April 28, 2015
by Tricia
1 Comment

Lose the Cape

Here comes a very honest truth: I haven’t cleaned my house, like really cleaned, with the big vacuum and sponges and cleaning products, in weeks. I’ve spot cleaned, wandering around with the dust buster in hand, zapping up piles of crumbs underneath where the kids eat breakfast. But it’s been weeks since I’ve really gotten down and dirty. I’m a little afraid of what’s happening under the couch.

Here comes another very honest truth: I’m totally ok with my sparse cleaning schedule right now.

When my daughter was first born, I believed that I wanted to be, and in fact would be, that perfect mom. The one whose children were always perfectly clothed and groomed, their toys always pristine and neatly stowed. The one whose house always looked spotless and well decorated and organized. And, for a while, I was. In those one-child days, those baby days, I didn’t have a lot else going on. So I cared for the baby and cared for the house and the whole system worked.

But my baby grew (as they do). She started school and made friends and got invited to birthday parties and playdates and she started ballet class and life got busy. And then we added another baby (as people do). And we bought a bigger house to accommodate our growing family (so it goes). And suddenly, I had to make some choices. No longer could I have it all, do it all, make it all happen. I had to decide which was more important – spotless floors or afternoon walks with my son. Laundry that gets washed and dried, folded and put away all in the same day or family board game time after dinner. I had to find some help along the way, get some advice to guide me through the tricky parts (and, sometimes, the not so tricky parts) and then I had to figure out what worked best for me and my family.

I had to give up on supermom. I had to lose the cape.

front cover cropped

In their new book, Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive, Alexa Bigwarfe and Kelly Rivera provide a series of tips, tricks, and strategies with a healthy dose of inspiration and humor. They are the good friends that remind you (loudly!) that you don’t need to be perfect while nonchalantly saving your sanity with helpful tips from the trenches.

In my motherhood, I’ve learned that the best cure for feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to do it all is an honest conversation with a good friend. I’ve also learned that I don’t know it all. That my fellow mothers who live this life day in and day out are figuring things out as they go along too. And we’re all learning at a different pace. Which means that I may have figured out a solid morning routine while my friend up the street has bedtime totally locked down. Which, of course means that we can compare notes and both get closer to doing what’s best for ourselves and our families. With honest acknowledgement of how hard this can be and straightforward tips for things like managing the family social calendar and finding ‘me’ time, Lose the Cape is one more good friend to add to your circle. The book also has several pages of resources at the end with everything from life planners to meal planning services.

But, most of all, the book shamelessly urges mothers everywhere to let the crumbs pile up if you need to. Skip laundry today if it’s just not happening. Embrace the chaos rather than fighting it. Lose the cape and enjoy the ride.

~~~~~

I received a complimentary copy of Lose the Cape. All thoughts an opinions are my own.

April 22, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

Sharing words

I’d forgotten what this feels like. I’d sort of forgotten that it can happen.

I’ve done a lot of writing this year but, for a few reasons, I have not done quite as much publishing in recent months. So I’d forgotten what it feels like to say something deeply personal and then have that something resonate with more people than I’d ever imagined. I’d forgotten the thing that I say all the time – that sharing words can make the world a better place.

On Saturday, a piece of mine, was published on Scary Mommy. I was busy with family in town that day and didn’t get to check in on things until late in the afternoon. By then, my words had already made an impact. People were commenting and every comment was amazing. Every single one. You know how rare a thing that is. I wanted to cry as I read, each comment was so supportive, so gracious. Each one shouted, ‘me too!’ and ‘all this time I thought I was the only one!’ Friends, I live to see those words in comments. Because it means that I’ve put words to something we all feel and, in doing that, we all get to feel just a little bit lighter.

I’ve said it before and I know it sounds trite but this was a piece I was pretty scared to release into the world. I was even more scared to share it. And the thing that really terrified me was to share it on my personal fb page with my friends and family. I write rather personal things all the time. But usually they are inherently focused on me (yes, indeed it is all about me). Sometimes they feature my kids. Occasionally I’ve mentioned my husband. But I’ve never written about our marriage. Somehow, sharing the struggles of raising a two-year-old is acceptable. Expected. Easy. But sharing the struggle of keeping a marriage together while raising that two-year-old (and his five-year-old sister), well that feels like an entirely different world. Struggling there feels more shameful. It feels more like the thing we shouldn’t talk about.

So I almost didn’t.

But, friends, this week I’ve learned that we have to talk about these things. Not talking about them doesn’t make them any easier. In fact, it makes them a million times harder. We need to talk about how hard it is to love and support in the middle of the war. We need to talk about how hard it is to remember how why you fell in love when that first meeting, that first kiss, that beautiful wedding day, they all may as well be a lifetime ago. We need to talk about how impossible it feels some days to maintain an adult relationship in the presence of small children. And then we need to remind each other to take the long view. To look forward, into the future. Because someday the children will be grown. Where do you want to be when that happens?

But mostly, we need to speak the truths because more often than not, they are truths that we all share. And sharing really does make a difference.

Thank you for sharing my words and sharing your stories with me.

~~~~~

linking up with Lisa for One Word

April 15, 2015
by Tricia
9 Comments

Yesterday was busy

Yesterday was busy.

Yesterday has been busy for quite some time now. 

  

Maybe you’ve guessed that. Maybe yesterday has been busy for you too for quite some time. The winter lull of schedules that never really happened and the swift pace of life in springtime. We’ve got friends and family and visits and excursions. We’ve got school almost over and summer almost here and vacations looming just over the horizon. We’ve got appointments and meetings and the never-ending stream of big decisions to make. (We’ve got the feeling that I’m free-writing my to-do list for you right now). I’ve got work. Lots of work. And projects. So many projects. It makes the part of me that always dreamed of being a successful freelance writer dance with glee. This is good, so good. It’s working. 

 But, you know, a day like yesterday, and yesterday’s yesterday, used to send me quivering. I’d be literally vibrating now with the excitement but also the anxiety and stress of it all. I’d be snapping and feeling like I’ve let my family life slide in this time of so much going on. I’d be worried about the sustainability of our schedules and this life and how do I make it all work? 

 But yesterday, I was ok. Today I am ok. 

 On my way home from a meeting the other day, I listened to an interview with Shauna Niequist. She was talking about her new book (officially added to my ever-growing list of books I want to read. Bread & Wine is sitting on my shelf too, waiting for me). In the podcast (and in the book as well, I’m sure) she said, “It is better to be with than to do for.” 

 It is better to be with than to do for. It’s just a collection of words that could be said and let to swiftly disperse into the air. They sound so nice and it doesn’t take a lot of thought to nod your head, yes, that is true. Honestly, it’s one of those phrases that I will often just nod my head thinking, yes, that exactly, that is what I needed to hear. But in the next second I typically move on with my busy life, forgetting the nugget of wisdom in the chaos of toddlers screaming beneath loud re-tellings of a kindergartner’s day. I actively seek out these nuggets all day long and regularly fail to grasp them long enough for them to make the impact that they need to. 

But not yesterday. 

 Yesterday I walked out of my office after my last meeting of the day and there was chaos. Kids having just arrived home running and shouting and vying for my attention. Husband making dinner and asking questions about ingredients. My own mind still swirling with the list of to-do’s I’d gathered in the meeting, bits of colleague’s feedback floating around. And suddenly, Shauna’s words passed through my heart and mind. 

It is better to be with than to do for. It is better to be with. Be with. 

 And so, I was with. I sat on the floor and let my little boy curl into my lap to play with his toys. I dutifully stood next to my daughter to dress Cinderella and Prince Charming for the ball. I sat on the couch and played hangman until Daddy capped off the game with ‘bedtime’ as the word and we all made our way upstairs.  I did a little for too, of course. This season of motherhood is still primarily do for with dinners to make and baths to give and things that rest on shelves too high for little people. There has to be more than a little do for in my life right now. 

But perhaps the do for should never come at the expense of the be with. 

~~~~~

Linking up with one word

March 31, 2015
by Tricia
0 comments

Live, Love, Support

reading together

Live

In a house asleep, I read. Real pages between my fingertips. Words but no pictures. The story is deep and deeply engrossing. I don’t often read novels but lately I have found myself lost in stories of imaginary people and worlds so unlike my own. Where I used to spend these nap times seeking ways to produce, create, do something, these days I quietly consume. It’s a winter position. Life is quiet in winter. Living is smaller. I suppose, if I could, I’d sleep during this time too. But I’ve never been good at napping. Though I am not nearly as controlled and regimented as I used to be, I still can’t shed the commitment to sleep at night, wake during the day.

Then they wake and my book goes away and the afternoon is louder in a house awake though I couldn’t quite tell you why or what we do. I just know it feels busy in an unimportant way. There is music and playtime. Dinner prep, getting ready for the week to begin. We eat dinner with our eyes glued to a movie because the day has been lazy and slow and the table seems like too much effort.

And just like that, another day has ended. I haven’t left the house. Haven’t seen, or talked with, anyone but my three people. And that’s ok. Sometimes.

At tuck in, she begins her prayers. I repeat them after her because that is how we’ve always done her bedtime prayers. She gets to the part where we list out the things we are thankful for. We begin with family and then move on to the events of the day, usually recounting times with friends, special treats, fun moments we spent together. But she draws a blank. She’s got nothing. And I have more of the same.

The day dawned and turned to dusk and we did nothing of note. Nothing at all. And I realize, we need to live.

Love

“You know I love you, right?” I ask them. I ask in good times but, also, in bad. I ask when they have just strung words together into a sentence that makes me smile in awe at their sweetness, their charm, their intelligence and, always, the knowledge that they are my people. And I ask when they have just strung words together into a sentence, or maybe a scream, that makes my blood boil in frustration at their smallness, their humanness, their persistence and, always the knowledge that I am their person. Because, so much of the time, those are the moments that chase me from love. So often, in the middle of a tantrum, I daydream ahead to the moment when I will glance at their peaceful, sleeping bodies as I make my way to my bed, just to feel the glow of the love when I need it most.

So I ask them if they know I love them, there in that moment when they are angry and they know I am too and we’re running late and in another second I’ll be doing my best to not blame our lateness on them while doing it all the same. And they say yes and, you know, sometimes that diffuses it. Sometimes it takes love, delivered and received, for us all to move on. And I realize, we need to love.

Support

“Stand on your own two feet.” I say. “No I will not pick you up.” I quip. I want them to support themselves with the feet they grew when supported by my body, the feet that learned to step and move and carry them as I held their hands above their heads, the feet that work just fine. They want to use those feet, when they want to, and want me to do the work for them when they don’t. I say no but they claw at me and whine and beg. Sometimes I still deny them. You have feet. You can get where you want to go without me. But more and more lately, I’m indulging them. Lifting them, supporting them. I realize, we all need to support.

Live, Love, Support

This winter has been long and hard. Spring is dawning but frustratingly slowly. And we all need out. We forget that we are not prisoners trapped here, somehow together but family members who live here together, love each other, and, deep down, do want to support one another. We loose sight of our primary obligations to one another – to live, to love, to support.

But Spring is coming and with each sunny day I’m remembering that this is it. This is what my family needs from me. To live. To love. To support.

March 25, 2015
by Tricia
3 Comments

Wonderful

in my pocket

We have these wonderful moments. Days, in fact. We click. We communicate on a wholly different level. These moments and days fill me up. These are the days I did this for – the reasons I dreamed of this kind of life, the one lived in service to the little person whose hair color matches mine and whose fingers are dimpled and delicious. Life is lived in these moments and memories are made, the kinds of memories I’ll want, the ones that will make me cry harder but all in a good way when I wave goodbye to him as he launches into his own life.

On these days, there are tickles and cuddles and laughter. Conversations in what feels, increasingly, like our own little language. These days happen on a cloud. They really do. I don’t remember them in specifics. Only feelings and glimpses. A shot of him standing by my bed as I fold laundry, the sun illuminating a halo of golden curls around his head. The feeling of his head resting on my shoulder as we rock in the chair where I nursed him and soothed him to sleep. That unique sensation of his soft arms clasped around my neck.

Toddlerhood is wonderful.

Except when it isn’t.

We also have these terrible moments. Awful days. Days when we couldn’t possibly click because no two people have ever been farther apart in the world. Using plain words, universally understood language, we miss each other all day long. There is screaming and yelling on these days. Time outs just as much for me as for him. Starting over a thousand times a day, futile attempts to change course, navigate away from the storm. I’m still bad at that, changing course midstream. A day headed into rocky waters is lost to me by mid-morning. I make a big deal of trying to shift, head towards the sun. But it’s all for show.

I don’t remember these days in specifics either, what a blessing. I can’t tell you why he melted down, what travesty piled on top of frustration or anger to reduce us both to our most primitive, most emotional selves. But there are the feelings and glimpses. The sight of him in the big, red arm chair, his mouth a perfect and giant O and his eyes squinted together to push the loudest wail possible, all the way up from his belly. The feeling of his rod-straight body against mine as I carry one who does not want to be carried and the way his screams, with such short distance to travel, pierce my ears. That unique sensation of being angry, so very angry, with another human.

In calmer moments, I find it odd, the ways in which I relate to him. With adults, people who could more than handle my anger and frustration, who deserve to understand how their actions and words have affected me, I am silent. When a little conflict and a lot of conversation could move a relationship to a wonderful new level, I avoid confrontation. I work out my anger or wounded heart on my own, telling myself I do it all of the sake of the love. But with him? He, the one whose words and actions are never, ever designed to hurt me. He who needs my guidance and my grace and my forgiveness. He who apologizes instantaneously and loves me unconditionally? With him, I lash back.

It’s backwards.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if, now that I see this, I could change it? If I could just flip it around. Absorb his emotions and feelings and frustrations, resolve my reactions to his behavior all on my own. And, instead, react to those who are more deserving of seeing my hurt and anger.

It would be wonderful if it were that easy.

~~~~~

Linking up with Lisa for One Word.

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