A dialogue with my inner two-year-old

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7473064878_9df4de6a00_o2 yo: Look at me. Listen to me.

Me: No. You need to listen to me. I don’t have time to deal with this now.

2 yo: (louder) Look at me. Listen to me. (Stomps foot)

Me: Listen here, I am in charge. We have to grow up. I have things I need to do, places to be. Expectations to fill. You don’t understand so just stop this and come along. Maybe later we can talk…

2 yo: NOW! NOW! NOW! (getting louder)

Me: You’re being ridiculous and stubborn. People are watching. You’re making a fool of me. Now just calm down, we’ll talk later, I promise.

2 yo: You always say that. You never do. (sits down, crosses arms) I’m not moving.

Me: Oh damn it all! I don’t have time for this. (grabs hand to start dragging her along)

2 yo: (screaming) Let go! You are hurting me!

Me: No, I’m not. If you’d just listen I wouldn’t have to drag you. You’re just being a stupid little girl. You have no idea about real life and responsibilities. I do, and life just sucks sometimes. It isn’t fair.

2 yo: (crying harder, whimpering) You’re hurting me, stop…

Me: (screaming) Oh just grow up will you!

2 yo: (whimpering) No. I just want you to listen to me.

Me: Oh go to your room! You can come out when you are ready to cooperate.

2 yo slinks back to the dark recesses of my soul. I can still hear her whimpering and sobbing. I carry that weight with me everywhere I go. It drags me down. Every once and awhile she comes out again, trying to get me to listen but I am too busy, too proud, too wounded to hear.

I think it’s time to listen and to be heard…

A Paint and Sparkles Christmas

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IMG_20141225_105458The last week leading up to Christmas was a mad dash to the finish line and we crossed it exhausted and feeling a little overwhelmed by everything. The presents were wrapped but without the fancy dressings I usually enjoy adding. The tree was up but only barely decorated in time. I forgot to pick up cookies for Santa and ran out of time to make some from scratch so Santa found chocolate kisses when he came to our house. It’s what I had in the pantry! And money, or lack thereof, was a source of anxiety and the reason I was clamouring in the last 36 hours leading up to the big day to pick up gifts and even though it didn’t feel like we bought very much, our bank account still says it was too much.

With all these external stressors weighing heavily into our Christmas equation, at times it was hard to embrace the spirit of the season, to let go of any expectations and let the flow of love carry us through because whether the gifts got wrapped or the tree decorated Christmas morning would dawn with excited children jumping on our bed and waking us up from our slumber all too early.

IMG_20141224_183521On Christmas Eve day I spent the afternoon making two kinds of dough ornaments with my children, a salt dough and a cinnamon dough. I found myself a couple of times trying to control the look of the ornaments but once I reminded myself it wasn’t about the look of the end product but the memories I was making with my children as we mixed and rolled and cut out shapes, the building anxiety dissipated. Once the dough was dry came the really fun part and the part my 4 yo loved the most, making a huge mess with 3-D paints as we decorated them. His ornaments were very thick with paint and took a long time to dry but he didn’t really care if they even ended up on the tree.

IMG_20141224_194350We also made ornaments out of wet noodles, glue and sparkles. The kids loved the sparkles and I may never get rid of all the sparkles in my dining room but they will serve as a reminder to our day of tree decorating from scratch. And then there were the pipe cleaners. I have discovered if you want to keep a 4 yo busy for a period of time, give them a bag of pipe cleaners and watch what they invent. It’s pretty awesome! There were a few twisted candy cane shapes and some angels, but most of what my 4 yo crafted that went on the tree was strange and beautiful and wonderful and while he claimed one was a spider, most were just organic pipe cleaner sculptures.

I could have hauled the box of ornaments out of storage but I just had no desire to unpack or more importantly pack it back up. I was looking for simple, for fun, for some memories to make 2014 memorable for reasons other than the gifts and in the simple act of finding the time to make a big mess with my children and let their crafty sides flaunt themselves in all their glory, I created a beautiful Christmas memory for my children and I that will hopefully be remembered long after they’ve forgotten which gifts were from Santa.

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Christmas morning arrived and there were gifts for each child to open under a tree decorated with all homemade ornaments and stockings filled with treats to enjoy and share. All that my husband and I had managed to pull together was enough and everyone was happy. When the stressors were stripped away, nothing was lacking, not the Santa picture we never made it to the mall for, not the huge pile of gifts, not the homemade cookies for Santa, not even all our traditional ornaments. A reminder that there are far more important traditions than surrounding ourselves with want.

When I finally posted the picture of our tree, fully decorated, which actually didn’t happen until December 28th, one of my friends gave me the best compliment ever: “It is so perfectly you”, and she was right. IMG_20141228_205425

http://www.education.com/activity/article/spaghetti-ornament/

http://www.funezcrafts.com/Easy-Angel-Crafts-Wire-Cross-Angel-Ornament.html

http://creativemeinspiredyou.com/heavenly-scented-cinnamon-ornaments/  (this is where I got the idea to decorate with 3-D paint, not the recipe for the cinnamon dough)

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/11/no-cook-cinnamon-ornaments.html

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Dough-Ornament-Recipe/

Finding love in distraction

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my jacket!

Jacket hung over a chair instead of in the closet.

There are words for everything it seems. Cafuné, means to run your fingers through your lover’s hair.  Dormiveglia, the space that stretches between sleeping and waking.  I’m wondering if there’s a word for trying so hard to remember to do things you still end up forgetting?

I’m not talking about big things like my kids’ birthdays or where I live.  It’s the little things, that should become rituals, but no matter how hard I try, I still forget to hang up my puff when I get out of the shower, or rinse the sink after brushing my teeth, or taking all my clothes with me when I leave the bathroom…

The list of all the little things I’m always forgetting is tediously long, at times seemingly endless. Things, like my car keys and my purse, are often dropped in random locations and I’m struggling to find the item as I’m running out the door.  I’m told there’s a place for everything and if I would just put the items where they belong I wouldn’t lose so much.  That just might be true, and I do try.  I try to mentally walk myself through the motions ahead of time, but I still forget and struggle to hold all the information in my head so I can hopefully avoid driving my husband completely crazy once and awhile.

I just feel like my brain is sabotaging me, like it doesn’t work properly.  These should be such simple tasks, that I should just do without having to think about, but no, for me it’s a mental marathon to go through the motions and remember every step correctly.  Then when I have to try to explain why yet again something is not put away properly or I’ve failed to adequately tidy up, the words, the excuses just feel that much more exhausting and demeaning.  I just want to yell “this is how my brain works, I can’t do it the way you want me to”. Instead I mumble apologies and angrily tell myself to shape up, this shouldn’t be so hard.

The raw truth is, it is that hard. With three children at very different stages, and a household to run, maintain and generally hold together, the minutia of information I have to remember is endless, and yet I am the same woman who used to know every file in my dad’s office by name and number, without having to check the file list.  How did I do that and yet can’t remember to hang up the dishcloth instead of just dropping it in the sink where it gets buried under dirty dishes and becomes yucky and unusable.

Some of it is likely my laid back attitude.  If I come across something either my husband or kids have neglected to put away or clean up, I just deal with it.  If they are around I will sometimes ask them to take care of it, other times I just do it. For me it’s not worth the effort or negative energy of actually getting upset.  I’m more like my dad, I can let the small stuff go, but many would say that I let too much go, that I don’t get frazzled enough.  Funny, I’ve heard the same said about my dad too!  And I will concede that there is definitely some truth to that statement.

What would happen though if I could stop feeling so bad about myself, what if I could find a way to make peace with my distractibility? What if all it took was my husband accepting that part of me for who I am? What if instead of getting angry and frustrated, he just stopped thinking about it as cleaning up after me all the time, and instead visualized it as an act of love, honouring all the other things I do accomplish by silently taking care of the ones I forget, even if it means hanging up my jacket every time he finds it hung over a chair.  He might also find that when he stops focusing on all the things I don’t do, he may be able to truly see what I do for him and this family, which will in turn allow me to let go of the shame, the self-directed anger and frustration I feel because of constantly feeling like I am letting him down.  I would be able to reinvest that energy into more useful, positive endeavours.  My husband might also discover that the act of letting go of his anger, frustration, and resentment, and turning it into something more positive would lead to feelings of less stress and more connection with me.

It really truly does come down to our perceptions.  If we perceive something as done deliberately to annoy us, we respond accordingly.  If we perceive it instead as someone who got side tracked and just forgot, it becomes less personal, and then taking the time to rinse the toothpaste from the sink, or hang up the puff or the jacket, even if it’s for the gazillionth time, becomes an act of loving that person despite their short-comings. And at the end of the day we all have short-comings and want to be loved despite them.