Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Presence, Not Presents

I've been neglectful of this blog & I won't even promise to make an effort to do better b/c I probably won't.  Not b/c I don't have a lot to say, but I don't have time to write it down.  And, okay, maybe I don't really have a lot to say these days since I'm sleep deprived and frazzled 97% of the time, which leaves me unable to complete a thought.  The other 3% of the time, I'm sleeping.  Or pooping.  Or hiding in the bathroom pretending to poop so that my husband & oldest child are forced to handle the baby & the dog while I take a 2 minute break from grown-up life.  It's a glamorous life I lead, I know.

Truth be told, it seems to me like it's taking a lot of time to adjust to our "new" normal.  I don't even feel like we've really found what that is just yet.  With a tween daughter & an infant daughter, the tides change so often, there's no mapping out a new path.  I'm learning, very slowly and painfully, that it's ME who has to be flexible and learn to go with the flow.  I enjoy a high level of predictability, so there are growing pains and maybe some adult tantrums.  There would be booze, too, if I weren't breastfeeding.

Aside from the daily routines, I've also been working on changing one of my worst habits: talking shit about myself.  I know this seems to be more about self-improvement than anything, but stop trying to read ahead and let me finish my thought, geez.  I recently read this and it was a huge wake-up call for me.  Around the same time that story punched me in the face, we made the decision to put our 11 year old daughter into counseling. This was mostly to help her find ways to cope w/ all the upheaval the last year has brought our way.  She was exhibiting a lot of signs that she was having trouble with the hurricane of hormones and life lessons that were bombarding her.  That's when I really paid attention to how she was talking about herself and a lot of what she said was exactly the type of thing I was saying about myself.  So, just like that, I stopped.  I stopped calling myself fat.  I stopped calling myself stupid. It didn't solve all of her problems, but it made a distinct impact.  She, too, stopped calling herself names.  With the negative self-talk gone, she even mustered the courage to sing in front of about 20 of her peers during one of her day camp's daily "campfire" groups.  The swift and grand manner with which her demeanor changed was enough to solidify in my mind how much my daughters needed me to be better.

It's amazing how quickly you can quit a bad habit when you see it's effect on your children.  For me, it feels even more urgent and important b/c my children are both girls and girls are their own worst enemies.  It's my job to be a good example on how to love yourself, or at the very least, be okay w/ yourself.  Goodness knows society's skewed beauty ideals will be hard enough to overcome w/out their Mom teaching them that if you don't somehow meet those impossible standards, you're worthless.  Now that I've mastered the fine art of stifling the urge to point out my fat ass or jiggly gut every 5 minutes, it's amazing how much more fun I am having.  For example, we went to the fair last weekend and instead of being a stick-in-the-mud, I went on rides with my oldest daughter.  We had a blast together.  Those are the memories she'll look back on when she's an adult and it's possible that if she has kids, those are the types of things she'll do with them.  It's not enough to just NOT abuse my kids.  I also need to show them how to be happy, even when life isn't the greatest.  I need to be present.  No, I'm not going off the grid.  Mama loves her facebook and instagram too much for that.  However, I will set down my phone when my child is talking to me, instead of halfway listening while reading a status update for a prayer request or a rant about the government.  When my youngest is doing something cute, I'll snap my picture, but I won't watch it all through the viewfinder.  I'll put the camera down and fully witness the moment.  When either of my girls do something awesome, yes, I'll brag about it online b/c I think everyone should know that I squeezed out two crazy-cool little people.  But the obligatory proud Mama post will happen after-the-fact, not in the midst.  Because how can I soak in all the amazingness that my kids have to offer if I'm busy updating my status?!

So, yes, my blog posts will probably be pretty few and far between.  I'll write when I feel moved to do so b/c I love to write. (OBVIOUSLY!)  Just know that for each big gap between updates, my kids are doing something cute/funny/annoying/crazy and I'm refusing to miss it.  But I'll probably post a long, gratuitous acclamation about it from high atop my soapbox when the mood strikes.  :)

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