My Children Are Ruining My Life [And Other Stories I Tell Myself]

I have a five year old, a four year old, and a three month old.

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They are ruining my life and slowly but steadily driving me toward complete insanity.

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(It is also impossible to take a decent picture of the three of them together. But that is beside the point right now.)

I am a highly sensitive person. It’s taken me a few years to figure that out. I’ve learned that I’m easily overwhelmed by too much visual clutter and triggered by too much noise.

This is a problem, because I live in an apartment with three loud little people who have made it their personal mission to embody entropy; every day in every way.

However, even for a relatively patient and well-adjusted person, children are still a challenge.

Lately, it has felt like everything is falling apart and life within these four walls is spiraling out of control.

The other day, I woke up and was greeted by the joyous sight of an entire bag of Cheerios that had been dumped out and then spread to completely cover our living room carpet.

This morning, I walked into one of the boys’ rooms to find this:

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Why, children?  Just…why?

The stains on the carpet.  The three different sets of broken blinds.  The chipped electrical outlets and wall dents and broken doorknobs and carpet stains and that chunk from our dining table surface that mysteriously came off and went missing.  (I have come to terms with the fact that there is no way in hell we are getting our deposit back when we move out.)

And then there are the accidents.  The brand new gallon of milk that was dropped and split open, all over the floor.  The nearly-full jar of jelly that was also dropped and shattered into a billion pieces.  (Cleaning up glass is one thing.  Cleaning up shards of glass mixed with sixteen ounces of sticky jelly, however…you can’t just sweep that shit up.)

The five loads of laundry that I had to do this morning in spite of the fact that I do laundry every day–including two sets of sheets and twin-sized comforters because little bladders don’t always make it through the night.

Accidents are accidents.  I don’t get angry over them.  I’ve learned to accept that they happen, even though sometimes when I see the mess that needs to be cleaned up, I just want to say, SOMEONE ELSE COME DO THIS.  ANYONE ELSE.  I JUST DON’T EVEN WANT TO LOOK AT IT RIGHT NOW.

I’m not trying to elicit pity.  Everyone has daily battles and frustrations.

It’s just a lot sometimes.

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But I’ve realized I often make situations much worse because I have an inner narrator who never shuts up and is prone to histrionics.

Why are they always fighting?  I am so sick of this.  They break everything!  EVERYTHING!  They never listen.  They are so destructive.  I am so done.  I don’t even want to deal with this.  I cannot handle this right now.  I am not enough for them–they have SO MANY needs and they are all different and I just can’t do it.  He is so demanding!  Stop asking me questions!  Stop following me around!  Why won’t they just leave me alone?  I TOLD them to stop splashing everywhere!  It’s going to take forever to get this cleaned up.  I’m sick of doing this alone–I’ve been doing it on my own for five years!  They have so much energy and we are stuck in this damn apartment with no backyard and Noa is not napping well and I just CAN’T take you to the park right now so stop asking and stop breaking things and damn it everything is out of control and everything is falling apart and the apartment is a disaster and STOP HITTING EACH OTHER.  Fine.  Fight all you want.  I don’t even care anymore.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the constant loop of mental negativity is contributing to the problem.

Yes, shit happens.  But shit doesn’t always happen.  Let’s have a little reality check.

Yes, the boys are fighting and not listening and bouncing off the walls (or couch) right now.  But they also love to play together and read with me and often get lost in playing machines or construction site or LEGO.  I get a lot of free time some days because they are so busy and engaged in their ‘important work’ .  I am so lucky that they have each other.

Yes, Noa is having issues with naps right now and it’s frustrating and tiring.  But she is sleeping well at night and she is generally a happy and sweet and very interactive baby.  Yes, she has been my most difficult newborn to date, but telling myself that over and over doesn’t help.  Reminding myself how sweet and lovely she is helps overshadow the difficulties.

Yes, I have been on my own most of the past several years because Silas has been so insanely busy with school.  Yes, we’ve only seen him for a total of two or three weeks since last May as he travels around the country for rotations.  But I have grown immensely as a person and have become very independent.  I am good at being alone, which is a valuable quality. I have matured so much that I barely recognize that 19 year-old girl who jumped into marriage and motherhood nearly 7 years ago.

Yes, we are having issues with talking back and not listening and lying right now.  But I have gotten compliments from strangers on how well-behaved and polite my children are.  I’m doing a good job.  They may not always be sweet and polite, but they’re not always defiant little monsters either.  (Okay, monsters is a little strong.)

And on those days when it’s all just piling up, I repeat my favorite refrain: it won’t be like this forever.

Because really…it won’t.

And there are so many good moments with these little people.

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I don’t want to miss them because I’m so focused on the crappy ones.

 

 

—————-

What are some of the stories you tell yourself?

 

 

Keyboard Confessional

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I suppose my first confession should be that I may have more pictures of my cats than I do of my kids.  What can I say…cats hold still and kids don’t.

 

I bought an apple pie at Costco a couple of days ago.  What was the occasion, you ask?  Oh, just me.  Wanting apple pie.  And it is basically gone now.

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Can I put “ability to demolish an entire apple pie without assistance” on my resume?

 

The other day I was reading the boys a story and when I came to the phrase “tuck them” I read it with an ‘f” in my head.  I realized it just before I said it out loud.  What is wrong with you, this is a children’s book!

 

I’ve lied (omissions! gentle untruths!) to my OBGYN a couple times.  I like to keep certain things on a need-to-know basis.

 

And speaking of doctors…I am addicted to internet diagnosis.  Nothing passes idle time like googling all of your symptoms.  WebMD has assured me that I have at least 5 types of cancer.  It’s a miracle I’m still alive.

 

And for my final divulgation, I have to say that as adorable and demanding as babies and toddlers are…I’m enjoying the boys so much more now that they are older.

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Although I admit that the recent demise of naptime is something I am not handling very well.

 

 

The Iffiness of the Internet

Well, that was a depressing post to go AWOL after.

Let’s have a cat picture for good measure, shall we?

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Much better.

I’ve been feeling conflicted about blogging lately.  Which is why I haven’t.  Blogged, I mean.  Sometimes is feels so sketchy, putting my pictures, my words, my personal life on the internet for anyone to see.  I have a lot of mixed feelings, and worries about the safety and/or advisability of it.

And yet, blogging is so, so good for me.  It’s a way for me to express myself creatively; it helps fill that part of me that lies quiet and vacant–that part that I’ve never known quite how to feed.  Knowing that other people are reading, commenting, connecting with me is hugely rewarding–obviously moreso than writing any of the hundreds of random snippets of crap I have saved on my computer, since I can’t seem to see any of them through.

I love writing.  It helps me process things, make sense of myself and the world.  As scary as it is to put something raw and vulnerable out there, there is nothing more fulfilling in the world for me than to have someone read it and say, “I know those feelings.  I have been there.  That is exactly what it is like.”  It’s like I’m thrusting my hand out into utter darkness, waiting and terrified; and then someone grasps my fingers and says, “I’m here, too.”

 

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[The boys and I had a big painting sesh yesterday afternoon.  This is one of twenty-two enso circles I did.  It’s addicting–in a really relaxing way.]

 

So, I think I’ll give ye olde blog another tentative try.  I’m here.  I hope you’re here, too.

 

Just One of Those Days

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This is the song on repeat in my head right now.

 

so I crawl underneath my blankets

where I can hide away, I know I can’t take it anymore

’cause I see now it’s just one of those days

 

I know quoting song lyrics is very Mysapce circa 2005…I suppose this means I’m forfeiting my rights as a card-carrying member of the adulthood club.

Ah well…being an adult sucks sometimes anyway.

So, as a preface, everything is fine.  Life is going along just swimmingly.  I just need to talk.

Photo on 6-9-14 at 7.07 PM #2[Unrelated picture…Hobbes has been so, so snuggly since I’ve been pregnant.  He loves to chill on my belly.)

Some days, even for a couple of weeks sometimes, I feel really good.  Everything is just brighter, I enjoy doing things and don’t mind interacting with people.  I’m sometimes impatient and I’m often quite tired, but it doesn’t completely derail me.  I have this sort of optimistic energy bursting out from inside me, and I can handle things.

These are the days or weeks when we do tons of messy art projects, and the times when I scrub down the fridge and vacuum the car and even clean the freaking garbage disposal.

This is when I reorganize the house, or plan an entire homeschool year, and basically feel equipped to tackle any problem.  I even seek out problems, because I am a Badass Problem Solver and that is just how I roll.  I decide I want to have seven kids and homeschool them all while we live on gorgeous acreage in the middle of nature in an Earthship that we built with our bare hands.

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[Don’t worry, I only have about 50 more of these.]

And then, overnight, that energy is gone.  Sucked from my body, leaving me an empty, exhausted shell.  What goes up must come down–the physics of life, right?

These are the days when everything seems hard.  The days when no amount of coffee can force me out of the haze.  Things are dimmer, as if there’s a fog obscuring everything and dulling all the colors, all the feelings.  They’re still there; I can just make them out through the mist but I can’t quite touch them.

These are the days when my body is filled with sand–heavy, wet sand.  Just standing is exhausting, and being asked to push a swing or locate a shoe literally makes me want to cry.

I don’t need a break, I don’t need time alone.  I get plenty of that, and it doesn’t help.  Not during these days.  The feeling, the greyness, persists when I’m alone, except now it’s staring me in the face while the minutes tick slowly by.  Nights are long because I don’t even know what to do with myself.  I can’t focus on or engage with anything, so the “read a book or watch tv or call a friend” list is moot.  And yet, I dread going to sleep, because morning, waking up to simultaneous weariness and tension in my body and staring at another day with endless hours to fill, will come too soon.

But nothing is permanent.  The good days don’t last, the bad days don’t last.  I take comfort in knowing I’ll be flying high again.  I just need to wait.  Find a way to pass the days, and wait.

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It’s Not Even 8:30 a.m.

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…And I’m drowning in dishes and laundry, the kitchen floor is covered in a mixture of cat food, spilled water, and play dough crumbs, and I’ve already made one of my children cry.  I woke up with a massive headache and a vague sense of dread for the day ahead.

Lord help us.

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And please let there be some optimism at the bottom of this mug.

How I Bring a Little Peace into Our Mornings

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So, I’m a morning person.

I mean, I must be.  I crash hard in the afternoons and I’m definitely not a night owl.  So by process of elimination…

But that doesn’t mean that mornings are easy, and that I spring out of bed every day ready to greet the world.  Small people are begging for breakfast and I’m trying to brush my teeth and do my hair and makeup and remember to take my medication (I forgot for several days in a row…we’ll talk about how that went later), and even though we technically don’t have to be anywhere by a certain time, at least 2 out of 3 people are hungry and cranky, everyone under 5 is ridiculously hyper, rebounding off the couch and wrestling each other, and the mornings quickly descend into a state of chaos.

That just doesn’t work for me.

I’ve been trying desperately to bring a sense of peace, order, ritual to our mornings.  A little quiet time for us to calm down and connect makes a world of difference in everyone’s mood, and having a few moments of calm helps me tremendously to regroup and gear up for the day ahead.

So, without even more ado, my favorite easy-to-implement ideas for creating a peaceful mood:  candles and soft music.

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I first read about the idea of using a candle at mealtimes in Simplicity Parenting.  It’s one of the easiest changes to try and it makes a noticeable difference.

There is something about the softness of candlelight that focuses attention without demanding it.  It invites a certain mood–it’s a whisper, not a shout.

The boys love the ritual of lighting a candle (and of course, they beg to the one to blow it out when the meal is over).

I also usually play soft piano or guitar music in the mornings (thank you a million times over to the creators of Pandora. Station suggestions: The Relaxation New Age Guitarist, Classical Guitar, Solo Piano, and New Age Solo Piano.)

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Now, I will be the first to say that kids are kids.  They are just not programmed for long periods of quiet reflection.  I’m not going to tell you that our mornings are now oases of solitude and peace, and that all shouting, wrestling, and fighting has been done away with.

But they’re better.  And better is always good.

 

——

Do you have any morning rituals?  I love the idea of sipping a relaxing mug of tea in the morning but our climate just doesn’t make me yearn for hot drinks.  I do like me some iced coffee, though.

 

Sunday Brunch

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Yesterday was Dave Matthews and the house to myself while I cooked a big brunch.

Yesterday was strawberries and cream cheese stuffed french toast  and fresh blackberries with lime and honey (my favorite and only way to eat them).  And also bacon.

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Yesterday was a hike, and a nap (or a 15 mile run, if you’re Silas–I took the nap route, obvs) and family dinner.

Yesterday was cloudy and cool and lovely.  Rare for Arizona, but some of my favorite weather.

Let’s have yesterday once more, please.  Shall we put it to a vote?

 

—-

Hope you had a lovely weekend filled with lovely food, as always.  What lies ahead for you this week?  I have to admit that I have a serious case of Monday melancholy.  Time to go watch cat videos.

And speaking of cat videos, if you haven’t seen Dubstep Cat….DO IT.  You’re welcome.

Anatomy of a Friday Morning

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For the last several days, I’ve been a bit of a…oh, what’s the word…cranky bitch.

So today, in spite of the ongoing irritibility and general “I’m done with life and all I want to do is watch Season 2 of Veronica Mars and eat Chewy Sprees until I can’t feel my tongue anymore”-ness, I decided to have some caffeine, woman up, and take this day by the horns.

The boys chopped strawberries.

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I cooked up some delicious apples…and burnt them a bit.

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There were spilled smoothies

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and nests made.

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We had German apple pancakes (pancake?) for the first time

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and let me just say–delicious.  In fact, the child who whined for about 15 minutes straight that he didn’t “want apple pancakes!” ended up eating twice as much as I did.

Food really does make everything better sometimes.

 

——

I hope your Friday is delicious and your weekend is even more so.  I’m thinking of making some sort of chorizo pizza tonight…

 

 

 

Life Lately, Bullet-Pointed

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We’ve been making much use of the Nutri-bullet my mom got us for our birthdays.  We’ve had a Ninja for a few years and it’s great, but not so good for making single-serving smoothies, or things like hummus, salad dressings, etc.  I have an old food processor that I’ve been using for the smaller jobs but it left many undesirable chunks in the finished product.

Speaking of birthdays, Silas turned 28 yesterday!  We went to see Divergent and ate a billion Chewy Sprees during the movie.  I couldn’t feel my mouth afterward.  (Divergent was definitely not his pick but he said it wasn’t as cheesy as some of the other YA-type movies he’s been forced to watch.  I say, two thumbs up and I really liked who they picked for Tris and Four.)

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We found a few new parks (and the library!! best day ever), and, first impression? Everyone here is so friendly.  I’m already having a much different experience than I did in our last place.  Women have gone out of their way to talk to me and a few have even given me their numbers and said we should meet up.  FRIENDS, YOU GUYS.  FRIENDS.

We were only in our last house for about 8 months but I never really ended up making any friends.  I was really lonely (mostly my fault, I guess) and felt so isolated.  Here, we live close to everything and it seems like people are just extra-friendly, even at the grocery stores.  I’m really grateful.

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I’ve gotten lazy as my hair has gotten longer, and haven’t been trying as many new hairstyles as I did when I was desperately growing it out.  I used one of Kate’s tutorials today, and it turned out super cute.  Not that you can tell from the fuzzy picture.

 

Well, that’s all the nonsense I have for you guys today.  Heather out.

Peace.

 

 

 

Slowing Down

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My mind is so full right now.  I’ve been in full-on Plan and Change Everything About Myself and My Life mode and I can feel myself starting to burn out, slowly.  I don’t want to collapse and crash and lose all of this momentum and goodness I’ve been building up, so I need to take a little break.  I need to chill out for a bit, to occupy myself with something light and easy and unrelated to my life.  Maybe I’ll veg out and watch tv tonight, because even reading right now feels like it would crowd my thoughts too much.

Do you ever get like that?  Do you ever get so inspired or interested in something that you readreadread everything you can get your hands on about it and think about it constantly, and then at the end of the day you feel like your mind is swirling with words but none of them are making sense anymore and it’s just so crowded and busy in there and you just need to escape it all and not think for a while?

I don’t mean to make this sound more dramatic than it is.  Good good good things have been happening, and I have lovely plans for a bright future.  It’s just…a lot.  A lot of ideas, a lot of words, a lot of thinking.

Lists and sketches and more lists.

And yet, in spite of all my excitement and the mental chaos that is currently occupying my headspace, today was a day of really peaceful moments.

There was a morning walk, lunch out with Dad, lots of stories.  There was Tesla starting a load of laundry for me (by himself!) and both boys doing their own dishes, and using sharp, real knives to chop fruit for breakfast with no injuries.  There was me, finally slowing down for a moment, and letting them help.

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I made tortillas today, and the boys helped me roll the dough into balls.  The dough was the perfect consistency; slightly tacky without being too sticky, and moldable without being too airy or too dense.  It was practically mess-free (which is good for people like me who are still easing into the “messes are okay” mindset), and the boys, as always, loved helping and contributing.  I showed them how to form the little dough masses into balls, and they were bursting with pride when they showed Silas their creations.

I don’t lead a terribly busy life, in terms of outside commitments.  The busy, rushed feeling in my day is usually self-imposed, and my jumbled, scattered thoughts and need to do things just right and checklist of things I want to get done are setting a tone and pace for our daily life that I don’t really like.

As I’ve been thinking and planning lately, I’ve realized (once again), that I really need to slow down.  To slow down and read a story or play rather than trying to tick off all the boxes on my mental agenda.  To slow down and see my kids, and really be with them.

I’m not going to do the “childhood is short, so treasure every moment!” bit, because it is and it also isn’t.  I just want to feel peaceful, and peace isn’t something you rush toward at full speed.

Peace, to me, is a quiet, focused, present mind.  Peace is dealing with things as they come, and not regretting past mistakes or anxiously trying to avoid future ones.  Peace is that elusive centered, tuned-in feeling.

Peace is slowing down.  I can do that.

I think.

 

—-

Well, this is not at all what I had in mind to write about today, but these are the words that came pouring out.  If they made sense, good, if not, you’re a saint for reading anyway.

Love to all of you.