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

Blueberry picking

I carried one boy on my back as I tried to convince the other one to put as many blueberries in our bucket as he was putting into his mouth.  The sun shone bright overhead and warmed our shoulders as we bent towards the bushes.  Cameron fussed from behind me, pulling small twigs and leaves from the bushes when he was close enough.  I wrestled them from his hands, blindly, relying on my three year old to make sure nothing had gotten into his mouth.  When he asked if he could give his brother a blueberry, I said  “Sure, as long as you bite it in half first.”  I watched him choose just the right berry and then pop it into his own mouth.  I bit a berry in half myself and peeled as much of the skin off with my teeth as I could.  “Hey, look at this little tiny one I found! Aww, it’s so cute.”  I reached back and put the peeled berry in Cameron’s open mouth as Casey gently put the tiny berry in our bucket.

We had started out picking Currants, finding vines dripping with the delicate, translucent balls.  Even though they are incredibly tart, Casey kept putting the few he picked into his mouth. With Cameron fussing from the stroller (which we ditched soon after) and lacking the concentration needed to collect the small berries, not to mention the sour reward for our efforts, we quickly returned to the farm store to exchange our small bags for a bucket and were pointed in the direction of the blueberry patch.

This was my first time picking blueberries.  I think I am in love. The color palette alone was enough to make me drool- the frosted blue and lavender berries, the brilliant green leaves, standing in sark contrast to the bright yellow hay piled around their bases.  It made me want to come home and paint our house; to rip up the bushes in our backyard and replace them with blueberry bushes. I had daydreams of a blueberry and lavender farm and I imagined the beauty and abundance of our crops for years to come.

The afternoon felt lazy.  We gorged on blueberry banana muffins while blueberry currant jam cooled in jars on the counter.  There’s still a pan of blueberries in the refrigerator waiting to be mixed into pancake batter, added to tomorrow mornings cereal, and eaten by the handful.  Still, we can’t wait to go pick more.

 

 

 

 

Heart-full.

I love watching my three year old run.  It has become one of my great joys in life.  He runs as if it is what he was made to do.  He runs fast and exuberantly, taking off a block away from the park, knees pumping.  His run is punctuated by involuntary skips and jumps, legs pushing their limits in a rush to get to the playground.   When he glances back at me, his face is pure joy.

20170612_193147

He has kid legs now, long and lean. I can see the muscle definition in his thighs when he runs and jumps and stretches; his arms when he carries, throws, reaches up for me to hold him; his stomach when I tickle him.  His little body is absolutely incredible- a work of art.  God’s perfection standing before me.

20170607_193320.jpg

Sometimes he runs just because he wants to, because it feels good.  He runs up and down the sidewalk, through puddles, laughing with delight.  He pushes his boundaries running down our street, glancing back to see how I am reacting as he runs in spurts, farther and farther down the sidewalk.  Someday he will be driving down this same street and I can already feel the lump in my throat, the blood pumping through my veins as I push back the anxiety of letting him go.

Meanwhile, my other boy is beginning to discover his capacity for movement and I can already tell he is going to keep me on my toes, just as he did during his pregnancy.  He shows a tremendous interest in exploring our house, loves holding onto your hands as he walks, constantly.  He’s been crawling for a few weeks, quickly picking up a three-legged crawl in his effort to move from place to place and follow his brother around. He pulls himself up onto anything that will hold him; standing at our toy shelf and systematically pulling everything off it.  I love watching the determination he displays when he moves from one place to the next.  I love seeing the automatic smile that forms when he claps and waves and recognizes my voice.

20170619_204050.jpg

20170619_151025.jpg

I didn’t know what it would be like to form a relationship with another child.  As an only child myself, I didn’t know what it looked like for a parent to have a relationship with more then one child, to give themselves in different ways, depending on the needs of each child on a particular day.  I didn’t know it would feel so expansive, so awe inspiring, to realize during the small moments of our day that I am forming a separate relationship with Cameron that is so different from my relationship with Casey but just as big, just as loving.  I didn’t know that it would feel so good to have a second boy who found comfort in my arms, who just wants to lay his head on my shoulder or hang onto my leg or cuddle next to me in bed, just because I am his mother.  It gives a true meaning to the term “heart-full.”

 

 

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

Motherhood and happiness.

It was last night when I had a moment of enlightening, while sitting on our couch after both boys had finally gone down to sleep.  It’s been a roller coaster these last two months and we have had some trying days with Casey adjusting to a baby in the house.  There have been some times.  Enough said.

I never feel good after I’ve yelled at my kids.  I don’t like losing my temper and there are many times during the day when I get mad at something I later realize didn’t warrant the emotional energy spent arguing and fighting about.

The thing is, I am a selfish person.  I mean not really.  I’m empathetic and love connecting and learning about other people.  But here’s the thing: I’m an only child and, for better or worse, I am used to having things in my family revolve around me.  I am used to having most areas of my life revolve around my schedule and my needs.

But parenting doesn’t work that way.  I don’t get to set the schedule for my children. Besides making sure they are well fed, educated, and taken care of, I have no control over what toys my 2.5 year old wants to play with or whether or not he actually wants to go to Target and wander the isles when I say so.  I have no control over when my 7 week old is hungry or tired or overwhelmed or wants to be totally cute and lay on his back and kick and coo and smile for us.  I cannot exert my will or my schedule upon these boys anymore then I can tell the sun to set at a later hour.  It is not about me anymore.

My job now is to raise these two boys.  It is my job to make sure they are well-adjusted, healthy, encouraged, understood, loved, supported and generally happy.  It is easy to lose sight of this in the moment, after I have said the same thing 5 times in a row, when I am facing ultimate temper-tantrums, when the only answer I get all day is “no” and “I did it anyway”.  It is hard to just want five minutes to myself, to be able to finish whatever it is I am working on or have things go “according to plan”.  It is easy to lean into the resentment and anger that can bubble up.

But this does not serve me.  This season of my life calls for deep breathing and slowing down; for listening, uplifting, teaching, gentleness and understanding.  It is a season of warmth and growth and bonding and even though the hours stretch long and sleep is wanting, it always feels better to take the time and give that extra minute.  It pays to get down on their level and slow down, to try to see through their eyes and understand what the world is like for them, instead of trying to impose my schedule onto them.

All of this came to me last night and it was like a light turned on. It was forgiveness and a letting go of all the guilt I carry about reacting badly when I am stressed out or tired, letting go of all the questions of whether or not I am a good mom.  It was like warmth and reassurance; the innate knowledge that I am a great mother to my boys and that I have so much to cherish and to look forward to.  It was happiness.

It was motherhood and it was happiness.

20161203_182250.jpg