Saturday, April 26, 2014

Let it go (or why concealing your feelings always ends with your homeland frozen)

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don't feel, don't let them know.
(Spoilers present.  But since I'm probably the last blogger human on Earth to see the movie, we're probably all okay here.  Right?  Right.)

The Easter bunny brought my girls Frozen.


I knew a little about the movie, but not enough to prepare me for the emotional reaction I had to it.

Ever since she is a little girl, Elsa is taught to hide her powers.  Think about that for a second.  Her POWERS.  Not her weaknesses.  Not her flaws.  Her iciness is what makes her special, what makes her amazing, what makes her beautiful.

But she's so afraid of it.  So ashamed.

But she learns, like we all do, that what we resist persists.  And the more she tries to fight it, the less she can.  The more she refuses to accept who she is, the more it comes out and controls her life.  The more alone she is.

Until she can't hide it anymore. Until it comes out, despite all her best efforts, and everything falls apart.

(Sound like anyone you know?  Oh, you too?)

And what she does is brave.  She stands on her own and says that she isn't turning back, that she isn't afraid anymore, that she accepts who she is.

But everything is still frozen.

In the end, it is her sister's love, her unconditional love despite all the mistakes, all the ice, despite any injuries Elsa had done her, that breaks through to her.  That makes her understand.

But Anna loved her all along.  Anna sat outside her door for years, begging Elsa to let herself be loved.  But as long as she wouldn't admit who she was, as long as she stayed inside, Elsa couldn't accept that love.  She didn't think she deserved it.  She thought, if she really knew.

(Yes.  Yes.  Me too, Elsa.  Me too.)

And in the end it isn't Anna's love that saves her and everyone else.  It's her own.  It is when she realizes that she can love herself that everything thaws.

But, the movie makes sure we realize, she still is who she is.  She still has ice in her.  But it's beautiful.  It's a gift.  Like it always was.

I'm deep.  I'm dark.  I'm sensitive.  I'm fragile.  I feel things deeply.  I overthink and overanalyze.

And I love that.  I don't need to hide that.  I don't want to be afraid of my power anymore.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Scoring baseball tickets with Score Big

A few months ago, BG started asking if she could go to a baseball game.  I'm not really sure where it came from.  It might have started after she saw the baseball Curious George episode.  Wherever the idea started, though, she became (as usual) fixated on it.  She asks a few times a week.

So, I was thrilled when someone from Score Big contacted me and asked if I wanted to write a review in exchange for a site credit.  Score Big is a site on which you can bid the price you want to pay for tickets to major events in your area.  You choose the section you want and name your price, and you instantly get a response as to whether your offer is accepted.  By choosing a section instead of a specific seat, you give Score Big the flexibility to find a seat for what you want to pay.

My husband and I logged on and created an account a few nights ago after the girls were in bed.  We chose the best section, named a really reasonable price for baseball tickets, and immediately got a response that my bid was accepted.  Our tickets are right behind the first base line!  I got them by email a few days later.

I am so thrilled to be able to take my girls to a baseball game.  I don't know if BG will be as thrilled once she's there and realizes how long baseball takes, but for now we're all giddy about it!

Disclaimer: I was given a $100 credit to Score Big in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I want to remember how to dream.

And I don't mean dream like that recurring one where I'm somehow back in school and haven't gone to one of my classes for the entire semester and now it's time for finals and I realize I'm about to fail.  Wait, everyone has that one, right?

No, I mean the kind of dream that involves thinking big, aspiring high, wanting and believing in something meaningful and profound.

I've been thinking a lot about how much it hurts when people don't respect my dreams, when I as a person feel invalidated, when my dreams aren't as important as everyone else's needs.  And I started thinking maybe the problem was that I don't speak up for myself and tell people those dreams.  But when I decided that I would woman up and own up to my dreams, to put them out there, to demand they be respected and appreciated and considered important by anyone who claims to be in my corner, I realized I had a more fundamental problem.

I didn't have anything to tell.

I don't remember when I stopped dreaming, when having a want bigger than "I want a moment to breathe" or "I want the toys in here picked up" seemed worth having.  It might have been longer ago than I think.  It might have happened well before I had kids.

I remember teaching kids to write memoirs, and realizing how long it had been since I'd put a pen to a paper of my own, and written anything more profound than the words "This is good, but you could flesh this idea out more."

I remember the freshman girls crying in my room at lunch, I remember giving up that free time willingly and graciously and uncomplainingly.  I remember the warmth of that feeling of being needed.

I remember sitting in senior seminar discussing Toni Morrison's Paradise, feeling like everything in my life was effortless, feeling the gentleness and the ease with which the words came out of my mouth, pushing back gently but firmly, making sure my voice was heard, feeling like I was entirely in my element.

But I don't remember wanting.

I don't remember imagining something amazing and believing I could be it.

When I was six, I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.  I was a terrible dancer.  I was clumsy, I was awkward, I was chubby. I had no idea.  I went to dance class every week, and I smiled and I practiced.

When I was ... always, I wrote stories and poems in notebooks.  I had a notebook in my room in first grade. I filled books and books in high school.  I took creative writing classes in college.

I wanted to be a teacher.  I wanted to be a mother.  With all my heart, I wanted those things.  I still do.

But there's a difference between wanting and dreaming.  Between being and aspiring.  I can be happy in my heart with where and who I am and feel like my soul needs more.  To reach.  To grow.

But I don't remember how to know which way to reach.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On patience

"It's hard to wait, baby.  I know," I tell my sweet eldest girl, at least once a day.

Trust me, I know.

As a mother, I know it's part of my job to teach my kids how to do things for themselves.  To let them try, even if they can't get it right.  To build in them a sense of competence, of power and control, of independence.  I believe that it's important, maybe one of the most important things we do.  I value it.

But good Lord, I don't have the patience.

"It's time to get dressed," I said cheerfully.  "Choose your pants and shirt."  I opened the drawer in BG's dresser and then walked away.  Scooped up little sister and left the room.

Because if I'd stood there and watched her do it?  I would have screamed.

Ten minutes later, my youngest and I both dressed, I came back.  There stood my spirited first born, in her underwear, drawer still open, dancing in a circle.

"Hi mommy!  I'm doing my pattern dance."


"Did you choose pants and a shirt?"



"Well, let me know if you need help.  I can choose them if you want to."


I nodded.  And I walked away.

This was a good day.   She found me in the hallway a few minutes later with the shirt pulled halfway over her head, giggling and telling me she had lost her head.  I pulled it down, and she disappeared back into her room to finish dressing.  Which she did.

I didn't yell. I  didn't nag.  It was a freaking miracle.

We've started getting dressed earlier in the morning.  I plan in a 20 minute margin to put on shoes.  I give several reminders, a time limit and a consequence on picking up toys.  I walk away a lot.

I don't want to yell anymore.

The monologue in the back of my head screams "You know how to do this!  Why are you acting like this?  Why are you making this harder?  It would be so much easier just to take over and do this for you.  But I can't!  I shouldn't!  I'm a terrible mother!  Why am I so freaking impatient?"

It shouldn't matter if we are a few minutes late to library story time.  It shouldn't be a big deal if it takes us 20 minutes to put on shoes instead of 2.  I should enjoy my little girl while she's little.  I should find her performances endearing and hilarious instead of maddening.

But I am who I am.  I like to be on time.  I like to be efficient.  When we're doing things, I like to do them.

The question is, is that who I want her to be?

Or do I want her to know that no matter how much mommy really just freaking wants to get out the door and get to nature class, that I value her humor and her charm?  That I am listening to every word that she says?  That I am willing to stop and enjoy the moment instead of rushing off to the next thing?

And maybe that's what I want for myself too.

Where do I get more patience?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On three year olds and power struggles

Yesterday, I sat on the floor with both my children, playing blocks, soaking in the joy of watching then play together, of being able to be with them.

Until baby sister knocked over the tower.

"No, baby sister, no!  We do not knock over our big sister's towers!" Scolded BG, slapping the floor with her hand.

And my littlest, with a huge grin, slapped the floor and yelled, "buh!"


You see,  I explained, this is why you need to set a good example for your sister.  When you yell and hit things, you teach her to yell and hit things.

This morning, in the parking lot of the community college where we were taking a nature class, I was holding an umbrella against the snow and hiking my one year old up on my hip as I said, a little more sharply than I would have liked, "you have to hold my hand."

"SHUT UP.  JUST SHUT UP!" BG retorted.

I held my breath until we got to the car.

"Sweetie.  Those words make me feel sad."

"I'm sorry mommy.  That's why you shouldn't yell at me.  You teach me to yell."

Touché.  And that's no blunt point on your sword there, girl.

I've been yelling a lot lately.  I lose my temper.  I lose control.  I hate it.  I feel so ashamed.

BG knows where every one of my buttons is.  She knows exactly how to elicit a power struggle, and lately it seems like she thinks everything merits one.

I know I shouldn't yell.  I know I shouldn't react.  I know I shouldn't take it personally.

I guess beating myself up for that isn't helping anything.

I read something the other day about making sure your kids' attention bucket and power bucket are filled.

Who is filling my power bucket?

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I've been feeling stuck lately.  I've been having a hard time putting a finger on or a name to what it is that I want.

Then I found the Power of Moms site and podcast, and I had a name for what it is I've been looking for.  Deliberate.

I want to be deliberate.  In everything I do.  In all my choices.  

I am tired of stumbling through life.  I am tired of surviving until bedtime.  I am tired of feeling distracted and overwhelmed and out of sorts and torn in different directions.  

I am tired of fiddling with my tablet or worrying about the housework when I'm supposed to be playing with my kids.  I am tired of feeling guilty about not paying attention to my kids when I'm writing (or not writing.  Which is what usually happens.)  I am tired of feeling resentful about being a maid when I'm doing the housework and tired of feeling frustrated and sloppy when I don't get it done.

I am tired of sitting down at naptime and not having any idea what it is that I want to do, what will fill my cup, and then finding that naptime is over and I haven't done a damn thing for myself or anyone else and feeling grumpy as I go collect my kids and dump them in front of the TV.

I want to do better.  But I'm tired of thinking I'm not good enough.

I want to take ownership of everything I do.  To sit down and consciously take care of myself when that's what I"m doing and to consciously be with my kids when that's what I want.  

And that is what I want.  I know what I want.  I can take care of myself, I can take care of my family.

I just have to decide to.

(Disclosure: I was chosen as an Ambassador for Power of Moms.  But they aren't paying me, and they didn't ask me to write this.  I just think they're awesome.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

There is no normal

One of the biggest things depression took away from me is my ability to trust myself and my own feelings.

That bitch.

I've known this for a while, but when I was talking to a friend the other day I realized how insidious the language we use to talk to each other (and ourselves) can be.

"I worry a lot about other people, is that normal?"
"I resent my kids sometimes, is that normal?"
"I lose my temper when my kids are whining and yelling at me, is that normal?"
"I feel tired, like I need a break, and I don't want to do aaaaaaanything, is that normal?"
"Wait, are other people worried about these things.  I'm not.  Is that normal?"

I find myself reality checking every thought and every feeling.  Is this real?  Is this rational?  Is it just the depression?  Do other people feel this way?

Is it normal?

If I feel this way, is there something wrong with me?


There is no normal.

We all want validation.  We all want to feel like we aren't alone.  We all want to be part of something bigger, to feel a sense of connection with those around us.

Those things are okay.  Those things are natural.  Human.  Nothing to be ashamed of.

But here's the thing.  None of it is anything to be ashamed of.

None of our feelings are wrong.  We can't beat them out of ourselves.  We can't reality check ourselves into not wanting something.

We feel what we feel.  We want what we want.  And all we really need to hear from each other is, "You, right now, are safe and loved, just the way you are."

That's as normal as it gets.