Update on where I stand: art, parenting, and mindset

HUGE thank yous to each of you for your loving comments and support. I have printed each one out and have them posted nearby where I can always see them for motivation. It feels so validating when people mention to me that they are reading my blog.

I have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of our situation to pull back significantly from my volunteer roles for Sisterhood and for other organizations.  If that were my job (and it was full-time work), you could say I’ve taken a 3-month vacation.  After unpacking and getting settled with the apartment, we have been meeting with various contractors to decide how to proceed with the house.  The front lawn is finally cleaned up and there’s nothing in the house except a few light fixtures we will ultimately store in the garage.  Also, cleaning a tiny apartment is loads easier than cleaning a house with lots of clutter inside!

I’ve met with a couple of therapists just to make sure I’m thinking clearly and handling the stress alright.  (I am.) One is a “parenting coach,” who I am seeing for Sweet Girl’s resistance toward stepping out of her comfort zone, her general anxiety about leaving my side and leaving the house, and other skills we want her to develop.  It’s going very well.  I’ve gotten some great tools for setting new limits and SG has responded very positively.  SG has been resistant toward change in general and very rigid in her thinking of what she wants to do, with whom, and when.  It really helps me knowing that this therapist sees that pattern and understands that she has been particularly exhausting and needy for a lot of years.  Having a partner (besides Mr. B, a huge asset in a partner) in encouraging her growth and independence is helping me change faster and be more consistent.

One thing I learned just this morning is that kids need help to develop that inner voice that helps them to calm down when they are upset.  I’ve done some breathing exercises with her in those meltdown moments and we have talked afterwards about what she could try to think about while she’s in the middle of being upset, but the best tactic is to verbalize and model our own thinking when we are upset.  Another thing I could do is ask “How can I help?” which shows that I can’t do it for her, but I’m there to support her.  It can be hard to step back from being overprotective, especially when your kids want you to be that way!

For example, one thing SG does that drives me batty is tell me about every little trip or bruise she gets.  Next time I bump into something or cut my finger, I will say out loud, “Ouch! That hurts.  Well, I’ll be more careful next time.  I know I’ll be ok.  It will go away very soon.” Another thing she’s been doing over the past 2 weeks is tell me she misses me… when I’m sitting right next to her. Or after school, telling me she missed me all day. So I will say, “I missed you too, but I thought of you a bunch of times today and knew you were ok, I would be seeing you soon, and you were doing what you are supposed to be doing, which is building your brain in school.” Both will help ease her out of a victim mindset and toward more of an empowered one.

With the house sitting empty waiting for our decision, we have been considering many options.  Maybe we put it back and sell, moving to an empty lot or a new house in a different neighborhood. As long as we’re doing that, what’s to stop us from moving anywhere else since we don’t love Houston? I am fairly sure we’ve decided that our original choice of location and school are the right ones for us now still, so that mental gymnastics period is over, thank goodness.  What we want is what everyone wants really – good schools and nice neighborhood and friends nearby. Those things we have, but what seals the deal is that we have family right here.  We can’t give that up for somewhere with better weather or landscape, at least not right now.  Once you start questioning one aspect of your life, it’s easy to examine everything under the sun… job, lifestyle, clothing, number of children, what-if’s… I am so glad that’s done with.

I am creating art and that has been fantastic.  My art room got packed up by many volunteer hands in a matter of a couple hours, and I didn’t get to choose what I might want in the apartment.  I hadn’t been focusing on art for a few months, so I didn’t think I would need any of those supplies.  However, the urge to create has been very strong.  Take away the volunteer meetings and projects and tasks and I have a lot of free time on my hands! I’m loving the space and time to sit at the dining room table with some new supplies I’ve accumulated and just get messy.  I pack it all back up before I get SG from school because 1) we need the table to eat dinner in this small space where anything messy can’t be hidden and 2) I don’t want her to paint or do anything messy in such a small space.  Yes, I’m a control freak and I only feel peaceful when my surroundings are calm and neat. I’m ok with that.

Another thing I’m doing is protecting myself better.  For example, this morning I went to my annual well-woman checkup, ran some errands, then met with the parenting coach, so I am taking some time this afternoon to write and work on some art.  I need to balance the serious with the fun. I looked at Facebook and read all kinds of negative news: sexual assault accounts with all this “me too” business, predictions on when there will be an impeachment and how the VP as president would be it’s own crisis, more global disasters. I could easily internalize it all, but I am making myself shut it off.  There is nothing I can do right now about someone else’s past, the political mess, and the world at large. If I do or think too much, I get mired down in worry and sadness.  I honestly believe that keeping myself upbeat and putting out positive energy helps a great deal.

We have been excited about the Astros being in the ALCS and hopefully the World Series.  We are ecstatic that Fall has finally arrived in Houston just this morning and will be staying for more than one day.  I’m looking forward to getting outside to walk and attend fun events on weekends.  I’m trying to set up some play dates for SG to get to know some new friends and for us to spend time with other adults and do some new things around town.  (I have given in SG’s tendency to not be able to fall asleep with a babysitter and simply stopped going out… and am changing that right away.  I think she’s ready, and if not, she will figure it out.) We are meeting with our architect this afternoon to look at some options for our new design.  Things are moving along…

We can always look at any situation from many different angles.  Peace of mind is really important for me right now.  Just as children need boundaries to feel secure, so do we.  I don’t want to make any more huge decisions. I don’t want to get taken down by negative news stories.  I don’t want to take on anyone else’s stress.  I want a light heart and free time.  I want to make dinner for my family and tuck everyone in at night by recapping happy days well spent.  I want to look forward to fun events and trips.  We could just as easily be complaining that the apartment is too small or the house is going to take a long time to build, but by focusing on the tiny things we can do to improve our day-to-day situation, I have been able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I really appreciate the blessings and thoughts and wishes for magic wands.  You guys are THE BEST!

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4 Responses to Update on where I stand: art, parenting, and mindset

  1. I am so glad you’re taking some time to take care of yourself, and focus on the good! It’s a very rough situation these days. I tend to get too upset on Facebook myself, but I really need that website to keep track of my sister’s family in wine country. Thankfully their house and veterinary hospital did not burn down, although some of their staff lost homes, and some friends of theirs lost friends. They are focusing on caring for all the evacuated and injured animals from the fires. You and I cannot prevent these disasters from happening, we can only keep our own houses in order. Thinking about the major weather and fires we have had has made me glad we’re polluting less with solar electricity, solar heat, and solar hot water. I started feeling guilty about traveling, and went to TerraPass to offset the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel I’ve used this year. I’ve also been making plans to try and grow some food in our neighborhood garden. I made a down quilt for my husband. Instead of the lovely art you’ve been creating I’ve been indulging myself in some gaudy jewelry. Not very expensive and absurdly fun! Going for a walk in the bright sunshine also cheers me up, so I do it every day.

  2. Janet Hovde says:

    Naomi, I think of you & your family often, sending good vibes whenever I do!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Love you kiddo!

  4. Debbie says:

    Hooray for you and your positive attitude! I’m happy for you that you have evolved to this place amidst the unsettling events of the flood and its aftermath. So proud of you!!!

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