Monday, April 28, 2008

Along for the Ride

I took these pictures the other day when we were out for a cruise around the neighborhood. Dexter stayed in the stroller the whole time, but Nate and I switched off: half the time he rode his trike and I pushed the stroller, the other half I carried his trike and he pushed the stroller. Thankfully not many cars drove by, because Nate is not very good at steering yet!

The look on Dexter's face in the close up picture makes me laugh and it makes me think. Laugh, because he looks almost teenager-ish, like he should be texting his friends that he is 'so over it' or something. (Truthfully the kid was just tired and in what I like to call a 'stroller trance.') But just seeing his facial expression makes me think about what a different life he has compared to Nate's at that age.

You would think that the same two parents would be able to raise each of their children in basically the same ways, but it doesn't happen. Not only do you change as a parent with each successive kid, you change your family dynamic when you bring another unique individual into the mix. When Nate was a 7 month-old only child, he didn't take snail-paced walks around the neighborhood just to get out of the house during the witchy hours of the afternoon. True, I was working a bit and I spent time with friends regularly, etc. but the main focus of my attention was Nate. And though I love my sweet, chubby second-born son to pieces, and I give him all the attention I can, much of his life necessarily revolves around big brother.

How will this shape who Dexter becomes? Or even who Nate becomes? I know as an eldest child I probably thought the world revolved around me more so than my younger sibs, who sat through countless swim meets and... well, more swim meets.

It will probably be decades before I can actually see how these differences play out in each child's personality and growth. Just one more thing to talk with Jon about when we're sitting on the porch with our prune juice I guess!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Means Yes

You know how there are certain lessons that you feel like you've had to learn over and over and over? Each time you learn it, you think "Ok, finally it has sunk in this time and I will never get myself into that situation again." I'm sure it's different for everyone, but the lesson I will probably need a lifetime to learn is this: One cannot, need not, and should not say YES to everything.

I think this is especially hard for me because for many years growing up I chose to say no to everything except swimming. No other sports, no student groups, no extracurriculars, barely even a non-swimming friend. I "retired" from the sport at age 20 and finally had the option of saying yes to other things. As you can imagine, I took it to the extreme. By my senior year of college I was in so many associations, student groups, volunteer corps, you name it, I literally didn't have 15 minutes of unscheduled time in my week. It was silly. Since then I have gone in cycles, sometimes beyond over-committed and other times strangely unscheduled. Becoming a mom added a new element, since now my yeses and nos have a profound impact, not only on my life, but on my children's lives.

The reason I am devoting a blog to this topic is that I recently found myself giving advice on the subject to another mom (who happens to be my mom). We were talking about how hard it is to say no to something, or even give something up, when you love it and find fulfillment in it. But the reality is that, much like a buffet diner, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Everything looks so good! Pizza! Soup! Salad! Muffins! Pasta! Frozen yogurt! Now I know if I put all that on my tray at Souplantation there's no way I will be able to eat it all. And when it comes to eating dinner, this is not a big problem - just eat what you can and leave the rest. But when it comes to living out the Lord's plan for our lives, we need to hear His still small voice saying no... or not right now... or not anymore. There are things that I am good at, that I love to do, that God has given me the gifts to do, that I am not doing right now. Who knows what blessings I would miss if I had said yes to those things, when God asked me to say no? I'm sure I'll have to learn this at least three dozen more times this side of heaven, but right now I am enjoying the yeses that have come from saying no.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Urine Ballast Country

So I promised some "sunnier" thoughts after my last post, and you would have gotten those sunny thoughts had I posted on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday. But today is Saturday and the theme of the day has been urine. Sunny in color, I guess, but otherwise not-so-sunny.

This morning began when Dexter woke up at 6:15 AM , which I can't complain too much about, since it was the first we'd heard out of him since 7 PM. By 6:30 all four of us were in the bed: a baby babbling, a toddler rough-housing, and two adults trying to sleep on 1/3 of a queen-sized bed.

The piddle-fest was kicked off by Nate, who managed to hold his pee all night, only to unleash it all over our master bathroom. To be fair, he did try to hit the toilet. Lots of power, no control. Dexter got in on the act a few minutes later when he peed all over our sheets and my pajamas. This was mostly my fault, since I'm the one who decided his undercarriage needed to breathe after 12 hours in the same diaper. Two hours and two glasses of milk later, Nate unleashed the fury in our hall bathroom - it felt like our entire morning was spent mopping up pee. And now, as I am writing this, Dexter has wet through the cloth diaper draped through his legs and pee is soaking into my pants. I am not making this up. Ok ok, it is my fault again for not putting a real diaper on the kid, but his poor little bum is raw and I thought to myself, what are the chances he'll do it AGAIN? Maybe I'll learn someday. For now, I'll go change my pants.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If Mama Aint Happy...

...aint nobody happy.

I've always interpreted this saying to be prescriptive in a way; that is, one should try to keep Mama happy so that everyone else will in turn be happy. But this week the saying has taken a decidedly descriptive nature.

I'm not sure what caused my current case of the "blahs." Maybe one glorious day of summer weather followed by three days of winter? Whatever the cause, I have been grumpy and it is contagious. My two-year-old seems particularly susceptible to Mommy-induced grumpiness, but even the baby has been fussy and off-kilter the past couple of days. I can't quite put my finger on why, and I am too muddled in the head to think much about it.

I wish the saying went more like this: "If Mama aint happy, BE HAPPY." Maybe then I could feed off the happiness around me, rather than wallow in the downward spiral... grumpy, made grumpier by the grumpiness of others, guilty because their grumpiness was sparked by mine, frustrated that their grumpiness made me grumpier even though it was my fault for being grumpy in the first place. Ugh.

Sunnier thoughts to follow (I hope).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Me Without You

When I created this blog a few days ago, I made an "About Me" section that appears at the bottom of the page. I wanted my potential (if improbable) readers to know the basics - my husband and kids' names and relevant dates. The next day when I pulled up my blog page, the irony struck me: the section that is labeled "About Me" is exclusively made up of information about other people.

At first I was kind of embarrassed by this. Shouldn't I have been able to come up with some interesting and important information about myself, besides the names of my husband & kids? But as I thought about it more, I decided that the section will stay just as it is. Is there something wrong with my husband and kids being the most pertinent pieces of information about me? Not at all. In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way. Sure there are other things I could tell people about myself, but what does the majority of my life revolve around? Loving these three people. Far from being embarrassed about that, I am proud of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trial Run

I'm not sure I have enough to say to warrant a blog, but I guess we'll find out.

I've had an itch to start blogging for a few different reasons. First of all, being a busy mom of two boys I don't tend to put aside much time for journaling and reflection. Often I'll have some realization or light-bulb moment while in the middle of changing a diaper, talking on the phone, and trying to keep Nate from putting paper clips in the heating vents. I'm hoping that this blog will be a place where I can occasionally gather my thoughts and reflect on them.

I was chatting with a friend about blogging the other day, kind of trying to sort out exactly why I was feeling the urge to start. She very wisely pointed out that blogging has an accountability aspect that journaling lacks. This struck a chord with me. I could just write in a journal, or since I prefer typing I could use a Word document as a journal. But if no one will ever read what I'm writing, I know I'll be tempted toward laziness in both content and form.

Of course, its likely that no one will in fact read my blog since I have no plans to email the link to friends or post it on facebook... but it is out there in cyberspace and someone COULD read it. So I will make at least a feeble attempt at readability. Hey reader, if you're out there... thanks for holding me accountable!