When in doubt…

breathe; drink water; close your eyes; look up; sit down; call a friend; find something green; drink tea; write a letter; eat chocolate; go for a walk; color; take a picture; try to forgive; look at art; pray; cut yourself some slack; watch an old movie; light a candle; stand still; feed your soul; wear something pretty; re-read; drink wine; dance; eat fruit; smile; rock your baby; go for ice cream; make love; drive in the country; trust; shower; write; wait; remember; be.

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One year ago today.

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Since I can’t post any recent pics of the girls because my camera is broken (GRR!), I thought I’d go back to one year ago today. Which, as it turns out, according to my post from that day was A Perfect Day. I’m pleased to say that I do remember it being perfect. So perfect, in fact, we attended the Chinese Heritage Days at the Missouri Botanical Gardens again this year. I think this is going to become our Mother’s Day tradition… even if it doesn’t fall on Mother’s Day.

As for today, it’s shaping up just fine too. I am pleased with the amount of work I am getting through this weekend. I should mark it down on my calendar because I don’t say that very often.

Perhaps I should just mark May 17th as A Good Day every year…

Hope all is well with you–whoever, wherever, and whenever you are!

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(p.s. If people can make something this beautiful here in this imperfect world, just imagine how gorgeous Heaven is!)

I needs me my tax refund.

Yeah, so that last post was dreary, eh? I know. It’s all true, but perhaps I should balance it out with a report on what HAS been accomplished around here in terms of home and family… and to fill you in on some happy things that we are all definitely looking forward to this spring and summer.

First, and probably the most life-changing is we are getting a dog, an Irish setter, to be exact. We have already put a deposit on a SAweet little litter (that won’t stay little, I am aware). In the past, I  have always been somewhere between a dog-liker (not lover) and somewhat indifferent. I kind of  depends on the dog. But I am totally excited about this new addition to our family. John is a bona-fide animal LOVER and the girls are unbelievably excited.

The first big change necessitates the second big change: We are putting up a fence in our back yard. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Before I was always adamently against a fence. All our neighbors’ yards (and our’s too) are so pretty and green, and I liked the openness. But now that the fence is becoming a reality, I’m starting to see the major benefits. Life is about to get a heck of a lot easier, what with the girls getting big enough to play outside by themselves and the yard no longer being accessible from the back alley, which was always a “stranger-danger” issue for us although we’ve never had any problems, but we’ve always watched the backyard so carefully that it stands to reason that there were never any problems.  (okay that sentence was long, and horribly written, but you get the picture). The point being, the girls are 6 and 3 and they have never been allowed to play in the back yard by themselves without one of us being there because we can’t see the backyard from the kitchen or living room, and the alley is back there, and our neighborhood is VERY safe, but…just…no. The fence is going to make it a whole lot safer, and make me feel a whole lot better about just letting them go back there and enjoy their yard and their dog.

Another thing that makes me feel much better about the back yard is that we had a huge tree trimmed back a couple of weeks ago. This is the tree that dropped a perfectly healthy limb on our house last summer and did a good bit of roof and gutter damage. I was always a little leary about the tree since then, now that’s no longer a concern. The backyard and it’s condition is important to us because, well… it’s what sold us this house. We practically live back there between April and November. Our house is small but our yard is big and we LOVE it.

Last big thing that we’re still contemplating is some room rearranging in our house. Right now John and I have one upstairs bedroom and the girls share the second bedroom. Downstairs we have a playroom that is under-utilized. They use it, but not enough to justify all that space when things are getting cramped upstairs.  Sooo, we’re thinking of giving each girl her own room upstairs and moving our bedroom downstairs. The toys in the playroom could easily be given away and what they do keep could be separated into their two rooms. We’re just not sure how we feel having them sleeping upstairs (where all the doors and windows are) and us being downstairs. If we were to do this, we would deifintely want get an egress window dug and installed. But, we’re thinking about it. I have a feeling that if we do it, once it’s done, we’ll ask ourselves why we didn’t do it three years ago when Super L came along. But the fact of the matter is they don’t seem to mind sharing a room right now, and maybe we should let it remain that way until they are clearly outgrowing their singe room and start actually needing separate spaces. What do you think, internets?

Now, last but not least, all of these wonderful changes are about to happen, and my digital camera has been dead since March. It’s not the batteries, I tried replacing them and everything. I’m dying without it. I’ve already missed out on pictures of Super L’s first self-given haircut and other outdoorsy, summers-a-comin’ photo-worthy moments. I do not want to miss these next two weeks. John says I can go buy a new camera when our income tax return arrives. Considering a good chunk of it has already been designated for doggie supplies, new landscaping and whatnot, I’m ready for some cash. I’m ready…ready for lots of new, fun things.

Heart’s not on my sleeve.

All day I’ve been waiting for that moment of sentimentality to hit me. It’s Mother’s Day. I am a mom. I’m supposed to be reflecting on how much better my life is, how much better I am, because of them, right? And I do feel and acknowledge those truths. I do. But today it has been pretty much normal. No big soft, squishy heart on my sleeve here today. In fact, I feel quite detached from the Mother’s Dayness of today. In fact, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve been feeling pretty detached from a lot of people and things lately.

For the past few months, I have been completely wiped. Spent. Emotionally and mentally. There are people around me who know this. It’s not a secret. And while I have rearranged some priorities to create space and time for myself, I am not completely out of the woods yet. I am coping, but I am not better. Yet. Today is a good example of what I mean. Today I only felt a tiny twinge guilty for not doing *something* related to thesis or work. That is an improvement from where I was two months ago. We went for a long walk this morning and the afternoon was spent just hanging around the house doing normal around-the-house stuff. But all day I have not particularly reached out to my children. Except for a brief cuddle on the patio while bird watching with Little Miss G, I have not made much of the fact that it is Mother’s Day. Emotionally it’s just been–steady. And that is better, oh so much better than where I was a few weeks ago.

It’s just been a normal day of being mom, being proud at how big they’re getting, how beautiful they are… Of disciplining when they need disciplining and hugging when they need hugging. Nothing out of the ordinary. On all other Mother’s Days I have written in a journal for both of them for when they’re older. Because I like to mark the days. I like to do little special things. I like to be sentimental and lose myself in memories and reflection… swim in the deep waters of emotion and just let the words pour forth.  No entries will go in there today.  And that is how I know I am not exactly where I should be. That is how I know I’m still coping.

This has been a really tough six months. Three years of being wife, mom, student, teacher (and unfortunately not in that order) has taken its toll. I knew it was happening last spring, but suddenly found my reserves completely empty after what was otherwise, a  pretty relaxed summer. Suddenly, in January, I had nothing but stress and a complete inability to focus. February was worse. Much much worse. The last time I felt that emotionally overwrought was in the early weeks after Little Miss G was born.

So much of what I do, I used to say, is for them–my family. I believed that.  But my ambitions have cost them a lot over these last few years. I’ve been forced to reconsider my motivations. If it were truly for them, I would have dropped at least one thing by now, because clearly they are not gaining anything from it… it’s quite the opposite actually. They don’t want an accomplished mommy. They want Mommy. And my husband. Dear Lord, my husband. What an incredible human being. What I do have to give emotionally, I give to him. It isn’t much, but he is so very good to me. He has never let me feel unloved or uncherished for a single moment. And I have questioned, multiple times, whether or not I am worth his effort, and worthy of their love. Dangerous thoughts, I know. Nearly every day, I count the cost of my choices–not what it costs me, but what it costs them. The tally is paralyzing. In February it froze me dead in my tracks. It is better now, but some days are still pretty rough.

At the core of it all there is this: I do not do what I do because I care about accomplishment or accolades as much as I fear failure. And so I have always pursued The Next Thing to ward off failure. I’ve been asking myself for years when is It Going To Be Enough? Just who, exactly, am I trying to impress?  What, exactly, am I afraid of? These questions have dogged me since I was 12 years old–maybe earlier. Or maybe it’s the fear of looking like a failure.

If you were to just call me out the blue, I would tell you that, yes, I’ve been stressed, but that it’s betting better. It’s been difficult, but it’s getting easier. That I’m making progress, and that I should be done soon. Things are moving along. I am doing okay. All of those things are sometimes true. But in truth, I usually have no idea what kind of progress I’m going to be able to make in the days ahead because there are times I. just. can’t. think. And honestly, there are times when my own emotional state is a bit of a mystery even to me. Like today. I’ve had to let myself just do what I can do, or sometimes do what I choose to do, and just click the rest off and not dwell on it otherwise I end up very emotionally and mentally raw.

It feels very odd to admit all of this, but this is a truth I need to tell. This is certainly not a warm and fuzzy Mother’s Day post, but I knew it wouldn’t be when I started. Just sitting down here and putting all of this in black-and-white is progress, because I’ve been keeping this for some time now. And quite honestly, I don’t know why I’m saying it now. Maybe I just feel like I need to say something. Even if that something is just a long-winded reason why I haven’t been saying anything.

But the end result has to be this: For a very, very long time I have been scared to death of not doing enough… not being good enough… of not being enough… of not meeting people’s expectations… of disappointing somebody… of disappointing lots of people. That has to stop. That has to stop, now. What does that mean for my future? I don’t know. Maybe big things. Maybe nothing discernable to anybody who doesn’t live within this house or inside this body.

So, you know, friends, if all this seems weird or out of left field… hey, I’m trying… I’m trying to shrug off a few layers… a few unneccessary expectations–real or perceived–at a time. It’s been a long time coming and it’s going to take time. But I’ll admit that at this very moment, I am having to resist the temptation to give a pre-emptive apology to anybody who might be offended or disappointed while I am in that process.

And now, moment of truth: Do send it out there for you to read, or do I keep it a little longer?

Intentionality

I shall, henceforth, stop putting of for another day the things I really want to do. Not someday… not hopefully. These are things I will jump at the opportunity to do.

sing one song fabulously in front of a crowd of people

wear a sari and look beautiful in it

pray with someone of a completely different faith

go to Italy

make a concerted effort to stop fearing failure and start exploring the opportunities it creates

cultivate peace in my home

lay guilt for past mistakes down at God’s feet and walk away from it for good

forgive–completely

smile and laugh more

dance on a beach to drums and not feel self-conscious about it at all

take more pictures

renew my vows to John on a beach

throw something beautiful on the wheel

pour love into someone who doesn’t know me, has no way to pay it back, but desperately needs it

watch more sunrises and sunsets

apologize–if I’m ever given the opportunity

write more for myself, what might be useful to my girls when they are young(ish) mothers of little ones of their own

enjoy a pint in Ireland

tell people whom I love but haven’t spoken to in a long time just how much they mean to me

exude patience

give John time, freedom, encouragement to pursue his own goals and interests (it is beyond time for him to have a turn)

let Grace and Libby see more of Jesus in me

see U2 in concert

learn to play the drums or piano

run 2 miles without stopping