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

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