Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We are Woman, hear us roar!

Hello friends!


We are entering the last week of the summer vacation before the kids return to school. Suddenly, there is so much to do! Yesterday morning my previously wide-open week filled up with people calling to squeeze in last-minute playdates. I said no to some and yes to some (I live in Minnesota so I have to be nice). Why do people do this? The last-minute thing, I mean? I try to make my appointments weeks in advance when it involves people. And I'm the world's most accomplished procrastinator!

Yesterday morning, I wrote this status update on FB. What I was doing on FB when I was supposed to be sewing, I don't know.

Honestly, I had very low expectations.
So low, in fact, that at 3 pm, I gave up and went swimming. Why fight it? It was looking like one of those days in which nothing on my to-do list was going to get done anyway. I was a wreck when I left the house: grouchy, headachey, and with one miserable meatloaf in the oven when I secretly wanted lamb rogan josh with basmati rice. 

At the end of the day, the bag was untouched. As expected. However, the laundry was done, the dinner was cooked, the cookies were baked and I went for a run as well as the swim (well, whatever that playful splashing in waist-deep water with children hanging on to various parts of my swimsuit is called).

In other words, motherhood - 1, crafting -0.

Is there a point to all this sickening self-exaltation?


Yes - while looking back over the day's happenings, one thought struck me: I couldn't have done this two years ago. Forgive me- I didn't mean to sound superior. If anything, my jaw dropped in wonder and my heart swelled in gratitude when this realization hit me. Let me explain.

Two years ago, my girls were 5, 3 and 2. My days were full of diapers and naps and washing and wiping and sippy cups and small, messy snacks and potty-training charts. And watching -monitoring, overseeing, checking, double-checking, chasing, entertaining. And, very often, flitting between sick children, medicating, taking temperatures, staying up at nights to clean up barf, chloroxing everything in sight. Read? Only if it's the dosage chart on the backs of Tylenol bottles. Sew? Brahahahaha!! Blog? Only to keep from going freaking insane while missing family back in Singapore.

Mum said in those early baby days, "It gets easier when they get older. Don't worry."
I didn't believe her. It would NEVER get easier. I would always have three children whose ages were 3 years apart between the youngest and oldest. They would always be needing something. I would never have time for anything that wasn't related to the kitchen, the bathroom, the diaper mat, the nursing chair. I would never swim a lap again in my life. I would never be able to leave the house alone to do something as luxurious as running; if I had "time off" because the husband was on child-duty, it was to see the doctor for mastitis. 

And I would never, never, never, ever have made a stupid list like my status update on FB yesterday. It was an inferiority complex, depression (hormone-induced or otherwise) and beating-self-over-the-head-with-someone-else's-glossy-paged-published-craft-book nightmare waiting to happen.

But you know what? Inexplicably and without my realizing it, my babies grew up a bit and became real girls, with full vocabularies and independent streaks and wonderful personalities. They can do things on their own now (some things, anyway). They don't need me in those endearing-yet-debilitating ways that they did when they were stumbling around the house on unsteady feet. Mum was right after all. And I am getting a bit of myself back. Not quite the old LiEr from a decade plus ago, though. This LiEr can't quite do the late nights thing as well as she could and doesn't hang out with very happening people the way she used to and certainly can't keep the pounds off while eating full-fat ice cream and lard-filled roti prata at midnight the way she did when her metabolism actually worked. But I think this is a better LiEr, because she's done the motherhood thing and survived- nay, lived - to celebrate each day since, sticky kitchen floors and zero short-term memory and all.

Many people have left comments or emailed to say the equivalent of, "How do you get so much done?" I never know what to say because anything witty would sound flippant. I know some of you meant it as a compliment and for that, I thank you. But I also sense that, for some of you, maybe it wasn't  just rhetorical. Will you accept, instead of a list of secret tips (which I really don't have), a big hug and my mother's wise words, "It gets easier when they get older"?

Squish your little ones while they are little, friends. Be good stewards of the gift that are these precious- and maddeningly frustrating- early years. Expect nothing more from yourself than getting through the day (as my neighbor so aptly put it) "without losing any of the children". You will swim again, sew again, write again, dress in non-baggy clothes again, hang out with your husband again, dream again. And when that happens, look back and tell someone else that you did it, not by being organized or savvy, but by gripping the edge of sanity by your unmanicured fingernails and letting time take you on a fantastic journey. There are no motherhood success secrets - no personality types more predisposed than others towards avoiding breakdowns because all of us have fallen off the Type A/Type B spectrum from sheer fatigue. The only thing we do have in common is that we are women- and women are made for resilience in the face of repetitive challenges* and for kindness to each other. I've learnt that it's not about being mighty; it's about asking for help and saying thank you when it comes.

My other bit of advice is to go swimming. Really! I'm going through swimming withdrawal symptoms so badly that I've signed myself up for swim lessons in the fall. When I can already swim (but don't tell the instructors that)! Seriously, I'm going to have them teach me some good stuff, like kickturns and the butterfly stroke, both of which I am useless (translation: can only watch other people do it, and drool) at.

And that, friends, is my grand "slice of real life" story for the day. And speaking of Mighty Women, I'd like to share three sites that bring together women bloggers who Write About Stuff. I think you'll enjoy them. They were nice enough to invite me to Say Stuff, which I did, so you'll see me there, but that's beside the point. Enjoy the melting pot of viewpoints, inspiration and personalities, find some new favorite blogs and know that among these women, you are in good company.

First is Whip Up -

Kathreen hosted the mind-blowingly awesome Creativity Series earlier this year, in which she invited bloggers to write on specific topics: creativity and health; creativity and business; creativity and parenting or creativity and process. Some of the stories made me weep, literally. You'll love the brokenness, the honesty and the strength of these women. My story isn't particularly moving, but you can read it here anyway.

Next is Bonbonbreak 
Bonbon Break
which Val and Kathy fill with stories, insights and links to all manner of wonderful resources in the categories of Kitchen, Front Porch, Family Room, Bedroom, Playroom, Backyard and Mom Cave. Here I am in the Playroom, going on about cardboard.


And, finally, Noodles On The Wall,

where Elena features enterprising and inspiring moms, their creative endeavors and their down-to-earth words of wisdom for all of us. Come read my two suggestions for raising creative kids.

I hope you enjoy them!


*how many men do you know who can repeatedly sing The Wheels On The Bus in falsetto with all the verses and and actions without frothing at the mouth? Eh? 


46 comments:

  1. I suspect that you are right... My son is 2.5 now and old enough that we can actually go on adventures together. I don't just have to take him with me everywhere I go, I actually enjoy some of it :) I think potty training that child was the biggest step forward in our relationship. Having a reliably dry child is the greatest thing.

    But I'm still totally in awe of you. I think your sewing speed is particularly impressive. You can make something and post an entire tutorial on it while I'll mull the construction of something for a week and accomplish nothing in meanwhile. I think you have a very impressive set of skills and are well rehearsed enough to execute them with speed. I hope that I get there someday, but I've got to get in a lot more practice.

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  2. I can't even tell you how much I needed to hear that today! I'm counting the minutes till Hubby is home from work. But he wants to run when he gets here and supper still needs to be made and I have 3 sewing projects started, plus a commissioned one yet to start (that I've already been half-paid for!) and haven't fired up my sewing machine in over a month. The days get away from me with nothing more than "not losing a kid" accomplished. Thanks for the reminder that it'll get easier as they grow up! Thank God!!

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  3. LiEr, thank you for this delightful post. I caught a glimpse of productivity this past spring, then fell back into the mother-of-an-infant daze this summer. Someday I will actually get lists done - and maybe even learn how to swim properly - but for now I'll hug my baby and let it wait.

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  4. What a wonderful post! Bravo, my friend! And yes, it does get better... and before you know it, you're missing them like crazy because they've grown up and chosen to live too far away. *Sigh* But hurray for motherhood! There's no harder - or more fulfilling - job in the world!!

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  5. Thank you for your wonderful post. As a Mommy to a 4 year old, one year old, and soon to have a newborn, it is a good reminder that I don't have to be a superhero...I just need to lay off my to do list and enjoy the moment. We all need to be reminded of this every day!

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  6. Thank you. This made me cry a little. I have 3 girls: 5, 4, and 2. And a little 4 month old boy. I feel all the time like I will never get to do things by or for myself again. I feel like I am always watching and always touching and always busy and most of the time crazy. I keep thinking there is going to be time to be creative, but who am I kidding, I can't even keep the house clean. But it is so good to hear that it gets better. It is so good to look at all you do and hear you used to be in my spot once. There is nothing as wonderful or as consuming as being a mother. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I also look forward to the day when I can have a minute to myself. Thank you for your words of encouragement. They really mean a lot. Thanks.

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  7. I love this post. That's all. :)

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  8. I just had to share this post with my friends on Facebook. My children are 4.5, 3 and 18 months, and many of my friends are in the same boat. We are truly in the thick of it! Thanks for the reminder that things won't always be this kind of hard. Sure, there will soon come the challenges of the teen-aged years, but at least by then I'll once again be allowed to pee with the door closed.

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  9. As I sit here at 10pm trying to Get Stuff Done I couldn't have come across a nicer read. Thank you!

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  10. As I sit here past 10pm trying to Get Stuff Done before the inevitable morning rush, I couldn't have read a lovelier post. Thank you!

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  11. Thank you so much for this post. Long time silent reader, art student, no sewing skills or crafting skills - I read your posts in gobsmacked awe. I have a two year old boy now. My exercise is 'running' or being 'seals'. My creativity goes into building block towers. But we have come through the hellish rollercoaster of perinatal depression to the other side sane and intact and a happy family(!) We have had a lot of professional help to get here, otherwise on our own, but it is a totally different thing to hear a genuine 'it gets easier' from a real mother and be able to believe it. Thank you!

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  12. Thank you. I have a 15 month old and I'm dealing with nausea with baby #2. I have little to no energy, mostly because my daily calories have been cut in half thanks to queasiness. I feel like I'm lazy and not very good at my 'job' of motherhood, but if the standard is making sure I make it through the day without losing any of the kids...well, that I think I can handle! One more month until trimester two...and then maybe I can start the quilt I have planned for my toddler. Thanks for making me feel less hormonal-weepy!

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  13. Definitely needed this today. So many projects barely started and none finished. With five kids 9 and under I'm not sure why I keep starting them so it is nice to hear that one day I will actually have time to finish them. Till then I'll keep dreaming (in between the night feedings, of course...) and stalking your shop for that gorgeous yellow and gray bag--a project I am so glad you did get to finish. :)

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  14. I want to bear-hug you and plant a sloppy wet kiss on your cheek! I have one child and feel terribly embarrassed for feeling harassed some days :S. Thanks for reminding me to take each day as it comes and more importantly to enjoy my 4.5 year old miracle :)

    PS. Hubby is away for 5 days...let's see how long I last before I pawn my daughter off on her cousins for an all day playdate. *evil laughter*

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  15. Thank you for this. I have a 3.5 year old and a 10 months old.
    I'm supposed to be writing the thesis for my masters. Piles of laundry are scattered all over, dishes in the sink, the floor is so grubby I've been walking with flipflops inside the house today. Plus we've had MacDonalds about three times this past week.
    Crafting? I can't even remember the last time.
    So thank you for this, I really needed it today.

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  16. I really enjoyed this post LiEr, I feel a little the way you do now - my daughters are 6, 6 and 4, so two of them started school this year and I am beginning to feel that I am becoming 'myself' again if that makes sense.
    I've got time for more sewing, more exercise and to re-connect with friends with whom I had become a less than attentive friend.
    Thanks for this post - it reminds me that while I still have lots of school and kindergarten commitments, they too will pass and I will wish I had savoured them more.
    Have a great day.

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  17. Not sure why that came up as anonymous!

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  18. I read your blog all the time and haven't commented until now. I don't know if the ungodly hour has anything to do with it, but this post brought me to tears. So many days I rush around trying to get things done and sometimes I get so upset that I can't find enough time to sew, read, and be ME. You've given me hope. I'm bookmarking this post so I can read it again when things get the better of me.
    (fellow Minnesotan)

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  19. This is a wonderful post. My kids are 6,4,3. There were times when they were younger that I couldn't accomplish a single thing. This summer proved to be much much easier. We got to do so many great things without the strollers, naps and diapers. They don't need my constant supervision so I was able to get a few of my own things done. I learned to work with wood and I am almost finished with their new playhouse. For all of you with little little ones, hang in there. It really does get easier ( at least until they are teenagers;) )

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  20. Great post. Very well said. I really needed to read that 5yrs ago when the closest I came to being crafty was somewhat obsessively reading craft blogs while feeding my youngest baby.
    Now that baby is 5 and we have just spent the weekend away on a conference. I quietly celebrated that fact that we didn't have to pack a cot or nappies or sippy cups (more space for the knitting!), that my girls went happily to their kids program during the day and even went to the movie night without a problem. : )

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  21. Thank you! My kids are 2 years old and 3 months old and it is very comforting to know that I'm not the only one in the world finding the beginning of motherhood to be a challenge. Sometimes I miss the ME I used to be before kids when there was less responsibility but othertimes I'm beginning to find the ME I'm becomming and I think I like her better. ;)

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  22. Thank you. I really needed this.

    My kids are 7, 6, 3, and 1 and it's so easy to find myself thinking that it WILL always be like this: exhaustion, dirty diapers, messes made faster than I can clean them up. I really need lots of reminders that it WON'T always be like this: chubby little baby bodies, tender snuggles and slobbery kisses, and the feeling of a small hand in mine. Thank you for reminding me.

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  23. Wow, that made me cry. Lovely, lovely writing. The kind that honors and caresses the heart of the reader. Thank you.

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  24. So well said. Thank you for reminding those of us who are struggling with naptimes, tantrums and nursing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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  25. Loved this post. I drool and drool when looking at things on pintrest and blogland and every weekend my score is motherhood-1, crafting-0. I have VERY active 11 month old. When I say VERY active, I mean it:) My crawling son gets kneeholes in his pants every week, but I know before I get to knee-enforce his pants he will be walking. On weekends meals, nap, playing, laundry, grocery shopping takes priority. Feels good to know that things will get little easier when children grow older.

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  26. Thank you. I needed this today :)

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  27. A very nice thoughtful post on motherhood in those first few years. I have to agree with all that you say, I have a 3 year old and the first year was the hardest in terms of no free time for myself or any crafting endeavors. I used to try to get around this by trying to sleep less but that never worked!

    It has gotten easier now that she's older and potty trained. Of course it must be harder because you have 3 little ones so close in age. I am expecting my second child end of this year and now having had the experience already, I know what to expect in terms of free time (nothing at least initially, hah!). But that's okay, I just have to see the forest for the trees, enjoy those early years for all the joy that little kids bring in their own way and bide my time hoping it gets easier as the children grow older.

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  28. A very nice thoughtful post on motherhood in those first few years. I have to agree with all that you say, I have a 3 year old and the first year was the hardest in terms of no free time for myself or any crafting endeavors. I used to try to get around this by trying to sleep less but that never worked!

    It has gotten easier now that she's older and potty trained. Of course it must be harder because you have 3 little ones so close in age. I am expecting my second child end of this year and now having had the experience already, I know what to expect in terms of free time (nothing at least initially, hah!). But that's okay, I just have to see the forest for the trees, enjoy those early years for all the joy that little kids bring in their own way and bide my time hoping it gets easier as the children grow older.

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  29. Thank you!!!!! REALLY needed to hear that today... :)

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  30. Our respective mothers are wise indeed. My mother's manta is "It is just a phase this too will pass." I remember calling her one day while hiding in the bottom of my closet. In a second she knew I was upset and asked what was wrong. My reply, "There are children in my house."
    Thank you for this post. Now all we need is to get all the husbands out there to read it and see if that helps them understand a little better how we feel.

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  31. Thank you! I read this yesterday and had to come back today and tell you how much I appreciated it. I had been looking forward to packing my youngest off to school next year, only to find myself pregnant last year, so now I have a fresh 'newbie' as well. She's an absolute joy, but sometimes I need reminding to slow down and spend time with them instead of trying to cram everything in.

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  32. I love this post. I so agree with you. This week I blogged about the first day in my parenting career without children because they are BOTH in SCHOOL. Very odd time, but I can adjust! I sewed, naturally :)

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  33. What a serendipitous post. Just had an epiphany couple of days ago about the same thing - my two girls are older now, still need me, but are independent enough that if we go to the beach or out to a playground, they are happy to entertain themselves while I have a chat with another adult-type person. Freedom(ish!) As a fellow overseas Singaporean, it's been a challenge parenting children in a different culture on my own, so I totally get where you are coming from on so many levels. Wouldn't you agree though, that it's an experience you wouldn't trade for anything in the world? Still, I was describing this country-hopping experience to a friend the other day: It's almost like time travel, minus the bad 80s hair (or not). And if you're into time travel geek culture mythology, you need a constant, an anchor you can hold onto to remember who you are and things that matter. That would be my family, my crafting, best friends, and blogs like yours. Proud fan since 2008!

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  34. This was so beautifully said! Thank you!

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  35. I really needed this post. It was one of THOSE days with my three little ones, but they are all asleep now, and we will try again tomorrow. The projects can wait.

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  36. You are so right...I had a glimpse of "easier" as my two older entered pre-school...and then number three came and pitched us back to...what? Humans sleep at night?? Really? Waiting for the moment I see my husband's legs walking up the road from the bus stop each day is a ritual. Wondering if I am going to be able to make that blog post, sew that last stitch, find that other knitting needle, are frequent occurrences. Thanks for the reminder that, "this too will pass." Enjoy the good stuff. You'll forget the bad stuff in no time. :) That is why we want another baby no? :)

    thanks, I love your blog.

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  37. I agree! No time to read any comments or blogs you recommended but hopefully will get back to it. I was nodding my head so much with everything you said (except maybe the baggy clothes comment :) ). Thanks for articulating everything that rambles about in my head.

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  38. I've read your blog for a bit but never commented ... this is so well said. I wish I had understood it better during the insanity years.

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  39. Right-on! My boys are 10,5,1.75 (it seems I'm supposed to say that) so I have a squishy and a ready-to-bike-to-the-store on his own all in the same house and I STILL tell myself what you've said :every day or so!
    A great resource: LOVING THE LITTLE YEARS by Rachel Jankovic

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  40. Thank you, this made me cry. :-)

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  41. Mum of two, a six month old and a 2.5 year old. . .thank you!

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  42. This is so good to hear. My little dude is 13 months old. I work from home, which everyone thinks is great because I can be with him all the time (or at least near him when the sitter is here). But when I'm not with him, I'm working. When I'm not working, I'm with him. I work nights and weekends while my husband is home, so then I don't get to see either of them. I have absolutely no time for myself. His little hands are all over my fabric and spinning wheel, and I can't possibly concentrate on hard knitting when I have one eye out for his tumbling little body. I'm glad it gets better. I just wish it would get better now.

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  43. LOVE this post! I'm in the dependent-child stage with three little ones. I love them to pieces, love playing with them, love being with them. Even though I pretty much always have spitup on me somewhere. But it gives me hope that one day, there will be time for me to be me again. :)

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  44. Thanks for the encouragement. I am 7 months pregnant with our 10th child. I am, myself, an only child who filled my childhood days with creative pursuits. Homeschooling my brood, now, kind of negates mommy time. But, this is a season, for me, an exceptionally long one, but a season none-the-less. Thanks for your blog, your candor and your wit!

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  45. I LOVE you for this. LOVE.

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