Bug,  domesticity,  illos,  Moody Blues

A little more present than is pleasant*

flower in a shot glass

I’ve been fighting the winter doldrums like everyone else. Which is pathetic really, don’t you think? Because if anyone should ever come down with the winter-time blues, it shouldn’t be me. Someone I know from Montana said on the morning of a particularly rainy day for us, “You call this weather?!!! Pffff! This is not weather.”

I know he’s right. I know this little spit of drizzle that we have from time to time is not really weather. We have a sunny day every fourth or fifth day. But still, I miss the sun. I hate complaining because when it is summer I belly-ached constantly about being sweaty. Then I daydreamed of cooler days when I can wear sweater upon sweater. Just something with sleeves for that matter. So here I am wearing three sweaters and a coat and sitting three inches from my space heat and I’m daydreaming of those summer days when the sun was beating down relentlessly in my un-air conditioned apartment.

Anyway, that is just my lead-in to say that I’ve been feeling down lately. Oh boo hoo. I know. It’s not really a big deal. I’m not depressed. Let’s just say I’m preoccupied. I’ve been in my head a little too much lately.

I've been a little preoccupied

This morning as I was snuggling in bed with Baby Bug she suddenly turned to me with her big giant eyes and peered into mine like she was looking through the holes in my head to see if there was anybody home inside. “Where are you, Mommy?” she said.

I kid you not. That is what she said. How does she come up with a question like that? So simple and yet so exactly right. I wasn’t there. My mind was a million miles away. It has been. It’s been away for days. I didn’t know what to say. I just snuggled her and tickled her and tried very very hard to be in the moment right there and then. But it’s hard.

You know how it is.

When every minute you feel like you just want to run and cry but you have no where to run and nothing that is really worth crying about. So you just buck it up and kick yourself in the butt because if anyone should be thankful for all they have it should be you.

I’m not really worried. I’ve been here plenty of times and I know everything is going to be okay. In fact, it will be more than okay. There will be days that I stop myself and say, why am I so happy? And then I’ll jump for joy and say, “Who cares! Let’s just have some fun!”

lunchtime silliness mosaic

So I’ve been thinking about being in the moment. Like a lot of you, I joined Kerflop’s 30 Tiny Moments flickr pool. What a great idea. I think all my pictures every day are tiny moments but this is a really fun game to play with your camera. So I’m playing. But I’m also thinking a lot about it too.

I should really stop this post here but I’m going to blow right on past.

If I had one complaint about the way I grew up (and really, I should NOT complain because I had one great childhood filled with happiness all around) it was that my parents weren’t “there” when I wanted them to be. You laugh?!! You should. I was one spoiled rotten little brat.

Auntie Knittery's Wedding

I came from a happy home where both parents stayed together and loved each other (imagine that!). My mom even stayed home to take care of us. I wasn’t a latch key kid or stuck in day care. I actually had a mom who did put milk and cookies on the counter for us after school. She even asked us how our day was.

However, my mom liked to read romance novels. (Sorry mom, your secret is out.) She liked to read them a lot. I hated it. You could always find my mom in the same spot in her in the living room in her orange recliner reading some paper back novel with Mr. I-can’t-belive-it’s-not-butter and some woman with the top of her bosoms exposed. Every day for hours on end, she was always there. Which is better than not being there I’m sure.

She cooked us dinner and made sure we did our homework. She did the laundry and chided us to keep our room clean. So really, the romance novel reading did not hurt us. But when she wasn’t doing those things she was always in her chair reading! Ask my brother, he’ll tell you this is true.

history repeats itself

This got me thinking. Why did my mom have to escape us so much? Where was her mind? Was her romance novel reading not EXACTLY like my internet addiction? If Baby Bug could speak in long cohesive sentences, she would explain to you that her mommy is really really fun and wonderful except that she’s always sitting at her laptop and not paying attention to her. It’s true. I do.

For hours and hours. Of course, I’m mentally aware of what’s going on. I make sure she’s happy and fed and playing and not jumping off her bookshelf and landing on her head. And I do, in fact, turn away from the laptop for hours and play one-on-one with her quite a bit. Maybe even more than most moms. Who knows. I just know that the internet is my escape just like romance novels were my mom’s escape. It’s my other life outside my present life.

Why do I need another life outside my present life? Hell if I know. I hate to admit it but sometimes I get bored out of my skull playing with a two-year-old all day long. I love love love being a mom but… well, I’ve sung this tired song before. The grass is always greener on the other side etc. I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I do miss being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. (Waaa! Waaaa-Waaaah! Somebody get this baby a blankie.)

going anywhere but where I want to go 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about being present and not off in la la land. Sometimes being present is excruciating though. Do you know what I mean? Like today when we went for a walk! Oh my goodness! Has anyone ever tried to walk in a straight line towards a destination with a toddler? It is impossible!

I know I’ve written about this before but it might need to be explained again. Baby Bug has to examine every rock, every leaf, every crack, every hole, every crevice, every flower…and if there are steps to be climbed, THEY MUST BE CLIMBED! Even if the steps are going in the opposite direction of the direction I want to go.

I’ve actually worried from time to time that she might be near-sighted. For example: We were heading towards the beach, a worthwhile destination that I know she loves to go to, and it seemed like she wanted to go anywhere but. It seemed like she had no idea why we were out and about even though we left the house with a “shubble” (shovel) and a bucket with the specific purpose to build sand castles on the beach.

I asked her, “Can you see the ocean?” It was just a little bit of blue on the horizon. “Point to the ocean.” She points to a palm frond three feet away from her in the yard we are walking by instead. “No,” I say. “Where’s the ocean? Where is the big blue ocean?”

I can tell she’s trying. She looks around and spots the blue sky and points to it. What? I know she knows what the ocean is. We talk about it all the time. We say hello to Dory and Nemo in the ocean. The ocean is a big part of her life. So why can’t she look out towards the horizon and show me where the ocean is? I do not know. Because she’s two maybe? Because we are right here right now on the sidewalk and THIS PEBBLE on THIS sidewalk is SO INTERESTING!!!

Baby Bug is the queen of being present.

Half the time I just pick her up and carry her kicking and screaming because I cannot wait. But today I decided I would let her go. Let her loop around in her crazy directions that don’t especially go anywhere. I would be patient. Where do I need to get to in such a hurry anyway? Home? So I can check in on twitter to see what everyone is having for lunch?

picking flowers

Today I forced myself to be patient. I forced myself to be present. It took us an hour to walk one block. I wish I could say it was great. It was okay. I know a lot about cracks and crevices between here and the next block. Did you know there are three or four drain pipes down the alley that actually grow flowers inside them? Interesting, no? Maybe I should have taken a picture just to show you how present I really was.

*(kinda like this post)


  • justJENN

    You are dreaming of whales attacking the Eiffel Tower?? No wonder you are worried!

    Ha. I’ve been there too. Almost daily. Being a mom is hard. It makes me cry constantly.

  • Lola

    I always like to think of my kids as the most difficult clients I will ever have. Lots of crazy demands and needs that you must fulfull. Well, almost all of them except things like wearing the same shirt 7 days in a row or being silenced when you think you’re the boss.

    Of course because they are non-paying clients it is easy to tune out because they are so demanding. Everyone needs a break now and then and I don’t think it’s bad to tune out. Good for you for having the patience to walk one block in an hour.

  • DeeJay

    Your mom, my mom, both reading to gain a little bit of “me” time in between doing what she agreed to do when she was oh so very young. Perfectly normal and you should be proud of yourself for trying so hard and for doing all you must. It’s not easy. I hope you are writing all that you truly feel and think somewhere just for you. Somewhere safe so that when BB is grown you can go back and realize how awesome of a mom you really are.

  • Starryprincess

    Dearest Brenda, don’t we all feel like that, I know me and my sahm friends do, most of us, at least the honest ones. I ,too, escape to my computer, the magnificent work of imagination and ideas. Being aware that you’re doing it is the important thing.
    I’m not trying to make you feel/bad/better/excused, only understood.

  • Susan

    We all get the blues and fortunately you have an internet full of people feeling just like you on this dreary winter day. It is an outlet like Romance novels, but hey everyone needs their space even if its from our babies we love love love. Don’t beat yourself up! Your a great mommy!

  • sizzle

    kids are great at being present because that’s all they know. us adults on the other hand know about dreams and carry the weight of our past with us. you’re not unusual to struggle with this so know you aren’t alone. and being with a toddler 24-7 without any time that is solely and completely yours? that’s difficult!

  • Gretchen

    I like to joke that I’m not ignoring my kids, I’m fostering their independence. We all have those days/hours/minutes we’re not ‘there’ – and that’s ok.

    As for the weather? It’s all what you’re used to. Here? We had 3-5″ of snow yesterday and it was finally warm enough they could play outside. The kids have been going absolutely stir-crazy with the below zero temps.

  • Jummy

    I’m not quite sure if wanting or needing an escape regularly is a bad thing, maybe it’s what keeps us from being one dimensional folk? I can’t imagine how it must be to be a mom (and don’t get me wrong, I think you showed off both sides extremely well), but it is nice to know ahead of time that it’s not all lollipops and sunshine.

    I admire the way you’re so real and aware of who you are, what you do right and how you could improve.

    It looks like Baby Bug is happy with mom and the times when you pick her up and head to where you want to go? She’s learning the important lesson that we don’t always get what we want! :)

  • Susan too

    I think this a normal feeling of a SAHM, which shows up occasionally. And I think its normal. (Maybe because I get like that too, or did before I went back to work part time)
    I love my kids but its just not enough. And, lets face it, you have not had a break in 2 years!

  • jennifer

    maybe because I’m two months pregnant….and EEEEmotional but that made me cry. Don’t do that! I’m at work!

    Makes me want to go get my little man now….

  • Sara

    I can relate to many things in this post. I know you’ve heard it, but from what I see you are doing a great job. I sometimes feel guilty about the way I spend my time, but I try to remember how many other things I do to keep it all together! Your honesty and creativity always blow me away…

  • The Traveling Vineyard

    It’s GOOD for you to spend time doing other things while Baby Bug is playing by herself. Children NEED to learn how to entertain themselves, no really they do! You do not want a child that needs someone to be doing something with them every single moment of the day, they will not make it through school or life. She is also learning about business while you do everything online. My children have learned a lot and want to be just like me “when they grow up.” They’ve watched me start new businesses, deal with problems, and celebrate when something good happens. you provide a loving environment for Bug, and you need to remember that taking care of yourself, breaks included, are important!

  • Sarah

    I am not a mom, but I worry about his problem-it’s hard to be present in life because sometimes it is more fun to not be. I had a supermom-she loved/loves being a mom-its never boring always perfect; which makes me cringe because I could see where it could get tedious-talk about having some big shoes to fill. Thanks for being honest!

  • Dori

    I feel that way too sometimes, that the internet makes me escape from my present life, even though I’m not a mom. I’m not all there for my husband and pets even sometimes, and my brain will be a million miles away thinking about some post I read (sometimes ones by you! : ) My husband notices it, and I know the dog does too. And when I’m not on the internet, often my nose is buried in a book or magazine. It’s been that way for me since childhood. Bad or good, that’s the way it is. I don’t know how to change, or if I even want to.

    Your post also reminds me of many years ago walking with my young niece to the beach. She held a stick and would scratch the ground like a chicken, and walk about as slowly as a scratching chicken. It drove us crazy. But I love remembering it.

  • Wendy

    I could have written that post exactly! I often times feel guilty for “wasting” so much time on the computer rather than playing with the kids. I am now finding my 4-year-old quoting me when I ask him to do something “In a minute! I’m in the middle of something right now!” And I, too, try and give them the luxury of taking the lead once in awhile, but we also go nowhere REALLY SLOW!! I guess, as with anything, it’s finding the balance. There will be times they need to be drug kicking and screaming, but hopefully the times you take the long slow walk are what they will remember. :)

  • knitterykate

    You are so brave to be so honest. I admire that. It looks to me as if you are doing a great job as a mom. Keep it up. And keep her memorizing those verses.

  • lisa

    Wow, you were able to sum up feelings about both motherhood and the internet very nicely:) both of which I share with you ….dont get it but I get it! The “funky funk” will pass:) KEEP smelling the flowers and enjoying the ocean!

  • Jenn

    You are so fortunate to have the opportunity to spend so much time with your daughter, I am sorry you have the blues. Of course, the grass is always greener. You have so much, not to mention you even have a creative outlet. You really are so lucky.

  • bethany v

    one of fynn’s first and favorite words … “soon?” delivered with that ever-hopeful expression. i hear you. a mom just posted on sanemoms that being a mom is simultaneously the most exciting and most boring thing you can be”. i appreciated her candor, it’s true. the repetitiveness gets to you sometimes! i escape to the internet often, like i used to escape to books. (my mom did romance novels too, btw, but more surreptitiously and guiltily than yours I think :) … she was the queen of being busy and productive) i’ve been fighting some blues here too, and really missing the sun. every 4th day isn’t enough! seriously, just a few minutes of sun makes a huge and real difference for me. ever thought of one of those “sun” lights that mimic natural light? my FIL swears by them in the winter. you’re not alone, hang in there! great illo by the way. and great kid, perceptive aren’t they?!

  • Lisa

    My internet soul sister…

    The other day when you wrote about needing to draw more and trying to draw everyday, I thought that was neat because I had done the very same thing about a week ago and started my own personal Drawing 365 set on Flickr.

    Now you write about the same feelings I’m having of blah, and misery for no real reason, and wanting to run off and cry, and it makes me want to laugh or fly myself to the west coast to give you a hug because that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. EXACTLY. I wish I had an answer for you, but you know you’ll feel better soon and in the meantime, thank you for being real and sharing yourself so honestly with all of us.

    (And thank you for the pack of valentines from Etsy. I got them the other day and they are ADORABLE! Great packaging, too!)

    Sending you happy thoughts and an abundance of patience…

  • Clownfish

    I don’t know how my Mom did it, how your Mom did it, how my sister does it (now with her 5th) or how you do it. But you all did/do! Mothering is an incredible job. Both challenging and fulfilling.

    When I went out to get the mail, I shot you a couple pictures and emailed them to you. The roughs are brown on the course but the fairway, the fountain and my citrus tree, cheer me up. So I wanted to send them to you!

  • familymclean

    Oh saj! This made me cry. I feel the same way…totally. Except for the twitter, that is why I got rid of it, it was sucking me in. However I am blogging or shopping or browsing or reading e-mail as my escape. It is my window to the outside world.
    I too have been down, hello I live in the great white north, brrrr. Anyway there is more to it than that and part of it is the guilt of needing that escape.
    Oooo, so nuch more to say…..I’ll email you.

  • erika

    I feel the same way only it’s my love affair with my laptop and I seem to neglect my fiance. It’s hard not to drift off even though you are really in love with the present.

    Hard for others to understand too, but I do.

  • Amy

    I have been largely a stay at home mom for 15 years now. (Now the kids are older and I work part time when they are in school.)

    When they were little, especially when there was just the one son I am afraid I spent many a day bored out of my mind. Even if we kept busy I got bored. I think this is normal so don’t beat yourself up. When I had my twin girls I was busier but things could still be routine and a tad boring. When they were 2 months old I got my first on-line computer and I have to say it probably saved my sanity. I could explore the world literally!

    Did I ignore or neglect them? No. And I am sure Baby Bug isn’t either! Having an escape is vital to ones sanity!!

  • BeachMama

    Wow such a stunning photo ( the last one with the yellow flower and BB in the background).

    And I can honestly say without a word of a lie, that without my computer, my laptop to be exact, I would be bored out of my skull talking to kids all the live long day. I too love my life and wouldn’t trade it for the world, but like your Mom and my Mom, we need things to keep us occupied other than just the kids. And you cannot visit other people every single day, sometimes you have to stay home to be a SAHM. But, I was thankful for my Mom being there with the milk and cookies every day after school as I hope to be there for my kids. Novel or computer whatever the escape, we all need it.

  • Kuky

    I know how you feel. I’ve been there. I am there. Even right down to the blues I had during an especially rainy period. Even the “if anyone should being thankful for all they have”.

    But you know, I don’t think the computer is such a bad thing if you’re taking care of everything else. I mean, I know for me, escaping on the computer keeps me sane. I cannot imagine not having it. It gives me some balance from raising a two year old 24/7. It’s my outlet and a way for me to interact with people, real adult people. We need that.

  • Lisa {milkshake}

    Wow. I can totally relate to this post. I don’t know if buying a laptop was a good idea or not… Now I can be on the computer all over the house. And if I have to play with one more baby doll and be bossed around one more time I will scream. However, it’s when my daughter goes to bed that I start feeling guilty about not being “present”.

    By the way, my mom did the same thing! Stayed home with us, took very good care of us, cooked dinner every night and read romance novels. Maybe we compare ourselves to our mothers and feel the need to do as well as they did. I try and tell myself that was a different time and those were her choices, not mine. Not easy, though.

  • Ellen W

    As a SAHM of a 2 yr old, I think it is completely normal to want to “escape” and have adult conversations. For the past eight months my husband has been working out of town Mon-Thur, so I am always relieved when Thursday evening rolls around and I am no longer solo parenting.

    When I read your post about your mom reading all of the time, I thought of Haven Kimmel’s first memoir “A Girl Named Zippy”; her mom was always reading mystery books I believe on the couch. A funny and touching book.

  • Belindalouwho

    We all go through the “oh-no! Am I really there for the kids?!” period. Yes, we are. We just need something for ourselves-in this case, writing-to be who we are. I think our kids will forgive us later (or write a tell-all book which makes mommy-dearest look like June Cleaver, who knows?). The point is, you are THERE. Keep up the great posts.

  • carrien

    I hear what you say about wanting to be present, and I think its excellent that you are aware when you aren’t. I don’t think you should beat yourself up over your internet use. As with everything in life, it’s good in moderation and harmful in excess.

    Sometimes I spend too much time at the computer and not enough time with my children or attending to my family. Other times when I haven’t actually spoken with another grownup more than 3 sentences in 3 days and I’ve been all by myself in the middle of toddlers, the discussion that the internet affords allows me to maintain some perspective and smile at my husband when he does come home instead of bursting with every thought I’ve had in the past three days and overwhelming the poor guy with chatter.

  • Miss Virginia

    EVERYONE feels like that! If they say they don’t…they LIE!!! My kids are a bit older now…4, 6, and 8. But up until the past 2 years, I lived that life. It’s so so haaaarrrd! I had 3 kids under the age of 4 and although, like you, I loved them more than anything in the world and wouldn’t want to be or do anything other than being a mom…I’m (we’re) still HUMAN. We are not robots and we are people who deserve a break, too. If you hang in there…each day will get a teeeny weeeny bit easier. (which you already know…but…Oh do I feel your pain!)

  • Mrs. Wilson

    Oh wow. I think every mom feels like that once in a while. I also delve into my internet life when my real life is not going the way I want it to. Don’t feel bad for being in that place once in a while!!

  • Gramma

    At one time or another we all need a release, a sort of escape from reality. It just takes a little time to recharge the battery so you can meet the challenges of your day head-on. There can be a “folding in” whereby the real world is closed out and you can lose yourself in a good (or not so good) book. Then there is the “folding out” when you reach out, call out to someone, anyone to help you through the mundane rough spots. It seems this later is what you are able to do on internet. We each have 24 hours every day. It is our decision as to with what we fill them, or leave them empty.

  • RLM

    I cracked up when I read OMSH’s comment, but I have to agree with gorillabuns. Between your kid, your hubby, your home you need to find something that is for just you no matter what form (internet) of escape that is. Being present is something I have struggled with too at times … it usually happens after stressful periods and my brain needs a break from reality. The great thing about kids is that life is still wonderful and relatively stress-free. They don’t need that escape like we do and they help us get back to the present.

  • She Likes Purple

    When you’re a part of something every day (your own life) it’s IMPOSSIBLE not to wonder how you can escape into someone else’s. I don’t know a single person who could honestly admit that their life, regardless of how peaceful and wonderful and happy and warm, gets a little boring.

    I think it’s OK to escape, in whatever form you need to. So when you return you’re all the better, stronger, more available.

  • halloweenlover

    I have also been feeling down these days, and now that I read your post, I wonder if it is the weather or just taking care of a toddler that is wearing me down.

    My guilty pleasure is also the television, and it is ridiculous because I spend all day turning Gabe away from it because I don’t want him to watch, but I also don’t want to turn it off because I miss the noise and the stimulation.

    I don’t have any answers, but just wanted to let you know that I understand.

  • Marilyn

    Oh, B, I love, love, LOOOOVE this post. I mean this in the most loving, sincere way…this could have easily been 3 or 4 separate posts…but you just kept going…and I LOVE that. I used to write long, rambly posts like this…I don’t mean ‘rambly’ like ‘going nowhere’…I mean interconnected…at least to the writers. ;) BB is DEEP with that question. This post brought back memories of all the time I spent with my oldest niece (who’s 17 and nearly 6 feet tall now) when she was a toddler. She taught me to be present. I laughed about the Twitter remark…because recently (after I’d been on the computer for awhile), Jeffrey asked, “Are you blogging?…or just Twittering?” I, of course, immediately got offended that he thought there should be a “just” before Twittering. It’s not that there aren’t good things about my job…it’s not that I don’t love being around and engaging with the kids at school…but there are mornings when I log off the computer at home and look at ‘work’ as something that’s really annoying me because it’s interrupting my internet time. :)