July 10, 2013

revisting the past. adjusting the path.

sometimes i want to be a wee sprite and live in a hollow, in case you didn't know.

mercury retrograde in full force, all up in here.

more of the same, plenty of communication breakdowns.
examining. exploring. uncovering. discovering.
repeating, resurfacing, coming around.

there was the whirlwind rush of my oldest son moving back in, the littles got a horrific cold that settled in their sinuses and ears, then i got it and none of us are 100% yet, and last week my dad made a last-minute visit.

my boys + my dad

not gonna lie. the last two weeks have been rough. instead of immediately looking at where i  could improve, i found myself facing the painful truth that i could kind of see where my grandmother was coming from when she begrudged having children. though i don't begrudge mine, i was feeling lost and stuck and had put some serious consideration into whether or not i'd have done things different, if given the chance...

it's not my favorite road to go down but i was trying to escape the here and now, maybe wishing i could change the past, rebelling against the demands and challenges i didn't know how to meet. 

i'm also doing a lot of inner work (while also trying to do outer work like maybe putting that laundry away) so every little thing feels immense right now. it felt like i'd been digging deep but had to go even deeper and i didn't want to. i wanted to escape the immensity.

just at the right moment, jessica brogan, wrote a truly open and honest blog post about the expectations on and demand for our time and attention as mothers. she pretty much described my experience of being a highly sensitive introvert with high-energy, non-stop, talkative, bright, inquisitive children. i momentarily fantasized about putting my kids in school and could completely relate to how hard it is to keep little boys entertained and not feel like i'm neglecting them. oh and #7. totally feeling that one.

putting my younger two children in school could potentially solve a lot of my daily gripes (my art still sits, sadly, on the backburner most of the time) but her post motivated me to reaffirm the need for time to myself, while also remaining true to my core (i have always intended to homeschool).

remember when i thought running errands alone would help replenish my cup? it has but omg, how did i write that almost a year ago? it's only become much more consistent much more recently and it's a start. i'd really like to sleep in (and not just when i'm sick) and maybe get a massage and see my chiropracter, neither of which i've done since i was pregnant with sprout. five years ago. too long. that type of self-care would be truly replenishing.

yesterday morning, out of nowhere, i felt the urge to look at some stuff i'd written about being a hypocrite. i didn't know what i was looking for but i knew i had started several drafts on the topic and it turned into this post, late october 2012 but i also came across this which i'd started to write at the beginning of october:
i don't get paid for the most important work that i do.
when i got pregnant with my first child, at sixteen, i was already aware of how much easier life is when a child has two parents, presumably making enough ends meet so that one could stay home. teaching the child(ren), learning from them, existing with them, instilling values and skills.
that was the one thing i wished i could have given him most.
a home. stable and healthy. warm.
i also truly believed that a happy single-parent household was better than living with two unhappy parents and there was no way a relationship between his father and i could have worked.
not to replay the same tape but for impact: he'd slept with several other girls while i was pregnant and when discussing our future (he was 18) he said that college might be okay for me but he wasn't really the type to have goals and i was like get the fuck out of my house, except i didn't really say that.
maybe i was too judgmental or maybe i was doing my son and i a favor. it wasn't the emphasis on going to college, itself, but passion and excitement and the motivation to learn and grow is a must and, put simply, i couldn't be with anyone who didn't possess those things.
i was a good mom, but selfish, too and not simply because i was young so much as i was still in that phase of life where i relied on external validation entirely too much and devoted more time and energy to people that existed outside of my household.
bottom line: i should have put my child first.
not in that selfless and resentful way but in that "in service to others" way.
these are the things that matter most, the things i want to show my children: patience. acts of giving. kindness. love.
this week hypocrisy, my biggest and longest standing pet peeve, has been camping out.
showing me stuff, reminding me of things.
if our we are reflections of one another, each experience mirroring something back, and i really believe this, then it's time for me to examine all my hypocritical ways.
tonight i start with one example: my three year old is in uber-clingy phase. meaning more than usual for his cuddly self. he wants me to hold him all the time and it doesn't help that he's been sick for a few days. one night i told him i had to do just one thing to do before i could sit down and hold him. he touched my face, gently putting his little hand on my cheek, looked me in the eye and said, "you do need just one thing. hode me."
i thought, of course. in this moment that's all i need to do.
when i was a young, single mom, i wanted to be married and ease into a life where i could mother and mother well.
i wanted to be able to stay home and homeschool and now i can. it doesn't mean that sometimes when my three year old wants me to hold him i would rather do anything but hold him. it always feels like i have 1500 other things i could be doing, but in an effort to be less hypocritical, if i'm doing anything that could wait - then i will hold my son when he asks.
the other times? when i'm spread too thin or tired? when my hips are in pain and i can't bend down? if i'm in the middle of cleaning or cooking or doing a project with the six year old? he will have to wait. patience is a two-way street, a virtue, a learned trait.
i cannot expect my children to be patient if i am not also patient.
i reject the old paradigm that says i'm spoiling my children. i reject people that choose to call them brats. i reject suggestions that we'd benefit from the super nanny or a swat across the bum or a time out - or anything that creates a sense of isolation and failure for either of us.
(this was in direct response to suggestions people had actually given me at the time.)
i want my children to know they are worthy of having their needs met. i want my children to know love before fear, communication before discipline, peace instead of punishment.

it ended there. the answer within, the reminder and the wisdom to push through the guilt and the feelings of not doing enough. when motherhood starts to look like martyrdom i freak out but i know it's all within my ability to see a different perspective, to be the change in every moment.

that afternoon i was getting ready to leave and as has been the case lately, sprout started crying and repeatedly asking if he could come with me. i wanted him to stop. i wanted to flee. i recalled my own words.

i want to be of service, available to my children. patient.
i will hold my son when he asks.

i sat down at his level and he climbed into my lap and said "i want to go with you because i can't never be away from you because i love you so much." he had me by the heartstrings, that was the sweetest thing i'd ever heard. i had really been looking forward to the drive and listening to my music, without interruption, but i almost told him to go get dressed. then. my own words again: i cannot expect my children to patient if i am not also patient.

the guilt and inner-conflict dissolved.

i could be patient without giving in and use this opportunity to create healthy boundaries. i explained that just as he sometimes enjoys playing alone, i also need time alone and the only way i can have that time is in the car, by myself. he quieted down but was still taking in air as if he was sobbing. i told him that i also loved him very much and didn't like to be away from him, either, but sometimes i had to spend some time by myself in order to be a more patient mama. as if by miracle, my patience in the moment was returned. he calmly gave me another hug, said goodbye, and happily agreed to hang out with his brothers.

balance. learning. ongoing.

there's still time to change the road you're on...

if i'm honest, of course there are things i would have done differently but i'm not living in regret and am perfectly in love with where i'm at right now. it was uncomfortable but by examining what i would have done differently i was able to see what i can do currently.

having dedicated, devoted time for my children and for my art are my two biggest priorities and they often seem at odds with one another. there have been times when i've considered giving up but i'm here. now. choosing, instead, to show up.

hiring a mother's helper or starting a childcare co-op with likeminded homeschoolers might be possible but i'm exploring all creative solutions. i'm even considering the half-day school/homeschool option again for pea, who is about to enter second grade, though only having two of the three in school isn't a miracle solution and having kids in school definitely comes with its own set of demands.

i know many of us, regardless of how we want to how we seek our "me-time" seem to have similar stressors and stresses but i'd love to hear from you!

do you  have any advice for the tired, schedule-averse creative mama? are you working from home or pursuing your own interests with small children or school-aged children at home all day? are your children in school and are you able to divide your time so that you're completely available to them when they're home? ideally, i think i can create a harmonious schedule where studio time and homeschooling time are clearly carved out, where i can still grocery shop alone to recharge, and maybe get to bed before 3am when the muse is calling.

p.s. today, i picked up my freewill astrology horoscope.

another reminder. okay, universe, it's on!
holy smokes, batman! i've been talking about how to best refill my cup (i.e., replenishing the energy reserves) and still don't have it all figured out (like how, how is it supposed to happen?) but it has to happen. plan creation in effect! 

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