Friday, September 27, 2013

Parenting and the Downward Spiral of Guilt

Today I should've been in beautiful Napa celebrating our 10th anniversary. Instead I'm dealing the emotional fallout of moving and starting a new school.

Was it the right decision? Absolutely. Am I upset about canceling my trip? Damn right I am. But not for the reasons I thought I would be.

Yes, I am sad that I am not immersed in beautiful scenery, drinking delicious wine, and dining on amazing food. (Oh, Girl and the Fig, I'll be back for you. Someday).

However, I’m more upset about how our lives ended up at this point. What if we hadn't moved? Wonder if my dabbling in blogging/social media/ teaching/freelance writing had not evolved into something that resembles real part-time work?

Then I go deeper in the spiral and start to think about how I might really being effing up as a parent.

I don't think I am spending the same amount of quality time with Thomas as I did Marie. I know it is always different with the second child, but what if I hadn't taken steps to boost my social media ventures to the next level? Maybe Thomas would like to write his name. Maybe he would like to craft? Maybe he wouldn't be so interested in Angry Birds?

It would be easy to get defensive of my choices and push forward with my goals. It would also be easy to justify my choices in that not everyone is meant to develop a deep affinity for handwriting and glue sticks.

But instead, I am listening to the signs that the kids are giving me; I’m letting it soak in, resisting the urge to downplay it in hopes that everything will work out.  I have restructured my “office hours” and reexamining my work commitments. I have put a premium on getting enough sleep so I don't meltdown. And I'm finally doing all those Pinterest crafts to help Thomas along with finding his handwriting jam.

Pinterest craft practicing handwriting with glue and fruit loops
Redemption through Pinterest

Halloween foam no glue craft
A challenging foam, no glue craft that Thomas loved!
Also, that cape melts my heart into a puddle. 

Next year, he will be in school all day next year. This is it for him. And I need to make it count.

As for Marie, I will listen patiently as she finds the words to verbalize her feelings about being the new kid.  We have also chosen a calming essential oil to help her relax at night. And we have kicked off our weekly dates.

Anything missed in the work-sphere while I tend to my babies during this transitional time will have to be categorized under "not the right time". And I will have to have faith that the right opportunities will still be there.

I am going to try to unwind myself for the guilt spiral. Up until two conversations with some help ladies, I was completely convinced this was all my fault. Turns out, it might not be my fault.  The anxiety about being a new student in a new school and the strong dislike towards coloring/writing may actually be something independent from me.  Regardless, I have to show up for some serious face time and with my listening ears on.

In the meantime, it might be time for me to get some more chocolate therapy.

Do you ever feel like you are just doing it wrong? How do you deal?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Parenting is Hard

Parenting is hard.  So very hard.  A totally obvious statement, I know.  But since parenting is filled with challenging moments every single day, I find my threshold for pain is pretty high.

Get up in the middle of the night to tend to scary dreams?  Got it.

Being the fun governor when it comes to enforcing screen time limits?  I (begrudgingly) do it.

Trying to make sure each child’s needs are met without cloning myself?  I practice that each and every day.

But then something comes along that pushes my limit.  In yoga, it is called going beyond your edge.  When I go beyond my edge in yoga, I have exceeded my physical and mental boundaries and everything becomes a challenge.  Even breathing.

This moment occurred when Harrington and I decided to cancel our 10th wedding anniversary trip to Napa and Sonoma, which we were going to after his business trip at Lake Tahoe.

Yes, this little message is in my inbox.  Taunting me.

It actually pains me to type this sentence.

We came to this decision after listening to the deep, sorrowful, painful sobs of how much Marie would rather be home with me than at her new school.  The crying, that was on the verge of hyperventilating, yanked at my heartstrings.  Even though this specific breakdown took me by surprise, in retrospect, I have realized that she has been very emotional and has been having a hard time at night.

How am I supposed to go clear across the country for six days when my child is hurting?  And not just hurting, but hurting for me?

On the other hand, I feel like I am letting Harrington down by not going with him on this trip and celebrating our 10th anniversary.  One day, these kids will leave the nest, and since he is the one I will be stuck with (in a good way, of course), I want to make sure my marriage is a priority.

But when your baby needs you, how do you walk away from that?

As Harrington said, they won’t need us like this forever.  We need to be there when they do now.

I decided to think about what I could live with in the long run – going on this trip with my husband and hoping that Marie would be OK. 

Or could I live with skipping this trip with my husband, but knowing I didn’t take off when my daughter needed me?

If this is a pivotal time in her life with the move and going to a new school, and I leave, I don’t think that is something I could undo.

And what would a big decision like this be without a healthy serving of guilt.  I blame myself.  If I wasn’t busy working this summer, I would have been more emotionally available to her.  If I wasn’t busy unpacking, I would have had more time for her.  If I had been able to pull it together, I could have had this all situated and not have to bail on an awesome trip.

Letting down your kid and missing out on wine country: kind of feels like the biggest fail in the history of my fails.

So what has been the hardest parenting decision you have had to make?  How did you get through it?  Should I stock in more chocolate or salty snacks?  Would it be inappropriate to listen to grunge rock and sulk in my room?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Silver Linings

I am a half-empty person my nature.  I have to work really hard to see the glass full.  Making lemonade out of lemons is a skill set that I have worked hard to gain.

So when Marie had her bus incident and we couldn’t find her, I wasn’t even looking for a silver lining because it took all my energy to stay calm.  Even after she was delivered safely back home and I had a chance to wrap my arms around her as I inhaled her sweet scent, I was just thankful she was home.  I couldn’t even fathom a lesson from all of that chaos.

It wasn’t until we sat down to dinner and had a debriefing on the situation that a silver lining had appeared.

Harrington: How did you know you were on the wrong bus?

Marie: When there were only a few people left on the bus, I asked the bus driver when was the last stop.  When she said the next stop was the last one and it was at KinderCare, I knew I was the wrong bus.

Me: What did you tell her?

Marie: I think I’m on the wrong bus.  So I gave her my address.

Me: How did you know to do that?

Me: If I didn’t say anything, how was I going to get home?

I honestly could not have hoped for a better answer.

She spoke up when something was not right.

She did not panic and freeze.

She stayed calm and gave the necessary information to get herself out of the situation.

It is kind of like what Eleanor Roosevelt said:

It brings me great peace that she had the confidence and courage to take care of herself without me right there. 

After she was tucked safely into bed and the house was quiet, I was able to process the whole scene again.  I remember how the moms at the bus stop, most of them that I had just met that very day, stayed with me until I knew the bus driver was trying to find Marie.

A mom I knew before offered to take Thomas, but when he would only girls to play with, another mom offered to take him back to her house to play Legos with her son.

Another mom came by to make sure I was OK and even gave me a hug as I waited anxiously on the sidewalk for the bus to arrive.

The friend that I made earlier in the summer listened to me vent how scared I was.

Deciding to move is a total leap of faith.  Are the neighbors nice?  Will there be kids for my kids to play with?  Since I decided it would be off-putting to interview neighbors in a neighborhood we could potentially move into, the answers really only reveal themselves in time.

My heart is filled with gratitude when I think how these moms stepped in to help a perfect stranger.

And I am thankful for the silver linings. 

Do you have to work hard in finding silver linings?  When was a time you were able to find one in a scary situation?

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Week of Firsts

This week was a week of firsts.  And let me tell you, it has been a flurry of activity.  So , today’s post will be brought to you by Instagram and this awesome new app I am obsessed with called Heyku. 

Marie’s first day of 2nd grade:

I drove her to school per her request.  I stood in line with her.  Until she didn’t want me to stand next to her.  Until she changed her mind and slipped her hand into mine and whispered in my ear that she was a little nervous.  I would be lying if few tears didn’t well up in my eyes as I left the school parking lot.

The next day she took the bus.  Her first time on a new bus was successful!  I was inspired to write this Heyku:

All was well, until it wasn’t.  Here is my Facebook status that was inspired by the first time Marie got on the wrong bus and the school had a difficult time finding her:

I learned a few important lessons that day. But that is a different blog post.

Because I chose not to freak out and quietly implode after she was delivered home safely, I wrote this Hayku after everyone was safe in bed:

If you have been reading my blog or following me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’ve been busy putting together a new course on social media. Today was the first day of class.  I had a hard time sleeping since I was nervous so I decided to express myself in a HeyKu.  Naturally.

Here I am on the morning of the first day of class.  
Thanks to the great filters and industrial strength makeup,
you don't see the circles and chin acne that sprouted overnight.

   I actually put on real clothes and drove on the big, scary expressway during rush hour traffic to a building I’ve never been to in a city I don’t know very well.  Oh, and the class went very well, too.

Someone else had a big day today, too. 

Thomas went to his first day of PreK 4.  He rocked the first drop off – like a boss.  He sat right down on the carpet and didn’t look back.  

Of course this could all change next week, but I am thankful that at least the first day went well.  It made it easier for me to enjoy my cup of coffee.  In silence.  Doing whatever I want.  Especially eating a cookie the size of my face without having to share.

How was your first week back to school?  Happy?  Sad?  Mixed emotions?