Tags: Balance, Children, Fun, Growing Up, Life, Motherhood, Perspectives, Photography, Play
“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” — Alexander Woollcott
Are the leaves and acorns falling off the trees where you are? What’s your learning-to-ride-a-bike story? And have you patted a fluffy bunny lately?
T is for truth and training wheels and tenderness. See more T’s at Jenny’s.
Tags: Balance, Birthday, Children, Family, Motherhood, Multitasking, Parenting, Personal, Perspectives, Relationships
In exactly two months, I’ll be 35.
If I’m lucky, I still have half of my life to live. And if I’m not so lucky … well, I have less.
What have I done with the time that’s gone? What haven’t I done? What do I want from the time that remains?
I have no idea. And no time to contemplate it between the loads of laundry, the sticky breakfast dishes, the cat puke, the potty training, the freelance work, the sleep I’m not getting, the calories I’m not burning, the endless piles of toys, and the downloaded movie queue I’ll never, ever make it through.
Or maybe I should put it this way. We have clothes to wear, meals to eat, and dishes to eat them on. We have healthy pets and healthy kids. We have work that pays the bills. We have more fun ways to spend our free time than we have actual free time. We have each other, and we are lucky. I am lucky.
But I still can’t ignore this emotional tug to take stock and re-prioritize, to dig around in my mental sandbox and see what’s buried in there. Won’t that ultimately make me better? A better woman, a better mother, a better partner, a better person?
Too many days, I feel myself bracing for the chaos and noise and dirty socks I know are coming. I wish for something to be different, but I’m not sure what. Or how. Or even why I want something to change.
Because I am lucky. I am. I know this.
Like the plastic gold coins my boys just unearthed in the playroom, my own treasures are already within reach.
How do you make time for a little honest-to-goodness soul-searching? What helps remind you that you’re lucky? And what’s been recently rediscovered in your family’s playroom?
Tags: Balance, Blessings, Chaos, Children, Family, Mess, Motherhood, Parenting, Poetry, Thanksgiving
Haiku Friday: Bless My Hearts
I’m thankful for the
Runny noses and all the
Dog hair floating by.
I’m thankful for the
Goldfish under the couch and
Train tracks in the hall.
I’m thankful for the
Shoe we can’t find and the glue
Globs on my table.
I’m thankful for his
Bouncy ball collection and
Her Scotch tape fetish.
I’m thankful for truck
Jammies and bananas smooshed
On diapered bottoms.
I’m thankful for all
This chaos, even if we’re
Always out of milk.
What nontraditional things are you thankful for? What grocery item are you always out of? And what’s hiding under your couch?
Tags: Balance, Challenges, Kids, Motherhood, Multitasking, Parenting, Perspectives, Poetry, Relationships
Haiku Friday: The Fixer
They yell for me when
they need the scissors or that
Green train that’s missing.
Upstairs, downstairs, on
The phone, or elbow-deep in
An epic diaper:
I can fix it all,
Even though what I want is
To fold the towels.
But the illusion
Of my perfection will fade
Like last year’s swimsuits.
They’ll grow up, grow wise.
They’ll see me — the mom behind
The tab-topped curtain.
The one who craves calm
And sleep and a day off to
Plow through a good book.
What toys can only you find? When’s the last time you had an uninterrupted phone conversation? And what would you do with a day off from mothering (or fathering)?
Tags: Appreciation, Balance, Blessings, Challenges, Death, Family, Life, Ordinary, Perspectives, Relationships
And I’m sitting here on my couch. Our old terrier is dreaming of squirrels and lunch meat beside me. I can hear my boys thundering through the backyard. The late afternoon sun beats down on the Yaupon holly, its red berries an anomaly of our hot, sticky autumn.
I have work to do. I’m tired. I have a kindergartner to pick up in 11 minutes.
I don’t care. Because all I can do is sit here, now, and soak up the sensations of my small life. My small, exhausting, hectic, happy, finite life.
Wouldn’t they have given anything for one more moment?
One more moment to smooth sweaty hair from a rosy-cheeked child. To wash and fold the silky threads of a beloved woobie. To stare into the pantry and magic something together from the cans and boxes inside. To run the vacuum, to run to the grocery store, to run out of patience. To laugh and love and live.
Why do I get the privilege of this moment? Of more moments? I feel certain I haven’t earned it. I’m always wishing for more energy and less noise, more manners and less mess, more time and less chaos. More. Less. Different.
I never think, This moment is enough.
This noise is enough.
This mess is enough.
This chaos is enough.
This life is enough.
But today, the errands, the lists, the laundry — the ordinary — feel like a blessing. And I realize that I have the responsibility of savoring every moment in this life.
This small, exhausting, hectic, happy, finite life. No more, no less, no different.
What adjectives would you use to describe your life? How do you remember to appreciate it? How would you live differently if you knew when it would end?
Tags: Balance, Challenges, Children, Chores, Kids, Motherhood, Parenting, Routine, School
We’ve been in kindergarten for six weeks now.
Some things have been firmly established. We buy lunch on spaghetti-with-meat-sauce day but not on corn-dog day. We return our library book every Thursday. And we play monsters with a boy named Michael at recess.
But other things? Like a routine? Are about as firm as the blue Jello in the cafeteria line.
I drag myself out of bed every morning at 6:35 a.m., which is the absolute latest time I can get up and not have a tardy daughter. I collapse — with sore feet and a sore brain — about 10:42 every night.
In between, there is elementary school drop-off. Preschool drop-off. Dogs to walk. Poop to scoop. Grocery trips. Laundry. Sticky babies. Pet hair. Dishes. Permission slips. Bananas forgotten in the trunk. More pet hair. Beds to make. More laundry. Freelance deadlines. Explosive diapers. Cat puke. More permission slips. Diet Coke shortages. Bouncy balls lost under the couch. More pet hair. Spilled spill-proof cups. Missing shoes. Missing keys. Missing permission slips. Preschool pick-up. Naps. No naps. Elementary school pick-up. Explosive diapers during elementary school pick-up. Homework. Mosquito spray. Sandbox tantrums. Burnt grilled cheeses. Ignored broccoli. Baths. Books. Songs. More laundry.
And sometimes? I shower.
My days are like that logic puzzle. The one about the farmer who has to get his chicken, corn, and fox across the river in one small boat. Except it’s about me, and I have to get to the grocery store.
If I go before Bun’s nap, he will get cranky and smash up the tortilla-chip aisle.
If I take both boys after preschool, jars of pickles will suspiciously explode near us.
If I go with all three kids … Let’s just stop there.
But if I don’t go, it will mean Cheerios and scrambled eggs for dinner. Except we’re out of milk, so scratch the Cheerios.
Every day is the same, yet every day is different. I just can’t get the riddle solved yet.
So every night I fall into bed. Thankful that I’m finally still. Finally in the dark. Finally prostrate. Then I remember that tomorrow is corn-dog day. I slip downstairs to make a jelly sandwich and fill the Sleeping Beauty water bottle. I scrub the pot soaking indefinitely in the sink. I add milk to the grocery list.
And I wonder why that damn farmer owned a fox in the first place.
What do you do when the pieces of your life just won’t fit? How many bouncy balls are under your couch? And is corn-dog day as unpopular at your house as it is at mine?
Tags: Balance, Blogging, Children, Family, Life, Motherhood, Motivation, Personal, Perspectives, September 11
I haven’t been here lately. I’m not sure where I’ve been.
There’s no doubt my body has been busy: Cleaning up smooshed graham crackers. Refilling milk and juice (or “goose” as Bun calls it). Walking geriatric dogs. Washing laundry. Drying laundry. Folding laundry. Cursing laundry. Signing my kindergartner’s (!) take-home folder. Hosing off rambunctious brothers after a morning in the sandbox. Steering giant shopping carts up and down aisles. Blocking tiny hands from lobbing sacks of flour and bags of oranges onto the grocery-store floor. Sweating. Doctoring mosquito bites and scraped toes.
But my mind, well, I’m not sure where it’s been. I still feel lost, somewhere between here and there, as if my thoughts are still on the plane waiting to clear customs. For the first time since I started this blog, I can’t think of anything to write. Nothing seems worthy enough. Interesting enough. Happy enough.
And the very reason I write here is to help myself re-frame the boredom and frustration — which is as much a part of motherhood as the snuggles and sandwich crusts — into something meaningful and rejuvenating.
I just can’t seem to do it lately.
But today — today of all days — I want to be here. I want to continue chronicling my life and my family’s. I want to talk about the noses I wipe and the diapers I change and the lunches I pack and the socks I meticulously match, fold, and put away. Because while the little details may not mean much, the bigger picture is important. It’s worthy. Interesting. Happy. It’s my life.
And in the end, at the end, it’s all that matters.
How are you reflecting on today’s anniversary? How do you motivate yourself to keep going on an important project? And how many noses are you in charge of wiping?
Tags: Balance, Blogging, Children, Family, Friendship, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Perspectives, Poetry
This week’s poet is
So cool she’ll give you brain freeze.
Better than ice cream.
Grab your M&Ms
And raise ’em high: a chocolate
Salute for my friend.
Cardinals bop and weave
two have made our yard home base
my sign — all is well
Squealing, joyful kids
wreak havoc as they sow fun
delight in chaos
Ice cold Diet Coke
peanut butter eggs in house
all else fails? look here
the book I want? they have it!
find the time? c’est mine
Spray, spritz, wipe, repeat
for ten minutes all is clean
exhale in this calm
Two heads, two pillows
shared chat as day calls it quits
night night, my best friend
High school English Ms.
knows this poem is not “A” work
but, man, she’s seen worse
Don’t forget …
Comment in haiku
And you could win something cool …
Tags: Balance, Blogging, Creativity, Friendship, Fun, Motherhood, Parenting, Perspectives, Poetry, Relationships
Guess what April is …
National Poetry Month!
And to celebrate?
Haiku Friday is
Back. With guest poets! Prizes!
And erudite fun!
First up is Justine,
who knows that a dead wasp can
Cure sore throats. (Really.)
She’s got two girls and
Works and writes from her home in
The Windy City.
And? Her words are as
Scrumptious as her rainbow chard.
Sit down and dig in!
The Epic Battle
She kept saying, “Pink!”
I countered with “How ’bout green?”
or “What about blue?”
This? Our daily dance
between her “I want this now!”
and my “I know best.”
She is defiant;
she’s got personality.
Maybe ’cuz she’s three.
I see her folly,
and so I try to guide her,
hoping she would learn.
But there’s a fine line
’tween giving autonomy
and steering her right.
And sometimes I fail
(a lot) in finding balance;
that’s why we struggle.
Or maybe this is
how it will forever be;
my guidance, her bane.
Her will and my hope
haphazardly colliding —
friction that won’t wane.
All ’cuz she wants just
to be herself, and it’s sad
that I would want more.
How do you balance teaching your kids and letting them learn for themselves? How do you encourage independence? And do you recognize where your hope ends and their will begins?
Comment in haiku
And you could win something cool …
Tags: Balance, Challenges, Expats, Holidays, Life, Martisor, Perspectives, Romania, Snow, Winter
Spring is in the Romanian air.
The temperature is still tap-dancing around freezing. The kids still laugh hysterically when they see their breath in the car. And I’m still wearing my beloved YakTrax. But spring? It’s here.
How do I know? Last week, I had an animated discussion about the pile of snow clinging to the roof with the old man who takes care of our building. He spoke some fast Romanian. He gestured a lot and stomped his feet. He made kapow! noises.
I nodded knowingly.
Even though I’ve never seen snow like this in my life. Let alone three months of snow about to fall off a roof. My roof.
We concluded that the deluge would happen in the next day or so … then ricochet off the covered front porch … and then explode right into the spot on the street where I had carefully spent 15 minutes parallel parking.
I moved the car. And seriously considered buying us all helmets. Just in case.
The next morning, there it was. Right where he said it would. In the empty parking spot everyone else had had the sense to avoid.
As I stared at the smashed snow-pie in the road, it hit me. (Figuratively, of course.) I’m a rookie. Winter — real, cold, and brutal — is new to me.
But so is this life, this expat life filled with roundabouts and rolled r’s and purple money.
With spicy ketchup and cherry moonshine.
With holidays like last week’s Mărţişor, which celebrates the women, spring, and the exile of long underwear.
Or I can open my arms and embrace whatever falls into my path.
Right after I put my helmet on.