Monday, June 28, 2010

Lessons from an 18-month-old

I seem to get schooled on a regular basis, picking up lessons I’m supposed to learn from unlikely places; eighth graders, people I have nothing in common with, and my toddler have been my latest teachers. It’s quite humbling and refreshing at the same time.

Take my endocrinologist appointment last week. My mom was luckily in town so she came with me to hang out with Wren because my daughter has an aversion to all doctors’ offices, not just the ones intended for her. The trigger seems to be the scale. Once the scale is visible, she pretty much starts the pouty lips. Maybe it’s because she’s had her ears irrigated, poked, and drained at doctors’ offices after they weigh her, or maybe she’s just a girl and doesn’t want anyone to know what she weighs. Either way, it tends to go down hill after that.

Having my mom there was a gift because Wren was pretty much occupied until the nurse started unwrapping the syringe to take my blood. I assured Wren, as I had all morning, this appointment was for me, not her. No one was going to touch her, mess with her ears, make her get on a scale. We had been having this conversation for an hour prior to the appointment. Still, when the needle was visible, the lower lip started quivering. She sat in my mom’s lap just staring at the needle while I tried to figure out why she thought they were going to stick her. The tourniquet was wrapped around my arm and she was five feet away. I kept telling her it would be okay and no one was going to touch her. Finally, my mom stated what should have been pretty obvious: she wasn’t worried about her, but she was pretty devastated that someone was about to hurt me. It proved to be true. When I didn’t cry and assured her I was okay, she held in her tears, though the bottom lip never stopped quivering, and she gave the nurse one of the nastiest looks I have ever seen come from anyone.

It was empathy. It went beyond feeling bad for me; she felt my pain in a way that hurt her. I saw it again the next day when a little boy started crying and sticking his fingers in his mouth due to teething pain. Wren, in the throes of trying to bust through that last eye tooth, began crying with him. She couldn’t make him feel better so she just wanted him to feel less alone.

I felt like a jerk for not making this connection sooner. Empathy? Who knew? That’s why last week at my OB appointment when the doctor picked up the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, the little heartbeat had to compete with the wailing sounds coming from my toddler. I thought she was just mad because I wasn’t holding her. Actually, I’m sure the jelly and the magic Doppler wand being spread over my stomach might have looked scary to a kid. I didn’t assure her everything was okay because I had no idea that’s what she needed. I am a not so smart mommy at times.

It’s sad, but I find empathy to be a pretty foreign idea to adults, or at least to me. I don’t hurt for others much. I feel bad for them, but mostly I’m glad I’m not hurting. My daughter still has the ability to care about others as much or more than she cares for herself. Obviously, this example has not come from mom. However, if I’m lucky I can pick up on her example and do better in the future. Christ gave me this child, I thought, to train and raise. Now I’m wondering if I’m the one getting the raising. Either way, it’s working out.

I’ll save the lessons she’s taught me on adaptability for another day. Let’s just say she gave up her cow’s milk and took to drinking unsweetened coconut milk without complaint. I have yet to try the coconut milk and chugged organic whole milk straight from the carton after she went to bed tonight. Enough said.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Luxury Items

When I became a mother, I was warned that I might suddenly disappear. For instance, I would have no time to myself, no time for random leisurely afternoons strolling through the park or sipping coffee at a book store with no particular agenda or schedule for the day. These are luxury items, and it was explained to me that I would have to fight to protect them, that being a mother would snatch them from my open arms and throw them to the wind.

I never lived in fear of this and I don’t now. While I still have well meaning individuals, mainly mothers, telling me that I better start hording opportunities for myself, I’ve discovered that I never knew luxury until now. Here is my list of luxury items/events, and these are just the ones that occurred this week:

My house is clean and I didn’t have to do it. My grandmother deep cleaned every nook and cranny.

My husband came shoe shopping with three girls because Wren gets a little excited in the shoe department, and I needed back up to keep her from snatching shoes. This is the 2nd or 3rd time he’s had to participate in this event in a week, and he does it joyfully.

My mom told me I was pretty when I had no makeup on, half dry hair and acne left over from the first trimester hormone surge.

Dennis cooked an amazing enchilada dish while I napped for two hours with Wren.

Wren is saying I love you. She hasn’t breastfed in two days, and though she’s still a little bitter, it’s getting easier every day. At least it is for her. I still want to cry pretty much every second.

My husband and I watched a movie together on the couch while cuddling. Since I’m usually in bed way earlier than him, this was sweet. It sort of felt like a date.

The baby started kicking.

A phone call to my sister made me feel better about my baby bump, or lack there of, at this point in the pregnancy, even though my doctors are not happy. I did this with Wren so I don't know why it's a huge surprise this time. I pop out during the third trimester.

Father's Day came around, and I have a great dad and a husband who is a great dad.

I have hot water. My mom and grandmother realized the pilot light was out on our water heater, and my mother-in-law drove to my house in rush hour traffic to light it because there was no way I was going near something that operates using gas with fire when I have no sense of smell and don’t really want to explode. By the way, Dennis and I had ignored the no hot water issue for two weeks because we didn’t know what was wrong and just assumed it would come back. This is either God making us content or we’re just idiots.

This may not look like much to some people, but it’s why I don’t need the coffee laced afternoons, pedicures, massages, hair appointments, me time moments everyone told me to collect when I became a parent. Nothing is wrong with any of those things, but my life is already pretty luxurious. And as I discovered driving home from dropping off my grandmother today, I don’t enjoy just me like I used to. I’m good being alone, but it’s not the same now. Instead of blaring the radio or daydreaming of some exotic location or the book I want to publish, I just wished to be with my husband and daughter and tried to stay below the speed limit though I was tempted to floor it just to get home. My life of luxury is defined by the people who make it so great, the ones who clean my house, make me enchiladas, light water heaters with fire, say I love you even when I can no longer give them milk. Too much time away from any of them would make me disappear or at least make me want to.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Time For Change

The first three days of this week have taught me that nothing is the same after a year. Last year, I had a six month old. I spent my summer working around nap schedules, nursing schedules, Texas heat, teething, all the fun infant stuff. This summer, some of that hasn’t changed. However, what needs to be done to work around it has.

Last year, I would not take Wren out of the house if we were near a nap, near a feeding, teething, or showing the slightest signs of sleepiness. Couple her hate for the car seat and any of those other factors, and taking her outside of the house felt like child abuse. She didn’t enjoy the outing, screamed the whole way there or back or both, and I ended up feeling like I had left the house for my benefit, not hers.

I knew things were different this year, but I didn’t understand to what extent until today. Comparing my today and my yesterday revealed the truth. First of all, my child is a social butterfly. She needs kids her age. She loves me, but after a few hours, I am not enough to keep her completely entertained. This is probably a good development, but it’s a little difficult because I could just sit around and play blocks with her all day. She’s the one who bails on that plan. My first attempts to enhance her social life minus daycare failed miserably. Apparently we are the only people at the park or the play area in the mall before nine am. Maybe this is not a shocker to anyone else, but I was sure other people had kids who woke at 6 or 7 am, ate breakfast and were ready to head out the door. It’s possible that our school year schedule has programmed her for this, but if we are not in the car heading somewhere engaging by 8 am, then I have a cranky pants on my hands who only wants to nurse. Since we’re weaning, that’s not good.

Dennis and I decided last weekend when planning my first week home with Wren minus tons of nursing that after our morning outing it would be good to have something for her to do until her naptime near noon. That way she didn’t fall asleep too early, take a wimpy nap and wake up cranky, or just beg for breastmilk all day out of boredom. Tuesday, however, I forgot we were dealing with an 18 month old who likes constant stimulation and regressed back to how I would have treated my six month old. When we got back from the park around 9:30, I decided not to take her to the library at 10 for story time. I justified it by saying it was too much, she wouldn’t want to be in the car again, and she would be cranky because she hadn’t had time to wind down. This would have been true for a six month old. But she’s not anymore, and my refusal to acknowledge this change caused suffering for everyone for the rest of the day. Home with no distractions, my daughter remembered that she loved nursing. In fact, she fixated on it for the rest of the day. I went ahead and nursed her down for her nap, but when she woke up, that wasn’t enough. When I wouldn’t give in, Wren was not happy, and the child can hold a grudge. For the rest of the day we played the all the reasons I do not like mom game. Being the mom, this was not a fun game for me. Wren cried, gave me pouty lips, and ultimately I felt like in her mind she thought that daycare was much better than mommy time because mommy had something she wanted(milk) and refused to share. At least the kids at daycare share.

Today, we started over. Obviously, thinking of my child as she was last summer instead of how she is today failed. So, we went to the store first thing this morning, then we hit the mall to watch the girls ice skate, then we came home and had a wonderful play date with our friend in the inflatable kiddie pool. At one, having had absolutely no break or I-want-booby breakdowns, she crashed for almost three hours. The rest of the day was cake. This is what my child now considers a good day. I had a great time too because she was happy. Everybody wins. So why didn’t I do this Tuesday?

There’s no excuse really. Dennis and I had a plan. If I had stuck with it, the disaster we will call Tuesday never would have happened. And the thing is, I really have no issues with change. Sure, I like it better if I initiate the change, but I’m fairly adaptable. Why I regressed to my old way of thinking is beyond me. I wonder if subconsciously it really is hard for me to see her grow up so fast. Do I crave the days when she just laid in the floor and cooed at me and that was enough? Yes and no. I love the age she is now. I will have another cooing in the floor at me soon. I wouldn’t change anything about who she is and where she is in her life. But I have noticed this need for independence in every area of her life except for nursing, and it makes me proud and sad all at once. She wants to be her own person and she is. She wants to be engaged by other people and things other than mom. We can’t go back to the days of sitting in the recliner, breastfeeding and smiling at each other all day. It’s not the same, and that’s okay. Each day with her just gets better. Even if we’re playing all the reasons I don’t like mom game, I’m still glad to be a part of the game.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Middle School All Over Again

Middle school hallways reek of insecurity. It’s the one emotion that does not dissipate by the end of the year because most of the students still don’t know who they are. They are trying on different roles to see where they fit: jock, cheerleader, emo outcast, intellectual, class clown, flirt. They change who they are to fit the crowd they are hanging out with that day. Mostly, they look confused. It’s fascinating and sad to watch all at the same time, and it’s one of the reasons I love and hate teaching 8th graders.

Adults aren’t really that different, or at least I’m not. Though I’m pretty secure in who I am, and thank God my middle school days are far behind, new situations leave me floundering at times. I don’t mind change and in fact thrive on it, but I feel a little iffy until a situation is familiar.

Parenting is the one huge life change where I actually feel pretty secure. Though there are only about one million ways to parent, Dennis and I did tons of research beforehand and knew when we held Wren in our arms what would work for us and what wouldn’t. That isn’t to say we haven’t modified our plans, but we had the basics ironed out early on: no spanking, no crying it out, extended breastfeeding, cautiously and modified vaccinating, things like that. They can be divisive issues for people, but they shouldn’t be. Families need to find the fit that works for them so they’re not the kid who desperately wants to play violin in the orchestra but is playing football trying to fit into the jock role instead. Those kids are not happy.

There is a place I flounder though, and I’ve been trying to write about it for weeks. For some reason, it doesn’t come out right or I’m afraid it will seem defensive. It’s the issue of who we are in front of people and how we’re perceived as parents. For the most part, I have a hugely supportive community of people around me. However, I still experience the insecurity of being honest about how we parent; it’s don’t ask, don’t tell all over again, but with parenting as the central issue. I don’t have to defend anything we do because it works for us, but when the inevitable, “you’re co sleeping, still breastfeeding, not getting Wren the MMR vaccine yet, homeschooling, not spanking, you want to VBAC” comes out of someone’s mouth along with a shocked/judgmental look, I do go into defense mode. The decisions Dennis and I make not only work for us but have been researched and proven; plus we pray and seek guidance, and have never felt like the way we parent is off course with what it needs to be. I wish people considered all of that before speaking.

Not talking about how we parent is one thing, and sometimes easier depending on the company we are around. However, tonight I will be faced with a different issue: people seeing how I parent. Wren is going to come to the school to stay with me until grades are submitted and I can run out the door screaming, “Summer’s here!” I’m excited about this. I always love having her right by my side. However, it will be past her bedtime, she will be in an unfamiliar environment, and she’s teething . Plus we’re working on weaning. Does that mean she’ll have a tantrum? No. If she does have a tantrum, is that acceptable for an 18 month old? Absolutely. I’m not worried about her acting her developmental age. I do feel slightly insecure about how people will react to how I respond to it.

For some reason when kids act out, even if it is developmentally appropriate, adults want to see an expected reaction. They want spankings; they want time-outs. We don’t do that. We don’t punish, we discipline. Discipline, or teaching, for us is about two questions: how can our relationship with our child be strengthened and not damaged during this encounter, and how can we teach Wren what she needs to learn? So, we acknowledge how she feels, empathize, and work through the fit. Guess what? They end a lot faster that way. Do we avoid them completely? Not so much. We miss a lot of them though, and the ones we have are usually quick, relatively painless, and Wren is offering hugs when they’re over.

Honestly, this has even helped slow down the hitting. I think the hitting was such a fascinating venture for Wren for awhile because of my reaction. While I didn’t hit her back or force time-outs, I didn’t try to talk to her about it or acknowledge the feelings behind it. She was being forced, by no choice of her own, to give up nursing, something she had been doing on demand for 18 months. Suddenly, I expected her to shift gears because I’m pregnant, and she felt mad, hurt, and confused. Instead of realizing all this, I lectured her and asked questions like, why me or what’s the point in doing that, questions an 18 month old finds funny. This week, I looked her in the eyes and told her we give love. Sometimes I still had to walk away after that to reinforce that she couldn’t smack me after that, but it stopped. Last night, she hit me, I said love not hits, and she hugged me. Over. No drama. No repeat. It was nice.

I know, however, if Wren throws a fit tonight and I take my usual approach, I will be considered weak and unable to “handle” my daughter. Though respecting kids and disciplining as opposed to punishing is not a new approach-check it out in Discipline Without Distress by Judy Arnall and in this article http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/what-well-behaved-children-who-never-tantrum
-it still isn’t mainstream. And I know how other people will react because I used to be one of them.

When I saw my friend’s daughter throw a fit upon having to leave a friend’s house, continue the fit all the way home, and finally collapse into a drama-induced nap, I was appalled. I was also not yet a parent. Dennis and I discussed later how our friends weren’t parenting, their child was a tyrant, and their future looked very bleak from our perspective. Where was the spanking they were supposed to administer? Where was the explosive reaction from the parents that I so often saw accompanying these fits? What I didn’t realize was that these parents did exactly what we would have probably done in that situation, or at least the future us. They acknowledged how their child felt and let her feel it. She didn’t hurt anyone; she eventually calmed down. She completely forgot about the whole thing later, and the relationship between parent and child was not harmed by the parent trying to prove a point. Nothing they did escalated the fit, and it actually would have probably been worse if they had punished her for being disappointed. By saying it’s okay to be upset, they let her work it out on her own.

This way of parenting feels good for us. It has never felt right to even think about trying anything else. With that in mind, we’re just going to be who we are. I don’t want to be the attachment parent pretending to be the corporal punishment parent because it’s what others want or expect from me. I’m not shifting who I am to suit the group I’m with that day. I’d rather just be me. While I admit that Dennis and I are far from having it all figured out, we are pretty in tune with what feels right for us. Plus, my child is happy and seems to like me just the way I am, most of the time, and that matters more than anyone else.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Check it out for summer

This is not a traditional post, but when I was looking at one of my favorite sites today, I found some disturbing information about sunscreen. I'm crazy obsessed with what chemicals we are exposed to and how to get rid of them in our environment, so this freaked me out!
You can see how your sunscreen rates and then go from there.

http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/

Also, check out the site I saw this on at http://www.askmoxie.org/
It's awesome!

Praying for Aunt Sherry. Wren misses you!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pics of Ms. Wren


The Balance

I’ve been wondering lately what the balance between doing what I want and what I need to should be. This question has become more pressing since having a child. For instance, I want and need to spend time with my child every day. Being with her and my husband is such a priority in my life. I also work full time and have a house to keep. That means sometimes when the dishes are piled up in the sink and the laundry is clean, but in the floor instead of the closet, I leave it that way. I prioritize people time over my to-do list, and I’ve never regretted it. However, is part of my responsibility to my family being more domesticated? I don’t even mind doing all of the domesticated things. Cooking, cleaning, and all that comes with it are great when I have time. What do you if your time is stretched though? What choices do you make? Can it all get done?

My grandmother raised my dad in the 1950s and 1960s. She worked full time, but she is a neat freak and now voluntarily cleans houses for a living after retiring from being a secretary for many years. Her house was always clean-still is-and she made sure that three homemade square meals a day were served. Three pies a week were cooked in her house for dessert. She is the every woman. When I asked her how she juggled it all, she shared her secret: loads of cigarettes, no less than 16 cups of coffee a day, and four hours of sleep a night. I’m not kidding. This was completely acceptable to her. After she put my dad to bed, she got up and ironed-sheets and underwear included-cleaned, cooked, and scrubbed baseboards. I sat there staring in astonishment. She admitted that if she could do it again, she probably wouldn’t have been that uptight about things. However, it’s proof that it can be done.

Now, I don’t smoke, don’t drink coffee anymore, and you will never catch me willingly settling for four hours of sleep. Plus, even if I did get up to clean after Wren went to bed, I would not be ironing underwear, ever. Even if someone in my household had a big underwear photo shoot the next day, it’s not happening. But, when could I spend more time taking care of things that need to be done like putting up laundry, mopping, baseboard scrubbing? Where is this time? We don’t watch TV or just sit and do nothing. In fact, I feel like we are almost constantly moving. I have indulged in my full eight hours of sleep since becoming pregnant, but I do see that as necessary for the health and well being of the baby and everyone else in my house. I can’t even imagine what I could cut out of my life.

This brings my age old insecurity of being the anti-everywoman to the surface. I have friends and acquaintances who just seem to always have it together. Their house is clean and perfectly decorated, they shave their legs every day(yes, that has become a two day a week luxury for me), they always look nice, have everything they need in their bag that perfectly coordinates with their shoes, and just seem to have it together. They make it look like doing it all is still possible minus the cigarettes, caffeine, and sleep deprivation. I will never be one of those women.

First of all, I just don’t care enough about appearances. It’s ironic since I live in a city where a book was actually written on the obsession of the citizens with materialism and appearances. Sometimes I do feel the temptation to move to a cabin in Oregon and grow my own vegetables, but this is a family oriented community close enough to our families. Still, the desire to look a certain way and have my possessions appear a certain way to other people has not rubbed off. In many ways, I think this is good and in line with the no vanity, don’t worry about possessions teachings of the Bible. But I wonder if my daughter is missing out on having one of the all together moms. So far, I’ve accidentally sent my underwear with her to daycare attached to her blanket. They were stuck on the blanket when I pulled it out of the dryer in the morning as I rushed out the door. Why weren’t the clothes already folded and in their proper place? Because that’s me. I have also gone to a park with my nursing bra unhooked and two buttons on my shirt open. I was there for ten minutes before I realized because I don’t look in a mirror before I leave the house. Is my daughter learning that it’s okay to throw yourself together without thought? Is she learning there are certain tasks that should be completed everyday to keep her room in order or that if you’re tired enough, it doesn’t really matter? I don’t know. We do brush our teeth and take our vitamins every day. Hopefully that counts for something.

I know I can’t have it all, and I don’t want it, but am I failing at the tasks that are important? I see being a mom as spending time with my child, providing for all her needs, making her feel secure all the time. I try hard to do this plus provide food and a safe, not disgusting environment to live in. The environment may be cluttered, but it’s hygenic. However, I don’t know if I’m teaching her organization or that you have to do things you don’t want every day(laundry) over the things you want to sometimes(sleep next to her at night when she goes to bed). Is she learning that looking in the mirror before you leave the house is a good practice, or that it doesn't really matter as long as you're pretty sure you're wearing pants? I guess when she’s in therapy in 30 years I’ll know what damage I’ve caused. Until then, I’m praying for the best.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Relativism

I read in a great parenting book, Discipline Without Distress, that how we respond to our kids greatly depends on our mood, not their behavior. For instance, if your child just spilled grape juice all over your white carpet and you just came in from an eight hour work day, don’t know what you’re having for dinner, sat in rush hour traffic, and lost your debit card, your reaction to the carpet incident is probably going to be not so good. However, if you just won the lottery, the carpet is probably not going to be an issue.

I keep trying to remember this as we enter the tantrum phase. My daughter is mellow, smart, a gorgeous doll 90% of the time. However, the other 10 % she has started acting out, especially since we began the weaning process. She doesn’t particularly act out at anyone but me. Don’t get me wrong; Dennis definitely gets his share of the moods and the crying, and the things-aren’t-going-my-way tantrums. However, I get hit. That’s right, people. I’m suffering parent abuse. When I tell Wren no milk, at least not from my tots, she hits me. Hard. On purpose. With anger in her eyes. And when I tell her we don’t hit, she either hits me again or laughs.

I know hitting is a developmental phase they go through. I’ve seen all my nieces and nephews go through it, and they are perfectly well adjusted human beings. Most of the time I can even tell her we don’t do that, walk away and not be bothered by it. But this is the last two weeks of school locked in a room with 8th graders. Forgive me now for griping because I am off for two months after this, but it is not good right now. This is when you detach from your students and wish them luck next year in high school because you just don’t want them back. Most of them are great, but there will still be very little chance of me crying at the end of the year ceremony this year. And I’m pregnant. That says a lot.

Unfortunately, my at-work experience does color my mood when I get home. The fact that Dennis is in school until after 10 two nights a week is also a factor since there is no one to help me run interference when the craziness begins. I depend on him and his calm demeanor so much that it’s like missing a portion of me when he’s gone. But I want Wren to see a consistent parent, a parent who is not just reacting out of having a bad day. We have chosen not to spank, and I’ve honestly never been tempted to. However, I do sometimes roll my eyes or react in a more negative way than I mean to. Sometimes it’s because I didn’t sleep well, or I have other things on my mind, or I’m pregnant and hungry and none of the food at my disposal looks enticing. But I don’t want my attitude toward my child to be circumstantial. It’s like someone saying they’re only mean when they’re drunk. Then don’t drink. I can’t always avoid being tired, but I can have better control over the way I act.

A great example was the other night when we were attempting more weaning. I was exhausted, it was two am, and Wren had an ear infection and pink eye. For two weeks she didn’t even request milk at night, but it’s all she really wants when ear infections hit. So, Dennis and I broke our rule and let her nurse. I thought it would be a ten minute thing, get some milk and go back to sleep. Two hours later, I was still nursing. This is unusual to say the least, but when she nursed she didn’t grab her ear and wail in pain so I wasn’t going to pull her off. Usually I can go back to sleep while she is nursing. Now, I have pregnancy boobs. I am hyper aware of anything near them. Sleep wasn’t going to happen.

So I laid there exhausted, contemplating what my work day would be like on four hours of sleep, trying to find a comfortable position to lay in with a baby in my belly and a baby on my boob. I heard the slow, methodic breathing signaling my husband had found his way back to peaceful sleep. Briefly, I thought about kicking him. I watched my daughter pounce from side to side wondering how thirsty a child could be, though I knew it was comfort feeding. I felt guilty for being so bitter when she was sick, but I was tired. I was sleepy, and to top it off, in the middle of this my stomach started growling. Tired and hungry. I do not fair well under these circumstances.

We made it through the night, but my attitude was not great. When morning came, nothing looked nearly as bad as it had, but I hated myself for not being a more grateful person. Grateful for a healthy child, and grateful for a nursing child because I do love breastfeeding her; grateful that I wasn’t having to do this every night and that it was just a need she had right then; grateful for my husband who I had thought of physically assaulting just hours before for doing nothing more than sleeping. I had failed this test miserably. There was no excuse.

God’s love, thankfully, does not depend on his mood. If I really want to be the ultimate parent, I have the perfect example. And I can be laying in bed thinking of how I don’t need to feel the way I do, but sometimes I feel like I can’t stop it. In those moments, I should pray. However, I have a real issue going to God when I am being petty. It may be from all those days in Vacation Bible School where I took from the lessons that Jesus was a character on a flannel board who did not emote. I used to read the Bible as if it my brain was monotone. I didn’t acknowledge or understand that God got frustrated and that wasn’t a sin. He didn’t just smile, move around the flannel board, and not acknowledge problems. He emoted, had feelings, laughed, cried, got upset. It’s okay. Even knowing this as an adult I cannot get out of my head that when I go to God and talk about how tired I am laying in my three bedroom house with air conditioning, a healthy child, and a comfy queen size bed, he is secretly laughing at me. I know that’s not the case. He loves unconditionally, even when I’m being petty and juvenile. He would probably prefer me come to Him on my bad days so I don’t take them out on the people around me. I need to grow up and do that. It will help me be a better parent. It might even help me be a better overall person.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Simplify

My summer starts on June 11th. I am one of those blessed individuals who has two months off after dealing with the puberty filled world that is middle school for ten months. As opposed to having an endless to-do list, which is my usual way, I want to simplify everything I can, enjoy my daughter, my husband, and being pregnant. As opposed to being focused on things to do and things in general, I want to focus on people and my relationships with them as God would want them to be. Plus, though I am a good multi-tasker, I hope to shift into a lower gear this summer and focus on one thing at a time. I want to declutter; I want to not turn on the computer all day; I want to wear no makeup and not dry my hair; I want to have coffee with girlfriends; I want to date my husband; I want to spend all day in the pool with my daughter or sitting in the floor covered in paint as she decorates a canvas; I want to do one thing at a time and savor it. I guess I just made a list, but I think it’s a meaningful one.

There are practical things waiting for me. Weaning and potty training are pending, and though potty training will be a fun adventure, weaning has been ripping at the threads of all of our sanity lately. I am still trying to decide what my employment situation will be when the baby arrives. Technically, we can afford to pay to put two kids in daycare, but that is two-thirds of my salary. That means of my eight hour work day(when it’s only eight hours, which is rare), over five hours would be worked just to pay someone else to spend time with my children. I’m just not sure I can get behind that on principle. That means I will have to start looking into what else I want to pursue and continue to grow the business I am already working on. That will be work, but it definitely has the potential to pay off.

For me I think simplifying is about getting away from our generations belief that you can have and do it all. You can’t, and I don’t want to. I want to be a mom. I want to help provide for my family financially, whether I have to or not, because that’s what I’m used to. I want to be more organized, have good things always going for my family, develop more meaningful relationships with friends, and be a better Christian. I don’t believe I can climb a typical corporate ladder and have the time with my family I need. That’s why I’m no longer in the banking business. I want to live way below my means because I don’t believe in chasing money as a means to happiness. I’ll work hard at whatever I do, but not just for cash. The time it takes to accrue riches is time spent away from people I love. I just want no debt and the ability to give and provide for my children. I want to be organized because the time I spend looking for things is ridiculous and a bad example for my daughter. Blaming it on being right brained is not an excuse anymore. I am right brained, but I’m also sick of starting every sentence with “where is” followed by the missing item of the day.

We are pretty much doing away with our cell phones, and I am looking forward to this more than I ever thought I could. It’s not that I don’t like contact with people, but I hate text messaging. I have also read studies about how many other countries are banning cell phone use in children under a certain age because the effects on brain development aren’t known, and what is known is not great so far. That was enough for me. And I’m ready to deepen the contact I have with the people I’m sitting with face to face. Is it really a bad thing that when my immediate family is out to dinner no one can get a hold of us? I don’t think so. I’m all for technology, but I’m less for having the life I love interrupted anytime because of it.

So, I’m hoping by focusing on the moment and what I want and need to do at the time that I’ll be able to more clearly hear God’s voice. Right now, the voice I usually hear in my head is mine saying, remember to pick up bananas, remember Wren’s first progress teacher conference is this week, remember to get the final exam copied for the students, remember the meeting you have after school, blah, blah, blah. It’s not that these things aren’t important; like I said, I’m just ready to shift into a lower gear.