It’s strange, isn’t it

“It’s strange, isn’t it, how you never know you’re living the best time of your life at the moment you’re living it? If you could appreciate, at that instant, that this is it, maybe you’d make certain your mind imprinted every detail of the sights, smells, sounds and sensations. Then again, maybe knowing that life will only get duller, sadder, less hopeful afterward would inject melancholy into that moment. You’d miss life’s peak experience by mourning it before it passes. So perhaps, it’s best not to know.” -Anita Bartholomew

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a maternity leave confession

I’ve watched 112 episodes of Parks and Recreation over the past few weeks. That’s six complete seasons. Because maternity leave provides a unique opportunity to binge watch NetFlix, on your iPhone, in a dark nursery, while feeding/changing/rocking/dressing a baby every two or three hours.

This show is like the offspring of 30 Rock and Seinfeld, after being raised in the county government office I worked in after college.

Yes, I worked for the county government after college–it was an absurd interesting career launchpad for a 21 year old.

I feel qualified to confirm that this show portrays EXACTLY what government work is like, only it’s slightly less funny and with fewer hunting trips. And there was no Chris Pratt.

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Life.

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”  –Fr. Alfred D’Souza

Life Explained

…Another post written in total darkness in the nursery, a baby FINALLY asleep in my lap after defying slumber all day. The irony in how badly she doesn’t want to sleep, and how badly I do want to sleep, is not lost. I’m told I was a very calm baby, so I’m not sure why karma felt the need to punk us…

I can hardly concentrate on typing because the sound machine app on my phone is blasting soothing rain sounds at max volume. This is not soothing to me…it sounds like I’m sitting in a typhoon…but it creates baby zen. Whatever it takes, right? Jim brought me a glass of wine a few minutes ago so I’m fairly content although unable to move an inch without awakening the beast.

Yes, the (adorable) beast is my daughter.

Moments like this make me so grateful for smartphones and social media. Most days I feel confined to the nursery in endless attempts to woo this munchkin to sleep, and it’s isolating. And mind numbing. My phone provides an outlet and a way to connect with friends and family while stationary and silent. It’s also how I keep my brain cells alive, reading and playing games when I need a way to stay awake.

Since Lila was born I’ve thought more and more about what it means to be present and mindful. Babies have a way of forcing you into the present, no matter what you’d rather be doing or thinking about. This is something I’ve always struggled with. Being here, in the moment. It’s scary for me to have to abandon all the things I want to be doing and paying attention to and I feel a little lost at times, but it’s also exhilarating to suddenly realize I don’t know what day or time it is, and that it doesn’t even matter. I’m taking this experience one day at a time — hell, one second at a time — and I think it’s a valuable experience, even though it’s painful. All my tendencies to plan and control are evaporating into hilarious memories and I’m learning to focus on what’s in front of me.

My last blog post generated an overwhelming amount of support and advice that was so meaningful and appreciated. Thank you to everyone for your sympathy, suggestions and offers to help. It’s reassuring to know others have navigated this path before me and survived!

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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.