Reflections on Thirty-Three

Cross-posted on my blog MWGS:

Author’s Note: Today, I turn 33 years old. It has definitely been an interesting three and a half years since my daughter was born and life changed in a big way. I think that I have learned more about myself in these few short years than in many others combined throughout my lifetime. I see myself differently, am taking better care of myself, am learning to love others better, and live my faith and purpose more honestly and, I hope, effectively. I do more than like myself at 33. I truly believe that I have finally learned to love myself.

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My form is a thing of beauty.

Take all your definitions of allure

And weigh them in your hands,

As I make mine my own.

Breasts, waist, hips, legs,

Arms, stomach, shoulders, back.

All I work to make strong.

This I do for myself,

For the good of my body as well as my soul.

To be strong enough in body to hold the skies on my shoulders

But soft enough in soul to hold joy in the sway of my hips

And grace in the reach of my hands.

My mind is a work of art.

Growing and challenged still,

Deeply considering and intense.

My intelligence has not been silenced by time,

But continues to grow and refine with new challenges.

My art is a meeting of thought and feeling,

Pulled together, chiseled, and shaped.

I share my art with a desire for hope,

Encouragement, uplifting, and joy.

I write to challenge to love, to kindness, to compassion.

I write to create refuge, worlds in which to escape,

To send out words that my own voice might find difficult to speak.

I sing to birth joy. I dance to proclaim free. I dress to cry beauty.

I write and post and mail to connect and pull threads together.

In life. In community. In love. In friendship. In chosen family.

I am a being made unqiue and becoming uniquer still.

The older I get, the finer I am becoming.

You should rejoice. I’d love for you to rejoice.

If you don’t, though, that’s your choice.

But, most of all, I just want you to smile with me.

It Happens When You’re Not Looking

Today was an interesting one. Today, my daughter requested that we go look for a purple Sofia the First dress for her dress-up collection. I knew that I had gift cards I could spend so I said yes. This prompted several conversations and occurrences that proved to me that, yes, she is indeed growing and developing emotionally, even though I was beginning to doubt this idea.

The first conversation happened before we left the house:

B: Mommy, what are you doing here?

Me: I’m going to wash dishes. Then we can get ready and go find a purple l dress. But I have to finish my chores first, okay?

B: Okay. I be in in my bedroom. *runs off to play Super Why games on her Kindle*

That is Exhibit A. Exhibit B came about in the store. We found a lovely Sofia dress-up gown but, oh, there were shoes to go with it! My girl is a great lover of shoes, for those who don’t know, and so she insisted that she wanted both the dress and the shoes. I calmly explained to her that she had to pick one or the other because I did not have enough money on my gift card to buy both. This was, as you probably expected, heartbreaking for the little miss. She started to break down but then, just as suddenly, she said:

“I need to sit down.”

I told her that she could sit down right where she was and she took a seat on an open, low shelf. Then she started breathing deeply, in through her nose and out through her mouth. Then I realized what was happening. My three-year-old baby was calming herself down! She took at least four deep breaths, me breathing along with her for a few of them. Then, after a moment, we revisited the issue and she decided that she wanted the dress more than the shoes. She was still disappointed about the shoes, yes, but she made her choice. As we got to the checkout, she seemed to remember how upset she was about not getting the shoes. Again, she told me, “I need to sit down,” so I gave her permission to sit on another low shelf right near me and I waited until she was ready before we paid for the dress.

It happens when you aren’t looking, these moments of growth. These moments are proof that what you are doing is helping, is working, and does matter for the good for your little one(s). So, keep on doing what you are doing, mamas and dads. Keep teaching and counseling and modeling for your little ones. They are are learning, they are developing the good habits and strategies that you are endeavoring to teach them. It’s hard, I know. It’s frustrating and tiring and maddening. But it’s working. It is! It just sometimes happens when you aren’t looking.

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You’re Amazing, Just the Way You Are

I love the encouraging words written here. Know this, sister mothers, you are amazing!

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

alka-seltzer-for-tired-momsMoms are notoriously tough on themselves. We beat ourselves up for not having a visible six-pack in the ninth month of pregnancy, for not being back in the size four jeans three days after pushing a baby out, for not having hair, makeup and the baby all bundled up in a pretty little package one week in.

There are plenty who tell you it’s not difficult to raise a few kids and look put together and there are plenty who think showering is overrated. For some working out is a priority. Others feel they get their workout chasing after a toddler.

The fact is, you change after you’ve had a baby. Or two. Or five. Sure, you change emotionally, but you change physically as well.

It’s not always easy to look in the mirror and like what you see. Even on a good day. If it is after a few months of sleepless nights? Forget it. If you are focusing…

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Bedtime Evensong

I just sang my daughter to sleep (and she actually FELL ASLEEP) for the first time in I don’t know when. It took less than ten minutes for her to drop off, maybe even less than five. I’ve missed that. Usually, if I stay in her room, she will fight sleep to interact so I have to leave her room in order for her to settle down and fall asleep. I don’t know why tonight was different but I am glad that I kept my heart soft and was mindful and went to her when she cried instead of just assuming that it was because she didn’t want to go to bed.

As I sat on the side of her bed, she settled, curled up on her side with her little blankies and snuggled under her “giant blankie”. As I hummed her lullaby, she hummed the first verse along with me, fidgeted around with her blankies for a few minutes, and then eventually quieted, her breathing calming and evening out. When I finally stopped humming and raised my hand from where I had rested it on her waist while I sang, she didn’t stir. I kissed her head, whispered that I love her, and lingered by her bedside for a moment, just watching her.

My girl is growing so very quickly. She’s strong and smart and imaginative and fierce and spiky and strong-willed. She loves to pretend and play dress-up. Her current favorite movie is “Inside Out”, which she calls “Calm Down” and she dreams of being Joy “with the beautiful blue princess hair”. I tell her that one day we will dress up together – her as Joy and me as Disgust. (I mean cosplay, of course.) She is starting to express a desire of wanting to go to school so I am trying to use that as motivation to take that last step towards potty-training. She knows the process and all that stuff; it’s just convincing her to be in regular underwear all of the time and doing the work of going to the bathroom regularly.

But, for tonight, she was just my baby girl who fell asleep to the sound of my voice.

 

((Art: Lonely Lullaby – http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lonely-Lullaby-216206458 ))

Tuesday Tub Quotes

Bizzy: “I’m a Bizzy Witch!”

Me: “You’re a witch? Are you making a potion?

Bizzy: “No, I’m making soup.”

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Bizzy: “I’m swimming!”

Me: “Are you swimming like with Grandpa?”

Bizzy: “No, I’m not swimming like Grandpa. I swim like a mermaid!”

Meeting at the Bottom

Recently, my three-year-old daughter has discovered, purportedly, what it means to be scared at night, scared of the dark. We have also discovered monsters, particularly monsters under the bed. She’s always been a good sleeper since she aged out of infancy and the last few nights, she’s slept through (which has been a marvelous blessing to me after a rough weekend). However, there are some nights where we have to deal with the “I’m scared’s”.

The first night it was really an issue was when I heard her get out of bed and run into the living room, her heavy, honest footsteps thumping across the floor. Getting up and heading out into the darkness of the house, I found her curled up on the loveseat in the living room. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied, “I’m scared.” I assured her that there was nothing in her room to be scared of, bundled her up in her blanket, and took her back to her bed. We repeated this process twice. The final time, however, I–somewhere in my wearied, foggy brain–decided to try a different tactic. I pulled on my heavy, warm robe, trekked out into the living room, picked up a few spare pillows from the ottoman, and made us a little bed on the loveseat, snuggling up close to my little girl. Instead of bringing her up to my height, where I understood that there was nothing in the dark of her bedroom to be afraid of, I made a conscious choice to meet her at the bottom. Instead of insisting that she be brave, I told her, “I’m here. You’re safe. Cuddle close.” And we did. We cuddled there on the couch. It took her a little while to get comfortable but, eventually, her breathing evened out and she was asleep again. Swaddling her in her blanket, I carried her back to bed, tucked her in, and then made my way back to my own neglected bed for the remaining few hours before daybreak.

I met the next day tired but having learned an important lesson afresh. We talk about meeting people where they are, wherever that may be. We can then help each other grow from where we are to where we will be, even if we might be a little further along the path or a big higher up the mountain than they are. We need to meet them where they are. We remind ourselves that God meets us where we are, accepts us as we are, but loves us enough that He will continue to help us grow and mature and refine. I had to (and still have to, up to last night even) meet my little girl where she is and be with her there in that space, at that height, even if it’s at the bottom of the mountain. Because that is the only way I can help her climb. Not pull her up. Help her climb. Help her learn where to put her hands, where to find her footholds, and how to put herself up throughout life. But, first, I have to meet her where she is.

 

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Property of Jennifer Harnett-Henderson — Ode to a Sketchbook – Excerpts

 

 

 

Those Pathetic Days

One afternoon, as my daughter nested on her bedroom floor with her stuffies and her tablet, I laid myself down next to her and requested, “Can I lie down next to you?”

I must have sounded like the most pathetic creature to ever live and, truthfully, I felt it to be so. I felt weary-worn in body and soul and literally pathetic in every synonymous sense of the word. There are days when mothering is unspeakably tough, and this week has been a collection those days. From temper tantrums to busy days (which my girl dearly didn’t want to participate in) to ballet class and early morning stomach bugs, this has been quite a week. I’m tired, worn, and, honestly, wilting a bit. I have rarely felt less equal to the task of raising my daughter than I have this week. My eyes are weak from lack of sleep and too many tears. The things that give me joy (reading, writing, working out, etc.) I have often been too tired to fully enjoy, but I am still doing my best to keep up with them because they are my soul food.

This weekend is Valentine’s Day. I’m not looking for flowers or chocolate or a fancy dinner out. All I want is some time with my husband and some time to myself to center down and ground myself before the week starts all over again.

When Did I Become…?

As I was making the beds this morning and turning down the heat in the bedrooms for the day, I realized something.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for three years. I guess that the official date was about two weeks ago when school started back but yes. Three years. That was when I started my FML from my teaching position, deciding that I wanted to stay home and officially resigning later on that summer.

As I made the beds, folded blankets, and picked up clothes for the laundry, I came to realize that I have settled into a routine of being a SAHM, of caring for our daughter, my husband, our home, and myself (the last is still in process). I am learning to better ask for help and time when I need it (in fact, the grandparents are coming over to spend time with my girl while I run errands out in the snow today). I have settled into the joys of organization, my brand-new family calendar in its place of pride on the side of the fridge (Thank you, Mom! The old one was quite on its last legs.) with everyone’s activities for the month listed out as well as copied onto our family Google calendar, so we can keep track of each other. The bank’s new app is uploaded onto my phone (still need to do this to hubbie’s phone), so we can have access to accounts/amounts whenever we need it. My girl’s first dance class will start in two weeks so she needs to be outfitted for that, naturally.

I think I’ve really settled into this SAHM gig.

Having said that, though, it may end sooner than I anticipate. Elizabeth is three. Preschool looms on the horizon (as soon as we can deal with this potty training nonsense), which means that I will need to/be looking for a new position somewhere. Now that is a frightening thought if I am being completely honest. There are lots of frightening thoughts for me in being a SAHM.

  • Am I doing right by my daughter?
  • Am I spending enough time with her?
  • Am I teaching her the skills (educational and life) that she needs?
  • Am I teaching her to be independent?
  • Am I unconsciously doing for her what she needs to do for herself?
  • Am I teaching her that I am there for her?
  • Does she feel loved?
  • Does she feel heard?
  • Am I giving enough time to my husband?
  • Are he and I connecting enough?
  • Does he feel heard by me?
  • Does he feel loved and appreciated?
  • Am I giving enough time to myself?
  • Do I feel loved, heard, appreciated?
  • Am I connecting with my own heart, soul, and body enough?
  • Am I connecting to God’s heart enough?

The worries will abound, if I let them. The worries could drown me, if I let them. The worries could leave me paralyzed with fear, if I let them.

So I won’t.

I will take comfort in the truth that I know what I am doing, even when I don’t. That I am trying my best, even when I fall short. That I am doing much better than I think I am at this SAHM gig.

Potty Training Woes with A 4-Year-Old | Scary Mommy

I feel like such a failure. Over the past three years, I’ve tried everything. I’ve used every bribe I can think of. I’ve punished him. I’ve created reward-based potty charts. I’ve set the timer on my iPhone a thousand times. We have left public places when the telltale wet ring appears on his pants. I have let him continue to play, even with wet pants, wondering if other kids ask him about it whether or not he might finally be embarrassed. He hasn’t.

via Potty Training Woes With A 4-Year-Old Scary Mommy.

I feel for her, so much, as I am having the hardest time potty training my girl right now, and I’m very appreciative of her honesty and chin-up-ness.