Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kid-Free Zone

Every aspect of our lives is literally 'permeated' by kids when they arrive... Before that occurs, it always seems so innocent. So ga-ga. So 'little storks with dainty towelettes bearing those tiny toes, noses, and dimpled hands...' Ah. In many ways - this does depict how you might feel about the actual child you've welcomed into your life... But the act of parenting, even in those very early stages, is much less flowing ribbons and silken blankets... Not so much graceful instant adjustment and automatic scheduling, but rather, a hazed, sleep-deprived, I can't figure out what you need right now, OMG- what do I do? blur - It's a haze of "what just happened to my life?" which just so happens to include a deep, profound and indescribable love for that new, amazing little soul.
Pre-kids, you become used to some predictability... waking up, using the restroom, taking a shower, readying yourself for the day, and probably eating a little something to get you going. You may consider things like, "Do I need to stop for gas today?" "Should I pack a lunch or grab something nearby later?" "Oh. Maybe I should thaw something for tonight's meal." "I have to remember to add that to the grocery list..." You know - normal everyday types of survival thoughts, in amongst the fun things - such as a good read, a movie you've been meaning to see, perhaps some chatting on the phone with a friend... 
THEN, a beautiful baby arrives. And, you realize, you no longer have the luxury, actually, of thinking about yourself much at all any longer (especially in the beginning). Now, you wake up so many times throughout the night, that the lines between day and night become hazy. A calendar becomes necessary to even gather your bearing any more! Peeing is a true luxury... but you won't have to go very often, since you'll forget to drink anything anyway. Groceries? I think I've heard of those somewhere before... Do we HAVE food in the house? Oh, cool! I think I might need some of that... I can't even think, let alone concentrate on a book... or movie. Perhaps a movie would be a good opportunity for a nap? OH - HEY! That's right - I might like a nice shower... Maybe I'll even wash my hair. Cool!
Then, there is the fact that you are so busy thinking about the needs of your child, that it becomes easy to forget your own altogether. (Yes, I've been there. I have come a long way - and hope that this blog inspires all mommy's to remember to take care of YOU too!) Now, it's more important that you remember their diapers, wipes, blankets, pacifiers, # of bottles needed for any outing - depending upon its duration, and pretty much anything else that might possibly fit into your vehicle. (Just grab half the house - it should be enough to get you by.)  
Your living room now consists of a few familiar articles - perhaps a sitting place... some lamps... and a baby swing, a bouncy seat, a tummy-time activity blanket, the Bouncer-Roo, a multitude of toys and oodles of other baby paraphernalia. The bathroom: Taken over by the baby-size tub, rubber duckies, hoodie-towles, and pastel colored wash cloths. The kitchen: High chair, bottles, bottle brushes, bottle racks, and all of the necessary feeding utensils. Your bedroom: A bassinet, a spare blanket, burp cloths, monitor, and the faint smell of stale milk. 
Somehow - you still can't bear to take your eyes off of that precious little person. And understandably so. This is actually the shortest stage of all of their stages in life... infancy. It does go by rather quickly. Thank goodness I kept up with their baby books and a family blog all of that time - or I'd have forgotten quite a bit already! (Hmmm... I should probably update those books further again...) 
As they've grown, I've been able to weed-out many of the aforementioned objects of baby-affection. (And quite frankly - as new parents, we love having that stuff surround us too. Those constant little reminders of the new life that we now embrace!) But now - I'm really grateful that I can kind of better-consolidate the babe-belongings to select locales throughout the homestead. I still love my girls with wild abandon, and couldn't imagine my life without them in it. But I do enjoy having one or two "mommy-spots", just for me. It's a kind of sanctuary. That place that brings me a sense of peace, and a feeling of clear-mindedness, and summons creativity. It makes me feel - like ME again. I'm made whole by the presence of my children in my life... but I'm also rejuvenated when I get to just revel in my own little world now and again as well. It's that whole balance thing again. It's the Yin to my Yang... They complete, support, and each enhance the other - offering something that the other could not otherwise take part in. (Again, sort of the whole basis of and inspiration behind this particular mommy-blog!)
I have selected 2 rooms that encompass this 'me-space'. It's not necessarily JUST about 'me'. It can be 'us-space' too - as in when Joel and I have time to be together - uninterrupted - to just have a normal conversation, think, dream, cuddle, and laugh together. The upstairs living room is one of these settings. There is also no TV in this room. There IS a wood-burning fireplace! And candles, and music, and a live pine-tree that is nearly of ceiling-height. (Not sure what to do when it reaches that peak!) There are windows all around, one of which faces our woods & water out back. Very peaceful. I intentionally selected a couch with a built-in chaise. (I had a vision for this room - even well-before children came along!) There are photos of the kids that depict memories and happiness. There are a few children's books - but they remain stashed on the shelving hidden below the slate coffee table. No longer are there any remnants of the numerous contraptions we feel we need for infants early on. It's essentially a kid-free zone (particularly at night!) 
The second such place of harmony is in our room. The papasan chair has replaced the bassinet, and there is no longer a need for a monitor in this particular room. (We are within earshot.) Again, a few strategically placed photos - allowing for us to gaze lovingly at the girls in days gone by at our choosing, but not obtrusively projected. Cozy blankets, pillows, candles, a dimmer switch, a deck, and the creek below, dancing among the trees, as is visible through the sliding glass doors. We keep the photos there - because the goal isn't to 'block them out'. Rather, it's just a place to recharge and relax, and to revel in taking part in adult socialization and interaction. I think it's good to have a kid-free zone. It also must be a work-free zone, and a chore-free zone, and a place of reprieve from all of life's responsibilities. Think of it as your charging-pod, but for you - rather than your electronics. I love my girls. I also appreciate my sanity ;) ;) Yin--Yang. 

TIP! Creating a you-space isn't complicated. Just scan the room that appeals to you most for such a purpose. Remove anything that distracts your mind and draws you toward anything that is work, chore, or kid-related, and keep it serene and calm. You just need a space that isn't going to pull your mind in multiple directions while you remember to do something to take care of yourself. This will enable you to feel energized and motivated while also continuing to care for those around you. Not selfish. Self-CARE. (Very different!)
A QUOTE: “Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.” ~Christopher Forrest McDowell
WHIDFML: Added the down-comforter to the bed! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It's calling to me now :)

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