Monthly Archives: March 2014

There’s joy in closed doors

I make my way down the stairs, and I smile. In fact, each time I head up or down the stairs I smile. Out of the corner of my eye I can see my daughter’s bedroom door, and it’s closed.

It was closed a lot during her last year of high school, at least when she was here. She was always behind the door, working on something – her schoolwork, her college applications, her art, her Facebook or Snapchat or Tumblr.

I don’t know if the closed door made me smile then. I don’t remember. I know that it makes me smile now, because it means she’s here. When she’s away at college, we leave the door open. I like to say “hi” to her as I pass her room on the way to my office, even though she’s not really there. So a closed door now signifies that our family of four is a family of four again. I mean, we’re always a family of four, but we haven’t been a family of four on an active daily basis since she went back to school in January. Now my son can sing the German alphabet song over and over again to annoy her, and the two of them can bicker (albeit kiddingly) at the dinner table. She’s here.

She’s only here for a few days, but she’s here and it’s a cause to smile. And while she’s here she’s often out and about, seeing the friends she can, so the closed door means she’s not only in Pennsylvania, but she’s in our house, which is doubly nice.

It’s nice to know that she’s awake somewhere in the house, most likely looking at something electronic, as I climb into bed at night. It’s nice to know that she’s sleeping in her room when I wake in the morning. And that she’s still sleeping in her room when I get back from the gym. It’s nice to know that, at least for a few days, I’ll hear her voice in the background as she talks with my husband or plays with her brother. It’s even nice to see her stare at her phone and seemingly ignore me for a few minutes. Because it means that she’s here to visit.

I wouldn’t want her here all the time. I mean I would, if it wasn’t her freshman year in college. I want her to be living and loving her freshman year in college. I think nothing is more sweet to a parent’s heart than to know that your kid is happy with where they are and what they’re doing. And she is, which is such a gift.

But it’s also a gift to have her here with us, if only for a few days. So many times, I think, we take what we have for granted. We live with the people we love most in the world, and don’t necessarily remember each day how much we love them. But when one of them leaves, even for a little while (or for what feels like a very long ten weeks), you begin to remember how dear they all are to you. How special family time is when it’s the whole family. How lucky you are that these amazing people are in your life.

So, today the closed door is making me smile. It’s reminding me to appreciate what’s right in front of me, and all that I have. I might smile even more when she opens the door and comes out, but even the sight of the closed door and the thought of her behind it is a gift.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Ouch

I know I’ve said it before. I’ve said it over and over again in fact. I’ve said it to friends. To my family. To strangers I’m sure. I’ve even said it here. More than once. But this time I really mean it.

I’ve made my vow to walk away from perfectionism. Again. To not try so hard. To not aim to do everything right, and best, and every other superlative I can come up with. To be easier on myself (and therefore easier on others, I guess). I know I’ve vowed this and vowed this and vowed this before. But this time I really mean it.

Ok, maybe this time I really, really mean it. Because as my daughter pointed out as she read through this post (she’s my editor), not only have I said that I was going to walk away from my perfectionism before, but I’ve said “this time I really mean it” before as well. In fact, she called me out on being a perfectionist about becoming less of a perfectionist. Ouch. I guess that’s what they mean by, “the truth hurts.”

So maybe I should just admit that I’m going to keep saying it and keep saying it, and keep really, really meaning it as well. Because my attempt to not try to be perfect is going to be stellarly less than perfect because I am going to slip back into perfectionism more often than not. Even perfectionism about not being perfect. So I’m going to have to be okay with not being perfect at not being a perfectionist, and I’m going to have to be okay with repeating myself. Over and over and over again.

The weird thing about perfectionism is I don’t even think you realize you’re doing it when you’re doing it. Hence the endless repetition, and determination, of changing my stripes. I’ve told many people in the last ten years that I was a “recovering perfectionist.” And I meant it. And I had a (perfect) list of examples that proved I no longer strove for perfection. The scary thing is that I was recovering from how I used to be. But I’m determined to recover even more. And not perfectly. I sat with a friend and told her how I was re-upping my resolve to not strive for my perfection anymore, and she said, “Isn’t it a relief?” I had to agree.

I’m not going to get dinner perfectly on the table every night. I’m not going to go above and beyond in my work duties, unless I want to. I’m going to sit and read more, and do the things I “have to do” less. I’m not going to perfectly write my blog, or my book, or my work blog (well, maybe that one). I’m going to accept myself when I get angry or upset, and not think I have to express my emotions perfectly. I’m going to let the people I love off the hook when they let me down, and myself off the hook when I let them down. I’m going to give us all space to mess up and to be messy. To be human.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to aim for errors. I’m still going to aim for my best. But my best doesn’t have to be perfect. And neither does yours. I don’t even think my best can be perfect….well, maybe sometimes it can. But it’s not the standard I’m going to hold myself to.

This time I really mean it. Hold me to it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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You can’t go home again

It was last year sometime. I don’t remember exactly when. We were walking up to the front door (so it must have been before we did a small renovation and had a side door), and I turned to my daughter to try and explain the concept further. “I know maybe you can’t imagine it,” I said. “But within a few weeks of being at college, that will become home and this will be something else.”

She shook her head in disbelief. She knew that home was home, and that home would always be home. I knew differently and for some reason wanted to convince her. Maybe I wanted her to see how okay I was with her leaving. Maybe I wanted her to know that I “got it” – for when she got it and didn’t think I did. I don’t know why, but I tried to explain it further, and she simply didn’t agree.

And then she left (or, to be accurate, I took her away and left her there). She moved more than a thousand miles away to the school of her dreams and began her new life, in her new home. And I carefully never asked, at least not for the first few weeks of phone calls and FaceTiming, if she was happy and loved it. But finally she told me something that let me know that she loved it, so I could ask. And she did. But we still didn’t discuss the “home” thing.

Until she went back after a long winter break. (She had said I would love her college’s trimester system and the six week winter break between Thanksgiving and New Years, and I do!) I got the snapchat with a picture of her dorm room and the words, “I’m home!!!!!!!”

So it has, and rightly so, become home for her. But today she’s coming back here. Not for long, mind you. Just for two nights, until she’ll be joined by four friends who will all crash at our house and explore Philly for a few days, and then they’ll head up to New York City. She’ll come back next weekend, but just for one night, before she goes “home.” Home to her dorm room in Minnesota, not home to here.

Because home changes as we change. Maybe one day, for a short while, she’ll call this home again. Or maybe not. Maybe it will soon become, “the house where I grew up.” Or, “my family’s house.” Or “my parents’ house,” when her brother leaves for college in a bunch of years.

It’s weird how home changes. How we change. How the things we think will always be important to us become less important to us, and the things we never think will matter begin to. Both my kids once promised me that they’d go to college within a five mile radius of our home. She obviously hasn’t, and my son no longer plans on it either. But when they’re little they think they never want to be anywhere else but with you. And then they grow and there are a myriad of other places they also want to be.

If you’re lucky, it’s also, not instead of. If you’re lucky, they still like being with you and considering your home one of their homes. If you’re lucky.

I think I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky that she’ll be home – in my home – in less than seven hours. I’ll delight in having her here, for the few days I have her here, and then send her back home to her college life.

Maybe you can go home again. Maybe there can be many homes. Maybe home is where the heart is, as they say. And maybe your heart can find home in many places.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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