Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whatever else

Whatever else I did today—
whether or not I met my deadline
whether I did all the laundry or left some in the dryer and the basket,
whether I served healthy meals and good snacks or drank too much coffee and ate too much sugar
whether I got Kathleen to pick up toys and go on the potty without a tantrum
whether I got us outside on this balmy, melty, sunshiny day—
whatever else got done or undone,
this morning I sat at breakfast and played peek-a-boo with Elizabeth.
We took turns doing the peeking. We peeked from behind hands and napkins.
She said "Picka buh." She laughed. Whatever else today, there is that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My View, Year 4

It has become a January tradition for me to sit in this chair that I got to rock my babies in and reflect on what I see and what has changed and where I am.

The view this year is much like last year. The swing is gone, replaced by the kitchen set, but toys still fill the shelves and block the fireplace. Kathleen's babies—Lulu, Baby, Maisie, and Jack (where's Bessie?) are jumbled on top of the stuffed animals along with "Sister's baby" Maxie, who Kathleen informed me is Lulu's brother. The stuffed animals are piled in a huge basket, made by our neighbor and given to us at our neighborhood party two days before Henry was born.

The milkcrates and CD stand still overflow with board books and picture books. One of our actual bookcases, however, is half empty, the books moved to save them from Elizabeth, who has a knack for destroying them.

CDs are piled above the TV all around Henry's picture, where I've stuck them after our pre-bedtime dance parties.

Up until last week, the Christmas tree lighted the corner by the stairs, the first time since 2006 a Christmas tree graced our home. Now, the Christmas ornaments are down, with some snowflakes and snowmen and cardinals (I categorize them all as winter) remain.

From here, I can see that much of the house is a mess, though I don't know if it is more so than years past. I think I just feel more overwhelmed with stuff. Toys, diaper bags, outgrown clothes litter the table and pile by the stairs. I don't worry really about the house being clean. I don't bother to apologize for my messy house. But sometimes, the clutter gets to me. Every time I make headway, we get an influx of clothes or laundry piles up waiting to be put away or I don't have time to finish sorting and everything gets jumbled again. Sigh.

It's messy and lived in and filled with things we love (and things we don't have the time or energy to get rid of (see above). Sitting now, remembering the many steps Elizabeth took today, it's hard to recall just how tiny she was this time last year, how many hours I logged nursing and reading and cuddling in this chair. Thinking of the songs Kathleen makes up, its hard to remember what it felt like sitting with her three years ago, making up songs for her. Looking around this room full of family and life and love and stuff, it's hard to remember the barren walls and just how shocked and adrift I was four years ago. I look again at his pictures and still wonder how this can be my life, how he can be gone. And I look around the room again and wonder how that fits somehow with all that is here, because it does. His being gone is somehow part of this life that we have settled into.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Five little things

I love that Kathleen calls clementines, lemontines, and the image of a squishy, easy to peel, tart, yellow fruit it creates for me.

Kathleen tried skating today for the first time. She got out on the ice on her double-bladed skates, holding tight to our friend's hands and then mine. She moved on to a milk crate and then, center ice (on the tiny, wonderful homemade backyard rink), she let go and half stepped, half slid one foot forward. Again. Again. Again. Til she reached me at the side, complaining that her hands were cold.

We went out skating today (I tried too though it has probably been 20 years—or more—since I last wore skates). We went out skating today despite my careful watching of the thermometer (It was 20 degrees out today, but sunny and still. Compared to yesterday with it's biting wind it felt almost warm.). We went out skating today despite the work deadline waiting on my desk. I'm glad we went skating today (and glad too to have moved that bigger than it seemed project off my desk).

Last week, while I was working, Brian and Kathleen made me five-layer squares, one of my favorite treats, certainly my favorite that Brian makes. He makes them particularly good by not skimping on any ingredients and being exceedingly precise in spreading the ingredients. I still have a few left and I look forward to my afternoon coffee every day because I get to have one.

We made chili over the weekend. I say we, but Brian did most of the work while I learned about making cheese and traded a few jars of dilly beans and jam for chutney and honey and elderberry elixir. Fourteen quarts of chili means a bunch of meals in the freezer—and chili pizza this week. As Kathleen would say—Hooray! That's another thing I love, how much she has been saying Hooray! lately.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good intentions

I wrote last night in my journal (pen on paper!) about my goals and intentions for this year. I wrote about what I'd like to continue (letting go, seeing the good, opening to joy) and what I'd like to let go of (anger, frustration, anxiety).

At 4:30 AM, Kathleen fell out of bed (her bed rail, that I knew was loose when she went to bed, collapsed). We had the first meltdown of the day. My suggestion that she sleep on her brand-new Christmas present sleeping bag led to a screaming, kicking fit. Sleeping with me got the same response.

I finally got her settled in my bed. And I was wide awake. I was exhausted, knew I had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it. I was angry with Brian for accepting a last minute overnight shift. I was irritated with Kathleen for waking up. I was frustrated that I couldn't get back to sleep. She couldn't either, so I pointed out the stars out the skylight. We snuggled, and when she asked at 5:30 to get up, I thought why not.

I made coffee and toast, and we had a picnic on the kitchen floor.

It was not the day I expected or wanted or planned for. It was long and sometimes hard. I ended with a lot of anxiety about getting all my work done and feeling a little incompetent though I suspect I'm not the first one to question the process on my new assignment and I know I'm not to blame for the schedule cram I'm in.

I'm going to take 15 minutes to breathe and maybe read and be away from my work and my desk and my computer. I'm going to try to let this day go, but maybe I'll hold onto the stars and the snuggle and the picnic.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Old Year, New Year

Last night I read through all of my posts from last year, because I love doing a kind of year in review. If I had time, I’d read through my journal from last year too, but we were up too late last night for New Year’s Eve and I was up too early in the morning for Elizabeth. I’d do it today, but my four-day vacation is over and work is piled up, and I’m still unpacking from being away.

My family celebrates Christmas just before New Year’s, so I spent this transition night with them. I rang out the old year laughing with people I love. Laughing and loving is not a bad way to welcome the new year. I’ve missed a lot of these family gatherings the past few years, and I am glad I was there, but I think my ideal New Year’s Eve would be spent at home, eating good food, enjoying a fire, and reading and thinking about where I’ve been and where I’m going.

2011 was about embracing the fullness, holding the joy and the sorrow together. It was about watching that first year of astoundingly rapid growth from Elizabeth and the leaps and bounds of Kathleen. 2011 was about starting to come back to life by making time for things I love and, in some cases, simply remembering some parts of the old me that I had forgotten (or in the case of Brian and I remembering what it was like to be us). 

I don’t make resolutions, but I like to take stock at years end and again mid-year at my birthday. I like to figure out what is working in my life and what isn’t, what I want to keep and what I want to change.

In 2012 want to continue the opening I did in 2011, the rediscovery of me. I want let go of anger and frustration and laugh more. I want to notice what I am doing, not what I can’t quite figure out how to do. I want to keep working at that priorities thing that I smugly like to think I have in good order, until I can’t figure out how to get it all done, and as part of that I want to keep work at the letting go that December afforded me this year. 

What are your resolutions/goals/hopes for 2012?