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We haven’t had a date in the long time. At the end of June we were lucky enough to have a day (as in 24 hours) without the kids. We stayed the night at a local hotel having dinner in their beautiful on site restaurant and breakfast the next day. I realize how lucky I was to have that time. And yet , I’m feeling the need for another break.
We try to find time for the two of us, but with a house full of boxes and a to-do list of renovation tasks, a real date, the kind with a leisurely meal and my husband’s undivided attention without the adorable but persistent voices and needs of our little people, is likely any time soon. Now that the clock is ticking for the big move, yet another reason beyond the usual daily distraction gets in the way.
So we need to find other ways to connect. A cookie each sitting on the couch watching a sitcom hardly takes the place of a date, but it’s better than nothing. Going to bed early to read, talk and cuddle isn’t the same as an evening out of my crazy house, but it is still a time to rest and connect with each other.
Hopefully when the dust settles we’ll find time or one of those idyllic evenings of looking into each others eyes and having real conversations without pausing to wipe up anything or anyone. Or perhaps we’ll have to settle for evenings of cookies on the couch for a while longer.
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Nothing makes me feel more like a human being again after a long hard day than a favorite food. (except perhaps a shower). After a morning spend in and out of the cold and wind, a bowl of pretty much anything warm is welcome. Today’s choice was butternut squash with butter. I think one of the hardest aspects of being a parent is that I don’t have the luxury of enjoying my food. I do eat, at least usually, because it is necessary for me to function as a mom and a person. But savoring my food, enjoying the taste and textures of my favorites.
Eating for the experience rather than just the nutrients is, I believe a uniquely human trait. Yet another example of ways that parenting sometimes makes me feel less than human. Sometimes I’m reduced to my most basic instincts for self-preservation. I feel selfish setting aside time for self-care. My self-care priorities include hot food, quiet and preferably a hot shower. I know I’m not entitled to these things, I often have to do without them. But I know that when I can make them a priority, I am a better mom, a better wife and a better friend. When I take care of myself, it makes me more able to care for others.
So yes, I do eat and sometimes, I even enjoy it.
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I don’t know why I like getting flowers. I know they are temporary, over priced and then look really sad when they wilt. But there is something rejuvenating about seeing those fresh blooms on my table every day. When the lilac bushes in our yard bloom, I always cut some and bring them inside to enjoy. Lilacs make terrible cut flowers because they wilt so quickly, but the fragrance is heavenly.
Flowers are something we don’t often find in our budget these days. It’s never been a regular thing, but it is something I miss. Sometimes for special occasions but mostly because. The time I before we were married when I stayed at my husband’s first apartment so the various utility companies could come turn services on. He left me a rose and a cookie with a love note. He didn’t own any vases so he put the rose in a thermos. It made me feel special and appreciated. I know that I am still special and appreciated now, but I also know that life gets in the way. There never seems to be the time, or the money for those kind of little romantic details.
I hope that as we get past this big move, our kids get older and hopefully we find a new equilibrium as family we will make time for little romantic gestures again. Because it isn’t really about the flowers, as beautiful as they are and as much as I miss them, it’s the being remembered.
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Sometimes it’s easier just to let it go. Because I hate when I have an adversarial relationship with anyone, especially my children. But then the disrespect reaches an all new high, and a little part of me shrivels up inside while I yell and lash out on the outside. I may put on a brave front, but like most mother’s I want my children to like me or at least enjoy life with me. (Ok, maybe not enjoy themselves all the time, but at least some of the time).
At MOPS yesterday, I was talking with the ladies at my table and I said “I have lots and things I’d like for my children, but when it comes down to it, I really want them to be decent human beings and actually want to come home to see us.” Obviously that is simplistic, because I want so much more than that for them. But at the end of the day, while I want them to be independent, I also want them to come to me when they need me.
I never know how to balance dealing with their behavior issues and hoping they will sense that I love them. Because I know that I am human, and I will mess them up. I believe God’s grace is sufficient to cover those mistakes. Yet,I sometimes fear that perhaps it won’t be. That either I will let too much go, and they will become self-centered, entitled little creatures (as truthfully, we all are, but for the grace of God) or I will be too hard on the, making life seem like drudgery and drive them away from both me and God.
It is so hard to be a parent. It’s like trying to juggle while balanced on one one leg, on a tightrope. (Oh and the tightrope is pitching in the wind and it’s over a gorge.) That’s how it feels some days. Maybe it’s not my childrens’ behavior I need to deal with (though I still do) as much as I need to face my own flaws and hurts and my deep desire not to pass those same issues on to my children. Though as I said to my friends yesterday, we will mess our kids up, it just may not be in the ways our parents messed us up. There are no perfect parents on this side of heaven. Accepting that while still striving to emulate Father God is the continuing challenge I must cope with.
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New neighbors scare me. Ok, maybe not scare, but definitely worry a little. We’ve lived here nine years and we know our neighbors only a little. Probably only two or three of them by name. The idea of meeting people all over again, of learning who is safe or who is friendly exhausted me.
I’m an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like people. But it does mean I like my personal space from time to time. When you live in the city and everyone is on top of each other, it can be especially hard to be an introvert because you feel like there is never a quiet place to get away and recharge, especially when that little house is filled with the voices not so little voices of three children.
I will miss the couple down the street who have a little girl my kids like to play with. The ones that we’ve built a casual acquaintance with, though we could never get organized enough to have dinner together, even after all these years. While we haven’t exactly been popular, at least most of our neighbors are friendly and kind. I hope the next place we live will be friendly too.
But maybe not too friendly.
He won’t remember this house.
The room where each of my children have slept, he being the last. With the map of the Hundred Acre wood and small Winnie the Pooh illustrations. The tiny room where there is only space for the crib and a dresser. The crib my sister and I slept in as babies and the dresser my father made for us. The tiny living room where all three of them learned to crawl, cruise and walk.
I wonder if he’ll learn to walk before we move, or after. Part of me hopes after. Because as much as I’m so looking forward to our new home, all those memories of the first will be left behind here. So it would be nice if one of those big milestones was in our new home.
He’s the last little one to be born to this house, and mostly to this family. It feels like a fitting time, in many ways, to find a new place, for the new life in the post baby years. Maybe I’ll feel a little less sad about it when he’s truly not my baby anymore.
I was early. I was ready to sit down and hop on social media while I waited for my teammates. But something told me to press play on the CD instead. It was a mix made long ago, I didn’t even know what all the songs were.
As the strains of the first one began, I started to move. But the top I wore today was a bit too small, and my yoga pants a bit too low. My belly kept hanging out. Immediately I felt shame. That I had chosen the wrong outfit, that my body was misbehaving. Fear that someone would come in and see me. I pulled my shirt down and continued. Even under my shirt I could feel my stomach jiggle, it was distracting me. So I blocked it out. As my body moved, I tried to focus, not on how my movements looked, whether they were graceful, creative or even attractive. But just on dancing without inhibition.
Let everything has breath praise the Lord, that means anything with a body can move in praise of him. If the trees branches can swing and the grasses sway, then a little belly jiggle shouldn’t slow me down. So I kept dancing.
Because every part of me is wonderfully made, even the parts that don’t look or behave as I wish they would. I have strong arms and legs, I’m able to move, to worship my creator. It’s been a year and I thought that by now things would be different. But they aren’t, and I can’t just keep waiting to live. This is the body I have, I need to learn to revel in it.
It’s hard not to have negative thoughts about my body. A few weekends ago we stayed in a hotel. The mirrors in the bathroom were large and for the first time in a long time I saw my whole body. I didn’t like what I saw, in fact it repulsed me.
So I try not to look. But I don’t want it to stop me from living. So that night, alone in the sanctuary I chose to dance, not to let the body I didn’t love hold me back and hope that eventually I’ll begin to like myself again.