Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Monday, May 10, 2010

Done for the Week: Tangled Up in Kids

Last week was cold, and pretty gray.  Like my mood, mostly.  But in keeping with my resolve to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I slog my way through the grieving, pre-empty-nesting, self-redefining, meaning-seeking spirit quest I seem to be on, I faced each day.  At the end of seven such days, these were among the things I got "done."

Done List--Week of May 3-9

  1. Continued 5K training
  2. Began swim training
  3. Finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards; Einstein's God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit, by Krista Tippett; The Probable Future, by Alice Hoffman; The Orphaned Adult:  Confronting the Death of a Parent, by Marc D. Angel
  4. Took my blood pressure daily
  5. Attended grandchild's Unitarian Universalist Child Dedication
  6. Heard sermon on "Parenting as a Spiritual Practice"
  7. Attended one book event
  8. Attended one fund-raiser
  9. Published 5 blog posts
  10. Meditated 5 times
  11. Rooted for my remaining NBA playoff team, which went down to ignominious defeat
  12. Put in some stressful middle of the night hours of parenting
  13. Furnished and occupied a porch of my mind
  14. Mailed cards and gifts for nephew's graduation, Mother's Day
  15. Conducted laundry marathon, sustaining injury but making progress
  16. Changed morning routine to begin with pleasure and nutrition
  17. Enjoyed Mother's Day lunch, dog walks, dog park visit, and coffee outings with my husband
  18. Wrote "Morning" Page 4 times
  19. Straightened my work area
  20. Kept appointment with my therapist
Last week's focus goal was to 
use the new morning routine to signal commitment to better self-care, and to look for other opportunities to treat myself like the valuable human I suspect I might be.
 Highlighted in green above, the goal was accomplished.  And I must say, it has helped to ease the dread with which I was approaching each morning.  Making this change was useful, and instructive.  In general, I seem to need almost constant reminding not to make everything so hard for myself.  For the time being, the new morning routine stays.

In red above is what seems, upon reflection, to be the most important thing I did last week.  I have begun to think about how much I take my marriage for granted, and about how little priority I give it.  Some part of my feminist self, particularly given the unanticipated neo-traditional contours of my life, resists focusing energy and attention on my relationship with my husband.  But it is perhaps a gift of losing my father that I begin to recognize that people and relationships are not forever.  I chose to be with my partner, with all his flaws and mine, for a reason.  And as with so much else in my life, I need to spend more time noticing and enjoying what's good about him, and us.

This week's focus goal will be hard to measure, but takes a necessary step, I believe, toward greater equanimity and improving relationships with my children.  I am going to try to maintain a better separation between the psyches of my two teenagers and my own inner terrain.  Like many adolescents these days, and probably in earlier times as well, my boys are struggling to grow up and leave home.  And the process is not pretty.  My job as a mother is to provide a safety net while allowing them to do their death-defying leaps and mile-high solo flights; to hang onto my heart, and keep to my own path as they gyrate around me.  

The sermon I went out of my way, and my congregation, to hear yesterday was on "Parenting as a Spiritual Practice."  This week, like every week for over thirty-two years, will bring lots of opportunities to practice, practice, practice.  But no hope of being perfect.  Which is a good thing, really.

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