9 months into motherhood 

The funny thing about having a nine-month-old is that you’ve had exactly as much time to bond with your small human inside of you as you’ve had with her outside of you. It’s mind boggling to think that the sesame seed you tracked at six weeks is now a 20-lb magnificent little person. 

Lila, you have truly come into your own personality these days. I think that above anything else, you are remarkably intentional. It’s fascinating to watch you decide what to do next, where to go, and what to pick up. You are constantly on the move — inquisitive and expressive — with little regard for conformity. You never let social graces keep you from shrieking with joy in a restaurant, or taking a nap at a party.

I love watching you crawl around new places, exploring your surroundings as you process the world with boundless curiosity. You take off independently, but then pause and glance back at me occasionally, making eye contact as reassurance that you’re ok to keep going. 

You’re responsive to “No!” and turn when we say your name. You sign for “more” and sometimes clap with us. You are a champ at feeding yourself and still haven’t turned away from anything. Recent experiments have been with grapefruit, watermelon, olives, cherries and scrambled eggs. 

You love: sitting in your high chair, your outdoor swing, when dad flips you upside down to play and climbing all over the dogs. You’re slowly adjusting to your new car seat and are sleeping about 11 hours at night. You have one tooth partially in and make a hilarious pouty lip as a result. You are known as the favorite in your daycare class where your teachers apologize to us for spoiling you (we’re ok with it). 

You were a huge fan of bath time until lately; now I think you’re too tired for it most nights, although you still love splashing. You sleep on your tummy and are teetering very closely to pulling yourself up from sitting. You chatter and shriek all day, and are making all sorts of fun sounds. You do not, however, like going to bed. A Wubbanub helps. 

This month was your first weekend alone with dad while I was out of town and you both did great. Your dad adores you and is hands-on with everything, even when it means using his shirt as a mask while changing your diapers. 
Watching you grow is a wonderful experience. I am thankful every day for the magic you bring into our lives, and the privilege of being your mom.   

Beautifully messy madness 

A friend sent me a sweet compliment tonight, expressing admiration for how I’m (apparently) balancing a career, a family and fitness coaching. And I thanked her. And then I laughed, and told her that she is crazy because my life often feels like legit chaos. 

It never feels like we’re doing it right, does it? Or well enough? But I think we are and we just don’t recognize it. Too busy on the hamster wheel to smell the roses.

Tonight I ate microwaved scrambled eggs and broccoli for dinner. The baby screamed bloody murder for 30 minutes when we put her down. Jim and I are both tired and working in silence. The kitchen is a messsss and I haven’t finished unpacking from my weekend trip. And I had three cavities filled yesterday, so there’s that. 

I looked around skeptically after receiving my friend’s kind words and wondered what I’m possibly doing right. I have a gazillion emails to get through, people I owe calls to and miscellaneous projects to finish. It sometimes feels like I’m trying to swim up a waterfall. 

But this chaos is almost completely self imposed, and few things I feel pressure to do are all that important. 

So tonight I’m going to give myself grace, and accept that unexpected compliment in all its glory. It’s ok to embrace the beautifully messy madness that makes our lives so sweet. 

  

On Mother’s Day 

You squirm when you’ve finished your bottle, temporarily disoriented, before stretching and adjusting to find the perfect position. Once you’re comfortable, you release a deep sigh and I feel your whole body relax. Your fists gradually unclench as you ease into sleep, breaths falling into a soft rhythm. No matter how big you grow, you can always nestle in just right. It’s here, in the quiet darkness, that our connection feels most electric. That I am most thankful for and aware of the magic of this role. 

  

The Day I was Yelled at in the Doctor’s Office

I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and arrived a half hour early, as instructed. I filled out forms, provided my insurance information and then I waited, and waited. I’ve spent plenty of time waiting for medical appointments, and typically I don’t mind this unqualified alone time. Have smartphone, will travel.

But on Wednesday I had a lot to do at work, so I was stressed to be away from the office, particularly because it meant I would be staying late, and missing time with baby in the short but oh-so-sweet window between daycare and bedtime. Being a working mom is good, most of the time, but when things interfere with that precious window of quality time, ain’t nobody happy.

After waiting nearly an hour, I went outside to make a work call, asking the staff to grab me when they were ready. So naturally, right in the midst of an intense conversation, I got summoned back in. I was trying to wrap up my call and make mental notes of what I had to do, while stepping on and off the scale and hurrying after a medical assistant.

She showed me to a room and excused herself. Not 30 seconds later she poked her head back in, and when she saw I was still on the phone, promptly shouted at me that she was trying to do her job and I had to get off the phone RIGHT NOW. I don’t do well when people yell at me (…does anyone?), and I was so taken aback, overwhelmed and just tired that she might as well have smacked me in the face.

The irony in this situation that I was also just trying to do my job.

When I shared the experience with my colleagues they asked what I did; if I yelled back. I didn’t – not my style. I was sweating and holding back tears in Introvert Hell after being publicly scolded.

I mean, sure, I had visions of telling her that the jerk store called and was running out of her, but I recognized that I was likely engaging in one of her pet peeves, that she might be having an awful day or enduring hardships I know nothing about. The office delays had nothing to do with either of us, but probably meant that she would be working late and missing time with her family, too. I decided to assume positive intent. Not to excuse her behavior – but because I was still responsible for my own.

Looking back, I wish I’d taken a minute to apologize to her and explain that we were navigating similar circumstances. We probably could have laughed about it. Hugged it out.

Maybe next time.

 

“A luxury is a nonessential item.”

From NYT Motherlode Blog / Allison B. Carter:

Sometimes the language we use to talk about our choices as families can be really grating. “Lucky to have the luxury of staying home” is a common phrase, but Allison Carter, a stay-at-home-parent who planned and sacrificed for that “luck,” resents the implication, at least when it comes from other people who have the same luxury of choice, but made a different one. “A luxury is a nonessential item. An indulgence. What I do is essential, and certainly not self-indulgent.”

I do, indeed, hate it when the word “luxury” is used to define my role as a stay-at-home mom. But not for the reasons you might think. I am not here to argue who works harder: a working mother or a stay-at-home mother. I stand firm on my belief that it is hard for everyone. What goads me are the financial and lifestyle implications this statement carries.

great read on an important perspective.

The balancing act 

I think balance is the name of the game I struggle with the most in life. I tend to be a lover of structure — not in the sense of having a spotless home or color-coded calendar — but in terms of how I seek to understand things. If X is right, then Y is wrong. I’m open minded on most issues, but setting parameters in my own life helps me feel like I know what I need to do to succeed. 

Take money for example. I’m a saver, through and through. I’m not over the top (although my husband might disagree), but I worry about financial stability a great deal. Despite the fact that we are in great shape and blessed with a comfortable lifestyle. Despite the fact that we have lots of savings as a cushion. Despite the fact that friends and family would undoubtedly help us out if we needed it in an emergency. I know ALL these things, but sometimes it’s hard to treat myself to a nice haircut or new clothes, because there are more responsible things to do with the money. 

I’m expertly skilled at defying logic to find ways to worry. This comes into play with my health, too. I work out almost everyday and make healthy food choices the majority of the time. Yet when I see someone ordering a salad when I got a burger, I will often question my decision. 

It’s enough to drive you mad, the “shoulds” and the analyzing. Especially because I’ve seen what happens when people fall too far to one side of a behavior. They miss out on trips with friends because they can’t rationalize spending the money; they keep their houses uncomfortably hot in summer to save on the utility bill, they never see anyone because they are always working; they never order what they really want on the menu because of what the nutritional content  is, or they spend endless time in the treadmill that could be dedicated to family. 

Everyone has their own challenges and quirky “things,” and we must be respectful of and embrace these in others, but we also must reach out when we see someone we love losing balance. Because life really is too short to focus on the wrong things. It’s a tried and true cliche, but if you consider what someone on their deathbed* (*what the hell is a deathbed, anyway? Sounds awful) might offer up as advice, it won’t be to spend more time at work or running laps, it would likely be to fill your days with the things and people you love.

I’ve lost friends suddenly –  lives cut short so unfairly and unexpectedly – and when I find myself struggling with balance I think of them, and what they’d urge me to do. Which is exactly why I just went and got a pedicure instead of catching up on work, going for a run or doing laundry. 

  

 

“I know what you just discovered, are you ok?”

She doesn’t tell me what she knows I’m going to discover on my own, but she pops up at the right moment to say, “I know what you just discovered, are you ok?” –Nancy Dubuc

Nancy’s quote from her recent NYT interview describes her relationship with her predecessor as CEO at A&E. It’s a art — being there without hovering — and I ‘d never heard it articulated this way. I relate to this on so many ways; as a mother, daughter, wife, friend, professional, etc. I’m constantly trying to insert and remove myself.

No matter how you slice it, lots of things matter in relationships. And sometimes the tone, timing, or nature of an interaction matters more than the frequency. More often than not, the best people to surround yourself with are the ones who decline to dictate a precise course to follow, or weigh in with strong opinions, but instead find ways make you feel safe through subtle interactions.