Breakable

I’ve been getting life wrong lately. I’ve been focusing my attention in the wrong areas, wasting time on the wrong things, the wrong people. I let my temper flare around my children but cower in a corner when I should be speaking up elsewhere. I’m just not jiving with life lately. There’s friction between us, life and me.

Wyatt broke a vase of flowers yesterday after I repeatedly told him not to play with the flowers. Since the boys have been mobile, our home has been minimalistic out of necessity. Bare tables, low shelves empty, anything breakable out of reach. They will be four in June. I mean, it’s time, right? They might still be tiny tornadoes but surely with more self control than a year ago? Two years ago? So, flowers in a glass vase on the kitchen table. It was time. Only Luke snapped off the head of a flower and Wyatt “On guard!”-ed the vase with a pirate sword and that was the end of that. I wanted to scream, truthfully. Not for the broken vase or homeless flowers, but because IT IS TIME.

I snapped, I snarled, I hissed. “I’m sorry, mama,” he said, all saucer eyes and tilt of the head, and I stood there and took a breath. I put the towel down and let the water seep to the edge of the table.

I was getting it all wrong. Life, pay me no mind. It isn’t broken vases I treasure.

Life, please do not break my children.

Surely the stars are sketching a plan

I caught myself in a moment last night.

I failed.

I failed today, and I failed yesterday, and I will undoubtedly fail tomorrow.

I could write a list of all the ways in which I failed myself and those who depend on me to make this phone call…pay this bill…Watch me, Mommy! Are you watching?…this cheese, not that cheese…one likes oranges, the other strawberries, or is it blueberries?…One more book?…meet this real deadline and this arbitrary deadline…spend time with meplay with mewatch a movie with mehold melay with merub my backfollow me around so I know where you are in case I need you.

I fail on a regular basis, and on a regular basis I focus on all the ways in which I failed instead of celebrating little successes.

Last week was a week full of failures, full of power struggles and battles of wills and mighty tantrums of three year olds, and kids who push boundaries, which is what they’re SUPPOSED to do….And I was going to segue here into some of those beautiful moments of motherhood and womanhood and life splintered among the gritty/mundane/tireless everyday, but the truth is I’m struggling to see those moments lately. No, that isn’t right. I’m struggling to feel them.

Here’s the truth. “Because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas you tell the truth.” And at Christmas this truth is more garish and gloating, it seems, than at any other time of year.

I’m stuck. We’re stuck. We’re failing, and our failing is breaking me. Because as much as we work it’s still not enough. And it sucks. Wholly, firmly, unbelievably sucks. I try to tell myself that it’s only money and it’s only a phase and surely the stars are sketching a plan, but we’re expending all our energy, all our everything just to stay afloat, and it’s all stifling and suffocating and sometimes I snap because they’re fighting and I just need them to stop. Just stop. Stohhhhhp!

Today I am tapped out. I surrender. But I can’t surrender because I have three little people who need me and even with their whining and asking and pulling and crying and taking and arguing, they’re my world. They’re the shoreline to which I’m tethered, the driftwood that keeps me above surface. And today I need to work because I have a deadline to meet. I have to meet the deadline because we need the money. The money is already gone. Why do I not see this on blogs? On Instagram? On Facebook? Why is this subject so fucking taboo? Is anyone else drowning out there? Hello?

Yesterday I wrapped presents that I bought for a family who has less than we do. I gave up my time–the only time I had to work–to do this because I’m realigning my perspective to one of giving in the midst of needing. Because I have this theory that by giving of ourselves we can find peace amongst worry. Because when we give, we open ourselves up, and when we open ourselves up we can sit more peacefully among the questions and the vast grey space.

So I failed, and I will fail again. I’m failing as I type this. Always failing. But here’s my little success: I’m here. And I’m working my ass off and I’m opening myself up and I’m not going anywhere.

Today I will shove my worn-thin heart back into the drawer and I will rally because there are these three people who know nothing of worry and mess and mending pieces and carrying on, not now anyway. Someday, yes, but not today. Today the world is magic — tinsel strung on trees and paint splattered across paper and marshmallows in hot chocolate kind of magic. And so it will be for me if I will it so.

Here’s another little success: I won’t delete this post. I know I will want to, but I won’t because maybe someone needs to read it as much as I needed to write it.

So at the risk of feeling exposed and deleting this entire blog and disappearing from the WWW forever and ever, I’m hitting publish. The only thing I ask is that if it helped you in any way, whether minute or grand, please let me know. Please let me hear you.

Minted: a holiday card review

Every year I tell myself I’m going to slow down during the holiday season, and every year I feel like I fail. I actually love the hustle and bustle of this season, but I know that these years of gingerbread making with more icing on faces and fingers than on cookies, of the wonder of twinkling lights and hushed wishes of Christmas surprises and one ear tipped to the distant ring of a sleigh pulled by reindeer will someday be just memories of Christmases past. I put a lot of pressure on myself to wring every drop of magic from this season and then soak it all up. Every. Single. Second. And I never, ever, succeed.

So this year I’m looking for ways to streamline all those “chores” of the season in order to focus more on the magic of icing-tipped fingers and hot chocolate sipped fireside and after-bedtime drives to marvel at all those twinkling lights, which is why I was thrilled when Minted contacted me to check out their goods and share my thoughts. It was fate, really, because I already had some of Minted’s promotional mail pinned to my bulletin board to help remind me to order holiday cards:

Minted review

The foil pressed detail got me. You can’t tell in this pic but it’s shiny like tinsel.

I think, in my experience, most major card & stationery sites are comparable in terms of ease of use, and while Minted’s designs jumped out among the plethora of similar marketing I’ve received in my mailbox, it was the belief behind the company that made me want to support them.

“We believe that great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists that people do not have access to through traditional retailers. Minted uses technology to allow consumers to discover great creative talent, making Minted a place where artists can learn, gain exposure, and build their businesses.”

A business that supports indie artists? I’m in.

I haven’t decided on which photos to use for our cards yet, but I played around on the site using photos from my camera roll, quickly designing different cards and saving them to my profile. One thing I love about the site is that I can upload a photo and have it instantly displayed on every card on the grid so my options are all right in front of me.

Minted review

This definitely makes choosing a design much easier.

Minted review

Minted review

Every Minted card order includes thick stock paper, free recipient address printing for holiday cards, and a free personalized digital proof of your card within one business day of your order. Plus, if you order today you get 15% off + free shipping on all holiday cards, so scoot.

I have to point out that Minted has more than just cards. Take a peek at their art prints (love!), business cards, wedding invitations, journals, etc. They even have fabric by the yard. I’ve been searching for the perfect fabric for a bench in a reading nook I’m creating for the kids, but I want something a little quirky and modern that will work with both boys and girls and grow with them. The selection on Minted fits the bill perfectly.

Happy shopping!

*Disclosure: I received a merchandise credit for writing this review of Minted’s website. All thoughts, opinions, photos, and grammatical errors are solely mine.

May this be a samskara etched beneath your surface

*This occurred last year, and I knew it was something I wanted to put into words but I could never quite find the right ones. I began reading Dani Shapiro’s moving Devotion last week, which inspired me to finally sit down and find the words.

*****************************************

The dishes are done, the lights are low, my husband is giving our twin boys a bath, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my daughter as she taps the tip of a pencil on a subtraction worksheet so that scratches of graphite splash across the page. It’s been a long day and I’m thankful to have a little time with her as it winds down, but math is not her strong suit, nor is it mine, and frustration is quick to surface in us both.

“This is the worstest day ever. And math is the worstest thing ever. And YOU are the worstest mom ever!”

I send her to her room to cool down, and she stomps up the stairs defiantly. I take a deep breath. I have yet to figure out if this six-year-old of mine is a bona-fide perfectionist or just incredibly hard on herself. When I finally walk upstairs I find her buried under the covers with a book. I sit down but she says, “I just want to read”, so I let her.

The next morning, I sit outside of a yoga studio as the sun rises on a crisp fall day, towel and water bottle in hand as I wait for my friend as planned. This friend isn’t naturally a morning person so her arrival is questionable, and I already know that if she doesn’t show I’ll bolt.

The only class I ever dropped in college was a yoga class during my freshman year. You see, I pictured the class more happy baby pose than peacock pose; more om and namaste, less backbends and headstands. The problem was not that I was lazy. The problem is three fused vertebrae at the back of my neck and a displaced shoulder blade that limits movement in my left arm. The physical impossibility of contorting my body to somewhat resemble the fluid, polished movements of a yogi left me feeling exposed and disgraced, so I stopped going to class. I quit.

For the next 14 years, I was more conscious of what my body couldn’t do than what it could, even after it carried my daughter through pregnancy and cooperated through labor and delivery. I had become convinced that my physical abilities were limited until limiting myself became my habit, my pattern, my story. It wasn’t until I carried my twin sons to full term, albeit with quite a bit more effort than the first go-round, that I realized I could probably push this body of mine more than I ever thought. I decided to confront that ghost from a lifetime ago. It would be difficult, maybe even uncomfortable, but that was exactly the point.

My friend’s car pulls into the parking lot of the yoga studio, and I’m both relieved and disappointed. Leaving would have been so easy.

The room is packed when we walk in, and I squeeze my mat between the wall and a woman in head-to-toe white doing a headstand. I map my escape route. Leaving is still possible.

But something happens in that 85-degree room engulfed in sweat and sinew and surrounded by yogis of every level. My muscles and joints loosen and relax and something within me becomes unbound. I won’t learn until sometime later that I’ve unlocked what yogis call a samskara, a pattern or story that becomes imprinted upon your subconscious. When you release a samskara, you make room for new patterns, new stories. For now, I simply begin to challenge myself. I’m sure it isn’t pretty or even technically correct, but I feel capable in a way I wasn’t expecting. It’s a 75-minute class, but leaving doesn’t even cross my mind until we pledge “Namaste” and begin to roll up our mats.

samskara

image via

Back at home my daughter is getting ready for school and dancing with her brothers. If one were searching for clues to the previous night’s calamity, her disposition certainly wouldn’t give her away. I take the worksheet that now bears the thrashings of an impatient pencil and motion for her to come to me.

“You are so smart,” I tell her. “You can do this.”

She crumples into me and nuzzles her face into the crook of my neck so that I can barely hear when she says, “It’s just that everyone in my class is good at math, and I’m afraid I’m never going to be good, and…” She takes a deep breath as though preparing to relinquish a secret. “I just like books better.”

“I know you do,” I say. “I do too.”

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this to her. Part of me feels like I’m folding into the cultural, if misleading, norm that girls aren’t especially mathematically inclined. It’s even possible that maybe I’ve been pushing her in order to dispel this notion, a big fat Take that! for gender equality. But the truth for me is that I just get words in a way I never will mathematics, and if I know my daughter at all, it is her truth as well.

“Just try your best,” I tell her. “But your best won’t always look like someone else’s best.”

Her curls brush my cheek as she nods her head. I can’t be sure, but what I hope she’s heard is this: You are capable, you are brilliant, and you are you.

samskara

image via

message from the moon

Message from the moon

message from the moon

Moon breathes

slumber over cities,

fire hydrants,

sweeping rivers,

a rooftop terrace,

a puddle

that shivers.

Its tender light

threads,

weaves

over alleyways,

cafe eaves,

stone cathedrals,

corner clocks,

peeks

through windows

of bakery shops.

On cloudless nights

its polished light

settles on sailboats,

seacoasts,

a cabled bridge….

Moon’s message

f

a

l

l

s,

whispers

….hush….

Message from the moon

moongazers

Message from the Moon (c) 2009 by Lara Anderson, originally appeared in Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard, published by Roaring Brook Press. Not to be preprinted without permission of author.