Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Sorry Will Mean Something

I think most mothers have been in a situation where their child has done something to another child--either said something mean or hit/pushed. There's always that awkward moment after such an incident where all the mothers of the children involved stand around trying to figure out what happened, trying to make their child feel better and also trying to assign blame/seek justice. It is, indeed, always awkward especially if the mothers have totally different frameworks from which they are parenting.

I know I've been in this situation countless times and I often feel like the mother of the other child is looking for me to force Z1 to say sorry. I never do. First of all, Z1 would never say sorry.  I could physically twist his arm if I wanted and he wouldn't do it.  He would sooner stalk off, throw himself on the floor, cross his arms and frown, etc.--an apology would not be coming any time soon.  If he feels his actions were justified, I can forget about an apology.  Which leaves me staring at the mom helplessly as she (essentially) shakes her head at what a poor parenting job I'm doing because Z1 just won't say it.

So these days, I'm much more focused on getting him to empathize with folks that are hurt.  In this way, whatever apology he offers is heartfelt.  This doesn't always fly with other mothers even if I apologize on Z1's behalf and take steps to make sure the incident doesn't happen again like talking to Z1 about keeping his hands to himself or removing him from the situation. It's just not good enough.  They want, no expect, that apology.

With all the spiritual and psychological work I've been doing to get myself to a healthy place, I realize that expecting or demanding an apology for perceived wrongs is really a waste of time.  Often times, if a person knows an apology is expected, they'll give it but it won't be sincere and they'll be sure to commit the offense again.  Why?  Because that person may not feel he/she did anything wrong in the first place.  That person may not understand (or care about) why you are offended.  He/she may think that you taking offense is silly or uncalled for.  That person simply may not care.  Period.  Why expend energy expecting an apology?  These days I'm much more inclined to process these things on my own, to recognize why I was hurt or offended and do things within my own power to avoid it happening again.  This sometimes includes modifying my behavior with the offending person (e.g. not being as open or as friendly).  It's always my hope that if someone sees they have hurt me that they will make an effort to make me feel better.  But as always, how I feel and how I react, at the end of the day, is solely my responsibility.

So Z1 rarely expects apologies at this point when he gets into it with other kids.  Playground scuffles usually end with him coming to vent to me, I sympathize with him and hug him, and give him options for how he can continue to make his playing experience positive.  Yet, I'm careful to model to him how and when to apologize.  Like if I accidentally break something of his or step on his toe, I will say, "Oh Z1, I accidently broke your puzzle.  I know that made you very upset and I'm sorry.  May I help you put it back together?"  I'm careful to slow him down after he's pushed his brother down so that he can take a look at how sad/hurt his brother is.  I will ask Z1 how he thinks Z2 is feeling and if he were in Z2's shoes, what he would want or need.  Without coercion, Z1 will go over and try to soothe his brother and apologize.  So Z1 does indeed say sorry but that's when he wants to--when he realizes that he did something that hurt someone else (even if he feels hurt or treated unjustly himself)--and I don't have to pull teeth to get him to do it either. To me, this makes a whole lot more sense--especially in light of the fact that children get over things so quickly because they tend towards wanting to be joyful, light and happy.

I was bullied as a child and one thing I remember so clearly was being treated horribly and the bully taunting me with, "Oh, I'm sorry!" not to make me feel better, exactly, but just as part of the meanness so they could say they didn't mean it when, in fact, they really did.  I remember reporting the bullying to a teacher and me and the bully being brought together and the teacher forcing the bully to apologize.  The bully would always say "I'm Sorry" and then turn around not more than five minutes after and continue with the bullying--to an even fiercer degree and much more insidiously because I had the nerve to tell.  No one, it seemed, was interested in really fixing the pain.  Everyone was more interested in the superficial politeness.  I wasn't amused.

Saying sorry is the social thing to do.  It's polite.  And we all want to teach our children how to be polite.  But more important to me than teaching my children politeness for the sake of getting along is teaching them empathy and sincerity.  More important to me is teaching that words have meaning and should be meaningful (not empty).  I know if I can get Z1 to empathize consistently, to understand when someone else feels like they've been treated unjustly, to care when someone is hurt, the apology will come and it will come without force.  And then the sorry will mean something.

Photo Credit:  "I'm Sorry" by hey mr. glen on Flickr.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

At home

I read this Interesting post at Domestic Felicity. I've heard it said before that women should look good at home, that as single women we always made an effort to look good, etc. so why does it change when we get married?  The question always unsettles me a bit. Maybe because I never hear this question being posed to men. Maybe because I think it (perhaps) places unrealistic expectations on women. Maybe because I don't think it's altogether true. I'm not sure. So I'm going to try to flesh it out.

As a single woman, if I were going out to work or to meet friends or on a date, I dressed up and tried my best to look nice/neat. As a married woman, I do the same thing (except I don't go out on dates).  As a single woman in my own house, I wore comfortable clothing. As a married woman in my own house, I wear comfortable clothing.

Most marriages involve cohabitation as mine does. That means that most of the time, when a husband sees his wife, it's at home. Now, it's always amazing to me that any husband could think that the woman they just almost gave themselves whiplash to look at simply walked out of the door without doing a dang thing. Most likely, that beautiful woman had to go through a process at home. This process may have involved coke bottle rollers, white face creams, smelly hair removal stuff, etc . . . she did that while she was at home. My opinion: if you think that woman out in the street if more fierce than I am, go on ahead and mess with her. You'll find when you get her at home, you'll be quite disappointed. Because at home, all that stuff comes off and a very different set of stuff gets put on. Whatever women he sees during the day, that's fine and he can look. But every man should know that those women--even the most well made up, high heel wearing, diva-esque of them--go home

Now that doesn't mean married women have a free license to be nasty or just not give a damn about how they look at home. By all means, brush those teeth, fix that hair and put on some clothes that fit. But it just seems to go without saying that a woman who took pride in being clean and being a woman before marriage, barring any psychological issues, would continue to do the same despite being married. I mean, she may not be able or have the desire to go all out like she used to (because marriage is indeed a "settling down") however she'd be sure to wear clean clothes and take care of herself.  But at home? I just can't understand why a woman would do anything other than be comfortable at home. I don't expect my husband when he's at home to put on his good clothes. In fact, most days when he's off, he lounges around in pajamas. That's cool. When I'm going out we both get dressed so he gets plenty of opportunities to see me looking good and put together. When we go out together, I make even more of a serious effort to look my best. Being comfortable at home (not slovenly) in my mind has nothing to do with disrespecting your partner and everything to do with being at home.

Where can a woman be completely at ease if not at home? Where can she really relax if not at home? I mean, honestly?  Where can she let go of the worry that she's not measuring up to other women? That if she doesn't keep herself "just so", she shouldn't expect faithfulness?

At home, being clean, not ashy and in clean clothes is truly my husband's only requirement and I'm grateful. He sees me naked for goodness sake. No clothes to obstruct the view. And he's not complaining. If there was a problem, because we are married, he should be able to communicate with me and help me in whatever way he can so we can both feel happy and positive. If he can't or won't, then that is the real problem--not the fact that I'm wearing sweatpants at home.


I remember an online conversation I was involved in a while back about this very issue. Many participants threw about the phrase "bait and switch" as in women will go the extra mile to "trap" a husband and once they have him in their clutches, they'll let themselves go, i.e. put on weight, dress frumpily, etc . . . I don't doubt that some women do that. But I'd venture to say that to most women, looking good to their husbands is a priority. Shoot, most women still want to look good to men who are not their husbands. They want to be desirable. I read all the time about women worrying that as they get older, men don't look at them anymore--preferring younger women. This seems to be a big concern. Would that same woman who's got that going on in her mind then just "let it all go" with their husbands? Just give up. Maybe, I suppose but not likely. A woman with a healthy self-esteem would sooner redouble her efforts than give up. Most women realize that men are visual creatures and if a woman is vastly different from what their man was attracted to in the first place, there could be issues. But, on the flip side, most men (at least most good men) realize that life brings about changes. Children happen. Illness happens. Life happens. But to me, that's the joy and beauty of marriage: sticking and staying through the really great times and the times that suck.

It's good every so often to switch it up and look really nice at home. I'm all for sexy lingerie, short shorts, and tight leggings around the house. But in my house, I should feel at home. I shouldn't be worrying about competing with outside women. Especially since in my mind, my husband is not competing with outside men. Why should he be? I love him and I'm content with him and he's trying to keep himself looking good and fit. He's making an effort. I'm making an effort and that is really what's important.  Aside from that, let's just be at home.

I understand that a lot of times when this topic is brought up, that there is a bottom line point the authors are making (or at least I hope so) in order to be help women be successful and happy in their marriages. The message is don't get so comfortable in your marriage that you start to take things for granted. But that bit of advice should permeate every aspect of the marriage and should always flow both ways--man to woman and woman to man. I think the more important message is for each partner to stay open, communicative and sensitive about each other's needs.

And be comfortable enough with each other to be comfortable at home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everybody needs a little "me" time

I had a terrible allergy fit last night and ended up taking 2 Claritin.  The box says that taking more than the recommended dose could make you drowsy.  For me, it's like drinking Red Bull or some other kind of high caffeine drink.  My sleep is shallow and any little thing can rouse me.  But it's far better than suffering with the allergies: sneeze, sneeze, sniffle, blow, scratch throat, rub eyes, sneeze, sneeze, sniffle.

Anyway, today was the first morning I was supposed to get up at 4:45 to exercise. And when the alarm clock rang, my eyes sprang open.  I lay in bed for just a few moments more (because it was cold outside the bed and I like to listen to my men sleeping).  Anyway, just as I was about to get out of bed, Z2 started to stir.  I stayed perfectly still.  It didn't work!  This little dude knew what I was up to and got up right then.  So I spent some time trying to calm him down by singing to him (He loves Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star).  Fifteen minutes later, he was back asleep.  I crept out of bed to go wash my face, brush my teeth and put on my workout attire.  As soon as I got to the bathroom, he was up again hollering, "Mom, mom, mom!!"  Oh Lord help me!  So I go back to the bedroom and this time I figure let me just nurse him back to sleep.  So I do and he drifts off.  I go to get my nipple out of his mouth and this little dude will not let go!  Eventually, I just stick my finger in his mouth to break the latch and he starts to pitch a fit.  At this point, I'm like whatever--it's 5:40 already and I've been up one whole hour trying to put him back to sleep so I can go workout.  He's there in bed with his father hollering while I go off to get my workout on.  Well, he cried and cried and cried for close to 45 minutes while I was exercising.  I felt badly for him but I was determined to exercise and I wasn't going to let him derail me.  I really need to exercise to let go of stress and also for my digestive health and just an overall feeling of well being.  I jumped around the living room with him bawling and didn't stop once.  Did I feel any guilt?  Not one iota.

See, I spend practically my whole day focused on my family especially my little boys.  For most of the day, their needs come first.  I can't tell you how many times I've given them lunch but forgot to give myself lunch.  How many pampers have I changed and butts have I wiped but forget to go to the bathroom myself until it's a dire emergency?  This is what the day usually looks like.  I just need a few moments where my attention is totally focused on me.  Little Z2 doesn't quite understand that but he doesn't need to in order for me to give myself permission to do what I need to do.  I feel badly that he was in there hollering at his father who also needs his sleep but believe me, I am a much better wife and person in general when I get my exercise.  And this morning, not only did I get a chance to exercise, I was able to journal, study and chant in a focused way because it was quiet and I was alone.  I feel really great right now.

So despite Z2's protests, I'm going to keep working out in the morning, guilt free.  Hopefully he gets used to it soon.

It's 7:54 and everyone is still asleep.  What a wonky morning!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Working out at night

Is something I completely hate.

I think it's been enough of a trial period.  Over a month now.  I've tried to enjoy the advantages like not worrying that Z2 will get up but honestly, it is so difficult to get up after a long day.  I usually fall asleep with the boys and have to pry myself up to go do my workout.  Then I'm so wired after working out and taking a shower that it takes me forever to get back to sleep.  As a result of it since it taking forever to get to sleep the previous night, I don't get a quiet moment to meditate/journal/chant in the morning because I'm plastered to the bed.  Working out at night relieves the stress of Z2 waking up and disrupting my workout but it adds the stress of thinking about it all day and trying hard to stay up when I know I am mentally and physically exhausted and the (too frequent) disappointment of not being able to get up and therefore missing my workout.  I try to think of how great it is that I can save a couple of minutes in the morning because I shower at night but truth be told, I still feel the need to shower in the morning.  I try to think of how great it is that I can hang out a little bit with the hubby on days when he's off or even when he gets back from work.  It is great . . . well, that's really the thing I'll miss most by going back to morning workouts.  Maybe I could work out at night on days that we might hang out?

Last night, I fell asleep in my clothes and couldn't rouse myself until about 12:30AM. So I went back to sleep with the intention of getting up early.  This morning, I got out of bed at 6:15AM (not that early--I could certainly have gotten up earlier if I had kicked myself in the pants).  Since for the past two days Z2 slept until 7, I figured I could get some exercise in.  The boy got up at 6:30 like he just knew what I was up to.  But I don't think I have much of a choice now.  I'm going to get ready for bed with the boys and go back to waking at 4:45/5:00 to get my workouts in--even if I have to stop before I'm not quite finished.  I am so much more of a morning person.  I just function better in the wee hours of the morning.

Z2 is getting older and I think in the next few months, I'll be able to workout even if he is awake.  Right now if he's awake, he wants all my attention and wants to be up under me.  Z1 "gets" that I'm busy and will amuse himself in some other way or try to join me in exercising (which is a riot, I tell you).  Z2 is getting there so I just have to grit my teeth and get through this challenging time knowing it will turn around soon.

Photo Credit:  "Winter Morning" by withrow on Flickr.com
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