Monday, February 28, 2011

Bullet-point Babble

Too much to say, and too scattered to limit to one cohesive post.  So cohesiveness will not be the goal.  Here are the bullet-points that feel like spilling out of my mind tonight:

- Karen's discussion this morning and the verse:  "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."  Yes!  So true!  Sometimes, my "overflow" is overtired, frantic, busy mama.  Work and parenting and life and wife-hood and everything just collides into chaos.  My goal for tomorrow, this week, this life... is to have better schtuff overflowing my heart.  When I am overflowing with love, my mouth speaks that love, it fills my children's heart, and then their mouths speak it too.  It begins with me.  I love these little nuggets with all my heart.  How can I ever be impatient with them?

- An amazing eye appointment tonight. Yes, amazing.  Not just because he solved my eye-prescription confusion (phew!)...but also because he spent 2 hours teaching me all about eyes, neurological development relating to eyes in the first 7 years, violin, muscular-skeletal adjustments while working on the computer, and all sorts of other doodads of incredible wisdom. One of my favorite things in life:  Meeting a Brilliant Person...and then Brilliant Person having the time to share it with me, without being condescending.   

- I am in love with the Golden Ratio.  I first learned about it on Criminal Minds, mentioned in passing.  Contemplated finding a book about it, it sounded so freakin' fascinating.  Then stumbled on a documentary days later on the Science Channel, talking about how Greeks used it in architecture.  Be still my heart.  I ran to meet Steve at the door when he got home, brain about to burst with joy:

"DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE GOLDEN RATIO!?" 
With complete calm: "Yeah, it's 1.610..." 
Nerd.  "So why didn't you tell me how awesome it was?"
"It is pretty cool.  Especially how you see it in nature."

So I'm doing a unit study for myself, on Ancient Math.  Golden ratios and other cool stuff they NEVER TAUGHT ME IN SCHOOL.  Bought a book.  All that money we spent on college degrees, graduate school, etc etc.  And for $10 on Amazon, they'll ship me a book to teach me all about Ancient Math.

- Jack's test came back positive for metals.  Ick.  Big ick.  But I think I'm finally absorbing what Steve said when I called him: "Isn't it only a problem if we don't know about it, though, not if we do?"  He's right.  We can fix this.  And quickly, I guess. Knowledge is power. 

Reminder #1,456,682 in motherhood to trust my instincts, more than anything else.  If something doesn't seem right with one of my children, keep listening to that voice.  I can't believe how much that inner voice really does know. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Might not be ready for Habitat for Humanity...

We were going through the boys' books today, to find ones to give to the homeless children's program at VBUMC.

Andrew (4): "But if they're homeless...don't they need a HOME, not a book?"

Me: "I see what you're saying.  But sometimes, you just have to give what you can.  And we can give books."

Andrew: "We're not going to give them our home?"

Me: "We need our home, though, or else we'd be homeless.  Maybe we could help them build a home?"

Andrew: "Well, I'm kinda too little.  But I could hammer!  Actually, no I can't hammer.  I would probably hammer my finger.  I know!  I could do the bricks.  Hmm.  Maybe Daddy could do the bricks, because at Jackie's house, I dropped a brick on my foot."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why I love being imperfect

I really wanted to be the perfect mom.  Perfect house, clean car (oh my!), kids' clothes that matched and didn't have blueberry hand-prints down the front, and other mythological pipe dreams. 

Instead, our living room looks like a tornado spun through it...I still haven't unloaded all the groceries from 2 days ago...and my children ate peanut butter sandwiches in front of a RedBox movie tonight while I crashed in front of Law and Order in the other room, eating a microwave turkey pot pie.  I have especially low standards when Steve is gone for the weekend.

But y'know...my flawed motherhood has its benefits.  We were categorically exhausted tonight because we'd had a full day of co-op yesterday... then in the evening, I taught at the college while the kids had a movie night at Casey's until 10pm...  then we all woke up early this morning to drive 50 miles (no that's not a typo) for Jack to attend the W&M robotics class, a highlight of his week.  Two hours with the Littles at the park with friends, while Jack was in class. Then finding out there was a miscommunication on the time and we'd missed Samuel's birthday party at the karate studio (deep deep sadness!), so instead we had a playdate-with-cupcakes at his house instead.  

At the end of all this? We had a trip-to-hell visit to the store, when I needed to pick up a few things.  Perhaps it's because it was kicked off by seeing Paula and the kids, which means my kids were ECSTATIC and spent the rest of the time at the store coming down from the high.  The cupcakes likely didn't help things, either.  ;) But we (okay, they) spent the next 15 minutes poking bottles, jumping up and down, coming precariously close to large displays of...whatever.  Much chaos.  Many muttered comments to my children that won't sound that great written out. :) 

We got back in the car, I sighed my "uh-oh-mom-is-pissed" sigh and I said: "That trip did not make me happy.  I'm glad you've had so much fun this last day or so.  We've done some great things.  But that doesn't work for me if the ONE time I'm needing cooperation to do boring things, this is how we're listening. That was not showing kindness or respect, and I'm pretty frustrated right now." 

An hour or so later, back at home, I see Simone's little blonde head peer around the corner.  And then, with an adult-like look of contemplation, she said:  "I'm sorry I wasn't very quiet in the store today.  I was really hyper.  I'm sorry about that."  And then came over and crawled in my lap to hug me.

Dear God, I love these little animals. 

In all honesty, I'm not really sure that being the Perfect Mom would have worked in the end anyway.  Not just my inability to achieve that.  But also, is that even the lesson I want to teach?  Or would I rather teach them that we'll fall on our faces sometimes...argue...be crabby...be hyper  in the aisles of the store?  And then peer around the corner and ask for forgiveness?

In truth, isn't that the more useful life skill?  

Having to be perfect because we don't know HOW to be imperfect...well...that just sounds stressful.  

Tucking all three into bed tonight, I knew we needed to re-connect.  I snuggled each of them individually and talked a bit about our day.  I said to Jack: "I feel like I have a lot to apologize for today.  I wasn't as patient as I want to be."  And with this peaceful voice of confidence, Jack said: "I have a lot to apologize for, too. But... we still always love each other."

I think I'm in love with my imperfection.  Maybe not at the scene of the crime.  I can't think of many emotions more caustic than failing my children.  But the process of it.  How we ebb and flow in connection to each other, but always have this foundation of absolute and complete love.  

I love that my 6-year-old understands that we can have Not That Great moments with each other, but find each other on the other side.  

Hopefully, his future wife will be thankful I messed things up so often. ;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simone. My little goof.

Me: "There's a frog in my throat."

Simone (2.5): "There's a girl in my throat."

Me: "Oh? What does she look like?"

Simone: "Me....but different. Not my hair, but someone else's hair. We have to think about this. Hmm. Someone else like you. Hmmm. Maybe like the movie we watched. My movie. That movie, I'm talkin' about. Yeah, that's it. Tangled is in my throat."

Well then!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Motherhood and More: 10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Motherhood

Annie said so many things better than I ever could, so I'll just steal her whole post. Although is it stealing if I give credit and thank her? Thanks, Annie!

Motherhood and More: 10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Motherhood: "I am not a motherhood expert. In fact, I love to accost more experienced moms and beg them for snippets of advice or wisdom that might help ..."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Sarahbeth" vs. The Mother Entity

Putting Simone to bed tonight, I had a philosophical breakthrough.  Probably not ready for print, as it's still milling in my mind.  But if you've read more than one post here, you'll already know that's never stopped me before.  :)

Throughout my motherhood, I've been surprised by how much the children seem to run on autopilot with development -- even when I botch moments, hours, entire days, or longer stretches. 

We all take turns being crabby or overtired or whatever, but in general...goodness seems to keep winning out.  The kids seem generally happy, feel loved and confident, and keep forgiving me for the botch-ups.

I was rocking Simone tonight and whispered to her: "Your mom loves you so much."  I don't normally talk about myself in 3rd person.  :)  But I do a lot with the kids when I talk about loving them. 

Tonight, I realized why.

I think there's a divide in motherhood between being the Individual (Sarahbeth) and being The Mother Entity.  The one who brought them into being and nurtures them. 

That's the part of me I want them to know loves them.  Because in a lot of ways, I feel like that's the part of me that never messes up.  No matter how rough a day is going...no matter how "off" our parent-child dynamics might be...I never hesitate in 100% love for them. 

My intentions are always pure, even if the delivery is awkward.

My "Sarahbeth" side is the one that forgets it's Pajama Day at co-op, snaps at the kids to buckle in because we're late, doesn't keep a June Cleaver level of housekeeping, figures out what's for dinner AS they're already starving, etc etc (etc etc).  The list could get long, so I'll cut it off here.

But the Mothering Entity side adores my kids beyond imagination.  Would sacrifice my life for them without blinking.  Would clear out every penny of savings for medical interventions for them.   Dreams bigger dreams for their life-joy than I ever dared have for myself.

This list could get long too.

In the end, I wonder if it really is only the Mothering Entity that shapes them along their path. Yes, my "Sarahbeth" elements are super-flawed, but their "Mother" cherishes and cares about them without any hesitation or interruption.

I've said often that I'd love to see what the world looked like if everyone felt adored by their parents.  And at times, I wonder if my flawed-self disrupts that in my kids.  That the irritable or stressed days are going to make them feel less loved...secure...or chip away at their core.

Maybe not? 

Right now, I'll cling to any theory (no matter how delusional) that my best of intentions in parenting will do more for my children than my flighty, forgetful, disorganized self might do. 

Happy Valentine's Day

Since Valentine's Day is upon us, I had a notion that I'd have some deep thought about love stuff.  But now, I'm not really sure what I'd say about it. 

Other than HOLY COW do we look like little kids here:

I'm sure our wedding guests thought we looked ridiculous.  Like a couple of grade school kids, dressed up in wedding costumes.

The good news:  I'm more thrilled to be married to him now, a decade later, than I could have fathomed on that day.  Love is much different and much better than that little girl in the picture knew it might be.

Happy Valentine's Day to the man who cleaned the entire house yesterday, bought me my favorite Lindor's chocolate, and took me out for sushi.  I think I'll keep you.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Parenthood and my GPS

I love my children. I love them so much that I want to invent a new word that can possibly wrap arms around this feeling in me.

Rocking Andrew to sleep tonight.  His sweet, tiny little self.  What pure, loving hugs he gives.  How he asked me if he should buy me a diamond-heart necklace for Valentine's Day.  He saw a commercial tonight.  I asked him if he knew what Valentine's Day was, and he said no.  But did I still want a necklace?

Jack reading me his Star Wars book tonight, after the little ones were in bed.  Curled up on the couch, him and me. I love being with him.  This grown-up side of him is emerging. His calm, centered little insights about life. How he says things like, "There are successes...and then there are 'keep-tryings.'"  I gave him a bear-hug and said, "I can't believe this little man is that same big-headed gray blob that came out of me."  He takes great pride in his giant infantile head. He smiled, nodded and said, "Yeah, that's pretty strange, huh?"  Kid...you have NO idea.

And Simone.  OMG.  Simone.  Her non-stop chatter.  Her enthusiastic little babble about everything.  "I just 'wub' pink ice cweam." The little princess purse she bought yesterday, with the fake lipstick, credit card, and cell phone.  She puts the cell phone to her ear, having a very serious conversation with imaginary-Elsa while she puts on her fake lipstick.  She is heart-wrenchingly beautiful to me.

Parenting these creatures is similar to my car's GPS.  Both of them are mind-blowing realities in my everyday life.  How either of them work, how they came to be...I have no idea.  Miracles, both of them. And with my children and my GPS, I have the audacity to get annoyed with them sometimes.  Frustrated when they don't "work" the way I think they should. Instead of just basking in the glory that even if the path isn't the way I would have chosen or charted, we're heading where we're supposed to go. 

And in both, there are more re-calculations than I can possibly count.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Did this child really come from *my* DNA?

I overheard Jack (6) saying to Andrew in the other room: "You don't have to *make* math fun.  Math already IS fun!"

Ha!  I hope he always feels that way.  Steve has been greeted more than once at the door by Jack exclaiming, "Can we play more math tonight?"

Moments like this make me realize why I married a math whiz. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Limping along in our table manners

Simone (2.5), trying a sauerkraut dumpling we made using leftover egg rolls wrappers:

"This is dis-GUST-ing!"  Making a horrible face, of course, because Simone can only communicate dramatically.

Me: "Simone?  Can we talk more kindly about food, please?"

Simone switched to her equally-dramatic, super-sweet expression and voice: "Mommy?  Can you please not give me this yucky stuff anymore?"

I suppose that's *some* improvement.

Dragons can be killed

I am in love with this quote from GK Chesterton that I found tonight:

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."

This is the FIRST time I've read something else that supports my experience with Andrew.  When he was scared of the monsters in the closet, from the time he could say enough words to tell me about them, I was sure he wouldn't be a good fit for movies with anything scary.  Come to find out, watching Spiderman gave him a courage I never would have suspected.  We kept expanding what he could watch, and found that the more he saw Good vs Evil, the more equipped he was to face his own imagination.

Which explains the love affair with Star Wars. :) 

In conversations with friends, I talked about how his own imagination gave him the "bad guy"...but he needed to see those bad guys defeated.  It gave a sense of balance to his ideas of good and evil. 

This reminds me of another quote, that I discovered in my childhood reading CS Lewis: "We read to know we're not alone." Stumbling across written words that parallel what I've experienced or think (but might not have been able to put into words)...is one of the most pure forms of joy I feel in life.

I really need to make more time to read.