Tag Archives: Mother

Epilogue.

1 Aug

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It’s a Tuesday and I’m in a dress and my running shoes. More specifically, I’m un-showered after a 4-mile run, but undressed and redressed to address my need for quick breastfeeding access. (You got all that, there will be a test later.) I’m sitting at my computer trying to eek out an hour of creative flow time while Stella is at her ‘one day a week’ daycare and Wren cries and wiggles out of her swaddle for the 100th time. ‘Why aren’t you napping? You grow when you nap, if you want to start talking and running (because that’s definitely next) shut your eyes and buy your ticket to dreamland. Mama needs 5 minutes. (Actually more in the day to week range but who needs the truth).’ I hate this post even before I write it because it means one of my favorite ladies is no longer strolling the earth, championing Jazzercise and keeping Bartles & Jaymes in business. Shirl you were you, every day, simply put and we were all better people to know you. You also gave birth to one of my favorite people so there’s that too. I love you and hope you know, wherever you are, (I guess you’re everywhere now) that you made a lasting impression.  The sky has officially gained a star. #ShirleyStrong

I can’t say I’ve been privy to a lot of tragedy. I’ve had a steady flow of anti-luck, are you kidding me, yep that just happened, deep disappointments, important people vacating without reason and 2nd places, but in the end it doesn’t come close to the pain of losing someone you love and need desperately to stick around. Sometimes it’s hard to relate to those who are going through it. There is a natural division of those who understand and those who are waiting to. As a Mom, now somehow caught up in FB groups and mom circles that detail every horror known to man, the world seems and is I guess, so much more fragile. The transparency trap of wanting to know, wanting to be prepared has become less attractive than the ‘ignorance is bliss’ ilk that was the standard for so many generations before us who didn’t or couldn’t connect with every single person in the world. (I mean where was secondary drowning and hand foot & mouth disease when we were growing up???) They say after you have kids, you know what’s it’s like to have your heart walk around outside your body, and that is precisely how it feels. I think (and secretly hope) it goes both ways though. As a parent, I hope my girls will forever rely on me as a barometer for direction and advice. Remember me when they’ve done something they shouldn’t, but need help navigating out of. My Mom did that for me and both of Shirl’s girls still need her in their 30’s so that is a parenting victory to be celebrated. (Tangent/sidebar – I hope I gather a couple of those. These terrible twos are seriously terrible. If I have to tell myself to pull it together, she’s 2 one more time…)

As a bona fide fixer, it’s difficult to grasp the finality of death. What do you mean that’s it?! It’s annoyingly selfish. It makes the world feel like a shallow pool we’re all just breast stroking through for 2 minutes. She had so much left to do. She was the life of the party and always a perfect person to drink a glass of something with. Truthfully I’m filled with emotions I can’t articulate. I think of her, I think of my best friend, I think of how much of Shirl is tied into my own childhood, and then I get pissed that life has moved on, and the reality of time has taken hold. How did we already get to the last chapter, we were just in the middle of the storyline a year ago?!

The only thing I can think of to make it a little more palatable, is to live happy. Amidst bs, traffic, bad news, fights, lost friendships, toddlers, financial struggles,  __________ etc. etc. We must all live happy. Some days will be easier than others, but it’s up to all of us to dig in, find it, celebrate it and then rinse and repeat. Shirl did and so maybe the silver lining is the constant reminder that it’s the only way, no excuses. As the ever-wise Rumi said, “Look past your own thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment.” Sure that was the 13th century, but it’s transcendent so get on board.

Luella Says, I pledge to live #100HappyDays,

 

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Who wants to join me? www.100happydays.com

 

 

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Dear Laura.

22 Feb

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*** I wrote this 4 months ago and never posted. Hmm…must’ve been busy. Anyway I think it’s still pretty true – so here you go.

I so appreciate all the lovely feedback I received from my last blog post. I’ve even read and referenced it myself a couple of times since I posted it. Anyway lately I’ve been feeling a bit lost, personally that is, with what my new status means. As I mentioned in GRAY, the feeling of Who am I? What have I become? still lingers a bit at 3.5 months in. I’ve gone back to work and feel torn between the adult interaction I so desperately need and the idea of being there for every moment of Stella’s formative years. I don’t want her to prefer anyone else to me but need a break. I feel inspired at work but cry each morning when I leave. Life has become one big dichotomy.

In addition to that, Ralph and I were super social. We live in a Peter Pan-esque community that truly lives by the credo you’re only as old as you think you are; which is fantastic when you have no responsibilities but a bit difficult when you move to Baby-ville. Is it me or does everyone appear to be on their way to a party we didn’t get invited to?? The social transition from pre-baby to baby is shocking. Let’s talk truths here. You don’t know until you know and when you do, a small part of you wants to hide under the bed until your child becomes a little less thankless. Is it blow hardy to discuss this? Is it pointless to want to understand the transition? As the days post partum turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months, the other side; (AKA your former life) seems a distant memory as the “new normal” settles in and starts to feel comfortable. How do you socialize with a baby? How do you go out to dinner? Have people over? Travel? Exercise? or do anything that bears a small semblance to life before. Truth is you manage and figure it out as you go. What’s the worst that can happen? Really ask yourself that and mean it. The answer is nothing. If she cries, she’s being a baby and people understand.

Now that I loosely have a small footing on this motherhood adventure, I keep thinking to myself, what would you say to you, if you could go back for a day before Stella came?

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Luella Says… remember how lucky you are.

Dear Laura,

When you look in the mirror you’re not going to love what you see. You just had a baby and major surgery, the scar will be there forever but the excess weight and bloat will not. Breastfeeding burns 800 calories but don’t give yourself a license to eat whatever you want. Stay focused on your green & clean living tenets and exercise as much as you can. You gave up your gym membership for the time being and running with her in the stroller, walking up hills, sit ups, even bouncing her will give you a little bit back.

You’re going to feel bored sometimes, feel as if you’re clock watching to get to the time Ralph comes home or help arrives; it’s ok and totally normal. To be fair, you’ll also relish in the moments with her that are small but intensely perfect. Like when she finally falls asleep on your shoulder after many attempts to get her to stop crying or at night, (yes 2,3,4,5 am) when she’s finished nursing; the house is dark and quiet and all the people who matter most are off in dreamland and you get to take a moment to be grateful. It really does get better and easier every day and you’ll surprise yourself with how natural it comes to you and the want to be good at it more than anything else.

People will show how important they are to you. Meaning – wait to put anyone on a VIP list until they’ve helped/been there/proven they want to be. You’re going to be alone a bit more often but it’s ok and temporary. Your marriage will shift a bit as the focus becomes solely on your new creation but you’ll adapt and steal moments together more often as time goes on. You will become a Stella pro fairly soon and eventually regain a small part of who you used to be. Best part is, that coupled with MOM is a pretty fierce combination. Cue the Star Spangled Banner as it plays at your medal ceremony for winning the gold in multi-tasking.

In closing, be excited. It’s the hardest, most amazing, hysterical, crazy, lovely, scary and profound experience you will ever have. You have been gifted with this little being, so head up, stay the course and know you’re going to choose wrong sometimes. Carpe Diem – seize EVERY day.

Love, me.

Gray.

7 Sep

Having a baby changed my life. (bet you never heard those words uttered before.) The irony is it’s totally true. I hate clichés in prose and in life and although there are different interpretations and some experiences are easier than others; the baseline remains constant. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do…period. Every inch, every second spent since June 9th has changed me into a different human being. The world’s brighter, experiences feel richer, emotions run deeper (if that’s even possible for me) and I’ve made it out of the fray and lived to tell this tale to you.

The first couple weeks were so difficult, it’s almost hard to discuss. It sucked in short and even though I love Stella more than I could ever imagine possible, I felt so unprepared and unqualified. I kept looking for a time out button somewhere to just take a 2 minute break but alas this person I worked so hard to get was here, my number was called and I was out on the field indefinitely. Overwhelming simply doesn’t cover it. I felt blue, exhausted, awkward, ugly and not able to live in the moment. Who was I, what had I become? I kept thinking “but the books and the people I talked to used words like amazing, blissful, simple and easy when it’s yours.” My expectations were so far off it’s not even worth detailing. Each day felt like a year and the nagging feeling of failure was a constant companion. I had met my match, motherhood was here and I wasn’t sure it was for me. But then I woke up one day around 3 – 4 weeks in and felt better; albeit the leap was small and low to the ground but it was progress. Miraculously the proverbial light appeared. She cried less that day, small victories were attained and dare I say, I began to get the hang of it.

Which brings me to my long-winded point. Life can be spent living in the notion of black and white, good or bad, 1 or 100 but there is a middle; a gray area if you will, that exists and boasts good weather and yummy cocktails. As of late, I am allowing myself to visit this area more often. To be a constant work in progress, to not have all the answers, the control, the perfection is not only ok, it’s necessary. Up to this point, I always told myself, don’t let anything you do define you. Keep reaching, never settle, always give 500%, think out of the box, practice first in, last out and follow your shot. Now I’ve embarked on something I want to be known for. A great wife and a “show and tell” worthy Mom. The highs and lows are higher and darker than anticipated but the every day is pretty damn amazing. Yep I went there. The word that eluded me for so long in my new world of mommy-hood has landed and been assigned. I get to mold this little human and teach her what I can, while she still wants to listen to me. My husband and I get to watch a mash-up of ourselves navigate the world hopefully with my rhythm and his charisma.

I felt compelled to write this down because in my obsessive googling whilst still pregnant and in the first couple days post partum, if I had stumbled upon this little blog and known there really was someone out there feeling just as I did, potentially the light would’ve appeared sooner. I would’ve been able to handle how awful I was feeling knowing it was fleeting and concretely things were going to get easier. Women lie to each other, everyone puts their best foot forward and perception is hardly often reality. Consider me the attendant behind the customer service desk at Mommy World, telling you I know how you feel and can whole heartedly promise it gets easier and better each day. (keep repeating that to yourself at 2am when they still won’t sleep or stop crying for that matter) I worried about the difference between “baby blues” and post partum depression and desperately hoped this too would pass. If you can get out of bed and don’t feel like harming yourself or your child, most likely it’s the former. Be diligent about chatting with your OB about it regardless but eventually it leaves the building. It did for me and now I can share some pearls I gathered with you.

First Month Musts:

1. Wake up and shower if even for 2 minutes. Bring your baby in the bathroom if you have to but SHOWER to start your day.

2. Get a calendar and cross off each day at the end of it with a big X. For some reason it helps build confidence knowing one more day is in the books, accomplished and done.

3. Watch HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK, the 5 s’s are your friend.

4. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help BUT also spend enough time doing it yourself. If you farm everything out, your only prolonging the rookie period.

5. Have no expectations for anything, your birth plan, your baby, yourself, your partner or your family and friends. People will let you down and you might let yourself down as well. Set the bar on the lowest rung.

6. Know your bump will go down eventually. I’m at 3 months and it’s still around. Each week it gets better.

7. Talk to your spouse, boyfriend, partner or friend about how you’re feeling and be brutally honest. Also chat with your baby about it. I told Stella many times, Mommy is feeling rough today but know I love you and we’ll get through this together.

8. Try to ease back into your old social routine as early as possible. Take them on walks and meet up with friends. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, you have to start somewhere.

9. Go on food adventures. Ralph and I would put Stella in the car and she would scream cry until she fell asleep and we’d go to different food institutions around Los Angeles. We always got it to go and brought it back home to eat but just the excitement of semi doing something social felt like the best, booze filled dinner party ever.

10. Go on multiple walks a day. Even if you make it around the block it’s a victory.

11. Colic is bs, it’s likely acid reflux. Check the infant GERD checklist and if your baby has a lot of the symptoms ask for a prescription of compound PREVACID. It worked wonders for us. I hate medicine and we waited 2 months to give it to her but she was in pain.

12. Stock up on BIO GAIA probiotic drops at Walgreens. They’re expensive but they work so well on their tummies for gas and overall discomfort.

13. You will not feel like this for 18 years. New problems arise just when you figure out answers to the former but nonetheless you’re better, smarter and faster than you were yesterday.

14. Know your baby is going to scream, wail, cry and turn purple. Don’t think this means you have to stay in your house. Get out, it also always seem louder to the parents.

15. Try to keep it light. Babies work off your energy, try not to get too worked up. (self grade: F for me on this point)

16. Burp them like a heartbeat. Pat pat, Pat pat, Pat pat. It works.

17. Set up stations around your house and use those every day to entertain or placate your baby. Do them in different rooms if possible. Station suggestions: Activity Mat, Swing, Mirror, Crib, Mat/blanket on the floor, Pack n Play, Bouncer, Your lap, Lounger, Changing Table cushion.

18. The uglier the better when it comes to mobiles or hanging toys. This one is hard for my design aesthetic but it’s true so embrace it.

19. If you’re breastfeeding start pumping and storing milk right away. I didn’t and playing catch up when they’re eating more is difficult. Use the rule of 2’s. 2 hours at room temp, 2 days in the fridge, 2 months in the freezer.

20. Know it’s normal for your baby to: cough, sneeze (multiple times), grunt, growl, choke while eating, snore, make weird noises in their sleep, drool, chew on their hand and feet, cry when you change or dress them, have crossed eyes.

21. Babies have a crying language and it actually is pretty true for Stella. Neh means I am hungry, Oww means I am tired, Eh Eh means I have a burp, Eairr means gas.

22.Sing, talk and read to them as if they completely understand from the first day you bring them home. Get real close to their face while you’re doing it so they can see your expressions.

23. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, introduce a bottle by 4 weeks. One a day filled with pumped milk is a great way to get them acquainted, allow your husband or someone else to bond through feeding and if you don’t they won’t take one when or if you go back to work.

24. Cry when they cry, sleep when they sleep, laugh when they laugh.

25. Buy the BREST FRIEND and wear it to feed at night. It serves as a shelf and lord knows that helps when you can barely keep your eyes open.

I would love to connect with any of you soon-to-be or new moms. I told myself I would never be a stroller strider or go to parties and only talk about my kids but I get it now. I am one of you, we are all in this together.

This is not a black and white world

To be alive I say that the colours must swirl

And I believe that maybe today

We will all get to appreciate The Beauty of Gray 

LIVE – The Beauty of Gray

Keeping Up With the Tradition(ians).

8 Dec

Family traditions are an important part of our culture. They tie together generations and allow us to pay homage to those, amongst other things, we can’t sit with at the dinner table.

From a very young age, my mother taught my sister and I to hold on to traditions, create some of our own and value atmosphere. (not necessarily in that order).

For example, every night, no matter how busy we were with school, sports or dance, we lit candles, put on some music and ate dinner together as a family even if it was for five minutes.

These are the things I will carry on with me as I start a family of my own.

Specifically for the Holidays, she took decorating our house very seriously and instilled in me the need to continue that in my own home.

As you know, I grew up in the Midwest where space and square footage reign supreme, so although my heart wants to buy the same 12 foot tree we get during Thanksgiving at my parents home every year, reality says 3.5 feet it is.

This is quite a change from my childhood but now my home is where my husband is. So my decorating remedy for our “tiny dwelling” is to fill it with Christmas accents and adorn our tree with family keepsakes.

Ever since I was small, my Mother has given my sister and I an ornament in our stocking. They varied each year in size, shape and significance but the point was she was helping us a create a timeline of all of our Christmas’ spent together as a family.

Growing up I didn’t take it very seriously, as I was much more interested in the mountain of gifts under the tree, but I realize now just how special they are.

Each year when I decorate our tree, a part of me gets to revisit those moments and remember that family, friends, love and time are the most important aspects of life.

These ornaments tell the story of where I came from. When my husband and I have children, I will carry this tradition on for them. After all, it is the small things that remain the most meaningful.

Luella says…Confessions of a Christmas Tree.

I would love to know what some of your family Holiday traditions are?

What do you treasure the most during this Christmas season?

Just a reminder that Christmas and New Years go by so fast . In this economy, when not everyone can give what they are used to, take a couple of moments to recognize what you are truly thankful for.

It is more important to be present rather than to give presents.

 

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