An Open Letter to Daylight Savings Time

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 06-11-2012

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Dear Daylight Savings Time,

Five A.M. and I would like to thank you for reacquainting us.  Our relationship has been a roller-coaster of sorts, as we ebb and flow out of each other’s lives.  Our most recent rendezvous was several months ago, when Bitzy was born.  But, come to think of it, at that time – I was spending a lot of time with Two A.M., Three A.M., and Four A.M., too.  I don’t know, maybe I made Five A.M. feel insecure as I flounced around with those wee hours of the early morning.  Maybe Five A.M. was just plotting his return into my life, and you, Mr. Savings-Time, provided the perfect opportunity.

Mr. Savings-Time, you’re familiar with my three year old daughter, DJ, right?  Yes, I think that the two of you have developed a complicated love-hate relationship.  Well, maybe the hate is coming more from my side….but, that’s neither here nor there.  We realize that while you only strut into our lives twice a year, sashaying to the seemingly cute tune of  “Fall Back, Spring Forward,” your affects are felt year-round.  Thank you for that, really.

DJ is what we call a “Spirited Child.”  By definition, this simply means that she’s more.  More sensitive, more passionate, more intense – and certainly more reactive to change.  Our family has a seemingly dysfunctional relationship with your cousin, Night-Time.  We have spent a lot of time (and money) trying to break from our co-dependent relationship with her.  I regret to consider that you and your cousin are in cahoots with one another, trying to rob us of our sanity.  It seems as though whenever Night-Time surrenders to our control, you, Mr. Savings-Time, come around and strip us of our honor.  It’s like you two just can’t stand to see us win.  Why?  Why can’t you just let us win?

(Oh, and just a side note – it seems as though another relative of yours, Nap-Time, is also trying to ruin us.  Quite honestly, I don’t know what we’ve done to deserve your collective disruption of our lives).

So, Mr. Savings-Time, here is where I tell you that I do not appreciate the ways you come into our lives and turn things upside down.  I don’t know whether it’s malicious, or just a product of your being, but it’s got to stop.  My 3 year old and my 7 1/2 month old have been out of sorts for the past 3 days.  They’ve been unable to sleep, and as a result, I’ve been unable to parent productively.  We are tired.  No, wait, we are exhausted.  And, in the world of children and mothers – exhaustion equals moody, impatient, prone to tantrums, and too much T.V.  You’ve got to stop with this.

I beg you to consider taking a hiatus from forcing the clocks to change their hands on account of you.  I implore you to just leave us all alone come Spring…when we all begrudgingly “spring forward.”  I ask that you not coerce local businesses, schools, churches, and households, to adjust their schedules according to your annual ritual.  I mean, just look around – those in Arizona and Hawaii are just so much happier, right?  You do realize that the federal law that established you, Mr. Daylight Savings Time, doesn’t actually require any area to observe you?  And, that is why I have copied Ms. California, and Mr. United States on this letter as well. You’ve let the power go to your head.

I want to thank you for your… time. I trust that you will consider my requests, and ultimately, do the right thing.  Our children don’t deserve this, we don’t deserve this.  Please, stop the madness – right here, right now.

Sincerely,

A Mom Whose Had Enough

P.S. Your name is deceptive….”Savings,” what exactly are you saving?

To learn more about me, you can visit www.SahmsTheWord.com

 

More Than Enough

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 01-05-2012

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Since last week, I’ve started to write this blog 182 times (maybe more). Each time I begin, I’m derailed by the temptation to instead write about tantrums, as they’ve been ruling our life these days. But, the truth is, for my own well being, I cannot give the tantrums any more energy than they already sap me of. As difficult as it may be, I have to alter my parenting perspective. I must think about, and focus on, constructive things – which might in fact, be at the heart of the tantrums anyhow.

Speaking of heart – mine has both expanded, and been torn, since having Z almost 7 weeks ago. DJ has had a harder time adjusting than we expected, but I think that’s more a result of our naivety than a testament to her ability to accept change. As much as we prepared DJ, it’s like labor itself, there’s just no way to predict exactly how it will go. It’s been painful, at times, to see DJ floundering to express her complex and jumbled emotions.

In an attempt to ensure she remains certain of my love for her, I’ve been making a point of carving out time for just she and me.  Whether it’s reading a few books together behind closed doors, digging in the sandbox, snuggling at night before bed, or a special date outside the house – I’m trying to do this a few times a week. It’s good for us both.

Last week, we took the dogs for a walk before dinner while the hubs and Z stayed behind. I had an agenda. I planned to get into DJ’s head by asking her questions about her feelings. I planned to validate her feelings, to load her up with praise, and to tell her how much I love her. I figured we’d come home feeling cleansed, and lighter from having cleared the weight of doubt, jealousy and insecurity.

Unfortunately, my agenda was trumped for random questions about barking dogs, and an impromptu lesson on what “territorial” means. My deep thoughts were interrupted for observations about ants, falling leaves and blooming flowers. We giggled while our dogs’ leashes tangled and tripped us up, and we guessed at what kind of birds made the loud chirping sounds we heard as we strolled along. No matter how many times I tried to push my Cliff Notes onto my little girl, she steered me right back to her 2 1/2 year old world.

DJ lives in the moment, and she desperately wants me to exist in that same space with her.  Don’t all of our children want that from us? Isn’t that all they’re longing for? For us to be present. Totally present.

I fall short of that so often.  And while laundry must get done, and the house has to be vacuumed and dinner has to be made, and Z must be fed – I also must remember to stop, often, and check in with DJ. On her level, about her world. About what’s important and interesting to her at any given moment.

On Sunday, I took her for her first manicure and pedicure – which really just meant she got her nails painted.  I made a really big deal out of how this was a special mommy/daughter date, and then I let her lead, no agenda.  This meant that I bit my tongue as she chose the sparkly purple polish color, and chatted about things like hot chocolate, bubbles and bears. I refrained from overcompensating for my guilt over my split attention since having Z. Rather than bolstering DJ up with fluffy words regarding my love for her, I was just present instead.  It felt really good.  She was beaming, and I was free from the pressure to make an impact of some sort – that part happened organically.

I keep thinking about a song that we sing in church, called “More Than Enough.” While of course it wasn’t written from the perspective of a toddler to her parents, I can’t help but relate the lyrics to my relationship with my daughter.  I can’t help but hear her sweet voice singing these words to me:

“All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough”

In my busiest, most frustrating moments – I’m going to try to remember that for my daughter, I’m more than enough, so I must stop and be there.  Really be there.

The End is The Beginning

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 10-01-2012

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Well friends, yet another chapter closes in this adventurous book called “Life.”  Last week I transitioned out of the part time position managing a Silicon Valley entrepreneur’s calendar, which I’ve had since April.  It was a bittersweet time – though admittedly, aired on the sweeter side.

The job was a great fit for me.  It’s an exciting start-up company, whose vision I truly believe in.  I was surrounded by really talented, and down-to-earth people.  Most importantly though, it served a great purpose in my life as it helped coach me through the identity crisis that I was having about becoming a stay-at-home mom.  It gave me an outlet – a place to be someone other than a mother, a place to think about things other than snacks, discipline, and potty training.  It gave me a place to be an adult.

However, it also helped me realize that my heart was at home.  As much as I thought I needed a place that was just mine, after several months of trying to fit working hours into my already full day, I realized that my special place was, in fact, found in motherhood.  I have often told people that when I decided to work part time, I hadn’t simultaneously decided to cut back on my hours of being a mom.  So, there was a constant conflict of interest – and conflict of the heart.  I never actually wanted to take time away from DJ, and slowly, I realized that my time with her was indeed slipping away.  It was time to make a change.  It was time to get back to the job I was really called to do.

On Thursday, after the final day of training my replacement, DJ and I went out for ice cream.  It was such a sweet time of celebration.  While she didn’t know what we were celebrating, I am certain that she felt my presence.  I was there, really there with her for the first time in several months.  I didn’t feel the need to pull out my iPhone and check my email as we were sitting there.  I wasn’t preoccupied with thoughts about which meetings I still needed to confirm.  I wasn’t in a hurry to get home to craft an email to someone before the end of the day.  I was just there.  Savoring every sticky bite, and hanging onto DJ’s every word.  Man, she’s a cool kid.

It was really important to me that I planned for alone time with DJ before our second baby girl comes along.  I always knew that I wanted at least one month of not working before my due date.  But, as the end of 2011 approached, I realized that one month just wasn’t long enough for me.  That’s when I pushed for a January transition.  And now, I am so, so grateful that I worked in a supportive enough environment that this request was honored.

As my due date gets closer…..less than 3 months away, I am sitting in the midst of the most precious season.  I am totally and completely committed to giving DJ 100% of my attention, while also earnestly awaiting the arrival of her sister.  I am teetering between a love that I know intimately well, and a love that I can only imagine.  I am realizing that this is an extraordinary and significant time of my life.  In another 3 months, I will be a mom of two.  I will be sharing my time, my heart, my patience, my strength, my dedication.  I will be raising two lovely girls – and I will, inevitably, wonder where I’ve gone at some point.  Sooner or later, I will dream about a part time job.  I will dream about a place that belongs to just me.

And then, I will remember this week.

I will remember the freedom that I have felt in leaving a job that I appreciated.  I will remember the look in DJ’s eyes as we sat and ate ice cream cones until her very last bite.  I will remember the weight lifted off my shoulders as I closed my laptop and didn’t feel the need to reopen it after dinnertime.  I will remember what it felt like this morning, to sit and watch the full 75 minutes of Milo and Otis with DJ without once checking email.

As I get more and more excited to meet this baby girl, I am also feeling more and more protective of my time with DJ.  I am realizing that the sacrifices of parenting never cease….that even when you’re blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, you still struggle to create more time with your children.  You still fight the distractions of every day life, the temptations that you’re somehow missing out on something, or that you could be happier if you were just doing more for yourself.

Last night, as I tucked DJ in and lied down next to her (yes, I still lay beside her every single night until she falls asleep despite all of the experts who tell me not to), she said “I want to go in your arms, mommy.”   So, I took her tightly in my arms, and she said “Keep me safe, mommy.”  I whispered back, “Always.”  In that moment, I knew that keeping her safe simply meant being present with her.  Whether holding her in my arms, or playing along with whatever her imagination conjures up, or listening – really, really listening when she talks….it is my job, and more importantly, my privilege to be present with her.

I am fortunate to get to be with her day in and day out.  I know that not everyone has this opportunity, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.  I am not claiming to be a better mom because I have more time with her.  What does make me a better mom (for DJ, not in comparison to others), however, is the ability and courage to end one chapter because I can see that the beginning of the next is so much more beautiful.

Ten Inches of Space…

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Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 10-01-2011

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I think it’s time that even our modified version of co-sleeping comes to an end.  DJ seems to have adapted well to her big girl bed, and I seem to have gained the confidence that she is safe in her sea of breathable blankets and guardrails.

While I was lying with her the other night, it occurred to me, “I have ten inches of space right now.”  Considering that a twin mattress is 39 inches wide, and that DJ is over 2 feet tall (and lays horizontally across the bed), that leaves me about ten inches to try to find a comfortable position.  Now, I haven’t busted out the tape measure, but I can guarantee that even lying on my side, hips stacked one on top of the other, the depth of my body is more than ten inches.  No wonder I can’t get comfortable, can’t sleep, and can’t stop waking up with a criss cross pattern on my nose from being pressed up against the mesh guardrail.

I started thinking about this whole “ten inches of space” phenomenon, and realized that it’s really a true measure for all of motherhood.  When DJ is awake, there’s little space between us as we play.  As we ride in the car from one errand to the next, even her car seat is belted in closely behind mine.  I bathe DJ, I feed DJ, I change DJ’s diapers– all of which are duties in obvious, close proximity to her (not to mention the abundance of hugs and kisses that I give her throughout the day!).  I am living my life with less than a foot of personal space around me. I have not one, but two shadows attached to me.

The incessant annoyance that I feel toward my pets is beginning to make sense.  Just as I gain enough freedom to stretch out my arms, inevitably a cat or a dog reaches for my lap.  “Get away from me!” has become my typical response to their cry for attention.  Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought as to why my affection for them had changed – but I get it now, I am uninterested in inviting anything else into my beloved, and minuscule, lot of personal space once I finally get it.

I just started reading a new book last night, and the author was talking about how our generation of parenting is so different from our grandparent’s.  When our parents were growing up, they were safe to play outside.  They’d come home from school and not return to the house until dinner was ready – which was about the same time that dad was getting home from work, too.  This left the mom of the house (our grandmothers) with plenty of alone time to get stuff done, and to perhaps, even enjoy a moment of solitude.  These days, we are unable to let our children play without supervision.  We are unable to let them wander down to the neighbor’s house, trusting they’ll return home safely once the sun begins to go down.  We have to be with them, sometimes less than a foot away from them, at almost all times.

When we become parents, we willingly wave goodbye to our personal space.  While it’s imperative that we carve out time for ourselves, for our marriages, and for our healthy friendships – it’s not always easy to do.  We must get creative.  We must be selective, and we must reprioritize.  I am slowly (very, very slowly) learning that while DJ is napping, I should be doing the things that I cannot do while she is awake – like soaking in a hot bath, having an uninterrupted phone call with a dear friend, reading a book, writing, or even taking a nap in my own bed.  It’s all too tempting to fold those loads of laundry, to pick up all the toys, to scrub the grout in the shower – but with such limited personal space, should we really be giving it over to chores?  The thought of giving my ten inches of space to the sink of dishes makes me want to puke, actually.

I am committed to using my personal space in more gratifying ways.  I am certain that if I allow myself a break from the monotony of the day, and focus solely on what feels nurturing to my soul, then I can allow my cat back onto my lap – and learn to better appreciate the closeness that I share with my daughter.