Sunday, July 26, 2009

Loveness conquers all.

Looking cool has become a big deal at our house.

As in, "I want to wear my Spider Man shirt and the size 12s (Merrell sneakers) so Amy will think I look I look cool."

As in, "I need those sunglasses to wear with my soccer stuff so people will think I look cool."

As in, "I like to look cool, Mama."

Ziggy, my love, I think, you are only three years old! Slow down! Where is all this cool looking business coming from? Your father and I aren't much concerned with this.... I shan't say not at all, but really, hardly!

I fantasize about cutting his long hair, which has become so emblematic of the boy's "cool" -- prompting those who take notice of him to either a) mistake him for a girl (upon which he used to cry, but now has learned to say, "Actually, I'm just a boy with long hair.") or b) tell him some variation of, "Man, you're such a cool kid. You're like a little rock 'n roller." (upon which which he busts out in a grin ear to ear.)

I love his long hair. Long beautiful curly locks. And I paused on cutting it for such a long while because it was beautiful, and because I didn't want to rush him to grow up and stop being a baby or a toddler. I feel almost as though having shorter hair would allow Ziggy to see and feel himself differently, to rely less on a crutch, and then rethink it, even regrow it if that is his choice. At nearly four, he's over 40 inches tall and just over 40 pounds. He speaks very well and often. He has extraordinarily strong opinions, likes and dislikes, and operates in the world as his high spirited spirit leads him.... The apple, as they say, doesn't fall far from the tree. His father generally doesn't care at all what people think of his clothing or much else, remaining engaged with the notion of independence and autonomy to a strong degree. And I know I cared (and care) about how I am perceived, but as a very young person, I was far more of the people pleasing variety and would wear whatever was given me and subjugate my own longings to be cool. On this front, I am grateful that my boy can tell me what he's thinking, and what he values. I was secretive as a child and a young person, and I aim to create an environment whereby I'm available for even the bad or sad or mad stuff. It does open the door for communication.

But all of this has-- particularly at such a very young age, as yet uninfluenced by school peers or lots of television or the internet-- brought about some gentle parental concern.

At Target yesterday, picking up a few needed items for his upcoming school experience, he clamored for new sunglasses. Reflexively frugal, I said no immediately. Then reneged, recognizing that one pair had broken and the other pair were too small, and that sun in his eyes truly makes him uncomfortable. We agreed on a pair that met our budgetary constraints and also his desire to appear cool.

"I don't know where this looking cool thing comes from, I don't even know where you got it."

"From you, Mama. You told me I looked cool one time a long time ago."

"Oh. (cringing inside) Well, let me tell you kid, there are more important things than looking cool, and I want to be sure that I didn't send you the wrong message."

"What's more important than looking cool?"

"Being kind. Cooperating and helping your family and friends, and other people that need your help. Having a good heart."

"And loveness. Loveness, Mama."


I struggle with balancing my roles. Those of wife, mother, wage earner, homemaker, daughter, friend, sister and so on.... I struggle with getting it all done. With the lack of downtime on my own, or with my mate. And with household organization. This flaw has become a rather thorny problem in our small living quarters and in my marriage. There is merit to each side of how it is seen.

I am rendered nearly inarticulate and only know that it is exhausting and maddening and so very frustrating to have let go the things I hold for self alone and still not come out even. I mean: with no regularity do I purchase records and have coffee out or go out with friends or see live music or buy new books. Or get regular haircuts. Or buy new clothing. (Blah blah blah. Big whoop. I recongize how utterly juvenile this sounds.) Sadly, none of this seems to have made the dent necessary to balance some things out in terms of expense and space and all things having their own place.

I can not make sense of it all enough to speak it or write it well. And the last thing I want to do is point fingers. I do, however, want some peace and some organization and some prioritizing to take place in our home. I try. I know my husband tries in his own way. But on this we do not and may never see eye to eye. I want a small wardrobe for our son's room, as there are but two tiny closets in our home. I want fewer library items, more places to put them. I want some help with inability to juggle it. And what I find, is that I fail at communicating effectively, and that what we value is not the same. Troubling for a marriage, as I have learned previous. (Though certainly not insurmountable, as plenty of other couples have proven.)

Resultantly, despite having dug up from the garden and then having prepared some rather lovely crash hot potatoes alongside a healthier version of creamed spinach, I overcooked the meat, the child wouldn't wash up and come to the table and declared "I need some self time," my mate looked exhausted from his seven day a week work week, my head wouldn't stop throbbing, and I found myself unexpectedly sobbing over the sliced tomatoes into my hands at the supper table last evening. A decidedly sour Saturday night was had. Much of this was my fault. I chose the wrong time and way to deal with the obstinate child, and the wrong time and way to try to converse about household business with my husband. (Oh, I pray to learn to do better, I earnestly do.)


Today I find myself working on a budget for August, menu plans and chore lists. I've been out on errands, have gotten the child down for a nap, and am determined to right some wrongs today.

I'm filling in the calendar, realizing that the boy and I want to go to the sea this fall, which is not as important to the Mister. With work constraints and other resources, the sea seems as if it must wait 'til Spring. My heart feels sad. When Ziggy told me this morning that he'd wear his new sunglasses at the beach, it sunk a little.

But here and now, I try to focus on what needs doing.

I sometimes wonder if Fly Lady would really help, or if there's a really great site for some basic chore lists, and if making better decisions about nutrition and exercise as I've been doing will help gain me some energy to carry through....

When I speak to my girlfriends, I know I am not alone in this struggle of balancing things. And that's great, but I want some fixes, not just commiseration.

Again, again, again, I recognize that I can only be responsible for myself, and for my child, and that any change I make must be in ME. And I recommit to doing better with the balance, better at the householding, better at the lot of it.


To this end, I can say that my efforts at making some better choices are being fruitful. I've given up on the afternoon coffee. I've replaced half and half in my morning cup with skim milk, the sugar with honey. I've significantly cut back on intake of dairy and sugar and anything "white" as I've kept true to my goal of using what we have, but not replacing it in the old way. I have begun to shift my thinking, AND my actions. In general, I've kept a tighter reign on when to tell myself "no," and made telling myself "yes" an occasion of greater celebration because of its specialness.


Hairshirts aren't for me.

I choose to be healthy, to be happy, to practice loveness.

Oh, yes, I do.


  1. A lovely post. As a mom to three daughters, I see their desire for "coolness" as a reflection of their creativity, not a desire to people please (which I struggled with... or should I say struggle with?)

    I also struggle to balance managing a family of five and keeping our home in some semblance of order. I have personally found that I do a better job if I try to tackle large projects seasonally. This summer, I've cleared an area of the basement for a rec room and am about to start cleaning and organizing my eldest daughter's room (with her help, of course). I can't manage these bigger projects during the school year, when they are busier and I am busier. But when I can tackle one thing at a time, it stays fairly ordered long enough for me to feel some inner peace with it.... And then I have to start over when it gets too crazy and cluttered for my soul again.

  2. Camille12:43 PM

    MBH, it sounds like you are right on track for your transition into the work-away-from-home world! I think most mamas find it a rude awakening at first. I also find that with time, many mamas find a rhythym that works to meet many of the needs you've identified, if not all at once. A subtle shift of priorities (my last trip to Target was on hold for 4 weeks while I found the time to go!) and some organization can go a long way in providing some relief, as well. From your post, I think you are sensing that.

    I think the hardest part for me was missing my time with my child and feeling guilty when I also wanted vital time to myself to recharge. The pie gets smaller, but there are as many mouths to feed, so to speak! Don and I try to be conscientious about scheduling child-free time for oursleves (usually weekday evenings), child-free dates for ourselves together, and plenty of family oriented time. A lot of times it works and when things get out of balance for any one of us, we try to readjust. This is definitely a work in progress...

    And I love WordGirl's tip about big projects. We just cleaned out our garage and I feel like I ran a marathon!

    Hang in there, sister. And holler if you need an ear or a shoulder!