Category Archives: lessons from a rocking chair

Oh Positivity, Thou Art False

I don’t always like my husband and I don’t always like my kids.

I love them, for sure, but I don’t always like them.

There are times when my husband drives me so crazy that I just want to put a pillow over my head and scream.

And there are moments when my kids make the most incredible messes, scream with ear-piercing intensity, and generally go bonkers that I wish I could hide in a closet for the rest of the day while someone else cleans the messes and interacts with the hooligans.

These feelings are mutual.

I know that my perfectionism, hormonally charged and mentally ill induced mood swings, and emotional intensity can leave my husband wishing for a break.

I know that my kids probably wish that I would let them draw roses on the tables and walls with peanut butter, or pretend to cook with flour while pretending it’s snowing.

Is it okay for me to share these moments of frustration?  Or should I pretend that everything is always perfect?

I adhere to a brand of optimism that I call realistic optimism.  This means that I look at the world with an optimistic outlook yet recognize there are dark and ugly things that exist.  I think everyone is potentially wonderful human beings, but I know that sometimes mental dysfunction and personality disorders can complicate the positive outcome. I think that humanity is, on a whole, good, and I also know of the horrible abuses committed in the name of patriarchy, freedom, and religion.

When it comes to relationships between me and Ben and me and the kids, I know things aren’t always peachy; yet I also experience awesome moments and days.

No one can make me laugh, knows me at the deepest level, and is as open and welcoming toward my opinions and beliefs as Ben.

And my kiddos are the sweetest, most daring, and hilarious little monkeys that exist. Like Emily’s admonishing me to “ask nicely” when I angrily ask her to stop spreading peanut butter all over her brother. Or Andrew crawling in my lap when I am crying from an exhausting day and saying “come here” while wiping my tears with his chubby, soft hands.

Yes, I do love my husband and my children.

But, is it more socially appropriate to share these sweet and silly experiences than it is to share those not-so-positive moments?  I, for one, appreciate both.  I understand the bravery it takes to share things that might make a person human and I also admire those gushing posts about partners and children.  Why not share the ups and the downs?  Isn’t that life?

Sharing moments of frustration can lead to the negative branding (i.e. someone calling you too negative), or to comments that detract from your real feelings and can lead to guilt.  Alternatively, sometimes sharing an abundance of positive things can lead to unfair protestations that you are too positive and clearly perfect.  Both are unnecessarily judgmental and highlight the semi-dangerous nature of publicly sharing our lives on the interwebs.

Those of us that engage in social media understand that Twitter, Facebook, and blogging only present snap shots of our life.  A complete picture of who we are, what we believe, and our worldview would take more than 140 characters on Twitter, a status update on Facebook, and a blog post.  Even “about me” snippets aren’t adequate explanations of a person’s full character.

What do we do then?  Do we look at a person’s snippets and decide we don’t like them because they are too negative or too positive?  Or, do we look deeper and find a complex and wonderful person?

That is our choice.  What will you choose today, tomorrow, and in the future?

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What's In a Name

Emily used to call me different variations of “Mom.”  Now she calls me “Amber.”

What happened?

I guess being around extended family members confused her. Because other people didn’t call me “Mom, Momma, or Mommy,” she didn’t understand why she should.

Or so I’ve concluded.

Whatever the reason, I really miss being called Mom, Momma, and even Mommy.  For me, there is something innocent about my babies calling me Mom; thus, when she stopped calling me that name, preferring to use my first given name, I felt as if she went from age 2 to 20.

I still find value in my kids growing older, avoiding mourning as they age.  However, I am also fighting tears as I observe them moving rapidly through stages: when I hear Andrew speak in complete sentences (e.g. “I want shoes, Mommy”) rather than repeating vowels and syllables (like “baba”); when I look at Emily and realize she no longer has a baby face; when Andrew refuses to be held because he is busy exploring; and when Emily states, “I do it by myself” for different activities rather than allowing me to help her.  I am grateful that my kids are growing independent.  They will hopefully learn lessons and gain strength far before I did.  Yet, each day they drift further and further away from babyhood, I am reminded that I don’t have another growing in my tummy soon to enter the world in all her/his newborn goodness.  Instead, I recognize that my time for having children might be over.  Sure, I could try again, but after 3 straight miscarriages, I know my risks are much greater for enduring yet another loss.

As cute as being called “Amber” was the first 20 or so times, I find myself desperately requesting Emily to call me mommy again.

Is it wrong to offer a treat each time she says “Mom” instead of “Amber?” I think I might resort to that next.

Remember when I said I don’t want to talk about my miscarriage?  I guess I’m ready.

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My Other Guy

I have a guy on the side. Except he is more in the middle because he prefers to be sandwiched between Ben and me or in my arms.  He shows me daily just how much he needs me.

When I take a shower while Ben is home, he will start to cry, wiggle out of Ben’s lap, crawl to the door, stand up, and knock.  And continue knocking until I come out or let him in.

When I am kissing Ben, he will crawl over, climb onto my leg and look at us until we I pay attention to him.

When I am sitting on the floor, he will crawl over (do you see a pattern here?), pull himself into a standing position (by using my shoulder), and smother my face with kisses.

When I am trying to sleep, he will cry, standing in his crib, until I go pick him up.  Once I rescue him, he will snuggle against my chest while drinking his bottle and occasionally fall asleep.  (If he doesn’t fall asleep, he will jump all over me and Ben until we place him back into his crib.)

When I am trying to clean, he will crawl to the gate, pull himself into a standing position, and cry, “Mama!” until I pick him up.

When he is eating, he will cry if I try to leave the room.

When I am sad, he will hug me close.

When I feel that tug of sadness for our lost baby, he will look at me with his beautiful eyes, crawl over and demand that I pick him up.  Then I will hold him tight and thank God for a little boy who is still okay with being my baby.

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Making the Right Choice

I sat down to write, when I heard her voice.  “Mommy? I want to read a book.”  Okay, I muttered, and turned off the computer.

We sat on the floor, her in my lap and Andrew hanging off of my shirt and giving my cheeks sloppy kisses.  I read a few pages and asked a few questions.  I thought about the laundry that needed switching and the dishes that needed washing. I remembered the post I was writing and the blogs I had been reading.  My mind was whirling with what I thought needed to be done.  Until I pressed pause.

I thought about the beautiful girl and boy that needed some loving.

Suddenly, the to-do list was significantly shorter and my attention span considerably longer.

I continued sitting and reading until we had finished all our favorite stories.   Pushing myself onto my knees, I started chasing them in and out of rooms. They ran (or, in Andrew’s case, crawled), giggling and screaming.

I threw them on my bed and started bouncing their lithe, little bodies.  Tumbling, they laughed and shouted.  Happy to have their mom’s attention.

Crumpling with exhaustion, I fell on the bed.  Soon they were jumping on the bed and on me.

And then they were laying their sweet heads in the nook of my arm, each of us staring at the ceiling; our chests heaving, mouths smiling, and eyes closing.

Later on, while placing them in their cribs, I smiled.  Their angelic faces, so composed in a restful state, reminded me of why I am here.  Why I am a mother.

And with the kids napping, I turned on the computer.  This time in good spirits; this time without competition; this time with a kid-induced smile on my face.

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Nightime is My Time

During the day, as my house gets messier and messier, I remind myself that I will have all night to clean.  Bedtime is at 7, afterall.

Every spilled cup, dropped toy, thrown food, and emptied out bookshelf will be tidied once that glorious hour comes.

Don’t worry, I tell myself as I look at the torn apart living room, once the kids are in bed you’ll clean it in a jiffy.

The only problem is, I also save other things for after bedtime: Blogging, eating, resting, and reading.  A few hours really doesn’t give me enough time to adequately do all these things.

But, day after day, I keep to the same schedule. Putting myself in the same silly situation–being completely exhausted by the end of the day and having absolutely no desire to complete any of my tasks, only wanting to eat and lay down.

Now that I have simplified my life, I don’t feel the need to put off the cleaning tasks until the kids are in bed.  It’s just a matter of doing it.

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The Domain of Endless Possibilities, Otherwise Known as Rambling Thoughts

My time is severely limited at the moment, so a few cluttered thoughts will have to suffice for a post.  Good luck wading through them.

I sit in my bed and compose the most perfect post, with the best words, grammar, and punctuation.  I wait until I am sure Andrew has fallen asleep and slowly sneak out of the bedroom.  I grab my laptop and start typing.  Then I see the mess in my living room and I smell the kitchen (after one meal, mind you) and realize that the post will have to wait.  I sigh, push the computer off my lap, and head into the kitchen.  Everyday I am stunned–and exhausted–by the mess one tiny toddler can create.

My well designed plan to control the constant chaos in my life has been struggling lately.  Mostly because the kids are fighting their bedtime harder and harder everyday.  If they go to bed later, I start cleaning later, and my well intentioned writing and blogging desires become unattainable.  The heat, which I prefer to winter’s cold, creates a sauna-like atmosphere in our upstairs apartment.  The kids have trouble sleeping, and I understand.  Nevertheless, it slows down my routine and leaves me more than drained.

Interestingly, rather than feeling irritated, I find myself accepting the changes without too much complaint.  If a clean house makes me less frazzled the next day, I will gladly choose cleaning over blogging.  Even if I am choosing to do something less than desirable.  Frankly,  I think that’s the idea behind adulthood: making decisions that aren’t always convenient or fun.

Too often I am hung up on the inconvenience of my current situation but this frustration is not helpful.  In releasing it, I am freeing myself from bondage of self-induced dissatisfaction.  Being home with my kids all day everyday can be difficult and there are times when I yearn for a break, any kind of break.  But right now that is not possible, not for me or for Ben.  He and I are okay with this reality.

I can’t really think of a fantastic ending, especially since this post is primarily a mixture of rambling thoughts and my kids are currently engaging in a few dangerous activities, but I don’t think that life has any real endings–only many beginnings.  I think that this marks my beginning of adulthood.

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A Nap Time Lesson

The kids are in their cribs supposedly napping.  Instead, I hear Emily yelling “Hi!” and Andrew giggling. I can picture them.  Emily is pressing her face against the mesh walls of her Pac N’ play while Andrew, on his hands and knees, stares at her through his own mesh surface.  Their faces are lit up with unadulterated joy.

They are best friends.

When in our living room,  Andrew is not too interested in me.  His eyes are stuck on his sister.  They follow her everywhere.  He smiles as she runs from room to room, creating havoc.  He babbles when she starts singing.  He laughs, really laughs, when his sister twirls, hops, and jigs to unheard music.

I look at them and remember.

The horrific pregnancies.  The long nights.  The colic. The postpartum depression.

The easy births.  Our first moments together. Their first smiles.  Their first laughs.

The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the frustrating, the fun, the painful, the joy–mixed together in life’s blender, a combination of bitter and sweet, to be drunk daily.   And I do.  Every last drop.  Because it’s worth it.

Right now, I listen to their silly noises and I feel at peace.

One day I will have another baby.  I will feel their movements inside me.  We will grow together for nine months.  We will meet and I will cry tears of immense joy.

That sweet baby will have instant best friends.  Soon  I will hear her or him laughing and playing with their siblings during nap time, and I will remember today.  I may even read these words again.  My heart will swell–for a second time–with feelings of great gratitude.

A tender mercy that I will not forget, but will embrace.  Fully.

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