Monday, November 24, 2008
All this gets me thinking about balance. How do you balance it all? This past Friday littlest fell asleep on the couch while I pecked away at the laptop. She stirred a little after 45 minutes and I went to sit on the couch and hug her as she woke up. Except she wasn't waking up, just snuggling up for more of a nap in mom's lap. As she fell back to sleep, my mind ran through all the millions of things I could be doing while she sleeps: working, updating my blog, loading the dishwasher, folding the laundry.
Her head laid in my lap and her fingers were curled around my wrist and for the first time in a long time I just looked. I looked at those still tiny little fingers and I didn't think about whether her nails needed to be trimmed. Her feet flexed in her sleep and I watched those little jellybean toes as they curled and uncurled. I pondered those impossibly long eyelashes.
I listened to her breathing and once I got to hear a contented little sigh. I just sat still and I didn't blink. I don't know how to balance it all and there never is enough time. But for a few minutes on a Friday afternoon I stopped the clock.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
She has this amazing mind and is curious about everything. Last night she drew pictures of colorful swirls and explained to me that these swirls are how she is feelings inside. Trapped in her little restless body is a mind full of swirling emotions. I know this feeling.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
There are those that need to control the actions of others, like my father-in-law. There are those that need to control the emotions of others, like my mother. And there those that just need to control their little corner of the world, like me.
The other thing I have discovered is that most of these compulsions to control are completely futile. Successfully controlling others actions or emotions does not bring happiness, as is so clearly demonstrated by both my father-in-law and my mother (two woefully unhappy people).
I am slowly learning to relinquish that need to control. Except, yesterday I was in a heated battle to control my daughter's bowel movements (or at least control exactly where they ended up).
My three-year old is mighty. She is funny and smart and strong and stubborn. She is honest to a fault, grumpy until she has her morning cup of milk and always in the mood for a party with loud music and beverages. She is a tiny carbon copy of her dad (just with different beverage choices and less facial hair). I am totally powerless in the face of either of them when they are determined.
So my littlest one comes very naturally by her need to control. However, when I say my daughter is anal retentive, I really mean it. We'll see who "wins" today.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
by Mary Oliver
Friday, November 7, 2008
Since the girls and I were on our own last weekend, we headed an hour northeast to spend a couple of days at my sister's house. My girls call it the CatCowDog Farm, because it is a cute old farmhouse with a lot of cats living on the front porch, surrounded by pastures of cows, and when we come we bring the dog. My other sister lives a few miles down the road and came with her eleven year old daughter, who my girls absolutely adore. She has infinite sweetness and patience with her little cousins as they play hours of hide-and-seek and "babies" and "school."
This particular weekend my oldest niece, who is pregnant with her first child, came to spend the evening on the farm with her husband. She was radiant and sporting quite a belly. It was funny to see this beautiful 30 year old woman who in my mind's eye is still a little girl, like my girls. As she pulled up her shirt to show off her big belly, my memory flashed back to the two-year-old who used to walk around with her shirt pulled up to show a chubby baby belly. She would call it wearing her "doot."
My parents were at the farm that day, too. My dad puttered around, a restless younger soul trapped in his aging body. My mother rested on the couch, inserting the occasional comment into the conversations going on around her. As my niece showed off her belly and talked about feeling better after months of "morning sickness," my mother pipped in with a warning not to gain too much weight. "My pregnancies were my undoing. I never got my figure back."
I know she meant well. My level-headed niece knew she meant well, as my mother went on to admonish her not to gain another ounce. My nephew-in-law immediately came to his wife's defense, but my wise niece just smiled and let her grandmother's thinly veiled criticism roll off her pregnant belly.
I was raised by a mother who expected her six children to take better care of her than she did of them. My childhood tasted of salty potato chips, hand-cranked ice cream, the sweetness of candy from the corner store and resentment. As I grew up, my resentment was hardened by hormones and heartbreak until it became a pit of anger in my stomach.
I now see my mother through the eyes of my own motherhood. It's not an easy job. For someone who is mentally ill, mothering is nearly impossible. There was a time when hearing my mother pick on her granddaughter would have had me seeing red. But this year spent back in the bosom of my family after a long absence has mellowed me. Motherhood has mellowed me, too.
As my anger has dissipated this year, I've wondered what I should call the feelings I have for my mother now. Is it love? But as the sun slanted across the warm kitchen at the CatCowDog Farm, as my niece and I smiled knowingly at each other above my mother's oblivious head, I realized something. Perhaps the absence of my anger, my companionable silence instead of my scorn, perhaps that is love.