Saturday, November 2, 2013


Part of building our relationships is letting others in. It's hard, scary and takes trust. It may be feeling comfortable with your own body, the skin you're in, the way you feel when you're with that other person. Maybe being honest about your downfalls, your dark secrets, the shit that follows you. 

Making friends as a young child is all about the playground and playdates and laughter. If someone takes your toy, your parent steps in or you move on to another toy or you burst into tears and someone rescues you. You're not solely responsible to manage your every need and that feels good, right? Someone will have your back and make sure that you're okay. 

But then you get older and you're not so cute and your guardians see you as being more responsible and capable and grow the fuck up. You have your own opinions and you let everyone know what's what. But the issue is when you're figuring out who you are there is just no consistency in your response to what happens in your day to day. And that's hard. 

And then one day you're officially an adult and it is real. You're challenged and learning and just trying to make it. And it hits you- you're the only thing you have control over. You can't control anyone's responses and you only own your own stuff. What a trip! And what a responsibility that is. 

I work to see the people in my life for the good and the hard and the challenging. I have my own past and the shit that I have to work on and the stuff that makes me cry. And I trust that the people I love will love me back and be patient with me. I no longer strive for perfection and I'm happy to just be me, flaws and all. 

My children look to me as an example and I only hope that I can teach them to love and support and know themselves well enough to be happy in their lives. I don't need my children to be great all the time, though sometimes it seems that I do. In letting my children learn to solve their problems I'm giving them the chance to find their voice. And it's hard and I hate seeing them struggle. But this is their story and their path. I can't live it nor do I want to live it. I want them to be ready to take up the journey when it's time. 

I'll be there for them and I will love them always. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm so past this.

I stepped out tonight to grab a beer from the cooler (don't ask) and I felt transported to this other time- a time where I was childless and didn't have anything to stress over. I didn't have bins in my basement full of clothes to pass on to another kid or a cat or a dog or a washer and dryer.

I felt the air and I felt the freedom. I felt how it feels to just fucking be.

My children are asleep. My husband is off with his poker buddies. I'm here in the house with a cold one thinking back to life ten, twelve years ago.

How can I love my family so much and feel so sad for what has passed? I don't want to return to my younger years, mind you. I want to see my children grow and my marriage flourish, but damn, tonight felt good.

It feels like a time where I can be selfish and enjoy my time on my own. I can think about my path and where I see myself in twenty years.

I loved feeling the air tonight, the cold fresh air. I felt the air that met my face twelve years ago as I ran down the sidewalk with my boyfriend after a late-night party. I felt the air that crept in my room, in the house I rented with four other women. I felt the chill that made me feel like life was one open-book.

It's not so open anymore, I tell you.

My life is decided. I have three children. I have a husband. I have a dog, a cat, three chickens. And I really like that. I do.

But it's also worth mentioning that it's somethin' to think about. It makes me happy and sad and curious all at the same time. I can't wait to figure out what our journey holds. I can't wait to see who our children grow to be in five, ten years time. I wonder who I will see when I look in the mirror after my children have left my nest.

I loved the feeling of the air tonight, but I just can't spend my time out there enjoying it. Because my children are here, inside with me. And that's my place.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Is that glass half- empty… or half- full?

In my house, it’s more like, is that toothpaste tube nearly- empty… or just a bit full? What about the all-purpose cleaner, shampoo, mayonnaise? We have nearly- empty bottles, tubes and jars in all parts of the house (though my husband might argue those containers are actually a bit full). And being the conscientious homemaker, I make sure to purchase another while I’m out at the store.

Trouble is, I am wowed by the clean packaging of the laundry detergent, the heaviness of that shampoo bottle in my hand, the smoothness of the spreadable butter. I just NEED to open and use the new product at the first opportunity. Which means I have six types of shampoo just cluttering up my bathroom and two containers of ice cream in the freezer developing ice crystals as we speak.

Why do I love that newness of… anything and everything? It’s because it’s unblemished. It’s the promise of hope and opportunity. It’s neat and clean and simply whole.

But give it a day (or a swipe of a knife covered in toast crumbs) and suddenly this new product is ruined. Alright, maybe ruined is too dramatic. But it’s definitely changed. This product is now changed, spoiled of its simple lines and a reminder: THIS IS MY LIFE.

At each transition (getting married, having babies, moving, etc.) I saw the new start as an opportunity to BE BETTER. I’d be better at making dinner every night. I’d be better at remaining calm with my tantruming child. I’d be better at staying organized. I’d be better at keeping our new car pristine. And then a second (or a minute or a week) went by and I was right back at where I left off.

I’m trying to figure out how to deal with all the emotions that come with seeing nearly empty containers around the house. I could simply empty them and rinse them out, then send them to the recycling container, right? But then that voice in my head is reminding me how wasteful that would be and asking, why not just use up that last bit of jam? Squeeze that last bit of toothpaste out of that $4 tube. But when I start to make that sandwich, I want the NEW JAM. I don’t want to crimp and squeeze that tube to get that last bit of toothpaste. I want the ease of the new tube and plus, I like the flavor more. So then a seemingly simple decision turns into something so much bigger and all these words start flying around my brain, like wasteful and useless and excessive.

This is my head, this is where my thoughts go when I see two bottles of ketchup, one brand new and opened and the other, nearly empty and just sitting there, lonely and aging. Ridiculous, right? So what do I do? How do I settle this? Because we all know this is not just about ketchup and toothpaste and butter. It’s about the bigger picture. It’s about this internal conversation that is making the day to day a bit more of a struggle than need be. It’s about patience and commitment. It’s understanding that life is messy and unkempt and unpredictable.

Today I will use that mustard container that is mostly air and hard to empty. I will use it just today and if it splatters the mustard onto the bread à la Jackson Pollock, I will declare it empty. And I will let go and move on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Self Renewal and Other Fun Stuff.

A good friend of mine asked if I wanted to take part in a women’s circle; we’d be reading The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. I sampled it via the Internet and was really excited. It screamed out to me, and I knew it was just what I needed. The author wrote another book titled Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. Naturally I added both to my cart and they arrived days later.

Now I’m wondering WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

How can I nurture the soul of my family if I can’t fucking make my bed and put away the laundry and remember to send birthday cards? I scrap together lunches in the morning for my kids while other moms are perfecting the art of Bento boxes and dressing their kids in neatly matching threads. My throat is sore, my eye is pink, my dog sheds more fur than you’d believe, and I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF ME.


The thing is, I want things to be simpler and kinder and just easier than it is now. And in my head that means I have a white couch and a bookshelf with the classics and a few sweet photo albums. I have a bathroom with a large window overlooking something nature-y. I’m having coffee with my sweetheart and we’re talking and laughing and smiling. Our house is clean and our yard is filled with beautiful flowers and the garden is full of ripe produce. We have a cute car and we have great relationships with our kids...who are grown and living on their own and they’re strong, happy and successful adults!! FUCKING A! I think the life I want to live right now is that of a retired, older version of myself!


Well, seeing as our youngest isn’t even one year, we’ve got a ways to go!!

So how in the hell do I find satisfaction with where I am right now. Wait, wait, back that bus up. It seems like I’m not satisfied, right? Oh, poor me for having small children and an old couch and a dog that sheds. Yeah, yeah, I get it. But it’s bigger than that. I’m on the brink of something, I swear.

I love my family.
I am appreciative of our home.
I feel satisfied with my work.
I feel connected to my community.
I am grateful for the ability to buy food, clothing, items for our family and home, etc. I’m thankful, right? I AM satisfied, I tell you! But then these sweet statements get swept to the side and life happens. It overwhelms me in such a way that I need to tell myself, you’re okay. It will not be this chaotic forever. Keep what is working and change what isn’t. You have a young family…

It’s like, I will be brought to tears if I start really thinking of my children as grown adults, living their lives independent of me. I mean, I WANT them to be happy, independent adults, but I WANT them to also let me be witness to their lives. I also WANT a clean house, but to think there will be a day where they pack up their belongings and kiss me goodbye as they move away… it gets me hard. I want my life as a young mother to be so much easier and manageable than it is. And I want my life as an older empty-nester to be joyful and simple and satisfying. But I don’t know how to get from here to there, especially knowing there are a lot more unknowns in the coming years as a parent to a tween, teen and young adult.

I’m going to figure out the self-renewal stuff. And the nurturing of souls, too. Because if I don’t, life is just going to feel more difficult than it needs to.

So here’s to learning to “reclaim, rejuvenate, and re-balance” my life.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Easier...or harder?

Really, are you making this easier or harder?

I ask my older children this, particularly when they’re acting a fool or not listening to me or simply acting like...children.

We’re headed out the door, shoes are scattered, no one is dressed, and I’ve given countless warnings that I’m ready to leave. It’s maddening!

After the warnings, out of my mouth comes that question ...harder or easier? As if it’s their job to make MY LIFE easier, manageable, happier?

When did this shift happen? When did it become about ME and not THEM? Don’t get me wrong. Their needs are at the top of my list but something has definitely shifted in the seven years since my first was born.

Having that first baby was all about tending to her needs, her wants. I knew my purpose in life was to keep this sweet baby girl alive and thriving and growing. When they’re so fresh and newly here, babies’ lives are so precious and fragile, so those basic needs don’t feel so BASIC. They feel HUGE and every decision feels monumental. I had no premonition that she was here to make my life easier. THANK GOD for that because there’s nothing about having a baby that makes your life easier.

And then she turned one. Or maybe it was sooner or later, I don’t fully remember. Maybe I put it out of my memory, who knows. Regardless, there was this time where it felt like she was possibly, just possibly, trying to make me go insane. I had no idea what she wanted or needed or even preferred! She changed her mind and flipped her shit when I’d hand her her pink sneakers instead of her blue ones. She wanted her sandwich cut diagonally and she wanted to hold my right hand and she wanted to get in the carseat herself as I stood in the pouring rain sans umbrella as cars driving by splashed the backs of my legs with dirty puddle water. For crying out loud, she was really trying to make my life feel harder and she was, in turn, making her life more difficult!

Or so I thought.

No, wait. This was all normal? That can’t be it. Because why did I sign up for this? How did NO ONE in his or her right mind WARN ME? We become parents for a bigger purpose, right? It’s a romantic notion, this whole parenting thing. We think it will be sweetness and hugs and photo worthy moments. But it’s not. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.

No. Parenting is accepting that your kid will be ridiculous. Your kid’s basic needs will turn into these other needs and wants that are impossible to predict. You will have to make educated guesses, and even then, you’ll probably be wrong. You’ll have to just accept that the things they do will not make sense (to you, at least) and when you feel you have it figured out, it changes.

Your kid will make everything more challenging, and you’ll have to just roll with it for a bit. Because they’re learning and you’re learning, and that’s just how it is.

But one day, ONE DAY, I tell you, you will be able to communicate with your kid and they will be reasonable. They will listen and you’ll listen and this whole grand connection will take place. For some families this experience happens early and for others, well, they’re still waiting for their kid to be logical. But it will happen and suddenly you’re both playing for the same team. It feels cohesive and sweet and great.

But if there’s one thing I can share, it’s that THIS DOESN’T LAST. No, your reasonable, sweet kid will turn on you. And you’ll find yourself asking, or at least wondering, are you trying to make me go insane? Are you making my life harder...on purpose? Could you not be ANY MORE challenging?

Know that this is ALL OKAY. It’s normal. It’s part of normal development.

Your kid will make parenting feel easier, then when you think it’s all figured out, they’ll turn on you. They’ll have opinions and inconsistent expectations and preferences. They’ll want you to just make their life easier.

And maybe, just maybe, your kid will turn to you and ask really, are you making this easier or harder?  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reasonable Expectations.

I wanted to build readership so I took a couple months off from posting. That's cool, right? 

I have three children. Each one was a different story, a different experience for me. I found each new being to be wonderful and lovely and just plain amazing. But then reality hit and I realized my role in this world was forever altered. Heavy shit, I tell you.

Each experience of mothering my children was different. My first was born to two inexperienced souls, my husband and me. She was born underwater and I spent my days dressing her in the many outfits people gifted her and posting on a parenting bulletin board with other mamas having babies in that same time frame. I was home with her and would head to work at around 3pm, where I would stay for a few hours helping students at an after school program. We were fairly isolated where we lived, and if I wanted to pursue social activities I'd pile my daughter and me in our Subaru and drive 30-45 minutes to the nearest "city". It was an otherwise easy situation, enjoyable and full of sweet memories. It essentially made me cocky as hell and tricked me into thinking having another baby was a GREAT IDEA. 

So, my husband and I made a baby. 

And this time it was all different. It was hard. It was exhausting. It required me to dig deep and push hard. I HAD NO CLUE. Yes, he was a different baby with a completely different personality. But what really made it hard were my expectations. THEY WERE FUCKING UNREASONABLE, I TELL YOU. 

I expected, I expected, I expected… 

I expected he would have the personality of my daughter. WRONG. 
I expected he would be sweet and smile a lot and let others hold him. WRONG AGAIN. 
I expected I would breeze through infancy with him as I had with my daughter. WRONG, ASSHOLE!

My confidence dwindled. I had no idea how to manage my children. They were both such babies, two under two. The days after my son was born, I expected my daughter to do more, be more. I expected my son to not cry too much and to be soothed by his father more. I expected to be a mom that had daily activities planned for my toddler while juggling the demands of my infant. I expected to clean, cook, mother, and do all the other tedious shit one must do while running a house. 

I expected that of myself because I didn't know how to LET. IT. GO. I have always expected myself to do more and be more. And it's gotten me into emotional trouble in the past, when I wasn't able to understand how to LET. IT. GO. 

I didn't want to make that same mistake. 

So I found support. I made friends. I saw a therapist. I found work that fulfilled me. I tapped into the resources around me that helped me feel better, be better. 

Things were good, and my husband and I decided to go ahead and see about baby making. It worked. I got pregnant. 

And my whole world flipped upside down and I started to get a better grasp on what I needed. I also changed up the expectations of myself, my family, this new baby and my experiences. 

I expected not that it would be easy, but that I would cope with the loving support of the people around me. I expected that my new baby would have different needs and that I would try my hardest to respond and react to those needs. I expected my older children would help guide our family through the transition of having a new baby in the house. I expected to take each day as it came and to accept and let go. 

This is not to say that my experience was picturesque. No, it wasn't. I had hard times and stress, and I still had to adjust my expectations here and there. But it was all-around great and memorable, and I'd be happy to do it all again, which is NOT how I felt about mothering two little ones five years ago. 

And while I'd be happy to "do it all again", I think we're done making babies. Instead, I'm going to keep my expectations in check, drink a cuppa and keep on keepin' on. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Vacation 101.

Summer vacation? Kids out of school? On an academic schedule and finished until fall? 

Welcome to Mama Amy Bee: Summer Vacation 101. 

Here's how to have a kick-ass summer. Have fun in the sun. Get laid in the shade. Or some other bullshit you write in each other's yearbook. 

  • Make a plan... Brainstorm with the family, your partner or on your own! Explore your community, take a road trip or dream up a big, fancy fly-me-to-the-moon holiday. But figure out how you'd like to spend your summer break and write that shit down. Otherwise you'll wander around, not doing anything remotely vacation-y and you'll hate yourself come September. If you have kids that can't write (well) then have them draw pictures, cut out photos from magazines or dictate what they want to do. If anything, it's pretty entertaining to hear what adventures they want to have! And it may be surprisingly pretty simple: walk in the park, stomp in puddles, make lemonade. Little did you know you can make your kids happy with the simple joys in life. Who needs Disney?!  Plus, when your kids (or you) claim boredom, you just have to whip out that list and voila! It not only works for kids but for you, too! It helps break up the odd jobs around the house and reminds you to take advantage of the fabulous energy of summer. 
  • ...but remain flexible. Yes, make a plan. Brainstorm lots of great activities, but don't feel locked into what you think summer should entail. Flexibility lets you have a wider variety of experiences. Check in with your friends and family to see what they do during the summer months. Explore a different part of the country that you have yet to visit. Order a different flavor of ice cream or search out activities that are new to you. Crazy, right?
  • Embrace summer-y foods. Visit your farmers' market and plan your meals around what's available. Fire up that grill and plan meals that don't require you to heat up the oven. Make a big bowl of pasta salad to keep in the refrigerator for an easy meal. Want some hot meals? Use the crockpot to cook up a batch of soup and compliment it with a loaf of crusty bread. And head to those wineries and breweries you've been wanting to visit. 
  • Love and MOVE your body! Head to the beach and lounge seaside. Cannonball into the pool! Play that game of volleyball at the next picnic, even if you are awful. Play frisbee and softball and ride that bicycle. Your body is what it is. You can either move it and make healthy choices or you can feed it garbage and keep it stagnant. But love it and move it and take advantage of the summer fun that is not available come September (or October or November...). 
  • Create a tradition. Decide what tradition you want to start and keep it going (for as long as it works for you or your family). It may be vacationing with family or friends, heading off with your family to a special location or taking time away on your own. Whatever it is, it's fun to have something to look forward to every summer. 
There. I hope you have a great summer with the tips provided. But don't blame me if it sucks ass. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traveling sucks.

I don't feel like going on vacation! Maybe I'll just stay home!


Traveling does not bring out the best in my family. It makes us all shitty and makes me want to crawl into bed and hide. It's the packing and cleaning beforehand and the anticipating that just makes us quick to anger. 

I get into this manic mode when we head out of town, unless I'm uncomfortably pregnant or newly postpartum or in a lazy place in my life. I want to clean and organize and get our house in order before walking out the door. I don't know if it's because I'm prepping for our return or maybe I'm just afraid if we all went down what people would think of our home with its seventeen baskets of laundry and dog-hair covered floors and dirty sinks. 

My husband, bless his heart, is short on patience and complains we're bringing too much (says the man that packed a crockpot for our three-day stay at a rented house in Michigan). He takes packing the car seriously, maximizing space like no-one's business. But heaven forbid another bag appears once he thinks he's finished packing! His easy going nature turns sour for those few hours spent tackling the last-minute tasks that simply must get done before leaving the house on a so-called relaxing vacation. 

And let's not get started on the children. 

Luckily, the tension eases a bit once we're in the groove of the vacation, though there's no telling what will make one of us snap. It's actually kind of like a game: when will someone in this family lose their shit and make everyone's mood sour? We should really take bets and make some money on this life of ours. 

I give it ten minutes. No, eight.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


When I return to my childhood home, I enjoy looking around. One may call it snooping, but I hardly call it that when I did used to live there. Surely I have some right to look in the drawers and cabinets that are no longer filled with my belongings.

Snooping, er, I mean exploring, isn't anything new for me. 

I grew up with an older brother, and I adored him. I thought he was the coolest, best brother EVER. And I just wanted to know everything about him. With more than three years between us, he didn't exactly share his feelings or happenings with me. So I needed to learn more about him through my regular wanderings through his bedroom. I found flannel shirts to borrow, music to jam out to, and yearbooks to flip through. I never found anything newsworthy, which I'm sure he'll be happy to learn, but I felt a bit closer to my only sibling. 

I explored my parents' bedroom the same way, opening drawers and seeing what was kept away from my prying eyes. Again, nothing grand, though I did get an idea what my parents valued and felt was worth keeping. I might complain about my mom never getting rid of things, but I'm now thankful she has stored things away; I find my old school papers, wallet sized photos of me in fourth grade, letters I mailed her while I was in college. Knowing she's kept these reminds me of her love for me and her interest in my life. That feels good. 

Now, as a mother and wife, I'm faced with the opportunity to explore my husband's boxes holding his letters, pictures, writings, music. I can look through my children's dresser drawers, which is where my daughter tends to store her special Valentines and drawings and birthday goody bag treats. I wonder if my children and husband ever look for mementos from my previous life, the one before I was married and had children. 

I think about how I'll handle their privacy as the years go by; I don't have any interest in snooping through my husband's collection of stuff from throughout his past, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious what he's found important to keep around. And my children aren't so private that I really want to look around without their knowledge. But what happens if my children become highly private and secretive and they close me out? What happens if I ask to read my husband's latest writing but he tells me he's not ready to share yet? Will I find myself compulsively wanting to snoop? To learn more about them through their computer files, emails, texts? 

Ugh. I really hope not! I want to maintain the openness and trust we share now. It's easy to say I will respect my children's privacy and closed doors and hidden journals. But what if they grow older and push me away? What if I'm worried for their safety and health? What then? 

I think about my relationships with those I love, and I know I want to nourish these relationships so that I don't resort to snooping. Because love and trust and respect not only come from relationships but they also make them stronger. It's this big cycle- love and trust and respect begets love and trust and respect. Right? 

Or am I wrong? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Damn you Aldi.

My husband shops at Aldi. And he does it well.

He brings home foods of which I approve, ones that have lists of ingredients I can pronounce. He is careful to skip over the overly processed choices, though he's not one to forgo the Mamba fruit chews. How naughty of him.

He buys enough food to feed our family on less than I'd spend at any other store. It's this love-hate relationship I have with what we consume and what we support and how we feed our family.

For me, shopping for our family's meals brings me a sense of peace and accomplishment. I enjoy driving over to the co-op and walking the aisles. I am familiar with the layout and putting the organic apples and local cheese in the cart makes me feel responsible. I like grinding my own peanut butter and scooping the bulk items into the provided bags. I feel like I could put most anything in my cart, knowing that someone has taken the steps to ensuring the items are responsibly prepared and ethically outsourced. I want to use my dollars to communicate to the world that I care about what I purchase and what I feed my family and what I put in my body.

I don't buy exclusively from our co-op. I choose where I want to spend my money and it's not entirely on co-op buys. I'd prefer to give it directly to the farmers, which we do when we make it to the Farmers' Market or subscribe to a local CSA. But I know when I do make it to the co-op, I put the money into our dairy, meat and produce.

Walking out, I know I will have spent over a hundred bones. Especially if it's a week where I've bought organic milk or locally brewed coffee or olive oil or all of the above.

I have to say, I like how I feel when I'm shopping at our co-op. I like how it smells and I like when other customers make eye contact with me and smile and I like seeing local finds.

I am not against Aldi, mind you. The products are no different than what I'd find at any other grocery store. And really, looking over the list of ingredients on the products that come into our home makes me feel okay about it.

And when I think about the life I want to lead, I think about frugality and simple living. I want to save money, enough to feel comfortable in the future. But I also want to spend those extra dollars on meat and dairy products that were produced in a humane fashion. I want to eat vegetables that don't contain chemicals. I want to support our locally owned shops that may not have the larger discounts huge chains can afford to offer.

I struggle daily with the challenge of spending and saving. I worry I have champagne tastes on a beer budget. I wonder whether the savings of today truly matter if our health is affected.

If only...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back home again.

I'm back in the town that raised me.

The one where I wrote a report on hamsters in the fifth grade. And where I went to my first dance. And had my first kiss. And learned to drive. And...

This town only had a Piggly Wiggly and a McDonalds and maybe not much else. Its Main Street had a breakfast place and a pizza place and a bank. There were churches and gas stations and dry cleaners. But mostly it felt like a place that didn't stand out or seem exceptional.

This town has changed. It has more places to eat than I could imagine. Need furniture or home furnishings? There are lots of stores to explore, both here and in the surrounding communities. Instead of heading thirty minutes away to a larger shopping center, all you have to do is head a mile down the road and you have countless stores at your disposal.

It's frightening and awesome all at once.

Back at home I turn into a younger version of myself; my dishes are left in the sink, the bathroom counter is littered with my stuff, my clothes are spread throughout my room. I can remind myself every now and again to grow up and DO MORE but it's not easy.

It takes a lot to separate myself from who I was to who I am today. I return with my children, and yet if I could, I'd totally step back and revert to my fourteen year old ways: sleeping in, socializing with friends, talking on the phone. And yet, I'm ultimately still responsible for my kids and I can't just pass them off completely to their grandparents.

I find it interesting to head to the shopping centers with my children, and I search out for people I recognize. It's incredibly unlikely I'll see anyone I know, but I'm always wondering if I'll see someone with whom I went to school. And if I do, I'm super excited for that nostalgia.

I do have a few friends still in the area, and it's always lovely to visit with them. I imagine what life would be for me if I still lived in suburbia. I think I'd spend more, live bigger and wish for more than I currently have. I'm not sure why, other than I just think I'd be surrounded by friends that lived in bigger and nicer homes, and I'd feel compelled to have the same.

I think it helps living in a college town, as many people are in that place in life where living with less just is a necessity. I also like being in a place where my interests have found a home, specifically in birth work.

I wonder what my children will think when they return to our home once they are in their twenties, thirties and beyond. I only hope they can return with positive feelings and fond memories.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Learning as we go.

I've been thinking about parenting. 

And I've been thinking about how I'd blame my parents for all the mistakes I made, the troubles I had, the shitty emotions I'd feel. As I get older, I am starting to realize that maybe they're not totally responsible for all that. And what's brought about this change? My own children! And not my own maturity.

My parents have never parented a kid in their late-thirties before (my older sibling, not me!). This is all new to them! They have no fucking idea what they're doing. Okay, not really. So how can I possibly expect them to respond to my needs perfectly if they're still learning and I'm still learning? We're both still learning, people!

What I'm trying to figure out now is how to find peace with parenting my children in a non-perfect manner. And better yet, how I'm doing this while maintaining a positive relationship with my children. 

I'm already experiencing it; my older children look to me and seem to expect me to have the answers. They expect me to be calm, and they want me to meet their needs in a reasonable fashion. And I WANT to be that person. I want to be that person that is offering loving support and positive and peaceful. But the truth is, I CAN'T be that for my children. At least not all of the time. 

And I think the best gift I've received lately is seeing my parents as they are. They are learning and growing and figuring out their way. They are not perfect, and that's okay. That's better than okay! That's life. That's how it goes. 

I want to teach my children that there is no such thing as perfect. They just need to do what they can with what they have. As a child, we have these expectations that our parents know all and are everything and have the answers.

But they don't know all. They don't have the answers. They're figuring it out and learning and that's okay. 

I don't want to be put on a pedestal nor do I want my children to think I'm totally fucked, either. I want them to look at me and feel like they're getting the real deal. They're getting a mother that is honest and loving and accepting. I will admit when I've done wrong, but I won't be shamed or blamed. There comes a point where it stops being about my errors in motherhood and becomes their shit. 

I am learning. My kids are learning. And my parents are learning. And you know what? That's okay. In fact, it's better than okay. It's just what is needed. 

Start Listening!

What's with all the whining and yelling and pouting?

That shit has GOT to stop! 

No, I'm not referring to my children, people. 

I was a hot mess last weekend. I blame lack of sleep, driving for hours, the heat, missing out on a friend's special event, feeling wronged by my kid. 

I'm not proud. I could've chosen differently. But I'm owning it. 

The thing about this whole parenting gig is that we start off with these little babies that need such basics. They're such vulnerable, fragile beings, and our job is to love and feed and protect. They may cry but it feels so out of our control so we just go with it. We soothe and love and calm. 

And then our kids get older and suddenly it feels like they can listen and obey and follow directions. And they can. And there are times when they should. But not all the time. 


I hate to admit it, but it's true. The other night, my older son was doing exactly the opposite of what I wanted, and I told him to stop. He didn't. We were in the car and I gave him THE LOOK in the rear view mirror, and that didn't make him stop. I raised my voice and repeated, STOP! He didn't. Then I pulled the car over to the side of the road AND stopped suddenly AND yelled STOP! 

He stopped. 

But at what cost? And what exactly made him stop? And what will I have to do next time to get the same result?

Parenting is not perfect. It's messy and full of times where the roles are reversed. My kid is the one telling me to blow my anger out and I'm making faces behind his back. But I'm working on it. I'm learning and growing and managing. 

Today I will use my words and blow my anger out and do better. Not perfect, but better. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Feeding My Soul.

Five years ago, I strapped my newborn son into his car seat and carried him out to the car. I buckled my daughter, not even two, into her car seat. I sat in the driver's seat, and I drove to the nearest coffee shop equipped with a drive-thru. After ordering my extra large iced mocha, I drove around town, heading nowhere in particular. All I knew was that I couldn't return home.

Being so newly postpartum, responsible for my two young children, I struggled to keep my sanity. My husband had returned to work, starting around 4pm and not returning until close to midnight, leaving me with our children.

They don't call it the witching hour for nothing.

It felt as if not only my children transformed into crying, needy things but so had I. Only I didn't have anyone to care for my needs, dry my tears, and tell me it was going to be okay. If I had, I might have had a better recollection of those dreary months.

Tonight, my husband went out to socialize. This doesn't happen so frequently, as work and family and home often monopolize his time. I wasn't sure I wanted him to leave, or rather I wasn't sure I wanted to be left with my children. By myself. But even though I wasn't sure I wanted to solo-parent tonight, I knew I wanted him to have time to laugh and drink and talk. What's a few hours anyway?

It wasn't even half an hour when I decided I needed to take that drive to the nearest coffee shop, the same one that provided for me five years ago. This time I buckled my babe in to his seat while my older two headed to the car. We all settled in, and I drove away from our home.

What a delight! I was escaping our home, strewn with laundry and toys and books. It felt so much different this time, however, when I pulled out of our driveway. I knew that while I didn't want to be home with my three children, I knew that I could manage if I needed. I'm not quite sure if that was the case five years ago.

I ordered my expensive espresso drink, and I drove my brood home. But when we pulled in the driveway, I knew I wanted to give them something. I wanted them to have a chance to let go of their own stuff, and I asked if they wanted to ride bikes. YES! REALLY?! LET ME GET MY SHOES, said daughter as she ran out wearing her pink rain boots.

I drove the few miles to where they could ride bikes around a track, and I settled in to a bench seat with the babe while my older ones rode with the wind at their back.

And that moment felt good. It felt like a gift to my children, and I felt capable.

That's not to say the rest of the night was flawless and easy. But it's the times like tonight, where I took them for an impromptu bicycle ride that make up for the moments where I'm just feeling like I'm not enough.

Because I am enough. I always have been. And I always will be.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's DAY?!

Yesterday I celebrated Mother's Day with my children and husband. And I have to admit, while I received some extra kisses and a fabulous gift, I didn't necessarily feel like it was much different than any other day. 


The whole notion that on this one day, moms gets to sleep in, eat breakfast in bed, leave the dishes to someone else, is whack. 

One day?! That's it?! 

Not for me, thank you very much. I'm past the feelings of guilt and shame that I'm not the cheery homemaker. My partner has always been involved in our daily must-do list. Grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, bill-paying, he does it all. When he's not directly involved in caring for our children or animals, he's managing our home and providing for our  needs. My mother has commented how lucky I am at how hands-on my husband is with our children and in our home. 


No, ma'am. I'm not lucky. I just knew that I was not meant to live a life caring for another person in a way that left me feeling empty, drained and burdened. 

This is not to say I don't take pride in caring for my husband, our children, our home. I do enjoy the work I do in our home and with our family. It's just that the household tasks don't rest SOLELY on my shoulders. 

I'm regularly the one to organize and sort our clothes at each change of size or season. I'm the one that deep cleans the kids' room and rotates their toys, books, and crafts. I tend to handle our social calendar, planning activities and outings. This is not to say my partner wouldn't DO these things, but we've worked out this balance that feels doable, at least during these years of parenting little ones. 

I used to cook more, clean more, do more around the home. And then we had a baby. And then another. And then another. So my time is focused more on their basic needs and their wants. And that's okay. It's okay that I've shifted my time away from cooking dinner and washing dishes because I'm doing what I can with what I have. I'm feeding my baby. I'm volunteering in my older son's classroom. I'm remembering it's Teacher Appreciation Week and making cards for their teachers with them. 

So when Mother's Day rolled around, I felt slightly annoyed that apparently it's the one day of the year that mothers have permission to NOT DO everything they're expected to do.

If my partner communicated to me that he needed me to to DO MORE on a daily basis, then we'd have a conversation how I could support his request. But if he were to come to me and demand that I BE MORE, I'd really have to press pause and figure out what and why and how that request developed. Was it because I really wasn't contributing to our family's well-being? Was I neglecting my share of the work that needs to happen just to keep our family and home functioning? Was my partner needing something from me so he could focus on his own personal needs and wants? 

There's no right or wrong in any of that, and sometimes we need to step up and BE MORE and DO MORE because we love that other person and we WANT to BE BETTER and DO BETTER. But I also believe we have to really consider whether we're somehow sacrificing a part of what we believe and what feels innately right when we're living this life that just doesn't meet our own needs. 

Yes, I'm blessed to have my partner and children, and Mother's Day was a fabulous day for me. I can't imagine my life without my created family, and I will always take great pride in them and our lives. 

And I will always celebrate my role as mother every. single. day. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cover up.

At a visit to a walk-in clinic today, I disrobed to show the doctor some bumps on my skin. She held up the gown and told me to cover up. Or some bullshit like that.

My body has birthed three children, is soft and round and is still in the process of change. I already felt vulnerable, standing in the room in the robe and my socks, all the while holding, nursing, and interacting with my younger son. The nurse had instructed me to put the robe on so it opened in back, but how in fuck's sake do I feed my baby with the opening in back? So I wore it, open in front but eventually put it back on, so it opened in back.

The doctor walked in and she was stand-offish. She didn't shake my hand. I get it; I was there for some skin issues. She probably didn't want to catch some weird disease from some walk-in patient. That's cool.

And then she asked me about my bumps, so I took off the robe and showed her these bumps that itch like crazy and flare up when I scratch. And that's when she held up the robe, open in back, and ushered me into it.

Fuck. That.

But I'm a good girl so I did as was asked. I started to move the gown aside again and she placed it back on my body, telling me she was just going to look at one spot at a time. Which she did. While the rest of me remained covered.

And that's how it went. I went to breastfeed my son and I swear she didn't make eye contact and diverted her eyes.

Really? Is this really happening?

Fuck. That.

Speaking up has never been my strong suit, but I swear to you, my resolution is to SPEAK. THE. FUCK. UP.

I had never been in a medical situation before where I had felt so frustrated with my care. AND I paid walk-in clinic fees (after hours charges, I'm sure) so I basically paid someone to make me feel like shit. Great. Awesome.

I think what made me feel like shit was the fact that she came in with this power. I asked her some questions about the safety of the treatment she suggested with lactation, and she basically said, I'm a family doctor. I do this all the time. 

This was such a change from a visit I had had earlier in the day when I brought my younger son in to be seen for what I suspected was an ear infection. We went in to an after-hours office to see a pediatrician in the practice, and I was feeling stressed out by his congestion and cough. His name was called and I started to lift up my bags and carry his carseat, when the nurse came over and helped me. She carried my bags, while I carried my sleeping son in his seat.

We entered the exam room and she asked me the typical questions. One asked about medications and I admitted I hadn't given him his whole round of antibiotics that he had been prescribed a few weeks prior.

She looked at me, and she told me that she could tell I felt guilty about not finishing the round of antibiotics.

I nodded.

She told me I was a good mother and that I was caring for my son's needs.

I nodded.

And I wanted to hug her. And tell her thank you. Thank you for going above and beyond in making me feel safe. And comfortable. And supported.

Tonight I will be thankful for people like the nurse that cared and listened and supported. And I'll try to let go of the frustration I felt from the other woman that didn't seem to care. Or listen. Or support. And most importantly, I'll try to grow my voice, so that I may be more capable of advocating, for myself and for my children.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

All I Want

I look at my children, and I want them to feel happy and satisfied. I want them to feel loved and supported and fulfilled. I want those great smiles and belly laughs to carry them through their days. I want them to have friends, and I want these friends to encourage my children in all the "right" ways. I want my children to find love and feel love and be loved.

 I want my children to eat well and stay strong in their bodies. I want their bodies to be healthy and whole. I want my children to care for their world, and I want them to reuse, reduce and recycle.

I want my children to use their voices to share good news and sing and talk late into the night with their best friend. I want my children to include me in their lives, and I want them to write me letters, call me, think of me. I want to get along with my children and please them. I want all of this and more for my children.

What more could I want for my children?

I want them to feel angry and pissed off. I want them to feel dissatisfied in their life and be pushed to be better, be more, or just plain be. I want my children to cry hard and low, getting out not only tears but all the anguish they've ever felt. I want my children to figure out friendships and relationships, even if it gets messy and painful and hard.

I want my children to be mad and scream and rant. I want them to separate from me, when they're ready, so they learn more about themselves and their world. I want them to find their own passion, even if I don't understand or want to understand. I want my children to screw up and make mistakes and be fucking normal. I want them to go deep in themselves, figuring out their own shit and learning from it.

I want my children to move halfway across the world, even if they're unsure what or where or why. I want my children to have their own adventures, creating memories and stories they'll hold forever in their hearts.

I want my children to speak other languages and play musical instruments and climb mountains. I want my children to find a small town in the middle of nowhere and settle down. I want them to explore big cities and wear fancy clothes and dirty jeans and go barefoot on the beach. I want them to memorize constellations, and I want them to wake to see the sun rising over the horizon.

I want my children to grow old and gray, and I want them to be wise and strong.

I want, I want, I want...

Monday, April 29, 2013

I have a home.

I have a home. I have a husband. I have children.

I'm a fucking grown-up and I can't believe it.

I am in my early thirties, and I still can't get over the fact that I have created my own family. I have literally created my own unit. I met a man that I wanted to marry. We had sex and created a baby. Then we did this two more times (the baby-making part) and now we have enough people to have our own basketball team. It's fucking unreal.

I get to stay up late and watch R-rated movies and drink orange juice out of the carton. I can eat popcorn for dinner if I wanted, and I do sometimes. Eat popcorn. For dinner.

I have to remember to buy toilet paper. I have a gazillion baskets of laundry waiting to be folded. I have to vacuum the dog hair littering our floor or else one would think we have carpeting.

If I wanted to rack up credit card debt buying a shitload of stuff I want, I could. I could apply for credit cards, and proceed to spend it. On just about anything. That's actually kind of exciting even if I don't take advantage of my grown-up-ness and buy shit I don't really need.

I can call my friend up at night and invite her over to watch Girls and drink beer and swear.

I haven't seen my dentist in almost two years, and I'm kind of afraid I have a cavity. I have copays and I have to fill out the forms when I visit a doctor's office. I have no fucking clue what members of my family had what disease so I sort of guess and hope I'm right.

I think college freshmen are young kids, and why the hell are they living on their own?! How the hell is 18 old enough to move away from home?!

I look back at pictures from high school and wonder how the hell it feels so dated. How were the 90's so long ago?!

I look at pictures of celebrities in their thirties and wonder why I look nothing like them. Nothing.

And then I look at magazines and skip the section that is for women in their 20's because I'm no longer there. Instead I focus on the 30's and 40's. Shit, I gotta know what is ahead!

I am a grown-up and I will only get older and wiser. I will keep moving down this path, and I can't believe how quickly it feels it's passing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I hate my yoga class.

Alright, so maybe hate is a strong word. Maybe I should instead use these other phrases:

  • My yoga class is challenging. 
  • I find my yoga instructor demanding.
  • Yoga is bringing up some serious shit.
  • Yoga is fucking symbolic for life. 
I'm not a regular practitioner of yoga. I dabble. I'm a dabbler. I started taking classes last year before I got pregnant and then transitioned into prenatal yoga soon after. I took classes and then stopped with the excuse that I was too tired or too big or too lazy. I started back up again when my youngest was around 4 months, enrolling in classes at a local community center. I loved the environment, the varying ages, the absence of competition. After I met the requirement, I enrolled in the next level class, ready for a challenge.

Fuck that shit. 

Wait, what? My first class back was tonight and it kicked. my. ass. All I love about yoga felt absent, and I left feeling emotionally shaken and stirred. My instructor corrected my poses, talked way too quickly, and she had this condescending way of interacting with the class. 

"Right knee, right knee, right knee, other right knee." I had to slow my brain to process what the fuck she was asking of me, and I wanted to yell I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN! You know what? I kind of want to yell that every now and again to the world, to my family, to my children. I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN! She'd come over to me, adjust my hips, tell me to internally rotate rather than externally rotate my pelvis and stay engaged. I just wanted to crumple and tell her I'm still figuring this out. It's just the first day of the series. Simmer the fuck down! 

But I didn't say those things. 

I listened to her words, I did what I could to follow her instructions and when she praised me when I moved my body the way she asked, I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt like a motherfucking warrior. 

During the last part of class, the relaxation or savasana, I thought about what it is I'm looking for in this series. I'm investing my time, energy and money in this yoga class, and I deserve to walk away feeling better than when I started. I imagine if I stay in this class, my body will be stronger and more flexible. But at what cost? Is it worth it if I leave feeling belittled and frustrated? Is there any other way to approach this series so I leave feeling confident, strong and powerful? 

I think there is a way to make this series work for me, and I'm going to stick it out. Here's why:

My instructor challenges me in a way that I believe will ultimately change me for the better. I need to figure out how to handle challenging people in my life. Finding my voice, managing what power I give to other people and being stronger than I have been in the past are all attainable goals. I will grow through challenges and I will emerge more confident than before. 

My body will be made stronger through the work I do in class. I have the option to give up or switch classes or do the minimum that is asked of me, but I believe if I push my body and allow it to be moved in new and unfamiliar ways, I will ultimately grow in my yoga practice. Sometimes I'm okay with just doing the minimum because I'm not ready to push myself. But I think I'm ready now to push myself and be challenged. 

This class gives me good perspective in how to relate to others, provide encouragement and support varying needs. Ultimately I want to provide this great level of support to my family, friends and community, and being pushed to an area that challenges my comfort zone is going to make me a better support to others. Having the experience of walking away challenged in my feelings and what I think I know may help me professionally. 

Life is full of challenging situations where I wonder, how in the hell did I get here and how do I get out?! I always emerge stronger and more capable than before. I am never the same person as when I started, and my yoga class reminds me of this. I will have setbacks and times of frustration, but I will always be stronger than I was the day before, even if I may not feel it. 

How to host an amazing kids' party.

Perhaps you remember my previous post advising you how to throw a stellar party. It was full of colorful language and fun imagery. Here are some tips on throwing a kids' party!

Decide location. The location of the party dictates everything and must be decided before moving forward in the planning process. Depending on where you live and local birthday party culture, you will either have few options on location or you'll have a bazillion. Don't let adult peer pressure and the whole "keeping up with the Jones" mentality affect where your kid's party will be held. Community centers, parks, and gymnastic centers are all popular venues where we live, as they generally offer more room, may allow for the venue staff to assist in setting up, facilitating games and clean-up, and may add to the "wow" factor. But you also have to pay for use of the space, which may range from a simple reservation fee to a more costly party package. If you're looking to save money, you may want to consider hosting the party at your home.

Create invitation list. The number of invitees will depend largely on party location, though you will also need to consider your child's age and personality along with how well you handle crowds of small children. If you've chosen a venue that accommodates a large number of people and offers staff to assist with the party, you may be able to invite your child's entire class or extended family members. Perhaps your child prefers smaller groups or wants to have his party at a venue where it'd be too expensive to pay for more than a few children to attend. Once decided how many to invite, send out invitations in the mail. Email and other invitation sites are also acceptable, as are hand-delivering invitations to friends and family, but if you can manage it, mail the invitations to your child's friends. Yes, it may be a pain in the ass to find out the addresses and it adds to the cost factor, but who DOESN'T enjoy receiving a piece of mail, particularly children?!

Figure out the details: food, activities, decorations. If you find it enjoyable to plan for and execute birthday parties, then go all out on planning the party deets. Pinterest will provide you with so many ideas that you'll probably want to just drink yourself into a stupor, but take a step back and ask yourself a few questions: 1) Do I even like my child? Trick question, but hopefully this brings you to a place where you can really think about why you're going through the hassle of throwing a party for ankle-biters. 2) What can I reasonably afford, facilitate and execute? If you hate crafts, don't expect that you'll suddenly sew together a quilt of old baby clothes to hang behind the cake and snacks table. If you're a busy person (who isn't?!) then don't plan on baking, cooking and crafting together a party unless it TRULY makes you happy and doesn't make you want to run away from home.  3) Accept help when it's offered and don't feel guilty taking shortcuts. A party doesn't need to rival the ones featured in magazines or on websites. More than likely these were carried out by professionals, which you are not (unless you are, then in that case, just forget what I'm saying). If your partner is asking what he can do to help, give him tasks and let him do what needs to be done without micromanaging every. little. detail. If he buys shitty-ass, juice-free sugar water to serve to your kid's little friends, so be it. If he decides he wants to serve neon orange fake cheesy puffs, oh well. Focus your efforts only on what you find absolutely necessary and let everything else go. 

Celebrate your child, and remember the true reason for the party. Jumping ahead to the day of the party, stay in the moment and enjoy the event. Hopefully you've planned a party that isn't above and beyond your abilities, and you've managed to stay clear-headed and sane. You'll probably find that your child and her friends have managed to create a party vibe without even needing you to do anything but lightly supervise to make sure there are no major injuries from the excitement of seeing each other outside of school. Maybe that means you're skipping some of the planned games or opening up gifts earlier in the party than you had expected. Roll with the changes and remember these kids are just kids.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The middle one.

My middle child had another birthday.

We celebrated and sang and reminisced.

My son was born at home after having received thoughtful, considerate care from our midwife. I birthed him in our living room and greeted him with tears of joy. The next several months were spent figuring out how to parent my two young children. It was hard, really hard. I didn't access the resources available to me. I didn't think there was any way to circumvent these challenges, and wondered doesn't everyone have it this hard? Isn't this how it's SUPPOSED to be?! 

My son was more sensitive than my daughter; he was a completely different child than my first, and I didn't have the reserves to mother him in the way he needed. Could things have been different? Hells yes! I could have accessed postpartum support, sought support from a therapist and hired childcare for my older child to help me while I was balancing my own postpartum healing and transition.

But I didn't. <sigh>

My son made me work for his smiles. He studied his surroundings, and he didn't readily sit with people other than my husband or me. He was my sensitive soul, as I referred to him, and I tried to embrace his needs with love and acceptance. But boy, did I wish he was easier. I remember feeling resentful, confused and angry all at once when he just wouldn't display this easy-going disposition. I would feel this deep love for him, and I'd talk with others about how great he was, but then the moment we were with friends and family, he'd cry relentlessly and would only be peaceful if he were nursing or if my husband were holding him. I'd think, seriously?! What the fuck? WHY ARE YOU CRYING?! 

Looking back, I can now see that I just didn't have it in me to mother him in the way he needed. I loved him, I met his needs and I cared for him. But I was not joyful in the way I cared for his needs. I felt put out and burdened. I wondered why he was so difficult and I just wanted him to STOP CRYING! It wasn't until I made some friends, took advantage of playgroups and other local resources and got a handle on mothering two young children that I finally (again!) enjoyed mothering.

I love my middle child, my older son. He brings me joy and smiles, and I can't imagine my life without him. Though he still has bouts of frustration and moments of anger, I am more than capable of holding him in my arms, telling him "I'm here for you." He's my sweet, sensitive soul and I think he's absolutely amazing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing for the life I want.

I want a life of simplicity. I want a home that reflects my values. I want our family's lifestyle to be full of simple joys.

I want our home to hold only the items that we use or will use in the following months. Our home is a haven, a place that holds our belongings, and our refuge from the world outside. If it's cluttered with stuff then we're going to spend all our free time managing our stuff. And what fun is that?! I say find a home for all that extra shit lying around and figure out how you're going to manage the crap in your house that is taking over your life.

Figure out a few areas in your home that are stressing you and figure out some possible solutions. I already know we need a better system to handle incoming paper (mail, kids' school papers, etc.). I could invest in bins, mail racks, letter trays and whatever else they sell to corral paperwork, but it won't do A DAMN THING. You know why? Because I'm an asshole that can't stay on top of the overwhelming crap that comes through my door. I also know we need a better laundry system. It seems I could spend an hour EVERY DAY to just stay on top of the craziness I call LAUNDRY HELL. And really, I don't feel like using my time this way! So basically, I'm lazy. There, I said it. I'm a lazy asshole.

Our family should spend quality time together. I envision our family taking walks after dinner, talking about our day while getting fresh air and some exercise. It's free and easy, but do we do this? No. Can I tell you why? It's because family life is hectic and full of tasks to complete and every other excuse I can throw your way. But we're in charge of our lives, and this would be an easy area to change. I think. Maybe. Who the fuck knows...

Really, I need to decide to be in charge of lives and make the changes I want to see happen. No one else will, and our family is still young enough to instill the traditions and routines I want our family to practice.

What changes do you want to make in your life? And how will you make it happen? And while you're at it, throw me some motivation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I have time for you.

My daughter came up to me while I was typing out a post (one of my many unfinished posts that never make it to completion). She settled in next to me on the sofa and started to say something. I interrupted her to say something along the lines of, Mommy is writing something and it's sort of private, like a diary. Since she can read, I didn't want her reading the post; I was self-conscious, first of all, that she was going to read something that wasn't ready to publish and second of all, it's not exactly appropriate content for a six-year old.

But then as she was getting off the couch to walk away, I clicked Save and closed the laptop. I remembered what I learned at a parenting class I attended, (not court-ordered or anything, but I attended by choice, thank you very much) and I used the words I remembered the instructors sharing: I have time for you. 

I have time for you.

How do we share this sentiment with the people with whom we interact? How do we communicate to the people in our lives, I am here with you. You are important. I am listening. 

I spent time talking with my daughter on the couch, cuddled up and sharing our thoughts. It was just the two of us, side by side, taking turns talking and listening. At that moment, my body language and words communicated to her just how important she is to me. And that felt so refreshing from how I might parent on nights when I'm tired and just ready for some quiet time.

I was thinking of ways to help stay in the moment. Here they are:

What is important? 

What would I want from a person I love? 

What kind of memory am I making? 

Is this how I'd want to be treated?

Is this helping or hurting my relationship?

What am I teaching my child?

I think I've said it before when I say I am not aiming for perfection. I realize my own limitations, and I am a better parent when I address my own issues and needs. But I also get that this time I have with my my family, my friends, and (insert your name here) is affected by how engaged I am in the relationship now. And yeah, it's fucking hard to make time and be there for the people I love. There are times in my life where I don't know how to care for anyone else's needs because I'm struggling to just keep my head above water. And that's okay. Because those feelings don't last forever and those are the times when my loved ones keep me afloat. And I know, down the road, that someday I will be strong enough to hold someone's hand during their shitty times.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bitchy Bitch

I'm such a bitchy bitch.

It's like, I start talking and I just  know I should shut up and I don't and I keep going and I get more bitchy by the second. And the usual victim of my bitchiness? My husband, of course! The man that I promised to love forever and ever is the one that I happen to shit on. Not literally. Ew, gross.

So, when I feel like I need space because I'm tired of tending to my kids' needs, I really just shut down and need to be alone. I might be spending time on the computer, watching a show, writing a get the picture. But then my husband happens along and starts talking to me, as in, he wants me to listen to the words he is speaking. And he probably wants me to give a response in some fashion. And all the time I'm thinking in my head, I am doing something else here. Can't you see that? Give. Me. Space. 

So he does. He gives me space and he walks away to do something else. And then I feel incredibly guilty and annoyed and sad and all wishy-washy, and I'm a fucking mess inside. I wonder why I'm so mean, and why can't I just be with the man that I really and truly love to pieces. But then I tell myself it's okay to want space and it's okay to do something that brings me peace! Taking care of ME makes me a happier wife and partner! ISN'T THAT OBVIOUS?!

But for reals, how in the hell am I going to sustain this relationship, the one I want to last until we're 95 years old and wrinkled and full of memories, if I don't fucking care for it the way it deserves?

The challenge here will be finding the time I need (I truly, truly NEED my time) to pursue activities that renew my energy while balancing the needs of my husband (and children and friends and family and...).

Here are some changes I could make:

  • Determine a time to sit and talk without distractions. This time should work for both parties and should ideally be a time when there are no laptops, phones, TV, or needy children present that will totally distract you from one another. 
  • Decide a set amount of time for both parties to have "me" time. This may happen simultaneously so each person has an opportunity to work on their own interest or activity, or you can take turns so the other parent can tend to the children and/or pets while the other one can focus without interruption. 
  • If one of us needs to communicate with the other during their "me" time, figure out the boundaries and decide how you want to be interrupted. This doesn't just apply when the other one is pursuing a hobby or other creative interest; this may be when your partner is working on paying bills or tending to a job around the house. Being interrupted from the task at hand, especially one that requires concentration, can be frustrating and can break that focus.
  • When I am working on something that requires me to focus, I should remember to communicate clearly to my family when I will be available to tend to their needs. It's easy- "Kids? Husband? I am going to _____ but I will be available to you in ______ minutes." There. Done. Badda-boom-badda-bing. 
  • Prioritize. I may REALLY WANT to write or search aimlessly on the Internet because it brings me a sense of calm and helps me unwind, but if someone in my real life wants to talk with me then and there, I need to ask myself, what is most important right now? Maybe it will be that I NEED TIME FOR MYSELF and everything and everyone will have to wait until I'm recharged. But I'm guessing that most of the time I will be able to turn my attention to this important person in my life. 
  • Send my love through the words I speak. My family doesn't deserve someone to talk shitty to them or be short or bitchy. They just don't. When I'm tired and cranky and I snap, "WHAT?!" to my husband, that's not right. I don't need to be all perfect with my kids, but they deserve to have a parent that's able to check their own limitations and use a tone that communicates love rather than WHAT THE FUCK?! I'M BUSY HERE! 
I'd love to hear some of your suggestions on how you balance the needs of your family with the needs of self.