me to the possibility that what my children were eating was creating a plethora of unpleasant symptoms. You can look up the diet online and find several websites that explain it more fully and teach you what the specifics are.
The basic idea is that you are just eating real food. You are specifically avoiding MSG and all its derivatives. This does mean goodbye to onion soup mix, canned soup, prepared dinners, frozen food, and convenience food in general. But don’t panic, nowadays there are lots of good quality convenience items on the market, so you can go that way if you don’t feel like cooking from scratch.
The other good news is that you may not have to eat like this always and forever. We actually do use commercial bread, rolls and tortillas; we go out to eat and eat with people in their homes without problems. We just don’t consume a regular steady diet of the main culprits.
Also, I would recommend giving it a long trial, more like a couple months than a couple of weeks, especially if you don’t see any improvement on it in the first days, or think you don’t. I didn’t think we had any changes, but kept on because I liked the way the food tasted and felt happily crunchy about the whole experience: I was making more things from scratch, roasting organic chickens and cool stuff like that.
Glad I did, because it eliminated completely some problems my children were having. Nightmares. Bed-wetting. Insomnia. Sleep onset problems. Anxiety. Hallucinations.
The insomnia and bed-wetting were just kind of an annoyance that we had been dealing with for years. I don’t know why, honestly, it did not occur to me earlier that perhaps regular bouts of insomnia in a child starting at three years old were not, strictly speaking, normal. But it didn’t, and when the child was about eight years old, we had reached a point where the anxiety was interfering with our lives, but it had no source I could figure out. Over-analyzing our personal family dynamics looking for clues changed nothing. I thought we were going to have to see the shrink when hallucinations started.
But thankfully all I really needed to analyze was what we were eating.
That led to a a transformation: a child who would not go outside because of fear became a child who went outside on her own and out of sight of the house without even giving it a thought one year later.
The added benefits of no insomnia or wet beds were a nice surprise. A surprise because I did not believe those annoyances could be caused by onion soup mix. Wrong.
I also didn’t think whatever was affecting my then 8-year-old was affecting my 4-year-old, but after we had done the MSG free diet for a couple of months, the 4-year-0ld was able to doze off at bedtime within 10 minutes. It had been taking him a good half hour or more to go to sleep and the time just kept getting longer. Again, I had no idea what was causing that. I can’t tell you how much magnesium these children got to take at bedtime and how much lavender they got to breathe, to no particular effect, before we took MSG out of our diets.
There’s really nothing nicer than tucking in a preschool child…and having him fall asleep. How simple and wonderful is that?
So anyway, that’s my story. I was in favor of eating good quality food before I read up on the diet. What I didn’t realize was how many prepared foods had substances in them that were stimulating the kids’ brains unnecessarily. Now, I’m really truly in favor of eating real food.
I strongly recommend the MSG free diet to anyone with mental health issues. It’s worth trying for a couple of months.
It could be as simple as what you’re eating.
Silence here for a while and I guess for the time being, I have run out of steam. I still have great ideas — I just don’t feel like blogging them.
It might be because back to school was winter back to school. And although I personally prefer snow to looking at grey and brown and tan for four months…and I grew up in Alaska and Montana where I learned to love snow…and I still love snow…
I’m at the point many others are at where I feel like, enough snow already!
I think what I am feeling, may be what they call cabin fever.
I am ready to feel softer breezes and to hear the sound of running water outdoors.
I’d love to hear the spring peepers.
It’s just not that time yet.
It is the time that parents everywhere can relate to, the middle of February, when we are just ready for something different.
It could be a lot worse. It’s just harder to be content with things as they are this time of year. Working on that.