I know this doesn't sound like me at all. I know this, because I had a true, honest to goodness epiphany a few weeks ago. And it was this: I am a Very Intense Person. A V.I.P. I didn't realize it. I didn't realize I was an intense type-A. I was watching Small deal with some friend politics and listening to her sadness, her frustration, her anger--I got a gooooooood look at what I actually must look like to everyone else. And what I saw made me realize that as an adult, I should be saying Oh Well a lot more often. There is a freedom that comes with age, which is the realization that you are not everyone's cup of tea, and I delight in that particular thing. But what I do to myself is something else entirely. I am JUST realizing that I can't bend the world to my will, no matter how hard I try. And I have to say, that is a pretty sucky realization to have, no matter how necessary it is.
Being of the mother of three vastly different children with incredibly different needs, my skill at micromanaging, organizing and advocating has been both necessary and highly successful. I am no shrinking violet (you can laugh here) and being the loudmouth has been an integral part of my parenting. With children, you ARE in charge, whether you choose to act that way or not, and the Type-A is helpful if you are trying to juggle. But a few years back, when the crew was younger, I realized there was so much I had to let go, things that mattered to me that I could not manage. The housecleaning had to stop carrying such a big connection to my success as a stay at home mom, I could not keep up with everything and not be anxious all the frigging time. That was the biggest one, because having a tidy house makes me feel calm in general, and accepting that it was going to look the way most houses with three disgusting children looks, was not a comfortable one for me. Not volunteering in the classroom anymore. Not caring if my children were well dressed, as long as they were clean. Never, ever worrying about what was petrifying under the minivan seats. Always, ALWAYS being on time. And trying to force my children to always listen to me and always do what I say. And as I let each one of these go, I felt both nausea and relief, and neither have ever completely gone away. But I have let them go, I have. I can't make the children neat. I can't make the Dell repair guy come on time, if at all. And most importantly, I can't make my children do what I want every single time. I can hope, but not expect. And I should know that by now.
Now, I have mentioned this epiphany to several friends, all of whom looked at me blankly and then started laughing. My thinking I was somewhat mellow is the source of mirth amongst those who say they love me. But for clarification, I am now substituting "passionate" for "intense". Intense sounds overly serious and rigid to me, a person who can't go to sleep without flossing her teeth. Passionate sounds more full of life and more devil-may-care, more spontaneous and celebratory. Passionate makes music and stays up late making trouble. Passionate loves with her whole heart. That's what I'm going for. So watch out, my dear friends, because I may french kiss you on sight just to make a point. My forties are about passion, not flossing. Well, maybe flossing, too. Maybe a little flossing.