Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Call Me Mrs Hypocrite. Yeah That's My Name.

I hope you sang that title in Otis Redding's voice.  That's what I did when I typed it.  And then I googled Otis Redding to make sure it was him.  Then I double checked to make sure it was Otis and not Odis.  And now you know how I write my blogs.

But on a more serious note, I do feel like a hypocrite.  I had to google that word to make sure I was spelling it right too.  I'm telling you all this so I can help myself feel a little less hypocritical.  Maybe if I show everyone how lame I am, then I can stop pretending to be cool.  And now I can hear my sisters' voices, "You thought you were cool? Honey, you didn't have anyone fooled."  No, they wouldn't sound like that.  That's how my imaginary sitcom TV show sister would sound.  My sisters would be more like, 'Aww Stinky, we love you even when you pick your nose and hide the booger on the underside of your chair.'  Yeah, that sounds about right.

But here's why I'm writing about hypocrisy: I have been having phone conversations with people who are interested in joining our Farm Shmarm Community.  (Hi guys, if you're reading this.)  And it's so exciting to talk to people who share my vision.  It gets my heart racing.  And there is SO much to talk about.  I mean, if this works, these are the people who will become my extended family.  They will be like aunts and uncles to my children.  G-d willing, we will build something amazing that will influence the world in the most amazing way and even grow old together.  It's almost like picking a husband.  But not.  And so, I'm on the phone with them, explaining why I am sooo wholesome, sooo organic, sooo into loving each other and creating a better world.  And all the while I'm waving my children away.  Shushing them.  Telling them to stop putting their books on me, I'm not reading to them right now.  And after long enough, they turn against each other in frustration.  And when I finally get off the phone (extremely reluctantly) they turn against me.  So I yell at them.  Yup.  I just finished making my good impression.  Thinking to myself, 'ooh, did she hear how calmly I handled that angry child?' Well, as soon as the phone is in the receiver and there are no witnesses, the yelling starts.

Of course they are acting out.  They probably think that if I had to pick a favorite person in the house it would be my phone.  To me, it feels like I barely get to talk.  To them, it seems that every moment I ignore them, I am choosing the outside world over family.  I am choosing friends over children.  I am choosing myself over them.  It doesn't matter if it's the electric company or my best friend.  All they see is me, a receiver and a 'you better not bother me right now I'm doing something' face.  What's the best way to get a parents attention?  Is it to feed the cats?  Read a book quietly?  Make yourself a snack?  No way!  Do something that will get you trouble.  Works every time.  It brings those magic words, 'I gotta go.'

And so while I am trying to do my best to portray myself as a great person on the phone to people I hardly know, I am failing to act like a good one to my children.  I'm not saying I have no right to talk on the phone when I need or want to.  But I do not feel ok sweet-talking them while someone's listening and yelling when they are not.  I don't want to be ashamed of who I am when no one's looking.  So now, while you're all looking, see me.  Yes, I try to hide my boogers on the underside of my chair.  Yes, I sound patient on the phone when I yell in privacy.  Yes, I pretend to go to the bathroom way more than I have to just so I can be alone and think for five minutes.  (Or check facebook.  Or watch a youtube video.  Or pick my nose some more.)  Yes, I flush so they don't suspect me.  Once in a while I throw away a recyclable because I am plain lazy.  (I feel so embarrassed that I try to hide it even in the garbage can.  Like I don't want the garbage men to know.)

I'm not trying to win Woman of the Year award.  Well, ok, I kind of am, but I don't even think I was nominated.  But I am coming to recognize that it's just too much.  It's too much to expect that I can live on my own, and somehow do laundry, dishes, butt wiping, cooking, nap time, nursing, baths, hockey practice, abc's, Torah learning, game playing, music making, exercising, food shopping, yada, yada, yada, and meet my own and my children's emotional needs.  It's not ideal.  But I am working towards an ideal.  I am trying to build a life where it is not up to me to be everyone and everything to my family.  And that means I need to take myself out of the race for Woman of the Year, and maybe enter myself in the Good Enough to Not Leave Horrific Emotional Scars and Cut Myself a Little Slack and Maybe Even Cut My Kids a Little Slack Too competition.  I bet I could get a nomination for that!  I'll start working on my acceptance speech.  "I'd like to thank Reality for kicking my ass so hard that I finally made it here today.  I couldn't have done it without you!  Thank you Mirror, for always being honest.  And Kids.  Thank you.  If it weren't for you guys... Well, if it weren't for you guys, I'd probably have slept a whole lot more.  And my boobs would be perkier.  (Not tznious, I know, but still kind of funny?)  And I'd have a few less wrinkles on my face.  But some of those are creases next to my eyes from smiling and laughing.  And the stretch marks are fine, because they're mostly on my heart.  Lord knows, I'd be a selfish, lazy, irresponsible nobody if it weren't for you.  Thanks for making me a somebody.  Thanks for making me a mom.  I love you guys."  Cue music.  Tall, fancy lady leads me off stage were my picture is taken and I look fabulous.  Dim lights.  Aaaaannnnnnd CUT!

1. Our house is finally being sold!!!
2. Being in touch with amazing new people
3. Writing this by the warm fireplace.  Mmmm I love that smell
4. Spinach, pepper, onion, tomato, anchovy spelt pizza with mozzarella
5. My ladies night in Pittsburgh.  Oooh, I love my ladies
6. Total Eclipse of the Heart Literal Version.  Look it up on youtube.
7. A few dishes and I'm DONE for the night!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hello, Goodbye and Peace

Shalom.  In English, that word just looks cheesy to me.  As though it is more of an American Jewish Renewal word than a Hebrew one.  And yet, I have found it increasingly useful in my day to day life.  One Shabbos night, as I was trying to fall asleep, and failing (my increasing insomnia is perhaps another blog for another time), I started repeating the word Shalom over and over with every out breath.  A type of meditation to calm my mind.  But instead of letting my thoughts flow out with each breath, I was actually focusing more on more on what the heck it means.  Why does Shalom mean hello, goodbye and peace.  How can it mean all of those things?  I'm sure greater minds than mine have pondered the question, but here's what came to me that night:

If in this moment I can embrace, accept, greet whatever is here, and at the same time, release, let go of, say goodbye, to whatever isn't necessary right now, then I have peace.  For instance, right now I have exhaustion, cranky kids, and a small headache.  I am accepting all that as what is here and not mine to control.  I also have anxiety about taking out the kids tonight for hockey practice, guilt over putting the kids in front of the computer so I can take this moment to rest, and a house that could really use a good cleaning.  I am letting all that go right now.  That is not necessary in this moment.  And so, I have Shalom.  Peace.  In this moment.  But of course, in the next moment I will worry about dinner and so on.  But Shalom is about this moment.  And when the next moment comes, it will be that moment's turn for hellos, goodbyes and G-d willing, more peace.

It's constant.  And exhausting in it's own way.  But I know that if I somehow can keep it as a mindful practice, than it will be less effort and more natural.

My life in the last 24 hours has felt like a roller coaster.  There was trying to pack and leave my house with three kids.  Getting to Pittsburgh.  The joy, and pain, of seeing friends that I love and miss terribly.  Leaving my kids with my incredibly supportive in-laws so that I could finally have a night out.  It has been a VERY long time.  A few of my girlfriends got together (I had sent them one of my sos's saying I was in dire need of some good ole fashioned girl love) and boy did they spoil me! I felt so loved.  So cared for.  I reached out, they reached back, and that felt soooo good.  Then I saw my husband and, through a miscommunication turned argument, all that flying high, crash landed me into the dirt.  It's amazing how a full night of love and friendship can instantly evaporate through one bad argument.
When I got back to my in-laws I crawled in bed with my son and tried to pass out.  Listening to his little murmurs (even at age seven the sounds of sleep are so beautiful) and feeling him stir, I put my arms around my child and felt peaceful again.  I felt the love of my friends surround me again.  In being able to love my child I was able to open up to the love going in and out of my heart.  So in that moment I said hello to my heart full of love and let go of the pain of a few moments anger.
But the rollercoaster went around another bend and I didn't sleep at all.  Those sweet sounds and twitches became a knife's edge bursting my dream bubbles.  No sleep.
Morning came way to soon and somehow I managed to get all kids into the car by 9:30 without too much hassle.  We all went potty, had our snacks and were on the road.

Fifteen minutes in, I'm chatting on the phone with my dad when I hear the dreaded words, "Mama, I have to poop."  Everything crashed again.  Ready to explode with unnecessary words like, "But I sat you on the potty fifteen minutes ago! Why didn't you go then?! What the hell is wrong with you?!  Do you have any idea what it means for me to go into a gas station with three sleepy, pajama'ed kids and then get you all back into the car?!!!"  No, she doesn't.  She is three years old.

Lucky for me, before I could say any of those things, my father, still on the phone, said, "Tovah, surrender.  There's nothing you can do."  Shalom.  There it was.  Her needing to use the bathroom was out of my control.  Hello three kids in the bathroom.  Goodbye anger, annoyance, frustration.  Hello standing in the freezing parking lot waiting for seven year old to change into pants to avoid embarrassment.  Goodbye personal embarrassment at standing in the parking lot with two messy kids in not warm enough pajamas, waiting for their brother.  Hello funny looks from all who watched my gleeful daughter run through the gas station store in feeties and boots.  Goodbye apologetic look on my face to the spectacle that my family was in that moment.  Hello taking turns holding the baby so we could all go just one more time.  Goodbye to the anger at how long it took my daughter to actually poop.  Shalom.

I was even able to fill up my tank, wash my windows, check my oil, and add a quart of it without a funnel.  I was beginning to feel like a superstar.  Driving down the highway, my husband even calls and we make amends.  The youngest two are asleep almost the whole ride.  The big boy reads himself chapter books in the back seat.  I am Shalom Mama Rockstar!

And then we get home.  My son instantly throws a full blown fit at having to clean his mess in the backseat.  My baby wants chips so that he can throw them on the floor.  My daughter wants all the toys in purses and hoarded away.  The laundry is waiting.  There's no dinner.  Hockey practice is in a few hours.  All the coffee in the world couldn't take away the fog in my brain.

I want to cry! They already got screen time this morning when they woke up at my in-laws.  They even got to watch a movie last night.  A good mom should tell them to go play while she rests.  But the only way I know to get my kids off my back is to bribe them with more screen time.  But only a bad mom would reward her son's tantrums with a movie.  Only a bad mom would put her own rest above teaching her children proper lessons.

But in this moment, Hello to a hard life.  Hello to being out here where I can't call my friends to take my kids for a few hours.  Hello to the choice of losing it and showing my children impatience, anger, and meanness if even lightly triggered versus putting them in front of the computer and taking this time to take care of me, and showing them self-compassion.  Hello to taking this good advice from my wise sister.  Goodbye to self judgement.  Goodbye to good mom versus bad mom. (Hello real life mom.)  Goodbye to afternoon of fighting and yelling and pleading and crying and punishing.  Hello to happy-ish kids and a more rested mama.  Shalom.

And now we're back here in this moment.  And it's a good moment.  A peaceful moment.  Shalom.

1. Aunt Faith and Uncle Chainsaw for being most kickass siblings in-law last night
2. Savta and Daddy Mike too
3. A night of love with my girls
4. Shalom moments