Tag Archives: motherhood

136 days.

5 Oct

7554a5b4445e229cfc63914c29abeda2

I start my new job on Monday. Tomorrow, October 6th, after 136 days of getting my feet wet as a Mom of two. This heavy, overwhelming feeling is familiar. I’ve been here before, so most would think, (myself included) I’d have a clue as to how to navigate through it. Alas, I don’t. So I’m here again. Staring at the calendar, marveling at how fast the days flew by, wishing I had more time. I can imagine there are many of us out there doing the same thing, some for different reasons, some for the same.

There is an ongoing dialogue, maybe even a debate, between those of us Moms who stay at home, and those of us who return to work. What is better? What is fair? Is there a line? Should there be?

In a perfect world, I would stay at home and raise my girls, never missing a milestone or a moment in their formative years… but I would also go back to work.  I’ve spent the last 13 years being a professional since graduating college, and I like where I landed. What to do when you want to be in two places at once?

Is it selfish to have kids only to pass them off for a portion of the time? Do I have a greater responsibility to rise in the professional ranks because I am raising girls, and they need an in-home role model that proves there is no limit to what they can accomplish? How do I convince myself they don’t feel abandoned as I walk out the door? It sounds dramatic, but if I am living in full disclosure-ville, I think about it every time I leave the house without them in tow.

Is it important to back off, give the helicopter a rest, and let them formulate their independence regardless of the likely bruises, mistakes, potential bullies, danger zones et al. that lie ahead? Yes. Probably. Who knows. I think the best approach to this topic is to speak singularly. For me, I want to do both. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, some days I would like to trade the tea in for a double tall vodka, ok a lot of days, but at my core, I am doing what I want to be doing.

Parenting is not for everyone. I am a staunch supporter of that. Being a woman doesn’t mean you NEED to be a mother. It’s ridiculously hard, so you need to be all in. Which leads me back to my original dilemma of how one pulls off being the invested employee whilst being the super mom? I don’t buy into the ‘lean in’ movement. I like this author’s take on why it doesn’t work. Again, for me personally, I don’t live to work. I want to be a Mom more than anything, but I still need to flash my skill set and continue my professional trajectory. I think striking the perfect balance between at home and profession is best.

So what should we call this? Straddling the line? What does this balance look like? For me, its choosing what you want to spend your time doing, and whatever it is, wherever you’re at in that moment, do it to the best of your ability. No excuses. Growth and opportunity spring from being uncomfortable, and as I tell my 2-year-old, never say can’t. It is possible to excel at both. I think I can… I think I can…

If you’re a Mom of two or on the precipice of becoming one, here are a couple of tactics that worked for me.

TWO-do list.

  • Get a routine going for you as soon as possible. Mine consisted of coffee every morning OUT OF THE HOUSE at Java Man. I walked, ran, (almost always with both girls in tow) or drove to get it so I was out of the house and everyone got a little fresh air and sunshine.
  • Pay attention to the toddler as much as possible. They will remember, the baby won’t. I included Stella in everything. She didn’t always want to partake, but I at least gave her the option. Change the baby, watch Mama feed the baby, dress the baby, rock the baby etc.
  • Make sure one parent, or person is always paying attention to the toddler. (Do you see a theme happening here?) I learned quickly the toddler was the hard part of this equation, not the baby.
  • If breastfeeding, do it standing up sometimes. It’s easy and then you can maneuver around and (feign) you’re involved in whatever activity the toddler is doing.
  • Play doh. It works, trust me. We tell her what to make us and she goes to town.
  • Stella discovered a really cute YOUTUBE channel called Charli’s Crafty Kitchen. I allowed her iPad time every day during lunch and at 5pm. She watched these vignettes, and now has a much more vested interest in food, what we’re eating and how we made it. Check it out parents, super cute!!
  • Get the toddler involved in something new. During my maternity leave we had Stella in a private swim class with her friend Olivia once a week for 5 weeks. After that, we took her to ART ZONE to paint, play and get dirty once a week as well. It was a good distraction and (I think) made her feel like we were still concentrating on just her for a bit. (Please note, I brought the baby to both events. Kept her in the stroller and so again it was fresh air and a change of scenery for Wren as well.)
  • Dance parties. Yep – we put on our apple tv and went to town dancing around the living room. Wren either slept or I held her and Stella and I got a chance to get exercise and goof around.
  • We napped Wren in her Mamaroo upstairs in the middle of the play zone. We did this with Stella too, but I think it’s even more important with the 2nd because they need to get accustomed to chaos. Unlike your first, the second is always going to be in the middle of Toddler-ville. If they need a museum-esque atmosphere to sleep, you might be in trouble down the road.
  • Great blogs to know, follow and read – www.mothermag.com, www.clementinedaily.com, www.smallfryblog.com, www.weelicious.com 

These 136 days will be missed. Unlike the first time when I was so overwhelmed I barely moved off the couch, I truly enjoyed every waking moment of being able to just be a Mom. I owe a huge nod to my husband who made it possible for me to take this much time.

These 136 days were also hard earned. There were tears, fights, failures, highlights, a heart so full it can’t be described, a deeper appreciation, an awakening, a desire for more (dare I say it) and a lot of help. Help that deserves to be called out by me, to live in perpetuity in the annals of this blog, which may or may not be read, but at least exists for someone to find.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

This still exists, stationed in our kitchen. I wrote this to myself at the end of June when Ralph went back to work, and my parents left. It was just me and the girls for the first week of July. Overwhelmed doesn’t cover it.

Luella says… Cue the orchestra, this might take a while. And the awards go to…

Katie – you came because you knew I needed you to. Full stop. You’re amazing. I am so lucky you’re my best friend. I love you. xo

Mollie & Heather – you visited, dropped off food (homemade at that) and affirmed why we’re so lucky to call you great friends who live down the street. I love you both, thank you! xo

Ali – you got me out of the house and a lot of times out of my own way. You’re the go-to when it comes to what the benchmark is. Love you, thank you! xo

Tina & Gene – I am not going to say much because after 30+ years of friendship you already know. We’re sisters. You’re always there when I need you. I can’t believe how lucky we are to go through this together. Cheers to forever, I love you. xo

Leslie – You’re the only other person in the world most like me. I am so glad you got to be a part of this one. You handled Stella and everything as well, if not better, than I would have myself. But then again, of course you did. Thank you for being so amazing. I love you so much and marvel at all you can accomplish. What can’t you do? xo

Mom & Dad – You too came when I needed you to. Mom you also gave me permission to be overwhelmed. I needed that. It helped me set the tone for my own expectations, and gave me the confidence I needed to tackle handling both girls. You shaped me, and I hope to do as good of a job for our girls. I love you both, see you soon. xo

Nana & Nanu – Not much I can put into words here. I couldn’t do it without you. I will never be able to repay your generosity of time, your selfless willingness to help, and the inherent trust I have knowing the girls are in the best hands. I love you both very much. My gratitude is marrow-deep. xo

Ralph – I found you and now we’ve built a family. You’re the best Dad I know. From late night get ups, to launching your own business teaching others how to swaddle ;), to hair bows in your hair – you’re all in, 100% of the time. Thank you for walking this road with me. I love you  more than anything. It has and always will begin and end with you. xo

Stella & Wren – You’re both everything I ever wanted. When I was little I didn’t dream about my wedding. Watching you both grow alongside of Daddy and I matches the snapshots I’ve carried in my head, of what I hoped would be my future. You + Daddy are what I dreamed of. I love you forever. xo

 

 

Epilogue.

1 Aug

Faded_Black_Paint_by_GrungeTextures

 

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,

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.07.32 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-01 at 2.47.31 PM

 

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

 

 

Dear Laura.

22 Feb

224054150182911150_iAYWpeu7_c

*** 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?

IMG_1304

loveinmotion

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.

%d bloggers like this: