Oct 24, 2014

A Blanket of Yucky

I don't know if there's something in the air, or it's the change of season, or the planets' alignment, but something is going on, because I have talked with and read about several other people who are feeling the same things I am right now.

Basically, there's a lot of "Meh," "Yuck," and "Blech" going around.

I am typically not one to dislike turning a year older, but I was starting to wonder if I was having some weird adverse reaction to my upcoming birthday. I suppose it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who's feeling beaten down right now.

Somehow I am off, one step behind the dance that's happening around me. Or even two steps. I am struggling to find the beat and smile and keep up. Actually, it's less of a dance and more of an intense workout that I seem to be involved in. I signed up, yet I am unable to keep up. I am huffing and puffing and wishing it would be time for a water break. Instead of the endorphins kicking in, the sweat and high intensity is kicking my butt.

I wish that my analogy was real. Well, sort of. (I'm no fitness person, after all.) At least then I would be working out and getting the benefit of those good endorphins instead of just hiding in my house and curling up with my big blanket of yuckiness.

I wonder if it is lack of sleep. So I take a nap and feel more groggy than before. I wonder if I need to get outside or connect with a friend. So the girls and I meet friends at the park. And I feel better for those few hours, until I am home and exhausted all over again.

Something feels off, and in my current state, and my worst-case-senerio-itis, I am starting to have a sense of foreboding. Maybe my feeling of not-quite-rightness is a sign that something terrible is lurking around the corner. Even though I have no idea what it is, the universe is telling my body and my body is attempting to communicate with me by feeling yucky and off.

I'm kind of hoping that a few extra baby snuggles will cure whatever's going on, but I suspect that it's a little more complicated than that. It's hard because I don't know if this is some weird phase of the moon that's going to pass, or if there's something shifting in my mind that I need to explore further, or if I just need a little more therapy and to readjust my medications.

Perhaps it's a little of everything.

Perhaps I'm just overthinking.

I suppose one way or another I'll find out.

xoxo, christine

Consider this my Flashback Friday
October 2011
(Might as well include a random photo to bring a smile to my face.)

Oct 20, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

After recently writing about my difficulties with parenthood and grownuphood I feel compelled to document some of the things I love about being home with my family. Partially because I'm feeling guilty about my struggles, partially because I'm feeling kinda "meh" and I wonder if pointing out some happier things will get me out of my funk, and partially because I really do love being home with my kids and it's good to remind myself of that every now and then.

I love that I can spend part of the day snuggling a napping baby, her warm body tucked against my chest.

I love that I am (most likely) here to witness that wobbly first step, complete with wonder and bewilderment on the baby's face as she falls back to the ground.

I love that I am the one who gets Hope onto the bus in the morning, and am here to greet her when she comes home in the afternoon.

I love that I get to take them on adventures to the park, the zoo, the mall, or just a walk around the block.

I love that if I've had a particularly rough night, I can find a moment (or two) to nap the next day.

I love that if one of the girls is sick we don't have to worry about who will stay home and miss a day of work. I am the one who can provide cuddles and movies and sips of juice for an aching tummy.

I love that if an urge to bake arises, I can invite them into the kitchen with an afternoon of making a mess for the sake of goodies.

I love that if an appointment needs to be scheduled and attended, I am here and home and able to be a part of it.

I love that I get to hear the older girls when they're playing nicely together. That I get to witness some of the best of their imaginative games and make-believe.

I love that I get to listen to long-winded stories and baby coos and breathless accounts of school happenings.

I love that I am here to kiss boo-boos and shush fussiness and apply band-aids to scraped knees.

I love that I get to be home, even on the days that I don't love it.

And I always, always, love to be their Mommy.

xoxo, christine

Oct 14, 2014

An Apple a Day

So, Paige. The way to get an apple off the tree is to yank really hard like this, right?

No, Mommy! You twist and pull down gently. She scolds me as she delicately turns her wrist and lowering her hand. She has been practicing proper apple-picking technique for days.

There are some family adventures I imagine in my mind, some moments and scenarios that play out as a beautiful happy family movie montage. There are twinkling eyes and mouths grinning uncontrollably as inspirational music swells in the background. We are all glowing with joy as we twirl around with our faces lifted into the sun. It is perfection.

Most events, of course, don't actually play out the way I've scripted them in my mind. Some are better, some are worse, some just different. Taking the girls to the apple orchard started out a little rocky, making me wonder if it was going to be a flop, but things turned around quickly and ended as a heartwarming Family Classic. (In fact, I'm kind of hoping a pick-your-own-apple adventure can become an annual tradition for our family.)

The best part of our apple orchard outing was, by far, watching the girls dance up and down the rows of trees, enamored by the bright red fruits everywhere we turned. They were on a treasure hunt to find the perfect apples. We went home with our treasure glowing shades of red, yellow, even a little green, with aching legs, dusty shoes, and bellies full of sweet and tart apples.

Our movie moment was filled with magic. It had the exact right proportions of sweet apple aroma and sun streaming through thick branches and smiling faces to leave us walking away with the warm fuzzies of a feel-good classic.

xoxo, christine

Oct 9, 2014

I'm Not Always Feeling the Rainbows and Unicorns

This has been ruminating on and off for awhile now, but I've been too scared to post it. See, I care a little bit too much about what other people think and I'm afraid people will think I'm a terrible mother and horrible person. But, on the off chance I'm not alone, I've decided to test the waters. Of course, instead of dipping my toe in, I'm gonna just cannon ball into the deep end.


Can I be totally and completely honest here for a moment? Sometimes I just feel done. Not with life or anything, but yeah, kinda with life.

(I realize that given my history of depression this could come across as a very concerning thing and all, but I assure you I have no desire to ::whispering quietly:: die, and I'm fairly certain this has nothing to do with depression. Just, you know, being a responsible grown up.)

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with things that are always needing to be done and are never done, and the constant noise and chaos going on around me that the energy needed to avoid Shut Down Mode is almost too much.

It's like those movie scenes where the character is standing still in the middle of a room and they do some sort of fancy camera or editing work where the room and people in it are just spinning around that one character. I am frozen in one spot and everyone's voices turn into Charlie Brown's teacher. "Waw, waw, waw. Waw, waw."

Can I be real here and admit that I am so incredibly tired of repeating myself 71582398 times that dirty clothes go in the hamper and garbage goes in the garbage can and please clear your dishes and pick up your toys and get in bed and no you can not have a snack right before a meal.

I can not stress enough how much I love my daughters, and how my heart explodes and cries and hurts with love for them. I would run in front of a speeding car for them and wrestle an alligator for them. I love them to the moon and back a million times. But arguing about what I've made for dinner for the three-hundredth night in a row kind of makes me feel all crazy.

I am not Suzy Homemaker. I do not find it rewarding scrubbing soap scum out of the bathtub. I do not find it comforting to spend time cooking a meal from scratch. I do not find satisfaction in getting stains out of the laundry.

But I love to be home full-time with my kids.

I just suck at all things house related. Of course, I don't mean "suck" as in I can't do it. Unfortunately I am very capable of swiffering the floors, not burning down the house while cooking dinner, and keeping clothes in decent shape going through the washer and dryer. I just stink at keeping up with any of it. Because it's never done. NEVER.

And some days, it feels like too much.

Am I alone here? Please reassure I'm not alone here. Because it feels like, in today's world, it's not okay to admit that sometimes parenting is not fun. It feels like if there is even a whisper of frustration or unhappiness or doneness, that this somehow means we don't love our children, or we don't deserve them, or we aren't appreciating them enough.

Trust me. I'm perfectly capable of piling on guilt over how I should have unlimited patience and appreciation for all moments and times with my children (especially after losing Calvin -- oh how the guilt when I'm frustrated can pull me under like the ocean's waves).

But having to be a grown-up? It's hard. And sometimes, it's not fun. And sometimes, as rewarding as parenting can be? Sometimes it's just not rewarding.

I don't want to give off the impression that I don't like motherhood, or that I can't handle it. I just... I'm just not an everything-is-sunshine-and-rainbows-and-happy-happy-all-the-time kind of person. Believe me, I wish I was. I feel like life would be so much easier if I could always see it through some rose-colored glasses. (Someone tell me where I can get a pair of those!)

It's not all hard, no it most definitely is not. But sometimes it is hard. And I guess I wanted to get this out of me, and share it, and hope that maybe I'm not alone? It would be nice to know that when I'm having one of those days, nights, moments where I just want to throw my hands up and shout, "I QUIT!" that I'm not the only one, that instead of feeling like an isolated leper, there is a larger community of moms out there who (at least occasionally) feel the same way.

Perhaps then instead of dying to crawl upstairs into bed, I can imagine the solidarity with other moms. I can pour myself a cup of tea, clink with an imaginary glass or two, and know that no matter how many more hours there are until I really can be done for the day, there's another mom out there who's clinking an imaginary glass with me.

xoxo, christine

Oct 6, 2014

I Will Keep My Arms Open

I hate that we live in a time and place where Lockdown Drills are a part of my children's realities. But I understand the need, and am glad that my daughter goes to a school that has policies in place to help keep her safe. But that doesn't mean I'm happy about it. That doesn't mean I'm not left with a sick feeling in my stomach when she comes home with a report of a Lockdown Drill at school that day.

(But I digress...)

Last week my first grader's school had one of these drills. Her class was not in their regular room with their classroom teacher, which is kind of unfortunate in itself, but still good to get practice in any situation. There were a few boys who were not staying quiet (a requirement in Lockdown Drills as much as lining up quickly and quietly is for a Fire Drill) and finally, in what I'm assuming was frustration and exasperation on the part of the teacher, the teacher said, "We would be dead by now."

Of course, when I heard about this, I immediately felt outraged and yet I completely understood what (could have) brought her to say this. Perhaps these boys weren't grasping the importance and seriousness of the situation, so they needed a reality check. Unfortunately, for a sensitive someone like my daughter, it is pretty much the worst possible thing to be told.

When Hope came home and shared with me about this particular part of her day (thank goodness she shared with me about her day!), and how she cried and felt afraid, I just wanted to hold her and tell her nothing bad would ever happen to her. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. She will be safe and protected and the world is a wonderful happy place forever, amen.

But of course I can not lie to my six-year-old, not when she already knows that there are bad people in the world, which is why they practice these drills, in case one of these bad people decides to visit their school. So, we talked about it as much as she could handle, but Hope is a child who gets more anxious the more stressful things are discussed, so after awhile she just wanted to stop. And we did.

But I keep thinking about my baby. I can feel her pain and fear so acutely in my heart, and it hurts. It hurts. I can feel her shock as she heard the words spoken about dying. I can picture her face and her posture as she sat at the table unsuccessfully holding back her tears. And with every beat of my heart, I can sense her discomfort and fear for the rest of the day.

I don't know if this is part of being a mama, or if it's just my own personal sensitive heart, but, damn, it hurts to think about and know that my child was hurting. It is SO HARD to know that she worries and stresses about life things, already, at just six-years-old. I want to be able to protect her from feeling anxiety about the horrible possibilities in life, because I have those anxieties so I know how hard and distracting and unhelpful they are. I don't want my daughter to struggle with that, too.

And, the thing is, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say. I don't know if my words are helping her understand and cope and handle stress, or if they're making her worries worse. I don't know if we should talk and talk and discuss and discuss, or if I should just drop it.

But oh, as I think about my sweet and sensitive little girl, I just want to squeeze her tight and curl up on the sofa under a warm blanket and never let her go. I don't want the world to touch her and hurt her. I just want to homeschool her and keep her home and live in a little bubble.

Except that I don't. Because I know that school is such a wonderful place. She is learning so much and getting so much out of it. And the world is a wonderful place. (Except when it isn't. Ugh.) And she has to experience life and live and feel things and try things and have hard experiences and I have to stick up my shoulders (and overcome my desire to hunker down and stay in bed and cry and cry) and be strong. I have to be the person that she can come to, with arms open and heart open and love overflowing. So that when she does get stressed out or kicked down or terribly worried, she has a safe place to come back to. I want her to know, that she always has us, we are always here. And we will do our hardest to help her and give her the tools she needs to manage whatever feelings she has.

It is okay to be sad. It is okay to be upset. It is okay to feel scared about a Lockdown Drill. We are here for you, Hope. We will talk with you and hug you and wipe away your tears whenever you need us to. And when you need us to not talk about it, and to distract you with happy thoughts, well, we're hear for that too.

xoxo, christine

Sep 26, 2014

The Rhythm of the Night

I peek into the room. The glow from the hallway casts a wedge of light on them. He is gently unbuckling her, extracting her arms from the harness. Her loud cries turn to whimpers as he tucks her securely into his arm, learning his face close to her head. I can not hear his words, but I imagine them, warm breath in her ear, "Shhh. It's okay. Daddy's here. I love you."

He begins the evening ritual, the hardwood floors creaking under his feet like the beginnings of a strange percussive song. Down the hall, circle the living room, up the hall, circle the bedroom. Repeat. Repeat. His footsteps thumping and whispered "shhs" accompany the rhythm of the creaking floor. With every loop around I see her body relax until she is limp with comfort, and sleep.

Her relaxation is mirrored in his shoulders, his posture visibly falling as he makes his last loop. When he kisses the top of her head I catch a glimpse of the love in his eyes. His love for her.

All at once the percussive rhythm is replaced by her quiet breaths and squeaks from her sleep. He settles into the chair with her snuggled against his chest and it is the most at ease he has looked in many days. Her rest and comfort radiating to him. His comfort and love radiating to her.

It is his turn to tuck the big girls into bed, but I do not want to move her, so content she is with him. So content he looks with her. I usher the girls into their room, whispering and tiptoeing down the hall to keep from interrupting his moment. Their moment.

Soon she will wake, ready to play, ready to fuss, ready to eat. But for now she is quiet. Peaceful. Sharing her peace with the one person who needs it most right now.

xoxo, christine

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