Saturday, May 6, 2017

Notes on Self

I like to go where I am needed or where I want to be. That's how my mind works. Probably like everyone else alive who has personal agency and the determination to use it. Being obliged can be a blessing and parenting is one of those all encompassing efforts that always occupies some part of your brain (even as you navigate the world of paying work or fulfilling personal goals, which are very important, as your offspring will, if you are fortunate to witness, grow up and leave, becoming independent individuals themselves. But I digress.)

I use to chalk it up to my astrological sign, being a Virgo, that I excelled in service to others and maintaining organization and I know a thing or two about keeping calm under stressful situations. (Certain skills honed in my childhood. But I digress again.) Being a commercial photographer has been a perfect fit for my exacting vision and my ability to craft singular images.  A new task to execute and an outcome to chase triggers my adrenaline. Sometimes, as a photographer, I would feel like the conductor, stepping to my podium, the camera on the tripod, directing all the players, models, stylists, assistants to give me something memorable with a tinge of something else. Many days, I had the dream job.

Still, back then, 3 o'clock in the afternoon could roll around and a wave of melancholy could wash over me. Here I was, making my way as a freelancer, living on a quaint street in Greenwich Village, intersecting with talented people, making photographs, getting paid, meeting guys, going places, but I desperately wanted to be spending time with my children. Who didn't exist yet. I wanted to be home, waiting for them to come in from school. Or standing at the bus stop, waiting to pick them up. (which often became, in real life, grabbing them from school, hearing them complain or annoy each other,  to get to some extra-curricular somewhere with snacks packed and the others required to kill an hour, but I digress again.)

During those years of singledom (we'll call it my "Sex in the City" phase),  my biological clock ticked relentlessly. So I did what any family oriented, professional mid-thirties woman does. After a brief courtship, I married a very nice lawyer who was equally delighted to be marrying me. (For one year we lived in the Back Bay of Boston and our apartment alley bordered a playground. The sounds of the children playing tortured me with longing. Amazing when I look back on it.)

Despite all the ways we were a good fit, aesthetics, compassion, intellect, and looks, we were not well matched. 3 years later I was living alone in a loft in Chelsea, trying to figure out what life had in store for me. Was motherhood, at 40, even in the cards for me anymore?

Turns out, I had three kids. I won't bore anyone who has read my blog. They are fine. They weren't miracle babies, I just found myself getting pregnant when I became romantically entangled again with a charismatic man. When my youngest was two, I felt I was the best person to take care of them (chalk it up to maternal passion). Our fiscal well being suffered and the marriage was stressed by not having two real incomes. It was a financial sacrifice to be a full time mom.  (But I think, if you are lucky and willing to do it, a great investment of your time.) The economy dealt us some knocks, and life upended. We were lucky to have resources, ingenuity and loans to get us through. Everyone (saved the marriage) survived.

Now with everyone scattered or otherwise engaged. there's no necessity to cook meals when I am home alone. (A task I undertook most days for my family members as children need meals on a regular basis. Keeps a nice level of sanity.)  But with the endless chores of an old house, I'm rarely at a loss for something to do. (And as young adults, my kids require minimal of me and I appreciate how able they are. So back to need.)

I like to be needed. It's interesting to me, I like to make things happen, make images, enjoy all kinds of culture and being outside, but I am happiest when I am needed and something is required of me.

Mid-divorce, I'm without a ton of mental clarity on the meaning of relationships.  I'm focusing on each day as it comes, tackling what's next- showing up on time and hopefully prepared. The goal then, is to use this liberty to step back, take stock of what happened and try to be needed by myself.

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