Motherhood: A progressive feast

ID-100365979
Thanks to OZphotography and freedigitalphotos.net for the imagery.

Motherhood is a progressive feast.

Motherhood is a progressive feast, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, you can have it all. Just like you can at a progressive feast-you can have it all if you don’t eat too much at one place. You eventually have it all, the long and short of it, the braised ribs and soufflés, just not all at once, in one spot. Nothing is truer of that then motherhood.

All together frustrating and beautiful at once, this “have it all” bite by bite through life.

Its similarities are astounding: that meatball skewer appetizer at one house wasn’t your cup of tea, and neither was the terrible twos. The pork loin roast – a delicious slice gone in an instant – your daughter at six years old. The delectable pear dessert that was immeasurably satisfying and deeply pleasurable? The rocking chair years, the baby giggles, those fat, dimpled knees.

I don’t know about you, but I get lost in these woods sometimes, the ones that tell me I’m supposed to “have it all.” The thing is, though, only after giving up my big time career have I come to realize I have it all already. I’m just choosing what’s important to me in this season of my life, my family’s life.

We can have it all, eventually. (Italics emphasis for me, really as I’m reminding myself of this.) Just like my writing career – as much as I’d like an illuminating, fast-paced writing career, I can only build small towers at a time; small blocks of work and articles, one bite, one nap time at a time. I am still in the baby phase, a career growing at the same pace (or slower, if I’m being honest here) as my family.

And maybe eventually, I can say I was a best selling writer, an author, someone who writes a regular column.

But right now?

I’m still working slowly through the appetizers savoring each mouthful, most of which are pretty good.

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Price of Admission

I wrote this because, well, dishes and bottles.

One night I was standing at the sink doing dishes and thinking about how life seems to revolve around cleaning dishes and cleaning bottles lately, and I was sort of over it.

I started lamenting the fact that I ALWAYS have to do dishes and I ALWAYS have to clean the bottles and I ALWAYS…you know the drill; the ALWAYS and NEVER sickness that crops up every once in a while usually late in the evening when your defenses are down and you are bone-tired and perhaps a little more cranky than usual but you’re not sure you’re willing to admit that to yourself yet.

I imagine I’m not the only one who’s been through the whole bitter vs. grateful aspect of what feels like never-ending dishes pile or baskets of unfolded laundry or the countless other chores that are more constant than anything else in this thing called life with a family.

So, after I lamented to myself a little bit, then felt sorry for myself a little bit (well, a lot bit, if we’re being totally honest here), like I indeed was Cinderella confined by my evil step sisters to the sink, I remembered suddenly: Hey self, I chose this. And hey, self also: it isn’t that bad. After about 30 minutes of reminders to myself, I told myself to more or less get over it.

And then I realized (too late, as I often do) that maybe I need a teaspoon of my own medicine that I so freely give my kids: that with everything in life, there is a rose and a thorn. And learning that perhaps bottles are my personal thorns in the great, big, bold, beautiful rose that is having a baby. And the price of admission for having a family is dishes, and the price of admission for having a chubby, chortling happy baby is constant bottle washing.

And so out of that—I thought a lot about life. And voila!  This sort of poem (or whatever you would call this) about the price of admission for living a full life.

Price of Admission

Skinned knees, hurt feelings, jelly side down, broken hearts and those darn clam shell packages.  Socks with holes in the most inconvenient places. Crying jags.

Bad moods, overcast skies, laundry piled high, dishes. Missing keys, too much mail, pants that are too tight. Burned toast.

Late running appointments, over boiling pots, stepped-on toes, bitterness, children that are bedtime-allergic, shoes that still haven’t stretched out. Unwanted pounds. Selfishness. Ego.

Exhaustion – by things, people, money, traffic, yourself, noise, computers, politics, that earworm song that you can’t get out of your head.

Indescribable joy, unbridled pain and suffering, boredom. Equal parts pain and joy, unequal parts pain and joy depending upon your constitution.

Pets.

Sunshine.

Bubbles and ice cream. Days where everything goes your way. Autumn.  Tea in the morning and sun that still shines brightly no matter what.

Butter. Love. Rainbows. Innocence, like a child arguing whole heartedly with you that a unicorn really does exist. Hamburgers. God. Children. The cool part of the pillow. Wonder. Fireflies.

Naps. Books. The simple act of blowing a dandelion.

Sleep and purring cats.  Warm socks and silent nights. The sound of stillness. Eating cake for breakfast. Long walks, the beach and road trips. Hot baths. Exhilarating freedom.

Babies crying, dog poop found inside the house, spilled milk, Lego embedded into sole of foot. The kind of sick that involves vomit or the other thing. Or, on lucky days, both things. Confusion. Heartache. Not sure whether you’re tired, angry, or hungry, or all of the above.

The gym. Which really, could go either way if we’re being completely honest about it.

Middle aged spread. Fleas. Mosquitos and other annoyances. The kid that won’t eat anything green. Potholes. The strange crust that forms around the toothpaste tube opening that only very OCD or organized people seem to be able to avoid completely. Whining. Sadness. Weeds.

Being able to feel the breeze on your face, smell the newly cut grass in the air, barbecue. The first corn of the summer. Fat, round chortling babies.

Tenderness, warmth. Comforting campfires and long stories. Brushing the tendrils of hair out of your child’s sleeping face. Patience. Learning to be a beginner. Plump peaches. Quiet.

Hope. Kindness and mercy, especially in the face of something traumatic. Lending a hand. Mercy. Happiness that radiates up from your toes. Concerts. Living out loud. Learning to let go of who you were.  Wide toothy smiles.

The solid notion that life indeed goes on, which most days presents itself as laundry to be folded and dishes to be done.

The End.

Mother’s Day Recap

Mother’s Day Recap

I woke up to someone calling from the bathroom about a (pee-pee) related accident.

There were disagreements about what we were wearing and how we were doing our hair.

Nobody seemed to be a fan of breakfast, and the baby was hungry and clingy most of the morning.

Thankfully though, we made it to church (albeit late) but at least we had all calmed down and we were past yelling and being grouchy with each other, which felt like a small miracle given the morning’s events.

At lunch there were jokes, silly toddler insights, earnest trying to be kind and patient, forgiveness of morning sins, and a deep-seated of joy of just being together for a good meal.

Until the baby started crying. Crying-crying, the needs-to-be-taken-out-of-the-restaurant crying.

And to me, this is the perfect Mother’s Day. Could I deal without all the hassle, attitudes, diaper changes and I don’t wannas that seem to flow through my life right now? Of course.

But then I wouldn’t have the sacred role of being a mother, and being able to see everyone at their best and worst and have the privilege and honor of loving them all anyway.

We are raising small humans, which despite all of the things, ALL of the things (those things that I throw my hands up in the air about and the constant subject of many quick prayers) is a gift. A big, luxurious, crazily wrapped gift, but still, a lovely gift.

Five Minute Friday – Comfort

So! Here we go again, another Five Minute Friday, this time on a Sunday morning.

Hey, whatever works, right?

So, this time I was an overachiever and did it twice–once on Friday night, just to let go, challenge my mind in another way, and once this morning, after inspiration struck as I was opening the blinds. So today, you get two-for-one! And you also get to tell me which one resonated the most with you in the comments, if you feel so lead.

For a reminder-this Five Minute Friday thing is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Comfort

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Comfort 1:

Words and words and words pour out of me on Fridays, over the weekend.

Ideas and thoughts and some of which just don’t make much sense, don’t stand up to the heat of the weekdays.

But I write.

I write mostly for my children, to leave a legacy, to leave a name for myself, who I was on my short time here, I write to leave lessons, memories for them as to remind them as to the essence of who they really are, before the hard and defensive years of the teens and twenties turn them towards themselves, untrusting as to who they are and if they are good enough.

They are more than good enough, they are worthy.

I leave words in their journals, their somewhat-finished baby books, in emails, in notes, in cards, in the big blank sheets of the opening pages of a book where you can write a dedication, I leave words wherever I think they can find them, hang onto to them in moments of stress or insecurity or whatever thing makes them feel any less than beautiful and worthy.

I leave words to comfort.

I leave words in their ears, in their dreams at night I try to whisper sweet things that will stick with them, as if some sort of dreamy osmosis, that they take deep into their subconscious to hear; I try to say loving words enough times, the world over, so that my words, those words are written on their hearts so much so that the outside world can’t erase them, can’t change their minds on who they are or how so very much loved they are.

I write and I write and I write.  Mostly for them, but for me, for my piece of mind too, my comfort in knowing that I am trying to do the very best mothering I can, that they won’t live their lives rudderless, unaware of how very loved they are.

Comfort

Thanks to pakorn for the image.
Thanks to pakorn for the image.

Comfort 2:

My long, 6 foot table, my beautifully reclaimed wood dining room table, the one piece of furniture in our house that is the most expensive (and the one that, in a fire, after my family and pets were safe, I would hitch up on my back and walk out of the house with) sits this morning in a mess of piles, paper, and other misc projects and things collected on it.

I open the blinds high, wide, and let the sun rays pour in anyways.

Mind you, this piles aren’t organized, the room itself lovely, but not masterfully decorated, and this scene certainly isn’t Pinterest-worthy.

I open the blinds anyway, a bit bold, brave, and perhaps stupid in that I kind of do still care what others, my neighbors think.

It’s an amazing ironic and comforting move all at the same time, because it reminds me of God and me, God and humankind: He illuminates the mess.

Whatever state things are in, whether you are ok with the problem/issue/state of your dining room table or not, He illuminates it.  He makes the sun shine in, so much so that you can’t help but throw back the curtains and breathe in the sunlight, comfort, deep comfort is knowing that you are truly loved just as you are.

Five Minute Friday – Brave

Here we go again–Five Minute Friday challenge, this time, on Friday!  I know! What a concept.

Oh, life. Today’s it’s working in my favor, but that’s no guarantee for tomorrow, is it? If life really came with some sort of insurance and re-assurance, that would be wonderful.  But perhaps we wouldn’t grow so much, and that’s the beauty in things that don’t go as we planned. But that’s another post in itself, I think.

So moving on…

For a reminder-it’s a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

 Brave

 

thanks to imagerymajestic for the image.
thanks to imagerymajestic for the image.

Being brave is something that I am currently doing, sitting here, amongst the dishes still spread all haphazardly and left out from a good dinner, while my daughter cries and throws a fit because she did not get her way as to who she wants to bathe her.

Being brave is being comfortable in knowing that my husband has it under control, and that eventually, she will have it under control one day too because her mother did not always run to rescue her every single time she didn’t get her way during her toddler years.  Being brave is admitting this all to you too, to let you in on the parenting styles we so fiercely judge each other over.

I pray for my children daily, for bravery, courage, that the are the ones holding hands with the others, the ones that feel like they are weak or less for some reason. I pray that my children are the ones that hold onto those people and other children so strongly, like a giant red rover line, that they clasp each other so tightly that nothing, I mean nothing can break that chain of fierce love, protection, and community.

If you must know, I also pray a very human prayer, that, in the end, if not in the beginning (and all the way through, a selfish parent prayer) that my children are thick as thieves, that sibling rivalry is just something of an afterthought.

And in that end, I pray for bravery for me too, my husband, the other parents, as raising children is in itself, some days, is a big, heaping act of bravery.

What Mama Did: the passion and the boldness (five minute friday)

Hi Again-

It’s time for another Five Minute Friday.  Or Saturday, today.  Has a ring to it, don’t you think? Five Minute Saturday?

Anyways-

So, this time it’s different; it’s still a challenge and an idea starter, but this time it’s about motherhood, the memories we so desperately want to make, all Insta-grammed and perfect, and those we remember about our own mothers-all authentic and real, the interior of a life and what motherhood really is, and the memories that really count.

And some days, those memories aren’t piles of perfectly folded laundry, a mother that never raised her voice, or all milk and cookies after school.

And you know what? Thank God.  Because I can’t live up to that expectation, and also: being a mother myself, I want my children to remember the humorous, the silly, the little quirky things about me besides holding me up to the ideal of motherhood to which I fall down besides, exhausted, frequently.

So, this is still Lisa Jo’s challenge, and a Five Minute Friday one (and there are other exceptional examples at her site, here: http://lisajobaker.com/.)  But to be honest, I thought this post, motherhood, my own mom, deserved more than five minutes worth of my time, so I just went all out. Just like Mom. She’ll be proud.

So the challenge: your unique memory (or memories) of your mom, and-

G0-

What Mama Did: the passion and the boldness

Thanks to James Barker for the image.
Thanks to James Barker for the image.

What my mom did: the passion. The boldness.  My mom was not afraid either being bold or searching for passion in life;  she would seek it out, trying her hand at things, whether they failed famously or not.  She tried random things, she cried when she sang favorite hymns, she was frequently overjoyed at small things, she was her passion and emotions.  This still remains with her, still the most memorable part of her to me, the part I both shake my head in confusion while smiling about.

My mom was not afraid.  She wore yellow sundresses with frilly sleeves before anyone in her group was, complete with yellow wooden bead chandelier earrings.  I believe she even found sandals in the exact shade of yellow too, and if there was yellow nail polish around at that time (hint: there wasn’t) she would have probably painted her nails yellow too.  Whatever she did, she did out-loud, proud, and big.  And pastels were frequently pushed to the back of the closet in favor of bold, bright, cannot-miss-for-a-mile colors.

She told us, frequently, as teens, and for some reason, mostly on the way to church that “black and white don’t count as colors.”  She lived life colorfully, and expected her children to follow suit.  In my college years, what I’ve labeled as my “black and white” years, I literally could not come home in black pants, a white top or any version of black or white somewhere on my being without her commenting on it.  Black shoes counted too. Too safe, it was as she seemed to say, about the lack of color.

She hollered loudly at her women’s club events, carrying on, yelling, hooray-ing and dancing down the aisles shash-shaying and smiling when she won door prizes (she won them often, for some reason) even if it was only a case of tennis balls, a sport which she did not play.  Didn’t matter.  She didn’t hold back the excitement of just getting picked randomly out of a hat.  You would have thought she was on The Price is Right, just inherited a million dollars the way she carried on.

It didn’t matter what it was-tennis balls or not-she was all in.  All passion and emotion.

The most amazing thing about this passion struck me recently: our passions became hers.

Her quiet, introverted daughter that just wrote and wrote and painted her rooms different colors; she brought that solemn daughter to the one art museum in their tiny town, to just about every new showing.   She was there, with me, awaiting to learn about art, even though I thought maybe she didn’t enjoy it quite as much as me.  Didn’t matter.  Still there with me to read the exhibition notes through every showing we went to.

Her daughter that would not brush her hair, the one that could give a flip about ballet, the one who only ate 4 foods and only one of those was a fruit-she helped her find her passion on the soccer field, the kickball field, anything that was physical and involving kicking or hitting a ball.  And she attended every one of those soccer/kickball/softball games.  Not sure if she actually cared about the sport or not; and it didn’t matter. Her enthusiasm and participation made you believe you were doing something powerful.  Brave.  Right.  Important.

She believed this so much so, I guess, that it seemed like with ease and fun that she attended all of our drill team events.  ALL of them.  For both my sister and I.  Which would make that 6 years in a row of performances, competitions and high school football games.  She was so passionate about cheering us on that she became the (fittingly named) Spirit Chair for the parents cheering on their children at these games.

She also sewed our costumes, helped us bake for our pep rallies, you name it, she helped with it, did it, or watched.

6 years.  In a row.  Of Friday nights, Saturday nights, Sunday day games.  Of watching high school football.  As her daughter, I looked through that lens when I was a teenager and said, well, yeah, that’s what moms just do.

As a mom now, I am amazed, awed by her commitment to us, her willingness and her patience in putting up with us and football.  I love my children, but let’s just say that if they are involved in football games or performing at half time…attending all these games is certainly going to have to grow on me.

But my mom? Made the best of it.

I came back my first or second year in college one weekend to see my sister perform at half time, and jaw-dropped at the loud yelling and outright confident refree-challenging comments coming from my mom, the apparently seasoned football fan.

In those 6 years, she learned all about football, so much to the point she would boo refs, call the plays, yell “defense!!” when I still had no clue what it meant except that it was a cheer we did in drill team where we made a “d” with our arms and held up a sign of a fence.

When she was in her 40s, her women’s club didn’t offer a class she wanted with the type of exercise she thought was fun, so she created her own: roller skating.

She wasn’t afraid to try something new, be seen as ridiculous, outrageous or just plain weird.  A thing I fear almost as bad as death at this point, being weirdSo what, it seemed my mom said through her actions and her seemingly blithe and easy-going attitude about pursuing what was fun to her. So what? Life goes on.  You only live once, why hang-ups about what you really like to do?

I am still breathless, without words, about this constant passion and boldness of hers.  I am her daughter, and while they say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, the fruit, well, the fruit is still working on bearing some resemblance to the tree’s spirited and dauntless attitude toward life.

I am still the reserved, calculated, hesitant one.  Writing remains my favorite thing, a passion, it is however,  not apparently a passion that is so deeply felt, so deeply moved by that I am not self-conscious about, afraid to be all in, afraid to make mistakes, afraid fall flat on my face.  Passion, my mom has taught me, makes you fearless. I am still working on fearless.

My mother has taught me more than this, in fact, she has taught me to be better than this.  Life is not meant to be lived calculated, careful, cautious.

Life is meant to be lived, fully.  Unafraid.  Like I tell my children, a line stolen from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the one I carry with me in my heart:  “I gave you life so you can live it.”  Seems I’ve learned a thing or two from her, sure.  But living the learning, living the lesson, being unafraid of your passions and yourself, doing it; well, I’m still the student.  And learning as I go, absorbing all the beautiful lessons that she’s taught me.

Five Minute Friday – Again

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again..and late. Again.  Same old song and dance, just sort of new move in the dance each week.  Today, posting on Saturday morning.  And you know what? That’s ok.  I take Five Minute Friday as a suggestion to start thinking about writing.  Only takes me a day or so to react.  Yes, I’m aware of the irony, and the name Five Minute Friday.  But, regadless-I’m still giving myself grace and yet also a pat on a back for doing it.

So, moving on-

A reminder in case you’ve missed it, this is the Friday Five Minute writing challenge, and the details are below in case  you want to play sometime too-

This is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  And then you have to be brave (or pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Again

Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m frustrated, ready to shake off the day, the last emotional meltdown my toddler had makes me  just want to sit on the couch, be still for a moment and let go of the frazzled seams of the end of the day and get into my book.

I get cozy, grab my book, my water and head to the couch.

Ahhh, my mind and body says.  Mind you, I only have one child and another on the way, this is going to get very interesting how I handle this with 2 children, 2 emotional children and a mom who’s emotional endurance is akin to that of a couch potato’s endurance for a triathlon.

And then the dog needs to go out.  Again.

And then the child needs attending to.  Again.

And then the dog needs back in.  Again.

And then I need more water.  Again.

Again, again, again some days, it feels like that’s all I do.  Get up again, sit down again, try to relax again, hoping for this huge block of time where no one interrupts me or needs me, a la Virgina Wolf with a room of her own. With perhaps a lock on the door. Maybe, just maybe, sound proof walls, but you didn’t hear me say that.

My agains are not pretty.

But I still smile, trying again, as you know what? Even in my mess of frustration and bad attitude, He reaches for me, loves me, finds me, again.  Again and again.