Whether you are voting red or blue tomorrow, stand up for equality! A post from a Gay Superdad who puts it all in perspective. Check it out.
Ok, so here’s the post that I was trying to write when my fingers told me that I really wanted to write about something else…
It’s no secret that your life changes drastically when you have a child. Getting pregnant is an investment. You invest 10 months of your time, 100% of your hopes, dreams and fears, plus your body, your personal comfort, and sometimes even your health, knowing (and hoping that everyone who has kids wasn’t lying to you in some F-ed up prank) that everything you put into it will pay off once you are holding that sweet little baby in your arms. And then, of course, you spend the rest of your life investing in this child and hopefully reaping the benefits before the stock market crash that is called the teenage years hits… but I digress.
Like any long-term investment, along the way there are many gains and losses. I always knew that when I had a baby I would be gaining…well… a baby. (I didn’t graduate Cum Laude for nuthin!) I also knew that I would lose a few things. Mostly inconsequential things such as sleep, sanity, working brain cells and hopefully at least 60% of the baby weight. However, over the past year-and-a-half there have been a few losses and gains that I didn’t count on.
My Hair – I had heard a lot of horrifying tales about different physical things that happen to you when you have a baby, but no one ever told me about the hair thing. Besides my boobs, my hair was pretty much the only thing that actually looked better when I was pregnant. My ass may have looked like cottage cheese in a mesh sack, but my hair looked like a “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful” Pantene model. That’s why it was even harder to take when, about six months after having my daughter, it started to fall out. In clumps. And then, to add insult to injury, all these tiny little baby hairs started growing back around my hairline. Now, when I put my hair in a ponytail, I look like a nerdy girl at my Bat mitzvah… you know the frizzy-haired girl with the food in her colored braces. That one. Sigh.
My Time – No surprise here. I knew that this baby thing would be a time-suck, I just didn’t realize that even when she is at daycare or napping, 100% of my time would be devoted to her. Between all the laundry, shopping, worrying, cooking, cleaning, obsessively calling the doctor, worrying, researching the best strollers, car seats, educational toys and preschools to waste, I mean spend, my money on, I now have no time to do all those things for myself.
Sleep – Again, no surprise that I would get less sleep after having baby. However, what I didn’t realize is that when you become a parent, you lose the right to have a good night of sleep ever again. Even though my daughter now sleeps through the night, I do not. Why? Because at the slightest sigh, cough, turn, creak or fart I bolt upright, jamming the monitor to my face to make sure she is still in one piece. I can only imagine what this will be like when she is teenager out with friends. Or a boy!!! Do they make a video teenage monitor?
My mind – dlfkjath[naf’dpijht[pajf’nadl;fjhdonladj. ;atlebtpiebgldnvbdlnd;kla!! That’s how I feel at least 68% of the time.
Vanity – I guess this is not really a surprise either, but I always (disillusionedly) thought that I would be one of the cool moms with great bedhead hair and casual yet stylish clothes. You know, like Jessica Alba. Now I realize that if I was not Jessica Alba before I had a baby, then motherhood certainly won’t turn me into her. Instead I have greasy bedhead hair and casual yet decidedly unstylish clothes. Sue me, I’m tired. Not to mention, ah;bvdo;vnoiwubgvfwnpvopwirjfkm!
My keys, wallet and the ability to match shoes – At any given time, I have only one of the three.
My Boobs – I never had big boobs but at least they were perky. Now they are smaller than ever and somehow still saggy. Well, at least I got a cool blog title out of it.
My identity – Pre-baby I used to be a lot of things: Hotshot producer (at least in my mind), smartass, fun-loving friend, spontaneous wife, wino (ok, I am still a wino), foodie, party-goer, book-reader, dream-chaser. Now, I am pretty much one thing, and one thing only: Lyla’s mommy. Seriously. When I meet other moms at the playground, they ask what my daughter’s name is, but never mine. When I talk with friends, family, and my hubby most of our conversations revolve around Lyla. Most of the time I don’t mind this. She is my favorite topic of conversation. She is my greatest accomplishment. But sometimes I miss… well, me.
Yes, I have lost a lot of things since having a baby. I could actually go on and on with this list, but I will spare you more of the Tale of Two (saggy) Titties. Instead, let’s focus on the gains. First and foremost, I gained a daughter. Nothing on the list of Losses can even compare to how much I have gained from her. However, there are a few more gains that have surprised me.
Friends – Personally I have never been a fan of mommy groups. I just don’t like the idea of forcing myself to be friends with someone just because we have kids who are the same age. We may have that in common, but you wear a scrunchie and so we shall never be friends. However, since having my daughter, two wonderful things have happened: First, I have grown even closer to the friends I already have. I may not talk to them as much, but something about the bonding that happens when you complain about your kids has drawn us closer than ever. I have even grown closer to those friends who don’t have kids. When I see how much they love my daughter it makes me love them even more. The second thing that has is happened is that, despite my mommy prejudices, I have managed to make a few new amazing mommy friends. We came together because we have kids around the same age, but we have stayed together because we generally like one another’s company. I have even “met” some amazing mommies (and daddies) through this blog that I now consider friends. Sometimes there is nothing you need more than for another mommy to tell you that you are not totally failing. I am even beginning to rethink the whole mommy group thing. Do they have mommy wine clubs?!
A new career – Pre-baby I had a great job as a producer. I made good money, I worked a lot of hours, and most of the time I really liked the work. However, I always dreamed about going back to writing. Writing is my love. It is the only thing in my life that I do because I have to do it. I am not myself if I go very long without putting pen to paper (my preferred form) or fingers to the keyboard. But I was scared. Freelancing is tough. I knew it and my boss reaffirmed it when I tried to quit the first time. (Long story short: I chickened out and worked there for another year.) But once I found out I was having a baby, the money seemed a lot less important than the time I would miss with my daughter by working those long hours. I finally had the courage to quit my job and start freelancing. I make less money but have never been happier. Except when my computer breaks and I can’t call IT to fix it. Then, I curse my freelance status and stress-eat.
A really weird belly button – I never cared much about my belly button. I never liked it, I never hated it… until I had a baby and was left with this weird one. Now, I have an irrational disgust for mine. It is stretched out and kind of saggy. And I have stretch marks inside of it. And that misguided belly button ring that I got on spring break when I was 17 has come back to haunt me, ten-fold. You were right, mom!
A new outlook – Since becoming a mom my priorities have definitely changed. My daughter is the center of my universe, as she should be. But besides my priorities, my whole outlook has changed. Little annoying things don’t matter as much, and little amazing things matter so much more. I may have less of an identity, but I have become more of a person.
The ability to say wise things like, “You just don’t know what it is to be a mom until you are one.” – I always got annoyed when people would say this before I was a mom. Now I am a mom. And now I can say that being a mom is the most amazing thing in the world. Earth-shatteringly, mind-bendingly, pants-peeingly amazing. So amazing that no amount of losses could ever tip the scale. So amazing that I just can’t tell you how amazing it is until you are a parent and you find out for yourself. Yes, I can now say this kind of thing and then smile with self-satisfaction, just like those other annoying moms. And damn, it feels good!
photo credit: Clint Chilcott via photopin cc
You know those days when you have absolutely nothing to do? The house is clean, the shopping is done, your chores are finished. There is no work to be done, no emails to answer, no calls to return. There are no playdates or doctor appointments. There is absolutely nowhere you need to be. When you are almost bored in the best way possible. When your biggest decision is whether to sit down on your couch and catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to read or to lie in your bed and take a blissful nap.
You know those days? Yeah, me neither…
Yesterday I woke up on the wrong side of the crib… I mean bed. It was just one of those days where nothing seems to go right. Here’s how it started:
Wake up to a beautiful day. For some reason this annoys me (not sure if it is the waking up or the beautiful day that did it.) Walk to coffee shop for the perfect combo of sugar and caffeine that will put things right. After waiting in line for 10 min, discover that the coffee shop doesn’t have lids for my to go coffees – which wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t have to walk a half mile with a coffee in each hand. Oh yeah, and if I was even half as graceful as a drunk three-year-old. Begin to feel face flush with annoyance, but wave it off. Go to another coffee shop that has lids but not the sugary latte I wanted. Pout a bit. Discover Facebook has stopped working on my phone. Pout more. Erase Facebook and attempt to redownload. Discover that before I can download Facebook again, I need to update my phone’s software. Take deep breath. Learn that before I can update my phone, I need to update my iTunes. Engage yoga/labor breathing. Find out that before I can update my iTunes I need to deauthorize my other computers and reauthorize my laptop. Aggressively chug cup of coffee. Burn throat but pretend not to notice. Discover that I can’t reauthorize my laptop because my disc is out of space.
Take deep breath. Doesn’t work. Inhale cinnamon toast. Choke on cinnamon. Repeat. Twice. Attempt to make space on laptop by removing pictures and movies onto a hard drive. Spend one hour doing this. Finally realize that in doing this, my pictures are now a mess on the hard drive without any kind of order, labeling or anything that would enable me to find any picture ever. Pick up laptop. Smash it on desk like a guitarist on stage at a rock show. Just kidding. But think hard about picking up laptop and smashing it on my desk like a guitarist on stage at a rock show. Instead text husband an angry tantrum text about how I wish technology would die and huff around the house, cleaning up by throwing things (gently) into their places. Man, I really showed those teddy bears!
The rest of the day continued on like this, with everything going a little wrong and with me totally overreacting and throwing a temper tantrum like a toddler.
When it was time to go pick up my actual toddler, I was delighted to discover that she was also in a foul mood. She didn’t want to come inside, but she didn’t want stay outside either. She didn’t want to sit in her high chair, but when I set her back down she was pissed too. She didn’t know what she wanted and nothing could make her happy. She was impossible. And I know exactly how she felt. Even though dealing with a cranky baby was the last thing I wanted to do when I was busy being a cranky baby myself, it made me smile how alike we are sometimes.
Here’s the thing though. She is a baby. I am not. Usually. She’s one and a half. I am thirty… well, ya know, old enough to know better. I am not a slave to my emotions. I have the power to turn my mood around. I just chose not too. I chose to let myself sulk and wallow in my bad mood and spend the day in a long-term temper tantrum. But then my husband came home with cupcakes and slightly frightened eyes and a patient smile. He spoke gently and coddled me, just like he does with our daughter when she is being outrageous. And you know what… it felt pretty good. I have to be an adult most of the time, but I guess every now and then I just need to be a baby. So, realizing this, I took my bottle (of wine) like a good little girl and went to bed.
And today I am an adult again. Damn.
I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing something funny. Something witty and clever and far, far, far away from the emotional and slightly sad tone my blog has taken as of late. I starting typing a blog about losses and gains – about funny things that you gain and lose after having a baby. Inconsequential things… like your mind. However, the more I started thinking about losses, the more I started thinking about loss. And, as so often happens when I am writing these blogs, my fingers began to take me somewhere that I didn’t know I wanted to go. My husband says that he learns so much about me by reading my blog, and I have to say that in writing it, I learn so much about myself. So screw funny. It’s over-rated anyway. (But stay tuned next week for the revival of my usual biting wit and thinly veiled sarcasm. Probably.)
I have had loss on my mind lately. Last weekend my husband found out that one of his good friends’ wives passed away. It was cancer. It was quick. It was devastating. I personally had only met her once as they live in London, but she was a beautiful and kind woman. She was also a wonderful mother to her two young children. Her youngest is the same age as my daughter. When we heard the news over the weekend, my heart ached for my husband’s friend who was left without a wife and especially for those two young girls who were left without a mother. But I also ached for this young, vibrant mother who will not get the chance to see her children grow up.
As I said before, I didn’t know her very well. But in the short time we spent together, I was struck by how much she reminded me of me. She was about my age. She loved her family. She loved to have fun. She loved to laugh. She loved life. We were both pregnant when we met, although she already had one daughter. She was wise and experienced and she graciously answered all of my (many, many) questions about babies and about motherhood. Since then, I expect that the past year-and-a-half since her daughter was born was a lot like mine: sleepless nights, blissful moments, more laughter than she ever thought possible. I am sure that she spent many hours marveling at the perfection of her daughter’s face and imagining the possibilities of her daughter’s future, much the way that I have.
Then she woke up one day, just like any other day, but on this day she had a headache. She woke up with plans and hopes and dreams, just like any other day, but she didn’t know that this particular day would be her last. She didn’t know that she would never get to see her children grow up, get married, or have children of their own. She didn’t know that she would never again get to marvel at the beauty of her daughter’s face or get the chance to discover who her daughters will become.
She reminded me a lot of me, and I think that’s why I felt the loss so greatly, even though I barely knew her. If it could happen to someone like her, then it could certainly happen to someone like me. None of us know which day will be our last. And as sad as this thought makes me, it is also a reminder of how wonderfully precious life is. A wise somebody once said that we should, “Live every day like it is our last.” And while I do think this is sound advice, I also think it is a bit too sad for my taste. It is hard to think of our last days without feeling a bit melancholy, and I don’t want to live every day like that.
Instead, I am going to try to live every day as if it is my first. Like a child. Full of the magic and wonder and true appreciation that comes from experiencing everything for the first time. Without the fear and regret we learn as we get older and “wiser”, and without the ambivalence that often comes with age. The world is full of amazing things and people and moments that, as adults, we often fail to recognize or even see.
My daughter’s new word is “Wow!” A bird in the sky gets a heartfelt “Wow!”; fitting the right puzzle pieces together gets a “Wow!”; seeing a dog on the street gets a “Wow!”; even my stepping out of the shower naked got a “Wow!” (It’s been a while since that happened, but I will try not to let it go to my head.) A bite of cheesecake, a big splash in the bath, my funky neon green nails, a great song, a perfect hi-five… all of these are deemed “Wow!” worthy by my daughter. And they are. Each and every day is full of these simple Wow! moments if we are young and wise enough to recognize them.
And while I hope that I have many, many (many, many, many, many) more Wow! moments left before my last day, I am going to try to live them all like they are my first.
photo credit: Frederic Mancosu via photopin cc
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
– Marilyn Monroe
I don’t have much in common with this tragic, lovely lady, but I do have some of her flaws. And I have some flaws all my own. Thank goodness I found someone who not only can handle me, but loves being my handler.
In relationships, learn to let go of the little things and look at the big picture. You will be a lot happier!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a solid post, and to those of you who plan your life and all major decisions around my blog posts, I sincerely apologize. To the rest of you aka all of you, I apologize as well. As you may have gathered from my mostly short yet bitter posts over the past few weeks, I have had a bit going on. My daughter got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which was an agonizing week of high fevers and Contagion-style quarantine. She was recovered for approximately two days before she spent a night throwing up for reasons unknown, and then miraculously recovered again for about a week. She then got Erythema Multiforme related to the HFMD virus, which caused even higher fevers and horrible hive-like lesions and sores all over her little body, including the inside of her mouth. Fun for the whole family! After a week of that madness, she recovered for a day – just long enough for us to overconfidently decide to celebrate with a weekend getaway. On the first day of the vacation she got a nasty cold complete with, yes, a high fever.
Needless to say, it has been a tough month. Definitely the toughest month since my daughter was born. And it feels like maybe the toughest month since I was born. I have had some hard times in my life, though admittedly not as hard as many. I have had my fair share of illnesses, surgeries and hospital stays. Somehow though, it seems more difficult to take when it is happening to my daughter rather than directly to me.
Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. There have been some great moments when she is feeling better and all seems right in the world. I have learned a lot of lessons. I have gained a bit (ok, a teeny, tiny bit) of patience. I have discovered that I can be stronger than I ever thought I could be. However, I have been working so hard to be a good mom that I haven’t had much time to be a good… anything else.
I haven’t had much time to be a good friend. Many a phone call, text and email has gone unreturned in the past month. And when I do manage to find the time to chat with my friends, it’s mostly just to vent. I end up talking so much about what’s going on in my life, that I rarely ask what’s going on in theirs. Jerk!
I haven’t been a good worker. I have turned down a lot of work simply because I just can’t take care of my daughter and take care of work too. I had a choice to make, and as a freelancer, I was in the position to make it, so I chose my daughter. I wouldn’t change those decisions, but it doesn’t exactly make me the most reliable person to hire.
I haven’t been a good homemaker. Not that I usually excel in this arena, but my usually feeble attempts at cooking, cleaning and hosting have gotten beyond pathetic – we’re talking frozen dinners/baby stuff covering every surface of the house/turning my underwear inside out so I don’t have to do laundry – pathetic.
I most definitely haven’t been a good wife. When I am stressed, sad and angry at life, or even when I am frustrated with my daughter, I have to take it out on someone. I obviously can’t take it out on my daughter and I don’t have life’s email or phone number, so the back-up choice has been my husband. Fortunately I picked a partner who doesn’t usually feel the need to take his frustrations out on anyone, but who understands me enough to know that I do. And so he lets me. Usually.
And out of everyone, the person I have treated the worst is myself. I have stopped exercising, managed to take stress-eating to whole new level of disgusting, and some days have decided to forgo even the most basic levels of general hygiene (I guess I should apologize to my husband for that one too.) And as a general warning to anyone who encounters me on the street, I am prone to break down in tears for no reason, and just as likely to start muttering to myself in a scream-whisper. Oh yeah, and there’s a strong chance that I will be wearing a dirty bathrobe. At first I thought I might be pregnant. Now, I realize that I have slowly been losing my mind.
But things are looking up. My daughter is finally recovering from the latest installment of Outbreak 2012, hopefully this time for longer than a day or two. So, there will be no more excuses. No more of the selfish friend who only talks about herself. No more of the wife whose husband is slightly afraid he will wake up in the middle of the night to find her standing over him with a butter knife. No more main-lining red wine/coffee/entire sleeves of Oreos. No more half-assed work. No more depressing blogs (for now). No more messy house…Ok, ok. Who I am kidding? I have a toddler. The house will always be messy. Deal with it… or you may wake up to find me standing over you with a butter knife.
I swear that being a parent is the craziest roller coaster in the world.
My daughter is sick yet again, for the third week out of four weeks. This time with a nasty cold and again with a fever hitting above 104. She was up at midnight night crying inconsolably. Probably because she was tired but couldn’t sleep, scared because she couldn’t breathe, and angry because Mama couldn’t fix it. She was screaming and crying, and I was crying because I couldn’t help her. And I was tired because I haven’t once slept through the night in the past month. And it was midnight. And I was thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
Then, morning came. And the sun was shining. And my daughter woke up feeling a bit better. And she hugged me tight and said “Lub you” in her little, hoarse, stuffy-nosed voice. And I thought, “I don’t know what I ever did before this.”