Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Walking Tired


I think one of the things that bums me out the most about parenting is the being exhausted so much of the time.  There are several times everyday where I just feel tired.  Tired.  Worn-out, beat-down, heel-dragging tired.  It's the kind of tired where I just feel like crying, because it feels like I will never again not be tired, that I'm doomed to a life of tiredness.

This is all made worse by the fact that I don't have much space to be tired in.  I have to be at work or to be with my girls or to be doing things, because we just have hardly any room at the edges in this life.  It's something I'd like to change, but for now, we are pushing ourselves, and hard.

Which explains the wicked caffeine addiction I've developed in the last year or so.  I should qualify:  I have two big cups of coffee a day, and occasionally a third.  Which maybe doesn't sound like much, but I'm fully latched on to the coffee teat.  If I have less than my two cups, I'm in for a wicked headache.  And it's starting not to work so well.  My fatigue sessions are increasing in intensity and frequency.  My tolerance for the stuff is growing.

I'm drinking plenty of water, eat well (you wouldn't believe the leafy greens, people!  My God, do I eat leafy greens).  I have a beer or a glass of wine four or five nights a week, but I'm not a lush by any means.  I exercise pretty regularly.  And, while the girls haven't been sleeping that well lately, I'm usually in bed, at least, for seven or eight hours a night.

So, I'm thinking the culprit might be the white sugar.  Sweet, sweet sugar.  I have had a wicked sweet tooth for as along as I can remember, and now it's beginning to catch up with me.  The ten-pound weight-gains that seemingly come out of nowhere, the exhausting sugar lows, the trembling when I don't have dessert after every meal.  Yep, that might be part of the problem.

Or, it's the combination of everything--the less-than-quality sleep, the shrinking margins for relaxation in our life, the sugar and caffeine.  It may also be that I'm getting older and my body just doesn't have as much energy as it did.  I don't know.  All I know is that I hate being tired, and will probably need to change something soon.

On a related note, here's the update with the kids' sleeping situations:  Addie is now putting herself to sleep.  Eric (genius!) convinced her to "practice" going to sleep by herself while I was in D.C.  Now she's a pro.  I gave in with Nolie, on the other hand, and just started putting her down with a bottle again.  We'll have to try again with her later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tipping Points


Nolie is fully bipedal now, toddling around the house in giant fits and starts, lurching and falling, but definitely walking.  She loves to pull Addie's hair, and poke her vicious little nails into our belly buttons, and she still loves her Gigi and her babysitter.  She gives kisses and hugs and is full of love. 

Addie is currently obsessed with the police.  We're not sure why this is, but she's always asking what exactly we have to do to get the police to come.  "Mommy, how hard would you have to hit that other car for the police to come?"  "How much would I have to cry before the police cars came?"  That sort of thing.  She's bright and tempestuous, funny and loving, and full of strange and wonderful ideas.

The thing is, they are both total nightmares to put to bed at the moment.  Nolie requires mega-rocking and bouncing up and down, and is very good at fooling me into thinking she's asleep on her shoulder.  She'll even let me put her down in the crib, and then will start screaming just a few minutes later, wanting the whole process repeated.  I'm sensing we might be in for a few cry-it-out sessions some time soon, but her will power is so much stronger than ours, that I'm sure they're going to be really long sessions, and I'm dreading them.

Addie now requires that I lay down in bed with her until she's asleep.  I love this, actually--it's the only time of day that this very spirited child is calm, and I love watching her drift off.  After bath and books and going-to-sleep time, though, this ends up being a pretty long process.  Then there's the nights when she wakes up at 3:30 or 4:30 needing to pee or afraid of the "hic-boom-oh" sound in her room (damn you, Dora the Explorer!) and I end up sleeping in her bed, scrunched up and sore, and feeling really tired in the morning.  And she's not overly hip on Eric putting her down, so I'm most often the one who does it.

These are on the good nights.

I'm not trying to get out of parenting.  I love putting my girls to bed, treasure the moments of holding them and speaking quiet thoughts.  I know that too soon they won't want me to rock them, or curl up in their beds, stroking their hair and sharing the day's highs and lows.  But I also know part of my job as parent is to make sure they keep trying things out on their own.  They have to find their ways to independence, and I must help them do it.  Just like Nolie tries out her new steps, she'll need to try out going to sleep on her own.  Addie, too.

Usually, you figure out when these things need to happen pretty quick--things get overly-miserable or overly-laborious, and you know something has to change.  But knowing this doesn't make these transitions any easier.  We're reaching the tipping point now, and will have to make a move soon.  It might be a rough few nights when we do.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fear and Trepidation



Eric has reworked his schedule so that he can pick up the girls from daycare now, which makes me less of a harried wench when I get home, and means I don't have to try to work at, say, midnight or 4:30 in the morning.  It does mean he has to give up his every-other-Friday off perq, though, which I feel guilty about.  Luckily, my guilt is outweighed by my relief to have enough time to work.  Which is only outweighed by my guilt at not being with my girls more.

Well, if you haven't noticed, I've just been filled to the brim with self-doubt and anxiety lately.  Eric asks how my day was, and I respond, "Filled with fear and trepidation."  I was up late last night wondering if I would always regret working so much while my children were young, our lives speeding by like a blur.  I'm afraid at any moment I'll be exposed as a sham.  I wonder why I brought all this on myself.

Addie wet her bed three times last week, and both girls have nasty colds.  Eric's brithday was a very low-key affair (read, I didn't have the energy to do anymore than throw some Betty Crocker in the oven and sign a card).  I'm having trouble concentrating because I'm thinking about whether or not I can do this pretty much all the time.  In short, I'm feeling like a lame-o on all fronts.

But there's a part of me that realizes this is part of the process, this learning-curve-growth-spurt-confidence-dump.  I wanted the challenge, asked for it, and knew it wouldn't be easy.  And so here we go.

I didn't expect to be so scared, though, and I can't quite figure out why I am.  So I'm praying on it, and am going to work some meditation into things, and keep running, and keep trying.  I figure my writing will even out, and I'll stop being so worried about what everyone thinks, and it will get done, and I'll find the joy in it.  I just haven't hit my stride yet.

On the drive home, I passed these bicyclists, guys on their road bikes with the spandex shorts and the team jerseys, their helmets and glasses sleek, their calves pumping up and down, up and down, and I had this extraordinary moment of envy for their moment.  They were riding those bikes with just the gear they needed, on a path they knew, and their bodies suggested a knowingness of movement, a surety of stride.  I wanted to have the confidence of tools that would not fail, a sure road to take, the knowledge of how to move.

But, here I am with my training wheels and streamers for now, tooting my horn here and there.  I suppose if I keep being scared I'm going to fall off, I won't get where I need to go.  That concrete just seems so hard.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Little Survey


Here's an excerpt from my friend Nancy's blog:  she's riffing on those personality surveys everyone always sends out (and that I always end up replying to, because I love an opportunity to talk about myself, of course).

In case anyone's wondering, here's why I don't usually respond to those surveys: THEY'RE SO MIND-NUMBINGLY DULL. I don't CARE whether you wear short socks or long socks, whether you drink soy milk or milk hot out of the cow's udder, whether you prefer bacon or sausage. I don't particulary want to know the name of the person who gave you your first kiss, although that's a little more interesting. If I'm going to get an emailed survey that I'm willing to circulate among my friends and colleagues, let me tell you, I want something JUICY. I want something REAL. I want you to TELL ME SOMETHING. 

So here are the questions she asks, and my juicy, real, tell-me-something answers.


1.  What the F are you doing answering this survey when you have so much other crap to do? Just exactly how bored are you right now? Does that tell you something?

I'm procrastinating going in and doing my core strengthening exercises.  They make my butt hurt, and although I feel stronger, I still have a saggy arse.  Plus, I was feeling the need to catch up with my pals' blogs.

2.  When was the last time you bawled your eyes out and why?

Hmmm.  Probably had something to do with my last period, although I haven't had a really good, satisfying, heaving sob in a long time, maybe because I've been exercising instead.  I wouldn't mind one.  I did tear up in unchurch today, because Dr. Roger always says things like, "Don't you know you are perfect?  Don't you know that healing only ever means revealing that perfection?"  And I feel like I've come home, and then cry.

3.  What parts of you feel really broken and what do you want to do about it?

Well, there's the interesing before-Eric/after-Eric life split, wherein I feel like I've had two separate lives.  Before-Eric is tainted with shame and regret, for some reason, even though that's only part of that story.  I would like to heal that.  I'm not sure what to do about it yet.  Some prayer, probably.  Some visioning.  But I haven't put the energy toward it yet.

4.  What parts of you do you treasure the most and why?

I feel so grateful for my life so much of the time.  I feel very present for most of it, and I think I'm committed toward constantly finding ways to appreciate and enjoy my life and my loved ones. 

My loved ones, my babies.

My friends.

My drive (and I ain't talking about the Hyundai).

5.  Describe the single most mind-blowing sexual experience you've ever had. You don't have to name names.

Can't.  Mom reads the blog.

6.  If you had to pick two celebrities to be your parents, who would you pick and why?

I don't know why, but this question kind of grosses me out.

7.  Say you had the means to keep a wild animal as a pet. What kind of beast would you choose?

Definitely a polar bear.  Cause they ain't got no ice left.

8.  What's the closest you've ever gotten to sensing the existence of a higher power?

Maybe this morning, when Fran, earth mama at unchurch, channeled this awesomely intense, spot-on prayer for me.  I had goosebumps for miles.

9.  If you were in a coma but could hear everything around you, what would you want your loved ones to do?

Laugh and joke about my long monkey arms?  Decide who gets my wicked collection of Banana Republic sweaters?  I don't know!  Talk about how wonderful I am, of course!

10.  What's the biggest "mistake" you've ever made?

I don't think there are any really big ones, like ones that I really regret.  Mostly I regret the small instances, the saying hurtful things to people I loved, or forgetting someone's birthday, or the misunderstandings.  But ask me in six years when I come up for tenure.

11.  If you could switch careers right now and do anything else you wanted to do, what would it be?

I totally had the thought this morning that I would go to ministerial school.  Maybe that's just cause unchurch rocked so hard today, though.

12.  What bugs you the most about kids?

Nothing about mine, really.  Only that they make you want to be better than you are all the time, and that's exhausting.  Other people's kids?  Eh.  Take em or leave em.


13.  What are you addicted to and why?

Processed sugar, for sure, because it feels like sweet, sweet love.

Fear.  I'm trying to figure out why.

14.  Who are your top three heroes?

There are so many people I admire.  But, three types:  anyone who is brave enough to show others their weaknesses as well as their strengths, to be vulnerable with others.  Anyone who as lived through the death of a child and has gone on to survive.  Anyone who doesn't do what he or she is "supposed" to do, but listens to the call and follows it. 

15.  If you could be a singer giving a concert for one night, who would it be?

Ooh, I fantasize about this all the time.  I'd want to look like Cheryl Crow, rock like Bonnie Raitt, and channel Dave Matthews.

16.  Would you rather vomit or have diarrhea?

Diarrhea.  Totally. 

17.  What kind of 9 year-old were you?

Very insecure.  I have a memory of wearing a lot of turquoise turtlenecks and obsessively curling my hair (when it was permed beyond recognition).  I like being smart.  I always wanted to be someone else.  Lonely, maybe.  Sassy, too.

18.  What do you fake? (In what area of your life do you feel like a faker?)

I am always worried about being "found out" at work.  I was talking to a colleague about this the other day, and she feels the same.  I think it might be inherent in the profession.

19.  Which character do you most relate to: Yoda, E.T., Jabba the Hut, Chewbaca, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Snuffleufagus, R2D2, or the Little Mermaid?

No offense, Nuje, but this is the only lame questionon your list. 

Chewbaca  :).

20.  How do you feel about being alone, with no noise or distractions, for more than four hours?

Are you serious?  It's my idea of nirvana.  NIRVANA, I tell you.  Does this actually happen to people?

21.  What singe limb would you most hate to lose and why?

Right hand.  I do everything with it.  Everything.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fast Train to Idiot-Town

Ah, well.  I don't do much weighing in here at the 'spit on cultural stuff, feeling like any judgments I could hand down about who's doing what would only contribute the zeitgeist of bullshit surrounding motherhood in this country.  But I will say these two things.

First, do not read these books if you tend to engage in middle-of-the-night fretting about natural and manmade disasters and how they will wreck your nearly perfect life:

The Road

Spilling Clarence

White Noise

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Anything on the evening news.

Let's just say I was up until ungodly hours last night wondering if Eric had enough plywood stored up in the garage to board up the sliding glass doors in case of nuclear attack.

And then, there's this:


Britney Spears at the VMAs.  Which I didn't even see.  But Eric came home and said the internet was all abuzz about how fat (!) she looked and how she stopped lip-syncing and stuff.  And I'm thinking to myself, I can't even send off an email attachment properly, much less dance around in front of a bunch of people with cameras in a bikini and remember the words to a song.  The girl's obviously gone off some sort of deep end, but I'm swimming around in my own, so give her a break for chrissakes.  I hate it.

Also, I'm swimming around in my own confusion and crisis of self-confidence.  Who told me I should be on the tenure track?  What was I thinking?  I'm trying to remind myself that I wanted this challenge, practically begged for it.  And now that I'm in it, I'm scared witless.  How ironic would it be if I, oh teacher of writing, couldn't actually write?  All signs seem to be pointing to idiot-town, but I'm trying not to pay attention.  Trying to remember I have some sort of value or worth or meaning in the world even as I flail about like some flat white fish out of water, beating itself to death on the dock.

Ugh.  Don't listen to me.  I've had too much wine, and I don't plan on cleaning up a damned thing tonight, or on reading one single page of anything.  So there.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hamster Wheel Update

So, I'm three weeks into the conspicuously-not-consuming thing, and here's how it's going.

1)  I've been working.  A lot.  Typically, when this happens, I tend to go shopping because I get stressed out or excited and need to mentally vacate for a while, which is what going to the mall does for me.  I'm convinced that it literally puts me into a different state, like a drug would.  But I've been working so much, and steadily, and on things I really care about, that I haven't had the time to do the shopping.

I have had one or two urges to go and check out.  But I realized immediately that's what they were, and was able to take other action, because I had agreed not to spend.

2)  I've been working out.  A lot.  I might now, officially, call myself a runner.  Just three or four miles every other day or so, with maybe a longer run on the weekends.  And some yoga or volleyball here and there, and also some conditioning exercises every night for my core.  This has had multiple benefits:  stress relief, of course, so I haven't needed the mindless shopping experience.  But also my body is in a little better shape, and so my weight isn't yo-yo-ing as much.  I've only realized this recently, but my weight has always varied by ten pounds or so, depending on how I take care of myself.  When I get a little heavy, I feely shitty and get rid of a lot of clothes and buy bigger ones.  Then, when I lose the weight, I get rid of the big clothes and get smaller ones.  Somehow I never caught on.  I just figured the clothes were getting baggy, then shrunk in the wash.  Amazing the things I told myself.  You can imagine how expensive this got.  Maintaining an even weight through exercise has really eliminated this need.

3) Taking spending off the table was a huge relief.  I had no idea how much energy I was putting into figuring out what to purchase.  Should I stop at that garage sale or not?  What should be on the shopping list?  Can I afford a trip to the BR outlet?  I'd better go to Target and get some new underwear, and what else should I buy while I'm there?  And so on.  But just deciding not to buy anything for thirty days made these extra trips and mental expenditures unnecessary.  And it is AMAZING how much stuff you really don't need. 

For example?  Our teapot was getting really gross (you know, because it sits on the stove).  Also, I think we burned the water out of it a few times, so our tea was starting to taste metallic.  Blech. 

I put "teapot" on the shopping list, then remembered I wasn't buying anything this month, and agonized for a few minutes.  But we need a teapot, I was thinking.  Then I realized, hey!  We don't need a teapot.  Fact is, we're not huge tea drinkers.  And we buy a new one every six months because the old one gets so foul.  And it's just as easy to heat up a pot of water as to use a teapot.  And having a teapot is just more crap in the kitchen that we don't need. 

I crossed it off the list.  Problem solved.  "Need" eliminated.

4)  All this had made a huge difference to our bottom line.  We did finances a couple of days ago, and I can't believe how much money we've saved.  This was an amazing revelation for me, I suppose because I really believed everything I had been buying up until now met a need, and that therefore we were destined to always be somewhat paycheck-to-paycheck.  So not true.  I am a believer.

5)  I was a little worried that this experiment would be unbearably hard, and that I'd get to the end of the four weeks and go on a giant spree.  Whether that happens remains to be seen, but I don't think it will.  This has been something of a conversion experience for me.  It's hard to imagine going back.  But I'm also aware of how powerful the drive to consume is, so I'm not going to underestimate it, either.

In many ways, I realize what an artificial exercise this has been.  Not buying anything--in effect, talking myself out of "needs"--has made me realize how much we actually have.  There has not been one moment of real need or want this month.  If we needed groceries, we bought them.  Eric needed some jeans for work that didn't have holes in them; he bought them (he hadn't agreed to follow my spending moratorium, after all).  Everyone was well-fed and clothed, and had lots to keep them busy.  And, for a number of reasons including this experiment, I've felt really happy, fulfilled. 

I don't miss the treadmill.

That said, I did slip up.  Once.  I was at Costco buying groceries and bought some make-up that I didn't really need.  Fifteen bucks.  I got home and immediately felt dumb about it--after getting out of the big store with all the big, cheap things, and getting back into the comfort of my home, I realized what I had done.  And I feel like I learned from doing that, from messing up.  We needed groceries today, and I was near Target.  I went in there, with its bright lights and beautiful displays, like an alcoholic in a liquor store, and came out not having bought one thing for myself, mostly because I remembered how I felt after leaving Costco.  Mostly remembering that my values were not represented by those racks of clothes and scented candles.

It's not that I'll never go shopping again, or that I've given up buying myself things.  But I was definitely caught in a consumerist spell for a long time, and getting on the wagon has revealed that to me in ways I don't think I would have seen otherwise.  It's been hugely helpful.

One week to go.  And a lifetime.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Killing My Life


Addie and Nolie and I were playing "dollies" in Addie's room yesterday.  Addie wrested a dolly from Nolie's clutches and screeched at me:  "Mommy!  Nolie is ruining my LIFE!"

There are many levels of strangeness for me, in this little vignette.  First, it's weird for me to play dollies.  I don't think I was really a dolly kid (Mom, can you correct me?).  I do remember doing a lot of soulful crooning along with my Whitney Houston and Kenny Loggins records, and I remember obsessively brushing the hair on a My Little Pony doll, but mostly dolls bored me.  I was a kid who liked decorating her room, putting everything in just-so order and then sitting back and appreciating the peace that order brought.  That was the extent of my playing with dolls, after a certain age.  I preferred to dress them and put them in rows and then looked at them.  After ordering them in this way, "playing" with them would have just messed them up.

Doesn't so much about me make sense now?  How difficult it is to have kids who actually play with their toys, who want to throw them around and stomp on them, take them apart and drool on them?  It's so counter to my every last instinct.  That said, I'm sure there was a time when I did these things to toys.  I just don't remember.  Or maybe I didn't.  My mom passed on a lot of my old toys to us when we had kids, meaning they were preserved in pretty good condition for over thirty years.  Addie and Nolie's toys, by contrast, are pretty well trashed already.  Hmmm.

The other level of weirdness is the whole sibling dynamic.  Eric and I planned to have the girls pretty close together in age, and luckily the plan worked.  So Addie and Nolie are not too far apart in age, and will ostensibly be sharing clothes, toys, and playtime.  Nolie is just getting old enough now that Addie wants to play with her, and they can sit in the same play space for fairly sustained periods of time, co-existing peacefully.  That is, until Nolie crams her finger into Addie's belly button, or Addie grabs a fistful of Nolie's belly and squinchy-squinches it in retaliation.

But I'm confused about how siblings are supposed to interact.  I grew up with one brother who was four years younger than I, and to be frank, I was a total ass to him.  I took out all sorts of pre-adolescent rage on him, pounding on him as hard as I could, blaming him for things I did, or generally ignoring him.  I'm ashamed that I was such a terrible sister.  So it's probably no surprise that we weren't close for a long time, only recently coming back into each other's lives in lovely, gratifying ways. 

Friends and neighbors had different relationships with their brothers and sisters, so I have an inkling that not all sibling relationships were like mine.  I know some sisters and brothers are very close, almost best friends; others hate each other seemingly from the get, and grow into adulthood never speaking to one another, except maybe to utter "You're dead to me" at awkward Thanksgiving gatherings.  Others are merely curiosities to each other, wondering at the genetic chance that somehow landed them in the same family.  Others are more like mine, a fragile detente dependent on careful respect, love, and a healthy amount of geographical distance.

In other words, I look at Addie and Nolie as they crack each other up, or cover each other in slobbery kisses, or scream at each other in despair and anger, and have no good guess as to what's coming.

Finally, of course, is the weirdness of Addie feeling like Nolie is "killing her life."  I had to stifle powerful laughter at that one.  It occurs to me that I'm getting to know Addie better every day, as she figures out how she feels about things, and ways to express those feelings in ways that are uniquely her own.  Nolie I love passionately, joyfully, but I still am not sure who she is, apart from this hilarious, yummy little baby.  Part of this is probably that it's difficult for me to know someone except verbally--it's the fundamental way I make connections with others. 

But there is part of me that also really connected with Addie's meaning.  Addie had plans for her dollies, ideas for how things should be, and Nolie came along and messed them up.  Addie did feel this was "killing her life," and a teensy-tinsy part of me understood.  Whenever things go out of order for me, or don't go as planned, there is some small child in me who feels the world has come off its axis, the great ship unmoored.  I try to not let this be the predominant impulse in my life anymore, but it's still there, in tiny twinges now and then.  So I get what Addie is saying, but have to also laugh at how much like a three-year-old I still am.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bleeding All Over


In case I haven't made it clear yet, let me say this:  being a working parent is tough.  Being just a parent is tough, no doubt about it.  And I know I don't have the fortitude to be a stay-at-home parent.  Being a working parent, though, has its own set of challenges.  Including losing your mind every eight hours as you're forced to re-adjust to the many different realities you're supposedly living in.

There are the little things that are trying, and that I've written about here, for example, the extraordinary amount of schlepping that must go on.  You schlep your stuff, you schlep your kids, you schlep your kids' stuff.  You're Hansel and Gretel, and you find your way home by following the trail of stuff you've left behind every day.  I think this is partly where my recently impulses to simplify have come from.  I don't want to become a prisoner to the stuff.  But even functioning at a minimum in this society, when you have kids, implies a staggering amount of stuff.

The little things are easily addressed, for the most part.  We are huge on routine, and that helps a lot.  We need the kids to go to bed and wake up at certain times.  We feed them certain things, and give them baths at certain hours, and for the most part keep our social engagements at a minimum so that we can be, well, free when we have free-time.  We use our free time to be spontaneous.  The rest of the time, which is most of the time, we rely on routine so that nobody blows a gasket.  There are just too many balls up in the air to not do some planning.

That said, the big things for me are about letting go of the plan when I have to.  The big things for me are about figuring out how to transition between work and home.  The big things for me are about paying attention and being present as much as possible, and letting go of ridiculous expectations.

Nolie's going through some changes at the moment, changes that have required I let go of the plan and my expectations, and that I transition into home life by paying better attention.  She's off of formula now and is drinking milk, we're not letting her have milk in the crib, and we're weaning her from the bottle.  She's much more interested in walking now, and is doing more focused play (she loves to slam her dollies into their "crib" and "highchair" as she loves on them with big, open-mouth, drooly kisses).  She is in daycare 35-40 hours a week.  She's overcoming some of her stranger anxiety.  She openly expresses her affection for us with hugs and kisses and cuddles.  These sound like tiny things, but taken together, they represent a shift in who Nolie is, and entering into a different state of being and being with.  I'm delighted by all of it, and certainly wouldn't want any "plan" to get in the way of these developments (as if it could).

A lot of this I'm really in tune with.  Nolie and I have a strong connection, and I've been doing better just hanging out with the girls when I'm home.  But some of this I hadn't noticed.  It took her daycare provider (who I swear is some sort of angel) to gently prod me:  When do you think you'll start introducing milk? she asked.  Do you think she still needs to be on baby food?  "Duh," I slap my head.  "You're totally right.  We'll start on the real food." 

I think six months ago, this would have made me feel like a failure, like I was a loser as a mom for not knowing the timeline.  I would have worried that I was ignoring Nolie.  But now I think I just welcome the help, and am glad to have others I trust involved in Nolie's growing up. 

Even as I write this I worry that it sounds as if I've abandoned my baby to the arms of a babysitter.  Those guilt-inducing voices are powerful, and I've internalized them well.  And we all know I'm prone to comparing myself to others--moms who have chosen to stay home and whose voices I hear in my head all day long, berating me for selfishly working.  Love those internal dialogues--so abusive.

I know this isn't the truth, though.  Nolie and Addie are amazing people and their lives are filled with people who love them.  They know their Dad and I love them more than anything.  We love to teach them and learn from them and be with them, especially now that the pesky newborn days are behind us and we are all getting to know each other better as conscious beings with flowering personalities.  I like that they see me go to work, and get excited about work.  I think its good they see Eric and I read and play games and talk animatedly about our days.  I like the time in the hammock, reading books to them.  I like playing dollies.

I just wish I was better at switching gears, at moving from the internalized world of books and research to the externalized world of being mom.  I fail at it a lot.  I try to read while I'm watching the kids, and get annoyed when I can't do both.  I take care of personal stuff when I'm at work.  Try as hard as I can, I can't always keep the worlds separate, even though I know everybody feels better when I do.  It's bleeding, is what it is, the bleeding of time and space and identity. 

There's got to be a better way to think about this.