Archive | May, 2012

Testing 1,2,3

23 May

If I could sum up my week so far it would parallel the track of a hurricane. Toddler drama was high and power struggles were around every bend. I may have cried a little in frustration yesterday, but that’s just how I am. I cry a little sometimes. I don’t know where Abigail gets it from.

Today I think the eye of the storm is upon us. It has been more peaceful, relief flooding the hours. I cannot predict the end of this little storm she’s brewing. I know it’s probably not “over.” That’s okay.  We love her, bags under our eyes because of it, and all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 – Weathering a storm requires a lesson on rainbow coloring.

I believe in honest sharing so this is where we are. We are not in blissdom, we are in, well, reality. Today I thank my immaculate kitchen for part of the serenity I feel. (Must strive to have an immaculate kitchen at least weekly…or at least invent sanitizer for dog mouths so Hank can start keeping the counters wiped down.)

I am happy for the human experience. Part of that human experience is learning to separate your successes and your setbacks, recognizing that there will be both in your life, and moving forward accordingly. I’ve had some practice with this in the last couple of years.

I know one day I will be at a place like my parents. A place where grown-up Abigail calls me with her child screaming in the background and she’s telling me how she’s drained and out of patience, seemingly on the verge of tears.  Maybe her daughter has been getting overly upset when you put on the wrong jacket or tell her it’s time to brush her teeth or try and help her make a pillow tunnel because she just can’t quite do it on her own yet, (this is all hypothetical of course), and she will ask me what I did when she was little and I will say, “Oh honey, I just don’t remember.”

Whether I actually do remember or if it is a secret strategy designed by those who have been through stormy weather to help those in the midst of it remains to be seen.  The gift being the fact that one day it will be a blur, a blip on the radar of your life.  In other words the knowledge that others have been there and survived to forget about it.

But one thing is certain, there are a million things I want to remember about this time in Abigail’s life. Today I made a choice, thank you immaculate kitchen where all things were good and tidy, I chose to focus on the things I cherish about Abigail on May 23, 2012.

Like her love of filling up purses with hodge-podge collections…

Coach purse. Fancy.

And dumping them out.  

Examining moths…

And feeding them “hamburger dinner”

Channeling Vincent Van Gogh…

Reading, always reading…

And of course, her relationship with Susie…

To the more astute observer I will also confirm her love for unkept, Jersey shore hair and 48 hours in the same pajama top.

So what should we choose to focus on?  The fact that for the greater part of three days it has been a test of patience and stamina or do we narrow our focus to those small but crystal clear moments of goodness.

It’s up to us.

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Peace and Quiet

18 May

I was way behind on housework, embarrassingly behind. That’s what gorgeous weather and a barrel full of excuses will get you.

I have been slowly trying to put everything back together. “I just got so behind when we had all of our visitors…” Um, our last visitors left many moons ago.

Catching up on housework hasn’t gone as quickly as I had hoped. Apparently toddlers need to go outside, eat from time to time, and listen to certain blue grass songs their fathers have introduced them to on continuous repeat while playing that wooden stick instrument.

This week I’ve been managing meltdowns, many of which revolve around the washing machine clicking on and having a toddler who apparently lives in fear of the day “Rabbit” will be washed again, dipping into my reserves of patience, and trying to make it seem like I’ve accomplished something even though toys never stay picked up, dirty dishes keep appearing, and Hank continues to shed like it’s his job.

Each day when naptime rolled around I felt drained. I took time to catch up on a couple of TV shows, read a magazine or two, and even took a nap one day. When Abigail woke up I had had some “me” time, but then we were right back in the midst of chaos.

As mothers, we need that time for ourselves and we need to be able to enjoy it without feeling guilty about it. But that’s not what I was doing. I was doing anything and everything I could to avoid what needed to be done. I was frustrated I wasn’t going to be able to knock out what I needed to do in an uninterrupted power session of clean! I wanted to stand in the middle of the house and look around at everything spic and span and hear the applause.

So today I did something different, I worked through Abigail’s naptime in peace and quiet. The only sounds being the sizzle of dinner being prepped and the hum of the dryer. I didn’t put on music. I didn’t talk on the phone. I didn’t waste time on the computer.

I positioned myself to be in a better place when Abigail woke up. There wouldn’t be the scramble of the dinner rush and we could go outside for our afternoon fun. More clean laundry was ready to be put away.

There is still a long list of things I need to do, but for me, crossing off a couple of things seems always spirals into more.

And I wonder if sometimes when I’m searching for that “me” time it’s not about needing to watch a certain TV show or flip through a magazine. Maybe it’s about finding an opportunity to clear my head and have some peace, giving myself a chance to recharge before we drive into rush hour once again.

I’ve got the peace thing down.  

Happy Together

13 May

Sometimes it is enough to just be together.  Appreciation is about more than just what is wrapped up and delivered.  It is about recognizing delicious moments and savoring every bite.  We had that kind of day today.  The kind of day where you sit back at the end and feel so very satisfied.

I live a pretty ordinary existence as a stay at home mom.

I wash a lot of dishes, do a lot of laundry, and still change a good number of diapers.  I wipe sticky hands and eat pretend confections.  Sometimes the most exciting outing we have is to the grocery store or the post office.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a good time.

In fact, being together often makes me remember how special it is to be at the helm of your own little family.  And this weekend I realized how perfect mine is…for me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful mothers I know.  Blessings to all of you as you celebrate your “perfect for you” family today and always.

And to Scott and Reisha, thanks for clinking glasses and asking us to celebrate with you.  You throw one heck of a BBQ!

 

Our Way

10 May

A lot of being in the world of parenting is like being adrift in the open ocean. We can’t know what is far below us or the challenges we will face when storms happen. Likewise, we don’t know when we will manage to snag that illusive catch that always seemed to be just out of reach.

Confession. I didn’t really read up on the whole switching from a crib to a bed thing. I don’t really like reading “mommy articles” or books on mothering. Not because I’m above it, I know there are some great resources out there. But mainly, I really believe that if I think about parenting with a clear head and a loving heart I have all of the tools I need to be a great mother to Abigail. She’s a little bit of me and a little bit of Ryan and little bit of her own. I don’t need a book to tell me how to get to know her, to find out what motivates her. It’s all trial and error anyway. Starting and stopping and being flexible.

I’ve been to message boards, read people’s reactions to facebook posts, perused parenting texts or online articles and it mostly leaves me feeling either highly skeptical or disgusted by the divisive, definitive opinions I see. “Be careful…” I think. It’s lonely up there on that parenting high horse. And the fall? It’s going to hurt.

Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I am a black or white kind of person about everything. I don’t ever feel that what I’m doing is the absolute best or right way to do something. I question myself and feel insecure sometimes. Other times I feel proud of what Ryan and I accomplish. Often I change my mind or Abigail changes hers and that creates new challenges. But always I view our parenting as the thing that works for us at that moment. It’s not the only way.

Floating around on this open sea can be scary. It can test what you are made of and even break you down. You can’t sail that ship alone, you need support. And it matters, greatly, who is on that ship with you. After 2 years of mothering under my novice belt, I feel I am getting my sea legs. I can finally let comments of the self-righteous roll off my back without making me feel inferior. I have found my greatest ally in Ryan and feel so lucky to be on this journey with him. I look to our families for the wisdom of their experiences, knowing I have a lot I can learn. And when I want the opinion of someone who is in the midst of the waves themselves, I turn to aces in my back pocket — those cherished friends who don’t judge and listen carefully, commiserate with you or pick you up appropriately, never judging, always accepting you just as you are.

Should I have read “The Complete Guide to Being the Most Awesome Mother in the World?” specifically the chapter on big girl bed transitions? Maybe. I’m sure reading that sort of thing can help you define who you aspire to be, to give you fresh ideas and new knowledge. But maybe reading it would just echo the sentiments you already feel in your own heart or worse leave you feeIing guilty or inadequate.

What are we doing about the Great Toddler Bed Fiasco of 2012? We are surviving. We are getting through it. We take two steps forward and one step back. If Abigail needs just one more book after I’ve already said no more, we sometimes give in. If it’s four in the morning and she hasn’t been able to get back to sleep for 3 hours after diaper changes and cuddling and night light reboots we sometimes let her whine in her bed for 20 minutes. And if I sneak upstairs to check on her and see her sweet, sleepy face smiling softly back at me I sometimes lay down to cuddle with her even if I promised myself I wouldn’t. In other words, I’m not going to worry too much about what everyone else, including the experts, would have say about it. We’re doing it our way, making mistakes, picking up the pieces, celebrating victories, and always, always loving her with everything we have.

And when a friend opens up about a struggle she might be having? I will listen respectfully, reserving judgement, knowing she’s doing the best she can and handling it her way.

Sugar and Spice

5 May

Abigail started climbing out of her crib, perching precariously on the front rail and giggling. We decided we’d give the “big girl bed” thing a go. It’s been pretty rough, a lot of getting up and down and a lot of getting on Ryan and I’s last little shriveled up nerve.

I know it will get better. Change is hard for everyone, no matter the age or situation.  I’m trying to be patient, but I haven’t always been. I have my parenting gold medal moments, calmly and rationally telling Abigail to get back in bed upwards of 500 times over the course of an hour or more. I have moments where I’ve had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing as she runs up the hall giggling and acting like a fool.  And I’ve had moments where Abigail is punching the color changing buttons on her ladybug nightlight, opening and closing dresser drawers, and doing everything but going to sleep and where am I? Downstairs jumping up and down with clenched fists, silently screaming “JUST. GO. TO. SLEEP!”

It’s been about a week – a week of newborn-esque waking up multiple times a night. The difference is your well-fed, freshly changed baby doesn’t fall right back to sleep. It takes HOURS. I am tired, Ryan is tired, and Abigail is tired.

I think it was that exhaustion that made me take Abigail to lunch on Friday. Just the two of us.

“Want to go to Nana’s for lunch?” “Yes. Gramps?”

After clearing up the misunderstanding that we weren’t, in fact, meeting Nanny and Gramps to eat we had the perfect little daydream of a lunch.

Coloring Ireland.

Sipping ice water with green straws.

Abigail bobbing to the Irish music like always, “Dance, Mama.” So I did, bobbing along, too.

We counted windows, ate sandwiches with french fries dipped in too much ketchup, and crunched on tart apple slices.

“Mama get box.” We packed up the leftover half of a greasy grilled cheese and headed to the car holding hands.

“Careful, Mama, cars!” she said as we crossed the street together.

We buckled up and headed home. “Thank you, Mama. Lunch.”

And I wondered…when did you emerge out of your babyhood and change into my favorite girlfriend to have lunch with?  Did that happen with your exit from the crib?

I’m okay with that because while babies are fun and sweet, so are little girls.

Especially little girls who come home to take three hour naps with full tummies and visions of Irish dancers jigging in their heads.

And that is also worth jumping up and down and silently screaming about.