Posted in Motherhood

One Blissful Hour

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I’ve always slept until the last possible moment every morning. I’ve been a snooze button pusher, a bargainer, a beggar. Just ten more minutes…no, then just five? Please?

But, every morning, for the past several months, I’ve forced myself out of bed at 6:00, a full hour before my children will wake and eagerly greet the day.

I roll out of bed, fumble for my glasses, hold my breath, and tip toe down the hall, past the kids’ rooms, ever fearful of waking them.

I descend the stairs and find Craig in the office, kiss and wish him a good morning, and while we exchange morning pleasantries on the way to the kitchen, “how did you sleep?”, he pours me my first cup of coffee.

He heads back into the office and I settle onto the couch, snuggle with my cozy blanket, and delicately lift the lid of my laptop.

And for one hour, one blissful hour, I sit in the complete quiet, with only the blue glow and the tapping of keys from my laptop and I slowly, but happily begin my day.

I open Twitter, WordPress, and Google Reader.

I savor my coffee…coffee that in just a few hours will be more about survival than taste and appreciation.

I spend these stolen moments floating from one place to another, reading, commenting, savoring.

I claim these moments for myself, because once those 60 minutes are up, the remaining moments of my day are filled with preschooler plans and toddler babble, coloring and tower building, memorizing my children and enjoying them in each moment.

If I skip these moments for myself, I am often less patient and more resentful of the endless demands of motherhood.

So, while I love sleep, I rub my eyes, stretch my sleepy body, and I get up. Because, well, because I love me, too.

What do you do each day that’s just for you? How do you take care of yourself so that you can take care of others?


Remember, visit http://www.facebook.com/crystallight to learn more about how Crystal Light can flavor your day with 30 refreshing flavors. I was selected and paid for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

I’ll Never Ask

I was sick a couple of weekends ago. I spent forty-eight hours in complete misery. I don’t do sick with any grace whatsoever. I cried, felt bad for myself, and moaned, all while quarantined in the guest room.

And my children were fine. Actually, they were more than fine.

They went to the library, to the grocery store, and for a long walk.

They played games, blocks, and babies.

They were bathed, loved, tickled, and read to.

All while I lay in bed on what felt like the verge of death.

I could hear squeals of laughter, the muted, happy tones of back and forth daddy-daughter conversations, and endless Matthew giggles.

My husband.

He brought me water, then broth, then soup, and finally toast. He made certain that my bucket was clean and nearby.

He anticipated my every need and rubbed my back when I cried.

When I finally emerged, weak from my stomach flu-inflicted stupor, the house was completely clean, the dishes done, laundry folded and put away. I can’t remember the last time that my washer and dryer were not only empty, but had no clothes piled on top.

The refrigerator had even been cleaned out.

He stepped in and took my place. He filled the shoes that I so often feel like I can’t even begin to fill.

He accomplished more in forty-eight hours than I do in a week.

And, although I appreciated having the time to focus on my misery, when I emerged, I was filled with conflicting emotions.

My children were smiling and clean.

My house had not fallen down around me.

Meals had been made, eaten without complaint, and cleaned up.

And I had no hand in any of it.

If I’m honest, there was a part of me that was uncomfortable with the realization that the rhythm of my family continued in my absence; I suspect that perhaps things went even more smoothly.

I looked around, hoping for a stray sock, a dirty plate, a misplaced toy.

Nothing.

Craig had not only coped with my absence, but he had excelled where I often feel like I’m just barely hanging on.

I should have been happy with that. Our children were happy, loved, and content. Why wasn’t I?

So much of my self-worth at this point in my life is tied up in my role as a mother. This job of mothering is incredibly difficult in that there are no performance reviews, no raises or promotions. No pats on the back for a job well done. No real way to measure success.

When someone steps in and appears to do your job better than you do, it’s humbling and disconcerting.

But, there’s a huge part of me that finds comfort in knowing that Craig handles it all with such ease. I know that if something should ever happen to me, he could handle things. He would remember which outfits match Katie’s brown shoes and how to do her hair. I know that he would make Matthew smile and help him grow into an amazing man.

Then, two days after my return to the land of the living, Matthew was sitting in his highchair and his sippy cup completely leaked. It had been incorrectly put back together. Craig had somehow missed one of the eighteen puzzle-like pieces necessary for a leak-free cup.

And I stood in the kitchen, looked at the massive puddle and Matthew’s soaked shirt, and I smiled.

I’m fairly certain that Craig threw me a bone.

But, I’ll never ask.

Ready for departure

I am over the moon to have Sherri, from Old Tweener, here as this week’s guest poster for Small Moments Mondays.

I knew that I loved Sherri from the very first time I read her blog. The first post that I read was the poignant and powerful The Interview, which is etched in my mind to this day, it’s that amazingly perfect.

Sherri has an amazing way of taking universal topics and carefully weaving them into creative pieces. Just take a peek at Grocery Store Smackdown and Green Eggs and Maam and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Sherri is also warm and remarkably wise.  Read The Power of a Mom and After the Honeymoon… to get a better sense of who she is.

I’ve told you that Sherri is witty, creative, wise, and warm.  But it’s the intangibles that I wish I could put into words…her genuine nature, her warm eyes, her ready smile, her eagerness to be there for you when you need a friend.

Sherri has grown from an acquaintance into a true and trusted friend.  And my life is so much better for having her in it.

Thank you, Sherri.  I treasure your friendship beyond words.

Ready for Departure – by Sherri

The heavy black suitcases are weighed and checked in at the ticket counter, destined to be the first travelers on the long journey ahead. The contents of the bags have been categorized and sorted, packed and repacked many times over during the past few days.

If only I had tucked in tiny boxes of love and travel-sized bottles of wisdom and advice.

I would gladly have packed my heart if I thought it would pass security.

My son is excited and eager to get on the plane. He is dressed in his favorite black jeans and lucky t-shirt, a crisp passport in his pocket and emergency phone numbers hidden in his wallet.

Looking at him now, I see a young man ready to take on the world. Stare long enough and I can still see that young boy inside, wanting to battle with plastic dinosaurs or eat a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

I wonder if the mere presence of a lucky t-shirt will be enough to protect him on this trip halfway around the world.

All those morning drop-offs at school, weeks at summer camp, and sleepovers with friends and relatives should have prepared me for this moment. How did we get here, when it seems I just dropped him off at preschool for a few hours this morning?

We walk as a group to the security gate in the International Terminal, the place where we will part ways for almost a month. Eight excited teenagers are lost in their chatter and texting, followed closely behind by parents pretending to be at ease with what is about to take place.

The International Terminal is off limits to anyone not traveling, apparently including mothers who aren’t yet ready to let go.

I watch my son and these other teenagers, so eager to depart for Germany and begin their month as exchange students. Some of them seem so worldly already, a few just fresh from high school graduation the previous week.

My son is barely 15 years old, yet you’d never know it to look at him. He’s tall and slender with a face that’s always been a bit old even when he was a toddler. His thick, black hair still forms the cowlick I loved to trace when he was a baby.

I wish I could trace it right now.

We mill around outside the security gate, waiting for the signal from the teacher who’s chaperoning the trip. A nervous excitement builds as parents add last minute bits of advice or instructions to call home when they arrive in Germany. Other parents brought cameras to capture the moment but I didn’t want to make a big scene.

Maybe a picture would have been nice.

I feel awkward, wanting to give him a hug to last for a month yet needing to give him the freedom and independence he has earned.

I am so proud of him for being eager to take this trip. When I was his age, I would never have been confident enough to travel so far away from my family. He has soaked up the German language over the past two years and can’t wait to communicate with the German people and soak up the culture in their own country.

But pride and worry are playing a nasty game of tug-of-war with my heart, and I’m not sure who will win.

When the chaperone calls to the students to get in line we hug him briefly, letting him retain his teenage-boy dignity, and he’s on his way. Watching him walk through the darkened glass partition to the security check-in I feel like the air is being sucked out of my lungs.

Like I took a piece of my heart and tossed it over Niagara Falls, unsure of where it will land.

What were we thinking, letting him go so far away alone? What if he gets lost? What if something happens to him so far from home? What if he doesn’t get along with his host family?

What if I never see him again?

I watch him walk through the metal detector and immediately be taken off to the side. His big, clunky belt buckle has set off the metal detector, something I hadn’t thought about telling him ahead of time. He looks agitated as he’s asked to empty his pockets again and take off his belt. My chest tightens as I watch his frustrated interaction with the security agent from behind the darkened glass.

And there’s nothing I can do. I cannot go to him, can’t help him figure it out.

He’s on his own.

Eventually he collects his things and puts his belt back on, then starts walking towards his group. He briefly turns to us, giving a slight nod to indicate everything he cannot say.

I’ll be fine. I’ll miss you. See you in a month.

Then he’s gone.

That moment I realized my time to guide and shelter my child is not infinite but measured. It’s measured in lessons learned, hugs given, tears shed. And once we’ve measured this time out to them, it’s up to them to use it as they see fit.

As I watched him walk away I realized that he’s going to be fine.

Whether I’m there or not.

Because for all these years?

I have been there.

_________________________

Please go check out Old Tweener and say hello.  You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

A Mother Sits

There are times in life when what you are feeling inside is so big, so defining, that you must simply write it all down…when putting it all out there actually fills and soothes a place so deep inside.

And there are times when you are unsure of where to put those words once they’re out.

Below you will find such words that were in need of a safe home.  Beautiful, painful, and telling words.

These are the thoughts of one of my dearest friends who simply needed a home to free a piece of her story.

I am honored that she has allowed me to be that safe place to land.

{I love you, my brave and selfless friend.}

A Mother Sits — Anonymous

A mother sits.

A father sits next to her. They sit together but are not together. But telling people is awkward so they let the assumption stand.

A healthy-looking boy is in a bed, sitting upright and watching the staff around him.

He is eleven and he looks very, very small.

They are there for a test. The boy who looks so healthy is not. The first round of simple tests told them nothing so they are in a very large hospital in a city hours from home for a more complicated test. Words have been said that make the mother’s heart weaken. Leukemia. Mylodysplastic syndrome. The mother is a medical professional and those words scare her badly.

A friendly nurse comes in with a covered tray that could just as well have a sign on it that says, “SHARP THINGS HERE.” The boy knows and shifts uncomfortably on the bed.

He has been poked with needles so many times in the preceding months…so many times, thinks the mother…but he has not yet needed to have a line sited.

The IV equipment is so much larger and more aggressive looking than the hypodermics used to draw blood. As the nurse starts arranging the catheters and the needles, the boy becomes visibly tense. When she starts to prep his arm, he turns gray and begins to tremble, tears spilling onto his cheeks.

The mother moves to the bed and lays a hand on each side of his face, turning his head to look at her and resting her forehead against his so he can’t see anything but her eyes.

“Look at me,” she says. “Just look at me.” Her voice is low, rhythmic. “Think of rabbits,” –  his favorite thing – “Think of poodles. And porcupines. And purple pickles.” This is a game they have played since the boy was tiny as a way to drive away nightmares and frightening thoughts. “Think of puddles and porky puppies.”

The IV is sited and soon the team is there. The anesthesiologist and the doctor who will extract a sliver of bone from the boy’s hip to look at the cells in the marrow and tell the mother and father what she sees.

As the team preps the boy for the procedure – which is actually quite simple and will take only minutes – the mother and father start to step outside the curtain. The boy cries out, “Where are you going?”

The mother tells the boy that they are only stepping around the drape.

“I would be more comfortable if you didn’t go anywhere!” He calls in a shaky voice. His eyes are already falling closed from the medication he’s been given.

“Ok sweetheart. We’re right here.”

The mother and father stay put until the boy is deeply asleep. But the team does not want them watching, so once they are confident that the boy is sedated, they step around the curtain and stand. There are chairs a dozen feet away, but they cannot walk away from the curtain with their son unconscious on the other side.

More than ten but less than fifteen minutes later, the doctor steps out from the curtain holding a small vial. She shows the mother, but the father cannot look. It makes him queasy. In the vial is a piece of her son’s bone. A tiny fragment – smaller than she expected. But the doctor says it’s enough.

The boy wakes in less than an hour and the mom has lunch ready. He was not allowed to eat before the biopsy and now he is starving.

Once the team knows that his stomach is fine with food, the boy is sent home. During the drive, the mother’s cell phone rings. The doctor says, “We have to wait for the final pathology report to know for sure, but I looked at the cells myself under the microscope and they look absolutely fine.”

The mother forces herself to not cry, as it frightens the boy so much, so she says a happy “thank you” and hangs up. In her mind she sees a thick, dark wood, and her son standing clear of the reach of hostile branches and preying shadows. She imagines him, tiny under the heavy trees, following a trail of breadcrumbs out of the forest. She thinks – because she does not fully understand his condition yet – that he is out of harm’s reach.

But breadcrumbs are just breadcrumbs, after all.

They reach the mother’s house. The boy is not meant to be with her tonight, he is meant to be with his dad. And there is no reason for him to stay with her. Nothing that truly requires her specialized medical knowledge, or her more functional ability to handle a crisis. There is no reason except that of a mother who is still frightened for her child and traumatized by hospitalizing him, still emotionally unsettled by the new constellations of doctors and tests that orbit him, and the desperate need to have her son close enough to be in the protective circle of her sight and hearing.

So no reason at all.

It is not her night with her son. And what she feels, so also the father feels, and there is not reason enough to justify his pain in lieu of hers.

She holds the boy close, squeezing him, asking him if he has any pain, if his stomach feels fine. No…and, yes.

She keeps him close a few seconds longer than is typical. Holding him against her and kissing his head. Then she says good-bye and sends him away.

She walks into her quiet house and pours a glass of water, pulls a chair out from the dining table.

A mother sits.

Never Far From the Door

I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life.

Over the years, I’ve learned various methods for dealing with everything from basic unease to full-blown panic attacks.

In my experience, the latter have been far easier to cope with.  They come and they are frightening and truly terrible, but then they pass and they eventually release their grip on me.

The anxiety that latches on and slowly, but surely, nearly pulls me under, is the most difficult for me to overcome.

When that anxiety creeps up on me, it tugs at me when I should be happy. It pokes at me when my mind is still for even a second. It nudges at me while I’m sleeping.

Over the past few weeks, the tugs, the pokes, and the nudges have been increasing. Each day, they are just a little bit worse.

I’ve struggled to put my finger on exactly what has been bothering me.  I have been on the edge of tears, afraid to let them fall, becomes sometimes, when they start to fall, they are nearly impossible to stop.  Once I have lost that tiny bit of control, it can be so incredibly difficult to regain it.

In my attempts to figure out what has been bothering me most, I have felt as though I have been trying to hold onto water.  Every time I have tried to grab a handful of thought, it has leaked through my fingers, leaving me with empty, useless hands.

Then, the other night, I finally realized that the thing that’s bothering me most is the fact that my children are growing and I just long to stop time.

I’ve joked about it before.

But it isn’t a joke and I’m not really laughing.

Sometimes this feeling borders on desperation.

What am I afraid of exactly?  So many things.  And when I entertain those fears and try to make sense of them, I often uncover new, frightening possibilities to add to my list of worries.

It is truly a slippery slope.

I just have this feeling of doom…like the best part of my life, my beautiful life that hasn’t come easily, is slipping away.

I have written about this before, about my fear of growing old and losing these precious memories.

Although I know that there will be beautiful and breathtaking moments as my children grow and change — proms, graduations, weddings, grandchildren — just thinking of those beautiful and significant life events somehow makes this feeling worse.

Because for those things to happen, my babies will no longer be small.

They won’t be right here, by my side, to hug and to hold.

They won’t give me sloppy kisses and ask me a million questions.

Their idea of a perfect afternoon won’t be sitting and reading books with me.

They won’t be within my reach so that I can protect them.

I worry that the closeness that we’ve built will slowly slip away.

And the weight of their childhood is always there…the realization that they get but one childhood and I get only one chance to make it everything that it should and could be for them.

What if I fail to give them all that they need before they grow into young adults? The list of things that I have yet to teach them is so long and it is ever growing.

What if I run out of time?

What if something unthinkable happens to them?

What if the hole that they leave behind when they grow up and move on is just too gaping?

What if I smother them too much in my attempt to hold them close and savor the tiniest of moments?

What if…

What if…

What if…

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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