Posts Tagged ‘relationships’
The honestly, clarity, humor and downright style of this article caught me. It’s worth a few minutes of your time. Especially if you are having a bad day. Especially if you are having a good day. It’s absolute Mommy-gold.
My favorite part:
“Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me. I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here’s what does work for me:”
Warm, real, solid. Read it.
Recently, my thoughts have been drawn to a room from many years ago. A young next door friend, one afternoon long ago, showed me his mother’s parlor. Hidden behind folding doors, it was a small room, sumptuously furnished in deep blue velvet and mahogany furniture. It was HER room, and absolutely forbidden to anyone but his mother, except by invitation. My friend informed me that they hardly ever used it. His mother would clean in there once a week and some times just go in alone to sit. What was the purpose of that? We both agreed it made absolutely no sense.
You might find it odd that this memory first flashed my mind in the presence of cockroaches, which recently immigrated from our neighbor’s recently well-sprayed apartment. It didn’t make sense to me then, either. It made more sense when it crossed my mind the fourth time I finished vacuuming tiny-people crumbs from the living room the next morning. It finally clicked when my husband gave me a NEW new update about his job situation or (yoyo style) lack thereof, again (he was employed and assigned an orientation date for a new job which, when he showed up, he and three other men were told, did not exist).
Suddenly, I understood my neighbor’s mother a little better. An open, generous woman in many ways, with the rest of the home clean, but very lived in, she had many aspects of her life that were uncertain. Her life had shifted frequently in the past and would do so many times since the afternoon I stole a forbidden glance into her parlor. With so many parts of life beyond her control, from the smallest can’t-the-floor-stay-clean-for-five-minutes to much larger, more personal waves of change and trouble, the blue room offered some small security.
A small piece of life where everything was just how she wanted it. How she needed it. There would never be anything to mar the beautiful carpet, even footprints, without her allowing it first. What she put down would be there when she returned. And, that incredible commodity so dearly lacking in motherhood–privacy–could be attained a few stolen minutes at a time as needed, and for twenty precious minutes of cleaning ritual once a week. It was the only room she would clean because she wanted to, not because she had to. A place of stability in an ever changing life. Something an eight year old child, such as myself, could never hope to fully comprehend.
I’ve envied her that room at times, in the past few days. Particularly, the privacy and stability it represented. If fleeting. The only time I ever saw or heard of the room since was a few years later when my small friend, now bigger and somewhat angrier, asked me if I remembered it, then told me his mother had been forced to sell most of it to make ends meet, shortly after an ugly divorce.
There may be solace to be found in a room clothed in dark blue velvet where no one else may enter. But it surprised me recently to finally find the word that best describes that beautiful, quiet room I saw: lonely.
Though tempting, I would rather be without the blue room. Other things matter more. Things that last beyond this life. My family. A relationship with my Savior. A knowledge that things, however they may ultimately trend in this life, will be made fair and be for our good.
That’s what really matters. And these things will not change.
Every time Chrome opens up, PeanutButterAndJellyHandprints stares at me from the opening page. With how long it has been since I posted anything, it’s begun to feel vaguely accusing. It’s difficult enough to drag myself out of bed and through the day, recently. I’m not sure why. And finding myself collapsing exhaustedly halfway through every day, I’ve been working to spend every other remaining minute with the children and Dear Husband. I cannot give myself to them and the page. So the page waits. And waits.
Besides, it is difficult to write without honesty. Very often, I could label my writer’s block, if willing to do so: Honesty. Not to say that I am an untruthful person. Far from it; if it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be a problem. It matters because I juggle my ability to convey what I mean with my limited capacities and worry that anyone who might read it (you are reading this, so somebody must!) might become worried or judgemental, either because life isn’t perfect today and I admit it, or because I mis-convey what I meant. Yes, I have been unusually tired, lately. Probably due to stress and lack of exercise. Minor depression? Maybe, considering repeated schedule changes, enduring job uncertainty, and a budget that’s been shoestring for the last five years. But best not mention the ‘D’ word, lest someone panic. Honesty, versus having a partially known audience (maybe?) with unknown possible reactions. Can I say what I mean and have it understood as meant? Two articles have already died quiet deaths, while countless others have remained unwritten. Despite my desire to reach out via open honest words and embrace other women, to say “it is alright to admit that motherhood, in the midst of it’s wonderfulness, is hard.”
How much else in life goes unrealized because of these fears? Much, much, too much, I think.
Thank you, Chaundra (http://writingreflections.com/writingwithpurpose/) for having the courage to set the example and invite others to join.
Motherhood is not easy. Neither is writing about it. If words should fail or personal imperfections come to light, may I ask you to offer the grace to
“Take and sift them –
Keep what is worth keeping –
and with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.”
A book once suggested:
“Work from the child’s viewpoint.”
So (in the middle of detouring toward a useless argument about pretend VS real), it clicked. I can use this with Joshua’s “my pretend trumps reality” times. So I tried it. Joshua, Peter Rabbit might have hit Anna, but you are responsible to help your pretend friends obey the rules. “Oh.” Off to timeout he went and Peter Rabbit went home. No argument for once; reality might be arguable, but rules are a fact.
This has a LOT of benefits! Instead of fruitlessly arguing about Peter’s animatable properties while letting the real issue lose heat, I was able to address the real issue directly: Anna got hit and Joshua was responsible. It ALSO allowed him to feel I heard and that I value his perspective. It also establishes an important precedent for rules when playing with REAL friends.
It also adds a whole new set of options to my Mommy arsenal: I can redirect his pretend toward positive actions via his pretend friends. “Hey Joshua, can you help Go Diego wash his face? Show him how so he can do it.” “Oh, no! All these poor baby animals need rescuing. Let’s put them in the stuffed animal box to be safe.”
Not only is this working, it is making me ten times cooler a mom in his eyes. And I am enjoying it at least as much as he is!
During our time with friends and family this last fortnight, I was honored to finally meet the wife of a very good friend. Of all the thoughtful and sincere questions I have ever heard asked, hers is top of the list: “How do you teach your children the gospel [of Jesus Christ]?” More than anything else, that told me just what a gem she is.
Elaine, your question caught me off guard. It deserved an answer equal to the thought and desire you put into it. One better than I offered at the time. Yes, you should live as an example and bear your testimony of the Savior and his plan for us at any opportunity, tying the principles of the gospel into daily life. But there is a more basic principle. And it can reach even the youngest of children.
So, here is my better answer: Fill your home with the Spirit of Christ.
We now know from scientific studies of all kinds that children begin learning even before they are born. While in the womb, the respond to stimuli such as light, sound, and even tastes from the mother’s diet (which reach into the amniotic fluid). As a result, many researchers now advocate talking, playing music. If a child waiting to enter this world can experience stress from the outside, might they also be able to feel the spirit? There is certainly no doubt that your newborn can.
In a recent Conference address to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the apostles talked about teaching our children. He noted that even the youngest of children can feel the particular spirit associated with the scriptures and that they should be included in family scripture study, whatever the age. He urged parents to place pictures of the Savior and the holy temple in our homes so that children may be reminded of where they are going and how they can get there. I would add the additional suggestion to fill your home with music that is uplifting and inviting to the Spirit.
If your children learn to recognize and seek the Spirit, you have taught them what they need to know most of all. It will lead them to the Savior and every other good thing.
Anna loves anything with halfway recognizable facial features. She will snuggle and coo over it, regardless of what the item may be. Stuffed animals, slippers, socks, an outfit. The one exception is paper; it gets coos and descriptions. It’s just not that snuggle-able, I guess.
Tonight she came across one of Joshua’s stuffed animals, a puppy named Pokey (gift from Aunt Brittany and Ben). Predictably, she began cooing and snuggling. It was wonderful to watch and listen: “Pokey! Pokey. Oh, Pokey. Woof. Woof?” She pulled him back to look in his eyes, questioningly, before snuggling again and continuing reassuringly. “Woof. Woof. Oh, I love you.”
It feels so validating to see my children nurture each other, their toys, and their friends in positive ways; to me, it means I must be setting a reasonably good example that’s getting through.
Last night, I noticed the fireflies were out, right after finishing the bedtime routine. I tried to show Joshua at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s but he fell asleep too fast. Forget the bedtime routine; he’s not going to miss this again! So down he comes, we watch them, I catch a couple in a peanut butter jar to look at closely. Then back to bed.
Tonight, Anna was still awake when the fireflies came out, so we peeked out the window together. Joshua joined us and told her quietly, excitedly, just what to look for. “They are green lights that blink. On, off. Like fairies. Watch for the green lights.” Fireflies are a legitimate reason to stay up late.
Joshua came over while I was doing laundry this afternoon. “I’m pretending to be something.” Are you still a chicken? “Nope. Now I’m a crab.” Oh. He just stood there innocently, doing nothing. So I turned back to my laundry. Are you a big crab or a little one? What color… Quick, quick, that mischievous little crab reached out and pinched me on the arm! He was punished with tickles, that naughty little crab.
What a funny little boy he is!
The topic was the fourth Article of Faith (Latter-Day Saint summary of basic beliefs). I gathered the words from simple things he has already learned. We made a prompt card including pictures for the most important concepts. Then we practiced two or three times a day the week before. In Primary, he delivered amazingly and was very proud of himself. I was so proud of him, too.
It was a sweet experience for me. Wonderful to take his words from prayers and daily life, and bring them back together into a testimony that was truly his and he could share. Incredible practicing together. And especially sweet remembering my father doing the same for me, a long time ago.
I love you, Dad. Thanks for your beautiful examples, your time, and your personal testimonies (spoken and not). I’ve learned so much from you.
Happy Father’s Day.
Joshua was just getting the hang of making verbal, one word requests at less than a year old. And he asked for something. I don’t remember what it was. Jellybeans just before dinner? Or a bath, again? To play with something not dangerous but usually off-limits? I do remember that I was going to say “no”. Because that’s the response for that kind of request.
But another part of me said, “Well, why not?” And I couldn’t give myself a good answer. So I said “yes”. He was thrilled, as children tend to be with every good thing at that age.
For some reason, I remember the carousel that used to stand outside of K-Mart where I grew up. Every time we pulled out, I used to ask, “Can we ride the carousel?” And there was always a reason why not. We were in a hurry. It was wet. Someone needed a nap. In short order, I simply asked because it was there. I already knew what the answer was. As my dad wheeled the suburban out of the parking lot one day, I remember looking back and asking. He thought for a second, then said, “Yes.” He turned, rolled back around the parking lot, and parked. He plugged a couple of quarters in and I rode a pony up a few inches, down a few inches, round and round. It was slow and more child-safe than fun. But what thrilled me was the “yes”. After that, I didn’t ask any more. I didn’t need to. The “yes” is what mattered. I still remember it.
Childhood is full of so many boundaries. Too small, too young, too fragile, too hot, too hard. Often, we can’t tell our children the reason. At first, because they don’t ask, then because they can’t understand it, even later because they’ll try to argue. As a parent, it can be easy to get caught up in “no”, simply because that is the answer. But what if we miss the carousel?
So if I can’t answer “Why not?” to my children, I will answer it to me, for now. Too hard, too small, too fragile have been answered with, “Would it hurt to let them try?”, “What if we get a stool?”, “I’ll supervise.” Though I never risk more than I’m willing to lose, there have been times I found out “Why not?” the hard way. But trial and error is part of life. So, we will wait until you are older before again letting you try to peanut butter your own bread, because it is harder to clean up than I thought….
But it’s just stuff, marker washes off, spills can be cleaned, we can try again when they know a little bit more, and we can always say “no” next time. It is paying off. Joshua cracked the eggs for our breakfast this morning (with no shell bits), Anna markered some lovely pictures in addition to her toes, our camera is filled with photos that Joshua took (some of them quite good), and at least one of them remembers to water the garden plants they haven’t yet loved to death each day. They are confident, they are curious, and they know they are loved–even, when the answer is “no”.
We don’t have to say “no” because someone else did. We don’t have to disqualify something because it “might” not work. We are our own family. So, why not?
Once again, on a great day, I didn’t do anything extraordinary aside from hauling myself out of bed when the kids decided to get up an hour early. And I can hardly take credit for the fabulous, spontaneous family nap that occurred somehow when snuggling Anna to sleep for her nap. That was sweet. It seems like the best days are constantly made up of little sweet things, rather than “Super Mommy!” stuff. I know, that’s the whole point and theme of this blog.
But I still feel guilty.
Why do I push myself so hard? Yesterday, literally stumbling with exhaustion as I hauled a load of laundry upstairs, I told myself, “This is ridiculous? I totally should have stopped by now! This can wait. I would tell anyone else to quit right now.” Then I went ahead and finished anyway. Even now, sitting on the computer, there is a little voice inside of me saying, “You shouldn’t be doing this right now. There are dirty dishes in the sink. Clothes in the dryer, washer, hamper… The bathroom counter is still dusted from a haircut (bless my DH’s heart) and toothpaste (bless my dear toddlers’ souls). You didn’t even vacuum today!”
*Reflects on this and the time. Takes a break to vacuum before the neighbors go to bed.*
I feel like, even really believe, that there is enough time to get all of this house stuff done without sacrificing the kids. After all, some days I do do it all! And I’ve certainly had enough people tell me that it is perfectly possible to keep a home sparkling and the kids happy if only a person is disciplined, is smart about it, and actually cares. I’m an intelligent person who tries to stay informed and I do care. Despite what the house seems to say many days. So I guess I’m just not disciplined?…
Maybe I’m a workaholic? *Checking symptoms*… Working to the exclusion of family? Uh, no. They are my work! All else comes nowhere better than second. Including the house. Including me. Trying to turn any activity into something ‘productive’? Well, yes… Trouble delegating work? No, not really. Working longer hours than needed to bring home adequate pay? Um… totally not applicable. Unreasonable expectations? … I don’t think these diagnostic charts are designed for homemaking mothers. Just people who ‘actually work’.
What is unreasonable? Everything around mothers seems to say “you ought to do this for your kids and this for yourself and this for…” then in the same breath “you don’t have to be SuperMom”. People around us say “It’s alright. Nobody has it all together.” But then they hide their problems, too, so it seems like everyone else DOES have it figured out. And nowhere do I see the answer to this question, “What is reasonable?”
Some days I do it all! Then the next two days, I don’t even manage a shower. If I did it Friday and I don’t have the flu (which I don’t), isn’t it reasonable to think I can do it again today?
So why didn’t I?
My Beautiful Mother has a little golden-haired angel; my littlest sister, not much older than Joshua. I call often to brag about my little children, hear about life there, and hash parenting strategies together. It is wonderful to me that we can share a small part of motherhood together. She’s just finishing; I’m just starting.
The other day I called up to share Joshua’s pretend of being Daddy to twenty napping baby robins. She took time to share my little sister’s new favorite pretend.
Little H enjoys coming to MBM and excitedly enlisting her to play pretend. Mother agrees, then Little H will pretend around MBM all day long. She has developed an eye-opening new favorite, recently.
Almost daily, she has excitedly come to My Dear Mother and suggested this: we’ll pretend that you are my mom and I’m your little girl. MDM was amused at first, but after several times of this, she became curious and finally asked Little H, “How is this pretend different from everyday?” As little H explained, sometimes we have different pets, or live in a different place, or speak a different language, sometimes we are rich, and sometimes we are poor.
Rather than taking the usual approach of being someone different in a somewhat same world, Little H has turned pretending on its head. The whole world is different. Except for us.
So long as she’s Mommy’s little girl, what else matters?
It just goes to show, mothers: YOU really are the center of your child’s Universe.
I love you, Mom.
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- The Inestimable Value of Doodles and Handprints
- Awesome Acids and Bases
- Joshua’s Recent Writing
- Thank You, Dr Seuss
- Diving back in
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