10 December 2007

Musings after a Weekend Away

We had a good trip to New Hampshire. Riley loved sledding. We went out three times. Maddie liked it, but not like the Ri-Man. We decorated graham-cracker houses, which was enthralling for about 10 minutes (typical toddler attention span), and the kids had a blast chasing the three cats and two dogs around the house. Maddie said her first complete sentence: "I will hold this." I kid you not. I had a plate of crackers and cheese, and I held it out to Maddie and said, "Would you like some?" She took it from me and said, "I will hold this," clear as a bell. My friends both heard it, too. Crazy.

I got to take a long jacuzzi bath on Sunday morning while the twins napped. Heaven. I joined a book club, and I'll be going for the first time on Wednesday. I didn't join until last Wednesday, so I've had some serious reading to do and the jacuzzi tub was an excellent place to do it. We're reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Memoirs are not my favorite genre, but her story is pretty compelling and a real statement about the loyalty young children have to their parents no matter how they are treated.

As has been well documented here, I've been tired and impatient lately. I blame, among other things, the emotional impact of John's birthday, the weather, my utter indifference to work, and the holidays. After a few weeks of being much better about the yelling and the annoyance with the twins, this past week was filled with moments that I longed to take back. As always, it was good to be with friends to help with the task of baby care and remind me that there is lots of fun to be had with the babes.

Returning home last night, after dark, with a car full of stuff to unload, children to feed, baths to give, bills to pay, and prep for the week to do was hard. I was weary and felt the annoyance coming back. The friends we stayed with in NH are very active in their Unitarian Universalist church, not in an "in your face" kind of way at all, but a quiet, peaceful, and admirable way. I found myself thinking of Al-Anon and higher powers and asking for help. As I struggled to get things unloaded and get ready for the week, I asked for help a few times. Then I asked again while I drifted off to sleep. "Help me be patient. Help me be the kind of parent I want to be. Help." I really don't know where these pleas are going, but they do seem to work. I felt much calmer this morning, less bothered by the small stuff (like being late, feeding the twins a less-than-stellar breakfast, not getting the playroom tidied before we leave like we usually do, Maddie pooping just as we were headed out the door—really, small stuff, but sometimes it totally gets me down). I had to dig through a huge load of laundry to find the kids' hats and mittens, and we made a game of it; I would ask each of the twins to find me a specific thing. By the end, the laundry was folded and the kids were running around in their pajamas and mittens. It was pretty funny.

I've been considering attending a service at the large, active UU church in my town. I am very undecided about the God/higher power issue, so I like he UU focus on respect for all beliefs and a love of all people. I struggle with how to teach those values to the twins, and this would provide a framework for those teachings. I don't see it happening before the new year, but it's something that's on my mind for 2008. It might help me figure out where my pleas for help are going, because it's pretty clear to me that they are getting heard.

25 comments:

Lucky said...

It does not matter if you struggle with the higher power issue. It is always there, waiting and listening. Actually, I don't know anyone who "gets it" more than you do. You learned to live day by day when your husband was sick, you have gratitude for what you had and have, and you do a damn good job of the day to day thing right now. You are way ahead of the game. Those twins will have the best values. What a gift you are going to be to them in the coming years.

The Glass Castle was life-changing for me. In a good and bad way. I can't wait to hear what you think.

parsingtime said...

Completely random but I'm in a book club in Boston and we are reading Glass Castle as well...we meet on Tuesday though!
- Parsingtime

Jennifer said...

I attend a UU church. It has been a wonderful way for my kids to learn about religion and have a place to belong. I hope you find a comfortable way to express your spirituality wherever you may go.

Amnesia said...

I absolutely LOVED the Glass Castle. Sad. Heartwarming. Sad some more. Amazing the things people can come through without being totally crazy, no?

OTR sister said...

I ended up reading Glass Castle on my own because my book group doesn't do memoirs (too one-sided of a perspective is the argument.) I loved it and I think your group will have plenty to discuss.

It's awesome that the "Helps!" you are sending up are being answered. I sometimes forget to use God as a resource when it comes to parenting.

Denise said...

No matter what kind of a day I am having with my kids, at least I will NEVER be as bad a parent as the ones in "The Glass Castle." It's worth the price of the book for that alone. I hope you enjoy it.

My North Shore book club is reading, "Eat, Pray, Love," which also considers the power of prayer. I'm an atheist, but I like the idea of asking for help when you need it.

Sarah said...

I ask for help, although I don't think anything is listening. Sometimes, it's enough to say, "I need help, I can't do this", before I strap it on and do it. Maybe it's about being self-aware of my own needs and limitations, or maybe it's just letting off steam. I don't know, but it often works.

I've never attended a UU church, but my college professor and mentor (a physicist, historian, skeptic, and atheist) is very active in his local chapter. He told me that the vibe of each church can be very different: from predominately spiritual people who are looking for non-denominational services, to predominately atheists or agnostics who are looking for a concrete sense of community.

mames said...

i have a wonderful friend who suggested i look into the UU church too. i no longer practice in the catholic faith but i find myself praying for help daily as we figure out the first year with twins. it is good to know that your prayers/request for help are being received, there is someone/something cradling these requests. i feel such strength radiate from your posts, you truly deserve every 'help' moment that you have to be answered.

Anonymous said...

God is always there; we only have to look up and see that. I hope this does not come off offensively - please know that is not my intention in the slightest - but may I suggest a nice, non-denominational church to you? I think it is incredibly important we love all people; I grew up in a church that liked to sit in pews and judge every person's lives - talk about casting the first stone.

As an adult, I sought refuge in a church whose focus was not on attacking others, but on working on one's self. Even so, the UU is a place that mixes beliefs in such a way that it really is not fair to any religion. If you look at each religion stand alone, you see that trying to combine them like can make a hypocrisy of all of them. If your goal is more of a religious overview, and not so much faith itself, then it may fit, but as some other readers have noted, it is more about a community poking about different concepts than necessarily seeking refuge in God/a higher power.

I really hope this didn't come across as preachy. I've been to many churches - a UU included - so I just have some details. In my experience, there are really good churches who seek to help people, and there are churches who seek to hurt people. Growing up in a place that did the latter, I always strive to hit the former.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28


- A

Manda said...

I attended a UU church for a while and I loved it. They were so accepting and eager to help you on your journey - no matter where your road may be leading. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, UU folks are a very nice group to be a part of.

liz said...

When we attend church, we attend our local UU congregation. I love the people there and their acceptingness of our mixed bag.

Kristen said...

I also loved "The Glass Castle"! As someone else said, at the end of some days the only good thing I can say about my parenting is that at least I'm not as bad as those parents.

I am exploring my own beliefs right now and think I may be an atheist - I'd like to attend a UU church for the community, but as a single parent with 2 children and a full schedule, I don't know if I can stand the thought of having to get out of the house early on yet another day.

ellen said...

The Quakers have a similar approach to faith, and also have a strong presence in your area. If you're in the mood for exploring, you might want to check them out too. (Some jokingly refer to Unitarians as "noisy Quakers!)

It's not so much combining different faiths, as accepting people of different faith backgrounds.

Yankee T said...

I know lots of people who attend that particular church, and seem to really love it.
I'd like to hear what you think of The Glass Castle, too. I couldn't put it down.
I know times are tough, and I'm sorry. But a full sentence? Clearly above average!

Yankee T said...

I know lots of people who attend that particular church, and seem to really love it.
I'd like to hear what you think of The Glass Castle, too. I couldn't put it down.
I know times are tough, and I'm sorry. But a full sentence? Clearly above average!

spare teeth said...

A book club is an excellent idea. And a full sentence is so exciting! As someone who wavers between aetheism and agnosticism, I'll be very interested to hear about your experience with a UU church IF you decide to attend one.

mlg said...

I have sat on my porch most mornings lately asking whatever higher power out there for help.

Like you I am wondering who it is that is helping out with my struggles and who it is that is deciding that the hard stuff needs to come my way. I hope you find peace and strength wherever your search takes you.

Just had a thought that made me smile... maybe it is John who hears you and is sending you patience and the ability to see the fun in searching through piles of clothes for hats. Whatever higher power looks over us surely does need help and I can't think of a better guardian for you and the kids than GH.

Rev Dr Mom said...

As for struggling with beliefs, I think most of us do. I know I do from time to time and you know what my job is :)

I think any plac (UU, Quakers, or other) that helps you feel connected and (even sometimes) more at peace is a good thing.

L. said...

I come from a UU family. It's a great denomination with a very beautiful New England history. (The person who commented about UU mixing religions has really only grasped one facet of UU, I'm afraid.) I have gone very, very rarely but to a number of different churches and they do vary quite a lot. As someone who was not brought up with faith, and is only slightly more than agnostic on a passionately religious day, I do think that just the change in perspective that comes with prayer, and thinking in a "faithful" manner, can be enormously helpful. It takes some of the burden off, I think, makes one more grateful, somehow.

I have been thinking about renewing my own religious life for several reasons--not the smallest one being the birth of my son this year--so thank you for giving me another nudge in that direction.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

What a beautiful, hopeful post. I had such a hard time when my boys were the same age as your twins, and as you know, we are struggling with two and a half as well, but it may help you to know that I loved the time of about 22 months to 28 months. My Early Childhood instructor always says that the 1st half of the first year and the second half of the second, third, and fourth years are the times of greatest disequilibrium, with often an easier stretch in between. That has proven very true for my boys. I was reminded of that today as I talked with a friend who has a newly minted 3yo who is suddenly a much nicer little person to live with, and was quite difficult with his parents a few months ago. I think the UU idea is a great one, and even though I personally have more of a specific religious context, I so often rely on one-word prayers like what you described. In any denomination it can be tough to sit alone in the pews (or chairs)though, and it helps tremendously to join a small group of some kind or help with something so you can connect with a few familiar faces. It's worth the effort.

OTRgirl said...

It's always hard to admit we need help. I love hearing the response when you did ask.

I've known some fantastic people who went to UU churches. For me the amazing thing in my faith walk is the ever deepening relationship specifically with Jesus. (Not to get all 'religious' up in heah') I love what lengths he's gone to make himself knowable. Especially in this season, thinking about his immensity wrapped in baby skin makes me cry.

Anyway, I definitely affirm that you are heard and you are loved.

Keen said...

So sorry about the weariness, Snick. Glad your somewhat general pleas for help seem to be working. I know nothing about the UU church, but am intrigued.

Also, go, Maddie! That one made my jaw drop. I have yet to hear my boys speak a sentence.

django's mommy said...

Snick, just wanted to say that you, John, Maddie & Riley are in my thoughts on this 11th day of the month. xoxoxo

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

That book is the next one I'm going to read! I just bought it.

Jen said...

I second the mention of Eat, Pray, Love, which describes asking for help in a very similar way. In your copious spare time ;-), you should give it a read. I've been to that UU church a few times also (grew up UU and am now agnostic-but-hoping-for-God-to-exist)--let me know if you ever want to go together. And, know that you are always, even in bad moments, an amazing and wonderful mom and woman. Everyone has moments of not being their best self--I think it goes double for parents. Anyone who says they have not had a bad moment with their child is either a liar, or too distant a parent. Or something. :-) You're doing great.

Much love,
Jen (the one who sent you the Lush recently)