Thanksgiving & Not Blinking
A blog post on a Friday night (probably your Saturday morning), what?!
This is hitting the internet just as the clocks are rolling into December! SO that means a THANKSGIVING post almost nearly seems like a year ago already… in internet land things move fast, but you know what, that’s just why I’m a terrible blogger, because I don’t move fast. I savor, I rest, I take breaks, I enjoy, I am living. Tis’ the season, motherhood, to DO nothing, BE nowhere, make YOUR day, your week, your YEARS, THEIR years, what you wish. And so I am. And that means not hopping online earlier this week to post Thanksgiving photos even though I was really excited about them. There were Christmas trees to find and adorn, and lights to hang on the house and nights I just wanted to sleep, or organize a junk room, or cleanup my desktop.
I recently had dinner and a drink with a girlfriend. An extremely rare event. I am not the best at making, keeping, tuning and maintaining friendships. It’s hard for me. I don’t know why. I love being social when I want to be social, but any extra communication and effort beyond the scope of the kids’ needs right now really stresses me out. I know what that comment may make me seem like, a bitch, but it’s quite the opposite really. I would love to have deeper friendships and relationships, and I am actually not one to like surfacey, facade relation that’s why I love blogging a dn social media. I can share what I want when I want and how I want. I have control of all the things going out and can take time to think on and respond to what comes back. A social cushion or buffer of time that somehow I cling to like a security blanket. Time.
Anyway, we were discussing life and things and the conversation seemed to have taken a negative turn, maybe that’s the cynic in me, and my friend said she didn’t know who I was. She said I used to be so positive and upbeat and the things I said didn’t seem like me. There was some very real moments and exchanges. A friend I have known a long time, that knows me pretty well. I said I didn’t know what my next move was and I was being very particular about it because I have had so much time to think about it in a way. I don’t have a moment to sit down to set goals and plan, hell I can’t even jot a grocery list down or set a week of meals ahead of me on a calendar! But I don’t make the time because I am the type to start a load of laundry, write a memo on the back of a piece of art work handed to me from my babies so I can remember what they titled it and what year it is when they made it, whip some sort of meal together from the fridge, while bouncing from room to room to pick toys up or put clothes away for the umpteenth time. BUT, in my head, in that space, there is soooo much time it seems to think about how great it really has been, all of these last five/six years of pregnancy and baby raising, that I have become quite possessive and territorial of my personal time and what I want and need to be doing with it. Finding a “job” away from my children, a standard 8-5 er just sounds extremely dismal and depressing to me, after having been the center of these little peoples’ universe. My friend made several suggestions and ideas for me as to where I might look for a “job,” and while I do believe and know that if I was contributing financially in some capacity things in my marriage might go so much better and be much less stressful as a household, but I am not looking for just ANY “job.”
This friend is someone whom I have always admired and really looked up to in a lot of ways. A go-getter, a care-taker, someone who I always put into my has-her-shit-together bucket. She’s a fighter, scrappy, hard working, smart, beautiful, strong, and always seems to know how to figure her shit out and get it done and she is successful for it, and deserving of it. I am genuinely in her corner and proud of her and admire her. She has seen me through many stages of life, and she has always been a cheerleader and sang my praises and really been a silent support even though we don’t see each other very often. And I sing hers. Still do. Even after she made this next comment, “Is it because you’re lazy and just want to stay on the couch?” I don’t hate her for it. I listened to it. I can take it. I am able to decipher the meaning and INTENT in the message. I can see how she’d come to that conclusion. If a GOOD friend said this, then i KNOW many of you may be thinking it to. No, I think my answer back is unequivocally, NO. I am absolutely not lazy. I do not want to stay on my couch. Do I hit this f-ing couch hard after my girls go to bed? Hell yes. Does this mean this is where I see myself in a year? Possibly. Two? Maybe. WHY?! Because they need me. I need them. I want to be HERE for them as needed. Am I frustrated by this? DEFINITELY. Do I WANT to have a place to go where I feel needed and appreciated and fulfilled creatively and stretched and challenged thoughtfully AND get compensation for it?! HELL YES! But, I am just not sure when. Or how. Or what exactly that thing, that place, that state or season looks like. I haven’t put it all together. I have ideas. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it at all. I do know that whatever it is that pulls me in another direction will have to be very worth it, and even then, it will have to fit into my most important role, mother. For me, mothering has to come first and everything else will have to shift and settle in around it. For me. That doesn’t have to be you. Or her. But for me, I have thought a LOT about me, and them and us and it results in me being pretty darn close to this couch. For now.
There’s another piece to this whole, stay-at-home-mom bit. I won’t delve into it much deeper, but wanted to brush on this because maybe some of you all can empathize. I sometimes feel that people looking in see a husband who holds three jobs, and works so much, and then their attention turns to me in a questioning, accusatory way, as if to say, without saying it in any words at all, “What the hell does she do exactly? How long is she going to let him work this hard so she can stay home? Why can’t she get a job to help out?” Insecurities of mine, but I just wanted to share. I very well CAN work, am capable and willing, even somewhat excited about the possibilities of earning, but NO, I won’t just “go get a JOB.”
No, jobbing conflicts with my philosophies on blinking.
This comment, “Don’t blink for a second, because you’ll wake up and their in college!” I have heard, and felt, and processed this phrase. And I DO feel like I am soaking them in, but I have also YELLED and SCREAMED and said horrible things, and slammed doors, and spanked and disciplined and been on such an emotional roller coaster with these two for the last half decade, that I feel like blinking is a physiological way for humans to create some sort of barrier between their kin to soothe, and protect, heal, like a momentary coma, softening the very real moments that manifest and challenge and provoke. Blinking is mini timeouts. I catch myself all the time, checking in nightly, weekly, I recognize the exact moments that BLINKING happened looking back at the hours that already played out, and I know I can’t take those blinks back, but I think that it’s okay, and maybe we don’t want to take those blinks back because maybe that would be harmful. I am here. WE are together. We are close, and it’s OKAY to want to have separation, space autonomy at times. It is alright to blink.
For me, an example of a BLINK would have been earlier today when I was sorting through old gift bags and plucking out the Christmas bags to donate to Arlo’s school for her Secret Santa Shop. My precious Remy reminds me so much of myself when I was little, curious and wanting to help mama, such an old soul. She came in and was stepping on the bags and asked, “Can I help Mama?!” [Insert BLACKOUT BLINK MOMENT] I snapped, “GET off those bags! You’re going to wrinkle them! No, you know what, no you can’t help me. Go! Go play!” SHIT! What is wrong with me?! She came back in, seconds later, just long enough for me to blink, and she tiptoed between the piles of bags and said in the tiniest, sweetest, shakiest little voice, “I’m sorry Mama… I just get so excited I wanted to help.” (And now I have a knot in my throat thinking about my monster self.) I apologized and asked her for her help and she was by my side once again and we talked about the different bags from past occasions and discussed which ones we should keep and which ones we should let go. THAT, my friends, is a BLINK in my book. She’s LITTLE! She’s FIVE! And I LOVE her madly….but I blinked.
This year is when I see them getting more mature, more independent, wiser, really SHARING and ASSERTING who they are. I see the difference when I watch Instagram photos of babies and think about friends just having babies, and others having more babies, and it feels like so long ago since we were all there, us four. I SEE the JOY my girls have for things, I KNOW their innocence when they ask about things in the world that they haven’t yet learned. Tonight Remy tried to argue with me that Jesus’ birthday was in the spring and I somewhat huffily rebutted that the entire reason for Christmas centers on HIS birth. She then said, “So what? Jesus gets older and older and older every Christmas?” I can’t.
I protect them and shield them from tasting soda pop, as far as I know Remy has tried a sip once at a bowling alley under her father’s supervision, and in my eyes soda pop is a sin that’s how strongly against it I am. Don’t get me started on the times that husband has had the television on and the girls happen to come down from bed and have caught glimpses of wild fire scenes with their big saucer eyes glittering against the screen’s reflection. I SEE them changing. Right here! Right now! NOT blinking.
Today, Remy was refusing to wear an outfit because a boy named T wouldn’t think it was cute! After I battled with her on it and left the room, husband was able to go in and negotiate with her. She calmed, quieted and came down dresses and I later learned on the drive in to school that Baba had made some bet with her on wearing the dress.
She recently started making this awkward hiccup sound, really annoying, in the car, like an i-can’t-breath- gaspy thing… and her latest thing is “making a hookup” with her hands laced and then flipping them through her arms in a knot. THEY are absorbing all around them and whether I f-ing blink or not, it’s happening, guys. But this is the year, these have been the months lately, that I feel those little babies dangling longer and heavier in my arms, and it’s like a dream that you are half awake for while it’s still playing out. Have you ever had that happen when you are mid-dreaming and you manipulate it to your liking until you are in a deep slumber again?! Well, I am mid-dreaming right now, and not really in control of anything.
I recently recognized the change they’re in now when I saw an Instagram video of a toddler, maybe age two, and their reaction to an Elf on the Shelf shenanigan. The girl’s voice, her disappointment in the Elf for eating her candy, her belief that HE had really swallowed and ingested her chewy, fruity candies…when I saw that simple 15 second snap, I felt my babies have already left that hour, that day, that year. My girls would never give that deeply sincere, unknowing, natural response to that very same scenario of a stuffed elf sitting in a coffee mug with marshmallows strewn around him. They carry a new layer of understanding of the world, of reality, that is so different than just a short time ago.
I never introduced the Elf, and I am not about to now! I never had the tradition growing up and don’t see a need to add one more thing to remember and DO to this precious holiday season, BUT, that video was just a little reminder to me that I hadn’t blinked during the important parts. I am AWARE and AWAKE to the changes happening right now as they sleep in their beds feet from me. I’m dry-eyed, from not sleeping, not missing, stewing and mulling over today and yesterday and tomorrow. I’ll blink again. You will too. And they will head off to college, or onto an apartment, or down an aisle or out our door, but it doesn’t have to mean we MISSED this part we’re in here and now today, because (pause, Remy literally just came in and needed me to tuck her in again) because we’re changing too.
I am so humbled by my children and thankful to God who gifted them to my husband and I, and will forever feel inadequate, ill-equipped, and undeserving of the highest honor of motherhood. Thankful to my own Momma and Daddy for their sacrifices, their lessons and love.
P.S. Remy came in again, I think her Christmas tree lights on in her room are too bright, and she came into my bed and said, “Is that you posting pictures of your kids you love so much?” - about this blog space. I told her she was right, and finished a thought, well have did, and then my husband kicked me out so he could sleep. I gave Remy a banana, took her potty, gave her fresh water, cracked her window open a little, turned off her tree, and tucked her in, stroked her back and did all the rituals…. and now…NOW, guess where I am? Back on the couch…
My white dress, husband’s sweater and the girls’ dresses are all vintage and found thrifting on various trips.