Sep 22, 2014

'Cause I Am Living in an Extrovert's World

I am a shy introvert in an outgoing extrovert's world.

I know there may be a few of you who are surprised to hear this because after having my first child I worked extra hard on my fear and shyness in my desperation to find and make some mom-friends, thus having broken away from some of my shy tendencies. At least occasionally. I think.

But truly, I am shy. I have always been shy. As a child I remember cowering behind my mom's leg, in high school, unless I was with my friends, I felt awkward and uncomfortable and terrified to open my mouth lest I say the wrong thing and embarrass myself, and through college my shyness contributed to a difficultly in finding a close group I felt a part of.

Even today there are days, moments, social situations I struggle with mightily.

Any type of large group setting gets my heart racing and my palms sweaty. When I am in a big enough group that I can remain anonymous, it's not quite so painful, but if the group is small enough to be noticed in, well, I want to stick my head in the ground like an ostrich. But, actually, people could still see the rest of me if only my head was hidden, so really what I want is one of Harry Potter's invisibility cloaks. I want to disappear. I want to be home with my sweats and a piece of cheesecake and good book.

The nice thing about today is that I dread social situations a little bit less than I used to, and I have kids. Yes, kids are the perfect crutch to any shy and/or socially awkward person because 'Oh! I can't make small talk because my children need my undivided attention.' They are the perfect excuse as to why I can not manage a simple "hello" or "how are you" to an acquaintance.

Ugh, it's the worst with acquaintances. Really. It's like in high school when out in public and I'd see someone from school who I sort of knew, but not really, and I'd pretend that I didn't see her and she'd pretend not to see me but really we both knew the other person was there but neither of us acknowledged the other person and instead of feeling like 'whatever' I just felt sick and yucky and like I was acting like a jerk.

It's horrible, I know. And it still happens TO THIS DAY. I am well aware of what type of person I then appear to be to those I am avoiding. And yes, I am pretty much avoiding them. I look like a snob, I know. I hate that anyone would think I was a snob, and you'd think my fear of being judged poorly (because trust me, my fear of how others perceive me has chased me my whole life) would keep me from staying silent, but it doesn't. Instead I behave the same way (but this time with the handy dandy kids as an I'm-so-preoccupied-with-my-kids-that-I-haven't-noticed-anything-around-me excuse) and then kick myself over and over because surly these nice people now think I'm a terrible snob.

Which they do. At least some times. Thanks to several commenters I know that when I am thinking or quiet or just taking in a situation (ie. I am not talking), I look like I am either pissed off, bored, or just not having fun. Apparently my blank face also gives off an air of rudeness. Also? In high school I was told, flat out, that I seemed very standoffish.

Nope. Sorry. I promise I am nice and friendly. I am just also PAINFULLY SHY.

I would like to believe that the "painful" part has diminished as I've gotten older, and, for the most part, I think it has. But there are still certain situations that bring out the worst in my old ways, where the anxiety takes over, my feet are frozen, my voice reserved for people I feel comfortable with, and it feels impossible to interact with any one else. Of course, I leave these times wishing I could act like someone else, be someone else, because surly my husband deserves a wife who is chatty and friendly and makes an effort to say hello.

My sister assures me that change is possible. Which I suppose it must be because after having children I made a minuscule step towards Less Painfully Shy.

It only took twenty-some years for me to be able to speak up in a small group setting without wanting to vomit afterward. So, you know, maybe in another twenty-years I'll be able to say hello to those acquaintances. Maybe.

xoxo, christine

Sep 19, 2014


Here is what I am slowly (and extremely hesitantly) coming to realize. We will never live in San Diego. In fact, we will probably never live anywhere but here, give or take a couple hundred miles.

I wish that we were the type of people who could float around, who can pick up and move and start over again and again. I wish that our roots weren't so deep, so strong, that the idea of moving away from everything we know wasn't terrifying. I imagine these people, so unlike me, so carefree and light. And I wish I was like that.

Aside from the obvious appeal of the ocean, I think I have a misconception that moving to a beach town could somehow magically transform me into a different person. I imagine myself in flowy skirts and bare feet. A free spirit that laughs loudly and shrugs off sandy car seats. I convinced myself that being in a different place would turn me into a different (and happier) person. I would have more energy, whisking up dinner from scratch and dancing wildly around the kitchen. I would act sillier and feel lighter, without the weight of life on my shoulders.

But I am slowly recognizing that being in a different place can't change me into a different person. Moving to a place like San Diego would just mean I am the same person, with the same worries and insecurities, just living near an ocean.

Near an ocean and away from my security. My support.

And even though sometimes I wish my wings were stronger than my roots, I am glad for those roots. I am glad that our families are so close and can help us and support us without having to get on an airplane. We have built our family here. I have great friends here. And we are people who need our family and friends, who depend on our family and friends. I do not have a strong enough inside to move away from the people who give me strength from the outside.

It may sound crazy that I even have to have this revelation, but I am trying to teach myself that this is okay. It's okay that I am not a drifter. It's okay that my home is here, and will probably always be here. It's okay that I will never be a different person than the one I am. And if I want to change something, moving won't do it for me, I have to do the work myself.

But it is hard. It just might be a lesson I have to teach myself over and over. Because there's that part of me, when I watch House Hunters International, when I read a book like Eat Pray Love, that aches to do something else, to be somewhere else, to be someone else. To uproot my family and drag them across the country to live with the salty wind in our hair and the sand in our toes.

(I wrote about this same type of feeling once before. Clearly it is one of the lifelong lessons I will have to have on Repeat.)

xoxo, christine

Sep 10, 2014

"Write" Now

My mind is a bit rusty, the wheels slowly trying to turn. I can hear the grinding and creaking as it tries to warm up and think about writing again.

Today is the first day I've had to sit down and write in what feels like forever. Forget about my infrequent posts here, I don't think I've written a journal entry in almost a year. That is unheard of for me. But with Hope gone all day and Paige in preschool three mornings a week, I am hoping that the quiet mornings with Nora will result in more writing.

But here I am with a blank page in front of me, the time to write (thank you, Nora for sleeping right now), and I don't even know how to find my words. In fact, I'm not even sure where my thoughts are. They've been shoved into the depths of my mind so many times because the day-to-day necessities of Kid Thoughts have taken over.

You know Kid Thoughts -- Time to get ready. Does she have her lunch? What time is it? Get out the door so we don't miss the bus. She wants a snack. What food do we have? She's crying again. Could she be hungry already? Better check her diaper. I'm exhausted. Will she be content long enough for me to read this article? How much television has she watched today? -- and on and on and on.

By the time I have a few minutes to think, my mind is numb, needing a good long time to warm up again, or, more preferably, wanting sleep. That's kind of where I am right now. I want to write. I need to write. But what should I write? What do I want to write?

I don't know. Give me a minute to pull out my thoughts and dust them off. Oof. This might take awhile.

xoxo, christine

Sep 2, 2014

There Goes My Baby

I just sent my first-born off on the bus. To first grade. All day.

I wish I was one of those parents who jumps for joy when their kids go back to school. I want to be doing a happy dance. Instead I feel like crying. And little bit like puking too.

There's nothing to worry about. I do know this. She loved Kindergarten and has been eager and excited to start first grade. Her best friend from last year is in her class again this year and we met her very friendly teacher last week. She's familiar with the school and thrilled to be eating lunch there, even if she doesn't really know the specifics of the lunchtime and recess routine yet. She will adjust and pick things up easily, because that is how she is.

I, on the other hand, feel like a hot mess. I have been having back-to-school anxiety dreams for weeks. Visions of putting her on the wrong bus, a friendless classroom, the school turning into a maze... these have been haunting me, confirming that I was more nervous for this school year than my six-year-old.

My heart feels ripped in two, with one piece desperately trying to follow the bus, keep up with my baby, hold her and cradle her and protect her from any feelings of loneliness or fear.

I know I sound like a crazy lady. And I promise that I am well aware of this and trying my hardest not to be. I mean, just because my heart breaks at the thought of my daughter's feelings being hurt, doesn't mean that I'm going to run over to the school and stick my nose in. Just because I want to butt in and shelter her forever and ever doesn't mean I'm going to.

But my goodness, this parenting gig is hard. I love it. And wouldn't change it for anything. But it is hard. (And this is only first grade. This isn't even the really tough stuff.)

I will just keep reminding myself that she will be fine. I will be fine. And I'm not going to think past first grade because, well, let's just take one thing at a time.

Happy First Day of School, I raise my box of tissues to all the crying mamas out there. (And the rest of you can laugh at us.)

xoxo, christine

Aug 17, 2014

The Butterfly

A butterfly appeared this year. It flitters between our house and the neighbor's, disappearing over the fence or into the trees. I catch a glimpse of it's yellow and black wings as the girls play in the driveway.

The first day we brought Nora outside after bringing her home, the butterfly made it's first appearance, resting very briefly right on her nose and then fluttering quickly away. It has since visited numerous more times, above our heads, just out of reach, but close enough to be noticed.

This butterfly, it makes me think of Calvin.

I don't think the butterfly necessarily is Calvin, but I sort of think of it as a sign from Calvin. A periodic "hello," or a checking in to see his big sisters riding bikes, spraying the hose, singing and laughing. I think of the butterfly on Nora's nose as Calvin's acknowledgement of his little sister and a welcoming her home.

* * *

Today marks the one year anniversary of my delivery of Calvin. It marks one year since laboring at the hospital, the horrible contractions brought on by induction, the fuzzy calm of pain relievers. One year since seeing our baby boy for the first time. One year since the heartache of holding our stillborn son in our arms.

Today we all dressed ourselves in blue and went out for brunch. We bought a bouquet of brightly colored daisies and found a bridge over the river. Today we separated the blue daisies into five single flowers, one for each of us, and gently tossed them into the water. We followed them under the bridge, watching them drift down the river, until they were a tiny speck of blue in the distance.

Today we spent the day remembering our son, their brother. We lit his blueberry scented candle and rested together in the living room, reading the newspaper, playing games, cradling Nora.

My heart will forever break for the loss of my son. My soul will forever ache to know him.

I love you, my dear Calvin John. Always.

xoxo, christine

Aug 11, 2014

In the Middle of the Night

We are exhausted. I am exhausted.

I have two Big Girls who are right now packing their suitcases full of underwear and plastic food, and who somehow really believe they are driving themselves to Washington D.C. today to visit their Auntie. And I have one Baby Girl who is snuggled on my chest snoozing away.

All of this I want to be soaking up and enjoying fully, yet instead I am exhausted, finding myself vacillating between complete indifference and extreme irritation. (Yes, apparently when I am sleep deprived my irritability comes out like a maniacal monster.)

This beautiful miracle asleep with her legs curled under her and arms splayed, with her head of dark hair and pursed lips, with her chunky double chin and pointy elf ear, sleeps so peacefully.

Except when she doesn't. Which is usually at night.

Oh, hello. You mean I'm supposed to be sleeping right now?

The first several weeks were fine, good even. The next two weeks, when Adam was back at work, even seemed survivable. But this fifth week, my darling third daughter's fifth week of life is kicking me, hard.

I am coming off a week of mastitis and nights where I was awake with her anywhere between one and three hours at night. She is not crying uncontrollably, something I know to be incredibly grateful for, but anytime I try to put her to bed after nursing she wakes up and fusses. And the fussing turns to cries until she is picked back up, soothed, and rocked to sleep. All of which began with a sleep deficit already in place.

I am a zombie. I am one of those bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, new moms. Except there's nothing funny or amusing about any of it. I am one "Mo-om" request away from breaking into sobs, one whiny-pout away from screaming.

I am not enjoying my three beautiful-spirited daughters, I am surviving. ("Surviving" is probably even questionable.) If I could, I would wrack up some major guilt. They are spending too much time in front to screens. They are not getting outside, going to the pool, seeing friends, getting out of the house, enough. Their diet is mostly snacks. I am crabby. I am short. I snap and sigh and spend too much time on the couch with my eyes closed. But I don't even have the energy for guilt.

There is no doubt in my mind this will all change. I know that eventually we will find our way, that Nora will get into better sleep habits, that none of this will last forever, or even very long. I am not wishing time away because already I feel like this month has flown by and my tiny newborn is quickly turning into a chunky baby. I know that everything is a season and I will look back and miss these early days, even though (or maybe especially because) they are foggy and filled with desperation (for sleep).

But right now I am tired. Oh-so-tired. And I am just trying to survive. Trying to remember to relax. To breathe. To not let my grouchiness get the better of me. To apologize. To give hugs. To love every minute I can -- even the ones I am awake for in the middle of the night. And to forgive myself when I can't.


Aug 4, 2014

I'll Take an Quadruple Shot of Espresso, Please

Well, it's only taken about four weeks, but I think the lack of sleep is finally catching up with me. Don't get me wrong, I've been exhausted since the beginning, but the past few nights Nora has needed extra cuddles and last night I was up with her from 2:00 until 4:30, and I'm pretty sure my patient parenting is fading quickly.

I have no problem giving her the cuddles she needs. In fact, I've spent the past four weeks feeling overwhelming love when she wakes me up at night (after the initial grogginess clears), smiling at her and whispering sweet words to her, even when she's awake multiple times per night, even when I've just put her down and snuggled back under my covers, only to be summoned back minutes later for more rocking and cuddles.

But like all humans, I have a breaking point, and there's a reason not letting prisoners sleep is a form of torture. I'm not quite the hot mess I expected to be today, but I can tell that a meltdown is bubbling just below the surface.

I am bone-tired. And when I'm tired I feel overwhelmed and grouchy and like I am lacking in all my titles. The big girls bear the brunt of my crabbiness, unfortunately, although I noticed last night that it was harder to smile and coo at Nora after already being up for an hour. This makes me unhappy on top of my lack-of-sleep irritability because I like being a patient and gentle parent. And I'm not feeling very gentle or patient today.

I know that all I need is more sleep, whether at night or napping during the day, and everything will be put back into perspective. I know that I am not a bad parent, that I'm just tired, and this tiredness will someday (soon?) be a distant memory. I need to go to bed earlier (even if Adam is still up) and sleep more when Nora does during the day (even if my older girls already feel like I'm napping too much).

I just need more sleep. And while I'm at it a couple of large coffees wouldn't hurt either.

Wishing you sweet dreams.

xoxo, christine