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?

Advertisements

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.

Loss

April 3, 2011

Are you ever caught off guard by something… overwhelmed by the emotions of something unexpected?

Earlier this week I heard about someone who had died. I didn’t hear a name, just that she was 27 and had a 5 month old. I remember thinking how sad that was, how hard it must be to pick up the pieces after something like that happens.

But then today, I read the obituary. I saw her picture. It was someone who went to my high school and graduated just a year ahead of me. Someone I didn’t know but who was familiar to me; someone I knew but didn’t know. I read the summary of her life and what she was like, the legacy she left to those who loved her. She reminded me, in ways, of myself. Like I could relate to this woman somehow. Yet, if we had passed each other on the street a few weeks ago, we may have smiled politely but that’s all.

I fought back tears reading it. She had a baby. Can you imagine? That poor baby, that poor husband. I look inward, to my own family… and I can’t. I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m the glue that holds our family together. Most mothers and wives are. How would they move on? How does anyone?

So here I am today, keeping her and her family in my thoughts, even though we don’t know each other. Because damn. DAMN.

This year has been really tough when it comes to death and illness. Too many people we do know. Our brother-in-law lost his mother and his sister in the last month. It’s been less than a year since my husband lost his brother. One of our friends just lost his father. There are too many others to mention. Is it always like this? Are we just getting older and this is something that is going to become all too familiar? Or is this just a bad streak of luck, of health?

Last night, as I sipped a glass of wine in the late hours of my quiet living room, I watched my elderly dog. She was up and down, up and down. Couldn’t get comfortable. I didn’t know what was wrong… was it serious? Was she just achey? Does she know something we don’t? I sat down on the floor with her and did my best to comfort her, to share with her my love and strength. Right now she is sleeping by my feet. She looks sadder today than she has in a long time. Is it just the change in weather? My biggest hope is that she will stay with us, make it at least a few more months so she can lay outside in the hot sun and sniff the summer air. I want her to remember how that feels.

It is April. A month of renewal. A month where we say goodbye to winter (at least up north) and welcome the early signs of spring. The rain, the grey. The cold but not quite frigid weather. And, if we’re lucky, patches of green grass and a sparse scattering of flowers, a hint of sunshine and a bit of warmth. Dry patches on the otherwise wet sidewalks.

Today, however, it is snowing. I know a lot of people are complaining but I’m not. Snow in April never bothers me for some reason. I know it won’t stick around. I’m feeling very, very ready for spring and summer. But I can’t help but smile and give Old Man Winter a nod, and admire his ability to try to hang on tight before losing out to the warmth and the life. He eventually loses out, of course, and must let go to allow the rest of us the ability to move on.

But we all know that’s never easy, letting go and saying farewell. Moving on.

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!

One of those weeks

January 15, 2011

I remember reading something once… I forget where, perhaps on a t-shirt or mug or some other thing trying to be funny and clever.

It said something like, “I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow isn’t looking good, either.”

I feel like that’s my motto this week. We need little blips that pop up over our heads as we walk around, alerting others to our moods. Like a facebook status, but away from the computer.

G hasn’t been feeling well for the past few days. We’ve hardly slept the last two nights. He’s been cranky and demanding and most of my attention has been on him. It’s frustrating, but at the same time all I want to do is cuddle with him and make him feel better in any way possible.

Anyhow, this is causing me to be impatient with everyone but him. I snapped at my mom yesterday. I’ve been cranky with my husband. It is being combined with one of those times where I feel like everything is on my shoulders and I’m stressed about other LIFE ISSUES and it all adds up and the weight on my shoulders gets heavier and heavier, and my Wonder Woman/do it all persona takes a flying leap and lands flat on her face.

Oy. So now I’m drinking my latte and listening to my husband sing silly songs to our son while he rocks him, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll feel better if I keep busy and clean or organize or something. I think I’ll start with our Christmas tree. Yes, it’s still up. Don’t judge. I took the ornaments off last night but it still needs to be taken down. I think I need to erase all signs of Christmas (cards, decorations, stockings, gifts, etc.).

It’s hard, though, when the only thing G wants–even if he fusses and cries and arches his back–is his mommy.

Goodbye, 2010

December 30, 2010

Or is it “so long”?

2010 was the most life-changing year I’ve ever had. I had a child. I can’t think of anything that can top that. What else can affect you the way having a baby does?

A few days ago I took down our 2010 calendar to make room for the new one. Before tossing it into the recycling bin, I decided to flip through it. “Ultrasound @ 8:30.” “Prenatal appt. @ 11:15.” “Doula tea @ 1:00.” Birthdays. Spaghetti benefits. Vet appointments. The mundane mixed with the extraordinary.

Most of 2010 was good. Amazing, really. I spent the first six and a half months growing a baby inside of me. I spent the last five and a half months nurturing my son and figuring out this motherhood stuff; it’s a job I never realized I wanted so much, or could be so good at. I feel so LUCKY. I have such a beautiful, healthy, happy little boy. And I get to spend each and every day with him. I am exhausted, but it’s the best exhausted you could ever be.

But this year was more than just being pregnant and having a baby. We celebrated the lives of our friends and family. We surrounded ourselves with love. We also lost my husband’s brother.

I’m not very familiar with death. I’ve only lost two people that were close to me, but I was younger and it didn’t hit me as hard. When we lost my brother-in-law, I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know how to handle my husband. I felt like everything I said was the wrong thing. I used to spend a lot of time on livejournal, and this is what I wrote that day:

J’s brother died in the middle of the night.

We got a call very early this morning.

I can’t believe how suddenly this all happened. What do you even say?

We cuddled in bed for a long time. I had my arm around him and the baby kept kicking him the back. The gap between life and death can be very short sometimes.

I still don’t know what to do. I keep trying to make it better in the irrelevant ways I know how (“Do you want me to make you breakfast? I can make pancakes. I’ll put blueberries in them…”). He doesn’t even like pancakes. He’s doing pretty good, though. Mostly just worried about his family.

It was an odd balance. Sadness and mixed emotions and unspoken words. I won’t get into details about that, but I think (in many ways) it can be harder to lose someone who you have a rocky relationship with than someone you are close to. It was strange because it happened in the middle of such a happy time in our lives, as we awaited the arrival of our child. I remember feeling our baby kick and move around inside me during the more difficult moments. It kept me grounded. It was like he knew when I most needed comfort, a gentle reminder that everything would be okay. And it was. We made it through it. It challenged our marriage and what we knew about family and life, but it also made us stronger.

And, less than two months later, our son was born. Just like that, we were parents.

It is with mixed feelings that I bid farewell to 2010. Thank you. I will be forever changed in so many ways by this eventful year.

It’s time to welcome 2011. We are lucky enough to tiptoe, peacefully, into the new year. I love the feeling of a new year. A fresh start, in a way. Cautious optimism. “Resolutions.” Goals. Things to look forward to.

Was 2010 good to you? Did anything major happen?

Much Needed

November 18, 2010

My husband, J, worked from home today. He’s been working crazy hours ever since G was born, and today is the first time he’s had an at-home office day in about a month or so. He doesn’t get to see much of what I deal with on a daily basis, or on a typical weekday, as far as how much work a baby this age can be.

Anyhow, G loves to fight sleep. This means dealing with an Overly Tired Baby sometimes. Sometimes that baby is hungry but fusses and strains too much to eat, so then I get an Overly Hungry Overly Tired Baby. I can’t complain too much; he’s still one of the most laid-back babies I’ve ever encountered.

So this afternoon was one of those times where I was dealing with an Overly Hungry Overly Tired Baby. He had a minor meltdown and was crying and I struggled to console him and help him relax enough to nurse and sleep. One of my strengths as a mother is patience; I can keep my cool with G even when we’re both stressed and tired (I wish I could say I have the same patience with my husband!).

J looked at me while I worked my mommy “magic” with G, and teared up. He smiled and told me, “I’m glad you’re his mother.”

*melts*

In other news, a certain little boy turned four months old yesterday… on the one year anniversary of my positive home pregnancy test. But that’s a post for another day.

Getting way too big!

G also started giggling a few days ago. It is the best sound I’ve ever heard in my life. He is still selective with it, and guards those giggles tightly for only the BEST tickles. But I would stand on my head and sing a Justin Bieber song in a kilt and goggles if it would make him laugh.

Some days…

November 15, 2010

Some days I feel like a complete failure as a wife.

The softening of a woman

November 12, 2010

Being a mother has changed me.

And yes, that’s the understatement of the century, I know. Duh. Having kids changes you forever. But that’s not what I mean.

What I mean is… I am softer.

I am happier. I am also more tired, stressed, question my marriage, get sick of things that weren’t as big of a deal before, etc. BUT I am also happier on top of all of that. I have new priorities. A new outlook.

I used to be a cynical pessimist, at least overall. I am still cynical in some ways and I am still sarcastic. However, I now wake up in the morning and am excited about starting a new day. What will my son do today? Will today be the day that he laughs, or [insert milestone we’re waiting for here]? Waking up next to him makes me become immediately optimistic, happy. Listening to him babble, nursing him, seeing him smile… how could I be in a foul mood?

I’m more affected my things. I feel more. Bad news stories make me more upset, the death of a schoolmate makes my heart ache more. I’m more flustered by hazardous drivers. I see a teenager smoking and I shake my head and feel sad for them (and then feel old for saying, “Ugh, you’re too young to be doing that!”).

I am more loving. I don’t mind if people hear me cooing over my son, even though I was never a baby person before and the most affection I ever showed was to dogs and horses. It’s more important for me to tell the people I love that, well, I love them. My family has become more important to me. My mom has become my rock… someone who understands and doesn’t judge me, the person who I can vent to, talk to, and who loves my son like he was her own.

My mom came over to visit today and I brought this up, that I am softer. She smiled and nodded and said, “I was just telling someone that the other day.” I used to be rebellious and a bit hard and kept my emotions to myself (even though I’ve always felt things pretty hard and been emotional). Now? Not so much.

The only place where I’m not as soft is with my husband. I love him (LOVE him) but having a child has changed things a lot. Issues that were somewhat minor before have become larger, more important. They affect more than just me now. But we are working on them. Working on our new roles of “dad” and “mom,” when we hardly had time to work on our roles as “husband” and “wife.”

So yes, I have softened. And that’s okay. G is worth that and I like the woman I’m morphing into. I’m a mother.