October 24, 2014
by Tricia
2 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 34

A round up of this week’s lovely little things.

Happy Diwali

Kids, particularly kids old enough to understand more about religion and faith, sort of force you to step it up when it comes to religious holidays. Just by their presence in your life, their big eyes looking up to you and asking questions, they force you to engage. Observe. Celebrate. I’m still not clear on my own personal religion or faith or what exactly it is that I believe. But I do believe that my children should be exposed to the traditions and cultures and beliefs that are part of their family history. So this week, we celebrated Diwali. We talked about Prince Rama, his exile, and the diyas that illuminated his return. We placed lights all around our home in celebration.

diwali and halloween

The effect in some places is a little bit more Halloween spooky than good over evil but such is the way when cultures and holidays collide. I’m ok with my kids’ memories of the end of October involving a mesh of costumes and pumpkins alongside diyas and rangoli. It represents their lives, a mesh of cultures coming together and creating something truly beautiful. Something truly lovely.

Desk time
It has been such a busy family season here lately. Birthdays and field trips and school functions, not to mention doctor’s appointments and speech therapy. I remember saying, back in August, that I couldn’t wait for the normalcy of September to settle us all back into a routine. But September and October have been anything but. So when I found myself setting at my desk on Tuesday morning, the house quiet, the sun streaming softly, but pointedly, through the window, I was simultaneously excited and at peace.

desk time

Friends
It’s been a while since I’ve done this so allow me to rave a bit about the amazing people I’ve met through writing and blogging. It can be easy to think of the people who read your words every day, and whose words you read religiously, but whom you’ve never met (or only met once) as not quite real. Or not quite the same as the people who have been inside your home and shared meals with you. But they are oh so real and oh so important. I reached out to a few of mine this week for some help with my book proposal and each and every one replied so quickly and enthusiastically. These friendships are truly amazing.

Planes
We had a rare thing happen on Monday morning. No appointments or meetings or errands that had to be run. We had a morning and absolutely nowhere to be. So we went to the Air and Space museum (the plane museum, as we called it that day). He spent the hour we were there volleying between running off towards every wing and propeller he could find and leaping into my arms because despite his unending love of planes, these ones are quite big and just a bit scary for a little person. I had forgotten, somewhere along the way, that my life right now allows for mornings like these–me, my boy, and some planes. Now that I’ve remembered, we’ll have many more like it.

Favorite words

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I came across this quote while scanning the Words to Live By: Typography Art shop on Zulily today, looking for Christmas gift ideas/hand lettering inspiration. But it’s so perfect, isn’t it?

Happy weekend, all. It’s almost Halloween so definitely play up the silly.

pumpkins and candles

October 23, 2014
by Tricia
5 Comments

Happy Birthday on TV 2!

One thing I’ve learned in my two years as a mom to siblings is that conversations about the subtle differences between ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ rarely make anyone feel good. I suspect this may change as they grow older and follow different interests, needs, and wants. But, today, cookies must be exactly the same size (or, one must be a little bigger in favor of big sister), hugs must be doled out in equal amounts and times, and what one gets, the other better see coming or there will be whining. We’re working our way up to understanding that fair and equal are two very different things. But, until then, I’m on TV again with another birthday wish.

I’m in just about as much disbelief that my little guy is turning two as I was when his big sister turned five a month ago. I expect it will always be this way. Me gazing back to that Tuesday afternoon when I met him for the first time. Remembering as if it were yesterday just how tiny he was, how peaceful a newborn, how I never knew how deeply I needed a son until he arrived. I am stunned at how much life has happened since that day. Just as with his sister, I feel like it’s only been a breath since he joined us and, simultaneously, like he’s been here all along.

Happy Birthday, buddy. Love you and your sweet smile so very much.

Baby Boy Bday from Tricia Mirch on Vimeo.

October 21, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

Keep trying to conquer my distractions

“Mommy? Oh. I’ll show you when you are done with your phone.”

The moment she said it, my heart sank. The moment after she said it, she moved on. I’ll never know, now, what she was going to tell me. It’s gone.

girlonslide

The worst part is not that she wanted to tell me something and I missed it. It’s not that I’ll never know. The honest truth is that she has something to tell me about a hundred times a day. I miss one here and there and that is life, we can’t catch them all and we can’t beat ourselves up about every one that falls at our feet. I catch a bunch. I listen a lot.

The worst part is not that what took precedence in that moment was a completely insignificant voicemail that I could have listened to hours, even days later. I had no idea, until I listened, whether that message was left by a doctor or an editor or a potential client. That it was left by the toy store, notifying us that the craft she had made there was ready to be picked up, is just circumstantial.

The worst part is that I had promised myself that I’d keep my phone away. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t miss a moment that morning. I had promised myself that I’d be there, without distraction, wholly and completely present. I had reminded myself that what was most significant in that moment was her and the plans we had for the morning and that anything that she wanted to say or do or be should come before anything that might try to sneak through on my phone. The worst part is that, within minutes, I had already failed.

girlwalking

Earlier this year, I made a resolution to go Hands Free and grasp what really matters. I resolved to put my phone away when I’m with my family, to be distraction free. To stop rushing and multitasking and to just be with my people. I didn’t want my relationships to suffer because I needed to see the latest email to hit my inbox or read the latest response to my tweet. I didn’t want to seek Likes over Love.

But I’ve been failing.

I have a boatload of excuses, of course. I work for myself now. I need to be connected. I need to be responsive. I need to be present and here so that people will come and my work and opportunity and business will grow. And then, of course, there are his needs–speech therapists and doctors appointments and forms to fill out and activities to research. And her with school and friends, parties and playdates, activities and classes. My phone is what keeps me on top of all of these things, moving us all up and onward. Getting us there on time and with the right materials. I’ve told myself that I am doing this for us. That I need to be connected so that we achieve what we want to achieve, individually and as a family.

But that’s all just a bunch of excuses.

I’ve failed only because I’ve stopped trying. Because it is oh so easy to swipe my finger across the screen of my phone and dive into that virtual world when I think nobody is looking. I’ve stopped focusing on the people in front of me. And I’ve stopped focusing on my work. Even when I’m alone, my devices and social media and email and the latest shiny thing to call out from the periphery, pull me away from what I really need to be doing.

boyandtrain

It feels worse the longer it goes on.

I wish I could say that stops today. That as I sit here and type, I’m wholly focused on these words and this moment. That when I’m done working today, I’ll put it all away and forget it while I focus on the humans around me. But after 10 months of this, I know it just isn’t that easy. It’s a process. It’s a journey. All I can do is recommit everyday to get back to it. To recommit. To do my best. To keep trying. Keep trying to conquer my distractions.

~~~~~

Over the weekend, my friend Rachel’s Hands Free Revolution Facebook page was hacked. Some horrible people took over and posted awful things. I worried about her and I missed her. Her words and stories and encouragement keep me going and remind me what is important in this life. They remind me that the time I spend looking into three pairs of deep brown eyes today not only warm my heart today but lay the groundwork for a beautiful future of close and loving relationships.

Thankfully, goodness once again prevailed over evil and Rachel got back in control. If nothing else, that she was able to beat back the hackers and come back better than before reminds me that I can do this. I can conquer.

If you haven’t already liked her page, or if you left over the weekend because of the awful hackers, please go now and bring her inspiring words into your world.

October 16, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 33

A few of this week’s lovely little things:

Museums and Airplanes
There was a time when the idea of taking 2 kids across the river and into the city and through a crowded museum without the support of another adult would have never even crossed my mind. And if it had, I would have laughed. I must be a well-seasoned mama (haha!) because that is how we spent our Monday morning. And we all made it back in one (albeit soggy and rather cranky) piece. And that is lovely.

The Lasts
This year is a series of lasts for my girl. The last of all of the annual traditions and routines that have become part of our world since she started at this school. This week it was her last parent’s night and last field trip. She’s having a blast and she’s only 5 so she’s probably not thinking too hard about it but I can tell she is aware. We sentimental ones don’t pass these sorts of moments without some pause. And though it makes me sad to think of these lasts, watching her grow and reflecting on how much she has grown is lovely.

Appreciating 2
Technically, he isn’t 2 until next week. So says the calendar. But for all intents and purposes (and tantrums) he is 2. Most days, I’m done with his 2-ness by the time the sun sets. Exhausted by it. But then I read this and found a new appreciation for his world. And I spent a morning amongst 5 year olds and found a very strong appreciation for his sweetness and cuddlyness and 2-ness. 2 is hard but it is so rewarding.

feetspiderweb

favorite words
“Things, when magnified, are forgeries of happiness.”
Joshua Heschel

Trying to keep that one in mind this season.

Happy weekend!

October 16, 2014
by Tricia
10 Comments

Growing Together: Don’t Try to Solve Problems You Don’t Have

growing togetherWe’re back! After sharing this space with friends weekly over the summer, I decided to shift Growing Together to happen monthly as the Fall settles in. It’s too much fun to share this space and the words of the brilliant people I meet.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Katie from Pick Any Two. Katie is brilliant and every time I read her words, I come away with a new perspective and new actionable steps to take to make a change in my life. This post in particular, I’m still thinking about weeks later, trying to sort out what to let go from my overfull hands. Her story today, about learning to not solve a problem before it exists, is something I can completely relate to. After you read her words, be sure to show her some love (and then go back tomorrow because Katie always makes you feel good on Friday).

~~~~~

Katie and Luke

Without hesitation his tiny mouth latched on, and he began gulping eagerly, even ravenously. But only a few moments later he ripped away, wailing in between the coughs and sputters.

I wailed right along with him.

He was only a few weeks old, and yet he already knew the paradox of wanting something desperately yet hating it at the same time.

He was a newborn torn between the call of his growling belly and the desire not to choke on his only form of sustenance.

I was a mom torn between the desperation to feed my child and the desire not to hurt him in the process.

The lactation consultant labeled it “overactive letdown,” a fancy term meaning you’ve got an overabundance of milk and it comes out faster and more forcefully than your baby can handle.

She assured me it happens to lots of women, and that it wasn’t caused by anything I did. But I knew better.

I knew that even before my son was born, I had made a list of ways to increase your milk production. Since having an undersupply is the more common problem to have, I wanted to be prepared. I was a Type-A perfectionist, determined to do everything by the book, and therefore desperately needed to be successful in breastfeeding.

As soon as my milk came in, I started tackling my list—drinking tons of water, eating oatmeal every morning, drinking Mother’s Milk tea several times a day, and even pumping once a day, despite the fact that I hadn’t gone back to work yet and didn’t really need a milk stash.

In other words, I was so worried about having too little milk that I tried to counteract the problem before I even had it—and likely gave myself an oversupply problem instead.

After that, almost every time I fed my son we both ended up in tears. Him because he just wanted to eat a meal without gagging. Me because I realized my perfectionism—my need to follow every single rule and be over prepared for every possible challenge—had already backfired and harmed my child. It was the polar opposite of my intention.

Ultimately we stuck it out because my son was still gaining weight nicely—and because I’m stubborn like that. I wanted to give him what I thought was best; moreover, I hoped that by continuing to breastfeed him, I would give him enough benefits to outweigh the struggle I’d already caused him.

A few weeks later and, thankfully, the problem was solved, maybe because my milk supply evened out or maybe because my son grew big enough to manage the fast flow. Whatever the reason, we both happily moved on, continuing our nursing relationship until he was thirteen months old.

I was left with a well-fed baby boy and a valuable lesson. Never again will I focus so earnestly on averting a problem that I end up creating one. Never again will I blindly follow a book or a website before examining my child to see if the recommendations really apply to him, to us.

In parenting and in life, there’s an important distinction between being proactive and being over prepared. When we focus too much on preparing for the worst, we risk not even realizing that we already had the best.

These days, I’m learning to trust in my ability to deal with an issue when it arises, not necessarily before. In the process, it’s become easier to focus my attention on everything that’s going right, instead of constantly worrying about what could go wrong.

~~~~~

K McLaughlin Head Shot

Katie Markey McLaughlin, M.S., is a freelance journalist and blogger, plus mama to a very energetic toddler. Her blog Pick Any Two encourages moms to do anything, but not everything. You can connect with her on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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