Thursday, November 15, 2012

BHBC: My Life Map

I was recently given the opportunity to review My Life Map for Blogher. Unlike most of the books I've reviewed, this was more of a journal, designed to help you map out your life for the next ten years.

The book begins by walking you through a series of questions about your past and your present designed to help you flesh out what was important to you during various stages of your life. You are then encouraged to fill in these time periods on the "whole life map" provided at the end of the book, visually representing your life up until this point. The map is divided into sections where you can write whatever you felt to be important during each "chapter" of your life in the areas of family, friends, work, learning, service, and playing.

After mapping out your past and present, you are then encouraged to begin to plan the next 10 years of your life. There is a chapter on each of the subjects containing more insightful questions about what you want and value, and a map at the end of each chapter where you can plan out that aspect of your life before adding it to the whole life map.

I found these exercises very interesting. I'm not much of a long term planner, but to begin to think about my hopes and dreams for the next several years (and even moreso maybe for the past 31) was a very useful task. The maps themselves were less helpful to me because I've never been a very visual person, but the questions posed in each chapter really helped to flesh out what is important to me and what I'm hoping to accomplish. I really liked the way it was organized too, and sometimes the very subjects made me think. Having to map out a plan for myself over the next 10 years in terms of service, playing, and learning reminded me how much I have sometimes neglected those aspects of my life lately even though they were very important to me in the past.

Overall, I enjoyed this book (even though I was a little skeptical at first), and really was glad to sit down and feed my reflective side a little bit. The specific questions helped keep even my cluttered and distracted brain focused. That's quite the task these days.

Disclosure: This is a paid review for Blogher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's not her, it's me

I've been saying for a while that I'm not good at playing with my kid, that I'm not good at crafts or projects or making busy bags or anything like that.  I always get the sweetest responses about how that stuff isn't necessary, about how it's okay to let her play by herself, about how I don't always have to have a project for her to do.

And what I have trouble explaining is, the problem is: well then what am I supposed to do?

Sometimes I feel guilty for not entertaining BG more, for not providing more meaningful educational experiences, for not encouraging her sensory and motor development (say what?), for letting her veg out in front of the TV.  Sometimes I see things that other people are doing and I wonder if I am doing her a disservice, wonder if somehow I am letting her down.

But mostly?  I'm bored.

I'm understimulated.  I'm frustrated.  I'm disappointed.  Two years in, and I still sometimes feel like I was sold a false promise of what being a mom was supposed to be.

Sometimes we play.  Sometimes we have lovely tea parties.  We do puzzles and I grit my teeth while she dumps the puzzle out after being 70% done.  (Why does this drive me crazy?  I have no idea.)   Once in a while I let her finger paint, and then 5 minutes later I spend 20 minutes cleaning up. 

Sometimes I do housework (shocker) and she follows me around making herself perfectly happy sitting on the sheet I'm trying to fold or pulling out all my Tupperware and stacking it.  And I'm okay with that.

But there's still something missing.  It's like, when I went to the English major table in college and asked them what I could do with an English major and they said "Whatever you want!" and I said "But what does that have to do with English?  I want to be an English major because I like books, not so that I can go to business school."

I became a SAHM because I wanted to be a mom.  And it doesn't seem like there's nearly as much momming to be done as I thought there would be.  I mean there're meals and diaper changes, and there are snuggles.  And we talk, although she needs to work a little more on filling up her end of the conversation. 

But it's all so tedious.  I feel like most of it is about just being a warm body.   And a lot of times I feel like that must mean I'm missing something, like there's part of my job description that people just forgot to tell me about and I haven't been doing it.  And some days (mostly the days when the sads start to overcome me) I wonder if she wouldn't be better off with someone else, someone who knows what to do with a toddler.

Except I don't think there really is anything in particular to do with a toddler.

And even though most days I don't want to be anywhere in the world except with her, I can't shake this feeling that it just isn't enough.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finding my way back

I don't know if it's the change of seasons.

Or the storm, and the news, and the worrying (with apologies for my very ill timed Ocean City poem - although I'm glad to see Mack and Mankos pizza looking intact).

Or the fact that BG and I haven't been out of the house for four days.

Or that I thought that was a good reason to go completely off caffeine all week.

Or "just" the fact that I'm 32 weeks pregnant.

But I haven't been doing so well.

I haven't wanted to get out of bed.  Or off my couch.  Or off my computer.  I've been staring at my twitter stream even though I haven't really wanted to talk or write anything.

Yesterday, we watched five hours of PBS Kids. I'm going to come right out and tell you I don't think there are 5 different hours of PBS Kids broadcast every day.  I'm pretty sure we watched the same shows twice.

And I broke down, while cuddling my sweet girl in my bed, at 1 in the afternoon when she was supposed to be napping, and watching Caillou - yes, Caillou, I couldn't even turn him off - and cried, apologizing to her for not being a better mom.

Then I got up and made a cup of half caf and folded my laundry.

Today is a little better.  I was dressed before 9.  We went out, to CVS and to a free Gymboree class, and BG looked at me like I was the mom of the year, climbing into her carseat afterwards without a single argument, prattling away incoherently, and falling so fast asleep that she transferred effortlessly to her bed.  (Or as effortlessly as one can carry a 30 pound toddler up two flights of stairs when one is 32 weeks pregnant.)


It's hard in the quiet now to feel like I deserve the better.

But I do.

I know it's not my fault that I'm struggling.  I know it doesn't mean I'm weak or bad or anything else.  But I also know that if I want to be better, and I do, I need to do better.  I've been a little lost lately.  I've been forgetting who I am, what I need.  I need purpose, I need quiet, I need structure, I need creative and social outlets, I need caffeine, I need food, I need sleep.  It took so long to figure out how to be me, I can't expect myself to find it again right away.  It's a long path.  It always will be.

But I need to start walking.