I don't know myself at all. Not one bit. Could somebody introduce us? I'm so elusive, so capricious.
This is a cruel discovery to be made in the middle of my life. I wish I had known it from the beginning. Not sure what I would have done with that knowledge....can be so indecisive.
It took all my precious children abandoning the home front for school and bigger adventures to wake me up in order to recognize the stranger in the mirror.
How do I not know myself? Let me count the ways.
1. I thought I wanted an immaculate house.
Turns out, no. No, I don't. Not nearly bad enough, anyway. I have more time now to pursue and maintain a well-organized and spotless home, but cleaning a house isn't fulfilling in the least. It doesn't bring joy, and, trust me, it never stays that way.
Don't get me wrong. I work hard around here. I do most of the menial jobs including taking out trash, but as my son Berto told me not long ago, "Get a life, Mom." He meant it kindly, but he most certainly did not mean that I should clean more. He was encouraging me to pursue other things entirely, because it already seems to my kids that all I do is clean, clear out and straighten up.
2. I thought I wanted peace and quiet.
Somebody rescue me....from ME!
Turns out that peace and quiet are unsuitable companions if one has a rebellious, disgruntled mind well-endowed with imagination. Peace has left the building. Quiet is a vicious, gnawing rat.
3. I thought I wanted to write a lot more.
Guess what? Shhhhhh. Come closer. Writing is work, too. And it requires you to wear your happy, industrious pants. Well, I blame peace and quiet for stealing my happy pants, so I was too petulant to write much. I barely wrote more this year at all when I think of all the opportunities I should have had if not for my bad temper.
Writing - writing anything as well as I can - gives me a high not unlike a mother feels after giving birth naturally. If I could have just pushed through, ordered my bad moods out of the way, I would have felt much better most of the time.
Will and I need to have a talk about teamwork.
But, hey, I'm writing now.
4. I thought all I wanted to do was stay home.
I have always been a homebody. I remember my sister Vinca visiting me just after I had my oldest daughter Ana. We only had one vehicle then, and if I didn't walk someplace pushing babies in a double stroller, home was sweet. Vinca asked me how I could stand it, but I had never minded.
Even while growing up, my older siblings were out working in the woods with my parents rolling grapevine wreaths, and I was home cleaning. Of course, home back then was on 98 acres of green, rolling land with woods and a creek, so it was greatly prized and smelled like honeysuckle and rich earth.
Home now is a great little place in the city with a fair backyard in which my family plays baseball and soccer games on weekends, but it is not enough anymore when my husband and children are away so much.
I am craving adventure for myself or at least new friends and more exercise. I feel left behind in a special cocoon I have made, and I want to struggle out of it. That means I have to abandon the fear that I will be spending too much money, time, or pleasure on myself. I have to convince myself that I am worth it.
But am I? Yes? Shesh, I sound like such a baby, already so blessed! Perhaps I'll just go and watch It's A Wonderful Life again.
5. I thought I wanted to pluck my eyebrows and dye my hair.
Okay, this one is trivial, but it shows I don't know my own mind even where it comes to my appearance.
I began to "shape" the eyebrows when I was thirty-five. Now, I'm approaching thirty-seven, and I don't want to anymore. My eyebrows are somewhat unruly, artfully imperfect, but I have decided that each hair is precious. And anyhow, I hate false eyelashes and fake nails, have never yet dyed my hair - though I was tempted not long ago to abandon my lovely chestnut color to go blonde - so why train naturally errant brows?
My children have just two weeks left of school, and now that I have finally realized how aloof I am, I have so little time to try and forge an acquaintance with me. Perhaps I should make a bucket list of sorts: 10 team-building activities Hillary wants to do with herself before her children get out of school. There's still time for adventure surely.
Next year, believe me, I am going to have a game plan. I'm not going to enter into blind solitude again. I'm going to learn to flamenco dance or take guitar lessons so I can play in local coffee shops. I'm going to get involved with some creative group of people, find my fellow crazies.
And I am - I truly am - going to write a lot more. This I know for sure about myself: it would do my heart good.