And The Title of Champion Weirdo Goes To…Me!

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I….am a weirdo.

Now, those who have known me from childhood are already rolling their eyes and muttering, “Tell us something we don’t know….”, even as they recall my outer weirdness: Getting stuck in a tree at recess (elementary school)….green carpenter’s pants with red tennis shoes (my favorite outfit in the 8th grade!)….loving Air Supply when everyone else was into hair metal (high school)….the purple plaid pants that I loved so much I even wore in a drama, sigh…..

So yes, I had my own brand of nerdy geek going long before this pronouncement.

Somehow, I managed to squelch that after graduation. I moved to the city, pursued my degree, got a nice job, married a great guy, secured a promotion and a move to a bigger city, served in youth ministry, and maintained the facade of being a nice, normal adult that fit in with society at large.

But my inner weirdo kept screaming to be let out.

It started at around age 30, when I rediscovered the library and began reading more than text books and work literature again. But instead of just mysteries (my fave), I began to devour books on simplicity. Seeking a simpler life. Finding my inner happiness away from the surrounding materialism and clutter.

I stopped shopping at malls (except for big clearance sales or true necessity) and began scouring thrift stores, yard sales and church bazaars for unique treasures. My inner weirdo began to smile again.

I began job-sharing with a friend at work, and found time to write, to live, to breathe. My inner weirdo began to hum.

I started to dabble in growing things with the hope of not killing them until I’d had a chance to eat them first. My inner weirdo begin to sing.

Even as motherhood and life threw me into turmoil, the inner weirdo clamored for attention and freedom. I tried to fit into the mold expected of me. Be THIS type of Mom…THIS type of neighbor….THIS type of woman.

I’m not even sure what finally liberated that inner weirdo. Acknowledging that I’ve had failures in life — and accepting that it’s okay? Maybe. Admitting I will never be the perfect mother (whatever the heck THAT is) and being okay with that, too? Well, my kids already know I adore and enjoy spending time with them, and that’s more than many have. Knowing that I can’t please everyone, that not everyone will like me, not even (gasp!) family? The benefit of getting older is finding the freedom to let go of others opinions of you. And letting go of your opinions of them. (Why can’t we figure that out at 20?!).

My inner weirdo enjoys having a half-dozen cats…gardening all summer…camping instead of luxury vacations…hiking alone in a woods…the occasional writing project…the eternal hope that I’ll get serious and write a book….and reading a good book for so long I lose track of time.

My inner weirdo does cartwheels over canning projects…finding an old plate to love at a thrift store…meeting my kids wardrobe needs several sizes ahead at yard sales…washing and reusing ziplock bags….figuring out one more thing I can make at home instead of buy…handwashing and solar drying clothes…and going on decluttering binges several times a year.

My inner weirdo enjoys the freedom of homeschooling because it works for us…giving my children a multitude of inexpensive ways to encourage their imagination and creativity…taking unexpected travels with the Husband’s job…giving my oldest wings to pursue her interests in all things art and crafty (and closing my eyes at the mess, sigh)…teaching the youngest to try something new, even as we work together to help her control her body and temper on tough days when health issues arise. Because no one else is going to love her through it like me, her weirdo mother — or love her more.

My inner weirdo gets that by the world’s standards, I’m not…normal. I’m not marking my accomplishments with pay raises, promotions and transfers (but if your inner weirdo needs that, bully for you!). I’m not seeking fame and fortune (Except as a writer. Someday. If I ever write that book!). I drive a vehicle to the wheels fall off, and then figure out a way to put them back on. Because it’s fun! I’d rather take my kids to explore the beach for days on end than hit an amusement park. We go to the zoo on free days instead of buying a membership (because then we’re guaranteed not to use it!). We spend every sunny summer day at the pool. And I’d rather grill out with friends than eat at a five-star restaurant any day. Even if it means missing out on a chance to have a babysitter and a meal I didn’t cook that one or more persons won’t like or will need help cutting up. And that’s saying a lot!

I mean, I dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail someday. For six months. With bears. Alone.

See? Inner weirdo.

And with any luck, when it’s all said and done — my kids will be just fine with their weirdo mom.

And if I’m really lucky, then maybe — just maybe — they’ll want to be weirdos, too.

Hasta la vista, 2013!

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I am dancing a jig of joy that 2013 is about to slide into history.

I know, I know – I’m not supposed to wish my life away…I should count my blessings…live in the moment…appreciate what I have. And much of the time, I do.

I realize that we may be meeting for the first time, but may I be, just for a moment, brutally honest?

Sometimes, living in the moment is just too painful.

I don’t know what your daily life encapsulates…yet. Maybe you are one of those amazing people that have it all together. Perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect house, perfect body, perfect job, perfect pet. (Or no pet at all to maintain the perfect house!)

Me? I’m quite far from the list.

My office currently looks as if a bomb went off, scattering art supplies, coupons and crayons to the nether regions of the planet. I can clean it, but I think a suicidal fairy stuck in Groundhog Day comes in every night and recreates the scene.

Two baskets of clean laundry cover my bed. Five cats cover the laundry. What you might think is a sixth cat is just a hair ball. Hm…I think…

I need to lose 15 pounds, and exercise has only been a glimmer in my eye since fall set in with a vengeance and it began snowing every other day…in October.

This morning’s wrestling match with my daughter  – diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) this year, yay 2013! – was over choosing a shirt. It took her nearly an hour, pulling out numerous shirts and throwing them on the floor after pronouncing them unfit. I had to walk away not to scream. It will be one of many instances today where I need to do so.

My daughter’s health concerns have forced – or allowed? –  me to pull away socially. I rarely entertained this year. Who wants to clean and cook when you’re going to the mat with a 5-year-old child who can undo the cleaning immediately, and who may have an unexplained meltdown in front of people that don’t understand her special needs or understand your angst over them?

At some point, I will check in with my elderly mother who has hearing difficulties; our chats are usually filled with constant misunderstandings and frustration, on both sides. She refuses to stay with me or my siblings, and she lives far enough away that I cannot get to her quickly should she need help. My visit every three weeks is a long day involving six hours in the car, attempting to get everything she needs accomplished, and still returning home feeling as if I’ve failed. Miserably.

I continue to miss my father, an amazing man of good humor and incredible faith, and my biggest cheerleader. He’s been gone nearly 2 years, but the hole he left hasn’t gotten any smaller.

I spent much of 2013 in the offices of doctors and specialists, between my daughter and my mother. I spent far too much time worrying. Anxious. Hiding. Looking at a life I didn’t recognize and didn’t like. Avoiding hard questions. Because I don’t like the answers, either.

If you had a great year, kudos to you.

But maybe, like me, you’re secretly celebrating the end of 2013; anxious for a fresh start even if it means painfully crawling over the wreckage of this past year. Because on the other side of that wreckage is the Real You.

So I raise my glass in a toast to the Real Us, whoever they may be. Because I’ll take Real over perfect any day.