Stop. I Don't Want to Live Like This.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yesterday. Monday. First day of another full week. This day started with only one car, the 2-door Civic, since the 4-door Civic was in the shop for a too-expensive new starter. The day started with a mad dash to get my house a tiny bit orderly so I wouldn't be too embarrassed to have my friend Michelle see it when she, along with her toddler, came over to babysit my two kids. In between picking up and straightening my living room and dining room, I worked in my photo room to compile all the things I needed for a minisession at a client's house. A pile of portable backdrop stands, backdrops, props, blankets... Probably far more than I should've packed for a minisession. All crammed in the 2-door Civic in a feat of Tetris-like juggling of space. All packed in while my two kids ate breakfast and were semi-contained with the task, enough that they wouldn't try to run in the street while I loaded the car.

Arrival of friend/babysitter. My quick 8:30am departure, Pro Photographer hat firmly on. I drove through traffic (stress! worry!) to get to my appointment on time. The session was a fun window of time with a repeat client and two VERY cute kids, but even the fun of it was mixed with a sense of hurry and worry (the usual feelings I get when shooting... the anxiety of being in my head too much when shooting and wanting my work to be better better better). I kicked over a waterglass and doused my fake flooring... got my shooting space a bit muddy... one more thing to work around...

Then after packing that 2-door Civic BACK up (Tetris!), I drove back at 8-10 miles over the speed limit because I'd gotten the text report that Lucy had basically melted down the whole time I'd been gone.... NOT typical behavior for her, and I felt guilty for saddling my friend with that kind of frustration for two hours. In record time, I was home-- and Lucy was indeed wailing at the top of her lungs. I took her and tried to calm her while apologetically thanking Michelle and trying to get the Pro Photographer hat all the way off so I could don the Mom hat.

Lucy was clearly not herself, and though I've been trying her out at one nap a day at noon, she was obviously tired at 11:00, so I fed her and put her down. She was out in mere minutes, thankful to be napping and at peace.

I'm sad to say I don't even know what the next two hours included--- I think Noah played on the iTouch and I read a book and dozed a little... I know I postponed lunch far too long and did not give Noah very good direct attention. I know I put him into his quiet time late and conceded he could still be done at the usual time-- shortening his quiet time by 30 minutes or more. I just knew Lucy would be awake earlier than her usual time and so we might as well get going on the pile of errands I had for the afternoon sooner than later.

I'm not sure how I used the brief quiet that came after Noah was resting and Lucy was still asleep. It troubles me I can't recall this. It says something about my mindfulness, clearly.

I do remember, vividly, that once Lucy was awake, I set Noah free from his quiet time even earlier than the early release I'd promised him, and I bustled the children out the door to tackle:
post office
grocery store

I do remember, vividly, that 2-door Civic, and wedging the pumpkin carseat behind my driver's seat to buckle it into the backseat, Lucy already inside... then hunching over to the other side of the cramped backseat to buckle Noah into his seat, then trying to get the front seats repositioned and all doors closed and all necessary bags, boxes, etc. in place before even leaving the driveway.

I remember vividly the reversal of the exhausting process just to get one box mailed at the post office. That 2-door Civic. Curse you. Lucy said "hi" to the postal worker (she says "hi" to everyone), Noah shyly peeped over the too-tall counter and received a coloring book... And then we were back at that car, jamming kids back in, the back seat an oven of summer heat and sweat and too-small space with too-wiggly kids needing buckling...

The bank: my frantic rush to get the checks logged and signed and prepared for deposit so I wouldn't hold up the line too long...

Then Walmart, where I decided to just do all the shopping at once, though it costs more to get groceries at Walmart than Aldi... but that 2-door Civic. Hell no was I gonna keep taking those kids out and putting them back in like I'd been doing... So I dug them out of that awful backseat just that one last time for the Walmart trip and we took our time getting the shopping list taken care of... Oddly, the Walmart browsing time was the least frantic of the whole outing. The checkout line brought it all rushing back, with the longest line ever and the slowest (friendly) checker ever... Noah begging for his toy and me not wanting to take the time to pay attention to what bag she'd put it in... Lucy saying "hi" to the checker (she says "hi" to everyone)...

Then it was raining. Yes, raining. BUCKETS. And we stood at the entry of Walmart and waited for it to die down enough to get to the car with SOME dry clothing left. And I stood thinking about getting those two kids buckled in the back of that 2-door Civic... AND the 15 grocery bags into the trunk... while it poured rain...

I was tired. I was DONE. I was hungry. I wanted this day to be OVER. We took the first opportunity to run to the car and we did get wet... but not drenched. Still-- I threw all the bags in the trunk without looking, and did NOT get Noah's toy out, and was NOT patient with him as I buckled him into that 2-door backseat as he asked if he could have his toy now...

And I drove through Jack in the Box because I knew dinner was not going to get made in time to stave off my "hangry" mood coming on...

And that's how Joe found me at 5:10 pm--- grocery bags all over the dining room floor, both kids at the table eating Jack in the Box cookies so I could eat the two tacos ($1.00) and potato wedges in some sort of peace... no energy to do anything but sit. Eat. Recover.

THIS is the life I am aiming for? This?

Two summers ago, I'd reached a saturation point where I was DONE with the sense of purposelessness I'd accidentally sunk into... the lethargy of bad habits and auto-pilot routine. I'd lost a true sense of who I was and where I wanted to end up... so I put myself though a self-imposed bootcamp. At the end, after a few weeks of processing it all, I wrote this post. And this one.

Tonight, I just reread that second one.

And I will be 100% honest- I was shaking by the end of it. After truly changing that summer, truly discovering a new way, truly converting to all of that truth.... somehow, almost two years later, I've lost it all. I was stopped dead in my tracks. EVERYTHING I JOYFULLY CLAIMED TO HAVE FORSAKEN I AM BACK TO DOING AGAIN.

Especially these first couple of weeks of summer. It's been the mindset of, "Oh no! Noah is out of school and home all the time now, so I have to keep us from going crazy by go go going and doing and experiencing!" But that leads to far too much consuming of fast food and cheap thrills and stupid toys and time time time.... And where does it leave us? All of us, Joe included, though he's not part of the actual flurry of activity?

Drained. Emptied of purpose and peace.

Beholden to the To-Do List as a sense of WORTH.

And activity begets more activity. Because enough of that activity is actually fun-- going to the library, the pool, the City Garden, fairs, festivals, trips.... And the thrill of the fun brings a need for the next "high"... and I forget that "high" isn't always "happy"... and sometimes SLOW is the way to real joy. Real memories. Real moments.

How could I have gotten so lost?

This would be the time to talk about the rocks.


But I've wasted so much of this blog post recounting my current reality and feeling so low about the discovery of my lost soul that there is no more room for philosophy... For the profound truth of the rocks that I discovered last autumn and have clearly also forsaken, along with the truth of slowing down.

And maybe I'm punishing myself--- I don't deserve to discuss the rocks when I am so far removed from the goodness they produce in my life. Silly... it's when we're the lowest that we need truth the most.

Here's the thing. I look backwards and see SO MANY TIMES God has blessed me with clarity. New awareness. New truth. And with it, a chance to CHANGE and become BETTER. I don't even want to know how many times I don't even notice the gift. But I can see with my own eyes these milestone eras in my life when I DID see the gift and I seized it and began to live a new way.

Yet I can also look back EVERY TIME and see that I've lost the way, eventually.

And that is breaking my heart tonight.

I HAD something true and real and good. I found truth and I practiced it and I was made better from it... Not once. Not twice... but SEVERAL times in my nearly-35 years.

And where am I tonight?

Remembering that I brushed off Noah's pleas to play with him so I could do just one more stupid thing (probably inessential)
Eating fast food too much because it's just easier when I'm out and about
Filling our days with outings for the sake of outings... But not planning enough "nothing time" where our imaginations and relationships  can expand and thrive
Unable to account for chunks of time when I could have been mindful and in the present moment with my children and husband
Starving for spiritual food
Not maintaining my 30-minute walks
Angry with myself

How? How does this happen? Surely it is not just me. My gosh, this is why we are asked to attend to our religion weekly--- because going to church once isn't enough to convert us. We need to re-convert every single week... every single day, really. And we as humans are so easily given to forgetfulness. We forsake light and truth in favor of easy ways and comfortable habits. It is human nature to slack off.

And I am so upset about it.

I want:

To be mad at myself for a while. Maybe then it'll sink in and I will really commit to making some changes again.
To immediately cease the habit of finding something to do outside my home every single day. To fight though the withdrawals of that kind of activity addiction until we remember how to be home and be still and create our own activity.
To tell you the story of the rocks. I really do. Because it is part of the cure I need to immediately apply.
To breathe more deeply.
To regain some discipline.
To learn how to be what Noah needs most these days... Surely he cannot need me to be his imagination game partner the WHOLE day? But if I could figure out what else he needs, then maybe I could be a better play partner for the times we do play instead of being half-assed every single time.
To love deeper.
To take quiet time for me. Meditation, if you will.
To get back to taking walks.
To let go of the To Do List=Self-Worth
To remember truth I've learned.

I want: more of this--

And less of this: 

Forgive the raw emotion and rambling of all of this. It was not my intention to be so random and so frustrated. But I think I need to see this for what it really is so I can begin to process how to proceed. So I can regain some of the goodness I've found before and get it back into my daily round once again. I've succeeded before. I can succeed again. Especially now, as a full summer looms ahead and time is long... yet short at the same time, since I only have one more year with Noah before he goes to kindergarten.  The time to change is now. And to regain my center. My focus. My sense of purpose. 

So. Here goes. Tomorrow I WILL do thing differently. I vow it.

(If only I hadn't stayed up til 2 am with this mess on my mind... how will I have any kind of focus tomorrow when I'll be exhausted? I make my own messes, I know it.)

Ugh. Goodnight.


  1. I'm in a similar boat. I spend a lot of time these days on tumblr/facebook/watching netflix when I could be taking care of things I need to get done or spending time with my husband. Most days it ends the same; wasting my chunks of free time doing NOTHING, meanwhile I haven't exercised, cooked, cleaned, or done anything I needed to do. Whenever I stop to think about it I get really frustrated with myself. It makes no sense that I should be this way. Especially when I've had a couple days off in a row and my apartment is still in a shambles. Not to mention the fast food we eat 5 days out of the week.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is it's a little relieving to see that I'm not the only one who can lose track sometimes. I'm sure your life is much more hectic, though.

    By all means, offer your insight into what one can do to change their way of living. The way we do things now is not at all how I would like to.

  2. You want I should buy you a hammock? That always seems to help, as per your picture.

    I wish I had your clarity of mind and focus of purpose. It scares the living scrud out of me that I may start school this fall and find things collapsing around me a la Inception.

    I love you, sis, and you always know whom you can call to vent/ask/yell/scream/laugh as needed. Not me. I was hoping you had someone else.

    Okay, it's me.

  3. This weekend, I was home alone with the new baby while the rest of my family went to an amusement park. I was so excited for the opportunity to finish the quilt I was making for him and also make a "Moby" wrap. My sewing machine was out, there was a Project Runway marathon on to inspire me...and the baby would scream every time I put him down. I spent that WHOLE day frustrated that I couldn't make the things I wanted to make for him because he would get upset every time I set him down. By the time my family came home, I was in tears.

    The next day, we talked about the story of Mary and Martha in Relief Society. I couldn't help but see how much it related to how I felt. Martha wasn't doing something bad by wanting to get the "to do list" done. Mary was just doing something that, at that moment, was better. My desire to make things for my son wasn't bad--it just wasn't what he needed at that moment. The same goes for you. For most of us, the problem isn't choosing the "good part"--we have a pretty good grasp on choosing good over bad, usually. Our problem is with choosing the "better part." We have so many "good" options to choose from that it can be hard to weed out which ones we should be doing at any given time. Sometimes, we HAVE to be Martha, and that is the better part for that day. And some days, we won't make it through unless we are Mary. The trick is just in deciding which kind of a day it is going to be.

    Don't be too hard on yourself. It is a struggle we all have.

  4. Wondering if you also need to be purposeful in your "free time" or "treat time" with yourself. I find myself frittering away my "me time" on my phone when I could be crafting, blogging, reading a FOR REAL book and not Facebook.
    That being said, because you are a professional, work-at-home mom, you do need to be able to do work during the day light hours when the kids are awake. To squeeze that all into the nap/quiet time or after bed just doesn't make sense. What things are possible with kids in the mix? How long is reasonable to ask Noah to be on his own?
    Also, I feel like our babies are almost 5 and at almost 5, they can DO things. Chore things. This is important for them and would be (maybe) helpful for me. But how to start? What to ask? How to be patient when it takes them forever and a day?
    All good things to think about.

  5. Sweet, honest, good, talented Emily. I'm sorry you feel like this. I think you feel these things more deeply because you are able to articulate it SO well! You know what I mean? Sometimes I'm not able to realize the extent of what I'm feeling because I don't have the time (or words) to get there. I read your post, thinking, "I know! I get that! I'm just not able to express it, even in my head!" :) You are so amazing at looking in yourself and taking inventory--a gift and a curse, I suppose. Wishing you the best, and I'm pretty sure you will get there! (Be gentle with yourself :) You've got a lot on that plate of yours!)

  6. Okay, be mad at yourself for a little while .. but then let yourself off the hook! You are a loving and THOUGHTFUL mother -- you are thinking about what you can do to make yours and your family's lives better and that makes you better than most, trust me! Your babies are lucky to have you and we ALL have down days, or weeks, or even months. I know that's hard to believe with all the happy, unicorns-prancing-over-rainbows blogs out there that make you feel inadequate but it's true -- everyone has bad days where they give up and throw fast food at their kids and hope for a moment's peace. You are going to be fine. Your kids are going to be fine. And those blessed moments in life where everything is just so perfect will come again, before you know it. So many of us mommas are trying our best to do it all, to be it all, and so many of us beat ourselves up when we can't be the BEST version of ourselves all the time -- you're not alone. Chin up Emily :)

  7. Just sending love your way. That is all for the moment. <3

  8. Oh I know this valley. Today feels like one for me- naturally I'd find this post today. I may remember the words I've learned but the daily practice is so hard. I get it. Remember you are brilliant and for every bad day you promise yourself good ones. For every bad habit you have another chance to rise above it.Keeping our highest selves at pace is the goal but there is something particularly special about the rediscovering process too. And beyond all that, you are human, and loved- and the only one judging you is you. the rest of the world and god are proud of you, endlessly patient and completely understanding <3

  9. I can count on 1 hand how many times I've commented on a blog...but after reading your post, I just had to do it! I often find it difficult to switch hats between mom, wedding planner, and publishing representative all the while knowing (but not remembering in the moment) that mom is truly the only job that matters in the end. You are talented, professional, and graceful under pressure. I am not surprised that you had a full plate when you arrived at our house on Monday, but you never let on. Next time, feel free to vent! We women are way too hard on ourselves...and I couldn't have cared less about the spilled water :)

  10. I hear you, sister! Thank you for articulating what you are going through. I find myself doing the same things you've described here - busy for the sake of being busy, losing time, wasting time, not being the kind of mom I want to be for my kids.... It is so easy to berate yourself and detail every flaw.


    I really love that we can get those flashes of inspiration that tell us when enough is enough, and that we need to make changes in our lives. I have been feeling the same as you lately and am so grateful to read this post. It makes me feel a little more confident that since I'm not the only woman feeling *exactly* like this, maybe I really *can* make the changes I want to.
    And, maybe more importantly, it reminds me that though I will backslide because I am human, and that's what we do, I can always make the decision to change again. And again. And again. What a blessing!

    Thanks for you wonderful post - wonderful in the sense that I see hope at the end. I hope things get better and you are able to slow life down and enjoy more! <3

  11. Emily, I had the thought that at these times of stress and angst, ask Joe for a blessing. Maybe you will feel the love and inspiration you need and you can berate yourself less. I love you and wish you the best... I am always thinking of you and your family... And I NEVER think you are doing a bad job. You amaze me!

  12. Thank you. Thank you for posting this, with all it's raw emotion and frustration. I lurk here a lot and every time I see your posts I'm amazed at how... Well, amazing you are. You are so very talented and clearly such a wonderful mother and so creative and so full of fun things to do with your children. It often makes me wonder what's wrong with ME! Because I feel and have felt I think just about everything you have voiced here. So two things I have had to teach myself about thinking this way.
    Number One: life is a roller coaster. Particularly our progression through it. We have our lows and our highs. Allow yourself a congratulations for first, noting the problems you don't like, and second, successfully implementing changes- even if they weren't permanent. As Pinterest says "try again. Fail better." Notice that you have an upward trend, that the failures and the ruts become shorter, fewer and further between. Recognize your growth for what it is and remember that it's ok to have some room to grow and make errors.
    Number Two: stop comparing yourself to the You of two summers ago. The You then only had one kid and.... You fill in the blanks of how your life has evolved since then. I fill in those blanks by reminding myself that I have four kids, two in school and its a full time juggling act. As a result, we have to relearn at every stage of life and parenthood how to avoid those ruts, how to plan better and be more effective and remain mindful and enjoy our children. I have to remind myself to prioritize, and that everyone else has a finite amount of time and energy and we each decide how to spend it differently based on our situations and priorities.
    You are an amazing woman. You do so much and are so talented, that yes, even you will crash and burn sometimes. We ALL do. And it's ok.
    Lest I sound the lecturer, I'll add that I am speaking just as much to myself as I am to you. Again. Thank you for just being real.

  13. This is the post I meant to comment on. I SOOO know this feeling. I've forced myself to stay off of FB this week so that I could be "present" for Logan and the kids. I erased it from my phone and logged out on my computer so it would take more effort to check it. I have LOVED it. I feel so much more productive!! BUT I get really lonely when Logan is at work for 16+ hours a day and use FB to connect, so I can't give it up all together. I think I may try setting a computer time limit or something. Last week I had a day where I paid bills, washed and folded 6 loads of laundry, called the health insurance to clear up some issues, scheduled appointments, did the dishes, and on and on...... I cried that night and told Logan that I wanted to be a SAH-MOM, not a SAH-administrative assistant!!! Life is hard, even when we are so incredibly blessed compared to most of the people in this world. Good luck, girl. Call me anytime, b/c I GET it!!! And, by the way, I loooove the pic of you and your beautiful kids in the hammock!

  14. You're right, it's NOT just you! I'm not sure why we need to go through the process of re-learning such lessons, but I tell myself Heavenly Father must have some purpose for it, or we'd learn it and move on. I have come to think we have "breaking moments" like these so they can be followed by "renewing moments", bursts of rejuvenation, renewed testimony, strength and increased resolve so that we will once again feel deeply when we get over the hump and back over to the great side of things. When I think of it like that, it helps me not be as frustrated with the mortalness of such frustrations. Ya know? Hope things are already looking up, it's a month after you wrote this post now:)


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