Winter Blahs

I’d love to say that the boys and I have been on top of our game since the new year. That we are killing it with all our organization and motivation and helpfulness and being nice to one another and blah, blah, blah.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

But that’s OK because we all know I am not one for the new year’s resolutions anyway. I’m an every-damn-day resolution type girl. I guess my boys are too. Or, more accurately, they could give two flying rat tails about keeping their rooms clean, remembering their homework, and not practicing full-body takedowns in the kitchen.

I have noticed that I have done a great job of keeping my temper in check. I told the boys that I’m done yelling and screaming to try and get them to listen. Instead, there will be instant consequences like getting their video game privileges taken away. The only problem with this strategy is that as soon as they sense they aren’t going to be getting those privileges back any time soon, they do seem to adopt an attitude of “hell, I’ve got nothing to lose at this point…might as well body slam my brother into the wall for fun-sies.”

At the rate we are going, they should be able to play video games sometime this spring.

But despite my ability to not lose my shit over the daily talk-back, fighting, and volume-11 shenanigans of my sons, I am still feeling BLAH. While mopping the other day and singing along to Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”, I found myself getting teared up at the verse “Kathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping. I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why…”

The thing is, I do know why. First, I am desperate for some fun adventure, but I am fairly certain the only adventure in my near future is going to be to figure out how to get the remainder of my car repairs done without going broke. That, and the Cub Scout Klondike/Iditarod on February 7th which is going to be as cold and long as it sounds and is not the sort of adventure I had in mind. Second, despite feeling like this year I was ready for it, winter just isn’t my jam. This winter hasn’t even been bad, but it has only been a month. Not even a month. I’ve got two long months of winter ahead. I am trying to take it one day at a time, but the struggle is real. Third, I feel like I am stuck in the same old hamster wheel and not making any forward progress toward my ultimate goals. On the other hand, when I sit down to write after the boys go to bed, I am more likely to get stuck on a word or a thought and just say “eff it” and go to bed. So how can I complain that I am making no progress when I’d rather settle in for a long winter’s nap than actually do the work?

Oh, the contradictions!

My only hope is to set myself another challenge and hope my competitive spirit will keep me moving through the winter without wanting to do nothing but eat and sleep. What should this challenge be? If you have any suggestions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments.


Today is all we’ve got

Last night in a text conversation a friend of mine was listing out some impressive goals for 2015. I reiterated my opinion on New Year’s resolutions (i.e. I make resolutions every day, so a new year is sort of arbitrary) and stated that I basically have a short list for the future me: be better.

Then this morning I was mulling that over and thinking about how we never know when we will run out of tomorrows and so just striving to be better each day is probably the very best thing anyone can do anyway. Even if you are just a little bit better than the version of yourself that you were the day before.

When we got to church, the priest started with a “Happy New Year!” to everyone and I smiled at the theme that seemed to be running through my life. Today is the first day of advent and so the first day of the Christian calendar. Time to prepare for Jesus’ birth on Christmas. Time to prepare our hearts for the coming year. Time to be better. Likewise, the gospel echoed what I had just been thinking about: no one knows when the master will arrive, so we must be watchful and alert and do what needs doing now. There may not be a tomorrow.

I’m grateful that I stuck with NaBloPoMo this November. Writing daily posts has pushed me to work on myself each day. I’ve often said that I write every day, but mostly in my head. When it comes down to putting the words on paper or onto the screen, I’m less diligent. But this month has trained me to stop overthinking, over editing, overanalyzing and take an idea and run with it. As much as I would like every post to be a masterpiece, it is enough that I am just writing and trying to be a little better every day.

My plan is to treat this upcoming month in a similar way. I will write, maybe not daily, but as close to it as I can come. I will spend quality time with my boys reading, decorating, making cookies, writing Christmas cards, playing games, and generally turning off all electronic devices as often as possible. I will count to a hundred before losing my temper. I will take time to exercise. And pray. And prepare my heart. Because no one knows when we will run out of time. And despite what Clarice sings to us in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, there may not be a tomorrow for your dreams to come true. So we must do what we can do each day and hope that we will be given another chance to be a little better the next.

I did it!

I did it!

New Beginnings

Back to school. Are there any words so bittersweet? While I lament the passing of time, especially the passing of this beautiful summer, I do know that autumn holds a magic of its own. My boys are excited. New school, new friends, new teachers, new activities, new pencils; and these things excite me, too. Show me someone who doesn’t enjoy a new, freshly sharpened pencil and I will show you a liar.121

I know I should welcome the routine. But I don’t. Because suddenly my life revolves around going to work and making meals. Throw in new instruments to insist that they practice (violin and viola, Lord help me), more homework, cub scouts, baseball and what is sure to be a later bedtime and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment.

When I started writing this post a few days ago, my intention was to celebrate the new beginnings we have ahead of us. After all, this is a big year. The last for my “little boys” in the single digits before they become prepubescent Tweens. I need to enjoy their innocence while I can. I am turning the big 4-0 (what the what?! how did that happen?). We have all grown up a lot these past few years and by all accounts the best is yet to come. What is not to be excited about? And yet…

The thing is, I have never been all that comfortable with change. I realize that’s a little weird for someone who has uprooted her life several times to start over or try something new. But it’s true. A couple of years ago I ended a special relationship because I was craving security. Security I thought that could only be found by “settling down”. And I was so fearful of what might happen down the road, I figured I should end it before both the boys and I became even more attached and so that the rejection I was projecting in the future wouldn’t hurt so badly. Crazy? A little. Control-freakish? Perhaps. Did it work? Of course not. We were just as devastated by the loss while I was controlling it, as we would have been if I had just let it come naturally. And who knows, maybe it wouldn’t have. The point is that unexpected changes tend to throw me for a little bit of a loop. However, life with twin boys has been filled with unexpected changes since the moment I heard the words “So, do twins run in your family?” from the OB-GYN. I’ve become way more flexible and open to change, but I’m beginning to think this is a lifelong practice.

And here we are, standing at the foot of another path. I can’t see too far ahead. I don’t know what’s down there, I just know we need to go. The boys are ready. They are already running ahead. I need to follow. With no expectations. Only hope and an open heart for come what may. My new school year’s resolution is to roll with the punches a little more easily. To go out on those first AND second dates and see what happens. To write about our little adventures more often and to get back to writing the poetry and prose that feed the deeper parts of me. To spend as much time cuddling and reading and playing with the boys as they will let me because these days are going to fade away and I will look back on this time and wonder what I was so worried about and wish that I hadn’t wasted a precious moment.

The next leg of our adventure is beginning.

Silly boys ready for school

Silly boys ready for school

Change is good

Another new year has arrived. Dozens of new resolutions have been “made” (that is, swirled around in the chaos of my brain). I have been doing fairly well in keeping up with these “resolutions” in a general sense. I’ve been watching what I eat, getting back to the gym, getting up on time, keeping the house semi-tidy, not eating out as much, not spending money on non-necessities… I’d say the first ten days of the new year have been a success in those areas. But then I read some other people’s blogs and some things started to dawn on me. Yes, all these health and organization based resolutions are good ones, but what do I TRULY want out of this next year? To be in better health and save some money are definitely high on the list, but there are some other things I really want to figure out.

Like how to be a better mom? Oh yeah, I forgot about that one momentarily. To be a better friend? Crap, that was one too. To write? Well, of course. To be happy? Yes, but that’s a tall order.

So, as a point of reference, here are the things I want to do this year. I will look back in December and see how close I’ve come.

1. Improve my health (and the boys’ health, too!)

  • some form of exercise daily, even if it is just a walk
  • learn more about nutrition
  • train for and participate in the jersey girl triathlon
  • eating out/taking out less than once a week
  • go to the dentist–all of us!
  • go to the doctor for necessary checkup/physical/tests for someone of my age 🙂
  • finally quit smoking. for real. not even “every once and a while”

2. Save Money

  • attempt to put enough money away out of my paycheck to fund “Operation Disney Christmas” (to be discussed in a later post)
  • additionally save some money for an emergency.

3. Be a Better Mom

  • cut out the yelling
  • let go of all the stuff i feel has to “get done” and spend more time just hanging out with the boys
  • write down all important dates, invitations, times, events, etc. so that I don’t MISS anything like I did last year
  • refuse to argue with 6-year-olds even if my decision/statement/action is unpopular
  • never skip bedtime reading because i’m too tired or they’re too naughty
  • put the “martyr” to rest
  • go after the child support that they deserve

4. Write. A little every day. Even if it is just in a journal. And dedicate finishing NaNoWriMo to my dear angel friend Joel. (RIP)

5. Be a better friend

  • make more phone calls to long distance friends
  • send more cards/letters/emails to keep in touch
  • make time for coffee, lunch, dinner, wine, movies, whatever…a couple of hours, every couple of weeks to keep friendships alive

6. Be happy

  • avoid referring to the above list for the whole year and judging my progress
  • make mistakes and move on
  • laugh more
  • say “oh well!” and “who cares?!”  more
  • go to church
  • read the Desiderata & the prayer of St. Francis regularly

It seems like a long list, but I think overall it is a good one. I am ready to make 2012 one of the happiest years yet. Oh, and here are some “bonus” things I would like to do this year:

Put all of the boys’ baby photos in physical albums and scrapbooks

Buy a dishwasher, microwave, computer, bookcase, chair or sofa for the living room, drapes

Finish painting kitchen and “other” room (and maybe decide on a name for the “other” room)

Do something about the bathroom

These are truly bonuses and mostly revolve around the house. I will not let myself get wrapped up in these items and let them effect my truly resolution of “being happy”. After all, it is just stuff and half-painted rooms…

Who cares?!

Not-so-new Mom

I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.  I love the optimism around them and definitely believe that you can change the things that aren’t working in your life and that we are the key to our own happiness and all that great stuff. I just think that while a new year is as good of a time as any to begin these pursuits, there is a little bit of added pressure that generally people don’t need. Pressure that can lead to guilt and depression if one fails in their pursuit of such lofty resolutions as I will eat nothing but salad until I lose 20 pounds and then beat themselves up because they eat a brownie for breakfast when they get to the office. Not that I know anything about eating brownies for breakfast. Instead, I am a proponent of looking at each day as a clean slate. I try to say a little prayer every morning thanking God and the universe for all of my blessings and asking for strength to do what I need to do that day. Then, every night, I pray for an opportunity to try again tomorrow (whether I succeeded or failed or did a little bit of both that day). Each day provides a chance to become more authentically yourself and do what needs doing to make your life dreams come true.  In a way, each day is the first day of a new year.

So, all that being said, COINCIDENTALLY, I recently decided that we needed to make some changes around the old homestead. My boys are the most important people in my life, I love them more than anything or anyone else in the world, and they are driving me up the g-d wall! I was hoping as we settled into the fours that things would really fall into place as far as behavior and discipline goes. But it seems that they just get more and more feisty, sassy, stubborn, argumentative, and incorrigible with each passing day. And so after employing all the tricks in my bag (more than once, I might add), I decided I was going to fall back on two methods that I had moderate success with in the past: the reward chart and the “there’s a new sheriff in town” mommy.

I decided that the boys weren’t the only ones that needed some incentive to accomplish what they needed to accomplish and also thought that I would set a good example if I made a chart for myself. This was partially spurred by my Little Bird answering my scolding that he didn’t need to be so fresh, with a “well, you don’t need to be so grumpy!” Touché, little one. So, first item on the Mommy chart: No Yelling. Do I get a diamond mommy badge if I actually fill up my chart with stars? No. But I will feel better about myself and hopefully can go back to being “nice, but firm” mommy instead of “screaming-like-a-banshee” mommy. Then there is accomplishing my own morning & nighttime routines, which are both designed to aid us all in accomplishing one of the biggest challenges we have as a family: getting out the door on time in the morning. With no one crying or yelling. And everyone with shoes on their feet. I have also tasked myself with planning and creating one new meal a week and keeping up with the house by trying a method my dear, sweet, supermom friend Jenny has been trying to get me to use for ages. Clean just 20 minutes a day. Then on the weekends, an hour each day (or two hours one day) and THAT’S IT. The idea being that if you keep up with the 20 minutes a day nothing gets that messy and it is a breeze to keep up and you probably won’t even need the 2 hours on the weekend. We’ll see. This is a nice companion to the boys’ charts that lists Cleaning Up Toys as one of their ‘jobs’. Again, hopefully I will set a good example.

But what has driven me to break down and start a blog is the semi-public accountability for the other item on my chart. No, not exercise (yes, that is on there…i was getting desperate to fill up my slots and i couldn’t help myself. but i am very creative at defining exercise so I’m hoping i won’t be a complete failure in that category). No, the section on my chart that has the stars next to it is: WRITE. I’ve become a writer that never writes. I give it a try every now and then, but don’t follow through for any length of time. Not enough time to let the creativity flow and allow inspiration to find me at least. I know the cardinal rule of being a writer is just to write every day. Doesn’t matter what. And they always say, Write what you know. So here I am, prepared to give daily updates on my adventures in mommying. To keep myself honest. And to keep myself going. And to remind myself that before I was a mommy, I was a lot of other things- including a writer.  It is a disservice to the boys, as much as to myself to neglect the other parts of myself. And maybe, just maybe, this will help lead me in the right direction for making other things happen for myself.  And with God’s grace, I’ve got 365 days from now until next year to manifest exactly what I want. And tomorrow, I’ll have 365 more 😉