Friday, February 14, 2014

When You Didn't Get All You Had Secretly Wanted

Someone silence the V-day haters. This winter can't afford anymore grump. Down with the card companies, they say. Down with the historical misrepresentation, they shout. Down with the cheeriness because that's just ridiculous, they mumble!

Well, I say let's make of the day what we want. Throw some confetti. Bake a cake (or pick up one of those gourmet cupcakes) for yourself because I say you should. For those loved ones, spend $5 or $50 or nothing but the effort it takes to cut out a hundred little hearts and call it good. Power to the people! {cue awkward fist pumps}

I capitalize on any opportunity to celebrate life (or just pass the time with connect-the-parties until we've finished with this longest winter), but even I can see why February 14th puts some of us on edge.

One year, maybe our 1st or 2nd year of marriage, Paul surprised me with an enormous bouquet of tiger lilies and friends. The bold and the beautiful cascaded and burst vibrancy in that vase for over two weeks. I truly loved it. Also, I floated. Stuff dreams are made of--walking back from your workplace's office truly stunned with a proceeding bouquet three times the size of your head. I also feared, in between doe-eyed elation, that maybe the garden on my desk was a week's worth of groceries on the straight and narrow path to death. 

Oh, I loved that bouquet so very much, but I also think there's a lot of love in a gift which never came to be.  It takes a great deal of confidence and self-control for a spouse/boyfriend/fill-in-the-blank to want to give all the things on all the special days, but instead give a little of what he or she can and practice restraint on the rest.  There's something sexy about a "no", especially when it's a part of something bigger, a yes to other things.  Yes, let's uproot and go follow that dream of yours. Yes, I think one more baby will be okay. Yes, you can stay at home with the kids for a while.  Yes, we really should bulk up our savings.  Yes, you totally need a new car. Yours doesn't reverse or have any air conditioning, is 15 years old and the speakers have all blown but one. (Hint: the car one is from real life experience.)

I've been married to Paul almost six years.  We've had to say no to each other many times.  Sometimes it's out loud.  Others are known with just a look.  And now we're having to say no to kids.  Sometimes it's a gift which never came to be. It doesn't miraculously become easier the 100th time.  You just get a little bit more comfortable in your skin and with each other to know that your love transcends that initial disappointment felt.  

Maybe you are in doubt in some way today because a little secret hope tickled you jealous at the gourmet chocolates on Facebook or because you crossed paths with an absurd bouquet proceeding your friend and her mouth wide enough for a dental exam shouting, "I JUST AM TOTALLY SHOCKED HE DID THIS?!"
Case in point... probably not Paul's wildest dreams to receive a frame for love day.
Just this past week, Paul and I discussed snatching one of those Edel tickets (a mommy conference taking place this summer in Austin). We have the money and we both wanted me to go, but it was ultimately a "no".  It was a hesitant-because-Paul-would-love-to-do-all-the-things-for-me no, but it was a no. Which only could mean there's a bigger YES that edged it out and for that, all his giving and his holding back, I felt completely loved. 

I'll say it. I'll just come right out and say it. Every Valentine's Day I want it all.  I want the chocolates.  I want the flowers.  I want those stuffed animals with balloons that would make me vomit the 364 other days of the year.  I want a stack of new books five feet tall and me up to my neck in a bubble bath of solitude whispering, "I just am totally shocked he did all of this!" and grinning from ear to ear like an idiot while my kids run/crawl circles around my husband beyond the door.

I want all those things, but I love when he doesn't do them all just a little bit more.  The next day anyway. Not today. Today is for eating those chocolates I was going to give him because I think he may have forgotten to buy me any. (Hint: absolutely real life experience from just two minutes ago.)

Hugs and kisses!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Catching My Breath

I could write out a "to do" list a hundred different ways, and I have, but the INFP in me doesn't jive with structure on default repeat.

Some days I tackle the basics. Other days, I do less and just hug and kiss my babies and read chapter after chapter after chapter plus all the picture books on every surface in the living room.  Other days, like when I was blogging about painting the bathroom & laundry room, I drink a lot of coffee and attempt to do all the things.

Today was a declared Guilt Crusher holiday.  Ever have one? They're fabulous.  It's simple.  Think of the thing you keep feeling nagged by and would rather throw yourself into a blazing fire or play Bill Murry in Groundhog's Day than do.  Then you do that thing.

My thing was this:

That's right! Updating baby books...that were about 1% completed before today's blitz.

I dove right in and found myself coming alive with each little memory tucking in between these covers.  I was scribbling details on loose leaf to piece together ideas, making lists, writing in little stories that made me smile, dropping pics in my "to print" folder, and pulling my hair out at the devastating lack of organization that is my photo storage.

Recalling everything from finding out we were pregnant (2nd pregnancy) to the 1st ultrasound and 1st heartbeat check and finding out the one was two and then our trip to CA and reading all those crazy books about multiples and making the leap to be a SAHM and prep and more prep and then their arrival and the crazy happiness and the crazy highs (higher than back alley drugs) and then an exhaustion that would make he who shall not be named shudder and the 1st circle of hell transitioning into a family of 5 and the hundred other things that is just normal life scattered in between and on and on and OH MY GOSH!! This past year has been so insanely intense. Intense. So intense.  And there's all those things I can't share with you because even the gushiest girl likes to keep a sliver of privacy.  Physically intense. Emotionally intense. Spiritually intense. So. Very. Intense.

I caught my breath today. I wrote and I smiled and I remembered all the things and I caught my breath.

No matter what I do, I'm always consumed by this hunger to do more and be more and stretch my skills and time and hopes for this big, big tomorrow. I've been "rested" for a few months now since the boys are mostly sleeping through the night, but really I went right from recovering and adjusting to being a SAHM to sketching out all the next things: dabbling with homeschooling, finding...err...mommy friends (what? I'm an introvert! that's a huge undertaking), planning the garden, writing out the huge list I shared with you, and so much more.  I love living big and pushing myself, but crap. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and say it. Put a name on highlights of the past. That was good. That pushed me to the edge. That was one wild ride.  That looked like a keg of beer on my front side.

I need more of this: writing, journaling, walking (without Pandora filling up the quiet), using little corners of my time to document the things that had me laughing, hoping, worried, and soaring with joy. Mostly, I need to remember that I am capable of far more than I would like to think, that working really hard and reaping the rewards is one of the best experiences this world offers, I am no island (and acting like that is just plain dumb), my husband is my hero like you wouldn't even know, and don't wait eight months in between baby book updates. Just don't. Or else running to your blog to escape the emotional tsunami.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thoughts on Thomas Turning Four

Parenting the firstborn would be much easier if we were allowed peaks into the future.

Thomas arrived into the world with a mom young enough to be bloated with false confidence that all would be swell.

Since then I've been humbled and humiliated countless times by my severe misunderstanding that parenting just comes naturally.

I'll just have to compensate for my persevering improvisation by doing things that would direct his understanding of me as a mom of superior quality.  I'll continue to read to him until either we've reached the bottom of the library bag or my eyes have fallen out of my head, talk him through yet another trail of culinary steps leading right up to my figure's sabotage but encouraging his enthusiasm for things like measurements! and instructions! and chocolate!, and tell him "because I said so" a few more times to imbue a little mystery as I attempt to upstage his rapidly growing brain.  One step ahead, kid. I'm keeping one step ahead.

Last weekend, family rallied around Thomas to sing happy birthday, and I wondered how time could spin me around so that I was left standing dizzy, staring at a cute kid with big brown eyes harboring my heart just as much as the day he debuted small enough to fit in the cradle of my arms.

Life with Thomas is an adventure, and it's an adventure I had never known or hoped I would have taken.  I've looked to others' lives and thought: traveling abroad!, writing a book!, having so many kids people sometimes count twice when they are studying your family's photo! Now, THOSE are adventures.

But being a mom to this dude is more than I could ever say.

Raising a child and watching his passions, imagination, and ideas form day by day is an adventure just as much as finding ourselves in any foreign territory and scrambling for resources to forge a path.  I won't gush out all the details or draw up a map for how to find the end of the rainbow here or tell you this and this and this about this terrific place!  Thomas is all his own and even though being his mom is a towering amount of joy, no one will make this same journey.  And since I've always been one to not follow the crowd, except for maybe when I begged my mom a hundred times in 5th grade for an Adidas jacket with the stripes down the sleeves, it's an adventure I'm now seeing is the very culmination of all the things I was born to do: Work hard. Play harder. Learn. Laugh. And fall on my ass right where I've sculpted a cushion from all that chocolate.