Friday, May 27, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
It's good for jumping too.
This weekend, out goes the cabinet and the bookshelf, and in goes another bed. When we have some cash, I'll add ceiling stars and planets, a big clock, and eventually, this beautiful cushion. I think they will have an absolute blast together, but in the short term, I'm nervous. Into this near-schoolgirls space goeth the Tedmeister, who is deep into a phase of toddler independence/lunacy. I'm optimistic! Lots more creative spaces to explore over here.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
This piece first appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine, March 2011. It's funny how fast life with children shifts gear. Ivy is absolutely a four-year old now. She is writing letters, dancing the hula and insisting on being addressed as Pinky Winky. Tonight she said that when she grows up she will have three professions: a writer, a ballerina and someone who 'goes in healthy eating competitions.' Then she refused to eat her cauliflower.
When my friend Sandy and I were heavily pregnant at the same time, we amused ourselves with a sort of mock argument in which I shouted ‘I hope your baby has a great big head!’ and she retorted ‘Well, I hope you have a daughter and she turns out just like you!’ At that point we looked at each other in horror and knew that we had gone too far.
Three years on
At three, my stubborn, determined daughter makes me laugh every day (except, perhaps, for those moments when I am weeping.) A child this age may have the ability to drive you to frustrated tears, but they also mean that you live in an amazing sort of half-reality, half-fantasy wonderland. ‘Daddy is magic,’ Peanut told me yesterday. ‘When he takes me to the toilet in the night and I don’t need to wee, he says ‘psssss’ and then I do a big wee. That’s magic!’ Yes, perhaps I am cursed with an independent daughter. But I wouldn’t change hilarious, eccentric hair on her head. (But ask me again when she turns thirteen.)
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Who are your small people?
My first born will be four in July. She is a sweet, sassy little package of firecracker. She's headstrong, independent, passionate, quick as a whip-- everything I always look for in a friend, though it's a bit challenging on a kid. My little guy is about one and a half. He is the boy version of his big sis. Firecracker #2. His first and second words were, respectively, 'ball' and 'truck.' (as a point of reference, one of #1's firsts was 'walrus')
Perhaps an impossible question to address in 25 words or less, but how do you think motherhood has changed you as a person?
More than anything else, motherhood has humbled me. I used to be very sharp, judgmental. Motherhood has softened me, stretched me. I have patience in reserves I wouldn't have been able to conceive of pre-kids. It has taught me to be flexible, to loose the reigns of control. To let go of my Ego, submit to the moment. Which makes it all sounds so lovely-- motherhood, my beneficent teacher. In truth what it often felt like was more of an enormous punch in the gut. It's easy to get down on your knees when you can't breathe.
How do you think blogging impacts on your parenting?
Sadly, I'm not sure this is a positive relationship. It's hard to say. My writing definitely detracts from everything I just said parenting teaches me. Blogging brings it right back to MeMeMe. It takes my time away from my kids and house and projects, but even more it takes my mind and energy away. It interrupts my submission by giving me something I'm almost addicted to getting away from the kids to do.
On the other hand, maybe some mamas can healthily submit to mothering entirely, but I know I couldn't. I would slowly stew in my own poison. I need something else, something that feels productive, that excersizes my brain which otherwise kind of attrophes during this whole mothering gig. Writing has turned out to be a need for me, it feels very healthy.
On the third hand, I do think blogging in particular is not entirely helpful, because of it's addictive, ever possible nature. There's always just a little more to be done/found on the internet. It's much harder for me to excersize self-control on the computer than with a book or pen and paper.
What are your most joyful times with the kids?
I think playing is boring. Which, as a mom is almost like admitting you're a nazi. I just can't get into the endless pretend, and although I enjoy rough-housing for about 2 minutes, then I'm tired. But I think I live my life playfully, even though I don't out and out play. I'm good at those things like stopping to smell the flowers, and jump in puddles. But, my happiest mama moments are when we are doing something grown-up together. When my patience is at a high, and I am letting the kidlets "help" with a project. They both "helped" me make the toddler stool I posted about a few months ago, and it was awesome. Kids need kid play, but they also adore to do whatever the grown-ups are doing. So when I am able to move slowly and patiently, and involve them, they are so happy. And I get to watch their intent concentration, their little brains sucking everything up like hungry sponges, which I love more than almost anything else.
How do you manage the frustration of life with tiny people?
Hmmm. Do I manage it? The jury is still out. One principle I've found extremely helpful in all aspects of parenting is addressing the cause rather than the symptom. I try to identify what makes me a more patient balanced person, in general, because that will make me a better mama. I know some mamas who need excersize. They are just better mamas if they force themselves to make the extra effort to do it. For me, it's mental excersize. Having time alone to think, read or write simply makes me a better mama. It took a miniature nervous breakdown for me to learn to ask for what I need. Which is regular, reliable time to do my own thing. It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but it needs to be clear cut and pre-determined. We started doing saturday afternoons. I get 5 or 6 hours to do whatever my heart desires. It is so incredibly good for me, and therefore for our family. "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Do not underestimate that!
The other thing is submission. So much of my struggling is pointless and un-productive. When I just buckle down and do a thing, it takes so much less energy than fighting the idea of it. A few months back I started picking up my daughter's room just before bedtime. This sounds simple, right? But I fought the idea of daily pick-up until she was 3 1/2!!! Why pick it up? I asked myself, she was just going to throw it all on the floor again tomorrow. She can learn to pick up her own goddamn room. I'm not a maid.
Then finally I just decided that a clean-ish room, at some point in the day, was important to me. To me. So I'd better just do it and quit bitching. And I did. It takes me about 3 minutes to pick up her room. It's part of our bedtime routine now while she hedges about which pajamas to wear. I tell her I'm making her room all clean so it will be fresh and ready for a new mess in the morning.
One family story that you love to tell?
I can't think of any one great family story. But here's a little anecdote about my 3YO. The kids were in the bath and she said she was pretending to be a hippopotamus. 'Oh,' I said, 'good thinking, because hippopotamuses live in water.' She was quiet for a minute, the wheels turning. Then she said carefully,
'Well... Hippopotamuses don't actually live in the water. They just get in the water to cool off.'