Deep breath, Mom.

I had to take a lot of deep breaths today. I should have taken a few more. There were times I should have stopped to take one, but I didn’t. I yelled instead. I grabbed instead. I’m taking them now, while my boys are napping upstairs. Both sleeping soundly, something that doesn’t happen much these days.

Upon reflection, here’s what I should have said

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The one where she talks about her collection

One of the writing prompts in my #braveblogging course was to finish the sentence:

 “I collect …”

It’s an interesting idea, except that I couldn't really think of anything I collect. Having moved around so often in my twenties and thirties (I count eleven moves in as many years), there wasn’t really much point. I do love kitchen gadgets, but I don’t love them enough that I can’t give them away and start over every time.

So I don’t actually collect much that’s worth anything.

But then I remembered I do have one collection.

It’s one I’ve been working on my whole life. It's never taken center stage, never been given serious shelf space, but I drag it with me in every move. In fact, with each move, I probably add a little more to it.

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Tomorrow I Will Do Better

Almost every morning, I wake up and head to my meditation mat. And every morning, I say the same thing.

“Today I will be calm. Today I will not yell. Today I will breathe deeply. Today I will not let a three-year-old infuriate me. Today I will be calm.”

And every evening, when my husband returns home and takes over, I say the same thing.

“Tomorrow I will do better. Tomorrow I will stay calm. Tomorrow I won’t yell. Tomorrow I’ll breathe deeply. Tomorrow I will remember that he is three, and I am forty.”

Yes, tomorrow, when I am trying my best not to yell because he has climbed up the side of the teepee for the third time nearly knocking the structure over, and I tell him that I need to step away and take a few deep breaths … And when I step away and watch him through the picture monitor whip down his pants and start peeing on the carpet …

I will stay calm.

Tomorrow, when he is angry because he cannot have forty strawberries and because we are out of animal crackers, and he throws over the stool, knocks the highchair backwards, tips a dining room chair sideways onto the hardwood floor, and then screams so loud the neighborhood dogs start their barking …

I will not yell.

And tomorrow, when he calls me evil, and spits on me, and shouts in my face, and tells me he wishes Ariel was his mother, and doesn’t want to be my friend anymore …

 I will take a deep breath.

Instead, I will close my eyes and try to put myself back on the mat where I sit when the house is quiet, when he is sleeping peacefully in his bed, his little body curled around his pillow. I will try to remember the faith I had in myself in the wee hours of the morning before the day has had a chance to make an unbeliever of me. I will try to summon the strength I started with, reminding myself that he is only three, and that he loves me madly, just as I love him.

No doubt I will fail. Oh yes, I will fail. And when I do, I’ll take another deep breath. And remind myself that I’m still a decent mom. I’m still learning. And that I deserve forgiveness.

And at the end of the night, after he’s cheered up because he’s fed, and bathed, and had his daddy time, I will hold him tightly and whisper:

“I’m sorry I yelled today buddy. Let’s have a good day tomorrow.”



Mom (resolves to) fail. Part 2.

I want my boys to fail. Not ultimately, and not incredibly hard, but I want them to know how to recover. I want them to be resilient. I want them to know what it means to work hard for something, even if there’s a chance they might not get it in the end. I’m not very good at that. Let me rephrase: I’m terrible at that. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve tried something new knowing there was a good chance I might not succeed. I’m not a huge risk taker. Which might sound strange coming from someone who’s lived on three continents and traveled to 20+ countries, moved to London after college graduation with a few bucks in savings and a boyfriend, quit a job to move to Africa to build a preschool from the ground up, switched careers and went back to school at 33, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (and what I really mean to say by that is yadda, yadda, yadda). Yawn.

But I’ve always known I could do those things.

Is that confidence? Is that what I’m hoping for my sons? I guess so.  But I hope for more. I hope they try things even if they know there's a chance they could fail. That, to me, is real risk. That’s the kind of risk real risk takers take.

(How much risk would a risk taker risk if he knew he just might fail?)

So as 2015 comes to a close and I sit with my trusty green journal, handwriting my annual New Year’s Resolutions as I do at the end of each December, risk taking will be high on my list this coming year. Not the kind of risk that might be life threatening or dangerous, I’m not interested in skydiving or bungee jumping, thank you very much.

take risks.jpg

I’m talking about the kind of risk that makes me uncomfortable. The risk that gives me pause because I might as well be dangling from a suspension bridge for as vulnerable as I feel once I’m out there. The risk that keeps me up at night wondering whether I did the right thing, or what people might think.

(Although side note: immediately following ‘take more risks’ on my list this year will be ‘stop caring what other people think and just GO FOR IT if it makes you happy and won’t hurt anyone.’ Turning forty has definitely improved my chances of success with this resolution!).

Putting this blog out for public consumption is a start. And we’ll see where I go from there. Hopefully a few more writings will get published. Maybe I’ll run a few more retreats. Maybe I’ll finally figure out my calling and get on it.

But for now, I’ll start where I can, which is right where I’m at, since I can’t possibly be anywhere else. Here’s to risking (even if it fails) in 2016!

Happy New Year!