Thursday, July 8, 2010

Own Kind of Strength

So here we are in San Diego, where the weather has taken a serious lesson in gloom. For the last three mornings, it's been raining. RAINING! IN SAN DIEGO, IN THE SUMMER! And then it's cold and gloomy for the rest of the day. I believe the weather is actually worse here than in the Bay Area, which is saying something given it's July.

Unfortunately, Elan's behavior is pretty gloomy too. Sometimes travel does wonders for him, helps break him out of fussy patterns. Generally speaking, he's quite delightful while traveling. But this trip has so far not accomplished that. In fact, I would say that he's been even more difficult while traveling than he was at home. There are two possible responses I could have to this development: 1) cry and rage with frustration; 2) laugh hysterically.

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Did that seem forced?

Also, now that the newness factor has worn off being around his cousin Judah, Elan's obviously becoming jealous, and I see a certain glint in his eye that means he is considering the boundaries of acceptable behavior toward a baby. What about a hug that morphs into full-body contact? Will they notice the aggression if it's couched in affectionate terms? This behavior of course makes me feel very encouraged given the baby who will be joining our household come fall.

All of these rather gloomy developments have convinced me once and for all that we just need to spend the money and meet with a parenting coach to help us. I've chosen Meg Zweibeck, because she's been doing this for a long time, she has an excellent reputation, and both Mikhail and I have been to her talks and liked her playful-but-firm approach. We could probably find a cheaper alternative, like going to speak with an intern at the Ann Martin Children's Center. But I'm past the point of fooling around. I need to talk to someone who knows what they're doing and come up with a plan. NOW. Actually, yesterday.

I often wish I could be one of those graceful moms who make parenting look easy. Even when their children are misbehaving, these moms handle it without ever seeming to break a sweat. One of my best friends is this kind of mom, and though she does sometimes admit to being overwhelmed dealing with her four (4!!) children, from the outside she is the picture of parenting confidence and calm.

I'm working on accepting that I'm really not that kind of mom. For better or worse, I'm much more likely to highlight the drama and downplay to myself and others the times I feel I'm getting it right. Part of it is definitely that I have a challenging child ("spirited!" - I'm reading this book). But it's also that I value the honesty of showing the not-graceful times in parenting. Writing about my miscarriage, I realized I am interested in exploring when life is not pretty, when it turns you on your head, and how to deal with that. We'll all have those times, whether it's because your 3-year-old is throwing a fit in a cafe at 8 AM on a rainy morning, or some other challenge. I'm willing to explore my own vulnerabilities as a person, and as a mother. And though it might not be very graceful, I have to believe this quality is its own kind of strength.

Back in March, one of my friends posted this question on Facebook: Moms, how often do you feel like you are failing as a parent? I've thought a lot about her question since then, and I admire her for asking it. I'm not sure this would have been my answer back in March, when all I could think about was not puking, but it is my answer right now: every single damn day.

Graceful? No.

Honest? Yes.

And so my challenge right now is managing to locate my sense of humor, find my inner grounding, and navigate my way to a sense of perspective. Every single damn day.


  1. Woah, you're in San Diego? How did I miss that you're down here visiting? You're in my neck of the woods now!

    How's your morning pages experiment going? I haven't been doing the night pages as often as I would like.

    Have you done anything with the stuff from Flying Lessons? I feel like I'm still processing.

  2. I got a little off-track during my last week of Morning Pages. Not surprising, since I was also traveling and spending time with family. But I've gotten back into it and now have accomplished my goal of 5 times a week for 3 weeks, just a few days later than planned. I really feel like they've been a useful processing tool for me given all that's going on in my life right now, and I *think* that they've opened the door for some writing that wouldn't have happened otherwise. Though not much writing is happening, so it's hard to tell. ;)

    I think I will keep it up, though I'm not sure it it'll be 5 times a week.

    As for Flying Lessons, I haven't finished the last few posts of the class, for the same reasons. I definitely feel like I got a lot out of the information and inspiration Kelly Rae put out there. It's totally overwhelming of course too. I am trying to decide which creative-business steps I want to tackle before baby comes in October. I think my big 3 are: website (I don't currently have one); redesigning my blog; and business cards. More on that later...