Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Art of Distraction

I’m the mother of 3 soon to be 4 (give or take 2 weeks). The hormones surging through my swollen body have managed to affect my brain as well. I admit that I am not very articulate nor armed with the best vocabulary or grammar but trying to piece together complete thoughts is definitely more troublesome while pregnant. Another pregnancy symptom that I look forward to ditching is the insane, vivid dreams. My brand of nonsensical dreams would creep out the likes of Tim Burton… well maybe not but he would at the very least find intriguing material for his movies. 

For the most part, I’ve been too involved caring for the home front to whine about being pregnant. Lately though, my sporadic sleep patterns due to the aches and pains of pregnancy are starting to weigh on me. Though experienced in the whole birth experience, I still find myself somewhere on the edge of joy and dread in these final weeks. The art of distraction though has been a blessing and keeps me from obsessing whether TODAY is the day or not. 

Let’s face it.  None of us like to be forced into doing something or limited in some way. I for one would enjoy living life completely able bodied without having to accommodate extra weight and heft in the front, but the reality is I do and often get leg cramps or ligament pain because of it. Luckily, I have found that a relaxing, uninterrupted bath often soothes me enough that I can pretty much resume normal activity around the house. Also, I hate being limited physically but it just means I have to spend more time doing more sedentary activities like reading or writing. Though, I may fuss a bit at having to slow down, it does help knowing that my condition is temporary and I should be exceedingly grateful for what I do have. The trick is being happy with what you have. It’s easy to complain about what you don’t have (too easy for me) but I remind myself it's much easier in the long run to focus on your blessings instead. 

At times, I feel overwhelmed and even weepy when I start to wonder how in the h-e double toothpicks I’m going to manage one more little person but then I remember the art of distraction. I have to do it daily for myself and I realize that I often do the same for my children.  How often through the course of your own day do you look forward to your “to-do list”? I'm probably being generous when I say at least 50% of my day is loaded with things I really don’t want to do, but they have to get done anyway. The same rule applies to children. They also have their preferences for their day-to-day life (Going to bed on time isn’t one of them). 

You have to keep a mental list of ever-changing “likes and dislikes” and prepare a mental arsenal of distractions. The art of distraction is also known as the art of war… because raising children is a battle, baby. There isn’t much time to analyze and re-analyze when you're staring down the barrel of a gun. Shoot from your hip and if that distraction didn’t work then try another. You have to be quick on your feet literally and metaphorically and nip a potential mêlée in the bud asap or you'll end up at the point of no return in Tantrumsville. Be proactive to avoid bad tempers and pay attention, especially when you have more than one child (there are more variables to consider). Eventually, you can find a suitable activity for your child to do that is within your limits. Don’t ever offer a choice you aren't willing to back up. I’m super-tricky. Thing 1 and Thing 2 often like to be carried from the car to the house. Before they can say,”Mama, will you carry me?”  I say, “Would you like to walk by yourself or hold your sister’s hand?” Get it. Either choice, my pregnant hiney isn’t toting 2 kids. 

The point is… make life easier on yourself and your family. Sometimes, you have to get distracted on purpose to put some space between the problem and solution. No one ever said you have to find the perfect solution to every tiny problem that develops right here and right now. Distraction is a means until you can find a solution. I'm not suggesting you should act now and think later, but all thinking and no action is just as offensive. If you constantly think about a reocurring problem and play out the infinite possibilities in your head until you discover the end-all-be-all solution, then it creates confusion and often frustration. Parenting is frustrating enough. Just breathe and follow your intuition. Each child and each situation is unique to your own family. Paul and I live up to our ideal family standards. We know that we are doing our best and try to keep a realistic perspective. Family life is always going to have difficulties but  we try to revel in the joy that children bring. Life is so much more colorful with children. 

(deep sigh) If you made it to the end, thank you for reading. Writing about my ideas on parenting  helps reassure my beliefs and cleanse my addled brain of unnecessary anxiety.