Can’t sleep

Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night it’s because it’s the first time I’ve had all day to actually think my own thoughts.  Most of the day, I spend my time thinking about school schedules and making it to story time, snacks and baths and when the last time I offered them was, how to time the laundry so nothing gets left in the washer overnight but also avoids getting left to wrinkle in the laundry basket. I put together lesson plans, meal plans, find creative ways to keep the boys occupied, settle constant disputes over toys and water cups. I keep the toilet paper stocked and the cat box clean, sweep up dirt, wipe down counters, clear off table tops, remake beds, fold clothes, pick up toys and books to make usable space and paths to walk through, collecting dirty laundry, trash and erratic odds and ends as I go.  I wipe up spilled milk and spilled snacks and pee.  At night, when it’s quiet, it’s the first time all day that my mind has been let off it’s leash, free to roam around all the unexplored places. 

Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night it’s because I’m laying in bed, eyes closed, a train of thoughts rushing at me eager to make its round before the track runs out.  All my worries of the everyday race past.  I worry that I didn’t spend enough meaningful time with each boy, that I woke up in a bad mood, that I don’t actually like my dog all that much.  More mundane, homey things follow: dishes left in the sink, what to make for dinner tomorrow, how to go about cleaning the crud in the corners behind the toilet and what a gross chore that is. The creative ideas are the most fun: the lesson plans that put themselves together, the thoughts that finally connect, projects to do with the boys, ways to redecorate, beautifully passionate and inspired speeches to give to my students, ways to instill creativity and a love for the work.  I can’t sleep because these perfectly worded sentences are flying through my brain and I think that I should get up and write them all down before they are gone forever. But I don’t.  Because I am tired.  Because I love sleep and I don’t get enough of it.

Tonight I broke the trend.  I was so sure that I was going to get to bed early tonight. Imagined myself lovingly gathering the children into bed, all of us nodding off together at a nice respectable hour, never stirring until dawn.  That is my dream.  That is my fantasy, every night.

But here I am.

It isn’t all bad.  Casey’s snoozing next to me, arms and hands covered in markers and dirt. We went back to the park this evening, just the two of us, to find his tiny multi-colored bouncy ball which he had rolled down the curly slide and then lost sight of, while at the park with his grandmother a few hours prior to our outing, causing a meltdown and a grief cycle that lasted until his dad got off of work at 6:45 and we could sneak away.  In the mean time, I attempted a second rate magic trick, where I pulled a different bouncy ball, this one green and blue, from behind his ear. That set him off because he “liked the smaller ball with all the colors and that one is just an earth ball.” I can only be grateful that the universe daned to land his small, multi colored ball near the base of one of the smaller, less used slides, hiding it from view of any child with an inkling to make it their own.

Anyway, we did find the ball and even went out to eat at Casey’s request pushing dinner right into bedtime, which of course caused both boys to have a little more frenetic energy to dispel before they could calm themselves for sleep.  So here we are.  Casey snoring next to me because he simply couldn’t settle down in his own bed without a thousand sips of water and a few dozen wines that he “really wanted to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed.”  (Actually, I’m a soft touch so it was probably more like 3 sips of water and 5 wines, but still.)  And now I can’t sleep.  I’ve devised three brilliant lesson plans, settled on two avenues of research for future projects, and imagined a perfectly timed out, creatively filled week, except I can’t actually think when that leaves me enough time to get all the things done that I have to do before next week.  So I return to the worry train parked on track one and finally decided to simply get up and put my fingers to the keys. I had to use up my frenetic energy before I could calm myself enough to trick my body into sleep.  We’ll see if it works.  Goodnight.

wisdom

It’s another world in the branches above us.
“It’s another world inSIIIDE the branches too.”
My four year old reminds me
How wise he has become.
But perhaps children are always born this wise.
Maybe it’s age that makes us lose our innate wisdom-
the world’s insecurity thrusting its doubt into us.

Being an adult is such a burden
until we remember.

——-

He finds the parts of his world that don’t make sense,
the inconsistencies, the parts that are incorrect
and he creates order.

How does he order the ugly parts?
How does he make sense of the pain and confusion
that come along with living?

——-

I am one of those moms who thinks that everything is my fault.
I worry too much; think myself the cause of every tantrum, every fit,
every tear-stained cheek gnaws at me.
As if I alone could have prevented every bruise, every wound.

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——-

I never felt like I wasn’t enough
but I have long felt that the world was too much for me.

One step at a time

Life is just one dream flowing into another

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Yesterday was a tough day.  Tempers flared and my anger got the best of me, I have a friendship on the fritz, a knee injury keeping me from being as active as I would like to be and a house full of messes that I just can’t seem to get on top of.  I just couldn’t seem to shake it off and  I woke up this morning and felt the lingering weight of it all hanging over me.

I got home from dropping Casey off at school and got Cameron out of the car, ready to walk into the house and tackle some project or another.  Instead, Cameron wrapped him chubby hand around my pointer finger and led me down the driveway, with plans of his own.  I let him lead me along and we took a long, leisurely stroll around what we call the “big block”.  On it’s longest side, we walked along a relatively busy rode and Cameron pointed out the trucks and school busses whizzing past.  We stopped, briefly, to crouch down and examine the gravel along the sidewalk’s edge and to sit on the big rocks in one of our neighbors yards.  It was beautiful to simply walk quietly with him.

Later in the day, after we had picked up Casey and taken a surprise trip to the candy store in the mall, I took another walk with the boys, Cameron walking with me and Casey riding one of our scooters.  I let them dictate which direction we walked and set the pace.  Casey raced ahead and then stopped to study an ant hill or fill his little pick up truck with grass while he waited for Cam and I to catch up.  The sun was warm on our necks and bare legs and little Cameron’s cheeks were bright and rosy by the time we turned back into our driveway.

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Taking walks with my boys is probably one of my favorite things to do.  When Casey was a baby I took multiple walks a day, pushing him in his strolled and listening to podcasts or music.  When he was older we would regularly take off on walks around our neighborhood, naming things, talking about colors and flowers and birds.  I don’t get as much one on one time with Cameron to walk like I did with Casey, and often walking when both of them are riding something (tricycle, scooter, ride-on car, etc.) is a bit stress-inducing, so this morning felt really special. With Cameron walking along so independently, swinging his little arms, his chubby feet confident in his newly acquired hand-me-down flip-flops, I was reminded how quickly these days go by and how important it is to cherish them instead of squandering my day away in a cloud of negative energy.

 

We don’t have babies anymore.  We have two wonderful little boys.  Two creative, inquisitive, independent, silly and often exasperating little boys who are full of so much energy and so much life and often drive me nuts but fill my heart with more love then I’ve ever known.

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Casey turns 4

Casey turns 4
tomorrow.
He will be sitting in circle time or
maybe getting ready to go outside
at 10:46 am
when he arrived
4 years ago
and made me a mother.

The exact time,
4 years ago,
when he was lifted out
and put on my chest,
squished nose and eyes
just squinting into the light,
where he began his journey
and mine took a sharp turn
in its trajectory.

Now, his short hair makes him look
older. Like a big kid.
He’s allowed to ride his scooter
half way up the street, alone,
and he’d go much farther
if I let him.
He constantly fights me these days,
defiantly beating down the boundaries we set,
pushing past his limitations
without stopping to think it through.

Such bravado.
It must be exhausting work being so brave, so fearless.

His sigh, as he relaxes against me
belies his tough act.
He’s still my little boy.
He’ll always be my little boy.
His short hair is soft under my fingertips.

Casey turns 4 tomorrow.

 

 

 

Cold Wind

If I went inside at the first sign of cold, I would never have noticed the green tulip buds starting to poke through the cold soil. We would have missed the lone purple crocus that decided to open it’s face to the sun. I wouldn’t have been there to pick up my littlest for the umpteenth time when he tripped in the old rain boots he insists on wearing, letting him know that I am always behind him, always supporting.

If I went inside when the first cold wind beat at my face, we wouldn’t have been outside long enough for my oldest to practice his tree climbing and slip, scraping his hand against the tree trunk.  I wouldn’t have been outside to hold him and remind myself  how much he still needs his mama, even though he boasts all the time about being a “big kid” who “knows everything.”

I imagine how tough he must act at school when he gets hurt, wonder if he holds in tears instead of crying in front of his friends, glad I was outside today to hold him and let him relax in my arms and give him space to rest his tear-streaked cheek on my shoulder. If we went inside with the first cold wind, we wouldn’t see how soft we can be, or how strong.

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Shine

My children shine when I look at them-
as if their light is so bright it can’t be contained
within the boundaries of their excitable bodies.
They look out at me through glimmering eyes,
their vision highlighted by the brightness spilling
over their soft edges. Their world is full of possibility.

Sometimes, at night when I lay beside them,
when I hold them in my lap, savoring,
I smell their light through the tops of their head.
It takes on shape and color, texture, form.
I can see it when I close my eyes.

Their light lives inside of me-
although I could never describe it to you.
But give me blindness any day,
so I might collect their light, hoard it
until the world before me shines again.

ROAR

I’m sitting in the boys room. Casey is ensconced in his tent and Cameron is enthralled with watching his reflection, in his little mirror, as he threw a ball. We’ve recently rearranged their room and I’m quite happy with the results. Casey declared that he “has the prettiest room,” which is pretty high praise from an almost 4 year old. Although this is the same almost four year old who declares enthusiastically every time he farts, as if it’s never happened before, then becomes downtrodden if you don’t respond with equal enthusiasm. Still, I take what I can get these days as we move into what I hope is the end of the “threenager” phase. It’s a real thing- google it.

Casey’s newest game is to gather every single toy he can find into a huge pile somewhere. I’m not sure what he imagines when he looks at it but I find that it resembles a large trash heap inside my house, a sight which sets my anxiety into overdrive whenever I walk by.

I’ve been trying to become more mindful recently, more relaxed in my reactions to the events that life throws at my during each day. Possibly, this is some unconscious response to Casey’s new hobby, or it may stem from the brief article I read on mudras and meditation in a Yoga Journal I picked up at Whole Foods. It has sat largely untouched on our TV stand since bringing it home, save the one time I opened it and chanced upon the article. Either way, I’ve begun down this journey of becoming more mindful and it’s led me to a few startling discoveries. Like the other afternoon when I was standing in the kitchen and discovered that I could have cookies and kombucha at the same time without any guilt. Turns out I have all these unconscious rules that govern how I live my life, what I consider right and wrong; rules which, apparently, can be broken without earth shattering consequences.

Actually, over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that many of these “rules” actually interfere with my ability to stay present and feel happy. When I am held rigid by a rule, like “no mess in the house,” I can’t relax enough to be present with my child as he gathers every toy and stuffed animal into a “fort” around himself and let’s not even talk about being present to what he is thinking, feeling, seeing. What a huge loss it would be to not understand this, to never learn to relax within this tension just enough to open a keyhole to peek through and catch a glimpse of his world.

Practicing mindfulness, a little bit more each day, I find that inspiring thoughts seem to rise up out of no where:

You are not responsible for other people’s emotions.

Things are changing all the time. This too will change.

If you’re not sure what to do, do nothing until it presents itself

I am sure that I have read all these quotes somewhere- in books, on pinterest, posted on facebook. But all of a sudden they seem to appear when I need them, like little drops of fairy dust helping me to learn, slowly, to fly.

It’s not to say I don’t have my bad days. Sometimes, like yesterday, I feel like a shitty parent because I wake up in a bad mood and I’m immediately thrown into the trenches of motherhood, losing my patience and reaching my daily quota of butt wiping before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee, which is now cold. I yell at my children to much, I yell at my husband too much and I stomp around the house muttering about all the injustices of life, feeling overwhelmed and ignored and wanting nothing more then for someone to throw me a rope and help me find the strength to climb up and out of it all.

Then I leave the house and drive and drive and drive until I can think straight and get myself in order and find enough distance and breath to regain a sense of balance and lightness. And wouldn’t you know it, these inspiring quotes spring annoyingly to mind, reminding me that this is just one day, that I can not control what other people do, and also that it is unreasonable to expect people to read my mind.

Upon returning home, I find not a thing has been done and no one else’s mood has changed but I feel better equipped to handle it all. I have taken myself away to find my own rope to climb and I realize that this is good parenting. For my children to see me have a bad day is just a part of life. The important thing it that they also see how I am able to get myself out of it- at least I hope that one day they will see that. For now, I make jokes about how the tiger ROAR’s like mommy did this morning and take comfort in my boy’s laughter.

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