A New Era

Finally! After weeks and weeks of PER traveling, we’ve hired a regular sitter to help out with Aleksander. Hurrah!!! Today was her first day, and it worked out perfectly.

Aleksander took a crazy long nap – three hours! He woke up just as Kelly arrived. Despite all that sleep, he was very out of sorts. Even his snack didn’t seem to help. So I stayed around for about a half hour. But eventually as he started to get comfortable with Kelly, I was able to slip off into the kitchen. I got things cleaned up and dinner started. Then I made my way down to my office in the basement. For months, it’s been looking like it got hit by some kind of natural disaster. After just a half hour, it already looks so much better. I can’t wait for it to be a productive space again.

The best part of all this was that I could hear Aleksander’s laugh ringing through the house. He obviously got over his crankiness and started bonding with Kelly! The two of them had so much fun playing all kinds of silly games. It almost made me want to go join them … almost 🙂

PER is away again this week. He was gone for seven out of eight weeks in February and March. And now it is about every other week. Every time he goes away, I feel like I hardly get anything done. The house turns to chaos. (Okay, I know I’ve never been the neatest person, but it really is driving me nuts!) I barely got my lesson plans together to teach on Saturday mornings. I’m so behind on my photographs. I have over 600 pictures to go through from the last six weeks! And obviously, I wasn’t doing any blogging. All my efforts go in to Aleksander. And resting up during his nap, so I can make it through the rest of the day. It isn’t that he’s so difficult. Most of the time, he’s great. He plays really well by himself. But of course, I never know when or for how long he’ll do that. And then when he does have a bad day, or if I’m sick, things can spin out of control pretty fast.

I know this is just the first day of our new experiment. But I really think it is going to make a huge difference – the beginning of a new era for me as a mom. Having this break not only gives me a chance to get some things done or take a rest if I need it, but I think it’s really good for Aleksander, too. He has a ball playing with Kelly, and then he gets a mom who’s refreshed and relaxed for the rest of the evening. We’ll see how it goes! Now if only I could figure out how to get more help for PER, so he can doesn’t have to travel so much….

Question: How do you manage to get a break in the day? Or do you at all?!

Lessons from My Son: Why Settle?

Aleksander has developed a funny little quirk: he won’t eat broken food. Cut-up sandwiches, pancakes, meat, etc. are all fine. But a Big Bird cracker with the beak broken off? No way! This morning I watched him take a cracker from the container, thoroughly inspect it, and then carefully put it back to select another, whole, perfect cracker. And I had a revelation.

Why do we settle?

Aleksander has always known what he wants (or doesn’t want) and does his best to let us know it, too. I’m terrible at asking for what I want. I don’t want to put someone out or look silly or  –  this is the big one  –  be judged. So I all too often go along or just don’t say anything.

Lately I’ve been looking for a new sitter, so I can continue going to yoga. I’ve had a few women come to the house to meet Aleksander and me. I knew the first was a definite no as soon as I saw her dirty hands (yikes! keep them off my son!). But the others? There’s really nothing wrong with them. They have experience. I’m sure they’re perfectly capable and responsible. But I didn’t get that feeling. The feeling that tells me this is the right person to care for my son in my absence. For whatever reason, they’re just not exactly what I’m looking for. So why do I feel guilty? I feel bad that I don’t want to hire them (even the one with dirty hands!).

I think I’ll try to be more like Aleksander. When I know what I want, I’ll ask for it. And when I know what I don’t want – after careful examination – I’ll politely put it back in the container and reach in for another until I find the one that’s just right.

Question: Is there anything you find yourself settling for that you’d like to change?

A Little Pampering

A couple of weeks ago I got a massage. It was wooooooooonderful….

But who can get a massage on a regular basis? It’s just not practical!

Still, I think it’s important to pamper ourselves regularly, even if it’s just something little. I already wrote about my heated neck wrap in one of my first posts. I also have a lovely, lavender-scented eye pillow that I use sometimes if I’m trying to take a nap. It helps block out the light and offer soothing aroma therapy. I often think of enjoying a nice cup of tea while Aleksander takes his nap, but somehow I never seem to end up doing it. Maybe if I unpack my mismatched collection of English teacups….

My latest little treat is a scented body spray a friend of mine gave me for Christmas. I don’t know how many times I’ve purchased these sprays for myself. They usually end up collecting dust in a cabinet under the sink. But this time, I’m inspired to use the heavenly sweet-smelling spray. I put it on every night before I go to bed. Every now and then, the scent wafts up to me, and I just have to smile. It’s amazing how something so simple can feel so good!

Question: What little things do you do to pamper yourself? What things do you wish you did?

In-Laws

I must be one of the luckiest people I know. Not only do I have a fabulous relationship with my parents, but I get along great with my in-laws, too! They are visiting from the Netherlands for almost 2 weeks. Which means I get to have a hair cut, see my chiropractor, and go out with a girlfriend for a massage and tea!! What a week!

That’s not to say the road has always been smooth. I am the worst at asking for help. So when my in-laws have visited in the past, I’ve always had trouble asking them to watch Aleksander or help with the cooking or cleaning or whatever. Even when they came for 2 whole weeks when Aleksander was just 2 weeks old. And here’s the kicker – my mother-in-law is so very respectful that she doesn’t want to step on my toes and butt in! So we’ve sometimes been at something of a stalemate. She wants to help, and I want her to help, but there we were on opposite sides of the room waiting for the other to make the first move. (I know, this doesn’t seem like a real problem compared to the nightmare stories I’ve heard from friends.) But it was a real problem for me and even led to a meltdown or two, especially during that first post-baby visit.

Since then, I’ve learned a few things. First, I need to let go of control and actually let someone else take care of my child. (Funny that I almost have an easier time of it with a babysitter than with family!) And then I’ve learned to strategize a bit. Instead of waiting until the moment when I need or want the help, I try to prepare for it in advance. I’ll say something like, “Tomorrow I’d like to work on my lesson plans in the afternoon.” Then the next afternoon, it just kind of happens – I leave Aleksander in good hands and slip away to my office. For this visit, I got even bolder. I just started making appointments: the hair dresser, the doctor, the massage therapist, yoga class, etc. I had an email from my father-in-law the week before they arrived, so I was able to respond and give them a heads-up that I was going to take full advantage of their visit. It’s going great! I’m getting out of the house, and I know Aleksander is in good hands. And they’re loving all the time they get to spend with him.

Question: How do you deal with your in-law issues?

Soothing Music

I’ve always seen myself – at least in part – as kind of a quiet, shy person who doesn’t stress out too much. Since I’ve become a mother, I’ve noticed an intensity in myself that I hadn’t seen before. When I play with Aleksander, I can easily get wound up and loud. (Me?!) And I find myself getting frazzled on a pretty regular basis. Aleksander has quite a bold personality. He certainly has no trouble finding his voice, whether he’s playing or upset. I sometimes wonder if his intensity has in part been learned from me?

Either way, I’m looking to turn things down a notch or two. Maybe that way, I won’t find my energy draining down to an empty tank so often.

I’ve always found music to have a powerful influence on my mood. So this week, I’ve started playing soothing music throughout the day. I mostly turn to a playlist of songs I made for doing yoga. It’s having positive effect so far. The music reminds me to slow down, to breathe (hard to believe you can actually forget to breathe!), and to be present in the moment. I find myself feeling calmer, too. I’m definitely going to keep it up!

Question: What helps you to slow down and be calm?

Guilt, Be Gone!

Yesterday I got the best pedicure I’ve ever had! No kidding. I think the foot & leg massage lasted a half hour. By the time it was over, I almost felt like I’d had a full-body massage. I was so relaxed. It was amazing!

But as I sat down in the chair at the beginning of the pedicure, I couldn’t help feeling guilty. There I was being pampered, while a babysitter was at home taking care of Aleksander, and my husband was off on yet another business trip. He works so hard to provide for us. Sure, I teach Saturday mornings, but even that is for me and not at all for the pittance I’m paid. So I felt guilty that I was taking time out of the day for the indulgence of a pedicure.

As I sat in the big leather massage chair, I had to convince myself that I had no reason to feel guilty. That I deserved this luxury.

Okay, so I don’t really contribute financially to our household. But there are other, equally important ways to contribute! I have the full-time, almost 24/7 job of taking care of our son. As my wonderful husband pointed out to me recently, I don’t ever get to leave my job at the office at the end of the day. Sometimes there is just no escaping it. Though I love being home with Aleksander, it can be physically and emotionally draining sometimes. And as I’ve said before, if I am drained of all my inner resources, I have nothing to give back to him – or to my husband.

This week, PER is traveling, and so I really am on full-time Aleksander-duty. All the more reason to take a break!

By the time the pedicure was finished, I was so relaxed, I didn’t have room left for any guilt! But the true benefits of my outing became clear when I got home. Aleksander was so happy, and we were so happy to see each other! The new sitter did a wonderful job with him. (Yay! She’s coming back next week.) The rest of our day was great, too. He even woke up happy from his second nap! Usually around the time when he wakes up is when my gas tank is on empty. But we both felt great. We played and laughed and had a wonderful evening.

I’m sure I’ll fall into the guilt-trap again. But I hope I remember the lesson I learned from this amazing pedicure. I am worth it, and we all benefit when I take good care of myself!

Question: What are your “guilty pleasures” and are you ready to feel less guilty about them?

Slowing Down

It’s Sunday evening. Where did the weekend go? There are still so many things to be done that I haven’t even touched yet. In other words, it’s a pretty typical Sunday evening.

Despite my lingering to-do list, I just had a lovely time doing practically nothing with PER and Aleksander. After dinner, we played on the bed in the guest room. Aleksander loves sailing through the air and landing on the soft bed. He’s very good at sliding down off the bed. Then he stands at the bed signing “more” and saying “a-deh” (= “again” in Aleksander-talk).

When that wore off after about a half hour, we moved around the corner to his bedroom. One of his favorite things to do is stand at his bookcase (which is in the closet) and pull out all the books. I sat in the rocking chair, while PER took the twin bed, and we just hung out together. Aleksander took his books to various places in the room, and I’d recite some of them as he quickly turned the pages. It’s amazing how quickly you memorize the words to Goodnight Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I must have read them a hundred times each by now.

As I sat in the rocking chair, I kept thinking, I should be doing this or that. But it was so nice to just slow down and enjoy the time with my family. Some day down the road, I won’t really remember when I finally put the Christmas decorations away (yes, there are still a few hanging around), but I will remember an evening like this.

Question: What simple moments have turned into cherished memories?

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