Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a bad morning does not have to = a bad day.

This morning was bad. Jeb was up most of the night, which means so were Bennett and I. Who knows why. Maybe it was because that's just how he rolls some nights. Maybe it was his 2 year molars that have been giving us trouble for 2 months. Maybe his tummy was feeling bloated and gassy like mine was after dinner but couldn't tell me as that is a conversation his verbal skills can't quite support. Maybe it was because it was Monday and he knew daddy had a long day at work ahead of him. Who knows. In fact, I'll probably never know since I've stopped trying to figure these things out. Children are a mystery.

Anyway, it was a bad morning. Jeb and I were both tired and cranky. I ate a plate of Chinese food for breakfast, sabotaging my weight loss efforts. I felt guilty with every bite, but too tired to put it down. We couldn't get into our rhythm. We watched some Elmo, but laying on the couch not being able to slip into a deep sleep only made me feel more exhausted and pissed. I lost my temper with him once, and hated myself for it. By late morning I put our shoes on, got in the car, and just went for a drive. We both needed to get out of the living room, away from the tantrums, and given the chance to just zone the eff out. The sunshine helped, too.

It worked like a charm. 20 minutes later he was asleep, and I was calm as I pulled back into the driveway. I put him down for his nap, and I laid down too. As I drifted off, I decided that the Bad Morning was over, and it did not have to make for a Bad Day.

We woke at 2pm. I fed Jeb a good lunch, and I had a bowl of Kashi GoLean and a banana. We played and cleaned up the downstairs. I vacuumed and did 2 loads of laundry. We danced and made the beds. (Why does a clean house ALWAYS help my mood?) I did a Jillian Micheals work out with my cans of black beans, and Jeb followed along with his cans of corn. I heard from Bennett that we have a dinner date with a business associate, and MIL is available to baby sit on short notice. I showered and even blow dried my hair.

Whew. It's been a busy, but awesome afternoon. This morning I was all "I'm not doing anything today. Hmmph." I took that attitude almost out of spite. Like I was giving the universe the finger, and being miserable and unproductive was going to get back at it! I'm glad I know myself enough to know kicking it into gear is the best remedy for the crankies, and being lazy only feeds the beast.

So, my cute pants are in the dryer, I smell good and feel good after my lean lunch and workout and shower (I'm going to stop beating myself up about the Chinese food any minute. I swear.) Jeb is going to have an awesome date with Grandma. The house is clean. My afternoon coffee is divine.

All is good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good Enough

Recently, a friend told me about the philosophy of the "Good Enough Mother". Apparently some psychologist ~100 years ago came up with the theory that children don't need a Perfect Mother, they need a Good Enough Mother.

This came up in conversation because I was doing one of my anxiety ridden rants about whether or not Jeb is getting what he needs. I shared with her that I lay in bed at night wondering: did he laugh enough today? did he run enough today? was I patient enough with him today? was his diet appropriately balanced today? did I put enough A&D ointment on his bum? his bum looked a little red, didn't it? do I change his bed sheets often enough? Bah. It's exhausting, and I'm sure it's not warranted. I know Jeb is well cared for; it's my anxiety torturing me.

So, the theory goes like this: Children don't need perfection in their parents, they need parents who are doing a good enough job. In fact, perfection is detrimental (as well as unattainable) because children would then miss out on some opportunities to develop important coping mechanisms.

My knee jerk reaction was Well, I hope I am better that just Good Enough! But that wasn't/ isn't the point. The point isn't to lower my standards, or change my parenting and take less-good care of Jeb on any given day so as to be "just good enough", or "just this side of neglectful".

It's to reset the questions I ask myself as I fall asleep at night.

I now try to ask myself: was I a good enough mother today? were his needs met in general? I can honestly answer YES! every singe day. And then I focus on the bajillion times I hugged and kissed him, and I visualize his contented and happy face.

When I shift the perspective just a bit, I drift off to sleep knowing that I am absolutely a Good Enough Mother. What a relief.

This whole second-guessing part of motherhood has been my biggest surprise... probably a good future post.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about the most recent Open Adoption Round Table discussion: How do we want to be proactive in our adoption relationships this year?

This topic speaks to me right now, because it's recently started to dawn on me that our relationship isn't what I wanted for us--- not completely.

In the early years, it was much easier to stay close. We all had less going on, and the adoption was more of a focal point in all of our lives. As is supposed to happen over time, the adoption and the relationship became our Normal. We all relaxed a little. We became a touch complacent. It felt good for the intensity to subside some, you can't live you're whole life in the emotionally charged state the first years of an open adoption demands.

I feel like we've maybe become a little too relaxed. I am frustrated that I initiate the majority of the phone calls, and I can count on one hand the number of times they've visited me; I've visited them at least twice as many times. I'm not saying all this to demonstrated a "score". Until I had Jeb, I really didn't mind the imbalance. I figured when it was me who had a Little One the balance would tip back, but it has not. Parenting Jeb has allowed me much less time to call and visit, so our over all contact has really decreased over the last 2-3 years. In hind sight, I should have spoken up about my needs and expectations, but I assumed they would fill in the gap. (Remember what they say about assuming?!)

I've been walking around feeling kind of frustrated and hurt, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I know that I am important to Colin's parents, I know that they love me and love that I am a part of their lives. When I tease out the emotions of it, I am left feeling like they don't put as much effort into the relationship as I have. But again, I also have the responsibility to speak up. This relationship is like any other: it is no perpetual motion machine.

Colin will be 12 this year. We are coming into a very important age; we are obligated to clear out the cobwebs, reestablish good and honest communication, and recommit to our philosophy of standing together to support Colin. Thankfully we have a great foundation, so I know we'll get there.

I told Colin I was going to try to visit in Jan or Feb. I feel totally overwhelmed at the thought of trying to squeeze a visit into our already jam-packed daily life, but I'm starting to think this will be one of the more important visits we'll have.

So how am I going to be proactive? By getting back to the basics. Communication 101.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Balance in 2010

Like half (or more) of Americans, I am trying to lose some weight this month/year. 2009 was so busy and stressful, 30 pounds crept on. I had gotten up to the weight I was at 42 weeks pregnant; talk about depressing. None of my clothes fit, I went out and bought a couple pair of pants and they were a size I'd not seen before. Now, I usually don't typically get wrapped up in my weight, or diets. I have an ~8 lb window that I bounce around in, but right now I am way over that window. Even now though, I feel like I look pretty OK, my husband tells me I'm totally hot every day, my self esteem is intact... I just don't feel great at this weight. So, I've started running. Running is always my go-to; I was an avid runner in my teens and early 20s. My MIL gave us her treadmill, which is now in my basement, and I've been climbing on for 30 minutes 5-6 times per week. It feels terrific. I feel terrific. I can't believe how my energy level has picked up, and my daily anxiety has subsided significantly. I've never enjoyed running as much as I am right now, probably because it used to feel like a chore but now it feels like an escape. Some ME time. A chance to clear my head and do something that puts me in a good mood for hours. Whenever I'm in a good exercise phase, my eating improves because I don't want to un-do my work. So I've been eating better (but nothing extreme) as well: bonus.

So today, as I moved from warm up speed to high(er) speed and started to get into my groove I found myself thinking about Balance. What an incredible task it is to find balance as a mother, especially a working mother. Jeb is now 2 years and 1 month old, and I feel like I am just now settling into a rhythm; I am just now juggling all the balls with some success at keeping them all in the air. Twenty five months this has taken me. In all my naivete, I thought by 3 months old it would be old hat. Ha! Although, had someone told me it would take 25, I probably would have punched them out of frustration. It could possibly have happened a bit sooner had we not moved 500 miles and started a business last Spring, but who knows.

As I thought more about Balance, I tried to figure out the how? and the why? because, well, I had 24 more minutes left on the tread mill. As a newborn and infant, Jeb required 90% of my everything. My physical energy, my mental energy, my time, my boobs, my sleep, my attention. I tried to divide my other 10% amongst: work, husband, self, house, misc. This was difficult and really, impossible, because giving 2% each to the other demands is essentially giving ZERO. It was also impossible because I could barely think straight let alone figure out what it meant to give 2% to my husband etc. Oh, and if it happened to be nephew/aunt/mom's birthday this week? Forget it, buying a card and present and getting it mailed took all of that left over 10%. So, I spent most of the first year in absolute un-Balance, and feeling really shitty about it. Everyone else seemed to have it together so much better! Other babies slept through the night! Other women enjoyed going to work! Other couples were going on dates! Well, I can't speak to any of them. Maybe they were fudging the facts, or maybe they weren't. I soon learned that the 3.5% of energy it took to compare myself to them wasn't worth it, since it could be used to scrub a toilet or mail a birthday card.

Things got better in year 2, despite the half dozen major life changes we took on. I stopped crying when I went to work. Husband and I had more time together as Jeb got a little more independant; and by this I mean Jeb would play with a toy for 15 minutes while we had a conversation as B cooked dinner and I wrote out the bills. Whatever, it felt like progress. Unfortunately the 'self' category always gets pushed down to the bottom of the list. Here is where my beloved tread mill re-enters the conversation. For the first time since Jeb has been born, I am carving out a little time to do something for myself. (You know, just like the parenting magazines say to do in a 4 sentence paragraph that addresses NONE of the other realities of what it takes to be a mom. But, I digress...) It's not a once-every-other-month outing with the girls, which really only ever served to make me miss my care-free spontaneous lifestyle. It's not a play date where another mom and I scream over the din discussing molars and bowel patterns. (Although, I really do love play dates.) It's 30 minutes for me to do something that makes me feel physically great and mentally recharged. And! And! It's guilt free because it's in my basement! I don't have to leave the family for an hour or more to go to the gym, feeling like I'm away from Jeb for even more time. It's Balance. For the first time, I feel like I am present at work and able to do my job well. I feel completely connected to my husband and both of our relationship needs are being met; we are in 'team' mode and operating like clock work. I know Jeb is thriving, and has fun every day. My house is in pretty good order; not perfect, but clean and mostly organized. Birthday cards are sent, and it's not an entire day's excursion. Of course things will come up and temporarily disrupt the precious balance, but I also now have an appreciation for the fact that most issues are not catastrophic, and order will return.

Ironically, this new found calm leaves me thinking: We should have another baby!

Haha, not for some time though. I'm really really really looking forward to a year filled with Balance, time with my husband and son, and a rhythm of just living.