Tuesday, August 30, 2011

we welcome all comments here!

Last week I got what might be my favorite comment ever. It was in response to this post. I've been thinking about it some and thought you'd appreciate seeing it. Here's the comment:

wow...to call your little baby a "little fucker" ?? you should be ASHAMED of yourself for even thinking that, let alone posting that on the internet. some of these posts are pathetic. grow up. if you can't handle kids, you shouldn't be a mother. i know plenty of single working moms who don't bitch and moan about how hard their lives are and they don't have the luxury of being a stay at home mom while their husband provides everything. you need to get your priorities straight, and think a little more about your children, and the good things you do have in life. you may have been an only child and gotten your way all the time, but it's time to stop being the drama queen and focus on your children, white trash mama.

Well! Let's take a look at this, shall we? I like particularly that she tells me I should be ASHAMED for even thinking those thoughts. Sigh. This is exactly the public's attitude I talk about all the time. This is the reason I started the blog in the first place (you can read more about that here). I believe it's the main contributor postpartum depression and anxiety, because we are taught that in order to be good mothers, we can never have a negative thought about our children. Yet all worthwhile relationships in this world are complex. They have multiple sides, attitudes, feelings; both positive and negative. To think otherwise is to ignore reality.

After all, we feel what we feel. Ignoring our feelings - or even worse - being ashamed of them, only bottles everything up and creates a big mess. In order to move past these feelings to the other ones, the ones in joy, we have to acknowledge the hard ones, respect their power, see what they have to teach us, then let them go. 

It's true that plenty of single working mothers don't bitch and moan as much as I do. There are plenty of stay-at-home ones that don't either. I'll be the first to admit that I do more moaning than is ever necessary, and my navel gazing does indeed reach irrational proportions. She got me on that one. I even admit my over-complaining in this post.

At the same time, this blog is about the trials of being a mom (as it says right in the subtitle up on the banner), particularly a stay at home mom, and I'm willing to bet that any working single mother would have plenty to bitch about were she to write her own blog. There are other blogs that celebrate momdom rather than bitch about it, and they are great. They, in fact, provide me with a lot of inspiration in my daily life. I choose not to write about those moments, however, and I talk about why in this post. All in all, I find writing about the struggles cathartic. Sometimes it helps me regain my sense of humor, even if it doesn't always come across on the page. 

As for how I should "think a little more about my children," I don't even know how to respond to that. My concern for my children, and how to wade through these young child years gracefully while also giving them every opportunity and support, and indeed sheltering them from my negative feelings, is my prime motivator in writing. Maybe this was the only post she actually read from the blog.

AND I'd like to point out that she left her comment anonymously. I mean, really. If you're going to land that kind of trip on someone else, you should at least own up to it, doncha think? 

Now that I think about it, maybe she doesn't have kids. If I had to take a guess, she's pregnant, is dreamily looking forward to the moment she first lays eyes on her beautiful baby, at which time all the pieces of her life will come together in a magical fusion that leaves her complete. She's trolling the internet for information about being a mom, and my post's proposition - the idea that she might have negative feelings about her sweet baby - threatens her sense of self and maybe even the steadiness of the world. Well, all I can say is bless her heart, and she'll find out when the time comes. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

vacation caboose

(So I just found this post I wrote over 2 weeks ago, before we got back to Rochester. Meant to post it before, clearly, but I thought I'd go ahead and post it now because maybe it sheds some light on the Frances-attitude-situation. Plus some parenting thoughts.)

We're in Michigan now, returned from our 2,054 hours in transit to my in-laws house where the kids are. They were (of course) SO excited to see us. But the next morning Frances was in a funk. When we brought out the gifts from India, she was excited to see, then disappointed. She pouted, wouldn't talk to us. Then outside she got in a scuffle with her grandma and not only wouldn't give the big wheel back to Clark though he very nicely asked, but she wouldn't talk to anyone. Just sat heavy on the big wheel with her chin down and her face set. Later on I found her outside by herself on the big wheel, riding in circles on the brick patio, sobbing. When I opened the door she stopped crying and wouldn't talk to me. Hey- sometimes a girl just needs a good cry.

As I've mentioned before, she has a hard time with transitions. And this is a big one in her world. We've been gone 7 weeks from our house; she's been here in Michigan with Clark for 2 weeks without parents; here we've come home and probably we are not the fabulous people she missed so much in her mind, but instead just ourselves. Emotions are hard to handle, especially when they loom so large in a nearly-five-year-old body. AND I forgot some of my new resolve to attend to my children differently, and rather than spending the morning with her sitting on my lap, if that's what she wanted to do, I organized my india photos on the computer while she helped Grandma with the pancakes and periodically tried to get my attention. Bad mommy! I could have done that later, and should have. But it is what it is, and now I remember said resolve, and I'm back in the game.

In fact, I've got a whole new approach to parenting up my sleeve for when we return. Much of its success will depend on my emotional state, which I'm hoping will remain positive and relaxed, and we'll see.

I will:
~ do more planning ahead for activities, as complicated as art projects and as simple as riding our trikes to the big bush down the street.
~ leave the house more. visit friends just to say hi for an hour, or go to Ellison park to roll down the big hill, or seek out a bubble gum machine at the strip mall.

(And there I quit the post, which is why I never posted it in the first place: it needed an ending. I don't have one now, however, and I'm here to offer you these thoughts anyway. Cheers!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the girl tries me

Seriously new territory. I need a book or something to tell me how to wade through this. Is it true that if the girl child is particularly difficult at age 5 she won't be so bad at 13? Can I only hope? It's like she's hormonal or something. Seriously. Here's what happens: she gets upset about something (like my telling her to please stop wrapping Clark's blankie around his head, though he's screamed "STOP IT SISSY!!" eight times already and shoved her away her twice) and she gets this look on her face. She just stands there, stony, and won't talk to me, won't move. Then she does something with the absolute intent of pissing me off. Yesterday she put both the phone and the oven timer in the trash, then she tossed my Kendle across the room. Ahem.

Conversely, Clark is the sweetest cutest three-year-old on which I have ever laid eyes. "Do you know," he asks at dinner, his eyes big with import, "that frogs are bigger than bugs? Do you know that?" Tonight I was off to the grocery while he ate his snack before bed and four times he said, "Mama, can I have just one more hug?" I put my arms around him and he lays all his weight into me, so warm and sweet.

It's true that Frances has just had a major adjustment. We are home (home boring home) after 7 weeks of travel and entertainment round the clock. She's always been more sensitive than Clark, less able to roll with it. It's like her skin is thinner, more exposed, tender. And everyone I tell about her behavior says, "Frances? She's so polite and sweet and easy to be around." For you, maybe. She saves up the other just for me.

Although it could very well be nothing more than boredom and adjustment, my inclination is that it's about control. After all, kids in general are on the receiving end of lots of directives. Time to go. Put on your shoes. Climb in the car. Buckle up. Eat this. Brush your teeth. Turn off the tv. No cheetos before 10am. Wash your hands. Don't chew the paper. Please take the tutu off the dog. One would indeed feel powerless. So she's figured out how to get a little power for herself. Oh, the myriad of responses I could have... I've been trying them all out. I am seriously at a loss about it. Traditional techniques are being met with sweeping failure and escalating behavior. Lovely.

Is it a stage? Just a stage that will pass like the others? It's always so hard to tell. About all I know for sure is that it's a pain in my ass and I feel like I'm missing some essential piece of information, like the 6-page instruction manual came without pages 3 and 4.

And there are other times when she's perfectly wonderful. Sweet and loving and fun to talk with and laugh with. I'll focus on those in my mind. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

august day

You know the Frog and Toad story The List? Where Toad writes down on a list everything he's going to do for the day? Here is Frances' list.

When she said she was going to make a list, I don't know, I thought she was going to "write" (scribble, random letters, squiggles that resemble my writing) lines of text. I'm rather impressed with her thinking of drawing her list instead. At the top is the bed for her to get out of in the morning, then apparently we're having cereal for breakfast and using a spoon, then art camp where she used a slab of clay yesterday that I suppose resembled this one, then I wish I knew what was on that lunch plate, then naptime, then go to the pet store because they have a gumball machine and Frances has quarters (four of them, and she happily shared two with her brother), then a toothbrush that looks rather like a tree to brush teeth, then bed. And that's just what we did. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

summer left to its own devices

When we left at the end of June the sunflowers were about 12 inches high. Here's what they looked like when we got back:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

coming home

I wrote this on a piece of hotel stationary the night before we left India:

It's been a wonderful two weeks in India, and we were traveling more than four weeks in the US before that - to the beach, to visit family, etc etc. So we will be going home to New York after nearly seven weeks away.

And I'll admit is here: I'm nervous. I'm nervous about going back to our life, back to it's being just me and the kids. During the travel before India I enjoyed the kids almost more than I ever have. Mitch says sarcastically, "It's nice to be on vacation," but that's not it. I mean, that's some of it, certainly, but not the meat. It's not just that I've been freed from my normal household duties and all that; it's the lack of lonesomeness when other family members are around, and the hugeness of the help in having other adults nearby for the kids to engage with. Not just me. It's so much pressure for me, to be the only one responsible for their care, their entertainment, their sense of safety and freedom and well being.

Is it just that I put too much pressure on myself? Perhaps it's about reframing my role as a mother. What indeed is my role, my responsibility?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

plus the taj

traditional postcard pic.

See the tiny specs at the front wall that look like ants? They're people.

tiny bits of india

Monday, August 1, 2011

more india

We called Frances and Clark while we waited on our plane from Delhi to Jaipur. It was late afternoon here, morning there.

"What are you doing?" we asked.

"Eating pancakes with chocolate in them," Clark said. Then, "MommyDaddy, I miss you so much."

There are peacocks in the garden outside our hotel window. They are amazing. And loud.

Only four more days in India. It really is amazing here. I've fallen completely in love with the place, which is not terribly surprising. I've wanted to visit here forever. What I didn't know is how warm and friendly Indians are.

The cows are hilarious. Everywhere - in the middle of the road, cars swerving around them. Yesterday we drove through the mountains from Jodhpur to Udaipur which was beautiful and also a bit odd; rocky mountains with palm trees. Udaipur is the most beautiful city we've seen; green and lush, surrounded by water and mountains. Tomorrow we fly back to Delhi which is the biggest city we visit. 20 million people! We were there a short time in the beginning; it really doesn't feel as big as that. I do wish we were staying here longer rather than going back to Delhi. Next time, next time.

Americans are a novelty here because we come from so far. Most westerners we see are French and Spanish. I guess no one else is nuts enough to travel in the hot rainy season, though there hasn't been nearly as much rain as I expected. They say the monsoons haven't come like they usually do. Some of the fields by the villages are brown and dry and the people pray for rain.

My blond hair causes more than a little commotion on the street, people openly staring, children smiling and waving, boys shouting I love you. When I smile at the school girls they light up like they've seen a movie star.

I will post pictures, promise. Maybe the ones of Mitch and me on a camel! Which is not a smooth ride, in case you're wondering.