Monday, April 12, 2010

Heeding The Universal Pieces Of Advice

I learned something about a year out of high school. "They" are most often right. The people who all tell you the same thing but you don't listen. You tune it out because you hear it so often. "They" are the people who are older and more experienced than you. "They" are the people who want you to learn from their mistakes.

Soon after high school I learned an amazing truth. All that drama and need to fit it....wouldn't matter at all after graduation. Who cares who was in the popular group or who drove the right car? No one cares. The amazing thing was I heard that over and over again. I heard it from my parents, from older friends, from books and strangers in the mall. Over and over I heard "Don't stress about all this stuff. In a few years it won't matter to anyone."

But I didn't listen. I thought, they don't know anything about it. The 5 journals that span my high school life would indicate I was worried about the drama.

When the truth of it all hit me, somewhere in my freshman year of college, I realized something much more important. "They" knew this. Had I just listened to my parents and teachers and strangers, I could have saved myself (and my parents) so much mental exertion and drama. Had I just known in high school what I learned very quickly in college, I would have been happier.

It was that day I decided to listen to "them". I decided I would pay attention to the advice that seems universally given. I would not let my eyes glaze over in the mere repetition of it all, but try to see the reason behind the counsel.

When Shane and I got married, the advice I held to closest was "Experience everything you can before you have kids, because afterwards, you'll have to wait years before you have the chance again." So we did. We did everything! For the five years before Lydia was born we experienced everything we could. We traveled as often as possible. "Hey, it's a three day weekend, let's drive to Washington DC!" ...."Hey, it's a beautiful night, let's travel into the country and sleep in the back of the jeep and call it camping".  "Hey, let's go to Guatemala for a couple weeks!"..."Hey, we get to sleep in tomorrow, let's stay up all night talking and watch the sunrise." We went on dates, whether fancy or simple, a few times a week. We enjoyed each other.

Thank you to all those who urgently admonished this. You were right. Oh you were right.

There are so many of these universal pieces of advice I want to adhere to.

"Don't go into needless debt! It can destroy your life" - So we try not to.

"Keep your body healthy, you won't always be young" - So I need to.

There is one piece of advice I hold closest now. I clutch at it in near desperation. "They" have told me to "Enjoy them". Enjoy my little ones. Enjoy them while they are so young. Take advantage of this sweet time with my children.

This is the advice I have heard more than any other. I have heard it from almost every parent whose children are older than 10.

"Enjoy them".

I know, I know "they" are right. I look at my sweet children and I already ache that they are growing so fast. I watch with fascination as Lydia starts to read. She articulates her emotion with such clarity and I wonder where my baby went. Her sweet innocence still shins on her face and I want to whisper, hold on to that. Don't grow up too fast. My little Collin is moving swiftly out of babyhood to become a toddler and I want to scream for him to stay little. I'm not ready not to have a baby. It went too fast!

The problem with this advice is that you can't see around the haze of motherhood with enough clarity. I know I need to enjoy my children. Everyday I should plop down on the floor and color and play for hours. But that is the exact problem. It is EVERYDAY. ALL DAY LONG. I try to explain to Shane that he leaves his job at the end of the day and comes home. But my home is my job. I never leave. My freedom is relativity non existent. It is difficult to constantly embrace what you can never get away from.

The more I learn about myself as a mother, the more I understand that the routine I am living with is not conducive to my personality. I love staying at home with my children. More than I thought I ever could. But I do not like staying home with them all day, every day. It just isn't conducive to "me". I NEED time for myself. I need to step away from my children for a few hours a few times a week. I need that time away so I can return to them refreshed and ready to enjoy them.

But I can't have a few hours. I have no family here. My husband works more hours than a surgeon. All my friends have very young children as well. In this economy, it wouldn't be prudent to hire even a very part time nanny.  It makes me desperate at times. I don't want to miss these amazing moments with my children, just because I am drowning in them. I need to step away so I can see them with clarity.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that "this just isn't the time" for many things in my life. My life is truly not my own. Right now I am so ensconced in motherhood, the other parts of me are on standby.

What I dream of is 2 hours of daylight. 2 hours for myself with no one crying or calling for me. Oh what I could accomplish in two hours. I could practice my photography. I could go running. I could play my guitar. I could bake bread in a blissful moment of domestic zen. Yoga, shopping, reading. I would buy Photoshop and learn to use it. I could plant a garden. I could be a better friend.

But I don't have that. What I cannot do is stop "enjoying them", just because I am overwhelmed. I know it is only a few years away that I will be telling a new mother to enjoy every moment with her little children. I just hope I tell her that with the knowledge that I enjoyed my children as much as I could before their childhood slipped through my fingers and they were grown.



16 PEOPLE HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY:


The Pyper Fam said...
I couldn't have said that better about my own thoughts and feelings! Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling this way! You still seem to be so creative and make things so beautiful around you! I'm always impressed!!!
Joy said...
Straight from my brain. I have been thinking about this since my third baby was born. It feels like she was born just a few days ago but it has been almost 6 months. The more children I have the faster time goes! I want to cry, want to hold on to them. But my children decide it's time to grow up and learn new things and grow, grow, grow. I think I'll take your advice to sit on the floor and color and play all day. I don't do that enough. There's always dishes and vacuuming and laundry to do. Tomorrow will be different.
Joy said...
I linked this at my blog!
{amy k.} said...
first of all, I really love your new blog design. maybe you've had it for a while now, but i really love it! second- i do not have children of my own yet but i still appreciate this post for so many reasons. i love that you are so real and honest.... i feel so many times people portray who they want to be on their blogs. you admit that you can't take 24 hours a day 7 days a week of children, no matter how adorable they are- they still have their fits and you still have your weaknesses. i really appreciate that, it's refreshing. and it's evident how much you love being a mother and wife and that too is refreshing. thank you for sharing and for being so real!
Anonymous said...
Natalie, I've followed your blog for some time now and this is the first time I've responded! BTW, I really enjoy your blog. I too have two little ones who are a little older than yours, but I can tell you that everything you've articulated is exactly how I have felt for so long. You are most definitely not alone!! And like you, I've always held that piece of advice in the back of my head -- that they grow up so fast -- because they really do! Just know that every little ounce of time and energy that you give to them today is worth it in the long run. You are an amazing mom and thanks for sharing what so many of us feel. AJ
Kelly and Gunner said...
I know how it feels to have no help and no family around. It can make you feel sooo lonely at times. My lil man is 6 months old now and my husband and I never go on dates because we have literally no one to watch him. Hopefully life will start to look up...
Nama said...
This was beautiful, Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing.
Molly and Wayne said...
I love you
House Queen said...
Well said Natalie! I work so I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a stay at home mom except for I do get to experience that in the summer months and I cherish every moment. However, I do understand your need to escape for awhile. If we lived just a little closer, I gladly would help you out. HAng in there! You are doing a great job!!!!
Cristin said...
What a beautiful blog and post! I am so happy to dropped by too. I have a fun surprise for you. So, pls contact me when you can. xo, cristin simplifiedbee@yahoo.com www.simplifiedbee.com
sara said...
Oh Natalie, you got me again with this one. Every single thing you said has been on my heart these last few months. We too, are without family in town and I constantly have to fight back the jealousy I feel towards friends of ours that have their parents right down the street. I think what you said about your husband having independence struck the biggest chord. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to explain to my hubs that he has this amazing thing called autonomy even while he is working hard all day at a job outisde of the house. When he has to pee he never has to stop and see if our girl is occupied enough that he can steel away for a minute. (And he never has to go #2 in front of an audience.) If he needs to run an errand in the middle of the day, he just does it--no diaper bag, no stroller, no juice cup and snacks and baby in tow. These days, even a solo trip to the grocery store sounds like a little slice of heaven to me. I don't know you personally of course, but from what you share, it is clear you are a really good mom. Hang on and know you aren't alone. Sending hugs...
Ashleigh said...
Have you heard the song "you're gonna miss this" ? If not, look it up on youtube, i absolutely love it. Helps me keep things in perspective when I'm down in the dumps, especially since the hubby is gone it's hard to find joy in the everyday things. But thanks for this, it was nicely written :)
Carrie said...
I had the same thoughts today (albeit not so well-written in my head) as I watched my daughter play alone on the kitchen floor while I folded laundry and did the dishes for an hour. I SO wanted to be down there with her, but I was drowning in household chores. It broke my heart. She is so good and deserves a mommy who will be interact and play every chance I can-- but those darn piles of laundry, dishes, bills, groceries keep growing. One GREAT piece of advice I was given in college was "You CAN have it all-- just not at the same time." The great body, but no kids. Kids--- but not a clean house. Money-- but not leisure because you are working. Keeping that in mind, on the rough days I see this as a stage to enjoy and the other things-- being toned and fit, long vacations, a clean house-- will come later. It's when I strive to have it all at the same time that I feel most overwhelmed. Beautifully written thoughts, Natalie!
Artsy-Craftsy Merchant said...
Well said! I now am saying..."she is only with me 4 more summers and off to college...what will I do?" Endless circle.
Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...
Yo are a winner! Stop by my blog to see what you have won :)
Shawna said...
Natalie ~ this too shall pass. I remember working from home with my 2 kids there. I hated being distracted with work and always tied down to the house with the 2 kids, but felt as long as they were there with me, it was "quality time". not so much. enjoy this time that you have with them. it's all too true that they grow up too fast. Mine are both in school all day now. At the beginning of the school year the days were soooooo long. Now my baby girl is turning 10 next week. She loves putting on makeup (and she's good at it!) and being on a big stage with all the lights on her -- where did my shy little girl go?? Enjoy the memories that you are making with them NOW, and you can hold on to those forever, as will they. they don't care if mommy is a few pounds overwieight, or if the house isn't spotless clean, or if you haven't applied any makeup in a week. and in time, you will get the chance to find the "you" again, although you may find that you have changed slightly because of your children - they make us better people. ;-)

16 comments:

The Pyper Fam said...

I couldn't have said that better about my own thoughts and feelings! Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know I'm not alone in feeling this way! You still seem to be so creative and make things so beautiful around you! I'm always impressed!!!

Joy said...

Straight from my brain. I have been thinking about this since my third baby was born. It feels like she was born just a few days ago but it has been almost 6 months. The more children I have the faster time goes! I want to cry, want to hold on to them. But my children decide it's time to grow up and learn new things and grow, grow, grow.

I think I'll take your advice to sit on the floor and color and play all day. I don't do that enough. There's always dishes and vacuuming and laundry to do. Tomorrow will be different.

Joy said...

I linked this at my blog!

{amy k.} said...

first of all, I really love your new blog design. maybe you've had it for a while now, but i really love it!

second- i do not have children of my own yet but i still appreciate this post for so many reasons. i love that you are so real and honest.... i feel so many times people portray who they want to be on their blogs. you admit that you can't take 24 hours a day 7 days a week of children, no matter how adorable they are- they still have their fits and you still have your weaknesses. i really appreciate that, it's refreshing. and it's evident how much you love being a mother and wife and that too is refreshing. thank you for sharing and for being so real!

Anonymous said...

Natalie,
I've followed your blog for some time now and this is the first time I've responded! BTW, I really enjoy your blog.
I too have two little ones who are a little older than yours, but I can tell you that everything you've articulated is exactly how I have felt for so long. You are most definitely not alone!! And like you, I've always held that piece of advice in the back of my head -- that they grow up so fast -- because they really do! Just know that every little ounce of time and energy that you give to them today is worth it in the long run. You are an amazing mom and thanks for sharing what so many of us feel.

AJ

Kelly and Gunner said...

I know how it feels to have no help and no family around. It can make you feel sooo lonely at times. My lil man is 6 months old now and my husband and I never go on dates because we have literally no one to watch him. Hopefully life will start to look up...

Nama said...

This was beautiful, Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing.

Molly and Wayne said...

I love you

House Queen said...

Well said Natalie! I work so I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a stay at home mom except for I do get to experience that in the summer months and I cherish every moment. However, I do understand your need to escape for awhile. If we lived just a little closer, I gladly would help you out. HAng in there! You are doing a great job!!!!

Cristin said...

What a beautiful blog and post! I am so happy to dropped by too. I have a fun surprise for you. So, pls contact me when you can.

xo,
cristin
simplifiedbee@yahoo.com
www.simplifiedbee.com

sara said...

Oh Natalie, you got me again with this one. Every single thing you said has been on my heart these last few months. We too, are without family in town and I constantly have to fight back the jealousy I feel towards friends of ours that have their parents right down the street.

I think what you said about your husband having independence struck the biggest chord. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to explain to my hubs that he has this amazing thing called autonomy even while he is working hard all day at a job outisde of the house. When he has to pee he never has to stop and see if our girl is occupied enough that he can steel away for a minute. (And he never has to go #2 in front of an audience.) If he needs to run an errand in the middle of the day, he just does it--no diaper bag, no stroller, no juice cup and snacks and baby in tow. These days, even a solo trip to the grocery store sounds like a little slice of heaven to me.

I don't know you personally of course, but from what you share, it is clear you are a really good mom. Hang on and know you aren't alone. Sending hugs...

Ashleigh said...

Have you heard the song "you're gonna miss this" ?
If not, look it up on youtube, i absolutely love it. Helps me keep things in perspective when I'm down in the dumps, especially since the hubby is gone it's hard to find joy in the everyday things. But thanks for this, it was nicely written :)

Carrie said...

I had the same thoughts today (albeit not so well-written in my head) as I watched my daughter play alone on the kitchen floor while I folded laundry and did the dishes for an hour. I SO wanted to be down there with her, but I was drowning in household chores. It broke my heart. She is so good and deserves a mommy who will be interact and play every chance I can-- but those darn piles of laundry, dishes, bills, groceries keep growing.

One GREAT piece of advice I was given in college was "You CAN have it all-- just not at the same time." The great body, but no kids. Kids--- but not a clean house. Money-- but not leisure because you are working. Keeping that in mind, on the rough days I see this as a stage to enjoy and the other things-- being toned and fit, long vacations, a clean house-- will come later. It's when I strive to have it all at the same time that I feel most overwhelmed.

Beautifully written thoughts, Natalie!

Artsy-Craftsy Merchant said...

Well said! I now am saying..."she is only with me 4 more summers and off to college...what will I do?" Endless circle.

Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

Yo are a winner! Stop by my blog to see what you have won :)

Shawna said...

Natalie ~ this too shall pass. I remember working from home with my 2 kids there. I hated being distracted with work and always tied down to the house with the 2 kids, but felt as long as they were there with me, it was "quality time". not so much. enjoy this time that you have with them. it's all too true that they grow up too fast. Mine are both in school all day now. At the beginning of the school year the days were soooooo long. Now my baby girl is turning 10 next week. She loves putting on makeup (and she's good at it!) and being on a big stage with all the lights on her -- where did my shy little girl go?? Enjoy the memories that you are making with them NOW, and you can hold on to those forever, as will they. they don't care if mommy is a few pounds overwieight, or if the house isn't spotless clean, or if you haven't applied any makeup in a week.
and in time, you will get the chance to find the "you" again, although you may find that you have changed slightly because of your children - they make us better people. ;-)

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