Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Wasn't Expecting This

I'm sitting at my computer, trying to think, but I'm distracted by the thumping of little feet upstairs.

They are playing some kind of game with their stuffed animals; elaborate skits that involve music and role-playing and can go on for hours.

I can't make out their words, but I can hear Greta's lilting voice, and Finn's lower, scratchier one (is it me, or is it already getting a little deeper?) as they laugh and argue good-naturedly about the rules of the game.

I didn't expect this.

I didn't expect that at almost 10 and almost 7 they would still play with stuffed animals, that they would still enjoy each other's company so much. I know I'm lucky; I know not all 10 and 7 years old get along like mine do. That's not bragging, because it has nothing to do with me.  It's all them, and their sweet souls.

There are changes in the air, though. A twinge of cool air in the evening, sometimes even carrying that distinctive smell of autumn.  Some leaves are changing (changing!) in patches, and some are starting to fall to the ground.

There are other changes, too.  As Greta approaches tween-hood, there is more eye rolling, more "Finn! Leave me alone!", more bursting into tears for no reason.  It's coming, I know it is, and so I'm wallowing in the mostly-sweet of the way things are right  now.  I try to stay in the moment - OH, I try - but a little voice in my brain whispers - is this the last sweet summer?  Is this the last summer of stuffed animals?  

Finn starts first grade, and so for the first time in ten years both my kids will be gone full time - all day, every day, at school.

I spent so many years longing for this day; mired down in diapers or whiny kids who couldn't speak well enough to articulate what they wanted.  Days when I couldn't just go to the gym, or visit with a friend, because my schedule was irrevocably intertwined with theirs.

Now that day is only a couple of weeks away, and I'm surprised by how my gut twists at the thought of them both being away for so long, every week.

I wasn't expecting this.

Again, I try to stay in the moment, not project, not have too many expectations, but I have to acknowledge that twisting.  I'm not great with a lot of unstructured time. My inclination is to start my plan for world domination - make HUGE plans, turn my jewelry business into something big, write that novel, get a full-time job - all to run from too many hours alone with me.

Instead, I'm going to try what I'm thinking of as mini-structure, and it's all about self-care, self-love, and peace of mind.  I'm six months past cancer - I have to keep reminding myself of that - and I need to take this time to take care of me.

Each morning I will do some form of exercise. Not in that over-the-top-train-for-a-marathon-hate-myself-if-I-don't-workout kind of way, but in a move-your-body-Ellie kind of way.  Yoga. A walk in the woods. A trip to the gym.  Low-key, gradual, simple.

Every day I'm going to make jewelry just for the sake of making jewelry, not because I need to make thousands of dollars immediately. I'm going to resist the urge to learn metal-smithing (something I really want to do) just for a while.

I'm going to meditate. Even if can't quiet my mind, I'm going to sit, with no noise, for a while each day.

I'm going to read for at least half an hour. Every day - right smack dab in the middle of the day. Force myself to stop and just read.

I'm going to take time to write - offline, in a notebook - start that journal up again.

I'm going to go to daytime recovery meetings.

The day will come (who knows when, maybe sooner than I think) when I have to either ramp up the jewelry business or get a job.  But not right now, not yet.

I'm going to spend some time with me, who - in the past - has been my least favorite person to hang around with.  I'm going to acknowledge that twist in my gut that will miss my kids.

I know I'll adjust. I know it will take time.  I'm glad that the deepest part of me doesn't want them to go.

That's love.


  1. Sounds wonderful, enjoy your Ellie time.

  2. I love this post. I think I will set similar intentions for our back to school time, though I'll still have my little one home.

  3. I needed this today....when my day is difficult, when my daughter is inconsolable over everything...I needed this moment

  4. Ooh I love this. YES! Such great goals. Heck for all of us.

  5. beautiful writing, Ellie! I can imagine the smiling faces that will greet you coming off the yellow bus! and yours greeting them, too! Enjoy the change and enjoy your quite time.
    Dawn B.

  6. My children are almost exactly the same age and I find myself very sentimental this summer (more than usual, even), mourning this phase of our lives (which is indeed very sweet) even as I am still living it. Thanks for reminding me to put that down and just be here. While it still is. xox

  7. Massive thanks for your raw honesty which affects me deeply on every level. You are moving forward with such positivity in life, yourself and your family. I adore you for this. You give me courage to look at myself and realise I am vulnerable and ashamed, yet I can embrace this to better myself, for myself and my family too. The path of the forked road is where I am and thanks to you being you I will hopefully find my path.
    Wishing you all the best xx

  8. This is, indeed, love.

    {I wasn't expecting any of this, either. It's hard and beautiful and something that I can't quite name in between, right?}

    Beautiful post, Ellie.

  9. I hope it's all going well! You will make good use of the time. Have you read "Writing for Emotional Impact"? I'm enjoying it right now, though with my two little kids in not sure a novel will be forthcoming :)
    I had a little business for a while, too. Check out my old web page if you want