Things Worth Saving

I wish I could say that I have a good relationship with my family. The truth is I just don’t. I can’t have a civilized conversation with my mother for more than 5 minutes, neither of my sisters speak to me, so that leaves 2 brothers. One who talks to me occasionally and the other who doesn’t. My father passed away suddenly 11 years ago.

For years I wished things were different. While I seemed to grasp that logically, emotionally there was still a sad little girl who wishes we aren’t so fractured as a family. My husband has learned that some holidays I tolerate better than others and that  some are altogether un-salvageable. Which 1. Made me think I married a pretty awesome guy and 2. Made me wonder how much my sadness has affected the family I have now. It’s a sobering thought. It made me uncomfortable, because my sadness is my responsibility. If I’ve focused on my sadness, then I’ve not been giving my best to the family I’ve created.

I’ve heard that I need to “live in the moment” or “walk out of your upbringing” and lots of other colloquialisms that seemed trite and never really resonated with me. I mean seriously where is the instruction manual?!

I was in my 30’s before I started cooking regularly, because I thought that cooking for 1 was a waste of my time and cooking for 2 was also a waste of my time.  I outsourced my housework, laundry, dry cleaning, and sometimes cooking, because my time was worth so much more than those menial tasks.

A few months ago, by accident, I realized that I save things “for a special occasion”.  Saved them for a time that’s more important than now, where I will be prettier, thinner, happier, more satisfied. Endless tomorrows that never seem to come.

What I suddenly grasped was that life is ordinary. It’s made up of lots of menial tasks, a million ordinary moments, and a few extraordinary ones. There are no special tomorrows. Yes there will be special times, but I think that the point is to see the beauty in the menial tasks and ordinary moments.

Maybe it’s time to wear that outfit I’ve saved, or to use the crystal or china that’s been sitting in the cupboard for years gathering dust. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at the past, and letting it overwhelm me. Time to realize and accept that I’m never  NOT going to be sad about it. Being sad is a normal reaction to terrible events. It’s time to make peace with it, to realize it’s never going to go away, and for lack of a better term, acknowledge that it walks along with me whether I like it or not. Acceptance.

I don’t like cleaning but I love a clean house. I HATE folding laundry, but I love the smell and feel of fresh sheets, towels and clothes. I’ve learned to enjoy cooking because I like to know what I’m feeding my family. These menial tasks, they have become a huge part of my life.

Ideally you get two chances at parenthood. You get the ones who gave birth to you, and the ones you become in whatever form that takes. My past is sad, but I’m aware that I need to put it aside, stop saving things for a “special occasion”, give my fullest attention to my family, and both work toward and allow myself to hope for a better now.

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9 comments on “Things Worth Saving

  1. Beverly says:

    Nice post. A good message for a lot of us. Finding joy in the midst of the grunt work is a challenge, but routines can bring peace. A lot of work I like the “having done it” much better than the “doing it.” But if I don’t do it — then I’m really annoyed.

  2. Liz H. says:

    A very thoughtful post. I can understand the sadness of feeling like a lonely leaf floating downstream, separated from the “family tree.” It’s hard, seeing everyone else around you with those physical, loving connections. But, through time, I’m discovering that there is a simple freedom in being the “lone leaf,” cast adrift. You can write your own story, sprout up somewhere new.

    And, definitely cherish every day, find some way to make it special, make it memorable. Especially now that I have a little daughter, I am coming to realize just how important those little moments are. Taking the time to throw on a little music and have a dance party with my toddler while I’m in the midst of vacuuming can make the difference between going to bed at night wondering, “Did I do enough today?” and ending the day with a smile on my face. I hope that you can have more smiles as well!

  3. Bitter en Zoet says:

    Every now and then I think about how the family I was born into shapes the idea of the kind of parent I hope to be. In my case, it’s all theoretical for the moment. But I’m always surprised by what I’ve been given from them and that even in what I feel has been taken away, I’ve been given something else in exchange. Our families made us who we are whether we like it or not. They’ve shown us what we want and what we don’t want.

    I stopped by to read because of the byline of your blog: “Pants are down and dignity absent”. Yes. In my case, let’s add the fact the woman doing your ultrasound doesn’t speak your language.

    All the best,
    http://www.mothersugar.wordpress.com

    • Jeanette says:

      Thank you for your kind comment and for stopping by. I read some of your own posts and they are beautifully written. So Im going to follow you and very much look forward to hearing about your own story!

  4. Daryl says:

    We don’t get to choose the family we’re born into, but hopefully when our time comes, we can make better choices. It sounds like you’ve already chosen a pretty great partner.

    I love the idea of every day being special in its own way. Have you heard of Seeing the Everyday magazine (http://blog.seeingtheeveryday.com/)? It celebrates the mundane activities of everyday life in a way that is so simple and beautiful. One of these days I hope to be able to do the same!

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