Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cleaning up

My house has gotten out of control. I have piles everywhere. Laundry overflowing the hampers and the baskets. Odds and ends of things all over the floor. I am completely overwhelmed by the idea of even where to begin with getting things back together.

And so I curl up on the couch and scroll through facebook and try to pretend I don't see it or don't care.

The piles are usually one of the warning signs of depression or burnout. I'm not sure which one this is.

It's been a really long year, and it's an exceptionally long May. In a lot of ways, it has been very satisfying. I've gotten to spend time with each of my kids, I've led an amazing group of kindergarten Girl Scouts. I am proud of these things and in truth I have enjoyed them.

But I'm tired.

Every day I have at least two places I need to get to. I feel like I am constantly on, constantly under a microscope. Like everyone is waiting for me to screw up.

I think that's the anxiety talking. I don't think that's really true.

But I need to find a way to give my brain a break. To shut off for a little while. To meet my fundamental needs of quiet in which to process, of down time in which to rest, of meaningful making and creativity. And even when I carve out small swatches of time, while my kids watch TV or I sit in the car outside piano lessons, I need to find ways to sweep away all the coulds and shoulds and worries and busies. I need clear surfaces in my head in order to really enjoy any down time I manage to find.

So I'm going to make some more clear surfaces in my house. Going to get as caught up as I can with the laundry and the dishes and the paperwork so they aren't nagging me when I try to rest. Going to spend some time cleaning up.

Hopefully, when  the mess is gone, I'll find some of me again.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On discipline

"BG, this is the last time down the slide. Then come with me to the car right away or you have to go to bed with no books."

She goes down the slide, looks me in the eye, runs to the other side of the climbing structure, and walks back up the stairs. I run across the playground, grab her arm and say "No books tonight." She bursts into uncontrollable tears.

I know she isn't faking. This isn't a power play. She is genuinely distraught. She's heartbroken and also shocked.

In a calm and firm tone, I tell her, "You made a bad choice. I know. That's a shame."

The calm is a lie. In my brain, I"m enraged, mortified. She's a bad kid, she doesn't respect me, she never listens to me, everyone just saw her blatantly disobey me.

Also, this is my fault and the nagging recognition that I told her ten times we were going to leave before actually following through. How could she have known that this time I was really serious?

I'm afraid that I'm a bad mom. I'm afraid that I'm not strict enough, not clear enough, don't have firm enough boundaries and structures and limits. Also that I'm too mean, yell too much, don't give her enough positive attention and that's why she acts up.

I just don't know what the right thing to do is, where the middle ground is. One second I'm too harsh, the next too wishy washy. How can I possibly expect them to behave?

I listen to all the interviews, read all the books, I know all the "right" things to do. But how, in the actual moment when faced with life with my actual children, am I to actually do it right?

This isn't going to be a post with a pithy, sweet, wise realization at the end. I'm six years in and I don't have any answers. I'm so embarrassed that I don't know how to do this part of parenting.