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Archive for March, 2012

On connection

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So I’ve been trying to write an entry for about a week now, and I never seem to get more than two sentences down at a time. I would like to go back to writing every day, but I think I’m going to have to give up the long, more meaningful entries and return to my stream-of-consciousness style posts. maybe those are more fun anyway – you get a better idea of who I actually am and what goes on in my crazy head.

J’s new favorite phrase is “Come, Mama!” He says it so sweetly, it is very hard to resist. He holds out his hand and waits for mine.

*Connection:

1. A relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else
2. The action of linking one thing with another

Lately, connection has been at the forefront of my mind. It’s a fascinating topic. As humans, we are connected to each other, to the Earth, to the moon, to ourselves, to the food we eat, to the air we breathe. As the definition above states, we carry these associations with us throughout life. However, it seems to me that as a population, we are becoming less connected to people and earthly things and more connected to material and electronic things. As a parent, my connection to (and my relationship with) Julian is my top priority. I truly believe it’s the most important thing I will ever give him.

Gordon Neufeld, co-author of Hold On To Your Kids and attachment research extraordinare, describes attachment as follows:

What is attachment? Most simply stated, it is a force of attraction pulling two bodies toward each other… In the psychological realm, attachment is at the heart of relationships and of social functioning. In the human domain, attachment is the pursuit and preservation of proximity, or closeness and connection: physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically. As in the material world, it is invisible and yet fundamental to our existence. A family cannot be a family without it. When we ignore it’s inexorable laws, we court trouble.

Neufeld goes on to say that parenting is virtually impossible without a strong attachment. This is why teachers and babysitters, and even step-parents, have such a hard time working with kids. If a child doesn’t love, respect, and admire his caregiver, why would he even bother to listen to her? So attachment is not only necessary to raise a healthy, happy child, it is necessary to raise a healthy, happy parent.

That said, there are many things I do in attempt to keep my relationship with J strong. Some of them may be more obvious than others, such as the tenants outlined in “attachment parenting” – extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, and gentile guidance – but there are other, more subtle ideas and gestures that I find equally important (some of which probably fall under gentile guidance). For example, I respect almost all of J’s wishes, as long as they’re not detrimental to him or me, because he is his own person and in charge of his own mind and body. I don’t force him to wear clothes when he’s dead-set against it, and I trust him to carry glasses around and climb tall ladders. I don’t shame or guilt him when he makes a mistake or “experiments” in a way that I would prefer him not to. I am excited to read Hold On To Your Kids (I’m only on chapter two), because even with the amount of effort I put into maintaining a strong Mama-J connection, there are times when I find it so difficult. I strive for my connection with j to give him feelings of love, warmth, and complete acceptance. I want him to never have to feel alone, and being only one person, I sometimes find this challenging.

If J and I were part of a tribe or larger family, people would surround us constantly. Imagine passing other people as you walk through your daily routine and receiving smiles, eye contact, and a hug or a pat on the shoulder. Imagine you receive even 30 greetings like this a day (I’m sure there would be more in a real tribe). Imagine how full you would feel.

I’m sure it’s absolutely impossible to give a child this amount of warmth and contact as mother in today’s world, but the thought of it (as well as a stimulating conversation with some other moms whom I adore), has inspired me to find more passing moments within which I can connect with J. So, I’m implementing some suggested strategies, because a stronger connection = a happier J AND a happier Mama.

Strategy #1 – Make more eye contact, whenever and wherever possible.

Strategy #2 – Don’t go longer than 10-15 minutes without “checking in”. For example, if I am cooking, and J is playing in the living room, I simply take a minute or two every 10-15 minutes to connect with him. This might mean taking him to the potty if he needs or just giving him a hug, some eye contact, and a warm smile

Strategy #3 – Spend less time on the iPhone while J is awake. I find myself drawn into the phone as if it were a TV at times :/ and it pulls me emotionally out of the hear and now.

Strategy #4 – Speak more consciously. It’s so easy to fall into speaking habitually – “good job” is the best example I have, but I avoid praising, so for me it’s more like “I see that”, or “Mmmhmm”. The problem lies in tone, though. When I say “I see that” without consciously seeing it with my eyes and heart, the statement is empty and meaningless.

So, this is where I am right now. And just to completely change topics, have I written about our new house? 🙂 We are under contract and dealing with inspectors and structural engineers at the moment, but I am SO excited. It’s a dream house. Better even in some ways than the one we lost.

Here’s a picture:

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I promise to start writing more. (And I am using eye contact and saying this with meaning!)

*Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary

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Let there be light

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It’s been too long.

But, what a week. I am finally feeling good again. My mom is in town. 🙂 And, we are under contract!

That’s right folks, we may have ourselves a house! And not just a house- a beautiful, story-book house complete with wrap-around porch, picket fence, and original (1928) hardwood floors! Pending inspection and all (which we are quite worried about – might have structural issues, but more on that later!), it is ours!

On another note – I feel like I’m finally out of my dark place, and now that I can see the light, parenting is such a joy. J turned 18 months old last week, and he is different every minute. I can’t believe I spent so many minutes over the past few months not fully enjoying him.

*I would like to note that as I was writing the above paragraph, he proceeded to pee all over me and the bed. Not at all enjoying that. Neither is Husband apparently, because he just stormed off into the living room.

So, it was a quite crappy end to a somewhat decent day, but I hope tomorrow morning will be better.

I hope the universe hadn’t decided to smite me once again…

I’d post a picture of the house here, but I don’t want to jinx it, so here’s some info about the book I just ordered on Amazon – Hold in to Your Kids. I’m SO excited to read it, because my connection to J is constantly on the forefront of my mind right now.

Hold On To your Kids – Neufeld Institute

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So, even though we were outbid on our dream house, it appears that we have popped our make-an-offer cherry. We haven’t made another offer yet, but we are definitely on the hunt. We even drove to Durham today to see a few houses there (courtesy of a push from a friend) :). While we aren’t sure where in the Triangle we’ll end up, we have (I believe) decided to stay in this area. The way I see it, Husband’s job is here, so whether we like it or not we are stuck here until he a.) finds a different job, or b.) has enough freelance work to get out of a 9-6. Either of those situations could occur a year from now, or ten years from now. So, why live in limbo?

Embrace the now.

This is what I’m trying to do, at least.

Now, the real question seems to be Raleigh or Durham. We know people in both places, but each city seems to have its perks. Raleigh has Husband’s job, and it’s already familiar and comfortable. Durham is crunchier and has some awesome food, beautiful trees, and cheaper houses.

Fast forward about eighteen hours (because apparently that’s how long it takes me to write an entry these days), and once again there’s an offer on our favorite house. It looks like we will be deciding today whether or not we can see ourselves in Durham. GAH!

I am having an extremely difficult time making this decision. I mean, in one day we could be deciding where we will spend the next twenty years of our lives! That’s a lot of pressure. This could be the house Julian remembers as the house he grew up in. It could decide his childhood friends. The school he attends. The trees he climbs.

In order to sort out conflicting desires in my brain, I would like to tell you all a story.

Last Tuesday, I was feeling down and decided to take Julian on a walk to the park. The weather was beautiful. It was one of the first days that truly felt like Spring. I love Spring, but I particularly love the first days of Spring. There’s something utterly magical about them. On this particular day, It was 70 degrees, and the flowers were beginning to bloom. The mosquitos that are already emerging a week later were no where to be found, and the pollen that now coats our cars and roofs was still hidden beneath rose petals. It was the day when all the neighborhood adults emerged from their winter cocoons to sit on front porches and guzzle beers, watching their kids play in the streets.

Julian and I spent about two hours at the park, surrounded by dozens of other children and parents embracing the warm weather. I felt like a different person – like something in me had changed. I was happy. Confident. I struck up conversations with strangers, and I was completely nonjudgemental (a description that I admit has not fit me in recent months). As the sun sunk lower in the sky and other families began to walk home discussing dinner plans, I told J that it was almost time for us to leave too. As we packed up our bag, and I flipped J over my shoulder and into the Ergo, I made a split-second decision to take the long way home. Husband was working late, and I had no real dinner plans, so I thought why not? I could walk through Mordecai, take another look at a few houses on our maybe list, and get a better feel for the neighborhood.

I can confidently say that, on that long walk home, I found much more than I bargained for. Still filled with the confidence and energy that somehow engulfed me earlier, I introduced myself to almost everyone I passed. I felt as if I was walking through a different city. Friendly people were everywhere – On front porches, playing catch in their front yards with kids, walking dogs. I met Tanja, who’s son is Demarcus. Demarcus is three, and Julian spent about half an hour playing happily with him while Tanja and I chatted about train tracks and listservs.

After leaving Tanja’s yard, we met a four-year-old boy named Sam and his dad, and his dog (who’s name I have since forgotten). They were talking to their friend Claire who lived down the street. Julian and Sam became friends instantly, walking the dog down the street together and tossing a golf ball down Claire’s driveway. Sam’s dad and Claire and I talked about the neighborhood. They had both lived on the same street for ten years and had nothing but great things to say about the area. Sam’s dad even walked me down the street to introduce me to his friend Karen and her partner. Karen handed me a “vote against the amendment” sign to put in my yard. I had been wondering where to get one!

At this point, Julian and I had been out for about four and half hours, and the sun had begun to fall below the horizon. As J rubbed his eyes, I hiked him onto by back and into the Ergo again, and we headed home. I hummed J’s favorite songs as we walked. He was quiet and content, and as we turned onto our street, I noticed there was a spring in my step that had been missing for quite some time.

Now, I think I could look at this story two different ways.

A.) It was a turning point in my life, but one that could have/would have happened no matter what neighborhood I was in. Or…

B.) It was a turning point and a sign from the universe. We are meant to live in Mordecai.

The whole experience felt so right to me. It was as if, for once, I was meant to be where I was. I know I probably could have had this experience other places. Parts of Durham certainly have similar neighborhood vibes, but I wasn’t in Durham. I was in Raleigh, and remember, I’m embracing the now.

With that said, I’m waiting to hear from our Realtor about seeing the house in Durham again. It’s now or never.

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Short update

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Life is a roller coaster.

I realize I haven’t written for almost a week, but I’m not in the right place tonight. It’s been an eventful week, but I’m tired and typing on my iPhone, so I’m having to re-type each word about three times. Already frustrated to the point of stopping, but I’ll continue for just a minute.

Julian is putting together 3 words regularly now, and he even says 4 word sentences on occasion! While at Observation Park (at the airport) the other day, he said “another airplane take off”. 🙂

I am generally not inspired to write at night. In fact, I’m generally not inspired to do anything at night, so someone please remind me to blog during the hours that my brain is actually turned on.

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Interpretation

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Life is overwhelming.

I don’t understand how I could go two school full-time (earning two degrees and dancing non-stop) while working three part-time jobs and function well, and then become a stay-at-home mom and feel the need for a personal assistant. Maybe by keeping busy in my previous life, I just ignored all the day-to-day necessities. Now it seems that day-to-day necessities are pretty much all I do, and that makes them hard to ignore. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I have a difficult time:

Planning meals
Filing things
Cleaning up after I cook
Keeping a house organized
Remembering simple, everyday tasks such as taking vitamins

I also have a hard time relaxing, filling empty time, and (as we all know), I can’t stand feeling isolated. I suppose that when I filled my weekly schedule with classes, appointments, work, rehearsal, performances, etc., I could just move from one event to the next without really thinking much about how to get there. I didn’t have time to sit and ponder my existence, or even cook a real meal. I lived on the go and in the moment. Moving from full speed to what feels like full break, has been extremely difficult. I am aware that through that difficulty, there is great reward, but sometimes it just feels like I have no idea how to live the life I’m trying to live.

I can see the person I want to be. The wife I want to be. The mother I want to be. I know who she is, and yet, I feel as if I am not her. As if I have no idea how to be her. It seems as though my life up until this point has not adequately prepared me to become this person. I am scattered, I have a hot temper, and I’m a perfectionist who doesn’t know how to master domestic living. I was raised in the modern, Western world, and that world is where my brain still lives. My heart has moved on though, and although my brain has tried to catch up, it just can’t seem to do it. Who knows where my heart is now. The Amazon? Early 1900’s America? The West in 4012? Maybe my brain is running to catch something that can’t be caught. Maybe it’s here – right in front of my eyes. Only it looks different than before. All I know is that I’m a living dichotomy. How do I merge the modern world with an older, more down-to-earth world? How do I satisfy my heart while fueling my intellectualized brain?

This brings me nicely to another “100 ways in which I strive to be more like my son”

(2) I often admire Julian’s lack of inhibition. He is fully himself, at all times. He is authentic and beautifully untainted. When he is happy, every inch of his body oozes with joy. When he is sad, he melts into despair. When he is angry, he stomps and squeals and strikes the air. Somehow, between toddlerhood and adulthood, we lose the ability to act emotionally authentic. It becomes socially unacceptable to show our emotions the way we feel them. Men aren’t supposed to cry. Women aren’t supposed to get angry. Even happiness is expected to remain mostly contained. I mean, when is the last time you saw a grown man giggle elaborately or jump up and down yelling “yay!” when his favorite food is served in the cafeteria at work. Maybe the world just wears us down. Smooths our edges, so to say. Maybe pizza day just isn’t as exciting as an adult, but I tend to believe that’s not the case. I think it COULD be that exciting. Imagine a world where adults wore their emotions on their sleeves like toddlers. If nothing else, there would be fewer misunderstandings. It’s hard to misinterpret true emotion.

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PC video 3

This one is a couple of months old, but it warms my heart 🙂

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Bummed

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Falling

Asleep

While

Writing

In case you all were wondering, we did not get the house 😦

Still pretty bummed.

More tomorrow

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