Self care and fridges

Pictures from our day.

I feel like we entered a new level of homemaking today since we purchased a second refrigerator. I got it used for $50 and it’ll live in the garage next to our chest freezer. My teen thinks it’s hilarious and slightly embarrassing to have two fridges, but I assured him that it’s quite common. We will finally have space for all the veggies that we juice and lots of extra fruit! I’m a little too excited about it.

The sleepless baby saga continues as we wait for that tooth. It isn’t too bad, but it does mean I’m much too tired to wake early, before my kids, to do much self-care. Waking up at the same time as my kids, feet hitting the ground when I wake, isn’t my ideal. In fact, my favorite time to wake up is 4:30am. But with a baby now, that isn’t happening and probably won’t for a good year more. So i settle for 5:30 most mornings, and the first child (usually the baby) usually at 6. For me, self-care can be anything that fills my cup. Meditation. Long showers. Cup of tea and a good audio book. A book I enjoy. Journaling. Making things. Just sitting and enjoying the silence.

But I have a lot of patience these days, this being my fourth baby. I look forward to the days when I have more time to myself, but I am also deeply savoring these days of child rearing that slip by so quickly. I know all too well that in a few years, my days of babies will be over. So for now, I’m quite content to just be here, now, and enjoy where I’m at, squishy baby snuggles and little time to myself. It’s all perfect.

Inspiration

The last couple of weeks have been challenging, in my own little world and in our shared big world. I’m not going to go into the details right now, but I feel called to share some of what inspires me at the moment.

#1 The three humans who are walking and running across multiple state lines to get to the Democratic National Convention at the end of the month. Seriously, these guys are an inspiration to me daily right now.  Here is screenshots of some of their FB posts.

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Wow.

ok, #2 John Lennon

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I think about him nearly daily lately. And his two songs, Love is Real and A Working Class Hero, run through my head frequently.

#3 Love.

I know this is broad, but just remembering that the definition of a miracle, according to A Course in Miracles, is chosing love over fear. That is a miracle. I’ve been thinking of this almost constantly, as I wade through the deep waters of parenting, and watch what is going on around the world and in our country. I saw this quote today by one of my favorite people/authors, Kyle Gray, and wanted to scream, I loved it so much.

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Yes.

I’m so grateful for the inspiration that surrounds me when I just open up my eyes and pay attention.

In the words of my favorite contemporary poet Mary Oliver,

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Saying YES

What a whirlwind these last two days have been. And through it all, I am given constantly two choices. Accept the moment, whatever it is, and say yes. Or resist it, be angry it is happening, annoyed it is happening and see how that helps. Because, I know. I know too well. Resisting only makes me more at odds with what IS and thus more conflict arises from me (via my thoughts or words or actions).

I can be thankful for it all, and sometimes I can actually manage that. But you know, I’m human and need to remind myself later  when I’m reflecting back on my day, to be thankful for such abundant opportunities to chose love, to find peace amongst the chaos.

Self-compassion.

Saying yes.

Awareness of my body. (Which I do my literally placing my right hand on my chest. It can almost instantly bring me back to my body and to the moment.)

Forgiveness (usually, that means self-forgiveness).

These are the cornerstones of my spiritual practice as I do this mothering thing.

I don’t honestly know how I made it through mothering all these years before I knew about self-compassion. Wow. It has changed the ball game for me. To actually talk to myself in the way that I would talk to a dear friend who was struggling…that is powerful stuff. It sounds simple. And it is. But, it is powerful. Because sometimes literally *all* I can do is say to myself “This is so hard, I’m sorry you are struggling right now and I love you.”, whilst I have children screaming at each other, not even hearing me, while I hold one back from the other.

Saying yes. Yes, I actually sometimes say it out loud. Like, yes, even though I have a child who is in the middle of a temper tantrum about I’m-not-even-sure-what and he’s scaring the younger two, I also now need to go clean up a broken mason jar full of fresh veggie juice from my driveway. In case you are wondering how that looks, I took a picture. It wasn’t top priority, and didn’t get cleaned up for quite a while that morning. But, I just said yes.

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Self-forgiveness. Whoa. Yes. Because sometimes I don’t say yes. I start resisting and then words just spill our of my mouth at my kid that I totally didn’t mean to say but I’m swept up in the wave of annoyance or whatever. Then, before I can even get to a place to reconnect with him and apologize sincerely, without that apology laying more guilt into my own self image as a mother, I need to forgive ME. This has probably been the hardest thing to do. Forgiving myself doesn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t see it modeled as a child, and I don’t think it’s really something we even do in our culture. And it still doesn’t come easy for me. I must consciously remember I need to do it, and even that can take a day or two, while in the meantime I get swept along the River of Guilt.

I used to really, sincerely think that if I parented “right”, my kids would grow up without issues or poor self-worth, or baggage of any kind, really. Ha! Aren’t we all so naive before we have kids, or when our first child is under age 3? Now, I get it. There is no magic formula to raise children who don’t have some inner work to do. This is the work of life: to experience it, and to have those experiences give us some work to do! As a parent, I can only do one thing: the best that I can. And when (not if) I mess up, I forgive myself, apologize to my kid, and endeavor to learn and grow from it.

I’ve so much more to write, but sleep beckons. My gratitude that such a thing as sleep exists is endless.

Another birthday

I’ve been composing this all day (in my head). Today I turned 35 years old.

When my husband asked me what I wanted a few weeks ago, without hesitation I answered him. A whole luxurious day at home, alone. Silent house. No one needing anything. Hours to spend reading, crafting, meditating, journaling, just being. I knew this was a daydream. It just isn’t possible at this point, not this year, anyhow. But, I still told him. (He ended up getting me a massage gift certificate, which is wonderful!)

It being a weekday and me being a homemaker with three kids at home all day, my birthday was not much different from any other day. You know, cat wakes me up at 4:40am to go potty outside, I get an hour of quiet time in the wee hours before the 3 year old tries to wakes up and I go put her back to sleep. Then the day begins. Usual daily chores. But I want a cake, so bake that. House is freezing and no wood chopped, so that needs to get done. 12 year old child being especially obstinate and refusing to help, thanks to my well-intentioned husband who asked him to be sure to help out today and not fight with his brother since it was my birthday. His dislike of being told what to do is the only possible explaination that my husband and I can come up with for his absolute LACK of helping today. Usually, he’s fairly good about doing his chores and getting his lessons going. Today, it was as if it was his birthday and a day off, he refused to help or listen. Exhausting.

The thing you don’t realize until you are in it, is that as a parent of young (or older stubborn) children, often your birthday just means more work. More things that need to be done, and the illusion of a relaxing day. I’m tried of single or childless people or people of older children (who’ve forgotten) asking me what I’m doing special today. Um, I’m taking care of three people, like usual, who still need me to do the usual regardless of the date on the calendar. One day, I’ll have a whole day to myself and I’ll doubtless look back and miss these days, but when you are in the trenches, it feels a little harder to appreciate and it takes much mindfullness to stay present and enjoy every second of this.

I’m so grateful for these little people in my life, and my fantastic husband. I am grateful I have had another year with them all. And I’m grateful for the opportunities my daily life presents to me to practice mindfullness, staying in the moment and surrendering.

Some days

This journey of parenting and homeschooling and being home with our kids full time is awesome. And yet, some days, it brings me to my knees and makes me question everything. That was my day today. So much crying, screaming, fighting, and other big feelings, it almost knocks the wind out of me. I saw this today and thought, YES! This is only sane way for me to move forward though days like this.

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A child screaming that they hate me?  Accept it, as it is what is happening. (Doesn’t mean that I like it, of course). A child crying LOUDLY for 30 minutes in my arms because she wanted to stay longer at the park?  Accept it, as it is what is happening. Embracing the moment actually does help me to move through these hard moments and not give in to my desire to go hide in my shell, in the quiet (if only I was a turtle).

I went through a dark period a few years ago where days like this would have me in the depths of hopelessness and overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, and it would linger for days or weeks. I’m very grateful to have navigated my way beyond that trap of my thoughts and into a new reality. We still have these sorts of days, and I still have dismal thoughts pop in my head while we are in the midst of them.  But my spiritual practice is my lifeboat now. Meditation and prayer, self-empathy, and embracing what is (letting go of resisting), remembering we are all whole and perfect (imperfectly perfect, that is) including my raging child, and that my thoughts about what is happening around me is the source of my suffering.

So much gratitude for sleep each night and a brand new day each morning!