Reorganizing

May 15, 2011

First, thank you, Sun. It is nice to see you today, even if it’s still pretty cold out.

Second, thank you, Husband, for getting up with our son this morning and allowing me to sleep in for almost three additional hours. Wowza, did I ever need that!

I am in spring cleaning mode. I’ve been tackling some stuff that I’ve been putting off, such as our “guest bedroom” which has been the catch-all for all of the junk that we haven’t felt like dealing with all winter. It now has a floor again.

I also put the dresser back in my son’s closet, and am going through all of his clothes (AGAIN). However, it is different this time. His growth is (finally) starting to slow down, meaning he isn’t outgrowing things like crazy. I am also more heavily considering what I hold onto and put into his closet… meaning, stuff that isn’t our style and won’t get worn shouldn’t be in there.

I am also working on going through all of his outgrown clothes, which are in overflowing bins in our closet. You see, I get very sad when I pack things away; I am having a hard time letting go of Baby Grant and the fact that he is growing up. So when I have packed away his infant clothes (especially the first few times) I was very emotional and viewed his clothes emotionally. I kept pretty much everything, simply because he had worn it once. Now I am going back through the bins a bit more objectively, and only holding onto the things that I believe will truly get worn with our next child, or really does have a real emotional attachment (sorry, but that first pair of dinosaur pajamas are staying forever!).

It feels good, though. It’s part of a process, I suppose. Letting go and preparing for these next stages, which are exciting (but also bittersweet).

My husband has been wonderful this weekend, and has spent a lot of time with our son while I’ve been decluttering and reorganizing. It’s nice to have him put him down for naps and change diapers and play with him. I love watching their relationship grow, especially now that Grant is getting older and more “interactive.”

I feel like I still have SO MUCH that I want to get done (and I do!) but I’m trying to realize that it needs to be done one step at a time. Our dining room is still a work in progress, but I don’t want to ignore the rest of our house while the spring cleaning bug has bitten me.

Holy hell, am I glad it’s almost Friday.

Definitely had one of those weeks. My husband was out of town and just got home a little while ago. We’re watching the Red Wings game and I’m drinking a glass of wine. It feels good to have him home.

The funny thing is that, on Monday, I was thrilled that he was leaving. That usually happens every couple of months, and it always seems to do us some good to have a few days apart.

I’m used to doing most of the childcare, but I’m not used to also doing all of the dogcare. And I just can’t handle one of our dogs much longer. That’s a post for another day, but let’s just say that it takes a LOT for me to dislike a dog, and I’m really starting to borderline hate her.

Add in that my son was teething (tooth #7 cut through! holy crap!) and is in that fun whiny stage now, and that I’m on my period, and yeah. Fun fun week.

I don’t mean to complain. But I’m just exhausted and need a little me time. Even just some time to get some cleaning done, and to work on our dining room. Here’s hoping the husband doesn’t have any plans this weekend and can help a gal out.

This week wasn’t all bad, of course. On Monday I was invited to attend a “Mother’s Tea” at my niece’s preschool. Grant took two two-hour naps and only had two not so good naps all week (and one of them was due to the devil dog waking him up). He cut his tooth. He is doing GREAT with his solid foods and has really been enjoying sitting at the table and eating. My mom came over tonight to have dinner with us, and then she got to give him a bath. It was nice to listen to his splashing and belly laughs… and then she got him ready for bed so that *I* could shower. It was nice.

And the Red Wings just lost. Sad. Great series, though, at least they made it worth watching.

Viva la weekend! My husband should have tomorrow off (fingers crossed), so we’re going out to breakfast in the morning. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a productive but also relaxing weekend.

How about you?

It’s Okay

April 21, 2011

Sometimes, it’s just okay. Take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine, and smile. Laugh at yourself. Appreciate the small things. Realize how silly life can be, how precious.

If you let your baby take a nap in your arms once in awhile, just to cherish holding them in your arms at that moment, it’s okay.

If your house isn’t always tidy, because sometimes you opt to play more, or make an impromptu trip to the park, or to visit loved ones instead of scrubbing floors and folding laundry, it’s okay.

If you make unreasonable to-do lists for yourself and feel like you can’t keep up with your own expectations of yourself (let alone other people’s), it’s okay.

If you feel frustrated sometimes, or get upset at something and then feel like a bad parent due to your impatience, it’s okay.

If you aren’t ready to sleep in a different room than your baby does, even though it’s been (many) months past the time you swore you would, it’s okay.

If you’re out to lunch, and your baby reaches over and spills your full glass of ice water all over the table (and everything on it), it’s okay.

If you don’t parent your child the way your mom did, or sister does, or your friends will… it’s okay.

If you do things as a parent that you swore you’d never do (or have judged others for doing), it’s okay.

I’m starting to learn some things about this whole motherhood thing. And one thing I’m learning–the hard way–is that we are way too hard on ourselves. I want things to be perfect, but that isn’t possible. One person cannot do everything. You cannot give 100% to every component of your life… some things will have to give.

What doesn’t bend, breaks.

So if you spend an entire day just trying to get your baby to nap, it’s okay. It isn’t what was planned, but much of life isn’t. Some of the greatest moments in my life have been a result of things not going exactly as planned.

See what I mean? Two things in my life that weren’t perfectly planned, but worked out perfectly. Life is funny like that sometimes.

Life is beautiful. Take it in.

Moment

April 16, 2011

This morning, my son and I were sitting next to each other on the floor in our living room. I was reading him a book.

We were about halfway through when he looked up at me, smiled, and then leaned over and hugged me.

I think it was the single most-sweetest moment I have ever encountered. I almost cried.

I hope he always stays this sweet. This loving. He’s been such a lovebug lately and I could just eat him up.

Today I Am Thankful

April 10, 2011

I woke up today between my husband and my son. As a family, with both dogs, we came downstairs to start the day.

Today, my husband and I will have coffee together. We will argue about ordinary things. We will tease each other, and tell inside jokes, and fight over the remote control and who has to cook dinner this evening. Tonight, we will tuck our son into bed, together, and we will kiss each other goodnight.

And, for that, I am thankful.

Last night, a friend of my sister’s (and her husband’s) died unexpectedly. He was in his early 30s. He had two children (ages seven and nine), and a wife.

Today, his wife had to wake up without him there. And so did his children.

And they will never again argue over ordinary things, or tease each other, or tell inside jokes, or fight over the remote control, or who cooks dinner, or tuck their children into bed together, or kiss each other goodnight.

Those children will have to grow up without a father… they’ll never again high-five him after winning a game, or hug him on Christmas morning, or sit around the table and talk about their days. They won’t get to argue with him over who they date, or curfew, or why they can’t get the car they want. He won’t be there when they walk across stage and receive their diplomas. He won’t proudly take pictures of his children, all dressed up, as they scurry off to prom. He won’t be there to walk his daughter down the aisle. Their mother will be there, of course, and I can’t help but think about how all of those moments will be a constant reminder of what isn’t there, and how she has to do all those things without him.

I called my sister right away this morning, to check on her. She’s a wreck; last night they went to be with his wife, and I think today it is all really sinking in. I had met this family a few times, at birthday parties and BBQs, but I don’t know them. So, for the second time this week, I am left reeling by the loss of strangers. I cannot wrap my head around it. I don’t know how you tell your children that their daddy is gone. I don’t know how you can possibly move on from something like this. I don’t ever, ever want to know what it feels like to look at an empty pillow next to mine, and know he’s never coming back. I don’t want to know how strong you have to pretend to be because you don’t want your children to crumble.

So, instead, today I will focus on being thankful for what I do have. Because damn, it can be taken away from you just like that. Today I will kiss more, hug harder, fight less, and be nicer. We only have today.

Forget whatever diet you’re on and make these ASAP. Oh em gee. Amazing. I’m pretty sure my husband has already given me the Wife of the Year award, and it’s only 10:30am. And it’s only April.

APRIL! SPRING!

No, really, it has arrived. Yesterday was the most beautiful day we’ve had in, well, let’s just say a really long time. Winter is over, and I can say that now without sounding cocky.

Today it is still warm, though the sun is in hiding at the moment. When I say “warm,” it might differ very much from your standards of warmth, but it was in the mid-50s yesterday and that’s the forecast for today as well. Around these parts, that’s the signal to whip our your flip flops and shorts, and to drive around with your windows down. You think I’m joking?

Yesterday my husband and I took G out for our first stroller walk of the year. I had packed away his stroller for the winter; it wouldn’t work well going over snowy sidewalks, and I didn’t take him anywhere that necessitated the use of a stroller (I usually just plop him in the Ergo, and more recently he loves riding in the front of a shopping cart). Anyhow, it was sad to adjust the straps and see how much he has grown. How little he once was. Let’s compare.

First stroller ride (August 2010):

Yesterday, adjusting the straps (April 2011):

Anyhow, he was super excited to be strapped into that thing. He started flopping around like a fish and giggling for no apparent reason (though he was very quiet once we got outside).

Spring makes me want to clean and organize, which is good because winter has the exact opposite effect on me. I love opening up the windows, letting fresh air in (and stale air out), and cleaning, decluttering, and reorganizing.

Ah, here comes the sun…

Forgetting

April 1, 2011

I am terrified of forgetting.

The little things… you know, like the smell of a newborn. I can hardly remember it, less than nine months later.

There’s so much I don’t want to forget. Like the feel of a sleeping baby on my chest. The imprint of an ear left on my skin.

Baby giggles, his belly laughs. How I felt when he smiled at me for the first time.

The relieved, blissful look on his face when he’s hungry and finally latches on. The sound of a nursing baby, the swallowing.

The silly expressions; the way he raises his eyebrows and I can tell exactly what he’s thinking. (I hope that doesn’t go away.)

The weight of him in my arms, increasing every day. How he gets heavier as he gives in to sleep.

The babbling. The nonsense words. How proud he is when he figures out a new sound and has to repeat it over and over (and over) again.

His creamy skin and perfectly pink cheeks. The fatty folds in his thighs, the way his hair curls slightly just behind his ears.

Those quiet moments in the middle of the night, when it’s only the two of us awake. Sleepy, treasured time.

How bittersweet things can be. How proud I am when he figures out something new, but then have to fight back tears because he’s big enough to roll over, or cut a tooth, or eat solid foods. It’s like I have to pack away outgrown clothes and toys faster than I can pull out the new stuff. I can’t keep up.

I’m already forgetting. What was the exact color of his eyes when he was just a week old? What did I do that made him giggle for the first time?

I take pictures and pictures and more pictures, but they aren’t enough. They can’t capture the FEELING or the SMELL or the SOUND of this amazing little boy. How I feel when he shows his love in his own little ways.

But wasn’t it only yesterday when I got that positive pregnancy test? When I felt him move for the first time? When my water broke?

I look forward to the things we will do together in his life. The things we will learn, the things we will teach. Every day he gets more fun, more hilarious, more amazing. But damn it if it isn’t hard to let go of some of what we lose.

“Change is hard; you fight to hold on and you fight to let go.” [The Wonder Years]

So worth it.

Thinking About Another

March 7, 2011

Yes, I mean baby.

Boy has this issue been on my mind a lot lately. When should we have our second child?

I have such mixed feelings about it all. There is no denying that I can’t stop thinking about it. That I miss being pregnant, that I miss some of the newborn stuff, that I like the idea of a second child. Is it just because my son is getting so big? Is it a way of holding on? Or are we really ready?

I can answer that question with a resounding NO. We are not ready. I am more ready than my husband, for sure. It’s something we “discuss” but we never really finish the conversation. I think he still feels overwhelmed sometimes with the one (as do I) and has trouble with the idea of adding another baby into the equation… but I wish he’d look at the whole picture with me. We approach things from different angles on this topic, that’s for sure.

I like the idea of having children who are very close in age. I know my husband does as well; we both have huge age gaps between our siblings (and are both the youngest), and we don’t want that for our children. Yes, it would be a lot of work to have them close together, and I’m sure it would be exhausting and stressful. But they’d be so close. You could do all the baby stuff in one stage, then move on to the next.

But then… then I think about my beautiful son. How could I ever love another baby this much? How could I share my love? Of course, I know that’s silly, obviously you don’t love your first child less because you have a second child, you don’t share your love (just your time) and I know your heart and your ability to love just grows.

I’m so torn. I don’t want to miss out on my son’s firsts. I don’t want to be preoccupied. I want to enjoy it all.


It goes fast.

But does that mean I wouldn’t enjoy it all if I was pregnant, if we had another baby, if I got to see him love and interact with a sibling? Would he benefit more by having my full attention for a few more years, or would it be easier for him to adjust sooner to having a sibling?

Too many questions and so few answers. I know there isn’t a right or a wrong when it comes to this situation. Right now, I don’t even think I could conceive if I wanted to try (my period still hasn’t returned). And what if we have troubles? But it’s weird to think that, if I got pregnant right this second, G would already be about a year and half old when the baby was born. I don’t know what the best age gap is… 2 years? 3 years? less or more? I don’t know. But it’s on my mind. Oh, it’s on my mind…

I am not employed.

I quit my job before we got married in the fall of 2009. I began doing some freelance writing work, and found out that I was pregnant shortly thereafter.

We knew that me being a stay at home mom was the best choice for our family. We were right; I’m not perfect but I cannot imagine not being home with my son every day.

Our plan was for me to stay home and then write part-time in order to pay my own personal bills. Ha!

Being a mother is hard work. It is even more difficult if you have very (very) little help. My husband works a lot and has to travel a lot for work, and is just a busy guy in general. I don’t get nights and weekends “off.” (What mother does?) But, much of the time, I don’t even get a whole lot of help during that time. If my husband is gone, that means I also have to take care of two needy dogs, too. And run the household.

I’m not trying to complain. What I am saying is that this journey has been a lot harder and more exhausting than I ever envisioned. Write articles? When? I need my downtime, too, you know. I also need to do laundry and clean the house and run errands.

Needless to say… not much “real work” was done during the first six months of my son’s life. I think I have written maybe two articles that whole time, if that. I had to resort to selling some thing to help pay my bills.

Sure, some of it is laziness. I have time to go on discussion forums and facebook and blogs, right?

But, in order to work, I need to be in a certain frame of mind. I haven’t been in one since before my son was born. My brain is tired and preoccupied. Words haven’t been coming to me. I have felt a huge lack of creativity. I haven’t even feel like reading books. It’s like there has been something in my brain that blocks the motivation and ideas from flowing… and no wonder when I am constantly in the midst of BABYHOOD.

There have been a lot of tears over money and feeling inadequate and like a failure as a woman. It is very difficult to adjust to being “taken care of” by a man, especially when the two of you used to be equals when it came to working and education. I’ve learned that money and careers can really affect a relationship because it throws off the whole balance of power. And not that a couple should be trying to overpower or control each other… but with money and success comes power. When you lack those things, you lose a bit of power. You feel like you have to fight for respect. It really does change how you feel about yourself, how others look at you. We’re a career and money driven society, and it is reflected in how we treat others and view ourselves.

I’ve noticed this in my own relationship, now that I don’t have a “real” job (again, based on societal views… trust me, I work HARD). But it has changed the power structure in our marriage. The fact that he’s the breadwinner and I’m the stay at home mom has really changed the balance in our household. It stresses him in a lot of ways (he has a lot on his plate and a lot that he has to take care of and be responsible for) while I deal with setting career goals and other dreams aside for awhile so I can focus on raising a family. This is a major shift, because at one point we were BOTH working and BOTH going to school and BOTH paying our bills and we did it all together. It gives him a weird bit of power. He doesn’t abuse it and is usually unaware of it, but I still notice it from time to time. He doesn’t mean to be that way, and when I call him out on certain things he is surprised and doesn’t even realize he’s being a certain way.

I know that I carry a certain power myself, and I try to keep that in mind… I’m the mother of his child and the leader of our household. I’m the glue that keeps it all together. I keep things running. We chose this, we both want me to stay home with our son. But it comes with its ups and downs. I have had to redefine what the meaning of successful is. Especially because *I* was supposed to be the successful one. It was me who was supposed to have the good job, to make a lot of money. I was told my whole life how smart I was, how successful I would be. I wonder how many people look at me and shake their heads, think I’ve given up, think I’m lazy, think I’m “just” a stay at home mom. There’s more to me than that. But I am LUCKY to be one. I’m sure my son agrees!

I am happy, but I struggle. I see my friends being wildly successful, and I am soooo happy for them. But sometimes I do feel jealous. My husband just got a promotion at work, and I am insanely proud of him. (And hey, I’ll benefit from the raise.) However, it can be hard for me sometimes. I love (LOVE) staying home with my son and I am learning so many things and trying hard to make it all work. But when I spend a whole day trying to get my son to nap, and he is teething, and my elderly dog has an accident in the house, and the laundry pile is overflowing… sometimes it would be nice to get a promotion, too. Or at least someone to come help clean the house once a week.

All that said… I wouldn’t change this situation for anything. I don’t want to go get a “real” job. I love this time with my son. It goes fast. Those first six months… they go fast. I haven’t missed a single milestone. I saw his first smiles, heard his first giggle, saw him roll over for the first (and second, and third) time. I see all the silly, funny, magical things he does. I am there for him when he’s upset and wants to cuddle. I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the money and success in the world. To me, it’s all been worth it. I know, ten years from now, I won’t look back on these early years and think, ‘Gosh I wish I had gone back to work.’ I will, most likely, give anything to go back to this hard time and relive it. It comes with a cost, and yet… it’s priceless.

I am happy to report that my writing “frame of mind” is finally changing. I am getting new ideas. I have FOUR writing projects in mind (BIG ones, not articles). I have poetry that I want to submit to some journals (not new poetry, but still, it feels good to desire something more again). I am feeling creative again, and damn it that feels good! And, these past few days, writing articles and making money again doesn’t feel like some far away unattainable goal that feels impossible. It feels tangible again. I hope, when I write about the second six months, that it will be much more positive than this post has been. My son is now 7 1/2 months old, so it’s been a journey to get to this point.

Guess How Much I Love You

February 14, 2011

I have a favorite bedtime story for my son, and my fondness for it dates back exactly eight years.

My husband (then-boyfriend) and I spent our first Valentine’s Day in a beautiful, romantic little town in another part of the state. That weekend, we explored the town, enjoyed some delicious food, and had an otherwise perfect getaway together. We had been dating for about three months, and were only 18 at the time (I was about two months shy of my 19th birthday). Ah, young love.

As part of my gift to J, I bought him the book Guess How Much I Love You. We snuggled up in our hotel bed together and I read it to him. At the end, he looked up at me and was a little teary, and said, “I love you.” It was the first time those words had been exchanged. It was sappy and sweet and lovely.


(image borrowed from Amazon.com)

Over the years, we would occasionally reference that we loved each other to the moon and back. In fact, on our wedding day, I had left a card for him and referenced it once again. I asked one of his groomsmen to make sure he read it that morning.

Well, our son was a result of that wedding. The first book that I bought for him was, you guessed it, Guess How Much I Love You.

It’s not a wacky, brightly colored book that will grab a baby’s attention. But it’s the PERFECT bedtime story. It’s my favorite bedtime book. It is sweet and calming. It brings me back to the moment we’re in, to the love that is in our household, and it reminds me how lucky I am to have both my son and my husband. Even if I’m having a bad day, I cannot be upset when I read this book to G. When Big Nutbrown Hare settles Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves, I put my son into bed. I always kiss him when Big Nutbrown Hare kisses Little Nutbrown Hare.

So there you have it. Eight years later, and here we are. Tonight, before bed, we will read it as a family.

Happy Valentine’s Day!