Monday, June 7, 2010

Anne 2.0

Mother's Day 2010

About ten days ago I found myself in my crazy place. I was in my car, driving and crying. It had been a wild couple of weeks. Hectic. Frenetic. I felt scattered. Blaine was out of control. And, frankly, so was I. There had been a lot of fights. A lot of yelling, I am ashamed to admit. Which is sad and weird both, because I am not a yeller, and normally avoid confrontation. But Blaine knows all the right buttons to push. And so this night, in my crazy place, I was convinced I couldn't be his mom anymore. It was just too hard.

A day or two earlier I had expressed some of these frustrations to Em on the phone. She asked me, "Is there something you can give up right now to help eliminate some of the stress in your life?" And, honest to blog, I said to her, "No." And I really thought that. "I mean, Emily," I went on, "I have hardly exercised this week and I haven't read any blogs and I'm just doing the stuff that really matters, the stuff I need to do." She didn't push the issue. But her question got me thinking.

I thought about her post on balance. I thought about times and seasons. I've written before about sacrifice in motherhood. How I don't think you should be a martyr, but some sacrifice is certainly required. I thought about all the stuff on my must-do list that was making me feel so hectic. I thought about the stress level in our home and wondered if it was me causing the bad behavior in Blaine. Blaine is highly spirited and intelligent. He needs stimulation and interaction and attention (what child doesn't, right?!). He wasn't getting enough of those things.

That night, after drying my crazy-mother-with-out-of-control-emotion tears, a voice whispered to me, "This isn't about him. This is about you. Do your stuff on your own time. When your kids are awake, they need you."

And suddenly it felt so clear. I was trying too hard to do too much. I didn't need to be sewing a summer skirt and have plans to sew a new handbag. I didn't need to send all handmade baby presents to my new-mother friends. I am always a champion for mothers finding their own creative outlets, but we don't need so many creative ventures that our children take the backseat to our sewing machines or glue guns. Who cares how darling my house is? Do I care more about decorating my mantle or helping my sons develop character?

No, it's not all about self-sacrifice all the time. But for me, this is a season to be on the floor, playing and reading with my children. Teaching them their letters and memorizing songs with them. Going to 'Fantasia' (Blaine's imaginary world) with them and eating the pretend jell-o they make out of Legos. Obviously there are chores to be done during the day and no mother achieves perfect balance daily. But I can do better. And if I can squeeze in a craft when they're in bed, then that'll just be gravy.

Now I just want to point out that the Bloom community has a deep impact on the way I am living my life. It was Emily's post and conversation that really got me thinking. It was Abbie's brave post about training herself not to be a yelling mother that helped me confront my own temper with Blaine. Following her lead, I am now paying myself for the days I am in control and fining myself for the days I'm not. So far I have $17 toward a new camera and haven't had to fine myself yet. Thanks to Lindy teaching me that Blaine is a 'spirited child,' I have started reading Raising Your Spirited Child and am really excited about the tools it's going to give me as I parent Blaine. See? The Bloom community is powerful. And I love you for it.

Another thing that was whispered to me that night was this: "Pray for love." Never in my life would I have dreamed I would have to pray to increase my capacity to love my own child. But I needed to. And those prayers are being answered. Honestly, less than two weeks later, I feel like a new woman. I feel calm and full of love. Instead of becoming enraged by Blaine's outbursts, I feel compassion for him. I feel how emotional and sensitive he is and want so badly to fight for him instead of against him.

I have a whole lifetime to cute up my house and learn how to sew. But I only get one shot at raising kind, grateful, loving boys. I better get it right.

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