This month has been a busy one with social activities with my friends. Chicago the first weekend with old friends, New York the second weekend with Peace Corps friends... And when I was with those friends, I got this overwhelming feeling of...well...myself.
That's me, right? I'm loud and funny and silly and creative. But sometimes I feel like as a parent, I forget to be those things. Now I will give myself (and all parents) this. Parenting is hard. It's work. It is nothing like being out on your own with old friends at a bar until 1:00 in the morning, obviously... But there are fun things about parenting, wonderful things about my kids and the more myself I am, the better parenting is in the long run. So why do I forget to just be myself?
I think I get so structured in what needs to get done--get in and make dinner, get jammies on, go to bed... As a working mom, that's all I get. I get the rush off to work and school in the morning and the few short hours before bedtime. And weekends. So on these nights when we're getting pajamas on and Lucy starts putting her legs into the arm holes and laughing, I forget and I get impatient and frustrated. It's time for bed! But can't I just laugh? It only takes three or for extra minutes and its happier for everyone.
I think the other thing is that I am such a push over at heart that I really do have to work hard and go outside myself to have boundaries for my kids. To demand politeness and set limits. And its hard to step back from that to being my fun self again. When I can do it--go from telling my child to ask for something in a nice way or stop wanging his/her sibling over the head with that stuffed monkey...to tickling a child or chasing them around the house for minor infractions--it feels really good.
I think the other thing is that I am a creative person...but its hard to be creative in the ways I want to be with the rush of work, and dinner preparation, and getting kids ready for school and for bed. I have not painted, sewed, played my guitar, or sang (besides lullabies) in so long... And the other day when I was playing outside with the kids, I made two really great snowmen. One of them had a mowhawk. And the kids wanted to knock them down and I found myself getting mad. What is my problem? I wondered. And then I realized, that was my first creative expression in a long time. I MADE those snowmen. But in the end, I realized, its all in fun. Art is art whether it stays forever or gets kocked down by little children the moment it is complete. I let them go nuts knocking them over. And then, Coen threw a snowball at me. Thinking I had to get his roughness in check, I scolded him. And then I stopped. And I thought. And I remembered. So I made a snowball and pelted him too, stopping to remind him that we can't hit people above the neck and then pelting him again in the middle of the back. We ended that afternoon in a heap of giggles in the snowy front yard. Myself. My kids. Much better.