Sunday, February 28, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to Keep Track of Days of the Week

Dear Friends,

Top Ten Reasons to keep track of what day of the week it is, even when your husband is unemployed and no longer bound to the M-F work week:

1) American Idol - As Paige knows: "Eight o'clock! Idol!" Gotta know when it's Tuesday.

2) Birth control pills - Um, kind of more important now than ever. Labelled by day.

3) CVS coupons - Keeping track of when they expire might make the $5 difference in which brand of "bathroom tissue" you get. Example: soft vs. sandpaper.

4) Scheduling job interviews. Self-explanatory.

5) Still need semi-weekly showers for Mommie. Oops, make that daily, now that Daddy is home to watch the kids for 10 consecutive minutes. So, this is just to mark your calendar as "SUCCESS" for every day you get a shower, rather than pining and strategizing for one like you used to.

6) Unemployment payments - Apparently husband will be calling in and collecting a paltry but exceptionally appreciated check on certain days. More research to be done on this, but I'm certain day of the week matters.

7) Upcoming birthday - I plan to send husband around town for whatever free meals he can get on his birthday. Who serves breakfast? PS. Has a four-year-old ever faked an i.d., changing their birthdate (year immaterial)?

8) Severance pay - Need to tick off the weeks, watch the settlement package dwindle, weigh options about job offers. The dicey offers, if any, are going to start looking more appealing in about 8 weeks. 

9) Craigslist - Pay attention to when I post items-and believe me, I am posting like a crazy woman, while trying not to feel frantic. Fridays are ideal posting days on craigslist, since a lot of potential buyers are on there Saturday mornings. Anyone need a convertible carseat in very good condition?

10) Therapy appointment - Oh, right, no money for therapy to deal with all of the feelings that accompany having two small children, one mortgaged house, four people who eat, four cats who eat, such extravagances as electricity, heat, water, gas, that damn expensive food again...and no income stream.... Keeping stress, panic, and anxiety at bay will just have to happen by reaching out for moral support from my friends, like you. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Labor of Love

Dear Friends,

Tonight, I am trying not to wolf my dinner-while I have two hands to eat and my lap is clear-as my husband just arrived home from work, and is playing with the kids upstairs. Ahhh....the joy of literally five minutes to myself.....

Speaking of putting in a full day of work: Time for a rest. Take a breath. Relax. Release. The contraction is over.

The contraction? Yes, the contraction which I will define as one reeeeallly long-let's say roughly 23 hours-period of intense work, requiring my full attention, being fully in the moment, everything-that-came-before-informs-this-instant-in-time, I've-never-worked-this-hard-in-my-life kind of work. And there is an unbelievable reward at the end of it all: fabulous, healthy, nourished, nurtured children.

I've been "on the clock" with at least one child since 8 p.m. last night, when I took one frequent-nursing, teething toddler to bed. It is now 7 p.m. We were up a few hours during the night. I've wanted to weep with exhaustion today, when little Sweetie's nap didn't occur when I wish it had. Fill in the details of chasing after/monitoring/feeding/nursing/playing with/reassuring/snuggling, etc. those two fabulous, energetic, healthy toddlers.

Whew! It is so important to take each break in labor (childbirth/mothering) when it comes! I can't anticipate the work ahead, or lament the work behind. My rest needs to be true, deep, refreshing, recreating, for the creative work that lies ahead. Oops, don't think ahead, don't plan, don't fact, don't "DON'T." Just be....

Natural childbirth has given me the confidence to parent naturally. I achieved something I never expected I could do. During the most difficult part of my first childbirth labor (yep, transition), I found myself repeating, "I can't..." until my husband assured me, "You CAN. You ARE." Magnificent reflection of reality back to me at a crucial time, by my exceptionally loving and intuitive husband...

You CAN. You ARE. You have everything you need to do this job. Trust your body. Relax between the periods of hard work. KNOW that you can do this. Believe in yourself. Look at your children with kind, refreshed eyes, and appreciate your hard, hard work. You will accomplish unbelievable (BELIEVE anyway!) feats. Find the Divine within yourself. The Strength. The Love.

Oh, good! I hear two tender little voices, one deep one, and gales of laughter heading back down the stairs. I am refreshed and ready for the next contraction. And so very blessed. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Go With the Flow

Dear Friends,

Typing with one hand - do any other nursing moms out there relate? We grab our moments when we can....Such a classic....

So, last Saturday I decided to run an experiment: Let it flow. See, hidden in here is still my penchant toward controlling, well, everything. "Let." As if it were an option to stop or prevent the flow of the day. Not that I want to stop the flow. I'd prefer to direct it. 

In my more self-benevolent moments, I'd like to reframe this desire to direct as "helping." But at its heart, I know it is bossy, nagging, and manipulative. I suspect it elicits feelings of -at the very least-irritation and at its worst probably beleaguered defeat.

I'm like a border collie, but rather than exhibiting merely herding behavior, I attempt to get everyone to follow my Master Plan. 

Trouble is, my poor family, with me barking and nipping at its heels, is not being allowed to just be.  And I include myself in that group.  And oops, there it is again: "allowed." Permit, let, allow-this language reveals the mindset that I am somehow in charge, or at least trying very hard to be so.

So, here is the truth of the matter. My penchant for controlling, my desire to direct, and help, and herd, is all borne of one thing: fear. Anxiety, what-ifs, how to do it better, how to create the perfect environment for a child's growth. Aha, irony! In trying to micro-manage the members of my family and attempting to orchestrate the order of the day, I end up self-defeated. Instead of freedom, there is lock-down. In place of creativity, there is Carrie's Law of Order. Rather than empowering my husband to develop his parenting skills and explore the children's nuances, my actions undermine the natural unfolding of their relationship.

Hence, my decision to run an experiment last weekend: Let it flow. I intentionally chose that language-"Let"-so I could hang onto that familiar companion: the illusion of control.  I repeated this as my mantra throughout the day. Let it flow. Let it flow.

Here is what I discovered-or actually uncovered: There is a peacefulness underlying letting go. The very anxieties I was trying to eliminate dissolved in the process of letting go. That unreachable itch was soothed when I stopped trying to scratch. The border collie was at rest.

Before making this "aha" discovery, though, I was frankly astonished by the numerous, the bountiful, the sheer multitude of times I stopped myself from jumping in and directing my family's interactions and reminded myself: Let it flow. I am so vigilant and committed to creating a certain ideal living environment, that I can more easily understand why I'm just so incredibly exhausted at the end of every day. Managing  all of the behaviors and communications is too much work, and it's not working.

Okay. So, after catching myself about a hundred times, I stopped stubbornly trying to hold back the river's flow with my two bare hands. And something happened. Without my conscious choice, my mantra changed over several hours. To my surprise, it had become "Go with the flow." I could barely remember starting with "Let...." It just changed. I changed. Without nipping, cajoling, barking, pushing, herding, meddling or suggesting. It simply happened when I let go and just flowed.

And guess what? The world still turned, the day unfolded, the river flowed, and the sheep enjoyed a full day of open, self-directed grazing and bonding.  My heart was filled with more love than ever for my family, and more compassion for myself.