Tag Archives: I Need Some Advice

My Dreams Are Usually Not Tools of Revelation, But Sometimes They Are

After a rough day, I finally headed off to bed.  The dreams eagerly entered my mind, taking me away from reality.  They were fun.  At first.  Then they gradually turned into a haunting scene ripped from the headlines.

I head out on an overnight trip with Ben.  We leave Andrew and Emily in the van and take the car.  We don’t think anything of it until we come back.

When we arrive, Emily is gone and Andrew is sleeping.  Ben is slightly worried that we don’t see Emily, but I tell him to not worry about it.  Besides, I am too happy from our trip to worry.  I take Andrew out.  He’s a  little cold, but okay.  I finally begin looking for Emily.

A sweet lady from our congregation comes out onto her porch and tells us that she has Emily.  “Don’t worry! I saw her and brought her inside.  She is such a doll!”

I finally wake myself up.  I lie in bed with my heart pounding.  I go check on Emily.  She’s sleeping in one of her many wild positions.  I smile through the hurt.  I grab Andrew from his crib and snuggle his little body.  Breathing in his sweetness and innocence.  I am angry with myself.  How could I do that to my children in my dream?  It is horrible!  Abandonment.  Carelessness.  Selfishness.  Abuse.  Things I only read about.  And I played them out in my dreams.

After realizing that sleep has fled, I go and get a drink.  I try to calm my rapidly beating heart.  I just can’t get those horrible images and feelings out of my mind.

I think about what this dream could mean.  I rarely analyze my dreams,  but my mind would not rest until I looked at it from every angle.  After a few minutes, the meaning becomes clear: I am too connected to the internet.  While I don’t literally abandon my children,  my thoughts are far from them.  I often put the computer with the e-mails, new posts, and tweets before my kids’ needs.

I think about how I can slow down and really engage with my children.  The brainstorming helps to soothe my anxiety.  It is still late, but I know sleep is far from my grasp.  So, I wake up Ben. With a shaky voice, I tell him fragments of my dream.  He wraps me in his arms and I finally drift off into a peaceful sleep.

The next morning was Friday.  I decided to reset my priorities. I wrote a quick post and turned off the computer.  That was the start of my blog break.  Or, as Kristen and Becca put it, my digital diet.  The break gave me the chance to get on the floor and play with my babies.  I tickled, they giggled; I read, they listened; I sang, they danced.  They were moments that are forever etched into my mind.  Rather than losing myself in the computer while they napped, I cleaned.  Our house was tidy, we were all happy.

At night time, I reviewed different ways to effectively balance.

Writing is something that I can’t avoid.  It provides relief and comfort from the daily stresses of parenting;  thus, I need it to relax me when the kids are sleeping.

At the same time,  reading each of your blogs infuses my soul with pieces of infinite wisdom.  Your inspiring posts encourage me to become a better person;  therefore, I need these interactions as well.

I could get up before the kids are awake in the morning.  Of course, that would mean waking up early.  Something I try to avoid.  Hey, my little guy doesn’t sleep through the night yet!

I could try using nap times to clean.  That way, when the evening comes, I can enjoy blogging and writing without too much angst.  I don’t have to worry about paying attention to my husband because he’s not here.  Ha!  Takes care of that guilt.

I have yet to receive a striking revelation. One thing is certain: I cannot let that dream become a reality.  Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.  And vomit.  It was too powerful to ignore.

Do you have any tips/advice on how to achieve a good balance in your life?  Please share.  I need it.

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Alone Time? Me? No Way!!

A few weeks ago I was feeling down.  It had been one of those mornings.  I was physically and spiritually worn out.  Wolf, in her peculiar way of knowing my moods, e-mailed me and asked me how I was doing.  She also suggested that I click over to her blog.  I did and read a thought-provoking piece entitled Do you know your body’s rhythms? While reading, I puzzled over how Wolf knew what I needed to hear that morning.  I also thought about how her post, though fabulous, could not apply to me.  I don’t have the time to figure out my body’s rhythms.

Since I was feeling whiny, I asked Wolf how I can follow her advice.  She, in her usual sage manner, wrote back with an amazing comment.  Reading her words inspired me.  I instantly e-mailed her and asked if I could re-post her comment on my blog.  She not only said yes, but sent it to me as a whole new post.  Yes, she is incredible.

For any woman/man who is feeling tired, worn out, and just plumb tuckered, Wolf has provided us with an amazing array of remedies.  Especially for those of us who are short on cash.

In order to give her post all the attention it deserves, I am breaking it up into 2 different segments.  Think of it like a cliff hanger. I love a book with good cliff hangers.

Without further ado, please welcome Wolf of Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy.

How to get a moment alone (and what to do with it once you get it) Part 1

Love your family, but enough is enough?

Losing your sanity? Don’t want to admit it? Sorry. I have no 12-step program, no quick fix, and not even a chocolate giveaway to take your mind off things. But I will tell you you’re in good company. The reality for most mothers, unless you have help – and I mean real help – there is never enough of you to go around. It’s true for stay-at-home-moms, for work-outside-the-home moms, for do-it-all-moms, and all the other variations of motherhood whose classifications don’t matter whatsoever.

And if your budget looks anything like mine (the UnBudget), a trip to the day spa (with pricey sitter at home) just isn’t in the cards.

Maybe you’re married and the husband works extra hours, or goes to school at night. Maybe you’re a single mom with little to no time off (for misbehavior). Whatever the scenario, don’t feel guilty for wanting a break. You need one. Consider it a sign of mental health.

But what do you do when you’re constrained by lack of money or help? No bucks for a sitter. No family to assist. Now what? Run away from home? Most of us have considered it at one time or another. But shhhhhh. Don’t admit it to the kids.

Sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and thanks for the angels

Say what? Yep. I believe in sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and angels, as follows:

  • Network (the “it takes a village” concept)
  • Exchange of services (good old fashioned barter)
  • Angels (they’re everywhere, and they look like us)

A support network is essential. If you’ve lost yours following a relocation or divorce, do whatever you can to rebuild. (Some ideas follow.) Simply put – you need people to help give you relief. A network of trusted “villagers” – other parents, teachers, students, neighbors.

Remember barter? You give me this, I’ll give you that? According to some sources, barter systems date back to 6,000 BC. Long before there was money, goods and services were exchanged. My furs for your perfume. And at an even more basic level – your hunting and fishing for my giving birth (not to mention, fabulous cave painting). Believe me, you’ve got skills that someone can use, and they’ve got skills that you can use. Barter!

As for angels, I’m not channeling Travolta in wings, nor the Sistine Chapel. Not even the backers of Broadway musicals. I’m talking about everyday people who are kind and give, for no reason except that it feels good, it’s helpful, and they can. The fact is – we all can. We can be angels for each other, perhaps by listening when someone needs an ear, or by helping a stranger who is lost. Perhaps in that “exchange of services” way I just mentioned.

I hope I’ve been an angel in my own way, and I’ve certainly run into my share in recent years. Angels are not defined by age or gender, by religion or even spirituality. They simply understand that we are a human community. And when they see someone who needs help, if they can, they help.

Haven’t you been an angel? I’m guessing the answer is yes, if you think about it. And if you’ve been on the receiving end, you pass it along when you are able.

Specifics

Just so you know where I fit in this picture (yes, this is the part where I establish my credentials), I am the mother of two teen sons, now 18 and 17. I was technically married for many years. My (then) husband traveled, a great deal, and we had no family in the area. I worked a full-time job (close to home), then a full-time job from a home office while being “full-time mom” to my boys. Helping other mothers with pickups and free time is the stuff that gets you through. I was often the “helper,” for many years.

Following divorce, layoff, and a move, my former network fell apart. Things got challenging very quickly, and frankly, I was in the robotic zone for months (years?) as I scrapped for project and freelance clients, raised my kids, and tried to keep myself semi-sane and semi-healthy. Somehow, I thought I ought to be able to do it all – if I just tried hard enough. Listen up, please. It’s not possible. No one can do it all alone. Furthermore, I don’t believe we are meant to. And nor is it the best thing for our kids.

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Who Gets Up With the Baby?

Before we were married, Ben and I had a long discussion about division of household chores.  He suggested, and I agreed, that if he works full-time, I would also work full-time doing the household chores.  When he came home, we would share the remainder of the tasks.

This worked well.  In the beginning, we both worked part-time and attended school full-time and shared the household chores.

After we had Emily, things changed.  I quit working but continued to attend school full-time.  It seemed natural that I would take care of the household chores.

After a couple of months, we realized we needed to re-evaluate this division.  It was nearly impossible for me to take care of a colicky baby, finish homework, and stay on top of meals, dishes, and laundry.  Thus, Ben began cooking and cleaning more.  I focused on the laundry.  It worked rather well.

Breaking up household tasks was easy.  Breaking up who gets up with the baby was harder, is still hard.

With Emily, Ben and I would both get up.  He would change the diapers, I would take care of the feedings (obviously).  It was an arrangement that worked quite well.

When Andrew arrived, things changed.  I was no longer juggling school and mothering.  I became a fully certified stay-at-home mom.  Ben, though, is busier.  Between 4 part-time jobs (equaling about 20-25 hours per week total), 16-17 credits of pre-med courses, and MCAT studying, his time is limited.  He stays up later than me and usually gets up earlier than me.  It seemed logical, in my mind, that he forgo night time duties.  I didn’t explain this shift to him, I just stopped waking him up at night.

A week or so ago, I explained to Ben that Andrew would probably sleep longer through the night if I would get up to change him rather than just allowing him to find comfort in eating.  I just don’t want to deal with getting up and changing him.  So, because of my laziness, I am actually getting less sleep. Ben reminded me that he can also help.  If I give him Andrew, he would be happy to change him.  Yet, it seems illogical that both of us lose sleep.  I figure that since I am home all day, I should solely handle Andrew at night.

My question for you is this.  Should I include Ben in night time tasks if he is already getting less sleep than I am?  If yes, how can I do this without burdening him even more?

Alternatively, any advice on kicking my lazy habit of not changing Andrew’s diaper in the middle of the night? That is probably more pressing.

Thank you, in advance, for any advice you share.

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