Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bonjour Butterfly!

Summer is rapidly winding to a close and as per usual, I find myself feeling completely taken by surprise. Too fast. 

For us, each summer begins with well-deserved childhood play and relaxed boundaries, but after two weeks such days can quickly turn into a miserable heap of anarchy, heat, and boredom if I don't keep some minimal form of a schedule. 

I implemented MomSchool over our summer. Most days, after an entirely too generous amount of morning shut-eye {isn't sleeping-in what a summer is really for?!}, we would peel ourselves from our lazy beds and begin the day with workbooks. I had a few personalized academic goals I hoped to reach with the girls in the interim before the busy school season, and although we never fully complete the overly ambitious lists I neurotically assemble, I am proud when even a minimal percentage nears completion. 

We spent one afternoon on a special Momschool field trip to the Butterfly Pavilion in Claremont. Honestly, the pavilion itself was rather small and not entirely worth the price to get in. The day was hot and perusing the outside gardens was only minimally enjoyable in a landscape which has been withered with heat and drought. However! With four sets of fresh eyes, there is always much to marvel at on this earth, even during parched times. 

I love spending solo time with my daughters. I tend to be more anti-social as a mother as time goes on. Beyond that first baby, I found myself mostly overwhelmed at any park gathering or mother's group that involved my attention being split between my incessantly needy children and the adults I was desperate to connect with. Too often, I would leave frustrated and with a headache. It seemed that everyone was shorted. While out, my children were shorted my attention (with an extra dose of  annoyance added for their too frequent interruptions), friends were shorted any meaningful catch-up conversation, the corresponding meeting destination was shorted of any worthwhile customers as our children threw chocolate milk straws while standing on tables and shouting and pinching each other, and I was shorted of feeling like my life would be anything more than a swirling vortex of parental doom.

I would find myself shouting, over the barrage of children's voices, the same repeat confession six minutes into any Mommy-group get-together:


blank stares.


Well, at least now we've achieved some gosh damned silence! AM I RRIGHT!?!

more silence.

But here's the thing. I didn't actually hate being a mother. Quite to the contrary. I find the whole affair meaningful and entirely worthwhile and even, wildly enjoyable despite its workload. I love being a mother. I just realized I hate being a mother alongside a group of 12 other mothers all of the time. I don't like what it brings out in me. I feel kinda...well, watched? Watched is a good word, because I don't even think I'm being judged, per se. Although, heaven knows there is plenty to judge.

This observing state, the existence of other people's pupils intersecting into my mothering world, is an unavoidable reality which often makes the social scene completely intolerable. Because, in such situations I'm not even being genuinely nice to my kids. I'm like, mildly sweaty, sssssuper about to explode, my nerve-endings are on fire because my girls are wickedly intrusive when I'm trying to have a conversation! Consequently,  I'm meaner and angrier inside than usual. The toxicity is only exacerbated as I still kinda fake that I'm nice when under pressure like this. It's a big facade that leads to all sorts of maniacal smiles and bullsh*t really. I'm such a good mom look at me YES HUNNY DO YOU NEED ME TO OPEN THAT CONTAINER FOR YOU JUST ONE SECOND MOMMY IS FINISHING HER SENTENCE EXCUSE ME JUST ONE MOMENT WHILE I HELP HER OFF OF THE SLIDE YES SWEETIE MOMMY'S COMING HOLD THAT THOUGHT I ONLY EXIST TO SATISFY THE CONSTANT DEMANDS OF CHILDREN WITH A SMILE AND NO I'M NOT RESENTING THAT AT ALL I'M ABOUT TO KILL EVERRRRYONE.

The solution, I slowly but surely realized, was to specialize my labors, so to speak. Now, I mostly reserve adult-time for just that: an evening out to dinner with friends, a brief stop at Starbucks to meet in-between errands, or a day that I splurge and hire myself a sitter in order to go somewhere fun with a favorite girlfriend. The rest of my time, when my family ventures to the park or to a museum, I consciously reserve my attention for my biggest priority: my little peeps. 

It's made a world of difference.

It's sacred.

I can have the peace, the solitude, and the time to observe my little creations, who are out observing and playing freely in God's Grand Creation.

It renews me.

{The butterflies were lovely. We stood still and hoped desperately that one would indulge us with a brief rest-stop on our arms. The only crowd we had to contend with was the lone pavilion lepidopterist. A woman who had all the fortitude and patience you would expect of someone who had spent the past 50 years in abject solitude tweezing butterfly wings. She spent her time mostly shoo-ing us through and asking the girls to stop breathing. Other than that, a complete joy.}

{Fortunately for Emerson, the pavilion had a rubber butterfly available for terrorists.}

The transformation of a butterfly still astounds me. Pretty freaking miraculous.

If this can happen to a crawling, furry, creepy little worm...

Then surely I can transform into a mother who will one day be capable of functioning in social gatherings again. Right?!

{snack time!}

{have you tried this sprinkled on mangos or cucumbers? stop now and do it.}

{Emerson and her triplets. All three named Wintah, after baby cousin Winnie girl.}

{these two. my heart. such a pair.}

{the Native American display}

{wild banchee cries!}

{Leave it to Lily, catching lizards is her specialty. A baby this time!}

Lily spent her chore money for some butterfly-catching supplies in the gift shop.

The rest of the evening was spent meandering the neighbors' yards, who kindly obliged little hands searching the crevices of leaf stems, hoping to capture a caterpillar.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, 
and the sky above 
{and butterflies}
{and children}
proclaim his handiwork"
Psalms 19:1


The Mrs. said...

Tajin. Yes. Discovered that last year. So yummy. I enjoyed reading your perspective on doing the mommy/kid/ get together stuff. It's interesting how many different moms there are and what what mom needs another cant stand- hahaha. But all of us still doing the best we can and some how we figure it out for us. soak up the last bit of summer! xoxo

Rachel Haack said...


Couldn't agree more...we are all so different. I'm just glad that any Mom will put up with me and my brood! Miss you and your fun kids. Needing an Eagle Canyon ladies night next time, how about you?!

Joan said...

Ugh. Seriously! Who thought Mommy/Child playdates were ever a good idea?! I mean sometimes they are all we've got but so not ideal.
"I know! I can never get five words out with my children corraling around me how about we add twelve more and see how miserably frustrating it will be too have a conversation with my mommy friends then!"