Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Shedding my exoskeleton

Was it just summertime? Did a season pass as I blinked? Or did I leave my body for a brief moment, floating above it, suspended in a spinning vortex of confusion?  Days went the speed of a camera shutter, passing in rapid succession, like flipping the corners of a notebook to watch a stop motion animation become a moving figure riding a skateboard that bursts into flames. I have relied on solid time markers to ground my earth body as it threatens to escape gravity's pull alongside my mind. Thanksgiving dinner, birthdays, holidays, the first snow remind me to put a pin in the day, marking my presence, "Sarah wuz here," so that my future self might look back and recall that indeed those markers meant something.

And I guess that's what this space means to me. It's a way of marking time, and of helping my future self recall what it meant to be a mama-wife-writer at this moment. I am already so thankful for these written records of days and adventures with the girls when they were especially young. There is so much I have forgotten. When I make space for new information by archiving old memories, I download some to this space so I can remember deadlines, to buy new shoes for growing girl feet, to plan ahead for anniversary gifts that need to be ordered.

Returning to school was a much more ambitious undertaking than I could have planned for. What I imagined would be a rough couple of weeks to adjust took months. I felt like a rough strip of velcro being uncomfortably torn from the soft landing of home. The girls felt it, too. Hailey broke her arm the second day of school. Summer drew pictures of me at home, telling me it was better when I didn't go to school. Abby brought her sisters home from school to an empty house, crying on the phone to me that she missed me. I navigated my days and night in great discomfort, always pushing against time as it pushed harder back against me. I felt like I was shedding an exoskeleton painfully, each bend in my back cracking away at expendable film. And classes at law school have been tough, too.

If I would have sat down in October to report on how things were going, I likely would have used the opportunity to fool myself into thinking everything was fine. I may have described how I was still getting healthy meals on the table most nights, getting adequate sleep and staying on top of my law readings and cases, assuring myself everything was fine. Difficulty, challenge and growth are where the magic happens, but they also require removal to appreciate context. Christmas break has been a helpful respite to appreciate what that growth has meant to me. 

I am not who I was in the summer. I am learning so much more than I could have predicted. I don't need everything to be fine. I know what it is to do my best, and then leave it alone, accepting my limits. manage time extremely well. I am learning how the law works and doesn't. I am learning how to give to my girls from a place of thoughtfulness, not of guilt. I am learning how to lean into difficulty, sometimes letting it wash over me completely, leaving me a soggy, wave-spun mess left crying on the bathroom floor. Mostly I am learning to accept my limits, and embrace the totality of my accomplishments, celebrating small wins along the way and patiently forgiving myself my missteps.

Law school student-mama-wife-writer life is demanding. It's a challenge, every day. But I know with absolute certainty this is what I'm meant to do, and I don't want to be bored with nothing to do, ergo, law school student-mama-wife life it is.

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