bluegrass redhead - Parenting, Politics, and the Personal from the great state of Kentucky.

Hi. I'm Sarah. I blog about parenting, politics, and the personal. I live in Kentucky with my husband and 2 sons.

Regret

There ain’t nothin like regret... to remind you you’re alive.
— Sheryl Crow
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I’m going to be 34 next week. I always thought I would enjoy aging. When my grandmother and mother would complain about growing older, I would roll my eyes and ignore them. No one wants to get gray hair or aching joints, but confidence and wisdom and self-acceptance? That always seemed pretty great.

I owe my mother and grandmother an apology.

Suddenly, turning forty isn’t some far off fantasy where my life has sorted itself out and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor. Suddenly, forty is SOON and I don’t feel sorted out at all.

I’m still not 100% sure of what I want to be when I grow up and I know no one would describe me as anything other than grown up. My body shows the effects of four pregnancies and three births. Even my red hair (which thankfully hasn’t gone gray yet) doesn’t make me any less invisible to most people I pass on the street.

Or at least that’s how I feel sometimes.

When you’re in your 20’s, everything is so full of promise. Mistakes only occupy the past. They don’t define you, because you have so many years to figure everything out. You have time to start over. You have time to change paths.

Now, mistakes suddenly take up so much space in the future. It’s not just that you screwed up. It’s that you wasted so much valuable TIME screwing up and time has suddenly become a precious commodity.

Listen, I know I still (hopefully) have lots of time left. Women in my family tend to live into their 90’s, which means I still have two more acts.

But … THIS ACT... This act is over and I worry that I made all the wrong choices.

I see my friends who have spent years accumulating promotions and raises and I wonder if I’m made a huge mistake by staying home. I see careers I envy. I see jobs I would enjoy. I worry that I put all my eggs in the wrong damn basket.

I realize that there are things I really want to do but I am so, so scared to try. I am so scared that I will fail and it will mean more time wasted.

I was just expressing these fears to my friend today when only a few short hours I ran across this little shot of amazing courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert.

These days, though, I spend less time thinking about my Inner Child lately, and more time focused on my INNER CRONE — the old lady who lives inside me, whom I hope to someday be.

Because she’s a serious bad-ass.

The really old ladies always are bad-asses. I’m talking about the real survivors. The women who have been through everything already, so nothing scares them anymore. The ones who have already watched the world fight itself nearly to death a dozen times over. The ones who have buried their dreams and their loved ones and lived through it. The ones who have suffered pain and lived through it, and who have had their innocence challenged by ten thousand appalling assaults...and who lived through all of it.

The world is a frightening place. But you simply cannot frighten The True Crone.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

Then, I remember aging isn’t awesome because you’ve figured it all out. Aging is awesome because you realize that NO ONE has it all figured out and that figuring it all out isn’t even the point!

I love being married but not because I’m perfect at it. I love it because it’s hard and rewarding and frustrating and magnificent and I’ve picked the most awesome person with which to take that journey.

I love being a mom but not because I’m perfect at it. I love it because it forces me to fail and then to pick myself up and try again. I’m so scared all the time as a parent, but it doesn’t matter because the momentum of life carries me forward through a million hugs and runny noses and temper tantrums and my fear wears itself out along the way.

Like I’m always telling my kids everything great in life is a little bit scary and I suppose that includes life itself.

Aging is HARD. My fear and regrets aren’t going anywhere. Neither are my mistakes. But I’m still here. I don’t know if I can envision my True Crone quite yet but I can envision Sarah 20 or 30 years from now. The version of yourself Tara Sophia Mohr calls your Inner Mentor.

I can see her. I can see her smiling with gray hair and lines around her eyes. I can hear her urging me on – past the fear, past the regret – into future where there might be less time, but there’s still plenty of hope.

Until tomorrow,

Sarah

In

Worth

I can remember the first time someone said it to me. I can remember where I was and what I was doing. I was a summer intern with a Congressman during law school. I had worked on a project until late in the evening and then brought in a freshly baked chocolate cake the next morning.

“You must have more hours in the day than the rest of us.”

I remember how it made me feel. I felt good. I felt strong. I felt special. It must be how some people feel when they do drugs for the first time.

I wanted to feel that way again. I might not always be the prettiest or the smartest but I could be the most capable. I call it hyper-capable and I define myself by my ability to do more, achieve more, be more.

There are worse things to be addicted to I suppose then your ability to squeeze the maximum amount of accomplishment out of every day. Most of the time, it serves me well. With three kids and a husband and a home and a blog and clients, I don’t really have much of the choice.

It works great…until it doesn’t.

During times of transition or exhaustion or illness, I am forced to slow down. As Bonnie Raitt says, “You can only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go.” The slowing down, the saying no, the resting does not come easy to me.

It doesn’t feel like the ebb and flow of life. It feels like failure.

As the mess stacks up around me, I feel so overwhelmed.  As my list of want-to’s and need-to’s and HAVE-to’s gets longer, I lose myself.

If I’m not the girl with more hours in the day, then who am I?

Deep down, my fear of slowing down – of doing less – is about more than my identity. It’s about my worth. I can feel myself striving. I can feel myself desperately trying to prove that I’m worth the time, the energy, the love.

A dear friend recently encouraged me to take the DISC personality assessment and I scored a NINETY-NINE on the I for Influential – aka People Oriented. Not surprisingly, what others think about me is VERY important.

Since acceptance and approval by others is the main desire of I Personality Types, Rejection is their biggest fear.

I strive and I do and I go. I say yes to meetings and “opportunities” and cries for help because the relationships I have with other people – even mere acquaintances – are so important to me.

Meanwhile the relationship with those I’m closest too – and my relationship with myself – suffers.

And 200 more hours in the day won’t fix that.

In

Sleep

Y'all, I am so so tired.

I don’t remember being anywhere near this exhausted with Griffin or Amos. I suppose I was, but maybe I don’t remember? Or maybe I wasn’t because I wasn’t chasing after two other kids? Or maybe I was just younger and had more energy?

I have no idea. All I know is sleep is important to me and I’m not getting enough.

When Felix was a newborn who just slept all day, I was feeling pretty good. However, once he transitioned to a more adult-like sleep cycle, the situation got real. One middle-of-the-night feeding became three. My sweet newborn became a cranky baby who wanted to hangout on my boob morning, noon, and night.

In a fit of desperation, we decided to sleep train Felix a few weeks ago – MONTHS earlier than we had trained our other two and with no bedtime preparation to speak of. We were ill-prepared and went cold turkey on the swing and swaddle leading to a disastrous couple of nights with everybody in tears.

Our lack of preparation and the wretched result left me in a full-on guilt spiral.

In the middle of the night, everything seems worse. In the middle of the night with a screaming infant, everything seems downright tragic. I just lay in bed and cry - feeling like a failure if I pick him up and reinforce bad sleep habits and failure if I don’t because I’m letting my baby cry.

And - for some inexplicable reason - I find myself crawling into bed either to go to sleep or to go BACK to sleep only to find sleep won't come. 

I'm suddenly wired and scrolling endlessly through Facebook where everyone else's happiness feels like a million micro-aggressions.  Or I lay there in the dark and the quiet on edge - my heart racing - waiting for the baby to start crying again or for my mind to just. shut. up.

Plus, I’m not exercising. I gave up yoga and running when I got pregnant and despite the occasional morning walk, I haven’t done anything with regularity.

I feel bad about my body but don’t have enough energy to do much but feel bad about my body.

Everyone says I have a five-month-old and sleep deprivation is part of the deal and I get all that. However, I think there’s more to it than that. I got pregnant one month after I lost our last baby. As a result, I’ve been in some type of extreme hormonal phase since November of 2013. Not to mention, I had two pregnancies and two years of breastfeeding in the four years before that.

Let’s do the math.

Over the past seven years, I’ve only spent 21 months NOT pregnant or breastfeeding.

I’m rafting a raging hormonal river and trying to do it with no sleep.

I’ve also been struggling with post-partum hypertension, which I didn’t even know was a thing until my blood pressure sky rocketed a week after Felix was born. Now, once a month, my blood pressure shoots up and I have a terrible headache for two days. 

What makes it even harder is I was basically in the best shape of my life before I got pregnant in 2013 so the difference between then and now is hard to ignore. When I look back at pictures of myself, I don’t feel forgiving or grateful. I only feel frustrated and impatient. I know how good I can feel and look, which puts the current terribleness in starker contrast.

I know all the things I should do, beginning with showing gratitude for the amazing journey my body has been on over the past seven years.

And maybe I could find some space for gratitude if I could just get a little rest…

Until tomorrow,

Sarah

In