6:42 p.m.

So, parenthood? No one warns you.

At the moment, I’m sitting in total darkness in the nursery with a sleeping baby in my arms. She’s finally asleep, after hours of coaxing. It’s been a long, long, long day of crying and spit up and refusal to nap. I’m going on three hours of sleep and my arms are aching and shaky from endless hours of rocking and swinging. My eyes are swollen from crying and a bottle of wine is my salvation, propped ironically next to the baby bottle by my side.

I’d love to get up from this chair to shower, eat, ANYTHING…but I’ve learned from the past six hours that putting baby down means ear-piercing cries and another half hour of rocking. And repeat. I’m resigned to this uncomfortable yet peaceful solitude, and so appreciative of the silence.

In these tough hours I spend alone with Lila, I struggle to recognize that this will ever get easier. I live for the quiet snuggles and sweet baby coos that occasionally intersect with the wails. I’m completely aware of the miracle resting in my arms, and the blessing of a healthy baby. I am giddy when I think about the future with her and everything I want to teach her and show her. But right now? This is just one of many moments of learning, patience, struggling and growing.

I can get through this, and I will get through this. But it’s really hard. I’m thankful and in awe of every mom I know, especially my own, for walking this path before me.

I’m feeling somewhat defeated, but I know tomorrow is a new day, and that colic doesn’t last forever. (Please, PLEASE tell me it will end one day soon.)

Until that day, there is wine.

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3:04 a.m.

The baby is sleeping but I can’t.

Partially because my circadian rhythms are in total upheaval, but also because I can’t quiet my thoughts. So I’m sitting on the floor of the nursery, listening to baby snores and appreciating the fleeting solitude and quiet.

This day. This fateful day. 2001 was the year things changed for everyone, and 10 years later I got that reminder more personally.

Years go by and still, we can never understand why certain events transpire. How so much can change in a mere moment.

The indirect blessing in what happened is a steadfast awareness that each day is a blessing, however hard it may be, and that the most important thing we have is each other.

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neighbors without borders

When this happens in your backyard you might consider a few things. Like, how good is my homeowners insurance? Or, how did I not hear this thing fall? Or, how lucky am I that gravity had the tree fall away from the house and not onto it?

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We had a macroburst two weekends ago that involved 100 mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain. The neighborhood looks like a hurricane passed through–I’ve never experienced anything like it.

This is an inconvenience largely because we have dogs and our neighbors have dogs, and because it’s a giant mess. (And it’s a million degrees out, and I’m super pregnant, those conditions heighten any disturbance). But this is a joke compared to problems that exist in other parts of the world–or hell–in other parts of Phoenix. But while incredibly annoying, knocking down walls makes for a great social experiment.

It dawned on me today how different life would be without so many walls. What would it be like if we didn’t live in such modular, segmented ways that separate us–literally and figuratively–from those around us? How exactly did we become so reliant on the idea of privacy?

Chances are it would be weird if things were different. I mean, I’d definitely have to dress more appropriately when I let the dogs out in the morning, and there’s always the off chance your neighbors are creepers, or have ugly yards you don’t want to stare at, or run a frat house. But it also might be kind of cool to have a more open sense of community. Lots of cultures live more communally than Americans, and I think that’s neat. Although in these cases it’s often families that live interchangeably, not strangers who happened to prefer the same zip code as you.

At any rate, in the week since our wall was demolished, we’ve gotten to know more neighbors than we did over the past year, and it feels nice to get better acquainted with the people that reside 15 feet from you.

All day at work I sit in an enclosed office. My house is (well, was) surrounded by a six-foot wall. I’m an introvert, so this doesn’t displease me, but I also thrive in social settings and often wish I sat in an open bullpen with coworkers instead of in my own stall. And that I had neighbors dropping by to say hello rather than just waving from behind closed car windows.

The wall should be resurrected by the end of the week, but it’s temporary hiatus has had unexpected perks.

things that make me happy

1. Nesting. Jim put the entire nursery together as a surprise. And by that I mean he stayed up til 5 a.m. one night painting, hanging art and curtains and assembling furniture. I had everything ready but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, and love that his input and thinking created the layout.

2. Endorphins. The guy who scans me in at the gym and always says encouraging things about working out while pregnant. And working out while pregnant makes me feel less round.

3. Cleanliness. Just got our carpets cleaned. It’s the next best thing to new floors and it feels like the whole house had a spa day.

4. Poop. When I called a friend in a crabby mood this week she told me a story about poop to completely distract and entertain me.

5. Thinking in new ways. This article was captivating and made me reevaluate some of the ways I think.

6. Smartphones. For all the bad things we attribute to an addiction to technology, I love how it allows me to stay connected with so many people that are important to me.

7. Take out. Tonight it’s Oregano’s. All the joy of eating out and I can wear pajamas.

8. Anniversaries. Jim proposed four years ago today.

9. Decluttering. I’ve sold a ton of stuff through craigslist and Swip Swap lately and have had surprisingly pleasant experiences. I’m always fascinated by the people who want my stuff and the process feels like community recycling.

10. Drunk History. Watch it. Trust me.

birthday thoughts

This was the first year there was nothing I wanted. No gifts, no trinkets, no party. I just wanted to relax and spend the day with Jim. We ran errands and ate well and saw a movie and it was perfect. It’s an affirmation that you’re married to the right person when spending the morning of your birthday at tile and granite stores is still entertaining.

Our kitchen remodel is underway. Our cabinets are installed and look great, and counter tops and a new sink and lighting are next. We haven’t had a functional place to eat or prepare food for a week, and likely won’t for another few. We have a fridge and a stove but that’s it for now–indoor camping at its best. But the other night I really wanted to eat pasta. So I boiled water, made pasta and then had to wash my dishes in the front yard with a hose. We’re those neighbors I guess–the quasi-Amish trashy ones.

Preparing to have a baby means learning about all kinds of new things…breast pumps and diaper rash and daycare and more. But also things like life insurance, educational trusts and wills. It isn’t fun to think about and spend money on this type of grown-up preparation, but I’m thankful to have people helping me learn and guiding me through the process at the right time. And fortunately, once it’s done, it can be mostly out of mind for the foreseeable future.

There are these birds that have decided to make their home in the trees in front of our house and they are the LOUDEST species on the planet. These are some kind of crazy tropical squawker birds that could wake the dead. I can’t blame them for settling here, it’s a lovely neighborhood, but they are prohibiting sleep. Every morning it sounds like The Jungle Book meets the Hunger Games outside our windows.

Summer in Arizona is winter to most of the country. The weather is crippling and oppressive. It’s unpleasant to be outdoors and all activity shifts to places where there are pools or air conditioning. I always tend to think I’d rather deal with our summers than Chicago winters, but right now I’m teetering somewhere in the middle, while melting.

I am feeling very happy and fortunate to celebrate another birthday. Life is good, aging is a privilege and today was a poignant reminder of how much the small things are the really important ones.

 

 

 

 

 

When the bright side isn’t so bright.

In a roundabout conversation with my doctor this morning, she shared she was widowed. Prior to hearing this, I had kind of written her off as one of those women--you know–the ones who just happen to have it all…great career, a few kids, doting husband, etc. I stupidly categorize people like this in my head, glamorizing their entire existence, only to learn my assumptions were completely off base.

I felt like crap for pre-judging her and couldn’t begin to wrap my head around what she’d been through. She summed it up in a matter-of-fact way, remarking: “You just can’t plan your life, you know?”

This struck me–hard–because I spend a lot of time doing just that. Planning…worrying…planning some more.

From weekly activities to finances and career goals, I tend to default to over planning things. I want everything to always be ok and my rationale is that worrying will ensure this. I mean, I might as well obsess over things that will probably never happen, because that seems like a logical way to prevent them. Sigh.

This incidental reminder came at a perfect time, when a lot of people in my life are going through particularly hard times. Different people in different situations, each rough and overwhelming in its own right. I’ve been thinking through it all and it’s troubling. Sometimes it’s really hard to find a bright side or spark of light in the storm, and sometimes there isn’t one. When the bright side isn’t so bright, we just have to stumble along in the darkness until the sun comes up again.

There’s nothing comforting about this realization, it’s just another lesson in growing up. That the tough times we go through will shape us and strengthen us, and ultimately serve to highlight the better, easy times.

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