Thursday, August 29, 2013

Enjoy This

A sweet song for you since Playlist went kaput: Bitter Heart by Zee Avi

There's a little sign hanging in Ingram's room that simply reads, "Enjoy This".  I found it in a tiny shop in Santa Barbara and knew immediately that it was meant to be mine. It has moved from place to place, its' homes including above my desk, in the kitchen and near the front door. Now, every time I leave Ingrams room, which Tim remarked today "smells like a hamster lives in there", I see it. Suddenly, changing Ingrams diaper for the 8th time that morning seems not altogether awful. Seriously. I never knew a baby who poops more than mine does.

A phrase as neutral as "enjoy this" could be interpreted so many different ways and I, queen of the neutral statement, really like that. Every time I see those two little words I feel inspired to connect with the moment I'm in. The state of being 'in the moment', also known as "mindfulness" in buddhist speak, seems so simple and so attainable. I've dabbled in buddhism mostly because buddhists all seem so peaceful and I crave some of that quietness for myself. Nevertheless, mindfulness mocks me with her elusive nature and that just pisses me off. Ultimately I wind up skirting the edges of buddhism once again because I don't want face how crappy I am at living in the moment. This little sign, "Enjoy This", helps a lot. I'm spontaneously snapped into the moment each time it even so much as grazes the edge of my peripheral vision. I need the practice and apparently I need very gentle, very anonymous encouragement to be mindful.

With our first New York anniversary under our belt I can truly say that I feel a major sea change. I'm a more focused, calmer person and, as a natural extension of that, a better mother. Twice today, different people remarked at how "calm" I seem about the children.  I take this as a compliment only because the kids were really well behaved in both instances! (had they been running amok I'd think it was a passive-aggressive comment) I've been working hard at positive discipline and I think I'm getting a little closer to being the mother I want to be: patient, kind but firm, loving and adventurous. Yeah, sometimes I lose my cool but that happens less often now. When it does happen I make it a point to apologize to Ada and follow it up with lots of reassurance that I love her no matter what and she's one of my all-time favorite people in the whole world! Telling her that last part makes her skip all around the room from happiness!

Feeling better about my parenting also makes it easier to "Enjoy This", whatever 'this' is. Lately it's a lot of time with my kids, which is just fine by me. As long as I'm not feeling like I'm completely screwing the whole thing up. In the great spirit of enjoyment we are gulping down the last juicy bits of summer.

We're enjoying:

Back to school shopping. All of sudden NOTHING fits her. She is a tall one, my girl is. She sat ont he floor at HandM and refused to take these pink sparkly high tops off.

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Full moon over Manhattan the night before my birthday.

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Offering nectar to the lorikeets and messin' around in general at the aquarium

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How bountiful our garden is and the fact that I am still not tired of tomato sandwiches:

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This guy is fascinated by doors and gates. He could sit for hours opening and closing, opening and closing...

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Living on the fog line in San Francisco we were only successful at growing lettuce. Our virgin harves this year is INSANE. Truly, we don't know what we're doing. In fact, I can't wait for next year just so that we can use all we've learned and do things a little differently. Still, it's awesome to be gardening. I hope something of it sticks for our kids.

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How much this kid loves corn on the cob. Want to see a really pissed off one year old? Yeah. YOU try to take away his corn cob. I dare you.

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Tim likes to joke that Ingram must be fathered by someone else since he doesn't look a thing like Tim. At least not yet. I have two arguments against that: one, all his height is in his torso and his legs are relatively short. For one-piece things he's easily into 24 months (at 13 months old). Likewise, his shirts are 24m size but for his pants he's only just now out of 12m pants. Oh, and two, he raises his eyebrows when he takes a bite of food JUST LIKE his father. Now I have photographic evidence.

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She is growing up so fast. I can't believe it. My arms and hands got all pins-and-needles tonight as I watched her riding her bike with her skinny legs pushing the pedals as hard as she could and her little dress flapping in the breeze behi. She wants to do it all herself and she is quite capable.

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IMG 1352 from monica shepherd on Vimeo.

Ingram is walking like it's his job.

IMG 1308-1 from monica shepherd on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Welcome Back

Where we were a year ago today is still a vivid, living memory for me. I wish I could say I grabbed the bull by the horns and rode that beast all the way to New York. A little distance is wonderful for cultivating perspective and I can now say with humility, "That's not exactly how it all went down."

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The past year has been a mixed bag of stimulating, frustrating, engaging, overwhelming, funny, desperate and downright wonderful. We have a whole new area of the country to explore and THE greatest city on earth just a 30 minute train ride away. I was resistant to moving here at first but now I can hardly remember why. Rather, I am constantly trying to convince Tim that we could absolutely manage living in Manhattan! All our cats would have to be on prozac to keep them from peeing on everything in sight because our living space would be small but it could be done.

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We Facetime with grandma Judy almost every day.

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A community is gathering around us and that has been the highlight of the year. A dear, old friend moved to NYC from SF a few months after we did. Another dear, old friend is just around the corner. And the new friends? Wow! For me, meeting new people and forging connections doesn't come easily. I am delighted to report that I had nothing to worry about after all. The new friends have been one of the best parts of the whole relocation thing. I got me a girl posse and I dig those ladies a whole lot.

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This family has welcomed us with open arms. They deserve a boatload of credit for why our family is in a good place now. This is how our kids play together and it is endless. 

We're settled in now. I'm learning the back roads of this place. I've memorized the squeaky floorboards in our house. I haven't felt this content in a geographic location for many, many years. Frankly, if we lived in New York forever more I'd be perfectly happy with that outcome.

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Fishing off one of the docks somewhere on the west side of Manhattan last weekend.

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A playground in Hell's Kitchen last weekend.

Ada spent some time at camp grandma recently. It was just me and my little buddy all day every day during that time. It gave me ample opportunity to take care of myself - to read, meditate, cook, do yoga, go for walks and just think. Only by engaging in some self-care was I able to recognize just how much I've ignored it over the past year. I've been so busy making a home, adjusting a toddler to a new place, being a cheerleader for my young professor husband, building a community, learning my way around and adjusting to having two kids that I fell into the classic pitfall of motherhood: I let everyone else's needs trump my own leaving the holy trilogy of my body, mind and spirit in a sorry state of deferred maintenance. That's changing cause you know what they say - if mama ain't happy? That's right. Ain't nobody happy.

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Governor's Island.

This little blog space has been part of that neglect, I'm sad to say. Sorry, friends. In time of trouble some people use their blog to pour their hearts out. Looks like I'm not one of those. Not this time anyway. I was just too depleted to get my shiz together enough to hit 'publish post'. It kept happening over and over again that I would have thoughts and sit to write them but the words just wouldn't come. They came in fits and starts but nothing flowed or made sense. I don't want to be too hard on myself about this because it's just representative of my state of mind at the time, which also worked in distracted fits and starts with little ability to finish what I started. I'm sad that so many memories of the past few months aren't set in stone here but I'll find another way to preserve them for my kids. Anyway, maybe some of those moments should be allowed to just weave into the fabric of the recent past with no particular attention paid to them.

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What I'm really here to say is that we're here. We are really HERE. My kids are THRIVING. I am happy. Tim is working like a workaholic does and loving it. I'm so pleased that I can make these statements now because last year I knew that in a year I wanted to be able to say those things and mean them. There were so many times over the past 16 months that I wanted so badly to fast forward to right now that I physically ached over it. Of course, it doesn't work that way. Instead you just have to move through it and let the overarching lessons tucked within the experience sink in deep. The work of creating a new life in a new place? Check. Goal accomplished.

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This little beauty turned 4 years old.

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Ingram turne one. My microgram is now a milligram.

So what comes next? I don't know. I've been a habitual goal-setter for so damn long that I'm not very good at sitting back and enjoying the reward (a classic perfectionist pitfall). I've had some time to think it over though and I've come to the conclusion that it's alright to just DO THIS for right now. It's alright to keep my home and raise my kids and take a little time each day to check in with myself.

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While the ball will continue rolling somewhere deep inside because there is a master plan, I think I'm going to exercise my "being in the moment" muscles a little bit. 

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The future will come along in it's own time so I needn't try to rush it along. Nothing good ever came from doing that anyway. 

It's good to be back. In oh so many ways do I mean that!