Friday, March 3, 2017

Paradox

I am in the middle of what feels like a giant paradox of parenthood.  I feel pushed and pulled in a hundred directions as a mom. I have kids in varying stages who need me in different ways, and I don't always know how to be the right mom for each person.  The biggest weight recently has been the disconnect I feel from my baby.

He will be 21 months next week and he knows four words.  Four.  Ma, Da, Yeah, No.  He doesn't always say them consistently.  There is so much grunting and screaming and crying, and it's become a major source of frustration for both of us.  This week he's decided to start throwing everything in the toilet, and I feel like I'm losing my mind.  He got ear tubes almost a month ago, and while I realize there were probably hearing issues factoring into his speech that the tubes will help with, I want a quick fix.  A month feels like long enough for him to start talking, right?  (obviously, I know it doesn't, but oh how I wish it did)

My time as a mom has taught me that families can only move as quickly as the slowest member.  While the pace of life is getting faster with some of my kids, I feel mired down by a one year old.  Although he feels like a whirling dervish and it seems like he's moving quickly, he's really not.  I have always been the mom to relish slow days with my kids, but I think it's the push and pull that makes me kind of resent them instead.  We have very few slow days home together.  I'm busy taking Charlie back and forth to tutoring, taking Nellie to dance, driving preschool carpool, trying to fit in visits to my dad, doctor/dentist/ortho appointments for 7 people, phone calls, errands for groceries and school projects and a million other things, oh yeah, and clean the house and cook and do dishes and laundry with a tornado following along behind me.  If we have a slow day at home, it's usually because I'm letting go of one of the many things listed above that I should be doing.  Slow days often don't come without guilt.  Writing this makes me realize he could definitely use more slow days at home, but I'm not sure how to work those in.

Coupled with all of the feelings of frustration is a weight of sadness.  Wes is very likely our last baby, but I feel like I'm wishing away my days with him.  The frustration has crowded out the joy, and I feel like the moments I enjoy him are few and fleeting.  He cuddled with me for a minute, a rare treat, before his nap today. I watched his eyes fighting to stay open as we rocked.  I let it soak in.  I know the times I have left in this stage of motherhood are coming to a close. Thinking about it shatters me because I love having babies.  I have loved having a family.  I love watching my kids grow and learn.  I love seeing their successes and helping them through the hard parts.  I can't imagine doing anything else right now.

And so, the paradox.  My emotions are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with love and gratitude and guilt and sadness and frustration all taking turns at center stage.  I know (at least I hope, but I think on number five I can say I know) that a few months from now I'll come back and read this and things will have changed.  Things come to pass, not to stay.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

so someday I'll remember

I have spent most of my adult life not being a very political person.  It's been a topic that I've just steered clear of, tired of the fighting, not wanting to offend others by jumping into the fray, and honestly more worried about the problems in my own home than the problems in Washington.  This year things have changed.  It's not that I'm not worried more about my own home, it's that I'm realizing how things happening in Washington could impact those things, and it's not ok.  I'm not usually an alarmist, but the rise of our current administration has set off a lot of bells and whistles for me.  It's a good thing I don't work for him currently, because if I was a member of the state department and said I disagreed, my job would be gone today.  That kind of censorship is terrifying.

There are many things that bother me about where we are right now as a nation.  We've elected someone who does not in my mind have the makings of a good leader.  I consider good leaders to be people with integrity.  I want a leader I can trust.  I want a leader who puts the needs of others before their own.  I think good leaders practice servant leadership.  I don't see any of these qualities in our current leader. Many tried to point out that he would surround himself with the best and brightest.  The people he's chosen to surround himself with make me even more nervous.  I see friends and family who are so relieved it's not the other candidate that they feel like they can sit back and relax.  Both candidates were equally abhorrent to me, just in different ways, and honestly in some of the same ways.  Our vigilance can't stop just because thank heavens it's not Clinton.

Part of my job as a history teacher was to inspire civic involvement.  After I hung up my teaching hat, civic involvement took a back seat for too long. Right now I see freedoms starting to slip and it makes me nervous. I see an executive branch attempting to remove checks and balances through use of executive orders. I see a need for action.  I am hopeful that I can find my role in it all.  I alternate between contacting my congressmen and trying to focus on doing good in my own sphere.  I'm hopeful that a backlash of goodness will help to balance out the craziness happening, because if it's doing anything, it's helping people realize they have to act.

I wanted to write about this because I feel like in the future, it's something I will want to look back on.  What were my feelings after Trump's first week in office?  Here they are.  I'm strapping on my seatbelt because I fear we're in for a wild ride.

Friday, January 13, 2017

On the passage of time

Today Facebook told me I had memories from this day to look back on.  

Six years ago today I was finding out about something I missed in my dad's COBRA paperwork that was going to interfere with his insurance coverage.  I remember the stress of that time and trying to figure out how I was going to navigate the mistake, although I don't remember all of the specifics. 

Five years ago today we found out we were having a girl, and Addie was beyond excited.  We had a late ultrasound and brought pink cupcakes to surprise our family waiting for the news.  I was so excited to add another girl to our mix. 

Three years ago today we moved all our belongings into the garage of our home and moved ourselves into a hotel for several days while we waited for our windows to be reinstalled.  Long, long, frustrating days after 7 months of our build that I wouldn't want to relive. 

It struck me looking back on these events how much happens in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Each of those years looked so different, from being up to my chin in caregiving to being completely elated to welcome another baby to being so exhausted from a marathon build process.  Today if I were to summarize the day, it would talk about going to a doctor's appointment, grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking and celebrating Sam's birthday with friends tonight.  It would talk about how loud a few 9 and 10 year olds can be, and how grateful I am for the good kids we're surrounded with.  It would talk about how much mess can be made in a kitchen after making homemade pizzas.  It would also talk about how grateful I am to be where I am right now.

Wes is hard right now with ear infections and lack of words and lots of screaming and whining, but even with those few difficult behaviors, I feel some of the fog of the first 18 months starting to lift.  I feel myself being able to do a little more than I have been.  When we made goals for the year, one of my goals this year was to have people over more often.  Addie gave a big sigh of relief because it's been the norm for a long time to have people over, but since Wes was born I had to recognize the things that had to go, and that was one of them.  I've retreated from a lot of things over the last 18 months (really, longer, when I factor in being pregnant).  My energy has been limited, and so I've had to put it where it's really mattered.  As I've started to get out of the haze, I can feel myself stretching out again, willing to gather some of the things that have fallen by the wayside back into my life.  It feels good to get back to some of those things that bring me  joy.  I don't want to take on too much too soon, but there are friendships I've neglected, words I haven't written, music I haven't played, parties I haven't had, and things I haven't learned that have waited for me.  There are plenty of things I have learned, and learning how to be selective with my time and energy during different seasons of life is one of those lessons.  I'm hopeful that as I reach out again, I can enjoy taking things on without overextending.  Life is a constant balancing act.  Time passes oh so quickly, and I don't want to regret how I'm spending it.  I'm grateful for the little Facebook memories today that reminded me just how fast time flies.