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Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's kind of like you can't organize clutter...

I've spent most of the last nine-or-so months on a virtual tangent, learning about all the things I never knew I'd need to know right about now in my 33rd year.  I could call it my 33-year crisis, but I can't honestly say it's the only one in which I've found myself immersed.
This is not to say that I have regrets.  Concerns?  Yes, most definitely, but I have to say I'm perfectly confident that I'm going to come out on the other end of this tangent hugely "improved", if I can stand to use such an adjective in terms of my own personal development.
In fact, right now, at this very moment, I'm shrugging off the urge (rather violently) to look into beekeeping, accordion lessons, spinning wheels, learning to play the piano, menu planning and of course the one thing I should be doing:  preparing for a career in translation.
It turns out I am not the type of person who should live with a laptop or wireless internet or even be a stay-at-home mom.  Where is my discipline?  Having said that, I've got to add this:  These last nine months have reminded me that I am a hugely passionate person.  I'm not sure where that awareness was buried for my children's first years.  I guess I remembered that person, but now I've managed to pull her out of the past and squeeze her back into my being.  I kind of feel alive again--almost whole.  It's wonderful and exciting to spin yarn!  And to sing whilst doing it?  So, so very alive, indeed!  (I'm not even joking.)
The challenge is that there is just too much.

  • There are the basics:  homemade food and shelter--I wish I could still buy packaged bread and that maintaining a clean and orderly home wasn't so much work.  
  • Then there are the essential pastimes:  knitting, and sewing--thank goodness for children finally wearing through their clothes and learning to love my music.  
  • Then the dream of buying a farm and homeschooling my children--raising sheep and chickens and bees and much of our own food.  
  • There is the career--that's right, the one I mentioned above.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE translating, it's just that...
  • There is the dog and exercise--I love these, but seriously, what time sucks!  
  • And the tiny house--what if we all consumed a whole lot less--including space.  
  • There are the new (spinning) passions, and the old (music)--I better learn to play an instrument (accordion? piano?) soon if I'm going to accompany myself one day!
  • And an endless list of other things that occupy my mind and, essentially, keep me from getting very far with any one thing... except maybe the knitting...  ahem.

I can justify some of it, yes.  My girls are along for the ride and are learning along side of me--at five and six they are already so experienced and knowledgeable while still being innocent and unaware of all the grown-up stuff that awaits them.  What needs to change is the way I order all these things, so that they will also learn that it's better to set and accomplish a few meaningful goals than it is to take on more than you can possibly do well.
So, what will I cross off my list?

Monday, April 5, 2010

a list for the future

I felt a little embarrassed after my last post, wishing I could be more like those blissful blogging mothers whose words and photos inspire me...  But it sure was nice to have a realm where to ditch all those thoughts that would have otherwise jingled around in my brain like loose change... most likely at times, like now, when I have deadlines to meet.

So here I am, essentially procrastinating, although it feels nothing like that.  In fact, I am aware how very important it is for me to stick these thoughts to some sort of permanent tack board at this very moment.  Maybe this is my chance to redeem myself, to myself that is, as inspirational.

Lists are not my forte.  If they were, I might be a more orderly person, organized, together.  That'd be nice. *sigh*...  Alas, this particular list has been writing itself in my head, and I have really been pleased with it.  Let's see how it looks outside of my brain.

This is a list of things that I have learned.

1) I should write more lists.  And then look at them at the appropriate moments when they are meant to serve me.  

2) Caring what other people think has caused me plenty of trouble and I wish to not pass that down to X and U.  In the wise words of a neighbor, running partner, and fellow dog-person, you just have to know how to love yourself.  And although, I would like to pretend that I do, I'm pretty sure I just haven't learned how to do that yet.  I think I'm alright, and am able to recognize both my talents and my defects, but love is a pretty strong word.  

3) I want my daughters to know how to love themselves.  I better figure out #2.

4) Good days with X and U happen when I'm not trying to do too much.  

5) Doing too little leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed and makes for strained and frustrating days.

6) Conflict doesn't have to be terrifying.

7) The way I think makes all the difference.

8) A little bit of blurriness can make things so much clearer.  I was listening to a brazilian musician the other night, and when I became tired, could no longer make out the lyrics...  suddenly the rest of the experience happened for me.  It was like those scenes in "A Beautiful Mind" in which certain numbers or formulas lit up on the blackboard--little bits of the performance popped out at me.  It was pretty amazing, really, and it makes me wonder how my experience in my everyday life could be different if I stopped focusing on certain things.

9) I am so fortunate to truly love and be loved by my partner.  

Now that I'm at #10, I feel like this should be the end of the list, and yet I can't think of the plethora of list items that occurred to me over the course of the day.  That's alright with me, I suppose, since this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of all I know.  It is this process, after all, that is really the most important--the scary moment, the deep breathing, the positive-thinking, the realization, the overcoming, and finally the doing differently.   The items here have nearly all come out of really difficult situations that I've gone through in the last few years.  I'm so thankful for all of them.  Who knew Crazy Neighbor would have such a positive effect on me?  Maybe we'll send him a Christmas card this year.  That'd be weird.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I can't stop thinking about summer.  Here's one from last June.  Now I can't stop thinking about their curls.
We sat through the list of Ages and Stages questions at Uma's four year check-up yesterday. Perhaps I'd feel less ridiculed if nurse Martin spoke to us in anything but baby-talk*... The girls, after four years are warming up. You know, my children who want to get to know anyone who crosses their path .... Of course he is the one who administers their shots; we'll give him that one, I suppose. But baby talk? He kinda drives me crazy.
Anyway, I always get a little nervous during that Q & A session, because you don't have to talk to us that way!, and also because I honestly have to think really hard to make sense of it. I so never concern myself with my children's development that it's almost like trying to have a conversation in a new language. I mean, spend five minutes with my children and you will appreciate my attitude toward this lists of questions. I'm really not worried. They're doing alright.
This is something that the doctor generally realizes (which is one of the reasons we are so glad to have her, despite her schedule that excludes Friday visits which, as it turns out, is the day of the week we always have to bring the girls in unplanned).
It must have been at Xochi's three year check-up, as she was enduring (with the same look of confusion she gets when asked obvious questions) the colors quiz from the doctor, that Uma (at that time one-and-a-half or so) jumped in and started answering the questions for her.
My intent here, honestly, is not to brag. What my point is, is that it seems to be part of my role as a parent to participate in this kind of check-marking, skills-based, development-concerned conversation. What if I just let my kid have a conversation with you, and you leave the checklist tucked underneath your stack of folders? And what if, even if she didn't pass, you just let her be a kid anyway?
I get it, I do. I'm sure the lists serve as an aide for children who may need some sort of services in the present or future, for some sort of major developmental concern. But what about those kids who just develop at their own particular rate, for whatever reason. Do they need services? Or does this just make the parents feel better?
I can't honestly say that if I had a child who showed some kind of delay that I wouldn't consider some sort of pro-active something. But I'm quite sure that would be fear-motivated-- the fear that if she didn't turn out quite right that it could be traced back to me.
What I would hope to say in a situation like that is that I would choose to allow my child to be a child--the very child she happens to be. That I would allow her to play, and learn about the world through her experiences (not a made-for-baby computer* or some other thing), and to move at her own pace. And then my faith that that she would turn out just right (not according to a checklist, but to me and especially to her!) would dispel all the anxiety, fear, and guilt.
Alas, I was raised to experience guilt as a daily ritual*--morning, noon, and night, thank you very much (and at snack and nap times, too). So, you know, I'm working on that, and in terms of this argument, I guess I just need to question my choice of practitioners and the extent of my willingness to play this game.
Did I mention that the doctor asked Uma (you know, the FOUR-year-old) if she'd been watching the Olympics*? Did you hear the big buzzer just go off? I need to better prepare myself to respond to such idioteces. Sorry for the Spanish, but even if you don't speak it, you can probably infer the gist.
There's so much more I have to say, but I need to leave it at that. My asterisk use is about to go spiraling out of control if I don't just stop. Suffice it to say, I have a couple more opinions on our approach toward children here in this society.

*A whole other topic altogether...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Well, after reading my first, and last post, I understand why I never continued. I guess my true blogging spirit had yet to be developed, and in a desperate attempt to introduce my two lovely children to those loved ones across state lines and beyond, I recounted the most uninspired tidbits... all at once.
I hope no one ever read that. Except I noticed there were 14 stops to this site in the three years of its existence, so I guess someone did. I guess it could be worse.

I've decided to make another attempt at this blogging business because Uma's turned four, and is suddenly no longer a baby (how can this possibly be?) in any recognizable way, except perhaps for the occasional complete freak-out over something teeny-tiny (small to the eyes of the observer, that is, NOT Uma).
Where has the time gone? How can I possibly have let the details of them slip away for all these years? Xochi is five! She's five. She's five...
It's this time of complete ambivalence. They are easier to be around than ever. They like to do the things I like to do. They [sometimes] help with chores or clean up after themselves. They are ever more capable and require less of me. Those really hard moments, like trying to get everyone bundled up in under an hour just to step outside for mere minutes or trying to calm a screaming toddler in front of a group of gawkers are less and less frequent all the time... and yet, I lament that they are no longer babies. I'd give anything now to be able to stuff somebody in a wrap and wear them around the house all day. I don't know exactly what makes it so scary, or sad, or quite honestly UNBEARABLE to see them grow, but I am thankful for this misery nevertheless. It is like a slap in the face--a big old "Pay attention, before it's all gone!"
And still, I remember that this is what it is all about-- it's about the individuals they will become, and the choices they will make. It's about who they really are.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

So Xochi is almost three and Uma is just over a year and a half. They are currently best friends and best competitors and sometimes best enemies. I expect it will always be so.
Uma decided it is time to pee on the potty chair which has blown us all away, but we'll see if it is still as much fun for her a month from now. I'm not going to get my hopes up. She knows all her colors and is mastering peeling and sticking stickers. She's working on jumping and actually gets really frustrated when she can't do something she sees me and Xochi doing, poor little peanut. Otherwise, she can pretty much keep up with her big sister and can manage her tackles much better now.
Xochi is really excited for halloween because I am making her a mermaid costume. She has been so patient waiting for me to finish. Uma will be a Snow Queen or something--but I am not making that costume. The pattern I bought for her costume turned out to be way too big for her... which is the kind of thing that happens when I go shopping with my daughters.
Xochi wears purple and still loves to wear "hanging-down barettes" which makes her feel like a girl with beads at the end of her braids who we read about in a book many, many months ago. She has begun to layer her clothing in order to create a bigger, more spinny skirt, etc. So she wears a short spinny dress with two longer spinny skirts underneath it. She gets a lot of attention in public, presumably due to the outfit.
We are all attending a parent-toddler class at the Minnesota Waldorf School and are enjoying that. The girls both love to feed the chickens blades of grass. I am pretty sure that is their favorite part about school. Well, Uma really enjoys snack, too.