Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Monday, December 3, 2012

Balance, among other things.

Friends,  there is a lot going on these days.  A lot, and nothing, as usual.  It's so hard to not get wrapped up in the minutiae, isn't it?  Diapers, laundry, the tedium of putting a thousand (or 7000) things on the internet, the sibling squabbles, dinner.  A few things recently have made me want to step back for a moment and see things through a different light.

Some blogs I've been reading have been making me THINK, which doesn't happen all that much - or at least it hasn't happened that much in a long time.  Do you know what I mean when I say that I spend so much of my life managing, or reacting, or scheming/dreaming/planning the next step.  But thinking, analyzing, really examining where I am, what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, or *gasp* what is going on in the world -- as a ridiculously busy working mommy/wife I don't really get the chance.

People (and by people I mean folks I know in real life, folks I know online, and folks I just read the things that they say or hear on the tv things that they say) talk about having time for yourself.  I nod and I say, oh yes, but what does that mean?  What does it look like to have time for yourself when you don't even have the time for everything else that you have to do, when you look around and know that the laundry is not going to fold and put itself away and that when you return (physically, or emotionally) from whatever "me time" means you will see said laundry and feel worse.

guilt.  I'm *so* good at guilt.  I'm not so good at asking for help.  And, frankly, these days, I've been feeling boring.  So I'm trying to mix it up, spend a little time navel-gazing.  I'm trying to introduce some different routines that are specifically there to improve how I feel about myself.  These are personal things, which is why I nod and say "oh yes" when ever any person talks to me about time for yourself and time for your marriage.  As if anyone could know what that would mean for me, except for me.  (People love to give advice about this)  Except often I don't really know.  I have to look back at a time when I didn't feel so harried and try to capture what it was that I was doing more or less of and experiment.

Happiness, contentedness, these things are so hard to achieve, it's complicated and personal.  What I do won't make sense to other people, or makes sense but has no affect for them.  But there are some things that I'm doing.  I'm trying to read more fiction.  I spend a lot of time reading words on the internet, which is lovely and thought provoking, but there was a time in my life where I read a lot of books.  I miss that, I miss spending time in someone else's thoughts.  Reading is one of the few things that I do where I am completely transformed.  My guilt and drive makes me want to read parenting books (but I packed them all up when we were staging the house and I think my parenting has improved, so i'm going to spend less time thinking about parenting theories and more time just snuggling the girls) but really that is not me time.  That is not an escape, it is just the belly of the beast.  But I've got this electronic reading thing for our december gift-giving event and its really fantastic for reading and knitting -- so I can belay some of my guilt about taking me time by knitting while I do it.  Right now I'm reading some classics, and it's fantastic -- the girls never lose my place, so I can just pop it on and read a page if I have a minute (potty training anyone?  lots of waiting) I'm finding a lot of little nooks and crannies in my days that I can spend reading and really, its just awesome.

Second, if there is one thing I love more than anything it's being productive and feeling competent.  Josh made the observation a while ago that sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed that what I really need is an easy to accomplish task from my to do list.  Something that has been bothering me, that has a discreet beginning and end (because so many of my tasks are never-ending) that I can look at and smile knowing that it's done and never needs to be done again.

Things like re-finishing the floor in the hallway, or like this weekend, installing the new vanity in the half bathroom.  Satisfying and finished.  Of course, it took far longer than we expected (2 trips to the hardware store) and I ended up not seeing the girls much on saturday which strung them out and made them a little nuts (is that presumptuous of me to think that me not being available one day would have such a drastic affect?)  But it's done and it's beautiful and seeing it makes me all happy.


Lastly, recently I was able to spend some time socializing without the kids, without Josh even.  This is WEIRD.  First, you must know, if you don't already, that I am 34.  Josh has been my mostly companion (Eloise reference?  anyone?) since 2.5 months before my 16th birthday.  I won't make you do the math, February 25, 2013 will be the 19th anniversary of our first date.  So for me to be socializing without him is bizarro.  Second, you must know, that the moment that Clara was born and was placed on my chest (and promptly pooped all over me, thus really baptizing me as a parent) I had the feeling of being completely at ease with another human being for the first time ever. 

These two facts about me are completely fundamental to who I am.  Josh is my other half, and I have never so felt at ease with another human as I do with my children.  So to venture into the world without them almost feels as if I am presenting just a small sliver of myself to the world.  But, it turns out, that sliver is pretty darn fun and I enjoy it.  Also, exercising that small sliver actually makes me enjoy my whole self (ie. time with my family) even more.

So three things: trying to read and spend time in someone else's universe, second, doing small things that bother me and will make me happy when they are done -- even when it requires me to ignore other things that still bother me, and third, spending time without my family.

I'm trying to make all of these things easier (especially 1 & 3) by introducing the electronic reading thing (#1) and making better use of my babysitter and my partner (#3).  Is this progress?  I think so.  We're constantly evolving, folks.  Trying to become people that we're happy to be.  Trying to live a life where we can look back and feel pretty OK about how we conducted ourselves.  Change the things we can and accept the things we can't (okay, maybe I went to a few too many AA meetings with my dad when I was little, but it's a good sentiment)

So enough deep thinking, how about some cute pictures I found on Clara's camera?  Her series of self portraits with her frog...


And adorable pictures of Zoë:

Yeah, I love the glimpse of their private world that looking at her camera gives me.  Even when I see them doing things that I would rather they not do (making beds on the dining room table for instance...)  More later, my dears.  I have been doing A LOT of knitting.  

2 comments:

Cambria said...

Some of the best days for me are spent on the couch with my two boys right next to me. I look forward to the rare "Alex-might-be-sick-so-I-better-play-it-safe-and-keep-him-home" days...like today. I completely get the idea of going everywhere with the kids and being completely at home and at ease with them. But I also remind myself that I have to cultivate a life separate from them because one day they will go out on their own and be separate from me, and I need to have something to do with my time so I don't end up smothering my boys and alienating my future daughters-in-law ;)

Laurie said...

I so totally understand the part about being bad wit the asking for help! And it is so important to take time just for you! I was missing fiction too, and while home on bedrest managed to read like 6 fiction books in the last two months... more than I have read in the last 2 years I think! Felt So Good! Now I'm faced with caring for the two new infant boys, and am a bit worried about managing time just for me... Let's hope I figure it all out and don't go crazy! :)