Raising Richmond: Blessed distractions

BREAKING NEWS: Parenting is hard! So is being an adult! Find out what’s helping me hold it together during what feels like a particularly heavy time in my family’s life…

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You guys? I’m exhausted. Right down to my bones.

The challenge of raising a little boy—in this world, the way things are right now—is weighing on me in a way that I’ve yet to experience during my time as a parent. It’s not all bad, necessarily; there’s a lot of good (even some great) mixed in there, too. But there’s so much of it…and it’s always there…and it can all feel so very, very heavy.

And sometimes I need to not write about it.

Writing about parenting requires thinking about parenting, and I’ve been doing far too much of that lately—so much so that the vast majority of my brain space is taken up by a constant churn of worry and status checks.

Was that just a run-of-the-mill temper tantrum or are we looking at a bigger issue?

I yelled too much at bedtime.

Did we pay for daycare this week? Yes. Wait…yes, we did. I think.

Have my husband and I taken the time to properly kiss one another today?

With all of that thinking going on, there’s not much room for being present, being grateful, being happy…or just being in general.

That just won’t do, folks.

So I’m not writing about parenting today…at least not a specific parenting hiccup or anecdote. Instead I’m going to share a few things that are keeping me sane right now—little gems that are holding me together and lightening my emotional load. Because sometimes the best way to face the bigger stuff life dishes out is to give ourselves time to soak up the delightful little distractions it offers as well.

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Other people’s children

You’d think adding more kids to the mix would jack up my parenting stress level, but I’ve found that, for me, it’s the exact opposite. My son and I spend a lot of one-on-one time together. The older he gets, the better we both get at 1) pushing one another’s buttons and 2) boring the snot out of each other.

The addition of one or two extra kids (and their parents) shifts the dynamic just enough that we sometimes land in that place many call “controlled chaos”—a place in which I have no desire to live but sure do love to visit every now and then.

(Added bonus: Nothing sets a kid up better for a three-hour nap like a morning spent running around with someone their own size.)

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Running

Before picking up these shoes in June, I was one of those people who didn’t understand why on Earth anyone would run unless he or she was being chased.

These days I’m fitting in three or four decent runs a week. No one is more surprised about this than me.

I don’t run fast and I don’t run far, but I run enough to feel better. That’s enough for me right now.

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Unsung milestones

I love the big “firsts” as much as anyone, but watching my son check off some of the more practical, albeit less-lauded, developmental to-do’s has given me a joy that rivals what I felt when he took his first steps. These days my kid puts on his own socks and shoes, buckles himself into his car seat, and packs his bag for sleepovers at his Mamaw’s house with minimal help from me. Just like a real, live boy! I’m so proud I can’t stand it.

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Cold-brewed iced coffee

We’re broke like everyone else, so treats of any kind are few and far between. Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee is filling that void for me. My husband makes a jar of the concentrate every few weeks. It’s a bit of a drawn-out process, but he does it so willingly—an act of love and service made even more adorable by the knowledge that he wouldn’t drink that stuff in a million years.

— ∮∮∮ —

Pistachios

My son and I have logged some serious time this summer sitting at the kitchen table, working our way through a bowl of pistachios (or “mustachios”, as he calls them). Sometimes we talk, but mostly we just focus on the wonderful, somewhat labor-intensive task of eating our snack as we quietly enjoy each other’s company—and the charming “plink” of the shells as we toss them into the discard bowl.

— ∮∮∮ —

Unabashed laziness

This past Saturday we were sloth personified. Other than a quick trip out for lunch with the in-laws, my little family and I spent our day lounging, napping, and just lumping around the house in our pajamas. We even managed to carry some of that over into Sunday morning as well. The fact that we owned the laziness so fully and unapologetically shows me how much we need to give into that impulse more often.

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Escapism at its finest

At this point in my life, if I’m not working, spending quality time with my family, or trying to sleep, I’m doing one of two things: reading The Mists of Avalon or watching Downton Abbey. Both are fantastically melodramatic, and their plot lines in no way resemble anything going on in my life. Sometimes you just need that. For me, that time is now.

(Although I wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of a nice smoldering gaze once in a while.)

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Midnight visits

Few things bring me down off the ledge faster than walking into my son’s room in the middle of the night to find him utterly conked out. Does this boy sleep like he means it, or what?

— ∮∮∮ —

I’d love to know what’s keeping you on your emotional rocker these days. Leave your sanity-saving tidbits (parental or otherwise) in the comments.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is managing editor of RVAFamily. When she’s not oversharing her parenting struggles and successes, you can find her raising a preschool-aged boy and watching 90s television shows.

7 comments on Raising Richmond: Blessed distractions

  1. Scott on said:

    If I didn’t know better, I would swear my wife wrote this. Except the iced coffee would be replaced by fresh squeezed limeade. Funny, touching stuff Valerie. Thanks.

  2. Running, reading, DOWNTON. You just *get* me, Valerie. ::smolder::

  3. yeeessss…I need THIS conversation. Downton Abbey has all of my heart at the moment and I am tortured it isn’t coming back until JANUARY! Wrong on so many levels.

    Strangely, house work is been an escape as of late…I feel like cooking for long periods of time and listening to music.

    And slow running is keeping me on the edge…very slow and long…

    i feel you my friend…right there with you.

  4. Patience, housework and cooking are helping me a ton, too. Which is crazy because I normally despise both of those things. I guess they’re helpful because they’re concrete tasks that having a definite end.

  5. Mallory Hudson on said:

    With 2 little boys at home, I never know what to expect. So when the unexpected does happen, I just have to remind myself that, yes, I will laugh about this later.

  6. Maggi on said:

    I’m drinking that same iced coffee right now. A great discovery of this summer. Cheers!

  7. Aubree on said:

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