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Moods of Motherhood: Nutcracking Glitter Fests Make Me Hyperventilate

Santa arrives in Great Barrington, MA

Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing ). Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.

Moods of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the moods of my motherhood at this time of year is impatience

verging at times on hyperventilating dread.

I find the commercial pressure, exacerbated by online highlights of people’s Nutcracking glitter fests, dispenses a toxic tonic of comparison. It is hard to just want to do something fun without immediately comparing it to something else, like the neighbors decorations or who did what with whom when.

What if we aimed to out do each other in humbleness this season?
What if we aimed to have fun without having to out-wrap, out-shop, out-devout, out-overdo each other until we are each raw nubbins of unpalatable marzipan?

 

When my daughter, who is a teen and not willing to be represented by a current photograph, was about nine, I thought is was a great idea to go in to New York City to the American Girl Doll store just after the holidays. Her birthday is in mid-November and often squashed by other large-scale events, so this trip worked to celebrate her with something extra special. I shall not fail to mention that I was on a bender with a sinus infection and horrible cough that had brewed all Advent and bloomed at Solstice and ran rampant through Christmas. Just a little holiday bug. This tiny little adventure where I pictured us strolling Fifth Avenue looking at the windows, shopping briefly for a few small items at the American Girl doll store, then wandering downtown for biscotti and tea sounded so very do-able.

Do-able perhaps by a marathon mom who has her gift shopping done in July. Manageable by the sort of person who has name tags printed on ribbon to sew in to the back of t-shirts with their kids name on them well before the summer camp season opens, who complete photo albums by the time their kids leave for college, where the kids will find them packed in to the trunk that sits at the end of their extra-long dorm bunk.

I am not, nor have I ever been, that mother.
I stink at marathons.
But in the face of my child’s joy, I am willing to over-do to a level that compromises my health and sanity. I down the wicked brew of comparative holiday doing and exert myself to extremis. This is who I was as I ankled through masses of shoppers and tinsel draped window displays holding my girl’s hand, which was permanently glued to mine. It is not who I was when I arrived home afterwards.

I learned a hard won lesson on that trip. Perhaps it was during the mad crush of nine-year old girls around the Josefina accessories when I thought, “might this be a little too much for her?” Or maybe when I had to sleep in the closet with my head on rolled up jackets because my cough was keeping our friends and my girl awake in the night? “Too much for me?” Photos of this trip capture us as weary people trapped in a snow globe.

So, at the cost of a few days illness and a girl who really could have done without the hoopla, we emerged wiser. The American Girl Doll store can carry on without our purchases. She was immensely content with the things we ordered for her from the catalog. And we all felt better.

My girl is not one for fanfare.
She is one for ritual and regularity.

 

The Snowman in CT

 

Not only did I learn that her pleasures and treats need not come with a parade and fireworks, I saw that the way we enjoy things, shopping, learning, gifting, adventuring can happen at a much slower pace than the commercial world would like me to think. I did not have to pitch over in to the zone of hyperventilation or break in to a beady-eyed sweat if I or the small person with me needed to slow down.

The bigger lesson for me in this, though, and my husband gets credit for putting it in to words (blessings on the man who is willing to wade through my exploits and misadventures to come out on the other side with a truism that helps me the next time I consider over-doing),

“The best child care is self-care.”       (click to tweet)

 

Do you believe that?
I dare you to try it.

When you feel compelled to race around this holiday season, take a bath.
When your kids think they must go shopping in a crowded plaza with thousands of other people, divert them with a long walk on a snowy lane with a thermos of cocoa in your knapsack.
Let yourself get caught making gifts, cards or choices that really support your well being. As my friend Sarah says,

“If it feels like too much, then it IS too much.”

Catherine Mountain 2006

I promise if you build this habit of caring for yourself in the greatest season of over-doing and hoopla, you are modeling a gift your children will recall the rest of their lives. Just think: picture them in the future with a kitchen full of kids begging to make a foray in to mall and all that parent can think of is a couch. They will have this sweet recollection of you doing something kind for yourself, like tea and a book in a cozy chair. And they will make a choice that supports their own patience and resilience. Isn’t that a far better gift than anything else?

And no one will end up sleeping in a closet on rumpled up wool jackets. I promise.

Impatience with the pace of the world may be part of my general outlook.
The impatience I feel about the way I handle this busy time is up to me to address.
Self-care builds a much more lush landscape within me. I make much better decisions; plot adventures that support everyone’s needs with ease and joy, and provide time to listen to myself and to the needs of my family.

John O’Donohue says in his gorgeous book Beauty, which you could read in the tub,

” When we devote some calm time to the heart and come off the treadmill of stress and distraction, we can enter into the beauty within.”

I don’t claim to be good at this, but my research in to self-care as a mother continues. I’d love to hear how you navigate impatience during the holidays and what brings you joy at this time of year. Please leave me a comment and do share this post with a friend. A bit of #RampantSisterhood goes a long way.

Congratulations Lucy on once again bringing voice to motherhood. I am delighted to be part of this blogging carnival and eager to get my hands on your book!

For those of you new to Laundry Line Divine, I write about motherhood, the sacred and all things creative here. I run a blog series, Out of the Mouths of Babes, that hosts the work of creative women who are mothers. I have published a collection of this work titled An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. In her review of this book in Juno Magazine, Lucy wrote, “I have read many anthologies of mothers’ voices in recent years…but this, this is my favourite by far and I know I will return to this slim volume again and again, and that many of this contributor’s words will be carried always with me in my heart.”

I welcome submissions to the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series which will shift in to high gear in January 2015. Please email me for submission guidelines.

All my very best to you each this holiday season.
I will be thinking of you every time I pour a serving of bath salts in to a filling tub.
xo S

 

Two duckies in the tub

 

These Angels Watching Over Me

Catherine Canyon Falls

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lorde

This really just happened to me.

This morning I woke and said good-bye to my son who was home from school in Florida for 2 days to visit a college near-by. Oh how I would love for him to attend that school. I am keeping that opinion to myself. Just between us here, you and me and the Divine. My husband drove Ben to the airport where he would catch the first of two flights carrying him south. Hugging that big boy, young man, holding his bounding energy for a moment to my breast, marked me.
After he left, I sat down, as I do daily, to meditate and read the books that nourish my hunger for sacred words to begin my day. “Page 17” I hear from the quiet place to which I have learned to listen. So I turn to page 17 of Jan Phillips’ No Ordinary Time. I read:

In the silence of dawn do I find you
In the roar of the crowd you are there
In the eyes of the foe can I see you
In my enemy’s heart do you dwell.

I read on. I read Rebecca’s Song, a prayer song that Jan heard in her meditation. I continue reading the following pages.
“We have one lifetime under this name to speak our truths…” I jot this in to my journal. I write a passage from page 18 that begins with “Meet this day with clarity and be a light in the darkness”.
Then it is time to go. A quick yoga stretch. Time to hurry to brush my teeth, dress and drive Catherine to school. She had walked to town to pick up a cup of cocoa as a gift for her friend whose birthday is today. So I scoop her and the hot drink up on Main Street and head north on Route 7 to her high school, which sits below Monument Mountain. If you stand with your back to the front door of the school, you can see the high ridge where legend has it, the Stockbridge Mohicans climbed before they departed for any journey. Our family loves to hike this mountain. After years of pushing our jogging stroller up the easy path or wearing the kids on our backs, we graduated to all of us walking up the difficult path, which takes us past a cave opening and tremendous boulders. In the shadow on this mountain Catherine goes to high school.
I leave her and her lunch, hands full of the cocoa gift and her heavy backpack at the curb. I pull in to the lane of traffic leading out from the parking lot. My car is followed closely by the big yellow bus which is heading to the middle school down the road.
I ease nearer to the intersection where cars move at highway speed, the two lanes busy at this hour. I wait for my turn. I look south and see my friend Heidi driving her daughter in her small sexy black car, always a trendsetter, Heidi is. But as she waves gleefully at me, I see the driver’s side door is badly smashed in. Not so bad as to prevent her driving it, but as the car shot past me, I worry for Heidi and the moment she got hit. That small car seems little protection against an impact. I send up a prayer for Heidi and her girl.
Then, with the bus breathing down the trunk of my car, panting for it’s turn to pull out on to Route 7, I see the busy road is thick with cars flying past in both directions. Unless you have a kid attending this school, you might not think to slow down. At afternoon dismissal, a police car sits in the center of the roadway, slowing people to make this exit easier and safe.
Safety is on my mind. I see no opening soon for me. I worry that I am holding people up. I send up another prayer. I ask for the help of angels to get me across the highway.
Before I finish this tiny prayer request, a black car, a station wagon driven by a bearded man slows to a stop in the northbound lane of Route 7, like he was getting a direct demand from the angels. As I pray, he slows to a stop. Cars barrel up behind him have to stop. And I proceed across the road way safely. I wave gleefully at the man who accelerates without expression.
I get home to continue with my day and I remember my morning reading. In my meditation I had heard, “Page 17″ but had taken notes from other pages. My journals are filled with lines from books, poems, quotes, notations about the weather and animal life, who is going where when, doodles and small paintings and long passages of my personal entries. I copy according to what strikes me on any given day.
I go back to the book and re-read page 17 and Rebecca’s Song is there. I had read the song but not taken notes until the next page. This is what I glossed past.

For you all have an angel who sits at your side,
who waits for your calling, who hears every cry
she’s there at your service, there as your guide,
so call her, she’s waiting with arms open wide.

I clean up the kitchen. I write a few more words, then walk down the hill to yoga class. A new teacher is with us today, the teacher of my teacher. I have never taken class with him before. He tells us we will be working our front body by opening our back bodies. He talks about how our doing self is our front body while our receiving self, our grace self is our back body. Our receptive self is our back body, full of grace. (It is where our angel bones are, right?) For the entire 90-minute class we practice “falling in to grace”.
I shed a few tears of gratitude in class for this gift of getting to embody what I had already experienced this morning.

I have spent the first four hours of this day feeling how the Universe has my back.

 

This is the week of Catherine’s birthday. She was born 16 years ago at a small hospital in Sharon, CT. She, like Ben, was nearly birthed in the car. I seem to be tolerant of labor and willing to keep moving until I am ready to give birth. Catherine was born a beacon of light. I write about her in my book titled Laundry Line Divine. I don’t write about her so much on my blog. She is younger than my son and I protect her more in certain ways. And, while she is braver than anyone I have ever met, I feel it is my job to filter, for as long as I can, what I expose of her exquisite beauty to the wider world. She is moving at her own pace now though. And, if I take the lessons of this week to heart, the Universe, the Divine, the Angels have her back too.
Here at LLD I write about seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life. There is no mistake that “page 17″ was an indication about my day, about my son flying on two jet planes back to school, about my daughter celebrating her friend’s birthday just 4 days ahead of her own 16th birthday so I drive her to school with a bag of caramel popcorn and a cup of hot cocoa and embroidery hoop and a collage kit. There is no mistake that this guest teacher was talking about opening our grace body. I lived the lessons of the morning with gratitude.

The morning felt like one long “YES”.

 
Yes to my back body. Yes to feeling my shoulder blades as hands of grace, coming together behind my heart, holding me, lifting me, opening my doing body to receive grace. So

 
that

 
I

 
can see
and celebrate the
sacred in daily life.

 

Again.

 

 

 

Suzi Banks Baum
November 6, 2013

Fired Up, Ready to Go: First Family, My Family

@barackobama and #greendrink for breakfast. #firedup !!!!

I just have to stop looking at the election night photographs.

Have you seen these?

Or have you looked at these?

This video-

inspired me to do this:

we accept certain obligations to one another

This election and every election since I was first able to vote in 1976 have engaged me. Many years have passed with feeling I have no place at the national table. I am too unpolished, undereducated and not well placed. Though Jonathan and I have done hours of service in our lives for candidates and causes, it has not been until President Obama’s campaign and years in office that I feel there is representation in the Oval Office that has anything close to my life experience.

Could it be I was born in Evanston, Illinois and somehow, those years in the Chicago area link me to the Obama family?

Or is it that I have a newly minted United States citizen in my life, Ella Rose,  who shares things with the Obamas that I will never share, for instance her skin color or lineage? Here she is in my sister, her adoptive mama, Elsa’s arms with Judge Shelley Gaylord in Madison, Wisconsin.

Or is it Michelle? The rock star “first Mom” who, if we knew each other I’d be picking her girls up from soccer and we’d be gardening together in the schools.

Or is it that this family, who looks something like my family with an athletic lawyer daddy, a multi-dimensional mommy and two kids who look like they spend a bit of time away from televisions and doing cool stuff every day, this family seems to operate as an energized source of real time vitality in a world that is so formal and divided from real life. I think this may be what has rocked my world today.

Listening to Clinton's DNC speech. This is an #Obama grocery bag from the #congo. XoS

In November four years ago, our daughter, Catherine, invited her entire class of 25 kids to celebrate her birthday by creating a mural of welcome for the newly elected President Obama. The kids filled their sections with wishes for him and his daughters, ideas for his presidency like stamping out plastic bags and getting a family dog. The mural was so full of innocent urgency for what they felt was important to them at that time, the environment, pets and friends. We rolled the mural up and mailed it to the White House. By Christmas, Catherine had a signed photo of the President on the wall in her room. No personal note as she’d hoped for nor a picture of Sasha and Malia looking at the mural, but she understood the arrival of the form letter thank you. It was her first message that people in the political arena may appear to be in her immediate world, but operate in a sphere we can hardly imagine.

So, I pour over the photos from last night, enjoying how the Vice President is so energetically physical in his contact with the President, communicating to us how they must spar over issues great and small, with some kindness and humor and integrity.

Or I look at the Election night video and see how Malia pointed out a section of the audience to her dad, the newly re-elected leader of our nation, and urged him to turn around to face another cheering mass of joyful humanity.

I see people who are living in a world that is filled with relationships, where families are valued and cherished and where the ideals of our nation are headed up by the word ‘LOVE’. Have you ever heard an elected official mention ‘love’ in any way other than the fist pumped “I love the United States” victory cry- President Obama said this:

“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”

Right now snow is flying past my window. My husband is napping off 4 days spent in Ohio assisting the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County. His experiences will filter in to all of us, the energy of his adventure folding in to our family legacy of standing for our values, no matter what.

My son #voted for his first time today! XoS @barackobama @benbaum3

Yesterday our 18 year old voted for the first time in his life. Catherine, and his best friend and I were there to see him navigate the swarm of people at the Great Barrington Fire Station. When we first arrived at the voting place, the boys commented with glee “there’s trucks!”. What better way for these kids to enter the world of citizenry, in a building with much loved fire trucks where neighbors were using their hard worn right to vote in an election for a person to lead our nation.

And, that leader, when chosen, celebrates his victory with grace, arms around his family, voicing gratitude to all who helped him to this place in history and urging us each to work with him. I have tears of joy for the opportunity this Presidency lays open for our children, who see this path of leadership as attainable and important and who feel included in the composition that is our democracy.

Thanks to Bruce and Jay-Z and Katy Perry for rocking us in to the election. In the Berkshires, James and Kim Taylor were working the polls, making calls and handing out treats to the workers with their two boys.

And, all of us, for whom celebrity is something we pour over on Huffington Post and MSNBC to see, today we feel a parting of the veil between celebrity and real life as Barack and Michelle invite us each to do our part and participate with them in creating our more perfect Union.

Whew.
Now I can get to work.
Heavy snow now.
xo S

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