It's been more than a year since I've written anything on this space of the internet. And the more I think about it, the more I realize it's probably been that long since I've written much of anything. I won't try to summarize the happenings of the past year. But a lot has happened. Which brings me to tonight. Sitting here by the fire, trying not to be too self-conscious of what's coming from my fingertips.
I've been a "stay at home mom" for 6 months now. Yes, I have my own business now and I am still technically working- but it's not even close to being the same as working 40+ hrs a week at a job that never really sleeps or takes a day off. I work a fraction of the hours and the rest of my time has been spent at home. With my kids. It's been a crazy ride.
Those first few months of summer feeling like the summer vacation I never had. Playing, swimming, sleeping in. Morning walks and never getting out of our PJ's. I fell in love with my children all over again. It was like the honeymoon phase of my new life.
And then there was football season- a blur of 3 months where I just smile and nod and just try to keep my head above water. But this year was easier because the stress of that aforementioned always-on job wasn't there. But football season is its own beast for another day. And we made it through another year.
And then....nothing. Bart has his life of school and football and molding young men into decent human beings. And I have- what? Dishes and laundry and toys and more dishes and toilets to clean. I also have depression and a therapist and questions of "What am I doing with my life? Why isn't this enough for me? Why can't I be happy?" I have season 1-3 to binge watch and my own business that doesn't challenge me enough. I have questions and frustrations and fears of the future.
So I'm writing. Because Bart asked me what I like to do, and told me I should do it. I still don't have answers. Answers to questions like "What does God want me to do with all this extra time on my hands?" and "What makes me feel alive and fulfilled?"
Maybe I'll start a new series of "what I learned in therapy today"...because there are definitely golden nuggets to be shared. Today was about self-care- and labeling needs so we can address them. I realize some of my unmet needs are the following:
The need to be challenged
Connection + friendship
Having a project- need to "complete" something
And I use binge-watching TV and shopping as my way to numb the boredom and emptiness I feel (more TV than shopping now because....#stillaminimalist). I learned that self-care can be as simple as going to bed when you're tired. And that it is a daily thing, not some big pamper session every few months. That self-care is the opposite of selfish. That no one else is going to be in charge of my self-care. That sometimes it's not fun, or not something we really want to do. But that it's necessary. (side note- maybe my goal in life should be to learn how to spell necessary the FIRST time I try.)
So there you have it friends. A few things that are on my mind tonight.
Happy birthday my sweet baby boy. This has been the fastest year of my life. Part of me feels so sad! I feel like somehow I missed out on your life. Where have I been?? But then I realize I've been here, with you an you sister as we have created our new normal. The first half of your life was spent being saved by your sister, and this second half has been spent experiencing PTSD and assuming every time she comes close its to hurt you. But you've survived. You are kind of a whimp, but I don't blame you.
You're definitely a mamas boy and are happiest when I'm holding you. You have this billy goat laugh that is the sweetest sound. We were in a class at church and you started laughing for about 5 minutes straight- straight thru a prayer and everyone in the room was laughing right along with you. Your smile is contagious and plastered on your face 90% of the day. When people meet you they comment on your bright blue eyes and say something like " happy boy!!"
You started walking two weeks before your birthday and have the bumps and bruises to prove it. You love cars and balls and can toss a ball pretty good! You're in the phase of "take everything out" and love to explore an unopened drawer or basket. To say you love soft blankets is an understatement. You're obsessed wth your little minky blanket and sleep with it nuzzled into your face.
You're eating me out of house and home and I don't know what I'm going to do when you're a full grown boy! You could literally eat all day, but spit anything out you're not in the mood for. You turn hangry pretty quick and if I even think about getting you out of your chair before you're full you give me an ear full.
I have been much less stressed with you, and have been enjoying each stage as it comes, instead of looking for the next stage to begin. You don't sleep in. Ever. You don't even make it to 6am and I have no idea what to do about it. Despite bedtimes or nap times, you're whining around 5:30am and your mean mother leaves you to fend for yourself until 6. The handful of times you've made it to 6 we have celebrated. I'm crossing my fingers that you'll figure it out soon.
My favorite things I don't want to forget:
-your gap teeth grin
-billy goat laugh
-your baby blabber
-rolling around and laughing with your soft blanket & pillow
You have made my heart grow two more sizes. You bring peace to my soul.
Hello my sweet baby boy. I love you so much! You're growing and learning everyday and I can't believe you're almost 10 months old. It has gone by so fast, and it feels like you've always been a part of our family. You are a mama's boy and it's been an adjustment for me. Most moms don't like their babies crawling around and exploring and getting into things- but I don't mind it. That's how your sister was- but not you. You want me to hold you or be on the floor right by you as you play.
Sometimes if you're in a good mood you might go off for 10 minutes or so checking out all the toys. But it doesn't last long. I think you're getting like 4 different teeth right now and so that makes you a little (lot) more whiny. You LOVE food and sometimes I run out of things to feed you. I try to make sure it's all balanced and there are times you've eaten your way through the food pyramid and I just have to give you a few graham crackers to fill in all that extra space still in your belly. You're a wonderful sleeper and take two naps a day and sleep great at night. You love cuddling with your soft blanket and you have a monkey binki you love.
Right now your favorite item is a big yellow plastic ball. It's bigger than you are, but you chase that thing around the entire house and giggle and yell in excitement. You can pick it up and "throw" it and then chase after it. Its adorable.
Everyone comments on your beautiful bright blue eyes. You smile at everyone and people think you're just the perfect looking baby. And you are. You don't look much like your sister anymore but you are so beautiful in a way totally different from her! You're growing big but feel proportioned and just look like the typical chubby Gerber baby.
You say dada all day and blow raspberries. You will say mama if you're whining and trying to track me down. You are terrified by your sister but you also giggle the entire time in the backseat when she plays and talks to you. I hope you two can become friends.
I love you Cooper boy. Your sister is still calling you Booger and it's growing on all of us. We also call you Boogs a lot or Coopie or Boogie. We'll see if any of these nicknames stick through your childhood. I hope you know how special you are, and how much you complete me life and mommy heart.
Hi my sweet girl. I just got done reading a small journal my mom kept as she wrote down memories and things about me as I was a baby and toddler. It was so fun to read her thoughts about me and feel her love as she wrote. I hope that is what you get out of this as you read my letters to you!
I love you so much. You are three and bold and beautiful and smart and independent and funny and sweet and sassy. I hope you never give up on your confidence and excitement for life and new things. You have a fun imagination and like to play games. You like to be the mommy and I'm the "honey". You're a sweet little mommy and you take good care of your honey. You aren't nice to your brother and that's probably my biggest frustration with you right now. You like to terrorize him and I'm at a loss of what to do. I feel like if you could just play sweet with him all my problems would be solved. He loves and is fascinated by you, but he's also scared of you and doesn't have much patience for your constant badgering. I'm assuming one day you'll move past it, but I'm not getting my hopes up too much.
Right now you love to play with other kids. Everyone immediately becomes your friend and you can play outside with kids you just met for hours. You're a social butterfly. Sometimes you're the one in charge, but most of the time you're fine with following the leader. As long as they're being nice to you, you aren't too particular. You love to climb and test your body and learn what it can do. You also love to draw and color and surprisingly you prefer a pen and lined paper over crayons and a coloring book.
You have a funny mind that is a bit OCD/neurotic. If something is broken or bent or cracked you can't move past it. You like things how they should be. Your shirts can't come up in the back when you sit down or you freak out. You don't like capris, 3/4 length sleeves or tankinis because you think they just don't fit.
You're talking wonderfully and you're a big chatterbox. You're also a champion whiner and it really gets on my nerves. I've had to say many prayers of forgiveness for losing my temper, and my prayers for help in being more patient with you. But at the end of the day you want me to "hold me for little bit" and sing you lots of songs. I'm trying not to rush those nights. I'll know I will miss them soon enough.
I love you so much Kenny bear! You are my whole life. Me and your daddy are constantly talking about you. Praying for you, and thinking of you. I can't wait to see what kind of person you grow up to be. I know as you make right choices, you will become a wonderful spiritual giant who does amazing things.
I hope I can put into words how I was feeling today!
This morning we stopped by the park. Two boys came over (around 8 and 6ish) and Kenzie started playing with them. They were all playing so well at the playground and eventually their games took them away from the playground and toward the walking trail behind it. Soon she was out of my sight. I could still hear them every once in a while. But I couldn't see her. I realized it was my first time ever that she was playing away from me and I couldn't see or hear her at all. Not only that, but she was even playing with complete stranger kids. This was a whole new experience for me. As I sat in the grass with Cooper my mind was racing.
Should I go check on her? But it's good for her to feel safe and independent while she plays. I don't want her to see me and think she needs to be checked on as she plays.
There's really nothing dangerous over there. But what if something happens- will I be able to hear it? What if she wanders off and gets lost?
The boys are playing with her and being really attentive. But what if they get bored with her and run off? Or do something physical that she can't yet but wants to? (Climb walls, scale the hill, etc).
On and on and on.
I'm not a helicopter mother. I don't mind them (you do your thing mama) but that's not how I am. And sometimes I think free range parent's are seen as taking an easy route. Look at that mom sitting on the grass in the cool shade instead of going down the hill and following her daughter in the sun.
But you know what? My heart and brain were ON FIRE as I was letting her be a kid. I was a hot mess inside while she was out of my view. But I believe it's important for kids to be able to play semi-unsupervised with other kids. Even at age 3. And because I believe that, I stayed on the grass with my baby. It wasn't easy. No parenting style is easy. And maybe there are moms out there that don't blink an eye when their kids aren't in their view. Maybe I was a hot mess because she's my first, and I can't believe she's old enough! Maybe it's my anxiety that gets triggered and I go to all those bad scenarios in my head. Maybe I'll send Cooper out the door without a second thought. Or maybe not.
But either way, I was really happy when the games were over and we could go home.