© 2019 Ponytail Mama
Artwork and Text is original creation by the author of Ponytail Mama.
It has taken me years to accept a societal truth that it is okay for me to take time for myself instead of giving every little bit of me, squeezed out and wrung dry, to my children and everyone else who’s asking. It’s only been recently, however, that I no longer feel guilty (mostly) taking that time, and so it was with zero guilt a couple of nights ago that I skipped out on making dinner, taking the opportunity instead to read a book on our porch swing. My gosh, it was glorious. And uplifting. It was uplifting!
It was the first cool evening we have had in weeks. The air held just enough moisture to conjure up feelings of being surrounded by ancient giant redwood trees, though in reality I was surrounded by commuters (aka my neighbors) pulling into their driveways. Most significantly, although my children were running around the neighborhood with their friends, I did not feel anxious or worried or stressed; I only felt peaceful. A rare all-encompassing feeling as a 2019 parent!
I read my book, but I also lazily swung on the swing with my eyes closed, inhaling and feeling the outdoors in my very bones. I was cognizant of taking the moment in because I find that as a grownup, these moments are too few and far between. One of my goals as an experienced adult is to tilt the balance of this scale so that my experiences of inner peace become more frequent than the anxious ones.
PSA: Fret not. I ordered pizza for dinner so no appetites were harmed during the making of my peace.
PSA: I ordered pizza for dinner so no appetites were harmed in the making of my peace.
Thirteen months ago, I began an affair with the Frenchman down the street. Unfortunately, not only does his wife not know about it, he does not know about it! You see, quite a while ago I gave up Starbucks. It just wasn’t giving me the warm fuzzies that I think it was meant to give. Additionally, after performing multiple scientifically inauthentic tests, I feel quite certain that all that fake syrup flavoring was making my skin break out! As a 40+-year-old woman who fancies herself a MILF but is really more of a Cougar who probably is really only viewed as a Tired Mom, I had to give it up! With all the other madness at this stage of life, who wants to deal with acne?!
The Frenchman, on the other hand — he mixes his coffee with homemade chocolate ganache that fills my heart with Parisian joy. Yet still, he does not know how I love thee. Or is it thou? It might just be him. Oh, how I love him and his chocolate ganache. And so it was that one day, while sipping my Mocha, I commented to my husband that I felt the Frenchman should know my name for all of the money I spend in his café on a weekly basis. It was a comment borne of my ego and then forgotten. Seven days later, I stood in his crowded shop waiting for that silky, dark chocolatey, bittersweet mocha, when Monsieur Ganache looked at me from across the room and was very quickly standing in front of me. “Are you waiting for something?” he asked in his very intoxicating French ox-cent. Yes. “What did you order? I will get it for you.” Thank you. I only ordered a Mocha. I come here almost every day for my Mocha (subtle, right?). And then! “Ah, if you are here every day, then I should know your name!” YES YOU SHOULD! I wanted to exclaim, but did not. I politely gave him my name; we shook hands; I praised his lovely drink; we parted as lifelong friends.
Since then, I have been in at least a million times. It is clear he has no recollection of my name and I am fairly certain he also does not recognize me. But his ox-cent is beautiful and his Mochas are amazing so the affair continues. Ahhh, c’est la vie in Suburbia.
“Angel, you have so much potential,” said everyone I ever met before I was thirty years old. Words that once lifted my spirits and made me think to myself yes! you are right! I am destined for greatness, and you, great giver of self-esteem, you see it! Through the years, however, those same words would cause me to hang my head in shame; discomfort; embarrassment at my own lack of awesomeness.
I had troubled relationships and rarely felt like I belonged anywhere. I got by, but I always felt unfulfilled. It was following the birth of my first son that things really started to deteriorate. I was heartbreakingly unhappy. At a time when I should have felt joy and gratefulness, I often only felt stuck. Worse than that, I felt trapped – like a wild animal locked in a cage, roaring for the great wonders that I knew lay beyond my domestic confinement.
Thankfully, my husband begged me to go to counseling with him. It wasn’t easy for me to do. Along with pride, I was also in full-blown, feet-planted, onmywayoutthedoor, just-another-wrong-relationship mode. What helped me move my feet to his wishes was simple: I remembered that I had loved him dearly. I remembered that what led to our marriage was that we liked each other so very much. We were truly friends and we had a baby together. I knew better than to just walk away from that.
This next moment is pivotal: during our second visit with the counselor, she interrupted my speaking and asked me if anyone had ever suggested that I had ADD. I laughed out loud and so did my husband. Obviously, but not reeeeallly! “Seriously,” she said and recommended that I read Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell. Reading it the next day, I cried as I realized I wasn’t quirky, but apparently just another diagnosis. Genetically or environmentally or experience induced, I may never know, but I’ve been working through that discovery for almost thirteen years.
Frustrating, yes, but also incredibly helpful. Understanding the root of my shortcomings was discouraging at first, but it has since become liberating. I have adopted a phrase that I heard Oprah Winfrey repeat multiple times during one of her SuperSoul podcasts: “When you know better, you do better.” It also helps that I have a compassionate husband. The friendship and mutual respect that we started with, followed by our desire to put in the effort to retain our relationship has served to bring us closer. I feel emotionally safe with him, so about once a year, when I feel unable to sort through the clutter of my mind, I tell him. He kindly dismantles the teetering piles I have somehow built around the house and we move on.
As I enter a new phase of my life (more about that later), I intend to continue to grow and learn and live the life that I have always imagined – without the baggage of guilt and resentment that ADD often fosters. Make no mistake, I do get distracted and I can be inconsistent. I am sharing this because I recognize that I am not the only person in this world who feels this way: sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes SO CREATIVE, sometimes so incapable of stringing two thoughts together in a cohesive manner. I am hopeful that as I make my way on my continued journey toward personal inner peace, you will find comfort and inspiration as you venture forth on yours as well.
Good luck! And hey, remember that having ADD has its up sides. This page took me hours to write, but only because I’ve been successfully multitasking. Yay! It’s one of those days!