I found this fairly nauseating, and I hope you do, too:
Created by: www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com
Over the past week or so, every conversation, article, blog post, Facebook update, and Tweet that has anything to do with being too busy or too plugged in has caught my eye. As if I didn’t already have enough to do, I have tuned in or paid rapt attention or clicked on those links to immerse myself in whatever the speaker or writer had to say. Perhaps reading about how other people feel too busy and how they deal with it will reveal the secret to magically making all of this busy-ness disappear!
Obviously, ignoring all of that other material would serve my intention of crossing items off my to-do list so I can get to the “relaxing” part of my days more quickly. I’ve piled the list up to impossible heights, because we are going on a family vacation next week for a few days, and I really want to leave my computer behind and not even check my phone for emails. I want to unplug. FOR REAL.
And so the stress of getting ready to unplug is starting to spiral around in my brain like a tiny tornado. Okay, maybe not that bad. Maybe right now it’s just a loose windstorm.
And then I fear that in the days after I unplug, the pile-up from not checking four days worth of email and the rest of it will be enormous and insurmountable. I have a friend who went on vacation for a week – off the grid on another continent – and when she got back she had a mess to tackle. She seems to be alright, though, so I’m going to use her – or at least my perception of her – as a model.
Most of my busy-ness is of my own making, something I realized when I read this article yesterday.
It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.
As I finish up this post I feel life passing me by. I see my colleagues reaching above and beyond, achieving things and setting goals. (One might suggest that I turn off Facebook, which contributes to both the busyness and the overwhelming sense of being left behind.) The sun moves across the sky, reminding me that the clock is ticking and time is running out and there isn’t, in fact, always tomorrow. And somehow, in the meantime, my 7-year-old has taught himself digital modeling. Just now he made this:
I don’t want to be so busy that I miss things. I want to unplug. Whether or not I Get Everything Done before vacation, there will be plenty to do when I get back. Wish me luck.Pin It
A wedding anniversary isn’t just a celebration of the day we got married, although that event is one to be celebrated, as joyous, remarkable, and packed with expectations as it was. No, I see our anniversaries as occasions to celebrate the entire length of our marriage.
Now it has been ten years.
Because we dated for almost five years before the date of our wedding, Stewart and I knew each other pretty well by then. But in the ten years that have passed since that day, we have been through many monumental life changes. Besides the creation, births, and hilarious and terrifying and mundane actions of our children, which are the most notable changes we have experienced as partners, we have also bought and sold a house. Traveled together. Triumphed at our careers, and struggled through professional challenges. We even got audited by the IRS. If that’s not something that will make or break a couple, I don’t know what is.
Although today is our Tin Anniversary, we will celebrate officially in a few weeks with a short family vacation, so this day is full of the regular things: work, a playdate, wake-up coffee, LEGO’s on the floor. This morning we opened a box of memorabilia and photos from our wedding day. In my characteristic organized fashion, I have saved not just photos but tangible reminders: RSVP cards, maps from our sailing honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands, notes from wedding guests, snippets of lace and ribbon from the various decorations of the celebration.
Brady and Kyle looked over our shoulders as we picked up one item after another. It was like looking through bits of a time capsule. Kyle said “you look so young!”
As I told the children stories about that day ten years ago, my voice caught. The pictures show so many of our loved ones gathered in one place, and they made me feel wistful. Many of those people – too many – are no longer alive. And we have lost touch with many others who were once so important to us that they were part of the biggest celebration in our lives thus far.
We both agree that that loss is okay. People come and go in anyone’s life. For whatever reason, they are not all in our lives to this day. But what matters is that they were there, then, and they loved us and we loved them. And that we are still together, knowing so much more about each other than we did on the day we said “I do.” We have managed to use that knowledge to strengthen our bond instead of weaken it, and for that I am so grateful.
On the back of our wedding program (5 copies of which are in the box) is this quote:
Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring
Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire
“Ring of Fire” was the song for our first dance, pictured below for your comic relief. Bound we are, indeed.
Happy tenth anniversary to us.
This post originally appeared on The Mommy Times in January, 2009. The Mommy Times is now Paging Supermom. Republished here with permission.
Q: In what situation would you find yourself intentionally balancing on top of a couch and then launching yourself off of it, only to smash your head on the floor below, causing yourself pain and, inevitably, tears?
A: You are 20 months old, and your 3.5-year-old brother just did that exact thing, which means you must do it too.
There seems to be an unwritten law that requires children to covet their siblings’ belongings and also imitate their actions, even if doing so is sure to result in bodily harm, punishment, or both. Like other inexplicable laws of nature, the sibling laws are mysteries to well meaning parents who will even go so far as to purchase multiples of the same exact toy in order to prevent the tugs of war that end in wailing and misery. Alas, those parents are in for a rude awakening when they discover that multiples make no difference: all of the children will want that one, and not even an exact replica will suffice.
To mitigate the fights over toys, I try to leverage the older boy’s intelligence and age to get him to resolve the conflict himself. If the baby takes a toy from him and he wants it back, I suggest that he give him a different toy to distract him. In his haste, he often grabs something way less cool. If the baby is playing with his guitar, the big brother will snatch the closest thing and offer it up. “Here Brady! A Kleenex! Now give me back my guitar, please!” Needless to say, Brady is a smartie himself, and will ignore all pleas to trade.
Experts, who come in all forms from actual credentialed professionals to passersby on the street, have a lot to say about sibling rivalry, and many more suggestions about how to deal with it. For example, they suggest you try to ignore such fights unless physical violence occurs, sort of a “no blood, no foul” approach. But the whining and shouting can reach ear-piercing decibels, and it makes me understand why my mother corralled my brother and me into a corner and sealed our mouths with masking tape after one zinger of a fight. She tells this story with glee at every opportunity, proud of the clever approach that she got away with in the seventies but for which she would surely be reported in this day and age. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of such tactics, so I am lucky that the little brother still sleeps in a cage crib and can be restrained in it if necessary.
Experts also say that a parent should not model undesirable behaviors for their children. I suppose this is wise advice for parents of any number of children, but specifically here they say to not model angry behavior and yelling. To them I say, show me a parent who has never yelled at her child and I’ll show you that that woman has purchased her child from The Perfect Child Store, which does not exist. In my world, some yelling gets out, and the smartie kids are listening even if they aren’t responding. The other day I overheard my older son scolding his little brother. “Don’t you talk back to me, Brady! You’ll get a time out!” The 20-month old gets enough reprimanding from his parents – he doesn’t need it from his big brother who is supposed to be his comrade in arms. At least the toddler is also learning to scold, as evidenced by his response. It wasn’t English, some sort of Pan-Asian toddler speak, so I can’t print it here, but I can tell you there was finger pointing, scowling, and a raised voice. If it wasn’t so disturbing, it would be adorable.
Parents should also not compare one child to another. It’s hard not to, especially if your children are wildly different. We can’t help but remember that Kid 1 knew all the names of the planets at 19 months old, while Kid 2 could barely say “ball” at that age. We try not to voice our comparisons, at least not very loudly, but it remains. Just to balance it out, Kid 2 is much more physically agile and powerful than Kid 1 was. They each have their special strengths.
But when they band together and use their strengths against me, there’s no comparison and no fighting between them. I guess that’s one of the benefits of having a sibling: power in numbers, and the ability to commiserate with the only other people in the world who understand just how maddening your parents are. During the brief moments in which the boys are actually getting along, their smiles shine like a cease fire in a never-ending war, making me believe in Christmas miracles and unicorns. Then clouds pass over the sun, and the battle begins again, but the happy moments give us all fuel to make it through until the next one.
Back to present day: The kids are still fighting. New solution: send them to summer camp.