March started off with a bang – my baby turned two! I had a lot of fun putting this party together, because for the first time in a long time, I actually had some time. And being able to finally focus completely on doing something motherly – well that was just a real treat. Seeing all those wee baby vegans partying down, gah! Heart-explosion!
The day after the party we packed up the car and drove the whole family south. See, Damian and I can both basically work from anywhere, and those Portland winters are just so oppressive. So we last-minute-planned an extended stay back home, in Santa Barbara California.
But really, it was more than just a vacation. It was an exploratory trip.
Two days in the car, and then we were home.
I have an interesting relationship with Santa Barbara, as most people probably do with their home town. SB is truly one of the most beautiful places in America, this tiny pocket of perfection, a geographic diamond nestled between the ocean and mountains, sheltered at just the right angle (the coast runs east-west, not north-south like you’d think), at just the right latitude, that makes it pretty much . . . paradise.
It’s also full of exorbitant wealth (often grotesquely displayed), superficiality, very clear racial-economic division, that “LA mentality” (ugh), and all sorts of other complicated baggage.
I had mixed feelings about moving back home, but after 5 solid years in Portland – and the depressing 6-month winters there – and in the midst of an undiagnosed illness, and with raising this amazing (and amazingly spirited) little being with no family nearby to help . . . well, Santa Barbara had a lot going for it.
And within three days of being home, we had decided: YES. We wanted to move back.
We called a realtor friend back in Portland. Asked for an appraisal, his thoughts on the market, a discussion of our situation. And a few days later we heard back.
That we were underwater on our mortgage. Significantly. Selling our Portland home wouldn’t happen without taking a major loss (not possible). And a bunch of other complicated bullocks that basically made it clear that moving just wasn’t an option.
That was hard, to have our hopes raised and then dashed in a matter of days. Damian left after two weeks to return to Portland, and Waits and I stayed behind in CA, soaking up the sun and generally enjoying the “break” from life.
I was doing so much reflecting back then, still sick and still searching, definitely depressed and so desperate to feel better. Determined to feel better.
I made some big strides that month. I discovered the concept of unconditional parenting, and it resonated so strongly with me that I began to practice immediately. And I still do, imperfectly of course – it’s a journey and a difficult one – but it is unquestionably the best thing I’ve ever done as a parent.
Being away from Damian, and parenting on my own, actually allowed me to really shine, and I gained a lot of mother-confidence in March. The truth is that my self-esteem had been so shot for so long, that my internal narrative was one of constant negative talk and self loathing. That month I worked hard to change the language, and my mantra became: “I love myself, exactly as I am, right now”. Yes, I said that silly little sentence multiple times every day, and yes I think it really helped. Now pass the crystals, hippie.
One other really interesting moment happened, during a conversation with my grandmother and my aunt, in which I was opening up for the first time (ever) and discussing my depression. And we were talking about my life, and about when my mom died (I was 9) and how I reacted to that and how my life unfolded afterwards. And my aunt said something to me, something to the effect of, “I was so afraid for you. I watched it all happening and now I feel like you just have this bit of . . . sadness, inside of you.”
And you know what? She’s right. And it was good to hear, because it’s true, and it’s about time I accept that. There’s a little sadness inside of me. That’s authenticity, right?
“Ohmigod mom, I’m IN a dirt mover.”
Overall March was really amazing. The sun was so good for me. Healing. And the time alone with my boy was a gift, and the time to reflect was invaluable, and overall March was just really beautiful, a fresh new beginning.
April coming soon . . .