Monday, October 28, 2013

Marginal Notes

I've been working on my Christmas list for a few weeks now (because my mothers are THOSE people who are able to start, and finish, shopping early) and when I think about what I want, what I really, really want (besides world peace and all that jazz) is margin.


Seems to be the buzzword of this year.  And therefore doomed to follow in the ranks of "brilliant," "totes," and all variations of "mind = blown" as most overused terms of the decade.  So I think I'll get my turn in now before the novelty has completely worn off.


You know, that space along the sides of your printed document.  I don't know about you, but I'm a .5" kind of girl.  Unless I'm working on something official (i.e. not a Christmas list), I like to fit as many words as possible.


That area around the typed space that you can take notes in, doodle in, spill coffee on, or just leave blank and clean ... all without affecting the actual content.

So yes, for Christmas, I would like a nice portion of margin.  Room to think, room to breathe, room to plan, room to spill coffee, or even better room to turn the coffee splashes in to doodles!

Alas, that's probably not going to happen.  I am a mother of youngins' after all.  And margin is only something I can create for myself, and only by the grace of God.  So if you were hoping this was going to be a post about how to open up time in your own life, sorry about that.  How about some baby smugness to make up for my deficiencies?

And now, join me as I create some margin.  I walked away from the ironing board, mid-task.  I didn't even turn it off.  (Thank heavens for emergency shut-off.)  I put down the scissors (after moving them high and out of Lia's reach.)  That busy bag activity can remain un-cut a few days longer.  I'm closing the MOPS newsletter I'm working on.  I hit a wall late last night, I'll revisit it later this week after I find my sledgehammer.  A typing assignment just hit my inbox.  I'm ignoring it for now, even if it means a late one this evening.  Today I'm giving myself the gift of margin.

If I had a small space of time that I could count on every day, or even every other day, I think I would use it to write.  Writing's not for everyone, thank goodness.  But for me, that's how I process.

Some people prefer to talk.  I think of my mom.  And I think of the phone we used to have growing up.  A massive, beige colored rotary phone that hung on the wall.  With an eternally long coiled curled that was made eternally longer by my mother's ability to carry that handset into almost every room of the first floor.  I've gotten trapped in that cord before.  But looking back on those funny childhood memories, I now realize, that's how my mom processed her world.  She talked it out on the phone, she discussed it over tea and Scrabble with my grandma, she chatted about it with the ladies at church until we were the last ones to leave the parking lot on Sundays...

I think about my dad, how he'd turn on the Pirates game, sit cross-legged on the living room floor, and spread the newspaper out over the braided rug.  And then just sit and read.  I think about how that was the time you didn't try to talk to Dad.  Or, if you wanted something that you new might cause an issue, that was the time you DID talk to Dad. :)

I think about my husband now, and the long hours he puts into our yard.  The designer mowing patterns that line our grass in the summer.  The "no leaf left behind" policy he keeps while leaf-blowing in the fall.  He's out there, power-washing the deck, cleaning out the gutters, sweeping off the walk, but his mind is somewhere else.  He's processing.  I know it.

And then there's me.  I don't like to talk on the phone.  I'm not a TV person and I've always hated the awkwardness of holding a newspaper.  And I haven't the skill for precision lawn maintenance.  I much prefer writing.  Give me a quiet corner, a cup of hot tea, and perhaps a crackling fire and I can make sweet, beautiful sense of my world.

Of course, there's the other side to that.  When I don't get a chance to write, when I'm not able to process for days and days on end, things get a little murky.  I have a whole lot coming in right now.  I've got four amazing kids that I get to spend every waking minute with.  For most people, five minutes in my house would be information overload.  I feel the same way, I'm just used to it.  But when I've got all this stuff coming in, and hardly a trickle coming out, the water gets very, very muddied.  It stinks, there are plants growing in my creek bed, and mosquitoes are circling the waters.  Time to break this dam.

This girl.

Sleep issues are so last month.  Naps are the new norm. It takes us a little while to get there, and depending on how loud her siblings are, maybe even longer than necessary.  But once she's had her eyes closed for a good three minutes, and assuming I've put her to sleep while resting in my left arm, the slip-into-bed-without-waking transition usually goes off without a hitch.  If she curls up her legs, I'm done.  Count on another 10-20 minutes of snuggles.  But if she turns her head to the side with a sigh and that bottom lip goes absolutely limp?  I've just scored myself at least an hour, sometimes two or three, of hands-free time.

You'd think I'd be able to keep up with the blog.  But no.  Time that was previously spent holding my babes is now directed towards making dinner (meals from friends and the freezer are officially done) and trying to increase my typing workload.

And also, now that we have nap time under control, new problems have arisen.  Like breastfeeding.  I usually steer away from that word and use the safer (more broadly friendly) nomenclature of nursing.  But not this week.  Or this month for that matter.  We've got breastfeeding issues.  To be technical, I've always dealt with oversupply and forceful letdown, (but Joci seems to be handling it the worst.)  In non-lactating circles, this basically means my kid chokes, gags, throws up, refuses to nurse, screams when nursing, only sucks for a little while, is hungry again an hour later, and deals with a lot of gas.  For me, it means lots of stress and tears of frustration.  Not to mention the whole comfort aspect.  I've tried a few different methods and tricks (oh, and girlfriend doesn't take a bottle).  But at the end of the day, I think this is just something we'll have to grow out of.  Things have improved a tiny bit this week.  So I'm hopeful this whole natural process will actually work naturally in another week or so.

Outprocessing:  Cap'n Jude Sparrow.

We had a fun event at church the other night that the kids were more than thrilled about.  Costumes were a large part of it.  We're not big on Halloween around here but I do love me some dress-up.

Jack wanted to wear the ship captain costume he got for Christmas, um, three years ago?? We pinned one of Daddy's old name tags on his shirt and he was officially a Coastguardsman!  Julia was a mermaid.  A mermaid wearing a big winter coat and who didn't leave her stroller seat the whole night, so is it still a mermaid if nobody noticed?  Yes, because I made sure I took a picture.  And Jude was a pirate.  A pirate wearing too-small black skinny leg jeans and his brother's too-big shirt.  I try to be careful about favoring one kid over the other but c'mon, the mustache and gold hoop earring pushed me over the edge.

Outprocessing:  A toddler.

She's been two for three weeks now and, Marmie and Poppa, if you're reading this, we think she's ready for Grandy Camp.  Like, this month.  Please.  She's killed her plant for the last time.  She completely destroyed her (very expensive) video monitor.  Did I mention her Daddy's gold necklace that she melted in half?  She's  Jon hadn't even left for work yet the other morning when I had had just about enough of her terrible two-ness.  I looked at him and said, "Please, don't leave me with her!"  He ran out the door as fast as he could.

Outprocessing:  Soccer.

I never would have guessed it, but we're seeing some real improvement on the team these past few weeks.  Like even a little bit of skill every once in a while!  Jack's scored 5 goals in his past two games.  The grandparents haven't got a chance to see him play, so here are a few videos for your enjoyment.  Because 5 year olds playing soccer is incredibly enjoyable.  I wish I had caught the tall blonde girl going agro on my son at one point.  You don't know how wonderful it feels to discover that you're not the only mother of a "physical" child.

Outprocessing:  These four.

They fill my life completely.  As in, .0001 margin, lots and lots of text.  It's okay to be full.  Mama just needs an outlet every once in a while.  And Julia, if you were thinking that you'd keep me so busy I'd never tell about the time when I read you one book after another while you sat on the toilet allll morning long.  Then went to reheat my coffee for a hot second.  Then came back to find you really had pooped ... on the floor.  Well, there.  I just fit it in.  We won't forget it now.

I think I ran out of doodling room in the margin.  I'm just about processed out.  My world makes sense again.  Goodnight.


Kimberly said...

As someone who used to process my world by writing, I would be interested to hear how you do so when it isn't on the blog. Do you journal? Do you have a method for journaling? As a writer, I am sure you are aware that there are thousands of methodologies for journaling your thoughts and feelings.
Maybe you could even write a blog post about your method of processing the world and how it has changed over the years..just a thought :)

J9 said...

Thanks for the comment Kimberly! I used to journal ever day ... And then I had kids. I only blog now because I don't have time for both and I feel blogging is more appreciated by our friends and family that we don't see often. While private journaling certainly allows me to "cover more ground" I also think that it can sometimes be unhelpful to record EVERYTHING. Some stories are good to forget after a while. :)

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