Friday, March 21, 2014

Winning the Race

We all know the supposed "mommy wars". Breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Co-sleeping vs crib sleeping. Working vs staying at home. Every mother has her own opinion, and unfortunately it usually differs from the one next door. Of course each one thinks her way is best, they butt heads, and the mommy wars begin.

The last few weeks I've been noticing a new trend. On Facebook and through emails, there have been numerous links shared to different blogs centered around spending time with your children. Great right? Nothing bad can come of that. I enjoyed reading them, and they were a good reminder to me on tough day to quit texting or cleaning and get down on the floor and PLAY. To enjoy my kids for who they are in this exact moment, for I will never get the moment back again. I was part of this revolution...the revolution to put away the phone and be a good mom.

I began turning off the radio in the car to talk to Liam about things. I began pointing out things in the store and giving him lists and taking advantage of educational moments. I turned my phone off for hours at a time. This is good, I thought. This is what I'm supposed to be doing so I don't miss anything. I can't miss anything.

But then it began to consume me. My few moments to enjoy music that wasn't the beginning of the Cat in the Hat was gone and replaced with chatter about if bugs poop or why I'm turning left and not right. I was stuck inside Target with a kid having a melt down because I wanted to leave before he was done finding "something red" (horrible color choice for eye spy in Target. Horrible. Every freaking thing is red in that place). I had no adult contact, no inside jokes to laugh at on the side while playing Monster Jam on the living room floor.

Because this is how it's supposed to be, right? Right.

Except I feel like it's not. I am me. I am an individual person outside of who's mother I am. Sometimes I don't want to be climbed on, I don't want to see how big your booger is, and I'd rather be locked in the bathroom than watch you smash my carefully built play-doh rabbit for the upteenth time. The immense guilt I feel is overwhelming. Yes the years fly by but oh how long some days can be. Days when I can't wait till they are peacefully asleep in their beds and I can sit on the couch and do nothing. Except I am doing something...I'm feeling like I must be the worst mom ever and stressing out over what I can do with them tomorrow to make up for my inattentiveness today. That surely when I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, my 3 year old mastered long division and I missed it forever. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will ask him to show me. Always tomorrow. Oh wait...I'm not supposed to think that. Today. I only have today. Don't put it off. It doesn't matter that I'm exhausted to the point of tears. Do it today. Now.

The latest mommy war: who can spend more time with their kids? Who is more tolerant? If you wish for an hour of having your body and mind back, you lose. You don't need that. You can have that when they are grown. Enjoy it now. Soak up every moment. If you aren't sufficiently soaking, you are failing and will cry with regret on your death bed. You better be a fat dripping sponge of "now" moments.

While you are sitting there being that giant wet sponge, make sure you glare at the mommy at the park who is looking at her phone. Who cares if she spent every moment up till now on the floor playing with her kids and now she's taken them to the park to play so she can maintain contact with her friends without feeling guilty? She should be climbing the slides alongside her kids. Running. Putting those yoga pants to use.

Come on. Seriously. Stop. Embrace each other. Embrace all of us on this journey. Embrace the fact that to give ourselves to our kids, we have to have something left to give in the first place. Stop the mommy war of guilt. Take care of yourselves, and offer help when you have extra to give. Because behind that internet cover up of moms out there who devote every second of themselves around the clock are moms like us who lock themselves in the bathroom for 5 minutes with a cup of coffee and a magazine that hasn't been ripped up. Moms who try to take a deep breath and relax but instead notice the Hotwheels in the toilet and the tiny fingers reaching under the door. Because the years are short but the days are long and guess what? You're doing a good job. We all are. So raise that chipped coffee cup and take a drink before you have to reach into the toilet. Cheers!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On becoming 4.

So you'd think this would be easy. The whole adding another human thing. Considering I've done it once, you'd think I'd know what I was doing. That I paved the road the first time. Set myself a path; maybe tramping down the grass as I walked the journey the first time so I could follow it with a little less struggle the second time. Makes sense right?

But there's a catch. The catch is the whole stereotypical saying that no two journeys are the same. In this instance, it sucks because it's totally dead on. That trampled down path in the grass that I laid out the first time might as well be in the freaking African savanna because I sure as heck am now wading through a bug infested rainforest on a completely different continent.

Yet there are some similarities. I do know that a journey is a journey no matter where it occurs. I learned from the African savanna that I should be more flexible, that there is always going to be an animal out there that's going to attempt to eat you, and that you can never have too much sleep and chocolate. These things can all be applied to the rainforest, and maybe help me to casually swing amongst the trees instead of dragging through the bog.

So what do you do with two? How do you love them separately? I know I do. But I can't describe how. I have this recurring nightmare where a disaster occurs and I can't save both of them, I have to pick one. I wake up sweating and crying because what the heck? How would I do that? I couldn't. Could I choose both and just not be saved myself? Is that an option? Am I crazy for even asking a dream questions? Yes.

I'm observing, always observing. Watching siblings who are adults and very close. What did their parents do to make them that way? How can I do that? What makes some siblings become lifelong friends and others drift apart once they reach adulthood? I want that security, that anchor of home.

Becoming 4 was easy, yet blows my mind on a daily basis. Hello savanna. Hello rainforest. Goodbye map. I'll find my way around these parts because I have a feeling what I need to find is not within any clear cut boundaries.