Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Whoa, that's gonna be like a billion transfers to get back to my house..."

So.

Life.

She's zinged me lately.  First trimester death-march.  Winter colds.  Unborn baby with a muscle/joint disorder.  Poor husband working 13 hour days and most weekends (salaried). 

Yesterday was a bit of a doozy, for no real reason in particular.  But in the exquisite chaos (read: urine collection in my fridge, a 4-year old who likes to use his angry voice, and a house that, well, I just gave up picking stuff up) there was also exquisite beauty.  How else can you explain the loveliness of staring into the faces of your kids as you play Legos with them? That's the kinda FaceTime I'm talkin' 'bout, folks.

And yet, even so, I ended the day with hot tears of frustration making me blink hard before they finally boiled over.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  Or complaining.  I try hard not to give in to either one of those twin vices.  Instead, times like this make me think a lot.  And go in search of reading-type things that help me make sense of some of this craziness.

Among the things I read today, was this: "The Apostle Paul stated, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).  The race that is set before us on this earth is an endurance race filled with obstacles. The obstacles in this race are the challenges we wake up to each morning. We are here on earth to run the race, to exercise our moral agency, and to choose between right and wrong. In order to honorably and successfully finish the race and return to our Heavenly Father, we will need to pay the price of dedication, perseverance, and self-discipline. We need to get into spiritual shape. We need to develop spiritual stamina. We need strong testimonies that will lead to true conversion, and as a result we will find within ourselves the inner peace and strength needed to endure whatever challenges we may face."

Which got me thinking "what kinds of things am I trying to carry with me on this race of mine?"  The immediate mental responses: Fear.  Worry.  Judgment.  Impatience.  Self-justification.

Holy crap!  No wonder I feel heavy-laden.  Add to that the fact that my spiritual stamina and strength are nowhere near their peak performance... and you might begin to see my trouble.

I guess I relate to this because I am an (erstwhile) runner.  And also the type of runner who has her collection of trappings on every run: iPod, watch, water... and who thinks those who run without anything are sort of possibly nuts.

But, man alive if I don't find relief in the thought that when the Life trappings I'm trying to carry around with me on this long-distance race get too heavy to keep going, I can just lay them aside.  Lay them aside and carry on.

Which is exactly what I will (and must) do.

[Title quote is from "Up"]

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Some people were born to sit by a river. Some get struck by lightning. Some have an ear for music. Some are artists. Some swim. Some know buttons. Some know Shakespeare. Some are mothers. And some people dance."

Oh, this mothering thing.  So much of it is so unglamorous.  Why, just tonight, my little one slapped me in the face, flicked a booger on me, and dripped juice in my hair.  All within 10 minutes.  But in that same 10 minutes, he also hugged his arms around my neck, trying to comfort himself into sleep as he burrowed his head into his pillow, and I, caught in his sudden embrace, my neck and body lying in awkward, crooked angles, wrapped one arm around his little body and curled the other underneath his upturned bum.

I savored the sweetness of that moment... for the five seconds it lasted, until he decided there was no comfort for him, even in the entanglement of his mother's body, and cried (screamed!) for a bottle.  (Yes, my 18 month old still has a bottle at naptime and bedtime.  And my four year old isn't potty trained.  Go ahead.  Judge me hard.)

Then, my mind thought about how my children have, once again, gone to bed at too-late an hour, and with unbrushed teeth to boot.  Restless thoughts that made me restless enough not to wait for the subtle twitches of sleep to shake my baby's legs.  And now, here I sit, in the quiet of a post-bedtime house, surveying the unspeakable chaos and wondering if all homes inhabited by young children look like Hurricane Andrew just rolled through them, or if it's just mine.

My mind makes mental lists of things I need to add to the grocery list, of things I need to update in my calendar, of things I need to clean tomorrow (ground up peppermint cookie behind the couch?  check!).  The madness of this chaos is driving me to clean!  A good enough alternative to a play date cancelled on account of pre-Christmas conjunctivitis, I suppose.  Besides, I need to wash the kids' bedding because there was that one morning last week that A woke up soaked on his front and I'm not quite sure what else got a dose of wetness that morning.  And then there was that moment before my mom came over for dinner on Saturday when I wondered if she would look around my house and secretly ask herself when, precisely, it was that I became a filthy slob.  I make another mental note to rally my energy early, in the hope that I might be able to actually make a dent in the mess, even as new ones are being made by my living, breathing natural disasters.

As the anxiety of it all starts to mount in my chest, I take a breath and I think back to Sunday.  Sunday was a hard day for me.  I hadn't felt the baby move in over a day.  I was looking at all the sweet new babies and feeling sad and scared about things to come.  Then, in Sunday school we read over The Proclamation, and it helped me remember that this little spirit that is coming to us is definitively who she is, and has been for all eternity, and her mortal body is a part of that identity, but there is so much more.

I thought on this for a while.  Then, while in our women's meeting, something very strange happened.  It was as if I had just awoken from a strange dream.  Suddenly, I was like "Oh my gosh, I'm a mother!  I have two little boys! How did that happen?!?"  It was a very amusing little quandary, because it's not like I found them on my doorstep yesterday.

As I thought over why I was suddenly so rattled, it occurred to me that day to day (to day to day....it's endless!), so much of this mothering thing is what I DO.  It's the mental lists.  It's the chaos.  It's worrying over fiber intake and how to wean kids off bottles.  It's not getting worked up over not being able to control another person's bodily functions.  It's the knowing precisely when to hand over a box of raisins to buy a few moments of quiet at a critical time.  It's trying not to yell (and trying and trying and trying).  It's feeling mother-guilt.  It's wondering if today's Everything was enough.

On Sunday, I awoke anew to the realization that being a mother is what I AM; to the understanding that, for me, the mother-spirit within me lay dormant and could only find full expression by, in fact, physically and emotionally becoming a mother.  For some, that mother-spirit manifests itself so completely in them that, mother or not, it radiates from who they are.  For me, it lay dormant until the spark of bringing forth a person into this world started an ember ablaze, slowly building enough for it to really catch fire.  And perhaps yesterday, I finally caught fire.  Or maybe, more likely, this mother-spirit is an eternal flame that, like any flame, grows hotter the closer you stand to its center.  Maybe I finally found my center.

This morning, as I dressed my children, I kissed one's belly, another's feet.  Bodies from my body.  That these bodies were formed in my body is a phenomenon that has, and might forever be, too large for me to really, truly grasp.  Even as I grow another body, I am quite literally stunned by the process of it all.  And, really, no less stunned once they are brought forth into this world. 

A yoga teacher once told me that "Namaste" means "the divine in me bows to the divine in you".  If that's not a perfect description of this mother-spirit, of its divinity, of its infinity, of its absolute surrender to these child-spirits given to us, then I don't know how else to say it.

The wish of my mother-heart, of my mother-spirit, tonight is that whatever is divine in me will always bow to the divine in my children.  And that this adoration, this spiritual regard for one another, will expand outward from who I am into what I do.

Then maybe, just maybe, my daily Everything, the Am and the Do together in an unbroken circle, will be complete.

[Title quote is from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"]

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Whoa, lady, I only speak two languages, English and bad English. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for conversation, but maybe you could just shut up for a moment?"

And now.... the retelling of a conversation with my legs:

Legs!  Legs!  Wake up!  Yes, I know it's absurdly early for a weekend.  We have children, remember?

BUT LOOK!  It's overcast outside!  So, we might be able to get a run in today without having to have woken up at 4 a.m.!

Let's get these kids changed, dressed, and fed before the Dad gets home, then we're off!

Yep!  It's only 82 degrees out!  We're SO GOING!

>>>

(bending over into a stretch - face to face with my legs): OK.  You're white.  And hairy.  But you can do this.

Here we go.... OK ok.  So you're a little slappy at the back.  I don't know for sure, but that might be from too much sitting. 

BUT do you REMEMBER this?  Running!  And feeling strong?

And a little out-of-habit?  Yes.  No worries we'll take it slow: Head is killing me right now.  (Alas, barometric pressure giveth; barometric pressure taketh away...)

Uh oh.  The sun is breaking from the clouds.  That probably means only 2 miles instead of 3...

HEY!  Don't act so happy.

Also? Turn left.

Ugh.  I know: Sun.

Don't complain too much.  See all those cars?  You could be Teacher Legs and be stuck in-service inside, not running at all.

OK.  Chemical Brothers is on.... let's do this!

Gaga.  Keep going!

Aren't you glad we got Hair cut?  I am too!  So much less for us to carry.

aaaaannnnndddd..... Finished!  We did it!

[Title quote is from "The Fifth Element"]

Friday, June 28, 2013

"I'll unleash all my Wilderness Explorer training!"

As I lay with my baby tonight, helping him into an early bedtime (summer colds really stink!), I experienced something I haven't in a long while: the ability to focus my attentions on one child during bedtime.  As both our bodies grew still, and his grew heavy with pre-sleep, my mind was free to step gingerly on the rocks across the slushy, murky Mombrain river, and arrive firmly in the land of Thought.

Once there, it began thinking of years both forward and past, island-hopping across the archipelago of Time. 

First, it hopped forward, thinking of how different our life will probably be this time next year.  Visions of a minivan-driving mom, a newly-minted prekindergartener, different jobs and possibly another squishy baby danced around the inside of my closed eyelids.

Then, a hop backward, considering how different our life was just a year ago, complete with images of a freshly hatched baby A, of C playing at splashpads, of us finding our bumpy way as new parents of two.

And then to a year before that: newly moved, C still a chubby-cheeked toddler-baby, M walking the line at his master's graduation, us feeling good with our progress working toward our Wishlife.

Lying there in the summer twilight, the dark rising outside our windows, I found myself grateful.

Grateful.

Later, on round two with my first baby, my mind got right back to it, this time by taking lots of hops ahead.

When the baby stirs next to us, I think about this newly-walking destined-to-be-middle child and imagine some future crisis related to him not being the oldest but not being the baby.  I think how I will explain to him that his place in our family is like a peanut butter sandwich or an Oreo cookie: all the great stuff is in the middle.  And I will hug him hard to squeeze out his frustrations and soften him back into the jelly that holds his brothers together.

When my oldest rolls closer to me and says "hi mom", I think about the day he will be even taller, (more) smelly, (more) farty, and (more) smarty.  And the hope thumps against my heart that this boy will still announce to me, as he did right before storytime tonight, "Mom, I'm gonna come hug you and love on you!" and then come and actually do it, as he did tonight, and let me hug and squeeze him long, before shifting off my lap.

All that is uncharted territory, to be scouted and mapped as is needful.

Until then, I am hopeful.  I am grateful.  Most of the time, I don't know what I am doing.  But I will give it my best.

I love my kids.  I love my husband. I love my life.  I love where we are inside of it.  I hope that I'm living it to it's breadth and width and length, so that if you go to the bounds of this simple little life of mine, it is not only full up to the edges, but is slopped up onto the sides, gradually filling up so much that it's bursting at the seams.

[Title quote is from "Up"]

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"I'm always lookin' out my own eyes."

When C awoke sporting the same fever he was sporting last night, having broken it and put it back together several times through the night, I was a little worried.

Off-season colds worry me more than the on-season ones.  Why?  I'll have to get back to you.

So, I texted my nurse-sister and got some nursley reassurance.  And justlikethat, my work day was back on!

After keeping all parties apprised about the feverish happenings at our house, I dropped the kids off with Nana & Tata.

As I left, baby A was sitting atop their golden car, smiling his little smile and alternately waving at me and pointing at trees and birds and sun.  And sick-boy C was "running fast" in bare feet, his curls bouncing and landing and bouncing and landing against his feverish head.  I looked long as I backed out of the driveway, and knew it was an image that was burned into my own head, even without the benefit of running a temperature.

Driving to work, I was more than usually aware that I am sitting on the brink of the possibility for stay-at-home-motherhood.  And with the image of my waving baby and my curly-haired boy freshly in mind, I was more than usually grateful.

I had a productive day at work.  It was a good day that included such things as crossed out to-do lists and lunch with a colleague.  It also included a conversation with my boss about phasing myself out further.

Then, at some point throughout the course of the day, I came across this article.  Make no mistake, because I have aimed myself at staying home rather than pursuing my occupation, my career has been in an extended stall pattern since about 2009.  There are days that all I want to do is stay at home, literal and figurative costs be damned.  And there are days that I really kind of like my part-time gig and feel like the luckiest person ever to be doing a job I enjoy at a rate of pay that is unheard of for part-time work and working for what is possibly the world's most understanding boss.  And yes, it's possible that choosing to give that up with have costs that extend beyond dollars and cents.

I still don't know what the end game is.  But I refuse to believe the pessimism.  I refuse to drink that kool-aid.  If and when I decide to stay at home, I refuse to believe that regret is the only thing waiting for me at the end of the tunnel.

[Title quote is from "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Let's look Death in the face and say, 'Whatever, man!'"

I am the saddest of sads about the tragic and untimely death of Google Reader.

I've been practically despondent for months.  {Simultaneous lack of posts a coincidence?  Possibly not! (Yes... let's just blame Google for that, shall we?) (rug sweeper *cough!)}

Not only does this feel like another way to force me into a smartphone (*shudder!) or into some other dark force such as Twitter (*double shudder!), it just feels a little senseless.  (Meaning: I get the business/technological aspects, but it's messin' with my blog-reading vibe, man.)

So, I have finally decided to swallow this bitter pill, but while I search for decent alternatives, let's observe a moment of silence.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Amen.

Speaking of death (awkward segue, but roll with it)... you know what feels like death?  Being awoken by a tyrant three year old at 2:30ish on most nights (mornings?) with his whispered, despotic demands.  We have intensely shushed twin (Scorpio) tantrums, trying not to wake the whole house while he whines for me to get him milk/lay with him in his bed and I whine for him to let me sleep/stay in his own bed/drink water.  It gets downright ugly in the dark around here, is what I'm saying.

What else?  Oh yes.  I am teething.  36 years old and teething.  You know what?  It sucks.  It makes me feel for my poor baby, who may also possibly be teething (but is NOT making me feel like death at 2:30, but is sleeping through the night... go team!).  Some years ago, after my first pregnancy ruined the last (?) of my baby teeth, I was crunching an almond bar and my baby tooth crunched right into the mix, falling out at long last.  The proposed repair involves braces and anchors and pulling down the adult tooth and adjacent teeth that can't handle the anchors... so I haven't done much about the hole in my smile.  Plus, I'm a 'wait and see' kinda person. [Read: lazy.]  So, that adult tooth got impatient and starting coming in on its own.  And right now?  It's throbbing.  Medical miracles sometimes hurt.  Whatever.

OK.  Sadly, that's the extent of my brain power today.

I'm spent.

Time to go watch some laundry and fold some sitcoms...

Um.

Yeah.

[Title quote is from "Lost" (TV)]

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?"

I'm always impressed (and a bit jealous?) of those who can keep two thoughts in their head and then can actually blog about them. I have plenty of thoughts when I have no time, and plenty of time when I have no thoughts.  Such is life.

May was a banner month, in almost every possible bad way.  Excepting my baby's first birthday, May can be described in a series of idioms: falling off the wagon, dropping my basket, losing my nut, going fruit loops fuh-reakin' crazy...

I was not sad to say goodbye to it.

Now June is here, and with it the hope of renewal and recommitment. Of introspection.  Of figuring Things out.  Putting things in their proper place.

AND, I'm doing this:


A 30 day challenge to yell less and love more. 

If I can ever get the math right (thoughts + time = blog), you'll see it here.

If not, well....

"Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller? ..."

[Title quote is from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"]

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"The few syllables you got out were absolutely devastating."

Once upon a time, I was able to write missives (missives, I tell you!) about Very Important Things.  You know, like Mother's Day and stuff...

These days, I can't even put a sentence together.  Or if I AM able to, it's usually heavily-laden and dripping with Mommy and aimed at my children.

So, bear with me while I get a few devastating syllables out.

I've spend the better part of this month of May so far thinking about mothering and motherhood and all the trappings. 

Today, while rocking my baby to sleep, I started thinking about the concept I had of a mother's love when I was younger.  I think as a child, I believed my mom's love for her four children was a shared love, and that an equal portion of that love was reserved just for me.  As I grew into adulthood, I knew my mom's love was a perfect love bound and shaped and constrained inside an imperfect being (as we all are).  But, I suppose until today, I still believed my childish concept that her love was a sum of that grand mother-love portioned equally amongst her children.

Today, in my 3rd year as a mother and my first as a mother of two, it hit me: That's not how a mother's love works at all!  My love for my children is not 100% divided by two.  It is 100% for C and who he is AND it's also 100% for A and who he is.  One Hundred Percent for each and every child. 

There it is.  Not earth shattering.  Not new.  But new to me and I am grateful for it. 

P.S. I've been reading some posts over at The Orange Rhino about how sometimes we feel inadequate compared to others, or that we aren't good enough, but we keep on trying to become the mom we want to be.  You know, if you want something slightly more meaty to read.

[Title quote is from "Music & Lyrics"]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"I came down in my invisible submarine. Don't you see it?"

I step between the twin canopies shading my eyes 
and find a wide, flat ocean of fatigue 
waiting for me there.  I step into it, 
walking deeper and deeper, 
almost submerged.  
I pull my head 
underneath the liquid.  
Into sleep.

[Title quote is from "Lost"]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"It's like my heart is a tooth, and it's got a cavity that can only be filled with children."

I was reading in Dinner: A Love Story the other day and Jenny used the phrase "existential angst".

And I went "existential angst, huh?"

Existential angst.

And then I went "YES!  Finally a diagnosis!"

I think it started around the time I was scouring employment ads looking for ideas for a future career.  That's just one symptom of this particular sickness.  It also manifests itself as the soul-crushing dread of not fulfilling one's "true potential".

While searching for future career options, I've considered the following: health coach, nutritionist, dietician, systems engineer, contracts administrator, public procurement specialist, web content developer, environmental engineer, graphic designer, visual communication design.  Once I even thought "med surg tech" sounded really great until I really thought about it for two minutes and changed my mind.

But, here's the thing: Right now, my "job" is to be Mom: Boss and Nurturer of my Children (and work part-time out of the home on the side).  And while having babies and raising young children, this will be my only job in the foreseeable future. 

I read an article about how some parents are treating parenting much like a career.  It wasn't a good thing.  Then there's this woman, who asked "what is my job as a parent?".  A question along the lines of my own brainwaves this week when I felt like I was missing the mark (again!) and thinking that I should think back to my 20 year old post-childcare-worker self and remember the lofty ideals I held out for my future-SAHM self.  I seem to remember things like "lesson plans" and "art projects" being near the top of that list.  

And then I started thinking long and hard about what kind of mom I want to be.  About what I am doing right.  About what I want to do better.  About what I want to start doing.  

[All the while, a whole other mental list was forming.  The list of Things I Would Do If I Had Pre-Mom Freetime Again: take art/painting classes, go to yoga classes, read more. . . Then I read this quote from ReeseDixon, and it made me take a really deep breath and then I felt better: "Every woman I know – those that stay home with their kids and those that don’t, those that have a job that pays them money, and those that don’t – struggles with balance. Work/Life balance, Family/Self balance, the balance between what goes in and what goes out."  See? Don't you feel better too?]

So.  Anyway.

What I Am Doing Right:
~Family Dinner.  6 nights a week.
~Record Keeping.  Photo albums, picture books, memory boxes, baby calendars, mom calendars, kid journals.
~Story reading.  Every night before bed.
~Hugs & kisses.  All day.

What I Want to Do Better:
~Be OK with staying in.  Weekly.
~More face time.  More get on the floor and play time.  Less screen time.  Daily.
~Prayers.  On my own, with the kids, with M.  Daily.
~Art projects.  Weekly.

[Title quote is from "Despicable Me"]
 
© Copyright 2010. Scorpion Sojourn. All Rights Reserved.
Blog Design by Caroline B. Designs