Friday, September 24, 2010

My Mental Health Day

This last week has been hard on me. We're coming up on a year since our car accident and I'm struggling with how much it is still a part of my life and my nightmares. I wrote a long piece reflecting all of that, but decided to only share it with my facebook friends. Honestly, I am embarrassed that I am still so affected and I didn't want to air too much of that here. But I am affected, and there was a lot of stress and panic attacks punctuated by a whole lot of tears and frustration this week. Sometimes, that wreck seems like it all just happened a month ago.

I've also been struggling with who I want to be, what I want my focus to be. Free time comes rarely with two young kids. I adore being their mama and they make my world a better place, but there are certainly those days where I feel like I need more. Like there is more I need to be striving for and accomplishing.

Tuesday night I told Daniel that I felt like I was having a breakdown. That if I didn't have some time to be myself, by myself that I felt like I was going to lose it. I hated that feeling. He said "OK" and he quickly figured out a way to make it work.

I slept in Wednesday. I took my time getting ready. I listened to David Gray loudly and drove where my car seemed to want to take me. I had no plan, but I ended up downtown and sitting in a local coffee house. I drank a soy latte and got back in the car. I ended up parking again and walking around a block and into an old antique store. I took some pictures along the way. I asked if it would be alright if I took some photos inside and was told to go right on ahead. With every image, I felt myself become lighter. My shoulders relaxed and I stopped feeling guilty for needing this time. I'm not sure how long I was in that first store, but when the time seemed right, I moved on.

Reflection

My camera was out of it's case as I walked through the next store. Something about the environment or the merchandise made me less inclined to take any photos except of this dress:

Vintage Dress

I did so quietly and went on my way. An old man running the store asked me what I was up to and I told him I was just strolling through. He wanted to know what I was photographing. I told him I'd taken a picture of a dress that I thought might work as a costume, but other than that I was about to put my camera away. He seemed skeptical.

"So you've just been taking pictures of things on the street?"
"Pretty much."
"But why?"
"To feel like I'm doing something. For art. For me. Because I keep seeing things that I think are beautiful, or interesting."

His expression made me think he thought I was crazy, but it amused me. I really was just doing all of this because it made my heart feel good to do it.

I ended up getting in my car and driving again. I drove to the local museum and walked the grounds, taking my time, playing with angles and sunlight. Aside from a few people here and there, I was alone and I liked the solitude. I sang softly to myself. I thought about this last week and the toll it had taken on me. I sat on benches and listened to the sounds of the park. I imagined the history the buildings, trains and equipment. I felt sorry for them in a way, once so full of life - now away from their original homes collecting dust and spiders. I looked at the bright side: They educated. They allowed me the venue to see them all at once and focus on them through my lens. I promised myself I'd bring Daniel and the kids back and that I'd come alone again too.

Sunshine

From there I went to the Padre and sat in their bar for a sandwich. I played with my iPhone camera and discreetly got my big camera out a few times. I hope to bring Daniel back with me sometime soon. I keep thinking it would be fun to have a stay cation there, just the two of us.

Truth be told, I've been daydreaming about taking a trip alone with Daniel somewhere. I've also been thinking I'd love to go on a weekend getaway by myself. I keep having to tell myself that there is nothing to feel guilty about wanting either of those things. I keep telling myself that taking these little breaks will make me a happier person and a better partner/mother.

What I do know, is that I was so happy to come home to Daniel and the kids Wednesday night. I felt like I had things to share. Despite all the walking around, I felt more energetic than I have in a while. We ended the day watching a movie as a family. Daniel and I took the couch while the kids shared a blanket on the floor. All I could think about was how lucky I am.

And I didn't think about our accident once, all day.

See the entire set of photos I took HERE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

So, here's the thing

Keeping up with blogging is hard work when you've got 2 kids (a PRESCHOOLER and a toddler, no less) running around. I know there are all sorts of Mommy Bloggers out there doing it and doing it well. I admire those women immensely because I have a hard time finding the time.

Hi there

You know, with all my time playing those damn games on facebook.

Ahem.

Factor in that our accident just put me in a really bad place and it's taken me a while to want to sit down and write more than a few sentences at a time in a status update. For a long time, I was more comfortable with my "audience" being people I had actually met in my life along with a few blogger friends that I just admire and adore.

But I've missed some of the connections I'd made. I missed that feeling of accomplishment when I published a post and put it out there for whomever to see. I've missed keeping up with my blog roll and reading what you guys have to say because you all inspire me and make me laugh.

So I'm planning a comeback (AGAIN. I know.) I've updated my links (apparently quite a few of my favorite blogs are no longer blogging). I've been checking in and noticing that while I've been away, a lot has happened in everyone's lives.

I'm still trying to figure out a few things. What I want my life to be. What I want to focus my attention on (besides my family). What I want my online identity to be.

I was chatting with a long time blogger friend about an hour ago and as we were saying our goodbyes, I told her I needed to "go stare at my blog and curse." That's pretty much what I was doing before I decided to write this post. Lots of staring and cursing (quietly because oh my goodness, Zoe is a word sponge/human parrot) trying to figure out what I want to do with this space. I have a domain name I purchased a while ago. I have some ideas. I have no idea how to execute... which is sort of amusing and irritating considering I've been blogging on and off for seven years.

And now, back to staring and curing and trying to encourage Zoe that she doesn't actually have to hurt her brother to play "nurse". *SIGH*

I don't know why it's hard for me to focus on my writing....

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where Did The BABY Go?

It's a little bit surreal taking your first born to her first day of preschool. Where she will be away for six hours, learning and growing with people and children who are (not yet, at least) friends or family. Watching her walk to her classroom and then through the gate and then the door, it was like I was literally watching her grow up before my eyes. For an instant, I flashed forward to the first day of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation, wedding day, the day she tells me I'll be a grandmother (EEK!). And the next thing I knew, she was telling me she'd see me later and that she loved me. "Bye bye, Mommy."

When we walked into the preschool director's office, my eyes welled up.

Zoe is not a baby anymore! She's not even a toddler. How did that happen so fast?

We've been promising Zoe preschool since we started potty training her. She's never been intimidated by the idea of leaving us and going to school. She was so determined, that potty training ended up taking much less time than we thought it would. Turns out, we weren't quite ready to follow through with our promise right away (neither financially or emotionally) and so we let some time pass.

She asked to go to school if not every day, then at least every other day. We kept telling her "Soon. Soon you'll go!" and every time she would do what I've begun to call the Flashdance dance and squeal with excitement. "I can't wait to go to preschool!"

A new preschool just opened up less than five minutes from our house, and I took it as a sign that it was finally time (because, you know, her asking every other day wasn't enough of a SIGN) and we went to check it out. Last Friday I picked up the registration paperwork. Last weekend we found her a special "Big Girl Starting School" outfit. She picked out a backpack and a lunchbox. Yesterday was her first day.

It felt like I would never fall asleep Monday night. I had 1st day of school jitters. I dragged myself out of bed at 6am. I was nauseated just thinking about her going to school even if I did know she was going to love it, it was going to be great for her, yada yada yada. I might have teared up a little, but I pushed it aside so Daniel and I could make her lunch together. I included a little note.

Lunch

And then we woke her up, got her dressed and brought her out to eat her breakfast. She was all giggles and squirms and exclamations.

Someone is a little bit excited to start preschool!

We took two cars. I drove the kids in the van and Daniel took the truck so he could leave straight from there for work. We loaded Finn in his stroller and snapped a few pictures.

Ready and excited

Me and my big girl

Finn definitely knew something big was happening and he was excited for his big sister.

Finn's excited too

I snapped a bunch of pictures of her walking.

My creation: WALKING

Of Daniel opening the gate.

Education: HERE

And of her in her classroom

She got right in there.

Finn was upset at first that we were leaving her behind, but he got over that soon enough and enjoyed his day. I think he loved the one on one attention he got with Cheryl and then me. Yesterday alone, he said 3 new sentences clearly and his vocabulary has grown just in the last 24 hours (Amazing, I tell you!)

When I went to pick up Zoe at 1, she did not notice me for almost 5 minutes because she was so engaged. When she did see me, she jumped up and gave me a hug and refused to leave. She was proud to show me her art she'd made, she couldn't wait to come back Thursday. She was quick to tell me someone had pushed her in the tummy and she had to tell them "Please don't push my tummy. That makes me sad." and that her favorite part was "the babies". I drove her over to Cheryl's to trade kids and I'm told she slept the entire 3 hours she was there - and then she was in bed at eight.

I think preschool is going to be good for all of us. I'm so proud of my girl.

POSE!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Beautiful Girl

This morning (once I realized Zoe was being more quiet than usual) I found my daughter in my bathroom. One of my lipsticks was in her left hand, fully extended and ready to apply all over her face, no doubt. The rest of my makeup lay scattered on the floor haphazardly. Pieces of my jewelry were strewn about her person: bracelets on her arms, multiple necklaces draped over her neck and a few over her princess crown and kitty ears that she’d decided on wearing earlier. In her right hand was a large clump of more jewelry... I’m not sure exactly what she had planned for it. She looked like she was either a pirate, a burglar, or perhaps an over accessorized beauty queen. When our eyes met, there was a moment of hesitation before we acted. I simultaneously wanted to grab my camera and scold her for the mess. She wanted to run with her loot while explaining why she had to have all this stuff. Zoe was faster than me.

As she raced passed me and through the door into my bedroom, she yelled out “I just wanted to be beautiful, my mommy!”

And that was where I was frozen in my tracks. This was the second time in as many days that she had said this to either me or Daniel. I answered the same way Daniel had yesterday:

“You were beautiful the day you were born.” and then I added “I know that you’re having fun playing with mama’s stuff, but do you know that you do not need the make up and jewelry to be beautiful?”

She stared at me and then quickly gripped the jewelry to her chest.

“No. I NEED it. I need it to be beautiful.”

“You are beautiful! And you are smart and funny and talented. And you know what else?”

“Nooooo.”

“You have such a kind heart and make people so happy, THAT is what makes you beautiful. You shine from the inside out.”

“Like the sun?”

“Yes. Almost exactly like that.”

She smiled at me and looked down before looking back up to tell me that I was beautiful too, but could she please just wear my jewelry now? And also... she needed her sunglasses right away “because the sun is bright!”

Beautiful Girl

As we picked up my things off the floor and put the jewelry away, I wondered to myself what more I could be doing. Should I not put makeup on around her? Have I made her think that I only feel beautiful with makeup and jewelry? Maybe I’m just over thinking all of this.

I realize that when she was going through my stuff she was not specifically thinking she needed it all to “be beautiful”. I know that what she wanted was to play with my stuff and be like her mommy and that when she was caught red handed she was searching for a “because” that would excuse the mess she’d created. I know that she might be learning that the beautiful button gets a reaction from Daniel and I. We just want so much for her to know that there are more important things, and that her beauty is all encompassing.

I want to spare her all the insecurities I ever felt/feel about my own appearance.