On love and motherhood.

The depths of your love. 

…For your child. When she runs to you at toddler warp speed, arms waving and feet thumping noisily against the ground, squealing and panting in pure joy at the sight of you, to throw her arms around you in triumph. 

When she sleeps so peacefully you just stand and stare in silence. She’s finally still after days of non-stop energy. Her even rhythmic breaths, tiny hand twitches and perfect profile illuminated by the nightlight. You tear up, every time, because you cannot fathom that this was created within you. 

When she melts down, has loud tantrums, pulls your hair and kicks her shoes off, and you love her even harder because you hate her unhappiness in those moments, as trying as they are.

…For your husband. Who stood steadily by your side as you endured the physical and emotional pain of labor. Just as clueless and terrified as you, but forced to be the rock as you both waited for your world to change. 

Who was just as tired as you were, and just as in love with your wee one, but who had to go back to work two weeks later while you had months to bond and learn each other. Who took care of your dogs and your meals and frankly your sanity while you figured out nursing and bottles and went weeks without normal conversation.

Who you form an breakable bond with over the love only you two can know for your child. What an amazing notion that this thing – this love without bounds that takes your breath away – can be known by another?

…For your own parents. Who did this all for you. Who knowingly watch you make the same mistakes and all-knowing proclamations that all new parents do, without ever questioning or judging.

Who stressed over what brand of car seat and high chair to buy you before there was an Internet to use for research. Yeah, chew on that. 

And who feared for the world their children would grow up in, just like you do. 

You hear all the time that having a child breaks open your heart and ignites your  ability to love. I’ve previously compared it to seeing the world in color versus black and white. The way you perceive every aspect of life is forever enhanced and made brighter.

Mother’s Day is not always an easy day. For many it brings joy, but for others it’s the cause of hard feelings and emotions. Regardless of where the day finds you, know that you are loved, and that it’s ok to feel whatever you need to feel today. 

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Pardon the peanut butter on my pants 

As I wiped peanut butter off my slacks with a wet paper towel in the women’s restroom this morning, a younger female colleague walked in. Initially I was kind of embarrassed and tried to cover up what was happening from this innocent person still safely cocooned from the madness of parenthood. 

But, ever-phobic of awkward silences, I played it cool for about 1.5 seconds before blurting out an enthusiastic version of, “My daughter wiped her peanut-butter hands all over me while I was washing yogurt out of her hair, and I thought I got it all, but guess not!” 

And this gal 10 years my junior gave me a compliment more meaningful that she ever could have planned. 

“I can’t believe you’re a mom before you come in here, that’s just so impressive that you do all that. I can’t even imagine. You’re awesome.”

I’ve been given all kinds of advice as a woman in the corporate workplace, some spot-on, other pieces wildly offensive. The ones that really irk me though are the pieces that seem to detach motherhood from a woman’s career – rather than letting the two intermingle. 

“Don’t ever tell anyone when you’re thinking about getting pregnant, people will write you off.”

“When you come back from maternity leave, you can’t cry or show that you’re emotional, it sends the wrong signal.”

I understand this advice, I really do. And I recognize that it’s always been well intended, offered up from those who’ve traveled this road before me. But it supports the outdated idea that work-life balance is easy…”I shall work now without a thought of my family for nine hours, and completely transition to home life as the clock strives 5!” 

There’s no perfect balance in any one person’s situation, but I wish there was a greater focus on work-life integration – how to support employees at work so they also feel supported at home. It’s not realistic to compartmentalize our lives in ways that stifle important parts of it. 

If you’re showered and wearing matching shoes when you come back from maternity leave, you are a champion human being. And if you can balance your family commitments and still show up ready to kill it at work each day, you deserve every possible type of recognition. Not just kudos for wearing a lot of hats, but support and flexibility when you need it to keep all the planes in the air. 

That funny little interaction this morning was such a refreshing pat on the back that it’s ok for more traces of one side of life to bleed over onto the others, even if it ruins your outfit. 

  

Lila at 18 Months: Outside! No! More!

I posed the following question to Lila this weekend, “Sweetheart, do you feel like you live in a foreign country for giants?”

Because seriously.

This tiny human babbles to us in a language we’re just beginning to be able to comprehend, and navigates a world where she can’t reach, see or maneuver the things she wants on a daily basis.

This age is so fun and so hard. Fun because we are really starting to communicate. You answer no (and occasionally, yes) to questions and express consistent demands. “More!” “Outside!” You have so many more words than even a few weeks ago (outside, owl, sock, open, apple, elbow (or Elmo, hard to say) and so many awesome animal impersonations.

You are content to spend hours outside in the backyard and on walks, and love your slide and playhouse. You like to watch and mimic what mom and dad do, which is a great help in yard work. You do not like to go to bed.

We know when you are happy, angry, tired or scared (verses early infancy when there were fewer distinct emotions). When you hear loud trucks or motorcycles, which previously were ignored, you now start repeating, “No, no, no, no” and run to use to be held. Confession: I do not mind this one bit.

A new favorite pastime is climbing into your plastic laundry hamper so we can push you around the house in it like a racecar. You are also fascinated with buckles of any kind. You can buckle yourself into your highchair and swing and it is a painstakingly slow process that we DARE NOT interrupt. You wave at airplanes and tell strangers “hi” and “buh-bye” everywhere we go. You love to climb and are remarkably strong, I often can’t get things out of your grip without a proper distraction.

You went through a dramatic food throwing stage for a few weeks that seems to be passing, but you have definitely moved past the garbage disposal stage of eating. Now you are still into most foods, but too busy to sit and eat. You prefer to grab a bite, run around, come back for more and repeat.

You love school but drop off is still a dramatic event most days where I hear you screaming my entire walk out. I’m told it’s your age, and that it’s normal, and that it passes 30 seconds after I leave, but it’s the worst part of my day to leave you screaming. The best part of day, that has me speeding the whole drive home, is walking in to get you. As soon as you see me you shriek and smile and run over laughing. Best. Thing. Ever.

I feel like we are friends, you and me. That may be a silly thing to say about a toddler who can’t really verbalize much yet, but it seems completely fitting. I am in constant awe of you and of our connection in a pinch-myself-is-this-real kind of daze. I constantly ponder the miracle of your creation and how truly remarkable you are. How fully you embrace parts of your dad and me, but also how parts of you are innately unique.

It’s weird how fast and how slow time goes at different moments, but ever since you were born I’m so much more aware of time. Of days starting and ending, the culmination of a month, the significance of a year. I think that’s an entirely new perspective gained as a parent. No matter how fast or slow it goes, it’s amazing to spend it with you.

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From baby to toddler

At 17 months I’m tempted to start saying, “she’s a year and a half,” verses “17 months.” I’m not quite ready to commit to years though — too soon.

Your vocabulary is growing and your emphasis on certain words is pure enthusiasm. 
“SHOE!” 

“NO!”

“HIIIIII!”

You’ve certainly mastered shaking your head when something isn’t to your liking, and sitting or laying down and throwing a fit when we take away something you still wanted or attempt to corral you in a direction other than your desired one.

You are fascinated with the outdoors and love exploring in our backyard and walking around outside. Picking up rocks, putting them back. Pulling leaves off plants and handing them to us. Marching triumphantly to the mailbox.

You’re incredibly agile and strong, often catching yourself before you fall in precarious situations, and somehow landing on your feet at the bottom of the slide. You love to climb things and sit in chairs, and play in your kitchen.

You give hugs and kisses upon request and wave hi and bye. You are an excellent night sleeper but aren’t a big fan of long daytime naps. 

You are so genuinely happy and inquisitive. Animated and chatty. You are pure mischief at times and it’s hard to reprimand you without laughing, even when you pull my hair or throw carefully chopped organic food on the floor by the handful.

What a joy it is to parent you. There’s no other way to describe it. 

I feel guilty quite often that I’m not with you during the day while I’m at work, especially when you have a tough day or don’t feel well. I imagine no matter what a mother chooses, the guilt will always lurk like a quiet shadow. My hope is you will look back on these choices as us always doing our best for you. That we always tried to achieve the intangible balance parents seek. 
Lila we love you. We are so blessed by the way you’ve elevated life to new meaning.  
  
  
  
   

  

Closer than I thought

Driving to work this morning I was felt kinda blah. My brain was on overload with all the things I had (and wanted) to do, and I started feeling like I was doing lots of things, and none of them well.

When motherhood is on pointe, I’m less prepared for business meetings. When dinner is homemade and healthy, I end up skipping a workout. When I meet my friends for wine, I miss quality time with my husband. Such is life, and it’s a natural give and take. But sometimes it’s just like MEH…I have 10 pots on the proverbial stove, and nothing ready to eat.

So anyway I’m driving, and stewing, as is my style. Trying to figure out how to put all the things into nice little boxes. And I flash back to watching Lila put together a puzzle yesterday.

She’s too little to understand what a puzzle is, and gets no more satisfaction from having one put together appropriately than can be expected from a toddler. But watching her try to place the oversized wooden pieces into their proper places is amazing. She finds such joy in studying them, trying them in different locations, and then exuberantly applauding for herself when she gets one in the semi-correct location (or gets distracted and throws it at the dog).

She doesn’t care about having everything perfectly lined up or finished, she simply delights in the process. She takes the experience at face value, embracing the fun, the challenge and the lesson.

So maybe I need to take a step back and approach my own life puzzles with this same attitude of determination and mindfulness.

Things are never going to all magically fall into their assigned slots, ever. And the more I make that perfectly finished puzzle my goal, the longer I’ll remain frustrated. So instead of trying to fix everything I’m working on, I think I need to reevaluate what I’m trying to achieve in all of this.

If it’s perfection, I’m doomed. But if it’s to learn and enjoy myself, I’m closer than I thought.

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Lean with it, roll with it.

We had Lila’s 15-month check up on Monday. Having missed and rescheduled it three times, there was NO WAY I was going to be late. We arrived 10 minutes early and I spent the next 15 minutes coaxing my child not to lick the waiting room doors and chairs. I dont care that it’s the well child room, pediatrician’s offices are the very reason hand sanitizer exists.

We finally got called back to a room, and it was an unusually long wait to see the doctor. We tried playing, and twirling around, and eating puffs, and reading…and then there was nothing that was going to appease this bored child any longer. Being a superstar mom I’d forgotten extra diapers, and even the most patient child would have gone batshit at this point of being confined and forbidden to lick strange surfaces while wearing a wet diaper.

So I started getting restless, and she picked up on it and started crying. And work was calling and texting and I’m like, please can you people let me be just a mom, and nothing else, for five minutes? Because that’s the rub in the motherhood/career thing. We’re needed in both, but each side has visibility into only its own stuff, so the overlap leaves us feeling a bit crazed.

Anyway, we kept waiting and waiting and at this point I’m sweating through my blazer and my hair is frizzing and ALL THE FRUSTRATIONS were happening.

But then I stopped to think about how absurd it was that I was upset over this. No one was going to die if I wasn’t at my meeting that morning. And a doctor running late, who had chosen to spend more time with another patient, is only doing her job. And seriously how many thousands of mommas around the world were praying at that very moment for what I was complaining about. How many would give anything, and are giving up everything, to find a safe country to live in with access to great healthcare. I felt like a really big jerk for finding anything to complain about in this situation.

I told my cortisol levels to take a chill pill and I took Lila on a walk around the office (she was wearing only a diaper – whoops!) and then 20 minutes later we were on our way, blessed with a perfect health report.

Perspective tends to flee when we’re stressed, but if we can step our of our drama and our own heads to look at what’s really going on, it’s so much easier to just roll with it.

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Lila at 15 months 

Dear Lila,

You are 15 months old and an energetic bundle of joy. You run – everywhere – and are constantly on the move. Busy as can be and interested in everything.

You are starting to use words: dah (dog), mama, dada, woo (woof), uh oh and whoa, and we are amazed at how much you understand and how well you follow directions. You can point to your eyes, nose, ears, head, tummy and feet, and will clap or blow kisses if we ask. Waving is still touch and go based on mood, but high fives all around.


You are very strong with impressive balance and physical coordination. You will climb up steps and hills without pause and go down over curbs with ease. You have enjoyed visiting parks and the children’s museum and went to your first pumpkin patch/petting zoo last month.


You love to bring us books and turn the pages for us, and sit yourself down in our laps for stories before bed. Often while we read one book to you, you insist on holding another on your own, and flipping the pages independently. You still enjoy stroller walks and shopping cart rides.

You just cut your first molar which was your 9th tooth, and are about to outgrow size 3 shoes.

You love running to your classroom at school and greet me with an enormous smile and shrieks of joy each day which is the best feeling in the world.

You are quiet and observant of strangers but warm up to them quickly. You adore our dogs and the act of climbing onto anything from the couch to the fireplace. You love food and still have yet to refuse anything we offer you.

There are so many feelings associated with parenthood, some that I anticipated and others that were more surprising. But what awes me the most is the love and pride I feel as your mom. There is no way to describe it other than my heart might burst at any moment. 

You are a joyful, giggly baby who amazes us in so many ways. I love how perfectly you complete our family and embody the best parts of your dad and me. You are the most wonderful thing in this life.