(high)Centered

12 Oct

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

When I turned twenty nine, I was six months pregnant. Huge. I had just been through a heat wave that, while made better by the gift of an air conditioner, left me feeling fat and perpetually damp with bangs that corroborated that feeling. People at work had started asking if I was expecting twins and then, as if someone had dared them to prove they were in fact entirely socially inept, INSISTED I must be. For my birthday that year — last year, if you’re not keeping track — my mom gave me a real whiz-bang of a present. A gift certificate to a spa. Enough money that would allow me to choose a few ridiculously luxurious services. A FEW, you guys. I could hang out in the sauna, wear a fluffy robe and soak up the comments about my glow from people who are paid to dole out compliments. You might assume that I ran, envelope in hand, from my birthday dinner and sat outside the spa until they opened the next morning at which time I luxuriated like only a really giant, sore, exhausted pregnant lady could. Right? Are you nodding, like this is a foregone conclusion so please get on with the story?

Dear reader, I did not do those things. The running. The luxuriating. That gift certificate is sitting on my nightstand, mocking me.

I made a pact with myself to use it before my thirtieth birthday, which was a month ago. Clearly, that did not happen. What is the matter with you? You might be asking me. I ask me that all the time. Part of the problem is scheduling. Nathan has two jobs and appointments not made far in advance are difficult for us to work out. Part of the problem has been George’s needs and accommodating them. But part of the problem is me. The same guilt that makes me apologetically announce that I’m going to take a real quick shower, or pick up the Philip Roth book I’ve yet to crack only to put it down in favor of Baby Days has kept me from enjoying a trip to the spa. Because I might have to tip someone with my own money. And my baby might get hungry. Or miss me. And I should be dusting.

Since George’s birth, the time I’ve taken for myself has been limited to the occasional bath, nap or solo trip to the store. Getting past the notion that I don’t “work” so I have no need for a break is hard. You tell someone walking in from back-to-back shifts totaling 15 hours that he’s gonna have to hold the baby so you can recline in the tub because teething is a real bitch. The funny thing is: I would never begrudge another mother a spa day. Or a leisurely shower. Or some time with a misogynistic white guy. So why the self-loathing? It’s so cliché.

As George gets older, the tunnel vision that got me through these first months is easing up. In my periphery, I can see past the next feeding, the next sleep cycle, the next diaper change and song. The possibility of alone play is turning into a reality, slowly, surely, not daily — not yet — but frequent enough. My self care routine is less a routine than stolen minutes and sometimes seconds to have a bowl of oatmeal. Do my hair. Take a breath. Go for a walk and see the sights, allowing George to do the same without mama’s running commentary. And while my newest Paris Review wasn’t inhaled the day it arrived in my mailbox as it may have been in a perfect world, Frederick Seidel’s “Store Windows” was our pre-nap reading this afternoon. I finished and paused to digest it, not to re-read it with exaggerated expressions or ask what George thought. After what must’ve been a solid minute, I snapped out of the poem-trance and got on with business. Grateful for the break, however short. Added to my to do list: MAKE SPAPPOINTMENT.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Balance — Sheila at A Gift Universe has put her baby first — and has no regrets. (@agiftuniverse)
  • A Moment for Mama — Starr at Earth Mama has learned how to recharge on the run, so she doesn’t miss a moment with her children.
  • Take a 30-Minute or 5-Minute Me-Break — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses the merits of taking small daily breaks to maintain balance. (@DebChitwood)
  • Achieving Balance — In a guest post at the new Natural Parents Network, Heather explains how yoga has helped her find balance in her personal and family life. (@NatParNet)
  • A Stitch in (Quiet) Time Saves Momma’s Mind — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma didn’t realize she needed “me” time — until she got it and had no idea what to do with herself. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Attachment Parenting and Balance — Michelle at The Parent Vortex believes that the last item on the “attachment parenting” list is both the most important and the most overlooked. (@TheParentVortex)
  • Little Breaks Bring a Little Balance — Jen at Grow with Graces finds balance – some days! (@growwithgraces)
  • Finding Balance — Are you a Type A mama? Dionna at Code Name: Mama is, and she needs your help to find balance. (@CodeNameMama)
  • (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself.
  • Taking Time for Me — Marita at Stuff With Thing takes refuge in the world of books, with her daughters immersed in reading beside her. (@leechbabe)
  • Writing as a parent: October Carnival of Natural Parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama didn’t let parenting put her passions on hold. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • The Dance of Balance — Balance isn’t static. It is dynamic, it is a dance, it is about keeping in touch with you. Read this wonderful bit of wisdom from Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante. (@seonaid_lee)
  • Rest Hour – a Primer — Do you get 15 minutes to yourself each day? How about an hour?! Mrs. H. at Fleeting Moments shares her tips on how to incorporate a “rest hour” for adults and kids.
  • Separation Is Critical — Only through enforced separation with the end of her marriage did Jessica at This is Worthwhile realize she should have taken time apart all along. (@tisworthwhile)
  • Bread, Roses, and a Side of Guilt. — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy isn’t ashamed to admit that she enjoys a pint once in awhile, or that her daughter recreates it during pretend play.
  • The World from Within My Arms — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds balance despite her work and her husband’s commitment to art through attachment parenting. (@RachaelNevins)
  • Balancing the Teeter-Totter — Rebecca is rediscovering balance by exploring her interests and passions in several different categories. She shares in this guest post at The Connected Mom. (@theconnectedmom)
  • Balancing this Life — Danielle at born.in.japan is slowly learning the little tricks that make her family life more balanced. (@borninjp)
  • Uninterrupted Parenting — Amy at Innate Wholeness has learned that she does not need to interrupt parenting in order to find balance.
  • Knitting for My Family — Knitting is more than just a hobby for Kellie at Our Mindful Life, it is her creative and mental outlet, it has blessed her with friendships she might not otherwise have had, and it provides her with much-needed balance.
  • Taking the Time — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker has all the time she needs, now her girls are just a bit older.
  • Please, Teach Me How — Amy at Anktangle needs your help: please share how you find time for yourself, because she is struggling. (@anktangle)
  • A Pendulum Swings Both Ways — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment found herself snapping with too little time for herself, and then veered toward too much.
  • Finding Balance Amidst Change — It took a season of big changes and added responsibility, but Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! now feels more balanced and organized as a mama than ever before. (@bfmom)
  • At Home with Three Young Children: The Search for Balance, Staying Sane — With three young kids, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings knows parents sometimes have to adjust their expectations of how much downtime they can reasonably have. (@sunfrog)
  • Attachment Parenting? And finding some “Me Time” — As a mother who works full time, Momma Jorje wants “me” time that includes her daughter.
  • A Balancing Act — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes has concrete ways to help keep centered with a little one and a new baby on the way, from exercise to early bedtimes to asking for help. (@sheryljesin)
  • Aspiring Towards Libra — Are your soul-filling activities the first to be pushed aside when life gets hectic? Kelly of KellyNaturally.com aspires to make time for those “non-necessities” this year. (@kellynaturally)
  • SARKisms for Sanity — Erica at ChildOrganics has found renewed inspiration to take baths and laugh often from a book she had on the shelf. (@childorganics)
  • 25 Responses to “(high)Centered”

    1. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama October 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

      What is it with spa gift certificates?! I had one that I *just* used, it was going to expire within a couple of weeks. My husband gave me a card of a person who would *COME TO OUR HOUSE* for a massage. He said “you deserve it! Schedule it!” The card is now . . . lost. It does make me feel guilty! I have no idea why, but I can relate. That being said – stop reading this comment, go to the phone, and make that appointment! My 90 minutes of relaxation was good. Heavenly? No, I laid there the whole time wondering what Kieran and Tom were doing, worrying about Kieran’s dentist appt., etc. But it was a little empowering – for both me (I can do something and the world won’t end!) and Tom (I can take care of Kieran for 2 hrs with no meltdowns!). Do it!!

    2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama October 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      I once won a massage gift certificate and never used it. It expired, and I gave up. I think some things sound better to me in pretend life than real life, such as interacting with people who can be paid to pamper me. That said, I do hope you use your certificate, for something that seems fun to you. And I hope you keep finding more moments, however small, to do adult, just-for-you things. It is refreshing when it happens, isn’t it?

      • veryveryfine October 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

        this is the thing, too. even though i know the people performing these services are choosing to do so and are probably really stoked on their careers, i feel like i’m taking advantage of them. if this GC was for a straight massage, i’d let it expire too. luckily, i’m looking at a facial and a pedicure, which seem somehow less icky. kind of.

    3. Jessica - This is Worthwhile October 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

      I get it, I really, really do. The trick, I think, is to treat yourself as well as you do everyone else. Be as kind, thoughtful, and tender to YOU as you are to your husband and your baby’s needs. If everyone is doing that to everyone else, you can’t lose.

    4. Sheila October 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

      What is it with the guilt about asking husbands for help? I feel it too … my husband comes home after being gone for 12 hours, and I hand him the baby and disappear into the kitchen to make dinner. Sometimes I feel bad, thinking, “He’s been working all day, he needs a break.” I guess I forget that I’VE been working all day, and I need a break too! Not to mention that my husband likes to get a chance at spending time with his son too. Maybe sometimes it’s a chore, but it’s good for him to get that chance to fit a little daddy-son time into the day.

    5. Melodie October 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

      Today, after your husband gets home from work, check your schedules against each other. Find a day that he can stay with your son and call the spa. Make one appt, not a few, for one pampering hour. I totally understand not wanting to leave your baby at this age. They do need us and I wouldn’t have been able to use a day long spa gift certificate when my kids were under a year old either. Heck, I couldn’t do it until they were at least 3!!! So use it bit by bit. Because when a shower feels like a luxury, a pedicure will make you queen for a day. Er, should I say, hour. :)

    6. kelly @kellynaturally October 12, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

      I bought myself an autographed copy of my favorite author’s latest book last year for my birthday. I waited with bated breath. A year later (yes, just had my birthday again), it is still sitting unread. Time keeps ticking, we’ve got to use some of it for ourselves!

    7. Kat October 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

      Oh the mommy guilt. It really puts a damper on a lot of things. And it’s pretty useless too. I’m glad you are planing to get out there and go have your spa day. I just had one last month for the first time in over a year and it was so very nice!

    8. Amy October 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Sounds familiar, minus the spa certificate and plus anything else that would take me away from my first born. Just didn’t happen. :)

      As with all things in life, awareness is the first step. Sounds like time with George is teaching you as much as you are teaching him. Enjoy the process.

    9. Erica @ ChildOrganics October 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

      This post made me laugh! I am so there! It’s so funny to see other moms experiencing the same thing. I had a spa certificate that I finally broke down and used the last day before it expired. Then I had a mini-breakdown in the spa stressing about how to “use” the spa. Ha! Then what did my husband get me this year for our anniversary? Another Spa certificate!Are you kidding me?
      I enjoyed your post, thanks!

    10. Michelle @ The Parent Vortex October 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

      Ha! I got a gift certificate to the spa for my first christmas post-baby. And I waited and waited to use it, then when I did finally schedule a massage (because my back was now really sore from lifting a heavy toddler) I came down with an awful cold that day and simultaneously shivered and tried to not drip snot out my nose through the whole massage. :( It would have been funny if I wasn’t so miserable…

    11. Betsy October 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

      Yup. I did the same thing. When I was finally on my way to an appointment for a pedicure to use the gift certificate I got at my baby shower, I noticed it was expired. My baby was over a year old. I just scribbled the expiry date out and wrote a new one in by hand and then initialled it. With my own initials. And gave it to the lady at the desk. Nobody said anything.

      Go to the spa.

    12. MrsH October 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

      I’ve got one too, though I hid it away to avoid its mocking power. I’m finally (my youngest is 17 months) reliably getting some time to myself every day. We also get a sitter for some family therapy with our eldest. Between those, it’s hard to justify a trip to the spa. And yet, I’d so benefit from it. I’m having visions of a mini-retreat day… Maybe we should all make a “use that spa gift certificate pact” or something. Hope you get to luxuriate soon!

    Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. Finding Balance Amidst Change | Breastfeeding Moms Unite - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    2. Achieving Balance | Natural Parents Network - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    3. Taking Time for Me | Stuff With Thing - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    4. The Dance of Balance « The Practical Dilettante - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    5. Little breaks bring a little balance /  GROW WITH GRACES - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    6. October Carnival of Natural Parenting: A stitch in (quiet) time saves momma’s mind. | Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    7. KellyNaturally.com | Aspiring Towards Libra - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    8. Uninterrupted Parenting - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    9. Rest Hour – a Primer « Fleeting Moments - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    10. The World from Within My Arms - October 12, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

    11. Carnival of Natural Parenting: Attachment Parenting and Balance - October 13, 2010

      [...] (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself. [...]

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