Apr 8, 2016
My go to word in describing parenting is relentless. My baby daughter, ungrateful and miserable, can cry at me at least ten times today, what feels like 70 percent of the day, beating me down further and further into defeat. The relentlessness is daunting.
You’re review is in. Fifty percent of today will not meet with her satisfaction and, according to her, you suck at parenting.
My top seven words to embody my experience with motherhood are:
All problems could be solved, you think, if only I had their money or their family. Those people with their 5 extra family members to spread out the stress of the 16 plus hours a-grueling-day of care-taking and giving. If only I had their time and money to buy nicer clothing to cover up my ever-widening butt until I could hire that trainer to help me widdle it down. For now, I wear my ill-fitting sweats, placing my greying thinning hair into something up-ish. My nails and cuticles dry and ragged for lack of care. I have that look of survival and neglect. That wild look that says I’ve thought about fleeing in my fantasies. The dull look of disbelief that this will get better no matter how many times people insist it will. Beaten and hopeless is all the rage in the truthful Mommy circles.
If only I had the money to buy a SUV that I could comfortably load and buckle my child into without having the rain soak my back. Then I’d slip into the front seat and drive smoothly away to drop my privileged child off at that member of the care-taking team whose day it was to take them. Or I’d hire a housekeeper/child care-taking person as a stunt double so I could escape and make art or do lunch or have beauty salon time. Where’s my miracle money? My large ever-loving family? Where’s my get out of hardship free card?
No I won’t be looking forward to “taking care of myself” with a kale and flax smoothie tonight. Instead I’m thinking of making pasta with gravy, cheese, and deep-fried potatoes and a side of beef so that I can feel an ounce and moment of comfort that I never feel in my day-to-day existence. Wash it down with a 12oz glass of Shiraz and pray I can stay awake to watch any escapism television.
Why is it wrong to want it to be easier than this? To want the release of the hardship and grinding daily agony. I want to feel light and unencumbered. I want privilege instead of lack. I want a child who doesn’t make me constantly feel like I’m failing her. I want to stand here in the winner’s circle and not the survivor’s circle. Like my mother did. Like hers before her. Because deep down I don’t believe there’s any other way for it to be but hard.
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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.
May 11, 2015
This weekend was a glump of happy life happenings. It was a Mother’s Day weekend of wonderful gifts. My cooking hiatus started Thursday so carry out food it was for three nights in a row. Usually this would bother me. Not this weekend.
Our surrogate daughter Caitlin visited Friday and she and everyone else but me and Fiona went to see a local high school production. Instead, Fiona and I watched Follow That Bird, the Big Bird movie from the 80’s. Sweet. And then came Saturday, the day I’d been patiently awaiting. My gardening relief crew showed up as planned.
My garden story is a story of overwhelm and give up. But it was also a story I hated telling. So I asked for help from two women who I knew would bring it on strong. The uber-weeder and the disciplinarian/transplanter. I am so cheered and encouraged by their presence in my life and my garden. Hope has returned. And these are the thoughts that bubbled up for me on life and gardening.
Everyone’s got a life garden they are tending. The original garden plan is created in the family you grow up with but sometimes the major focal plants are just not what you want or need in your garden in your adult life. One person’s rose is another’s thorny weed. And so it’s up to you to decide which dreams and efforts are worth keeping and making the effort for and which need to be summarily yanked from that bed and tossed ceremoniously over the precipice.
Sometimes in my garden I’ll continue to coddle plants that needed the boot long ago. I’m a laissez faire gardener. Sometimes I make so much effort only to have half the garden get nuked by two freakish years of spring frost. Sometimes, we don’t want to make the effort unless we know it’s the perfect height and color plant in the perfect micro-climate in the perfect soil and light. Perfection is also a garden killer. And a life thwarter. Nothing grows if it’s not planted.But most of the time you are taking a gamble on every single choice you make in the garden and your life. Once you expect the unexpected, you can start to hedge your bets. You’ll make good friends with people who have gardens and who have the sort life they can advise you on creating. You get medieval on the weeds and the negative influences in your life. And you keep your eye on the prize, your hands in the dirt, and you keep on digging, goaling, and doing.
My garden is nothing like I’d like it to be. And yet, I am beginning to see my garden and my life not as a product but as a process. A learning process. Not as a destination but an adventure. My perception of how things are going is the only control that I have. The quality of my garden is both mine to make and to choose to then see. So I begin again. Enjoying the small moments, seeking some bigger ones to take root. And not trying to overachieve while I still have a wee Fiona ensconced in my soul and my time. All in good time.
(The story of my lovely mother’s day weekend will be another upcoming post. Talk atcha then.)
And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.
And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.
Sep 17, 2014
It was a year ago that I declared I’d be taking care of myself more.
I’d do more things For Me.
Remember this photo I took at the Y above the treadmill? I’ve been taking care better care of me in fits and spurts since then. Since it’s my birthday, the momentousness of the event made me want to share my progress.
Returning From the Trenches
When you have a baby, there is a sucking vortex that drags you into a gauntlet of physical and emotional challenges much worse than those Japanese obstacle course shows. Seen those? Where they’re jumping onto giant bobbing floats in huge pools of water dressed in costumes and you know there’s no possible way they can gain enough speed to jump and land on them and actually stay on top. But they’re trying so hard because there’s a huge prize. And they will fall and make you cringe every time.
In Momland, the huge prize is just keeping the baby alive. Aspire to nothing else and you are still an overachiever. You do this at all costs and eventually you have completely forgotten that you are a person who needs sleep or showers or a day off. No one can understand why you are so weepy or jumpy or crazed except other Mothers or people who’ve been on the front line and in the trenches. And people’s pity only helps so much and then you’re alone again.
I am not a victim or a martyr of my circumstances.
So many people have stories of coming out of this with a realization that to be the happy present Mommy you want to be, you have to take care of yourself and your basic needs at least. After being in the trenches, a pedicure may seem fluffy and frivolous but it is necessary. Since Fiona was born, I have gotten more of those than ever before. I just treated myself to one this week. But it’s also taking care of your body in the serious ways too.
And in taking care of myself, my alone time needs, my exercise needs, and my mental and physical “indulgences”, I am not a victim or a martyr of my circumstances. I do not ask anyone to take care of me. It is up to me.
Which brings me to the fact that this is the first year that we have had healthcare in a very long time. In fact since we moved to the Shore 14 years ago. Remember, I didn’t even want to have the baby knowing the only way we’d be able to afford it was to be on the government dole? Read about my middle class and medically assisted challenge here. But in the end, I thought I’d better go ahead and try before it was too late. Thanks to the US Government, at the age of 46, I had a baby. I refused the free cheese but took the rest.
My healthcare and well-being have always been up to me.
Yes, Obamacare forced us to get healthcare. And thanks to my husband for being persistent, we got a monthly discount and we have gone ahead and started taking care of all the little, and big, body problems we have, which are many. This past week alone, I had the first round of allergy shots after having, and paying $40 for all the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor and allergist appointments to get to that point. Same day, I had my first Mammogram in 7 years. And then yesterday, I had a filling filled that thankfully I did not feel yet. Dentistry is not covered under healthcare but we have a discount insurance through Aetna.
The message I’m sending myself is that I deserve Self Care.
The more you take care of those body parts, the more you know you are worth it. I spoke about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in this post and the impact all of this will have on your quality of life, creativity, and productivity.
My biggest current pending problem is a horrible pain in what appears to be in the hip bone connected to the backbone, aka the S I joint. The Orthopedist I saw last week said he does hip joints but doesn’t deal with that area. See the guy downstairs. It’s interesting to note that, since I was on steroids for my nose, the hip pain subsided considerably. And in the knowing that it could feel better and I didn’t have to eat the pain and endure, I feel more entitled to taking care of myself and addressing the pain.
I fully expect the next Doctor to tell me that I’m going to need arthroscopic surgery like I needed on my shoulder 15 years ago. Something wonky on my left side has left every joint and passage a little crowded with bones. But the good news? We have our deductible paid for. The point that I’d like stop and make here ? My healthcare and well-being has always been up to me. Even when I didn’t have healthcare, I still went to the doctor’s office for treatment. The fabulous turn is that now, instead of being reactive with these issues, I’m allowed to be proactive. I can do further tests and procedures and head the reoccurring sinus infections off at the pass. And take care of horrible pains in my hip.
I ran yesterday out on the street. It is the first time in over two years I have been able to do that. I have been either pregnant or baby bound for this long. That is also the reason the pain subsided and has now come back. Happy pregnancy hormone help with pains and loosen joints. And while I am still on the steroid for a little longer, I wanted to taste the freedom of what the running felt like again. And it felt mighty fine.
Maybe you now know more than you want to know but I’d tell you about all of this to your face when we got together. Now that’s out-of-the-way. My point is that going into my 48th year, I want to be telling myself that I’m worth the effort, I can do whatever I put my mind to, and I am a mighty talented super swell gal. I can feel the wisdom trying to balance me out as long as I quiet the other noise in my head. Taking care of me is my present to myself and my loved ones. It’s For Me and for everyone who cares about me too.
Jul 30, 2014
I love that feeling you have when you’ve successfully gotten away, had time to unwind and relax, and gained some perspective on your life. You return with fresh eyes and see your life a little differently. And that is so not what I got from my recent vacation. Not in the least. I got exhaustion and irritation and the knowledge that no matter what, it’s not about my expectations ever. It’s about making sure that my children’s needs and delights are taken care of first.
Despite that a person never really feels like putting everyone in a bathing suit and slathering them with sunblock, you are going to do just that. You, the most awesome vacation planning parent will suck it up so they have two opportunities to go to the beach and two opportunities to go to the pool in the two days you are there at the beach in the expensive hotel that you wished you could enjoy ALONE. You may just have to lower your expectations and remember children don’t care where you eat as long as they’re fed in a timely fashion. And your toddler is just as happy watching the same movie in the hotel room that they watch at home every day.
Fact is, if you want to relax and unwind, you are not bringing your children. You spoil them because that’s what you should do on a vacation. And they won’t mean to be ungrateful, they just will be. They’ve got it good and they’ll never see it that way. Yes, they’ll be out of their element, have to poop or pee but won’t, and will be exhausted and overstimulated. You will spend an inordinate amount of time caring about and making sure their needs are met to the exclusion of you own. This will not be your vacation, it will be theirs.
So, I’m looking for a vacation still. Maybe just an overnight on your couch. A glass of wine on a porch of a place where my children aren’t. A conversation about something I find interesting that my husband doesn’t. Anyone?
Jul 16, 2012
This moment is the first one I can claim as being alone at home this summer. Sure the husband and I enjoyed a needed break last Friday when the boy went to Grammy and Pop Pop’s. We watched a movie before 9pm. Usually that’s post book-reading and saying goodnight time. Decadent. The movie was kinda cool but way too long. But we watched it and sent it back into the Netflix universe today.
Even the husband didn’t get it last week when I said I hadn’t had any alone time all summer. Remember dear, the kid’s out of school and I don’t work outside the home?
And then last week was the start of glorious summer camps. And, since Dad was home for his stay-cation, he got to take his son to camp every day but then returned to work in the garage on his project. So officially, I wasn’t at home alone.
Today was the first day of the next half day camp. I nearly cried realizing the full day camp isn’t until July 30th.Today’s was a fifteen minute drive away. Precious alone time was eaten up commuting and contending with a beach traffic snafu. Plus the boy was getting on my last nerve driving there.
Talking incessantly seems to be his new thing. He says,” I have a question?” whereupon he asks me something I may or may not have a clue about. “Would you take a parachute with you if you flew on an airplane? What superhero’s name? Do you do Sumo wrestling? What’s development… horizontal… and/or breeding mean?”
I told him he could either stop talking or he could ask his camp counselor his next question? Or he could just tell me about something( that I’d say aha to). Then I turned on some music, any music. And that seemed to quell the questioning beast for a while. I found out when we got there, he had to go to the bathroom. May explain some of the edge. That and it was Lego Camp! Ridiculously exciting and “No, you can’t have Hi-C before camp starts”.
And what do I do when I finally get home to my precious solo time? I put clothing in the dryer and write out the bills because I want that stuff out of my way to “relax”. And then I’m inspired to write, an uncommon occurrence these days. Except I’m inspired to write about how much my kid’s been getting on my nerves? Writing is writing. This is more than I can say for a few of us blog goddesses with jobs and children and whipped up summers on top.
So then I took a catnap with the laptop motor burning into my legs until I heard the dryer’s beckoning beeps. Forty five minutes to departure for camp pick-up. Soon I’ll share some of the other exciting goings on of the rest of our summer. Stay Tuned.