January 28, 2011

this moment

Wow, I've made it through a whole month of this moment posts! Ideally, at the end of 2011, I'd like to have 52 of these suckers done. I enjoy them very much. I spend a lot of time during the week thinking about what that week's moment will be. It helps keep me present and centered (not always, but I do try).

I wrote about this briefly, but my word for this year is "moment." (Maybe I didn't write about it. I can't seem to find the post.) I chose that word because I want to live in the moment more, recognizing that all things pass. Seasons change, children grow up, relationships have their ups and downs. And people die. Roy and I took Simon to a memorial service this past weekend - my ex-boyfriend's mother passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. I still remember the last real moment I shared with her years before. Even though it was a terribly hard moment (having to do with the euthanization of a much beloved family dog), it was the last one we shared that wasn't marred by awkwardness. All of us (me, my ex, and his parents) bawled together as we said goodbye to that sweet dog we all loved so much. It was a horrible day, but it was real. I never had a real moment with her after that one.

The death of my ex's mother really has nothing to do with this post - or maybe it does. All moments, good and bad, make up a life. It's that old yin and yang thing.

Here's the yang:

I was terrified of having a second child. Mostly I was afraid of not having enough room in my heart for two kids. Charlie just filled me up in a way that I never could have imagined, and I didn't know what to expect with Simon. It's true what they say, that the human heart is capable of stretching to make room for more. That's exactly what mine did - and continues to do as I get to know this little guy.

For some reason, Charlie and Simon have been taking a nap at the same time each day for the last five weeks or so. This was completely unexpected, and I'm still not sure how it's happening, but I'm thrilled that it has worked out like that so far. Yesterday, though, Simon stayed awake an hour or so after Charlie went down, so Simon and I had some good mommy-baby time together. We don't get a lot of time with just the two of us, which is one of the hard things about having two kids.

So yesterday we hung out in the bedroom, Simon completely naked except for his diaper. I laid him down on this little quilt that my uncle Charles sent to us after Charlie was born. I watched as Simon determinedly brought his hand up to his face, wanting to get it in his mouth but instead bonking himself in the nose. I couldn't help but laugh - and then my eyes filled with tears as it all came back to me, Charlie doing that exact same thing when he was a baby, Charlie wearing that same diaper, Charlie lying on that same quilt. It wasn't that long ago, but I had completely forgotten all those wonderful baby things that Charlie did. What a gift to be reminded through his little brother.

That's the thing about having a second child. It's a chance to do it all over again, to enjoy the milestones, the middle of the night feedings, the simplicity of loving a baby. I don't know how other moms out there feel, but the second time around it's much easier. I'm happy to wake up in the middle of the night for feedings because who knows when they'll end. I look forward to letting Simon sleep on me because some day he won't do it again. I love having the opportunity to smell his head, because one of these days that new baby smell will be gone. Someday I won't be his favorite person. Someday he won't always have a smile for me. So I drink him in, my little Scorpio who has always looked deep into my eyes and shown me the world. It's my second chance, perhaps my last chance, to mother a baby. I don't want to miss a moment.

January 21, 2011

this moment

(Thanks, soulemama.)

I so wanted to share a cute picture of Simon this week. He's sorely underrepresented on this blog, and I hate that. But it's going to have to wait.

This week was really hard. Let me go ahead and admit that so far 2011 hasn't exactly been kind to us. Yes, I am lucky to have my two beautiful sons, my husband, my cats, a house to live in, blah blah blah. But life is hard. Sometimes overwhelmingly hard.

This week I had several moments when I wanted to run away and never look back. I wanted to leave it all behind. And by "it all," I mean just that: my kids, my husband, the life I have here. What is strange is that in some ways, the transition from one child to two has been much easier than I thought it would be. Just last Friday, both boys were napping and I was musing on what a beautiful day it was, how much better my postpartum period has been going as compared to last time, etc.

And then this week happened. It's one week after that beautiful afternoon where both kids slept peacefully while I ate my lunch in solitude. My back is killing me from the very involved way in which Simon needs to go to sleep. I have a crick in my neck from sleeping wrong last night. Roy is sick with a cold. I cannot keep up with the laundry or the dishes or anything else. Our house feels so small and cramped that I truly feel like the walls are closing in on me. I can't hold either one of my children as much as I want to. Charlie absolutely loves to test me and then screams when I put him in time out. Oh, and we are broke. So broke that we are having to make some really hard financial decisions. And all of this? Well, it's taking its toll on our marriage, and while I'm not sitting here telling you all that our marriage is in trouble, the reality is it is so hard for us to connect as anything other than parents these days. Simon is only waking up once a night now, but we are both still so tired. To the bone. It's hard to talk/laugh/spend quality time together when all you want to do is sleep.

I'm kind of scared.

I'm scared that I'm disappearing into this whole motherhood thing and someday there won't be a "me" anymore. That I will end up this mindless Stepford wife who only cares about poop and play dates. That my marriage will dissolve because both of us are so busy just trying to keep up with life and all it entails. There is still so much I want out of life; I can feel myself reaching for it but I can't get my hands on it. And yet I don't feel like I have the right to want more. I have so much already, and people out there are starving, have sick children, have no place to live, etc.

What can I say? I'm typing this in the dark in our small, drafty, messy office, the only place I can sometimes just be, and no doubt my laptop is casting a shadow on my face like the photo above. I'm just full of shadows. I think people look at me and see this happy chick but that's only part of me. I always feel like I'm fighting the dark half of me, and I don't know who's winning - all I know is that I'm tired of feeling halved and conflicted.

I don't want this chaos. I just want to look life in the eye, like I'm doing in the photo above, knowing that I need to calm the fuck down and trust that it'll all be okay. In the meantime, I'm giving into the chaos. Leaving the laundry unfolded, the kitchen dirty, the toys strewn around the living room. I'm shutting down the computer and am going to go hug my husband, because our marriage is where this family starts and ends.

January 14, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

(inspired by soulemama)

This is Charlie at 19 months old. Taken last weekend by my friend Christine on our back patio. It's the perfect portrait of Charlie as he is right now, so much a little boy, a baby no longer (but still, always my baby). He loves stealing other people's water bottles, and I simply love his hair. His outfit, which I also love: a Paul Frank T-shirt that he wore to his first birthday party, a pair of blue jeans that we acquired from who knows where, a sweater that was part of our huge Craigslist score, Stride Rite shoes given to us by one of our neighbors, and socks that Charlie undoubtedly used as puppets earlier that day. The water bottle, needless to say, does not belong to him, but try telling him that.

January 12, 2011

A Musical Education

One of my favorite things to do with the boys is listen to music. While we go about our daily business, we listen to all kinds of things: Roma di Luna, the Amelie soundtrack, The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird, Tori Amos, Fleet Foxes, etc.

But we don't listen to kids music. I haven't been able to go there yet. To me it's a bit like going over to the dark side, inviting the presence of all these annoying songs into the house. Yes, I know there is cool kids music out there - not to mention all the cool lullabies - but I don't guess that's what I'm really talking about.

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I discovered a free download of this album and jumped on it. My thoughts at the time were "Awesome! Charlie will love this!" And then I had a listen and decided that traditional kids music is not for me. So I avoid it if I can. And perhaps that makes me a bad parent, but I don't care. Charlie and Simon will have plenty of exposure to all those songs as they get older and go to daycare or preschool. In the meantime, they are getting a wonderful musical education through me. They're hearing important and valuable songs (like this one) from all genres of music, and perhaps these songs will continue to swim under the surface of their minds as they get older. That's my hope, anyway.

When we were little, my brother and I loved to listen to my mom and dad's records. And now all I have to do is turn on this song, and I am transported back into the living room of my childhood home. A simpler time. I had no idea what the song really meant, but I loved Kenny Rogers' voice juxtaposed with the popping of the record. (Yes, I am a Kenny Rogers lovin' nerd. I love his beard. I have never tried his chicken, though - have you?) I hear that song now and think of rain and adventure and our big, warm house. If I think about it for a long time, I'm led back to my love for The Goonies, our family dog Pepper, and one particularly muddy patch in our yard where my brother and I played GI Joes.

I just don't have that kind of attachment to the kids songs that I listened to as a kid (this was a favorite album) - I can remember all the words to this album, for example, but they don't evoke the same kinds of fuzzy memories for me. And honestly, I think kids can get just as much out of an adult version of a song like "Puff the Magic Dragon". And I'm selfish. I like listening to my music. I think it's awesome. And if I end up having to listen to "Do You Realize?" on repeat for a whole day because that's what Charlie wants to hear, that's a hell of a lot better than listening to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

I gotta say, though, that after hearing so much about Yo Gabba Gabba, I went searching around the web and listened to "There's a Party in my Tummy." And it was quite cute. And catchy. A little too catchy, because that's all I heard in my head for the rest of the day. I'm kind of glad we don't have a TV.

I like Jason Schwartzman's approach to building a music library for his daughter:

Makes me want to save my pennies for a record player.

Pssst, you can download that Chipmunks album I mentioned above for free right here! You know I did.

January 7, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

(inspired by soulemama)

So those are the rules, but rules are meant to be broken, right? This picture begs for a story to be told along with it.

This little guy is my brand new nephew Gus. He was born on January 4, weighing in at a hefty 10 lbs 4 oz, stretching out at 20.5 inches. Gus is the son of my sister-in-law Mandy and her husband Paul. Mandy and Paul waited a long time to bring home a baby, and what can I say? I'm a sucker for a happy ending - and an even bigger sucker for chubby, adorable little boys. (Those cheeks!) Congratulations, Mandy and Paul!

January 1, 2011

The Best Intentions

Hello, 2011!! It's a new year, a blank slate (so to speak). I have a lot of hopes for it.

I want to not get pregnant this year. After spending much of the last 2+ years being pregnant, I need a real break from child-bearing.

I want to make our bed every morning. I feel so good when the bed is made. I feel so good when it's unmade, too, because it's so welcoming - but a made bed makes the room feel put together and less cramped.

I want to get our finances under control. We've changed our health insurance plan and paid off one of our cars. These are two big steps. But they aren't enough. I want to learn the art of couponing, develop a budget, and use our tax return to pay down our debt.

I want to stop impulse buying, at the grocery store and otherwise. Last year we did really well with not buying things on impulse, but it all fell apart as Simon's due date got closer and the holidays happened.

I want to read more. I want to read the books that I already have on my to-be-read shelf here. I especially want to read more poetry.

I want to write more. Last year I made a return to journaling and writing poetry, and I want to continue in that direction. I still go back and forth on continuing with this blog. I try not to think about it too much and instead just post something when I feel like it.

I want to take a few appropriate steps back from technology. I want to write more letters and send less email. I want to make phone calls instead of texting. I want to give face-to-face time instead of Facebook time.

I want to take lots of photos. Not just of my family, but of the world around me. I want to develop my photo skills and experiment more.

I want to not compare myself to others. My path is my own; why do I continue to look to others to validate my life and decide my worth?

I want to unclutter our house once again. The chaos of Simon's birth plus the holidays has left us with a pretty messy and cramped existence. I now feel like we have outgrown our little house, but instead of moving to a bigger one, it makes more sense to pare down our belongings.

I want to make family dinner a priority. We hardly ever eat dinner as a family. We usually feed Charlie and eat after he goes to bed. He's getting old enough to notice this stuff, so that means it's time to change our habits.

I want to develop a plan for moving to a place that suits us better. It's time to get out of Southern California.

I want to listen to all the CDs and downloads that I have instead of constantly looking for new music.

I want to breastfeed Simon until at least his first birthday. With how well things have been going, this seems like a very attainable goal.

I want to exercise. I have no goals for weight loss or anything, but I just want to get out there and be active.

I want to spend a lot of time with my little nephew (who is due next week!).

I want to make more time for my friends. I think I'm doing pretty good at this already, but there are still some friends that I hardly ever get to see or talk to.

I want to get my computer organized. It's pretty much been a mess since I was pregnant with Charlie.

I want to go to Texas to see my family. This pretty much depends entirely on our financial situation.

I want to put my passions into practice and work towards making a career for myself. While I may have to get a temporary job waiting tables or something to make ends meet, I don't want to settle on something long-term just for the sake of having money. I think I have finally figured out some big truths when it comes to jobs/careers/vocations, and well, I'm ready to begin exploring my options.

And lastly, I want to learn to live in the moment more. I often find myself wishing away the hard times in favor of easier times, but I'd do good to remember that it's good to "be grateful for this moment. This moment is your life." So that's my word for the year: moment. My focal point, my place of return.

But my first real goal for 2011 is to finish up Simon's birth story and share it with you all. It's definitely time.