It’s Been A Week

I had a week.

Procrastinating.  Avoiding.  Yelling.  Screaming.  Swearing.  Crying.  In the kitchen.  On the bathroom floor.

I don’t know if it’s better or worse to be so self-aware that you can head into a trigger-happy event knowing that’s what it’s going to be.  Having been through similar high-stress events and knowing their effect on you, knowing this will be the same, what outcome to expect.

A few things happened differently this time, though.  There were moments imbued with a strange peace.   It was if I was able to step back and take those five minutes of stillness for what they were because I knew it was all I was going to get.  I also may have actually written realistic to-do lists.  Usually I have crumpled lists that guiltily glare at me for months following events I’ve hosted.  This time I think there was one item I didn’t check off.  One.  That’s a freaking miracle.

I still freaked out on the crazy-all-out-clean-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off day before.  I totally turtled the day before that when the sheer enormity of what I had to accomplish overwhelmed me.  I still scrubbed the toilets the morning of.  I still showered approximately 15 minutes before go-time.  I still lost my shit because I had lost control of my universe and was unable to do it all and certainly not perfectly.

But . . . but there is that glimmer of hope for high-stress events to come.  Perhaps I am finally learning to set realistic goals for what I can accomplish in a day.  Again, miracle.  Maybe I’m finally learning that scheduling something on the calendar – even something as simple as sewing a button on a shirt – ensures I’ll do it before it sits in a bag of projects to be done someday . . . that I then feel needs to be done before someone sees it in a corner on the day of the party.  And, wonder of all wonders, maybe I’m finally allowing myself to sit in a moment, outside of what was before or to be.

I mean, it was still a week.  This is no immediate or complete transfiguration.  If you saw me sniveling on the bathroom floor Saturday, you’d not see any indication of this change at all.  But there is hope.

There is always hope.

 

 

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And now after all that talk about crying – in the kitchen, on the floor . . . I have the Peg+Cat splashing in the bathroom song in my head.

No Pressure

Coffee mugs saying, “You probably don’t recognize me without my cape.” T-shirts with a shield standing for Supermom rather than Superman. Photos of gorgeous women receiving hair and beauty treatments while breastfeeding a baby below a smooth decolletage.

These images can be taken one of two ways. We can see the strength of mothers, their uncanny ability to make seeming miracles happen for the little ones who look up to them, the beauty inherent in their life-giving and nurturing ways. We can feel the immense pressure of an ideal to achieve that leaves us primped to within an inch of our skin’s elasticity, our patience pulled out like a piece of taffy, and pissed.

It’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed and fall into the second category. I don’t care about being perfectly coiffed, as my crazy, silver-tinged curls would attest, but I allow the unseen hands of unrealistic expectation to tighten their choke-hold around my neck. I feel I have – and often, try – to be all and do all for everyone. The reason it’s so easy for images like these to inform our mothering decisions is because they appeal to the deep-seated love we have for our families. Naturally, we want to do our best for them, so it’s a seemingly natural progression for that slight tweak toward perfection.

The unconditional love of our children unwittingly feeds into this phenomenon. Take this on-line post, for instance:

hope

 

Unswerving devotion. Disciple-like adoration. Unadulterated trust.

The keeper of socks. Seeker of single ones. Holder of pebbles, lost teeth, lucky pennies.

“Mom, where is my [insert any pertinent object here]!?”

It’s not a God complex. So much happens throughout the day where we are the be all, end all.

Which is fine – if you’re a well-adjusted, level-headed, simpatico kind of person.

Horrific if you overthink things, catatrophize things, can’t cope with things, can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning.

If the thing Mom can’t find is hope, all really is lost.


If you or someone you love falls into this category, please help them get the professional help they need.  Contact an organization or individual like the ones below:

 

 

 

Desperately Seeking a Daytimer

Second rewarm of my tea this morning.  Second start to holiday vacation for my kids thanks to a snowstorm.  Second application of warm socks and boots for the youngest who managed to lose her left one in a fall.

Final and total, complete agitation.

I rose to the insistent plying of my youngest to make her ‘brefkast’.  A detour into her sister’s room to find her playing on her iPad kept her there and left me alone with my laptop.  Instead of writing the three posts I should be or researching and revising the short story I should be, I putted around with email, online statuses, and reading blogs and comments other people had written.

I’m about as mushy as this 4-8 inches of snow will be once the temperature soars to a balmy 48 degrees on Monday.

How many pains in the asses do we have to feel before we become a cranky ass?

I’ve gone too long without a routine, this I know.  The four to five days following Christmas where we ambled out for a hike once we actually got dressed, ate whenever we wanted, and cuddled in actual or electronic firelight were divine.  I sorely needed them.  But one day of waking early, rushing to the bus stop, running errands, etc. etc, etc, and then back to that loosey-goosey schedule was not enough.  As much as I hate working to a clock, leaving me to structure my own days is a little like playing with that actual fire.

Plus, as excited as I am about some new ventures coming down the pike, they’re new and therefore anxiety-inducing.  Will I succeed?  Will I have enough time to complete my new tasks in addition to my existing ones?  Will I be able to create enough quality content for three blogs? (Rob and Ruby, if you’re reading . . . of course, I can! 😉 ) Perfectionism is the enemy, but if I’m putting my name to it, it best be good.  Nothing like self-induced panic and pressure.

We’re in that in-between state where the merriment of the holidays is no more, but it’s unclear what this new year will be.  Unknown strikes fear into the heart of the fear-a-phobe.

Which I suppose is why I sorely need a schedule.  One trivial, nitpicky way to get some tiny semblance of control over the whirling dervish that is now – my thoughts, my responsibilities, my needs, my children, my irrational, unfounded worries.  That should be one hell of a calendar.

Odd is One Word for It

Last night, my husband and I watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green.  We were looking for a feel-good, fun film to offer some distraction and diversion.  Instead, it made me think.

The story is book-ended by Cindy and Jim’s overwhelming desire and relentless pursuit of parenthood.  Before they digest the heartbreaking news that they cannot conceive, they build the idea of the perfect boy – then pack their dreams away and bury them safely underground.

Watching the palpable yearning of these scenes, I realized the amazing gift of my own children.  I felt almost guilty that they came to me so easily; for getting so caught up in the drudgery of day to day that I fail to see the miracle that they are.  How blessed we are.

Then Cindy and Jim’s dreams of the perfect boy sprout out of the mud and they obtain instant parenthood.  Their joy at his arrival was a familiar feeling.  And that the universe rewarded such yearning was a gratifying feeling.  They truly wanted this child.

As the movie went on, however, their journey seemed to be less about Timothy and more about their own performance.  How did Cindy’s child measure up to her sister, Brenda’s?  How would Jim better his own father’s parenting skills?  Were they making the right choices?  Were they keeping him close enough?

The scene that haunts me most is their argument after Timothy’s game-winning goal for the opposing soccer team.  As per his demeanor throughout most of the film, Timothy is nonplussed by his social and sporting gaff.  He is happy simply to have participated and had fun.  Cindy and Jim, however, have an all-out fight about their parenting.  Did they hope for the wrong things for their child?  Are their own feelings of validation getting in the way of their parenting?

Yes.

In their pursuit of parenting excellence, Cindy and Jim lost sight of the most important thing – their child.

Is that not a struggle we all face as parents?

Do we use parenting as a vehicle for helping our children fulfill their true potential as human beings or to fulfill our own latent, unrealized dreams?  Do we get so wrapped in assessing and perfecting our own performance that we fail to see the perfectly imperfect little being we so longed for in front of us?  The yearning to have a child is a strong, very personal and intimate one and that child truly is a part of us; however, it’s also essential that we see their distinctiveness as well.  At some point, their needs and desires diverge from ours and our performance is simply a supporting role.

If I allow for a willing suspension of disbelief, I know that Timothy is a magical being sent to prepare Cindy and Jim for parenthood.  Indeed, soon after his short visit, they adopt a young girl.  But as Timothy departed from them, he said they had always been ready for parenthood.  Were they?  Were/are any of us?

Are we ready to subvert our own desires and needs for the care of this little one?  Will we be able to use our own experiences to teach him or her without projecting our own agenda?  Will we be able to train his or her growth without stunting it?

It’s not about us.  It’s not about the perfect child.  The idea of perfection is a box in which we cannot place our child.  Nor can we do it to ourselves as parents.

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