Friday, April 20, 2012

You are only as happy as your unhappiest child

You know how it sucks when you look forward to something for months and months, then the night comes and it is really great but you do something stupid at the end that screws a little part of it up, but that small something ruins the whole night for you and you are so mad at yourself? Well that happened to my Lily tonight and I'm just laying awake hurting for her. Heart outside of my body...indeed.

Last night was Lily's 1st grade program.  She has been talking about since January.  April 19, mom, make sure it is on the calendar, make sure you can get home from work on time, make sure my camera has batteries, make sure and get a video, when can we decide what I'm going to wear, can we practice my line, here is where I will be standing, here is how the risers are arranged.  She's talked about every single detail of how the night would go.  I even know where to find her in line, and how far in her own speaking part would be.  Her siblings have been singing the songs for weeks.  

She was a little disappointed that our nanny had a test in class that night and wouldn't be able to make it.  I invited my brother and his girlfriend, but didn't tell her they were coming (because I hadn't heard for sure that they were and I didn't want her to be disappointed if they couldn't make it).  

I left work at 4, got home around 5, and we went upstairs to do homework.  She was so giddy and excited that she couldn't concentrate on learning her spelling words.  I found myself being shorter with her than I wanted to be, but something that could have taken 15 minutes took 45, and the rest of the family was waiting downstairs for us to eat.  She didn't feel like learning spelling words, and I wanted her to have a better attitude about it rather than saying, I'll never learn that word with a sourpuss face.  She did learn the three she was having a hard time with: instead, said, and thought.  (Side note: I just spelled thought wrong the first go round of typing it. :)  )  Anyway, she finally finished and went in the bathroom for me to do her hair (which was in curlers) but I told her we needed to eat, and we'd have to do hair after.  

We ate, she dawdled.  I was annoyed.  When she was the last person finished at the table (typical), and was pittering around watching what Bryson and Addie were up to, I told her she needed to hurry, we needed to get upstairs to get dressed and do hair.  She obliged but we quickly realized that the dress and sweater we laid out (last night so it would be easy peasy no decision making tonight) was size 2T, it was Addie's - and her pink sweater was nowhere in sight.  We looked and looked and finally she said she could chose a different dress (the one laid out was super summery and it was raining and 50 degrees outside) because we really only had one sweater that could match.  After much back and forth, she finally chose the dress that she wore in our family pics, but she was mad. (Note to self: must get Lily more sweaters less hoodies, why oh why do I not have a white or black sweater for that girl?!)

Her hair didn't come out great, but at this point we were kind of rushed, and I was disappointed (with myself mostly) that the dress thing took so long, when I did everything I could to make sure THAT EXACT THING WOULDN'T HAPPEN.  Overdramatic? Maybe but I was certainly feeling like no matter what I do, how much I plan ahead, it is never enough to make life run smoothly.  Ha, life run smoothly...good one, Jenny.  

Anyway, I packed up a purse full of crap to keep Bryson busy during the program while the rest of the family honked at me from the car (I joke about the honking, but that's how frantic I was feeling while loading up the bag o tricks).  As I got in the car and thought about the teenage years.  Man, they are going to be hard.  I said so to Lawrence who obviously has no knowledge of the things teenage girls care about because he rolled his eyes and said I shouldn't rush us ahead.  I thought about how much harder it will be when it's not just a missing matching sweater, but it's my sister took my sweater, it's caring about fashion, what's in style, and worrying about body shape, and acne, and hair, and, and, and....deep breaths, not a great start, but okay, we are in the car now, let's enjoy the show.  I wasn't pleased with how I'd handled the last 2 hrs of the evening, let's make the next two better.  

Matt and Heather did come, and the kids were all thrilled to see them, jumping around all crazy, like they always do.  Then it was time to get Lily to her class room and the show started.  It was wonderful, and cute, and sweet.  Lily did a good job.  She got to say the line "when I grow up I want to be an acrobat".  Which she does.  I got it all on video.  So did Addie on her camera.  Bryson was enthralled and behaved beautifully on Lawrence's lap.  He clapped and loved it when he could point out his "Loly".  All was awesome. 

After the show the kids were all over Matt and Heather again, especially Lily, and there was some talk of them coming over for a bit.  It was already 8pm, and ultimately, I didn't think it was a great idea.  They haven't seen Heather forever, and seriously the kids go CRAZY around Matt.  He's like the catnip to their cat.  He says he doesn't, but sometimes I wonder how he can think my kids are anything but monsters, they act so different and more wild around him than anyone else.  They cannot contain their excitement to be in his presence.  I told M&H that it probably wasn't the best for getting everyone to bed if they came, so we decided they would come to Lily's baseball game on Saturday and we would get together after that.

Lawrence told Lily to say goodbye to Heather and Matt and thank them for coming.  But instead she was jumping all over them, pulling on Matt's coat, acting terribly obnoxious.  Lawrence asked her what she should say to her uncle for coming, and she said nothing, then stuck her tongue out at them.  Grrr.  Lawr told her to get in the car, and I apologized, and we left.  On the way home we talked to Lily about how rude that was.  Doesn't she want Matt and Heather to come to her things?  Why would she treat someone she loves like that?  Lawr said maybe they shouldn't come to her baseball game, or even worse, maybe they wouldn't want to.  Not if she was going to treat them like that.  We were disappointed, but we didn't yell or scream at her.  We just shook our heads and got about the business of who would do what when we got home to get them all to bed before 9pm.  

No one talked the whole ride home.  Buzz kill.

After getting Bryson and Addie to bed, I went to Lily's bed.  She was reading a note from our nanny that was cut in the shape of a heart.  It said something about how sad she was to have missed the show and how she couldn't wait to hear all about the wonderful night and she knew she did awesome and she loved her.  Really sweet.  Lily hugged that little piece of cardboard all night long like it was a soft teddy bear, obviously a source of comfort for her.  

Lily was so destroyed.  She was mad at her self for how she treated Matt and Heather.  I listened to her talk for quite a while.  I told her it is okay to make mistakes, and tomorrow is a new day.  That made it worse.  She said tomorrow is not the day of her program.  She wanted to rewind today!  I asked her if we could think of some good things from the night and remember those before we go to sleep, but she said she couldn't remember anything good.  All she could think of was acting like that to Matt.  She said she was feeling really excited, but she never meant to be rude to him.  She kept asking herself why she did that.  Why would she ruin her own night.  She told me she'd looked forward to this night for so long, and now it was over and it was awful.  She was weeping and sobbing.  I told her to just let it out.  

It was one of the few times that her tears over something small made me cry too.  I could feel and taste her pain.  I wondered if we shouldn't have said something to her in the car about the way she acted toward Matt, I was feeling pretty guilty.  Were we too hard on her?  Did we make her too hard on her self?  Parenting isn't easy, and the truth is you do not allow your child to be rude to someone else without calling them out on it.  That's part of the job.  Lawrence suggested that she could call Matt, and she did, and whatever he said to her made her feel quite a bit better. She mostly cried and he mostly talked.  And at the end of the call she was crying less and I could see she was getting to a point of peace about it.  It just wasn't the feeling of elation and pride that I would have wanted her to have at the end of a night that she has been looking forward to for so long.  

I knew exactly what she meant and how she felt.

We talked about how she could show the video to our nanny after school today, and she could show her all the songs, teach her sister the movements.  She liked that.  Then we talked about her friend, who's baby brother Ethan is in the hospital right now for a virus.  I said we needed to pray for him to get better and for his mommy to be okay.  She said we should pray right now, so we did.  Then we talked about how our problems aren't the worst ones to have, and how we will be okay.  When I left her room, I thanked her for asking that we pray for Ethan right now, I told her sometimes we say we will pray and we forget, it's always better to pray right now.  I told her that I am so glad she has the heart she does.  She makes me proud.      

I laid in bed and hurt for her, rewinding and fast forwarding to things i could have done differently to protect her from the pain and anger she was feeling.  

I thought about how I wished she could just get over a mistake, a split second decision to not act in a kind way.  I wished I could tell her to get out of her own head, and know that everyone else understood, and no one was mad.  Then I thought about how that is not a quality I model for her.  At all.  

Today, I winced thinking about a conversation I had with a friend who gave me some very good, very constructive, very hard to hear advice, four years ago.  Four years later, I took the advice, I'm grateful for the advice, but I still am mad at myself for needing the advice in the first place.  If I'm honest, I don't think I have forgiven myself for that.  And in the grand scheme of things, it is a little thing, really.  

My good friend's mom posted the quote, "you are only as happy as your unhappiest child" on my facebook today.  I read it a few times, letting it sink in.  Man, we are just getting started.  This is going to be hard.  I want to get better about forgiving myself, and letting their little stuff slide too.  

As a mother and a woman, I am so self critical of myself.  It is so much easier to see what I'm not doing than what I am.  A great day, with the best planning, and wonderful intentions, can send me into a panic when the sweater I laid out says 2t rather than 6 on the tag.  I let the small "mistakes" cast a shadow over the successes.  I beat myself up.  I don't want to, but I do.  I'm not sure if I have any tools to stop.  I sure see the goodness in everyone else.  I celebrate everyone else, I use kind words, I let things slide, I tell them they are doing a really good job.  I mean it.  

Is that the message I want to send on to my daughters?  You should focus on your imperfections, rather than your amazingly wonderful qualities?  The answer to that question obviously is of course not.  

But when I tear myself down, criticize my body or my clothes, talk of the state of my house or my cars in disgust, list all of the things left to do and never the things done, say harsh words about the mistakes I make, expect perfection...I'm teaching her to treat herself that way.  

And that needs to change.  

I can't protect her from everything, and maybe this small lesson needed to be learned so that she can remember how important it is to treat people, especially those you love, with respect and kindness.  I hope that is true.  

The part that has my heart really aching is that she can't forgive herself yet.  And I know how bad that feels.  And she doesn't deserve to feel like that.  

No one does.  

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.  Sigh.  Forget it.  Let's be kind to ourselves today and let's remember the impact that will have on our sweet children.  Then let's try to do it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  Until self kindness is a habit that we pass down to them.  

What is one thing you can do today that will remind you of what you have done right, that screams to you, YOU ARE ENOUGH! Today, how can you let go of something you have done wrong?  How can you model that for your children?    

My 2012 motto is Do Not Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good.  I can say it all I want, but until I start acting like good is good, I'm teaching the wrong things through my actions and my words don't matter one bit.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rat Racing

I'm trying to squeeze tight to the perspective I was given only a month ago, to remember the full heart and the overflowing love...but I feel it slipping through my fingers.  Replacing it is stress and negativity.  It's easy to see why, but I don't know how to fix it.  

Take this morning for example.  I got up at 6am, showered, got the kids ready and fed, Lily to the bus at 7:30 and me out the door at the same time with Bryson.  Late to Bryson's physical therapy appointment, again.  One solid hour trying to get Bryson to do what he is being asked to do, bend his feet in a way he doesn't want to bend them.  She is once again amazed by how "busy" he is.  She wants to know if he has trouble paying attention at home.  He doesn't and I say so.  But an alarm goes off in my head, because someone just asked me if something could be wrong with my busy kid.  Even though I know nothing is, I don't even like the question.  

We leave, on the way out I see a mom slowly walking behind her child who walks with braces on her arms and legs.  I tell myself to be grateful as Bryson runs ahead of me.  I can't muster it though, I feel sort of numb today and it's barely 9am.  

I get him situated with the nanny for a day of fun at the Children's Museum.  I watch my younger two kids dance away hand in hand excited about what the day has in store for them.  And I long to be the one who gets to do it with them.  

On the way to work, I pass an accident that has been the reason for the traffic.  I think about how I should be glad it's not me waiting for the tow truck.  But I roll my eyes at my attempt to be positive.  

I hear a belt or the breaks squealing on our Toyota as I drive.  It's been going on for weeks, I feel a twinge of failing that I cannot find time to get this fixed.  That feeling worsens when I pull into the parking garage with my window open and I can hear it echoing against all wall of the cement underground cave.  I'm embarrassed.  Sigh.  I think about when, who, can take the car in.  Will there ever be a minute to breath, to stop calendaring?  My stream of consciousness races ahead while I try to figure it out. 
Tomorrow need the truck for Addie drop off, no school for Lily, Monday Bryson dentist appointment, what's for dinner tonight, baseball, car seat shuffles, can someone watch Brys tonight at practice while dad is coaching, shoot forgot Lawr's allergy prescription, need to research and budget for summer camps, where is the form to order team pictures, OH!Addie's class pic is tomorrow, did a form come for that...  
I walk in my office at 10am.  I haven't eaten anything yet and I feel funky.  I look at the piles and lists I left for myself last night as I raced out at 6:30 bound and determined to meet my goal of not missing any bedtimes for work in April.  So many things to do, and it seems like all my employees are waiting for me to answer a question or go over something.  No one asks why I'm just arriving at 10.

I want to throw my hands in the air, because this day is not out out of the normal, but it's one of those days that it's all too much.  The only thing that keeps me from giving up for today is that I know that would just get me further behind.  The "luxury" of taking care of my body last month has already set me back a week, as have all these dr/dentist/pt/gyn/counseling appointments I've gone to for myself and my kids.  I think I've used all my sick time for the year 2 hrs at a time.  

I don't want to complain or be negative, so I close off from talking with anyone about anything other than logistics.  Then I feel lonely.  I look at the scar on my face and wonder when it's going to get better, I wonder how it could only have been a month ago that cancer was in place of that scar.  I'm annoyed at myself for not remembering to be grateful for that scar, to think it's beautiful.  But I'm too tired to care about trying to remember that.  I want to sulk instead.  I wore make-up today for the first time since my surgery.  It doesn't help much.  Everyone says that my scar looks so good, but I can't see past it when I look in the mirror with my self critical eyes.  

Emails come from friends who want to meet up, who haven't seen me in a month, or two months, or longer.  Voicemails are built up on the phone which say basically the same.  Every pleasant conversation I have with someone ends in a question of when we can have a playdate or lunch or coffee or a night out or a family get together.  That makes me want to cry, avoid them, just to avoid looking at my calendar and seeing there isn't room for any of the good stuff.  

Usually I can pull myself up, and be grateful and positive.  But the truth is rat racing can just suck your soul.  I don't want to live a life where I just keep up, barely, with the demands.  I want a life in which I thrive.  I usually have that.  This weekend I had that.  Easter was an amazing and incredible day.  Four days later, I'm filled with rage that things look like this.  I mad that enjoying my weekend a little too much leaves me with no groceries or put away laundry.  I'm just annoyed that this is what things look like today.

Tomorrow is a new day.  My kids are amazing and my husband deserves a medal for all the work he has put in this week.  Each of them has given me something sweet and special each day this week, that I have put in my pocket and smiled about.  Each of them is smart and funny with a good heart.  

I, too, have a good beautiful heart.  I know this.  It think that is why on a day like today, it grieves me that too much rat racing makes it so that I can't see it.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mostly Wordless Wednesday - Easter Freedom

Some weeks you have no time for words, I am amidst those weeks!

We had an incredible Easter/Passover weekend.  Each member of our family learned something new and amazing about God and his blessings.  We celebrated Jesus and His victory on the Cross.  We learned about the need in our human hearts, in this life, culture, society for a hero, a deliverer.  We learned why we still tell this story, thousands of years later, and why this story is everywhere.  In the Bible, in movies, in books, in pop culture.  A normal nice guy comes along and he is the one person who can save humanity, and he makes a choice, a sacrifice to do it.  We celebrated Moses. We celebrated the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt.  We ate good meals and yummy treats together as a family and we enjoyed the sunshine.  We are healthy.  We are free.  So, we celebrated.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The sun shines when the forecast calls for rain

Lawrence emailed me our baseball schedule this morning, and I wanted to vomit.  It's for Lily's team and he is coaching, both great things.  When I look at our already full schedule, adding 29 dates that take Lawrence and Lily outside in the mud and rain, 29 dates that I will feel guilty if I cannot attend.  Well.  Just. Vomit.  

Not to say that I don't want her to do this.  Or him to do this.  But these are first graders, 18 games and 11 more practices feels like overkill.  Still, I will find a way to make the goals that I set for myself last week work.  I will find a way to attend some of the games and help with the smaller kids on some of the practices.  I'm mostly scared about the other ones.  It's only logistics, right?  I've overcome harder things in my life than logistics.  Still, I'll admit that some days it feels like logistics are the enemy that might just bring me down.  

As for some fun weekend news, Addie got pulled aside in Karate on Saturday, to pretest for her Orange belt.  Sigh.  Saturday was to be her last class for a while.  She only knows sports in seasons and we told her that Karate season is almost over, it is baseball season now.  She got two special stripes on her belt Saturday and they told Lawrence we need to preorder her orange belt and scheduled her official test for April 14.  Um, sure, no problem.  It's not like we have a contractor coming that day to do some estimates on repairs on the house, or dinner with friends, or baseball practice, and it's right during Bryson's nap time, perfect!, we'll be there!  Because it's Addie's special thing and if you could see the excitement in her face, you would know that the only decision is to let her do Karate for another 2 weeks at least and let her test for this belt.  She held her striped belt out for me yesterday when I got home from my 5K/girls weekend and you would have thought she was showing me a treasure, precious and valuable.  Then as she and Lily skipped up to their quiet time together I heard her say, "Lily, can we talk about my belt in quiet time".  Lily shot me a sweet glance and smile, I nodded, and Lily said "Sure, Addie".  Addie beamed, beamed!

Friday was the last day of the quarter, always an extremely busy and stressful day in corporate accounting world.  I finished up around 5:30, showered and packed in 10 minutes, then watched movie night with the kids.  After getting them to bed, I packed a little more and headed to the train station to pick up my friend Lisa at 9pm.  

From there we went to my friend Sharon's house, where we met the rest of our group, one of whom, Melinda, a high school friend who drove in from Boise.  It was rainy and soggy and Sharon's amazing husband had taken her two young boys camping so that ladies weekend could take over the house.  Wine and talking until 1am (then 2am for me and my HS roomie!)

Saturday was a great day.  We ate like kings (thank you Sharon) went to the farmer's market, picked up our packets for the race, drank Rum bought for us in Belize by Christina.  Sharon made us a yummy smootie to mix with it, and then the SUN CAME OUT so we sat on the porch to drink it.  It was awesome.  

It was supposed to pour down rain on Sunday.  Our run was at 7:35am, and we were all preparing for wet feet and brought dry clothes.  We were filled with some dread.  But you know what?  The sun was shining.  The whole time.  We ran fast and hard, none of us had a best time on the clock but we definitely had the best time together.  Celebrating our friendships and the support it provides each one of us; and also celebrating our healthy bodies.  

After a great Sunday with my family and an early bedtime, I am refreshed.  My cup is full and my body is sore.  This weekend was a good reminder not to look to the forecast ahead, not to vomit about the calendar, just enjoy the sun shining at this moment.