Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Sides

I’ve been realizing lately that there are two sides to who I am as a mom. 

The Fun Mom

This side of me allows for creativity, exploring and the freedom of expression. Fun Mom means sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and spontaneous trips to the park. Fun Mom allows Ava to make messes, to stomp through mud puddles and leave trails of dried-up Play-Doh pieces all over the carpet. 

When Fun Mom is around, stuff rolls right off my back. Ava throws a tantrum? Easy. Distract her with a joke, act silly, scoop her up in a hug and give her cookies for a snack. She wants to take two full minutes just to climb up the stairs? I have all the patience in the world. Messes don’t bother me, dirty clothes don’t bother me…everything is great! My kid gets to be a kid and I get to soak up her enjoyment in the little things.

I wish this side of me could be around all the time. This is the type of mom I want to be at every moment…because this is the mom who teaches her child that the world offers so many opportunities to express oneself, to be creative and stand out. This is the mom who lets her child see that sometimes it’s okay to drop everything and do something fun with loved ones, who jumps at the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime. 

Although it would be nice for this side of me to be present at all times, it’s just not realistic. Life cannot always be a holiday, it is not always sunny outside and sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, which brings me to my other side, which I will oh-so-creatively name…

The Other Side

I refuse to give an official name for this side of me. I don’t want to call myself the Mean Mom or Bad Mood Mom or Impatient Mom. This is the mom who lets her child get under her skin, who cringes at messes and feels exasperated when her child wants wants wants and then throws a tantrum when told no. When I am experiencing this other side of myself, it’s very hard to let things roll off my back. I easily get annoyed at the smallest things Ava does and sometimes, though I hate to admit it, I snap at her…and then instantly feel remorse.

And wouldn’t you know, this other side of me tends to come out on the weekends! The one time when I shouldn’t be feeling tired and irritated! It definitely confirms for me that I am not made to be a stay at home mom. I enjoy my daughter more after a day of work; I appreciate her antics, don’t mind if she gets sidewalk chalk all over her outfit, and somehow, even after dealing with 8th grade attitudes all day, my patience for Ava during the week far outshines how I usually feel on the weekends. 

It is probably different for other moms, but I do believe most of us have two sides when it comes to our beliefs, attitudes and feelings about parenting. We cannot always be in a good mood and let the small things roll right off our backs. Sometimes our children get on our nerves – and that’s okay because Lord knows we get on theirs! (or will when they are teenagers!) Besides, the rough times make us appreciate the good times.
I feel that as I document my life with Ava and our family, as I take 153 pictures just from a trip to the park, it helps me focus on making good memories. Fun Mom is more likely to make an appearance when the camera is up to her face. It helps me appreciate Ava’s outlook on life: that tea parties are important, scribbling with crayons on paper results in magnificent artwork, being outside is preferred over being inside, pretend food is tasty and time spent playing is better than time spent cleaning the house. I want Ava to look back at her childhood and remember that I played with her, that I took her on walks and trips to the park or pool, that we laughed together and enjoyed each other’s company.

I definitely want Fun Mom to stick around a lot more than The Other Side, even if it takes a conscious effort on my part to make it happen.

What about you? Do you think there are two sides to you, whether you are a parent or not? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrating Life

It has been rough around here lately.  We are grieving over the loss of Jeremy's grandpa, the man who raised him and is the only "dad" he's ever known.  His health had been slowly decreasing for a few years and the end wasn't entirely unexpected, but it still seemed to come so quickly.  It reminds me of my own dad's death.  He battled with cancer for two years until the disease completely took over his body.  I was only 12 at the time.

Expecting the death of a loved one doesn't make it any easier.  You have to watch them struggle through pain while still trying so hard to appear strong.  In a way, the end is a relief: they can finally be peaceful and not have to deal with medicine, doctors, procedures, side effects and a body that has betrayed them. 

Despite the grief, the sorrow, the tears that sometimes flow steadily at the slightest provocation, we remember the good times.  Death gives us a chance to honor and celebrate the lives of our loved ones and reflect upon the memories we have shared with them.

Ava will not remember these times with "Papa," but we have pictures and stories to share with her when she's older.  We will tell her that she liked Papa immediately; that when she was an infant, she completely relaxed in his arms and never cried if he was holding her.  We'll show her pictures of the two of them on his scooter, riding around the house.  She will know that he was a special person in her life and that he loved her so much.

Losing a loved one is a really hard thing to go through, but it gives us a chance to celebrate life.  It helps us appreciate those around us even more and to cherish the moments we have with them.  Ava reminds us of this every day as she lives for the present and enjoys simple things, like blowing bubbles, riding her tricycle, taking walks and just being outside in the fresh air with her mama and dada. 

We are working through our feelings and taking it day by day...and looking to Ava for a smile, a laugh, a simple gesture to help us cope.  She shows us how to celebrate life.