rookie move

I know better. Rookie move on my part. Reverse psychology is a risky strategy to use with a four-year-old. Backfires happen easily and in the blink of an eye. They are highly unpredictable creatures.

And that is in fact what happened to me today. I meant what I said as a threat in hope that it would stop the whining. “Well then, maybe I should just not take you to school today!” I touted.

Preschool, I might add. The school that he loves and couldn’t wait to go to five seconds before we got into the car. Of course that threat would work.

Not so much.

Before I knew it, I was in a power struggle with my youngest son. I wanted him to go to school. Badly. That is one of the few times during the week I actually get to myself. But I had threatened and he took me up on it.

And just like quicksand, the harder I tried to get out the deeper I sank. And the deeper I sank the more committed I was to winning. And the more furious I became that I don’t control other human beings. Or at least the small one I was working with at the moment.

When we got home, I sent him to his room. This was another move in my strategic game. Yes, I was playing emotional chess with my four year old. Not one of my saner moments.

As he cried in his room and I ate some breakfast (never parent on an empty stomach), I reached out for help and called my husband. Sometimes all I need is someone outside my current struggle to bring me back to reality.

After I hung up the phone – now having food in my stomach – I realized…..the best way out of this was to put the game away and just tell the truth.

As a parent, sometimes the hardest thing to do is admit to my children when I have screwed up. The whole idea seems counter-intuitive. Kids need to know their parents are in control and know what they are doing. Admitting I don’t just seems wrong.

But what I have noticed time and time again as I have copped to my shortcomings is that it actually settles them. Not in a disrespectful way, either. In a genuine, the-world-seems-safer-now kind of way.

I totally don’t get it. I just know it to be true.

So I went into my son, scooped him up out of his bed and snuggled in with him on the couch. I told him I made a mistake. I told him I shouldn’t have said I wouldn’t take him to school. School is important and we don’t get to decide we don’t want to go just because. And I said I was sorry.

I told him what his choices would be moving forward. We snuggled some more. And then we headed out. No drama. No tears. No games.

Just us.

moments

String of pearls

The sound of my family is filling my heart and my ears. As I sit outside letting the night air cool me off from this hot October day I can hear my husband and my younger two boys inside playing Battleship. I love it.

I am struck by the moments of life. They string together to like a pearl necklace, but each has a beauty and story all it’s own.

In this moment I let the sweetness sink into me. Writing about it helps.

I have been trying to write for days. I have a beautiful moment I want to savor, commemorate, and express but it’s just not working. I sit down, my fingers fly across the keyboard, but it’s not coming out the way I want.

And then today something dawned on me after two failed attempts on the laptop and endless ones in my mind. I’m maxed out.

I have taken on too much. And like most things, some of what I have taken onto my plate is completely energizing and some of it weighs me down like concrete bricks.

But all of it strung together is a huge reminder to me that I am limited. I have boundaries. I can only do so much.

And it is not so much the feeling of stress that reminds me. It is the breakdowns my brain keeps having. The thing simply stops working.

For me, writing requires a certain way of life. Time and space to breathe. Moments. Brain power.

And I have made a commitment to help with a function at school that is requiring those moments and that brain space. I am glad to do it, but I am not sure I will do it again. At least not in the role I committed to this time around.

But keeping commitments is important to me. So when this all dawned on me today I realized I needed to let go of this one post I was working on. At least for another week and a half.

And this is the dance of life. Living out my priorities does not always look the same from moment to moment. There’s no formula to it. Sometimes the choice is writing, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is family, sometimes it is projects.

And each moment has something to show me. Perhaps my limitedness. Perhaps the beauty of family life. Perhaps something else entirely. Something reflected in the way the moments are stringing themselves together.

And that is part of the beauty of the whole thing. Each moment having value all it’s own but also connecting to other moments to form something bigger. A day. A season. A life.

10.11.12

I could cry. I could sit down as I write and weep with gratitude.

My marriage is far from idyllic. My husband and I are two flawed people. Each of us has a ton of issues on our own that we have acquired through the course of our lives. And fourteen years ago today we decided to bring our brokenness together. For life.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a link between being in love and being insane.

He married a cheerleader. I only wore the uniform for a year in jr. high and a year in high school, but it’s more who I am than what I wear. I encourage. I cheer.

But something happened after we got married. All of the sudden, my husband became an extension of me. I think it’s pretty common. And while I cheered everyone else on, I picked myself apart. I focused on my imperfections and criticized. So I started to do that to him, too.

I didn’t mean to. I was just working out my issues. And unfortunately he paid the price. I don’t think he could have put into words what was happening, but I know he (and our marriage) felt the effects.

But he was patient with me. He hung in there with me. He gave me time. He gave me space. He gave me love. It didn’t always look pretty, but that was in fact what happened. He stayed with me.

And a few years ago, when I really broke down, there wasn’t much he could do to help me. But he gave me understanding and compassion. He gave me time and resources and support to get myself the help I needed.

And I am so humbled to have chosen him fourteen years ago when I was insane with being in love.

Don’t get me wrong; he’s had his own demons to fight along the way, too. No one is perfect. Happily ever after doesn’t exist.

But to have been given the gift of commitment is immense. A gift of an imperfect marriage that has space and room and freedom for each of us to grow and change. Together.

I still remember my wedding day. It could not have been better. I stood there in my beautiful white dress next to my handsome knight in shining armor with people saying, “Congratulations!” And I also remember saying, “Today is the easy part. Congratulate us 50 years from now. Then we will have done something special.”

Fourteen is a far cry from fifty, but we are making our way there. We are growing. We are changing. We are learning how to be a team. We are doing the impossible job of raising a family together.

And I can sit down and weep. Because the hard and the pain and the joy and the imperfect come together with love and commitment to make something so incredibly beautiful that I stand back and shed tear after tear after tear of gratitude for this man and all he has given me.