Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Serenity Now

Syd in her zebra coat with her Pomeranians
Do you believe in foreshadowing?  I mean, do you believe that life will show us snapshots of what's to come years from now?  I recall a "seasoned" mother watching Elliot have a meltdown at Target when he was 2, telling me something like "get control of his temper tantrums now or you'll really have a lot to chew when he's 16."  I think about that comment sometimes even now.  Although, I have to say I didn't then, nor do I now, see it as very helpful advice.  What does that even mean anyway?  I mean, I couldn't really reason with an over-tired 2 year-old who didn't understand why we weren't going to buy 10 bags of Goldfish crackers (that actually was what the tantrum was about).  So, why on earth do I envision myself reasoning with a 16 year-old who will likely be over-tired and over-hormonal.  Nevertheless, I have had 2 mornings in a row with Sydney that have left me hoping this isn't foreshadowing of what's to come when she is 16. 

Her coming unglued usually involves me brushing her hair, to which she has adequately named "hair torture."  I don't really pride myself in being a mom who makes threats that I cannot deliver on, but I have to admit the statement "we could get it cut short" has crossed my lips.  Another source of contention is clothing.  Her style differs oh so much from my own.  She likes everything with glitter, sequence, animal prints, and tutu skirts.  My mom got her a gift card to Justice for Girls for Christmas.  When we went to spend it I felt like such a jerk...every other word out of my mouth must have been "no."  She finally settled on a cute sweater dress, a fluffy scarf, and two Pomeranian stuffed dogs.  She claims when she grows up she is having a Pomeranian as a pet.  John told her she has to move out first.  Ha!  But seriously, I have to wonder what’s in store for us 10 years from now.  I think I better buy stock in hair color because the grays are going to completely overtake me. 

John and I watched Seinfeld when it was on (heck, I still DVR it and we rewatch it).  There was an episode when George’s father, Frank, was trying to “keep his cool.”  He decided that instead of losing his temper, he was going to speak the statement “serenity now.”  The statement was supposed to deliver him from the frustration and give him peace.  A friend tells George that the "serenity now" tactic of stress relief is ineffective, it simply bottles up inside until you eventually go insane.  This is absolutely one of the funniest episodes of the show I have ever seen.  I’ve been saying the Serenity Prayer to myself over the past couple days when Sydney is stonewalling over hair, eating breakfast, and getting dressed.  This prayer does help me.  I like to think I’m not as crazy as Frank Costanza, but there are moments when I am down in the trenches of motherhood, feeling I am not coming out alive; or at least not without significant damage.

I have to decide if I really have a choice in these matters.  Ask myself, how important is it?  In the grand scheme of life does it really matter if she pairs a black sequence, silver starred tutu with an owl-patterned shirt?  Does it really matter that her earrings rarely match?  Does it matter that she wears glitter shoes to Elliot's basketball practice, then attempts to participate wearing them? Definitely not!  But, it does matter that she eats enough protein, remembers to bring home her homework, and doesn’t speak to me in a completely disrespectful tone.  Is this what my mom means when she advises me “Kristin, you have to pick your battles”??  These are those moments, when as parents ourselves, we finally see that our own parents weren’t so “wrong.” Mom, you did SO many things right!

I flipped the pages one of my favorite books on motherhood this morning.  I am packing it up to send to my sister, Emily.  She’s in the toddler war zone.  She’s in the mommy-stage that I was in that day 7 years ago in Target.  My nephew, AJ, has meltdowns over things she cannot simply smooth over.  She needs support, other moms, and comedic relief.  The book I am sending her offers just that.  But, at the end it had this perfect part that I could really relate to.  “The awareness that life goes in stages, and that’s not such a bad thing, is priceless.”  We moms (sorry dads) sacrifice so much when our kids are little.  We don’t even realize it until we start to come out of it.  I get normal amounts of sleep now (mostly).  My kids don’t run away from me (usually).  I don’t have to explain to a crying toddler why we can’t buy 10 bags of Goldfish (now it’s why Elliot can’t eat more than 3 slices of pizza at once, but at least he isn’t crying).   

I still need my own timeouts sometimes and I waver between moments of being a Pinterest Mom or a Real Mom.  At the end of the day though, or when I drop off the kids at school and the tense moments of 8 AM have passed, I can breathe deeply and know that this too shall pass--and again repeat the Serenity Prayer.  More recently I have taken off on a run to smooth myself over. Maybe running really is a sanity saver.

So here’s to moms, whatever stage you may find yourself in.  Serenity now, and not insanity later.  Do one thing today that your future self will thank you for.

Thanks for reading.

Sweet Elliot meltdown free

My favorite prayer

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thoughts from the Treadmill?

I first heard this slogan, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” from my healthy husband, John.  Now it rings in my head as I attempt to become a runner.  I’ve been running about 5 times a week now.  I am going to admit something about running.  I don’t like it.  It is such a struggle for me.  I make strange facial expressions while I run.  I sweat.  A lot.  My face turns red.  I listen to very loud music.  And, I think too much.

I have this incredibly annoying habit of over analyzing EVERYTHING.  My brain seriously over processes just about every thought that enters my mind.  A friend of mine calls this “introspective.”  Perhaps I think this way since my personality is much more extroverted.  I have no idea.  I’m sure I’ll think about it some more to come to a better conclusion.  What I do know is that my introspective thought patterns carry over while I am exercising.  I have asked other runners, “What do you think about when you run?”  Their response baffles me.  Do you know what it is?  It’s one word:  NOTHING.  I mean really!  How do you think of nothing?  When I am running I think about how much I don’t want to run.  I think of grocery lists and appointments I need to make.  I keep looking at the time and distance on the treadmill’s monitor.  The little red digital numbers blink at me as if they are taunting me.  I check my heart rate monitor more often than necessary.  Minutes have to last longer when I am moving at 6.5 mph—they have to. 

I watch other gym members as they run, seemingly effortlessly, at higher rates of speed.  Their backsides don’t move as much as mine does.  And, as I do this I begin to have a conversation with myself that tells me to just pay attention to what I am doing, stop comparing myself to other people, get through the next 30 minutes, and try to relax the muscles in my face so that I am not grimacing.  Sometimes I even pray—just small prayers.  I ask for the strength to get through; to finish what I started.  What I have just described is only part of my thoughts.  Ugh…why do I do this again?

I do this because I want to be healthy.  I run because I love to feel strong.  I run because when it’s over I feel like I accomplished something good.  I run because I don’t want to gain back the 50 pounds I lost 3 years ago.  I run because I want to be a good example for my kids.  I run because I want John to know how much he influences me with his own healthy actions.  And, I run out of fear.  I have a small growth on one of my lungs that is being monitored.  When I run and I am winded, I think about that growth and I think that getting fresh oxygen into my body is a good way to fight whatever it is that is there.

I also do this because as John told me years ago, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet.”  I still track what I eat by writing it down at least 3 days a week.  When I track what goes into my mouth it’s more good stuff and less junk.  The running is just a piece of my own healthy “pie.”  Yes, I had to say pie because I need to create that visual in my mind.  I’m creating my own pie of experience, strength and hope.  My experience portion of the pie is pretty large.  The experience part is made up of foods I eat, and want to eat but avoid, my own life story, and lots of smaller ingredients.  But, as I continue to get healthier (in mind and body), my strength and hope portions of the pie will become more equal parts.  I think that sounds pretty cool and much more balanced. 

As we celebrate the start of 2013 I hope to see the surge at the gym continue.  I hope to see excitement carry on past January.  I hope to learn how to turn off my mind a little more with each turn on the treadmill. 

Happy New Year!  Here’s to healthy 2013.