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  • Writer's pictureStaci French

Birthdays, Connection, Mothering, Pandemic....

Today I turned 53. I have not written for a long time because I have been single-handedly raising kids in a worldwide pandemic. It has been exhilarating and exhausting, simultaneously. I have been filled with gratitude and grief. Like the steel roller coaster my friend Natalie and I use to ride repeatedly, over and over in the 80’s while listening to REO Speedwagon, this year has had more ups and downs in the shortest amount of time then that two minute ride at Worlds of Fun. I know I will look back at this period of time and feel deep gratitude for the many moments with my kids, like I do to this day of those with Natalie.

Tonight, I am writing to release my truth and likely many of you will recognize yourself in my words. I hope something in this resonates with some of you because if not, maybe I really am the crazy one! Ha

I slept in today because it is my birthday and I went to bed way to late last night. My kids were upstairs and didn’t come down for well over an hour. To them, it was just another day. When they showed up, one immediately lied to me about something really stupid, the other said, “Happy Birthday” from behind me and went back up to Zoom class. Yes, we are STILL doing Zoom classes over a year later.

Next was the “please do not ever lie to me about anything again” conversation. Then, we sat in silence (with a few tears) for quite awhile before we started homeschool. Eventually, we agreed to check out some books from the library online to pick up later and started making a map of our neighborhood. Not even halfway through, I had to stop for a Zoom parent teacher conference where I was told my child is doing fantastic work, above average. Great, at least one is surviving this crazy time, academically. Not too long after that, same child is criticizing herself for falling asleep for 30 minutes in Zoom class today (never happened before). Then, for the birthday cake “leaking” onto the bottom of the oven and for injuring herself while running “up” the stairs, simply stated for not being enough. Hum, resonating with a few?!? Yes, me too. So, I held her close and reminded her that giving ourselves grace to make mistakes is a pertinent life lesson. That self-care, like icing her injury is important in learning to love ourselves. All the time I am listening to the words channeled through me as I need the rememberings myself.

Back to the map making, then another Zoom conference, this time with the counselor to discuss colleges, grades, graduation requirements, volunteer work, etc. Then, onto the grocery store for more dinner supplies as my middle one was going to make chicken red curry noodle soup for my birthday. No time to run home, so I sit in the library parking lot for the final Zoom parent conference. Within a few minutes of being home, the child who is both an amazing cook and baker realizes she must lay down to ice her injury as the swelling and bruising becomes worse. I proceed to make dinner for the plain, no spice food child while contemplating just having another protein shake for my dinner, since it was my lunch too, why the hell not?!?! I look on the internet to see if maybe, just maybe a restaurant on island has changed in the last week to take out on Wednesdays but zero luck. I contemplate a frozen pizza but that means another trip to the grocery store and I am totally over that. I chop chicken breasts and cry.

I cry because I want connection. I cry because I want recognition. I cry because I want a little gratitude for busting my ass 24/7 and giving every part of me to the children who chose me to come through and back into this world. I cry because after 26 years old doing this alone, I am exhausted. The last two months have been hell. The last year of no community, very few to no friends, all of it.…I cry. I cry because I want ONE f*cking day off. I cry for all of the women out there doing this alone or doing this with spouses who are not partners, with spouses who say they love you yet do not want to partner with you. I am crying for all of the moms who give birth in the bush and keep on going. For those who give birth and lose their babies, I am crying for the pain in the world, the divine feminine lost yet rising from the ashes. I cry out of gratitude for my children who love me and are simply struggling through a pandemic, too. For all who have been and continue to be ridiculed for not being enough, for being to loud, to bossy, to what-the-f*ck-ever. For those who dim their light because the WORK we do is not something society honors, so we do something that makes us feel worthy or we don't. We struggle with our own inner voice saying, "You are enough" while the world says, "No, you aren't." There is no paycheck, there is no day off, no sick days, no put your feet up and let us pamper you days, hell no going to bathroom alone moments, there is little gratitude, and we barely even recognize ourselves at times. Yet, we love and love and love some more and love again even as our hearts break when they fly out of the nest, excited for their newfound freedoms, not looking back to the hole that is left when they are gone. This is what we live for…to set them up to soar like the bald eagle who flew right towards my windshield today….to love them so much, they eventually leave us. Or they live in your basement their entire adult life and you want to punch them. Funny, not funny, for some of you.

So, dinner ended up with one kid ate grilled ham and cheese, rice and red peppers. Another ate goat cheese and crackers and I ate leftover chicken and salad. Maybe the chicken curry will happen another night. Maybe it won’t. Maybe we will have a do over. Likely, we won’t. One went to bed early and two of us had my favorite, flourless chocolate torte cake with raspberry sauce and whipped cream that was delicious and I blew out candles that were only there in my imagination.

My oldest forgot to leave me a card when she was here recently. I am still trying to find the ‘secret place’ I stashed her card as her birthday was just 8 days ago. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

As I was talking to a friend on her birthday a couple of weeks ago, I wonder how many people truly feel celebrated on their birthdays….or even have that need? I wanted connection. Maybe I wanted that with myself, maybe with others, possibly both. My birthday always feels a bit like a let down and I think it goes back to connection, to a need of feeling seen, something I didn’t experience often as a child emotionally. Now, I need to give that to myself. I know I definitely need to feel deeper into that energy, that longing.

I moved to this island to be part of community where we celebrate each other, our differences and our beauty. In the last year, the fear and control that has been perpetrated on us collectively has closed so many hearts. The kinship that was felt in this wild place full of natural wonders, interesting people and amazing creatures, has turned friends completely against each other. Minds that were once open to accepting of our differences, are closed and terrified. Yet, no one is getting off this rolling rock without death of our physical, whether by covid, cancer, flu, heart attack, shooting, old age, car wreck, whatever, we are all going to die. I miss connection. I miss the hugs our “friendly” island was known for. I miss holding the door open for people and being within 6’ feet of others. The potlucks, the music, the art exhibits, the smiles on people's face, the ability to walk down the road, outside breathing fresh air without being accused of trying to kill people. Maybe more than anything, I am missing the ability to be loved and touched from those who live in my community. This 53rd year around the sun, I am visualizing masks off, smiles on, loving touches again!

It has been one hell of a year. I am over covid. My children are over covid. We need to stand up and realize without human connection, we are all lost souls. Our neighbors love, just like we do. We must show our children the world doesn’t have to be a scary, fearful place. I am taking back my sovereignty this year. I hope you will, too. If you are still reading, thank you. I hope you feel the love I am sending out and will remember, we are the connectors, the lovers, the life, and no government entity can take that away. Blessings of love to all of you!

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