Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Page

December and January are quite a whirlwind for me. There are so many beginnings and endings that happen in such a brief amount of time. My birthday, Christmas, NewYear's, my husband's birthday, our anniversary, and both daughters birthdays all within a 6 week time frame. Each calendar year, from my perspective, represents a year in my life. A clear segment in the evolution of the person I am becoming. The closing of a calendar marks another year since I was born, married, been a mom, been a mother of of 2. I almost envision it in my mind like a chapter in a book and tonight, I turn a page. Tonight, the bold print will be centered on the page and it will say "2011" in large font. I do not know exactly where in this book the chapter appears. Hopefully, it is in the beginning of the book, but it could be near the end. The previous chapter promises of happiness and love who knows where it will take us.

I talk a lot about seeing myself as flawed, but that is not quite accurate. People aren't flawed, they just are... the very nature of being  alive is that every quality can be positive or negative depending on its relationship with the particular set of circumstances. I think of human beings as masses of genectic substance that are inherently us. This essence drives use to be a certain way and want certain things, but doesn't dictate our being. This substance is shaped and molded by the world around us. Our experiences, whether we perceive them as being good or bad, result in each of us being completely unique. Through our shared experiences, we gain similar understandings of our world. We cannot survive without those connections to others. Each year, I can feel the evolution of who I am. I am just a little more knowledgeble that the year before. I realize which connections help me to thrive and which are okay to let go. I learn about myself through others. Each interaction gives us the opportunity to choose a reaction. These choices can teach you volumes about yourself and others. I learned a lot this year.

Somewhere in this novel, the protagonist forgot who she was, however as the chapter, "2010" closes, she begins to realize her passive journey does not fulfill her active mind. The protagonist feels the light emerging in her heart, she realizes she has a calling. She does not quite know yet what it is, but the energy, the spirit, is calling her... calling to her essence. She is confident in one fact: she will take each experience as it comes and she can't wait to meet the woman who emerges.

HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Suspension of Disbelief

There is an agreement between actors and their audience. You may not even realize it, but while you are watching others act, you have agreed to suspend reality and accept the world as they depict it. It is their job to provide you with all the tools you need to do so such as a storyline that smudges the lines between the common perception of reality and the perspective of the actor/playwright. It allows you to be swept away by the breeze and immersed into the murky depths of another world. It allows you to experience, for a moment in time, the existence of fairies, goblins, magic and that good always prevails. There is no consequence for buying into these alternate realities for a spell just the possibility of a unique experience where we can transcend the limits the physical worlds presents us.

As children, we do not need a particular situation to agree to believe... children just believe. Through their eyes, the world is full of possibility. They are unaware of its bounds for they have never experienced them. Why can't a snowman survive in the summer? or Santa look different every time he is seen? Children want to believe in the things that give them pleasure and joy. When given a glass with water to the middle line, they are happy to have water and see the promise of fun which may emerge. She sees the possibilities of faith. She wants to live in a world full of mystery because she does not fear the unknown. Her spirit is pure. She does not know pain. She does not worry that life may not live up to her vision of the world.

My journey was like most, long and winding. At the perfect point in time, when I stopped believing in all that made this world extraordinary, my daughters came into my life. They have taught me that even though I have experienced the boundaries of this world and know that darkness can be in light, I can choose to suspend those feelings and remember the magic of the possibility... the possibility born of hope.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mythical Creature: The Other Wife

Parenthood. The joys are limitless, but the strains can be as well. The first time we held our daughter we fell in love again... little did we know that the first sound of her crying was the starter gun on our competition for who does the most for our family...

"This isn't quite the way you said it would be." Huh? We're happy. Have 2 beautiful girls. What was it supposed to be like? "I thought I would have less to do around the house." Oh. You are referring to our decision for me to stay home. What chores do you exactly do that overwhelms you? The garbage. Yard work. Car maintenance, I mean, you are an automotive technician. "Well, I know you do a lot." Damn straight I do. 24 hrs a day. "I told a guy at work the other day that I needed to get home to do chores and he poked fun at me cause he doesn't have to do that stuff. His wife takes out the garbage, does the yard work... she thinks he does enough just working, that he should just come home and rest." Silence.

This was mild compared to what I have heard other husbands say of their stay at home wives. I understand that from his perspective he imagines the freedom of Sunday afternoons with his feet up and cartoons on TV. He leaves me in the morning on the computer trying to pry my eyes open to read my work e-mails with a cup of coffee and as soon as he returns, so do I, to the position in front of the computer in an effort to gain back my sanity. Does he imagine the middle filled with much of the same? His thoughts exaggerated by his love and longing for his little girls. Maybe he thinks that I do not understand the sacrifices he makes... funny, don't you think? Let me remind him of the many mythical creatures that help him along the way...

Where does all the hair go that falls off all of our pets? (2 Golden Retrievers and 2 cats) or the wrappers and stuff that you and the kids scatter around through the house? How do the toys always seem to end up back in the spot they began? Perhaps an elf. I imagine him high strung with red hair and a beard cursing at his once clean path to a never appearing pot o' gold. Is that a fairy I saw with the toilet wand who made it so sparkling clean? The spots that you leave every morning on the mirror disappear into thin air by the time you return in the evening perhaps she lent a hand there too. I can only imagine an ogre would be picking up all your dirty clothes & boxer shorts lugging them down to the basement below. However, once fresh and clean, an ogre wouldn't do, maybe its another fairy who returns them to our room. Who does the dishes? Changes the diapers? Dusts the walls? Oh my, maybe we'll never know. Better yet, "the other wife" might live here, a creature who is most rare. She can do it all in a single day while singing a song and dancing the jig telling her husband how she wouldn't exist if he wasn't so big and brave. Oh wait, cannot be for the lawn would also be trim.

My husband makes me happy. He is a good Dad and works very hard for us girls. I would never let him think less, but I slowly leaned over and whispered in his ear, "The grass is always greener in fantasy land. Does your friend live next to the jolly green giant?"

Monday, December 13, 2010

MY FIRST BLOG AWARD

Thank you so much to *Muddy Feet* for awarding me with my first blog award. It was exactly what I needed at the perfect time... thank you.
Rules for accepting this award are:
1. Thank & link back to the person who awarded you this.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their Blog Award!


7 Things about Me
1. I have 2 daughters who will be ages 4 and 2 just after the new year begins.
2. My best friend is my husband and life has been a dream with him in my life.
3. As a mostly stay at home Mom, my main job is to manage my home and raise happy kids.
4. Two days a week, I become my alter ego... a Professor who teaches at a local University.
5. Born in CA, raised in NJ... I love where I live.
6. Life is good... bad times are the moments when life gives us the skills to fully enjoy the good times.
7. Hoping that one day, my writing will transcend my being.



Here are the sites I am Paying it forward to (a few more to be added):
http://luvinmylilmonkeys.blogspot.com/
http://mommy2twogirls.blogspot.com
http://www.nontypicalmom.com
http://www.peaceloveandmommy.blogspot.com/
http://ifyoucouldseewhatisee.blogspot.com/
http://www.sofiasworld.org/
http://thrumommieiez.blogspot.com
http://unlikelyorigins.blogspot.com
http://practicalfrugality.blogspot.com
http://www.acceptingdad.com
http://motherhoodwtf.com/
http://www.theteethingmom.com/
http://www.sassysillyspunkymomma.com/
http://somuchmorethanamom.com/

Friday, December 10, 2010

The greatest gift

I spend a lot of my time off in thought... thinking of how people behave and interact and how I have come to understand the world around me. In one respect, that sounds all philosophical and nerdy, but its my job and I love what I do. I teach young college students complex theories of interpersonal communication, what the hell does that even mean??? LOL. Researchers use complex words to describe ordinary events in extraordinary ways. How better to bring the thoughts to life then the creation of narratives (slightly modified for privacy/ anonymity)? Its amazing how much you can get to know yourself when you think about these things.

Who am I? Like most women, my emotions have depth beyond my capacity and I can literally feel them flowing over at times like the fizz on a soda poured too quickly. I view myself as flawed, but embrace who I am and see myself as a work in progress. I believe each day is an opportunity to learn something new about myself and each moment, an opportunity to become the person I strive to be. I like who I am. I am happy. I would be proud for my daughters to be like me. I often try to think of what my parents provided me that allowed me the self-confidence to love who I am and the insight that I am worth getting to know. There was a moment, in time, when someone robbed me of my worth... how did I gain it back? How did my parents provide me with the tools to make that moment a moment of strength not weakness?

Unconditional love. My parents loved each other and each child with the same unconditional love. The love in my family is consistent. We love each other in the bad times as much as we love each other in the good. We are far from perfect. We have endured great pains, but we never faltered. When I screamed and yelled and tested my mother in my teen age years, just begging her to tell me that she was done with me. She never did. She just told me she loved me and that would never change. My father is very stoic, a man of little words, but, his daughter knows that no matter what he is always proud. Even though there might have been times when my judgment didn't deserve it, he knew that my spirit would rise above it. My parents never got caught up in the details. They knew that I would be amazing in the end. They were like a trampoline... they made me laugh, feel light as a feather, let me sink as low as I needed before they would lift me up and throw me high... letting me be everything I wanted to be. Thank you for that...

This is the greatest and most simple gift I offer my daughters. From unconditional love, they were born. They will be given unconditional love each day that we share. I hope that I teach them through my actions the meaning of unconditional love just as my parents have offered me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What kind of Santa am I?

This is the year. The year the girls, especially my oldest, are really going to engage in the magic of Christmas. This is the year when I pose a question that i have never asked myself before... what kind of Santa am I? So, this year more than any year before, each moment is the beginning of traditions we will refine through the years.

The thanks has been given, the turkey's been cooked, its time to awake them from their summer slumber. The boxes are open. The decorations glisten. The small gazing eyes glimmer as the stockings emerge. The promise of wonder whispers into the room riding on Jack Frost's breath. I start spinning the tale of a man in a red suit with a belly of jelly and a laugh that bellows, "HO! HO! HO!" He flies through the night with his reindeer of eight as all the good children sleep. So behave and he will stop by our Christmas tree and bring you the gift you desire. To the mall, we go and see if we spy Old Kris Kringle so we can bend his ear. Dear Santa, my friend, can you bring me doll? A baby for my no longer "baby" girl. As we drive home, I begin to sing how all-knowing Santa watches, my daughters smile for more. Singing carols, hoping for snow with mugs of hot chocolate milk. The stars of heaven begin to fall to earth and sparkle around town. From the warmth of our car, we will admire our neighbors who are spreading holiday cheer with snow men that wave and Santas that fly and presents all in a row. I will tuck my kids in, kiss their foreheads and pray that the sugarplums they dream of are dripping with sugar while I run around sprinkling magic snow that does not melt and hope that my HO! HO! HO!s will not be too loud.

What kind of Santa am I? I am hoping I am the jolliest, the most magical one around. I am in a long line of proud Santas and one day, she will think of me when she asks herself, "What kind of Santa am I?"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lurking all around me

Life is good. I truly believe it. As I have written before, I believe people to be good and generally, misunderstood. They usually are motivated for the right reasons, but can fail in their execution to convey it to others. There are some who cannot see the beauty of the human spirit, perhaps from pain or from fear, but they do not see what I see and they lurk all around me.

No matter what the moment, no matter what the time... they appear... in many different shapes and sizes. Whether its the person who preaches the country is falling apart, the person who claims that no one is able to understand or that people are generally gullible and dumb... you try your best to recruit me, but I just smile to myself and think, I'm glad I see through a different set of lenses. Mine may be tinted a shade of rose, but they are clear and my eyes are open... I just see it differently.

Perhaps people are generally unaware, but there is so much to know how can one know it all. What is important to one, is insignificant to another. The cross you bear is heavy, and perhaps heavier than the next, but what is light as a feather for one, to another is as heavy as a brick. Does only one deserve help? Every moment has more than one meaning.... did she just say hello or did she have an agenda? Are others there to annoy you or enrich your life? Is she mean or is she just scared that no one will like her so she cuts to the chase? Does a moment define a person? What is better for one is not necessarily better for another? In the end, what does it matter? Your ability has no bearing on mine, your possessions, no reflection of me. Some one always has less, some one always has more. At times, I seem to encounter those who are competing for worst life ever or even perhaps, best. I wish I had a pocket full of trophies just to make their day. Perhaps they could then see.

Fuzzy little bunnies do not bounce around my feet and rainbows do not shine over every place I go, but I strive to be positive and to share that energy with others. When I encounter some one who doesn't see things quite the way I do, I try my best to smile and maybe show them another way. Its not about being right, its about being happy. I hope my daughters can see the good in people and the beauty in life and not understand a lurkers point of view.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Thought of You

When I awoke this morning, you were apart of me. We shared a future. I could feel the depth of your presence, the hope of your smile and the desire to protect you. When I drifted off in thought, I could imagine our first moments together, how you felt, how you smelled... the beginning of our journey together and the final piece of my heart in place. Everything just felt right... everything fell in place... the unknown brought excitement of each adventure we would share. But, as I fall asleep tonight, I realize you were just a dream, perhaps now apart of my past or future yet to come, but not in the fabric of my present. With darkness, comes the knowledge that it won't be you... for just a moment, I ache for the thought of you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Mother's Mother

As the second of thirteen grandchildren, I was blessed with time. My mother was the oldest of six and her youngest sibling was an uncle at ten. I remember my grandmother when her family was still young and most still living at home. I was blessed with witnessing my grandmother in her youth and spent many years with a woman who died well before her time. Shortly after she held her last grandchild for the first time, she became an eternal story.

For some reason, I cannot separate the ideals of the 1950s and my impressions and memories of Grandma. She was a lady. She was always dressed well. Even in a jogging suit, she looked so put together. She had her hair set by the salon and slept in hair nets to keep it in place. Her hair was usually a deep red to brown, her eyes were green. It was short, but wavy. Her make-up was always done. Her nails were usually manicured. She wore pearl nail polish. She was conservative in dress... a silk shirt, slacks, nice shoes and plenty of gold jewelery. She was fit and conscious of her figure. She always smelled nice and her skin was always soft. She prided herself on how young she looked and when we walked to church, she would joke that people thought she was my mother not my grandmother. She was gentle and not. She was a great cook and doting wife. Quite sassy and opinionated. She would quickly tell me if my shirt was not of her taste, but she loved me. We made cookies every Christmas and we had matching aprons. I remember pressing Hershey kisses in cookies, red and green sprinkles, but especially the anisette cookies she made. Even after she passed, we all had lots of cookies for months.

I lived in the same town as her until about high school and across the street until I was five. We ate dinner at her house every Sunday. In the Summer, the menu included fresh crabs, swims in the pool and making flower necklaces with the white flowers from the grass. Her sister lived in the house behind hers. We knew every one on the block. The town was mostly Italian and you would have never guessed that my grandmother was born a Dutch Protestant, not a literal Roman Catholic. Her house was always immaculate. The carpets always soft and clean. Everything was blue except the basement that was red. She had statues of elephants, I often wondered if it was due to her own liking of elephants or the fact that my grandfather was a Republican councilman. When she would babysit me, she would give me special treatments. She would bathe me, rub either Nivea or special perfumed lotion on me, wrap my hair in a towel, hug me and later, tuck me in. Sometimes, I was tucked in between my Uncle Dean and my brother... I didn't know how lucky I was.

I can still hear her laugh. She loved life. Her laugh was infectious, her smile constant. It was a little like a cackle, but it was hers and it made me smile. It has been so long since I have seen her, but when I close my eyes, I can feel her there. The Christmas before she fell ill, I was twenty years old. I was talking to her about marriage and kids and life. She turned to me and told me that when I met the man for me that I would know. She had told me years ago that she knew my father was the one for my mother. I believe her to be right or maybe, she trained me to be a hopeless romantic. She loved my grandfather. This Thanksgiving my cousin reminded me how thankful I am to have these memories and so much more. I just figured I would share my images of her.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A message for a friend...

Women are well-known for their capacity to feel. There are moments when the depth of these emotions are almost intolerable. When things are so heightened, only another woman would understand the impact of hormones surging. The exaggeration of the mundane, swirled with increased sensitivity, dancing together and disrupting your perception of reality. The insignificant suddenly significant. As mother's, we are not used to paying any mind to ourselves and at times, we are forced to pause.

I know you have been going through a lot lately. You have been feeling out of control in your own mind. Remember, this too will pass. In a few years from now, you will look back and this will be much less significant. It will become just part of the path instead of a huge stumbling block you must endure. I know you have been on edge. Worried about the world around you. Rest assured, you have been crazier inside yourself than to us. Don't worry, your extra screaming fits and almost tantrums have been noticed, but, it will pass. You are more funny than annoyed. More happy than sad. You are more compassionate than intolerant. Much more patient than not. And have more hope than despair. You are more than just a few moments of insignificant time. Do not worry about what other people think. Those who love you know this is just a moment in time. Those who don't, do not have a true understanding of who you are, so, why value their misinformed perception?

Ride the wave and rest assured that you will be on land once again. You will be yourself and reclaim your emotions. You may even feel embarrassed for the heights and depths of your ride, however, we have all been there at one time or another. It was just your turn. The details of our journeys may vary, but we share the journey together. We share the experience of woman.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lord of the Flies

When I was in high school I had to read the "Lord of the Flies." The story of a plane crash on a deserted island where the survivors are from a boys school. It is about the evolution of the boy's behavior as time passed and the instinct starts to rev up. After reading the story, the teacher asked us to write an essay about whether or not humans were innately good or evil. Over the years, I often think of this question.

This really cuts to the chase. It represents your basic belief or assumption about the very nature of people. Do you believe at their core that their motivation is for good or evil? But there's another component to that decision, what do you consider to be good and what do you consider to be evil? These answers will be different for each person. Shaped and molded through personal experience, religious frameworks, stories heard through the years, what your parents have taught you. Its is your story. The story you tell of people.

To me, people are animals. We try our best to get along because together we can achieve more and with more, we can provide. We seek to provide for ourselves and our children, so, we may live. We have an amazing survival instinct. When we feel, we have been threatened or we need to take action to survive, we do what's necessary to accomplish that... in other words, if it becomes a you or me situation, then, I will hopefully be the one standing. Is that evil? In high school, I determined it was. Today, I know that a desire to survive may cause us to do horrific things, but one act does not define one's character. I believe that the humans connect with others and thrive most frequently. I believe people are good. I know for the rest of my life. I will reflect on this question and see how its changed. Never underestimate the power of a teacher.

Monday, October 25, 2010

To My Husband

In my youth, I saw glimpses of you. Flashes of moments. A gentle touch. A loving look. We sang. We danced. We loved. Together, we shared the world. I thought you were a fairy tale spun by the imagination of a hopeful child. A prince charming concoction in a real world where the frogs do not transform and the silver lining is laced with lead. Until I met you...

You made no promise. You just took my hand and walked with me. As we traveled our path, I fell in love with your perspective... the way the world looked in your eyes. In my most visceral of states, you are compelled to my essence. You allow me to be essentially me while allowing our spirits to eternally entwine, my team mate, my soul mate, my counterpoint. Two complementary parts which are given a deeper meaning through their combination. The comfort I find in your arms allows me to wear tinted lenses that draw the sunshine out of the darkness and give me faith that the weather is more sunny than storms.

When I see our daughter's determination, her steady personality or perhaps in her glance, I know she will be amazing because she is part you. Thank you being exactly you and loving exactly me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Semantic Animal

Can an animal be human? Do you see the irony of this question?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal

Definition of ANIMAL
1: any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation


This definition identifies the composite structure of an animal. This structure unifies all complex creatures: our need for nourishment, interaction and ability to engage in the world around us. The definition implies similarity versus exclusion, however, if you continue reading, the conflict of the human spirit emerges. The human species had the ability to think hypothetically, to reflect upon one's being. We have unique languages which we use to convey impressions and thought. We do so in an effort to connect and create shared understandings with other. Each word is carefully selected in an effort to match the essence of our impressions with the perceived meaning of the word we chose to represent it. This allows humanity to discuss what is not directly in front of us with people who are nowhere near us. However, inherent in any selection is the process of choice: deciding what is the most important components of your message. The dictionary is a source where speakers of a language can go to clearly determine the socially accepted use of a particular word. It aligns a word with relative ideas to try to convey a clear vision. We understand this explicitly with artistic word creations like poetry, novels, movie dialogues, public speeches.... but we fail to understand the beauty of every day speak and the impact of our word choice on how we view this world.

2a : one of the lower animals as distinguished from human beings b : mammal; broadly : vertebrate
3 : a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also : this nature


Differentiation. Since we can talk about ourselves and reflect on our behavior, humans can express how we're different from others. Based on our focus, we imply a preferred way of being. An implied value structure that society has more or less agree upon. Would you agree that generally high is better than low? That we would prefer to be at the apex than at the bottom? Is it coincidence that our science has developed a structure in which humans appear at the top and all other creatures are lower? Value for self is a value for life. Since we are capable of thinking, would it not be "rational" for you to share this perception? The main function of your being is to live physically, so you can live essentially, emotionally through interaction with others. Rational? Does that not imply a thought process free of emotion? Is emotion not an inseparable part of the human experience? By denying our physical being, the wellspring of human emotion, are we truly defining human? From the moment of birth, we are immediately faced with overcoming our own natural state.

It is within the intricate, evolving, reflective use of language that we can examine the human species, but you need to redefine the basic assumption about animal. The human cannot be separated from in physiology since our engagement in the world involves our physical being. By embracing our instinctual drive and physiological processes, we can begin to truly understand the motivation of language. Therefore, to be human is only flawed because have defined it to be so.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Measure of a Person

What is a person, but the culmination of their experiences. We are but animated substance. No one would argue the intricate miracle of our design, however, is it not the actions of that design which create its essence. It is our behavior, our actions which create our legacy. A legacy is what we put into this world. Forget trying to evaluate specific actions, go beyond that layer and peer into the world through my eyes. When your body is motionless and revealed for the imperfect vessel it is, when your spirit is no longer present, the spirit can only live on through the human connection and the tangible artifacts left behind.

I realized today while I was walking for you, trying to be healthy for you, that if I was not here tomorrow, would you know who I was? Sure, you would hear stories. I have heard those stories. The main character is I, but I do not see life through the same looking glass. How would you know who I am if I do not tell you? All of this information and thoughts in my head and it is just fleeting if I do not impart that knowledge to you. In the grand scheme of things, there is an insignificance to my thoughts, but not to you. I need to share as much with you as I can TODAY because that is how I will shelter you when I am gone. I do not expect to shape your perception of this world. Rather, I want to share mine. How are you to understand the beauty of your design and impact on my world if I do not tell you?

The only way my spirit will live on with you after I am gone is if I share my spirit with you today.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who puts cactus in their yard anyway?

There was a study I read which discussed how the structure of a home has changed as the concept of community has evolved. Before people had modern modes of communication, they were only able to connect with people in close proximity to them. So, they built homes which faced towards a main connection or street with open porches to facilitate these neighborly interactions. As technology evolved, community was no longer just those who lived in close proximity... we began to enclose our porches. This made me think if home style can serve as an indicator of community then, can landscaping serve as an indication of home owner personality or eagerness to be social?

There is a house that I walk past every night which has cactus on its boundary. I live in a suburb of NYC, not Phoenix. The cactus is so abundant that it spills out on the sidewalk. You have to sashay aside and worry if your dog is piercing its paws on this thorny carpet. It might have been the design of the previous owner, but whoever chose this design, what message are you sending to your neighbors? Do you think it makes your neighbor warm and fuzzy? Does it seem like a welcoming addition to your landscape? If it does appeal to you, what exactly appeals to you? When I was younger and noticed houses bordered in thorn bushes, I felt that the owners were clear that visitors should beware. Perhaps I am complicating a simple issue of water consumption in relation to available time for maintenance, but really.... who puts cactus in their yard anyway?

Realizing Me

Where is your blog? Hmmm... not sure. Thank you for noticing. Sometimes you feel like your ranting to yourself. Where did it go? I told myself that I was going to focus the summer on my girls. They are only young once and I want to live in the moment not write about it. Yet, I love to write. How could I rationalize that writing would in any way detract from my enjoyment first hand? I do have to admit with 2 children under four it is very hard to write, but I have so much to say... doesn't take very long. What was the reason? I opened up the blog and saw it glaring like bright red paint on a white wall. Where was I in the blog? I am a mother and I am searching for my identity, but where was I?

I guess I felt like a student in a creative writing class who loved free writing, but was constrained by the class objectives. I felt limited by the theme of motherhood, probably because I felt constrained by the role of motherhood. The negotiation of the role of mother is so overwhelming at times that it overshadows the other roles I have (daughter, sister, friend, wife, teacher) which are also inextricably part of who I am. To me, self is ever changing. Self is the culmination of your experiences, relationships, perceptions, values from which emerges your concept of mother. The one to which you strive to be and evaluate your successes and in turn, your failures. The concept changes as you change. It does not just emerge from you experiences as mother, rather it emerges from your experiences in each of your roles. Therefore, in order to discuss "Mother," you need to discuss the whole woman and the world in which she occurs.

Can't you just feel the difference? I am a mostly stay at home mom who has an alter ego. My alter ego is a college adjunct professor. I go from dealing with the low level concepts of a four year old to the higher cortical conversations of the college classroom in a matter of moments. It has a profound effect on my perception of the world around me. It is part of what makes me imperfectly me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June Cleaver

For some reason when I picture "mother," I picture a well-manicured, even-tempered, intelligent woman. She has poise and grace and is surrounded by calm as opposed to chaos. A woman who is self-assured and knows what her children need. She can almost foretell the needs of those around her. Her home is tidy, her children always clean and well-behaved and her husband has a smile.

The moment I earned the title mother, it was like a beacon of light shone through every crack and flaw in my perception of mother and my perception of self. There were places where they overlapped, but mostly I saw flaws. I now realize they weren't flaws. Perhaps, I decided that I would prefer not to emphasize perfection and focus on quality of life. Other times it highlighted areas where I was living up to my fullest potential and allowed me to face and confront my complacency. Once in a while it highlighted my strengths and purpose.

Each day I try my best to be the best person I can be for my girls. They will look to me and learn how to deal with this big complicated world. I am loud and sometimes yell, but I am loving and deep and all-accepting of my girls. I am strong, yet flawed, but embrace my flaws or strive to change. I do not define myself through other people, but through my own eyes which empowers me to be free. Although chaos surrounds me, life is good and I cherish every moment. I don't want to show them June... I would rather show them me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poo Happens

Things that happened in the bathroom were once a non-thought... automatic, private. I had never been pooped on and I never even thought of another person's private moment. Fast forward to present and I am a poo aficionado and yes, I am going to talk about it!

My first child began my relationship with poo immediately... has she had her first poo? Did her poo begin to change color? Yes, poo colors. Babies begin with tar-poo, then if breastfed, yellow, seedy, loose poo. I have seen a baby shoot poo 3 feet across a room. I have worn it on my hair and thankfully, never on my face. Wiping poo stimulates more poo and elevated hineys create a perfect launching ground for jet propelled poo. The introduction of solid foods demonstrated to me the effect of the food we eat on poo. The older the child gets and the more food variety, the grosser the diaper. You learn that you have more diapers to change if they eat certain foods and may even avoid food for its effect on poo. Potty training brings the dynamic of teaching poo etiquette, more poo talk and new poo on butt concerns. Watching as some one poos and giggling as she grunts and pushes no longer gross... now, kinda funny. Is the poo solid? Is it soft? How many times a day? Is she consistent? What has my world become?!?!

There was a time this post was beyond my comprehension. I would have scoffed at the person who felt the need to talk about poo. What a gross topic, I would have thought. However, now I know, its not my fault that this is such a part of my life... poo happens.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time Flies

It's funny. Most of the time you hear me say how I am "just getting used to being a Mom" or "adjusting to my new role." However, my husband brought up kindergarten the other day and it began to conjure all of these emotions inside of me...

Three years has just passed by... I cherished every moment... savored even the stressful times, but they still flew. She just arrived yesterday, but I know how fast the past three years have went... the next two will move just as fast... I will be walking her to kindergarten tomorrow. Where did time go? It all goes so fast. My little baby is a "big girl" and I am becoming a veteran mother of 2. I am not a new mommy any more, but yet, I still have no clue... I guess I never will. I mean I may know what its like to have an infant or a toddler, but not a kindergartener, but then again, I am getting ahead of myself... still 2 years away.

The rush of emotions made me face that even cherished moments are fleeting and to do my best to enjoy every moment. In the moments of extreme stress, breathe because its only moments... it will be over soon. Focus on the good times. Make the most of life. Get rid of stress... decompress and enjoy the ride.

The Good Days

All days are good days if you can see the beauty in them. This past weekend my family and I went to a fair in the town where I grew up. Walking down the main street was strange... I remember so vividly walking the same street when I was my daughter's age. Times have changed and now, I am the mother pushing the stroller and saying hello to old friends.

I remember when life was new. I remember seeing through my young eyes. It reminded me of the good times... of walking to church with my grandmother, Sunday dinners and the neighbors on the block. A time so far away yet, so vivid. The memories of a great childhood.

Becoming a mother definitely changed my role in the world. I am now the mother and my mother, the grandmother. Times passes quick and my childhood may be a myriad of warm memories, but now is the time I am making those memories for my daughters. Memories that they will reflect on as they transition to adulthood. The good days.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chatterbox

My daughter has always been a competent communicator. Others worried (& made me worry)about her being at a twelve-month ability by almost 2 years old, but deep down, I wasn't worried. She fully understood what I said and responded, not verbally, but no one ever wondered what she wanted or needed. She just preferred to be of few words. Then one day, right after her sister was born, the chatterbox emerged.

It is amazing to listen to your child talk. You spend all of this time with them, but every day you learn a little more about them. My daughter is sweet and kind. She is polite. These are qualities that are not form me. Sure I tell her to say please and thank you, but she uses them. She asks if I am OK after I fall and if I am happy when she thinks I am sad. She tells me her favorite color is purple. Sure, she is a little indecisive as she switches between orange and green and purple, but she always seems to be drawn back to purple. She is attracted to things that sparkle and princess dresses, but will dig in her sandbox, push her trucks and fly her planes while wearing a tiara. My daughter is empathetic. If she thinks she has hurt me, she quickly says I'm sorry. She is amazed with flowers and bugs and thinks string beans are worms.

There was a time that I wondered what was behind those eyes, now, I can't wait to hear more. There is a draw back to this new stage... she doesn't understand secrets, parrots my truck driver language and expresses her opinion at every opportunity, however, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love to hear what she loves and how she thinks and who she is. This is what its all about, getting to know my lil' chatterbox.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beyond Motherhood

Sometimes I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror and I wonder who that woman is. Tired, unkempt, rounder than I remember, but yet, that's me. The person I was is the person I think I should see, but its not the woman I am. She is different, older and wiser, yet not quite what I envisioned.

There was a time I awoke and immediately showered. A time when I worried how my hair was done and never left the house without make-up. My body was never perfect, but now things just sag and jiggle marked with silver lines. No longer are the days when I put on a bra and didn't have to lift my boob in and adjust it so it rested as if it was still perky hidden underneath an old ratty bra.

What happened to the woman who reveled in the latest fashion? Who wore a new hairstyle every month? Where did all the passion for make-up go? When did I become this frumpy old woman and how do I recapture time?

Does every new mother get lost for some time? They say that good mothers suffer from focusing on others. That we become so consumed by the daily grind that we forget to take care of ourselves. I am going to spend some time on myself so maybe when I look in the mirror I recognize who I see.

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one?

I feel like every one around has figured it out... they seem to know what their doing. I want the best for my kids and I strive to be the best I can be but I just can't seem to do what "they" do.

How do they know what to cook for dinner and have meal prepared every night? How do they manage all of those coupons and sales and know how to catch a bargain? I am a mostly stay at home mom who just can't seem to find the ability to master the simple skills. How do they keep the dust from gathering in the corners of every wall or from hanging like streamers from you ceiling fan? How do they keep the pet hair from becoming tumble weeds across their floor which aren't nearly as dusty as mine? How do keep more clean clothes in their drawers than dirty ones piled on the floor? How do they keep the toys from littering every room? How are their floors not littered with shredded paper and toilet paper confetti? How do they budget their money and even save? How do they look so kept and showered? How do they manage it all?

Some even go beyond the basics and do away with their paper plates and paper napkins and do conveniences that keep me sane? How do they work or study and keep afloat? How do they even manage clothe diapers and homemade baby foods? How do they have the energy to exercise, be healthy and live vice-free lives?

Most days, I am proud of everything I do and how well I do it. Some days, I just look around and wonder how I can do more. Maybe the better questions is how do they hide it so well. I can't be the only one.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Living


"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." Oscar Wilde

I saw the quote above and it struck me as most profound. What did he mean? What does it mean to me? Why does it strike my very soul.

My mind's eye envisions people stuck in the routines of their day... immersed in the struggles that grace life... losing sight of the beauty in life. I pictured me at times. How does one live as opposed to exist? I think I see the answer in the eyes of my children.

Years have flashed by in my life, I don't think I ever took the moment to savor it or understand the importance of each moment. The significance of time changes the moment my first was born. The first time I laid eyes on her I realized that my mother was once presented with me. Years ago, I was once just as vulnerable. I was once brand new. I promised myself that I would do my best to make each day count and do my best to make memories for her and I. It was a sober realization that this time was limited and that each day that passed she would be one day older. Every time I look at her and say, "wow, she is so big," I remember that this is the littlest she'll ever be. Each day I get to know her a little more. With every word, I get to see her personality unfold. She reminds me of how amazing dinosaurs are, the pure laughter from tickling and the beauty in every day life. The magic that surrounds us that I never quite noticed before she came into my life. She makes me realize that I want as many of these moments as I can have.

There are still moments I catch myself just existing. Parenting is a daunting task. I become overwhelmed and become a buoy on the ocean. Then I remember to just keep swimming because life is good. She reminded me of how to live and I don't ever want her to lose sight of that truth.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Brain Drain


When I first became pregnant, I began to notice it. The inability to function the way I once did. I just couldn't remember small details... information would hit my ears, enter my brain and evaporate into thin air. My friends would say, "Its placenta brain." All the pregnancy hormones were messing with my brain function and one day, I would have it all back. Countless times, I lost my keys, my shoes...forgot names, numbers, appointments. I would think to myself...just a few more months.

It never seemed to get better. It changed its name to "Mommy brain." No longer able to function at 50% capacity, I am on 100% all times. Between running my house, my job and managing my kids, I can actually feel my brain exhaust itself as each day progresses. I now write things down, text myself, ask others to remind me of things, all in an effort to regain some control. By the end of most days, I find myself literally shutting down and going blank if just for 5 seconds trying to recharge the small mental energy I have left.

I hear stories from those who have been down my path that it gets better. One day the kids get older and the world slows down. I'm not sure I believe them for I have heard the legends of menopause and the fun that is to come... little did I know the moment of conception would forever make me a little less competent :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ruby Red Slippers


My daughter was handed down a pair of ruby red slippers from her cousin. From the moment I saw the shoes, I was taken over the rainbow to a place where roads are yellow, scarecrows talk and lions are far from ferocious. Witches are good and bad, houses fly and horses are of a different color. Where lollipop men sing songs, monkeys fly and a bucket of water is the most powerful weapon. I was taken back to a time in my life when movies are windows into a world that could truly exist and yearn to be apart of them.

The moment my daughter saw them her eyes widened and glimmered with the recognition that these shoes were special. She put on a dress and I braided her hair... little did she know the enjoyment it gave me to create my own little Dorothy. She loved how they sparkled and how every one told her how beautiful they were. She seemed lighter in her step and won't take them off.

A simple pair of shoes, a shared moment in time where we were both children excited by the pretty red shoes. There really is no place like home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The best of both Worlds

Not quite a stay at home mom (SAHM), and not quite a working mom... I can have it all right?

Years before ever having a child, I wanted to stay home with my kids. I did not want to miss all of the little things that pass by so quickly. I soon realized that staying home wasn't really up to me. Could we afford it? How would we manage? Could we sacrifice enough? Luckily, I was able to stay at home for the first months of my children's lives. I starting working while each was approx. 6 months.

Those first months taught me a lot about the challenges of being a SAHM. Nobody values your time. They see you as always free when it is really quite the opposite. People are always commenting about how much or little you are able to accomplish and how they feel about it... as if they are giving you an employee review. It gets lonely. Little problems can grow big because you are immersed in children. You pounce on your husband after work and beg him to fulfill your need for social interaction, but his fried brain always falls short. No time for anything, yet always free. You almost become an island... not quite sure where the water begins and you end.

My job is not the ordinary job. I work only 2 days a week, but the preparation for class follows me home. I am only out of the house for ten hours, but for hours, I have two jobs: mom & teacher. It is always a struggle the first days of the semester. I never want to leave my girls, but after the first day, I am thrilled to have a moment to myself. I am able to be myself, not Mom. I am able to actually meet and succeed challenges... not just manage the issues that never go away.

Having a foot in each door, makes me feel like I am master of none. My time away is tainted with guilt... home yet, work is still there keeping me away... my time at home tainted with guilt. Mothering is a 24 hour a day job. To add more to the table is daunting at best, but adding the complexities of work, makes me feel overwhelmed. I am lonely and consumed without having the time away from home. The time at home forever impacted by the job. Women try to have it all, yet we can never truly obtain it. We are only human. The best of both worlds is not really the best... but it is both worlds and for that I am blessed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What happened to the fairy tale?

There was a time when I didn't believe in fairy tales. I had kissed to many frogs and they stayed just that... frogs. Then, I met Prince Charming. He truly swept me off my feet and made me feel like Cinderella. We were passionate together... not perfect... we fought as passionately as we lived.We lived life fully and agreed when to take the next leap. Honeymooning in Disney even reaffirmed the reality of fairy tales. Then we decided to have kids.

Having the first child was stressful. We lost our spontaneity. We had a third party enter our lives and our bed. We adjusted slowly over the first year. It was a tag team event and both of us had some down time and moments of peace where it was just us. Then we decide, one more.

We now moved to man on man. He worked all day to come home and work all night. I worked all day to work all night. The fairy tale turned into a struggle for us to just be together. Marriages began to fall around us and I realized how you can take the wrong turn. Every belief is exposed, every value compared in the most stressful of environments. A new test await around every turn.

I still look at him and see why I fell in love. I have faith the fairy tale is still alive. The rose has thorns, but its the flower where we find the beauty. We may meet challenges along the way but its how we meet them and overcome them. We still have Prince Charming and Cinderalla and we are working towards our happy ending.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I refuse to give up

Its been weeks since I have written a thing and my first instinct is to walk away... to chalk this up to a venture that was "too much", but I refuse. Working part-time and raising 2 toddlers seems an impossible and daunting task on its own. Why would I even begin to try to add to my stress.

I started this blog for important reasons. As a person, I am driven by a sense of accomplishment. As a mother, accomplishment has very different meaning. I felt so alone. Everything I read was about the joys of motherhood, and it seemed as if I was the only one struggling. I needed to give myself a voice. A voice that stood strong and announced to the world that motherhood was joyous, but also stressful, crazy and at times lonely. I wanted others to know how I felt so in some way we could bear this journey together.

By trying to laugh through the hard times, the good times came quicker. However, falling prey to the every day and drowning in the tornado of life, left me once again silent, alone and doubting myself. Just as a pheonix rises from the ashes, this mother is going to rise from chaos and follow my heart. Here is to meeting that challenge!!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Does it really make a difference?

As a Mother, we make so many different decisions. There are so any ways to raise a child that we need to choose what is "best" for our child. Some decisions you make with absolute confidence. For other decisions, there is a voice deep in the back of a mother's mind that worries you that you may be wrong. It is a valid fear. Medical science is an evolution and its practitioners have varying ability and we, the mother, cannot be experts in everything... even though we try. Some times you may pass judgment on another mother for making different choices because you way is "best" or maybe you have received the judging tone of another mother... but in the end does it really make a difference?

Can you really tell who's mother bottle-fed and who's mother breastfed? Who walked at just a few months old vs. well past a year? Who spoke when or whose mother allowed junk food and who ate organic? Is it more important to nurture a life focus on enjoyment or a focus on restriction? Does the occasional indulging in rich foods and fast foods really make me a "bad" mother? Why does the mother who never slept with their child not understand the short lived beauty of going to sleep and waking with you child? In the end, the child grows up and will probably succeed just like the child who only sleeps in her own bed.

The world is a rich place that requires the need for all types of people. We need the logical minds of the scientists, the imagination of the art, the language of the teacher... a child becomes who she is by a simple and complex formula: Parenting + Genetics + Personality + Environment/Experience. Even the mistakes the parents make lend to the unique person we become. So, does it really make a difference?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Children do not come with manuals.

Through out your life, you will hear over and over that children do not come with a manual. Once again, the depth of this statement falls short on non-parental ears.

There are so many theories, so many opinions and so many different ways to be a "good" mom, however, they can contradict one another and cause confusion. Each parent is left on unstable ground trying to determine what path the will reflect on with pleasure. It is not as easy as... did your child have an enjoyable childhood instead you need to be concerned with whether you provided the right emotional, physical and psychological support to raise a well-adjusted person who can contribute to society. Wow! That's a lot of weight for a parent to bear especially since there are a million opportunities to fall short over a lifetime.

Right after birth decisions need to be made... When do you feed her? What do you feed her? How often should you feed her? Is it too much? Is it too little? Is it the right temperature? Is it colic? Is it her food? Is it my food choice? Should I burp her? Which way is best? Do you bicycle her legs or do you do leg lifts or does laying her on her tummy work for you? Do you give medicine? Which one? Or is there some remedy that works every time? What if it all works? What if none of it works? If she stops crying when I turn on the TV, am I hurting her? Every mouth shares its secret and you wonder how every one is such an expert on your little one who is perfectly her own. A small life unfolding before your very eyes and you just try your best to make the right choices along the way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Does anyone know how it all gets done?

Does anyone know how it all gets done? This is a double entendre and I mean it both possible ways.

Can some one please tell me how to accomplish every I need to accomplish? There are so many things I "should" do in one day. I have no idea how any one person actually accomplishes these things. I mean just bathing alone is a half of a day's project. Its not just trying to find a spare moment where I can shower. Its not that easy. The three year old has no concept of her strength. She has to cut off all air supply to her younger sister when she hugs her or grabs her face with brute hands to kiss her. She means well and it has sweet intentions, but the execution is all wrong. The 11 month old thinks she's spider woman but she does not have her super powers. I almost feel like night showering is my only option. Long are the days when I didn't have slept on hair. Then, to bathe both girls in that same day just seems like an act in futility. I'm lucky each of us showers every other day. How do other mother's bathe themselves, their children and get anything else done in one? Do they ever have moment's rest or am I just not doing this right? Do they have time to talk to friends and do enough that they feel content at the end of the day? Is there not a direct connection between how you feel and the tidiness of your house?

How do I accomplish everyting I accomplish in one day? I do so much every day. I am able to complete more things now than ever before becoming a mother (especially a mother of two.) I cannot believe that on some days I can actually do a few loads of laundry, the dishes, cook, clean up after the girls, clean up after my husband, clean up after myself... Before motherhood, I had a whole different sense of accomplishment. I went to work and the house stayed relatively clean because we weren't home. I loathes laundry Saturdays. We would go the the laundromat and make a day of it- a whole day outing just for laundry. In the past, I would hate every minute of it, but now, laundry is not a luxury and somehow the old laundry concept has a rosy shade. A sense of freedom and liberation like I at one time had enough time on my hands that a day dedicated only to my husband and myself and laundry was feasible. I am amazed at all the things I now complete in one day. I can get 2 under the age of 3 out the door and to the store or a play date by 10am, come home and clean, make dinner, clean up, take a shower or bathe the girls. Each of these things are are minimized by mere words since just dressing two children is a minor miracle. Any mother can relate. I am so proud of what I get done in one day.

Does anyone know how it all gets done?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm just along for the ride...

Three years ago right about now, my labor began with my first child. I didn't quite know it but those practice contractions were starting to move into "real" contraction and my journey was about to begin. I remember just wanting to meet her and hold her just to see what she looked like. Does she look like me? Is she as strong as she seemed while she was kicking my ribs? What did motherhood have in store? Hell, what did labor have in-store for me?

Nothing went as planned for me... she was a month early... born the Friday before my last Lamaze class. Labor pains weren't quite what I expected. I was able to go to sleep and wake up still wondering if I was in labor. There was no way to tell when one contraction ended and one began. How was I supposed to tell when I was supposed to go to the hospital? My water broke. I was by myself. My labor went from nothing to intense and I could actually feel her in my stomach. I drove myself to the hospital and delivered her shortly after arriving surrounded by coworkers (I worked in the hospital's HR at that time). I was too far a long for epidurals or any treatment, so, I had to deliver naturally. That was not apart of my plan!!!! She was supposed to be a February baby, my husband was supposed to be there and my coworkers were not supposed to know what my vagina looked like!

I didn't know it at the time, but this was the greatest introduction I could have had to motherhood. You can't control what's going to happen... you can only control how you react to it. No matter how you plan and prepare, something will happen that you could not plan for ahead of time. What "should" be is not what "will" be and that's OK. Even though my birth was not what I expected, it was my experience and I would not change it for the world. So when life starts making me feel like I'm trying to tame a wild horse, I just step back and remember, I'm just along for the ride....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Persistent Critic

There I was sitting in the Emergency Room's tiny pediatric waiting room with my 11 month old daughter. She fell and cut her lip...probably needs stitches and I'm holding steady. There's 2 other Mom's and their children both falls at school. My almost 3 year old daughter is doing her job and playing with the child size table and chairs in this small room. She's pushing and climbing and can't sit still. Trying to do everything and anything to keep them calm. Thankfully, my mother is there and we tag team the two of them. Oh look, there's hand sanitizer! You know how many germs have passed through this room and on these toys...Yuck! Come here girls... rub your hands! Then she speaks, "Did you hear about the little girl who was at preschool and ingested the hand sanitizer and became lethargic?" She strikes again... the critic!

She doesn't always look the same, but she sounds the same. She started coming around right after my first child was born. Since then she has let me know that she doesn't like babies ears pierced, she thinks my daughter's name is weird, she worries if I strapped my daughter into the shopping cart and whether or not I plan on reproducing any further. She always has my child's best interest in mind and always means well. She used to really bother me. I was so unsure of myself that I would let her get into my head. I would second guess my decisions... worry if I appeared to be a neglectful mother because I thought monitored use of hand sanitizer was OK.

Now I laugh and some times feel bad for she who needs to parent the world. Personally, I say... let her do it because I'm having a hard enough time raising my own children.

Friday, January 15, 2010

You want me to put that where????

Bumps and bruises and fevers and rashes.... a mother's role includes playing doctor to a myriad of ailments. Kids are germ-magnets. One virus rolls into another each one very different from the one before. Simple colds are not always so simple. Child viruses are so much worse than adult versions and everything you hold to be true for yourself... may or may not be true for you child. You are on a learning curve with your first child. You are always learning, always unsure and hoping it will all be OK. Yet as a rookie, you have to decide when to call the doctor, when not to call, is it a trip to the ER, should you vaccinate, WHAT IS THIS?????

To watch you child be injured or sick reveals another facet of your personality that you may not have known before that moment. How you think you will react may be in stark contrast to how you react. A relatively calm person can become hysterical in the face of a high fever or bloody injury on their child. This is a perfect description of me. Growing up, I broke bones, got stitches and had my mom on her toes. In natural progression, my children are keeping me on mine. I am only at the beginning of my journey yet, I have 2 ER visits under my belt, a dental emergency and countless trips to the doctor. Each "crisis" has taught me that my panic is based in my needs. My child needs me to be calm, assertive and confident that I will get the help she needs.

Its very different not being able to "just be." Before children, I could react however I felt: stomped my feet, screamed and yelled, cursed the world. As mother, however, I need to be self-controlled. I can feel the same emotions, but I have to manage how I displays it, so, they can learn to be confident in the face of crisis. Yet again, I look in the mirror and realize, I am not the child anymore.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just a quick trip to the store...no more

The sink is leaking. I need a new sprayer thing and since I am the mostly stay at home mom, it is my job to pick one up. This is easy... not! Its not the chore that is the problem. Its trying to accomplish it with young children. Every menial chore I used to take for granted has become a complex challenge I need to meet.

Trying to feed, dress, groom and brush the teeth of myself and 2 children, ages (almost) 3 and 11 months, takes most of the morning. I run one way; the 3 year old runs the other. I try to put on my shirt; the baby wants to be held. I say, "open your mouth." She refuses then, opens her mouth and I brush her teeth then, refuses to give up the tooth brush. I can't do my make-up except in the car because they want to play with my brushes and mascara... its easier to strap them in and give myself the minute before pulling out the driveway or go without it because anything that causes more stress has been slowly eliminated from my routine. There is no flat ironing my hair just a potential hazard for both children dancing around my legs. "Eat your breakfast!" "Sit down!" "Are you done?" "Don't throw the food on the floor." "No toys at the table." "Now you have bananas all over it." "Come here you need shoes." "Jacket." There isn't enough coffee in the world to prepare me for this.

Always running late. Always chaos. If I don't get out in the morning, we run into lunch time which is followed by nap time. I refuse to interrupt nap time because no nap may be good for the schedule but horrible for the sanity. Nobody (except those with toddlers) understand why you are only available in the mid-morning for a few hours... its because those are the good hours. The hours that cause you the least amount of stress. The moments when the girls are best behaved. No longer is it just running out of the house for a minute or just a quick stop at the store. You need to pull both out of their car seat and put both in the shopping cart. Only a seat for one... the other cannot walk... I guess that's what the basket is for... screw the warning...LOL

I know one day I will miss all this noise. Once day, the quiet will be as deafening as this noise is, but for today, I pray for a moment's peace and a quick trip to the store.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Human Animal

Participating in the whole reproductive process has changed the way I perceive myself. I mean how can you not get in touch with the "human animal" when your body has created, birthed and sustained life. It is a enormous process which we have given such a wealth of meaning, yet, it is also the one thing we share with the creatures that surround us. Humans tend to separate themselves from other animals as if we are superior, however after milking myself, I cannot deny my sisterhood with the dairy cow.

There is something so primal about looking into the eyes of your newborn child. They are so small, so fledgling. A newborn is vulnerable, but has great will to live. She can communicate immediately when she is uncomfortable or hungry. When you remove all voluntary movement as you see in a newborn, you really see the essential human. This sight brings on a surge of emotion, the maternal instinct: the raw part of you that wants to protect, feed and nurture your child. These emotions may also be combined with fear, anxiety and nausea due to the gravity of that responsibility, however, you realize in yet another way how you are part of a process that began before you and will continue well after you.

Young children remind us of the baby gorillas in the zoo which is why both my children were nicknamed "monkey". Exploring the world, making everything a toy, hanging onto their mama, and just as we are, mama is right there to protect her child from the bad things to which she is blissfully unaware. The mother gorilla appears strong and cares tenderly for her young. I identify with her image and feel an animal connection in our shared experience as mothers. I also empathize that she can't hide her floppy boobs with a good bra.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sleep, elusive sleep

Life is so starkly different after having a child that parents have clear recollections of things they "took for granted" before and feel overwhelming compulsions to share it with expecting parents. I, myself, have been guilty of this. The one I heard most often was, "get some sleep now because you'll never sleep again." Now being the lover I sleep I am, I did take their advice and rested as often as I wanted during my pregnancy and made sure I was well-rested every night especially in the end just in case this was the night. I knew and believed that there would be changes in my sleep, but never did I fathom how much my relationship with sleep would change.

Infants sleep whenever they please. You may be under the false impression that you can create a schedule. Infants sleep every few hours and if your lucky, those hours will coincide with "normal" sleeping hours. They decide when they sleep not you. Your introduction to this new sleep pattern is like being dropped into ice water... it quite a shock to the system, you might get used to the change in temperature over time, but your body will not be as effective because the change put you in survival mode. Your emotions become heightened, you can't seem to remember the littlest task, you literally feel yourself going insane... now, add in the home and parenting responsibilities you must juggle all the while not seeming utterly insane to the outside world.

No wonder most mother's have a uniform of sweat pants and hair in a constant pony tail. We do not have the mental energy to pick out an outfit or set our hair besides its only a matter of time before someone with ketchup hands decides to hug me or vomit on me. So, when I hear a childless person say, I stayed in bed all day... I can't help myself, but to say, "enjoy it now because one day, you'll miss it."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can the real two year old please stand up?

As I'm folding clothes, we're singing, "Old MacDonald." She's running around, going from one toy to the next while watching what I do. Once in while she comes over to help, pulls a shirt out of the hamper, rolling it around but putting them back. I am getting excited by the growing pile of neatly folded shirts... "wow," I think, " I'm accomplishing something!" Out of the corner of my eye, she moves so fast, I barely can process what is happening, my child pulls the entire pile of folded clothes down for like the millionth time in her short lifetime in an effort to "help" Mama fold Dada's shirts. SILENCE.

There I stand face to face with my child. My eyes are narrowed, my blood pressure is high and my face is clearly agitated. I stomp my feet and scream, "No, no, no! I just folded that... I hate folding clothes, I can't believe I have to do it all again. I hate double work. You always make me do double work. That was naughty, naughty, naughty," all the while wagging my finger at her. She looks at me, the giggling subsides as she realizes my fury. Her face freezes and all of her energy is on thought... she then holds up her finger, wags it back & forth stomps her feet and with the most angelic of smiles and sings, "Naughty, naughty, naughty, no help Mama."

She was making fun of me. I was totally having a tantrum~ no different from the many she has thrown. I wanted control in an uncontrollable situation. She had no clue that she wasn't helping me by throwing the clothes on the floor and crumpling them. That's what she thinks I do. She doesn't understand how jealous I am of her carefree existence (lol) while I have to do these chores. She has no clue that this is my most hated chore. In that moment, I am not an understanding rationale adult who is trying to teach a lesson... I am a 2 year old upset I did not get my way...

This was not the first time nor the last time there was a battle of the 2 year old wills. I try to remember I am the adult. Before my grandmother passed, she told me, "never make it a battle of wills, they'll always win; outsmart them." I realize now what she meant was if you fight a 2 year trying to act like a 2 year old, the 2 year old wins. However, outsmarting them isn't very easy... its not easy being the mature one.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Pet Demotion

Everywhere I went, my dogs would come with me. They would stick their heads out my back windows while drool splatted on my windows and exterior. The hair they shed formed a sheet over my back seat. They were my babies. I bought the most expensive foods and gushed on them daily. When I heard my closest friend curse her pets, I would laugh at her and tell her to relax. She would say, "Wait until you have kids." I would think to myself, "NO WAY!, I'm not like her. I love my dogs. Nothing will ever change the way I feel about my dogs." I had 2 cats, 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 parakeets and a Rabbit. I loved my animals... there was no way a baby would change that fact.

Shortly after we brought my daughter home from the hospital, I became super aware of how everything in my home was covered in hair. I could see each strand floating in the air dancing in the beams of sunshine pouring into the house. Dust appeared in the corners of my house, on my walls and hanging from the ceiling fan. It was always there, but now, now it is all I could see. The noise of the birds which used to settle me and ma ke me happy, now, grate at my nerves due to the lack of sleep and I just want a little peace just a moment of quiet! The dogs, which were large breed dogs, seemed to grow a million pounds and the house seemed to shrink in size. They were every where I didn't want them to be exactly when I didn't want them to be there. I cleaned, everything returned...

Caring for children is exhausting. There is no break... you need no additional duties, but yet you need to care for the animals too. Remembering to feed them actually becomes a challenge. The once daily walks or quality time turns into a nod in their direction. You resent them for all the extra work they bring to you... they become the reason you need to at least vacuum once a day~ the source of extra vomit, urine and stool. The animals you once kissed and loved maybe even dressed up and took everywhere become time and energy consumers who remind you with their pathetic eyes that you are not the same friend you once were. The friend you would like to be,
but just are not capable. Things have changed. Instead of judging others, you understand.

My oldest child smiled at our dogs before she smiled at her parents and even "talked" to the cats earning the nickname, "the Cat Whisperer" before her first word. Our pets enrich their lives, however, my friend was right... the relationship is not quite the same. I curse at them daily.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Legacy of Motherhood

Before motherhood, I never gave much thought to life... the larger picture... the historical significance of motherhood and family. My parents were once as clueless as I am and my grandparents and every preceding generation.

I often find myself looking at my children and thinking, "Wow! I'm a Mom!" Each time it sinks deeper and deeper into my bones. Deeper and deeper into my identity, my sense of self. As it does, I am finally able to see through the eyes of those who came before me. Memories of baking cookies with my grandmother no longer seem like just a good time, but also gain rich meaning. We were making not just memories, but lessons in who she was and how my mother came to be who she is and how that has trickled down to me. My actions gain historical significance and importance. I will pass to my children the values of our family... the strength of the women before her... the women who shaped me.

No longer do I perceived myself as an island, but as a important link in the people who walked this earth paving the way for me and how I will pave the way for my children and the children they will raise. It is through our children that we will live forever just as those who came before us live through us.

Your parents do not seem so far removed, you realize your mother and father were some one's child. A child who had to navigate life just as you, who had to bear the weight of their own crosses and did the best they were capable of doing. You hope to learn from their mistakes, but realize the humanity in those mistakes. The paradigm had shifted... you are the parent, they are now grandparents and you begin to recognize your significance in the circle of life. My role of mother has helped me to find part of the meaning of life, my life. Just as I am part of the legacy handed down to my parents, my children are the key to my impact on this world, my legacy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The default setting

Just as you expect the sun to rise at dawn, there are inherent expectations of a mother.

The day after my first birth my midwife told my husband that this was going to be an emotional transition for me. She wisely said that I may grow to resent all the changes in my life and that his routine will stay relatively the same. At the time, he seemed to understand the dynamic... I thought...nah! & here I am.

Her words ring so much clearer to me now than they did in the haze following child birth and I think of them often. I am the default caretaker... the one who hides in the bathroom praying for peace. The one who works all day but yet, accomplishes nothing.

Nobody recognizes that most days there is some laundry done, the kids are changed, the dinner is cooked, the myriad of toys that once laid on the floor are picked up, but of course, new toys or even the same toys are strewn across the floor. Some days no chores are accomplished because because one of them is teething or has entered the new milestone of separation anxiety. Showers become luxuries yet, if asked what I did today... showering just doesn't receive the accolade it truly deserves. How can I articulate this stress to him. He has never had to accomplish any task while caring for his children. He actually believes you can actually be on the computer all day while home with the kids.

The moment he walks through the door. Mommy needs a moment to regroup from the day, and at the same time, he needs to "unwind" from the day as well. It becomes a challenge over who deserves a minute of peace. If he is tired, he naps. If he wants a few hours in the morning, he takes it. I am the one who rises at the crack of dawn with two children who happen to not understand mommy is not a morning person. If he needs to get something done, he does it, but if I need something done, I need to coordinate it with his schedule. We're not talking about sitting on FB or writing this blog, but cleaning up after dinner. Men seem to have the freedom at will and woman are assumed to be the primary caregivers whose every job includes the addendum of caring for the brood.

"I worked all day for you. I just want a moment." So, do I. "I would love to stay home and play with kids all day," to any other mother this is laughable. Even as I write this I have one child on my back wondering what I'm doing and the other begging to be held and I am somehow doing it all, but yet, to some people nothing. There's no merit raises, paid time off or promotions. If you fulfill you job duties as a mother, you are doing your job. You can never excel because you are expected to be great. We are left to always perceived as being able to do more, unacknowledged for what we do and told how lucky we are to be in this role. So here in lies the perplexity of the job. The job of mother is inextricably tied to our identity and therefore, we ourselves are always struggling for recognition for a job that's taken for granted.

My husband is a superbly compassionate man who is a great father and wonderful husband. His perspective is quite valid. We both are struggling for a moment off from 24 hour a day jobs. I can only imagine how drastic this dynamic could become with a less compassionate man, but this is also proof of a new dynamic that parenthood brings in otherwise healthy marriages. However, as my husband walks in tonight and wonders what I did, I am going to take solace in the fact that I did what I could and did my job the best I could.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The neverending quest for the clean house

Before motherhood, I understood that there were forces out of my control, however, there were so many things within my control, I was comfortable enough. Take a drive, go to the store, work hard, barely work... all choices. Now, I am on 24 hours a day, no choice, no break. Whether or not I am physically moving, I am constantly monitoring making sure they are safe, hoping for them to be content long enough to accomplish something, but knowing that no matter how hard I work the list of "things to do" never gets any shorter. For as I am crossing the items off, they are being added on at equal pace. While I clean, I can see the hurricane approaching... feel the tailwinds tickle my back, laughing at me. I scrub the floor then, spill the milk... I do not cry, but now, I just added to the laundry. The laundry that never ends that piles up and never goes away.

At first, I tried to make the forces succumb to my will. I screamed and yelled and would frustrate myself thinking that I could succeed. I would look around and every mother seemed to have a cleaner house... other mothers seemed to have it under control. Why didn't I? I live in the shame that some one might see the way I live and wonder what I do all day. My friends would say... I feel the same, but did they really?

The more I cleaned the house, the more guilt I harbored. I was not only a failed housekeeper, but an inattentive mother since I spent more time trying to keep them busy then, enjoying their precious moments. I get frustrated when they want to be held because I can't get as much done with one arm. I hope they fall asleep so, I can accomplish something just to say, "look what I did today," but then I missed out on time with the girls. They will never be this little ever again. I realize I need to accept that what clean will mean right now HAS to be different than what clean meant to me before. That I am a good mother even if I am not my child's perpetual play mate. But, where is the balance inside me? Where will I sit comfortably? Is there a perfect individual balance? Will I ever find it?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The days are long, but the years are short.

I swear I was pregnant for the first time yesterday. Yet, here I am listening to the heavy breathing daughters I birthed. So, this story does not start in the beginning rather it start "near the beginning." Its almost my 3 year anniversary of being a mom and soon after, my one year anniversary of being a mother of two.

I remember from the moment I gave birth always feeling like I was always one step behind. Just when I was mastering how to handle the latest milestone, she would move to the next. Getting frustrated during times I knew I should be joyous. Learning that you can always be a better mother, so, technically, you can never be perfect. (That was one of the first times I had to face up to being a perfectionist in essence).

Just when I regained a sense of control, my oldest hits her terrible twos and my second is born. Wow, for me, the transition to 2 has been insane. I thought I was one step behind before, now, I am 2 steps behind on 2 different stair cases at the same time. Each day ends with me tired, mentally drained but I also got to bear witness to beautiful moments. Each milestone is to be savored, but with the speed of motherhood you need to remember to take that time or it flies by like lightening. I realized that time is moving so fast and I am so focused on my kids... I lose sight of myself.

Allowing myself to expend energy on myself makes me a good mother. In order to now how to be the best Mom for my kids I need to know who I am, what I value, what life I want for them and what type of mom am I. Floating on water is never as fun as swimming... why should I settle for passive living?

Welcome 2010!

As the new year approaches, the theme of life becomes change... How have you changed? Is this the change you want? What do you want to change? Do you resolve to be a better person? What does that mean?

Enter stage right, the person who once knew exactly who she was, but then lost herself. So long ago that it almost feels like a distant memory. She reflects on herself and reflects on the memory of her. The child she once was not the woman she is.

Who am I?
I'm a wife and mother to two beautiful little girls. I may still feel like a young girl, but the mirror reflects a woman in her early thirties and the constant calls of Mom remind me that I'm a child any longer. I'm the Mom now. The roles have shifted. I'm not the mom I imagined I'd be when I was younger. I thought I would be a natural that when my child was born and I would have all the patience in the world, know how to be all loving and knowing and it would just be. However, I realize for me being a Mom is a work in progress. Each day, I learn a little more about myself and each day I try to take the opportunity for change. Most days the quest for change prolongs overs months...years making me feel even more inadequate that I can never make tomorrow arrive. Being a mother is wonderful, but it forever changes my perception and it has been quite a journey not just negotiating this new role, but the challenges this new role has brought to my identity.

Motherhood makes you face your fears, your insecurities, it doesn't allow you to be selfish yet, it requires a firm sense of self. How do you balance who you are with who you need to be with who you want to be? If you are not satisfied and cannot find satisfaction, how do you raise your children to find that same satisfaction that you wish for them? This is my quest... for truth... MY TRUTH, so my daughters will be able to embrace theirs.