This weekend I watched one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” My kids are scared of this Tim Burton classic, so Vic and I watch it on adult time. I should be ashamed of that, but I also listen to Star Trek podcasts, so whatever. The premise of Nightmare is that Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King and ruler of Halloween Town, is just wrapping up another successfully scary Halloween season. But he feels unexplainably down and bored. He receives kudos from all of Halloween Town about his amazing performance, but he cannot shake the feeling that there’s something more.
I am Jack Skellington.
Did you ever have a day when you just woke up and realized THIS IS IT? THIS is what adulthood is. It is waking up earlier than feels natural, putting your body through a daily ritual of working out, cleaning, feeding and caffeinating. Getting other small humans ready for their day. Going somewhere to do some things that you’re told help make someone else money. Or doing things you think will make your own business money. Or doing things to keep your small humans going. Coming home at night to feed more people, clean up and maybe spend a few minutes doing anything that resembles relaxation before maybe doing some more work and then going back to bed. And then waking up to do it again.
Oh, but don’t forget the weekends! What a mother trucking treat they are! A straight 48 hours of attempting to make your home presentable to the world, cleaning your clothes, grocery shopping, planning all those great meals you get to make the next week, attending your kids’ freezing cold and hugely boring sporting events or maniacal birthday parties. And then preparing to do it all over again. WOO HOO! Thanks labor movement!
This is adulthood. And please hold the, “oh, but there’s so much good to be had if you just enjoy the little things” speech right now. I just need to wallow in the monotonous adulthood vibe I’m feeling. In so many ways I’m just making ends meet. This is not even a financial statement to me right now. This is a feeling like I am literally making all of the ends just barely meet. The end of one day meets the beginning of another. The end of one task meets the beginning of another. The end of one milestone just signals the emergence of another. Do you know what I’m saying? PLEASE say you do. Because I thought adulthood was going to be more than this.
Do I love my husband and children? Hell FUCKING yes. They are my world. I have great friends, a fabulous mother, sister, in-laws, all of it… I have a great life. I’m not starving or fighting for my life in Aleppo. I am not actively dying and I have relatively healthy children. ALL of that aside, is this really it?! Is this whole setup we’ve got going on really what life is all about? Are we meant to just make ends meet one another? And is the very fact that my life is so charmed and essentially drama-free giving me space to even think about how boring it is?
I am bored to fucking TEARS over here and I know I cannot be alone. So I am making a decision. Right here and right now. I quit being bored. I am over it and I know I’ve got more to me than all dis right here.
My life was not meant to be boring. I was meant to be a circus act with a herd of small poodles biting at my ankles, shooting out from the human canon doing flips in the air. I am a riot. How am I bored right now? I’ll tell you how. I’m getting emails from Krazy Koupon Lady on the daily and I AM ACTUALLY READING THEM. No offense, Koupon Lady—do your damn thang. THAT’S NEXT LEVEL BOREDOM RIGHT THERE! I check Facebook at stop lights looking for something to spark a moment of excitement. BORED! I look forward to the pot of crappy coffee at my office. BORED!
Where did I lose my fun self? Where did I become a glorified food replicator on the Starship Parker? I cannot and will not let myself be confined to this picture that I painted for myself, Mona Lisa style. I am the sum of more than those parts and frankly, this is no one’s fault but my own. I wanted to be perfect and I felt the urge to prove that I could be to myself and to my family. But my family fell in love with fun Shannon and while I sometimes fight that image of myself, fun Shannon can face herself in the mirror. Fun Shannon wants to do crafts with Emerson instead of making dinner. Fun Shannon wants to meet friends for tea on Sundays and not worry about ALL THE THINGS she has to do.
No one forced me to become this person who spends entire Sundays prepping meals and worried about the state of her front porch spider web issues. (Those webs are so hugely real, btw. #HalloweenDecoratingDone) That is some Stepford-wives, suburban shit that I do not have to worship right there. So what if my house isn’t spotless? Who cares if my kids don’t do sports year round or sign up for every freaking activity possible? My life is not a dedication to a curriculum vitae of their childhood. Yes, I want them to have experiences and engage with other kids, but frankly, the public freaking school system is helping my ass out there and why don’t I just take them up on that a bit?
I am raging against the dying of my own light and I am not going to let Restless Life Syndrome take me down. This mid-thirties crisis is not my undoing, it is my rebirth. I can’t say I totally know what it means, I just know that I am on the hunt for my own fire and the very fact that I know it is fading has me fanning the flames.
Back to the movie. Jack Skellington ultimately wanders off into the woods and finds portals to the other holiday worlds including Christmas Town. He enters and is awash with inspiration and joy at the sight of Christmas Town and all it has to offer. He decides to take over Christmas for one year and while that idea crashes and burns (literally) he knows that something is been awoken inside of him. He knows that he has been inspired and in his own words he, “just can’t wait until next Halloween, ’cause I’ve got some new ideas that will REALLY MAKE THEM SCREAM!”
SO I guess that’s where I am right now. Peeking into Christmas Town for inspiration and optimistically driving myself towards my best Shannon.