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gratitude

mothering PARENTING WRITING

Why I Might Become A Morning Person

I have a new dog.

Every morning around 6am he starts shaking his barrel of a body, whining, and, if neither of those work, licking my face until I get up to take him on a walk.

I am not what you would call a morning person.

Usually I pull on whatever clothes I wore the day before, sliding into my sneakers and stumbling out of the house before my brain has a chance to catch up to my body and say, “No thank you.”

I never regret taking this morning walk, though some days I avoid it anyway, nudging my husband awake. And sometimes my husband wakes before me, returning from the walk before I know he’s gone.

I am not what you would call a morning person. Or even particularly outdoorsy.

But there is something magical about the early morning, before the city is awake. My feet keep moving one in front of the other while my mind uses the drumbeat to sort thoughts. It works while I observe with fuzzy curiosity. Sometimes surprising me with what is unresolved from days, weeks, or years past. Sometimes releasing tears as I remember a friend that I have lost.

I let the tears run. There is no one sitting on their front steps to observe me wipe my eyes.

My dog trots alongside me, leash slack until we turn onto a street that has been previously unexplored. Then he uses his fifty-six pounds of muscle to strain with all his might, desperate to inhale the scents of a single blade of grass that holds the key to this time and space.

My dog is not only a morning person, he’s an all the time person. The world is forever new, forever now. He jumps up with excitement each time I reach for his leash, even though it is a now-familiar dance we play each day, even though my human mind so easily finds it mundane.

I wonder sometimes if this walk is the most important thing I do each day.

If my work is my feet’s prayerful pattering. If my job is to say yes to my own forever new, forever now life. To be filled with gratitude for a single, delicious blade of grass.

It is almost enough to convert me to the morning.

-Rachel

fathering mothering PARENTING

You Can’t Have It All

Recently the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, notable for being both highly successful and one of the few females on the Fortune500 scene, was interviewed about her role as CEO and mother. In a moment of honesty, and I would argue courage, she said, “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

I’ve been thinking about that this past week. A lot. Over and over and over. I have a feeling a lot of parents are thinking about that. For me, parenting has brought with it a whole slew of choices: deciding what’s most important, letting go of non-essentials, shifting the focus of my time and energy to be about the tiny person I pushed into the world.

And when it comes down to it, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like too often it seems there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want to accomplish.

For example, there has been a whole colony of fruit flies forming, taking down their oral and written history, and setting up a permanent civilization in our kitchen. We’ve tried various home remedies to combat the problem, but for the most part the fruit flies are winning. This has been causing me a lot of inner turmoil. Words like “dirty”, “unclean”, “inept”, and “bad housekeeper” flash across the screensaver of my mind.

Then there’s this ongoing quest to get back to my pre-baby weight. So there’s the workouts and the food plans. First no sugar. Or maybe just less sugar. Or maybe no gluten. More running? Less eating? Maybe Cross Fit is the answer? Or maybe it’s this new diet that comes straight from France, because every single French person is skinny (and expert parents, too, just FYI). Meanwhile, the scale has not budged. At least not in the right direction.

Then there’s the stuff. Because in order to be the best mom, you need the Sophie giraffe. And the miracle blankets. The right school in the neighborhood with the high property taxes. The organic baby food made in small batches by local farmers. The stuff that is so easy to put on credit cards, payments saved for a later date. A later date that is now today. That is now yesterday.

Kim Kardashian took Indra Nooyi to task, stating that you can have it all. It’s just about priorities. Maybe that’s working for her. And I’m happy for her. I guess. But the snarky side of me wants to say, “Sure, I could have it all if I had your money, Kim.” Throw a few million dollars at the problem and see if that doesn’t change my situation.

And then the other part of me thinks, oh great. So I’m failing on the priorities thing, too. It’s my fault that I don’t have it all. If I tried a little harder, then I wouldn’t feel guilty, my house would be clean, wardrobe perfect, bills paid, and I’d have a booty to win the hearts of every rapper in America.

But my brain keeps shaking the mouse in my mind, keeps preventing the auto-scroll of the screen-saver, keeps yelling, “What does it even MEAN to have it all? Who says you have to have it all? Who defines ALL?

What if the key to “having it all” lies in being satisfied with having enough?

It’s exhausting, the frantic grab at more. I’m so…tired… And I have to believe that is for more reasons than the fact that my son is still not sleeping in his crib with any success (which we can add to my list of what I don’t have).

In her song, As Is, Ani Difranco sings, “When I look around, I think…this is good enough… When I said I’ll take it, I meant “as is”.”

Let me look around.

I have fruit flies. And I have a kitchen. And fruit.

I have stretch marks and a soft belly. And I have son. I have legs strong enough to let me run and arms strong enough to rock my child to sleep.

I have more things in my house than I could use. We keep taking carloads to Good Will and still there is more, more, more.

I have it all. At least, I do when I’m willing to be satisfied with what I have. When I take a big deep breath and put down the fork, put down the credit card, but down the broom, and just let myself notice the plenty all around me.

I agree with Indra Nooyi. I read her article and tears came to my eyes because it was such a relief to hear someone willing to say that life is full of choices, and some choices eliminate other choices. This is more real to me in my thirties than it was in my twenties, and I can only imagine the clarity intensifies with age. And she’s right to say that she can’t be the Pinterest-mom who cooks the perfect meal, hand-makes the kids’ Valentines, and acquire Quaker Oats for PepsiCo all at the same time. You have to choose.

For me, those choices can seem impossible.

But what if I started making my choices from a place of gratitude instead of a place of deficit. What if I started each day in the way of my friend who says, “I thank God for waking me up this morning”? What if the intake of breath was a meditation, a prayer of thanks for another chance, another moment, another second to make another choice? How would that change the conversation about who has it all?

If the CEO of Pepsi can admit to her feelings of guilt and inadequacy, maybe it’s time to own mine. If she can stop pretending, maybe it’s time for me to, too. Maybe it’s time to look around and say, “I’ll take it, as is.”

Hi, my name is Rachel. I don’t have it all. But I have way more than enough.

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