Sunday, May 12, 2019

Journey through Motherhood

At "Time to Fly" event benefiting CCRF, 2009
In my neighborhood I am surrounded by mothers at every stage of the journey. My next-door-neighbor has an adorable soon-to-be 3-year-old, down the street are siblings 8 and younger, across the street is a teenager and down from him are recent empty nesters.

My girls will be 16 and 14 this year — we are nearing the end of the "raising" portion of parenthood. Soon we will be entering the "why doesn't she ever call" portion of parenthood, followed shortly, I've heard, by the "my kids finally appreciate me" portion.

I find this stage to be rather ironic.

I mean, when our kids are little, they are just so darn cute, but they are also so much darn work! Their fingers and faces are always sticky, they are constantly needing to be fed, changed or taken to the bathroom, bathed, reasoned with, (as much as you can reason with babies or toddlers), and so on and so forth. They are a lot of work, from which parents often need a break. If I ever had even an hour to myself in my home without my children around, what a joyous time it was! Laundry got done, floors got mopped, windows got cleaned. One time Wayne and I took advantage of a "parents night out" at KinderCare, where they stayed open until 10 p.m. so parents could have a date night, and he and I washed all the windows in our house. They hadn't been washed since our kids had been born, we were happy to have spent our child-free time that way.

Marissa decided not to smile this day. 2012
Then your kids grow and grow, and at this stage they are...people. Fascinating, interesting people! They have opinions and ideas and really big, new words to communicate them. They are absorbing the world around them, making their own decisions about what's right or what's wrong, and wow, look out world, there is some change a-coming! They are so fun to do things with, to go shopping, or out to eat. 

But just as your kids get really fun to hang out with, they don't want to hang out with you. They'd rather be with their friends, watching movies, playing soccer, going to Starbuck's, building relationships with friends their own age. 

Soccer, Summer of 2017
Lindsey, Homecoming 2018
Marissa Selfie, 2019
When they want to spend time with me, I'll be here, ready to reminisce with them about the good old days when they used to play with water tables, push the dog around in a doll baby carrier, and do other silly things. Those stories are always good for a laugh.

Happy Mother's Day. 

Monday, May 06, 2019

Sweet 16 for the First Kid

Eight years ago, I wrote a blog post called "Halfway to 16." It was about Lindsey turning 8, and 16 seemed so very far away.

Now her 16th birthday is already 3 days ago. How things have changed!

At 8, she was excited to get clothes for her Barbie dolls, but was equally excited to get an iTunes gift card. I'm pretty sure she bought some Katy Perry songs with that gift card.

At 16, she asked for a large plant for her bedroom. Yes, a plant. She also has a fixation on all things flamingo. She finds them silly and quirky. So I also purchased a large standing metal planter for her room. On Friday, her actual birthday, she and I made a trip to Bachman's to get just the right plant for her room and for her flamingo.

I felt like I was being watched as I worked.

Lindsey's large plant, nicknamed Za Za. 
She got a silk butterfly hair clip to go with her butterfly dress that she wore to the Southwest winter formal. She loves dresses, she probably has 8 or 10 hanging in her closet at any time. Thanks to her job at Turnstyle she puts dresses on hold for her to try when she's not working. The butterfly dress was purchased there for $7.50. I think the hair clip cost more by the time I paid for shipping.

Opening gifts, her Marvel blanket always nearby to warm her.
She also got a journal, the feminist's journal. Lindsey has become quite the activist, marching in the women's march, even when it was 20 below zero, following politics, getting involved in environmentalism and, of course, helping animals. This summer she's going to start volunteering at the Animal Humane Society and she can't wait.

Like when she turned 8, she opted for a dinner at Benihana's restaurant. We went with Kristi, who lives in Minnesota now, unlike when Lindsey turned 8. We were thoroughly entertained by the chef who was fantastic and really made Lindsey feel special throughout the meal.
Lindsey wanted to dress up, I couldn't convince Marissa to not wear a hoodie.

Aunt Kristi with Lindsey, wearing her butterfly dress with matching hair clip.
In my original blog post I wrote about how my dad joked about coming to Minnesota once a year to see my kids. Back when they were small he'd say stuff like, "Geez, just 12 more visits and I'll be going to a high school graduation!" Sad to say, he didn't live long enough to see either of our kids graduate from high school. But I know that he is looking down and would be really proud of the young women they are becoming.

Lindsey's first beer! Just kidding. It's a frothy iced tea.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Artist's Way

About a month ago I began a 12-week course called "The Artist's Way." I had never heard of it before I started it. My sister-in-law Laurie is doing it and encouraged me to give it a try. And by "encouraged" I mean she bought me the book and a journal to go along with it and said, "Do this." Couldn't get more "encouraged" than that!

Here's the gist of the book and course: all human beings, having been created, are capable of  creativity. We simply have to channel the creativity that is given to us by [insert belief here, God, the Universe, the Divine One, whatever or whomever], and creativity is ours to tap into at any time. We do not have to "wait" for inspiration, we simply need to be open to the experience, or as the author says, "unblocked," be still, and listen.

In a nutshell.

What I'm finding is that to "unblock" your creative self you need to do a lot of self-assessment. Outside of going to therapy, which only a portion of the population does, how else do people improve their personal selves? I've been to hours and hours of professional training: nonprofit conferences, writing/storytelling seminars, how to be a better manager, how to be a better employee, etc. etc. But this course is really "how to be a better person."

My whole sober curious journey began when I started thinking about things that block my creativity, and alcohol was one of them. I decided to try cutting it out of my life, and in the very next chapter I read, "At this point in your journey you may find yourself wanting to remove some toxicity from your life, be it a toxic friend or a toxic behavior." Huh! Imagine that, I was one week ahead of the author.

It has you do exercises like: "If you had five other lives to live, what other professions would you be or do?" Then the next day it has you list 5 more. One of the exercises has you list 20 things you enjoy doing. Twenty! Try it. I did, and I was at a loss after eight. I've got to start some hobbies before I can retire or I'm going to be bored AND boring!

I'm on Week 4 which is the "reading deprivation" week. This is the week that you are not allowed to read anything, to create silence within yourself to allow your own creativity to flow. Two things about this were crushing for me:

1. I just started the novel "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman and it is AMAZING. I'm only a few chapters in and now had to take a one-week break from it which makes me mad because I can't wait to pick it up again.

2. "No reading" also means no social media, so I deleted my social media icons off my phone and logged out on my computer so I'm not tempted to scroll.

The social media one is by far more difficult. Still, five days into this reading deprivation thing, I find myself automatically hitting where the icons on my phone used to be. I check it out of habit several times an hour. It's a great habit to break, I may just leave the icons off my phone from now on.

Supposedly I'm going to start hating this journey starting around week 5 or 6, so I thought I'd better write about it now before I turn against it. We'll see how all of this goes!