Wednesday, March 21, 2012

80/20 Diet...Erm, Parenting.

I guess you could say that I am a person of high ideals. I had this idea of motherhood, ideals for myself, what I would be..what my kids would be.

This last year, parenting has been hard. Mainly because my kids have challenged my ideals...or should I say, reality has.

I remember when Roo was a young toddler, how many big thoughts, theories and ideals I had for my parenting journey. I had a lot of "I would nevers" as well as some, "I will always" on my list. I can't say I had many "My kids would/will nevers..." on my list, because of Roo's babyhood (she was high needs) I knew there wasn't much I could control about THEM.
 But my list for me went something like...
I would never hit [aka spank] my kids...
 I would never yell like that...
 I will always put my kids developmental stages in perspective...
 I will never just hand out a punishment with out getting the big picture...
oh yeah, I will never punish...natural and logical consequences only!
 I will always be respectful of my children, they are people and deserve my respect.

  In my deeply set and untried convictions, I stood (self) righteous.

And then reality slapped me in the face

The grueling work the under 5 crew. The constant needs, demands, tantrums...The feelings of failure, frustration, shock, anger. The roller coaster that is one hour in the day. The constant-ness that is being a Mom of toddlers. Especially if youronly vocation IS caring for your kids. Add some pregnancy hormones and eventually a baby wedged in and pressing down there...And ultimately learning to balance life with a newborn: yikes. Reality bites.

 Humility steps in, and you are covered with the realization that reality and convictions aren't black and white. You'll make mistakes in moments you never could have fathomed. You'll wonder if you and your children will come out on the other side of this infuriating and exhausting stage with your relationship intact. If they will remember the hours you spent on walks enjoying their company and funny amazing thoughts. The hours of playdoh, the books read together, the trips to the playground. Will they remember, you wonder, if the hours of your voice singing to them in the dark of their room? You sang and sang, while they tossed and turned, and your voice went hoarse.

Or will they remember when you lost it and yelled for the 5th time that morning...When you screamed at them, when you totally knew better, and wanted to do better.

In the very bad weeks, you wonder why the heck you signed up for this. And start to question if there is a better way...You run through all the scenarios, all the things you could change.. Go back to work, keep them home, have Daddy become the stay at home parent. And its always good to reevaluate regularly, to get perspective.

But maybe, you need to swallow the humble pie and the lessons learned. The biggest lesson being, you need some grace too.

I think I've failed all my "I would nevers". I see, looking back, my pride  I am not one to judge in a black and white sense. But in my mushy grey way, I would make judgements. I would feel sad for the poor unenlightened parent. And then reality wore me down, dealing with the same mind numbing and frustrating scenarios day after day...Night after molar-teething-sleep-deprivation-torture after molar-teething-sleep-deprivation-torture night.

The reality? We can't judge anyone... I know we want something concrete. We, or I should be using *I* for all of my yous (but I wanna hide and hope I'm not alone, okay?)..I want to know This is how it IS. You do X...You get Y. But children aren't math equations, and some days just suck.

 Some times you just snap. Damn the tool box!!! BAH! to respect!  This kid is driving me CRAZY!!! And you fail, big time.

My point... you can focus on your failures, or you can celebrate your triumphs.

Celebrate the times where you handled the squabble with your preschoolers in a hands off respectful way. The time you all walked away with new knowledge and prepared for the next time.

Celebrate the fact that your 4 year old trusts you enough to tell you to "take a breath" when she can see you're frustrated. And you do, and you strengthen relationship instead of demean. 

Celebrate when you remember to breath and slow down and embrace the chaos.

When you listen first and speak softly.

Celebrate getting through a bad day, even if the only thing you have is that tomorrow is a, "fresh day with no mistakes in it". Don't worry about the "yet"!

Hold your ideals. But in the end,  LOVE. Celebrate love. And love other parents you see struggling. Love them and keep your judgmental thoughts in check. Love them, because that's where they are at in that moment.

It is because of love that our kiddos are so forgiving. Their forgiveness blows me away. Your fumbling and bumbling wont break it...If you're doing your best to love.

It's kind of like a good diet. They say if you eat 80% really great stuff, you will still thrive when 20% not so great is present.

I'm applying that to parenting. 80% love and 20% grace. You're doing a great job.

Keep loving...yourself too!

Take time for yourself.
When all else fails, use TV.

The end.

Who couldn't lovethis?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Today is 8 years since that traumatic day. It was a beautiful sunny and especially warm San Francisco Sunday. I had just had an extra special -emotionally draining morning at a church in the Castro. Little did I know how spent the end of the day would really find me. I remember the Moms frantic voice..."I couldn't wake your Father..He just wouldn't wake up ...I'm following the ambulance ...I'll call soon." I remember, numb. Tears. Prayers. Hugs. Packing. Crying all night long o. Flights...zombie walking and waiting in Airports My Daddy was in a coma. My life ended that day... I came home to ICU waiting rooms, family and friends waiting, tubes, respirators. Staples in his skull. I planned to stay 6 months...take my Dad to treatments to be home base where I could. I never returned to SF. Hubs happened ...Roo happened. Friendly...and eventually Pip too. But in the middle, there was Jacob..he was still in me this time last year, our last few hours together before the pain started...and he left me, this itty bitty ...well I won't get graphic in his departure. I miss my baby. I miss my Dad, especially watching sweet Pip and wishing he was here with my Mom spoiling his 3 grandgirls. The anniversary of his diagnosis always hits me harder than that if his actual death. It feels even harder now with the anniversary of baby J. But if anything it drives home the comforting truth...he is getting one of his enjoy his grandbabies. I hope he's giving baby J a kiss with his tickaly beard, and I hope he knows how much they are both missed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just Keep Swimming...

It's Friday...Friday...

Okay I won't go there. But I am definitely looking forward to the weekend. 

I made it through my first week of over-time..erm... of hubs working over time. Those 11 hour days with the kids, brutal. By Friday evening I am struggling with perspective. Really, finding perspective seems to be the story of my life right now...

And it does come to me... There is nothing like watching Roo girl with Pip. NOTHING. The child is infatuated, twitterpated. She also can't wait until Pip is big enough to play with, and some times forgets to be as gentle as is necessary...But all in all, their interaction (Pip smiles her way the most!) It's beautiful. 

This one is having a bit more of a hard time with a baby in the house... 2.5years is a hard spacing, I wouldn't change it, but I hope to never repeat it. That said Friendly truely LOVES the baby...She is very gentle with the baby. She spends a lot of time with me and the baby. She loves to rub her cheeks against Pips head. She loves to help me burp "our baby". But it is a challenge to find the emotional energy for this very outward thinking little person. And I have been having an especially challenging time because Pip isn't exactly an "easy" baby. 

5 weeks old
She's not a screamer, and for that I will be eternally grateful. My ears, emotions, and soul can't handle that. But she knows what she wants...My kind of girl. And what does she want? Milk. Quiet. And stillness...Yes, stillness. She doesn't take well to being moved when she's at the tap (so to speak). I can't nurse her in a sling like I did with Friendly as a newborn...I can't really move at all with out her popping off and screaming (and my milk then spraying her in the face and dripping all over the place). She loves milk and snuggles and she doesn't like all the up and around that is required of Mommie with her newly 4 year old and a 2.5 year old needing me too. 

This too shall pass, right?

I am so thankful she isn't a screamer. But her fussing and pouty lip, her frustrated nursing when she is overtired...Not easy. I do my best to be responsive, but I gotta say- I doubt I'm bringing any "attachment parenting" awards home. 

This girly likes it CHILL...Our house is so not chill. I also need to say, I am so thankful she's not my first. The hours she fusses at the breast (and she has several hours of the day - though not  a set time like the other girls- where she is FUSSY about her milk) I think I would have thought some thing was wrong. SO thankful for my hard experiences with Roo and that I know all babies have different styles of fussy nursing... But glad I haven't experienced this caliber until #3...Okay, maybe not. 

Where was I? Oh, Perspective. It's hard to keep it in place. It's hard to face your limits. To accept where you're at, and hope for a smoother path ahead. 

This postpartum time has been such a gift. Hunkering down with my kids and keeping life very basic, taking this winter time to be home and reflect and adjust...It's been really good for me. I am so glad it's not the height of spring and I'm out running around. I need this time to process. 

I am seeing new things about my girls...Like, Roo and I do so much better in our interactions (and attitudes towards eachother) when we can enjoy each other outdoors. We both thrive on that. 

I am also seeing how very similar we are, she's a hard little nut to crack and I am seeing her with different lenses lately. I think we're so much a like we confuse each other some times. More on that another time.

For now, I'm enjoying our slow pajama days... staying ahead of the sleep deprivation...And taking it easy when I feel it might catch me. I'm thankful they are all so close together in age: that no one is needing me to take them to school, or rush them off to extracurricular activities. 

It's just us in our bubble, and that's been nice. 

But ... Spring is coming....

I can't wait...