Monday, November 2, 2009

An Ode to Reading

I've always loved libraries, & bookstores new and used.
I've read books by the dozen (and that's just before noon)!
None of that's changed, but I find myself reading
more books that rhyme, or feature animals speaking.
The books I now read have sturdy pages,
and bright illustrations with a few simple phrases.
Why have things changed? I've not lost my mind;
but now a small toddler takes all of my time.
This poem could go on with wishful thinking
of curling up with a novel and slowly drinking
a mug of hot coffe; but alas I must go.
My boy wants to read about a hippo.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Compassionate Consistency

Okay, so I’ve spent more time thinking about how I want to parent Owen, and I’ve finally come up with a title for my philosophy, if you will.

“Compassionate Consistency”

I want to be compassionate:
I want to remember that he is a child, and I am the adult.
I want him to know he is loved and cherished.
I want to show him affection and understanding.
I want to give him the freedom to make mistakes.

I want to be consistent:
I want my yes to mean yes and my no to mean no.
I want to him to be able to depend on me.
I want him to be able to anticipate what is coming, and not feel like his world is unpredictable.
I want him to feel secure and confident with me.

I’ve discovered that I have a terrible time being compassionate when I’m tired or when things are not going my way. If I want Owen to nap and he won’t fall asleep, then compassion seems to go out the window.

And I’m such a random person myself that it’s hard to be consistent with Owen’s schedule, even when I know that he does best with a regular routine.

So each day I set myself a few small goals, and I’m happy to say that I’ve gone a whole week without getting angry at Owen for not sleeping. I’ve had compassion for him when he’s having a rough day, instead of getting upset at him for being cranky.

And I’ve created some routines for meal times and naps and bedtimes that Owen has responded to, making our family life a little more predictable. Of course, I’ve also had him out and about a lot more lately, which has messed up his routine. Even when I try to make room for him to still get his naps and meals at the same times, somehow it doesn’t work out just right and he’s off his schedule again.

So we’re getting there…figuring out how we each contribute to the family as a whole, and learning how to love and serve each other in the ways we need.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Things That Have Changed Since I Became a Mom

1. My definition of a good nights’ sleep.
Before Baby (BB): 8 – 9 hours of deep, dreamless sleep.

Now: only getting up once to nurse the boy and getting to sleep for 4 hours in one stretch.

2. My wardrobe.
BB: I used to get dressed with thoughts like: “What would be fun to wear today? What would reflect my style and personality, fit the weather, and would be suitable for what I’m doing today? Would Brendan like this outfit?”

Now: “Is it machine washable for when Owen spits up on me? Can I nurse him discreetly in public wearing this? Does it fit my new post-baby shape?” and after a particularly rough night, the only question I ask is “Is it fairly clean?”

3. My reaction to news or stories of bad things happening to babies or children.
BB: I felt sad.

Now: I grieve for these children and their parents. I feel an overwhelming urge to go pick up my baby and hold him tight and never let him go. The emotional reaction to these stories just overwhelms me, almost to the point of tears. Sometimes I have to turn off the TV or stop reading.

4. What counts as “a productive day”.
BB: Doing all the dishes and all the laundry, going to the bank and the library, sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, straightening up the house, sorting the mail, checking email and responding to messages, finishing one of the projects on the “to do” list.

Now: Getting dressed, eating all 3 meals, doing half the dishes, and taking care of Owen.

5. Date Nights.
BB: We got dressed up a little, went out to eat, and then saw a movie, play, or concert. Date nights happened every Friday night.

Now: When we find a babysitter, we go out. Sometimes we go for dinner or a movie or a concert. Date nights happen once a month. We try to still do something “date like” on Friday nights…but it’s usually watching a movie from Netflix after Owen is asleep, sometimes with frequent breaks when Owen isn’t sleeping well.

6. What I’m reading.
BB: One or two historical mysteries each week, plus a non-fiction book, a couple magazines, and the daily newspaper.

Now: Board books. Lots of board books. At least one Sandra Boynton book a day, plus others like “Busy Kitties”, “Chaat and Sweets”, “Happy Baby 123”, and “Mommy Hugs”. As for grown-up reading material? It’s a good week when I read the newspaper every day.

7. How I get ready to go out.
BB: The focus was all on me: Making sure I had all the right accessories for my outfit, packing up a couple snacks for myself and a book to read, double checking my hair…

Now: It’s all about Owen. It’s a miracle if I remember to look at myself in the mirror on the way out the door, much less bother with accessories! And a book for me to read? Well, see #6 above…

8. What I do in my free time.
BB: Scrapbook, hang out in coffee shops, read, go for long walks with Brendan, play around with an art project, sit and think and daydream.

Now: Sleep.

9. What I worry about.
BB: Is Brendan safe? Does this outfit look okay? Am I being a good wife? Am I living my life the best that I can?

Now: Is Brendan safe? Is Owen safe? Does this outfit look okay? Am I still attractive after having a baby and my body getting all weird? Am I being a good wife? Am I a good mother? Am I living my life the best that I can? Am I setting a good example for Owen? What if I lose Brendan or Owen or both of them?

10. What brings me joy.
BB: Brendan, sunny days, our cats, flowers, fresh fruit and veggies, chocolate, sitting in a coffee shop with a good cappuccino, walking in the woods, sitting and watching the ocean, Disney World, a good book, snuggling up with a cozy blanket on a rainy day….

Now: Owen’s laughter, Brendan, Owen’s smiles, sunny days, seeing Owen and Brendan snuggling together, our cats, watching Owen learn to pet the cats, flowers, introducing Owen to the smells and textures of the world, fresh fruit and veggies, watching Owen’s face when he tastes something new, chocolate, holding Owen when he’s sleeping, anticipating all the new discoveries Owen will make…

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Philosophy becomes real

I cannot count how many people have asked me “what is your philosophy of parenting?” They want to know if I subscribe to one camp or the other, a quick way to find out if I am parenting “the right way” or if I need to be corrected. Many people are firmly entrenched in one philosophy, and I sometimes fear that they will cling to their position even when it isn’t quite the right fit anymore.

I came into parenting stating that my philosophy of parenting is that it's made up of:
25% my personality and style,
25% my husband's personality and style,
25% our baby's personality and style, and
25% our family culture and values.
Mix that all together, and then figure out what works. If that means we do things sometimes from the attachment parenting philosophy, and sometimes we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum, so be it. We’ll just do what works for us and not worry if it fits into one particular camp or the other.

So before Owen was born, Brendan and I discussed how we wanted to do things. Where would Owen sleep, how would we feed him, what would we do when he cries, what boundaries would we set, etc. etc. I really thought we had a good plan, and good communication about how parenting would work in our house.

And then Owen was born.

Remember that 25% that I said he would contribute? Yeah, well, that 25% didn’t fit with the 75% we'd already planned out. And I had to turn my philosophy of parenting into a reality and adjust our plans to adapt to Owen's personality and style.

At first, I wanted to hang on to my position and my plan. “Come on, kid,” I thought, “this isn’t how this is supposed to work! You're supposed to do it this way, not that way!” Then I realized that I was doing exactly what I saw other parents do – I was clinging to my ideas of how I wanted to raise my son, even when it clearly wasn't going to work for him.

We didn't completely abandon the values and ideas we'd worked out before he was born, we just modified what it looked like to make that happen. It was rough at first, as we all got to know each other in our new roles in the family. We're still learning, but it's definitely getting easier to anticipate how to love and care for Owen in a way that fits.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mother’s Hands

It seemed appropriate to share these thoughts today, my first Mother’s Day as Owen’s mommy. I wrote down these reflections a few weeks after Owen was born.

I looked down at my hands today as I was taking care of Owen, and was startled to discover that I have my mother’s hands. My hands look just as I remember how my mother’s looked! The shape, the veins, the fingers, the way they were moving…it was all the same.

When did this happen? When did my hands become my mother’s?

I remember my mom’s hands doing so many things…
…stroking my hair
…holding my hand
…cooking amazing meals
…holding a book
…petting the cats
...tucking me in
…serving too many people to count

So many memories of her hands! And now I see my hands and feel conscious of her presence again. She will never hold her grandson, Owen, but as my hands wipe his tears and cuddle him close, she loves him through me. My mother is the one who taught me compassion, service, and gentleness, and I hope that Owen will see the same things in my hands that I saw in hers.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A begining

This won't be a particularly well organized or highly structured blog. In fact, I'll be downright random at times!

Sometimes I'll be reflecting on new things I've discovered as I launch into parenthood, or perhaps it will be an insight I've gained in my journey with God.

Other posts will simply be sharing a fun story about my day, or bringing news of Owen as he grows.

Occasionally the posts will be thoughtful, but I'm not going to hold myself to the standard of profundity for all I write.

This is just a place for me to, well, reflect. To mirror back my thoughts, my days, my joys, and my frustrations, in the hope that in articulating these things, you might, sometime, see yourself and be encouraged, cheered, and blessed.