March 21, 2012

To the Whitney

I took this photo for my friend, Holly.  I hope she likes it.

In early March we had some beautiful weather.  The first spring-y weather of the year.  Aren't days like that so exciting?  It really felt like a gift and so we had to be outside.  We headed over to the Whitney Museum.  We weren't super impressed with the work on display, but it was a beautiful day to be walking, chatting with friends, and breathing that "fresh" NYC air.

It's tough to take many pictures with a newborn strapped to you and a toddler in the stroller, but I did what I could.  And it felt so good to snap even a few photos for fun.
Above: Ellie tells Joe about her favorite painting.
Below: A blast from the past!  Ellie and Joe at the MoMa (Fall 2010)
Want to see another blast from the past?
The Truebloods have always been great museum friends.
And now.

March 20, 2012

Breaking Down

I wrote this a couple weeks ago.
We were having a rough time of it.
Things are better at this particular moment, but I still thought someone could benefit from this.

It was another one of those days.  Woke up feeling sandpaper under my eyes.  Two poopy diapers before 8:30. Three outfit changes too.  Not for me, though.  I didn't shower until 1.  Spent half the day wishing I could go back to bed.  Then I told myself it just wasn't going to happen, so get over it.  Somehow that didn't work.

I think I fed the tiniest one at least every hour and half (we have a serious snacking problem) and told the slightly bigger one to stay-out-of-the-baby-swing-dammit-why-don't-you-ever-listen-to-me more times than I can count.

By the time he arrived home I was a blubbering mess.  Red eyes, snot everywhere, everything about me screaming that I am balanced precariously on the raw edge of motherhood.  Ellie ran around saying, "Mommy sad?  Mommy frustrated?  I need a hug."  I couldn't silence the thoughts that I am truly, utterly failing.  I think I'm broken.  I think I'm not really cut out for this.  Why do I want so badly to just run away?  Do I not love them enough?

Being a mother is hard.
Just being a human is hard.
Feeling guilty about not doing it well is the worst.

Fast forward a bit.  Joe took the girls out for a walk to pick up Indian food for dinner.  He ordered me straight to bed for just a few blessed minutes of uninterrupted rest.  What a difference it made.  The baby cried late into the night, but when she was finally asleep I kept my earplugs in and drew a hot bath.  Never understood why my mom was so into bubble bath - but I get it now.  I picked out the bath toys, lit a candle, and poured the Johnson's baby shampoo under the running water.  It wasn't a spa exactly, but it was quiet and warm and it was the most peace I'd felt all day.

I had time to breathe and think, and I realized a few things.  It's really easy to feel like you're failing at the whole thing when you have a number of really awful days.  It's also easy to think you're crazy when yesterday found you playing at the park and smiling and laughing and today you are screaming and crying and grabbing at your hair.  These things just are.  It doesn't mean the whole system is broken.  It means you're overwhelmed and tired.  But you're not completely lost.

After a little soak in the tub I was able to accept myself.  Without dwelling in self-pity, I was able to recognize that sometimes life is just freaking hard.  It was a hard day.  Maybe tomorrow will be different.  Maybe it won't.  But one day soon will be different.  And through it all, I will be different.  Even if the only lesson I am able to learn is to forgive myself and move on, it will be an accomplishment indeed.

If anyone reading this falls victim to the notion that your neighbors are all doing it better than you, just stop.  I shared this really personal confession for you.  So you could know that I am your neighbor and I fully endorse crying and long soaks in the tub as healthy coping strategies for the really hard days.

March 19, 2012

February Fun

I know, it's well into March and I still have things to say about February.  Oh well, punctuality is overrated.  Let it be known that I don't really love February.  It's the shortest calendar month but oh how it lingers.  The last bit of time that stands between me and the hope of spring.  We're not huge Valentine's fans, there is no Christmas to celebrate, all the birthday excitement is over in our home.  It's just a bleak, cold, dark month.  Blaaaaah.

That said, I thought it would be good to look back on a few of the things we did to get through February this year.  In no particular order, here are some of our favorite activities and adventures that helped us pass the time.

Coloring - lots of coloring.
And cutting paper.  Ellie loves to cut.
Read Dr. Seuss - over and over and over again.
We rode the Staten Island Ferry with our best buds the Johnsons (that's Wren Leslie's holding)
I watched lots of Biggest Loser while the girls napped.
Shopped at Old Navy online, because nothing makes me feel better than buying clothes for $4.
We went to playgroup at the church each Wednesday.
May have skipped a day to stay home in PJ's and watch TV.
Finger painting.
Upon closer inspection you can see that I was making Ellie's valentine cards, like all Type A mothers do.
Ellie and I got all dressed up for Wren's big day at church, even though it wasn't our big day.
Wren was given a name and a blessing in front of the congregation.
She cried through the entire thing, but that's just classic Wren behavior.
There she is, swaddled into submission in Uncle Carl's arms.
We also had a lot of play dough time.  If anyone's interested, I could post the best recipe ever.
Used the swing in Ellie's room.
A trip to the historic public library building and Ellie's first time on a carousel in Bryant Park.
It was freezing. 
Ellie wasn't sure what to make of the horse moving for about 2 seconds.
Then she decided she loved it.
These were some of the highlights.
But mostly we were indoors.
Breastfeeding all the time.
Watching Mr. Rogers, Blue's Clues and Sesame Street.
Biding our time until spring.
And of course, treating myself to one of Ellie's special pedicures.
I'm so glad that March is here.

March 14, 2012

For all the Grandmas out there

Feast your eyes on this little charmer.
 These were taken when Wren was about 6 weeks old.
She's 12 weeks now, and smiles all the time (when she's not crying. ha!)
Thought the grandmas might also like to see some videos of her flirting with the camera.

March 8, 2012

Earplugs are saving our family

The lady at the bank gave her some suckers.
She cried the whole way home because I only let her eat one.
Hence the blue mouth and teary eyes.

Last week found me short of temper.  Very short.  It was not a pretty sight.  There were moments where Ellie was scared of me - and I was scared of myself.  Who is this fiery dragon woman who screams at a toddler?  I tried again and again to stay calm for longer than 30 minutes, but was continually failing.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I simply could not keep my cool.

Cue the earplugs.  In they went, and it was seriously a miracle.  I felt safe inside a bubble of muffled noise.  I could still hear my toddler's incessant demands,  but it no longer felt like she was delivering them through a megaphone.  I was aware of the baby wailing next to my face, but her cries weren't loud enough to make me feel anxious.  Instead I found myself finally able to meet the needs of my children with a calmness that had eluded me all day.

Yes, I can answer the same question a million times.
Yes, I can carry you around until you are calm.
Yes, I can read you countless stories.

I can do it all, because I've got magic earplugs!

While wearing them, not only is all external noise greatly decreased, but the noises I make are super amplified.  So I could really hear myself breathing, reminding me to take more deep breaths.  My own voice sounded very loud inside my head.  So when Eleanor needed correcting, yelling was not an option.  I simply spoke to her in a quiet and firm tone and was surprised by how well she could hear me.  The breathing, the talking softly, it all resulted in a noticeable drop in blood pressure.  Finally, I was in control.

I've been trying to read a bit from the Bible each day and the earplug experience reminded me of a scripture found in Proverbs 15:1 - a soft answer turneth away wrath.  I never would have guessed that the wrath I could turn away was my own.  My temper is like a fire: The more I feed it, the hotter it burns.  This simple act of popping in earplugs when I feel at the end of my rope has made a huge difference in my relationship with Ellie, my ability to feel the Spirit in my home, and has led to a real boost of confidence about my mothering.

Ellie noticed my earplugs and asked, "What those?"
I thought about explaining to her everything I just told you, but decided instead on a simpler answer.
"These help Mommy to not yell."
She seemed satisfied and ran off to play.

It's the small victories that make this fight worth fighting.