Friday, August 2, 2013

A Little Help from My Friends

Last week I posted a blog about the importance of bringing it all back to the breath. Just the in and out, slow and steady, life giving breath. And I had so many responses- dear friends calling to check in, family members giving a little wave, and strangers offering support. I appreciated it all.

The fact of the matter is that this season of life can knock that life giving, autonomic system controlled breath right out of you. Having a 3 year old and an 18 month old is a challenge like none other and as I was joking with my friend Allie yesterday, I sometimes fall into the black hole of "No one in the universe has a tougher job then I do. NO one. And until you stay at home with two children who need direct supervision on the constant, you have no idea what my life is like. So keep your advice, your opinion, your support and your pity to yodamnself." And my sweet friend who is wearing her one month old in my Moby (LOVE seeing Peter snuggled into the same soft green fabric that both Pursy and Knox used to snuggle in) and running after her 3.5 year old just laughed at me. Which, let's be honest, was the only appropriate response.

I don't know why this is so hard for me. I have a few theories.

1. I chose to stay home with my babes and should have chosen to continue working full time. I love my job and look forward to Tuesday at 230 when I walk out the door while P and K are happily digging into the Play Doh with their sweet babysitter Maria. I am a great nurse and feel confident, fulfilled and energized when I walk through the door of the hospital. Maybe it would have been better for my family and myself if I would have chosen to work 40 hours a week instead of 8.

2. I have unfair and unattainable expectations for myself. I am reading a book right now called Marriage Confidential by P.Haag and there is a chapter I just finished called Having it All. The quick and dirty is that the idea that women can have a full time career, be full time wives, full time parents, full time community activists, full time house keepers, full time chefs, etc. needs to be exposed as a myth. Something has to go or be taken down a notch. Otherwise there is just constant guilt and feeling that I should be doing something with these 3.5 minutes that I have while Pursy and Knox are playing happily together. By the time the thought passes through my mind, Knox has already clocked Pursy with a toy frying pan and it's time for full time parenting. Maybe this is just living life in this season and I need to tone down what I think I should be able to do. Maybe once a week should be take out night where I don't enter the kitchen except to grab the extra chopsticks from the drawer.

3. I don't prioritize Grant and our relationship enough. Grant has been my best friend for over 10 years now and when I am not snarking at him about leaving citrus almond bread crumbs on the counter, he actually likes hanging out with me. He makes me feel confident, funny, pretty, smart, clever, interesting and is at the point now where he trusts me to order beer for him. I do better in all areas of life when Grant and I are connected and doing well. When we are fighting or just passing as ships in the night, I feel all out of whack. And I knew that we weren't spending as much time together as usual but thought we would catch up when the babes were a little older or we had room for a few more date nights. But time passes quickly, and before I realized it we were pretty far apart. I see how marriages dissolve during these years not for any huge acute problems but just from lack of seeing the other person. Grant was brave enough to notice we weren't really excited about hanging out together and we took some deliberate steps to change that. There have been nights of Rummy and beer, we started watching a TV show together on Amazon Prime (seems petty, but we had gotten comfortable sitting on the couch next to each other watching different shows on our tablets with headphones in- crazy, right??), and cleared out our weekends for spontaneous family time. No plans, no schedules just whatever the four of us feel like doing. These hours have reminded me why parenting with him is so great- he is an awesome Dad.

4. I don't count my blessings enough. This seems cliché and obvious, but my point of view can get pretty shady if I don't take advantage of moments that are beautiful and thank God for them. Even moments that just aren't terrible, and be thankful for those too. I have two healthy children, one loyal and long suffering husband, food on the table, place to call home, friends to laugh, cry and drink with, and a belly that despite diet and exercise just isn't going to go flat. But that belly carried both of my gorgeous babies to term and probably just doesn't have the energy to bounce back either. Maybe it's tired too.

I always try to walk the line between honesty and restraint on this blog. I want to be real and transparent, but not every thought and feeling is for public consumption. Our family is struggling to navigate the best way for US to survive and thrive in this season, and it is rough sailing some days. But we get by with a little help from our friends. You know who you are...



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