Monday, April 20, 2015

Learning To Be A Hugger

“I don't do hugging. I don't like people touching me ever when there's no treat involved. It's too intimate and it bothers me.”
― Katja Millay

Hugging practice.
I am not a Hugger.

There, I said.  I 'fessed up.  But here's the tricky part:  I so desperately WANT to be a Hugger.  All the Huggers I know are terrific people.  They basically pull you into their very essence and transfer a little bit of love into the nonexistent space between your bodies.  I want to be like them.  I want to be warm and cozy and invite people into my personal space.

And, yet, I can't. 

I didn't grow up hugging.  I can't recall every really being hugged as a kid.  I mean, there were awkward, arm-patting, loose "hugs" when people you knew were leaving for a long time.  But there were no loving, squeezing, "ohmygoodnessIloveyousomuch" hugs.  My mother was never a hugger so I didn't get that "precious little girl" doting either.  And so, I didn't hug.  Hugging was weird to me.

My roommate in college was (and, frankly, still is) a Hugger.  She was confused by my standoffishness because she is one of those serious Huggers.  She respected my space for many years but has since told me on various occasions that she will violate my personal boundaries sometimes when circumstances require it.  And, secretly, I like it.  Shhh.

When my children were born, I was determined to make them Huggers and wrapped them up in hugs and squeezes as often as I could.  Making them feel cozy and loved was my number one priority.  I succeeded with one who hugs continually, firmly and with wild abandon.  The OTHER would prefer that you keep your distance, thankyouverymuch. #Fail.

With The Boyfriend, I am a terrific hugger.  I hug him all the time.  And HE is one of those good huggers.  He's a wrap-you-up kind of hugger.

With other people, I'm working hard on becoming a hugger.  There are so MANY people in this world that I absolutely LOVE.  I adore them.  I kind of think that standing awkwardly two arms lengths away while offering them a smile and a firm handshake is probably not conveying the message I want to communicate.  I want to say, "OH, how I LOVE you, you incredibly person who I am so blessed to be a part of."  Instead, I smile abashedly and shuffle my feet while mumbling something about the weather.

When I am face-to-face with an actual Hugger, I get a little giddy because I know that I have NO CHOICE but to be swept up in their warmth and delicious expression of human joy.  I wait for it and then, after a nanosecond of tension at the space invasion, I fight every instinct in my rigid body and allow my arms to wrap around them and...for the briefest of moments...I squeeze.

So now I practice.  I offer awkward hugs to a variety of people in a variety of circumstances.  I'm getting a little better.  My hugs are a little firmer.  My tension is less noticeable.  I'm working on it.

It's a goal.  I'm gonna be a Hugger.  Someday.  Somehow.  So, watch out.  Next time I see you, I may just wrap you up and squeeze you. 

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.

Going Home

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
― James Baldwin

Be it ever so humble...
I have lived at 34 different addresses.  This means that 33 times in my life, I have packed up all my worldly possessions and moved them to a different location.  Apartments, houses, rooms.  There were times when my family moved in with grandparents. Once, between duty stations when my ex-husband was in the Navy, we shipped all of our stuff to the next location and I remained unfixed and transient, waiting for the next address.  There were many, many addresses. But none of them truly ever felt like...home.

Home.  I spent the vast majority of my life  attempting to understand what it was about this word...home...that made people want to go to it, miss it, return there or remain there. 

Tonight, I felt it.  Actually, I've been feeling it for a while now.  My address has been the same for almost 13 years...a record times 3+.  For many years, even though every single box was unpacked, this didn't quite feel like home either.  But something changed.

I changed.

I spent my life pursuing safety.  I escaped to safety as a child in the pages of books.  Somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  When I became an adult, I fled still to escape.  I escaped the feeling of being trapped by getting into my car and driving out into the world until I was so turned around I had to rely on maps to get me back.  I escaped my own unhappiness that I had created through a series of choices, wrong turns and wayward thoughts.  I escaped who I thought I was and who I felt myself turning into.

Until, one day,  I stopped.

I stayed.

I began to spend entire home.  I would wake up and putter around the kitchen, making coffee.  I swept and cleaned, lovingly.  I watched Thing 1 and Thing 2 bouncing on the trampoline and found an unrecognized smile affixed to my face.  I began seeking reasons not to go but to stay.  And at the end of long work days, I looked forward to returning to my place of rest, of restoration.

I came home tonight and spent time digging in my garden, feeling the earth slip through my fingers while somehow binding me to it.  I unhurriedly put herbs and vegetables into the ground and sang while I dug my toes into the cold ground.  Thing 1 bounded out, leaped over the deck railing and ran over to where I sat happily planting.  I looked up at him, with the house looming over us in the growing darkness and I smiled.

Home.  I get it now.  And I know I'll take it with me when I go.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Raising Teenagers: 5 Reasons Why I Like Teens More Than Toddlers

“She had been a teenager once, and she knew that, despite the apparent contradictions, a person's teenage years lasted well into their fifties.”
― Derek Landy

Thing 2 and Thing 1: Busch Gardens 2015
Recently, Things 1 and 2 accompanied me on our Annual Great Spring Break Amusement Park Adventure.  For the past 7 years, we have raced, spun, screamed and catapulted for a day or two at Carowinds, Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion and Six Flags Over Georgia.

It hasn't always been easy.

The first year, Thing 2 couldn't even ride the big rides (even though he desperately wanted to) and Thing 1 couldn't have cared less about the rides or the Great Adventure.  I have wheedled and pleaded and begged these children over the years to embrace the Great Adventure and understand the magic that happens on road trips.  They have steadfastly refused to participate in my reindeer games.  I have been irritated and tired and far more cranky than I should but I have steadfastly refused to give up this tradition I created out of thin air in desperation to give these two kids whose lives I managed to ruin by divorcing their dad (OK, so a few guilt issues there...) a few bright and happy memories of their Part-Time Life with Mom.

This year, it all came together.

Yes, there was eye-rolling.  And irritation.  And boredom.  And it was MAGIC.  I realized this year that my kids have finally become more  They are no longer the short people I can't fathom.  They are eye-level purveyors of wit, sarcasm and barbed zingers who eat when they're hungry, drink when they're thirsty and sleep when they're tired.  Practically adults.

I started thinking about WHY I seem to love them SO MUCH MORE now that they're big kids in adult clothing.

  1. They don't need me as much.  I'm just not one of those people who need to be needed.  I prefer that you take care of your own business and leave me to mine.  Every now and again we can meet in the middle to discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Things 1 and 2 can take care of their own bodily functions.  They can fix a sandwich.  They don't ask me constant questions about why, who, where, what, when that I (mostly) patiently answered when they were toddlers.  
  2.  They fight sarcasm with sarcasm.  Admittedly, I started using sarcasm well before these two were probably ready for it.  Sure, I TRIED the syrupy sweetness of parenting when they were younger.  (Fine, I didn't try terribly hard.)  But, as they grew taller, my sarcasm grew stronger.  Now, these two are teaching me a thing or two.  Their sarcasm seems somehow kinder than mine.  So, I'm learning a few gentle techniques to launch barbs and zingers into the crowd.  Thanks, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Grasshoppers, you are ready ( proud!).
  3. They can entertain themselves.  At the end of a long day at the park, I showered and dove into bed with a novel.  We talked a bit but, for the most part, they were content to absorb themselves in their own pursuits so I could happily ignore them to unwrap a few chapters of the book I had been waiting to get back to all day.
  4. They are introspective.  While Thing 2 shot ahead, Thing 1 and I were able to stroll leisurely together and talk about what's going on in his life.  I learned a lot in these few magical snippets of conversation.  He's introverted so, trust me, I take every opportunity to let him come to me.  I appreciate so much his point of view on things and his thoughtful consideration of things that I had no idea he was even aware of.   
  5. I enjoy their company.  They have their own ideas.  They disagree with me on...well...a LOT of topics.  But I respect those disagreements.  These two are not an extension of me; rather, they are two completely separate and mysterious beings who I (somehow) was blessed with ushering into the world.
Don't get me wrong.  I have attempted to pause and breathe and enjoy every bit of this life I have been given with these two.  I made choices along the way to parent intentionally and to engage with them throughout every stage.  I managed the baby years.  I navigated the toddler years as best I could.  I plugged away during the childhood years.  But, these teenage years?  To me, they are simply awe-inspiring as I watch them take all those building blocks of life and put them together in a way that's entirely different from what I could have ever anticipated or imagined.  They're not who I thought they would be; they are so much more.

The days continue to be long and the years are so very, very short.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.