Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Sunday

I love Sundays...well to be fair weekends in general, and mornings in particular. Life rarely gets more simple or perfect after about 8am. Sitting with a warm cup of coffee in my hands, watching Ainsley laugh and play, talking with my husband out in our shabby (I'd insert chic here but that would be a lie) back porch is the epitome of happiness for me. Even the birds frequently diving into the not-so-clean-so-why-can't-they-see-them windows and plummeting to their occasional death, can't dampen my morning glow. Everything is possible in the morning. Everything is new and fresh...except for my breath and Ainsley's diaper.

For instance today I plan to tackle
August/September birthday presents, plant a window box, clean the entire apartment, go for a 5 mile jog, and teach Ainsley how to make the sound "Mmmm". I assure you it is possible, all of it is possible, because it is the morning and I am not quite lucid enough yet to realize that I will in fact complete 1 of these tasks, 2 if I'm lucky and have one more cup of coffee.

Perhaps this is another issue of mine. I constantly set myself up for failure. Every morning I wake up with dreams of supreme productivity. I WILL do everything on my mental to-do list and possibly solve the issue of world peace while Ainsley is napping, and then subsequently find a way to let Obama know so he can execute my grand plan. It's possible right?

No. It is in fact NOT possible and herein lies my flaw. Perhaps it IS possible for someone. It must be, right? If there aren't supremely productive, maniacally multitasking people in the world we are all in big trouble. I sure hope someone figures out world peace at some point. I'm just guessing it's not going to be a 25-year-old stay-at-home new mom who uses cloth diapers and needs at least one nap a day.

What I believe I need is a dose of reality. You'd think being put on bed rest at 34 weeks pregnant forcing me to leave work a month early and giving birth in a tub on Christmas Eve would make me realize that life, at times, is beyond my realm of
control. I guess I'm still blocking this instance out as I can't seem to get it through my head that I can't have life just the way I want it. Sure, I'd LOVE to say that I workout everyday, weed my garden religiously, go to church every Sunday, live spontaneously and fully. The truth is most days consist of one outing to the grocery store, a pitifully short walk, and a lot of play time on the floor. Some days it's all I can do to make one phone call to a friend or family member, clean the toilet, let alone a whole room, and keep Ainsley's myriad of toys and clothes in "neat" piles. I'm hoping I'm still in an adjustment period, even though Ainsley's pushing 7 months old and I'm afraid I can't claim this for much longer.

It used to be different. In college I was nearly always on my A game, juggling 6 hour morning coffee shop shifts with classes, a full social calendar, and, during junior year, t
raining for a half marathon. I would hesitate to write this for fear that it sounds like boasting, but we live in a society and culture where this is the norm, if not expected of the general population. If you aren't doing a million things at once, you're a failure. Especially, I've come to learn, if you're a mom.

I've recently joined a playgroup and have
seen first hand the effects of the outrageous expectations place on mothers. If you're not teaching your child how to read by 3 months old, having them listen to stimulating music at all hours of the day, and getting them to sleep for at least 10 hours a night, forget about being invited to be a member of the "acceptable mothers" group. In addition to these small feats, btw, you should also hold at least a part time job, remain socially active, workout obsessively to maintain a size 4 figure, and sustain at least 2 hobbies, you know, in your spare time. WHAT?!?!? I for one was convinced that these expectations were an urban myth. Furthermore I was sure that if I was presented with these issues I would remain unaffected by them. While I must say the rather "granola" mothers in my group remain relatively impervious to the "mom pressures" present today, and I am thankfully still somewhat naive to them, we all recognize their presence.

Thankfully, I was brought up believing in the virtue of simplicity. You choose one, maybe two extracurricular activities, are in bed by 10pm, and observe a mandatory quiet hour on the weekends. At the time I'm sure I was annoyed by these limitations. I wanted to be one of those high school girls who did know the ones. In retrospect I am thankful for my one or two activities. I remember vividly cross country practices followed by a family dinner at the table and the occasional dance class or piano lesson in the evenings. I valued each activity and learned the importance of commitment, something I feel is lacking today with most children. Coaches should understand why their goalie is absent for half the games, they are after all involved in three other sports and take a family vacation once a's not THEIR fault. Of course it is, and the fault of the parent's even more so for allowing their child to spread themselves, and most likely THEMselves as well, so thin.

Perhaps my greatest hope for Ainsley, and subsequently Ian and I, is to continue to live simply, even when society is screaming at us to fill our lives to the brim with nonsense. To fill our lives instead with activities and events that matter, meaningful relationships and experiences, and memories, lots and lots of joyful memories. After all, what could be more important than sitting on the porch on a lazy Sunday morning, listening to my baby laugh, talking with my husband, and dreaming about all that the day could hold? Not much, except perhaps a day filled with hope and an evening of satisfaction.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Second Wind

I almost forgot to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my amazing mom. I wish I could be in Minnesota to celebrate, and because I want to move back.

I've started looking up real estate in Minnesota. I'm open to suggestions for where to look.
Ian is set on St. Paul while I am mostly interested in good schools and large-ish lots, meaning no city streets with matchbox backyards. Perhaps I was spoiled growing up in the "burbs" of Minneapolis but I need trees, water, and a bike path dammit!

I'm concerned about the real estate market for numerous reasons, one of which is where it will leave us in 2+ years when we're looking to buy something. Is i
t wrong to secretly hope that the market won't improve TOO much so we can afford something nice?

I found three places in my search online. Ian says this isn't healthy to look so far in advance but it helps ease the homesickness to stay focused on the future.

The two in St. Paul were beautiful and older. One was literally spitting distance from the Minneapolis VA, where Ian hopes to
work someday. The third is in Edina and it's beautiful (pictured here). I can't help but fantasize about living in a house. Our own backyard, garden, clean basement, no smokers with loud TV's living downstairs. I know it could be so much worse. But it could be better too.

When I was little I could spend hours playing with dolls, pretending that I was this alpha mom who had all the answers, and the ability to save my brood from the evil neighbor boy by hiding out in the tree house with hoards of clothes and plastic food. I realize now how important that imaginary play is, and how in some ways, it never stops. I no longer play house (unless you count the occasional relapse into SIMS world) but I do imagine my life ahead. I even find myself imagining life now and how it could be different, improved. Some people may see it as a flaw to never be completely satisfied with life. I see it as motivation, to spur on change and improve oneself.

I watched my fair share of Oprah this winter and spring and I have to say I agree that there is something to this "best life" campaign she has going on. While I am beyond tired of hearing about her battle with weight (stop eating cookies or shut up about the extra pounds) I am fascinated by the idea that every person has the ability to be something, someone great, in whatever capacity your life allows you to be.

I think that is perhaps what I am struggling with the most now. Who is my best self? My whole life I had imagined her as a mother, a wife. But where I am in that title? And I am NOT the best wife and mother, as both Ian and Ainsley would attest to. So where does that leave me? For now I strive to find my best self in little things. A successfully executed new recipe, a perfect batch of cookies, completing a whole pilates video and folding a load of laundry during one short Ainsley nap, finishing a novel in less than a week, going for a run when all I want to do is curl up and sleep, being on my A game for Ainsley all day. Perhaps these things seem trivial, and in truth they are, but they are small successes that on a daily basis remind me that I am capable and worthwhile.

Whew. I see how this blog thing can get addicting. I'm sure there'll be more soon. There always is.

I Never Thought I'd Do This

Ok. Maybe that's a lie. I have considered starting a blog more as an outlet for myself than anything else. I'm hoping that it will help decrease the amount of time I spend daily talking to myself. While Ainsley's a great listener I can't pretend any longer that she's really hearing me, or that she might respond in a verbal way. So here I go.
I'm going to try to keep this as un-diary-like as I can although I have to say that this may be difficult. I've always written and it's mostly been in diary form, or ended up that way. Perhaps if I keep it to specific goings-on this won't be an issue.
Today was a good day. At least a 7 out of 10, which is good considering the number of 4's and 5's I was dealing with upon returning from vacation. I spent the morning with playgroup ladies and babies. It is always refreshing not only to talk to other adults that aren't Ian but also to see other mothers in action. For example, one mother not "falling for it" when her almost 8 month old whined and cried for no apparent reason. Good to know that I'm not the only one that thinks that babies start forming manipulative (this word seems harsh but I'm having a hard time finding another one) behaviors early. I remember the first 4 months of Ainsley's life when her cry shot daggers through my heart. While I still have visions of her getting her head stuck in the rungs of her crib when she cries at night (which I hear from other mom's is completely normal) for the most part I no longer assume the worst during daylight hours and find myself more annoyed than upset by her cries.
I will write more tomorrow pending a good nap from Ainsley. I just wanted to get the ball rolling here while I had the motivation.

Warm Wishes.