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.

Keeping up Appearances

The blog looks pretty unkempt right about now. Apparently hackers broke into my theme and inserted links they hoped people would click on like, “Bill Cosby travels to China, check it out!”. I’m completely serious. So I have a little bit of work to do clearing out the theme and making it pretty again.

Speaking of appearances…I feel like I mostly post out of my messy, very real places. I write about things that I struggle with, hoping someone can relate and that they will feel less alone, and because articulating it in writing usually helps me process. And though relating doesn’t necessarily solve things, it always helps to know someone else thinks the same things, and that in itself can help you move forward. Or just feel less alone while you’re by yourself drinking your morning coffee waiting for your kids to wake up. Which I’m still doing. I’m actually just waiting on Bryce, Addie has been up since dawn, but man, can that boy sleep. He’s just storing energy to he can climb on tables, chairs, into sinks, and laugh while my heart stops 18 times a day.

So heres my thought for today. While I mostly wanted to post to apologize for how beastly the blog looks, it got me thinking about the image we want to project to people.

I think that I’m normally great with people thinking I’m a work in progress, but I still want to appear to have it mostly together. To have my house look super clean and cute when you come over. To appear not to worry about what people think, if someone likes me or (eegads!) doesn’t, or thinks I’m doing a good job, whatever that means, but my head still thinks it.

What God has been trying to tell me this year, and it gets projected louder and louder each time I struggle with this (I’m pretty sure He has resorted to yelling, in the most loving way possible, at this child he adores), is that His voice is the one that needs to be the loudest, not all of the other voices I look to for approval, even pastors. He is the one who will tell me how I’m doing, where I need to go. I’m looking to drown out all of the other voices, until His is the one I hear most clearly, and look to most often.

On that note, I just heard a thud coming from Bryce’s room. I’m assuming he just threw a book, but I’m going to go make sure he hasn’t hurled himself.

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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