Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cleaning up

My house has gotten out of control. I have piles everywhere. Laundry overflowing the hampers and the baskets. Odds and ends of things all over the floor. I am completely overwhelmed by the idea of even where to begin with getting things back together.

And so I curl up on the couch and scroll through facebook and try to pretend I don't see it or don't care.

The piles are usually one of the warning signs of depression or burnout. I'm not sure which one this is.

It's been a really long year, and it's an exceptionally long May. In a lot of ways, it has been very satisfying. I've gotten to spend time with each of my kids, I've led an amazing group of kindergarten Girl Scouts. I am proud of these things and in truth I have enjoyed them.

But I'm tired.

Every day I have at least two places I need to get to. I feel like I am constantly on, constantly under a microscope. Like everyone is waiting for me to screw up.

I think that's the anxiety talking. I don't think that's really true.

But I need to find a way to give my brain a break. To shut off for a little while. To meet my fundamental needs of quiet in which to process, of down time in which to rest, of meaningful making and creativity. And even when I carve out small swatches of time, while my kids watch TV or I sit in the car outside piano lessons, I need to find ways to sweep away all the coulds and shoulds and worries and busies. I need clear surfaces in my head in order to really enjoy any down time I manage to find.

So I'm going to make some more clear surfaces in my house. Going to get as caught up as I can with the laundry and the dishes and the paperwork so they aren't nagging me when I try to rest. Going to spend some time cleaning up.

Hopefully, when  the mess is gone, I'll find some of me again.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On discipline

"BG, this is the last time down the slide. Then come with me to the car right away or you have to go to bed with no books."

She goes down the slide, looks me in the eye, runs to the other side of the climbing structure, and walks back up the stairs. I run across the playground, grab her arm and say "No books tonight." She bursts into uncontrollable tears.

I know she isn't faking. This isn't a power play. She is genuinely distraught. She's heartbroken and also shocked.

In a calm and firm tone, I tell her, "You made a bad choice. I know. That's a shame."

The calm is a lie. In my brain, I"m enraged, mortified. She's a bad kid, she doesn't respect me, she never listens to me, everyone just saw her blatantly disobey me.

Also, this is my fault and the nagging recognition that I told her ten times we were going to leave before actually following through. How could she have known that this time I was really serious?

I'm afraid that I'm a bad mom. I'm afraid that I'm not strict enough, not clear enough, don't have firm enough boundaries and structures and limits. Also that I'm too mean, yell too much, don't give her enough positive attention and that's why she acts up.

I just don't know what the right thing to do is, where the middle ground is. One second I'm too harsh, the next too wishy washy. How can I possibly expect them to behave?

I listen to all the interviews, read all the books, I know all the "right" things to do. But how, in the actual moment when faced with life with my actual children, am I to actually do it right?

This isn't going to be a post with a pithy, sweet, wise realization at the end. I'm six years in and I don't have any answers. I'm so embarrassed that I don't know how to do this part of parenting.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Just write

Right now, my house is empty except for me. BG just got on the bus for kindergarten, and little sister went out shopping with her dad. There are a million things I haven't done (just you wait), but I am instead sitting here and typing. 

Because it matters.

I want to eat healthy, I want to exercise every day, I want to finish reading a book, I want to start   acutally follow through on a meditation practice, I want to have a clean house, I want to play with my kids more.  But when push comes to shove, whenever I get quiet and actually listen to the sweetheart voice deep in my head (the one I like to claim doesn't exist the rest of the time), it says simply, Write.

There are other voices that are louder. There's the voice that tells me I don't have anything to say that matters, there's the voice that tells me I am letting down my family and friends and being selfish when I focus on something so "silly," there's the voice that tells me everyone will laugh at me and no one will like me anymore if I put myself out there. Those voices yell in my ears and in my head, and instead of writing - or actually doing any of the other perfectly important things I said above that I want to do - I end up scrolling facebook. I eat. I shop. I mindlessly click on things or watch TV shows I don't even really like. I'm so busy NOT writing that I don't do anything else.

On days when I write something, everything else goes better. I know this. I've known this for a long time. But fear keeps me quiet, guilt keeps me busy, shame keeps me small. Those voices, those feelings, they're real and they're mine and I don't want to judge or be ashamed of them. 

But that quiet voice, the one that tells me to just write, that's me. That's who I am at my core. That's who I want to nurture. 

And so I am. Little by little. I will forget. I will slip backwards. But that's okay. I'll still be here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

All the hot mess mamas say heeey

Right now, my children are running in circles around my house, yelling through megaphones I (for some reason that surpasses my understanding) helped them make out of old cereal boxes and washi tape. My oldest is supposed to put a mystery item in a plastic egg and bring it in to school on Monday and since she has summarily rejected all my suggestions, she's now carrying it around with her and picking things up. There are paper shreds on the floor of every room because I didn't tell my youngest soon enough that she could only use scissors at the table. My oven is preheating for the frozen chicken nuggets I plan to feed my children for dinner.

You guys. I'm tired. All the way to my soul I'm tired.

I feel like I should somehow be parenting differently, that things would be less crazy and chaotic if I had my kids better trained, better disciplined, on a more structured routine. I know that my house would be less of a mess if I occasionally cleaned it. I know there are things I could do differently.

But, y'know, my kids think I'm a good mom. They like the way things are. And inasmuch as I would rather live in a state of less chaos, I want to find ways to do some of this differently.  But it doesn't mean I'm a bad mom. And now my kids are yelling "I love you and want to be with you allllll daaaaay" to each other so maybe I really don't my life to be different at all.

Except maybe without the paper on the floor.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In which I quietly show up again

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing life wrong.

It's been a busy year. BG started half day kindergarten. Little Sister started preschool. I became a Girl Scout leader.

I feel like I just run in circles, putting out fires, rearranging deck chairs.

I remember a time when my life felt like I was moving forward, like I was accomplishing something, like I was driving the bus and not just struggling to not fall down because there weren't enough seats.

Maybe I don't remember. I don't remember much these days.

When I'm scared, when I'm overwhelmed, I tend to be funny. Snark is my shield. If we're not laughing we're crying, amirite?

And I am. I am right. Laughing at ourselves is a crucial life skill. But it isn't the only life skill.

I want to get back to a place where I can go deep. Where I'm afraid but I do things anyway. I want to put my gifts out in the world because they matter and because I matter. I want to do more than just stare at the wall and try to make it to bed time.

Hi. I missed you.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Messy Middle

Yesterday, I was reading Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanssen, and I was struck by his description of the stages of learning. He defined them as unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

It reminded me of Harry Wong's stages of classroom management that I wrote about in my posts on surviving and experiencing mastery as a parent. But, as usually happens with ideas, I spiralled deeper into it this time.

Unconscious incompetence. It's the worst. It's when we're most likely to quit something, including mindful meditation, because we realize we suck, and IT SUCKS to suck.  I get it. With my deepest core.

Then, today, i was reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown (Yes, I'm reading both at the same time. Shut up. I'm also reading Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, but so far that one is less relevant to the story).

And the chapter that I turned to was about how you can't skip Day 2.

Day 2, the point of no return, it sucks. It's when you feel the most vulnerable because you know you can't go back to how things were, but you don't have the skills yet to do things right.

Damn it, universe.

I want to quit writing.  I have for a while. I had a taste of success, a taste of being seen, of saying things that were important and mattered. Of creating something which made me feel proud.

But now, here I am in the middle. The doubt that Brene talks about when she discusses her meeting at Pixar, it's so real and so universal. What if the NEXT thing I write isn't good? What if I never write anything good again? I don't want to be here, I don't want to be vulnerable. I don't want to suck at this, to feel helpless and incompetent.

Guys. I could spend years in the middle, knowing that I needed to do something and not knowing how to do it. I don't want to be here anymore.

So maybe the only way out is forward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Why isn't radical acceptance fixing me?" and other silly thoughts about self care

So lately, the universe seems to be throwing mindfulness in my face from all directions. And I am doing my best to catch it, but sometimes I instead get hit in the face.

I've been watching the free online mindfulness summit this month and it's fantastic. In one of the talks, though- okay, in a lot of them - the speaker said, But you can't be mindful of a thought and be trying to get rid of it. That won't work.

Dammit. Why not?

I know this. What we resist persists. The point is to see and acknowledge the thoughts, but see them as separate. Watch them travel by. Wave at them.

And beat them with a bloody stick and then stomp my foot when they haven't gone away yet.

Wait. No. That's not right.

I want to take better care of myself. I've been in shut down mode lately. My skin is breaking out in a rash. My shoulders constantly ache. My mind is constantly running and jumping and screaming in my face. I''m snapping at my kids. I'm not getting my work done. I'm a disappointment.

So. I need to take better care of myself.

So I get out that stick again and start beating myself until I feel better.

Great plan.

I love to write. I love to learn. I love to meditate. I love to run. I love to do yoga. I love to read. I love to sleep.

But for goodness sakes, if I try to do it all in one day I'm just going to melt down more.

So here's my message for all my sisters out there who are beating themselves with the same stick.

It's enough. Take a breath. It's enough. You're enough. You are loved. Thanks for sitting with me and taking that breath.

It's enough.