Off the hook

I was watching HGTV last night while working on the scarf I started crocheting this weekend, and felt myself getting agitated. Every perfect detail of the new house and each stitch I had to think about were competing for my attention. I was focused on how beautifully the couple renovated the house – a gorgeous new kitchen and master suite, with all the right decor pieces in all the right places, and how I desperately want someone to do that to my house – and not on my scarf. I could feel the anxiety building, and it wasn’t doing my stitches any favors.

I just learned to crochet this weekend; my mother- and sister-in-law taught me. After initially making something that resembled the state of New York, I’d caught on to what I was doing and actually started making something that looked halfway decent. My MIL set me up with a set of crochet hooks, my SIL and I raided my MIL’s yarn stash for something that I liked, and I was off to the races. I would sit on the “suck-you-in” couch after the Monkey went to bed and work the beautiful purple yarn into something even and lovely. The repetition, the movements, were almost meditative. Chain – single crochet – slip stitch – single crochet. I had to rip some out when I realized I’d been dropping my last stitch for a few rows, but it felt ok. I was learning, and of course I was going to make mistakes. It’s par for the course. I began to understand why people enjoyed it, and looked forward to the times when I could pick up my project and start working again.*

Fast forward to last night. The Monkey was in bed after another rough bedtime, and Husband was in bed because he’s still sick after catching my cold. I did some things online, cleaned up the kitchen, and then decided to break out my pretty purple project while I watched someone turn a wreck of a house into a beautiful, perfect home. It didn’t go as well for me as it did for the folks on the show. I kept messing up my pattern, and twice (twice!!) I had to pull out at least five rows of botched work. I couldn’t focus. My hands felt clumsy and awkward. “You’re not advanced enough to do this in front of the TV,” a little voice piped up. I admitted to myself that it was true, and set the work down to keep watching the show. And that’s when the little voice got bold.

You’ll never finish that scarf you know. You never finish anything. 

Look at that perfect house on TV. Yours will never be like that, you can barely get pictures printed and up on the walls.

This is how my brain works. I’m going along fine, minding my own business, and then all of a sudden the little voice gets mouthy, doubting me, questioning me, telling me I’m not good enough. It continues on until those thoughts are permeating everything. And I just.keep.spiraling. It started with the scarf last night, but quickly escalated to the state of the house after being away for a week, the Christmas decorating to-do list, the presents to buy, the Hanukkah books and decor I want to get so Monkey is connected to that part of her heritage, the blog posts I haven’t written, and all the things I had scheduled to do when the sitter came next. And for the love of God, what are people going to think when they see the piles of stuff on the dining room table?! I could feel myself winding tighter and tighter. I could tell that if I didn’t find a way to shut this down soon, I was not going to get to sleep that night. I’ve learned a lot about myself since having a kid, though. I learned to ask for help from my husband, my friends, and my therapist when I’m amping myself up like I was last night. I’m not great at it, and it still feels as clumsy and awkward as those first stitches did last week. But, I acknowledged what I was thinking and feeling, and started writing about them (hello, blog post!). Since Husband was still awake, I bugged him, too. Together, we talked me off the anxiety ledge I live on so often, and even though it was 2am before I went to sleep, I did actually get some rest last night.

I woke up this morning feeling a little edgy, but hopeful too. I know that I’ll get done what I can today, and the rest will get done when it gets done. The world will not end if I can’t get to the Trader Joe’s to buy shampoo, or because it’s December 2nd and Monkey doesn’t have an advent calendar yet (though it turns out my mom bought her one, so that’s one more thing off my list. Yay, Mom!!). I can let myself, if you’ll pardon the pun, off the hook.

*Big shout out to my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law, for handling the majority of the bedtimes while we were visiting them. If you saw my post last week, you know that the Monkey was having a really rough go of it at bedtime, and that having me involved actually seemed to make it worse. The Monkey’s grandparents and aunt were there with stories, songs, and toothbrushing assistance to help make bedtime a lot more relaxing for the Monkey, and by extension, for me.

Dear child who wants me,

Oh my Monkey. I cannot begin to understand what has changed in the last two nights that you’re having such a hard time sleeping when I put you to bed. I know you’re in a new place, but that first night you went to bed like a champ! What happened? It is breaking my heart listening to you call “mom-my” and “where are you?” over and over through the tears, but I know if I go in there, you’ll never get to sleep. We tried it last night, remember? I extricated myself for 10 minutes to throw some food in my face, change into pjs, and come back to snuggle. Three hours we were at – me trying to get you to settle down, stop kicking, stop talking, just.stop. – before Daddy texted and suggested I cut my losses and let you come play for a bit. You played, you reset, and when it was time to try the bedtime routine again, you let your grandmother do it. You went to bed like a champ again then. So what is it about me?

When we first started sleep training and you cried and cried and cried, I wanted to puke; you probably did, too. But we got through it. Since then you have been a great sleeper, and I think that’s what makes it so hard when you don’t sleep. Because there is nothing I can do to help you sleep – rubbing your back, snuggling with you, singing to you – you stay awake through all of it. The best thing I can do for you is to let you cry, and frankly listening to it hurts me more now than it did when you were 10 months old. I’m so unaccustomed to your crying unless you’re having a tantrum that I don’t know what to do with it. I feel helpless. Luckily you seem to be settling down. I’m really, really hoping that you can calm yourself and relax into a deep sleep. Get some good rest, I’ll try to as well, and maybe tomorrow will be different.

I’ve got the theme song blues

I’ve been sick for the last week – coughing, congested, and for a few days I sounded like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Peter Brady. It was hot. As a result though, I couldn’t take the Monkey to her music class, the library, or really do anything that involved moving from the couch. We have watched A LOT of TV this week. I’m not especially proud of it, but you do what you have to when you’re sick and your sitter has the audacity to work for other families, too.

So far I’ve been lucky, and the Monkey’s TV interests lie mostly with Doc McStuffins (whom I love!), Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (kinda whiny, but I like the lessons), and Curious George (that monkey makes some dumb damn decisions). This week though, she refused all of those. We stumbled blindly through our Netflix and nothing intrigued her. As I was looking for a movie one morning, the TV came to rest on something with cartoon puppies. She jumped on it. Fine, great, awesome. Now I can sit down and try not to choke on my own phlegm. When I surfaced a little while later, it was still on and she was still into it. Win! Turns out we’d found a marathon of something called Paw Patrol. I’d never heard of it, but I’m sure many of you have. (For those of you who haven’t, a team of puppies and their pal Ryder help friends around the town of Adventure Bay do things like move beehives out of lighthouses, repair wind turbines, and get an errant frog back to his jumping contest before it’s too late.) On the whole, I don’t really mind the show. My kid is learning about working as team, helping friends, and some basic science-y things like how bees make honey. Really, it’s fine. I mean, it’s certainly not as bad as that whiny Caillou punk.

No, my biggest beef is with the damn theme song. Somehow in my Mucinex/Sudafed induced fog, it’s pop/dance-y tune has embedded itself in my brain FOR DAYS. It hurts more than my sinuses have been. Any time I have found myself spacing out in the last few days (which has been often), this damn song pops back into my head. I’ve been song-bombed by digital puppies, and it’s making me insane. I don’t want the Paw Patrol to “be there on the double” when I’m trying to sleep, for chrissakes! What kind of inhuman bastards wrote this mess? I just have to hope there is a special place in hell for them – with their work on endless loops for all eternity!

What about you? Which kid show song sends you over the edge?

And in case you’re interested in torturing yourself, here’s the Paw Patrol theme song.


#NaBloPoMo Day 13 – My Ideal Day Off

I’m pretty lucky that as a SAHM I have a great sitter who gives me a few hours off each week. On most of those days, I do un-fun things like doctor’s appointments, errands, or work around the house that is simply easier without little hands that want to “help.” Even on those days, I try to find an hour or so to sit in a cafe with my book and just relax. But a full day to do what I want? Yes, please!

Ideally, there would be about 36 hours in this day off of mine (a girl can dream, right?), just so I could squeeze everything in without feeling like I was rushing from place to place. That’s not relaxing for anyone.

Like most people, sleep is something I could always use more of. And you know those mornings where your bed is just extra comfy, the room isn’t too hot or cold, and the sun is streaming in, but not too brightly? Yea, I’d take one of those mornings in a heartbeat. Once I finally got up, I’d come downstairs to a house that is quiet and clean, and have coffee and one of the awesome egg, tomato, kale, and onion scrambles that my husband recently added to his repertoire.

After breakfast and a little sitting time, I’d make my way over to my favorite yoga studio and for once not compare my practice to that of those around me. I’d simply be able to be in a down dog or plank position, as difficult as those are for me, and just BE in that moment. No racing thoughts, no judgment, no making to-do lists, just a focused practice that left me feeling recharged.

Let’s be honest – I want some spa time, too. A facial, a massage, mani/pedi, I’ll take it all.

I think at this point I’d want to catch up with my husband and the monkey and do a fun family activity – visit an aquarium or a museum, or maybe go for a hike. I love to see the joy on her face when she experiences something new, and turns around to share it with us. She is at such a fun age (2 years, 9 months) where she understands a lot of what’s going on around her, and has some pretty hilarious observations.

After family time, my husband and I would drop the monkey off at home with the sitter and he and I would get some time to connect over a nice dinner. Having time outside of the house to talk is so important. It’s so easy to get distracted by the dishes and bills, to worry about the minutiae of life, instead of talking about the important things, like what we’re worrying about or wishing for, what our short- and long-term goals are, as individuals and as a couple. And to do that over a meal someone else is going to cook and clean up after is just icing on the cake!

How would you spend a day off?

Fed and Breathing

I was all prepared to post today about making time for yourself to get away from life, kiddos, work, etc., and relax. I wrote a piece while I was up at the Cabin Saturday night and was super proud of myself – I’d made a fire, had some takeout and beer by my computer, and wrote (and edited!) a great post. Then…I slept like shit. I’m 100% positive it was the result of finding three dead mice in trash can when I got up there that afternoon. Every creak, squeak, and snap put me on high alert. Somewhere around 2:30am, something much larger than a mouse bumped into the wall next to my bunk and scrabbled up on to the roof. After that, I was pretty much done sleeping. So I wasn’t super relaxed yesterday when I was packing up and shutting the place down, or when I tried to do a little Christmas shopping before I left town. I got home and I was kinda weird and annoying – just ask my husband. So, I did my best to get over my damn self. I took a long, hot shower, had something to eat, and chilled the f*ck out.

This morning, I had visions of tackling all the stuff that was getting to me last night – the boxes and books all over the dining room table, the dishes on the counter, the toys And I started to. But then I noticed that my monkey needed a little snuggle time, and she is simply way more important that than the all the literal stuff in my house that was bothering me. We jumped back into my bed with milk, breakfast and coffee, and watched some Curious George. Now I won’t lie, once we had some snuggles I did get some laundry done, and even vacuumed a bit (mostly because I spilled some of the coffee on the stairs and needed to get the carpet cleaner vacuumed up). But after that, I snuggled up again. She’s was too cute to leave for much longer.  The dishes are still on the counter, my dining room is still a mess, and those toys? Yup. Still all over the place.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent has got to be that life doesn’t always go the way you planned. Flexibility is paramount. A different me would be twisting, trying to decide if I should go ahead with my original post because it’s done and pretty, even though it didn’t turn out to be realistic this time around. But parent me knows that done and pretty isn’t what life is about anymore, so I’m going to post this piece, which I wrote in 20 minutes and isn’t perfect. Life (especially with kids) is about letting go of expectations, giving yourself the space to take what you need, and on somedays, simply being grateful that everyone is fed and breathing at the end of the day.

So you want to start a blog

I’ve had a dear friend telling me for a while now that I should start a blog. I kept saying “yeah, right” until today. I’m not really sure what it was that made today the day I started it, but I did. I came up with a name that made me laugh – because it is, sadly, so true these days – and it turned out no one else seemed to be using it. Yay! This will likely be a collection of random thoughts on parenting, books, and food. Hopefully it will be more funny than not. And if it’s not, you can blame my friend Mike over at Papa Does Preach for giving me the idea in the first place! 🙂