2013 Miscellany: Holiday Stats, Blog News & A New Poem

I made this graph at https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx

Click to enlarge. I made this graph at https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx

Whew! We did it. We made it through the holidays. Here are our stats:

Puzzles completed: 2
Puzzle pieces chewed on by toddler: 7

Movies watched (in their entirety): 1
Movies partially-watched before toddler lost interest: 8

Exposure time required to infect visiting grandmother with Pukapalyse: 31 hours

Plates of holiday cookies baked, frosted and distributed: 4
Baked goods consumed: ∞

Trips to see the lights on Peacock Lane: 1

Biggest regret: Becoming addicted to Candy Crush (damn you Lollipop Goldenstein!)

Biggest achievement: Undecorating the tree & restoring the living room to its usual mess by 10am on New Year’s Day (amazing what one mom can do when another mom watches the toddler!)

Best moment of personal growth: Not freaking out when I couldn’t find the book I was supposed to read for the holiday party at our church’s homeless shelter on Christmas Eve. I remembered the wisdom of my dear storytelling friend, Rev. Melissa Bennett, and just told the story anyway. No one noticed.

Blog News
In blog news, I just found out that someone I don’t know nominated my blog for the 2013 Best of Open Adoption Blogs. It was so cool to read that my writing is helpful to others. Lori Holden recently posted about the value of comments, and if I don’t say it often, your comments teach me so much…thank you!

New Writing
This isn’t much of a blog post, so I will leave you with a new poem. This is the first poem written since I became a mama nearly 18 months ago. Please know that my glee at writing far outweighs the somber subject. It’s raw, but it’s writing. YAY!

Nothing Post-Partum About It

Exhibit A:
I do not work outside the home

What does that even mean?
That I don’t garden?
rake leaves? work for someone else?
But I do
work
for someone else.

The sum of my life is her orbit,
off-kilter, her blue planetary spin,
her debris in heaps encircling my feet

Exhibit B:
I have never given birth.

So maybe I just have
the ordinary blues,
like denim or jazz

Maybe I have unliberated
or refettered myself
because: manacles!
the laundry has them

They rattle down there in the basement,
by the machines
that smell of rot,
stagnant water and
unfinished business

###

What are your holiday stats? Did you survive?

What I *Really* Want for Christmas

It’s late and I can’t sleep. Having just survived The Great Puke Apocalypse of 2013, I’m worried about the next few days. How am I going to make it through the rounds of holiday festivities and a week-long visit from my mother-in-law? I don’t feel prepared. I’m behind on everything, and the house…oh the house.

I’ve been working lately on trying to recognize and name my needs. I need a tidy house. This is hard to admit, because some part of my brain scoffs loudly and says that when you become a parent you abdicate any right to non-sticky floors or clean (let alone folded) dish towels (that you can actually find because they are in a drawer instead of toddler-tucked in with the pots and pans or tupperware).

NOT our tree. This is a stock image (c) Ursula Klawitter/zefa/Corbis

NOT our tree. This is a stock image (c) Ursula Klawitter/zefa/Corbis

But…I know it is a need (rather than a nice-to-have) because of the small flame of fury that leaps in my belly when I notice week-old banana mush congealed to the arm of the high chair. I tell myself: this isn’t a health hazard. It’s just disgusting. LET IT GO. But oh that flame, oh that fury.

It is hard to be all ho-ho-ho and welcome-friends in this condition. Plus: PMS. Plus: did I mention…Puke Apocalypse? And the tree fell over? TWICE. Broken glass ornaments and a sopping wet area rug. Also, we are out of cat food.

All of that is just (kind of) funny. Here’s the hard part: I am actually not sure I can be a good parent in a messy house. It is akin to sleep deprivation. I am irritable, because I’m not getting what I need, and furious, because I resent the need in the first place. All these other wise mothers on the internet, they have messy houses, and they aren’t about to snap. What’s wrong with me?

Ok, but that’s an awfully judgmental question, right?

So maybe I can ask, with curiosity rather than shame, why? Why do I need a tidy house?

The answer came fast and just took my breath away.

To be loved.

Because if I am too messy, then I am not lovable. If I am messy, you will be mad and might hurt me.

I have proof of this, I do. So many memories, from childhood. (No, I’m not sharing, you’ll just have to trust me.)

But I’m not a child any more.

The people in my life now – my wife, close friends, my sister – they don’t care how messy or disgusting my house might be. I know this because they say so, and they act so.

So it suddenly occurs to me that there might be a different way, a new way, that I might help myself survive the week ahead. Instead of making detailed lists, breaking my back to clean, and then feeling guilty because I neglect my daughter in choosing mopping over cookie baking and storytime, I could experiment with telling myself: Elizabeth, your house is a mess AND you are lovable.

In fact, you are messy and lovable.
You talk a lot and are lovable.
You obsess over details and are lovable.
You sing off-key and are lovable.
You ___________ and are lovable.

I just practiced saying these things out loud, and it feels really different…in a good way.

In fact, it feels a little like a miracle, like an incredible gift I just gave myself. Maybe THIS is what that whole return-of-the-light-holiday-magic-God-come-to-earth-thing is all about. Loving and being loved. Just as we are. Just as we — this minute, right now, without any clean-up — are. Lovable. Loved.

Oh I hope so.

***

How are you lovable? Tell me!