Monday, July 31, 2006

and another thing...

so after my last post, i had several conversations...with kevin, with other friends, and sussed out where i'm at a bit more. It was extremely helpful, and i'm feeling less manic about it all. Whether i developed this myself or it's a way of being i was born with, for the most part my major emotional hiccups last anywhere between 1 to a few days and then more or less peter out after significant ranting, venting, and often writing. in other words, i'm not longer stewing.

several key things emerged from my conversations...

first, there seems to be an invisible boundary around lots of moms where you only talk about your discomfort to a certain degree. Particularly if you are an attachment-style parent (often a stay-at-home mom, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, organic eating, gentle discipline type). It's like you need to guard your complaints and frustrations lest you give the impression that you don't adore your kids, or someone might suggest that you do something drastic like... get a job! leave your children for longer than a few hours (oh, the horror!)! This can cause some major inner upheavals in overachieving moms. I'm not belittling the attachment parent way because...that's what I do, and i do believe in it. But I do object to the unspoken code that prohibits *some* moms from being honest and forthright about the fact that occasionally (and sometimes often), parenting sucks the big one.

So i've made a point to talk to some moms about this candidly and as i suspected, i am not alone in my bouts of extreme child-aversion and childless envy. Just simply admitting it and talking about it (hmmmm... this is sounding a little 12 steppish...)was really liberating. No more hemming and hawing about this developmental stage being tough and oh man, didn't get enough sleep again... chuckle, chuckle. Nope, just straight up: hey, i kinda miss my life before kids- you?

and on a more philosophical level...
when kevin and i were talking i puzzled out a bit more what else has been bothering me. summer in maine is short, and i've been feeling like i'm not enjoying it. i keep thinking, well, next summer will be easier. but will it? i mean, is life with a 1 year old and a 4 year old going to be all that less hectic? doubtful. its' so easy to fall into the trap of constantly assuring oneself that at some point in the future, the situation will be different, better. The only reason this is true is because it's not my present reality. Nine times out of ten, said future is indeed, just as challenging as the present, its' just a different challenge.

I dont' want to spend my kids' younger years wishing, waiting for them to be older. the world is way too unstable. who the hell knows what life is going to be like in a few months, let alone a few years. my father-in-law's accident- life changing in an instant- is certainly to that.

so my musing is- how can i not only tolerate but enjoy and appreciate where i'm at, right now, in all of its challenges and ups and downs, and not be wishing it away, or wishing it to be different?

kevin says listening to the news helps him- we aren't living in the middle of a war zone.

sigh. ok,now i feel like shit. yes. we are insanely lucky. having some gratitude always snaps me.

but beyond that (not that that isn't important) but i need something more sustaining...a practice to keep me not only grateful, but truly enjoying this stage of my life with young, needy, ever-have-to-attend-to children.

So i'm going to practice some equanimity. This is a concept i teach in my childbirth ed classes... the practice of Equanimity. The idea is that you give equal weight to everything- your labor contraction being of no greater notice than what you see before you, the sensations touching you, the music in your ear, the smell of the ocean outside the window. The idea is that we get so fixated on whatever is overwhelming us at the moment that we tune out and miss the majority of life surrounding us, both difficult and beautiful.

make sense?

i'm not sure how this is going to play out for me. I imagine it will look something like paying attention to the beauty around me (the lake outside our window, the never ending green of the hills) while acknowledging that yup, i'm feeling irritated and pissed off at my toddler...appreciating Liam's coos and giggles when i'm hot and sticky and over tired... you get the idea.

i guess it comes down to making a choice- what do i want to let in? i suspect that most of us go through our lives letting in most of the negative, be it our problems, our critical self talk, our frustrations with the world, and selectively give a nod to the positive things that we simply can't ignore. I'm just going to try and even the playing field. It's only fair.

Friday, July 28, 2006

in another life...

The past few days, i have been missing my pre-kid life.

(ok- disclaimer: i adore my children, so glad i have them, do not regret having them. end disclaimer)

i didn't really miss my pre-kid life all that much when we just had Raelin. I think in the beginning it was so new and fresh and wow! we have a kid! that i only kinda thought about life before, i was too busy figuring out my new job as parent and enjoying it. as Raelin got older, i got more time away... was able to exercise again, eventually got a night away and by the time she was 2 and just before i got knocked up again, i was spending weekends away, partying, doing pole dancing lessons- you know, all the cool things even those w/o kids do.

there were several times when kevmo and i thought, you know, it would be so *easy* if we stopped now. Just one. We wouldn't have to move into a 3 bedroom house ever... our car would always more or less be big enough. We're through (most) of the toddler zaniness and life is getting easy again.

But of course, we weren't stopping. There was no question that we were going to have another one, and i was more than ready to be pregnant again. Damn female hormones! They are ruthless...

And you might recall a few posts ago after Liam was born and I was all high on my babymoon about how i thought that having 2 was really not that hard at all... in fact, much easier than making the transition to 1. Ok, i stand by the stuff about how it's easier to not be making the transition to parent again. This is true. But now that the babymoon is over?

This shit is hard.

here's what i would like (and thus you can assume that the inverse of these things is not happening):

-to use the bathroom uninterrupted, and w/o a child in my lap, or asking me incessant questions.

-to have a conversation on the phone that is uninterrupted by either endless requests for me to get off the phone, or baby crying.

-to have both the memory to remember the basic phone calls i need to make and the time in the day to make them.

-to be able to complete a task. any task- folding laundry (that means folding the clothes and having them *stay folded* and make it to drawers), dishes, fixing food, brushing my teeth, putting away groceries, etc... you name it.

-to have more than a few times a day when i am not carrying another person, or juggling 2 of them.


-getting a beer outside of my own house, watching a movie on a screen larger than our laptop, listening to music other than Raffi, Brent Holmes, or MotherSong.

Shall I go on?

You'll notice that many of these things are the result of having a 3 yo, and this is true, but at the same time, i'm juggling all of Liam's needs- to eat, be rocked, walked, carried, smiled and talked to, changed etc...

Having 2 kids is kicking my ass!! I vaccillate between being irritated, exhausted, frustrated, irritated, guilty and back again all day long.

(yes, i know i'm venting and complaining, and it's my blog and i'll whine if i want to)

Of course, spiced through out all of this are the heart-melting moments that make me feel like shit for counting down the days until pre-school starts. Poor Raelin used to have a fun, happy, energtic mommy. Now she has a mommy who is constantly counting to 10 in her brain and using endless coping mechanisms to hold back from saying,
"shut the fuck up!!"

i'm being brutally honest. i just need to get it out. I'm worked, and i have no excuses- i have an angel for a mom who takes my daughter whenever i ask, a husband who works from home who frequently takes breaks to give me a break and then stays up late to finish his work. None of my friends have that; i feel pretty damn lucky. I also feel pretty scared to think of what my mental state would be if i didn't have these things. On my mommy-boards i frequently read about moms who have 0 support, husbands who work away from the house up to 10 hours or more a day... it humbles me, to be honest.

I know things will get easier. I gotta follow the light... like tonight when kevin was holding Liam and Raelin was playing with little bits of scrap wood building a "yark" ? (dont' ask). I was making dinner... and watching them. Liam was *entranced* by Raelin and watching her so intently, occasionally smiling and laughing. It was this great moment where i could see their relationship developing and envision where its' going to go; a golden moment where i connected with why we have 2 kids.

I know a lot of people think i'm a great mom and have lots of patience and really love being at home with my kids. And i do, this is all true. But it's important for me sometimes to vent and sometimes say "this sucks." Better to liberate it online that simmmer throughout the day.

Ok, confession over.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In the thick of it....

summer, that is. and here's a photo to prove it:

oh, wait, but first this one, entitled:

I am Baby... Hear me Roar (or smile... impishly, as it were)

but back to being in the thick of it:

that's you know who in one of our raised garden beds, at the height of the pea harvest. We just pulled those vines, as they were tumbling over onto the beets and carrots. We've just started to harvest the beets and they are sooooooo sweet, its divine. Time to put in another few rows for the fall. The carrots are not turning out so great, which is a bit of a bummer, but everything else- kale, chard, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes and now zuchini, are going nuts and keeping us well fed. i'm barely buying any produce right now cuz we're not keeping up with what we've got in the ground. i lost some time this week with an intestinal flu bug that had me eating more white flour to uh, you know, bulk stuff up, than i have in years. strict orders from my doc: no vegetables!! what?!

so, yup. we're in the thick of it.

Liam is, as you can tell, someone to contend with. He is as sweet as can be though, with huge smiles and grins and shrieks and giggles. He does this thing sometimes when you smile at him, he shudders before he sighs and smiles back, like he's so full of joy and happiness and energy he just doesn't know what to do with it. Well, flapping his arms is a start... He's totally social and loves being talked to and smiled at and cooed over, though he's still figuring Raelin out. He always looks a bit horrified when she comes tearing over, sticking her face about 2 mm from his eyes and crooning (loudly), "what'sLiamdoing?what'sLiamdoing?hilittlebaby!Mommyhe'slookinatme" Repeat. Repeat. Smother and repeat.
A good friend of mine also has a daughter a son, similar age difference but all 1 year older than our kids. Anyway, awhile back i asked her if P (the daughter, about 3) was playing with L (baby son) and she said, "well, P mostly plays on L." I laughed, though didn't really get it. yeah, I get it now.
I assume that someday Liam will kind of get used to this and enjoy the whirling dervish that is his sister, but i gotta say, he doees shoot me looks like,"is she for real?" and i can only shrug and nod sympathetically. I ask myself the same question everyday. at least 50 times.

Yes, Raelin is our ever burning light and keeps us in stitches- mostly laughing, occasionally crying. the other day she was walking on the edge of the frame of the garden bed and slipped. Kevin looked up from where he was watering and said,"what's the matter Raelin, did you lose your balance?"
Raelin looks up at him and says, "No, daddy... My balance is in here!" and pats her chest.

Sigh. Gotta love that kid.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

wow... it's been a long time since I've blogged. A lot can happen in a month, and I guess that's why i've been avoiding my little outlet here. Too much can happen sometimes, things that take time to digest, things that are too big to find words to wrap around them. yes, I'm talking about my father in law's accident, but also, all of the daily occurances that mingle with bigger thoughts and realizations that jumble together and seem to tangled to sort out in something so simple as a blog post.

So, I'm not going to write about FIL's accident. Everyone who is close to me or my family knows that it happened and is probably getting the updates via email, so i dont want to repeat anything there. And really, i'm just not up to it. Not because it isnt' important or very much a part of our daily life, but because it *is* a part of our daily life so I'm going to let it reside there.

In other news, Liam is growing like... like a piglet! he has gained 3 pounds in two weeks! Now, I suppose you might think, well, if i ate as much as he does i'd gain 3 pounds in a few days. But then you gotta consider that 3 pounds is 20% of his body weight. So, if you're 150lbs., 20% of your body weight is roughly 30 pounds. Um, gaining 30 pounds in 2 weeks would be a *bit* out of control. So, 3 pounds on a kid that was 12 pounds just 14 days ago is, noteworthy. He has some beautiful rolls going on his arms and thighs and, as my friend Kim pointed out, no true neck. God, i love fat, breastfed babies!!

he is also smiling like crazy and makes these great semi-roars and sqeals. He love, love, loves to lie on the futon and stare at this small Tibetan rug we have hanging on the wall. When the track lighting is on the colors are illuminated and it is quite beautiful. Kid's got good taste. He also likes kicking around on his back in his Gymini (play mat with toys dangling down) and taking uncoordinated lobs with his clenched fists at the various accoutraments hanging above him. I attempted to get some video the other morning, but guess who stole the show?

Raelin is in major baby-play mode. She sucks on the pacifier, occasionally breaks out in fake cries, asks to be carried in the baby carriers, etc..It's all perfectly normal and we more or less apease her while raving about all the "big girl" things she can do as well, which are many and wonderful. I am finding myself positively endeared by her again, which is a relief after immediate post-partum perpetual annoyance. Apparently the "dirty little secret" about having a second child is that you begin to resent your first. I was feeling pretty challenged by this, and am grateful that it's diminishing and we seem to be getting into a groove as a family, despite all the ups and downs of Bill's accident and the changes of becoming a larger family.

Help from my mom has been amazing, and our wonderful friend Jason, with the help of many, many kind and generous folks, came out and lent a hand for a week. all of these things have made a tremendous difference in our mental health and our coping abilities. Often when i am listening to the news, or reading the paper about various catastrophes and issues around the globe, i feel a bit selfish and ineffective in my life and the need to find *some* way to reach out and lend some help. After the past few months though, I'm realizing that perhaps one of the best ways to be effective in the world is to help and support those close to you, be it directly, or as many of the RS folks did by helping Jason get out here to help. (This is not in any way to discount reaching out in bigger ways, or outside one's immediate sphere.) It may seem "small" in a global sense, but i firmly believe that when people feel loved and supported by their families and communities, they are buoyed and assisted in living their lives healthier and richer. Healthier and soulfully rich people in turn, are more likely to then help others and so on. You know, the whole pay-it-forward concept. It's been a good reminder...I think i've slacked a bit in this lately, and the reminder is welcome.

In closing, in a somewhat related tangent though it is late and my brain is quitting on me as i type, I had a conversation with a friend the other night and the subject of jobs came up and i mentioned some things i've been thinking of. nothing earth shattering or dream-job quality or even aspiring. since becoming a mom and investigating life from a completely different angle than that of a childless, post-college career seeking position, i have come to realize that jobs are simply jobs and nothign more. certainly they can encompass and be an outlet for one's passion, but there is more to life that finding and keeping the one perfect "job." a perfect reminder of this is to look at the wall in my father' in law's hospital room. It is covered in cards and letters from friends, family, well-wishers. his email update list has over 250 "subscribers" who are following his progress. I figure that if, at his age (63) i have relationships and touched the lives of that many folks... well, that's a good "job".