Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughts on motherhood these days.// Balboa Park scooter rides.

I traded in adventures to Europe for adventures to the park.
Sleeping in for rarely sleeping.
Having a career for having more time to spend with my kids.

On paper my life is mundane, boring even. Music class. Park. Library. Play group. Trains. Books.  Museum. Zoo. Walks around the neighborhood. Not the life I imagined growing up. Some people dream of being a mom, but honestly, I dreamed about traveling the world, getting an education, and having a career.

I remember being in my late twenties and thinking that it might be best if we just accidentally got pregnant, because consciously making the choice to have a baby and change our whole lives seemed like such a difficult decision to make.

To be honest, though, being a mom has brought me more joy than anything else I have ever done. It is also the most challenged I have ever felt. It has stripped me down to the core of who I am more than anything in this life.

My life looks completely different than it did five years ago when I spent my days teaching, nights going out or exercising, and summers traveling. I really enjoyed my life then. Sometimes I wonder how I can be so happy now when things today are in stark contrast to how they used to be, but I am really enjoying this season of my life, too.  

There are beautiful moments that melt me down to my core. When Everett pauses whatever he is in the middle of doing and gives me a hug and says, “Mama, I love you so much,” and these days that happens a lot throughout our day. Or when Cambria grins her big toothy smile, which is all of the time these days. Or when Everett needs to play with or read to or cuddle his sister and they spend time together. Or when her face beams at him and he gets the biggest smiles and giggles out of her. There are so many moments throughout our day when I pause and look at my two children, and I think, wow, this is my life, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. 

There are also moments throughout the day sometimes when I think, this is my life?!? That thought may pass through my mind after a diaper blowout or changing my eighth diaper in a day or dealing with another three year old meltdown about something as simple as not having enough books in the car when he is already balancing five books on his lap in his seat.

Beyond the daily moments, I think about the big picture of raising children. I am surprised by how much anxiety can creep in about parenthood. There are so many doubts in my mind that I might be doing this parenting thing all wrong, and I worry that my kids will one day resent me for all the mistakes I have or will make as their mother. Sometimes this self doubt keeps me up at night. Parenthood is such a big responsibility. But, if I can’t give myself enough grace to make mistakes as a mother, how will my kids ever know that it is okay for them to make mistakes. At the end of the day, I do my research and try to follow my mother’s instinct and make the best decisions for our family. I do the best I can and when I flounder or discover I made a mistake or lose my patience, I do my best to apologize. So far, I only have a three year old and a baby, and I can’t imagine the weight of the conversations or apologies that will happen with a teenager or an adult child. I figure I should practice now so that we have a foundation as my kids get bigger. I can’t imagine a more vulnerable role to take on in life than that of being a parent.

More than anything, I just want my children to know that even though I am bound to make mistakes, I am doing my best and I love them immensely. There is an abundance of love. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cambria's first beach day.// Searching for joy.

The cold water splashed over my body as I chased my boy through the ocean while his shrieks and giggles complemented the sounds of the crashing waves. “Mama, chase me. I’m gonna win!” He ran up to the mess of sand toys scattered next to the tent where his dad and little sister sat in the shade, her gummy smile ready to charm passersby. My boy laid down and exclaimed, “Lie next to me, mama. Let’s get warm and cozy!” He shimmied his shoulders to burrow deeper in the sand. I accompanied him, feeling the heat from the sand slowly turn my goose bump filled skin smooth again. Yet, in this moment that was seemingly perfect and picturesque and everything I wanted summer to be, I was struggling to feel joy.

We spent a lot of time at the beach this summer. Even though sometimes I didn't feel like it, I chose to stand in the sunshine and lie in the sand and let the warmth of it envelop my body while the wind sent a cool breeze across my shoulders. The feelings of earth and sky covered me when I couldn’t muster up feelings of joy from within. And if I could go back and tell myself something in those moments, it would be, the joy will come back to you. Not all at once, but slowly, in bits and pieces. This will not be your new normal. You will reconnect to yourself, slowly.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A family date.// Coming out of a challenging season.

I stepped away from journaling for a few months and have just recently gotten back into it, because May to August were some really challenging months for me personally.

During that time, I mustered up all of the positive thinking I could. I tried to “fake it till you make it," and while I was working hard on faking it, I was surely not making it. I tried to focus on the good and practice gratitude, and yet still found joy elusive. It’s just been a really challenging season, but I feel like I am finally coming through it and feeling like myself again.

Two things that kept me going are family dates and photography, both of which have been a gift to me during this challenging season. I love documenting life through photographs and I love going on family dates. All I can figure out moving forward is that I should keep doing what I like doing and let go of the things in life that I don’t like doing. I’m hoping with more of that, the joy will come.

I happened upon this quote from Ranier Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet this week, and it really touched me with the struggles I've had this summer season: "So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you, greater than any you have ever seen before; or if a disquiet plays over your hands and over all your doings like light and cloud-shadow. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”

I have hope that there is some greater purpose and lessons to be had in the challenges of life. 
Dancing with my boy: