Sunday, December 23, 2012

From Our Family to Yours

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Sunday, December 16, 2012


I so wish I could go back and re-write my last post, after all that has happened since writing it.  Thank you all for such kind comments, for being the support I needed.  I always appreciate your thoughts.  Wow, I actually have no words to describe the depth of my emotion around the recent school shooting. I know everyone is talking about it, and I couldn't say anything new even if I wanted to.

It's not that what I wrote is not's just that it isn't the whole truth.  It was just a snippet, a window into how I was feeling in that moment.  If you looked into another window, you'd see that I have cried so many tears as I rocked my children before bed the last couple of nights.  My love for them is so intense, so deep, that just thinking about sending them off to school and never seeing them again brought me to my breaking point.   I have no connection to those families, and yet my chest aches, my stomach churns, for their grief.

Yes, I do get overwhelmed.  Every parent does.  Those parents did.  What I keep learning is that I can focus on the hard, the being overwhelmed, the "dark" moments of parenting...or I can choose to put my energy into the good moments.  It's the same with the grief I am feeling - I can feel myself going over the edge in some ways.  If I spend too much time, too much precious energy, thinking of the "what ifs," I am brought to me knees with anxiety and fear.  Losing my children is something that I literally cannot imagine, for if I do, I will not be able to move forward in my life. The vulnerability in that thought is intolerable.  So, I allow the thoughts to float through my consciousness, then I make a very conscious choice to re-direct my focus to the blessings I have, and they are many.  It's all I know how to do.

I am curious - how are you balancing your grief, fear and anxiety after such a tragedy?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Under Water

I had a dream the other night that I just knew I had to share with you all.  I know some of you will be able to relate.  It started out as a normal day.  Jason and I decided to take the kids to see a family member in Benson.  Benson is about 45 minutes away from us, a straight shot up a rural highway.  In reality, we do not have family who lives that close, so I should have known it was a dream then!  Down where we live, near the Mexico/America border, there are checkpoints on roads leading away from the border.

In my dream, we reached the check point (or what I think must have been what my mind associated with the check point) and it had turned into a "fun" obstacle course to get through on our way to Benson.  Apparently it was a fun attraction for most, something to look forward to on their way to Benson.   We entered the first "obstacle" which included taking our children through some water maize.  We both had to be there, there was no way we could make the trip if not.  Each of us had to take a baby.  I had so much trouble keeping Jackson's head above water.  He kept dipping under and I kept panicking.  We were swimming through this obstacle and I was terrified I would lose Jackson or not be able to keep him above the water.  Then we got to the second obstacle.  This one was like a ride where you sit in cars with lap belts (like on roller coasters) and they sprayed tons of water at you.  I remember frantically dipping my body below the head of the "car" we were in and shielding a baby (not sure which one I had) with my body from the water.  It was awful.  I kept thinking, "This isn't fun at all!" What started out as a "simple" road trip that so many other people were taking easily became something straight out of my nightmares.  We decided after that obstacle that it would take us way too long to get to our family in Benson.  If just two obstacles were that difficult with two babies, there was no way we would get through the rest in a reasonable amount of time.  We decided to turn around and go home.

That's all I remember.  I woke up feeling defeated.  And then I immediately associated that defeated feeling with how I feel at least once each and every day - when I try to go to the store, throw in a load of laundry, go to a thirty one party with kids in tow, cook a meal, go to the zoo, do an activity, make a phone call...  Having two toddlers (or babies) is H-A-R-D!  Normal every day events that other people take for granted seems like an obstacle course under water for our family.   I read blogs and updates from people with one child and get pangs of jealousy - not that having even one baby is easy!  But there is a simplicity there, going to the grocery store does not feel like a military operation for those families!  To be sure, my jealousy is quickly replaced by reminders of how blessed I am - two beautiful faces I get to kiss all day long, two giggling toddlers that fill my life with joy.  The overwhelmed feeling passes, for the moment.

This is not how I imagined having children would be.  I had it all planned out.  I would have one baby, enjoy every second for 2-3 years, then have another and do it all over again, enjoying every moment again, lol!  I still fantasize about having one baby at a time, all the things I could do.  But I don't have one baby.  I have two.  They are hard.  Going anywhere is hard.  Doing anything is hard.  It really, really is.  And that's ok.  It's ok to feel feel "under water."  That is motherhood.  It may not be the motherhood I fantasized about, but it is the motherhood that is real, the motherhood I fought so hard for.  And my children are amazing.  They are healthy, feisty and perfect.  I realize how blessed I am that they ARE so energetic and difficult at times - they are healthy and full of life and that is beautiful.  So I allow myself the feelings of anxiety, pressure and frustration, because they are real.   There is no point to fighting them.  Then when I notice I am feeling under water, I step back and make a point to change my energy.  I can make a choice to be caught up in being overwhelmed, or I can make a choice to re-arrange things, slow down, and make the pace of my life match my reality.  I have two toddlers.  I won't get to do as much as other parents...for now.  And that's ok.  There are worth it all.

Here is an example - we decided to try and let them eat at the table instead of with their trays like they normally do.  Epic fail.  They messed with each other, got food on their laps, smeared food on the table, started hitting each other with the forks, trading food, etc...

But look how full our laps become when we pull out a book:).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mommy Guilt Explored

I read this excerpt from the book, "The Mother's Guide to the Meaning of Life: What Being a Mom has Taught Me about Resilience, Guilt, Acceptance, and Love" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and just knew I had to write about it:

I don't know what I'm doing half the time.  Don't know if all my decisions and efforts and love will tally up in a way that means my children will walk away from the carnival with the jumbo stuffed animal.  I do what I can, what is in my power, but there are just so many other factors at work: things that are predetermined at birth; things that happen at school; things that happen in the in-between spaces; things I can't even fathom yet; things I'm unintentionally doing all wrong.  That which is beyond my control, beyond  my understanding, beyond the horizon, shrivels me. (pages 121-122)

I read this in the midst of a very, very tough week.  I have been sick.  The kids have been sick.  And it just kept getting worse.  I had my in-laws in town and had all these fun plans, productive plans, things I would get done now that I FINALLY had help.  None of it got done of course and I barely enjoyed some of the outings we had with them and the kids because I was so damn sick.   I was in such a foul mood, my patience was shot...and they saw me that way with my kids!

Here's the thing:  I know every single mom has lost it with their kid(s).  It is just inevitable I think.  However, most moms are smart enough to not do that in front of others!  But that was how sick, tired and overwhelmed with never-ending lists I was.  I could not contain my frustration.  I was an impatient, nagging, yelling mom to my two toddlers who were also feeling sick (which of course makes it even worse).

I am pretty sure every mom works hard to achieve the "good mom" title.  It can come from anywhere, and I'll take it...the man at the grocery store who tells me I have the patience of a saint (if only!), my mom who reassures me that I am a good mom, my husband...and we all know if our kids tell us we are a good mom, we've hit the jackpot! any annoying therapist would do (believe it or not, that's what I do for a living!), when it's dark and I am wallowing in mommy guilt, I ask myself, "What do I mean by "good mom?"  What does it take to earn that title?  Does it look the same to everyone?  Is it a handful of moments strung together, like the last week of monster mommy in my house?  Or, perhaps, is it millions of small and uneventful interactions that, over time, make up the relationships I have with my children?  I'd like to think it's the latter.  I can choose to look at the past week and beat myself up (because I was a meanie!) and remember only the bad moments.  There were good ones too - times I was told "mommy, sit!" and sat and gave my undivided attention, times I rocked them and snuggled them before bed, times I laughed when they were being silly, times I took interest in their art projects, times I kissed boos boos, fed them meals, changed their get the idea.   I didn't put weight on THOSE times...but why?  I have to make a different choice.  I have to choose to focus on the beauty in our relationships, the things I do well, the joyous moments - of which there are many.  I am a strong believer in: you get more of what you pay attention to.  I just suck at living it.  So I'm going to keep trying to be better, to do better, and to notice when I do.

The end of the excerpt above is both freeing and terrifying.  I do not make up my children's entire lives - so much of who they are, who they will become, has to do with so many other things that I have absolutely no control over.  So, first of all, get over myself.  Second of all, lock them up!  Seriously, though, why do moms shoulder all the weight of how their children turn out?  I know...I mean, I really know, because I do this for a important mothers are for their children's success and health.  I really do.  We are powerful.  But we aren't ALL powerful.  I have conflicting feelings about that.  In some ways, I'd love to be the only factor in my kids' lives - because no one loves them more than I do and I know I would always keep their best interests at heart.  On the other hand, they have so many rich and beautiful relationships and experiences outside of me.  And, yes, they will have negative relationships and experiences...but maybe, just maybe, that's what our safe, normal, every day negative interactions are preparing them for?  I 'd like to think so.  So I will.