Friday, April 28, 2017


I stopped in a little flower shop on the way home from work today to buy a birthday gift for my Dearest Friend. When I asked her to babysit my girls for a few hours earlier in the week, it hadn't occurred to me that it was her birthday today. 


But my short commute through the commercial square of the neighboring town offered an opportunity to visit a new store and shop locally. And, as many times as I've driven through Dedham Square, I haven't actually stopped in any of the businesses. I remedied that today.

I was chatting up the store owner as she wrapped up an adorable mini orchid (honestly, Dearest Friend, if she had two of those plants, we'd have matching plants right now...). The shop decor was quaint, and the plants were displayed on what looked like antique chests, dressers, and other lovely pieces of antique furniture. The small drawered piece immediately behind me caught my eye. 

I've recently been struck with a burning desire to overhaul the entryway of our house. So I've purchased a used trunk that doubles as a bench (to hold the jumble of bags previously dumped on the floor), and a new rug. I'm still in the market for a few rows of coathooks and a doormat, but I have some solid leads. The one thing I'm struggling to find is a small piece of furniture to put in a small space, that can hold mail and other small things that need easily-accessible public storage (spare keys? stamps?). But I saw a perfect candidate for the job, right behind me in that flower shop. I asked her where she found the furniture in her shop, and explained my burning need to decorate, now that Spring has solidly arrived, and I felt like I was awake again. "Yes, Spring. It's when we all come back to life." 

She said this so matter-of-factly. But she was so right. I immediately felt better thinking that other people have felt asleep, mentally comatose. The cognitive fog has weighed heavily on me the last chilly month. But now I do feel like I'm coming back to life. 

I've felt creative bursts of energy that have led me to buy fabric. To make pillows to go on the previously mentioned chest, as well as the used double glider that now sits on my porch. I have decorating vision for the first time in the almost 2 years we've owned our house. 

It feels so good to look past of the daily grind of chaos, grime, and neediness that make up my daily life. I vaguely remember feeling creative. Once upon a time, I made BestestHusband an ENTIRE SET of pajamas. That he still wears today. It seems like so long ago. Ok, it was our first year of marriage. But now I remember what it feels like. And it feels good. 

Is it a shift of hormones after weaning LittleFritter? The lifting of the winter blues? I don't know. But I'm so thankful for it. It gives me hope that my brain will someday contain more ideas not related to diapering, meals, laundry processing, and squabble mediation. Someday.

So the lady in the shop mentioned that the previous owner was an antique collector. She got everything from him. Thankfully, my local Texas expat friends have planned a trip to an antique mall next month. Armed with my measuring tape and their design skills, I'm sure I can find something to fill that spot in our entryway. But in the meantime, it's exciting to think about coming back to life even more. And I'm so overwhelmingly thankful for this feeling of hope. It's nice to be awake.

Monday, April 17, 2017

"It's Only Hard Because You Make It Hard"

My happy charming Gerber-baby 13 month old really despises getting her hair washed. She goes from babbling, splashing, grinning cherub to demon-posessed-creature-with-superhuman-strength as soon as she figures out what I'm about to do. And so she screams, flails, and refuses to sit down in the large Ikea Samla bin that doubles as a bathtub in our desperately-needing-renovation 1880's home. To keep the bathroom from completely getting covered in water, I have to force her to sit and pin her down while I rinse her hair. It is not pretty. It is very noisy. And it is exhausting. 

After going through the ordeal tonight, I wrapped my traumatized cherub/demon in a towel and held her in front of the mirror to wave at the cute baby in it. "You know, it's only hard because you make it hard." I tried to explain to her that calmly sitting and allowing water to be poured down the back of her head would be quick and painless if she didn't fight it so much. It was good for her, it was going to get done either way, and she might even like it a bit if she just relaxed and got it over with. 

I don't think she's convinced.

But I thought of those words. "It's only hard because you make it hard." 
It's so clear to me, the torturer, that she's being ridiculous. 

But I wonder how I do this in my life. I got the nagging suspicion that I am just as guilty as she is. But I'm almost 40 years older. And should probably know better. 
How much easier would my life be if I didn't fight stuff? And what am I fighting that creates trauma and frustration? I'm not sure yet. But it's worth considering.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mom Guilt

My child makes me not want to get out of bed in the morning.

Now, I'm not a morning person to start with. But when you know that the conflict and arguments will start before the grounds are even in the coffee maker... well, it's hard to get excited about making it down to the coffee maker. 

Potential sources of yelling and tears at 6:30am:

  • Not getting the right bowl. 
  • Not having the right bowl clean because it was used the night before.
  • Not sitting in the right chair. 
  • Not getting all of the heat from the space heater.
  • Not being able to eat all of the sugary princess cereal.
  • Being asked to eat fruit before having a second bowl of cereal.
  • Older sister not knowing, 10 minutes ago, that 3 yr old would want oatmeal right now. 
  • Being asked to stop arguing and whining about any of the above. 
  • An older sister saying something annoying. 
  • An older sister not saying something to her. 
  • A family member not stopping conversation, mid-phrase, to allow her right-of-way to speak. 
  • Being reprimanded for any of the above. 

The list is actually endless. Because 3 yr olds can find anything to be upset about. And can be upset about anything. I know it's a phase. I also know it's made more dramatic by her personality. So while it will get better, the conflict won't truly ever go away. 

So of course I feel guilty. 
Was that first sentence at the top of the page unpleasant to read? Imagine coming to terms with saying it yourself. 

Because of COURSE the litany of forced gratitude begins:
"You should be thankful she's healthy. You should be thankful she's even ALIVE. You know that strong personality will help her be successful some day. You signed up for this - you wanted a third child. Maybe she'd be easier to deal with if you were a better mother. It's because you're not patient enough that she reacts so explosively. This unpleasantness is all your fault. Fix your attitude and you'll fix the problem."

Maybe all of this is true. Maybe some of it is unfair. But the guilt spiral begins. Throw in lack of sleep, recent family stomach bug, spousal travel, and hormones thrown out of whack by weaning the baby, and the spiral becomes a whirlpool. Threatening to suck me in.

So today everyone got an early nap. Mostly because I needed them to not hurt themselves or each other while I got a time-sensitive task completed. I'm going to lay down for a minute too. I know it's a phase. I know I'll feel better after a nap. I know the days are long but the years are short. I know I will survive, and I'll probably really enjoy this child in a few years. But none of those things make it any easier to get out of bed in the morning.