We are enough

5.09.2015

I've been having this recurring epiphany happening lately as I go about my days.

Like, big kumbaya moments where I love all the people doing all the things.

It's like this:

I'm 3 years and change into being a mom. A full-time, hardcore, stay home, exhausted, harried mom. I've put my own dreams on hold. I've put my model body on bed rest (insert eye roll). I've left my academic words in the books they came from. What I've become is a master negotiator, a professional multi-tasker, a short-order cook, a sometimes patient and sometimes fun keeper of two mini humans. My sex drive is wilted, my energy level akin to a roller coaster. I have extreme emotions minute to minute, ranging from frustration and SOMUCHANGER to overwhelming joy and fulfillment, like in two seconds flat. It's like I'm a hormonal teenage girl on....extra hormones? I don't even know.


It's called parenting. It ravages you.

With it comes navigating the waters of social setting parenting. You know, like at the park with all the kids and their moms and how little johnny is always beating up on all the other kids but his mom stays oblivious and you nearly bite your tongue off trying to not rip the kid's hand from your kid's hair and still stay civil to her.  You know....navigating THOSE waters. It's enough to drive a girl crazy. You can be friends with anyone, but if your kids don't get a long....well, game over. May as well find a new park to frequent.

Anyway, what I'm saying is this: As women, we don't all get along. We tend to be catty. We tend to be judgmental. We tend to compare ourselves to others, for better or for worse. Sometimes we gossip about how so and so won't shut up about the parenting books she's reading and the advice we garner from it, or the other so and so who thinks her kid walks on water, or heaven forbid we cross the one who doesn't let her kids watch TV because it's of the devil....who wants to be friends with THAT family?

Am I right? Don't tell me you haven't done this. You find your people and you stick with them. You find the ones who have similar parenting to you and then you talk about how the other parenting parents don't do it right. Guilty? Guilty. To some enth degree.

Sometimes I think we get caught up in tearing the women around us down. Focusing on our differences rather than our similarities. Maybe we do it so we feel better about our own failures? Maybe we do it because it's easier to see the failures than look for the successes.

But, we are similar, even if we can't see it. Even those two moms who are in every way the opposite of each other are similar.


How?

Because I can guarantee you this:

Being moms? We all do it differently. But we have something so important in common that it trumps everything else.

We sit up and worry at night, wondering, agonizing over the fact that we don't know what we're doing. Am I enough? Am I ruining my kids? Will he be held back a grade because I let him watch an extra 30 minutes of TV so I could take an extra long shower with the door locked? Will she get cancer because I nuked the hot dog I gave her for lunch in the microwave? will she get cancer because I gave her a hot dog for lunch, period?!

We compare. We guilt ourselves. We don't let ourselves measure up.

We think about all the bad things that could happen to our children. We fear for them. We dread the day when we can't protect them anymore.  We dream about what they could become. We see our children in their basest, simplest form, and we know them. We dream big for them. We dream about giving them the things we had or didn't have. We dream the very best life for them, the very most carefree childhood, the most protected innocence and the biggest chance to get ahead in this world and then we do everything in our power to make that dream a reality.

We love them. We love them so hard our hearts hurt and squeeze and beat in ways we never knew were possible. We cry for them, we cry because of them, we cry about them. We talk about them, we think about them, we are constantly talking to them. We would give anything for them. We would die for them.

They make us ridiculously pissed off and immeasurably happy, sometimes at the same time (HOW?!).

I'm sure we all have collapsed in bed at the end of a really hard day wondering why we do this thankless job at all. We ruminate about all the things our kids did that day that were senseless and destructive. We count how many (too many) times we yelled at them, how many fits they threw, how many times we cleaned up the messes and then gave up, how disgusting the house is as a result. How many times we wanted to cry (or did), and how many times we just wanted to throw in the towel, give up, walk away, go shopping, eat an actual meal while it's still warm, sit in a corner with no one touching or talking or wiping their noses on you for maybe 2 minutes.

And in that chair or bed or floor you collapsed on, you start to remember the funny things they might have done that day. dancing with a bottle of bubbles, putting clips in brother's hair, saying something hilariously mature with a little tiny toddler voice, giving you the biggest hug for no reason, saying you look so beautiful as you walk around in your day-old gym clothes and makeup-less face.

And after all this, after all the desperate wishes for the day to be over, for the chaos of bedtime to be over, for the kids to grow out of this stage, for time to yourself to do what you want, for the time to finally be alone in a quiet house, you creep into their rooms and lean over their little sleeping bodies, softly rustle their hair, kiss their flushed cheeks, whisper that you love them more than anything in the world. Cover them tenderly with their blankets and walk out of their rooms wishing that you could stop time.

To some degree, in some general way, every mom has felt these emotions. Every. Single. One of us. The old lady who harps on you for not buckling your kid in at the grocery store. Your Mother in law who gives you unwarranted advice. Your arch enemy who bugs the crap out of you, that mom who always looks perfectly together, the mom who goes above an beyond with the preschool snack, the one who has a career, the one who stays home, your parenting opposite, your best friend, your neighbor, your own mom. All of us. We are all mothers. We've all done it. We are all in the trenches. We've all felt the gnawing pain of time passing, the knife of guilt and comparison, the lonely gulf of feeling hopelessly lost and alone and incompetent.


And when I think about that, I feel a real love for the mothers around me, the ones whose children are grown and gone, the currents ones, the ones who long to be, the ones who grieve because of the loss it has brought. Even though we may be vastly different in every way, at least in this is the same. We've felt it all. We despair and celebrate and try again and we do this the best way we know how.

So, let's give each other some credit. If nothing else, the divine nature of motherhood brings us together, whether we have children or not. We have felt all the feelings. We can look into the woman's eyes passing us in the store and know her exhaustion because we have felt it too. We can empathize with the harried mom dealing with an ear-splitting tantrum in the aisles of the grocery store. We can sympathize and mourn with those who are fruitlessly waiting or have lost. We know the heartbreak because we have felt the joy.

Motherhood is who we are. It's who we were meant to be. It's more powerful than anything on this earth, because it is God given. It is our eternal right and privilege. Let it bring us together. Let it lift us up.


We are each doing the best we know how, and that is enough.


Easter

4.06.2015

Easter was pretty chill this year. It happened on the tail end of Spring Break AND was combined with General Conference, making that week a whirlwind of activities and ending in a relaxed, laid back Easter as we recovered from our trip and enjoyed the last bit of having Dale all to ourselves.


As expected, Easter was cold. It was frigid. While the rest of the country was dressed in pretty floral dresses and flitting around in the green dewy grass looking for eggs, we were not. I was determined to have Viv wear some kind of springy Easter Dress to hunt eggs in, so we put it on with rainboots and her winter coat, I hid some plastic eggs 5 minutes earlier and we tromped outside to hunt for eggs  to get some pictures in swirling snow AND WE WILL ENJOY IT DAMNIT . I'm a bear when it comes to traditions, and Easter Egg hunting is TRADITION people. It was just our little family, bundled up, teeth chattering, hand blowing, feet stomping, looking for eggs and pretending it was spring. Ya. That lasted about five minutes. 


     


     


 Easter Morning dawned bright and early and I realized that the Easter outfits I had bought for the kids were kind of pointless since we didn't actually have church. Man, I am so on the ball, you know? Pinterest mom for sure. I tried to keep things small and simple, doing a fun easter egg hunt on Saturday and then doing a Jesus Easter egg hunt on Sunday to keep the focus on the Savior -- something I'm really terrible at. The kids got their baskets with a few littel things in them and we went looking for our Resurrection Eggs (Have you heard of those? It's Basically just six (or 12) eggs with little trinkets in each reminding that symbolize Jesus, the Atonement and the Resurrection.) This simple activity took me about 5 minutes to put together but was SO effective. Viv was really engaged in our conversations about the Savior and it was a perfect start to our morning.


It's now tradition to put these mangy old bunny ears on the kids for Easter every year. Viv is on the left and Mo is on the right. I love how different they look! Their personalities are totally embodied in this picture.

 Viv unknowingly picked out her Easter dress when we were at Target one day. We were meandering (as we always do) and when she saw this dress, breathed out a big "oh my goodnessss!!!", tenderly picked it up, held it up to her and twirled. "mom, it's so bwutiful!!! can we buy it? Pwease??". She's really into all things twirly, sparkly, dress up and shoes right now, if you couldn't tell. I really didn't love the dress, but she was so enamored by it I told her no and then bought it later. She LOVED it and wore it all day, along with her first little heeled shoes. She dubbed them her princess shoes and never took them off.



Mo got cheerios in his easter eggs and it was basically the best idea ever. Those things kept him busy for a while. Don't get between Mo and his food!




     

General Conference was nice, though the Saturday session was a big joke. Our internet randomly went out and we COULD NOT get anything to work. We tried to watch conference all day, and between screaming, ornery kids, snow in April and the internet freezing on us all day, we gave ourselves points for trying and quit. Sunday was better. Much much better. For lunch, I set out some food in bowls on the floor and printed out pictures for each bowl. Viv was charged with listening for key words that went along with the pictures (ie: family, love, temple, Heavenly Father, Jesus), and every time she heard a word, she got to eat a piece of whatever was in the corresponding bowl. Now, I really don't do stuff like this....like ever. I don't plan ahead well and procrastinate more, but I was feeling extra guilty, so I tried to do something to make the day go smoother, and I have to say....WOW. This tiny and simple thing really blew it out of the water. Viv was SO ATTENTIVE, like the entire two sessions of conference. Every time (and I mean EVERY time), she got so so so screaming excited and hurriedly ate whatever was in her bowl. She could hear the words even in the other room. It was kind of amazing how well it worked out, and it was a big testimony to me of how attentive and open children are to learning new things. It really inspired me to be better about flooding the kids lives with gospel-centered things.


Anyway, after a kind of pathetically small dinner of chicken cordon bleu and cheesy potatoes with our bachelor neighbor (his wife was out of town/my kids were throwing fits and ready for bed), we called it a night.  It really was a weird Easter...but I think I'll remember it for a long time. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't filled with family or friends, but I really felt the spirit of Easter and felt like we got to focus on what the day was really about, and that's what I loved about it.

And you better believe I dressed the kids up in their Easter outfits the next week for church. It's tradition, damnit.




**This and other successive posts are written hurriedly in my attempt to catch up on my life via blog. It's been too long. I love to write and take my time, but these next few will be travelogue-esque as I try to piece together my not-so-long-ago past. Bear with me**

The Beards go to Washington

4.04.2015

Spring break, bae, bae. As our time at Cornell comes to a close, we are really trying to knock off the big ticket items on our bucket list and DC was definitely on that list. Bonus points if we could catch it during cherry blossom time and double bonus points for being our last "break" where it's perfectly acceptable to not work or worry about anything because: school.

 We loaded up the car and headed down south to check out the sites for a week.

Day 1

We got into town late Saturday night, so we woke up Sunday to find a Sacrament meeting in the area, hoping to meet Olivia Pope of maybe the head of the FBI or something. After church, we went up to see the beautiful temple, walked around the grounds and hung out at the visitor's center there. Our original plan was to take lunch and eat outside near the temple....but ya. I forgot that the East coast in April isn't exactly picnic-worthy...Even if it is down south. it was freeeeeezing. So instead of slowly walking, we quickly jogged around the grounds and anxiously found refuge in the Visitor's center. 

This turned out to be a really cool experience. Viv had never seen a Christus before, so she ran right up to him and touched his feet, looked at his face and just stood by the statue for a long time. It was so sweet. I told her we would get to see a really big Jesus and that he has holes in his hands and his feet because he loves us very much. When she saw him she said "Mom! this is the big big taaaaaaallll Jesus?!" "Mom, he has holes in his feet! oh, that's sad." as she ran her fingers over them.  I love to think that Jesus would love if she did that in person. It was such a sweet moment to see her connect it all in that way.



We talked prophets and scriptures and holy ghost and missionaries and temples. It was a really great way to spend a Sunday.

Afterwards, we figured it would be fitting to visit Arlington National Cemetery, so we headed that way. As we got there (after getting lost, of course), kids were sleeping with no intention of waking up soon, so Dale let me go wander by myself while he stayed in the car with the kids. (he's not always the biggest fan of sightseeing). I for one am always up for exploring, especially if it doesn't involve kids. So, I took my camera and wandered around the beautiful, peaceful surroundings, counting my blessings and being so grateful for the sacrifices of so many.



    



What a beautiful, sacred place. I was in awe of how huge the grounds were and how much history is layered throughout the place.

One of my favorite things was visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witnessing the changing of the guard. It is a monument dedicated to those soldiers who have fallen but never identified, so it is especially sacred. The sentinels have a special, meticulous routine they go through, symbolizing so much as they "walk the mat" in front of the tomb. It's very reverent at the site, and it was so cool to see.






Day 2

This day was dubbed our Monument Visiting Day and it was SO FUN. Our friends from Cornell were in DC as well, so we got together, rented bikes and BIKED THAT CITY. I will swear to you, this is the ONLY way to see the monuments, especially with kids. We threw them in the bike trailer and high tailed it around and got to see so much more than we ever would have on foot.



Washington Monument


Lincoln Memorial 


Between biking and naps, it took a little finagling for both Dale and I to be able to see the monuments. We never really went together, but it worked out well.



The Lincoln Memorial was by far my favorite of them all. Seriously, I was in awe staring up at the huge structure of such an amazing man. Also, I kept having flashes of Planet of the Apes go through my head, and that was kinda creepy, you know?



Minnie Mouse goes to Washington

We hit up lunch at The Founding Farmers (amazing), tried to see the White House and got ushered away by a cop (?), and towards the end of the day, biked around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. And yes, this is supposed to be full of beautiful cherry blossoms, but all the locals kept telling us because it had been ridiculously FREEZING that year, the cherry blossoms were late. We would have been there at the perfect time....so damnit it. Chalk it up to my bad luck.



     
sorry for the overexposed pics, but who has time to edit when catching up is happening? Not me.




See? this shot is supposed to be covered in pink blossoms, but no. WINTER. UGH.


Later, we regrouped at the hotel and decided to head to Georgetown for dinner with the Hogges. Let me just say....GEORGETOWN. I went there three days in a row. I got cupcakes two of those days. Dale got a burger from our new favorite place (GOOD STUFF EATERY! TOASTED MARSHMALLOW MILKSHAKES!) three days in a row. I want to live there and shop there and eat there forever. So let it be said, so let it be written.



Day 3

National Zoo day!
Parking was a joke!
It was free!!

That's the great thing about DC is that everything is basically free. So, go America. and stuff.
It was Mo's first time and he totally loved it.
Kidding. He didn't even really know what was going on. But we were all loving this day because it was warmer weather than we had been in since we could remember and we were just walking around WITHOUT COATS. Game changer.




It was a nice day. Viv's at a really good age for the zoo. We saw funny monkeys, cute little pandas, a huge Komodo Dragon, tigers that were actually awake and some big ole elephants.  And we rode the carousel before we left and Viv's day was made. Easy Peasy.



     

When we go on vacation, I like to pack it all in. Who knows when we'll be back, you know? The National Cathedral was really close to the zoo so I made Dale go. He dropped Viv and me off while Mo slept and we went to explore the grounds. We found out it cost money and I forgot my wallet so we had to settle for just looking inside. Dang!







Viv kept saying, "Mom, is this the castle where the big taaaaalll Jesus lives?!"
I guess Sunday really made an impression on her.

And then, yeah. We went back to Georgetown for dinner. 
It was just that good.


DAY 4

Our last day we dubbed our "Museum Day", but really we just wanted to go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum because we had heard it was so good. Silly us, we didn't realize tickets sell out like a month in advance, so we took our chances at standing in line for timed tickets. Luckily we got there pretty early and the boys stayed in line while us girls took the kids for a walk and to play on the grass. 20 minutes later, we were in and got some of the first timed tickets of the morning. It worked out perfectly.

So, the Holocaust Memorial Museum is huge. Like, four levels, each going through the history of WW2. It illustrated Nazi's coming to power, political unrest in Germany, and how such a terrible even could actually take place not so long ago. The last levels were informative and graphic, showing actual artifacts from the camps, showing actual footage taken of bodies being thrown in mass graves, of horrible experiments and all other atrocities. I have always been intrigued with ww2 and the Holocaust. I read everything I can get my hands on about it, but this memorial was hard to see. It was so real. Actual pieces of poison used to gas the Jews. Thousands of shoes found at the camps, taken from those people. Pictures of shorn hair, enough to stuff thousands of mattresses. It was humbling and so very sad. This quote by Elie Wiesel gave me chills and summed up the entire experience for me:



I don't have the words to describe the experience. Many times I was brought to tears throughout the memorial because of how terrible and moving it all was. But it was so very worth it. It was amazing, and one of the favorite things we did on our trip.

Afterwards we grabbed lunch and wandered over to the Natural History Museum to let the kids enjoy something for a little while (my favorite part by far was the Gems installation they had going on. It was truly amazing. I could have stayed there forever. Emeralds worn by Marie Antoinette! A humongous diamond! Seriously amazing).

Then? You guessed it. We went to Georgetown again.

I can't remember which of these nights it happened, but ONE of the nights as we were driving to Georgetown, we got stuck in the worst traffic of all time and Viv HAD to go potty. Could NOT hold it. We were stuck downtown with no way of escaping the cars, so to avoid viv bursting and peeing everywhere, I did what any mom would do. I grabbed a sand bucket hanging out in the back seat, undid Viv from her seat belt and had her squat on the bucket, praying that we didn't make any sharp turns and that she had good aim. Turns out it worked out and I held a bucketful of pee between my legs for the rest of the drive home. No harm, no foul. Amazing what we can do as parents and still have our dignity left, you know? I take pride in that.

It really was a wonderful trip with some fun people (Thanks Hogges!). Best last spring break ever, bae bae.

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