A Morning of Misses

It has been a MORNING. It has been a morning of missteps — small failures being collected and littered behind me forming a twisty, slipshod path where a straight line should have been.

This morning, my oldest missed the bus, which in itself can throw a wrench into a semi-established morning routine. This morning, I begrudgingly had to go outside and chase after our dog trying to beckon her inside while dodging and ultimately stepping in her dinner from last night. Did I mention it was raining? This morning, I found a freshly laundered Doc McStuffins smock in the dryer where my daughter’s white, button-down, uniform shirt should have been. Plus, the light was burned out in the laundry room so I had to use the flashlight on my phone, which I ultimately dropped behind the washing machine.

After driving Ave to school, Isla fell asleep on the way home. I gently placed her on the couch, where she  napped for a bit, but I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of the clock. On Tuesday mornings, she has music class. I was unsure what to do. This morning, she had awoken at 4:45, which is early for her. She hasn’t been sleeping well at night. She actually never sleeps well at night and I consider a good night’s rest to be a fluke. I gently tried to wake her, which turned into a 20 minute power struggle to get her her ready. There was crying, and a tantrum, and pleading, and bargaining. Tooth and hair brushing were abandoned for the sake of time and sanity. Peeling her out of her dress-up clothes and encouraging her to empty her bladder were two welcomed victories, and that was enough for me. Finally, we made it out to the car and were officially en route to music class. We would be late, but we would make it. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw that her eyes were heavy and beginning to flutter. I cheerfully reminded her about seeing her friends, singing, and playing instruments, to which she responded, “me tired.” I paused. We both knew what she needed.

I turned the car around, and we headed home. I decided that as much as a beneficial experience music class is, today it might be more beneficial to submit to rest. So that’s what we did, and I decided to let go. I let go of my disappointments, of my small failures. Despite a bumpy morning, Avrie went to school happy. Isla is going to get the rest her body needs. I came to terms with the fact that its okay if some things are missed. There will always be activities and opportunities and are missed. But there are other opportunities. Opportunities for care. Opportunities for compassion.

I did not want to carry her into music class kicking and screaming and helplessly tired hoping for the good things that it would provide.  I’ve been there and done that.  I had to carry my oldest out of story time on more than one occasion while she was having a meltdown. I don’t need to cross things off of my checklist.  The list is fluid, The list can change. Being able to adjust is not just a skill,  its a survival skill. Assessing and adjusting is a way of life, especially for a parent.

In conclusion, Isla is currently napping and getting rest that her body needs. Consequently, I had some time to record this experience. Being able to write is good for my soul. It somehow fills in spaces inside of me that I feel have been empty for a while. Things may have seemed bleak, but now they feel good.

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I Break for Yoga

Piles. I couldn’t get my mind off of them — endless piles of laundry, unopened mail, and germ-filled tissues that loved to congregate on tables and couches instead of the trash can.

It was a Tuesday morning, my oldest was in school, and my youngest was napping. Yes, napping (cue Hallelujah chorus). These days, her naps are few and far between, so to say this is a coveted time would be an understatement. I willingly collapsed and sunk into the couch for a brief moment of reprieve. The past few weeks have been tough. I feel like my family has been in an endless cycle of winter colds, a variety of flu viruses have circulated through every member of the household. We are out of sync, and as a result things are out of order.

In addition, my OCD symptoms have been starting to increase lately, making it increasingly hard for me to tackle overwhelming tasks. These tasks turn into piles. It is easy for me to worry and obsess over the piles, but it takes some willpower for me to take action and begin to sift through things that may cause me anxiety. I am constantly seeking order, and if things have spiraled into chaos (or what I consider to be chaos) I often choose fight or flight, and it is easier for me to flee. I have been working to break these patterns with much success; however, lately I have been faltering.

Anyway, while my toddler is napping and I engage in a little self-talk. After all, I am making a conscious effort to try to be a healthier and in turn happier mom. This past month, I began practicing yoga after a year’s hiatus. Due to a doctor’s appointment, I missed my session this week,  so I figured I should try to squeeze in a yoga video at home. [Sidebar:  I really enjoy Leslie Fightmaster’s channel, Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube.] I found a video that was focused for stress and depression and dedicated the next 38 minutes to it. It felt great. Afterwards, I drank a ton of water, I sifted through my piles of unopened mail. I paid bills, did laundry, and when my baby woke up I greeted her with a smile and ample attention for the taking.

I was focused on the idea that yoga was solely for relief — a tool for decompression, something I needed.  Instead, I should view yoga as something I have. Yoga is a tool at my disposal, something to help prepare or cope with the world. Something I can use to be proactive, not reactive. A gift that I am giving myself to strengthen my mentality and physicality to deal with life. I had been looking at yoga wrong. In fact, the week before I became annoyed that after yoga I had an extremely stressful day. I believe I even said that my yoga session went to waste.  How wrong I was.

Finding balance throughout the day is essential when it comes to coping with stress and living the best way I can.  I started thinking about a child’s school day. It is structured with breaks, transitions, ebbs and flows that make the time pass and time as productive as possible, time to recharge and reset.  Things happen that are beyond our control.  There are things we can control.  I am going to embrace those things with a loving and confident hand and equip myself to handle the tough things with support.

Of course, these “things” go beyond piles of bills or laundry.  Problems, heartache, tragedies, and struggles become piles in our lives and minds. I need to remember to keep going and take what we can as help or tools become available and try to conquer.  Every day you try is a fight — no matter how small or large the obstacle.  Self-care helps to strengthen, cope, and conquer.  This is why taking care of myself has become a priority.

 

 

 

Running: happy, determined and free

Today the girls went running around the block. We knew we had to arrange for some type of active play. The squealing, stomping, and occasional tear could no longer be contained by these four walls. Bundled up, with shoes knotted twice, we went out.

The cool air filled their lungs, fueling their wild spirits and saying, “its okay, go.” Their little legs propelled forward, with the help of the wind and a lively spirit. Their ponytails waved goodbye.

Avrie bolted ahead, her face frozen with a determined expression while she effortlessly recalled her cross country stride. Isla fell behind, never losing determination — a huge smile remaining on her face as a cold, powerful wind collided with her small frame. Daring her to stop. She didn’t.

Happy, determined and free.

That’s how they were, and it is how I hope they will always be.

School Tears

I enter the room and hear the thundering chatter
of 20 preschoolers, sitting in a circle.
Several shoelaces untied, tiny heads of unkempt hair
a casualty of the playground, slick with sweat,
Straining to stay in their assigned positions.

Eagerly watching the door for someone who is theirs
their signal to bolt, their piece of home
at last, a hand to hold, a familiar voice to hear
a chance to relay an afternoon of adventure.

They eagerly wait, hefty backpacks in place,
anchoring them to the ground
I see you.
Legs crossed, centered on the giant letter N embroidered in the carpet.
Something is wrong.

You are slumped forward, eyes to the floor
You look up as I enter the room.
Urgently, you spring to your feet
and I watch your face transform as
it crumbles beneath a wall of tears
You melt to the ground and I melt with you
You cling to me.
Long brown curls become entangled in my arms —
protective, steadfast strong but soft
(the markings of a mother).

I bend down to ask what is wrong
Should we talk to your teacher?
“No,” you say. “I will tell you in the car.”

We walk out to a receiving line
of concerned looks and sympathetic smiles.

I close the car doors.
All is quiet and safe.
You hop up front and collapse in the passenger seat,
and confide in me.

You stammer, struggling to sputter words between
an unwavering rhythm of sobs.
I hold you close and listen.

The world is big, sweet girl.

So big.

sometimes we crumble

Crumbling,
under piles,of to-dos, dirty clothes, outbursts, and questions
Need to breath

in for five seconds,
out for seven.

my life is fulfilling
how can I feel so much love?
yet struggle?
chasing memories, of fleeting moments
that soon pass
senses are flooded
by deafening wines and disapproving frowns

try to remember
remember to breathe
remember the moments

the peaceful, the joyful
the expressions, the funny lines
the sweet faces
those moments
they are fleeting
and the messes are never ending
the pain, doubt
seeking grace
forever seeking
trying to remember

In for five seconds,
out for seven.

breathe and remember.

Do You Love Mama?

“Do you love Mama?”
As I ask I feel a smile sneak though my lips
no longer pursed to reflect the serious tone and expression.
But you knew I was teasing, anyway.
And respond with glee.
You toss your head back,
flashing your toothy grin.
We lean in
lock eyes
you say “Dada”
Defiantly, jubilantly
You toss your head back again
wanting more

so we lean in
participants in the same silly dance, a game
you plant a soft kiss on my cheek
squeeze my neck
fingernails sharp, digging

I don’t mind.

Later I will be surprised when I see the red marks. One they they will not regenerate. There will be no more bruises on my legs — the markings of both a human jungle gym and safe haven.
My scalp will be free of all soreness from grabbing and yanking. Hugs will be a little loser, and fewer.

you smile
“Who is my baby?”
You say “Isla”
“Who do you love?”
You pause, already of master of anticipation.
“Dada.”

moments in time

Avrie continues to amaze us at how she has taken to her role as big sister. She truly is a little helper and does everything that I ask from fetching a diaper to holding the bottle when I feel like I don’t have enough hands. When Isla is upset, Avrie will take it upon herself to sweetly sing to her sister and she seems to always be able to work her magic in a way that Kyle and I cannot. “Down in the Meadow” is Isla’s favorite song (hands down). This song was introduced to her (and us) by Avrie and seems to be the only one that works to soothe Isla when all other methods are failing.

Sometimes, when I am upset and lacking patience Avrie will tell me to “just breathe” and offer words of encouragement like, “you can do it.” I don’t know how she is so wise beyond her years. She definitely has an old soul.

The other day, Avrie told me that she doesn’t want to grow up — that she wants to stay a little girl forever. At times like this, when such a simple sentiment is spoken, I almost feel a pang of hurt. I wish that I could freeze the moment, repeat it over and over, and view it from every angle. With each second, things are changing and a beautiful moment may be fleeting but luckily there will be more — especially if we choose to live a positive life and focus on the beauty around us

some excuses. some valid. 

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that finding time for myself is even harder than I thought – even after committing to making myself a priority. I can easily add myself to the list every day, but whether I put a checkmark next to my name is less predictable. I have lots of excuses. It is winter. The kids constantly have colds, the flu, or an oh so fun stomach virus. Days are spent drying tears, wiping noses, playing, singing, problem-solving, organizing, snuggling, disciplining, teaching, and driving. 

The amount of needs and wants that have to be met on a daily basis are staggering. An infinite checklist remains in the forefront of my mind at all times. I am constantly highlighting and rearranging the tasks, pushing the major needs to the top and letting the less urgent matters fall to the bottom. Which reminds me, how often do you clean YOUR windows because I’m pretty sure I may have set a record. At the end of the day, I breathe a sigh of relief after my oldest is in bed. I tell her I love her and whisper, “sweet dreams, princess” as I slip out of the room. I managed my list for the day. My girls are happy, my husband seems like he is doing okay and I made it through. 

How do I motivate myself to do something beneficial at the end of the day when I have no energy and a sick, exhausted toddler has finally fallen asleep on me? 

How do I go to bed early when i know I need it but I haven’t seen my husband all day and am longing to have an adult conversation, or at least watch an adult TV show? 

How do I say no to a second glass of wine or 5th cup coffee when my body needs hydration and replace it with a bottle or water or calming camomile tea?

How do I throw my kids’ crusts in the trash instead of nibbling on the crusts and other unwanted empty calories?

The funny thing about all these things is that they are easily doable, even when I can’t get outside to exercise due to the whether or lack of daylight. They are not affected by a busy schedule and being unable to fit something in. These are simple things.

I need to strengthen my inner voice. I need to listen to myself and let my inner voice speak loudly. Often I drown her out. She comes through as week and therefore easily ignored or forgotten. Sometimes she doesn’t even speak. Sometimes she’s lost or has been lost for so long that she’s forgotten how to be heard. 

It is time to hear her. I may not make huge strides, but I will do what I can. I think that developing a stronger inner voice will help. 

Not every moment is beautiful. There are many times throughout the day that my patience is tested, and I fail. I am short-tempered, emotional, and tired. Sometimes I am an awful storyteller and my tales are unimaginative, disconnected and boring. However, I look at my daughter when I am telling her a story. How she is looking at me intently, hanging on every word. Moments like this help me to realize how much I matter — even on those moments when I am not doing my best. The way that I act is shaping her and teaching her about the world. I need to give my inner voice the same respect and attention that my sweet and attentive daughter gives me.  When my stories start to go downhill, I take a moment, breathe, improvise, and try to improve. I strive to give the characters more flair, I beef up the plot, ensure that she can make connections to the story, and include some theatrics. Basically, I suck it up and do better. 

Time to suck it up. I may not make huge strides this week, but I will try to do better.