10/2/08

That other post was not a rant

Warning: If you're not in the mood for a sad story that leads to a rant, you should probably go read something else. Just sayin'

OH! And also, all of you sweet people who said my rant the other day wasn't a real rant. You are so right. Because this one might be more along the lines of a real rant. Don't say I didn't warn you and don't be mean in the comments. Thanks.
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I really haven't been making it up when I say that I don't have "regular" TV on during the day with the boys around. So it's rare that I see daytime television. But somehow yesterday it worked out that I found myself alone in the kitchen at 4pm. Uncle Kevin had taken Miles on an adventure, and Asher was playing quietly in the living room. (Weird.) I turned on the TV and started thinking about dinner. Oprah (maybe you've heard of her), was on and her guest immediately caught my attention. I never did start dinner. I just stood in the kitchen and listened to this mom tell her story and I cried. It was so disturbing, but I just had to listen. The message behind this tragic story was plain and simple. SLOW DOWN.

Are you still here? I did tell you it would be sad...

I'm sure most people heard about the assistant principal and mother who went to work the first day back to school and forgot her baby was in her car (last year). She didn't normally take her baby to daycare, her husband usually did, and because the baby was sound asleep, this mother started to focus on the work day ahead of her, pulling up to school with the idea somewhere in the back of her mind that her daughter was safely where she would be any other day - at daycare. So at 4pm, when a friend came rushing into her office, this mother (Brenda) was completely shocked to hear "Cecilia is in your car!" She was stunned and frantic, racing to retrieve her daughter. But it was obviously too late. A 100 degree day had given Brenda's baby over to heat stroke hours before. Her baby Cecilia was gone.

I remember hearing this story on the news when it happened. I remember being confused and shocked. Of course I asked what everyone else asked, "how do you do that?" But yesterday as I watched this fellow mother tell her story, my heart just broke for her and her family. Because the truth is that this really could happen to anyone. Our minds are so busy, our days are so full. We can easily stand in judgment, but what's interesting is how many moms called in to the Oprah show on an anonymous phone line with similar stories. Maybe not this extreme of a story, but stories of scatter-brained neglect, and the inability to focus in the midst of life's chaos. I'm pretty sure we all have at least one of these stories. Mine has to do with the changing table. Oh, and the stairs. And the bed...See what I mean?

After I finished watching the show and Kevin and Miles came home from their adventure, I told Kevin Brenda's story and I said, "there are just so many things that could happen, it really is important to be in the moment." That had been the message of the show. Brenda wanted to tell her story to start a discussion about the pace of our lives and the need to be fully present. (Whether a mom works or not, being truly with your kids when you're with your kids.)

A man on the show said that we all think we're excellent multi-taskers, but the truth is that our brains really can only focus on one thing at a time. So if we're living to get to the next moment, we're not focusing on the now. And Brenda added that this was exactly what she was doing. She was already at work before she was even at work. Her mind was overwhelmed with thoughts of all she had to do and be for that day. Obviously the consequences of being so busy were much more severe in this case than most. But I've been thinking about all of this and I agree that we all need to slow down and live in the moment, but my question is still this:

HOW?
(and the rant begins)
One suggestion on Oprah was to find even just a half an hour for yourself each day, to get recharged, "even if it means getting up really early." Which really is a nice idea. But you know what?

If I would have done that today, I would have gotten up for "my" half hour at 4am. Doesn't sound too rejuvenating.

And I totally could have enjoyed my "me time" in the shower but Asher climbed up on Miles' bed and fell off. That hurts. So I got out of the three minute shower I had planned with conditioner in my hair and yesterday's make-up running off my face. Then I had to take Miles to school so I left the house with wet hair and raccoon eyes. (I tried the spit and finger rub-off in the car, but I still had dark mascara circles around my eyes when we got there. But who cares, they probably already think I'm totally nuts because Asher is in his pajamas half the time. And I never pay. Because I can't find the checkbook.)

I also tried to take some time for myself after breakfast and before my MUCH needed shower by reading a few blogs that I knew would make me laugh, but Mary and Lisa had such funny posts today that I just couldn't stop reading and so that only made us late.

I tried to calm down and focus on the moment in the car, but as you may know from a previous post about the car, that isn't the best place for me to focus. I tried telling Miles I couldn't talk because I needed to concentrate on driving, but that only led to the usual questions about why I would need it quiet to focus. So I turned the radio up real loud, but that only annoyed me because it was that nasally guy that carries the notes for too long. So I turned the channel and I loved that song but Miles kept yelling, "turn it DOWNER!!" It wasn't relaxing at all.

When Asher and I got home I put him down for a much needed morning nap and started my "me time" with writing this post and then he woke up ten minutes later and now he's in his highchair and he really wishes I were paying full attention and being in the moment with him. So he's crying constantly. Just a second, let me get him a sucker...

You won't believe this, but we're out of suckers.

I really need to wrap this up anyway. It really was going to be a serious post about being in the moment and taking breaks. I don't know what happened. Other than the fact that the dog at a whole thing of Lawry's seasoning and Asher's cutest little jeans ever and then she got sick. And green stuff won't stop coming out of Asher's nose and Ryan is out of town and I am. so. sleep. deprived. Oh, and if I don't find the checkbook soon there are lots of late chargers we could be paying. And the remote. I would really really like to find the remote so PBS can save my life, but for now it's missing so I can't change the channel. And I don't think the weather channel will keep Miles' attention for very long. And I wish that when something wakes me up at 4:30am, I could stop thinking about nothing and go back to sleep! Last night I was thinking about how I wish I could remember everything from when I used to work with really great people at Don Pablos. We laughed all the time. But now I can't remember what we were laughing about so I think I might be making up some of the stories in my head and I don't know if they actually happened or why I would need to think about a job from over ten years ago when I should be sound asleep dreaming about two wrinkly people who want soup like I had been doing earlier in the night. How's that for a run-on sentence?

Stop! I have to stop now. This is ridiculous. You're welcome (for stopping).

I really can't believe I'm going to post this. Hopefully it just makes everyone who reads it feel REALLY normal in comparison to ME. And I hope that if you know the answer to HOW, you will give me the answer. I really want it. I would have proof-read this, but I can't find my glasses. And besides, I have to go! It's already time to go pick up Miles and Asher is just in a diaper cause his snack was all over him.....

27 clicked right here to comment:

Kristina P. said...

I think this is a great and helpful reminder! Don't feel bad for posting this at all.

It really is a sad reminder that accidents happen to even the best parents.

LisAway said...

Not to be sassy or irreverent, but try to remember that it might not be such a bad thing that your boys are so noisy/don't nap in the car.

Oh, Heather! I didn't come away feeling like "phew, I'm so normal in comparison to THAT nut job", but rather, "Woohoo, I'm not the only nut job." Or possibly "Maybe this type of thing is fairly common!"

Gosh, I hope you can keep going in your husbandless state, and all that that means! How long is he gone, anyway?

Erin said...

I really could have written this. I frequently wake up at 4:00 in the morning and can't get back to sleep. (And not for lack of trying.) Although I'm a bit of a baby - I cry to my husband at least once a week because I feel like I'm not a very good mother (aka not living in the moment as often as I feel I "should"). Thanks for writing this.

Becky said...

I, like, Lisa, am glad that I'm not the only mega-freak (no offense!) running around on the planet.

Soooo many things you wrote about, I do.

If I wake up too early, I can forget about more sleep. My brain simply won't shut off. If I have eighteen things that need to be done, I will cram them into a fifteen-minute time slot, which gets cut even shorter because I might be blogging. If there's nothing that needs done and the kids and I have time to just play, I am thinking about what will need to be done tomorrow.

I don't have an easy solution, but I do know that hugs and kisses aren't enough. Yesterday I sat down with Riley and we spent 45 minutes building a train track together. I could have been doing dishes or laundry, or figuring out this week's menu, but we had fun! And there was no guilt afterward! That no-guilt thing? Doesn't happen often.

I have found that if I am organized, things go more smoothly. But then again, who has the time to get things organized...? :)

a Tonggu Momma said...

Yeah -- still didn't walk away feeling like my life is normal. But I do feel closer to you now. It's always good to know someone else who understands your own brand of crazy.

Jillene said...

Anyone that is a mother can relate to your rant. I always try to sneak away to the bathroom with a magazine or newspaper--my kids think that I am 'taking care of business" but in reality I am just taking a few minutes for myself to unwind and recharge.

Melanie J said...

I watched that same Oprah yesterday and it reminded me of the time that I got all the way to work and realized my oldest was still in the back seat of the car. At the time it was funny, but I feel really blessed that I'm able to stay home now. It's already crazy around here and I don't think I'd handle work very well on top of that. And now I have to go chase down a naked baby who is powering up our stairs like he's trying to set a record pace on Everest. Ergh.

The Three 22nds said...

That "rant" could have been my life. Seriously. I called my husband today and told him I was pretty much in total panic attack mode. Somedays are just overwelming...and then you get a flat tire. And then you can't find your checkbook. Or your keys. Or your cell phone. And then the baby almost rips the bow off your glasses. And then your friend looks at you and says, "maybe I don't want to have 3 kids."

I hear you girl, hang in there.
I may tell you may new plan over on my blog if I ever get a chance to post...

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I TOTALLY RELATE TO THIS POST!

(Not to yell or anything. But that's how I feel.)

I've been thinking about this very thing the last few days. I hate living in survival mode all the time, chained to the urgent and forgetting the important. I think one of the keys to refocusing my life and dwelling in the now that God has given me is taking some time for quiet and prayer and listening. But WHEN WOULD THAT HAPPEN EXACTLY?!?

(Sorry. The passion is spilling out.)

I remember reading a book a few years ago that was written by a mom in the early 1900s. She said that she got up at 3:30 each night to have some quiet time and be with God because there was NO CHANCE during her day. I've been seriously challenged by her determination ever since. Not saying that 3:30 alone time is the answer for everyone, but I admired that she was willing to tackle the situation instead of feeling trapped by it.

Sara@ Butterville said...

Thanks for sharing. I missed Oprah. I wanted to watch it. SO sad. I have a sister that has a pool and we went a few times over the summer. The whole time we were at the pool she was on her phone or reading a mag. While her 2 year old son drove around the pool in his cozy coup. I remember saying "you let him do that. Don't you think he should at least have a life jacket on if he's at the pool?" No he's fine. I couldn't take it. I had my hands full with my 2 in life jackets! Blows my mind. Not trying to judge her but when she asks for my child to sleep-over I just can't do it. I am NOT perfect, but I totally GET the slowwing down, being present thing. I have even scould my hubby on this and rattle off all the outcomes...Now who's ranting!

Kimberly said...

Oh hon, thanks for struggling to put this into words. It's so hard to fight against the way the world is, the way our lives seem hardwired to be. And yet so, so important.

The Three 22nds said...

I love that, Kelly, "chained to the urgent and forgetting the important"

Debbie said...

We all feel just like you. But you put it into words so much better than I could have.

BaronessBlack said...

You are NOT alone! It's pretty much the same round here most days.
I have committed myself to finding a baby sitter that the children know and who my husband and I are comfortable with, and using them at least once a month. That way, when I get ill, or over worked, or I just need some extra time round the house - I have someone I can call on.
My daughter turned four today. It seems crazy that I haven't had a full night's sleep for four years, and I'm still allowed to drive a car!

joolee said...

What I have a hard time with is living in the moment with 4 kids.......How can I live in the moment with 3 of the kids when I'm frantically searching for the other one?

Except last night at church. Hubby had gathered all our coats and my purse and ushered our kids along with a few extras into the sanctuary for family worship time. (I was holding a friend's baby). So we sat in a row behind about 8 lil kids, occasionally shushing them while attempting to be truly worshipful despite all the distractions in front of us. Halfway thru the singing, we both glanced over to find our youngest (age 2) peering into the sanctuary from the gym (at the front of the church for all to see) where we had totally abandoned her. Luckily, heat stroke was not an issue, but kidnapping, being hit by a car, and finding the knife drawer in the church kitchen were definite possibilities. Oops.

Lara said...

Oh man...finding me time is so hard...for every mother! But it gets better and easier. My middle child started Kindergarten this year, and it's in the afternoon when my youngest naps and I barely know what on earth to DO with myself! These early years are tough, and I am trying so hard to treasure the moments and live in the present. To enjoy how it is now, knowing that it isn't going to last very long!

Thanks for the reminder!

Jessica said...

My friends and I were just talking about that Oprah episode last night. I didn't see it, but I'd heard the story of the mom you mentioned and cannot stop thinking about it! . . . being fully present with your kids is SO important . . . but it is so hard to find the balance between giving them your full attention, getting everything else done that needs done, making sure they are safe, happy, etc. etc., and finding time for yourself. When everybody's sleeping normal for a change, mornings are the best and most savored time for me.

MidnightCafe said...

Try to remember that Oprah doesn't have any children. She can say whatever she wants about taking time for yourself; it doesn't solve the problem of a rushed society & sleep-deprived moms. I think what you're doing here in your blog is exactly what you need to do to maintain that in-the-moment focus. You're reminding yourself (and all of us). Thank you.

Peanut said...

Oh my goodness, I am NEVER in the moment. This place would fall apart, and these little people wouldn't get fed if I didn't have twenty things going on at once! And I can't count the number of times that jj has fallen off the couch or the bed because I put him there for a moment with his big sister and forgot he was there when she moved on to someone else! And me time? Other than my "emergency me time" that I had to take when I had a complete meltdown back a couple months ago (were you reading my blog back then?)... well my only me time these days is that I insist on napping for as long as I can if my kids' naps coincide - so that I might get 6/24 hrs or sleep like my doctor tells me I need to fight off post-partum depression...

Oops! You got me started!

The only thing I was thinking about when reading this post is that you, who appears to mother the way I aim to (good and bad), are NORMAL! Normal and thus, your example is attainable. (I hope that made sense... I'm not nearly as good with words as you are... and I'm still busy trying to figure out the "stools" in my bathtub! ;)

Heidi Ashworth said...

wow,I am sorry it is so hard! These days don't last that long, really--it just seems like it when you are in the thick of them. As for the checkbook, I just pay bills online. I lose the checkbook, anything paper on a regular basis but so far, I have never lost the computer. : )

Betty said...

I found your blog via jessica and this is so true. I saw the episode too and it made me think of all the times my husband says "Betty, the boys are talking to you" I hear so many "mommy!'s" through out the day that i, w/o effort have learned to filter out the unimportant ones. As if anything my child might say to me is unimportant. But I hear their little voices so often sometimes my brain is tired or focused on a task at hand. So I felt horrible for that mother. Unfortunately, I can see how it could happen. It really does take a conscious effort to be completely " in the now" and "fully present". I guess this can be a challenge to us all!

Kristen said...

I was feeling the same way as I watched the show. When the guy was talking about multitasking, I was like, UM, what mom is not forced to multitask ALL DAY LONG???

You are normal. Chaos + children = normal.

charrette said...

Oh, Heather -- If I lived anywhere near you I would come over and offer to watch your kids (and try not to multitask) :) RIGHT NOW...and literally shoo you out of the house! No wonder your aunt gave you a sap day...you totally need it on a regular basis!

On a more serious note, my heart aches for parents who are distracted and lose their children over thoughtless moments that they can't take back. My hubby DID leave our princess in the car once at church when she was a baby. I usually took the baby with me, but this time he dropped me off, and the baby was asleep in the car and...well, he remembered about 40 minutes later and gratefully it was early in the morning and not too hot outside...but I can totally see how stuff like that happens.

And then you add sleep deprivation to the mix and it's a wonder ANY child survives!

charrette said...

Oops, that was supposed to be Spa Day. (No one needs a Sap Day!) :)

T and T Livesay said...

I forgot Lydie in the car last January during furlough ... only five minutes till Britt asked "where is Lydie" but still -- five minutes of not remembering I even had her. Moms have to many things on their minds - all the stinkin time!!!!!!

Alone time? hahahahahhahaaaa. I get maybe three hours a week -- that is when I leave and run on horrible port au prince roads because that is sometimes a better option than no break at all. I would hate to have a husband who regularly traveled.

Carrie Thompson said...

I am with you and feel like you are normal! Last night I went out with a friend and that NEVER happenes- well hardly ever! My dh was supposed to pick up my kids at 7:30 at their grandparents house. I got home at 10:45, no hubbie, no kids. Called him and than ran out the door to go get my kids! At least they were safe my still! I was mortified and thought this is what I get if I go out!

Anonymous said...

I'm Invisible

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the

lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while

I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.


Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the

phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone,or cooking,

or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner,

because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.


Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more:

Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?


Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a

human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'

I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the

Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'


I was certain that these were the hands that once

held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that

graduated summa cum laude - but now they had

disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's

going, she's going, she's gone!


One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of

a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous

trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was

sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It

was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my

out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could

find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and

I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling

pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped

package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great

cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I

read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the
greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would
discover what would become for me, life-changing

truths, after which I could pattern my work:
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record

of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never

see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the
eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man

who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a

workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and

asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird

into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall

into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering

to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day,

even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no

sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to

notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't

see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction . But it is not a disease that is
erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective
when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people

who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something
that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to
say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime, because there are
so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's
bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the
morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for
three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd
built a shrine or a monument to myself.
I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there
is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it

there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not
only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Great Job, MOM!

Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know

.... I just did.

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