Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Waiting Is Hard!

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a new show on PBS.  It's a spin-off of the old Mister Roger's Neighborhood and I love it.  So do my kids.  Since I have a pretty strict TV policy in our house, I was excited to include this as part of my children's programming repertoire.

I think I have learned as much from this show as my kids have.  I have learned that waiting is hard, getting mad is okay, and playing with people is more important than playing with toys.  Okay, so I might have known those things before, but Daniel Tiger reminded me of their importance.

This last month I found myself in a tough spot.  I was feeling very tired.  Tired of not having any time to myself, or time to work out, or time to just think/eat/sleep.  (Not to mention that silly depression came out again.)  So I thought, "Hey! You can make time!"  And I did.  I used my nap times, bed times, and any time I could think of to work out/read/eat.  Soon I was so exhausted that I was crying every night.

In the midst of this, I remembered a goal I made before Andrew was born to not worry about things like working out or having any "alone" time until my baby was at least 6 months.  By then, s/he would have a more regular schedule and hopefully sleep for longer than 2-3 hour spurts.  Sound advice, right?

But, doggone it! Waiting for that is hard.  I want to work out. I want time when I'm not surrounded by my 3 and 4 year-old or holding my baby.  However, Ben works a lot and we live too far away from friends.  Rather than banging my head on the door from frustration, I am learning to be patient.  It's like when Amelia was really colicky. Though it was hard, I could rely on my previous knowledge of that period ending.  Guess what? It did.  Sooner than I expected.

I hear often that moms need time to themselves so they can recharge.  It's true. However, when circumstances prevail and it just doesn't happen or is impossible to realize, is it really helpful to dwell on it?*  To cry, scream, or thrown oneself on the ground in absolute frustration?**  I don't think so.  This is where Daniel Tiger's infinite wisdom comes in: while waiting is hard, that period won't last forever.

Thanks Daniel Tiger for reminding me of this valuable lesson.
*I am certainly not advocating to do way with alone time, because it is important for a parent's health.  I just think that sometimes it doesn't work out that way and a parent doesn't need to carry around extra guilt for not putting one more thing on their check-list.

**Though I certainly reserve the right to cry, scream, and throw myself on the ground in frustration occasionally.  Sometimes it just feels good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Unless You're Sitting in My Living Room

Yesterday was election day here in the U.S of A.  Being the intelligent person I am, I gathered all the kids in the car so they could participate in the process by standing in an hour-long line with me.  To enhance the experience, I forgot the Halloween candy and interrupted their nap time.

As awesome as that experience was (envision my 2 oldest running and screaming in the tiny, crowded voting station and you'll get the idea), it did not compare to the masterful mess my kids created in the living room that morning.

They followed an airtight recipe:

  • Two boxes of Legos

  • A package of Saltines crackers

  • A bag of dried Cheerios

  • 16 oz. of spilled water

  • 1 container of dress-up clothes

  • 1 container of dolls and stuffed animals

Which resulted in this:


The mess was - is - epic people.  EPIC.  (Sadly the photo does not do it justice.)

Which is why I will be spending my morning cleaning and singing Snow White's "Whistle While You Work."

Alright friends, spill it.  What is the best (worst?) mess made by your kid(s)?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Could Get Used to This

Amelia hasn't stopped crying since midnight last night,  (at least it feels that way but I'm sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.), the kids refused nap time, and I ate way too many chips and drank way too much hot chocolate so am now feeling frumpy, tired, and yucky.

Rather than dwell on all that, I'd like to return to the cozy feelings I had yesterday.


I had a perfect day today.  It started this morning, after my work-out and before Ben went to work.

While sitting on my blue, flower-print couch nursing Amelia, she looked up at me with the widest grin, making cooing noises.  We chatted for a minute while her brother and sister were in another room playing with their dad. If I looked hard enough, I'm sure I would have seen sparkles signifying the magical aspects of that moment.

I still haven't had a night where she's slept over 4 hours.  Sometimes, if I'm lucky, she'll sleep for 3 hours straight, but that's a rare occurrence   Even rarer is when one or both of her siblings doesn't climb into bed and wake me up with their jerky movements and shifting positions the rest of the night.  Each morning I look at the dark spots under my eyes and vow to not let anyone in bed with us, but every night they come to the edge of my bed crying, "Mommy, I need you," and I scoot over so they can sleep next to me, unable to refuse their sad faces.

I also can't place Amelia in a crib yet, partly because of her siblings' delight in throwing items in with her, partly because she whimpers and cries if I put her in there, but mostly because I really enjoy snuggling with her at night.

Sleepless nights are not my enemy anymore.

After I took Emily to preschool, I sat with Andrew and read story after story.  We played blocks and giggled as his fire truck repeatedly knocked over the towers we built.  Once we picked Emily up from preschool, we came home and ate a snack together. The kids then went to their room and played while I laid down with Amelia and watched her beautiful face smile and listened to her coo.  At one point she stared straight into my eyes for a full minute, until she noticed the overhead fan. I might have gasped.

The kids refused a nap and I didn't have the energy to fight, so they played while I cleaned and wrote.  I'm sure I felt tugs of sleepiness in the corners of my eyes, but I didn't feel overpowered by them.  Instead, I basked in their sweet noises and conversations.

I listened as Emily created an imaginary world using their toy boxes, her dress-up clothes, and the cheap plastic McDonald's figurines they managed to sneak past the open grimace of our black trash can.  Andrew zoomed around the room with his big fire truck, carrying his "pink horsey" to and from danger.  Amelia snoozed on the bed, occasionally letting sleep moans and sighs escape her rose-colored lips.

I drank it all in.

This parenting gig, with all its fluctuations from perfect to crazy, is a thrilling ride.  I can't remember one boring moment - okay, there was that one month - and I also can't remember not feeling both overwhelmed and grateful that I, imperfect me, get to parent these delightful sweethearts.  I think that as I've dropped the expectations I created from reading parenting books and on-line resources on How Not to Ruin Your Children's Lives - which seems to be the basic theme behind every parenting article that endorses one idea over another - I've really embraced the fun aspects of it.  Parenting is no longer scary.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Choosing Relationships Over Belief Systems: An Apology

Knowledge should be shared.  At least that's what I've always thought.  Surely, if I learn something new, I should spread my newly found truth far and wide.

Last year, when I had my crisis of faith, I read and listened to everything I could regarding the religion I grew up in.  And, upon doing so, I felt sad for those living in ignorance so I decided to "educate" them.

I once had an associate that often corrected me when I expressed any opinion.  From innocent remarks like mentioning my favorite colors were pink and yellow - "those are typical colors for females to like, perhaps you should reconsider" - to recounting my mishaps in parenting "hm, if I were a parent, I would have done it this way" - this person's snide commentary often left me feeling small and worthless.

In a similar fashion, my newly discovered knowledge on religions in general and Mormonism specifically often led to unintended criticisms of my family, friends, and associates when they brought up any religious theme.   I became that associate the people did not wish to converse with because I denigrated rather than uplifted.  People were uncomfortable in my presence and by my writing.

Emily and Andrew have sibling fights daily. Usually they argue over who can play with a particular toy or who can sit/lay next to me or Ben.  During these tense moments, I remind them that they are brother and sister.  It's natural to have disagreements but they need not let material things ruin their relationship. Apologies ensue and they return to playing happily together.

I know that some people disagree with me politically and spiritually. I am sure that people also disagree with how I parent.   But that's okay.  Letting that get in the way of positive relationships by criticizing another for how they think or feel - rather than discussing a specific idea - is harmful and doesn't align with my religion of compassion.  Basically, I'm letting material ideas get in the way of relationships.

So, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry to my parents, friends, and associates for making cruel remarks about their belief systems.  I'm sorry for alienating people by assuming their faith is based on falsehoods and that I need to educate them.

I'm sorry.

I hope that in our world, in which we are ever evolving into people who put aside belief systems to nourish friendships and familial relationships, I can have thoughtful discussions with people about their belief systems.  I also hope that forgiveness and a renewal of friendships is possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Day I Couldn't Stop Crying

When I reached the third trimester of Amelia's pregnancy, and started preparing for the birth, I began yearning for the peace of the hospital room.  I have many friends who prefer home births because they find it more serene than the hustling hospital birth.  I understand.  But, for me, the hospital is much more relaxing because it means space and time to myself and being served - literally - 24/7.

Once I had Amelia, and settled into the room, I didn't want to leave. It was peaceful. I had meals brought to me.  I spent 24/7 holding my infant.  It was heaven.

On the day before I was to go home, I started crying and I couldn't stop.

I haven't told very many people about this event because as much as I fight against the stigma of depression/anxiety/everyothermentalillness, I know it still exists.  I also don't want sympathy or cries of "I didn't know, I would have helped!" because there really isn't much a person could do to help, or "so glad you're feeling better!"  because I don't ever get better.  The sadness/worry is always hovering above my head waiting until THAT moment to rain down.

As the nurses tried to comfort me, I cried even more.  How could I explain to them that I didn't want to go home?  That I wanted to stay in the hospital for months?

My reasons for crying were legion: returning to our tiny apartment that always hovered near 100 degrees during that hot summer; having to surrender laundry duties to Ben because we don't have a washer and dryer; having 3 flights of stairs (or 52 steps) separate me from the rest of the world; having all my friends live too far away to visit without a car; being alone with my kids for 10-14 hours a day when Ben returned to work; and not being able to take the kids outside to run around because we don't have a yard (that's safe) and don't have parks nearby.

I continued crying throughout the rest of my hospital stay and for the whole day I was home with Ben before he returned to work.


When I think of wanting to stay in a little hospital bed surrounded by machines, instead of home with my dear husband and sweet children, I wonder what was wrong with me.

Except I know.

I know that my fears weren't unfounded.  Heck, Amelia is almost 3 months now and I still wake up with that fear clutching my heart and those suffocating feelings of can I really do this today?

These feelings aren't because I have three children.  It's because we, the kids and I, are stuck; with no car, no parks, and no friends close by we quickly grow tired of each other.

But, unlike the other periods of suffocating postpartum depression, I have insight and perspective.  I also have hope - even if it is fleeting.  I know that this time really will end.  In 4.5 months we will move from this place with it's 52 steps and isolating location.  We will find somewhere that allows us to stretch, to walk, and to interact with people who will, hopefully, become lifelong friends.

Yes. Light seeps through the darkness.