pacing myself

I’m not really sure where to start. See, this is my inherent problem. A million things always seem to be whirling in my mind, and I can’t keep up with them, let alone prioritize which ones to focus on. A couple of things suddenly became quite clear in the last 12 hours.

The less serious, and kind of funny one, was the realization that I was actually correct is saying “c’est fin” in my last post. As I made my way up the Metro stairs in search of caramels, a conversation Isabella and I had at dinner one night popped into my head. Saying “je suis fin” is the incorrect way of saying “I’m done”—that actually means you’re dead. “C’est fin” is akin to saying “that’s it”. It can be used interchangeably, depending on the inflection in your voice at the end of the sentence—either saying it with a period at the end, or with a questioning tone, as a waiter will often ask when he sees you’ve finished eating.

I know, this doesn’t seem significant. I mean, who hasn’t stumbled in a foreign language? For me, this was a bit of a revelation. One of those lightbulb moments, where you say “aha!” to yourself. I knew all along the correct phrase to say, and doubted myself the rest of the day, feeling foolish, as if I’d made some colossal mistake. I profess that mistakes are a part of life, both to my children, and to the crowds of people that came out to support me the last six weeks. Like many others, though, I’m good at doling out wisdom, but not always capable of applying it to my own situation.

I tucked into bed last night rather early, at least for a woman on parole from motherhood for a few days. And yes, I did just insinuate motherhood is a jail sentence. The reality is I love my daughters. I’d fight to the death for them. I’m still trying to accept my new role as a single parent, though. This wasn’t what I signed up for when we had children. It’s not so much the everyday race and juggling act that is hard. It’s more the feeling that I never have the time I want and need for myself. It’s the overwhelming mental and emotional pressure I put on myself, thinking that one fuck up and my kids are doomed for life.

It sounds crazy, I know. And while many of you have commented that I’m doing a great job, we are, and always will be, our own worst critics. That’s human nature I suppose, and healthy to a degree. It’s good to be able to see our own faults. What’s not good is holding onto them. Process, let go, and repeat.

So, after a pretty restless sleep, waking up up every couple of hours, each time with a vivid dream clouding my mind, I finally awoke with a calm and peace (the jitters I’m feeling right now are no doubt the espresso pulsing through my veins).

Life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. I so desperately want happiness. Combine that with my fear of dying before I find it again, and it’s no wonder I don’t sleep well anymore. I’ve never been a great sleeper. I require very little to get by, and Saturday nights were where I made up for my deprivation when Mikey was alive. He used to take the Sunday morning shift, letting me sleep in. Somehow back then, my body got into a rhythm, and knew come Saturday night, my mind and body where allowed to go into deep charge mode. I don’t have that anymore. Instead, it’s all on me. My happiness, they’re happiness, that’s all on me every second, of every day, of every year—until “je suis fin”.

Looking at it that way makes me realize that I need to pace myself. My path is filled with so many twists and turns. This journey is not just one dimensional. In the midst of all this, I’m trying to learn who “Jennifer” is, and what she wants, likes, dislikes, needs, etc. I met Mikey when I was 21. He was 35. Doing the math alone makes it evident that he had the time to experience life more than I did. He had the time to work on figuring out who he was at his core. I settled into a relationship very young, and it is only now that I’m beginning to understand I sacrificed my relationship with myself a little. This is not to say I regret one second of being with Mikey. I simply wouldn’t be the person I am today without him. Not to mention that “who we are” changes and morphs with time. My needs at 39, are no doubt different than what they were before, and will be in the future. Our needs all evolve with time, and putting limits on them is similar to putting a noose on our dreams.

Now it’s time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get ready to walk my own path. It doesn’t always seem clear, and the insecurity of the unknown is often terrifying. One thing that is undoubtedly true, is that my will to thrive, and not simply survive, is stronger than any fear I’ve yet to encounter.

Music Pairing: What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes


  • Amanda

    I forget that other people are struggling and questing, thereby tricking myself into believing that no one else has a safety pin holding their bra strap together, lost the notes for a meeting and for the 3rd time forgot to send in the field trip permission slip. Your post is a friendly splash of cool water, bringing things back into perspective. Wishing you a week of Saturday-night like sleep.

  • Tracey

    Good Morning Jennie (at least it is in San Diego)
    Hoping you had a restful sleep, a few hours anyway. I was happy to find another posting of your travels. How fun.
    I hope you continue on finding yourself. I know that is always an unusual statement to say, although I know we “find ourselves” throughout our lifelong journey, don’t we?
    Wishing you delightful experiences in your travels, sunshine and many heartfelt words,

  • susan Schwartz

    Hi, there. Sounds as you and Paris have a complicated relationship. About the French: I believe you mean “je suis finie” and not “je suis fin” when you say it is the translation for “I’m dead.” Fin is a noun. A waiter might ask “c’est fini?” but would never say “c’est fin.” I realize I like a schoolteacher. Sorry.

  • Madeleine

    Actually, “je suis finie” is not proper. C’est fini is correct, although awkward if used when you are done eating. J’ai fini is also correct. The best one is when a friend of mine was visiting my family in France and he said “je suis pleine”, thinking he was saying he was full, when it is actually a term to use when an animal is pregnant. My mom and dad loved that though… and let’s not even get into plein and pleine!!!!
    I am glad that you are enjoying your visit in Paris. You and I are on the same timeline with the passings of our husbands and I always feel a little like a peeping tom when you share the emotions you are going thru.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Madeleine, that is a hilarious story, re: your friend’s faux pas. I’m so very sorry for your loss, too. Please don’t ever feel like a peeping Tom when you visit me here. Thank you for coming by.

  • Natasha

    I come here to read your real emotions… Tonight you gave me shivers. Thank you for sharing and reminding everyone who visits that everyone is walking their own path… Everyone struggles at something.
    Just thank you.

  • Marisa

    “Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon”…..boy is that ever true. The utter exhaustion of it all, waiting to reach the finish line of happiness. We WILL get there. Love you. xoxo.

  • Betsy

    I love that you said you are good at doling out wisdom but not always listening to yourself. I find myself giving good advice and then ignoring it in my head and heart. I have suffered a great loss from leaving as well, but not by death, but from choice. I have debated through watching your grief how they are similar and also different. One step forward, two steps back. Trying to find a new path of where you are from where “we” ended. It’s hard. Thank you for sharing your journey. It helps.

  • Cheryl Arkison

    Have you ever read or heard anything by Marisa at Creative Thursday? She has a series of posts and podcasts not just on creativity, but on choosing happiness. It’s made a tremendous impact on me, a natural born worrywart and pessimist.

    And I totally get the jail sentence thing. Totally get that. But I did the crime, I’m willing to the time. Most days.

  • susan schwartz

    Madeleine. “Je suis fini” (or “je suis finie,” for women) totally DOES mean “I am dead,” precisely as Jennifer suggests it does. It totally DOESN’T mean “I have had enough to eat” or “I am full.” I was not suggesting it does: I have no problem with being corrected when I’ve said or done something wrong, but I do when I haven’t.

  • Laura

    Your line about sacrificing yourself a little for being in a committed relationship so young — thank you for writing that. Reading your blog gives language to those emerging emotions that can be hard to name. And, thank you for being genuine about what it means to be the sole single parent.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman

    I was almost 40 when my husband died and looking back on it now (20 years later), I can see how I reinvented myself and what a blessing it has been that I was able to instead of being stuck in grief. I was 19 and he was 23 when we got married and we were married for 20 years before he died and I have been widowed for 20 years now! It’s a journey that I wouldn’t have chosen, but a journey that has been rewarding in many ways.

  • Andrea

    Yes. Yes. It’s a marathon for us all. We’ve all experienced and continue to experience different things, some rougher paths than others, but they make us who we are, as do the people in our world along the way. You’ll find out who this current Jennifer is. She won’t be completely new, she’ll have your history behind her. Sending you strength.

  • Jennifer Perillo

    Thank you taking time from your day to read In Jennie’s Kitchen. The truth, though, is that I write in this corner of the world mainly to express myself. It’s an online journal that I share with the world, for better or worse, I guess. I’m honored that people take the time to follow along, but please respect that this is my space to record my feelings as I see fit.