Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Featured Inspiration, minimalism, Ponderings about life

Still Learning

While I enjoy being creative with the video editing itself as I attempt this Youtube channel endeavor, it has been a struggle learning the right way to store the videos (and not lose all my many hours of edited videos.  *sigh*).  My phone quickly runs out of storage, so my husband showed me how to use the network storage.  However, if a video I’ve used in Shotcut is no longer where it was originally accessed when editing, the edited video shows up as missing, and the Shotcut file won’t play.  Heartbreak, truly.  Oh well, live and learn.  The beat goes on!

Here’s the channel intro I did, and a few other videos are in the editing/planning process.

My favorite part, as always, is my dog Kody (he’s a 4-yr.-old chihuahua-shitzhu mix) wanting to be in the spotlight on my lap or racing around at the end of the video.   But the Fabric Magic embroidery project/Instant Pot part was also a lot of fun.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

From Survival Mode to Creative Zone Again

When life was just about day-to-day survival and I wasn’t feeling very creative, I knew I needed to do something to get un-stuck. Four years of deeply wading through the weight of everything that was keeping me in survival mode, praying for hope and joy despite my circumstances, and trying to discover what my unique purpose was, and something finally started to grow in me.  It started with me determining to let go of anything that was weighing me down.

First, I got some counseling to uncover the root of my anxiety and start working on better ways to cope with stress.  Soapbox moment: I wish everyone thought of counseling as normal and ok, like a tuneup on your car, instead of viewing it as a stigma. (BTW, if you think you just can’t afford a counselor, there are sometimes scholarship programs available.  You might have to do some digging, but you’re worth the effort! There are also low-fee options like TalkSpace, $25 for a month and be able to text a counselor when you need.  Michael Phelps shares his experience with therapy here: at Talkspace ).

We all have issues (like the pressurizing problem of perfectionism) and limiting beliefs. It’s not a mark of failure, but of wisdom to ask for help to get you optimized.
and having an unbiased individual to help sort them out is kind of like hiring a professional organizer who helps you declutter and put things in a more ideal setup.  

Speaking of which, back before I ever heard of Konmari, I thought I needed to get my house organized, because my mess was overwhelming me.  That ushered me into the idea of decluttering, which ushered me into the realm of minimalism (which, for me, isn’t a strict set of rules, but rather the idea of not keeping more than I can deal with without overwhelm, and only what adds value and beauty to our lives.)  Which is where I am now, trying my utmost to live intentionally.

Intentionality changed me from somebody who could barely peel herself out of bed in the morning at 8 a.m., who dreaded the sound of busy little bodies awake before me (although I love them dearly), and had little to no structure in my day to someone who is awake closer to 5 a.m., who has goals for the day and longer term, and a plan to achieve them.  It changed me from someone who thought it would be a good idea to exercise to someone who regularly walks a mile (and sometimes my kids do it with me).  It changed me from someone who thought I’d like to paint more to someone who gets out the paints and creates.

Intentionality starts with better habits, which create momentum.

As a SAHM, recognizing I’m the CEO and in charge of the way my life and home works has been key to changing what I didn’t like and what wasn’t working.  We all have the same amount of hours in our days, so learning better time management (essentially self-management) has been essential for awakening a dream in me.  Putting plans  into place for better health and productivity has reduced overwhelm and given me the space to be creative.  I feel less like I’m surviving and more like I’m on my way to truly thriving creatively again.  My dream is being able to encourage others to do the same, because it’s powerfully and literally life-changing.

Leave a comment (scroll allll the way down on this post) sharing your dream and one thing you could do to get started on it!  If you don’t have one yet, share what’s weighing you down from getting there, and if you have a step to take to overcome it today!     

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

When Creativity gets Squashed by Survival Mode

When dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression and then adrenal fatigue and chronic exhaustion, I was stuck in survival mode.  Survival mode is not a great place for creativity to thrive in, or even show up.  A handful of days are that way now, occasionally, when I get insomnia or something else incredibly stressful comes up.  But for the most part, things have improved so much that I marvel at the contrast.  Maybe the following sound familiar to you, and I just want to give you hope that it doesn’t have to stay that way!

Some people have lofty aspirations, but at my lowest point, I just wanted to be at a place where I could be able to wake up easily not feeling exhausted and look forward to what lay ahead.  Where I wasn’t wishing each day was over because I barely felt like I could make it through.   I longed to know what being motivated and enthusiastic felt like again.  I didn’t want to be so overwhelmed that I might have a panic attack, and look like a fool when asking somebody to come just be with me and my kids because I couldn’t deal with life.  I wanted to enjoy food and not feel awful no matter what healthy thing I tried to eat.  I ached to see a light at the end of the dark tunnel within my health journey.

(I am going to pause a moment and acknowledge that some health journeys are a continuous tunnel without much light.  Although keeping hope alive is important, I know some issues are chronic, unrelenting, and desperately painful without any probability of reversal.

If you’re in that place, know your pain and your story matter.  I truly believe many of life’s most valuable lessons come from the most painful things, and you may unknowingly be the one teaching others what perseverance looks like and giving others in a hard situation the courage to go on, too.  Reach out if you feel like you need someone to help hold you up, pray for, and encourage you–you don’t have to go it alone! We were made to connect!)

I grieved for the vibrant, creative and energetic girl and woman I had once been.  I was LOW.  So I did what I normally do to cope with challenges: I read (which is hard to find time to do as a mom, right?! But I made it happen).  I was reading some inspirational mom book and it said something about having a passion or dream apart from the daily grind of parenting.

I had this numb sort of reaction, like, “That’s nice for some moms, but I can’t even imagine being in a place where my mind be able to fathom having a dream.  And besides, I don’t know what my dream would be.”  (But I do now.  More on that later.)  Have you been there?  Don’t be there alone.  Feel free to comment and share if you are in survival mode, or if you’ve discovered your dream.  What got you from survival mode to creativity again?

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

Stay-at-home-mom Productivity and Progress

DSC06032Last year I got into a rut a bit more deeply than years previous.  As a SAHM, one thing that often has discouraged me is knowing my work is never really done, and doesn’t look more done because piles of laundry and cooking and dishes (etc. etc.) need to be re-done each day/weekly.  I have felt so unproductive each day even though I’m working around the house all day long.  Yet this SAHM gig is what I want to do, and I don’t have a desire for a financial career.  Something had to change.

I was kind of depressed over it and was cranky all the time, so I talked to a counselor about it.  She was encouraging, saying that as a parent (of only one kid) who worked, she felt like it would possibly be harder to manage kids and a house all day long, and recommended I lower my expectations for myself, and expect to do only about an hour a week “side-projects” (like organizing the basement) beyond main household responsibilities–cooking, cleaning, and childcare.  Thanks…I appreciate the idea, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that, because that didn’t seem like it would improve my situation any.  I was still surrounded by disorder.

 So when school started, I began listening to Michael Hyatt’s Your Best Year Ever podcast, which I recommend.  A main takeaway for me that I’m going to continue, hopefully with more regularity, was his productivity journal idea.  He quoted a study that saying productivity is increased 40% by writing goals down because it gives clarity, overcomes resistance/analysis of desires, provides motivation, filters other opportunities (prioritizes), enables clarity and allows you to see progress.  

 Since I started doing my own productivity journal, I definitely notice when I nightly make a page of the top 3 goals and subset goals for the next day, that I have more focus and get more done, then feel better about my day in general (and that makes me a better mom). 

 It’s somehow not the same as a to-do list, which to me feels like a drag on my energy.  It’s just clearer intentionality, instead of drudgery, I guess.  Not necessarily doing more, but doing what matters more efficiently, to feel like I have time for margin and reduce feelings of overwhelm. 

Beyond daily goals, he encourages setting achievable yet challenging yearly goals to promote growth and feed a dream.  Looking at those monthly or whenever helps me have vision for my future.  Looking back on the goals I set for the beginning of the school year (because when my kids are in school is when I feel I have some time —even if it’s just 3 days a week for 3 hours at a time—to accomplish things without being distracted), I can see some things weren’t as important to me as I thought they should be, but I hit my main 3: exercising regularly for health, reading 7 books, and improve time management. (I set alarms/timers to be more punctual most of the time.  As Noni from A Slob Comes Clean podcast says, there’s such a thing as Time Passage Awareness Disorder, and I have it. The last one I’m still working on…but it definitely improved.)  

So essentially, since starting that last summer, I feel like I’ve had a trial run for improvement this new year. Consequently, I have done a tune-up on my goals and areas of learning and growth, rather than coming up with an official New Years’ Resolution.  It may not be my best year ever (I am still dealing with many health challenges), but if it’s progress, I’m pleased with that. What kinds of things helped you make progress last year?    

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

How Being Intentionally Involved Moms Invites Joy Into our Lives

Finding joy as a mother has been a long journey for me.  Yes, there was the instant joy and love during the bonding phase with each of my children as newborns.  After that, however, I really struggled with the realities of life as a mother…

Mainly, the lack of sleep.  Lots of anxiety.  The postpartum depression.  The moving (we lived in 5 different homes since my now-preK aged son was born).  Probably a lot of hormonal stuff after the first that I didn’t catch onto, but definitely after my second child to a degree we couldn’t ignore anymore.

I was surviving, fueled by love and God’s mercies, but I was hanging on by a thread.  I am honestly amazed my marriage survived the past 4 years, because it was so tough on not only me but also my husband.  Looking back, I see there were the many, many heartwarming, good times.  But the overall feeling of the last 4 years for me has often been sheer exhaustion.  I say this a little hesitantly because I don’t want people considering having kids to have fear, or to avoid it because of the possibility of struggles.  I do, however, think it’s important for those who are willing to share to be open about that sort of thing, because awareness is key to navigating issues.  I would not have realized what postpartum depression looked like (and how it can look so different for so many people) if women did not publicly share their stories, and it could have turned out much more seriously than it did, because I finally realized what was going on when my youngest was over a year old through random articles about PPD online.

I really had to fight through daily and weekly struggles, mainly my health struggles (mental/emotional, chronic fatigue, hormone/cycle related PMDD) and then my son’s sensory-processing issues (now my daughter as well), which made for intense times almost nonstop throughout the day.  One of the light spots I remember during the darkest parts of this time was that I took a ton of photos and videos of the cutest moments whenever I was able that, later on at the end of each week, I’d review late at night after the kids finally went to bed, that made me smile.

(I am so thankful for how our neurochemistry works.  That activity may be one of the key positive habits helping me make it through the darker periods of postpartum. If you like neurochemistry/psychology type stuff, check out http://www.pnas.org/content/114/9/2361.abstract .  Basically, the amygdala, or the part of the brain responsible for social behavior, motivation and emotions, of mothers produces dopamine, which creates pleasure or rewarding sensations, when they view images of their children.  Although they wore me out, my kids existence also motivated me to keep going.)

All that to say, my youngest is almost 4 now, and it’s only really been in the past year that life has been on the sunny side most of the time.  My husband and I have grown in so many ways and changed how we do things, finding healthier ways to cope with stress.  We’ve in general altered our lifestyle, especially food-wise, to promote our familial well-being.

So, to get to the main theme I was aiming at when I began typing…Finding joy in motherhood has been a long journey for me.  On the days when I did not, or occasionally still, do not have the natural energetic enthusiasm to actively engage positively with my kids, sometimes choosing to do so regardless of how I feel is the best thing to create an environment of contentment and delight.  Not just for them, either.  Intentionally involving myself in my busy little people’s worlds can be difficult when my mind is preoccupied by you-name-it…But it’s the BEST way to spark joy.  Because I was MADE for this.

(Let me clarify:  I have a ton of potential I could invest anywhere I want.  Got the degrees, got a lot of interests, talents and dreams.  I am not limited to my home.  [Hello, women’s rights movement?  All things are permissible for me…But I don’t personally find them all beneficial.]  Yet right now, I am mainly focused at home.  This is the work I want to do, building my kids’ safe haven and our family’s HQ.  I am choosing my family to invest into during this season of my life, when the foundations of my kids’ lives are being laid.  And I find I am most fulfilled and healthy when I am whole-heartedly committed to my calling.  I’ve known what I want to do since I was little, pretending to be a wife and mommy as early as I can remember, putting on my mom’s high heels, and directing the neighborhood kids in activities.  [Some may call me bossy…I like to say I just have the skills of an administrator.])

Joy shows up when I am an active, caring participant in the lives of my family members.  You know what I despise?  Frigid temperatures.  A cold nose and fingers and toes.  (Also, being hot makes me feel grumpy, but that’s a bunny trail…).  Know what else stresses me out like mad?  The fact that getting winter gear on my daughter is a long battle filled with howling in pain (at least, her senses are telling her that she’s in pain) over “bumpy stuff” in her gloves, endless pairs of socks and boots. (We turn the socks inside out and have some other coping strategies, but I’m so emotionally exhausted after each session).

But you know what my son in particular loves?  Playing in the snow.  So I had to ask, what was more important?  Me feeling comfortable, inside and warm folding laundry?  Lack of stress interacting with my daughter (who, generally speaking, is the more cuddly, happy child)?  Or my son’s heart?  Him feeling valued, too, even though his temperament is often intense, needing lots of direction and correction to keep him calm rather than reacting with eruptions of anger or other meltdowns.

So I had a choice.  I could base my success as a homemaker on my productivity–getting the laundry done (finally off the couch!).  Or I could find meaning in my calling, using my gifts of creativity and sensitivity to care for and encourage those in my life as I am strengthened by the unconditional love of my Creator. 

It’s not easy to choose what doesn’t always feel easy.  I’m thankful for snowboarding pants to keep me from turning into a popsicle, and a seriously poofy winter coat and sturdy boots to hold me over for a good 45 minutes of outdoor winter playtime.  I steeled my jaw to face the cold, hopped into the car with a couple of ladles, and we went on a mission for fun.

“Mom!  What are you doing with the soup thingies?” My three year old asked me.  I chuckled mischievously and said mysteriously, “You’ll see, babe…Wait and see.”  And in a few minutes, my kids’ eyes sparkled.  You see, intentional moms are magical creatures in the eyes of their children.  You know what really makes us magical, though?  Seeing that sparkle in their eyes and knowing we put it there.

Turns out ladles make some pretty spectacular snowball-scoopers and are just right for carving out snow-caves in snow mounds the plows made out of a parking lot of a mere 1.5″ snowfall.

#winningatmomlife #choosingjoy

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Ponderings about life

Representin’…the SAHM life.

This week while grabbing more veggies and milk at Target (which doesn’t have the best deals–I prefer Aldi– but that’s where we had a gift card to, and Ibotta* gives back a little) I conversed a bit with the cashier.  She thought my little girl was cute, and thankfully Threenager didn’t give her a stinkface and prove her wrong (this time).

The cashier mentioned she was new there.  I said I hope she enjoys her job, and as she lifted the heavy milk jug up to hand me, I noted aloud that it included the perk of a workout.  She said yeah, it’s nice, and she needs it because before that she was a stay-at-home-mom for 8 years.  I interjected, “Oh, that’s what I do.” To which she replied, “It really sucks!”  I paused, not sure if she meant not working out when she stayed at home, or if she was saying my profession sucks, so I asked, “Oh? What does?”  “Staying at home!” She exclaimed, giving me knowing eyes and nodding her head. “It’s so boring! I didn’t get to see my friends or get out and do things!”  And she had a bit more to say before I paid and left.

It seemed like she just needed to talk.  So I didn’t say what I was thinking, that being a Stay-At-Home-Mom can be hard.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I have never struggled so much as I have as a mother trying to balance house duties and keeping little people alive 24-7, with hardly a moment off.  I’ve been a “Messy” the first 30 years of my life, totally disorganized, and I’m not really a great cook.  I was confident with caring for other people’s kids, but mine have been harder to figure out.  Yet, things are improving, and this is the most meaningful thing I have invested into.  I wouldn’t trade my job for any other.

And, because it would have been totally rude, I also didn’t say the saying that popped into my mind that my momma would say about the word “boring.”  It goes, Only boring people get bored.  I’d personally modify it to say that being bored is simply the result of a sleeping imagination.

So my heart went away sad.  Sad that she was utterly discontent during those 8 years.  Sad that perhaps her children hear her saying it was torture to stay at home with them.  Sad that this was how my profession was being represented to a public that, generally speaking, also looks down on staying at home.

I wish that she had known how to thrive in it.  Admittedly, I am still learning more about that.  But I know that I do NOT think my job sucks.  As for her complaints, I think there were solutions to them.  The thing is, as SAHMs, complaining to the manager is…complaining to ourselves.  And a wise manager can fix the issues rather than let them pile up into a big mess of get-me-outta-here.

News flash.  SAHMs can have an exercise routine.  A lot of gyms have childcare available.  I personally use youtube videos as my workout routine since I don’t have gym membership (and don’t want one). I like Cocolime Fitness, Lucy Wyndham-Read, and Jessica Smith TV channels and videos because they are good for chronic fatigue and don’t wipe me out like the higher intensity ones would.

Being a homemaker doesn’t have to be lonely, because you can find your tribe and make your own schedule, which can and should include socializing with others who share your interests.  Play dates can start by exchanging contact info with a mom and meeting up the next week at Chick-fil-a on a rainy day, and progress to the home atmosphere later on.  It may not be the drinks-after-work some career women are used to, but it’s socializing.  You find time for what is important to you, and if working out and friend time is important, you make it happen.

I recently read or heard that people who had life-altering injuries were followed-up with a year after their injuries to find they had returned to their former baseline happiness levels.  (Which also made me think of how people who win the lottery are often much more miserable afterwards, and wish they had not won the lottery.  Maybe an unmet expectations issue?)  Basically, the point is that eventually, after life changes we return (or decline) to whatever level of contentment we maintain now.  So my mind questions whether this new cashier job will fix the lonely cashier’s happy-o-meter.

Next time, I might be grocery shopping with a fussy kid.  I might be a frustrated momma, even.  But I hope even in the least ideal of circumstances, I aim to represent my profession well.  I can remind myself what matters–caring for these little people, creating a loving home, and being fulfilled in a life I am choosing.

(*If you are unfamiliar with Ibotta, it’s an easier way to coupon, in a smart phone app, by simply selecting items you are going to buy from whatever store you’re going to get in advance, then scanning or photographing the receipt after you’ve purchased the items of your selection.  There’s even a way to link store loyalty cards.  I forget to use physical paper coupons usually, but taking a minute to scan a receipt after the hubub of the store checkout line is much easier and doable for me!  Here’s a link for you to get started saving if you’re interested, and you should get a bonus for joining, maybe $10 or so. It also helps me out!  After you have saved $20 you can cash out. I usually cash out with Amazon or Walmart gift cards. https://ibotta.com/r/tiasrax)

 

 

 

 

Posted in minimalism, Ponderings about life, saving money, Uncategorized

Aiming high in 2018!

As I take down and prepare to recycle our 8-year old, pre-lit, 4 ft. Christmas tree that slowly dwindled down to having only 1/5th of the lights working, I start to think about how I might miss out on the after-Christmas sales, where I was hoping to snag a replacement.  They’re probably all sold out by now! I worry.  (Did I mention how I am an expert? At least at worrying.  I’m trying to lose that credential lately.)  Even if they weren’t, I spent the cash, mostly piggy bank quarters, on groceries and now we’re not using credit this month! I think, defeated. 

Then I catch myself and say, as it is a new year, how about a shift in thinking?  I am determining to stay on the sunny side of life this year.  The past several years were way too wearing on me, full of anxiety and more often than I’d like to admit, negativity (which grows easily when you’re chronically fatigued), and I’m ready for an improved point of view. (And hormone health…but that’s for another post!)

My January goal, as mentioned earlier, is not using credit.  After December and gift buying, mostly on Amazon (where Discover offered 5% cash back on purchases!!), my husband showed me our mint info…and there was a lot of red.  Actually, in more than just December.  Because we don’t buy what we can’t afford, I didn’t think of it as a problem.  I’m the acquisitions expert in the family.  (Read: shopper extraordinaire).  We had money in savings. I discussed everything beforehand with my financial partner, my handsome hubs.  But with over half the year drawing from it (mostly for medical bills and health efforts like buying organic and gluten free foods), maybe it’s time to scale back in other ways?  So, thought-pattern shifting time!

I don’t really do things half-heartedly.  I’m kind of all or nothing.  So when my husband suggested we be careful the next few months and try to save, I got curious.  What if we didn’t use credit AT ALL this month?! (With the exception of buying gas, which Discover offers 5% cash back on, again…that’s making money, you know)?! How much could we save then? The possibility was rather exciting. 

The goals?  Save for our kids’ next year at a private school, be able to afford plane tickets to visit my brother on the other side of the US, and budget for a dog (wasn’t that like $1,000 a year including vet bills?).

So, no impulse buys this month.  Empty our pantry.  Get creative with meals, only use gift cards ($40 to Target, $25 to Amazon, and the rest of our cash, which was about $20 in bills, and $10 in coins) to restock the empty fridge with fresh milk, fruit and veggies for the kids after returning from Christmas vacation.  Put all “wants” on a list for next month.  I got this.  So I think.

Stay tuned. 

P.S.  Back to the Christmas Tree…I changed my thinking to more outside the box.  I’ve always wanted a little 2-3 ft. live one that come in cute little pots at Lowes!  So that’s my plan.  Next year, we’ll have a tree/bush to plant outside after adding some live greenery to our home.  No artificial one in storage(we don’t really have storage spaces in our home) for me!  How’s that for a step towards minimalism? I should pat myself on the back for that triumph out of decor-tragedy!

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, painting, Ponderings about life, Quick Project, Uncategorized

A Year in Review

Here’s my recap of the year…plus my little acrylic cardinal in a gum tree painting I did (referencing a photograph I took some years ago to give as a gift this year.)

IMG_9116

How can it already be the tail-end of 2017?

This year was full of changes galore!

Aim resolved to ditch coffee at the start of the year

For happier hormones, then nixed even more:

Bye to gluten, artificial ingredients, sugar too…

Energy? Better…But FOOD?! What to do?

Enter electric pressure cooker: I heart you.

DH is supportive and eats the new fare,

But giving up coffee?  Not going there!

He will not part with that caffeinated drink

(Since it makes him nicer and helps him think.)

I’m thankful he brings home the bacon

Using his computeriffic brain.

If snickers and coffee are his worst vices,

I’ll not complain. 😉

Daddy and son make great knights

Protecting Queen-Her-Majesty-is-3 from any frights!

She likes to boss them, but they get the swords!

The dramatics are impressive

With grand fighting words!

Dances with Daddy, followed by boys jousting!

When it’s gotten too destructive,

Mom suggests books—not so rousing!

Son is enjoying pre-K up the road,

And readily does his homework load.

He loves art the most, and his friend Russ.

He likes his teacher, he tells us.

When he’s at home, he likes to build forts

Or read books about history and Star Wars.

This year our brave kid endured a sleep study

(lots of wires!) and had 2 surgeries, no less!

Little Miss is the busiest of all, our threenager girl,

Who talks all the time and loves to twirl.

She colors, sing-narrates each day

And has fashion opinions!

Pink is favorite; she wants more shoes;

You can’t have too many purses!

(This age is harder than twos!

So many emotions! Oy vey!

Yet so very humorous.)

Vacation was fun, to Cape May

Both Aunties with us!

Grandparents visited a bit later,

when we were in need—thankfully

Grandpa’s roofing expertise came in handy!

A busy summer indeed!

Other delightful visits we remember, too.

In 2018, we hope one will be from you

(here on this site)!

Now my attempt at rhymes concludes: We are thankful God made you as we count our blessings and wish you the peace that is sung about in the carol,

O holy night the stars are brightly shining!

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d… 

      For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John 3:16

In all our trials —born to be our friend. Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Mental Health, Ponderings about life

When Life’s Far from Perfect and Irritations Arise

Although the unpredictable and intense postpartum mood swings have settled down for me, with lack of sleep and…well, being human…I really struggle with irritability as a mom.  When the kiddos are up, Mom has to be awake and functioning, too.  Even when my head feels like a block of concrete that wants to stay cemented to my pillow.  The Murphy’s Law of motherhood–if it can go wrong, it probably will, at the worst time–seems to catch me by surprise a lot. It’s difficult to stay calm and in control. Actually, that’s part of my problem: trying to stay in control. I just can’t make everything go exactly according to plan. As moms we often envision the ideal course of events and then beat ourselves up when things don’t go that way, whether or not we really could have done anything “better.”  We can’t control others, not even our kids.  (We can only do our best to guide them).  We can’t control our circumstances, either. Yet we say to ourselves, If only I’d done such-and-such-differently, it would have gone well.  Why couldn’t I have done it better?  If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we mean “perfectly,”  not just better.  There’s definitely the time to analyze what worked and didn’t, and learn from life.  But there’s also the time for saying, I may not have done everything right but I did SOMETHING right; I made some progress!  Because perfection isn’t something humans can attain, but progress is. My husband has been the less-emotional voice of reason encouraging me in this learning process.  The other day he even said something that seemed crazy to my type-A, achievement-oriented mind, when I was feeling frustrated with the fact that it had been several days and there was still an unfolded pile of laundry (even though each day I sat down and started folding it!  Somebody needed a diaper change; somebody else needed discipline; people needed food; we needed to leave for an appointment, etc. etc.) He said, “Maybe folded laundry should be a weekly goal instead of trying to get it done all at once then feeling bad when it’s not done in a day…or two…or…”  Ok, ok, I get your point. As an aside, just now I started to feel guilty that I was typing during a quiet moment as the baby naps because I wasn’t folding the laundry but writing instead.  I’m just a poor steward of my time, I told myself.  That’s why you never get stuff done around the house.  But that’s not the true.  A creative outlet is my way of staying (more) sane and energized.  It’s my free therapy.  So I’m saving money! haha 😉  I firmly believe that while sometimes we need to be critical of the real flaws in our lives and make changes, other times we’re being discouraged by lies about ourselves.  Truth gives us a way to be free from hindrances rather than shaming and condemning us. So today, I started to think how I was really not handling our morning well. Part of that is true.  I could feel myself getting angry and wanting to act in anger.  But otherwise, I actually did some things right.  Here’s how it played out: Breakfast over, I moved us into the playroom, coffee in hand, and sat on my favorite rocker.  A few glides forward and back, and I heard a creak-crack.  UGH!  This stupid rocker!  We shouldn’t have paid so much for it–even if we used gift cards to pay for it! I’m the one that fought to get this particular one because it reclined, too. Crummy design! I JUST fixed the other side a few weeks ago! Can’t anything be simple?! So I got out the glue and the clamps, which I’d never put away from last time fixing the rocker, and got to work.  Of course it was super interesting to littles and they both came trotting over, getting in my way.  Sissy was climbing over me, trying to play in the glue drops, which I was fuming about already.  Stupid of me not to put a drop cloth down…again.  Didn’t learn from last time, did I?! I even remember telling myself this is an evening or nap time project, when the kids aren’t around.  Too late now.  Glue’s everywhere. My voice raised a bit, I barked out, “Nobody touch the rocker!  You could get hurt by the clamps or break it worse!” Babies don’t really listen to reason, so it was silly to expect it from Sissy.  She kept climbing over me.  Then big bro could no longer resist, and starting inching closer to the rocker on its side.  It kind of looked climb-able.  “Do you want time-out?!  Do NOT. touch. the rocker.”  Then he came over to me and started goofing off with Sissy.  I now had TWO little people climbing over me.  Frustrated with the dripping glue, the cheap quality of the rocker (I mean, card-board-like particle-board pegs holding the slats of the glider together, not even real wood.  We paid enough; we should have gotten REAL wood pegs. Erg!!!), and then, lack of personal space.  GAH!  I felt the blood boiling. Last time had gone the same way.  And I blew up at them, I’m sorry to say.  I apologized, but that doesn’t erase their hurt feelings at the time.  This time, I really felt like blowing up, too.  But I knew that would be wrong.  Let your gentleness be evident to all, I recited.  God, I don’t want to be gentle.  They’re SO FRUSTRATING right now.  I took a deep breath and said, “Honey, mommy’s upset right now because the rocker’s broken and it’s hard to fix.  Please don’t touch me–or the rocker–right now.  I need to calm down.  I am going to fix this, and then we can play.” I identified the real issue–anger about the rocker–and let my son know how he could help, by giving me space.  He gave me some advice, too, “Yes.  Talm down, Mommy.  No upset!”  Hahaa.  I know, kid.  I know.  It’s just a chair.  It doesn’t really matter in the long run.  What does matter is that I didn’t blow up at my kids even though I felt like it.  I’m learning how to better be in control of my actions, the one thing I can control in life, when nerves are raw.  Progress.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, Ponderings about life

Mommy Thoughts

There are cracker crumbs on my bum.  My almost-11 month old little girl has crawled over to me, leaving a trail of Ritz particles, and has pulled herself up to standing by my chair and is sharing her mess with my lower half.  She’s pretty adorable as she tries to look utterly pitiful so I will pick her up.  Mission accomplished, little agent.

She has reached the stage where containment is despicable.  She begs for me to hold her yet wiggles and squirms, discontent in my arms, and then again discontent when I put her down.  Security competes with curiosity.

We were grocery shopping yesterday, my little “helpers” and I.  During the time I compared prices of cheese sticks (I decided against them, this time.  I want a coupon!) she had wriggled, buckled in, so that her feet were no longer in the leg holes of the cart seat, and were instead above the handles.  Pretty hilarious looking, but the lady behind me appeared as if she was thinking how I was a neglectful mother.  It’s not like I parked her an aisle away from me or anything, woman.

You know what I like best about the cheese aisle?  It’s close to the free samples.  I have a feeling I’m not the only mom of a toddler who does an inner-happy-dance at the sight of a food-sample container that is miraculously stocked with cookies or donuts or other bad, bad sugary thing that keeps the kiddo (and me, when I throw self-control to the wind…and I usually do with food) sane for another minute.

Anyhow, then when I was checking out and paying for all the groceries, Sissy got herself turned completely around in the cart seat.  I have no idea how because the buckle wasn’t that loose, just comfortably clicked in.  The cashier on the register behind us was eyeing us like, “Ain’t ya gonna do something about that, Mom?!”  Yes, yes of course I am.  At the moment my toddler is squashing the grapes and I need to sign the doohickey and load my cart because the people behind me are being impatient.  Why don’t they use the self-check-out if they only have three things, anyway?

It’s a good thing to be concerned about a little one’s safety, I won’t fault others for that.  However, the other day somebody at the park obviously trusted my son’s ability to safely climb on part of the playground less than I did as I watched from a short distance away and the lady snatched him off, to his alarm.  She did it with a “Your mother shouldn’t be letting you do this!” attitude, eyebrows furrowed.  She came with a little girl.  Hah.  Not saying that all little girls don’t climb stuff…but I’m thinking, She hasn’t spent much time with toddler boys.  (The ground was rubbery park surface and directly underneath him were squishy tires.  He woulda been fine if he fell, though maybe startled.  I’d be following him around every second turning blue in the face if I tried to tell him not to do everything he made his mind up to, so if it’s not naughty or fatally injurious, I let it go.)

There was recently a cute youtube video going viral of a little girl whose response to what she considered pestering was, “Worry ’bout your self!” (She obviously had an older sibling and heard it before from Mom or whomever).  That line keeps coming to my mind and making me smile.  I say it in my mental-narrator-voice as a really mature 2 or 3 yr. old. 😉