Finding Priorities in Changing Environments

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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IMG_5117As a military family, we are not strangers to change.  Orders change, duty stations change, daddy leaves, daddy comes home. Mommy’s happy; mommy’s overwhelmed. Change is just a part of our lives and we have adapted to it as our family grows.

But this Christmas, 6 months after our big PCS move from Kittery, Maine to Kodiak Island, AK, I noticed just how much an environmental change had impacted our family dynamic, and the truth was startling. It would seem insignificant to someone in the lower 48 states, but we are totally limited to the food, activities, and events that occur ON Kodiak Island, AK.

Family Changes

When we watch TV, we see commercials for places, restaurants, and activities that occur all over that State of Alaska (which is BIG, if you’re not familiar). But unlike Alaskans that live on the Mainland of AK who can reach these different places by land, we say to one another, “well, we can’t even drive there” or “wouldn’t Pizza Hut be yummy? Too bad we’re here on the island.”

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You see, the only ways off of Kodiak Island are a 9 hour + ferry ride, or a plane ride to Anchorage. And plane rides aren’t cheap for a family of four. Through our military base, we can take a Space-A flight on one of the Coast Guard planes to Anchorage for a day trip once a year (or more times, if we put our names on the list and wait for availability) – and we do plan on doing that in the Spring. But it’s a huge change from anywhere else in the United States in that I can’t say “I need to run to target” or “Let’s go to the mall and walk around.” This is so different for us and for our Silly Bears, because driving to the mall to walk around and visit the play place on a rainy day was commonplace, and we enjoyed going to Target and Joann’s Crafts and all the restaurants that just aren’t available here. . . the kids would look forward to earning a special eating-out trip, as long as they didn’t accumulate three strikes for unruly behavior during the week. Their favorites: The Grapes and Chocolate Spagetti Store (Olive Garden) and the good ol’ House of Mouse (Chuck-e-Cheese’s). Neither of which is available here on the island (and if anybody on Kodiak is reading this, wouldn’t a Chuck-e-Cheese franchise here make BANK!? Just saying. . . )

Fitness Frustrations

The most impactful issue facing me regarding this change from mainland life to a secluded, limited island life is the issue of fitness. When we were in Maine, I had gotten into a really solid workout routine at the YMCA in the neighboring city to ours (a 20 minute drive at most) and 5-6 days a week, I would take the kids with me to the Y, and they would enjoy an hour and a half playing in the KidsZone child care center while I worked out, got a shower, and enjoyed some peaceful, mood-boosting exercise, un-hurried and unencumbered.  It was good for ALL of us. Kodiak Island has no YMCA, and no gym with childcare that I know of. I tried taking the kids to the “Parent Room” in the gym on base, but honestly, I hated it. I would’t get a good workout because I was constantly stopping to parent my kids. And by the end of however much time the kids allowed me to have, I was more stressed than before I went to go exercise.

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There’re more things that I tried to do in order to get exercise while mommy-ing my little Silly Bears here on Island. But the time that Abbey is at preschool (and Joe is home with me) is the best time for me to have work/college time, and at night, after the kids go to bed, is just not a productive time for me to exercise. I’m tired, and usually, I’m also facing deadlines for college or writing or sewing for my shop, so I use that night time for those tasks as well. Hiking and jogging outdoors is only feasible during a few months out of the year. Playing in the snow is fun exercise, but it seems like we get more icy rain than snow here (at least this Winter so far).

As a result of moving here and not having access to the community amenities (like the YMCA) that I had at our last mainland duty station, I’ve gained at least 5, if not 10 pounds, and most importantly, my mood and energy level has suffered as a result of not getting the exercise that I was accustomed to.

Changing – To Stay the Same

But it really is true – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even facing a really frustrating situation and suddenly realizing the issues it was causing for me, I was still the determined, multi-faceted, creative thinking person that I’ve always been, and after telling my husband that I needed to have his support in creating a way for me to get exercise (preferably kid-less at least a couple days per week), I set out to make a plan to get it done. We’re a week into 2014, and I have been exercising consistently 5 days a week for the past 2 weeks. It feels SO GOOD. I missed it SO much. I’ll write more later on the ways I have achieved this.

I really don’t care how many pounds I lose, or the fact that exercising will make my clothes fit better again (of course, that will be nice for my self-esteem!). I care that I FEEL GOOD AGAIN. That’s always been a priority of mine, and it will continue to be.

I thrive on stability in exercise. I’ve definitely realized this as a result of our move here and the environmental change that took our normal “fun activities” out of the house off the table along with my beloved YMCA with a child care area.  I pretended for the first few months that island life wasn’t much different from life in the lower 48, but I’m not pretending anymore. It’s different here, and it’s vital to stay consistent in my priorities and adapt them to my environment in order to make sure that I, mommy, am feeling good.

Have you ever gotten out of a good habit as a result of a change in environment? How did you reconcile your needs and your new environment?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Pour Your Heart Out: Bitter & Cold

Linking up with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for her Pour Your Heart Out Link Up. . .pouryourheart1-e1328022968330

 

I’m exhausted.

I’m trying to stay happy and warm hearted, but honestly, I’m bitter and cold.

I’m tired of the blame falling to me, when I’ve been waiting for my reinforcements (aka husband) to come home for months.

Finally, he’s here, and I feel more stressed out than I did when I was alone.

 

I’m tired of winter, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The snow is piled up, going nowhere – dirt sticking to it, discoloring it grey.

There’s ice everywhere – you have to be careful where you step. And as soon as it starts to melt, it goes and snows again.

And my toddler and preschooler constantly step on the ice on purpose, giving me a mini heart attack every time.

I’m trying to be compassionate and forgiving with my stressed out husband. I know he loves me, and I love him, but it is so stressy in this house, a lot of the joy is absent.

There are a zillion forms to fill out for our upcoming PCS, and we’re up against the clock to get them done as he’ll be underway for a month soon.

He’s taking this stress out on me – and I want to scream! The stress is also making it impossible for him to communicate effectively.

Which then makes everything a mess: from finances to discipline, to filling out forms and getting errands done. . . to the usual enjoyment of the day. . .

I could list examples, but then I’ll feel like I’m not being forgiving. I’m trying to let go of the resentment I have for his behavior as of late.

Jesus help me – I could say “I told you so” ten times a day . . . but I hold my tongue out of love.

I’m trying to communicate respectfully and effectively, but I don’t know how I’m doing, because his behavior isn’t much of a stable sounding board. . .

 

Meanwhile, Abbey is caught up in her own mind – somewhere between Wonderland and Kindergarten . . .

She’s soon to be five, and I cannot get her to understand that it really is necessary to obey those adults in her life that are taking care of her (i.e. parents, teachers, friends parents, etc).

She obeys and uses manners sporadically (and sometimes, quite consistently for a period of time) . . . but then she can also just completely disregard any and all things that are asked of her

and her explanation is “I was just running around the corner after the rabbit in the waistcoat like Alice.”

 

I’m trying to be a good wife and a good mother, but I feel like the only person in this house I’m clicking with lately is my little (or not so little anymore?) Joseph.

I don’t want to show favoritism, but Abbey is on my “I don’t understand her” list and Hubs is on my “I want to shake him” list. . .

So, Joseph and mommy it is. . .

taking care of Abbey and daddy, who are driving me bat shit crazy in a myriad of ways,

cleaning and cooking, and writing and working, and studying, and filling out forms. . . .

and trying to stay cheerful and love Abbey and daddy with all our hearts. . .

 

In this winter that just won’t end.

I Took the Kids to Mass Today!

I took the kids to Mass today. By myself, praying for success, armed with coloring pages of the different parts of mass, a small snack of goldfish, spill proof water bottles, a board book bible, and hoped for the best.

You see, I haven’t been able to worship on Sundays for . . . um, years, it feels like.

Really, I guess it’s been months, but it feels like ages. I started to get this feeling that I was being called back to church, and I had to heed His call. But, in my acting-single-mommyhood during Hubs’ 2 month patrols, I would have to go it alone with no back up. If the kids weren’t having it, I’d have to leave. There was always this thought in the back of my head that I would ruin our Sunday by trying to go to church and failing halfway through – and then cause wailing and crying and fit-throwing when we would have to leave early. . .

So, I hadn’t been going to church. Even though I missed it SO much.

Trying Other Options

I guess I should point out that I know NO ONE at the church. It’s simply the Catholic church in the area that I attend. There is one other family that attends sometimes, and are friends of ours, but both of us are technically visitors to the church. Friends warmly invited me to try their churches. At one of which, the kids are very comfortable, because we attend Wednesday night dinner and bible-study (the kids have their own classes) there with a friend. But, I’m Catholic, and worship at a non-denominational Christian church was. . . weird to me, and frankly, boring. Which obviously it was not to the congregation there. But it was to me.

So, I prayed about it, and I thought about my quandary, and I asked friends and family members for advice and ideas. And then, I decided.

I couldn’t abandon or avoid the Catholic Mass of my faith because of my circumstances.

Sure, caring for small children excuses us from the obligation to attend Mass. . . but I was being CALLED back. I looked forward to going with all of my heart!

And I dreaded going with all of my mind. Because I didn’t want it to be a massive fail.

I had tried going to other churches, but it wasn’t right for me. I felt at home at a Catholic Mass. So, that’s where I needed to worship. And, I realized, after doing a lot of praying and reading others’ blog posts on the subject that my children were not baggage that I had to take with me and hope didn’t offend anyone.

No, they are precious blessings, small little members of the Body of Christ that will attend mass with me, because they belong there.

How it Went

Let’s just say I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the cry-room or family-room used during Mass. . . love the idea that if my kids start all of a sudden bawling their eyes out or screaming, that nobody in the church proper can hear them. Hate it because you’re not really attending Mass. You’re stuck back in a glorified penalty box, with way too many kids that don’t know WHY they’re there, and it enables children to be loud, since there’s no consequence. No one can hear you.

After our other attempts at attending Mass, Abbey also has an opinion about the cry-room, and it’s not a good one.

“It’s loud in there, and stuffy in there, and boring in there” she says. “Please do not make me sit in there!”

I feel you, Abs. I do.

So, armed with the suggestions of my dear sister-in-law, Natural Parents Network volunteers, and others, I took my kids to Mass in the church proper. The second pew. And there was only one time that the wiggly-gigglies turned to screaming and wailing. I call that a huge SUCCESS.

I was on cloud nine. I had gotten to attend mass, I loved singing hymns, listening to my children sing and follow along with their tiny little fingers on the hymnal, hearing the Word of God, listening to a great homily on the Body of Christ, participating in prayer, taking communion . . . It was GREAT!

How was I supposed to know that the announcements portion of the Mass was going to be 20 minutes long? (I found out afterward that it is “Catholic Schools Week” and that’s why they had an extra long announcement time)

And that is when the fussing started. I was conflicted. I had promised Abbey that if she could remember the rules we set for Mass and listened to me during church, that we would not have to go to the cry room.

And the only reason that Joseph was fussing was because the announcements section of Mass was droning on and on.

Abbey said “I don’t want to leave now. Please don’t make me go to the cry room!”

So, I just stayed put and hoped that either Joseph would calm down, or those around me would forgive his noise during the droning on about how great the Parish school is.

I mean, at least he wasn’t screeching during the Consecration, right?

“Let’s Call it a Wash”

After mass, at donut time, several people greeted us and said what darling, beautiful children Joe and Abbey are. I thanked them and told them that I have been staying home for so long because I couldn’t succeed at bringing my children to Mass but that I was trying my hardest to include them in the church and teach them the ways of Mass. They patted me on the back and said “good job, mama!” I was seriously on a mommy-high from making it through – no – actually being able to enjoy and worship the Lord – for once in what seemed like years!

And as I passed the priest on our way out, I thanked him for a lovely homily, and told him how excited I was that I was able to attend mass successfully with my children.

And his response?

“Just make sure that you utilize the cry room when they start up making noise- I have had several people with hearing aids with concerns that the noise of children fussing makes it impossible for them to hear me. Maybe you could sit closer to the cry-room so that you can take them in there. That’s what it’s there for. It’s hard for people to hear.”

*sigh* . . . I politely indicated that I would be sitting in the second row of the church again with my children next week. Because they did well, they can’t see anything or learn to be at Mass from the cry-room, and that I was happy to be attending Mass again. And then I walked away.

Let’s not get into how upset I was that he totally killed my happy, “We succeeded!!!!!” high.

Let’s not talk about how I mumbled that people with hearing aids didn’t need to hear about how great the Catholic Schools are because their children are not school-aged. . .

Let’s just go with what one of my friends commented when I vented about it on facebook. . . let’s just call it a wash.

 

And go to Mass again next week.

 

 

 

Mamatography 2013 Week 1!

Last year, I participated in Mamatography 2012 with Luschka of Diary of a First Child and many other dedicated and talented mama-photographers!

This year, I’m at it again!

The first few weeks of 2013 will definitely be iPhone shots and Instagram photos, as we are in Houston visiting my mom and dad for the holidays, but I promise I’ll be back to my experimental manual photography soon enough (you know, when the Maine weather cooperates, or I can finally figure out how to configure my camera perfectly for indoor shots on manual!)

If you are a blogger and interested in participating in Mamatography 2013, check out Luschka and Mama Jorje’s blogs, Diary of a First Child and Mama

Jorje for more details and to join the list of participants.

. . . and on to the photos of our first week of 2013!

We have been having a lovely time at my mom and dad’s. Abbey loves to cuddle with grandma. . .

abbey and grandma

christmas

And the Silly Bears are so proud of the Christmas tree that they helped pick out AND decorate!

Ferry Ride

We enjoyed riding the Galveston Ferry this past Sunday & look forward to a Houston ZOO Trip!

 

joseph and boat Joseph is missing daddy pretty badly, but we have been appeasing him by explaining that daddy’s on the boat working and then quickly making a game out of the subject.

Pretending to call daddy on the phone is his favorite distraction game, but blowing kisses and playing with “daddy’s boat” in the bath tub are good ones, too.

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Joseph is growing so quickly – learning new words and mannerisms every day!

rings

I also got my engagement ring fixed this week. . . seriously, how does PLATINUM break?

joe and phone

And we’ll conclude with an adorable pic of Joe “calling daddy” on grandpa’s old flip phone.

That was our first week of 2013. How was YOURS?

Letting Prayer Connect Us

“I want daddy. Why won’t his boat come home faster?”

My four year old asked me this two nights ago. . . and though I’ve had practice hearing and answering the question at age 1, age 2, and age 3. . . it never gets any easier to hear, or easier to explain.

At 1, it was “daddy is on the boat and we’ll see him soon”

At 2, I added in “daddy is at work on the boat in the water and he will be home soon”

At 3, I said “daddy is working to protect us and our country on the Coast Guard boat – and he’s on his way home to us, but big boats move slowly.”

And two nights ago, I answered at least 10 questions about where daddy is, what he’s doing, when he’ll be home, and why it won’t be tomorrow.

“I want daddy home tomorrow.”

Those words never get any easier to hear.

No matter what explanation of daddy’s duty and service to our country and dedication to and love for his family I have, those words – and the face that accompanies it . . . never gets any easier.

So, I hold her tight, and I let her tears fall on my face, on my neck, and my chest. I listen to her tell me how sad she is that daddy’s not here, and why she hates the Coast Guard for taking him from her. I wait and I listen. I hold her, and I whisper that the Coast Guard needs daddy, and he is only at work, and will be back soon. I tell her that daddy is coming home, and I talk about how proud I am of how hard he works to protect our family and our country, and how proud I am of her for being his big girl back at home. She sniffles, sticks her hands under my arms, and sighs.

“I guess the Coast Guard is OK. But I still want my daddy. I love him.”

So, I tell her a little secret: “Abbey, if you tell God that, if you pray and open your heart to Him, He will take your prayers for daddy and whisper them to him. Wherever daddy is, your prayers and your love are with him too, through God. Isn’t that awesome?”

And her little eyes light up a bit. . . the knowledge that she can connect with her daddy almost, almost stopping the tears.

“Like God comes into my heart to help me not say potty words?”

“Yes, baby. Just like that. You let Him in, and you thank Him, and talk to Him about daddy, and His love can connect us, no matter where daddy is, or how far away he is.”

And we pray together for a minute before I kiss her goodnight and she falls asleep, surrounded by her books and highlights magazines and stuffed animals, and daddy’s, mommy’s, brother’s, and God’s love.

It never gets any easier to tell her we have to wait for daddy to come home. It never gets any easier to hear her say how heartbroken she is that he is not here with her.

But I cherish the moment that I get to help her see that he is not without her, and she is not without him, through our love as a family, and God’s love for us.

Those words that break my heart. . . lead me to the reminder of God’s promises for us, and remind me to teach my children of his warmth and grace.

Those words that break my heart. . . “I want daddy.” . . . They don’t tug at my resolve anymore. The pangs I feel in my heart when I see hers breaking a little – remind me to see the opportunity to love and teach faith with my little girl.

Daddy will come home. And he is always with us through the grace that connects us through Jesus.

No matter how hard the separation.

 

Linking up today for Pour Your Heart Out with Shell at Things I Can’t Say

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

Linking up today for Pour Your Heart Out with Shell at Things I Can’t Say.

 


I look around my crazy house.

I see clothes strewn on the floor.

I see a pile of trash & paper bits poured from the bottom of my diaper bag.

I look into the messy kitchen.

I see a stack of dishes.

I see a counter that needs to be wiped, and yogurt and lunch on the table.

 

I need to sweep. I need to mop. I need to transfer laundry.

I need to vacuum.

I need to wipe.

I need to fold

and iron

and sort.

But I want to cut out patterns

on my beautiful new fabrics.

I want to sit in the quiet

and sew

and get work done.

But I’ve got a toddler showing me needs -

baring his cute little teeth in anger when I say “naptime”

 

I give a choice and I rock and sing.

And when I’m kicked while comforting him,

I give the choice again.

Finally, I nurse him down to sleep. And I sneak out of the room.

And here I am, by the computer, pouring my heart out to you.

 

I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD – the maker of heaven and earth.

 

I need to remember this. When Joe is baring teeth.

When I am kicked and scratched and pummelled

by a toddler with needs and a temper.

 

I need to remember this. When I look at my messy house.

When I think “when will I ever get out ahead -

- can I get ahead of the mess?”

 

I need to remember this. When I think of my baby girl.

She’s at preschool and still I’m having trouble

balancing everything here.

 

I need to remember this. When I look at my to-do list.

When I want to say “forget this mess! I am so ashamed of myself”

and weep that I’ll never get anything done.

I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD – the maker of heaven and earth.
I will praise you in this storm. And I will lift my hands.
You are who You are, no matter where I am.
And every tear I’ve cried – You hold in Your hand.
You’ve never left my side. And though my heart is torn,
I will praise You in this storm.

 

Praise You In This Storm – Casting Crowns

Reflections of Weakness

In the spirit of Easter Sunday, and the celebration of new life in Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior. . . I want to share about a challenge seemed insurmountable and completely shameful. . . and then turned out to be really easy to overcome. . . by just accepting and remembering love.

Today is part one, and next week, I’ll post part two. Soon, this will be a series on ways to allow love to help us be gentler people (and parents). . . so look out for that later.

But onward to part one of my story (or, the shameful revelation)

- – - 
Whoa.

I saw my reflection today, and it was ugly.
“Thanks for putting up with me today, Jed” I told the Hubs after Joseph’s birthday party. “I was kind of mean to you, and I was mean to Abbey. . . I just wanted Joseph to have a nice birthday party – but some of the stuff that happened – I feel like it’s all my fault.”
His response was that he didn’t know what I was talking about – that I was fine. . . but I think I know differently.
But Abbey was a total pill today. A pill that was really hard to swallow. 
“Stop that and listen!” she said to her friend. “No really – shut your mouth! That’s rude. I don’t want to hear that rude, nasty mouth.” and sand went flying.
Hubs brought her inside from the sandbox for a “break” inside to calm down.
“Stop it! I – HAD – THAT – TOY – FIRST. Do you UNDERSTAND me!?”
More flying objects, and another break.
“I swear to GOD!” “I swear to GOD!” “I swear to GOD!”
At this point, I had no idea what to do anymore. Hubs had tagged out of the parenting bit for a while because of a physical impairment (he was hurling in our bedroom. . . some weird stomach thing) . . . I was holding a sleeping Joseph who had fallen asleep at the breast, and my older child was running around saying “I swear to GOD” to her “sweethearts” while she played “mommy” . . . 
*facepalm*
Am I really that awful? I looked at my mom (visiting for the weekend) and my face begged for forgiveness and help. 
“I’m really just supposed to ignore the things she is repeating?” I squeaked. . . “I taught her all of those phrases, in my worst moments. I feel awful.” 
Photo Credit

I felt like bawling my eyes out.

Every single moment of trying to keep my cool and model appropriate behavior, and be a conscious and authentic and gentle parent was spiraling down the drain in my minds eye as I heard Abbey say over and over again . . . “Do you UNDERSTAND me?” “I swear to GOD!” “Seriously, shut your mouth!” “and “Are you KIDDING me?!” to her friends, to herself, to my (adult) friends. . . 
Over and over. . . my worst qualities were being openly mirrored – by my three-year old – as she repeated phrases that she’s probably heard only once or twice (but all recently, in the last two weeks of Hubs’ deployment).
And I don’t know how to handle the guilt. I feel so guilty for yelling at her in my times of desperation – for saying inappropriate things in times of personal, mommy-is-seriously-losing it crisis, and giving my sweet, spunky baby girl something inappropriate and awful to mirror. And she mirrors me so well.
I saw my reflection today, and I didn’t like what I saw. 
Tomorrow, I hope that I look at my little pig-tailed mirror and see that my reflection is a little sweeter.