Posts Tagged With: raising children

while my behavior is (probably) unreasonable, my motivation is not

Things have been tricky with YBW lately.
Tricky may not be the best word to describe the situation, but it’s the word I’m purposely choosing, and that means I’m hopeful.
Here’s the thing, it might be mostly me. I’m completely wrapped around the axle about feeling overwhelmed by the fact we still have kids at home.
I am acutely aware that I’m overreacting to this.
I’m letting fear and anxiety drive the bus.
I’m smarter than that.
I’m more mindful than that.
I’m more capable than that.
Yet here I am. Shrieking and flailing and foaming at the mouth at the man I love.

I’ve worked myself into a state of chaos that I cannot seem to break from.

While my behavior is indubitably irrational and unreasonable, I stand behind the feelings behind them.
Now, those feelings are quite possibly a jumbled hot mess, but I feel them just the same.

What it ultimately feels like to me is that I sacrificed everything in my life to come here and have my life revolve around YBW’s children.
I’m not exaggerating.
Here, life is focused around the boys.
You may find it interesting to know that I understand why it was that way for so long. What I don’t understand is why it’s still that way.

Here’s what I know. My husband and I love each other. And we’re committed to each other and our relationship. And that gives me hope.

Hope is a powerful ally. One for which I am grateful. For without hope, I would feel that we made the biggest mistake of our lives. But because I have hope, I know we didn’t.
At the moment, what I need more than hope is an end date. I need practical reassurance that my hope is well founded. That there will come a time in the not-so-distant future that the life I am creating with my husband will revolve around our relationship and not his children.
He told me once that he didn’t want to be a step-parent to my girls. Well, first of all, this was hurtful to hear, and secondly, this was obvious as hell when my daughter came to live here. And more hurtful that I can even express.
Yet here I am, living my life for his children.

In my vision, we are a little solar system. (Interplanet Janet, much?)
And in that solar system, YBW and I are a planet. Our four children are nearby moons. Only, unlike a “real” solar system the moons and planet can occasionally occupy the same physical space and be together.
In my heart of hearts, I don’t consider that unreasonable.
What hurts me so much, is that it seems to me that YBW does.

I don’t want to “get rid” of his children. I want them to follow the natural course of development and fly the nest.
I think this goes back to what I was musing over parents developing at a different pace than their children. And while I acutely understand the pain of it. I don’t believe following the natural course of development is unreasonable.
I can want it to be the way it was when it was ‘we three girls against the world’, but that’s not the natural course and it’s not fair to them, or to me.
YBW never had to make the choice to accept the discomfort of those feelings. It was, and remains, these three boys against the world.
Only here I sit, ‘against the world’ adjacent.
Who’s against the world with me? Not a damn body.

Here’s what I’d like…YBW realizing I’m on his side. That I can be part of his against the world with his kids. BUT the time for that is waning, that soon they’ll be on their own, with us as back up.
I’d like to experience the shift from three boys as a unit, to YBW and me as a unit.

We’re parents. We will always have the backs of our children. There is no doubt of that. But there comes a time when having their backs is less active than it once was. That life is more focused on each other and our place in the world and we know that we’ve got our eyes on the moons that are near us.

In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Belle sang,

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.”

Well, I want that too. I want that with YBW.
Truth is, ain’t nobody adventuring while the focus is on an adult male that chooses not to launch, and a nearly grown male that chooses not to be invested in his own life.
Sad truth is that because they’re not choosing, they’re missing out.
That actually makes me feel worse.
I want more for them.
Unselfishly.

I see my girls struggle in their lives, but they’re out there trying.
Thing 1 and Husband N haven’t any money, but they have tenacity and they have love. They have a plan and they’re making it work.
Thing 2 is stuck physically, but has decided not to let that stop her from making the best life she can. She’s working within those constraints to get her life together and make something of herself.
I have their backs, helping them when they ask for it.
I suffer discomfort at their struggles.
But I see them making the choice to live their lives.

Contrary to opinion, I love YBW’s boys a great deal. I want them to choose their own lives! I want them to try! I want them to be successful humans in this world.
I want YBW to experience the pride and joy I feel when this happens for his children.

I don’t share these comparisons to point fingers. I share them because I know what it feels like to be on both sides of the coin.
Just because I didn’t give birth to his children, doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Doesn’t mean I don’t want the best possible lives for them.

Yes, I want to be a unit of two.
That’s what you’re meant to do with grown-ass kids.
The thing that kills me is that honestly don’t know if that’s what YBW truly wants.
And I don’t know how much longer I’m supposed to silently wait and see. All these thoughts and feelings I have can no longer be contained! In my trying to be kind, or respectful, and say nothing, I’ve created a toxic pit inside me. I much less successful at controlling it. I’m much less concerned about being kind to others than I am in being kind to myself.
I shouldn’t be silent when I’m unsatisfied.
Neither should I lose my shit completely.
It’s a delicate balance.
I’m not super successful at mastering it.

I refuse to believe that wanting what I want is unreasonable.
Though, I am aware that I am inclined to present it in a way that probably is.
I’m being mindful.
I’m working at it.

I’m tired of the same old conversation. Eight years later and I’m still wondering if he truly wants a life with just me.
Do I just need to get over myself?
I have no earthly idea.

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

food for the soul

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said: There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

I believe this with an unparalleled fierceness.
I tell all parents of young children this is my philosophy of child rearing: First you feed a child with food, then with books, then you worry about whether or not their shoes fit.
If you could see the looks on their faces. They have that initial moment of WTF? but then I see their eyes widen as they begin to understand how this makes some kind of sense.

I believe this principle applies to grownups too.
You ever been to someone’s home and find no books and feel like there is something so completely wrong with that? I don’t trust a person who doesn’t read.
I love to explore what other people have on their shelves.
We all know that someone who has books on the shelf for show, you know damn well that person doesn’t read them, they’re there lined up like little soldiers just to impress.
If you looked at my bookshelves, the majority of the books are either children’s books or biographies. Of course there are other things mixed in, adult fiction and textbooks, even some pretty amazing nonfiction too.

We must eat food to sustain our physical lives.
But books are food too. Soul food.
They feed our imagination. They feed us inspiration. They feed us information. They feed us laughter and love and tears. They feed us fear and loathing. They feed us when food isn’t what we need to ingest.

When Thing 2 was a small girl, we were waiting at the doctors office. I was reading and she was reading. She had just begun to read “proper” books, and was reading her first chapter book. It was the first time I didn’t read to her as we waited somewhere. It was the first time I read my book and she read hers. When the realization washed over me I began to cry.
After a big breath, I said to her: You’ve given yourself the best gift you’ll ever receive.
She looked at me from behind her coke-bottle glasses with confusion. I indicated the book.
She said: You gave me this book.
I said: Yes I did, but you learned to read it. And from now on you’ll be able to read anything you want. What a wonderful gift you gave to yourself!
She thought about this for a moment and then gave that jack-o-lantern smile (She was missing three teeth at the time.) and said: You’re right!

Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 love books. And shoes. They’ve been influenced by my parenting philosophy quite literally. (There’s a trees and two apples and never are they terribly far apart.)
I know that they will pass on their love of books to their children, and their nieces and nephews, and one day, their children’s children.

This quote has been attributed to Stephen King: Books are uniquely portable magic.
And they feed the soul.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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