Resolutions and other things

January 4, 2017

I’ve seen this comic and a couple similar memes go around this week. A friend pontificated this morning about the metaphor, that a musical resolution comes from dissonance and how our own resolutions should reflect the same. 

I’ve been struggling with setting resolutions this year, I don’t remember ever having such difficulty. Can I think of things I want to do better? Sure I can! But the list is so long. I don’t know how to narrow it down. I’m missing focus. 

Starting from dissonance makes sense to me. When I start there I can easily see that almost all of my problems from the past two years stem from my self esteem being at an all time low. There are many factors that have influenced this, primarily being the massive flux of  hormones  from the pregnancy and the postpartum period. I can’t do anything about that except hope that as I stabilize and my little one {hopefully, please!} learns to sleep I can turn things around. 

The problem is the hormones set off a spiral that I need to unwind. 

Everyone talks about cutting the toxic people from your life, those who make you feel badly about yourself instead of building you up. But what if some of those people who break you down are those you can’t cut from your life? Well if I could value myself enough to not let every little thing get me down then I think I could survive the people who are currently no good for my health. 

So I guess this year my goal is to love myself. 


Today

January 4, 2017

First day back at school after the break. It was a great break, don’t get me wrong. I loved the sleeping in, the lax schedules, and having Paul around. It was all wonderful.

But today is wonderful too. Little Man took a nap for as long as he needed, uninterrupted by activities or people. I’ve got all my planning done for today’s cub scout meeting hours in advance, consumed my smoothie leisurely, and have even restarted my Duolingo lessons. Other notable accomplishments today include having a shower and helping out at school. I don’t have supper plans yet and my day won’t stop for another 8 hours but I have some quiet time reading Moo Baa Lalala ahead of me before I return to juggling the opposing needs of tweens and toddlers. 
Tomorrow I might even start cleaning. And exercising.


Making the Kool Aid

December 1, 2016

In my childhood neighborhood were families of many ethnicities and religions. There was a couple that lived down our street who would go on evening walks together, the woman keeping several steps behind her husband. My mother explained to me that this distinction of the man before the woman was a part of their culture. I could do that, I remember thinking. I could play that role and feed the male ego. And I did. Until one day I realized I was no longer playing a role but had internalized it. 

What made me think that in the first place? I must have been about 8 years old so I certainly had already absorbed many of the messages from my own very patriarchal upbringing. Maybe part of me thought I would take the patriarchy all the way, either calling their bluff or being the best female I possibly could, living their rules and ideals to the max. Or maybe I felt strong enough as a person that I could sacrifice myself outwardly and think I wasn’t losing a part of myself. 

I practiced being demure. I nit-picked every part of myself that wasn’t feminine enough. I learned to keep my own thoughts and opinions to myself, and keep them malleable enough to defer to others. I found pride in being very low maintenance so as to never inconvenience others.  I worked toward a Buddhist zen in giving up myself for others. I considered my service to be noble until I realized I had lost my own footing and didn’t knowhow to ask for help because I truly believed that the comfort of others was bigger than my own. 

It didn’t come as an epiphany, rather the stones beneath my feet gradually disappeared over time and littlebt little I became aware of my own fragility and precarious footing. 

It’s one thing to believe oneself to be an egalitarian. It’s completely something else to believe that includes yourself. I never would have believed that trying so hard to be good would leave me feeling so badly about myself. 


Thanks

November 25, 2016

Growing up my winter holidays were first thanksgiving, followed by Halloween, Remembrance Day, and then Christmas. It wasn’t until 1997 that I celebrated my first American thanksgiving, stuffing the turkey between the oft-ignored Veterans Day and Christmas. In the beginning I took it as an act of mercy: a long weekend to prepare for finals. I’ve only recently been able to appreciate it as a preparation for Christmas. 

While I’m not as outwardly demonstrative as my friends who post a daily gratitude each day of November, I do enjoy the daily devotional of being grateful for individual, specific things. It’s another form of the walking to school practice my friend Jessi taught me wherein she prayed her entire walk to campus and tried to only list the “thank the”s and not ask for a single thing. However we do it, whether it be social media, paper chains, feathers on the turkey, a cornucopia, a prayer of thanks in our hearts, or whatever else, devoting the month before Christmas to gratitude helps to prepare us for Christmas. 

The gratitude practice prepares us for Christ in both a metaphoric and literal sense. Often as we count our blessings we recall from whom all blessings come, and additionally we are more inclined to kindness and charity to each other, seeing the good in them and being grateful for their roles in our lives. As we show more love to them and serve them more we again come closer to Christ. 

I do still celebrate thanksgiving, albeit on a smaller scale, in October, and I lament that American thanksgiving is either encroached upon by Christmas or makes the Christmas holiday feel rushed, but after 19 years I’ve come to settle into the step-wise preparation for Christ that begins with gratitude before turning to service. 


The Words We Say

November 11, 2016

I was clever enough in my formative years to know that I usually knew the correct answer. I was not clever enough to know that there could be more than one right answer. And I absolutely did not allow myself the cognitive space to decide for myself. I knew what I had been taught: good girls said/acted/thought this and that was that. 

With personality differences within my household I began to tease out opinions from fact, but it was in the early stages of intellectual independence at best. That beginning has come back to be helpful now, as I’m able to differentiate a personality quirk from doctrine or culture, but as for my personal development it was wholly inadequate. 

Thus I found myself in my mid twenties saying things I had been taught to say and only barely beginning the process of thinking how I felt. Usually the reflection didn’t even happen until after some push back from someone who challenged my assertions. I’m so grateful for that. It stung every time I realized I had said something I hadn’t studied and couldn’t stand behind, but it provided the push I needed to be real with myself. It still stings when I think back on those things; it takes a lot of compassion to forgive yourself of prior stupidity. 

For all those times I was ridiculously wrong, painfully tone deaf, or outright insensitive I’m sorry. And because of that I hope that many of the ridiculously wrong, painfully tone deaf, or outright insensitive things I hear others say are equally premature statements. We are learning and growing, our opinions evolving over time. 

So let me be clear about how I really feel. I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I’m still learning but I hope that every time I am wrong in the future it is because I erred too much on the side of compassion. I have so far to go, but I’m trying to think before I speak. Other people’s talking points are no good for me. 


Late Night Thoughts on Parenting

October 22, 2016

I’m not sure this baby is related to me. He doesn’t like sleep and he doesn’t like food. How could anyone not like sleep and not like food? Those are my raison d’ĂȘtre.

I am really seriously considering doing away with the crib and moving him into the toddler bed. Maybe he just doesn’t like baby jail? 

Red didn’t ever really sleep in the crib. He and Jack thought it nothing more than a bounce house. 

Maybe I’m not failing at this baby sleep thing any more this time than the other times it’s just that my fatigue dulls the memories. 


13 Months

October 19, 2016

I’m pretty sure cutting the umbilical cord was a part of my surgery last year, but it seems my little one never got the memo. I am never, ever alone. 

I do love him. To help me deal with the constancy of his needs I recall bathing him with my tears when he and Paul went home, leaving me in the hospital. Some day he will be bigger and won’t need me so much and I’ll be glad I gave him my everything. (And in the meantime I have chocolate.)