I like to add the "dot-dot-dot" to things I write these days. This is probably getting really annoying and overused, and sort of lazy looking, but this "..." has become my fall back. I have mom brain, moving brain, island brain, and dot-dot-dot really covers all the stuff you leave out or can't express quickly and eloquently enough. In Hawaii I would insert "da'kine" instead of ..., if I were having a conversation.
I am insane this week.
Island life is not at all just paradise and beaches. Ok, that's totally not true, there are a lot of beaches and my tan lines (and burnt part on my scalp) are proof, but it's taken lots of work in between to stay afloat. Some of the work is required, because living here is expensive, and because family obligations are just kind of over the top this last couple of years. So I work. But some of it is a kind of crazy busy-ness that I have created, that I always create, to quiet the demons.
What strikes me this morning is that with this move, and with every transition before this, I must fight to get back to a level playing field with myself, similar to the one I have just left. No one here cares if I "was" a food blogger. No one cares how much time I spent volunteering at our last school, or how many pies I baked at the holidays. No one cares if I threw myself head on into urban gardening, or whether I was a preschool teacher, a pastry chef, an instructor, a camp leader, a writer, a friend... I am this blank canvas, and first impressions take a long time to wear away.
Because of this, and because of this fear that I will be viewed as something other than what I feel I am and have worked for, because I hate being marginalized as a housewife or "military dependent," I throw myself at everything with gusto. Sometimes gusto is exhausting.
This week I am fighting my internal demons as I venture into that last dizzying month of my children's school for the year. Even though we've spent six months now offering our blood sweat and tears (and money) to my son's school, I still have this aching feeling of being an unknown. I feel I must look like some crazed hover-parent, when in fact what I am, is this totally devoted mom who believes in pulling things up from the ashes, and i'm ready to give my all to support whatever is needed. But no one calls. I have tried to throw myself at each large event, school outing, education bonus, fundraiser, bake sale. I've tried to say "hey, I have an AA in Early Child Education, you know, if that helps". Crickets.
When the idea of an enrichment camp on another island came up I said "hey, I have spent years working as a camp counselor for children with cancer, and running a marine biology camp once too. I'm your girl!". Silence. Maybe a slight "That's nice" followed by an awkward smile and a once over as they gauge just how crazy a hover parent/military wife I am (and the military bit gives them plenty of material to make judgements with).
When the issue of the big year-end fundraiser came up, I hurled myself at it body and soul. This would be my shining moment. I would drive this ship, relieving all the weary travelers and inspire mass fund-raising. "Hi, I have lots of event and catering experience, and I would love to help!"(even though, technically I am so overworked I couldn't possibly easily handle this). Nothing. In fact, I'm working a two hour shift at the face painting booth.
What the hell is the problem here? I mean with me, not with them, or Hawaii. Most of us Mothers of Perpetual Exhaustion would be thrilled to sideline for awhile, but I'm not. I feel invisible. I feel vacant.
My child, the brilliant and quirky being that he is, flaps around campus like a seagull, bumping into things, shouting out trivial thoughts, being called the human dictionary by new friends, only slightly more quickly winning over his crowd. That might be it. That might be the root of it. I know he's a bit different, and I think somewhere deep inside, that I can win them all over, and endow him with their favor. I can make them all see how fabulous "we" are. It will be smoother for him that way.
Maybe that's it, maybe.
But I also think that this life of transition, ill prepared by early life for me (and the middle-child syndrome). A constant flowing family situation with little to no boundaries as a child, has left me unsure of Me. I am re-building my foundation over and over again in each new spot, and often lacking very much grace while I do it. I flounder about like a fish out of water, or a seagull with a broken wing, until I land in a good spot, and then I start to show them my nice feathers, or the baubles I've collected at sea. It takes awhile though for each new school of fish to see me.
It's just that eleven months on an island, and six months in one school, seems like a long time to keep taking the backseat. How does one just know that life will be ok, and that not everyone needs to see who you are or what you've accomplished? How does one just say,"I'm awesome, I'll be over here in awesomeville if you decide you want to hang out?"
Nothing will make you feel more aware of how small we each are in the grand arc of life, and the universe, than moving to a new home. If we're lucky I suppose we land in a network of acquaintances, a schedule of work built in with social time. If we're the support staff however, it's very likely we will fight all over again to show what we are outside of our mommyness, and our husband (or spouse).We'll take extra shifts of social life to find that perfect niche. We'll get tired.
It's not about returning home either. If I returned right this moment, I would face a whole other set of foundation building, question answering, life establishing. It's the in...between. That's where I am.