Why Grown-up is Glamorous (When You’re Five)

IMG_0902“I can’t wait to be a grown-up!” H exclaims.

“Really?” I ask. “Um… Why?”

I can’t imagine what I do that looks so freaking exciting. Sometimes, I’d much rather be coloring, or dressing up in a Disney Princess costume, tiara and light-up “glass” slippers and twirling aimlessly around the living room.

“Because grown-ups get to eat at the raw bar,” H says. She covers her mouth with one hand before adding, quietly, “And say fresh words!”

“And grown-ups get to stay up late,” S chimes in.

They don’t yet know that “late” is only about 30 seconds after they’re tucked in (for the third time) snugly into their beds, and that I barely managed to stay awake through dinner. They also don’t know that “Sleep” with a capital S – hell, a capital everything – has been seriously overdue on my grown-up to-do list for, oh, let’s say the last five years 😉

I won’t tell them that staying up late – and grown-up-ness, in general – isn’t quite as glamorous as it looks. That, while I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything, at the moment, I’m up to my ears. Multitasking. Worrying about loved ones. About health, safety, sanity, balance, finding my way. Making it all work. Wondering if I’m not doing it right. Learning not to worry about others who think I’m not doing it right. Channeling the positive and learning to let go of the negative: in myself, and in others in spite of myself.

Yes, that glitter glue and finger-paint is sounding better by the minute.

I know there will be some point, years from now, where my girls will miss these days, or at least the simplicity of them. Right now, it’s my job to protect (and enjoy) the innocence I wish we could all hold onto for a little (or maybe a lot) longer.

As if I have a chance of convincing them that being a grown-up isn’t cool. If they could, they’d be using my grown-up “powers” to watch every episode ever made of Jake and the Neverland Pirates in a row, buy every Ariel doll that exists for minimal scene interruption during imaginative play, and put powdered sugar and sprinkles on every variety of breakfast food. Just to start.

“You’re a grown-up. You can do whatever you want,” one of them always reminds me. Usually when I’m reminding them we CAN’T do something.

I have no idea where they get this from. Things I’m sure I’ve passed along include: “That’s NOT appropriate.” “That’s NOT acceptable behavior.” And, unfortunately, on occasion, “Oh crap.” However, they most often like to tell me whenever I say it (instead of something worse) that it is NOT appropriate and NOT acceptable.

I’m fairly certain I’ve never reacted to anything by saying, “I’m a grown-up. I can do whatever I want.” But since I’m just in that kind of mood today, I’m going to go with it. I’ll follow up this morning’s not-so-successful good intentions with a cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop. Just because I can.

Yes, sometimes being a grown-up has its perks. Thanks, girls.

My New Year’s (Un)Resolution

Hello, 2013!

Hello, 2013!

We took down the Christmas tree, vacuumed up Frazier Fir needles that we’ll undoubtedly be finding until next year, and reclaimed some of our living space. As a kid, I used to watch my mom do this (but with a big, fat Blue Spruce that had to be tied to the beams in the living room) and I’d fight back tears. The excitement got packed away carefully into see-through plastic boxes in the attic, and everything just looked so empty and boring: AKA what I now view as “clean and organized.”

Grown-up life, and keeping up with H and S, my four-year-old twin daughters, leaves much less time for being sad about tossing our beloved tree (whose dead, dried-out branches tried to reclaim most of our ornaments) on the front lawn. And urgent displays in the retail world are already sweeping us up into the excitement of the Next Big Thing. Winter Clearances, Valentine’s Day, and the one thing I won’t be taking part in this year: tackling our New Year’s resolutions head-on. For 2013, my resolution is to take a year off from making new resolutions.

For the last few years, I’ve seen January 1st as a time to restructure my life. To finally lose that last ten to fifteen pounds I’ve been fighting with since the girls were born. To spend more time reading and writing, pushing along my dreams of becoming a Real Writer. To finally put together the girls’ scrapbooks in which they haven’t even been officially born yet. To organize the whole house and make efficient use of every bit of space, one room at a time.

And every year, I start out whole-heartedly, throwing myself at the new, improved version of me. Then I get lost in the day-to-day like I always do, wondering what’s wrong with me and why I feel like I’m always moving and nothing ever feels DONE.

I’ve finally realized that neither my life nor my personality (have I mentioned I’m a Libra and a perfectionist?) is well-suited for focusing on one goal. I’ve been multi-tasking for as long as I can remember, even before becoming a mom, and it can be tiring and mind-boggling, yes, but mostly, it works for me. It’s what I know. The more I try to focus on ONE thing, the others fall through the cracks, and I end up feeling worse instead of better. Yes, I need to lose that weight. Yes, I should be writing more. Reading more. Outlining the next steps in my career. Moving things along. But sometimes, it needs to be okay to just be still. To slow down and take inventory. To live in the moment, especially when it comes to enjoying time with my husband and daughters.

These days, what I find myself craving – way more than productivity and results – is balance, and the breathing room I need to find it. In a way that’s healthy for me and that works for my family, and for what my life ACTUALLY looks like, instead of the Superwoman-infused version my guilt tells me I should be mastering instead.

This isn’t to say I won’t plan or set goals; I wouldn’t be able to function without a to-do list, or six. I’m a planner at heart, through and through, and have lists for everything. On my Apple Calendar. In Things for my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. What needs to be done this week, and next. What to pack in the kids’ overnight bags. I even have a spreadsheet to budget for our next trip to Disney.

So while I won’t be starting every morning at the gym or writing ten pages before I get out of bed, this year I already know I have one accomplishment to celebrate: I think I finally know myself well enough to take a break when I need it instead of piling it on, without feeling like a slacker.

Well – maybe you should ask me about that in a few days 😉


My Inner-Superwoman is on (a Permanent) Vacation

H and S are back to school and suddenly, I have a little bit of time to myself. Three days a week, there are a few hours in between mediating disagreements over various Disney song lyrics through breakfast and getting ready to go – and bracing myself for at least one full-blown meltdown if, when I pick them up, they happen to ask to go to Dunkin’ Donuts and I say, “No, not today.”

In spite of the over-emotional-ness Back to School (or Back to the Beach?) that locks me in a death grip every time I think about how quickly my babies are growing up, I’m determined to use the time to chase this boring-but-elusive dream of mine called balance.

Which, right now, looks like this:

9 AM: Walk the girls to their classroom.

9:15: Head back to school to drop off the sweatshirts I forgot to send the girls to school with. It’s actually cold today.

9:30 AM: Shop for new fall and winter jackets instead of going home for a run.

10:30 AM: Decide to look online first for options, sales and coupons. Think about loose ends to tie up for work (from home) hope to clean up the girls’ bedroom, the living room and the kitchen before pickup.

11:15 AM: Arrive home and alternate between eating lunch, doing some work and obsessing about whether or not I should have signed the girls up for soccer instead of swimming this fall, while I clean the toilet.

1:40: Head out to get the girls.

I apologize if I just made your head hurt, too.

I need to set my life up in a way that makes me feel successful – as a mother and a wife, and as a woman. The writer in me took to Pages recently to sort out exactly what this entails. A new document called, “Balance,” lists the four areas of my life that somehow, need to synchronize – even if only on alternating days. They read: Mom/Wife, Work, Personal and House Stuff. There is nothing in between the lines. Call it my worst case of writer’s block yet – or something else. Like, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. Or, I can’t seem to channel my inner-Superwoman. (Maybe I scared her away.)

Here’s what I know: I’m grateful to have the flexibility to be home with my daughters and to work for my husband’s small business from home (with a status of part-time to irregular!) As the girls grow up, I’m spending more time doing communications work and writing, and I love it. I’m nervous and excited about how this will grow, and where it will lead me next. And, I exercise at a great studio with many inspiring, multi-tasking women. Since the girls were babies, my membership has helped me make fitness a priority and even a pleasure, not to mention it’s turned this painfully un-athletic girl into sort-of a runner.

There are so many things I want to do: many with my husband and kids, and some on my own. I keep To-Do lists. I appreciate organization. I’m getting lots help from iCalendar, Evernote and Things (for my Mac, iPhone AND iPad) and I have the motivation, damn it! But I’m spending more time trying to stop my head from spinning than making progress. And even worse, I’m worrying about trying not to worry, instead of enjoying little moments of peace and having faith that I’ll at least get to what’s most important.

Maybe I should add THAT to my To-Do list, and click on the little box to check it off. Yes. Done.

Must. Find. Patience. Now.

Patience. Perspective. Peace.

One of my most favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights,” she said.

This makes me smile – these situations hold so much potential – and it reminds me to keep things in perspective when I consider giving in to frustration. It also reminds me that I have a very impressionable audience that never misses a “fresh” word or a “mean face.”

I’m sharing it with you because this week, I’m trying to kick some negative energy. I’m having some trouble with the juggling act: doing my best to be a good mother and wife, while devoting enough time and effort to work, maintaining a reasonable fitness routine and keeping up with our loved ones – and calendar(s.) Let’s add trying to keep the house organized and clean, and going through the mail once in a while 😉

Multitasking used to be a talent. Now it’s what I blame when I miss my turn (twice) and drive around in circles, and then forget what I needed when I finally reach my destination. I feel so inefficient. Am I the only one who drops the cash and/or the debit card on the ground at nearly every visit to the drive-thru ATM?

Sometimes I catch myself yelling at my kids, “Can you please just wait a minute? Where is your patience?!” That’s when I realize that I’ve most definitely lost track of mine. Preschoolers can be a tough audience, but how am I supposed to teach them understanding when, sometimes, I can barely contain myself in my 30s?

I thought I’d have mastered patience long before now. I suppose in many ways, I have. I’ve endured – and even embraced – more than I ever imagined I could: surround-sound crying, interrupted sleep, the seemingly endless stage where kids ask “Mommy, why?” after absolutely everything. I didn’t go (completely) insane potty-training twins, and for the most part, I enjoy my daughters’ – um, creative process. (See https://adeepbreathandbabysteps.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/what-is-this-mess/)

But I whine about waiting for a dinner reservation and I curse at inanimate objects.

I’d really like to be the kind of person who makes the best of a rainy day without pouting the way my daughters do when, heaven forbid, they endure a trip to Target without getting a new toy. I’d be proud to be more like my husband, whose luggage was lost once (and found) on a trip to the Caribbean. He shrugged and said it was a good excuse to go shopping. But – in all honesty, between my inner control freak and the fact that we now travel with two children, I’d probably NEVER do well with this.

As for the Christmas tree lights, we’ll see. Last year was the first year in a while that my poor husband didn’t fling them out the front door, still wrapped around most of the tree.

I guess we all have our moments 😉