Two weeks notice

I drafted a very tentative letter of resignation to my parenting job earlier today. I don’t know who I would turn it into, most likely Tony, and then he would probably need to begin interviewing someone else stat who would take the kids to school, pack lunches, pick outfits, nag at them in a shrill voice, clean out lunch boxes that are totally full (when do they even eat?). And most importantly, feel lots of shame because parenting brings feelings to the surface that are cringeworthy, and sad, and hard to own up to. Oh, and it pays SQUAT (except if hired you will be allowed to charge up a crap ton at Costco). I don’t even know where he’d advertise for a position like that. Craigslist? The Dark Web?

You all know that I’m so grateful to be a parent. If you don’t, you do now, because you read that sentence. This isn’t really about the day to day of parenting, because its unquestionably taxing. What is surprising to me is how I’m reacting inside to some of the things that are happening with our family this year.

I always want to be careful to not throw my kids under the bus for the sake of this blog, so I’ll be general. We’ve been experiencing 1) being new, 2) some rejection, and 3) new situations where we (and by we I am definitely referring to my kids) haven’t yet mastered social graces, or how to say, “this sucks” without actually saying out loud that “this sucks”.

What I’m getting at is that I know that its normal for kids to struggle making new friends sometimes, to adjust slowly to the full day of school, to say things out loud that make me, as their mother, cringe. They’re human, and growing up is really hard sometimes. I’m surprised by my amazing ability to make each of their difficulties somehow about myself. When they struggle to make friends, I make it about how I also have felt rejected and how I feel overwhelmed in the gargle of parents at pickup. Then I ask myself, where have I failed them as a mom that I haven’t somehow already given them the ability to master these situations?  When they say something ridiculous or act out in public, I’m embarrassed, then I shame myself for being embarrassed and embarrassed that I feel shame. ACK.

So when I wrote my “I quit parenting” text to Tony today, it wasn’t about whiny kids or rough schedules. It was about not knowing how to get rid of the ‘me‘ in all of this. I want to be able to be there for my kids when another kid acts like a turd to them, or when my kid is the turd, and I want be able to just hug them without worrying about how it all reflects on me.

Basically, I’m just feeling like a crappy mom lately. And I just realized I forgot to feed Bryce lunch, damnit.

Parenting: so easy a caveman could do it.

I’ve always been hesitant to post the struggles of my kids online. From time to time, I will share something funny that happened, for instance, several years ago when Bryce ate his own poop. Every so often, I’ll also proffer a tale of a day that included fits, crying, disobeying, or general parental exhaustion. I try not to do this at the expense of one of the kids, but rather a ‘we’re all in this thing together and my kid does the exact same thing as your kid,’ a shared camaraderie of knowing that none of us are in this alone, although we often feel that we are. And if you say that your kid doesn’t throw fits, cry, disobey, or exhaust you parentally at times, you’re a giant fibber.

Most of what I try to share, as it relates to parenting, regard my own shortcomings, of which I feel there are many.

I feel like many parents follow a general evolutionary timeline. Before kids, perhaps while expecting a baby, we’re hopeful but naive, although we don’t think we are. I’ll explain. We plan all the different ways we’re going to love our child and offer them encouragement while also challenging them to be great people. We say to ourselves and our partner that we’ll accept and love our child no matter what life throws at us, not matter how difficult they are, not really understanding what that means because meanwhile we’re silently judging everyone we know who has kids outside the womb for feeding their kids junk food and sometimes yelling at them.

When we have our children but they are still little and perfect and can do no wrong, our world opens up. We think, “How did I ever think this was going to be easy?! Parenting is so hard!,” but its not really parenting, its just caring for something and unless you have really great help, you don’t really get a break. Its still pretty easy to be self righteous at this point, because now you are technically a parent, so you think you know what you’re talking about. I remember a friend with older children telling me she yelled at her kids to get out of the house come school time, and I was secretly horrified. I pretended I understood, but Addie was still between 6 months and 2 years (its all a blur) and all I felt for her was elation and love. Not annoyance at getting up in the night, no postpartum blues, it was really just idiotically easy, thereby, super easy to judge everybody else. I remember coming home and telling Tony, “So and So actually *yells* at her kids. I can never imagine doing that to Addie. I just love her so much, and I don’t want our house to be a ‘yelling’ house.”

Ok Katie from 6 years ago. You were being kind of dumb.

What happens is that with each new stage of parenting, we are taken down a peg. What we once silently judged about other parents now happens to us and we are overcome with empathy and understanding, and we think “Oh how did I ever judge them? I get it now.” And yes, you do now understand what its like to have a tantruming kid in the store and not want to leave, but we still judge parents who have older kids for allowing them to have cell phones or talk back or watch a billion minutes of screen time. So while yes, you do empathize with what you now understand, we still judge what we don’t. Maybe I’m just a terrible person and no one does all this except me. The jury’s still out!

I think that our only hope for ourselves as parents is that this process of repeatedly realizing that we really don’t know what we’re talking about happens enough that we eventually become humbled.

What I can say is that not only parenting, but life while parenting, is much harder than I thought it was going to be. Life throws things at your kids that is so unfair. Challenges that they shouldn’t have to deal with, that other kids may not have to deal with, and you find yourself thinking, “Well they have it easier because of such and such,” when really thats just another form of judgement. And its also not true. While not everyone is open about their struggles with everything, or nor should we always be, especially when it comes to our kids and its not really ours to share, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t struggles. We never really know whats going on under others roofs. I once had a friend who said that whenever someone was rude to her, she imagined that their cat had died that morning. Well, imagine everyone who yells at their kids *also* had a cat die that very same morning. Millions of cats everyday meeting their untimely death. The point is, we literally have no idea what other people are dealing with. I know that doesn’t change much, and we still make judgements and assumptions because we’re all human and thats what we do, but its probably something we should write on our foreheads or something. Well, you should write it on your forehead. My humility and lack of judgement are probably the two greatest things about me. And as for my family and kids, they’re perfect, and my parenting is 100% to blame.

 

Heroe’s in a Half Shell

If I had to pick a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to be in love with, I would have chosen Raphael. And I did, when I was between the ages of 8-10. Back then I think I was blinded by brunt machismo, red headbands, and cool fighting things (which I now know are called ‘sai’s). I’ve since evolved (albeit at the age of 33 I’m still thinking about which Ninja Turtle I would marry), and I would now choose Michelangelo, without question. I’ve come to realize that life isn’t always funny, but someone who has a good attitude, provides comic relief, and loves pizza are some of the most important things to look for in a life partner.

I’m mostly always glad I didn’t marry a turtle (and not because all of their real life movies were terrible and they probably stopped getting paid the big bucks), and appreciate the human partner I’ve chosen in Tony, although that is beside the point. My kids have become pulled into the turtle universe lately thanks to Nickelodeon reviving this childhood namesake. Not only is it pretty good, has a super awesome rap title song (its legitimately catchy), but it reminds me of the hours that I spent when I was little in our red basement watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Before you write me off as irrevocably creepy, I wasn’t actually in love with the turtles, it was more a crush on a cartoon character who wasn’t human. So, maybe that is a little weird. Nickelodeons’ version even has pretty cool actors doing the voices, Sean Astin and Jason Biggs (until he made a mistake in the twittersphere and was subsequently replaced with Seth Green). As I cuddle on the couch with my kids and watch TMNT, not only am overcome with what good taste in cartoons I had as a kid, I’m bowled over with this overwhelming feeling of “try as you might, you just can’t go back.”

I don’t know if this is a common feeling, but I’m sometimes saddened by wanting to go back in time. Whether its a certain vacation, a time when I didn’t have to pay bills, back when I lived with 7 amazing girlfriends and our greatest bicker was that I had stuck someones expensive bra in the dryer and shrunk it, or to a friendship before the plaque of life and misunderstandings and hurt got in the way, I find myself wanting to go back. I don’t want to miss out on the time I’m in right now because its incredible, but I also feel like its more heavy and real and full of responsibility and mistakes than it was when I was 21 (well duh said everyone in the room). Maybe it is more that I want to go back to my 24, 25, 26 year old self and hold her hand and tell her what really matters, and to be on the lookout for those things, so that I don’t take them for granted. Maybe its shaking my 31 year old shoulders and telling her to stop worrying about silly things like losing weight after my son, or whether or not to keep nursing (sorry for everyone I talked to during those horrendous few weeks of trying to decide, I even annoyed myself), to stop worrying about people who don’t love you, or overlook the stupid things that people who actually do love you say, and move on, because we all say and do stupid things. Like all the time.

I just wish I was wise enough in the moment to know what mattered in that moment. Remember English class? Sort of? Having to painstakingly underline the theme of every paragraph, however boring, did impress on me what really mattered to the story. Like, when the main pig in Animal Farm was totally scary and you better get out of his way, or that the Great Gatsby was telling us that theres more to people than meets the eye, regardless of how expensive the parties are that they throw (please forgive me if you’ve studied these books in depth and I butchered the themes…its been a long time since I was in English class). Sometimes I wish life was more like it was when I was sitting in Mr. Hanrahan’s 10th grade honors class, and I was only expected to know what was important to the story, not what was critical to succeeding in my actual life.

Though maybe this all really is just me. I’ve always been introspective, often erring on the side of excessive and sometimes useless self contemplation….but I think its more than I just want to do life well. I want to heal relationships, I want to live a passionate and meaningful existence that involves more than summer camps and running my kids back and forth to school twice a day. I think most people want to leave an impression behind when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil. I’m just not entirely sure how to do it well yet. Though at least I’ve figured out, beyond a shadow of a doubt, which turtle I’d bring home to meet Mom and Dad.

Cowabunga Dude!

 

Hi, I’m a new octopus.

As a general rule, I think that we understand basically nothing about things until we’ve been through it. A pretty broad, generalized statement but bear with me.

I assume many parents can identify with this feeling: I used to look at children throwing fits with their parents and think, “Just get your kid out of the supermarket! Arg! Eye roll! Judgement!” And probably something else that was really nice. Now with two children, I can tell you there’s no way I’m putting everything back just because my child is throwing a fit. The other day the cashier said to me after my son screamed that she just wouldn’t allow him the privilege of going to the store anymore. I’m pretty sure that would make his day lady, because as we all know grocery shopping is to 2 year old as spas are for mothers.

Its really hard for me to understand the stress that Tony feels balancing work, being a dad, a husband, still trying to help me out at home. I only know the desperate feeling of wishing that I was an octopus but with even more hands than that. Actually, if I had to pick something to be, I would be a cross between an octopus and something with 2 heads. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like you could balance all your thoughts/to do lists between not just one, but two brains? Clothes shopping would be difficult, but I think I would feel less general unrest.

Until we got a puppy I no empathy for people getting up in the middle of the night to toilet train a dog. Well, actually I still don’t. Tony did all of that but I can imagine that it was pretty rough on him.

I don’t understand what its like to train for a marathon, to work and raise kids, to not have kids, to be a supermodel. I generally don’t understand much of what is beyond my scope of experience, and I like to think that I’m past the point in my life where I’m judgemental of things I haven’t yet walked through. Until very recently, I didn’t understand what it felt like to feel new. 

We’ve been at the same church for almost 10 years. While we have experienced new things and people in these past ten years, we always had a home base, a community, a place where we felt known. For reasons that don’t translate well to blogging, we felt like we had to leave our church. I’ll preface by saying the church is great, the people are great, but it felt like we had been swimming upstream in so many areas for so long that it finally seemed like it was time to go. We don’t take leaving lightly. As anyone who ran into me that week will tell you (what I’ve taken to referring to as my week of tears) it was really tough to go. Why leave a place thats so comfortable and where everyone knows us, our kids, or stories, and where I basically don’t have to try very hard anymore? Isn’t that what we’re all going for, to feel known? Well I thought so.

Well, why did you just stay (eye roll)?….is what you might be thinking. What I would tell you is that sometimes the right things seem very wrong, and I think they can often be difficult. We trusted Jesus, and stepped out. We’re still trusting because going into new churches can be hard. I want to point outside and say, “there’s a place super close where not everyone thinks I’m a spaz, and my kids behaved, and I don’t think I seemed so stressed out and insecure.” Its hard to put on a good face when your 5 year old is clinging to you sliding across the floor and your son won’t put down his snow leopard and you just peel them off you and promise hot chocolate for the 2nd week in a row if they just. stay. downstairs. I want to convince people that I’m worth knowing, that it looks rough on the outside, but I’m worth your time if you can just see past all this. 

Our Maybe New Pastor gave a sermon today about doing hard things. He said that stepping out in faith re-actives your faith. I think that this is because you’re doing something that FREAKS YOU OUT and so you HAVE to ask Jesus to walk with you. He also said that sometimes we have to take a giant step back to take a big one forward. Maybe thats what we are doing. Taking one giant step back for the Seaward family so we can go forward in some crazy insane way.

So I started this blog with this idea that we can’t understand until we go though something. I guess that this is all loosely connected, though I can say this has been one of my weaker analogies. I feel like we look at people and make these assessments of how they should handle things, because thats what we would have done, or how they should parent their little terrors (parenting is SO HARD), or how they should handle relationships, or weight, or work, or stress, and what we’re missing is how tough it is to just live and feel like people love you and are walking through life with you even if you’re doing it wrong. I don’t think its our job to always understand what someone is going through, but I DO think its our job to understand that we don’t understand. Get it? Love people. “Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle.” Google says Plato said this, some say it was Ian McClaren, I thought it was from Lord of the Rings. Either way, pretty darn true. I can’t tell you how hard this particular road has been for us, and thats going to make sense to some and not to others, because the details aren’t something we shout from the rooftops, but people who’ve reached out and loved us mean the world to us. I think Jesus asks us to risk things, but He also asks us to love each other, and I’ve got to think that this means we’re meant to love each other through those tough, socially awkward, “What do I say here?” times.

So when in doubt, just say something. Hopefully its something nice.

 

 

 

I smell a rat.

Or squirrel, which technically takes longer to decompose, and would be culprit no. 1 as to why the dead stink in our basement hasn’t deteriorated yet.rat

When I was pregnant with Bryce, I would wander periodically into Tony’s office to chat, as wives are prone to do, to ask for help with Addie or to lie on the bed, stare at the wall, complain about swollen feet. One day my spider pregnancy senses detected an odd odor emanating from our crawlspace. I pointed it out to Tony, who couldn’t smell it, and brushed it off.

Well summer got hotter, and as dead things do, whatever it was kept rotting away in the crawlspace and wafting their deadness out into our basement.

Smelling super gross.

Eventually, after some prodding, Tony acknowledged that yes, something probably had died underneath, and agreed that it was time to do something about it. We got in there, grabbed some bodies, disposed of them, and pretty soon our home smelled back to normal.

A few good things came out of this: we got bodies out of our crawlspace (a great practice to keep up no matter where you live), and I got a great sense of what it smells like to putrefy.

We currently live in a rental home that I love for so many reasons. After a difficult experience of home ‘ownership’ (its hard to own something when you’re 200,000 underwater), I learned to love renting and all of the ease it affords. I think we’re pretty good tenants. Tony’s planted a pretty great garden, essentially hosting a farmers market for my girlfriends in the summer, who come over for wine and take home kale and cucumbers. We unclog our own toilets (apparently something not all renters do), and generally keep the place up quite nicely.

We experienced the perks of renting when our downstairs ceiling fell in because of a water leak. Our job to fix? No! That was a wild mess belonging only to the landlord. After a long stretch of construction in our downstairs bathroom, I thought, “Gee, I hope he never has to tear the ceiling out again… while we live here.” All looked good until…the dead smell came back, which I am now an expert at identifying. Because all bodies (except those who eat daily at McDonalds) eventually decompose, its only a matter of time before the business is finished and you’re just left with a skeleton, but because our smell has been going on for about two months, it got us thinking that something much larger has gone to take a ‘dirt nap’, though not in the dirt just yet.

One day we called our landlord, who came over and verified that the only way he could get rid of the smell would be to tear out the ceiling once more. We actually really like our landlord, so neither Tony or I had the desire to put him through that terrible project again. We can live with the smell until it eventually goes away.

I remember being really freaked out when this happened the first time. “Things DIE in here?! And then just rot?!” This is just something that happens? When you think about it, it totally makes sense. Theres no way to keep everything out of your house, walls, your crawlspace. I think the most you can hope for is that it isn’t in a difficult place to get (like in your bathroom ceiling), so you could dispose of it before the stench really starts to bug you.

The other evening Tony and I sat down in the living room, and I felt like I had a quarter life crisis (32 is still mostly a quarter…) all over him. I have some dead rats and I think I ignored the smell for too long. I really miss being a school counselor. I worked so hard for a long time, and I love working with students. I want to use those skills again.

Parenting well is really hard sometimes. Discipline is really hard. Figuring out your kid, what works for them? What doesn’t?

(I think) we’re buying a house, assuming all the little pieces fall together, but it a process that is mostly out of my control, and thats rough for me.

And the pressure is starting to build up.

And I wonder what can keep the vermin from piling up. There is no way to stop them from getting in, because life happens, and it can be stressful, and its not always fun. But you can only ignore stink for so long. For me, it reveals itself through a crummy spiritual life. Impatience with my kids or my husband. A little extra road rage. And the smell is this litmus test for whats really going on inside.

I haven’t had any huge epiphanies, except to say that I realize how much I need to process more during times when there is a lot going on, and thats when its so hard to do so. When you start to see ugliness coming out of you, thats the most difficult time to stop and make changes. When you finally start to smell the rats, that means they’ve died, and something has to be done, but thats the last thing you want to do at the moment. I’d rather run away and sit on a beach with Tony, but I don’t have the babysitters or the airfare.

What I need is to get up early with a strong cup of black coffee and time with God. A good conversation with my mom, a friend, or Tony help. To go to the Y. Have a nice beer and then good conversations help too. I need it all. And I need to do it more, instead of letting it all pile up. Because when it boils down to it I can’t get enough of my kids. They’re fantastic and hilarious and wonderful. So is Tony. So is getting a house. I’ll figure out the work stuff. Everything is too great to get pinned down in the muck…its just that everyone needs a good crawlspace clean once in a while.

 

 

 

 

How tot soccer can bring adults to tears.

soccerI’ve struggled a ton since I became a parent and my children actually started walking, talking, defying, running into roads, hitting each other, hitting other kids, generally, just being little humans.
My struggle has mostly come from this voice inside that constantly questions if I’m doing it right. Or messing them up. Am I creating the need for therapy because I lost my cool in the mall parking lot last week and needed to sit in the car by myself and lamaze breathe myself to a good place?

Last week we took Addie to soccer camp. She liked it about 30% of the time. It was a new experience for all of us. I know we all laugh and think that its funny when its someone else’s child sitting in the soccer goal, but when its ours, an internal war of voices comes floating to the surface. The voice mostly jabs at my parenting ability, how discouraged I was, worrying if other parents think I’m being mean to my kid by making her stay on the field, and spends too much time looking at the things that went poorly. The failures.

Then the grace comes in, with her, and with myself. I remember that don’t I remember what its like to be 4, but I do know what it feels like to do something that feels big and new and scary. That its hard to walk into a place where you don’t know everyone and learn something new. And yes, Addie didn’t behave well the entire time at camp, but I also don’t behave well the entire time as an adult. It happens too often that I think of things I said or did and realize that I probably should not have said or done them.

It matters that we stay, try, apologize when we have to, and are willing to put ourselves in new, scary, and big situations, or whats the point? I want to teach Addie that even though soccer camp didn’t go great the whole time, she went, she put herself out there, and she tried. Those things require courage, bravery, and grit. More than being good at soccer, those are the things I want to teach my daughter. And then I think of those voices that tell me I’m not doing everything well enough, and I think that yes, I mess up all the time. So many things I do I wish I had done better, or differently, from things I say (this one comes up too much….) to new skills I try. But I want to be better, and live outside my zone of comfort. I don’t want to just do things I’m good at. I want to do things I’m bad at so I can get better.

I want to run a half marathon.

I want to take adult swim lessons so I can learn how to actually breathe while I’m doing laps. Right now I drown a little.

I want to take a cooking class.

I want to go zip lining.

I want to write more, and get better at it.

I want to do things that scare me a little, like make new friendships, and skydiving. Seriously. I want to do this someday. Maybe.

I want to try something thats so hard that I fail, and have to try it again. And again. Because  I think failure, as challenging as it can be, whether its failing to be the parent we wanted to be, the friend I hope to be, or whether I fail at something new that I’m trying, is a good thing. Failing doesn’t diminish my value as a mom or person.  I think failing shows bravery and determination. I showed up. I tried. I had a good attitude (I hope). I want to try something new and risk that my life can be even better, even if its scary. Or hard.

So, I guess soccer camp was kind of good. We went out there, and we were (all) brave. And it gave us new things to shoot for next year. Like not crying after camp. If I can teach Addie to be brave, by practicing courage myself, and letting her see my failures, and wins, then I think that will be a huge success.

vacations, addictions, and medieval imprisonment

I took the plunge today, to sign off facebook and instagram for more than a month. Like, alllll darn summer. Lamaze breathing.

I have wanted to check 28 times today (to the power of 3, if any of you remember from what, 6th grade math?) Why is the pull of mindlessly scrolling through posts manically ‘liking’ what everyone is doing hold so much appeal to me? I can attribute it to a couple things, present at different times. Sometimes its loneliness, the need to hear/see what others are up to because the day has been too long and monotonous with the kids. Not an entirely negative thing, just a little escapism, which we can debate the merits of all day long. Sometimes I log on because I want to post things so I can feel connected and like I’m connecting. Arg! This ones trickier, and a little less healthy for me. I get pretty into my bubble sometimes and start to feel like connecting online with friends is connecting enough. In the end I’m less present in relationships, feeling like I did my part because I messaged or commented or liked, and can go back and be self centered and less giving and interact in relationships with the bare minimum of output. This is a weakness of mine, one I own, but I also know something like facebook is perfectly set up to cater to. I want to be forced to call my friends to see how their kids are, instead of absentmindedly scrolling through their photos. I want to have to invite someone over for coffee to hear what is keeping them up at night, whats on their heart, instead of feeling like I got enough of what I needed to know to keep up from a post. These are my struggles. Not everyone who uses facebook also falls prey to these same things, but I do. So it was time to go cold turkey. Rip off the banddaid. Stop comparing the lows in my life to the photo highlights in everyone elses. Hopefully this will be deeply rewarding. Right now its like a weird itch.

This weekend Tony and I went away to Suncadia, the loveliest mountain retreat of active solitude I’ve experienced in…ever. I have been struggling to pull myself from the panicky feeling of not being able to go back soon enough. Could I start selling plasma to afford it?? I told Tony today that I was sad. Now I know what that pool, those slides, those drinks are like in that heavenly mountainside. I know what I’m missing. I know that there are probably other people there right now experiencing the same bliss that I did, but I’m here at home, experiencing the invariability and flatness that can be running a home. I love my kids, so much its comical, but I think that I have been missing independence lately. Would I trade it for my family? Never in a heartbeat. But to be granted it for only a weekend felt like some freedom with my husband cut short. I heard it likened to old medieval dungeons, where prisoners were put in rooms that were built so that they could not fully sit down nor stand up. They were let out once a day so they could stretch, stand up, and experience the light of day, but that made it only that much worse when they had to back to their crouching dungeon. Thats a little bit what vacation is like….with or without children, its a freedom from your responsibility, the problems and annoyances of duty and routine. Of course I would like to go to the spa and hike and sip rum punch with my husband and play instead of deal with the routine and daily rhythm, that can have some breaks but is often the same. Dealing with coming home after a lovely getaway is always, a sobering experience.

I am so deeply thankful for my family though, who love my kids so well, and ensure they have so much fun when we’re away that they completely forget about us. I just want them to forget about us for 2 extra days next time.

The Toothless Wonder, among other things.

Right now I’m mourning the loss of my son’s teeth. Last night Bryce, running towards me on our concrete patio, face-planted into the ground and knocked half of one tooth out, and damaged the other one in such a way that they will both need to be ‘extracted’ in two weeks time. That means he’ll be toothless until somewhere around, when do kids big teeth come in? 6? 7? I’m a little sad about it. It could be worse, I could be mourning the loss of an eye, a limb, or health. It’s just teeth, and he seems no worse for wear. As a dear friend said, “At least you just got his pictures done!” For real, right? I’m actually pretty glad for that.

I’m content my son has his face. And most of his chewing teeth. And his general health. I’m glad its what it is. A wise friend said to me in an email this morning that emergency room visits are part of the fine print when we have kids! Now we’ve been with both, I’m washing my hands of it! Also, I’m getting to the age where the ER docs are now YOUNGER than me. Last night I wanted to ask for this mans license. I asked him if “he was sure” after everything he said. I’m pretty sure he appreciated it.

Speaking of contentment (watch out because that was as good as my segues are going to get tonight), I’ve been s t r u g g l i n g with it. Facebook and instagram and all the lovely land of social media are usually not a big deal for me. I spend way too much time on Pinterest but I’m in love with it, so theres very little conviction there at the moment.

This week it got me! I think it poked at a tender spot, at all of these things that I feel myself wanting lately. I want to go to a beach (like, a hot, white sandy beach. If I’m going to want I’m going to go big), play with my kids in the water, or have someone watch my kids so I can go to a beach a lay by the water. I want to have saved enough to buy a house. That perfect home you can see yourself grow old in, host parties for your babies in. And this week I saw pictures of families traveling to places I want to go, buying houses with tennis courts. Tennis courts!! And I felt envious. This icky, visceral feeling that really doesn’t happen often, and I thought, I want that. That, what I’m looking at in this picture, looks easier than what I have. I don’t even have anything exciting going on right now. I’m not keeping up with any Jones’ because I am barely keeping my own head. Above. Water.

I used to think that being a christian or loving Jesus meant I wouldn’t struggle with this sort of thing, or if I did, that I would be able to more easily brush it off. But, as I’m learning to love the process of things, I am also learning that the struggle can be sort of beautiful, and a blessing too. I was talking over these icky icky feelings with someone tonight, and standing in my messy kitchen together, she told me that she had felt the same things at one time too, and God worked with her, on showing her he was giving her just what she needed. Maybe not what she wanted, but what she needed. There’s so much to want in this world, and really so little we need. We, I, have these big ideas for ourselves, to vacation, buy homes, decorate, do things, and I think there can be fun in that, but I think those things are just things.

I wish I could say that I’ve come around to a perfect contentment, but its still a little tug. What I can say is that I’m talking to God about it, and letting Him work it out. And that I’m content for the three people downstairs in my house right now who are so cute and who love me so much. And also for a glass of wine, a lock on my door, and these 20 minutes of quiet.

Making a way in the wilderness

It has been a very long time since I’ve logged into the old blog. Actually, I’ve logged in, but had no idea what to write. I’ve been trying to figure out whats been stopping me from posting, and then I remember that its a vortex of laundry, kids, gross counters, exhaustion, a full brain, topped off with a cherry of self doubt. What do I talk about after almost 2 years? You’d think I would have stockpiled a few funny, touching stories over the months, but its actually the opposite. My brain lately is like a sieve – and most of the things that would be helpful for me to remember are strained out and, well, out there. Somewhere.

Apparently I have Addie enrolled in a dance class? We’ve gone for a few weeks, and then today on the phone today my mom asked me how dance was going. I literally had no idea what she was talking about. Class was yesterday. We did not go. And hopefully I remember next week. I’m very proud of myself when I remember to text people back quickly. On the other hand, if I haven’t gotten back to you, I’m sorry….
Gun to my head, if I had to sum up the past years and months, I would say that I’ve fallen down a lot. Figuratively and literally. I’ve become significantly less graceful and poised in public. Bryce and I were recently in the Spotted Cow, one of our favorite outings while Addie is in preschool. While I was chatting with a friend, ever so cool and sociable, I walked backwards out of the Cow, tripping backwards and knocking over several metal (and therefore loud) chairs on the way. While Baby and coffee remained unharmed, my pride was a little banged up, but not as much as it would have been a few years ago. The older I become, and the longer I parent tiny children who try to pull my pants down in public and unlock public bathroom stalls while I’m using them, the more I let go of this idea of being pulled together. Though that doesn’t mean I don’t desperately want to be.

monstersOver the months since I’ve written, I’ve fallen down in the more figurative sense. I feel tired 90% of the time, and on top of my life the other 10%. Striving to be a successful mom/woman/friend/wife trips me up, because inevitably there are days my children are. just. cranky. Or I am! And I’m not always filled with grace for them, but my heart wants to be. Or I skip that run, take a nap instead of clean, drink too much coffee (I used to wonder if there was such a thing but have since figured out that yes, there really is), or don’t show a friend the love I could, because I don’t feel I have the time. For me, the struggle in these places has been in thinking that this is failure, that this is the way it will be, that God can’t or won’t forge a new path for me.

But God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18-19.

And I remember that there is so much hope! Hope when I feel tired and I see all of my plans casually strewn about the messiness that sometimes is my house (or my car. My poor, poor car. Who invented goldfish and squeezies? And why, in my desperation, did I ever give them to my kids while driving? My sweet husband thinks this all the time, I promise you).

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if anyone is in Christ, a new creation is come. The old is gone. A favorite author of mine, Lysa Terkeurst, reminds us through this verse that everything broken is subject to restoration. That means me, you…I’m not sure if it applies to chaos that can exist in my home but I kind of think so. I think God works in those little things. God is bigger than the self doubt I experience when someone watches me discipline my children (being in that fishbowl is torture for me. Torture.) He’s bigger than my forgetfulness, and my good intentions, and my inability to promptly respond to texts or find my phone. I believe that no matter how many times we try, try, and try again, and then try some more, He can and will still restore us. Me. And thats a beautiful truth.

I’ll take the most crumbly piece of pie, thank you.

When I was pregnant with Addie, I worried about how she would turn out. Not so much a, “Will she have a third eye?” kind of worry (although sometimes), but I worried because I was going to be her mom. Before you cross this off as just too wildly self deprecating, understand that I really had this imprinted into my head: plants, pets, then kids. Keep a plant alive, get a pet. Keep that pet going for a few years, then you can think about having a kid. I kill plants with wild abandon, and sometimes I think my cats hate me. We have a garden now, from which we are obtaining actual food (more on that later) but its all thanks to Tony. I think the garden is the coolest thing ever, and I think it would be really sweet to be into gardening. Just like I think it would be really cool to be into running, mostly so I can wear the cute runners clothes and look really awesome in them and make my friends super jealous. I did do the running thing for a while, but then I remembered I don’t like it. The insatiable ecstasy  that happens while running must have skipped past me and onto someone else who isn’t intrinsically disturbed by spending several hundred dollars on Lululemon jogging shorts.

And so back to plant murder and children…

I wasn’t sure how I could be a mother. It requires a kind of selflessness I wasn’t sure I was capable of. I realized that when you get married, your own selfishness reflects back at you in mirror that is disturbingly accurate. All at once you’re sharing, giving, thinking of someone else…all of the time. Sometimes you’re even expected to give them the piece of pie that DIDN’T totally fall apart when you were scooping it out of the pan, even though you really want that piece. It took me years to get used to that. Motherhood scared me, because I worried that all of those flaws that were exposed when I got married would be exhumed and magnified. What kid could stand up to that, and turn out alright? So far it has all worked out…surprisingly well. Its not that when Addie came I suddenly abandoned all of my needs and wants and predilections towards the nun-crumbly piece of pie, but they were easier to put on the back burner for this amazing little person. I don’t know that it is because of Tony and I, but I really like the way Addie has turned out so far. I think she’s a cool little kid. I can only take this to mean that I haven’t completely and irreversibly mucked her up as a parent yet. I am, of course, still learning, but perhaps I’m a bit more mature than when I got married 8 years ago (not 100% sure of this), and perhaps its a bit easier to put my wants on hold for someone else. I still enjoy (more of a clawing at the walls kind of need) time to be alone, time to read a book, get uninterrupted coffee with a friend, go on a date with my hubs, drive without constantly handing someone snacks, time to stare at a wall and drool…but I can take care of Addie first, without feeling exhausted or bitter or resentful. I really worried if I would be good at that before she got here.

This lemony summer has taken on a different meaning of selflessness. We don’t have lemons growing in our garden; this is more of an, “Instead of Lemonade My Summer Gave Me Lemons” type of reference. I know the whole parenting sacrifice begins way before they get here. We give up coffee (well, we give up having 4 cups a day, I can’t tell you that I’ve completely abandoned all caffiene), we pass on our delicious summer cocktails (there is SO much mint growing in our garden – a mojito party is happening on my deck when he gets here), and if we’re on bed rest we give up a little more. We give up our typical idea of nesting (hard to do when you’re supposed to be sitting!), getting those last minute projects before baby completed, and exercise…this has been tough for me. Not that I was an Iron Girl beforehand, but I have completely let go of any notion of looking like that cute pregnant lady with a basketball stuck up her shirt. Right now its more of a “just give me my pregnant lady mumu and shut up about it,” kind of thing. I’ve given up going places with Addie when we’re alone, because I can’t lift her into the car. I had a lot of hopes about this summer with her, because it is our last summer of just her and I paling around without any other siblings, and I wanted to make it special. Instead I’ve had to get creative and make it special at home, but thats something I had to let go of.

I think I’ve just generally given up my expectations of the way these months and this summer would go. And its (deep breath) generally alright with me. Some days I find myself more content, and some days I am just itching to have this baby. I told a friend last night that I actually googled, “How to make 10 weeks go by faster.” That was a low point. Google doesn’t really understand what I’m dealing with here.

Until then, I have this gorgeous deck, a gorgeous kid, and a gorgeous husband who has been ridiculously, unbelievably, “pinch me is he for real?” awesome during all of this. I don’t mind getting the crumbly piece of pie for a while. And I get to sit here and post blogs. Its not half bad.

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