There must have been a time in my life where everything was much more simple and free-flowing. Certainly not my early twenties; they were spent trying to determine how to fit into to the world. And certainly not my late teenage years; those were meant for piecing social, romantic, and educational aspects together with some semblance of balance. And if I travel any further back, it’s mostly just inner turmoil and noise.
There are some very slight memories where I recall not feeling anxious, out of control, and actually felt free. The pool on hot days was one of them. That blue water lapping quietly under the Floridian sky. Ears filled up with water and just your breath and the jets gently buzzing. The blue tint even followed through the threshold of the back door as I’d walk in with sun set eyes and blue dots dancing all around me.
Emeril Live would come on tv pretty late at night starting in 1997. Being that my mom worked late often, this was some of the only time we shared. She would sometimes let me stay up late and we’d giggle when he made that knowing smirk or had a witty comeback. Some nights I’d be sent to bed and I’d very quietly inch myself out of my room and watch from behind the couch. There is absolutely no way, my mom didn’t notice the sticking and sliding of an 8 year old on the terrazzo floor behind her in hindsight. And maybe this is where my love for cooking really stems from.
I also have a fondness for Taco Bell, but it wasn’t just tacos and cinnamon twists. Elementary school was extremely difficult. With the internal and external struggles both in school and at home, there was very little comfort. My mom worked often, but every now and then, she’d have a Wednesday afternoon off, or maybe it was an extended break, and she’d grab some Taco Bell, bring it to school, and eat with me. It was remarkably simple, but made me feel so special.
Somewhere along the way, or maybe it was always an underlying condition, I became so serious. I approached nearly everything with walls up and systems in place to protect myself. I had fun of course, but I was always fraught with these worries that diminished my ability to fully enjoy the moment. In my early twenties, I would finally be diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) among a couple other things and things started to make sense. Suddenly I actually was able to search for solutions and mental workouts to aid in reducing it.
Now, I am a mother. Not only am I still learning how to approach and deal with this for the sake of my kids, I’m also trying to pick up on the red flags that I can already see in Mac. It truly scares the crap out of me. I made this decision. I had these children. Now what? Honestly, I’m going to try to make this much less heavy, but I think it serves a purpose to acknowledge these faults. I’ve really been ruminating on how to find the balance between control and being controlled.
Oddly enough, it was listening to Andrew and Polly from Ear Snacks, a podcast aimed at kids, on the way to Mac’s school this morning that sort of opened my eyes. This particular episode was geared towards parents and was a really nice interview about their methods and hopes for the show. One thing Polly mentioned (around the 12:00 mark) was that a lot of the kids who listen to Ear Snacks are in the younger age range. They might not even totally remember who Andrew and Polly are later, but they will hopefully be “helping them build healthy schemas.”
This little bit sort of became a tangent to work with. While pondering the idea of healthy schemas, during my run, I kept bringing myself back to simplicity and joy in those early moments of my life. How do I build healthy schemas so they may be able to take full advantage of life? How can I help Mac restructure his worries and fears so he can use them to his advantage? How can I use this “insider” knowledge to help my children have many more moments filled with all the right questions?
I do not quite have the answers yet, but I feel like they are on the tip of my tongue. I do think there will be knocking down of some walls and some rebuilding on my own part. I believe that taking part in adventures and continually trying out new projects, like binding our own books and making paper airplanes will be another component. More than anything, I know that the task of raising these kids cannot be done alone and I am so grateful to have the connections to family and friends that we do. And if you feel that you are lacking in that part, please reach out. Someone will grab your hand and help you along.
It’s funny though how memories work. They aren’t always the trips to Disney and seeing the ocean for the first time. You really cannot predict what moments you or your children will remember most. But chances are that even if you have bad days, even if you screw things up for awhile, those memories will show your intention and that you tried. God knows we’re all trying just to be better than our mistakes and learn.
I guess I’m just saying, I’m trying. We’re all trying in one way or another. Reflecting on our pasts can help us grow and in turn, help us help others grow too. That is the take away, I believe.