I’m Tracey, wife and mother of two. I was born, raised, and made my home in South Florida – the land of sun and sand and very tan people.
And I’ve proudly lived under a big, fat, glorious umbrella for over 20 years.
I didn’t realize I lived under one until very recently. I never thought about the fact that I’m going to need to step out from under it very soon…and I’m terrified. Everything I love is under this umbrella. I’m so damn happy under this umbrella. I keep all my important things under it. So many, many things. I’m probably just one “thing” away from being labeled a hoarder. I cannot part with even one because each and every one unequivocally defines me.
I’ve been under this umbrella so long, I’ve named it.
I’ve developed some serious skills under here. I’ve developed the ability to smell strep throat (my rate of accurate diagnosis baffles the pediatricians). I’ve also gained the ability to catch and contain projectile vomit from clear across a room before a single drop hits its intended target (usually bed linens or an overpriced designer rug). I’ve recently honed the invaluable skill of sniffing out toxic people before they’ve had a chance to take a seat in my life. I became a yoga instructor and opened a thriving studio. It blossomed into five locations. In one crazy year. I wrote a cookbook for my daughter under here, too.
I’ve served as a PTA president. I’ve chaired luncheons and coordinated community events while simultaneously creating a winning science fair project (with just three petri dishes, 2 hours and a glue stick). I’ve been a room mother eighteen times. I perfected a brisket that a self-proclaimed-brisket-hating rabbi became addicted to.
I honed my medical skills under the hallowed panels of the umbrella. I would venture to say that I could go head-to-head with a first year pediatric resident in a rousing game of “what’s that rash?” And win. Wearing a blind fold. I can also roast a chicken like nobody’s business.
I’ve successfully crammed an entire year of Honors Chemistry into one weekend marathon and funneled it into a 14 year-old boy’s brain (he got an A, by the way). I have perfected a mean “come to Jesus” that will bring even the most defiant teen to his or her knees. I am currently raising a teen daughter and neither one of us has killed each other yet (my most challenging accomplishment, to date).
I’ve buried too many people too soon and lost too many friendships (many by fault of my own). I have an overflowing shoebox filled with regrets somewhere under here. I’ve quit bad habits under the umbrella…and adopted some pathetic new ones (they usually involved virtual farms or crushing candy or flapping birds).
My husband – my rock, my childhood sweetheart, and forever love of my life – knows how much I need my beloved umbrella to exist. He knows that I’ve been holding my umbrella for so long that my skin has fused to the handle. He knows how much the umbrella defines me while sustaining my sense of self. He patiently waits for me to step out from under the umbrella and feel the sun on my face, hand-in-hand with him, as we enter the next sunny stage of our lives. He waits patiently because he knows I am terrified. He also waits from a distance because I’m starting to go through menopause and he’s slightly terrified of me.
My big beautiful umbrella, by the way, is named “MOTHERHOOD.” I love living under my umbrella. I would live here forever in a state of frazzled bliss, if I could.
But here’s the thing….that chemistry whiz I spoke about is now a charismatic fraternity president in his third year of college. I serendipitously got to go into “overtime” when he chose a college 30 minutes from my house. He announced that he wants to attend law school in New York in two years.
That willful, beautiful, defiant daughter is in her second year of high school. She’s announced (too emphatically and too many times) that she is counting the days until she packs her bags and heads off to the great unknown of collegiate life outside of Florida.
These two amazing creatures evolved under my magical, marvelous, motherhood umbrella.
All the skills I’ve acquired were for these two people. Except for the cupcakes…cupcakes are universally useful. So is sangria, but that’s an entirely different post (and recipe)
In two years I’ll be standing under this umbrella, with all these wonderful skills…but the people I’ve honed these skills for will leave me. Leaving is good….it means I did this right. It means I formed independent, free-thinking, responsible, goal-oriented little humans. That was the purpose of the umbrella and all the things I hoarded under it. Right?
It’s just that I don’t really know what to do when I step out from under the umbrella. I check the classified and have yet to see any job opportunities for highly skilled, slightly-used mothers.
So I’m venturing into the world of blogging before I attempt to step out from under the umbrella. I haven’t figured out if this is a therapeutic journal or a shout out to my fellow umbrella dwellers. If you’re out there, umbrella people, tell me: what’s next? What does one do with an open umbrella filled with vital mothering skills and no one to mother?