Tag Archives: summer

Lotus

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“No mud, no lotus.”  — Buddhist saying.  


 

It’s been a busy week…  In a good way.  

All I’ve really got for you are these photos of some lovely lotus that grow near my home town. I took these photos last week and was eager to share them with you. 

I think they speak for themselves. So, I am going to leave it at that. 

Momaste. The mom in me honors themom in you. Xo

  

All photos property of Momasteblog. 

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Update to “The Kindness Games”– Keeping Your Cool With Kids During Summer

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Momaste, y’all!

A few weeks back, I posted about something I was trying with my children to help us all get along during the beastly dog days of summer.

On our first day home together, after Jack finished his second grade year at school, the kids were at each other’s throats and I was at my wit’s end.  I just wanted everyone to get along and play nice in the sand box.  So, I invented a reward program to encourage them to be kinder to one another.

Everytime I “catch” them in the act of being kind/polite/generous/supportive to one another, they are rewarded with a point.  When they get 50 points I will take them to a bouncy place like Chuck e Cheese, or they can pick out a cake, or earn some other desired reinforcer.

It took off like gang busters.  My kids were bending over backwards to be nice to one another.  And in general, our days off together on Mondays, when it is just me home with them, are going really well.  We have been able to enjoy a series of fun outings that required cooperation and getting along.

They have earned about 35 “points”.  Not too shabby…

But our weekends have been hellacious.

For whatever reason, when both my husband and I are home with the kids on Saturday and Sunday, the children are “off”.  They bicker, scream, insult, and tantrum with one another.

It is a very weird dynamic that I can’t quite figure out.

The children both ADORE their father, so I wonder if they are doing some major attention seeking with him and if there is a sense of competition between them when he is around. . .

It may have to do with the fact I’ve been really scheduling almost every minute of our Mondays so that they know what to expect and when, but our weekends are a bit more free-flowing.

Transitions during the weekends have been particularly hard for Jack, which really sucks for everyone in the house because he totally flips the switch and the proverbial apple cart with his antics.  There have been a couple occasions where Em and I have just left the house to escape the tirades, leaving my spouse home with Jack until he cools off.

So, it is a work in progress and a mixed bag, but you can bet I will keep you “posted”!!

How is your summer going?  How are you keeping your cool with your cherubs this summer?  

The Kindness Games– Keeping it Cool During Summer With Children

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At about 11:42 a.m., on the first day of my children’s summer vacation, I was about to lose my mind.

The sibling rivalry.  It is going to turn every hair on my head gray and drive me to drink.

And I am only home with my children one day a week!

I’ve had one day a week at home since my oldest, was an infant.  When it’s one on one, my kids are delightful.  They are funny, intelligent, generous, and lovable.  Emily and I enjoy baking, going to the playground, and running errands together while Jack is in school.  And while Em naps on the weekends, Jack and I go on jaunts for fro-yo, or to a local museum.

But put the two of them together, and it is a maddening exercise in patience that makes me feel like an epic failure.  It is a Sisyphean chore of breaking up fights over who got more ice cream and how to pronounce “Netflix”.

I shit you not.

One day, I stood in the kitchen and listened to my children argue about the pronunciation of our internet movie delivery system.  Emily is three and still has a speech impediment and insists it is pronounced, “necklace.”  It is actually pretty adorable, but Jack has no patience for her antics, adorable or no, and stood there until he was screaming at her that it was NOT “NECKLACE”!!

On the first day Jack was home with me from school, I had a brilliant idea of doing some family painting together, since it is something we all enjoy.  Doing things “all together” is a big deal for me, since there is so much “divide and conquer” in our family.  The age gap between my kids–  almost four and a half years–  makes it rough for the four of us to have family fun, since they are at such different ages and stages.  Honestly, my husband and I sort of dread being left alone with both of our children at the same time.

So, painting.  We all love that, right?

I thought we could all chose a house “rule” and paint a canvas illustrating the rule.  Mine was “Be Kind.”  Jack’s was “Mind Your Own Beeswax.”  Emily’s was “Cooperate.”  And the children decided their father’s rule would be “Don’t Forget to Smile,” since that is what they say to each other every day before he leaves for work.

Sounds idyllic, right?  I pictured us all painting peacefully on the porch while the summer breeze blew gently through our hair.

We made it through the craft store to get the supplies with no drama, and got back into the car in one piece, planning how we would paint our canvasses.

The drive home was when it started.  The bickering.  The sniping.  The blaming.  The hateful, spiteful, angry back and forth between them.  The he said-she said that escalates until one is saying “shut up!”,  the other is calling out “idiot!” and I am questioning what grand error in judgement on my part led to motherhood.

I pulled over and came to a screeching halt on the side of the highway, sliding a little in the sand in the breakdown lane.

“If I hear one more word from either of you,” I shouted into the back seat.  My heart pounded.  “So help me, if I hear one more word, you will both go to your rooms for the rest of the day and then I will sign you both up for summer camp on your Mama-days so that I won’t have to listen to you fight!”

I’ve heard that siblings fight.  I’ve heard it’s normal.  But it really alarms and upsets me.  I just want them to get along.  I want everyone to be happy.  Being kind is one of the most important things I can think of, and I am desperate to impart that to my little folk.

But if I am being honest, here, being kind is really fucking tough when I am feeling scalded under the collar and can no longer ignore their nasty banter.  There has GOT TO BE a better way to teach my children kindness, aside from hollering at them to BE KIND!

I spent the rest of the day pondering this, in between making lunch, playing Stratego with Jack while Em napped, a pool date with the neighbors, bathing the kids, and making dinner.

i find that, much like the winter holidays, there is a cultural fantasy that summer is the most wonderful time of the year, and if you are not basking in the sun, sipping lemonade in harmony with your golden bodied brood, there is something wrong with you.

In reality, it can be really stressful to have everyone home in the same space, getting in one another’s faces, and playing cruise-ship activity director to children who may be bored within the first 20 minutes of the day.  For someone with anxiety or depression, this stress can feel exponential, especially if you feel you need to be out and about in public with kids who are going in different directions.

Having the added pressure of feeling like it should be all happy-fun-pleasure-exciting-smiley-good-times just adds to the stress, in my opinion.

Shortly before dinner, I told the kids, “I have a special announcement to make at dinner tonight.”  They both came to the table eagerly and on time.

My announcement was that I had concocted a game for them to play.  They would have to act as a team and earn points together for being polite, sweet, and helpful with one another.  Every time I caught them in the act of being nice, they would earn a point.  When they get to 50 points, I will take them on a special excursion to Chuck E Cheese, or the movies, or give them a decorate your own cupcake party.

They took the bait.

Without any hesitation, Jack started speaking tenderly to his little sister, and Emily lapped it up like a kitten in the milk of human kindness.  I finished my dinner and did the dishes in peace, listening to my beautiful children converse and compromise with one another on what they would share for dessert, and which show they would watch before Jack went to karate.

They earned eight points in under an hour!

Maybe you think this is bribery, but I prefer to think of it as positive reinforcement.  It is a gentle nudge to get them on track, working together in harmony towards a common goal.  It helps them to learn that being kind feels good.  It also gets them into a good habit, and hopefully at some point it will become second nature and they will not need the reinforcement.

So, this is what I am trying to keep my cool this summer and be able to actually enjoy the time I spend with my cherubs.  I will let you know how it goes.

What do you do with your children when you are all home during the summer?  Have you found any wonderful techniques for helping your children work together and get along?  

Musing on Aching Ovaries, Weaning, and the End of the School Year

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It helped more than you can imagine that you took the time to read my incredibly neurotic last post about wacky mid-life hormones.  And to those of you who commented to let me know you are in a similar boat–  well, you just rock.  Sometimes I guess bemoaning my aching ovaries has its place.

So thanks for that love and support.

I had another thought that made me wonder. . .

. . .  as my journey towards weaning continues with Emily, how is that affecting my hormones, and how is that affect on my hormones affecting my emotional/physical state?  My three and a half year old daughter continues to nurse one or two times per day, usually.  Sometimes she goes a couple days without nursing, and I’ve been practicing the whole “don’t ask, don’t refuse” thing.

Breastfeeding is all about hormones.  I’ve noticed that there are times when the oxytocin rush from breastfeeding is more effective than a dose of Zoloft.  But then there are other times when it makes me want to claw off my skin.  So, I wonder if my hormones could be additionally out of whack, not so much because I am going into perimenopause (which I don’t really think I am yet), but because my body is just confused from this whole march towards weaning?

Do any of you know anything about that?

Today was also Jack’s last day of second grade.  He’s had a great year, mainly because he had a phenomenal teacher who really supported and inspired him.  We have had no tantrums about school or homework, and more importantly none of the somatic complaints that he was voicing last year.  I’ve felt so blessed that he’s had this safe space to be in during the day, and I really think it has allowed him to grow and learn emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally.

That said, I sort of dread the summer.

Jack and I both have a hard time with change.  It really rocks our boat in a big way and can lead to anxiety and anger.  I totally understand where he is coming from in this regard because I am really right there with him.  This year, he is doing some summer day camp about which none of us are particularly thrilled.  I’m praying there will be nice kids there, attentive staff, and that Jack will not be miserable all summer because of it.

This morning I sort of broke down and cried.  I was just so overwhelmed and sad about not being there for my kids as much as I want to be, as much as they NEED me to be.  It is really, really hard.

My husband took this job in February with the expectation I would be able to cut my hours at work.  This has not come to pass as I cannot leave my program in the lurch with no staff, and financially we are still digging out of a pretty deep hole.  So, we are both at our limits and have not really been available to each other.

So, this morning when my daughter wanted to look at books instead of put on her shoes, everything just crashed around me and out came the tears.  I pulled it together pretty quickly, and Emily’s hug was like magic.  I got the kids out the door and felt a surge of pride watching my little-big-boy march into the playground for his last day of school.

So, it’s not all bad.

And you all are still here.

So, it’s not all bad.

One random final thought:

When Jack was a newborn and I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, my husband would take our colicky little son and walk him around the house.  The Spouse would sing this chant that I believe is from Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

It went, “I have arrived, I am home, in the here and in the now.  I am solid, I am free.  In the infinite I dwell.”

This little chant came to me today and gave me comfort.

So, yeah, I am home with my achey, breaky ovaries, my mommy guilt, and my anticipatory anxiety about the summer.

In the infinite we dwell.

Momaste.  xoxoxo.

The Suck Fest That is Working Motherhood 

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My day started with my son crying that he doesn’t want to go to YMCA camp this summer. He doesn’t handle transition well, sensitive soul that he is, and summers are always a rough jumble of our schedules that causes additional stress to fester throughout the entire family.

“I just don’t like it there, mom,” he cried.

I was washing the coffee pot and trying to corral my daughter so I could braid her hair before we all rushed out the door. I brushed off his concerns with “We’ll talk about it later.”  It took all my self control not to scream “BEING A WORKING MOM SUCKS!!”

Because it does. It fucking sucks so bad.

My day ended with a flurry of hysterical texts from my husband who was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half and ended up late to pick up poor Jack from the YMCA after school program.

Our work days are orchestrated almost down to the second to accommodate drop offs and pick ups of our children. My husband has slightly more flexibility in his schedule, so he is usually the one to pick up, while I drop off Jack in the morning, sometimes drop off Emily, and have a combination of family doing random drop offs and pick ups.  It’s complicated.  As carefully as we construct this schedule, it seems there are days my children don’t know when they are coming and going or who is fetching them.

At random intervals throughout the day, I am gripped with panic as I try to recall where my children are and who they are with.  Then I sigh and relax because I know they are going to be safe, but it is a strange, crazy, and uncomfortable leap of faith.

When I drop Jack off at school in the morning, I hug and kiss him and then get back into my car and watch him stride into the school yard.  Sometimes he sees a pal and breaks into a gleeful run to go and play with them.  His happy confidence inspires me to drive away.

But then I drive off and it feels like I am free falling into the day, relying on a flimsy parachute of faith that all will be well with my littles while I am apart from them.

As moms, being away from our children is unnatural at best, and a downright suck fest at worst.

So, when I am stuck at work, a 45 minute commute away, getting texts that my little boy is going to be stuck at daycare past pick up time, I freak a bit.  It makes me feel sucky and angry that our society has chipped away at the family in this manner; that we have to work so hard just to keep things barely afloat.  There is nothing that makes me angrier than feeling helpless when it comes to my children.

Sure, we all always get home in one piece. For that I am very thankful.

But it is so hard to relax into the evening when grumpy, tired children need feeding and bathing and bedtime routines.  Lately I am trying my best to be aware of my tendency to rush and do stuff just to get to the next thing.  For example, chiding Emily to hurry up and finish her snack so we can brush teeth, hurry up and brush teeth so we can read stories, hurry up and get through stories so we can all go the fuck to sleep.

It is so difficult to just be in the moment, where I want to be, when I feel pressure on all sides of me and just want to leap away from the discomfort.

I don’t want my family to work this way.  And other than changing jobs or winning the lottery, both of which are equally impossible and improbable at the moment, I don’t really know how to make it work any differently.

We do our best.  But since my husband started his new job in February, things have been stretched so thin that they seem about to be torn to tatters.  The clock ticks off seconds of my life I am simply not enjoying, and I am keenly aware and anxious about the toll this will take on my precious offspring.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m ranting a bit here, but it is not all doom and gloom.  Some days are just so hard.  Some days it just really hits me how much time I spend away from my family, and how much trust I am placing in others to raise and nurture my children when I am not there for them.

I think about the cardinal Jack drew.  He was so proud of it, he made copies for every child in his class and also for his teacher.  “Mama, my teacher told me it was very meaningful to her, and she is going to take it home and hang it up!” he told me when I walked in the door from work.

I think about the excitement with which Emily tells me, “Mama, I climbed on the spider web on the pway gwound at school!  I was a yittle scared, but it was fun!”

I think about the hugs and kisses and the sound of Emily’s breathing growing slower and deeper as I sit in the chair and wait for her to drift off to sleep.

My kids are growing to be independent, resilient, creative, and kind.

I’ve got to remember that, even when it feels like doing my best is still sucking ass.

OK.  Rant over.

Remember The Good Shots

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In my mid-twenties, I fancied myself a golfer.  Sure, I’d never held a golf club before, or been on the links, but I was determined.  Don’t ask me why.  I bought myself some clubs and lessons.

Truthfully, I sucked.  Badly.  But I had a friend who took mercy on me and took me out to play nine holes on a few occasions.  We would also go out and smack away at buckets of balls at the driving ranges.  It was fun.

I never got good.  I gave it up after a couple years, but I always remembered something my friend said to me.  He told me to forget all the bad shots (and there were many), and to remember only the good shots.  Nearly 15 years later, I still remember the best shot I ever took when I sent the ball about 250 yards down the green.

I thought about remembering the good shots today.

We had a wonderful trip to the beach.  It was a huge success.  We got there and back without incident.  We played in the water and sand on a perfect, sunny day.  Every one was happy and relaxed.  We came home and took warm showers to refresh ourselves, and then Emily and I lounged on my bed and watched Kipper on the Ipad while Jack played and my husband worked.

It was idyllic.

I nipped out for an errand to buy gifts for Jack, who turns seven next week.  With a heart full of love and gratitude, I chose some science experiments, art supplies, and toys for outdoors.

I got home to find the kids hungry and tired.

We tried to mobilize everyone for a trip to Panera, but Jack disintegrated into a tantrum.  I thought about the trunk of my car which was filled with birthday toys for Jack, and felt frustrated, hurt, and offended by his behavior.

Some days, tantrums seem the bane of my existence.  They threaten to throw my entire day and emotional state off course.  I feared this would be the case when Jack started his antics after our dreamy day.

But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t last very long.  I tried to shake off my frustration, and the fear that I was sucking as a mom, and remembered all the happy moments earlier in the day.  I reminded myself not to take his behavior personally.

I thought of how happy the kids were splashing in the surf, how nicely they cooperated with us and one another, and how encouraged I was by our simultaneous and mutual enjoyment.

I remembered the good shots of the day.

Eventually, things settled down.  We ate pizza.  I read stories with Emily who was extra cuddly and wanted a lot of nursing time.  The children were exhausted and went to bed early.

Fifteen years from now, I know what I will remember about today.

Tell me about some of your good shots, and how they overshadowed a rough patch.  I love hearing from you!  I also love when you follow me on Twitter @Momasteblog!