The year I become me

I took the photo below yesterday, as I drove home after dropping Casey off at school because it reminded me of him. All I was thinking about was my children; my baby boys. How lovely and simple it is to get so excited pointing out the trucks and cranes and construction vehicles of every sort as we drive…anywhere.”

Here’s something you may not know about me: I really like country music. Much to my husband’s chagrin, he often turns on the car, after I’ve been driving it, to find the local pop country station blaring from the speakers.

I like the optimistic heartbreak, the simplicity offered within the crooning lyrics. The picture of a simple life accentuated by a great pair of cowboy boots. It’s a welcome distraction from the world of NPR or CNN where we are constantly bombarded by the heaviness of the world- one that I am increasingly fearful of letting my boys loose in.

Waking up to the tragic shooting in Las Vegas hit me deeply. It’s the kind of event I could picture myself at with my boys when they are a bit older, albeit at our local 4-H fairgrounds. The children mentioned sitting on their parents shoulders took on the faces of my own two boys as I pictured their terror, felt the heart wrenching fear the parents must have felt. Even though the shooting happened on the other side of the country, it hit too close to home.

Maybe this is the same feeling that people have when they “get woke”. Something deep inside of me felt frighteningly fragile as the news broadcast sunk in too early yesterday morning and I felt hot tears unexpectedly falling. A great rage roiled in the bottom of my gut and a tremendous sadness seemed to settle into increasingly weary bones.

It’s not as if I haven’t been affected by past mass shootings or the injustices occurring around our country on a daily basis. I empathize with the hurt and fear of others. But here I am- a white, 32 year old, midwestern liberal. I live in the suburbs with my husband and two children, a dog and a fat grey cat. I don’t hide from the hard questions. I support my friends in the LGBT..Q..I community. I support people’s right to protest for fair and equal treatment. I fight hate and injustice by teaching my boys to love and treat everybody with the respect regardless of race, class, gender, age, weight.

My truth is that I spend my days changing diapers, encouraging naps, making snacks and trying to convince my oldest that our furniture is not a series of trampolines.  I wake up early, with an aching back and drive my boys to and from school and story time, haul them in and out of car seats as we go grocery shopping and on Target runs. 

But deep in my heart I long for a simple life away from the crowds and noise. I am comfortable on cities and enjoy exploring them but I feel most myself in wide swaths of open country. When asked if I’d rather live on a beach or in the mountains, I instinctively picture myself somewhere in between, surrounded by rolling hills and green pastures. My bucket list includes spending a summer working on a ranch in Montana and traveling by horseback to seek fields of wildflowers. In my wildest dreams, I imagine us moving somewhere and living on a small farm where I can expand my vegetable garden, grow and harvest lavender and raise goats, chickens and perhaps a small hive of honeybees.  I close my eyes and imagine waking up every morning to a quiet, picturesque and peaceful sunrise. Dreams, I know, but I have every right to them as should everyone who lives and resides in our great nation.  Yesterday, it felt as if the right to dream was being taken away; the right to yearn for a simpler existence was being stamped out with every bullet that tore through the crowded concert venue.  I have a great fear that my children’s right to dream is being taken away from them before they even know they possess it.  

So yesterday, still reeling from the shock of the morning’s news, I did the only think I could think of to combat the growing fear inside of me.  I picked Casey up from school and took the boys to the park, let them run around and be kids.  We sat at Dairy Queen for lunch telling jokes, singing silly songs and laughing over french fries and ice cream. I told them I loved them over and over. When I finally pulled into our driveway with both boys asleep in the backseat, I carried them in one by one, put them both in my bed and laid down to nap with them in my arms.

I will be 33 in a few months and just a few days ago the thought “this may very well be the year when I become me” fluttered through my brain. I actually laughed when this thought appeared. What does that even mean?

When I was 15 I remember having a very clear picture of the woman I wanted to be. She was a far cry from the awkward, self-conscious, slightly depressed teenager I embodied. Yet 17 years later, I have become her. And now I feel the last few protective layers falling away. T he last few pieces, like patches of dead skin, are itching to be sloughed off.

Maybe I’m woke. Maybe I’m just sick of it all, sick of feeling so fearful, angry that the simple world of country songs, a world highlighted by love and heartache, easy living and nights staring up at the stars from the back of a pick up truck, doesn’t seem allowed to exist anymore. The terror of the world is beginning to close in and it’s pissing me off.

Maybe 33 will be the year. Maybe it will be the year I fight back, rail against a world that I can no longer stand and begin to build the world I picture my boys growing up it. Maybe it will be the year I become me.

Advertisements

Saturday

I’ve seriously been sitting here for the past hour and a half with two boys napping on top of me and I couldn’t be any happier!!

Here are a few recent videos:

Let’s Celebrate

It is quite popular today, at least in the mommy blog-o-sphere, to write articles highlighting that life isn’t merely the beautiful highlight reels we display on our social media; to admit to the fact that life is hard, that it takes strength and courage to walk the path of motherhood and marriage and friendship.

I am totally in with that crowd because raising two little boys is hard.  Raising independent, loud, demanding children is a hike through the wilderness that is all it’s own.  And it does take strength, courage, grace and a lot of coffee to walk it every day.

I want to take a moment, however, to do the opposite.  I want to suggest that we all take a moment and call out those times that are beautiful and awesome.  Let’s celebrate and commend ourselves when things are going well and we are groovin’ through life to the beat of our favorite song.

Life has been awesome for me lately. Not every moment is full of sunshine and rainbows (we’ve been watching a lot of Pixar’s Trolls lately, if you get the reference) but in general, we are in an upswing. I’ve been rocking nap times and mealtimes.  I’ve been connecting with my children- laughing with them and enjoying such sweet moments of play and conversation; watching them begin to play together and care for each other.  My husband and I have been talking about the issues that matter and taking on things as a team.  We’re getting projects done that have been put off and balancing the care’s of our daily lives in a way that is comfortable for both of us.

Maybe it’s the beautiful weather.  Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve been getting enough sleep.  Maybe it’s just ok to say that life is awesome right now and leave it at that.

It’s so helpful to reach out when things are hard, and it is equally comforting to be able to speak up when things are going swell.  Life has a balance, a rhythm and the only thing that we can be certain of is change.  Things aren’t going to be rainbows and unicorns all the time. The upswing will eventually give way to a downswing before it heads back up again.  So let’s do more of showing up for each other when things get dark, when our friends and neighbors need a hand held out to them.  And let’s do more celebrating when things are awesome.  Let’s cultivate joy for ourselves and for each other when life hands out opportunity and success and be grateful for all the sweet beautiful moments.

I sure am grateful for all the sweet beautiful moments I’ve been experiencing lately.

 

The Center Must Hold

I realized recently that I am the center of this family.  The point around which each person orbits; the axis around which this family unit revolves.  To my boys I am like the sun that lights their way during the day and the north star that leads them through dream land at night.  I am their home base- the place they run to when they are hurt, tired, scared, sad, excited, curious, bored.  I am the kisser of boo-boo’s, the righter of wrongs, their teacher, play pal and confidant all rolled into one incredibly tired and sometimes completely overwhelmed package.

When I wake irritable and cross with the world, the boys around me echo my sentiments (except sweet Cameron who is still young enough to wake each morning with a smile, happy simply to be awake again, glad just to see me and excited to begin exploring the world). The rest of them- their cranky footsteps, pouting faces and silent stares remind me that in order to teach kindness, I must be kind.  If I want a calm and happy home, then I must lead them there by managing my own anger, acting in ways that convey empathy, understanding and interest and displaying a loving and accepting self even, no especially, in those times when I would rather scream and shout and slam a door.

I am the center and the center must hold.

My husband is like a small island in the middle of this great big, often torrential sea, providing me with a place to land when I am in need of rest and a reminder of what is true.  Sometimes I lose sight of the island and become weary that we will not make landfall this day, afraid that I will be left to drift off alone in this vast expanse.  But then the tide recedes and there he is.  He is a great source of truth for me, reminding me of what is real, gently helping me to steer when I feel off course, always seeming to know what to say to reel me back to myself.  He sees me in a way that no one else does and he chooses to continue loving and supporting me day after day. There are few words in the english language which express the gratitude and comfort that I get from this.

My boys are the waves of our great ocean- coming at me full steam most days, forcing me to strengthen my strokes and take deep breaths before diving in.  But they are also the warm sand on which I rest, the sunshine that brightens my days and the heart-center of our foursome.  They give me strength even as they wear me out and fill me with joy and light even on the hard days, even when I wake irritable and cross and yell because wining doesn’t make pancakes cook faster and because one drop of chocolate milk spilled on our shirt dictates a huge laundry emergency despite the shoulders that are stiff with wiped off snot.  :::sigh:::

Choose what is most important in every moment
Listening to the voices in your head
And learn to hear your truth
Learn what feels good and what is right for you
Find ways to love those parts of yourself that have been undervalued

I see the echos of myself in my boys, in my husband and sometimes I don’t like what I see.  As the boys get older, especially Casey, it becomes increasingly evident and important to model good behavior, appropriate ways to deal with big feelings, right actions and deep empathy.  I don’t always manage to live up to my own ideal but I am learning.

I’m learning that it’s ok. It’s ok to not feel the way I think I should feel. It’s ok to feel the way I do. It’s ok to get mad, to be annoyed, to let them cry a bit, to not give in, to give in, to take alone time, to step away, to want to always come back, to want to hold on a little longer, and to grieve for the loss of a moment that just passed. It’s ok to want to just go inside, to just want to curl up and want quiet for a few moments. It’s ok to some days prefer one boy more then the other, to prefer on game over another, to get tired of playing with toys, to not get to the to-do lists. It’s ok to cry and it’s ok to laugh and to feel everything in between, sometimes at the same time and it’s ok to not know what to do with that. It’s ok to realize that I am not perfect, that I want to be perfect, that I can’t live up to this, that neither are they perfect. It’s ok to apologize sometimes and it’s also ok not to.  

I am the center and the center must hold.

20170401_17254120170416_07335620170418_10434420170423_18275420170425_143946

Our day in parts

Part 1: Science Experiment – Shaving Cream Rain Clouds

The original experiment, to drop colored water on top of shaving cream and watch it “rain” down into the water below, kept Casey interested for a surprisingly long time before we needed another clear vessel to just mix the colors in.20170329_102131

And a bowl to pour the water in.

20170329_103419

But of course in the end it all came down to being allowed to just play in the shaving cream!

 

Part 2: The Park

The walk over, pure attitude.

New Tricks!

 

Part 3: Home down time : Down home time

20170329_10441720170329_170047

 

Part 4: Disc-Golf

Late naps and decent weather = Get outside and wear them out!

20170329_19365820170329_19432720170329_19595920170329_191520

Temper tantrums & Teaparties

I got Casey to fall asleep for a nap today ALL BY HIMSELF.  That is a big win around here. There was a little yelling, some wall kicking and his pillow definitely got thrown across the room as he stood on his bed screaming.  There was a lot of me sitting in the rocking chair with the baby (who was also crying) while I gently coaxed him to lay down and pull his cover over himself and in a calm, quit voice told him I would lay down with him when I didn’t hear any screaming.  Finally, I managed to put the baby down for half a second while I molded my body around Casey’s as he lay, now exhausted, under his blanket, and held him, whispering how important it was that he learn to fall asleep by himself and how proud I was of how helpful he’d been all morning.  Then Cameron started up again and  I told him I would come back in his room once I found a toy for the baby. “Ok, mama” he said in his soft baby voice.

I listened on the monitor for a long time while I walked around the house with Cameron and here we are two hours later and he’s still sleeping.  He needs it.  We’ve been batting around the stomach flu over here and it’s been a topsy-turvy couple of days and nights.  Parenting with a fever is no fun.  Thank god for family, who took Casey for a few hours Monday while I slept off some of my illness.

Someone asked me recently, in an email, how I manage temper tantrums, especially the increase that have flared up since bringing another baby into the mix. Honestly?  It’s different every time.  Sometimes there is a lot of yelling from both of us.  Sometimes things get thrown, doors get slammed.  Sometimes I have to leave the room or lock him or I into a room so that we can both calm down.  Sometimes, I get down on his level and there is a lot of hugging and holding and just letting him “get all his angry and sad out.”  Most of the time I just try to wait it out, talk him through it, be reasonable (even when he is completely unreasonable), take deep breaths.  I don’t mind that he sees me get mad or frustrated.  I do apologize when my temper flares and I don’t feel it was really justified.  I don’t spank but I have swatted his butt a few times when he has done something truly horrendous or scary- like when he ran away down the street and then darted across the street and then did the same thing on the other side of the street, crossing it twice without a thought and making my heart pretty much take up residence in the top of my throat.  I was so scared I could hardly breathe, let alone speak, and a swat on the butt and a tremendous hug was all I could manage to get my point across.

It’s hard for a toddler to adjust to sharing their parents attention with another child.  It’s difficult for the parent to have to divide their attention in a way that makes everyone happy.  At 3 months, things are beginning to level out.  I try to incorporate Casey into everything I have to do with Cameron: diaper changes, baths, picking out clothes. Sometimes he really wants to help, sometimes he could care less.

I tell him all the time that I understand that it’s hard for him “when mommy has to give her attention to Cameron but you are wanting me to play with you.”  He nods his head. Sometimes he starts to cry.

But now there are beginning to be more moments when I’m holding Cameron, burping him on my lap and Casey passes by and gently caresses his hair.  Moment’s when we are sitting on the couch in the morning watching Cartoons and Casey spontaneously looks at me and says “Cameron is the best isn’t he?”  It makes me feel all warm and teary inside as I just nod and say that he is, “and so are you sweetheart.”

The other day, Casey had a tea party for his teddy bear and a doll that was mine when I was a child.  He really wanted Cameron to join but I told him Cameron couldn’t really sit at the table. “That’s ok.  You can sit at the table and he can have your otherside (his term for breastfeeding) so he gets big and strong like me and then we can both have a tea party right?”

Absolutely my boy.  You’re absolutely right.

wp-1485980039083.jpg

Brothers, chillin

wp-1485980047046.jpg

Sometimes I tell him he’s being too rough and sometimes I let him just hug it out. 

wp-1485980089335.jpg

Sweet Baby boy 🙂