January 28, 2012

stop. breathe. pay attention.

i've been more quiet lately than i'd anticipated but i feel like i don't yet know how to balance the constant ebb and flow of life, ever-changing.

it is probably true that i would very much like things to slow down, to reach a state of homeostasis. i know how impossible it is but sometimes i would love for things to just stop.

it is these times when i feel the most scattered and unorganized and it becomes apparent that i must stop and be present.

i have always preferred to drive and listen to music, obsessively, like the same CD nearly every time i'm in the car for a year straight and sometimes i get so into the music that the lyrics and my thoughts consume me and it takes a real, conscious effort for me to stop and listen to my children.

i struggle with also knowing first-hand just how fast they grow and will continue to grow. my oldest son is now sixteen. my not-quite-three-year-old no longer refers to himself as the baby and corrects those of us that didn't get the memo. "no baby, me kid," he proudly asserts. my middlest gets as overlooked as the cliche middle-child stereotype and i feel like a bystander. i mean, i took an active role in their health and well-being while gestating and afterward i nursed each one but then they started talking and i took a more passive role.

when my oldest was a toddler i didn't know what to say or how to relate to such young children, particularly my own. when pea came along, ten years had passed, i was different. i knew better. he and i actually did converse but i could still tune him out in the car. i'm not talking like i'd completely ignore him but i'd catch myself asking him to be quiet or acknowledging him with "mm-hmmms" while paying attention to whatever song was playing.

that's when i did something i never thought i'd do.

i put CDs full of kid's music in my car. we listened to silly songs, foreign songs, classical music, folk music, kid's audiobooks - you name, we had it (except raffi). i figured it would force me to pay him more attention and converse with him more because:
  • i would not be like "oh honey, shhh, this is my favorite part..." and then start singing along to B-I-N-G-O (even though that is my favorite kid's song ever)
  • he would have all sorts of interesting things to say relating to the audiobooks or we'd just get silly singing along to whatever while mutually engaged in the same activity
  • he'd be so enthralled and engaged, himself, that i could be alone with my thoughts
well, that last one never happened but putting kid music in my car was a pivotal moment for me as a mom that didn't much care about toddler-friendly music (tool and slipknot, anyone?) to driving to the grocery store by myself one night without realizing that i was listening to (and reciting) wordgirl until i was almost there. i was finally an awesome mom.

then sprout was born. and got older. and started talking. and with the chatter of two or three boys nearly nonstop, my ability to tune things out reared it's unfair head. growing up, tuning out was necessary for my survival as the oldest child that liked to read or watch TV despite all of the noises that a busy household can make. it was like second-nature but wasn't fair to my kids.

i am aware that it's easier for me to be self-absorbed and lost in thought. if i'm not thinking, i'm writing or reading or knitting or painting and if i'm not doing any of those things, i'm wanting to.
i know that doing puzzles or playing build a robot (by eeBoo) with sprout is integral to him learning all sorts of neat things like how to cooperate, take turns, master spatial relationships, and increase his vocabulary not to mention help strengthen our bond. spending quality time with pea is difficult because his younger or older brother seem to demand so much attention but i really do need to remedy that. he thrives when given, not constant, but sincere and focused attention. then there's bean, now sixteen. he really doesn't actually ask for much but sometimes he still expects my full attention when i'm not prepared, or he wants things i can't provide, or mostly he just needs a ride.

sometimes i become overwhelmed and go back into survival mode.

i stop. i breathe. i look at my children. sometimes i ask them to repeat what they've just said, sometimes i ask them to give me a second. then i give them my full attention. it would be easier if this was easier for me, obviously, but i'm doing what i can, with what i've got, which is right now.
since my car's CD player is out of commission, i recently decided to use my ipod touch as an ipod. yesterday i loaded it with kid's music (good stuff, like they might be giants) but again, i did something i never thought i'd do....

i added some raffi to our library.


  1. MJ used to ask for Bob Dylan or A Tribe Called Quest when she was little. She liked the beats, and saying 'Bonita, Bonita, Bonita' over and over again. She used to head bob in her car seat. Now she listens to shit that makes my teeth shatter like brittle glass. If you hear it coming out of my car, that means my corpse is in the trunk.

    She did like folksie stuff, loved Dylan, or Jerry Garcia's Not For Kids Only, but really when she was younger she liked shit that bounced. I think kids like the rhyming, too, even if they don't really understand the words.

    The classical music was more for me than her- for her it meant naptime!


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