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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tearing Down the House

While my children have systematically been tearing apart my parents home, I’ve been going a little crazier than usual trying to make sure none of the plywood or plaster falls and hits my youngest toddler in the brain.  I’ve failed miserably 4 out of 10 times.  We can probably kiss our Harvard dreams goodbye at this point but he seems to still be healthy.  Nothing wrong with being a dentist, yeah?  Nice safe occupation.  Not too intellectually challenging.

Ellie has, thankfully, both the athleticism and intelligence to scoot out of the way of falling items.  Benji is still tottering around and yanking said items on top of his head because…baby.

I underestimated the amount of time I’d be chasing him up the stairs, down the stairs, off the TV, (ours is mounted on the wall), holding my hand above his head while he plays underneath the torture device of a coffee table complete with sharp edges and pointy metal legs.

Well what can you do?  Wrap the kid in bubble wrap?  The thought has crossed my mind.  He fell the other day and scraped his head on the edge of the base board in the kitchen.  I mean, how do I anticipate or prevent that?

My parents have a wonderful split level home.  It’s so cozy and warm and homey.  

And full of stairs.  

There’s two sets of stairs bracketing the main set of stairs going all the way up to the third level.  And the set of stairs going to the basement.  We have it all blocked off with gates and boards and plywood craftily formed around the stair banisters.  

Benji reminds me of the raptor in the Jurassic Park movie, steadily testing the perimeter defenses for weaknesses.  

And he’s found them.  

Dad, clearly underestimating both the determination and the mental agility not to mention the physical strength of my youngest merely taped a barrier across the bottom step of the right hand set of stairs leading to the middle level.  

He ripped that apart in about 48 hours.  Dad had to drill it back into place.

The top barrier across the left hand set of stairs leading to the middle level remained intact for an impressive 7 days.  This morning he found the edge and pushed it clear.

I am amazed and horrified and when I get to bedtime and he’s still more or less whole I breathe a sigh of relief and collapse onto the couch, exhausted completely.

And then, teething.  So he’s up at midnight and then 230am for three hours.  I climb back into bed at 5am and wonder how I’m going to get through the next 24 hours.

Poor Ellie.  I don’t see her for hours at a time.  I’m assuming Nana is feeding her occasionally.  And there’s chocolate balls around so, she won’t totally starve.

This morning instead of going to morning service with mom I stayed home so Benji could have his morning nap, because you know, he’s been up all night, kid is tired.

And did I rest?  Of course not.  I piled up some cherry balls (Ellie has eaten all the chocolate balls at this point) and lots of good hot tea and pulled up a movie on Netflix.  I got about a 1/3 of a way through ‘Logan’ when Ellie came crying to the front door.  I’d forgotten her outside!  (Ha, ha).

No, she had gone to church with Nana but they got about three songs in before she wanted to come back home.

So, here I am, drinking coffee as strong as they legally allow in Canada and attempting in fits and starts to finish this blog entry and then like a computer left outside on a day like today, I am going to freeze over and crash in on myself.

But, like my wise little Ellie says, "Mommy, sometimes you have to get through the sad before you can get to the happy."  And, it isn’t even really sad.  It’s just..tired.  I just have to get through the tired before I can get to the rest.

So, from my heart to yours, I wish you all the rest and rejuvenation you can absorb.  And me, too...




Sunday, December 24, 2017

Just Between You and Me

I’m thinking the day before Christmas no one is going to be reading this but…it’s Sunday and my little rule for myself is to have my weekly blog done by Sunday night.

Since no one will be reading this but me and you, whoever you are, I can get comfy and talk freely, eh?

Beni is getting his canines in RIGHT NOW and I’m ready to invent a Prozac/Valium cocktail that will get me through the holidays.  

I can’t even be ‘in the moment’.  It’s too painful/annoying.  Can’t I just project myself mentally to a nice sunny beach somewhere with some tropical drink that tastes like antifreeze and pineapples but you don’t care because it’s VACATION and you’re alone and peaceful and happy?  I’m in survival mode right now.  I’m in Hawaii as I write this.  In my head.  It’s so nice here.  So much quieter than my real life.

I digress.

I’m home in Canada for the holidays and once again straddling the line between trying to ensure Ellie sort of believes in the magic of Santa but also not making a big deal out of it, and trying not to outright lie to her.  

There will be two camps on this.  One who says GIVE IT UP, IT’S HARMLESS FUN!  You’re a dweeb.  It’s Santa.  

And one who says…why are we telling our children a magical being watches them all year and then decides if they should get gifts or not?  Like all wonderful traditions that make us feel warm and cozy, it has a cold side.  There are children who do not get gifts at Christmas.  Or who are in broken homes where Santa visits one home with loads of gifts, and was only able to leave highlighters and chewing gum at another.  It’s a wonderful story if your life is blessed with a good income and a stable home.  If you’re not, it’s a harsh shove from childhood. 

Except it’s just me and you reading this so…there’s just my camp (it doesn’t feel right to lie to her) and you.

Anyway, I told her Santa was coming and she was like…”…to THIS house?  Tonight?”

I forgot.  He’s a dude.  She does not like dudes.  Even ones bringing presents.  So I told her she wouldn’t need to meet him at all and he would only come quickly to drop off some presents and leave again while she slept.  So, when my three year old asked directly about Santa…I lied.  So much for all my well intentioned high-ideals about truth and the integrity of our relationship.

Didn’t see THAT coming did you?  Yeah, me neither.  I guess when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to be the one to have that kid.  The sullen, cranky one who doesn’t believe in magic or fairytales or happy endings or true love or all the goopy, awesome stuff that makes my little world go ‘round.

Well, I better go eat those cookies we set out for Santa.  And put the presents down that ‘he’ brought her.  And be all moody and conflicted when she asks me anything directly.  Then feel guilty about the moodiness AND the lying and go eat another round of chocolate balls and apple pie with ice cream.  Mmmmmm eating my feelings is delicious AND fun.

Oh, and have a Merry Christmas, eh!?





Sunday, December 17, 2017

HAVE YOU EVER....?

It’s that time again - time for HAVE YOU EVER!?  

What prompted this newest addition to my blog?  I’m trying to save the world that’s all.  My country and my world has felt pretty dark lately.  

So.  Where does one begin to save the world?  By examining myself.  Well, not You examining ME, I mean, we all examine ourselves.  The holidays at the end of the year are the perfect time for some meaningful introspection.

“The unexamined life is a wasted life.”  Aristotle.

There are some things about myself I’m not so proud of.  Maybe you can relate to them?

Have you ever….made fun of yourself or lied about something you were proud of in an effort to make someone else feel more at ease?  

I think we women do this a lot.  Culturally, social harmony is often our first lesson as children, and our first objective as adults.  But when it costs us our self esteem (or paycheck) or dims our personal truth, the cost is too high.  Own it.  I need this tattooed on my fingers.  I do this a lot, even over things that don’t matter and where the person i’m talking to could care less.  

Have you ever…judged someone you liked and felt like a jerk?  

It’s embarrassing to admit but lately I’ve been doing this a lot.  Or, noticing it more.  Judging is a knee-jerk reaction for everyone.  But we don’t have to pay any attention to it.  it’s just a thought or a feeling and it has no bearing on reality.  If you wait it will pass.  

If you can keep your mouth shut long enough to get through it…  Still.  Working.  On.  This. 

Ugh I hate judgey people they suck.  Wait - did I just judge ‘judgey’ people?  Ack will it NEVER END!? 

Have you ever…compared your kids casting one in a non-favorable light when they were within hearing distance?  I am unfortunately guilty of this - Benji is fearless, aggressive without being mean, independent and self-entertaining.  Ellie is abundantly cautious, concerned, fearful of any new situation, or even every infrequent situation.  I am home base to her and she doesn’t like the looks of first base.  She’s keeping an eye on it.  

She reminds me how important these first few years are.  Benji, with his ‘I-love-you-but-I’m-Cool-Without-You’ attitude reminds me not to take this stage too seriously.  My job is to help build their wings not pad my nest with their fallen feathers.  Even if I do love, love, love those clingy cuddles.

Have you ever…realized you were wrong but were too proud to admit it?

I have no issues admitting this to people I barely know.  I’ll shout it from the rooftops!

Admitting it to my spouse, that adorable know-it-all guy who strongly suspects he’s never made a wrong move or thought…ever?  No thanks.  Would it improve our relationship if I ate humble pie and admitted it now and again?  Probably.  But who wants to be perfect right?  Boo-ooring.

Lastly, have you ever…wished the world was calmer, more peaceful, less #metoo and more #wasrespectedandsupported?

Me too.  

This holiday season I’m going to have my whole family together.  (We did this on purpose.  I LIKE my family.  Mostly.)   My focus is going to be on creating a safe, calm, loving, (nonjudgemental) space for my whole family.   I believe that working on making me a better person can help my family, my community and ultimately my country and my world be a better place to live in.  A safer place.  


Without giving anything away, in the immortal words of Kelly Marie Tran aka Rose the Resistance fighter in the latest Star Wars movie…

”We’re going to win not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.”  

Sunday, December 10, 2017

When the Shiny Moments Aren't Shiny Enough or, Mom's Emergency Sanity Kit

The holidays are my favorite time of year, a bright spot at the beginning of a dark time both literal and figurative.  It’s a time to gather with friends and family and eat too much, for some drink too much, and for still others a chance to bake too much.  Can one ever have too many generous bakers in their lives?  No.  The answer is no.

Last Christmas Benji was about a month and a half old and I don’t remember much except for the cute little gray outfit with the red bowtie I wrestled him into for the family picture.  I don’t think I left the house by myself for anything for another month or so.  We were blessed to have friends stop by with food, because boiling an egg was taxing my coping skills at the time.

Things are better now.  I can even cook a whole meal, once or twice a week.  If all I have to do is put the frozen dish in the oven to cook.  I’ve baked a pie once or twice.  I even made a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with help from mom.  Things are getting better.  


But that first year, MAN.  It is so hard.  I don’t recommend doing it without able-bodied family around to help.  I mean, everyone is alive and healthy, mostly clean, but for a long time it was just survival.  Getting through the day.  Which is not a fun way to live because, we’ve only got a short few of those days and I don’t want to waste one of them just ‘making it through’ to bedtime.

I’m learning to rest in the moment.  To gather joy from the far corners of my dusty, messy house and hold it close.  

Raising kids is a lot like Christmas.  You only remember the bright spots, the moments that fill your heart with gratitude.  Or laughter.  Like Benji chasing the dog with a gleeful baby giggle.  The look on that poor dogs face when Benji comes barreling after him like a tiny drunken elf, wavering back and forth on his new walking legs, screaming ‘Ba ba ba ba!’. 

Because everything is Ba right now.  He holds up a ball triumphantly.  “Ba!”  Points to the apples on the counter.  “Ba!”  (No Benji those are apples.)  “Ba!”  (No, apples.)  He looks at me, points again.  “BA!  Ba, ba ba!”  (Ok, yes, they’re balls…I give up.)

Unless its mum-mum-mum.  He never says it just once.  It’s always three times.  Mum-mum-mum!  Emphasis on the last mum like the first two are just warm-ups.  It’s mum-mum-mum when he wants something, or more of something, or sometimes, rarely, even when he wants me.

Da-da is reserved for daddy, or something else equally as exciting like a lit Christmas tree or anything blinking or playing music, or trying to run away from him in terror of his tiny squeezing fingers.  

All the other moments, the literal dark moments of midnight feedings and 4am inconsolable crying, get smushed together like a smudged film roll that whips past too quickly to really see the details.

Those shining moments, those every-day-gives-you-a-chuckle-moments eclipse the darkness easily like a single lit candle in a dark room.  Or, it should.  

Because sometimes it doesn’t.  And sometimes it won’t.

And then you have no choice but to bust out your Mom's Emergency Sanity Kit.  

You need a generous baker friend (or HEB) make you a triple layer chocolate-pecan cake.  

You buy a mini-fridge and install it in a bathroom where you can shut the door and lock it.  A dead-bolt is not going too far.  

Then you steal a pint of someone’s homemade ice-cream (if you don’t know anyone who does this you can put out a Craigs list ad for it like every new-mom should).  

Then you leave the kids with hubby, or babysitter, or neighbor, or the nice girl you met at the cupcake store, and you lock that door and you eat that cake until the world feels happy again.

M’kay my lovies?

Ok then.  

Here’s a quote for you, a little word chocolate-cake:

“If you can’t fly than run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.













Saturday, December 02, 2017

Breathing Through A Rough Week or Facebook Did you Miss Me?

I’ve had a bit of a rough week.  I know this is true both because I’m exhausted and cranky, but also because I’ve only been on Facebook twice.

There was a moment today, when Benji was sleeping and Ellie and Bill were at the grocery store fetching us honey that I was finally able to breathe.

I mean really, fully, deeply, with gratitude, all the way from the bottom of my stomach to the top of my lungs, breathed.  In stillness.  In a deep quiet that only an empty house with healthy, happy babies living there can know.  I felt connected, loved, cared for.  

My neighbor has these huge clumps of grass called Pompas Grass.  They’re tall stalks of thick hay, really, with tops that look like cotton tails if they exploded but stayed intact.  Feathery, white, translucent.  When the sun crawls over the sky in the morning it lights them up so they look like they’re glowing.  That’s what I look at.  Across our lawn and into his, all green with grass and brown with tree trunks and glowing white Pompas Grass tails. 

More mornings than not, during Benji's first nap of the day I take a small pillow, toss it on the floor, sit in front of that window and meditate for a few minutes.  This is where I meet with God, even though God is everywhere, in everything, all the time.  This is where I can shed the shallow distractions of every day life long enough to reach out and touch the deeper side of soul.  Like touching a wall of water of infinite depth, you know your fingers just barely sense the surface, and the ripples fanning out makes you wonder what would happen if you just jumped in totally.

Anyway, it’s all airy-fairy and in the moment and the reality is most of the time it’s done with Toby licking my chin for attention.  Ellie sitting on my lap and grabbing my hands in hers.  

“Are you meditating?” she’ll whisper.
“Yes,” I say.
“Can you get my paints for me?”
“When I’m done.”
“How much longer?”
“5 minutes.”

Silence.  I settle back into my resting pose, eyes closed, usually using a mantra like ‘thank you’, or just ‘in’ and ‘out’ when I breathe.

“Are you done yet?”  She whispers, nose to nose with me.
“Not yet.”
“How many more minutes?”
“4.”

Silence.

“I’m going to get my beads.”
“Mommy?”
“Mommy I’m going to go get my necklace.”
“Ok.”
“Mommy are you almost done?”
“Yes.”
“How many minutes?”
“Still 4.”

You get the picture.  So today I had a chance to really connect, and I did, you know, for that 20 seconds before your brain goes, whoa, this is really cool.  And then you get pinged out of it and into dull old real life again. 

Anyhoo.  This occasional quiet time is like a healing balm to the rubbed-raw skin of my heart.  

It’s hard work being a nurturer 24/7!  It’s all heart, all the time.  You can’t think your way out of a threenager tantrum.  

‘I WANT THE BALLLLLL!”
“Ellie, you have three balls, you can’t possibly play with all three at one time, please give one to Benji.”
“I WANT ALL THE BALLLLLLS.  They’re MIIINNNEEEE.”
“Ellie you need to share.”
“NOooooooooooooo.”  
“Ellie you need to share.  Pick one ball you don’t mind sharing with him.”
“Nooooooooooo.”  (Throws herself bodily on the ground, kicking and screaming and crying to the top of her lungs as we forcibly take one ball out of her hands).

You can’t stop right now and analyze and create a pie chart to clearly see where things went off the rails.  All you have in the moment is instinct.  And no matter how awesome you were raised, half the time you’re fighting ingrained patterns of reacting to stress that aren’t very healthy.

You’re trying to be a better person for your little people.  But they test you in every conceivable way.  And they don’t wait until you’re well rested, well fed, and ready for it.  It usually all coincides with a hard night with baby, a lunch they had but you missed, a hectic trip at the grocery store.  

So, how do you put a gap between their craziness and your unproductive snap-reactions?  You’ve got this tense, constrictive moment.  How do you get there, to an open space of gratitude and peace?

What?  You’re asking me?  I’m usually just staring at her slack-jawed saying something ridiculous like “You’re being very difficult.”  Or way over-board like screaming “You’re never getting another ball again!”

I do know if I don’t take the time for self-care, everything is worse.  Meditation, for me, is a way to take care of myself.  It lowers stress, boots immune system, calms my nerves and deepens my connection with a power greater than me, and man oh man, do I need the extra help.  Luckily, we all have access to this.

I’ll leave you with an except from Anne Lamott that really helped me get through some rough tantrums this week:


“Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.  It is a huge gift to the world.  When people respond by saying “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”  Anne Lamott - syndicated from kindnessblog.com Nov 03, 2017.  (From Daily Good -News that Inspires.  dailygood.org)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Baby’s First Cake, Saved the Party for Later

Benji turned one last week.  Poor kid got about two tiny handfuls of his cake and Ellie and I ate the rest.  Well, she ate the frosting.  I ate my piece, and her pieces minus the frosting.  Did I just finish off an entire two layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting by MYSELF?  For the most part, yes.  Yum.
Regrets?  None.  That cake was GOOD.

Did I feel a twinge of guilt at all the sugar and white flour I put in?  Only in passing.  I’ve been playing around with Stevia - substituting 1/3 cup sugar for that seemed to work out well.  I could try doing half white and half whole wheat like I do the bread I throw in the bread maker from time to time.  I’m all for making it healthier as long as it still tastes great.  

I have not found a reliable substitute for the icing sugar I use to make the frosting.  I will keep my eyes peeled and let you know.  I think there’s got to be some middle ground between the full white sugar/flour recipes I grew up with and the nasty granola-gluten-oil-free cardboard the ‘good’ parents are expecting at a birthday party. 

Just FYI there were none of THOSE parents at his party.  Because I didn’t have a party.  

That’s right.  I brought his home-made cake to a friends house for a Thanksgiving dinner we had planned.  I even totally blew it and couldn’t find balloons I had hidden from Ellie (so well they’re lost forever) so the host graciously went out to the nearest grocery store and got some for me.

Am I vying for bad mom of the year?  Maybe.  I just think that at 12 months this kid’s friends are my friends.  He doesn’t want, need, nor will he remember a big ‘tah-do’.  As it was the over stimulation of the (two) balloons, the (two) presents and the cake was enough to tip him screaming and crying into baby-rage land where he stayed for several sad but entertaining minutes.  

And I was not bummed.  Or embarrassed.  He acted exactly how a 12 month old could be expected to act.  I didn’t expect him to take it all in stride.  I can’t imagine why anyone would.

As a result his birthday was fun (chocolate cake for the first time!) low key (he’s screaming but since he’s not the center of attention it quickly calms down) and since I’m not busy hosting other people, I can sit down with him and play with his two new toys.

Which is to say, hang out on the floor while he rips apart the wrapping paper and works to open and close the box it came in.  Then moves on to play with the curtain strings.

Regrets?  None.  That ‘party’ was perfect.




Saturday, November 18, 2017

Don't Throw Away Your Vision Board. Yet. Add Some Action!

So I’ve always been a big fan of Vision boards.  I’ve spent half my life trying to fast-forward through whatever hardship I thought I was enduring, and the other half pipe-dreaming these big elaborate fantasies about what I wanted my life to be like.

Those pipe-dreams may seem like a waste of time but when you let your imagination go crazy, it tells you a lot about yourself.  Once you get past what you THINK you want.   (I want a big house!  I want a man who listens to me!) you get to the sweet spot where you’ve really delved deep, have ‘tried on’ some fantasies for size and surprised yourself.

You get to the sweet spot.  The nugget inside of what you think you want, the ‘real’ hearts’ desire.  

Turns out when I imagined enjoying my big house I thought I wanted, I got annoyed by all those empty rooms.  The big pool?  I hardly ever used it, even in my day dreams.

Having an imaginary someone come to clean my ginormous fantasy house every day was irritating too.  Who wants a witness to the velour track-suit you wear every day and the mounds of chocolate bar wrappers by your favorite tea mug you rarely wash?  After awhile the big house started to feel lonely and isolated instead of comfy and cozy.

Turns out that big house I thought I wanted was a pain.  What I really longed for was a cozy place to write, bake, and enjoy my kids, where I can hear them from any part of the house.  A close home where we bump elbows as we pass in the hall.

In that respect Vision boards are great.  They help you focus and define what really triggers your excitement, and helps you weed out what you only thought you wanted. 

The next step, and the one I’m just exploring now, are Action Boards.  (Throw Away The Vision BoardBy Neil Farber- Psychology Today.

They’re like a vision board except instead of just dreaming about that sunset in Maui, you start taking concrete steps to get there.  A picture of the plane that will take you there (cramped, ugh), a pic of the dream job that might pay to send you there.  Once you do that you start to actually search for how to make those dreams a reality.  What do I need on my resume to get a job that will send me to Maui?  Who do I know in that field?

Anyway, turns out I only need a few simple things to really be happy.  My laptop so I can write.  A private space with only my favorite and inspiring things around.  A sacred space only my own to sip hot tea and imagine what kind of elf I want to write into my story about cupcakes.  (Every story could use an elf.  Imagine how much better War and Peace would have been if there’d been a little high society elf thrown in?  I mean, really.)

What my heart really yearns for, right now, is time to reflect and meditate.  A quiet place where I can look out my window and see green trees waving in the wind.  A chocolate bar to nibble on, obviously.  A fuzzy, sweet little dog near my feet.  

These things will change.  As my babies continue to grow and need me less, I’ll have all the quiet time I crave.  Too much, I’m sure.  And then what I want and need most will change again.  And I will follow my heart then too plastering pictures of my new dreams on my board.  

When all my energy isn’t poured out to ensure the safety and comfort of the babies, I’ll want to expand that energy out into the world.  Yoga teacher maybe, just another kind of mothering if you ask me.  Real Estate agent?  Helping people find that perfect place to find their own quiet time?  Sounds like fun to me.

Anyway, my point is, what we think we want, and what we really crave may be profoundly different.  And you won’t know unless you do a little actual dreaming.  After all, how do you know you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you’re going?


“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.  Knowing is not enough; we must apply.  Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo Da Vinci

Friday, November 10, 2017

Being Here With Compassion. Or, Barely Resisting the Urge to Yank Out Your Eyebrows in DSW

Let me set the scene.  Me, in the middle of DSW, trying to find a decent pair of black dress shoes with a heel that won’t send me to emergency and a style that won’t make me feel like the rest of my outfit is from the thrift store.  (Because it probably is).

Ellie is yanking down boxes at random faster than I can put them back and pulling off her cowboy boots to ‘try them on’.  Benji has screamed and twisted his way out of his stroller and is on the ground on all fours actively looking for disgusting things to put in his mouth.  

I glance down at the price.  I glance up.  He’s two rows away and tripping a hapless shoe employee.  Ellie is waving her arms trying to balance in a pair of purple heels-so-high I’m dizzy ‘shoes’.  I can’t even call them shoes.  They’re like Halloween decorations you’d put on the mantle but never, ever, actually put your FEET into.

Anyway, so that’s the scene.  I have time to glance at the other shoppers, leisurely choosing which color, which style.  Standing and trying them on, putting them carefully back into the box and moving on to the next.  While I wistfully gazed at those lucky leisure shoppers Benji found a mirror to lick and Ellie actually managed to fasten those ‘shoes’ on her feet and was struggling to stand.  I could feel my impatience and irritation rising.  I just wanted a pair of shoes!  Why was this so hard?

And then I remembered, Be Here, Now.  Be here, in this moment.  Lean in.  So Benji was babbling loudly and licking everything he can get his hands on.  So Ellie was making a little mess and chattering nonstop so I can’t bring a thought of my own down into my brain.  

So, what?

Once I did this, let go, accepted the moment, it changed.  I don’t know how to explain it but something seemed to shift and I realized the shoes she was struggling with were actually hilarious.  And beautiful, in their own LOOK AT ME NOW kind of way.  And Benji looked at me and laughed his little baby laugh, so happy to be exploring someplace new.  And I rocked back on my heels and smiled too.  Why was I getting so worked up?

Just then one of the older ladies I had watched jealousy as she explored shoes unfettered by babies turned to me and said, “Enjoy every minute.  It’s the best time of your life.”  And all my ‘be here now’ peace went out the window and I said, “Yeah, I’m sure when I’m sleeping at night again it will all seem better.”  Whoops.  Did I say that out loud?  Yes, yes I did.

And she kind of started, looked at me again, and smiled, and I could tell she was remembering some long forgotten argument or accident or melt-down.  She nodded and went back to shoe-picking.  She understood me.  And I understood in that moment she missed her kids, was lonely, and longed for the days filled to the brim with noise, action, need, and bustle.  There is no time to think, or be lonely, or even really be sad when you’re constantly ‘on the clock’ with young kids.  There is only survival and the hope of rest at the end of the day.  It's exhausting, and beautiful, and so special I fight not to worry all the time about what could go wrong.

It occurred to me as I gathered my monkeys and managed to get through the check-out line without blowing up the store that most people assume they were happier in the past, or they WILL be happy when….and it’s a total, absolute myth.  

I was looking at that older woman longing for days when I have more freedom, she was looking at me longing for the days she could have her babies close to her again.  Neither one of us was present.  Neither one of us was Here, Now.  Neither one of us was happy.

Once again circumstances seem to evolve so that I can learn how to be more present.  When I’m focused on being fully in this moment I am, if not happy at least content.  It seems to open up my tight heart and let more love and gratitude flow through.

Now who doesn't need more love and gratitude in their lives?  Maybe, just maybe if I keep doing this I can accept those well meaning comments with equanimity and compassion, instead of just barely resisting the urge to scream, cry, and yank their eyebrows out.

“You know when you’re a mom when sleeping in until 8AM feels as magical as riding out of your bedroom on a unicorn.”  Anonymous.  

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Screaming At Bunnies and Other Things Stay At Home Moms Need to Do To Stay Sane, or, Date Night Drama

Yesterday everything went wrong.  Ellie was upset all day, making Benji upset.  She almost (accidentally) knocked him out about three times.  She pushed me, she hit me, she threw things at Ben.  She chucked applesauce all over the living room floor, then screamed and slammed her door when I told her to change.  I said Time-Out.  She said no.  I said calm down, she screamed….no.  

Cue tears and Super Whine.  (That’s whining while crying and screaming…)  It’s not my favorite thing.

Today she is back to her sweet self.  Telling me she loved me while I put her soccer socks on.  Where yesterday I got random things chucked at my head, today she was randomly hugging me and snuggling in.  No tears all day.  No screaming.  No chucking.  No hurling her toys in a blind toddler rage.  

Yesterday by 5:30pm I was frazzled, confused (how do I handle this so I don’t scar her for life but also don’t allow this unacceptable behavior?) and totally at my wits end.  (I’m obviously screwing this up big time).

Today I’m serene and competent.  She kicked butt at soccer, made friends, ate lunch and every single time I’ve said ‘no’ today she’s said…”Ok mommy.”

How can I have a crazed toddler-psychopath one day, and the very next day have this super-adorable, giving, loving, thoughtful, sweet little girl?

I will tell you.  Two words.

Date.  Night.

Yes.  I do not believe it was coincidence that yesterday Bill and I had a date night planned, and someone (someone she knows very well, a friend in fact) was coming to watch them while we went out to eat.

Could it be that the whole day’s worth of tantrums, uber-upsets, simmering rage and physical mayhem was all because we were going out for a couple of hours?

Yes.  There is no other explanation.  

Our last date night was when I was pregnant with Benji.  Benji will be one next week.

Now that I think about it, we got back just as she was going to sleep and she was so excited to see us.  Her relief was palatable.  She kept saying, “You came back!  That wasn’t so long!”

Smiling from ear to ear, lots of fierce hugs where she doesn’t let go for a minute or two.  Cheek to my ear and a big sighs.

Poor kid.

Well that’s it folks, I don’t have a solution to this I’m just…expressing an issue I’ve got.  If anyone has any magical this-worked-for-me ideas I am all ears.

For now it is clear we need to go out more often, so she gets used to it.

I’m still debating going back to work full-time, or trying to get into some part-time work.  

Intellectually I know this is just a faze and there is no need to let this incident color my decision of when to go back to work.  I know no matter what, after adjusting, she will be fine.  Maybe even more resilient once she knows mom and dad always come back.

When I think of their little faces though, every time I hand them off to a caregiver, the pout (or outright tears) the outstretched arms…my resolve cracks and crumbles.

I’m torn between feeling like this baby/toddler time is fleeting, and will I ever really regret my time at home?  I don’t think so.  I’m putting them ahead of my own…antsiness?  Is that a word?  To get out of the house already and dress like a human again and interact with other adult life forms.  To feel valued?  Appreciated?  Needed?  Like I belong to society again.  To wake up in the morning and know people are counting on me to brush my teeth, get dressed, and show up.  To have more than bedtime, exhausted and spent, to have time to myself.

I keep making this decision every day.  Every day I wake up and if it's a bad day, I’m resolved to go back to work.  If it’s a good day, I feel like I can hang on a little longer.

I don’t have a solution to this parent-stay-at-home ennui either.  Except, today was a good day.  Today I loved being the main caregiver.  It was fulfilling, gratifying, lovely.  Lots of love from my little monsters.  Quiet, peace, and harmony.  Birds sang, rainbows bounced down and sunlight shone on our radiant faces.

Tomorrow I’ll probably get pooped on, screamed at, kicked, pushed, used for toy-target practice, break my toe on that stupid push-toy again, and in general feel like screaming at bunnies and plucking the eyelashes off baby gerbils.

But today was good.

“Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.”  Ida Scott Taylor McKinney