Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just Laugh

Sometimes you need to put down the phone, turn off the TV, forget about work and remember how lucky you are.

I spend a lot of time worrying about money, about the future, about life.

I spend a lot of time wishing we could have more, do more, be more.

And then, something reaches out and slaps me in the face and reminds me to just be.  Tells me that I already have everything I need or want.  Everything else?  It's just noise.  Sometimes you need to close your eyes, cover your ears and just laugh.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Little Snippets

As I told you in an earlier post, I am an amazing mother and have finally figured out how to get my child to sleep.  Which means, if you know her, then I apparently can get ANY child to go to sleep.  So I should totally write a book and make millions.

Except our routine seems to be ever evolving, so I've revised my wealth plan and instead intend to have a talk show that can be fluid and changing.  Yes, soon I will be rolling naked on my bed atop crisp one hundred dollar bills.

Originally, Ainsley needed an iPhone to play her favorite songs in order for me to leave her at night.  I would cuddle with her through three songs and then I'd tuck her in "snug as a bug in a rug," give her 5 "big hug, big squeeze, kiss, kiss" -es, then say "good night, I love you" over and over again as I walked out the door.

However, now Ainsley doesn't want to listen to music.  I think one night she was crying and saying she just wanted me to stay (see, this is an ever evolving process and 5 months later we still have bad nights) and she didn't want any music.  So instead, I asked her if she wanted to talk for awhile.  She did.  So we talked a little about our days, I asked her some questions and then I tucked  her in "snug as a bug in a rug," gave her 5 "big hug, big squeeze, kiss, kiss" -es, then said "good night, I love you" over and over again as I walked out the door.

The next night she wanted to talk again, but instead she asked me to tell her a story.

"About what?" I asked.
"About you when you were little playing with your brother and sister," she immediately responded.  Okay, way to be specific!

I often say I have a good memory, but I have trouble remembering details of my childhood.  When certain things are brought up, my mind starts filling in the blanks, but getting started can be difficult.

So I told her about sharing a room with my brother when I was very small and I think even having my sister's crib in there at one point.  It was a two bedroom house and we were definitely all born before we moved out of it.  I told her about lining my bed with all my toys at night so they could protect me.  I told her about sitting on the deck of that house with my mom and her teaching me how to count seconds between lightening and thunder and what it meant.

The next night, she asked for more stories.  So again I had to dig deep and think hard.  I told her about playing hide and go seek after dark on summer nights.  I told her about climbing the tree in my back yard and getting stuck so many times that my mom refused to get me any Uncle Levi did.  I told her about walks through the woods to the creek with cousins and neighborhood friends.

After a week of this, I realized I needed to up my game.  Think of real stories if I could.  So every day, I try and take some time to sort through my memory and come up with at least one story about me as a child.  People, try this...not easy!

But, it has been worth it.  It's almost like my brain is opening up to these things now.  Memories that I forgot, sometimes just race before my eyes...

-hiding in a yellow armoir when I was small enough to fit and drawing on the inside of the door
-creating the General Lee from an orange afgan and brown recliner and my brother and I jumping in through the "windows" like Bo and Luke
-learning to dive at my grandmother's small pool, which was way too shallow for diving
-hanging my feet out the car window on a trip to visit friends, losing one of my flip flops and having my dad throw the other one out
-stopping at a convenient store on the way to my grandparents on Christmas day and leaving my brand new patent leather Minnie Mouse purse on a shelf in the toy isle
-in the first house I remember, so I couldn't have been more than 6, packing my bags to run away and my mom telling me that if I was going, I'd have to leave the family the way I came into it - naked and with nothing...but also telling me that she'd miss me (honestly, the only reason I didn't go was because I couldn't imagine being naked outside)
-the teenage boy that cut our lawn when I was about 5 sitting on our couch and singing along to the Eurythmics video "Sweet Dreams Are Made of These"
-my sister stripping out of her diaper and running around our kickball field
-picking berries with my grandmother

They're all just these little snippets.  No real stories.  Sometimes I have to fill in with fiction where I can't remember.  But Ainsley loves them.  She asks me to tell her certain things over and over again.  She loves the one where Carolyn takes her diaper off while we're playing kick ball and I have to chase her naked butt around to get her back in the house.

And these stories make me feel so warm.  I had a great childhood made up of all these tiny little moments that are forever burned in my mind.  As each one comes to mind, I remember the tears or the laughter.  I remember the smells in the air, and a smile always crosses my face.

I hope that I'm giving these same little snippets to Ainsley and Freddie.  Maybe not full stories, but just little memories that they can recall to my grandchildren one day.  And I hope these stories always make them smile.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Truths

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.

-Paulo Coelho

I've been trying to write this post for a long time, but the words never seem to come out the way I want.  I write, then I read and it doesn't speak the way I want it to.  But it's something I feel like I need to get out, so bear with me.

I can be a pretty judgemental person.  It's not something I'm proud of.  It's something I've been working very hard to change about myself.  I never realized my issue until I had kids, when all of the sudden everyone was judging me for how I was parenting. 

"You're STILL breastfeeding?!?!?"
"Oh, you're putting her in daycare?"
"She SLEEPS with you!!"
"I can't believe you're using cloth diapers."
"So you had ELECTIVE C-sections?  Why would you do that?"
"You want how many children?"

I could go on...for days.  All those questions had me searching for excuses, when really my only reason for any of them...because it's the best I can give my baby.  In those moments that I felt so small under those harsh judgements I realized that I do it too.  I've probably made someone feel that way, and I hated myself for it.  It was in those moments that I vowed to be better.  To not jump to conclusions.  To understand that we all have our own story and our own reason for the things we do.  To teach my children acceptance and tolerance.

I can try to change myself, but it's still out there.  A mom that breastfeed's looks down on a mom who doesn't.  A mom who adhear's to the cry it out method thinks the mom who co-sleeps is an idiot.  The mom who had her baby naturally without medication feels superior to the mom who chose a c-section.  Again, I could go on.

And on top of this "I'm better than you" attitude, society and the media and politicians just fuel the fire.

I'm sure you've all seen the Time cover of the woman breastfeeding her 3 year old.  The title on the cover is "Are you Mom Enough?"  I told Clif the other night that I didn't like the title.  He thinks it's just a play on the whole "extreme" everything idea.  Extreme sports - Are you Strong enough?  Extreme couponing - Are you Savvy enough?  Extreme breastfeeding - Are you Mom enough?

I hate the title.  Are you mom enough?  To me it says "Are you going to be un-mom and bottle feed your baby?  Are you going to be just enough mom and breastfeed for a bit?  OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE AWSOME, ALL POWERFUL MOM ENOUGH to breastfeed forever?"

I haven't read the article.  I know it's about attachment parenting and the picture of a woman breastfeeding a preschooler on the cover is the most shocking thing they could come up with.  (That this is shocking is a topic for a whole other blog post.)  I don't know if the article speaks down to mothers like the title does, but the title makes me angry enough to not buy the Time magazine.

I am a breastfeeding mother.  In fact, I subscribe to most aspects of attachment parenting.  I breastfed past a year, I slept with my kids, I have baby bjorns and slings and wraps.  I love all of it.

But I'm angry because it's just another way to pit moms against one another.  To draw battle lines.  To rationalize the judgements we pass on one another.  I'm tired of being judged for what I do or don't do.  Let's stop fighting with each other, about who's doing it right and who's doing it wrong and who's doing it SUPER right.  Let's support each other, hear each other's stories.  Can't we agree that we're all just trying to be the best moms we can be with what we have and what we know?  Isn't that enough?  That we love our kids and make sure they have the basic needs in life?

So here are my truths, with no excuses. 

I have breastfed both of my children well past a year.
My children are in daycare...full time.
Ainsley slept with us for the better part of 4 years.  Freddie still sleeps with us on occasion.
I use cloth diapers 80% of the time on Freddie.  I didn't use them at all on Ainsley.
I have never let my children cry it out.
I don't always make my kids eat dinner before they have dessert.
I allow my children to watch way too much TV.
If finances and time (and my husband) allowed, I'd have 10 kids.
I had 2 scheduled c-sections.

Can you accept them?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

According To Ainsley - Dinner Time

Dinner time is a big tangled mess of emotions for me.

I love having dinner with my family.  I love talking with the kids and catching up on our days.  It's the only time we all sit for an extended period of time...together.  Between full time jobs, daycare, trips to the playground, errands, dance class, etc...this is our time to connect as a family. 

It doesn't come easy.  I'm rushing around trying to get everything cooked together, feeding children snacks, playing with kids, talking to kids, answering questions, feeding dogs.  Ainsley can barely keep her butt in the seat.  Clif is usually walking in the door as I'm pulling dinner from the oven.  Freddie makes a mess and prefers his utensils on the floor.  It's basically an hour of pure chaos so we can all sit together for 5 minutes in peace and tranquility before Freddie asks to get down and Ainsley complains about the food.  But I know that these hectic dinners now, will lead to well balanced family in the future.

So here's a sample of our dinner time conversation...

Clif: What's this?
Me: Roasted veggie enchilada casserole.
Ainsley: Okay, Daddy, I need to finish my story now.
Freddie: My all done.
Me: Freddie, you haven't eaten anything.  Have a bite.
Freddie: I no yike it.
Clif: Mmm, this is good.  Freddie, try some.  It's good.
Freddie: No! Ah dowwwn!
Ainsley: So, I am Princess Celestia and I have a little sister named Princess Luna...but she is really Midnight Moon.
Freddie: (crying) Ah dowwwn!
Me: No Freddie, you need to eat something.  Just take a bite.  It has corn and cheese.  You love corn and cheese.
Ainsley: Mommy, I'm telling you a story.  Shhhh!
Clif: Ainsley, don't tell your mother to shhh.  How about you wait to tell the story and just eat your dinner now?
Ainsley: (nose squished up) I don't like this, it's furious.

Long pause

Me: Ainsley, do you know what furious means?
Ainsley: No
Me: It means your food can't be furious.
Ainsley: Well, it is furious because I am completely angry with this dinner.

So there you have it, why I love and hate dinner time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Moving...with Children

So we moved last weekend...Yay!!  I am really very excited about it, no matter how this post sounds.  Let me try and lay it out...

We moved to a teeny tiny house.  That's okay, I really don't mind...less to clean really, because I sure as hell can't afford a maid now.  So we're having logistical issues.  In the kitchen mainly.  There are three drawers people...THREE.  None of which will fit a silverware tray.  So my silverware?  It sits in it's tray on top of the counter...or the stove...or the table...or in the sink.  Depending on where I need to be at the time.  Also, Freddie's room?  Picture the smallest walk in closet you've seen...yep that's it!  No, I'm exaggerating, but not really.

And with a baby comes all the baby things that are needed in a room - crib, rocker, changing table.  The room is tight people.

But overall, I like the house.  I like that the main level is totally open so I can be in the kitchen and still be with the kids.

I like that there is a basement with a guest room and guest bathroom and a whole area for toys.

I like that there are huge sliding glass doors to the deck, which have no stairs.  So I can see the kids if they want to be out there.

I really do like it.  Mostly because it's ours...for now, and we finally get to be grown ups again.

But moving?  Yeah, that sucks.  Moving sucks always.  I am not the most organized or tidy person, so I'm not great at moving.  I always start out with really great intentions.  Labels on boxes.  Cleaning out, throwing away, cleaning as I pack.

Then it's moving day and HOLY CRAP I have not packed the bedrooms up!!!  So then stuff just gets put in a box.  Which box?  Who knows.  So this week has been challenging.  For instance, I can't find my belts.  I need to wear belts.  I have lost a tiny bit of weight.  Not enough to buy new clothes (good thing, because can't afford that shizz either) but enough that I NEED a belt.  All my pants are falling down.  That's a very classy and professional look for work.  So I figured I'd wear dresses and skirts...only I can't find them all.  Some of my dirty laundry is still in my car.

Yeah, we haven't totally emptied the cars yet.  Which leads me to my next point...

Moving with children SUCKS!!!  I mean it sucks way more than moving without kids.  My children are awesome.  But they are, in fact, children.  So the moment I try to do anything someone needs to be fed or bathed or changed or put to bed.  So whereas the last time I moved (without children) I could spend hours and days unpacking stopping only when I had to pee or that is not possible.

So really the kitchen is pretty much unpacked.  I put some clothes away last night, but everything else?  Still sitting in boxes in the living room or the future guest room.  Hence the reason there are still boxes and dirty laundry in the cars.

And that's that really.  I just have to accept the fact that this move is probably going to take me at least a month.  I try to do a little each night, but honestly I'm just so tired.  I've stayed up too late and not slept well, so I need to just take a deep breath and not hide in the bathroom crying...well I couldn't even do that.  I'm pretty sure the boxes are keeping the doors of the bathrooms from closing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wonderful You

Dear Ainsley,

Yesterday started as a day like any other.  You woke up and got yourself dressed.  We brushed your teeth and then headed to daycare.  I dropped you off and continued on to work to answer emails and sit in meetings and do all the boring things that grown ups do at work.

Around noon, I put aside all my work stuff and pulled out the Kindergarten registration packet that came in the mail 2 weeks ago.  I hadn't even opened it yet. 

I filled in your name and birthday.  Checked off the boxes for female and Caucasian.  Then I stacked it all up and put it back in the envelope.  Except for one card.  One card that asked me to check words off that described you.  They were typical personality descriptions...


All of them describe you, but none of them do.

Below the list were three lines that said "Please tell us anything else we need to know about your child."

Three lines?  How can I tell them "anything else" in three lines?

How do I explain your unending curiosity?  Your need to question everything until you understand it and then question it some more.  How your questions actually make me think and wonder "why?"

How do I convey your love for all that is princess and fairy and magic?  That you can listen to the same stories about Rapunzel and Belle and Ariel until I am exhausted but you just want to hear them again and again.  And you want to know every detail of every moment surrounding those stories.

How do I possibly describe your imagination?  Your ideas that I can see forming behind your eyes.  Your quiet moments that are suddenly interrupted with "Hey mommy, I have an excellent idea!!!!"  Or how you can just be in your own world.  A world that is so real and tangible to you that pulling you from it is nearly impossible.

How do I show them your heart?  A heart in a tiny little body that is big enough to love the whole world.  A heart that is vast enough to become friends with all you meet.  A heart that wraps you up and makes you fall in love every single day.

How do I portray a smile that lights up my day or a laugh that infects the room?

How do I do all that and more in three lines?  How do I get them ready for you? Not the little girl down the street or the boy next door, but you...just wonderful you? 

I thought I should put a check mark next to each word and then write "Ainsley is the most incredible, smart, amazing, beautiful child you will ever have the privilege to know."  But I thought that might be overdoing it.

So I checked a few boxes and left the lines blank.  They'll just have to see for themselves.

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