Have you ever heard the general wisdom to not look at what a toddler eats in one day, but rather what they eat over a longer stretch, like a week? This is to reassure parents who feel like all their children want is one particular food or eat sweets nonstop. Usually you will be reassured when you see that they are getting a variety of foods and nutrients through their diet after tracking what they eat for a few days in a row, rather than focusing on one particular day.
This is how I feel about my life as a parent. It is so easy to fluctuate between the extremes of "Super-mommy!" and "super-TERRIBLE-mommy". For example, last weekend we threw Marisol a pretty awesome party for her 6th Birthday. In preparation we (and by we, I mostly mean *I*) painted two life-sized (well Marisol-sized) mermaids and an Atlantis-castle-under-the-sea mural. This took a few weeks. The party was a hit - we played pin the starfish on the mermaid's hair (everyone got a prize) and had mermaid trivia (that Marisol made up herself). So that was a pretty "Super-mommy" moment.
A neighborhood friend recently commented that I always seem to have a lot of energy. I laughed and said that's because that's when you see me - which is very true - the neighbors don't see me when I'm home curled up on the couch! This week I'm tired. Life has just been pretty hectic lately. Oh yeah, and I got my period again. So yesterday I just felt like a LUMP. It is so easy to let my mind go to thoughts of what a horrible mom I am - all Gerry does is eat candy, and Marisol is bored from sitting home and watching lots of TV. But instead I gave myself permission to rest without feeling guilty. I recognized that I am human too, with physical, spiritual, and emotional needs and remembered all of the amazing opportunities and experiences that I regularly facilitate for my children. Then I lay down on the couch.
Later we made it to the pool and Marisol played with a friend for an hour, splashing around and practicing her new swimming skills. Today was slightly better - we managed to play, clean, have a playdate and get outside this evening.
A week from Tuesday we are flying up to NY to visit with family. I know it is going to be a jam-packed, fun-filled couple of weeks. So I'm trying to remember that life's balance is kind of like looking at a toddler's diet - sometimes we have to step back to see that every moment has its place and feeds our life in different ways - the busy times and the quiet times, the tired times and the super-inspired energetic times. Instead of fighting how you feel in any given moment relax into it. Embrace everything and love yourself. Meet your needs and those around you the best you can. Know that when you do, you and your life will naturally flow on to its next state, whatever that may be.
I just had a total epiphany. I've realized that the dissonance I've been feeling about this blog is that I want to inspire others AND I don't want to make others feel bad (Yes, they are two different things). I feel like if I write so much about how amazing life is and how wonderful people are and how we can change the world with our powerful minds, people will react in a few ways - 1) They may be inspired (I hope!) 2) They may think, holy cow, Susan's goofy! or 3) Geez, she's really high over there - what's wrong with me? How come I don't feel like that?
So I can deal with people thinking I'm crazy. And I adore the idea of inspiring others. But the thought that I actually might make people feel bad about themselves or their lives is just really a downer for me. I think that is why when I came up with the idea of posting twice per week, it seemed like a good idea to have an "Inspiration" theme and a "Keeping it real" theme. In this way there would be some balance and people would see that I'm a real, *imperfect* person. Yes, I do have some pretty lofty goals and idealistic notions, but I'm no better than anyone else. (And don't forget the actual lofty purpose of it all - to get me to consistently write twice a week! These "themes" were more a primer than anything.) But even after one week of posting a "Confession" on a Friday I was already rethinking this tactic. I jokingly commented that I may have had a meltdown that day just to create material to write about. I'm not saying that is actually what I did, but the more I see how my mind creates my reality, the less far-fetched it is sounding. Last week I talked about Judgment (without an "e" - thanks Mom!) again, and you know what? I found myself judging again this week.
The other thing I noticed about these two "Opposite Categories" is that they really aren't opposite. I can take almost any experience and see how it can transform my life or awaken a new awareness in me. After I judged this week, it was tempting to berate myself - why is it so hard to be the person I want to be? I have all of these inspirational writings and people flooding my awareness and I *still* say unkind things. Perfectionism. Another topic to be tackled at a future time. Instead I chose to love myself in spite of my insecurities and imperfections. To say in my mind over and over, "I approve of myself."
And really this isn't a "balance" I want in my life - 50% inspiring and 50% oops, I F*@$ed up again. I want it to be more like 90/10 or even 99/1, goshdarnit! And really that is how I'm feeling almost all the time lately - LIFE IS GOOD!! *That* is what I want to share and spread.
BUT, like I said up there ^^ I also want people to know that life here in the May household is not all rainbows and sunshine. So here is my Ultimate and Final Confession, I'm going to add a tab on my menu too, so anytime someone needs to they can click and read it there:
I, Susan Dionne Damaske May, hereby confess to being 100% imperfectly human. I have bouts of impatience, ignore my kids, spend too much time on Facebook, obsess over my blog and what to write next, and make judgments on other people's choices. My house is usually a mess and often borders on a disaster zone. I barely cook. In fact, my husband cooks most nights when he gets home from work. At 7 o'clock. (Poor guy! But lucky me ;-) I have barely exercised since my daughter was born (almost 6 years ago!) When I read I don't hear anyone which drives my husband crazy - and leads to what looks like more ignoring of our children. I over-think and analyze just about everything. I tend to dwell on things that bother me - about myself and others. I sometimes talk too much. I love Peace but sometimes feel violent.
My children have meltdowns, eat lots of candy, and fight with each other. They have been known to stay up late.
My husband and I very rarely have "deep" conversations and we can count how many "dates" we've had in the past 6 years on our hands (not sure how many hands, but one sounds way too pathetic!)
We all get on each others' nerves and say things that we feel bad about later. In short, we're a family comprised of imperfect human beings.
So there you have it. When you look at it that way it doesn't sound that amazing, huh? But even with all the above I am more in love with myself and my life every day. Blogs are only snapshots, just like everything else. When we see someone at the grocery store, or the playground, or at church it is only a snapshot. When we visit with family or friends the image projected does not include every aspect of our person-hood, and usually some parts are magnified, diminished, or distorted. I think this is why it is sometimes challenging to write for me - because I want to present a clear, whole picture but when all my ideas and beliefs are so tangled I worry about getting it all straight - and really it will never be the whole picture. So I choose what to focus on and present here, and I can only do what feels right for me. I am comforted by the thought that each post is like a conversation that can be built on or even revisited over time.
So no more Friday Confessions (3 was enough I guess!) I'm thinking I may do Snapshots, which highlight a day in our life, or "Did you know?" type things, we'll see. And I'm not even sure how long I can keep up two posts per week. We'll see!
Good night all you lovely people! I hope you enjoyed my final, truly scandalous, confession.
Sunday morning I felt anxious, nauseous and panicky, and I was having a hard time focusing on anything. One thing good about nervous energy is using it to do stuff - like dishes, laundry etc. But it isn't so great for being present OR joyful, as your mind races around in circles. I revisited my post from Friday and thought about my timing - I chose Good Friday and Easter weekend to reveal that I can't think of my children or myself as sinners anymore. Good Friday - the day Jesus died for our sins. Oh the irony. I really didn't plan it that way it all - it just happened. So I definitely felt more than a little bit hypocritical today as my kiddos looked for their Easter baskets and indulged in chocolate. I felt like I had jumped out of a plane. I thought that my parachute was in good working order, but today I was feeling the need for my backup. It is so easy to get paranoid after you lay your soul out for people to see. Especially when you get very little feedback. Our minds quickly jump to what we "know" others must be thinking about us. This is what I was doing.
So, what helped me re-center myself was a few things. First lying down with Gerry during his nap and putting a guided meditation on. That helped a lot, my mind relaxed and I woke up rested. Then the rest of the day I spent with my kids and husband, mostly outside. It was wonderful. And just like that I am back in a better space and all the things I was telling my panicked self this morning, I can see are true. (Namely, I can only be true to myself and control my actions/reactions. I cannot control how other people react, nor can I "know" what other people are thinking. As of yet I still don't have any supernatural ESP powers, or anything like that.)
So, I need to talk more about insecurity and inspiration. I'm going to level with you all. I think that this space will be more inspiring for me and readers if it is more interactive. Even though I have not been getting a lot of comments, I know there are people reading. No, once again I'm not psychic - Let me show you how I know:
Pretty cool, huh? I really like weebly! If you want to start a blog yourself, I think it's a pretty good way to go. Anyways, part of me wonders if my friends are just too nice to comment. They *may* be thinking, "Wow, Susan has *really* lost her marbles! But you know, she is nice and I don't want to hurt her feelings so I'll just read and not comment." Or maybe most of what I'm posting is just really not that interesting or thought provoking to people, in which case I don't blame you. If I'm not stirring anything in you I don't expect a comment. And part of me also wonders if I really am ready or want comments - I mean do I have tough enough skin? Ideally, even if you don't agree with me you could post a comment in a respectful manner and we could actually have some interesting (possibly inspiring!) dialog. I remember way back when I started my first blog my good friend Kimmy (are you reading right now??) told me that it was a faux pas for people to read and NOT comment. I now realize that really most people don't ever comment - I know that I read blogs way more than I comment.
Anyways, readers I know that you are out there! I would love to write more about what you are interested in and maybe get more interaction. But either way I'm still feeling good about writing. It's fun. I've been thinking about inspiration and how to keep it going lately. I've realized that inspiration and most things in life are just like exercising our bodies. We have to actively do things to keep inspiration flowing. Just like I can't expect to show up at a 10K race and run if I haven't been working out, I can't expect my creativity to just turn on if I haven't been using it. One practice that helps me is to read other inspiring, thought-provoking writers. I'm also finding a better balance in my life and tuning into things that I need to feel good. I have a new idea that there are 3 things right now that really feed me - writing, meditation, and exercise. I feel like if I can do at least 2 of these every day and regularly do all 3 I am taking care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. (I haven't really gotten on the exercise part yet, but I will get there, I know it!) It's quite amazing to me how since I've been writing and meditating how much more present I've been with my family and just so... happy. I don't feel like I'm constantly fighting what my needs are versus my kids' needs.
But every once in a while, I feel like - oh man, maybe I'm going to run out of things to write about. But usually when I feel like that it is because I'm needing something else - namely food or rest. Once things get back in balance, the ideas and inspiration flow again. So I think to keep inspiration flowing one needs to taking care of oneself, actively seek inspiration, and also take time away - to get out into the world and most importantly, be with the people who matter most to you.
It hasn't escaped my attention either that the most feedback I've gotten has been about pictures and periods (oh and being a feedback junkie, ha!) I do feel a bit like I'm getting lost in a lot of philosophical ramblings and that maybe it would be good to mix it up with some more actual experiences I've had. So far I've kind of been writing about whatever is on my mind at the time, because that is the easiest (especially when your baby doesn't go to sleep till midnight!) But I have quite a few ideas and even some posts started. Things that I definitely will touch on sometimes in the future: any and all things (attachment) parenting - from sleeping and breastfeeding, to food and poop (ah, who doesn't want to read about that!), natural birth, more on unschooling and what I see happening every day with my kids, what does "balance" mean to me, and how the heck did I get here...
So peeps, if you are curious about any of the above or anything else I have written about in the past, let me know and I will write about it sooner rather than later! (This is as close as I'm going to get to begging for comments... at least I know I'm in good company, I've read plenty of bloggers having similar sentiments!) Otherwise, I will just continue to obsess over my graph and write whatever fancies me at the moment. I hope you get your inspiration flow on this week! You deserve it ;-)
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.