Month

April 2016

Overrated Accomplishments

Last night when my husband got home from work I took the 15 minutes before preparing dinner to get out of my bathrobe and take a shower.  While standing under the seemingly heaven sent hot water as the steam filled up the bathroom, it occured to me:

This was my first shower in five days.

Now before you drop your phone or computer or whatever it is you are reading this on (hopefully not a television screen due to my previous statement making national news- “crazy mom of four institutionalized for publicly admitting to self neglect of epic proportions”) I have taken a couple of baths in the five day period.  When the two older kids are finally asleep and I am between pumping and feedings I would rather sit in a tub where it is much easier to enjoy a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, and a fraction of a book.  Multitasking is everything these days and I can’t risk getting water in my wine by attempting to drink it in the shower now can I?  That would just be sad.

The truth is that since the twins arrived it has been almost impossible to fit a shower in during the day.  More often than not, I feel that us moms like to gauge the insanity of our lives by whether or not we are able to take a shower among other seemingly simple tasks: drinking coffee while it’s still hot, putting on real pants, applying make up, going to the bathroom uninterrupted.  I say no more. The pressure to achieve and the guilt that tags along with it is too much.

This morning for instance, I woke up feeling refreshed and motivated to start eating healthy after an intervention I had with myself last night.  I finally admitted that any time there has been popcorn in front of me over the past 2 1/2 months, I have eaten all of it.  Microwave popcorn- all of it.  Boom Chicka Pop Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn (that cursed purple bag that always ends up in my Target cart)- all of it.  Chicago mix from Costco- I can’t really say… it was a one time thing… I must have blacked out- all of it.

popcorn

I skipped into the kitchen and poured a cup of hot coffee with a small splash of organic half and half and stevia.  I took out some frozen sprouted Ezekiel bread and popped it in the toaster with my organic peanut butter on standby.  All I needed to prepare was my grass fed plain yogurt, berries, and ancient grains granola when Gwen began to cry.

I ran upstairs (I could grab her and be back downstairs by the time the toast popped up) to smell that she had finally pooped for the first time in three days!  This needed to be addressed, the toast still had time.  Before I began to change her I ran back down and threw my coffee in the microwave for 2 minutes.  I ran back up to change Gwen.  When I unzipped her pj’s I realized- this was an up the front and up the back-er.  Total strip down, clean with a washcloth, new pj’s, the works.  Mid change Cam started screaming.  Bloodcurdling screaming.  I brought Gwen down in a blanket and fresh diaper- no clothes.

Coffee was getting cold in the microwave.  Toast had popped.

I picked up Cam and he gasped quickly while catching his breath. He just wanted to be held in that exact second.  Gwen began to cry- she was getting cold in her dinky receiving blanket.  I put Gwen in her fresh clothes as my phone alarm went off- It was time for Gwen to eat. No wonder she woke up. I had forgotten for a brief moment in my health food guru inspired nirvana that my own feeding schedule is a luxury tucked into the feeding schedule of the twins.  I set Gwen down as she began to scream.  She was not feeling patient this morning.

I ran down to the kitchen to prepare the breast milk I had JUST pumped into a bottle and grabbed my freezing cold coffee out of the microwave. I destroyed my toast as I hastily carved peanut butter into it- damn organic peanut butter has the consistency of cement.

I ran back up the stairs with everything in my hands, took one bite of my sludge-covered cardboard toast, threw back a swig of iced coffee, picked up Gwen and gave her the bottle. Peace.  I totally forgot my yogurt, granola, berry combo- maybe I’ll eat it for dessert tonight with a bag of Boom Chicka Pop.

We are all just trying to stay afloat half the time. Next time you are tempted to take note of all of the things you were unable to accomplish on a given day, stop yourself and admire what you did achieve.  Caring for a newborn (or several) is no small feat. Caring for children is what sustains the human race.

Showers are overrated.

 

 

 

 

 

Ode To Minnesota

When Chris and I found out we were pregnant with our first son Charles, we decided the responsible thing to do was move.  Afterall, I could not fathom pushing a stroller on the subway and our Williamsburg, Brooklyn apartment was not rent controlled so affording to live in our hip neighborhood was a fleeting reality.  I clearly remember staring at the cemetery off the BQE as we drove away in our Uhaul with my two Chihuahuas on my lap and tears streaming down my face.  I left my friends, my job, my dreams, my community and as far as I knew my 22-year-old identity behind me and I was en route to the ONE place I said I would NEVER live- Minnesota.

We landed in Coon Rapids at my sister-in-law’s house because we had not yet figured out where we were going to live and she graciously insisted we would stay with her- a MN virtue I would come to recognize in others as well. I felt like Dorthy as I looked down at my two small dogs “Well Peanut and Brutus, we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.”  My understanding of what MN consisted of was loosely based off of a Coen Brothers film and the song “Proud to be an American.”  I was overwhelmed by the pick up trucks, Calvin and Hobbe’s bumper stickers, 1980’s ramblers, “family dining restaurants”, and mini malls that seemed to pass us on every corner.  I refused to see anything positive about our new “home”.

With all changes in life, we have two choices- we can kick, scream, fight and feel bad for ourselves until our faces turn blue with the hope that playing the victim will bring us some sort of self indulgent justice; Or, we can listen to what God is trying to tell us and open our minds and hearts to how he is working in our lives in ways we could have never orchestrated on our own.  I was in the former state.

Year after year I planned on how long I would tolerate living in MN and when we would make our move out to CA like any normal NYC transplant- In my mind, MN was a brief stop on my ultimate trek West.  Meanwhile I failed to realize that I was planting my roots deep as MN was enriching my life with all of it’s gifts and supporting me in ways no other  place  could have.  Cultural diversity, a vibrant music and theater scene, a booming restaurant scene, state of the art hospitals and progressive maternity care, highest rated school systems, environmentally sound EVERYTHING from locally sourced farmer’s markets and park systems to transportation and recycling programs, Northern excursions to Lake Superior and some of the most beautiful scenery around.  In fact what I came to realize was that if it weren’t for the winter, MN might be the most coveted place to live in the US.

What has been most life changing is the strong sense of community in MN.  When I first moved here I felt like an outsider as most of the people I met were from here and in some cases seemingly clicque-ish.  What I have learned is that most people don’t leave MN or if they do, they come back to “settle down” or give back to the community that they are so closely connected to in some way.  Our friends here (including co-workers, customers, and neighborhood acquaintances) have become our family.

When I learned that I was pregnant with twins, my boss sat me down.

“Now I realize that because you are having twins that you are most likely considering moving to North Carolina to be closer to your Mom.  I don’t blame you. BUT I AM going to try my hardest to convince you to stay.”

The truth was that I had already considered that scenario a million times over and although I miss my parents and family on the East Coast on a daily basis, leaving MN would mean leaving my other family.  The family of friends and community here in MN that has found us over the past 8 years.  The family that has nurtured and allowed me to flourish through some of the hardest transitions of my life. The family that escorted me into becoming an adult who values things now that my 22-year-old self didn’t even know existed.

Yesterday I was watching CNN as it covered the death of Prince.  Prince was born in, raised, and never left Minnesota.  He possessed that insistent graciousness to all who knew him, including his community here in Minneapolis.  In the 1999 interview with Larry King, Larry questioned Prince in his decision to stay in Minnesota to do his work and create his music (instead of putting down roots in LA or NYC).  Prince simply replied

“oh yeah, Minneapolis has always been the bomb.”

It is no surprise that people flooded the streets last night in front of First Ave for an all night sing along/dance party in his honor.  Minnesotans are proud to stick together. They support their communities in ways that most major US cities do not.

As I pack up our house to move (yes we are moving with newborn twins and yes we are insane) to our forth location in MN since we arrived 8 years ago I feel very excited and blessed that our network in the Twin Cities area will continue to grow. I expect we’ll feast with our new neighbors on some tater tot hot dish and Surly Beer while playing “corn hole” by the lake- we have over 10,000 to choose from don’t ch’ya know.

 

No More Busy- Mommy Time Outs

Maternity leave with the twins is flying by at a rapid speed- presumably twice as fast as my past experiences with my singletons (the word used by moms of multiples when referring to a one-kid-at-a-time experience).  People always say to me “Wow twins!  You must be busy!”  Yes I am “busy”, but not simply because of the twins.  I also have a seven year old, a four year old, a husband, two dogs, a full time job, a house which I am moving out of and an essence of a social life- all of which I am extremely grateful for because quite frankly, I enjoy being that kind of “busy”.

These things that fulfill my life which classify me as “busy” are simply my priorities.  These priorities bring me great joy and motivate me to be the best person I can be.  We live in a society where the term “busy” has become a badge of honor.  To me “busy” represents the inability to say “NO” to time wasters and stress inducers in some futile attempt to do everything and “have it all”.  We don’t allow ourselves to slow down enough to ask ourselves what it is we really want to fill our lives.

What I have found, if I were to answer honestly, is that aside from the intrinsic chaos of taking care of two newborns at one time, I am not very “busy” right now.  I have my hands full with the work involved to address the needs of my children, but this work enables me to engage with them as we learn more about each other.  I also have plenty of quiet moments with the twins.  True, some days I do not have time to shower, but mainly because I do not prioritize my own hygiene and I lose myself in the time I have with my babies on those days as I am still learning how to balance my needs with theirs.

My goal is to have this balance figured out by the time I return to work.

Mommy Time outOther days I prioritize my “me” time especially when I find I am feeling stressed, drained or stir crazy. I shamelessly ask for help from my husband or a friend/family member. I put on a face mask, take a bath, drink a glass of wine, eat some chocolate, and read (or look at the pictures in) my favorite magazine.  On days where I’ve really lost my sense of self I may even leave for a trip to Costco.  OK, so I’ve only resorted to this once, but it was insanely rejuvenating.

The goal of these mommy time outs is to return connected, engaged, and motivated to continue to bond and engage with my babies. The most dangerous part of hiding behind the label of “busy” is that we do not take time for ourselves and we risk forgetting who we are and what we stand for.  Soon enough all of our once cherished priorities become grouped into the same category as dentist appointments, oil changes, and grocery shopping. The more we forget who we are, the more we take our gifts for granted.  It’s time we encourage each other to slow down, ask for help and stop striving for busy if it’s not the best use of our precious time. Stop and SMELL the ROSES! Oh man, maybe it is time for that shower.