On knowing I have plenty…

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Photo Credit

It’s the new year and I’ve decided to try two new personal projects for 2017:
1. Don’t buy anything that isn’t necessary.
2. Do ten minutes of yoga every day.

Surprisingly (to me), it’s the second one that’s been the most challenging so far. I’ve done yoga once since January 1st. ONCE. I have carved out ten minutes for myself one time in five days. And even then, Godzilla was screaming for me the entire time (Sailor was home and handling it, but it was far from the zen ten I was hoping for).

But the “no spending” thing? That’s been oddly easy. I didn’t buy any car candy or frozen pizza at the grocery on Monday. My Target spree yesterday was actually entirely necessary items (milk, diapers, a birthday card for my dad, etc.).

I think it’s because I’m trying this thing where I really evaluate what I think I need. And what that comes down to is the word ENOUGH.

I have enough. I have plenty. In many ways, I have more than enough (I went through my lingerie drawer last night and found more than a dozen pairs of unworn underwear and at least as many that could be gotten rid of. My bras are another beast entirely…I have probably thirty of varying sizes, but two rounds of pregnancy have taught me that boobs change size on a whim, so I’m keeping all the bras…for now). Clutter generally stresses me out. I like seeing wide, clean spaces (like my countertops). It’s hard to manage this with a toddler. She has SO MUCH STUFF! I don’t want to get rid of her toys just because it stresses me out. But I do wish we had a room that could be devoted just to her things because seeing it all the time makes me crazy. I spend more time picking up after her than anything else. It’s not going to be any easier with an added tiny human. So I do what I can with my own things. I’m trying to be fairly brutal with my closet, but that’s also challenging because I’m pregnant so who knows what I’m going to fit into in a few months? The one thing I know is that I’ll be able to off-load much of the maternity clothing I’ve amassed. That’ll feel good.

But the thing about “enough” that’s proving more difficult is the part where I AM enough. I think a lot of us struggle with that. There’s always some area of life where we feel somehow unfulfilled or underfulfilled.

Recently, that’s been motherhood for me. Two year olds are hard work. That wasn’t a surprise to me. But my ability to manage her has been less-then-stellar. I get angry with her a lot. I yell more than I want to. I ignore her when I just can’t take it anymore. I’m supposed to be one of the only people she knows will love her unconditionally…her attitude and behavior shouldn’t affect the way I treat her. I always want her to know kindness from me.

But ohmigod, she is a real pill sometimes. She gets so worked up that there’s just no reasoning with her. I just have to let her cry her tears and throw her tantrums and generally be insane…and sometimes that lasts for way too long. It’s frankly no different than when she was an infant and would cry up to twenty hours a day. It’s just louder now. Much, much louder.

It causes me to wonder: am I doing enough? Am I challenging her enough? Do we do enough activites? Do I read to her enough? Do I discipline her enough? Do I hold my ground enough?

The one thing I know I do enough of is love her. God, I love that little girl. She’s crazy and difficult, but my heart seems to grow bigger every single morning when I get her from her crib and she reaches up with her big, sleepy eyes and says, “Hi mommy!”

Up until very recently, I had legitimate fears that I wouldn’t be able to love both my girls enough once Mothra arrived. Would I love Mothra more? Would I love Godzilla less? How can one person possibly be expected to love more than one person with every fiber of her being?

It turns out, the closer Mothra gets to making her arrival, the more my heart seems to acquire the space.

I don’t know that I’ll ever feel adequately “enough” to manage two little girls. We will fight. We will yell. We will say mean things. I know…I have experience being the daughter of a headstrong mother. I will probably always feel like I haven’t done or given or taught or prepared them enough.

But I know that I will always love them enough. I will love them Beverly Goldberg style. I will love them until it annoys the hell out of them and they push me away and it will hurt me in ways I’ve never been hurt before. But I will love them enough.

And in the meantime, I’ll be making space in my house and getting rid of excess things I have enough of…and try to do some damn yoga.

On the depths of my soul…

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It’s exactly one week until my favorite day of the year. It’s better than my birthday. Better than Valentines Day.

Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year.

When I was younger, Christmas Day ruled all. I think that’s true for a lot of us. As children, we look forward to presents and Santa and seeing the tree in the morning. It was my favorite day until I was in my early 20s, I think. My parents did the most wonderful job of making Christmas magical for my siblings and me. The decorations always sparkled. We left out cookies and carrots for Santa and Rudolph (he was always welcome in our house). There were hoofprints on the roof in the morning. The tree was beautiful. The fire was always warm and crackling. In fact, none of that has changed. I’m nearly 37 years old and my parents still do everything the can to make Christmas morning magical. We still get gifts from Santa, wrapped in the same paper for the last 30-plus years.

As I’ve gotten older, my sense of wonder has shifted a little. Don’t get me wrong: I still love everything about Christmas morning, especially at my parent’s house. But the magic isn’t there anymore. It didn’t disappear. It shifted. It changed. It evolved.

The culmination of the entire year happens on Christmas Eve. My faith relies heavily on what happened that evening (which, yes, probably actually occurred sometime in the fall). Without Christmas Eve, my faith doesn’t even exist.

Every Christmas Eve, I look forward to midnight mass (or “the eleven o’clock service”, as it’s more commonly known in the evangelical world). It’s quiet and reflective. It’s peaceful. It’s serene. It’s basically everything that birth is not and everything that my life to that point hasn’t been. A year of chaos and noise comes to a grinding halt on Christmas Eve. Life’s busyness subsides and I am able to rest in the quiet and the candlelight, even if for just a moment.

It feels like Christ himself is breathing new life into my soul. Like I can hear Him say, “That feeling you have right now? That’s me. That can be all the time if you’ll just slow down and let me.”

That’s where the magic is for me now. When in the bustle and madness and fear and unknown of everyday life, I can sit quietly and honestly think, “Yes. All is well.”

So the magic of Christmas is still there for me. But it’s not in the lights or decorations or cookies.

It’s heavy. I can feel it’s weight.

It is the deep magic.

On wanting what I have…

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With only two-ish weeks left in the year (and thank God for that), I’ve started thinking about New Years resolutions. I do this every year. But the last ten or so years, my resolutions are more about deleting something from my life than about adding.

One year, I vowed to go to chain restaurants as little as possible. That one really stuck. Well, until I moved to southern Maryland where chain restaurants are really the only available options most of the time. I love seeking out new places to eat and discovering little hole-in-the-wall family-owned dives that just know what they’re doing with whatever food they’re serving. I’m looking forward to getting back to that when we move next year. That was easily one of my best resolutions to date.

This coming year I’ll be thinking more about subtractions. I want to simplify and minimalize. I want to spend less and do more.

For the last few years, ever since having our first baby, I’ve felt a constant need to get rid of things. I feel like there’s a lot of clutter and chaos in my life and a baby (or two babies, as the case will soon be) doesn’t lend itself to a lack of stuff. And the things we do actually need for the tiny humans are quite large. I’m beig overrun by toys, diapers, and shoes right now. It’s overwhelming a lot of the time. So I end up violently purging my own things a lot of the time. I’m vicious when I purge. I give zero regard. If I don’t currently use or need it, I want it out of my house. To the point I don’t even care if I can sell it. I’ll give it away if I can just get rid of it!

So my personal goal for 2017 is to buy fewer things. I honestly can’t think of anything I actually need, much less want. A friend recently told me about a friend of hers that went an entire year without buying anything new. I would love to try that sometime. I don’t think it’s at all realistic for someone with a husband and children. But it’s certainly something to keep in the back of my mind every time I go to Target or the grocery store or log on to Amazon.

One great thing about having two girls is that I don’t really need to buy anything new for the littlest one. She’ll get a few of her own things, but by and large, she can just wear her big sister’s clothes. And let’s be honest: babies and kids grow out of clothing so quickly that most of her things are still in fabulous condition! And there are some things that my first just didn’t get to wear for long enough, so it’ll be fun to put her sister in those tiny, cute clothes!

There’s also a really good chance that I’m going to need some smaller clothing once I’m done being pregnant and have hit my goal weight again. That’s a ways off, but it’s a reality. Granted, I have a TON of pre-pregnancy clothing that I can’t wait to get back into, but I know I’m going to want to treat myself to a couple new things. I think that’s fair. Plus, I’m going to need a new dress for when the sailor comes home from his next deployment (whenever that is).

But beyond that, there’s just not a lot of need or want in our family. We have everything we need and more. And what we want? Those aren’t really tangible things. I suspect that’s partially a product of getting older. I’d rather just spend time with my family than buy a new gadget.

Except for a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. I really want one of those.

On firming it all up…

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Photo credit: Someecards.com

Can we talk about etiquette for just a second?

At what point did “maybe” become an appropriate response to an invitation? When did it become okay to just not respond to an invitation until well after the requested RSVP date and at the near-harassment of the host?

I sometimes feel like social media has made us far lazier and more rude than was ever intended. Why, Evite, is “maybe” a response that can’t be eliminated when creating an invite?

I hate the “maybe” response. Why? Because it makes me think you’re waiting to see if something better comes along. It makes you look incredibly inconsiderate. It makes it damn never impossible to plan for food and drinks, which makes it really hard to budget. Would you respond “maybe” to a wedding invitation? If you would, I’m really going to need you to evaluate how you run your social life.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had no less than three  friends tell me they’re having the worst time nailing down RSVPs for parties they’re throwing. Look, folks. It’s not that hard. FFS we’re all attached to our smart phones. It’s not like you don’t have access to a calendar literally all the time. Check your dates and respond appropriately to an invitation. There is no “maybe”. You’re either going or you’re not.

And please don’t regale me with tales of how you might have to work or you’re trying to get out of working or you don’t know if you can find a babysitter. I get it. There are legitimate reasons for saying “maybe” to an invitation. But don’t. Just don’t. Figure your schedule out and respond. It’s one thing if a sitter falls through last minute or you suddenly become violently ill and have to cancel. Of course life happens. That’s not the point. The point is, you are either planning on attending or you are not.

It makes it really hard for the host to not feel like an asshole when they try to follow up  with you Maybes. And why should the host feel like that? YOU should feel like a jerk for not responding appropriately in the first place.

It’s the time of year when people are planning and hosting parties basically every night of every weekend for the next four to six weeks. Do your hosts a favor and respond. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing right now and respond either “yes” or “no”, “going” or “not going” and put it on your calendar. Give them a chance to throw a kick ass party without having to hunt down half their invitees and feel like a jerk for doing it.

 

On filling the voids…

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Photo Credit: Ann Taintor

I hate chores.

I also hate chaos and clutter.

This is just one of many dichotomies about me that annoys the hell out of my husband. He doesn’t mind chores, but he also doesn’t get nearly as bothered by clutter. We’re kind of an awful pair when it comes to that. Ill-matched, at best.

I’d just as soon get rid of nearly everything we own and live in a “tiny house” than deal with any more clutter. I like clean surfaces and tight bed sheets (I’m the person that would iron and steam sheets if she could). I like the smell of lemon bleach and the sight of an empty kitchen sink. I like seeing a freshly mopped floor and a clean front entry.

However, I am about the last person that will ever volunteer to complete these tasks.

I really hate chores.

Except for two. There are two chores I will do every single day and never complain.

I will iron and I will vacuum. I will especially iron if I can use starch and I will definitely vacuum just so I can see those lovely tread lines. I was ironing our cloth napkins the other day and when my husband asked what I was doing, I said, “I’m ironing. I freaking love doing this.” I had to explain no less than three times that I was definitely serious. I was absolutely enjoying ironing my napkins.

I honestly wish I knew what it was that irritated me so much about clutter. Then maybe I could figure out why I have an aversion to chores. Or maybe the two are entirely unrelated. I don’t know. All I do know is there is a lot of money in therapy to be spent on this!

But every now and again, like today, I’ll get in some crazy mood and just start cleaning and go on a mad binge for at least an hour. I did a 30 day cleaning challenge about a year and a half ago and my kitchen has never ever been as clean as it was that day. I mean, it was spotless and the counters were completely bare. It was quite the sight to behold. Maybe I should do the challenge again. But a year and half ago, I had a four-month-old. Now I have a two-year-old and she is a tiny, walking tornado of toys. Keeping things uncluttered and cleaned is a whole different ball game now.

I try to let go of my aversion to clutter. I really do. But every several days it just comes to a head and makes me want to have a “going out of business” sale with my house. It actually makes me a little excited about moving to a much smaller house next year and not being able to take a lot of our things with us.

I like having space. I don’t like filling the space with stuff just for the sake of filling the space.

And I hate cleaning up the things.

On looking to the beyond…

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Photo Credit: QuoteFancy.com

It’s the last day of #NaBloPoMo and this will be my twentieth post of the month. I’m not going to lie: I didn’t think I’d post even half that many times! My success this month makes me hopeful I can continue writing with much more regularity…and even more hopeful that I can find interesting and worthwhile things to write about. That’s my biggest challenge. Much of what I write doesn’t feel all that interesting.

I digress.

The final prompt for this month is:
Have you chosen a word of the year for yourself for 2017? What is it? If not, what words would you consider?

Given that I really enjoy all the words, this is going to be a hard one to answer. Well, that’s not the real reason. The real reason is that this question has never been posed to me before. It’s never once crossed my mind to have a “word of the year.” Is that a thing people actually do?

So it’s making me think about all the things I’ve done and learned over the last eleven months. It all seems like a whilrwind. I’m not sure if I could nail down just one thing

Okay so scratch that.

Maybe the best word for 2017 is “anticipation.”

Yeah, that sounds about right. There’s a lot coming up for the next year. Things I’m excited and nervous about. Things that terrify me. Things that thrill me. Moving to another country. Leaving my family and my friends even further behind. Giving birth for the second time. A new baby. Deployments. Managing a toddler and an infant without my husband there for what I’m sure will feel like an eternity. Homecoming. Vacations. Disneyland in another country. Cross country road-tripping (I hate road trips, by the way. More than about 2 hours and I’m spent and start whining, toddler-style).

I spend a lot of time thinking about how all those things can turn out. I’m cautiously optimistic that everything will be Pinterest-worthy (especially that deployment homecoming…I’m a crazy person about things like that. I can offer about a 99% guarantee it will go down as I’m hoping it will). Hilariously, the only thing I don’t really have any reservations about is giving birth again. That’s right. Having my person basically ripped in half doesn’t freak me out, but a 30-hour road trip makes me want to crawl under the covers and cry.

I worry about how to manage to little girls under the age of 3 without a partner in crime to help deal with the crazy. I worry not because I don’t think I can do it, but because it’s just going to be so different from what I currently know. There will be no tag-teaming night time wake ups. I’m going to be more tired and more sleep deprived than I can even conceive of at this point. But I’m also hopeful that my oldest daughter will continue to be her (mostly) dreamy, helpful little self and will most likely be the glue that holds Mommy together until Daddy gets home. It’s a big responsibility for a two-year-old…but she is one hell of a kid and is stronger than I in so many ways.

I’ve been learning this year how to release myself from the grip of fear. It doesn’t benefit me in any way to live in fear or disappointment. Yes, things still frighten and disappoint me, but I try not to let myself stay there. I will fail. Things will fall apart. Plans will not go according to my schedule. That’s just the way life works. But I’m finding (as I have been for several years now) that finding the good or helpful in every situation. Or even finding the lesson. I often find myself asking, “What was I supposed to learn from this?”

So I think that’s my word for 2017: ANTICIPATION.

There’s a lot on the horizon…I’m looking forward to some incredible views.

 

On bouts of brutality…

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Photo Credit: Someecards.com

Murphy’s Law had to have come about after a particularly rough bout of parenting. It’s the only way the last several hours of my life can make any sense. Just about anything that could have possibly gone wrong, did. And it all started around one o’clock in the morning on Sunday before finally relenting about an hour ago. It’s too exhausting to go into, but here’s the basic rundown:

*Godzilla wakes up from 1am until about 4am, during which time she pile drives and “cuddles” her daddy and me, so
*Husband and I really only got about five hours of sleep.
*What should have been a five hour drive home from Thanksgiving adventures turned in a 7.5 hours drive. Thanks, DC Beltway.
*I caught a nasty cold sometime on Saturday morning, but
*I’m pregnant, so taking an cold medicine worth a damn is a no-no
*Husband had finals due over the weekend so he had to spend most of our visit with family working on essays and final papers (WTF, school? No break for Thanksgiving? Really?)
*Upon arriving home, Godzilla decided it would be awesome to not go to sleep and instead spend literally six solid hours screaming at the top of her lungs for reasons that are still unbeknownst to us. She didn’t fall asleep until about 1:30am.
*Which meant that Husband had to request an emergency extension to get his final paper turned in to his last class. We’re still waiting to hear if the professor is actually going to accept it.
*If not, it means he fails the class (barely. Seriously, he’ll fail by something like 2 percentage points or less. It’s a real kick to the junk) and we’ll have to repay the military for that class.
*And finally, my sciatic nerve on either side is killing me so walking has been quite a challenge today.
*Oh, and I never drank a single cup of coffee.

It was the worst of times. And I’m not the only one that had some kind of garbage Monday. Almost everyone I talked to today wanted a redo. And isn’t that how it always seems to go? I mean, sure misery loves compay blah blah blah, but why must all our days go completely to hell at the exact same time? It really just leaves a wake of upset people that can in no way care for each other except to say, “Everything sucks, I know.”

I’m lucky that I have a large group of supportive women that physically surround me right now. No less than three of them (I can only assume Monday had mercy on them; otherwise, they should be granted sainthood immediately) contacted me to offer coffee, lunch, medicine, more coffee, tea, chai, a listening ear…all the things that a girl could possibly want!

I guess all this ranting and brain dumping is meant to do is remind you (and me) that we’re never truly alone. Someone is probably always looking out for us, someone always has your back, someone is having the same garbage day you are. Which means that we have a pretty awesome responsibility to each other. If someone always has my back, I always need to have someone else’s. To me, that’s a key component of life: being there for each other. Carrying with us a sense of combined duty and understanding for at least one other person is maybe the smallest, easiest way to offer kindness in an otherwise brutal world.

Make the world less brutal. It’s the least we can do.