Simple Pleasures

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Family. Quality time. Simple pleasures.
Ice cream. Sunsets. Sweet tea.
Billowing curtains.
Thick grass under bare feet.
Sand between my toes.
Water running through my fingers.
White puffy clouds.
Pretty dresses. Flowing skirts.
Stargazing. Clear skies. Rain.
Swinging. Feeding ducks. A gentle breeze.
Sunshine. Chunky sunglasses. Fruity drinks.
Pumpkins. Watermelons. The smell of baking.
Christmas trees. Twinkle lights.
Fireworks. Glow sticks.
The sound of the ocean.
The view from a mountain.
Waterfalls.
Steam on the mirror. Fresh fluffy towels. Clean sheets.
Wide open spaces. Wild flowers. Palm trees.
Silent, early morning light. A harvest moon.
Porches. Rocking chairs. Story time.
Holding hands. Sparkling eyes. Baby snuggles.
Loving and being loved.

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To Love Somebody

coke-parenting-hed-2013You know you’re pregnant when Coke commercials from other countries make you cry. Nevertheless, I love this commercial. It almost makes me want to go buy a Coke…despite the fact that I don’t really like Coke. Maybe I’ll like the new Coke Life if we ever get it here.

(Unrelated sidebar: I’m super impressed that Coke made a diet drink without aspartame. I truly know nothing about stevia, other than it exists, but I’m glad to see a move away from the former.)

Go ahead. Watch it. It’s a commercial. It’s short.

Feel free to nod in agreement, pull your hair out in frustration, and weep with joy at the succinct, true, and beautiful message this commercial sends.

I think I’ve watched it 300 times in the 48 hours I’ve been aware of it’s existence…and, yes, I tear up every time. (I’m going to blame it on the hormones, but I really think it’s just seeing this great reflection of the chaos and the beauty that I lovingly refer to as parenting.)

Love is a Battlefield

boundariesFor whatever reason, one of the most viewed posts on my blog this week has been a “breakup letter” of sorts. I wrote it many years ago…2008 to be exact. And if that doesn’t date the letter enough, it was originally published on my MySpace page! Just for giggles I tried to log in to my MySpace page, but I couldn’t. Guess my poor page was canceled due to inactivity or something. I’m pretty sure I’ve admitted once before that I was truly sad to see MySpace fall by the wayside. My page was absolutely adorable. Being the perfectionist that  I am, I worked on it regularly, ensuring it looked just right and portrayed me just the way I wanted to be seen. No such luck with Facebook. Same boring blue for everyone.

Truly though, this isn’t a post about Myspace. Or Facebook. It’s about the blog entry that has been so popular this week. More than that, it’s about me.

Believe it or not, I don’t talk about me very well. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite topics. My discomfort with the topic of me was the root of the difficulty I was experiencing when I referred to blogging as virtual exhibitionism many moons ago. It was also what made me cringe and…let’s be real…come close to having a panic attack…when I saw what had been drudged up from my past.

But then something happened. In the midst of the sheer terror involved with thinking someone may have caught a glimpse of the real me, the interior me, the me I work so hard to keep inside, I realized something even more upsetting.

I could have written that entry recently.

I could have written it this morning, even.

I’m fighting the same battle today that I was 5 years ago.

The same, infuriating battle that has no hope for resolution.

The same battle that drains so much of my energy can often (albeit, less often than in the past) consume me, and always leaves me drowning in a pool of my own rage and unmet needs.

Intellectually, I know many of the right answers. If I were my own friend, I know how I would coach myself to develop and demand healthy boundaries. I know what I would say to help validate the feelings I’m experiencing, but then start working to release the emotional hold those feeling maintain. I know exercises to identify cognitive distortions and retrain automatic thoughts…

But none of that matters.

I’m trapped in the same place I was five years ago with very little improvement.

And it’s infuriating.

The truth is, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to move past this without professional counseling. But I’m just not willing to let her spend my money on top of all that she’s cost me emotionally. I know, I know…that’s very mature, right?

I wish I had a happy conclusion for this post. A light-hearted look at what I’ve gained from this experience and how I’m attempting to grow. But it just doesn’t exist. At least not right now. Right now it just hurts. And I just feel trapped. Right now, I guess both she and I just need your prayers. Thanks.

Morning Madness.

Over the past two weeks I discovered, firsthand, reason number 768 to homeschool my children: Having everyone dressed, fed, and out the door with all their belongings in tow at the crack of dawn is most definitely a torture derived right from one of the outer rings of hell. No joke. It is pure torture, chaos, and a much unneeded source of stress.

I spent the last two weeks facilitating a program for my middle school youth. It was phenomenal – such a great experience. Everyone involved seemed to get something out of it, kids and volunteers alike. My boys simultaneously went to VBS. It was their first time and they LOVED it. The stories they would tell and the songs they would sing when I picked them up every day were absolutely adorable. But trying to get to church each day was enough to make me wonder why I even had kids. It was enough to make me wonder if I could just drop them off at VBS and forget to pick them up. It was enough to… ok…I’ll just stop before I actually put that in writing.

Getting up at 5 every day to be out the door by 7 and still scrambling to get it done in time was absolutely ludicrous. And silly me – I thought it would get easier as the days went on. I thought we’d develop a routine, get in the swing of things….WRONG. As the week went on, the kids just got tired. By the end of the first week I was dragging them out of bed, pleading with them to stand on their own two feet, and, eventually, carrying each child, and all of their necessary belongings, out of the house one. by. one. It was madness, I tell you. Pure madness.

That is most definitely not the way I want to spend at least 180 days of my year. I think I’d go insane. I don’t want the majority of the interactions I have with my kids on a given weekday to involve me teetering on the brink of insanity.

So there you have it. While it may be trivial, I’m thrilled that this is something I will only have to put up with for two weeks in the summer and not 9 months out of the year! Life is about the little things, right? This is definitely one little thing that will make a big difference in our family.

A Day of Rest

As we were driving along the interstate on the way to our family Christmas celebration, I was intrigued by which stores were open and which were not. It was like some stores were saying, “Without me, the world would stop spinning. I absolutely can not close my doors, even for one day.” Others were saying something more like, “All those other fools are closed. Lots of people will be unprepared. I’m going to rake in all the profits for myself.” But most stores were quietly closed in observance of something much bigger than themselves. While the Christian in me hope that “something bigger” was the celebration of our Lord’s birth, I don’t pretend to believe that is the case across the board. Some were observing materialism, some just avoiding a conflict with their employees, and others were simply taking the only day off they will take all year.

All those empty parking lots, dark store fronts, and lack of neon signs got me thinking. It wasn’t all that long ago that nearly everything was closed on Sunday. What a marvelous idea that was. It’s really a shame we have strayed from that practice. Again, the Christian in me rejoices in the thought of our nation banding together to set aside a day for the Lord, but I’m not naive. However, as I’ve discovered is usually the case, when we do follow God’s laws, it’s actually good for us as well.

If our nation were to shut down on Sunday, as it does on Christmas day, think of all the good that would come. How many families don’t have a single day off together? They’re practically strangers in living under the same roof. In our overworked, overstressed, overtired society, a mandatory day off would work wonders for our physical and mental well-being. Now, I know most 9-5ers are already “off” on Sunday, but how many actually spend the day relaxing? If it’s not possible to go to the home improvement store, the grocery store, or run any other errands, one might actually take a day of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. One might even spend it getting to know their family.

AND think about this: wouldn’t you love to know how much energy was saved yesterday with the majority of businesses, warehouses, stores, and restaurants out of commission? I know I would! Can you even imagine how much we as a nation could reduce our carbon footprint just by closing up shop one day each week?? All this talk about going green, yet this incredibly simple solution, that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary a few years back, sits in front of us unconsidered.

I promise, despite what you think, we could all manage just fine with out the plethora of hedonistic options open and waiting for us on one single day. The world would not stop spinning if we slowed down and shut things off for one day each week. Most things shut down yesterday and the world resumed as normal today. Why not make it a regular occurrence?

Just think about it: good for God (although you wouldn’t have to acknowledge that if you didn’t want to), good for self, good for family, good for the earth.

This is why politicians shouldn’t be in charge. They can’t think this simply.  I think should start “a day of rest” movement. And, if anyone knows if the energy saved yesterday is somehow measurable, I would love to know about it.

Here’s to a national weekly day of rest!

 

 

On Being an Armless Supermom

As  I was just discussing with a girlfriend, I desperately need to invest in a baby sling or carrier to free up my hands. My lack of entries is evidence of the amount of time I actually have these days without a baby in my arms. So is my messy house, my subpar dinners, and my to do list, which has many more items added to it these days than items crossed off. Having three little ones at home has definitely been a huge change in terms of what I can get accomplished during the day. I’m either going to have to lower my standards for what being a homemaker means, quickly figure out a way to juggle my new responsibilities with my old ones, or quite possibly go crazy.

In all honesty the transition from two to three has been a breeze. Many people over the years, ranging from my mother to my Intro to Psychology professor freshman year of college, have told me how difficult the transition between two and three children is. I’ve heard horror stories about sibling jealousy, marital discord, and parental incompetence. I’m pleased to report that we are having issues in none of those areas. The boys are getting along smashingly…sometimes literally. My marriage seems to be unaffected. To my knowledge, neither Josh nor I feel incompetent to handle our brood, which now outnumbers us by one. As I recall, the transition from one to two was much worse. Ben has moved right in and I don’t think any of us remember life without him.

The only real challenges I’m facing are those encountered during the day on account of having no free hands. And as I mentioned earlier, this situation can be quickly remedied with the purchase of a sling or carrier. This purchase definitely needs to occur sooner rather than later or I might never be able to find the floor of my house, we may go broke thanks to my desperate pleas for Josh to pick up dinner on his way home, or we may just have to revert to people who never eat home-cooked meals and don’t remember what it’s like to find clean laundry in the dresser or what their house actually looks like sans mess.

The later is absolutely not an option. I am plagued with perfectionism and I could never live like that. I take pride in my home-cooked meals that I’m strategically placing on the table as Josh walks through the door in the evening. I love it when my mother inquires how my house could possibly be so clean despite the little monkeys that live here. Making a home is what I’ve chosen to do with my life and I intend to do it to the very best of my ability.

Truthfully, that mentality can be rather problematic for me. It makes me a little crazy sometimes as I’m racing to meet some goal or stretching to meet a standard that only exists in my own mind. However, for the time being, I’m perfectly capable of juggling my high expectations for myself and I don’t have any intention to lower them.  Down the road, sometime after reality smacks me in the face, I may write an entry or two documenting my journey to embracing realistic expectations of keeping house, raising a family, and what it means to be a good wife and mother. In the meantime we absolutely must purchase a baby carrier so I’m not forced to face my own human limitations.

Just Another Day in Paradise

I can hear Ben starting to make noise in his crib, conveniently placed a few feet from the foot of my bed. The clock slowly comes into focus. 6:44 AM. I’ve been asleep for a little more than 3 hours. I realize I feel like I haven’t peed in years. My bedroom door starts to cautiously open. “Mommy?” It’s Jack. “I’m wet.” Ben’s quiet fussing has escalated to high pitched wailing. We’re still out of coffee creamer. Good morning, Mary. It’s just another day in paradise.

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