Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In which I find out who really loves my mess.

I read this post from Susan at Learned Happiness yesterday about the logistical nightmare of her daughter wanting to have friends over at a moment's notice.  I felt her anxiety at having her house judged so acutely, it's like we really are kindred spirits.

In two years of belonging to my mom's group, I have never hosted a playgroup.  I am so ashamed to say this out loud.  I go to playgroups almost every week, but I have never offered to have the group at my house.  I feel like such a mooch.

Only a few times, mostly right after I had the baby, have I had people here at all, and then only one person at a time, only carefully vetted people, and only with a serious crisis clean of the house before.  And then, no matter how much time I've spent cleaning, I apologize for the mess anyway.  Just in case.

What would happen if I opened up my door to all the playgroup moms, or all of the moms in my neighborhood, people who I'm going to have to see again and again, and they saw my house for what it really is most days? The crumbs on the floor, the blocks everywhere, my pajamas in a corner of the living room?  What would they think of me?

What if they didn't like me?

Those jerks, judging me just because my house is messy.  Who do they think they are anyway?


And at this moment I reach the realization.

If you want everyone to like you, you're not giving anyone the chance to really love you.

Because, yeah, I'll scoop up the underwear out of sight and throw them in the basement before you walk into the room because that's just polite.  But if you don't love someone who has both crumbs on the kitchen floor and a laptop open to facebook and twitter?  You don't love me.  

And finding 2 or 3 real friends who genuinely love me and accept me is worth so much more than having 12 friends who think I'm an awfully sweet lady who they see at the park once in a while.

So maybe it's time I open my front door.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It matters

I don't like to talk about national tragedies.

This is not to minimize the significance of these events, nor is it to criticize those who do want to talk about them.  While it isn't for me, I can see how the analyzing and praying and talking can fill a need, can help some people to process, and I bear those people no ill will.

And to be honest, while I choose not to look at graphic images or videos, I don't find most of your words especially triggering.  It's sad, and I feel grief for those affected, but it doesn't make me despair for human kind.

So, your tweets and updates about the tragedies aren't why I turn off social media on those days.  It's because you don't talk about anything else.

I remember after 9/11 hearing that there was a list of songs that radio stations were told not to play in light of the events, and one of them was Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."

I lived 45 minutes outside NYC.  The girl next to me at the campus bus stop had watched the skyline fall out the side of her car window.  My roommate's mother had escaped from Tower 1 that morning.  Several of my students when I student taught had parents who hadn't.  So, trust me I got it.

I gave money to the Red Cross.  I gave jackets and food.  I tried to give blood.  I went to a tribute ceremony.

And I went home to my campus apartment, downloaded What a Wonderful World, and played it on repeat.

Because, damn it, it is.

I go on twitter, and I hear people complaining about auto-tweets.  I see people apologize for talking as normal, for being insensitive, explaining that they were only talking freely because they didn't know.


Let me tell you this:  even when something horrible has happened, your small struggles and challenges, your vulnerability?

It matters.

Your kind words to each other, and the daily love and hugs I see you all using social media to dispense?

It matters.

Your tiny moments of joy with your loved ones and children?

They matter.

In fact, I can't think of any time when they matter more.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

But I digress

My baby is rolling over.  Did I tell you that?

Well, not at this very moment.  At this moment, she's in her swing asleep.  My big girl is in her bed, comporting herself in a similar manner.  I realize that I could also be engaging in this very worthwhile undertaking, but I have some other things I would like to do with this time.  Which is okay.  And I reserve the right to whine about sleep deprivation later even though I chose not to take this nap because sleep is important, but it's not the only thing that's important, and I'm allowed to have my own needs for meaning and productivity and fun which can only be met when two small people are not demanding 100% of my attention.  Each.

But I digress.

At some point in the past week, my sweet sweet baby girl has decided that when I put her on her back to play, it's a good idea to roll over onto her stomach.

What she intends to do once she gets there is beyond me.  She better not have any ideas about crawling.

She's also decided she has a preferred parent (it's not daddy) and that sleeping through the night is silly.

These things are all related, right?

I don't know when my baby got to be this big.  The time is going really fast.  These things sound stupid, like the cliches I know they are.  

I'm sad?  Kinda?  Except I really do prefer this ball of cuddles who knows who I am and smiles and laughs at me.  (At me? I mean . . . no, let's not lie.  At me.)  Who enjoys when her sister hugs her.  Who looks around and realizes things are happening, and has opinions on things (you know she does).  And I'm worried about how fast this stage will go by (and at the same time SO EAGER for this EXACT phase to go by), but I know I will like the next one too.

My big girl?  She sings songs.  Kicks a ball around the back yard.  Climbs into my lap and tells me she loves me.  Gives me her apple slices.  Performs entire scenes from Daniel Tiger.  Helps other kids.

And she's still my baby too.

Time is going quickly.  But my girls aren't going anywhere quickly.  Well, except when BG "runs so fast!" to the other side of the library.

But again, I digress.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doing it right: Being brave and vulnerable

This morning was one of those mornings when I woke up already feeling discouraged.

I felt discouraged because yesterday my daughter ended up watching hours of TV, including two episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba, which I gave in to because the extremely overdramatic reaction she has to being denied that show is both unpleasant and downright terrifying.  Because I spent most of the day yesterday plugged into my computer instead of engaging with my life.  Because I didn't sleep much last night for the second night in a row.  And because I didn't have any plans for today and was sure it would end up just like yesterday.

I went on twitter and admitted that I didn't want to go to the park by ourselves again.  That the idea made me sad.  And immediately was embarrassed at having admitted that.

Then I did something crazy.  I hopped over to facebook where people who know me in real life live.  (Wait, that's not where they live?  Crap.  Baby steps, story.)

And I wrote a status asking people to play with me.

Okay, I didn't use those words.  It sounded much more grown up.  And it was cute and clever because when I want to avoid being really vulnerable, cute and clever are my go-to's.

But it was vulnerable anyway.  Because even if I made a joke about it, it was clear that I was bored and lonely and just wanted a friend.  Clear right there in front of people I've known my whole life as well as people I might see at the grocery store tomorrow.

And I immediately didn't know which would be worse: if no one responded, or if someone did.

Well, someone did.  A mom who's newer to the area than I am, who needed the company as much as I did. And we went, and we played and we had fun.

And other people replied too.  To say, Maybe next time, or I wish I lived close enough.  I had a neighbor (EEEP) tell me to come over and play whenever.  I even had a former student say she wished she could play with me. (Me too.  Sigh.  Me too.)

I know that for some people, making plans is not a big deal.  But for me it is.  It was scary and kinda awful and still feels a little icky.  But I did it anyway.  And I saved my day, and probably someone else's too.

So, that's what I'm doing right.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Well played, sleep

Can someone tell me what on EARTH provoked me to describe my sweet youngest child as a "good sleeper"?

C'mon, mama.  You should know better by now.

The first couple weeks of my baby's life were a sleepless haze, where I was a little teary and occasionally forgot where my child was while I was holding her, but somehow I was okay with that.

Then she started to sleep.  At night.  For long stretches of time.  Not on top of me.

I didn't even know who I was anymore.

Sleeping?  I was gracious.  Hopeful.  Funny.  Growing.  I thought, hey, maybe sleep really is the key to everything.  Good job, baby.  Good job, mama.

Then she hit her three month growth spurt and started walking up for long stretches in the middle of the night.  Oh, I thought.   This is when it all falls apart.  I remember now.

And I struggled, and drank a lot of caffeine, and was completely un-gracious, and 5 days later it was over.

Well, maybe she woke up once a night.  But she's a baby, after all.

Guys?  There's no 3.5 month growth spurt.  And this week has been hellish.  She wakes up 4 times a night, I fall asleep feeding her, wake up and put her down, and she wakes up as soon as I put her down.

Right now I am crying a little into my second cup of coffee, while my baby fusses on her playmat and my big girl, instead of napping, stands at her door screaming "I NEED MY MOOOOMMMMMMMMY."

You're a jerk, sleep.  The only thing worse than making me a maniac is making me a rockstar and then taking it away.

Sigh.  Off to rescue my screaming children.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stop the self care madness

I am not good at self care.

I am not good at not being good at things.

I want to be kinder to myself, and happier, and better equipped to deal with the hard stuff and enjoy the good stuff.

Which isn't to say I want to run and sleep and read and eat clean and eat chocolate and drink all my water and have a second cup of coffee and a glass of wine and avoid numbing my vulnerability and learn something new and get out of the house and have a  pajama day and accomplish things and take it easy all in the same day, every day.  And beat myself up when I somehow don't manage it.

Maybe some of you don't need to remind yourselves of this.  But I do.

When I first started trying to feel better, and again when I decided to "grow," I got caught up in this idea of self care as something that was a burden.  Something else I had to fit into the day on top of everything else.

Because I still need to play with my kids.  I still need to eat and prepare meals. Laundry still needs to be done.  Self care seemed so heavy.

But it's not.

Some days, I want to do some things for myself.  I want to send out Monday morning glitter on Twitter.  I want to read at night, and to cuddle with my husband watch TV.  I want to write most days.  Once in a while I want to run or do yoga (although not so much these days).

But most days?  All I need is to pause for a second every once in a while.  To breathe before I answer something.  To finish my sandwich before I run to react to my daughters' perceived crises.

And, well, maybe have some chocolate.