Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wishing, Blaming, and Other Futile Practices

Most of the time I enjoy being a mom, but now and then there are days when I just want to scream. Loud. The majority of those wanna-scream moments (or hours) boil down to a conflict between good things I want to do, and better or best things that I need to do (i.e. I want to read books and develop talents, but I need to teach, nurture, protect, and entertain my toddler).

This conflict between good and best can be frustrating, and when we're frustrated we often want to blame someone (our spouse, the president, the oil companies, etc.). In my case Joy is a tempting scapegoat because when I want to do something but can't, she is usually the one who needs me to do something else. I forget that if I weren't a mother I'd be working and have even less free time. I also forget that I do actually have some discretionary time that I spend blogging, journaling, gardening, etc.,--I just don't have nearly as much of it as I'd like.

I suspect part of my frustration stems from the fact that when I was working, I could do whatever I chose once I got home. Now I'm home all the time, with my books, hobbies, and nagging tasks literally at my fingertips, but my new career (which I wouldn't trade for a moment) requires that I turn my back on them while they call after me with seductive voices.

Sigh--the longer I live, the more convinced I become that humans are not rational beings. We like to think we are because the prospect of unpredictability is unsettling, but the truth is that we often vote for who we (or our demographic) like not who's best, we buy things because we want them not because we can afford them, and we'd rather mope about something than fix it or get over it. I think we can be rational (at least most of the time), but many of us prefer not to make the effort.

For my part I do try to think and act rather than just react, but I really should work harder at it because the days I blame and wish and mope are usually the days I end up wanting to scream. More importantly, they are the days I overlook the fun and joy of my life because I'm distracted by unrealistic wishes. Far, far too often I have failed to appreciate stages of my life because I wished they were different in some way, and I usually carried that mentality over even when I reached the milestones I yearned for. Heaven help me if I miss the wonders of parenthood because I wish I had more time to myself. Before I know it Joy will be off to kindegarten then off to college, and I'll be willing to trade all the free time in the world to have these days back again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shy Bookish Girls Rock

A fellow blogger recently noted that almost every young adult fantasy novel involves a shy, bookish heroine who discovers magical powers, faces challenges that reveal strength she little imagined, and in the process falls for a charming and witty prince with whom she lives happily ever after.

I suspect that formula exists for several reasons: 1) The authors themselves were probably shy and bookish girls, 2) The authors are probably still like that, but wouldn't mind having magical powers and a prince, 3) Most of the readers are shy and bookish, too, and wouldn't mind having powers and a prince either, 4) None of the above really want to read/write about a gorgeous, popular prima donna winning yet another round in life, and 5) Shy bookish girls rock.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Change Your World

Sorry I haven't written in a while. We are in the process of moving to another apartment in our building, so I don't have a lot of free time for blogging. Even so, I wanted to share at least something with you this week. To that end, here's a quote I read recently that I'm trying to live by, something along the lines of "casting a positive spell on yourself" . . .

"Change your thoughts and you change your world." (Norman Vincent Peale)

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Love You More Than Napkins

This evening as I was cumbered about with much serving, I started wondering whether my husband was free to help me out. Suddenly I heard the thunderous sound of playful daddy footsteps, and Joy’s wild giggles as she scurried to find refuge from the Tickle Monster. I realized my sweetheart was doing something much more important than setting the table, so I let them keep playing and took care of it myself. It was a small price to pay to hear my family have so much fun together.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Janie Warned Me . . .

Shortly before Joy arrived, my friend Janie gave me two bits of parenting counsel: 1) Expect nursing to hurt--a lot; 2) Don't don't don't bother comparing your child to other kids--it's pointless and just makes you crazy.

I had no inkling how right she would be about nursing, but for the first year or so I didn't feel much temptation to compare Joy with her cohort. Lately, though, I have sometimes caught myself wishing she would demonstrate some impressive sort of aptitude. Since I’ve spent much of my life at the head of my class, part of me wants Joy to be at the head of hers—walking and talking before everyone her age instead of after them. So far the only developmental step she’s ahead of the curve on is producing teeth, and that’s more a credit to her genetics than her intellect or proactivity.

As I reflected on this and how silly it is to be competitive about baby development, I realized there are several other things Joy excels at which have been great blessings to me. She is a solid sleeper, she is willing to try a variety of foods, and she shows empathy toward others. Best of all, she has a ready smile, a sweet laugh, and an inquisitive nature that reminds me to explore and appreciate this wonderful world. Those qualities have made my life so much richer, and I wouldn’t trade them for any others.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'm Back

Thanks to everyone for their input and support. It means a lot to me.

As I considered how and whether to continue this blog, I concluded it would serve you and me best as a "way to keep tabs on my thoughts," in n8ma's words. Often I get to thinking that I've had some fine insights lately, but by golly I can't remember them and my journal is so crowded with events and details (I'm a historian, you must recall) that I have no hope of finding them there. I think insights come to us for a reason, and I want to record them in a place where I can find and review them easily. Consequently, I want this blog to be a concise collection of thoughts worth remembering and (hopefully) applying.

To that end, I plan to stop the daily six-word shtick (sorry, STM). While it did remove the pressure of long posts and get me writing more frequently, I think it yielded some substandard posts that distracted from the more meaningful ones. I'd rather just write when I have something worth saying.

So there you have it. Now I'm curious to see how this blog evolves in the coming months . . .