24 October 2010

The unattainable goal

Ah perfection, that unattainable goal that we all strive for and yet know is always just out of our reach.  Why do we set ourselves up for the inevitable dashing and crashing of our hopes?  I suspect it is a combination of the thrill of the hunt and for those unicorn rare times that we actually achieve it (or believe we do).  I have found that those most guilty (or is it guiltiest? See, there I go again, trying to get it perfect) of attempting perfection are parents.  We want our children's lives to be nothing short of a storybook, complete with happy endings.  Yet what we often forget is that the things that shape people the most are not the happy magical stories.  What has the greatest impact on someone are the nitty gritty moments, when we are put to the test and must come through the trials and fires.  Unless you are accepting that life should be more like the original Grimm's Fairy Tales, life isn't and shouldn't be a storybook.  I have to constantly remind myself of this.  I also have to constantly be reminded that a snag or a change of a day's plans does not mean that the day is ruined.  Let me explain.

My dad and step-mom are in town.  I am ecstatic to have them here.  We've been keeping quite busy since they arrived.  On Friday we decided to go to DC to visit as many museums as we could.  This was Adam's first day back from his conference and a chance to have some great family bonding time.  We got diaper bags packed, moved car seats into my dad's mini-van and were on our way.  We planned to drive to Shady Grove Metro and take the train all the way to DC.  I made sure that Kara and I had things for our motion sickness.  However, I didn't listen to the little voice that told me 2 things.  1) drive to a station further down the line so that we were always underground and 2) consider driving.  We did not even make it half way before we had to get off so Kara's stomach could settle. We then got back on the train only to have to exit one more stop down. At this point the decision is made for my dad and step-mom to continue down, Adam to take Rowan back to get the car to pick up Kara and I and then we drive to DC.  I am sad that I now have to leave with Kara to figure out what is around this station for us to do and don't get time with my family.  Adam realized right after he got on the train back to Shady Grove that we made a mistake.  He had the child that needed to nurse and didn't have any way of nursing her.  After over an hour he finally made it to me.  At which point I am tired and cranky.  Kara is likewise cranky because she wants to be with everyone else.  Rowan is cranky because she is hungry and Adam is trying to keep the rest of us calm.  We got to DC just fine, everyone had fun exploring, and we got time together.  And yet, I saw this excursion as a failure and that it was my fault.  I was trying to reach the unattainable goal and set myself up for disappointment.  This has happened before, this will happen again.  You'd think I'd learn my lesson.  What I should have taken from the day was that I now know that Kara needs medication in order to ride on trains.  (Believe me folks, I have tried everything for her, and she still feels sick on the train.)

Perhaps over time I will ease up and not try for unicorn moments so often.  Perhaps as I grow as a mom I will relax my standards and what I think of as "perfect".  And then again, perhaps we will find that missing bone on the horse skeleton and realize that unicorns still exist.

17 October 2010

Healthy emotions

My husband, Adam, left this morning for a conference in Houston, TX.  He's gone to conferences before, but this is the first one since Rowan was born.  I always have had a lot of respect for single parents, when he's gone that respect just grows and grows.  Each conference he's gone to has presented me with new and different challenges as a parent.  The first conference Kara was just a year old and she got her first big illness.  I was unable to get much sleep or food.  All she wanted was to lay on my lap and be held.  Going to the bathroom was an adventure: have you ever tried to hitch your pants up when your child is strapped to you and throwing up at the same time?  Other conferences I've had the joys of explaining to Kara why her dad isn't there and why he wasn't going to be home for x days.   I got quite skilled at keeping her distracted from his absence.  This time though I am presented with 2 new challenges.  The first being that I now have two children, one that is awake frequently during the night and needs much of my attention (and body).  The second is one I had not thought of before. 

How do you express emotions around your children?  Prior to Kara when Adam would go to a conference I would have cried a bit, gone home, eaten junk food and watched TV, read some books, done a puzzle and stayed up way past my bedtime.  Now I know better than to spend my time watching TV, staying up late and eating junk food.  I'm sure I'll read plenty of books and may do some puzzles. Granted the books may not be more complicated than naming dinosaurs and the puzzles will have less than 50 pieces.  But what to do about the desire to cry?  Do I show Kara how sad I am that her dad has left?  Do I let her see how worried I am about how our time alone will go and his safety?  Or do I keep a stiff upper lip and keep on going as if nothing has changed?  If I don't express my emotions, in a healthy way that is, am I teaching Kara to not acknowledge her own emotions?  Does that teach her to be a stoic and afraid of emotions?  If I show her the tears does that then lead her to fear and worry when she shouldn't have that burden?  Will she feel she needs to take care of me since I am sad?  This also leads me to examine how we deal with Kara's tantrums and other outbursts of emotion.  Right now we ask her to calm down and say that once she is calm we can talk about what is bothering her. But does that teach her that she shouldn't express the emotion?  Would it be better to say "wow, you are really sad/angry/upset.  Let's take a moment to be that way, then we can calm down and talk about what has made you feel that way"?  We do try to acknowledge the emotion by saying "you sound really sad", but is that enough?  Do we need to give her more space to feel and express the emotion?  I want to raise children that are not afraid of their emotions and can express them in a healthy way.  I don't want them learning to stuff their feelings down or to think that it's not ok to let others know how they are feeling.  Emotions can be powerful and influence our thinking more than we often realize or admit.  To have a healthy relationship with emotions would allow them to recognize, feel, and then move on past the emotions so they do not influence their decisions excessively.  The question is- how to achieve that.

16 October 2010

Why oh why did I jump?

I am not someone to jump on the bandwagon.  I have always prided myself on being that fish that's going against the flow.  Everyone around me was getting cell phones.  This was back in the day when a camera on it was high tech.  I thought it was the dumbest thing for someone who is only away from a phone during a 30 minute commute to have a cell phone.  I left work, went to work, and then returned home.  Don't ask me what tipped me to getting a phone.  I can't remember that far back (I'm a mom, I have a hard time remembering what I ate for my last meal).   But I have made sure I have a basic phone- it's so fancy it's got a color screen.  I am sometimes happy I jumped on that bandwagon.  I can make calls anytime anywhere (an important thing when you have precious little time to do so).   I am now being tempted to jump on the iPhone bandwagon.  Must.Resist. When everyone was joining Facebook I rebelled and rallied with "NEVER!" while running down a hill away from the horde of friends sending me invitations to join.  I wanted to connect with my friends and family the old fashioned way, random emails or phone calls saying "gee, I haven't talked to you in how long?  So, what's new with you Dad?".  But then I was offered brownies.  Who can turn down their own batch of homemade brownies that they don't have to make?  So FB looked even better.  Then I realized that both my siblings were on there, and posting pictures of my nephews.  My adorable nephews that I see maybe once a year, if I'm lucky.  So I found out just how cushy and easy the FB bandwagon can be.

So why oh why did I jump on the blog bandwagon?  I find myself with a lot of random thoughts about my life as a mom.  I've found some outlets for them via FFF (Facebook, Forums, Friends).  But some of the randomness is longer and more in depth than the first two are really designed for.  Repeating the same randomness to the later gets a bit tedious and can sometimes bore people.  So.... why not create my very own place for my random, sometimes long winded and rambling, thoughts?  Oh yeah, that whole "I'm a mom and have almost no time for luxuries like blogging".  After thinking it over, and looking at the list of "hey, I should tell someone about this!" notes I've made I decided to, gulp, jump.  My grammar, punctuation, and cohesiveness will vary day-to-day (ok, post to post.  Let's face it, I won't have time each day to post!).  But stick with me and I assure that you'll laugh, cry, blush, and wonder what planet I'm on (I'm not sure half the time!).