Saturday, March 30, 2013

Deliberate Motherhood: Patience, dear mother

 Disclaimer: These posts are dedicated to following along with the book "Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Key Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order & Joy," a compilation of essays on motherhood written by authors who contribute to the Power of Moms website. Each month has a different "power" to focus on with the purpose of finding peace, purpose, order and joy in the role of motherhood. I will be writing various posts each month based on that theme. You don't have to have the book to follow along though! March's theme is "Patience."

When I think about the month's theme "Patience" my mind obviously goes straight to how little of it I can have during the day toward my kids for one crazy reason or another. I'm happy to say I'm getting better and my patience levels have steadily grown. They aren't fully where I'd like them to be, but I'm making progress!
But, I'd like to talk about how patience relates to the bigger picture in terms of how a woman's life changes when she becomes a mother. And it is felt right away during the first night with a child...the lack of sleep. No longer are you able to just say "Phew! I'm tired, I'm off to bed now!" You feel tiredness down to your bones but can do nothing about it when you have a little one to care for and who needs you. You must have patience and know that sleep will come; just not NOW.

And it goes on like this as time marches forward. As a mother, there have been so many of my own personal desires, wishes, and even needs that have had to be set aside for the sake of spending appropriate and quality time with my kids. Furthermore, when children are ill, our lives get put on hold as we care for them and nurse them back to health.
Here are some things I've set aside:
-my daily reading habit (books and magazines are getting dusty!)
-my creation of paintings and drawings
-my hobby of photography
-my hobby of letterpressing stationery
-my interests in family history research
-watching favorite tv shows or movies in favor of getting much needed sleep

This, over time, can become very taxing on the spirit. You can start to feel like a servant. Like your own personal interests and goals simply don't matter. How long are you expected to patiently set your personal goals and dreams aside without any relief? This can then become depressing; making one feel sad, lost, unfulfilled, and restless.

When you aren't able to participate in personal joyful pursuits due to duties to the family, it can cause your patience levels to plummet. It's easy to become bitter, frustrated, and just burned out.

I've found the answer is easy: just do it. Make a list of your favorite activities and find a way to work them into the week during slivers of time here and there. Even just one or two little things are a balm to the tired soul. Here's my own example: I had put making my art waaaaaaay on the back burner when my kids came along. I used to spend full days designing, concepting, and creating. Full days? Ha! Knowing I didn't have this kind of time, I just stopped. Recently I had been feeling so lost without my joyful activity of creating, so I decided that even 10 minutes would have to suffice. And it does! Now, during Noah's morning nap, I try to carve out at least a half hour to sit and focus on a project. I know I won't finish, but I feel such satisfaction from starting something; working toward something that is MINE. And as the days go by, that project eventually gets completed and I get that rush of pride I'd come to miss. Sometimes I don't get to spend that time. Sometimes I only get a few minutes. I've learned to become more satisfied with the small bits of time that I CAN make my own and I'm so much happier because of it. I now have a whole bunch of my own art prints to show for it at my Me and Wee shop. Yay!
When children come into our lives, we get so many wonderful gifts from them. And it is important to remember that we were our own people before children, and will be long after they move away from us. We have to continue to feed our dreams. Please don't get me wrong. I LOVE being with my family. I love caring for my children. They feed my soul in a whole other way. I feel so lucky to be their mother and that I get to make memories with them. But, like anything, too much of a good thing...well, you get the point.
It takes a great amount of patience and restraint to be a mother. It isn't easy. But reward yourself and your patience levels with those nuggets of personal joyful activity and everything else will suddenly seem a bit easier.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Something Wonderful is About to Happen

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 Sometimes it's nice to keep an optimistic perspective, especially when the chips are down and things don't seem to be going your way. Inspirational quotes and motivational art can help. Your state of mind can really help improve things and this art print is my way of reminding myself of this. I painted the original with gouache and acrylics and used ink here and there. I think this would look good as nursery art or in an office. Do you have a phrase that reminds you to expect good things?
Print is available for purchase here.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It's a cold and cloudy morning here. We never seem to get a spring. (grumble!) It's always straight from winter to summer as our ground is still covered in snow! The good thing about all this cold weather is that I've been keeping busy and I've been able to get back to creating and painting!
I've found the secret to making art as a mother with small children is to use your free time to do what you can. If I get 10 minutes devoted to painting or drawing, then I use it. It's not much, but at least I'm 10 minutes further ahead in my project than I was before!
This week I want to share a few of my new pieces that I've turned into prints for sale in my shop.

Today's piece is a gouache (pronounced "gwash") painting (It's like watercolor, but more solid and vibrant). I love the fable of the tortoise and the hare and recently I told it to Paige. She was in love with the tale too, so I turned it into a painting with the inspirational phrase "Slow and Steady Wins the Race." Very appropriate for my new art-making ways!

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This piece is great hanging in an office or as nursery art for baby or kiddo. I've been so into the woodland theme lately. Maybe it's because I live in the woods?
You can find it in the shop here! :)

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Deliberate Motherhood: Patience

My last post told a story about a complete breakdown of my temper. It's a pretty common issue and that particular story taught me so much about myself and my own issues with patience.

When we are tired, we don't think clearly. We are in a sort of survival mode and make quick decisions based on how quickly it can get us back to bed. Letting the Mutsy issue get to that point in the first place was the first problem. We should have taken the stuffed dog away as soon as Paige cried more than once for us to come in her room. Not letting it go on for a week would have kept our anger from rising about it.

What else did I learn from the situation? Well, I learned that Paige is not a calm and cool thinker in the middle of the night either. It would have been much more peaceful if I'd just switched her jammies altogether right away rather than try to prove a point and teach her a lesson. It was the middle of the night, after all.

The most important thing I learned is that by yelling at my daughter, I had lost control of myself. And because of this the situation got out of hand and Paige was screaming and writhing around. I escalated the entire situation by yelling. A three-year old cannot control her emotions yet. It is my job to remain calm and model the correct behavior. But, I lost my temper and made the whole thing way worse. If I were to do it again, I would grit my teeth and calmly change her jammies. The whole melt down could have been avoided (and even eliminated the need for me to go find a damned wipe which means less work on my end).
When we lose our temper, it can create undue stress. We all know losing our patience can cause us to blow simple situations way out of proportion.
Since that fight, I've learned to notice when I feel myself losing my patience. I stop. I breathe. I notice what is happening. Just doing that alone, I feel more calm. I can almost hear a soothing female voice inside me saying "See? You could be losing your patience, but you will not let a three year old get the best of you. Just calmly walk to your nearest exit and do not run."
Now, I look at my daughter and remember that she's just a baby and learning to navigate through her feelings. It's my job to remain the captain of the ship and calmly steer the course to smooth waters. If the situation at hand warrants a punishment, I send her to the naughty step without fanfare. If I'm simply frustrated, then I tell her that I'm feeling frustrated and need to take a few deep breaths. We both stay calm and she learns how she can handle her own frustration. Win-win.
How do you maintain your patience?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Deliberate Motherhood: Patience at 2am

 Disclaimer: These posts are dedicated to following along with the book "Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Key Powers of Peace, Purpose, Order & Joy," a compilation of essays on motherhood written by authors who contribute to the Power of Moms website. Each month has a different "power" to focus on with the purpose of finding peace, purpose, order and joy in the role of motherhood. I will be writing various posts each month based on that theme. You don't have to have the book to follow along though! March's theme is "Patience."


Whoa! Here we are almost at the end of March and I haven't done any Deliberate Motherhood posts. Why? I've been busy being a deliberate mother. I've  had some sick kids, had a lot of awake nights and I took a few days away for some "me time." There have been many moments that I've had to reflect on this month's theme of "patience." More moments than I'd like to count! I think the first step to thinking about patience is to notice when I'm losing mine. There are usually trigger events and they escalate.
 Everyone knows that patience can be hard to come by when you are a parent. Every day throws a fresh host of problems to solve; many of them amidst a flurry of screaming and crying and broken dreams: "Mama, you are breaking my heart when you don't let me watch more Blues Clues!" 
I never quite realized how taxed my temper could get until recently.
Thank goodness things are much better since this following story...
Paige had been waking up several times nightly...crying for me to put her stuffed dog "Mutsy" on her back "just so." She wanted the darn paws hugging her neck in a specific way. And every night I would hiss about it to her, threatening to take all her lovies out of bed and other punishments. But she continued to wake us crying throughout each night. I was always too tired to carry out my threats because I just wanted to get right back to bed. One night,  In the blur of 2:30 am (I'd already gotten up for Mutsy issues before) I stumbled into her room and fixed the darned stuffed dog in hopes we could get back to sleep.  But then she said "but I'm thiiiirsty now! Can I have a drink please?" So, I went with her into the bathroom so she could get a drink. As she gulped the water, a bit splashed out onto her jammie shirt. I didn't think much of it and off we went back to her room. I told her to hop back into bed and she says "but my jammies are all wet." I tried to reason with her that it was just a tiny splash, but she started to cry loudly. So, I did what any tired Mom would do. I whisked the shirt over her head and put on a new one. Anything to just get back to bed. As I motioned her to the bed, she then started wailing that the pants didn't match.
"Seriously right now!!!???" I hissed. I said "No freakin' way! Get into bed!" My voice raised to a yell She began screaming and threw herself on the floor. I about lost my damn mind. She was gonna wake up the entire house any second! She was crying and screaming and writhing on the floor. Who the hell was this kid? I was so tired and so pissed off and I seethed "you are THIS close to getting a spanking!". Now, I don't believe in spanking. We don't practice spanking in our home. I've never hit my children. I've never even threatened such a thing. And I felt SO AWFUL the second that came out of my mouth. Paige looked scared and shocked. She continued to cry (which is fair because what I'd said made everything worse) and I just grabbed a pair of jammie pants and fixed her up. She got into bed crying and yelling and then claimed she needed a wipe for her nose. GAAHHH! So, I padded across the house to find a wipe for her nose. (She didn't want a tissue, mind you, because that is too "dry.") GRUMBLE.  Wipe delivered, I tucked her in and apologized for losing my temper and saying something I didn't mean. I promised to have more patience next time and to not let myself get so angry. She seemed happy with that and I kissed her cheek. As I finally turned off the light ready to go, she said in the darkness: "Mommy? I need you to fix Mutsy around my neck."
sigh.
  

Friday, March 22, 2013

14 Months

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Dear Little N,

I'm so late with your 14 month letter. Booo. I was away that day...I was off in Florida having "me time". I flew down and stayed with a friend and had a nice time just being in the warm sunshine. It was so heavenly and much needed!
I missed you so much though. I knew you were having fun with Daddy so I didn't worry. But I still missed our snuggles.
The biggest milestone happened for you this past month! You learned to walk and it was so exciting. It happened sort of suddenly. You would just take a step or two and fall and you did that for a few days (here and there.) Then, you just started to go across the room and that was it.
I'm so proud!
You've started to bring me things that you are interested in; it's so sweet. You've also started pointing at everything and grunting to communicate what you want. You are very clear in your intentions! Paige never did this, so I'm thrilled for you that communication is not something you will struggle with. And I'm glad I don't have to worry.
Right now, you're favorite game is when I say "I'm gonna get-choo!" and I wiggle my fingers and pretend to chase you. You can't run yet, but you get the biggest grin and try to waddle away as fast as you can. You stick your chest and neck right out as you try to scurry away. I let you get a way a little while and then I finally tickle you as you scream in delight. We'll do that over and over again  (because I love to see you laugh and because you seem to love the game so much!)
You've started loving to go outside now that you can walk. It's pretty wet, muddy and snowy here so you've been walking around the driveway and street (we live on a dead-end traffic-less street) exploring the puddles (sitting in them) and touching the rocks. Remind me that I need to invest in some rain pants for you. Sitting in winter puddles gets cold.
All in all it's been a huge milestone month for you, buddy. Seeing the joy on your face as you make new discoveries has been a priceless treat. I'm so honored that I've been able to witness so many special moments for you so far.
I love you more than the world my little bear. And I'm ever so proud of you.
Love you always,
Mama

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Guilt starts young

Noah has quite an inner dialogue for beating himself up whenever he makes a mess somewhere. He shouldn't be so hard on himself!


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