fits and starts.

“…do this with humility & discipline.

not in fits & starts,

but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love.” ephesians 4:1-6

 

alright, so this message has a bigger purpose BUT what if the acts of love you need to show are for yourself. and also if maybe, just maybe, a call to kindness and service would be amplified in effectiveness if I started at home; home being myself.

today, I updated the Pursuit of Joy Project post with moments 50 & 51. halfway through. and, to be honest, I’m surprised I have been able to keep up with it. sticking to something isn’t a quality I would list for myself. I guess I get excited about too many things or I hit a roadblock and reevaluate or the enthusiasm dissipates. it’s not that I have trouble committing, it’s that I can’t seem to allow myself the follow through. forever a work in progress. but joy, gladness not based on circumstance (peter 1:8-9), is a full-hearted intention. even if I update a few days late or a few days at a time, instead of posting on a regular schedule. 51 moments of joy in 59 days. i’ll take it.

in typical-of-me fashion, I find that I am subconsciously sorting these moments to make sure I have given everything in my life it’s proper attention. compartmentalizing and balancing are qualities I would list for myself. motherhood moments. friend & partner moments. work or family moments. I am still working on the lack of attachment to circumstance. rather, the lack of attachment to my joy having to belong to others as well as myself; that my happiness should be mutually beneficial. this is a multi-layered realization. at the root, I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I have enough to offer. for many years I did not. but as it extends, I am still not always comfortable giving myself the love I give to others. that’s where I reach too far for the idea of  happiness. it can create resentment and selfishness that are hard to shake.

we/I do this in all sorts of ways. staying busy, being materialistic, seeking companionship/attention (ahem, social media), or competitiveness. it seeps in all the time. and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of removing most of the exterior negative from my life, the hardest work is still looming.

these shared moments are not any less joyful or appreciated. I don’t think that’s what is being said but I do think that the combination of joy, humility, and discipline is a life goal hat trick achieved by few. so, I set out a new project within a project for myself this week. live more simply and find the magic in that. I want to see what I can cultivate by stripping happiness down to it’s very basic form. to hopefully find a bit more of it. to hopefully find a way to keep sharing it. moments of joy brought to AND from yours truly. this will be an extra challenge with Halloween this week so a few little human moments might trickle in but…

I’ll be back next Monday morning with the results of my week or they can be found on the original post linked above- moments 52-58.

 

warmly,

Eliot.

 

the laws of harvest.

do you remember the first time you failed at something?

how about the first time you had to live with the consequences of that failure?

when I was kindergarten, I made a parachute out of craft paper & yarn to assist in the free-fall of my twin sister from our playhouse. thought out, to the best of my 6 year old knowledge, I was proud of my contributions to amateur flight and even more proud of my sister’s fearlessness for being the one to jump.

to the surprise of everyone reading, she hit the ground with a thud. our mom was probably mad. the parachute was torn. and my sister was a little banged up; the extent, I cannot recall. but, the potential danger and fear of failing again were scary enough that our first try was also our last. as a memory, the details are fuzzy, but that feeling is not. life often writes the lesson before we believe we are ready.

the contraption failed. we failed. I failed. nothing about humans will ever be as predictable as gravity. but fear of failure swells up in all of us.

the laws of harvest. you will reap what you have sewn. your choices accumulate and cause a ripple effect that can be absorbed by everyone you encounter. this is, obviously, good and bad concurrently as we walk our paths imperfectly. continual works in progress. it’s all about choices, right? choosing to avoid the possibility of failure is also a choice. it says that your faith, faith in all capacities, does not supersede your ego, comfort, or fear. these traits are inherited and shared and adopted. and most importantly, not without consequence.

let me direct this thought on a personal level.

the three littles are now in 7th, 6th, and 4th grade. both girls are in ap classes and the boy says that this year is “way tougher” than last. they have all entered a whole new responsibility tier when it comes to school. I watch my three very different children ride the wave of failure and cope in entirely different ways…

my son is an avoider. a bad test score snowballs into a missing homework assignment because he doesn’t want another bad grade. in his fear, he is unable to see the compacted issue. he uses the mask of indifference and shrinks into a smaller, less capable version of himself to avoid failing again. sigh, my sweet boy.

my middle daughter is the most type-A of the littles but has seemingly learned early on how to be cognoscente of her capabilities. she continues to try harder and is able to brush off a less than ideal grade because she knows in her heart that she did her best. this is equal parts perseverance and, dare I say, ego.

my littlest lady is a true empath. she fears that others failure is also hers, just as she praises their successes with the same passion as she celebrates her own. a feeling that is true but no less cumbersome. she is hard on herself and cautious about failure in a way that is entirely opposite of the rest of her personality.

through them I see my own failures. I see the ways I have chosen stay quiet or rise above or put others first. they are a reflection of the behaviors they see, as am I. so, when I say we are raising each other, I mean it whole-heartedly.

most of parenting has been a big, gigantic mirror in my face. sometimes it isn’t pretty but it is always real. I am trying to teach my littles that their fears are their own to hold on to but that it is a choice to do so. choice comes with responsibility and consequence and can also be shed at any time. even if we baby step into our fears, we are still going in the right direction.

I am also learning that we do not all reap in the same season. results are not immediate. our standards are not universal. someone else’s fear and failure can be manifested in an entirely different way. I can still admit to seeing others’ successes/failures and feeling some sort of way about them. do I always think beyond my expectations? nope.

I’d like to share this as an intention that I’ve set and recently stumbled on. as a reminder to be patient with people but take no shit. because there will continue to be droughts but there will also be harvests bigger than we believe we deserve. and I am no less responsible when I let my fear become habit.

love & light,

eliot.

part time parent. full time mom.

what do I mean when I say, a part time parent but a full time mom.

my littles are with me sunday evening through friday at 6:30 pm- unless there is no school on Friday. in which case,  they are home sunday evening through friday at 9:00am, per our agreement. it’s not ideal and would never be my preference but allowing them time their other parent comes with sacrifice. and now we are back in school, too. meaning that not only are they with their dad every single weekend but they are gone over 8 hours a day. our quality time is further divided into homework, dinner, bath time, and bed time.

this schedule and the perceived notion that I must have it easier because they aren’t with me everyday has me feelin’ some sort of way .

I know that there are many spaces to be grateful in our situation. they have loving parents who, mostly, agree on the when/what/where’s of their life. I work a flexible job that closes for holidays and gives me time off or at home when I need it. the littles get to do all sorts of fun things with their dad. and it allows for healthy balance in my life that most single parents are not afforded. we are lucky.

BUT, I want to do fun things with them too. sleep in and make pancakes on saturdays. go to festivals and birthday parties. the sorts of activities that can’t be crammed in to the 4 hours I am home between getting off work and sending them to bed.  I do make the most of my weekends but have guilt for doing activities that they could be joining in on.  I try to stay busy and work a second job because it’s too quiet at home when they are gone. every weekend I avoid the internet because I scroll through all the photographic reminders of  things I am missing out on with them. and I even text them an annoying amount to see what they are up to. they really are my best friends and it’s hard to feel as though I never get to actually relax and enjoy seeing how they function as people for a full day at a time.

from an outsider’s thumbnail view, I’m sure it seems as though I live it up while kid free. or that I choose to do things that don’t involve them. maybe it appears to be a rather carefree set up. maybe this blog post is a response to a recent “well-intended” acquaintance who’s kind words left me feeling more sad that anything. I have worked very hard to not care what other people’s opinions of my parenting are or how things look to those outsiders. and to rid myself of the guilt of it all. because it does grant me a lot of free time. and I am grateful for all the cool things I get to do that would otherwise be very difficult. being a single mama is hard work and I am fortunate to be able to balance it with work and friends and leisure. but that does not mean that I wouldn’t drop everything for the chance to have them 7 days a week.

I guess what I’m getting at with all this is that it’s easy to think you see all of what others are doing or that you can ever be in a place to judge the way they do it. I notice the friends and moms who only like the few photos I post of my littles but pay no mind to the other beautiful and creative ways I choose to express myself, as if they are rewarding me for finally showing up. I see you and it’s alright, trust me. even when I do photograph my kids, I choose to put the photos on a more private platform, or omit their real name, because the things I cherish most I elect to do more privately. we tend to make it harder on others as a reflection of our own feelings so I won’t pretend to know why someone gets to decide if I parent enough to be a good mom. but I will say that the time we spend together is not wasted, I just wish there were more of it. I also wish that the mom community were a safer space for those who don’t fit the “happy family” mold. and I know there are lots of other single parents out there who will understand as we navigate the tricky waters of co-parenting. even yet, there are parents who do it completely alone and have no idea what this free time is that I speak of. we are all just trying to get by (my motto, seemingly) and raise good, kind humans. even if we do it part time.

peace & progress,

Eliot.