It’s Been a Weird Week

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This a picture of my mom’s dad, Charles Connell, around the time he graduated from high school. To me, my mom looked just like him. And I think Cora got his ears 🙂

He died yesterday in Santa Rosa, which isn’t more than 90 minutes from where we live. Though he friended me on Facebook, he and I never spoke. We rarely exchanged comments or even “likes”. I didn’t know him at all and had only met him once, when I was too young to remember.  All I know is the little my mom told me – he beat her and she hated him for it.

I have a lot of mixed feelings surrounding it all. I had little attachment to him and for much of my life never really thought about it. I knew my mom thought very little of him and that strong influenced my own feelings. But as I grow older, I noticed how the loss of her family feels something like losing her again for me. Or more like losing another piece of her, even if it wasn’t a piece I realized I was holding onto.

My relationship with my mother was strained toward the end of her life, like I believe many mother and teenage daughter relationships are. But I know how much she loved me. And I know that above everything else, she always did what she thought was best for me. She was probably the most fun person I have ever known. She was willing to do anything, even incredibly wacky dances and strange voices, to make you smile.  I was constantly embarrassed by that as a kid. I wish I had been easier on my mom. I wish I would have laughed more and smiled more and enjoyed her more. But I was a dumb, short sighted kid and I didn’t.  But I am wondering if I should go to this funeral, or service, or whatever they do in Charles’ honor. I am wondering if going there would be like being easier on my mom. And being a little easier on him. I know that what he did to my mom caused her an immense amount of pain and hurt, but what if that was simply the best he could do?

Friday Five 1/18 edition

so i am totally getting this in under the wire. this has been an exhausting day, the book end of an exhausting week. and there is no real break in store for me this weekend, either. so this week, i am just writing a list. a simple list, a possibly boring list. a list of what we have been up to this week:

1. preschools. we have looked at 4. there are still a couple more i want to tour before we make an actual decision, but i have an idea of which one it will be.

2. birthdays and parties! january is chock full o b-days for us. between henry and all his mom’s group friends we have a party like every weekend. and they are all fun. in general, this age is so fun.

3. i have watched cinderella and cars about 9 million times each this week.

4. i don’t want to jinx it, but i think henry might be like 85% potty trained. we have successfully left the house the past three days without a diaper and without incident. our biggest difficulty right now seems to be henry getting his pants off all the way without getting a little pee on them. 

5. lance armstrong. sigh. why? i am so disappointed, both in him and in myself. i believed him all these years, though, now i don’t know why. i don’t really know why i believe the best in any celebrity/athlete/famous for being famous.  they are never living up the the standards they say they set. also, in an unrelated note, if doping is such a part of the culture (as lance says it is in his oprah interview and i do believe him) and the urine tests aren’t up to snuff on detecting illegal substances, why not just let athletes take whatever they want?  then it will even the playing field. and if there are adverse long term risks to using these substances, those consequences will be realized and (hopefully) their use would fall out of favor. or why not have 2 races – one where performance enhancing is allowed and one where it isn’t. then people can play by whatever rules they choose. but then i guess the agencies regulating all this stuff wouldn’t make any money. hm.. i know my opinion isn’t very important in this matter, but i have been thinking about it a lot.

On Finding My People

I’ve had relationships on my mind a lot. My very best friend is getting married this summer and I have been trying to come up with interesting things I can do for her or say at her wedding to express what our relationship has meant to me. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about how having children has had a profound impact on nearly every relationship I have. How as my children grow, my relationship with them changes, as does the relationship I have with myself. Having children was also the catalyst for some of the most treasured relationships I have today. In becoming a mother and searching for a group of women having the same experiences, I found my people.

When we moved to California, Bryan and I were lonely for the better part of a year. We were eager to meet new people, but we didn’t want to seem to eager. And it took me well over a year to find my own friends I could spend time with outside of work. Things shifted significantly when I had my first baby and joined a Mother’s Group in my neighborhood for like aged children. After just a few months, I had friends and went to coffee and made play dates for the baby mostly so I could hang out with others moms. And I am still really great friends with several of these women after nearly three years. One of them watched Henry when I had Cora. And we watched her oldest when her second came. It is because of this that I understand the value in a Mother’s Group and having a community.

I am still seeing all of our friends from the city pretty regularly – and this time of year especially since all our firsts are celebrating their third birthdays, basically all within 8 weeks of each other. But I knew it was important for me and for the kids that we establish something like it in our current city of residence. So I went on the Internet, I did a search and I joined a Mother’s Club.

The hardest part has been going to meetings. I have been forcing myself to go, because I always feel awkward and out of place. Everyone already has a familiarity and common topics to discuss. I feel relegated to the sidelines. So far everyone has been exceptionally nice and overwhelmingly welcoming. And I am going to keep going.  I am going to find people I like, whose kids like my kids and whom I can grab coffee with someday, when I am able to sit and enjoy coffee with the kids present (a girl can dream can’t she?).

This part is hard for me. It feels like I am shining a magnifying glass on all the things I am already insecure about. Am I friendly enough?  Interesting enough? Do I seem interested enough in the other party?  And while all these questions are running in a constant stream through my mind, I am trying to listen, remember names, ages, interests and where everyone lives. I am out matched. I am distressed. And at times, I feel horribly alone. What is it about these situations that brings all of these issues to the surface. I have successfully navigated these waters before and come out on top, with good friends  to whom I believe I am also a good friend. And yet, here I am.  Questioning my ability to have a conversation and maintain a relationship.  Questioning my inherent worthiness.

I am going to keep going. I am going to keep talking and listening. I know I am enough. And I know eventually I will make new friends. But in the mean time, I have this blog, right?

Friday Five 1/11 Edition

1. I love Louis CK, though I haven’t watched or listened as much of his stuff as I’d like.  I watched this video above yesterday. It served as a good reminder that most of the things I complain about or have negative feelings about on a day to day basis are so trivial. And, really, the vast number of opportunities and experiences I have are amazing. 

2. This has been an especially exhausting week for me, but I can’t really put my finger on the cause. I just started to feel like I was doing better yesterday and then we had a bit of a rough night last night with the kids waking up repeatedly. So.

3. We drove into the city today to drop Bryan off at work and have a play date with a family from my SF mother’s group. We were able to stop at Phliz.  And now I feel to hopped up. And I miss the city. More than I think I realized.

4. Henry is turning 3 years old 2 weeks from today. I am going to write an actual post about the gobbilty gook I feel surrounding that fact soon.

5. I finally read the next chapter in Siblings without Rivalry last night. So that is on my mind a lot today. They way I talk to the kids, especially.  I am trying to focus on describing what I see with the kids, without placing judgment (like always saying “good job”!).  A habit I know I have to drop.

On Trying New Things (& continuing to surprise myself)

We had a really busy weekend. We celebrated franks first birthday(!!), we braved Ikea on a Saturday at lunch time, I tried bikram (hot) yoga for the first time (having no idea it was totally appropriate to basically show up in your underwear?) and Henry and I saw Monsters, Inc in 3D. It was a full, busy and happy weekend. My favorite kind of weekend.

The highlight, though, for me was taking Henry to his first gymnastics class (without parent participation). I got to sit in a little observation area where I could watch what Henry was doing.

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In this picture Henry is in the center, wearing a blue shirt with white sleeves and grey sweatpants. He is sitting in a circle with one teacher and 3 little girls.

I have wanted to put Henry is gymnastics for a while, in a “real” gym, as opposed to the little/my gyms.  Henry is a very physical kid. Kinetic is the word Bryan taught me this weekend. Being able to run and jump and put forth a maximum amount of effort makes Henry happy. The happiest he ever is. Exponentially happy. Indescribably so. So I wanted to find a setting for him to have the opportunity to do that, plus learn some new things (like forward rolls!) and experience a group setting with an authoritative figure who isn’t related to him. So gym class it was!

And so, since this new blog is supposed to be about me, I am going to quit talking about Henry, and, instead talk about my experience watching Henry have this experience. Oddly, and unexpectedly, it was a very emotional 50 minutes for me. Henry was so excited and eager. He did such a great job listening!! He was kind to the other children! And he did a really great job trying all the skills he was encouraged to do. I was so proud (even though I know I have little to do with it). And watching this little boy participate in the world all on his own was such a treat. Seeing him finish a “routine” and then put his hands in the air (like a real gymnast :)) was amazing. It made me giggle out loud while simultaneously bringing tears to my eyes. I felt like such a cliche – the mother who cries on her child’s first day of school. I never thought I would be that mom because I always knew it was important and healthy for kids to have lives independent of their parents. Boy, was I surprised by my reaction.

I know this is just one step of thousands that Henry is going to take on his very own path to find himself. And I also know there are lots of hugs and kisses and snuggles left before we have to let go of that little boy. But it still shocks me at times that Henry is already so mature and capable of things. However, seeing Henry be such a happy, excited and outgoing kid in a new environment was like a gift. I spend a lot of time hoping that my parenting gives my children permission to be themselves and that, despite whatever adverse behaviors they exhibit, who they are is wonderful. And even though he isn’t even 3 yet, being able to see him jump in and get into it, felt like a tiny victory.

Friday Five

In an effort to get the ball rolling, I am going to try to introduce some sort of regular posting “schedule”, though I am not going to put pressure on myself to adhere to a super strict schedule. but, for this first Friday of the year, here are five things that are on my mind:

1. This morning I woke up with food on my mind. In the last few weeks several articles have popped up on my radar talking about studies related to health. One study found we eat too much meat. One said if you work out “too much” it is bad for you. And yet another one says if you are going to “diet” at all, paleo is the way to go. I don’t really know what to do with all this information.  My goal is to acheive a healthy way of living, where I feel good (which I haven’t been so successful at in recent months).  I know when I am working out regularly (even if it is just once or twice a week), I feel better and have more energy. I know that when I am eating foods high in sugar and fat, I feel worse all around. And yet it is so hard for me to focus on the part about ding well for my body. If I start to restrict myself in diet, my focus shifts to all the things I cannot have. And when I am busy, stressed and overwhelmed, I have, historically, let my workouts be the first think to slip away. I want to change that.

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2. I am currently reading Far From the Tree, a fascinating look at the parent/child relationships amongst families where children have identities different from their parents, i.e. deaf children born to hearing parents. The author is thorough in his exploration of these relationships. And quite verbose! I haven’t followed it chronologically, but I am in the section about parents to child prodigies. The author gives many examples about how our society isn’t well equipped to deal with these types of kids – the kinds who are like children socially, but like adults intellectually.  He also points out how ill prepared many parents are to have kids with such talent and ability, and how, unlike children who are born with down syndrome (which is another fascinating section of the book), there are no support groups or books to read about being this specific type of parent. It is an interesting “problem” to think about.  But it also kind of leads me to reflect on how ill prepared we all are until we start to see the buds of the people our children are to become. It makes me think about how to treat my kids’ talents as well as weaknesses. Where will I encourage them?  Where will I push them?  Or will I push them at all?  How will I nurture them?

3. I am also thinking about how when Henry was the age that Cora is now, we got pregnant with Cora. That fact seriously blows my mind!  I think about what it would be like to get pregnant right now and my mind kind of explodes because I cannot even comprehend having a third child right now. But the reason it is at the forefront of my mind is because I am already starting to feel ready for a third. I wonder if it is hormonal, biological, emotional or what.

4. This weekend is going to be a busy one. Tomorrow we are celebrating one of our favorite friend’s first birthday!  I am going to be trying out a new yoga studio and I am going to try to get Henry in to a gymnastics class. I also want to try to sew a baby blanket for a friend.

5. Today I am feeling really good about things, overall. I am not really sure why or what is causing it, but I am feeling more capable than ever of all the goals I want to accomplish.

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

 

On writing my first post

So, here it is.  My own little blog.  This process is a bit strange for me – I am used to writing about the silly things going on in the life of my kids or my husband. And while I like to wax poetic on parenting topics, it is rare that I am the subject of my own composition.

I want to change things up and find a space where I can spend time exploring my own voice,  jotting down my thoughts and recording what is going on with me.  I am positive this whole thing sounds really self-indulgent, but for now, it feels kind of good to have my own thing.

I want 2013 to be a year spent getting better. In past years I have made resolutions that typically involve introducing something new into my life. This year, though, I just want to focus on what we have going. Keep up the good work. Root out what isn’t doing it for us. I  made a list of the things I am hoping will be part of this focus for 2013:

1. Sleep

2. Drink water. like all the time.

3. Establish and stick to a regular cleaning schedule.

4. Establish a better weekly routine for the kids.

5. Really practice yoga. Establish a regular day and time to go.

6. Participate in an outdoor activity with the kids once per month. ie, go on  a hike or run around at the beach.

7. Really pay attention to what I am eating. And how it makes me feel. Respect my gut by only investing in wholesome foods and only eating until I am satisfied.

8. Establish a regular time/schedule to sit down and write.

9. Set aside time for photo taking, organizing and sharing. Make it a regular thing.

10. Make time for creative pursuits. Make more cards. Make more stuff.

11. Attempt to begin a sewing habit again.

12. Plan a regular date night with the hubs. Right now I am thinking once per month is the most reasonable.

13. Read everyday.

And so, here we begin. #8.

to new beginnings,

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