Over the past seven years, I’ve come to understand my strengths as a mother. My weaknesses, too.
I’m great at talking, first of all. Especially the hard conversations. I think my time as a youth worker prepared me for this. When you spend five years having daily chats about awkward subject matter with even more awkward teenagers about everything from personal hygiene to sex to drug use to abusive relationships, you get used to diving into the tough stuff, erasing the judgment, letting your matter-of-factness draw out theirs.
I’ve always felt comfortable talking to Olive about the tough stuff, too. About the divorce, moving, consent, swearing, body image, my dating, her fear and anxiety, and the budding dramas in her friendship groups. Talking about things feels like it comes easily to me; the words show up and I speak them. We talk a lot, and she tells me everything. I’m good at that stuff.
I have to say, I have cruised into these last few weeks of school an absolutely bedraggled, exhausted mess.
Back in September, I posted a cute picture to Instagram of Olive’s little stainless steel lunchbox, tidily packed with mini croissant sandwiches and neatly cut fruit and veggies. My ex-brother-in-law, Chuck, father of four, commented wryly, “Remember this post and show us a picture of the lunch you pack on the Friday before the end of school”.
Well, Chuck, I would like to tell you that here we are, the last Friday before the end of school and oh my god I would never share the lunches I’ve been packing lately. NEVER.
This, right here, is what happens when love for your daughter overwhelms your common sense.
Ten days ago, I had botox injected into 31 spots in my temples, scalp, neck, and shoulders in the hopes that it would do something to help the chronic migraines I’ve been getting for the past few years. It’s kind of terrifying to be at the point where I’m voluntarily paralyzing some of my neck and shoulder muscles just to be able to live my life, but at this point I’m desperate. I’ve tried yoga and meditation and medication and massage and vitamins and basically everything else, and here we are.