Friday, September 11, 2009

Lost at Sea

monkey mia

When I was a young child my father bought a boat. He taught himself to sail and then we began to take summer trips to Catalina Island. My parents would load us up and we would go out for a few days, anchor in the tiny harbor and take a small inflatable dinghy to the shore. It was not a short trip by sail and I was a terrible sailor. My mother would load up on those light plastic produce bags and I would load them up with barf. But I always loved the island, the long days in Avalon, the gentle waves, playing all day in the sand and eating peanut butter sandwiches.

My father liked to sail at night and there is a story I have told since I was old enough to be a story teller. It goes like this…one night my mother came down to the cabin and she woke me from sleep. She took me on deck in the dark. I remember wondering if it was so I could barf. But we were not moving, mired by a seasonal crop of floating seaweed. My dad was trying to free us up from the seaweed with oars. And in my story there was a pod of dolphins helping, chittering away as they aided my father in pulling the seaweed away from the boat. And then we were free and they swam at the helm, pacing our small sailboat.

I cherish this story dearly, but just went to corroborate with my father and he explained that there was seaweed and there were dolphins, but neither had anything to do with each other. Ah, the stories of childhood as they fall away into truth. I feel a little sad after hearing that today.

Lately I feel like that bad sailor again. I cannot find my sea legs. We have had so many changes happening and I have once again lost my sense of balance. It makes me think parenting is like sailing, constantly navigating a changing and challenging landscape. Foreign to me, exhausting and foreign.

It makes me realize that if my analogy holds true, I may never be very good at this. I am proving to be not very good at sailing the seas of parenting right now. I am worried about the boys and their adjustment to the changes; this is being compounded by tantrums and willfulness, by two boys deciding to drop their nap. For a few days we have had nothing but nutty behavior. And poor sleep for everyone, every day. I am short tempered and impatient. I am starting to feel like I need a barf bag. Ugh.

And I am starting to feel like sometimes this parenting gig is not terribly fair. Because I realize we are just at the start and I seem to have some issues with change and compromise and keeping my cool. And who knows what is over the next swell.

I hope there is a harbor, a small calm safe harbor with gentle waves lapping the protected beach and simple peanut butter sandwiches that everyone enjoys. Just a few days of respite.

Next weekend Tim and I are taking a solo trip, not to a beach, but a lake. I do better with lakes. Let us hope this trip provides the breather I am desperate to take, no barf bags included. Just a little quiet time, a little regrouping and a little practice on finding my sea legs. Because I really want to sail on this ship better than those early days.

*I have to give my parents props for taking four small children out to sea, feeling good and confidant about it, giving us the experience, barfy as it was for me.

*And I just went in and laid down with them for a bit to regroup…and their sleep breathing and sleep sounds and snuggles made me think I can find those legs after all.

*And damn, Owen can snore. Like a drunken sailor.


LauraC said...

Oh honey I think you are too hard on yourself by saying you will never be good at this. Do you somehow imagine that the rest of us going through these transitions easily and keeping sunshiney dispositions like June Cleaver? Because I have had downright days where I do not like my children and wonder where I failed as I am raising devils. And have I mentioned that I have yelled at the kids before?

The changes you are going through right now are huge! Compounded by 2.5 being so hard! I mean with starting to work I imagine you are trying to find ways to balance it all for the first time in new ways. And school transitions bring their own version of hell with cranky overtired kids.

Well this turned into a long comment again when really all I wanted to say is that you are a fantastic mom and we all struggle.

kat said...

Yeah, I feel the same way. This too shall pass. We just survived the first week of Kindergarten.

Preeti said...

I agree with Laura and Kat. Even we adults get cranky and nutty with change and try and get over it with pouting, exercise, knitting, or even a stiff drink! They will work their pattern out in their own way and you are one of the most wonderful moms I've "met". You're doing everything right and feeling this way is ok too.

Enjoy your respite coming up:)

Preeti said...

and oh my goodness...that photograph is just beautiful!!!

Sadia said...

I'm a perfectionist, so I know I will never meet my own expectations as a mother. I settle for good enough. Perhaps this is rationalizing, but I believe that by accepting my imperfections I am modeling for my children how to love themselves despite their own.

Laura's right about 2.5. Two and half into the first part of three was the land of defiance, challenge and inter-twin argument. It's settled down now (almost 3.5).

I think the really great moms are the ones who never think they're good ones.

Sarah-potterknitter said...

Must be something in the cosmos, Everyone I know with toddlers is feeling a bit off these days. I've been so cranky for weeks. Not getting work done, not getting sleep, not having alone time or even good family time. Argg! One friend and I have decided that since we're already this crazy why not just get pregnant again and have a real reason to be crazy!

Claroux said...

You are definitely being too hard on yourself! I agree with the rest of the twin mams....2.5-almost three has been the WORST with regard to challenging behavior and limit testing. There are many days when I want to get in my car and drive off for a few days to be alone and quiet. I feel like I am constantly trying to rephrase my sentences so I'm not always saying "don't do this...don't say that..." I think my only saving grace has been the addition of sweet Jax - Jeffrey has taken on the brunt of the twin-rearing these days giving me a much needed respite.

You are an AMAZING mama! Teaching your kids to appreciate the little things, nature and the world around them. These days too many little ones are left to their own devices to watch TV or play video games. Your boys' time on the earth has been rich with culture, nature and most of all love.

I hope I can get out to CA soon and we can have some quiet twin mama time together :-) *hugs*

Maggie May said...

that photograph is stunning. it's mesmerizingly gorgeous.

and i am imperfectly stumbling through my parenting right now.

meyer said...

quiet harbour and open sea are a good picture for parenting. i sometimes wished i had a barf bag,too. keep on going and don't try to be perfect. don't care what others say. you are the best and only mum for your boys.

sweetsalty kate said...

That photo is absolutely gorgeous.

As for not having sea legs when it comes to parenting, I think that's just a natural state. Thinking we suck is as natural and as normal as loving them. Don't be sheepish about it, and don't think you're being too hard on yourself. Well, I mean... you are being too hard on yourself. But you're a mother. You'll always do this.

Just know that when you feel this way, you've got plentiful company. So just shrug, yack, and be on your merry (and sometimes not-so-merry) way.

Kirstie said...

My children are teenagers now and I find I grow as much with my kids as they do.

I think of parenting a lot like DH mountain biking - you look where you want to go, not where you want to avoid (and relax and hang on). Parenting is sooo much like that . . . and the same determination to stay upright on the bike helps with staying upright as a parent. I have drawn a lot of analogies between life and mtb'ing. I think that's why I'm so addicted. One helps me out with the other.

Hope you can find time to keep riding!