It’s been a hectic holiday season filled with transitions and surprises. It’s been moments of laughter and shenanigans with my kids. There have been moments of cooking that felt like comfort in textures and smells through the stress of life . . . I may have perfected my tamale and champurrado recipes. And no, gluten free pate a choux isn’t going to happen this season because wheat is what makes baked things so amazing and airy. And yes, spiced rum makes everything better. There have been moments where I felt like a treasured gift and someone has been begging Santa for me for years. It’s been a little crazy in my mixed bag.
Sometimes planning is necessary. In making tamales, you want to plan a day or two. On the first day, you want to prepare the meat by slow cooking tenderness and layering in flavors. The meat and cooking liquid cool over night and the next day the masa is prepared and the tamales rolled.
Sometimes you want to plan a project. For example: re-upholstering dining chairs. You want to make sure you have enough layers of batting and foam and fabric. You want to make sure you have the nails and screws you’ll need. You’ll want to plan it before you start because running out of something in the middle of the project can mean missing parts that you had ready but they just walked away … at least with my boys.
If you’re me, planning isn’t as impulsive as I am. I often start projects that take turns and detours mid way through. Every single blog post starts out one way and often makes a u-turn that surprises me.
Painting my living room will be one of those projects too. I did the other rooms in my house alone. It was an exorcism of sorts. I was purging memory demons of some sort. I’ve re-painted every room in my home but the living room and it still has family pictures on the walls with my ex. I told the kids they would come down when I painted and it’s time to paint. Everything will come down this week as I prepare with primer. I still have it from the kitchen job and next week we’ll finalize a color. New pictures will go up and the boys will see the old pictures are put away for them when they want them or if they want them in their room.
Dates that are willing to meet me on the spur of the moment get and keep my attention the longest. I think so much of my life as a mother has to be planned and scripted that I find spontaneity so attractive.
Living in the Past
There has been sadness dressed in nostalgia for stolen moments that are no longer mine. Those memories prompted New Year’s text messages and I stole those moments to unburden a past so I can step into my future. It’s longing for what was and wondering what could have been in a way that feels stagnant and stunted, and yet, I’m still doing it. Still, my fear made me feel like I needed an excuse for a hello. I get to take notice and step boldly into who I am and what I feel and next time just say hello because it’s okay to miss the past as long as I don’t decide to live there. And that’s who I am.
In relationships, this often looks like fear to experience something new because of what I already know happened the last time.
Living in the Future
It’s a gift for me to overthink every possible outcome. It’s also a curse. I used to love lit candles all over my home. I remember going out on a date once and in the prep stage of my full face spackle, I had lit every single candle I had. It was warm and cozy and it made me happy. It also very likely made me look psychotic. Kids happened, and now I can see them playing in the wax, blowing out candles to light them again, and very nearly starting fires because it’s the same shenanigans I got into as a kid. (Except I had an aerosol can of hairspray and they don’t.) It’s easy to get caught up in bills and deadlines and times to act and times to freak out.
In relationships, this looks like planning out a future and seeing where it will go before I offer the opportunity to see what might happen. It means I can see how a person interacts with me and decide they are not step-dad material and move on before I get too attached.
Being Present is a Gift
When life becomes overwhelming, it’s easy to freak out and think of the many ways something might happen, or change or create change in my life. It’s these moments I remind myself to slow down. I remind myself to be present in my moment. I do everything intentionally slowly and embrace the moment for what I’m presented with.
For a while this morning (no clocks exist in this moment) I was watching a couple of squirrels chase each other in a tree.
For a while, I sipped my coffee, tasting the brew, feeling the warmth, smelling the creamy sweet. I didn’t think about my list of things to do. I didn’t think of how I maybe should have made different choices this past year and I didn’t even celebrate the great choices I did make. I just smelled, and tasted, and felt my favorite mug holding my coffee.
I took a mid day shower and just let the hot water wash over my body while the smell and feel of floral bubbles washed off my skin and down the drain. I had an old playlist playing and sang my heart out. I laughed when I could hear my son outside the bathroom singing just as loudly with me, and without the emotional weight I was releasing.
I spent just a moment thinking of the last time I was in a man’s arms and released it as I started anticipating the next time. I won’t script what I want to happen because that will only rob me from what I will actually get to experience. I’m learning how to be present in relationships. I’m learning to enjoy each moment for what it is, without assigning a destiny I can’t even control, and giving power to fears I refuse to voice. I’m learning to plan my moments, and see where we can fit together, rather than assigning each of my free moments to his disposal. And I’m learning that not every moment has to be perfect and that I can enjoy the present without even looking for finishing nails to finish off upholstery I may change my mind on.