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.

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From frumpy to fabulous?

January 28, 2011

It’s that point in winter where I am officially stir-crazy and longing for sunshine.

Combine that with the fact that I still need to lose my baby weight, and the fact that almost nothing in my closet fits or looks cute, and it’s a recipe for me wanting to sit around in my sweats all day and eat Bon-Bons. What are Bon-Bons, anyway? I’ve never had them. Okay, I’ll change that to “sit around in my sweats all day and eat cookies ‘n cream ice cream.”

A couple years ago, I lost 30 pounds. I felt great. I had more energy. I enjoyed shopping for clothes and looking nice. I didn’t cringe when I saw my wedding photos. It was great!

Then I got pregnant. I was almost halfway through my pregnancy before I gained anything (my “morning” sickness actually made me lose weight at first). Then I packed on the pounds. I dropped a fair amount of weight within the first few weeks after G was born. But breastfeeding makes me RAVENOUS. And I’m not always good at making sure I have healthy snacks in the house. Or at making sure I eat proper meals when I’m trying for half the day to get this sassy baby to nap… that means I get too hungry and then eat too much. I actually gained back a little bit of the pregnancy weight that I had lost those first few weeks of G’s life.

Now it’s time to make these changes happen. I don’t want my son to see me as a frumpy housewife with no confidence. I want him to see me as his hip, healthy mother. I want him to know his parents as healthy, active people. I want him to have good eating habits and to see exercise as a normal part of life. But it’s up to me (and his father) to lead by example.

I read two blog posts today that were very inspirational. Both of them are from beautiful blogs that I recommend you check out. First, I read this post over at styleberryBLOG. And then I read this post over at jones design company. (Seriously, though, check these blogs out, they are great!)

Both of those posts were what I needed today, after a tiring week. I’m in a slump. I’m not feeling good about myself. I don’t feel pretty, or sexy, or like leaving the house.

This weekend, I am going to do these things:
1) Purge my closet. I was already going to do this, actually, but now I’m going to be absolutely BRUTAL. Nothing maternity. Nothing that I don’t love, or that isn’t a wardrobe staple.
2) Buy myself something nice to wear, and a cute accessory.
3) Dust off my 30 Day Shred DVD, and put it where I can see it.
4) Go grocery shopping for healthy foods and plenty of quick, healthy snacks to keep me going during the day.
5) Get out my workout clothes.
6) Make a meal plan for dinners for next week.

My goals for each day next week:
1) Wake up each morning before my family.
2) Workout.
3) Shower, put on makeup, and put on a nice outfit.

I don’t want to do anything to compromise my milk supply. I’m not going to do anything drastic. No crash diets. No severe calorie restriction. But I am going to make sure I am eating a lot of real foods. I’m going to be better about meal planning. I’m going to drink more water. I’m going to make time to workout. I’m going to begin making a lifestyle change that I can stick with.

Wish me luck!

A New Year

January 6, 2011

I know it’s belated, but… Happy New Year!

We rang in the beginning of our first full year with G by going over to my parents’ house for homemade pizza and champagne. As you can see, G was quite the party animal.

It’s 2011!

Like I said before, I’m cautiously optimistic. I am making some changes this year… some small and easy, and others big and scary. But hopefully all GOOD.

Some of the things I want to work on in 2011:

* Have an incredible year with G!
* Be better with money.
* Be more organized and follow routines.
* Write more.
* Be more creative.
* Take more time for myself.
* Put more effort into my marriage.
* Lose the baby weight and be healthier overall.
* Focus on my career goals.

What are you looking forward to in 2011? Are you making resolutions or setting any goals for yourself? How are they going so far, now that we’re almost a whole week into the new year?

Check out this blog entry for a great post about managing your time, delegating, and trying to do it all. (Thanks to styleberry BLOG for the tip on facebook!)

This definitely speaks to me. I’m a new mom who is trying to “do it all,” and that usually doesn’t work. Not only that, but overly high expectations mean that I frequently feel disappointed. Having goals that are too large make them feel like a big obstacle to overcome (saying I’m going to get all of our laundry done today, rather than saying “I will do two loads of laundry today” — or saying I’m going to get the entire first floor spotless and organized and write five articles, rather than saying, “This morning I will load and run the dishwasher, vacuum the floors, spend 15 minutes organizing, and research one article”). When you expect too much, it can be hard to even START those tasks. Smaller goals are more manageable (and hey, if you do more, all the better). I’m more motivated when I don’t feel defeat lingering over my head.

I’m a perfectionist, and like things done my way. I’m also stubborn. Those two traits make it difficult for me to ask for help, or delegate tasks. I’m trying to work on that, though.

Anyhow, the blog post I linked to has some very good tips on all of this. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, especially with the holidays around the corner, so I’m taking it to heart.

G just took a nice long nap (something we’ve been struggling with) so I’m feeling like I got something big accomplished today. While he napped, I put away a load of his clothes, washed another load, put that load in the dryer, and now his diapers are going in the washer. J is working from home, so he made lunch and we were able to eat together. How’s that for delegating and multitasking? 😉

Now it’s time to change the little guy, and then I’m going to let him play in his activity center thingy while I organize two of our bookshelves. This living room “renovation” is still going on and it’s driving me nuts. I want our living and dining rooms back! Baby steps.

We have to make a Target run this evening, so I’m going to take the “me time” advice and grab a bottle of wine for myself, too.

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.

There is a lot in my brain, scrambled, as I try to put it all into words that make sense for this blog post. I hope it comes out okay.

My whole life I was told I was going to be successful. And I believed it.

“You’re so smart.” “You’re going to be something great.” “You’re going places.” I was a good student. Papers and exams and classes were, for the most part, easy for me. I was career-minded. I wanted to go to college and do something BIG with my life, even though my ideas changed about what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” From veterinarian to teacher to writer.

I graduated college with a degree in English after changing my major for the umpteen millionth time. And then I began the job hunt. I took a temporary secretarial position for the summer. When that ended, I lucked out and found a job that I loved as a teacher assistant, and helped struggling readers in an elementary school. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get by on 8 hours a week. So I had to jump when I was offered a receptionist position (full-time with bennies)  that left me feeling like I was at the bottom of the totem pole every day.

I knew I wanted more with my life. I had worked so hard to put myself through college, and I felt like I deserved better. I wanted to use my brain, use my degree, and not just spend my days fetching coffee for people and filing papers while my to-do list got longer (not shorter) every day.

I quit my job. I began freelancing from home. And, less than a month later, I found out I was pregnant.

Fast-forward to the present. I am a full-time stay at home mom (SAHM). It’s a job I never imagined myself with. And yet, I love it. I am a good mother and my son is happy and healthy. He’s my life and I couldn’t be more proud.

And yet, it’s a struggle. I see my career-minded friends doing great things. In many ways, I envy them. I definitely admire them. Sometimes I feel like I put myself into great debt to get an education that I don’t use. I feel like I should be doing more than “just” being a SAHM.

Except… no. While this job already feels like the least appreciated job out there (even moreso than that receptionist position), it’s also incredible. I got to see my son roll over for the first time. I got to see his first real smile. He looks at me differently than he looks at anyone else in the entire world. And I know that HE appreciates what I do.

So this is my career. I am still fine-tuning it. I’m still trying to find a good balance. I do need to write, still. That’s my biggest struggle right now. I give so much to my son, as I should, but it leaves me very little downtime. My husband is incredibly busy so I get very few breaks. When I get a break, do I feel like writing articles? Not really. I feel like having a glass of wine and reading blogs and taking a shower.

I struggle with perfection. I want to be the mom that can do it all. Happy, smiling child. Clean house. A career (even if it’s part-time, from home). Happy husband. I want to appear more pulled-together than I feel most days. And I want to do it all without bags under my eyes. Ha, right.

Yesterday I got my hair cut and colored. It made me feel a million times less frumpy than I have been feeling lately. I woke up today and put on some jeans, rather than my sweats, and ran a brush through my hair. And then I picked up the house, and did two loads of laundry, and tended to a fussy baby (please don’t let him be getting sick!). I tried not to worry about how I’m paying my bills this month, since I haven’t been writing. I ignored the fact that I smell like spit-up and that I ate Count Chocula for breakfast and that these rugs could use a vacuuming and that my husband has been stressed and crabby lately.

So here I am. Trying to do it all. Trying to be at peace with not being “successful.” Because you know something? I am successful. Perhaps not in the traditional, textbook definition of the word. But hey, it could use some redefining. Success has taken on a new meaning for me. This beautiful, happy, healthy, smiley baby makes me a success.

Yes, some days I think about that lost career. But then–THEN–I look at this:

And it all makes sense. I have no regrets. I will just work harder at my career. I will get better. I will find ways to do it all and find ways to drop the perfectionism and find ways to get all my work done… my childcare, my housework, my writing.

Before I know it, my son will be in school. Some day I will no longer be needed as a SAHM. I can re-enter the “real” workforce. I know then that I will look back at these days and be very happy with this choice. Be so glad that I was lucky enough to stay home with him and make memories every day with him. Because it’s such a short time in my life, in his life, and in the grand scheme of things.

Until then, I will try my best to find a balance. To redefine my career and the meaning of success. To look past my flaws and focus on what I’m doing right.