Book Bag - no. 14

 This year we attempt French. Equipped with my foggy background, family abroad, and a new membership to a too good to be true French cultural center, we are on our way!

Speaking of fog... what a week it has been.   Ever have that feeling when life is so absurdly difficult that you know you must be doing something wrong? I've had the magnifying glass out (which doesn't necessarily help) trying to sniff out the root of my problems.  Of course it isn't one thing, but I did come up with a couple of sources.

A week from tomorrow I run in the Philadelphia marathon.  My sister and I concocted this idea up in the summer and we have been paying for it ever since. It has brought moments of satisfaction and near triumph, but right now it cant be over soon enough.  

Tomorrow my mom would have turned 60.  This day brings deep grief and sorrow. I am going to try to work some joyful remembrances in there too, but I am not sure I can muster it this time around. A cake for her and the kids at the very least.

And finally, general parenting fatigue.  The malaise that comes when it feels that every word that leaves your mouth is met with opposition.  

Thanks for listening. As always it helps to give the clouds a name.  



The words of James Herriot have been lulling me to sleep.  I wearily pick up my family's old, yellowed paperback of, The Lord God Made Them All and allow the country vet's stories to wash over me like I imagine certain spa treatments to be. They give my mind a proper cleaning, and do as best they can to set things to right.  My mother read Herriot's tales to us often growing up, so picking them up after a long day is the best kind of medicine.  I can hear her voice as I read, attempting the thick roguish accent of the Yorkshire Dales.

These days of late have been a test.  Having Myles at home has made time fly by even faster and with more tenacity than ever before.  We are learning so much about history, and the world, and each other but it is more difficult than I ever thought.  Sometimes, if I have my wits about me, I will excuse myself from a working moment together to shut the door, go lay on my bed and pound my fists into the pillow and wail like Nancy Kerrigan.  That book I read a while back, Permission to Parent, would call this, "growing myself up." Like basically deal with your weaknesses. You cant just scream and get your way in parenting.  So why is that all I feel like doing sometimes?

The highs are high and the lows are very low.  I think I need to write down more of the highs.  These pictures are from a high moment; a trip to Plimouth Plantation. A beautiful and precious experience.

Although I don't often get to capture a low moment on camera. I have taken up the habit of writing down certain foul dictations of Myles' during particularly difficult moments of instruction.  Its pretty fun and gives me something to do while he burns some negativity off. Here is a scene of Myles and I at the library:

Me - "OK, Myles we can't leave until we finish this problem."
Myles - "Fine, we'll never leave then." (walks away)
Me - "Listen, I know this is hard But I know you can do it. Its just one more problem."
Myles - Leaves to hide among the shelves, but only to return briefly to crumple up the lesson sheet and throw it in the waste basket.
Me - I pretend not to see and stay engrossed in my book.
Myles- Digs through the trash to fish out his work. And then sits down and begins to write so hard as to tear the paper with his strokes.

Hmmm. Lots of deep breaths, and many more to come I am sure of it.


Book Bag - no. 13

Bittersweet, the harvesting of squash families, new books. So many good things in this season. Remember Round is a Tortilla? What a delight to find, Green is a Chile Pepper this week. Our family grew chile peppers this summer to concoct some homemade hot sauce. So now I am feeling inspired to begin that process this week. 
- - -
The kids and I escaped to my aunt's house this weekend, in coastal NH, with my sister. It was wonderful to see cousins and yellow leaves and a dinner on the table that I didn't help prepare. My aunt has my mom's beach cruiser in her shed, so my sister and I always take it for a spin around the block to feel sad, yet closer to her at the same time. I was with my mom when she picked it out. She wanted to ride to her store in downtown Exeter on beautiful fall days, like the one we had today. She didn't get to do that hardly at all. Cancer made sure of that.  Sorry to go dark on you all. But where else is there to go these days?  Bittersweet, indeed.


October Lessons

     This past weekend we celebrated my niece, Verity's second birthday. I love October. It is a wonderful month. The blur of adjusting to new routines has melted away and the air is ripe with the anticipation of cozy evenings filled with stories and firelight. And hope is renewed that maybe some projects might actually get accomplished. 
      Verity is a big Steve Light fan, so this gift was a shoe in. The bag, I made from leftover pieces of linen to help her transport small, stuffed friends. Myles stitched one strap into place, so it was really a "team effort."
However, there was a bit of cajoling involved to make that last part happen. 
     Yesterday evening I watched a friend gracefully parent her son.  We were at soccer practice together and something happened on the field that caused this little boy to run over to us in tears looking for comfort. We didn't actually catch what happened, but as my friend dusted him off, it became clear that he had no intention of finishing out the practice. They went back and forth for a minute, but after realizing the banter was going nowhere, she let him run off and smooth his ruffled feathers in his own way. He played on the playground with the sisters, while she continued to read her book in the same spot, still half watching the practice. What she didn't do was pick that battle and force her child into submission like someone else I know would have done. Gulp.
    After reflecting upon that interaction, I realize that there are too few battles that I don't pick.  Many details of our home life, I am willing to fight for.  The small things are important, Gosh Darnett.  So shoot me that I take things pretty seriously. This is so true, that in quiet moments standing around, people will ask me, "Is something wrong? You look like you're really upset." And then I'll realize that my brow is furrowed thinking about some decision that is lying ahead of me, and try and snap out of it for their sake. (It's not that fun watching someone in deep mental labor.) "Oh, no. Im fine," I will say. "Just preoccupied with creating an unrealistic more perfect existence."  This shows up in my parenting, big time.  Sometimes, I will let things go, like the towel on the bathroom floor, or the lunch sack left to ripen in a backpack over the weekend. But typically I feel like I am in constant parent motion. Listening in, picking up, instructing. Blah, Blah, Blahing.
      I have experienced burn out often enough to realize that I want to try to diversify my strategies. This, letting it go thing sounds amazing. It sure looked amazing on my friend.  Talk about taking the pressure off.  
     I am in the middle of listening to this talk about play and its really making me think and consider how well  I am letting my children experience risk and encounter natural boundaries, while discovering their own inclinations for good and creative endeavors.  I hope that forcing myself to relinquish some control, will also support this aspect of their childhood, and make me a more gentle mother. It is certainly worth a try. 



Book Bag - no. 12

It took a great deal of determination to take these pictures today, and even more to be typing these words. I guess one could say that our new routines have felt a little consuming. Free time to write and record and reflect, takes a lot more initiative and planning, and its been hard to carve that space out.  But today, the rain came. And with it brought a calm that had been hard to find up until it's release.
 Contentment eludes me, more often than I wish.  Even when I am living a choice that I had freedom in making, I have the terrible habit of self doubt. I worry that I chose poorly.
Today was a relief from that. Things flowed. Myles listened. Fiona was herself, and most importantly I knew what I was making for dinner.

Some mysteries are worth getting to the bottom of. Blog formatting is not one that I have time for right now, so apologies on the awkward layout.