Posts Tagged: every day life


4
Sep 14

tiny flowers

My life lesson is this:

how to live a life fragmented
to find my peace in the uncertainty, the incompletion, the half-formation:
Partly-folded laundry, partly-done dishes, partly-grown children.

no ending to grasp
no project completion date
the ending is the ending is the ending.

leave the crumbs!
come, Mama!
plunge your hands into the dirt, splash in the water, run with outstretched arms to the arms that belong to you
and only you
only you
for now.

complete despite?
complete because of
the incompleteness–

endless birdsong
our anthem


2
Sep 14

My Best

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend and instead of spending it at the beach with friends, or having a pool party or a barbecue (with friends), we spent it moping around at home because Lily and I were sick (with Anna only sightly under the weather). And, because I spent a lot of time in bed with my iPad, I (naturally) spent a lot of time browsing Pinterest, as one does. And now I have a million ideas and also a million bad and terrible thoughts at the ways in which I am failing at life because my life is not Pinterest-perfect. It’s not perfect in any sense.

So I am going to remind myself today, as I find myself needing to do so often, that I am doing my best. And that my best is good enough. My best is good enough!

Life isn’t a race. There isn’t a prize at the end. If you have more stuff at the end, you still die…without your stuff.

So.

I won’t give up on my dreams of a perfectly organized bathroom or crafting with leftover egg carts, but I will continue to believe, in my heart, that piles of stuff in the guest room does not mean that I am a bad person. It means I am a busy person who is choosing to orient myself towards other things right now, at this time in my life. I am wiping noses and doing endless loads of laundry and picking up dog poop. I am reading bedtime stories and wiping marker marks off of tables and kissing boo-boos. These are the important things right now. Not labeled baskets.

Love to all the busy parents out there. We’re in it together. XO

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12
Aug 14

Like a long-ago friend

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It’s been nearly a year since my last post (cringe). I miss it. I miss putting my words down here. It always feels like something (or someone) else needs my attention, though. There’s always something to do, something else more pressing (even if that “something” is “go to bed so I won’t hate myself in the morning”).

This is a weird time for me. We are still living in chaos (maybe that’s just life with kids, though?). The kitchen floors are still torn up. We still have pictures taped to the walls. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I’m nearing 40 and these things are true–like I should have it all together by now, have that perfect Pottery Barn catalog house. I don’t.

I read this yesterday and it helped. It helped a lot. It helped me to remember the truths that I am trying to live in my life. To be grateful, to love, to be the best person that I can be. To remember that life isn’t a competition and that no one is winning or losing. We are all just here, doing our best.

I am feeling very introspective as of late. I am practicing a lot of tools of self-care: asking for help, exercising, taking deep breaths, being kind to myself when I hear the demon voices of negativity shouting at me.

I keep feeling like I am failing but I am actually more optimistic about my failures than I have ever been in my life. I feel like I have more perspective (ok, so I messed up, but tomorrow is another day and in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal) and more patience.

For some reason, it feels like more and more social opportunities have opened up to me lately and while this is a blessing (people are important! It is good to have friends and plans!) it can also be a stressor for me (I’m a total introvert and I find it exhausting to be “out there” all the time….but I feel guilty about limiting social interaction, both for me and for my kids. I feel like I should do more AND that I should do less, all at the same time).

I’ve been stressing about work lately. Feeling a bit odd about being out of a paying job for so long, feeling a tinge of regret for getting out of the academia game when I did (when Anna was a baby). Not regret for the staying at home part (SO good and important for me, for us) but for not nurturing that side of me. It’s too late to go back to that. No, don’t tell me it’s never too late. I dropped out of my PhD program, I’m years behind in everything. It’s too late unless I want to go back for more schooling, and me doing that would be a terrible financial move–there’s no way I could re-coup that investment. Yet I do want to invest in myself. Just doing something….different. It’s so weird being a stay-at-home mom. I am feeling an itch to make money. Doing what? What are my skills? What are my life desires? This is all buzzing around in my head a lot these days. It doesn’t really make sense for me to go work some job, just to bring in a few bucks (because of the need for childcare), but some days (a lot of days) I worry that my brain is turning to mush. I used to be smart, right? I used to do things, talk to people, teach them even! I used to read scientific papers!

I don’t mean to make it sound quite so woe-is-me. I think I’m just having that weird almost-midlife existential crisis.

Here are the things I love about my life right now:

watching my kids play together, actually PLAY together, now that Lily is a little older

having the freedom to make my own schedule

having Adam around so much this summer

swimming in the pool and laughing together

reading chapter books to Anna in the evenings

cleaning our home and looking around and seeing how I am caring for our home environment (fruits of my labor!)

eating a delicious dinner in our backyard, one that I envisioned, shopped for, cooked, and served up

connections with friends and family

kissing the kids goodbye on date night and knowing that they will be ok (this gets easier for me as they get older)

still having deep and wonderful conversations with my husband and mutually adoring each other

It’s just a couple of more weeks until this new section of life starts, the one in which Anna is in second grade (SOLIDLY a grade-schooler), and Lily goes to a couple mornings of preschool, and I no longer have a BABY in the house (well, for those two mornings a week, ha ha….the rest of the week will still be me + my little shadow). What will that be like? I guess that that’s the thing that keeps me going, and probably the thing that sometimes most surprises me about myself. I used to be such a pessimist. Even during the good times, I would be sad that “oh, soon this will be over.” Now? I’m always feeling like there are good things, gifts, just waiting there for me to discover. I can be enjoying this, now, and know that there will still be things waiting for me up ahead, around the bend.

It’s bittersweet watching my babies grow. It’s slow and it’s fast. It’s painful and it’s wonderful and oh, this life is beautiful. Even with ripped up floors and sheets for curtains (yes, it’s true). Perfectionism is a trap and a soul-killer. So I think I’ll just continue doing this, doing my best, living my not-perfect (yet beautiful) life.


14
Feb 13

Valentines….it’s all about the love

I spent my free time (very, very limited, Baby Girl has been boycotting long naps) these last three days working on making a very complicated, time intensive, amazing chocolate cake. Goal: valentine’s day dessert. Adam and I don’t go out for Valentine’s (too busy and crowded at restaurants, yuck); our tradition, instead, is for him to cook a special dinner and for me to bake a special dessert. So, I baked and baked and made special chocolate cake and chocolate cream and glaze and today, this afternoon, I was planning on putting it all together, assembling it into one piece. It was going to be amazing. It was going to knock Adam’s socks off. I put Lily down for her afternoon nap, started the glaze bubbling on the stovetop (it’s time sensitive so I wanted to have a good amount of time to do it and had fingers crossed that she would give me time) and then…..she woke up. After only 20 minutes. And I gave the glaze a quick stir and ran to her bedroom and patted her back and shushed her and ran back and she cried out again and I ran back and re-assessed and then…..I gave up. I put her in the Ergo and I kept making the cake but she was reaching and grabbing and I was holding the big heavy copper saucepan and no one got hurt but the cake? The cake is not perfect.

When Adam got home I cried, I stamped my foot. I was frustrated. I wanted to make one perfect and wonderful thing. I was angry. I was ticked that “the baby didn’t let me do it.” It’s part of that whole thing of having a baby, where some things have to go by the wayside. I miss having creative outlets, like baking and cooking and knitting and sewing and crafting. I have little bits of time, here and there, but those little bits of time are usually reserved for reading or taking a bath or sleeping or, I don’t know, sitting and staring into space because I don’t feel like I have the mental energy. Today, I wanted to create one purely wonderful, perfect thing.

My cake, it isn’t perfect.

But that’s ok.

Adam hugged me and told me that I already gave him TWO perfect things (any guesses?). I gulped. I remembered what was important. I hugged my baby and cried a little more and remembered that, someday, all too soon, my baby won’t be getting in the way of my baking. She won’t need me as much. Today, my cake is lumpy and lopsided but my baby is perfect.

I’m not a perfect baker. I’m not a perfect mother. But which one is it more important to put time into?

The cake, it isn’t perfect. But it is made with love (and chocolate) and the love is way more important than the perfection.

Counting my blessings today. I am surrounded by good and (nearly) perfect things. Happy Valentine’s Day!


10
Jan 13

Attitude is everything

What a difference a little bit more sleep (thank GOODNESS Lily’s cold is over!!!!) and a little change in attitude can make. I am now rocking this entire week (ok, four days so far) of NO yelling, no threats, no explosive angry moments with Anna (well, she got explosively angry with ME one of those days but I totally kept my cool and for that I am proud). Four days doesn’t sound like a lot but it is a lot for me right now so I’m going to own it. I’m trying a new trick. I’m trying an attitude adjustment. I’m trying to adjust my expectations. I’m trying to look around and find at least ONE good and beautiful thing ever day. And, you know what? When I’m keeping my eyes peeled for that ONE good and beautiful thing, I almost always run into way more than one. It might be a rainbow, or that slow grin that Lily gives me when she is first waking up after a nap, or a dewdrop on a leaf, or the sound of children playing and laughing when I go to pick Anna up after school. It might be the way Anna says “bres-kist” instead of breakfast and I don’t even ever want to correct her because it is so darling the way she asks me if it is time for “bres-kist” and it might be the way that my down comforter feels at the end of the day, all weighty and soft at the same time.

Today, my favorite moment was when I thought I was about to lose my cool. I am all for story time at the end of the day but our two promised stories became three and then four because Anna kept asking for Just One More and whining and cajoling me to Please Please Please read one more story and that is all well and good but Mama is TIRED. I told her I needed a minute. I stood up. I walked to her bedroom door and stopped. It’s reading a book, for goodness’ sake, I told myself. Just read her the damn book. Be a good Mom. Just do it. I sat down, I opened up Little Bear’s Friend and then….I read it. But I didn’t just read it. I read it in the funniest way possible, for a six year old. I substituted Poop for just about every other word and I had Anna in hysterics at the end. And it was stupid and silly and, yes, totally vulgar but it was also the most fun I’ve had all day. And I’m proud of it, potty talk and all. Because sometimes I just need to laugh about poop.

Both kids were in bed, asleep, by 7:30 pm, so now I’m on the couch with the world’s best chocolate chip cookie (courtesy of my new cookbook, thankyouverymuch most awesome husband of mine) and, ok, yes, I’ll be honest here and admit that I also already ate two See’s chocolates as well. I’m pooped (ha ha) but I’m doing this. I’m totally doing this parenting thing.


2
Jan 13

Treading Water

Posting has been sparse here, I know. That’s partly because of all the holiday craziness, partly because of the illness that went around our family, and partly because I’m only just barely making it through my days. Postpartum depression? Simply exhaustion from round the clock (and I mean this literally, Baby Girl has been waking at all hours throughout the night for weeks now) parenting? Sleep deprivation is definitely making me grumpy, tired, and not feeling my best (UNDERSTATEMENT).

I try to do that thing that everyone tells you to do (sleep when baby sleeps) but during the day there are other things to do (like shower, eat food, go to the bathroom, take care of my other child) and in the evening I figure I should put in a little time with my spouse so that this marriage doesn’t fall apart. And, in the end, there is just so much fragmented sleep that in a way it doesn’t matter how many hours I’m getting when those hours are an hour here, an hour there. I crave solid stretches of sleep like I crave nothing else. It’s my holy grail.

I’m honestly just squeaking by. Some days are ok. Some days are not so great. A lot of days lately have been horrid. I’ve been irritable, I’ve been physically exhausted, I’ve been not the best spouse or parent or friend. I’ve been withdrawn, I’ve been grumpy, I’ve been weepy, I’ve been yelling at everyone.

I’m not sure that I’m doing any kind of good job at anything. I doubt myself. I doubt my methods. I fear that I am messing everything up and that my kids will hate me. I fear that someone/everyone will see through my facade. It is exceedingly important to me that I at least look good, even if I don’t feel good and yet…I shrug my shoulders and sigh at the sticky mess on the floor, for days on end.

I want someone to come along and rescue me. I want to run away. I want a spa day. I want my Mommy.

I sometimes resent everyone who needs me, my husband and kids included.

But, dammit. I also love them. I chose this life and I choose this life and I trudge forward. I try and find my joy. I don’t always find it at 2 am when I’m nodding off while holding a crying baby. I don’t always find it when my 6 year old is whining that she doesn’t want to pick up her room. But I’m on the lookout for the moments that matter: tiny hands slipped into mine, quiet snuffling sighs of contentment as I nurse my baby, a shared look of amusement or tender love over the heads of our offspring. I practice saying I’m sorry a lot. I practice forgiving others and myself. I acknowledge that this is hard. I acknowledge that there are women all over the world having a hard time, too. I imagine them, also, staring at the dirty floor and crying over the impossibility of doing it all.

I need some sleep.


24
Oct 12

Today totally kicked my butt

Again! I feel like I am on an endless loop of craziness, day after day. Every day, new craziness!

Today.
Woke to regular hustle and bustle of the day: alarm clock (how is it already morning!), stumble to bathroom, splash face, potty, uh-oh baby is awake, change diaper, nurse while making tea and breakfast, eat, unload dishwasher, uh-oh Lucky pooped in hallway…..Lucky pooped all the way down the hallway and in our bedroom and stepped in it and OH BOY now she can’t move and she is covered in poop. Huh. Adam is out of town, of course. I have a crying baby and Anna needs to be at school in 10 minutes and still needs teeth brushed. Call Adam to complain and for commiseration while brushing Anna teeth and hair (grumpy baby in sling).

Throw towel over poop (I KNOW totally gross but just didn’t have time), trot to school, double time, slide in as bell rings, baby cries in desperate way that makes me nervous that people think I’m a bad Mommy. Air kiss Anna and walk rapidly (as fast as one can with a crying baby strapped to her chest) home. Dog still lying in poop in hallway. Crap. Talk to Dog. Dog wags tail. At least she isn’t in pain (shrug)? Call Adam again. Clean up poop. Take a walk around the block for courage. Baby finally falls asleep.

Come back home. Dog still lying in hallway. Still happy but immobile. Call vet.

Baby still asleep. Do chores for 2+ hours (interspersed by–hooray!–dog walking again and call back from vet advising new medication for this, an old problem we’ve dealt with before. I agree to bring Lucky into the office when possible but today it just isn’t going to happy because I cannot lift this 100+ pound dog by myself and Adam is out of town, lucky bastard). Pick up toys, wash dishes, prep crockpot dinner, sweep, mop (sort of half-assed), stack papers, text mom and sister.

Baby finally wakes up. Start wondering why I’m so tired then realize that I have had a baby strapped to me, and been on my feet, for more than three hours. Holy Cow. Sit down and nurse, surrounded by comfy pillows….this is more like it….Wake up 45 minutes later. Oops. Good thing I didn’t drop the baby, who is, by the way, still nursing.

Change diaper. Baby poops. Change diaper again. Make myself a sloppy quesadilla and run to the car. Drop off lozenges for sick mother. Don’t stay and chat–could NOT deal with being sick, myself, just now. That would suck. This is hard enough.

Call sister in car. Miss freeway exit. The only good news of the day so far (besides Lucky eventually being able to move, that is)? Sister is coming to visit this weekend! Hooray! Hang up phone and baby cries like I haven’t just fed her for an hour, or just had a three hour nap, on me (ungrateful baby).

Vets office. No parking. Circle block. Parking, oh good. Sling, baby, inside building. Pick up medications. Back to car. Baby in carseat. Crap. Forgot the pill snacks. Baby back in sling, back in building, buy the pill pockets (will make my life much easier later on if I don’t have to shove pills down dog’s throat).

Start driving home, decide not to press my luck with any more errands. Besides, its almost time to pick up Anna from school. Baby cries from Mission to Patterson and passes out as we are almost home. I do the cowardly thing and bring her, bucket seat and all, into the house. I spend 30 minutes doing mindless TV viewing and internet browsing. I do not feel guilty for this at all.

Almost time to pick up Anna and….baby wakes up. Change diaper, nurse while walking back to school. Cringe at school pick up as all children and adults seem to want to touch my baby. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do NOT get my baby sick, is all I think, as I smile and try and maneuver my body in such a way that they won’t touch her. It’s weird, she’s in the sling. Why are they touching her?!?!?

Walk back home as Anna tells me that she peed her pants (again, fourth time this school year, WTH?), her backpack broke, and she lost her lunchbox. Ummm, ok.

Spend an hour of just regular, happy time. Relief. Baby coos and acts cute. Finish making dinner. Go to close window before leaving for swimming lesson and BAM! Holy mother of god that hurt. I slice my forehead open on the window latch. Anna looks worried as I swear and press ice to my temple and wonder what it would be like if I passed out right now. I gingerly examine the cut and decide that it might hurt like a mutha but it doesn’t require stitches. Talk to Adam again and complain endlessly about my day while he tells me of his plans for a nice dinner out and an early bedtime. Thanks for rubbing it in, I tell him, and sigh.

Time for swimming lesson! Get in car and baby starts to scream again (tired). I turn on music. Anna starts screaming “I hate this music and I hate you!!!!” over and over again until I start to laugh hysterically. Surely this isn’t happening. Scream scream scream is all I hear from the back seat. In my head, I sing my favorite Green Day song “I walk alone, I walk alone…”

Things are still dicey as we walk from car to pool for lesson. Girl at front desk asks, all chipper and smiles, “How are you today?” And, for some unknown reason, I am honest and say, “I’m kinda having a bad day” as I give her a lopsided smile. She is kind to me. So kind that I am embarassed that I didn’t just say, “oh, fine!” (LIE). Am I weird? She brings me a hairtie for Anna (I forgot one) and a granola bar (just because). I start to protest then realize that I am actually really hungry and I devour it. Baby sleeps while Anna swims and it is ok for a while. It almost feels like a little vacation, even if I am rhythmically swaying with a baby strapped to me in the sling, in a sweaty humid noisy room filled with hysterical kids. I consider sitting down but don’t want to press my luck.

Anna cooperates for the most part after swimming. We drive home, we eat dinner. There is more poop and diaper changes and more nursing while I attempt to eat. There is bathtime and there is stories and there is some crying and there is nursing and there are more stories read and teeth brushed and finally quiet.

Still, though, my work isn’t done. There are diapers to wash and dishes to wash and oh, look, lucky me, more dog poop on the floor (Really, not kidding), and lunches to make. I ignore all these things, even the dog poop, and make a batch of cookies. Because I know what is really important.

Ok, yes, I clean everything up next, while the cookies bake. Dog poop? Check. Lunch for tomorrow for kiddo? Check. Diapers washed? Check.

I find a temporary solution for the broken backpack. I collapse, exhausted, in front of the computer, wondering how in the world it manages to be a full 15 hours since I first rolled out of bed.

And that, my friends, was my day.

How was yours?


10
Oct 12

Perfect?

I spent the day yesterday wishing that I could be perfect. Bottom line: I am not perfect. It’s tempting to try but then I look around me, I look at myself, I look at my life….and I start laughing hysterically because I am SO not perfect. There is almost always dog poop on my lawn, spitup on my shirt, toys strewn about, baseboards that need dusting, pants that almost but not exactly fit, trash that needs to be taken out, stray eyebrow hairs that need plucking, and those damned dog hair tumbleweeds that seem to always be rolling around our floors.

Sometimes I yell at my kid (haven’t yelled at Lily yet so…yay?). Sometimes I pick fights with my husband. Sometimes I eat too many cookies because I am feeling emotional or vulnerable or lonely. Sometimes I sit on the couch and watch Toddlers and Tiaras instead of cleaning up any of the abovementioned mess because I’m tired from staying up too late the night before clicking around the internet, window shopping but not actually buying anything.

I am SO far from perfect.

It’s easy to think that other people are perfect. That’s where my insecurity came from yesterday. I started feeling like OTHER people were perfect and WHY oh WHY aren’t I? Today, after a day of too many cookies and self-recrimination, I have my head more firmly on my shoulders and a little less of The Crazy and I can calmly tell myself that other people might SEEM perfect but probably they aren’t. They might be a different kind of crazy. Maybe their crazy makes them appear perfect to others….so perfect that nobody wants to be their friend. Maybe they are sad all the time. Maybe their closets are really, really messy. Ha.

And maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t matter at all who is perfect and who isn’t perfect. Maybe my real friends don’t care about my non-perfect house and my non-perfect children, and my non-perfect self. Maybe life isn’t a contest, isn’t a race. Maybe the best and only thing to do is to try my best and leave perfection for someone else.

Better to have a happy life than a perfect life. That’s it. That’s perfection.


19
Sep 12

Nearly 8 weeks

Some days I feel like “I’ve got this.” Some days, I feel like “I don’t know how the hell to do this.” Mostly the latter, but, still, the good outshines the bad. I’m enjoying this time with my baby so much, knowing how quickly it goes (I’m already sad to be packing up Lilith’s newborn and 0-3 month sized clothing as this girl is BIG! Where did my tiny newborn go?!?!?). Lily is just such a joy: smiling and laughing and cooing and drifting peacefully to sleep. We are at the sweet spot for nursing, too: it is just so effortless and easy and no problem.

Anna is challenging some days, sheer joy others. She pets and fawns over her sister while also verbalizing feeling a bit left out sometimes (doesn’t like me to say that Lily is “my baby” because she still wants to be “MY baby!” too, even if she is a big almost-6-year-old!). I get it. I know that this has been such a huge transition for her and I’m actually rather proud of how well she is holding up.

I don’t want to forget these times. I know that these days will blur together and I’ll remember them fondly later on. Indeed, there are days that I remember fondly already. But I don’t want to forget all the specific things: watching Anna running ahead of me, arms outstretched, to school and from school, yelling at me to hurry up, hurry up! The feeling of Lily growing heavy in my arms as she drifts to sleep, nuzzling her head into my neck just-so, in that special cozy way. Anna’s sweaty after-school smell, her whole body abuzz with excitement as she tells me about who she played with and who got the Clue Can today and what silly thing her teacher said and what game they played at P.E. Lily’s sweet smile as she looks at me, then looks away coyly, then looks back at me with an even wider grin: our own little game.

Will the other stuff fade away? Most likely. Maybe I’ll forget entirely about Anna yelling at me “I don’t love you anymore!” Maybe I’ll forget that desperate feeling of a mis-timed shopping trip that ends with a red-faced, sweating baby crying so hard that I cry, too, until I can reach home or pull over and nurse her into calmness. Maybe I’ll forget missing Adam like crazy when he is on his business trips, the lonely evening, the big bed without him. Maybe I will, or maybe it will all come back to me when Anna and Lilith are Mommies themselves.

2012 and I am the Mommy to two little, amazing, precious, wonderful beings. I am in awe. I am eternally grateful to the universe for allowing me this privilege.

My two sweet girls


6
Jul 12

36

A decade ago today, on my 26th birthday, I felt a creeping anxiety about growing older. A fear of the downward slope towards 30. An irrational hatred of the fact that I was “almost thirty” (OLD, in my mind, at the time). By the time I actually did turn 30, however, I was more than okay with it. I was pregnant with Anna at the time and I could see nothing but good around the corner. (Well, so maybe I still feared the big 4-0 number).

Two years later, I got cancer. And one of the things that cancer did for me was give me some of that old cliche: perspective. I don’t know if it is possible for me to ever fear a birthday, a certain number, again. Ever. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this journey here on earth, it is that life is precious. I don’t want to take any of this for granted.

Sure, I’ve got more wrinkles and white hair. I’m not a young thing anymore.

But I have my health, my family, my friends. And, today, I’ve got another year under my belt, which can’t be anything but a good thing.

Happy 36th Birthday to me!