A matter of months 

When you’re pregnant or have an infant, everyone you encounter will undoubtably ask you some version of the same two questions:

“How far along are you?”

Or,

“How old is she now?”

These are great questions; ones that any mom or mom-to-be is thrilled to answer. They bring to light a funny question though: when do our weeks and months become less significant? 

Most of us over the age of three track our age in years, and as we grow older, there are fewer occasions to measure time any other way. 

When pregnant, it’s hard not to obsess over weekly changes (“What fruit is it now??”), and with a baby, a week often reveals new skills or a jump in physical growth. While obviously this pace of development slows with age, why does the value of our time seemingly decrease as well?

My dad turned 68 years young today, and to celebrate, he shared a photo with the family that perfectly depicts his youthful zeal. He posed in the same position I put my daughter in each month, sitting on the floor, wearing a sign that shows his age in months (816, to be exact). This was, quite simply, hilarious. And a perfect reminder that while age may be just a number, it’s an important one to celebrate at any juncture. 

Today I’m blessed to be 382 months old, and thankful for every milestone, large or small.

Happy birthday, Dad. I love all 816 months of you. Thanks for never failing to embrace an opportunity to teach us not to take ourselves too seriously.

 

  

The milkshake heard ’round the world (…and the joy of being proven wrong)

It doesn’t always sound like a good time, but sometimes I really like being proven wrong, simply because it’s funny (and good for the ego). I’ve decided to share one such recent experience in hopes of publicly humbling myself and maybe helping others out there.

Let’s go back a few months. In November, Lila started full-time daycare and I went back to work. And, as we’d been warned, she was sick almost immediately. And then again. And again. Ear infections, RSV, stomach bugs, all kinds of boogery nose things and who knows what else. Everything she caught she graciously shared with the household, and I was feeling sick about half of the time. Add that to the unique level of new-working-mom exhaustion and a wakeful infant and I was pretty beat up. I compared the feeling to permanent jet lag. I could pull it together when I needed to, but felt like I was floating and permanently wanted to nap. I worked out, ate well, slept when I could and still felt like tired, sick and unfocused. I realized that I hadn’t really felt like myself since pre-pregnancy, and wondered if this haze would ever go away.

I shared this story with a friend who suggested I try the type of protein/superfood shake she was using. I quite literally scoffed in her face, and wrote the idea off as something lame I would never try.

Fortunately for me, this friend is kind and persistent, and asked again if I wanted to try the shakes. Here are some of the reasons why I declined:

– They’re expensive.
– It’s a pyramid scheme.
– I eat healthy and organic foods and don’t need it.
– Protein shakes taste gross.

I had every excuse in the book NOT to try them, but when my immune system took another beating in January, I was desperate. I ordered the shakes, confident I would be returning them for a refund in a few weeks.

And then, the glorious realization that I was dead wrong. For whatever reason, I now refer to them as my magic shakes. I’ve had one a day for about two months and am not kidding when I say I’ve never felt better. I am FINALLY back to myself, and have more energy and focus than ever. I realize that when I talk about them, I sound like a paid infomercial, but here’s the thing. I only get like this, all soapbox-y, when I am really passionate about something.

Those excuses I listed above? Every one of them was disproven. The price point is where it is because of the ingredients. Ingredients that I took into two stores in an attempt to replicate, and was laughed out the door because of the prices of each individual one. It’s not a scheme, it’s a simple structure that makes me wish I invented it, because I’d be a millionaire. I do try to eat healthy, and organic, but these have rare ingredients and superfoods I’d never get on a regular basis. They are delicious, and come with dozens of recipes for making all sorts of combinations and flavors.

Aside from better energy and overall health (I haven’t gotten sick once, minus food poisoning last week — take that, daycare germs!), my hair is longer and shinier, my skin has improved and I’m sleeping better. I feel happier and more centered. While I’ve always worked out a lot, no denying that, my body is shedding fat at a crazy rate right now. In less than three weeks on these I had better abs than pre-pregnancy. It kind of makes me laugh because it seems as improbable as it sounds, but for now I just consider myself lucky to be on this track.

I recently became as a coach with the company because I love this stuff and can’t stop talking about it to everyone. Basically that means I’m authorized to sell these shakes and a lot of other fitness products. I have never sold anything in my life–not even girl scout cookies–so this should be entertaining if nothing else. I’m a tad bashful to post before and after pics on here (and it would freak my older brother out) but I am happy to email them to you to show what I’m talking about. Feel free to check out my coach site (teambeachbody.com/jesstaylor55) where you can order the shakes if you’re still reading and my crazy narrative has you convinced (just click on ‘shop’ on the top right and then ‘shakeology’).  I would be happy to give you lots more information and answer any questions or talk at you ad nauseam about this experience for no extra charge.

I debated sharing this on here for all kinds of reasons, but truth telling always wins. So there you have it, the joy of being proven completely wrong and loving it.

shakes2

 

5 truths on a Friday evening 

1. There is a giant spaghetti squash rotting on the kitchen counter that I’m too lazy to carry outside to the trash. Jim offered to last week but I stubbornly declared “it’s not that bad,” and demanded he leave it. Joke’s on me.

2. I ate a large bowl of Minute Rice for dinner. Partially because I didn’t feel great this week, but mostly because it was the fastest way to get carbs in my mouth.

3. Every time I read the dosage instructions on the baby’s teething tablets I laugh because it claims they are designed to “alleviate symptoms of wakeful irritability.” Uh…every person I know has that. Should we all be taking teething tablets?

4.  I admittedly don’t like Scandal anymore, but I absolutely will not stop watching it because I still want Vermont and jam to happen. 

5. I have never made a March Madness bracket*

*ducks to avoid being smacked with a rotten tomato.

Non-glamorous self reflection

Over the years, I’ve derived my identity from a lot of illogical places: the size of my house, my title at work, the places I travelled. I was great at piecing together all the parts of a full life, but it was never all that fulfilling. I was sort of like a paint-by-number piece of art where from a distance I was pretty impressive, but up close things were messy and awkward.

You hear people say it takes losing everything to realize what really matters, or experiencing a rare sense of enlightenment to discover their true purpose. Whatever it looks like, being stripped down to your bare-bones self is a fast track to figuring out who you are.

For me, this didn’t occur after a magical yoga retreat or hike in the rainforest, it happened during maternity leave.

Forget all the pain and hormones and general madness (I’m serious, forget about it, or no one will ever reproduce again). Consider going from life with a 50+ hour work week, full social calendar and time to do whatever the hell you wanted…to the complete opposite. Once baby arrives, the very ways in which we’ve defined ourselves are snatched away, replaced overnight with this hard and amazing and Most Important Duty.

Color me clueless, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how to use a swaddle blanket, let alone the fact that I’d created and sustained a life. And the crying. Oh, the crying.

Adjusting to this new life can feel hard and sudden, no matter how much you thought you prepared. At first, you might fumble about in resistance, but you’ll surrender everything as you’re gently immersed into your new world.

This 12-week period was the most time in my entire life I spent alone. And while I wasn’t really alone (come on, I was with the baby! I could text! I was occasionally awake when my husband was!), there often was no one to talk to, and summer in Phoenix meant I was pretty much on house arrest. It was me, the baby and my thoughts.

When you take away everything you’ve used to build your identity, you spend a lot of time realizing what parts of yourself you like and those you less than like. You get to live in this distraction-free bubble where you can peer out at how you’ve been living your life “out there” and see if you want to change anything.

Glamorous enlightenment? Not really. But just as effective and no sweat lodge required.

wish-even-clue-baby-ecard-someecards

working moms: the only perfect solution is whatever works for you

Over the past few weeks, a few friends have asked for tips on transitioning back to work after maternity leave. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this (that’s a comical idea, actually), but having gone through it so recently I figured I could share what I’ve learned.

Truthfully, I dreaded going back to work before Lila was even born. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go back; I did. I love my career. But all the unknowns scared the pants off of me.

Don’t get me wrong–there were plenty of days where sitting in meetings seemed like a luxurious alternative to enduring the screams of a colicky baby–but it’s really tough to part with this precious extension of yourself that’s so tiny and vulnerable.

Around three months was when I finally got into a bit of a routine and started getting some sleep (read: I could leave the house with the baby and neither of us wound up sobbing). My new normal centered around spending my days and my nights with an infant, and as the countdown kicked in, I doubted my ability to even have an adult conversation — let alone make business decisions.

All that being said, the transition has been a smooth one. Not a walk in the park, but it’s been good. Really. There’s this societal expectation that all women secretly hate leaving their babies and only work out of necessity, and that just isn’t true.

I know that right now this is what I am supposed to be doing. I’m also open to whatever might feel right and make sense down the road.

There are days that I feel like crap for working and am jealous of her teachers, and I’ll question what I’m doing. But that’s ok, and it’s not the norm. Most days I genuinely value the opportunity to be a role model for her and show her what women can achieve. I’m thankful for a job that lets me grow and learn, surrounded by good people, and for the ways my income supports our family. I appreciate that she’s gaining early socialization, a toughened immune system and loving attention and activities I would never attempt at home (hats off to the brave souls who supervise infant painting).

I don’t have all the answers and I’m convinced there’s no perfect solution to being a working mom, at least not until America decides to get with the times and give moms appropriate support. So don’t strive for perfection, because it’s only an illusion. Just work on figuring out whatever solution is perfect for YOU. Whether you work in a cubicle, on the road or from your kitchen table, there will always be struggles and questioning, this I can promise you, but it can be great. And if you choose not to work outside of the labors of motherhood, which is a 24/7+ gig in itself, that’s wonderful too. Your babies are blessed to have you full time. But never go into a situation expecting to be miserable. Always give yourself a chance to adjust and to like the way things are.

Here are a few tips, mostly courtesy of sweet friends who walked this road before I did:

1. Choose childcare you LOVE. Not one that you like, or that is a better price, but one you think is the damn cat’s meow. Our daycare is pretty amazing and I credit this as the single biggest factor in having a pleasant transition back to work. Considering these folks see my child more than I do and charge us a second mortgage payment, I knew I had to love it there. They send photos all day, are flexible to each baby’s needs and schedule and genuinely love them. There’s crazy-intense security and amazing support for parents. Total win.

2. Don’t start daycare cold turkey. If you can, start taking your baby in for a few half days or every other day for a week or two before your official return to work. This lets you both adjust to spending time apart and makes the process so much less stressful. Also, see if your first day back at work can be a Wednesday or Thursday so you don’t spend a whole week apart at the get-go.

3. Divide and conquer baby tasks. Until Jim and I worked out who made bottles, who washed bottles, who packed diapers, who set aside clothes, etc., I tended to get resentful and overwhelmed. Once we figured out what tasks needed to be done each night and each morning, and what made the most sense for each of us to tackle, things were way easier. Pro tip: do as much the night before as possible, even just putting things in the car. I put my work laptop bag back in the car every night because it means one less trip in the morning when we’re inevitably running late.

4. Find working mom friends. Let me be specific here: wherever you work, find other moms who choose to work, and enjoy it. They will be an incredible support and give the best advice. They’ll get it when you have a bad day, feel mom-guilt or have to tend to a sick kiddo. They will let you vent about being t-i-r-e-d. I really value having working mom buds both in the office and all across the country via email to keep me sane and support me.

5. Give yourself grace. Please, just yes. Because no one is perfect and no situation is perfect, but you will do the best you can and it will be enough. You will be awesome and your baby will be great and it will all be ok, I PROMISE.

6. Accept that it sucks when your baby is sick. You will feel torn and guilty about not being everything to everyone and it’s normal. It also passes before you know it, so hang in there.

7. Learn to smile and discreetly zone out when people offer unsolicited advice. They mean well. I use these opportunities to nap with my eyes open.

8. Keep extra clothes in your car or office because you will, without a shadow of a doubt, end up with poop or puke on you.

9. Set clear expectations with your boss and team about your parenting priorities. Don’t let it distract from your role, but if you have to leave at 4:45 to get to daycare on time every day, then make that clear, don’t apologize and go on with your bad self. It’s like going to a new class at the gym…we’re so paranoid about what we look like in front of everyone, but everybody else is more focused on themselves than on your departure.

10. Make sure you like what you do. This is a biggie. I was told 100 times not to make “any big decisions” the first year after having a baby, but I sometimes struggle following instructions, so I promptly quit my job to take a new one when Lila was six months old. Here’s why: being a working mom is a-o-k, but it ups the ante on job satisfaction. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s a LOT harder to be away from your little one. So if you’re not digging the daily grind, make every effort to find something that’s a better fit.

rosie

on grace 

We got a new roof last summer and recently discovered an area where it was leaking. The company fixed it for no charge, but I was so irritated. I had this ugly thought: “This is your job, you do it every day, how can you make this kind of mistake?”

And then I remembered the collosal error I overlooked while proofing an important message at work this month. Our CEO very easily could’ve responded with: “This is your job, you do it every day, how can you make this kind of mistake?”

Lesson: We’re all human and we all make mistakes. It’s how we learn, and we all deserve grace.