Friday, June 29, 2012

Forsaking

I am so sick and tired of the "real love is showing people their errors to bring them to truth" idea. I've been on the receiving end of that plenty of times: "I love you, I really do, which is why I'm telling you that you're wrong." And yet, my brain still agrees with it. I'm still mired in the logic that, for someone coming from a Christian worldview, the highest form of love to them is "speaking the truth in love" - trying to bring them back to the fold.

I recently read Sierra's excellent series on homophobia, and a paragraph in the last section bowled me over. It's something I want to believe so badly. It's something, V admits, that she's felt for awhile, but could never articulate to me. Sierra writes:

"Unconditional love does not mean loving someone while disapproving of their actions. It means forsaking the right to disapprove. You cannot love who I am and hate what I do. What I do shows you who I am. If you choose to love a figment of your imagination, some idea of who I might become, then you love only your own mind, and what you hate is me."


I love that. "Forsaking the right to disapprove." But always in my head is my father's voice, the pastor of my youth, explaining why the world is wrong. Explaining that the truest form of love is concern for someone's well-being, now and in the hereafter, and so we must take care of people even when they don't think they need it.

That last sentence, now that I write it, does reek of selfishness. But the underlying idea is still wedged in my head. According to my brain, my father is completely right to try to "correct" me. So is my cousin who sent me a facebook message. Clarification: I don't think their ideas are right, nor am I in any danger of listening too closely. But I think they are well within their rights to say they love me, and then follow it with what they do.

So you see why that paragraph I quoted above gives me such joy and such stress at the same time. I absolutely love that idea. Forsaking disapproval. But I can't accept it as true. Maybe it's the last holdout of my upbringing. Maybe it's my pessimistic nature. Maybe it's just the section of my brain that my father inhabits. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Millisecond

This post isn't meant to brag on myself at all. Goodness knows I can be a downright awful parent. That said, I've been wondering why my kids don't tend to act out in public as much as others. They listen pretty well, they generally follow the rules, and I don't have to repeat myself that often. (Obviously there are exceptions to this, and times I've carried Lilly out of places as she screams.)

In our music class yesterday, I watched a little girl lean toward the keyboard she wasn't supposed to touch. She touched it. Her mom said no. She touched it again. Her mom said no again, and asked her to come back to her lap. She kept pressing the keys. Finally, her mom leaned over, grabbed the back of her shirt, and pulled her back.

In that moment, I realized how I parent differently. I step in a second before. When one of my kids so much as leans toward the keyboard (or some equivalent thing they know they shouldn't do), I either ask them to sit back, or gently remind them that it looks neat but we have to wait for the teacher, or in some way bring to their attention that I'm there, watching, and they know the rules.

Again, it always seems that I come off more of a disciplinarian than I am. I'm not mean, I swear. But that half-second, of being on top of them and reading their minds where I can, gives me a ton of preventative time; then I don't have to correct or chasten nearly as much. I'm glad for it.

We've started counting tantrums for each kid for each day. So far this week, it's been Patrick 1, Lilly 2, and then yesterday was 2 and 2, and today was 1 and 1. If they only throw one (or none), they can have two stickers before nap. If it's two or three, they can have one sticker. More than that, and they're out of luck. Unfortunately, Lilly now throws a tantrum at breakfast every day. Every. Single. Day. Darn child.

Eons ago

Here's a great quote:

"The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God." - John Wesley

Aaand, Pentecostal and Holiness traditions stem from Wesley's Methodism. It's strange, how familiar that quote can still feel. V is reading for school, and she keeps reading me quotes from Puritans (along the lines of "beat your children now so they'll behave later" and "at the first signs of a will, start hitting them" - my paraphrase, of course). She pointed out that mid-17th-century Europe sounds like evangelical parenting today.

Evolve already, people.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Deliberate

Patrick is a very deliberate kid. He puts things away in specific spots. He arranges everything in his bed every morning. He makes precise cuts with scissors. He pours carefully and slowly.

...even when he's pouring pool water from a cup down my cleavage.

It was all V could do not to burst out laughing. Oh that kid.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grace

This post was supposed to be about grace. It's one of those that I started writing in my head, while I was with the twins today. Yesterday morning, when I arrived and went up to their room, their crib rails were (finally!) off - toddler beds it was! Per usual, their mom had totally forgotten to let me know. (I'll either get three pages of handwritten details about things, or she'll totally omit something major.)

I'm really excited for them to be in and out on their own, but there's been one thing holding me back: my biggest cop-out in "parenting" is when Lilly gets to throwing giant tantrums, I stick her in her crib and let her scream it out. If she's just in her room, she'll kick the door. If she's downstairs, she'll try to kick Patrick or me. So with the advent of her in a bed, I was worried.

Today, unfortunately, we got to test that scenario out with two big tantrums. At breakfast, when she started whining (and began the well-trod path to a full-out tantrum), I picked her up and told her that she might need a little quiet time in her room to calm down. We went upstairs together, and I closed the door and sat on her bed. She threw herself into her chair, grabbed her blankies, and yelled and cried and flailed - but only tried to leave the room once. I grabbed her and explained that we couldn't go back downstairs until she felt better.

She ended up on her bed, and I started scratching her back. Rubbing her back and/or head is something I've begun trying lately, and if I catch her at the moment when she's gotten most of the emotion out, it calms her down. If I try too early, it riles her back up. But she started to calm down, and we talked about what to do with her hair today and what shoes she could wear. Eventually I coaxed her back downstairs.

Lunch was worse. We went to the conservatory today, so we were all hot and cranky, and she just wasn't having it. But still, she got down at one point and walked over to the stairs, glanced at me, and went up to her room. I'll take that over kicking and screaming any day, even if I couldn't really get her back down to finish lunch. (I ended up taking a few bites up to her, and telling her not to tell mommy.)

So I guess this post is about grace. I can function without having four walls in which to enclose her, and, in the process, she automatically is learning better coping alternatives. I just hope I continue to have grace to deal with it...because at nap time we had a blowout that ended in her screaming "No!" at me and me practically throwing her in bed and sitting on her.

Grace. It's tough stuff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Project

I'm hoping to participate in the religious fundamentalism and sexuality project that Sierra is running on the phoenix and olive branch. Through answering the questions, I've felt at times "not fundamentalist enough," which as I mentioned in an email to her, is not a competition I ever want to have! But it's really been fascinating to think about these things, and try to put myself in the mindset that I was in five and ten years ago. It feels like such a foreign place; sometimes I'm hard on myself for not seeing the ridiculousness back then. But, like everything else in life, it's a journey.

I want V to read over my answers, and then I'm emailing them off. I hope she includes them, of course, but even if not, I'm anxious to read everyone else's thoughts. One of my downfalls is that once I change my mind, I have a hard time recalling how I used to think. That makes it difficult to put myself back a decade, sitting in purity class, talking about wedding night sex and the leader making jokes at me that I couldn't report back to my pastor-father all the scandalous things we talked about.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Return

First day back with the kids. We made a tent in their room with scarves, they picked out six things from various leftovers and filled a muffin tin each for lunch, and I got two giant hugs. I think I'll be okay with them again.

Music class tomorrow, maybe swimming this week, definitely gymnastics. And the butterfly show! Lilly is really excited about it.

She told me at lunch, "We went on a trip and didn't see you for a long, long time."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yum

Squash, zucchini, green bean, peppers, and rice stir-fry for lunch.

French toast made with a sandwich of blueberry jam for dinner.

Raspberry picking hopefully next weekend.

Farmers' market trip this Wednesday.

My future is looking more delicious.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lull

Homemade chocolate chip cookies, by my wife, because I'm whiny and on my period.

A not-too-traumatic trip to the vet for both kitties.

Adorable baby time this morning with Kali.

Another puzzle done.

Dishes done too.

Visiting a friend tomorrow to crash her 4 year old's Totoro-themed birthday party.

Must I go back to work?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Together

My baby did a puzzle with me! And we went on our first scooter ride together, up to get gas. And she made me pasta. And I went to yoga even though I didn't want to. And we had an oreo each. And I didn't have to think about life.

PMS temporarily cured.

Away

I've loved being home but not working. I've done puzzles, slept in, put together new Ikea furniture, and generally lazed around. But now, I'm ready to go on vacation.

I'm discovering that there are still stresses incumbent on being at home. At home, married, with cats. I have to figure out what to feed V. I have to not let the dishes totally overrun, so that she doesn't feel like she has to do them. I have to play with the cat before bed. I don't feel like I can take a nap, because she's the one getting up early for class. I'm just not as free as I've felt the past few days.

I know I'm complaining; I know I have nothing to complain about. It is nice to have time away from the kids. I'm just getting spoiled, and now I want time away from the rest of life as well. Mainly, I want time with V, away from home, where neither of us are sick and we're not visiting family or friends. That hasn't happened since last July.

Sometimes I hate responsibility. I've been waiting my whole life to grow up, and usually I love it, but sometimes...I want to be five again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Off

I don't know when the last time was that I had days off while we were at home. It's phenomenal. Can I do it more?

Yesterday I slept in, did a puzzle, did some work online, and ran errands. Today I'm watching Kali this morning and Seth and Isabella this afternoon, but even so, just not having the twins on my brain is a break.

I shouldn't say not having them on my brain. Not having to think about specifics (lunches, outings) is a break; they're very much on my mind, though. Patrick has called me every day they've been gone. Heart, melt.

V loves her teacher and the class, despite it being at 730, so that's a big help. She's been working so hard at this degree, and I can't wait for her to have a break from it all...next summer? Though, in a month, she'll only be in one class, and that will probably feel like a break.

Also, I'm okay if June wants to stay in the low to mid 80s. I can handle this.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rest

V's parents just left. We really had an awesome visit with them, and from the sounds of it, they thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. We've been so busy, though, and now are taking an afternoon of rest. I'm packing up a few Breyer horses that sold on Ebay; V is putting together a new chair from Ikea.

We're so worn out. But thankfully it's in the good sense, and not the sheer exhaustion of unmitigated stress. This week, on the other hand, might bring some of that: bring on the 730am class! Easy for me to say.

Patrick and Lilly have called me the past two days. I love it. I am looking forward to a week off, though, especially after this weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gone

My kiddos are leaving tomorrow, and I won't see them again for Monday a week. I miss them already. It's been a rough week, but they were great today (minus a bit more of the whiny disease that Patrick has caught); we drove up and had lunch with their mom where she works. While she can drive me crazy with the notes she leaves (most recently: as a rule of thumb, please have the kids be in tennis shoes to play on the playground, not sandals), in person, we really do get along. We chatted really easily about her plans and my plans for this next week. I wish I could go to the beach!

I gave the kids giant hugs at naptime, and they gave me some back. I love that they love me so much.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gift

Yesterday was the first day in months where Patrick and Lilly both were acting out. She was a monster; I don't even know how many tantrums she threw, including one while we were over a friend's house. Patrick, too, was whiny and refusing to share. It's like they'd regressed a year.

Today, she was an angel. I love when she does that. He unfortunately hadn't snapped out of anything, and was a mess, but we dealt. Tomorrow we have gymnastics; Thursday, we're meeting their mom at work for lunch. Friday I'm off, because they're leaving on vacation. I'm off all next week! I'm still stunned.

Speaking of Friday, V's parents get here that day. They're leaving Sunday afternoon. We have lots planned: the zoo, a ball game, ikea, good food. And her mom had mentioned that they want to bring a housewarming gift, so we were trying to think - maybe the $30 rug we like at Ikea.

And then she texted an estimate figure to spend that was three digits. It wasn't $999, but neither was it $100. We both stared in shock. V's theory is that this is an unacknowledged wedding present. I'm... still in shock, apparently. But I"m actually working my way through my cleaning list!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Plate

If I get any more on my metaphorical plate, I'm going to start eating off a casserole dish. Since stress causes me to make lists, I'm going to do just that.
  • My mother shipped me ten giant containers of my childhood. She's moving, therefore downsizing. When I moved in with my dad in my mid-teens, she packed my room up so my sisters could have it. Now I'm dealing with the fallout of that.
  • As of last night, that fallout included a roach. At least, we're telling ourselves it came out of a box and isn't just around partying with its friends. Our landlord is coming over shortly (thank goodness we're renting), but given that we discovered it at 5:30 this morning when the cats were stalking it, we slept on the couch downstairs. Until noon.
  • Yesterday was the recital for the preschool/elementary dance company that V works for. That means this past week has basically been tech week, and so the house has gone to shit. Really, it's bad.
  • Which is a bigger problem than usual, since V's parents are coming to visit this Friday, and staying until Monday. I have five days to make a hopefully-not-roach-infested, giant-box-filled, horrifically messy house look like something I want to present to my mother-in-law.
  • I'll be doing a lot of it myself, which is understandable: this is V's last week of May term classes, so she has lots to finish up; she'll be gone every evening. Usually I try to do a chunk, or at least help out, but I'm not sure I'll even be able to.
  • Money isn't super tight, but it's not lax either. I have small hopes of being able to sell some of this stuff my mom sent me, but that's a whole 'nother chunk of time and energy. Anyone else collect Breyer horses as a child? American Girl stuff? Or inherit a 200+ bell collection from their great-grandmother?