Friday, May 30, 2014

Hiding Behind Emotions

I realized last night that I don't take criticism well.  I thought I'd gotten over that during law school where it seemed that criticism, or at least the lack of positive reinforcement, was everywhere.  Apparently I still have a ways to go and I think it negatively affects my relationships.

As I've mentioned before, we're living at my parent's house right now.  We're a month and a half in.  There are many, many upsides - my mom is an amazing cook, my kids are getting so much quality time with their grandparents, my family of four is getting help in this time of transition - whether it be laundry, free babysitting on date night or a home-cooked meal after work - my mom is helping take some of the load off.  My husband and I were even able to go on a walk the other night after the kids were asleep, which is something we've not done alone in over 3.5 years. I'm getting time with my parents that I wouldn't otherwise be getting.  I love seeing them every day and it's really fun getting to watch my boys with them so much.

But at times it feels like we're living in a fishbowl, especially when it comes to my flaws as a parent.  The task of raising children is not an easy one.  Some days are hard.  Some days I don't have as much patience as I'd like.  Some days I say things I wish I could take back.  Some days I look at my phone when I should be on the floor with my kids.  Some days I am not my best self and don't treat my kids the way they deserve to be treated.  And normally there is no one else to see this but me or my husband.  Which is enough, because I'm acutely aware of my flaws as a parent and replay my actions (particularly the less than stellar ones) over and over in my head. I beat myself up when I raise my voice, knowing that my reaction is harsher than it should be.  I try to remain calm and handle child tantrums in a loving way, but there is no reasoning with a 3.5 year old and it is hard to wait it out when you're running late for work and you just need everyone to get in the car already.  I lose my cool and sometimes it's not pretty.  Sometimes I say F*@K in front of my kids.  Loudly. And then I leave the room to cry, feeling ashamed of my lack of composure and level-headedness.

This is all on display right now for my parents.  I have an audience.  But the hardest truth, is that I always have an audience: my two little boys.  Which I should remember more than I do and work harder on staying zen in my parenting of them.

The past two mornings were particularly difficult. So last night when my mom said a seemingly innocuous comment concerning my yelling and Lukas being little and not understanding his actions, I lost it on her.  I started sobbing and defending myself - didn't she know how hard it was for me right now; that I was doing the best I could; that I was tired from being up all night with a teething baby; that it was really difficult living out loud in front of them.  She wasn't trying to illicit this response from me or make me feel bad.  She apologized, but in hindsight, I needed to hear what she was saying.  I have been raising my voice more than I should.  Rather than allowing her words to be heard, I put up my defenses and attacked her instead.  I didn't want her to tell me I was less than great.  It was hard to hear someone else acknowledge that they saw what I already knew: I could be doing better.  So I hid behind my tears and the conversation ended.

Later that night after the boys had been put to bed I heard a thump from their room.  I went upstairs and realized that Lukas was still wide awake at 9:15, kicking the wall in his insomnia. Rather than peak my head in and tell him to "go to bed!", I brought him in my room for some TLC. We lay together on my bed.  I scratched his back and rubbed his head.  I gave him kisses and we cuddled.  He said he wanted me to sleep in his bed, so we went and I laid with him until he fell asleep.  I was the kind of parent I aspire to always be.  I was the version of myself that I hope my children cling on to.

But the fact remains that I'm not always that version of myself.  If my mom is seeing this, then my kids are seeing this. And I don't want that to be the mom they know and remember.  I want to be a better mom for them. 

So I'm going to consciously try to parent with loving kindness rather than reaction.  I'm a work in progress.  And while it was so hard to hear the criticism truth from my mom, now that I've had some time to reflect on what she said, I'm glad she said it.  And just as her words have such a profound affect on me, it truly hits home that my words (including how I say them) will have the same affect on my boys, good and bad.

And so the rollercoaster of parenting goes.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dividing Your Time Between Two Children

The last year I've spent a lot of my time figuring out how to parent two kiddos instead of just one.  It's added a new layer to the juggling act!  Check out the link below to my most recent article for 360 Parenting!  Hope you enjoy it.  Oh and don't mind the redneck nature of my child in a sleeveless aqua tee...

Dividing Your Time Between Two Children

Friday, May 23, 2014

Adult Friendships

I feel like I've written this post before, but I'm too lazy to go search for it.  Or perhaps I've just thought these thoughts and never actually gotten them down on to paper.  Either way, I've been thinking about friendships a lot lately.
 
It occurred to me the other day, as I was walking down the street in the middle of my workday to buy my afternoon coffee pick-me-up, that this Fall will be 15 years since I started college.  FIFTEEN Y'ALL!  That's like almost half my life.  Lord knows that I'm not that girl anymore, and thank God for that. 
 
In college my best friends were my sorority sisters.  I have fond memories of my times with these girls.  We had so much fun dressing up for socials and just doing those things college kids do - drink, go out, talk about life, etc.  Our biggest concern was who to take to the next date night and what we'd wear out on Friday night.  Still, I have managed to make some lifelong friendships with some of these girls.
 
In law school, my friendships ended up mattering more than my law degree.  The latter wouldn't likely have occurred without the former.  Those girls helped me mend a broken heart and then helped me open that heart back up again to someone new who turned out to be my husband of almost 6 years now.  Those girls were there through all-nighters - studying for some exam or feverishly writing next to me as we tried to finish our journal articles.  They were there to celebrate the end of the last final we'd ever take (and oh what a celebration it was, although the folks in that restaurant certainly wouldn't agree).  They were there on graduation morning, and graduation evening.  They were there through the summer of the bar exam.  Their names being on that list in October of 2007 mattered just as much to me as my own.  We'd done it together.  And that time in our lives, our mid-to late 20s, will always be woven together.
 
Since law school, I've stayed close with my law school girls, but there have been some new friendships that have formed.  I'm so thankful for these friendship and feel lucky and honored to call these girls my friends.  Most of these friendships were fostered because of our children.  You could call them my "mom friends", but they are so much more than that.
 
My adult friends are there when life gets to be too much.  They care about the everyday ins and outs of raising small children.  They understand that the balance act is hard.  They get it.  They get me and they get the issues I currently am facing. 
 
With these adult friends (some who are also college friends and law friends) I've celebrated marriages and births.  I've mourned the death of their parents, children and marriages. I've held hands and listened to strained voices as they relay the diagnosis that their loved one has just been given and watched the uncertainty cloud their eyes.  I've hugged goodbyes as they've moved away and mourned the friendships that I was so hopeful would continue for years to come.  I've talked in parking lots about the shared struggle of being a lawyer and mom.  I've listened and wished for the right and perfect words to come as you've told me you weren't sure the love was still present.  I've listened to your sobbing voice over the phone as you tell me you just don't think you can leave your child and return to work.  You've done the same for me.
 
There's no roadmap for this life.  We're all trying to navigate it the best we can.  Some days I feel like I've picked the wrong highway.  Other days I sense a friend driving the wrong way down a one-way street.  But these adult friendships have been the signposts I've needed on days where I've lost my way.  These friendships mean more to me than I probably express in person.  I feel so lucky to be surrounded by amazing women, who get it and who get me.
 
So thanks to all my friends - new and old.   I'm a better person because you're in my life.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

He Walks

My little baby boy took his first step last week and is up to 7-8 steps at a time!  He falls a lot, but he's getting the hang of it.  I think he wants to keep up with his big bro!  We were on vacation last week, so I was luckily at home every day with him watching him gather more and more confidence in his efforts.  I'm so proud of this little guy!

Also, we had a fabulous time a the beach....wishing we were still there....