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Sometimes I have an off day as a mother…or a whole string of off days. This weekend was one of those times. My patience was shorter than usual, the kids were clingier/whinier than usual and it was just not a good combination for anyone involved.

We woke Saturday morning to a nice summer thunderstorm – perfect sleeping-in weather. Not that anyone slept-in at our house! Mark got up with the kids both Saturday and Sunday, so I guess I can’t complain…I got to stay in bed, but after listening to Anna say “Get OUT, get OUT” (as in “get me the heck out of this crib people!”)about a thousand times and hearing William chant “Mama-mama-mama-mama” incessantly, I was no longer sleeping. I tried though. Oh how I wanted to sleep! No luck.
The power went off around 9am and was off for at least 2 hours. Toddlers don’t understand what is powered by electricity and they don’t really accept “the power is out” for an answer. The electricity came back on just before nap time so we made the kids lunch and put them down for naps. Thankfully they slept, but not as long as I would have liked.
Sunday was much the same. We got up and we all got dressed, we made a trip to Lowe’s to price a few more things for our upcoming big home improvement project (more on that to come!). The kids were pretty well behaved, but about 2/3 of the way there it started to rain. Torrentially. Is that even a word? WordPress says no – I say it is. Anyway, on the way back home as we were coming into Martin the traffic lights were out…not a good sign. 😦 Sure enough, our power was out again. It stayed off for even longer that time. It was nap time when we got home, but that didn’t go well. William still wants a bottle before his naps at home, but we had no way to warm it. That didn’t please him. He didn’t sleep. Anna played for awhile in her crib before alternately screeching and demanding to be released from her baby cage. I wanted a nap. I needed a nap…and I’m not usually much of a napper. It wasn’t happening. In the middle of this William starts screaming, I went in, settled him down and went back to bed myself. 5 minutes later he was SCREAMING…turns out he had his leg stuck in the crib slats. About this time my mother-in-law drops by…not the best timing. This was getting to be a comedy of errors! Oh, but it wasn’t over yet! During my mother-in-law’s quick visit, we got both kids up. They weren’t sleeping anyway, and I had *just* freed William from his crib slats. We fed them some lunch. Maybe they were hungry and couldn’t sleep? We let them play for a little while. The power FINALLY came back on and we were able to get William to bed with a warm bottle. We tried putting Anna back down, but it was just more of the same. I finally gave up and brought Anna to bed with me. Mistake! I’d close my eyes for a minute and she’d be quiet, then I’d open my eyes and she’d be inches from my face. She thought this was hilarious. Then she started trying to pry my eyes open with her fingers. Then she stopped that and decided to comment on anything and everything in our room. I finally gave up and told her to go in the living room with her Daddy. I still didn’t get a nap. Neither did Anna.
Later that evening it became apparent that Anna still needs to nap. She had a HUGE tantrum…I’m not even sure what it was about…In the midst of it, I gave her a bath…she loves baths and had high hopes that this would settle her down. Nope. It went on for 30 or 45 minutes. Mark finally got her settled enough to read a couple bedtime stories and I think she was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
I bathed William while Mark tried to settle Anna. He was upset because Anna was upset. He suddenly decided that he loves the tub and doesn’t want to get out. I had to practically pry him from the tub. I somehow managed to get him dressed while he flails all around. I make him a bottle, I sit down in the rocking chair in his room and try to read him some bedtime books. He wants his Daddy. His Daddy is still in with his sister. I stall. Mark finally puts Anna to bed and I hand off William. I breathe a huge sigh of relief and walk to the garden. Ahhhh…the garden is quiet!
Today was a bit better. My patience at least lasted through Anna’s swim lesson (probably only because I hadn’t seen my children all day). Once we got home, they were tired and hungry. William was whiny. Anna was clingy. It was a mess. We managed to get through dinner and the bath/bedtime routine, but I’m just not feeling like the best mama lately.
We’re struggling with 3 year old tantrums and trying to find what works to either stop them or prevent them. I’m not even sure either is possible. We’re also dealing with the early onset of the terrible twos. William is a handful! He throws his toys. Not out of anger…or at least not always, but just because he thinks it’s funny. It’s less funny when he hits someone (me or Anna usually). Speaking of hitting…he thinks that’s funny too. Again, not usually in anger, but just because he seems to think it’s fun. Now if he does get mad, he breaks out the triple-threat…he throws things, he hits, AND he bites. Awesome. So, he’s been getting a lot of time outs lately. I think he’s still too young to really understand them, unfortunately, because they don’t seem to be getting the point across. I just keep doing it over and over and over again. Maybe one of these days he’ll make the connection. This aggression is something I want to nip in the bud!
Well…that was quite the bitch-fest about my children! I love them both dearly, but they are both going through some challenging stages.

In contrast…Anna has adopted my latest “happy” song as her personal favorite song ever. If she sees me plug in the iPod, I must play it! When it’s over she wants me to play it again…and again…and again. Ad nauseum.
Here it is:

I really do love this song…even if I have heard it about 500 times in the past week! It really does put me in a good mood. I got to thinking about the lyrics…because usually the songs I like best are ones whose message I can relate to. This one is about a lifestyle that is way more jetset than my life has ever been (or will likely ever be). So I got to thinking about it Saturday afternoon during my weekly grocery run…Despite my not-so-great weekend with the kids, they are what my good life is all about. Despite their tantrums and the headaches that they cause, they make me happy beyond belief…so I decided to write my own little parody. You can thank me later. I’ve kept a few lines of the original song because they still fit, but overall…this ain’t about jetsetting. 🙂

The Good Life (of a parent)

Woke up in the hospital yesterday
Found myself in the nursery
Brand new baby
Took me so very long to get here.
I got some pictures on my phone
New names and numbers that I don’t know
Pediatricians at work and home.
Day turns to night.
Night turns to another long day.
We’re way too old we say

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life.
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight.
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life.
A good, good life.

To all my friends on Facebook I say hello
Old friends from The Pub they don’t know
Where we’ve been for the past few years or so
Diapers to sippies to stale Cheerios
Sometimes there’s tantrums, they won’t calm down
Discipline tactics that don’t work out
We’ve got our stories, but please tell me what there’s to complain about

When you’re happy like a fool
You let it take you over
When everything is out
You gotta take it in.

Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life, a good, good life

Hopelessly. I feel like there might be something that I’ll miss.
Hopelessly. I feel like the window closes oh, so quick.
Hopelessly. I’m taking a mental picture of you now.
Hopeleslly. The hope is we have so much to feel good about.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life,
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life.
A good, good life.

To all my friends on Facebook I say hello
Old friend from The Pub they don’t know
Where we’ve been for the last few years or so
Diapers to sippies to stale Cheerios
Sometimes there’s tantrums, they won’t calm down
Discipline tactics that don’t work out
We have our stories, but please tell me what there’s to complain about.

*************************
And now, after that silliness, I’m off to bed. I’m sure I have another challenging day ahead of me tomorrow!

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The following is yet another blog post inspired by a song.  A song I probably wouldn’t even like if it weren’t for the subject matter involved.  Actually, I used to always change the station when this song came on…it’s not really my thing, but one day I listened to it and it struck a chord.  Or hit a nerve.  Or both.  Now I listen to it a lot because I feel what he’s saying…I’ve lived the lyrics.

My version (and there’s actually a Part 1 and Part 2) started when Anna was about 3 months old.  As I have mentioned in previous posts it was around that time that I was not sure my marriage was going to make it.  I was having a tough time, and in all fairness, I’m sure Mark was too.  I just wouldn’t know because we didn’t talk about it at the time.  We did a lot of hurting each other…not on purpose, but out of frustration, out of sleep deprivation…and at least on my end, because I didn’t know what to do with myself.  My life (with a colicky baby) was unrecognizable.  I was depressed, I was tired and I was scared that things would never feel ok again.  Then when Anna was 4 months old, Mark quit his job.  I had never gone back to work after my maternity leave.  We were both suddenly unemployed.  I understood his reasons.  I didn’t disagree, but it put us in a very tight spot.  We were lucky to both find something within a few weeks…both at the same place, both doing what we had been doing before.  It was an ill-fated career move, but I would’ve taken just about anything at that point.  We worked those jobs for 6 months and managed to make it past the colic stage with Anna.  Money was still tight.  I ended up having to put Anna on TennCare (that’s Medicaid for those outside the State of Tennessee) because we had no insurance through our company.  I also broke down and applied for WIC…that stands for Women Infants Children…it’s public assistance of a sort.  A program that provides vouchers for certain food items to nursing mothers, infants & children.  I did it because we needed it.  There was a lot of putting my pride aside and doing what I had to do to get us through.  I didn’t want to…I seriously did not want to!  I found the whole Medicaid/WIC experience humiliating…which could be simply due to my own personal hang ups, but it hurt my pride.  It sucked.

We did that for 6 or 7 months, then we both lost our jobs…at the same time.  Once again, we were both unemployed…this time, thankfully with unemployment benefits, but that will only get you so far.  It was in this mercifully short period of time when we were both unemployed that things shifted.  It was a nightmare in so many ways, but it was an experience helped us find our footing again in our marriage.  We had each other and our daughter…and not much else.  This is when I remember sitting up talking…laughing because if I didn’t I’d cry.  I remember it like it was yesterday…that feeling of being constantly on the verge of tears.  I’d wake up in the morning and feel normal for about 10 seconds before reality set in, I remembered the state that our lives were in and the lump in my throat returned.  The only solace sometimes was sitting up at night after Anna was in bed…drinking cheap wine and talking to Mark and laughing.

Then I got a job.  Mark became a stay-at-home-dad for 4 months or so.  Things felt better for about a week…then I found out I was pregnant again.  Mark didn’t take it well.  I struggled with his reaction.  I knew a lot of why he felt the way he did, but it didn’t change the reality of it…and it didn’t change the way his reaction hurt me.  Our relationship had taken a big step forward in the previous month, but when I found out I was pregnant for the second time (surprise!) it took two very large steps back.  It wasn’t until the following Spring…a whole year later…that we recovered.  Much in the same way as before…It started with a short trip without the kids and it continued through the Spring.  We’d sit up and talk on the weekend after the kids went to bed.  We still do.  It’s nice to have that time to reconnect and talk about our week after the kids are in bed.  We still struggle…with money, with the kids, with everything, but our tough time in 2009 was a solidifying event for us.  We figured out what was most important to us…and we ended up on the same page.  For the first time I felt like I knew we were working towards the same goals.  One of which was/is making this work.  Our marriage and our little family.  I guess it was a true test of our marriage, and we somehow managed to come together and push through.

And here’s the song (written by:  John Daniel O’Donoghue, Mark Anthony Sheehan)

For the First Time by The Script

She’s all laid up in bed with a broken heart,
While I’m drinking Jack all alone in my local bar,
And we don’t know how,
How we got in to this mad situation,
Only doing things out frustration,
Trying to make it work but man these times are hard.

She needs me now but I can’t seem to find a time,
I’ve got a new job now on the unemployment line,
And we don’t know how,
How we got into this mess is it gods test,
Someone help us cause we’re doing our best,
Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

But we’re gonna start by
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Saying things we haven’t for a while
A while yeah
We’re smiling but we’re close tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time

She’s in line at the dole
With her head held high
While I just lost my job but
Didn’t lose my pride

But we both know how,
How we’re gonna make it work when it hurts,
When you pick yourself up,
You get kicked to the dirt,
Trying to make it work but,
Man these times are hard.

But we’re gonna start by,
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Doing things we haven’t for a while,
A while yeah,
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time.

Yeah…
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Shit talking up all night,
Sayings thing we haven’t for a while,
We’re smiling but we’re close to tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting, for the first time

Oh these times are hard,
Yeah they’re making us crazy
Don’t give up on me baby

Oh these times are hard,
Yeah they’re making us crazy
Don’t give up on me baby

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2003 was a year that changed me forever.  For so many reasons and in so many ways I cannot even begin to list them or explain them fully.  In 2003 I was the wife of an Army officer.  In January of that year he deployed to Kuwait.  We had been married for just 10 months.  I was also still coming out of one of the scariest and darkest times of my life.  A time when I had no direction and no desire for direction.  A time when I just did. not. care. about anything anymore.  I time when I was just a shell of a person.  It had been about a year at that point since I had begun climbing out of that dark, cold place, but I wasn’t completely done climbing yet.

Those 2 very big things converged at the beginning of 2003.  I was alone, but not.  I had family near.  I lived in an apartment with my younger sister.  My parents were across town, my in-laws were in the next town over.  I had support, but in ways I can’t explain I was alone.  2003 was make or break for me and I knew it.

It was at that time that I bought this CD and it became the soundtrack of my 2003.  I listened to it incessantly.  Through the magic/technology of Pandora I heard a song from that CD a week or 2 ago.  I had to find that CD again.  I didn’t own it anymore.  It was left behind, like so many other things, when Lee and I divorced.  I downloaded it from iTunes & burned it onto a CD (leaving one of my favorite songs out…thanks Daddy for remedying that!)  for my trip (alone!) to my parents’ house this weekend.  I left Friday night, it was rainy and windy.  It was an awful drive!  But I had that CD and about 45 minutes into my drive I put it in…Suddenly all those memories flooded back.  Just as fresh as if it had all happened yesterday.  All the uncertainty of having my new husband on the front lines of a war…with no communication at all from him for weeks at a time.  The fear of a knock at the door or a late night phone call.  The starkness of that reality.  The way I somehow held it all together even though I was convinced I would never be able to.  How I finally realized I was not as weak as I thought I was.  When I, for the first time in my life, was ok being alone.  It’s amazing to me sometimes how much I tie my emotions in with certain music.  The funny thing is, as I listened to the CD, like I said…I remembered how life  felt in 2003.  Exactly…every emotional detail.  I know how I felt the lyrics to certain songs then, what I related the lyrics to, but now I relate them to different things.  And they are every bit as powerful to me, they’re true to me still.  I love that I have this sort of emotional time capsule in musical form.  Honestly, I’m sure I have many of them, but this one stands out simply because of the time it’s tied to.

There are a few songs in particular that really say it all for me…a song called The Scientist in particular.  In fact, it’s actually so much more true to me now.   But now it’s a different relationship.  My marriage now and parenthood.  Parenthood, parenthood, parenthood…Nobody said it was easy.  No one ever said it would be this hard. As I listened to that song Friday night, driving through the rain, after my initial 2003 thoughts, I thought about the first 6 months of Anna’s life.  I didn’t think my marriage was going to make it.  I was thisclose to just giving up on it.  I remember going to visit my mom for a couple days with Anna when she was just a couple months old.  My dad traveled a lot at the time then and I wasn’t working, so I just went to keep my mom company in the evenings…or that’s why I told myself I was going.  I ended up staying for almost a week.  I didn’t intend to stay that long.  I just didn’t want to go home.  I didn’t want to deal with Mark…or rather with my relationship with Mark.  I was so done.  After 4 or 5 days…Mark finally asked when I was coming home, he said he missed me and he missed Anna.  There was just something different in his voice that made me go back home.  Maybe he knew it was a breaking point.  I don’t know that we’ve ever even talked about it, but it was one of those make or break times.  Obviously we worked it out somehow…but it’s that little something in Mark’s voice that night in the summer of 2008 that I hear when I hear this:

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start

The fact that the title is The Scientist is just an added bonus.  I guess you’d need to know Mark well to get just how perfect that is. Or maybe it’s just perfect to me…

There are 2 other songs I love…one being the title track, the other called Amsterdam.  The darkness of these 2 songs appealed to me at the time…it’s appeal is a little more limited now.  But I know why I liked the songs so much then and I still like them now.  Sometimes I forget about everything I went through in my early 20’s (i.e. – the dark hole I was still climbing out of in 2003).  Of course, I never truly forget, but maybe I don’t always give it the weight it deserves.  Sometimes I need to remember just so I can feel the contrast between then and now.   A little excerpt from Amsterdam just for the purpose of illustration – I know I’m dead on the surface, but I am screaming underneath (seriously, there is no better illustration than that, but moving on a verse or 2)…You can say what you mean, but it won’t change a thing, I’m sick of the secrets.  Stood on the edge, tied to a noose and you came along and you cut me loose. I cannot tell you how much that describes that period of my life, not in a totally literal sense, but still, in a very real (sad but true) sense.

The title track, A Rush of Blood to the Head, was the one Pandora randomly threw out there a couple weeks ago.  I won’t go all in-depth with this one.  The song is about moving forward…leaving behind a troubling place or, in my case, a troubling time.  It’s all one big metaphor to me.  And I know the mistakes that I’ve made.  See it all disappear without a trace…And they call as they beckon you on, they say start as you need to go on.

I can’t believe I just wrote a whole blog post based on a Coldplay album, but…well I did.  That CD made my 3 hour drive interesting and it made me think about things I haven’t thought about in a long time.  That music defines that year for me, but it also defines the changes that took place in me.  In a lot of ways those lyrics were cathartic at the time, but some parts also acted as catalysts to keep me moving forward at a very critical time.  It still stands out as relevant to me now though…maybe because it’s ingrained in my history, maybe because it speaks to experiences I’ve had in the years since.  For whatever reason I love it and I’m glad to have these reminders of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come…in musical form.

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