Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Enough

I have a drive for constant change and reinvention, as well as a strong desire for stability. It's a push and pull that I struggle with, probably stemming from the way I grew up, and the way we moved every three to four years. I know I need to stay put, in my job, my house, my life. When I think about what I want out of my life, stability is at the top of my list. And yet. And yet. I still yearn for different things. New surroundings, new challenges, new things, to try on new personas instead of being happy with the one that I have.
This past Saturday morning, I sat in the dining room of a friend, with all the girls from my book club seated around a wooden table. We were eating the most sinfully delicious pancakes I've ever had - chocolate chip and bacon - and sipping mimosas. We were discussing The Glass Castle, a book about suffering and poverty. And yet. Here I was, looking around her condo, wishing my place looked like hers. She just moved in about six months ago, and has a nicely remodeled kitchen, and these gleaming hardwood floors. She has a teeny living room, but a big. white linen sofa on a fluffy white rug that just looks so fresh and inviting. Her bathroom is a cheery blue with a pink and purple floral shower curtain Matt would deem far too girly for our shared space. I felt so shallow and dumb. Because at this point, I wasn't even yearning for something I don't have. I have a condo. I just liked hers better in that moment. It was cleaner and more put together than mine. Somehow, more special and sophisticated. Here I am, discussing the tale of someone's horrible childhood, and feeling petty and envious because someone has a nicer shower curtain than me. I kind of hated myself in that moment.
Then I read all the blogs I subscribe to in my Google Reader, and I wish that I had the time, the talent, and the inclination to have the lives of some of the women I read: The ability to cook fantastic, photo-worthy meals, or to craft sweet little clothes for my son. I suddenly don't want the city condo of my book-club friend, but the life of a stay at home mother who homeschools, who cloth diapers and dries them on a clothes line, who grows a big backyard garden. Who lives in the woods and wears breezy sundresses, whose home is artfully disheveled, with distressed hardwood floors and a big farm sink, and is decorated with charming bowls of polished stones and fresh wildflowers. I read about their deliberately slowed-down lives, and wish that I could be more like that.
I want to be crunchier, hippier than I am sometimes. But I also want to be more put together and have a clean, magazine-ready home at the same time.

Why is my own life not good enough? I am so blessed. I have the most amazing son, who always has a mischievous sparkle in his eye, and is always dancing, laughing and giving kisses. He is certainly happy. My husband is great too - he makes me laugh, he always gets me and my neuroses. And his presence is always so calming - in the midst of any kind of crises, he is there to lend logical advice and support. And then there's my home. It's fine. In fact, really, it's more than fine. I love the way the maple wood floors in the kitchen look in the mid-day sun, and the contrast of the creamy white cabinets against the cherry red walls. I love our big, comfy sectional, and how we can lounge on it while Sebastian crawls over us and bounces up and down, and how once he goes to bed we put our feet up, crack open a beer and watch Mad Men. Yesterday, I glimpsed Sebastian sitting on the floor of his bedroom, paging through a board book with his brows furrowed in concentration. His bedroom is a bright blue, and has hand painted clouds on the walls, and decals of hot air balloons and airplanes. There's a book we read together sometimes called Zen Ties, and on the cover two pandas hold bright balloons. Sebastian points at them, and I say "balloon!" and then he points at his walls. And recently he started pointing at an orange lantern he has hanging from his ceiling when we say "balloon." So I bought a tiny basket and some ribbon, and turned the lantern into a hot air balloon. It's seriously cute, and a good example of how we use simple things to make our house ours.
And as for me, I try really hard to be patient and kind, to my friends and family. I think I'm fun and cheerful and a good person. The thing I need more of is confidence. Confidence that I am a unique, worthy person who can eat local meat AND sometimes really want something from Taco Bell. Who can read Unconditional Parenting and blogs about kids and consumerism, but also let my kid watch Sesame Street. That I can dream of spending the whole day picking up sticks and leaves with my kid, but that the reality is I have to go to work and make money, and that's okay too. And that I can drool over someone else's granite counter tops without feeling like my little condo is unworthy. That I can't spend my energy envying other people. It's not healthy.
This blog was started to convince me that even though our "investment" is hemorrhaging money, that it can be a good enough place to live and for our son to grow up. Lately I feel it's the place where I need to come to convince myself that my whole LIFE is good enough. Because it so is.

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