Jan 26, 2015
The twitch on my top right eyelid is the only outer sign of how I really feel. Well maybe a little lip chewing too. I’m sure you’d notice one or the other. At 8:38 am this morning, I was an epic failure at parenting a toddler. I had yelled “Stop” like five times by this point. Dressing her had been an all out fighting tantrum from which I’d narrowly escaped getting my front teeth whacked and deadened by her skull. Cussing at anything else that had gone wrong had brought no relief. And the rest of the day hung in my mind like a cloud of impending doom.
The mental health facility that houses my “talking doctor” is adopting a new catch phrase. “It’s OK to be not OK. “ While it feels slightly better to have permission to be ‘not OK’, the yucky feeling of humanity lingers. It must also be OK to have post traumatic stress disorder because even the eye doctor explained the cause for my toddler eye twitch is stress. Duh.
Mothering is like an extreme sport that you’d rather be sitting in a chalet watching and enjoying from afar. While I crave Happy Happy all the Time Time Time and everything under control, instead I get sudden eruptions of chaos. She’s being really cute and suddenly she’s having a really really bad day and dragging me down with her. Negativity is a constant modus operandi. I felt despondent yesterday after her tantrum over a)putting on the coat, or b)clipping her toenails, or c) anything else her brain snapped over. I intended to enter a selfie challenge on Instagram and I thought a picture of this moment would be far more real than the happy grinning one I ended up with. I’m human therefore I feel and am real. I resent the expectations I have of myself otherwise.
By 10 am, I could only hold my mental breath and resolve to keep it together until I finally get a break tomorrow. Sure I intend to create more of those breaks this week and month. Knowing that daycare is around the corner is a prize I have my eye on. But everyone then has to make it to that point without losing their stuff. I almost started crying yesterday because there is nothing in the world that makes you feel like a bigger loser than knowing you’ve failed to be the most calm patient considerate prepared Mommy in town, any town, at that specific moment.
An additional motherhood requirement is for me to consider my luckiness as compared to others’ unluckiest. I better be grateful every moment because she is alive. I discovered recently that someone I’d known for 30 years had lost their first-born baby daughter many years ago. They’d created a foundation for their daughter and now their eldest living daughter is turning 14. I was speechless. An unimaginable grief. And yet I am still really disliking my daughter today. It’s my apples to their oranges. There’s automatic disparity between one parent’s experience and another’s feelings. My entitlement to feeling any and all of this allows me to move through it. I can only live my life, however ungratefully, just once.
So do I really think I suck as a parent? No. Do I make lousy choices? Yes. Will my children grow up knowing that parents are fallible human beings? Yes. And hopefully that I’m a mostly nice person. Teaching them these acts of self-tolerance so they become human beings, plus keeping them alive is my job. And then letting them go out to make their own fallible human lives and choices in the places they settle with the people they’ll come to love. Soon this will all be just a distant memory. Right?
Jan 23, 2015
(Here’s is a story I lived during the holiday rush and then had no time to publish. But it could just as well be today without the Christmas details. If you had to send out a million cards and buy and wrap presents in bulk all year long. Then it totally be all the time. Not. Christmas is just a burden… and a joy.)
The extra holiday to do list gummed up my gears last week. I have all the stuff I usually have to do to keep my kids alive and my house and mind aligned. And then you add a full on special event plan in the middle of all of it for the month of December and the brain bogs down And then it starts to hiccup.
Last week I had a grocery list that started with Milk. It got added to and then I hurriedly hit the store to go shopping. And of course, wouldn’t you know, I forgot to get the milk. I wasn’t mad at myself as I have learned to almost expect these errors but that milk is still a primary ingredient in raising the little one.
So, the same day, I needed to mail the Christmas cards out and a special birthday card so we strolled up to the post office figuring I’d grab the milk at the Farm Store and lucky me, the toddler fell asleep in the stroller too. I cruise home, put the child in the crib, put the milk in the fridge, and go on about doing my laundry with the self satisfied feeling you get when you accomplish the card thing.
Two days letter, darned if that special birthday card didn’t show back up in my mailbox without postage. While I was telling the post office ladies my milk story, buying stamps and sticking them onto the Christmas cards, and buying and addressing the mailing envelope for the card, I’d neglected to purchase the postage.
Two steps forward, one step back. At least you end up having moved up a step. And your only option is to just keep going. If you stop and throw a hissy fit about the snafus that happen daily due to your humanity or someone else’s, you’ll waste a lot of time you could be spending moving forward a hopeful next step. Forget about it.
Jan 21, 2015
The first week of January, I was getting myself psyched up to write my ‘word of the year’ post. It’s a thing. Board that bandwagon. And then I realized, I’d already done that in November. I’d stolen my thunder.
The post was on Abundance and Opportunity. I love these concepts and I’ve already been there, declared that. I resolved myself to this dénouement. But then I heard a word I felt was just as important to my awareness. A word I’d like to focus on as well because focus and mindfulness is what brings “the budge”. I had my first go round with this word when I wrote myself a permission slip to allow for my regular intentional creativity back in November too.
The stronger scarier word that holds magic and power for me? That I need to concentrate on to be able to move aside the rusty gate that bars my progress into my future?
Every time I hit a stumbly place, a task that feels difficult or impossible, if I choose to stand there long enough and meditate on my stuckness, I usually find a lack of permission has beat me there. Like the ultimate Mother May I game, I need permission to move beyond this point. Except we’ll call her the Fear Mother.
Me : Mother May I sew those curtains for Fiona’s room?
Fear Mother : “Yes you may but you have to figure out your sewing machine’s problem or get a new one.
(Or use the iron on seam tape which I have tons of but my brain wanted to do this “the hard way”.)
So I gave myself permission to put a pair of glasses on and read the owner’s manual to that daggone sewing machine and sure as shoot, I’d been threading the bobbin the wrong way.
Permission granted to read, resolve, and then to sew.
Me : Mother May I use my new pastels to draw stuff?
Fear Mother : “Yes you may but you don’t have any time so what are you talking about.”
Me : I’ll steal the time and I’ll make up a reason to use them. (And that’s what I did).
Fear Mother : “Stop asking me. Because if you keep asking me, I guarantee you’ll never get what you want.”
See how the creative intention gets hijacked suddenly by the Fear Mother. You don’t want to be disrespectful to the Fear Mother. So you stop asking. But you keep still really wanting to do it. So then you just feel bad.
I read a Facebook post by author Elizabeth Gilbert recently about fear. She said she respects her fear. It’s there for a reason so give it that respect. She’ll invite fear to come along on the trip in the van. But it is not allowed to drive.
So this is my new plan. Devote an entire page to each project and leave room for the fears to be expressed. So there’s the goal, the plan, the steps and the fears. Because it’s the unresolved problems your Fear Mother has so kindly pointed out that keep you stuck, unable even to allow yourself to express the goals and dreams you have in your heart.
I’ll give the fears their say on paper. My hope is that the permission will then come from addressing the Fear Mother’s problems compassionately, validating them, making notes, and then solving them will create a better process for my problem solving of the future.
And here’s to never having “I don’t know how” stand in our way again. Because if you don’t know how, someone does and you just need permission to go ask them. But you also may need permission to not do anything and take some time off to be after all that doing. I am asking and giving myself permission to make this process less hard and more easy. Yes I may.