pausing in the tender spots

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I am chasing my two-year-old around the park as she tearfully chases another little girl with hair the color of the sun, proclaiming that she needs her stick. Of course I try to show her all of the other desirable and lovely sticks on the ground. But she’s not having it. She is in full on tantrum mode.

The mother of the stick holder looks on, not with a frown per say, but not with a smile either. I look to her for comfort, praying that she will say, “Kooky kids, don’t you hate when they act like little asses?” But she says nothing of the sort and I am left to soothe myself. Let me be honest, I don’t looove playgrounds or the majority of interactions I have on them. So I wrangle my little lovey muffin hellcat into her car seat as she arches her back and I feel mean and like I am at a rodeo wrestling a wild boar. Are there wild boars at rodeos? Clearly, I have never been to one.

I am also working on a website, rewriting an article, watching a video of my sweet brother being traumatized as he is sung to by a drag queen dressed as Bea Arthur on his birthday and dealing with a menacing zit on my chin that looks like a mini boob. So it’s no surprise when my son asked if he could go to floor hockey tonight, that my answer was, “If the angels are conspiring.” I’m in no mood to drive anywhere or think about dinner. Baseball is outside and relatively quiet which my sensitive soul can handle but floor hockey is in a gym with loud buzzers. Not good for a gal like me. And Mercury is in retrograde (I think), and I am menstruating (that is the proper term because I learned this in a 5th grade sex ed video where the young lasses from yesteryear had to use pretty powder blue belts to hold up their feminine napkins).

On Tuesday during yoga (which feels like it was 10 months ago) I smiled deeply when I heard Charlotte tell us to pause in the tender spots. Of course this is easier to do when I am on a floor in a dimly lit room with sweet smells instead of diaper aromas wafting in the air. But I have paused a few times today and let whatever was happening tenderize me. And it helps. Pause. Breathe. Welcoming all. Feeling what is sacred. Breath again.

As for my sanity, I plopped my little noodle on the couch and put the T.V. on so I could write. And it was fine. I give thanks to the powers that be for surviving another day mostly intact and the angels that are conspiring and helping me take my son to hockey.

 

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pain

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“If you fight the pain, if you resist the contractions, you cause even more pain. I told them that labor is like life and life is like labor; sometimes the most painful experiences deliver the best things-new life, unexpected insight, the chance to stretch and grow. This was the greatest lesson I learned in my years of delivering babies: don’t strain against the pain; learn its purpose; work with it and the energy of the universe will assist you.” – Elizabeth Lesser from Marrow, A Love Story

I wrote this post for the Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog because it is hard to be a human being. And after devouring Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior, I’ve been consumed with how we deal with pain (mostly the emotional and mental variety) both at home and as a society.

I am trying (and trust me, trying is the operative word here) to give my children space to feel whatever it is they are feeling and without attaching my judgment or hope to their words. My internal dialogue may look like…why is he crying about this, it is not such a big deal, oh no they all inherited my overly emotional gene. On the outside, however, I am reminding myself to breathe and bring my shoulders away from my ears. I am whispering to myself to just stay open. I am praying to Spirit, to the powers that be, to help me to not mess it all up.

My concern is that if we teach our kids that it is not okay to feel emotions (why are you you so upset about this?) and express themselves, (you’re fine, stop crying) I wonder if they will in turn keep things from us. Big things. Like questions they have about drugs and sex as they get older. Or the disappointments and worry they have at any age.

If I can’t handle their truth, where will they go with it? What will they do with it? Especially if their truth has pain wrapped up in it. Am I inadvertently teaching them it is better to numb their true emotions then feel and express them in order to make others feel better? In order to keep the peace? In order to spare me dealing with my pain?

I know my kids won’t tell me everything as they grow up and if they did well that would be even harder! But when they do, I don’t want them dealing with my unresolved pain. So I am trying (once again trying not always succeeding) to take care of my heart and soul and all of my emotional baggage. If we don’t deal with it, we pass it on to someone else to deal with.

I now know that pain is a great teacher. And distraction is okay and even necessary from time to time. But in order to grow, heal, and be free from all that binds us, we need to feel that which calls us, even if for a brief, scary and awkward moment.

If you want to read more…http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/10/11/pain-pain-go-away/

what I’m up to

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Earlier this summer, I wrote my first post for the Tampa Bay Moms Blog called, Please Excuse My Appearance. In a nut shell it is about my inability to leave the house looking put together. I keep putting my clothes on inside out and then parading around like everything is normal. And since I wrote the post, I actually did it again. Maybe it is a sign. I have always been someone to wear my emotions on my sleeves, maybe my sleeves are just meant to be inside out with the stitching showing.

It is the same thing with selfies. I also find the word selfie really annoying. Whether alone or with a friend, I look like the biggest goofball! Pat Conroy wrote in the book Beach Music that one of his characters had the kind of beauty that didn’t photograph well. Whenever I see a photo of myself, I pretend this is the case.

Perfection is the antithesis of compassion they say. So I’m trying to be nice to myself by embracing it and finding humor in the absurdity of it all. If we are smiling then who cares if there are milk stains all over my shirt and a large seed in my front teeth?

If you missed the post, below is the link. I hope it makes you laugh!

Please Excuse My Appearance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

opportunities

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 After a beautiful day at the beach, we came home wanting to fall on the couch and watch a movie. When this happens in our house, it takes at least thirty minutes to find one we all agree on. Tonight, we were really all over the map. I wanted Sound of Music. That didn’t go over very well. So then my husband actually started playing Baby Geniuses…2. Yes, you read that right. When it first began, my daughter asked which of the babies was Baby Jesus. I think she thought that was the name of the movie. Baby Geniuses 2, much to our surprise, was not that interesting so we turned it off and put on Evan Almighty.

It was sweet and I especially liked the scene when God, played by Morgan Freeman, talks to Evan. He says: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

Tomorrow, when my daughter starts to whine and I start to lose my marbles, I am going to try and remember this. Maybe those moments, as trying as they can be, are just opportunities in disguise. Opportunities for us to love each other.

happy mothering day

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“Mothering Myself” by Nancy McBrine Sheehan

In a society preoccupied with how best to raise a child I’m finding a need to mesh what’s best for my children with what’s necessary for a well balanced mother. I’m recognizing that ceaseless giving translates into giving yourself away. And when you give yourself away, you’re not a healthy mother and you’re not a healthy self.

So, now I’m learning to be a woman and a mother. I’m learning how to just experience my own emotions without robbing my children of their individual dignity by feeling their emotions too. I’m learning that a healthy child will have his own set of emotions and characteristics that are his alone. And, very different from mine. I’m learning the importance of honest exchanges of feelings because pretenses don’t fool children, they know their mother better than she knows herself.

I’m learning that no one overcomes her past unless she confronts it. Otherwise, her children will absorb exactly what she’s trying to overcome. I’m learning that words of wisdom fall on deaf ears if my actions contradict my deeds. Children tend to be better impersonators than listeners.

I’m learning that life is meant to be filled with as much pain as happiness and pleasure. And allowing ourselves to feel everything life has to offer is an indicator of fulfillment. I’m learning that fulfillment can’t be attained through giving myself away-but through giving to myself and sharing with others.

I’m learning that the best way to teach my children to live a fulfilling life is not by sacrificing my life. It’s through living a fulfilling life myself. I’m trying to teach my children that I have a lot to learn because I’m learning that letting go of them is the best way of holding on.

I came across this poem maybe a decade ago when reading  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; Creating Physical and Emotional Heath and Healing by Christiane Northrup, M.D. Every cell of my being screamed yes while I soaked up the words like a sponge. It is not selfish or indulgent to take care of ourselves and want to heal our past hurts, hang ups, and old wounds. Maybe it is selfish not to. It seemed like something I wanted to return to as a mother.

And return I do. Often.

This morning my babysitter came to watch the baby so I could exercise and run errands aka spend too much money at various stores. But the minute she walked through my front door, I felt like was about to crumble to the floor into a heap of pure exhaustion. So you know what I did? I said, “F off errands, I’ll get to you another day.”  I took off my sneakers and my confining exercise top with the built in bra situation, strolled into my bedroom, shut the blinds, turned on the white noise machine, and climbed back into bed. It felt rebellious and glorious and so good. And my two hour nap was complete with a dream featuring a magical baby miniature horse and crunchy carrots. An added bonus!

Taking care of ourselves may mean saying yes to sleep and no to errands. It may mean a trip to the therapist or the spa.Whatever it means to you, do it without guilt and enjoy yourself!

Because you are worth it and you deserve it!

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Mothering Day!

 

 

 

 

 

closed doors

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I don’t like structure. Rules, boundaries, routine, yuck. No, I’m more of a free bird, fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. I don’t need nap times or sleep training or bottles. I just need my boobs and a car seat. This baby can sleep anywhere. And I can nurse her while climbing up the side of a mountain, no problem. It will be fun, we can see the world. “The Hills are alive…” Bali, Italy, where should we go?

But this isn’t really me. Not anymore. Or not right now any way.

And I am becoming more and more okay with that. I know this sounds boring. But sometimes I like boring.

Before I had my son, sitting around a wooden table strewn with presents wrapped in blue, my wonderful co-workers at Hospice took turns sharing tidbits about parenting. One in particular really took me by surprise and has stayed with me ever since.

He said something to the effect of and I am paraphrasing here, “When your kids walk around the house opening up doors, they really want the doors to be locked.”

Say what? No, not my kids. They’ll want freedom and fresh air and open doors just like their free spirited mama. (This sounds better if you read this last sentence with dramatic flair…think of the Drama teacher from High School Musical with owl like glasses and scarf around her neck, there is always a scarf).

But I get this now in a way I didn’t then. I think what he was trying to say (and if anyone reading this has further insight into the matter, please share) is that children really do thrive with boundaries. And structure. And to an extent, we all do.

They want the doors to be closed because this enables them to feel secure. They might yell and scream when you tell them no but no really means, I care so much  for you that I cannot let you eat 110 carcinogen covered candy chocolates. 

Sometimes we just have to say no. And yes to creating boundaries and closed doors.

And in the structure, in this framework of security and comfort, we can relax a bit and find great freedom to roam and be. The closed doors might just enable us to feel comfortable enough to explore, dream, and eventually test the boundaries. Without them, it may just be, sometimes anyway, too much.

So last night we started sleep training our baby aka letting her cry herself to sleep. We, I mean I, have resisted it for a long time. It felt mean and I didn’t want to be tied to a schedule or a routine. Remember, I don’t like rules!

But she slept better than she has in a long time. We all did. And while I love the idea of traveling, I also love a good night of sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this is home

 

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My daughter has dirt under her fingernails. I haven’t showered in two days. My son spilled a green smoothie all over his gym shorts and on our new tan chair.

But they are smiling. We are singing. I am holding my baby in my arms tight against my chest. I bet she can hear my heart beating. It feels warm and cozy and like home.

I look out the window as I rock her side to side and notice the green of the leaves, the pink of the hibiscus, the squirrels running, and the red of the cardinals – a blur- flitting from branch to branch.

My daughter trying to fit her doll’s “pantyhose” on her little sister’s foot. Me, running around doing dishes and laundry and making beds before my husband gets home. I’ve never been very good at or fond of “keeping house”.

I hear from one of my closest and oldest friends over the weekend about her daughter who was just diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. This little girl, this bright little light, so brave and courageous in spite of this news. She will be fine, better than fine.

And I think to myself; the spilled smoothie, the water on the wood floor…again, the piles of papers on the counter, all of the things on my to do list that I can’t seem to get around to, none of it matters. None of this stuff really matters.

Because all we have is this moment, this one unbearable, sweet, awkward, sad, joyful, messy moment.

This is home.