Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Day Spent with Friends

Today some people I love helped put me back together. I truly was falling apart this morning after a challenging week. Saying goodbye to Evan was even more difficult for our family than in January - mostly because we won't see him again until sometime in 2012, most likely. The reality of that set in last week and the vibe in our house has been heavy since Wednesday.

After managing a broken closet door in the girls' room, cleaning up two potty accidents by Anna, and finding a load of dark, wet clothes in the washer that had been washed with someone's pocket tissues (oy!), the kids and I headed down to our congregation for Saturday services this morning. I was trying to sort out what answer I would give when people came at me with the inevitable "How are you?"...So many responses: "Fine", with either an air of sincerity or lack thereof; the surprising "Why do you ask?", sure to make them feel foolish for daring to care; the defensive " fine, thanks, why shouldn't I be?" while avoiding eye contact, just to help me feel more sorry for myself as I alienate a well-wisher; or, there's the one I had the audacity to use: the honest response (gasp): "You know, it's been a tough week. I'm having a difficult time today."

It is so hard to do this.  It is risky. But, today, it paid off. I was allowed to feel crappy, express it, and was even encouraged to stop pressuring myself to feel better right away. That kind of support will get the kids and me through this next year, for sure.

I love that, at this point in my life, I have some relationships that have enough history to allow for the occasional negative exchange. These people see me not for every changing mood but for the general "trajectory of my life" (to quote an idea from our Rabbi). They know that, while I may be down a bit now, I will give back when I can and will not be down for long. They trust me and they love me and they allow me to have bad days without jeopardizing the friendships.

The God I follow and love does that, too. He stands by me and waits for me to come back to a place where I can continue growing and changing and learning, patiently allowing me to experience pain and even wallow in it sometimes.

I hope I can be this kind of friend to my friends and parent to my kids.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Priorities: Easier Set than Lived

Without Hubby here, I'm alone with my thoughts at the end of the day. Sometimes it's a happy place to be - other times not so much. A little analysis (overthink much?) has revealed that the nights I'm not so pleased with my day and my self are those fraught with parenting angst: lack of peace and connection with my kids. (Interestingly, I am NOT tormented by dirty floors and piles of laundry when I've had a good day playing and learning with the children.)

Conclusion: Being a great mom is really the thing that matters most to me.
Question: Why do I still struggle with putting that role first?

Yesterday, I had to juggle nursing sick kids with preparing for two couples to visit for dinner and a reunion from their childbirth class - introducing each other and me to their new little tykes. I had a babysitter coming to help out with the kids while I cleaned and cooked. After dinner, the couples and I were heading out to the local chiropractor's office to my Sunday night class and I needed to prep that class, too.

I challenged myself to spend only 2 hours on the cleaning, class prep and dinner prep for the evening, which was to begin at 4:30 pm. (In the past, I have given myself all day to get ready for these things.) That meant I couldn't start working on related tasks until 1 pm (finishing @ 3 pm, then picking up my sitter, and coming home for the event).

I remember my boss, the then-President of New England Conservatory of Music, telling me that, although he had intended to spend a certain amount of time on his inauguration speech, he had fallen quite short of that goal. He said, however, that "I spend whatever time I have, really, to get the same result." Sometimes we just need to do what we can do in the time we actually have. More time spent does not always equal better result.

So, yesterday morning, I ate french toast with my children, played a game, danced with them, finally found a "secret hiding place" for Simone to call her own, prepped this week's home school lessons, did some laundry and made a choice to let the childbirthing reunion/class extravaganza take place with only two hours of prep with the idea that it would be "just fine". Guess what? It was.

And, better than that:  I'm not exhausted today and can continue to connect with my kids. Which is my priority. Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Who Does The To-Do List Work For?

So, I love to-do lists. I mean, I really love them. Basically, if I'm upset about anything at all, "making a to-do list" would be one of the top three cures for my angst. I've learned, however, that there are different uses for lists and that it's important to remember: The List Works for ME! I do NOT work for the List! Seriously, if you use a list correctly, it's a comforting friend and aid. But, give it too much power, and you're done.

Case in point:  We've been without Daddy for just over two weeks now. At three weeks, two days, we will officially enter the "longest time we've been without Daddy" zone. Already, my girls are asking when he'll be back; and I'm ready, too. But, we're just beginning. This is stressful and I'm getting tired, cranky, and negative. Solution? Among many things, make a to-do list. Write it all down. And then stand on top of it and look down on it and say "I'm in charge, list! I'll do what I want and need to do and that's it!"

Sometimes I write my list in order of priority of task. Sometimes I just "vomit" onto the paper all the things that are rattling in my head that "need" to be done....and then I alphabetize them for fun. Sometimes I categorize them by area of life or person that they pertain to.  And then, when I'm through being stressed, pissed, sad, and angry, I do a few things on the list, feel better and eventually throw the list away.

It's not really about finishing the list, I've learned. It's about knowing that it's there if I need it. Sometimes it's just comforting to have my life reduced to an oblong piece of paper  - before I go back to living for real.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Got Presence?

My little boy has it. I think it's the thing that makes us giggle with delight when we look at babies - it's PRESENCE - that innate sense that one is important and has a role to play in the world. With babies, it's uninhibited and pure. They haven't had anyone tell them otherwise. They haven't experienced those feelings of doubt and insecurity. No one has ever said anything to them indicating that they are other than the center of the universe. So, they smile and gaze and look pretty darn content with themselves - and we older, scarred wiser, mature folks marvel.

Simone commented on some baby pictures of herself the other day "I wish I were a baby again. I think I was an angel flying around God." Maybe that's why kids are so confident. They are fresh from Heaven. Oh, I hope I can help them keep that glow as long as possible...and maybe I can put on some of that "fresh from Heaven" sparkle today, along with the over-40 face cream and tummy-toning lotion!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Enjoy it!

I just had this flash of excitement and appreciation thinking about enjoying life with my little kids. This is a challenging time of life, but it's so uniquely fun! My girls have new chore charts and Simone, my oldest, is thrilled with it. She actually shouted "My chore chart is the funnest thing ever!" tonight. I can't believe how she's running around tidying things up and being ultra-responsible these last couple of days. I think she's going to earn a new Leapster cartridge before I know it.

Seriously, though, I have the rest of my life to work on the to-do list. Getting up every day and enjoying these moments with my kiddos will NOT last forever. Listening to them, learning to "keep the chore chart fun"  - that's what matters.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So, I'm starting my blog!

I meant to start this thing on New Year's Day, but have been putting it off. I think procrastination for fear of not being perfect is a huge issue for me. Things are always so much more complicated in my mind than they are in reality. Today I have just decided to start writing and get this puppy going.

This was a big day for our family. My husband left for active duty in the US Army and will not be home for good for 16-17 months. This has motivated me to start a blog, but I can't commit to just writing about my experience as a military wife & mom. I want to be free to write about faith, mommying, music, childbirth, breastfeeding, life - whatever strikes me. I've found facebook to be a great outlet and way to share myself with others - this is an extension of that outlet.

Tonight my children went to bed with no argument, my girls cuddling together upstairs in the top bunk, my baby boy comfy in his crib. I think they know a new phase has started and they are resting up to make it all work. Good night!