I have three mothers. The woman who gave birth to me, the woman who married my father, and the woman who gave birth to my husband. My mom and stepmom live in California and I live in the basement apartment of my mother-in-law's log home in Colorado. A lot of you know that, some of you don't.
When most people find out that I live with my mother in law, they lower their eyes, look at me, and say, 'How is that going?'
I usually shrug and say, 'As perfect as that situation can be.' Largely I feel like the person asking wants me to go off on how horrible it is, quite frankly I won't slander my mother in law. She's a great lady and I love her. I face life much the same way she does which is probably why my husband married me.
I'm in California right now, making the multi-city journey from and to parent's houses and friend's houses. Coming home is always a journey that I take with some trepidation. I haven't lived in California for about five years. And I have changed a bit. I'm skinnier, wiser, tolerate cold better, more educated, and not to mention that I am married and have a kid. Just a few changes. Oh and I've lived in Africa. That too. So here we come, put the baby in the car and drive across Colorado, Utah and Nevada to wind up in Southern California.
How does it feel to see this expanse? First of all I am flabbergasted at how many more people live here. The eight lane street that bisects my home town is four times the size of the one that runs through Buena Vista. We went to church on Christmas and I was reminded that people in California actually look like the people in the magazines. Skinny and stylish. There's a lot of thin in Colorado but that is just because EVERYBODY runs, mountain bikes, hikes, etc. And I mean EVERYBODY. Since most of my clothes were ruined in Kenya, and I am two sizes smaller than I used to be my wardrobe is limping along. In BV that's not a problem, at all. I think there's a little limping in everyone's wardrobe, and no one really cares. So I sat there in the service looking at my Keen ballet flats that didn't quite match my grey tunic and felt a little less than. This is a feeling that I haven't felt in a long time. My life experiences have brought me to a place where I feel pretty good about myself. I heard this phrase once, 'At twenty you have the face that God gave you and at fifty you have that you have earned.' Appearance wise I am starting to feel that I have what I have earned. All the miles that I have run, weights I have lifted, mountains I have climbed have shown up on my body. And of course the baby that I have nursed, but a good bra can take care of that....I usually feel pretty good about the way I look. As for the rest of my life I feel pretty good about that too, good marriage, beautiful baby, world experience, and an education. But at that moment in that church the girl behind me wearing Laboutins and Dolce & Gabbana made me feel schleppy.
As I live with one of my moms I often caught in what the expectations of me are in that household and as I go to my other mom's houses I feel tangled in the expectations that each house has of me and who I am. I have started to realize that the expectations I feel are really often placed on my own head. Probably they all just want me to be happy and fulfilled and at the core I am. If they do have expectations of me that I am not filling I can't do much about it, I just wash dishes when I can, cook when they let me, and try to clean up after myself and my own. I know that even in the most well running relationships that there are bumps and expectations not met, but in the end I hope we all give each other grace and know that we love each other. And ladies I do love you.
Coming home to California makes me think about how I keep moving forward in life and am always trying to slough off who I used to be, the scared child or the awkward teenager. Going back to the church I grew up in reminds of that girl and how I wanted to show off for her and everyone else that I have turned out amazing. I got so caught up in making the outside look good that I forgot that the inside looks pretty good. I realized that the only person who's expectations that I can truly live up to are my own. Quite frankly I think I am doing pretty good.