"When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessing instead of sheep
Then I fall asleep counting my blessings." - Irving Berlin
I love that song. It's almost time for me to watch WHITE CHRISTMAS again and get tears in my eyes when Rosemary Clooney sings about love that didn't do right by her and Bing reminds us all to count our blessings.
It's that time of year where we try to remember to be grateful - and to remember to tell those we love how very important they are to us. I am especially grateful this year. It has been a good year for me - lots of growth and change and plenty to be grateful for.
1) My daughters. Being a good mother is the most important thing to me. For me, that means working at my relationships with my daughters. Treasuring who they are and what matters to them. Championing their victories and helping them back up when life knocks them down. Most of all, it means loving them and being whatever they need me to be. There when they want me, invisible when they don't.
Now, when I say, "my daughters", I don't just mean the one I gave birth to. I mean her half-sisters who have been part of my life for nearly 30 years. I mean the other young women in my family - nieces and daughters of my nieces. I mean Bridgete's friends, young women her own age who have become so very special to me. Watching them mature and find their footing is as fulfilling for me as if they were my very own. I mean young women I work with and socialize with who ask my advice and make me laugh and remind me that it's never to late to be sexy or flirt or maybe...possibly...find love. All of you are my daughters and I love you all.
2) My siblings. More of this later...but the love of these 3 men and 2 women who have known me all my life, and still like me, is priceless.
3) My friends. I am incredibly lucky to work with, play with, talk with, create with, laugh with, cry with the most open, honest, real, talented, bunch of folks. Some of them, I have never actually met...but I'm connected to them online and have known them for years. We've been through births and deaths and weddings and divorces and our bonds are strong...and real!
4) My job. It's not the most important job in the world. I'm not making life or death decisions. But it's a job that suits me and my personality. It draws on my strengths. And I have a boss that trusts me, gives me challenges that I enjoy, and backs me when I need it. I can remain financially independent - even if it is a stretch these days.
5) My home. My little place gives me just enough space to stretch and grow. It's light and clean and warm. I have my light that streams in each morning and evening...highlighting the dust and smudges and those spots on the rug I thought I got! I have my grocery store and drug store and movie theater and sushi and Starbuck's and Pizzicato and gellato and Mexican food with margaritas all nearby. I have my trees out front that are never naked for long. The last leaves will fall in the next few weeks and the first buds will start appearing in Feb. My squirrels are nearby. Birds for Sol. And then Sol himself is content there. He has windows and sunny spots and just enough room to run around when the mood strikes him.
6) My mother. This one is hard. Very hard. You see, my mother is dying right now. Probably more passively than actively. She's 91 and her heart is giving out. But mother herself is semi-conscious. She eats. She talks to nurses or whoever is in her room. She doesn't seem to be all that aware of who is there and who isn't. As far as I know, she hasn't asked to see me. And it's rather difficult to get there right now. My car isn't up to the trip and I don't have tires that can handle the snow in the mountains. And so I might not be able to say my goodbyes to her.
Yet I said my goodbyes a long time ago. Not to the person of Mildred Watt, but to the mother idea that I held on to for so long. To the notion that if I just was a good girl, she would love me. To the guilt that I couldn't be a famous actress and bring her the limelight she so wanted in her own life. To the fear that I wasn't, am not, never can be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough for her.
So...what I said before about how I love my girls as they are...and how I'm so grateful my siblings love me as I am. In a very odd way, I'm grateful that my mother couldn't love me that way...just so I could learn how important it is to have people in your life that do love you without conditions. And so I could learn the difference.
I won't ever stop hearing her voice. But I have learned to filter out the messages. I love her. I'm grateful for her and for my father. I hope she finds peace soon. And the curtain can come down on that drama at last.
Finally - I am very grateful for this space where I can have a voice. And for all you out there who listen to me....even when I'm not sure what I'm trying to say.