Saturday, August 13, 2016

Who Am I, Again?

Here I am, on a balcony of a lovely posh hotel on - literally on- the San Francisco Bay, my first real Mamacation since having living children.  That's four years, people!  Anyone who knew me in my previous life knows mama loves to travel solo.  No schedule, able to do whatever feels right and good with no restrictions other than those I create or that might be thrust upon me by my choices of what I'm doing and where I am.  Weather, traffic…sometimes those can be frustrating but because there's no one I'm disappointing by not keeping a schedule or nowhere I have to particularly be, they turn into opportunities for reflection and self-awareness.

But what I love most about my solo vacays?  Rumination.  Space to think and time to simmer in feelings.  Let things roll through my body and psyche, room to connect with who I am within this world but more importantly, get a sliver of who I am outside of it.  A schoolteacher friend of mine declares herself a "Summer of Soul" every year.  I love that.

I have found that soul gets no time when the body it inhabits is a parent.   As in, zero.

So.  After being granted the gift of not having to travel to Hawaii to finalize our son's adoption, but therein missing a forced vacation badly needed, my truly wonderful husband gave his blessing on my getting the hell outta Dodge for a few days.  We've done it before where I've had a night or two at a hotel in the Twin Cities, sometimes just 10 minutes from home.  But this is the first Getting Away.

And it feels goooooood.

But here's the thing.  I sat this morning with my croissant and freshly squeezed OJ, fresh fruit and organic yogurt and decadent good-stuff coffee overlooking the mystery that is fog and sunlight in San Francisco…and though I felt peaceful, I also felt nothing.  Moreover, I thought nothing.  At home I crave time to be able to do just this - blog, write pages and experiences about our coming to family, "if only I had the time."  I ache for the opportunity to just sit and take in the world around me.  Notice it, notice me.   Except what I notice this morning is...emptiness.

Wtf?!  Has motherhood really wiped the Me out of me?   I've been aware of constant fatigue, feeling not only no energy to do anything extra just for me but barely keeping the basics of family home life going because omg at least one of my kids seems to still be awake after nine o'clock 6/7 nights/week so who has time to replenish when the house is still ravaged from their existence?  (See?  That run-on sentence alone does a good job communicating life's perceived pace lately.)  Just getting fundamentals in order to function the next day with any semblance of sanity takes all I have to give.  Meal-Clean-UpDishesSweepingLaundryPicking-up is all I do in my 'free time'.  During the day it's pack and prep for whatever is on the agenda, meals, and on an exceptional day actually spending time playing with my children.   Oh, but mostly it's addressing the very nearly constant needs of my two adorable children.  Which if it's not them asking for something of me it's monitoring their activities for safety and appropriateness lest one of them be choking or setting themselves up to choke, strangle or otherwise die or really screw up the day by needing medical attention.  Or be getting into something that inevitably creates more work for me, be it re-rolling the tissue paper, putting back all the tupperware or pantry items or pots-n-pans, returning plastic foods to their bucket, chewing on the cheap plastic jewelry or hair accessories Cate has left on the floor (all Matt).  In Cate's circumstance, cutting anything possible into tiny pieces (lately it's been Barbie hair, anything paper, even the thin plastic wrapping around new Bounty paper towel rolls), taking apart random things I'd never even considered could come apart, trying to open medications, sucking on toothpaste tubes (had my first poison control call two days ago)…in the last week it's like she's shifted gears into a whole new unexpected level of child endangerment.  I thought we were basically done childproofing for her!  Not so, this mama learns.

I look back on this and realize herein is the problem.   Even on my vacation, my MAMAcation, I'm thinking about them.  Reliving my days and experiences, frustrations, joys and fears for them.  At dinner last night with a good friend largely all we talked about was motherhood.  It's become my whole life.  My whole self.  
Not for a moment does gratitude for motherhood escape me.  The curse of suffering infertility and dead children is fearing you can't, shouldn't, complain about getting what you complained you didn't have for so many years.  I'm so grateful for my kids.  They light me up in so many ways.  And the truth is, they drain me too.

This is a tired conversation.  Well known, well worn, that of balancing motherhood with self.  But it's the conversation I'm drowning in.

I guess I hope that at some point over the next 2 1/2 days, wisps of the Me that stands on the other side of the bay waving in glee over the adventure of being here finds its way into my day.  And that my Soul finds it's way into my awareness and says hello.  I miss them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Toddlers have no PC button

What do you do?

Last week, leaving the pediatrician's office we enter the elevator to find one lone woman traveling our way, down to the first floor.  As the door closes, Cate pipes up "Why is your tummy so big?!"

Oh dear god.

In a wild attempt to deflect the offense and maybe give this poor woman sense of "yeah, so there!" I interjected with "Daddy has a big tummy too, lots of people have big tummies."  My husband, thankfully, was not there to hear me say this and I would like to think I wouldn't have if he HAD been there, but actually I totally might have.  Just to make it less pointedly awful.  Which would've just made the situation come home with me, but still...knee jerk response.   Also, I didn't want to say "Catherine, no, she doesn't!" because well, she was obese.  And what does it teach my kid to deny what's plainly obvious?

Hoping Cate would take that line of conversation and run with it, she then says with certainty, a little bit of disdain, and a lot of drama, "Your tummy's WAY bigger!"

Scotty, beam me up.

Thankfully there were no stops to other floors and the door opened just a few seconds later while the woman was saying something like "I've had lots of practice!" (god love her) and I skedaddled the three of us out of there while mouthing an exaggerated 'I'm sorry!' to this poor fellow human being just taking an innocent elevator ride until she got stabbed by a 3 year old where it hurts.

It would hurt me at least.

So this situation then begs the question.  What do you do?  Teachable moment, right?   I'm supposed to teach her that there are times to think things and say them.  Times to think things, and keep them in your head.   Because sometimes the things you say can hurt someone's feelings.
Except I'd also like her to learn no one can hurt her feelings without her permission, she can decide if she wants to feel hurt or not when someone is mean or says something innocently enough but could be hurtful just the same.  So I tell her that things she says could hurt someone's feelings, but that she doesn't need to be hurt by things others say?  A conflicting message, to say the least.
And, more immediate in this situation, I don't necessarily want to bring forth the notion of negative body image, that fat is something to be ashamed of and not spoken of aloud.

So seriously.  Input on what you've done in similar situation or thoughts in general are welcome!