Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The After

It’s been a little over a year since we discovered Weston’s coconut allergy. And, not quite a year since we eliminated dairy from his diet. To say we’ve seen vast improvements in his sleep, well-being and behavior, is an understatement.

When I share the story of Weston’s health challenges for the first two years of his life, I’m always met with the comment; “did everything get so much better after you figured it out?”

And, the answer is; “yes!”

But also; “no!”

You see, after the hundreds of up-all-nights, the thousands of questions to the doctor, husband, friends and family, after we started sleeping again, after Weston started smiling more than he coughs, and after everything didn’t seem so hard, I realized I was changed.  

The After. Thankful our little guy is happier and healthier. Photo by Studio K Squared

And change is hard.

Last year, around my birthday, I woke up after only a couple hours of sleep, and I stayed awake for almost four hours. For no reason. Just awake. In a panic about how I would feel the next day with so little sleep. I’d been there {exhausted} before. Hundreds of times. For good reason. Because I was up all night with a sick child. But this wasn’t for a good reason. I just couldn’t sleep.

Then, it happened again a few months later. And, again, a few months after that. Then, once a week for many months. And, finally, many nights in a row.

So, I began to do an inventory on my life.

I noticed an electricity in my body at the mere sound of a cough. A physical reaction to a noise that had caused myself, and my family, so much pain.

I noticed relationships I once took for granted. Cracked. Strained. Not what they once were but not something evolved either.

And I noticed myself still in overdrive. Still regimented in my activities. Trying to control the uncontrollable.

Did life get so much better after we figured out what was causing Weston so much pain, and our family such heartache?


But also, no!

Because, I’m learning, my friends, in the after, you’re left with the remnants of the trauma you’ve experienced. These remnants, they're gifts. But, it's up to you to find their place with the new you. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Blue Camaro

It happened again the other day. Heels on. Professional attire in place. I grabbed my coat to head out for a meeting. I zipped it up, and put my hands in my pockets for warmth (because I’m never put together enough to remember gloves). And there it was. I could feel the familiar outline. I felt the curves of the metal and the curve creep across my face too. My smile was uncontrollable. 

A small blue Hot Wheel Camaro was in my pocket.

I was so thankful to hold it. To smile for a second and think of my little man who never leaves home without a vehicle in his hand. While he spends his days at school, and I spend my days at work, we are connected.

These little reminders of my daily motivation, they’re everywhere. Sometimes it's a blue Camaro and sometimes it's a purple hair bow. They're in my coat pockets, purse, and under the seats of my car. Every time I find one I can’t help but smile.

This season of parenting is hard. There's never any time and I always feel I'm stretched too thin. But these tiny reminders, they help. They are quick examples of my why. Why I wake up before the sun rises, and close down my computer long after it sets.

This car is neither blue or a Camaro. It was another car. On another day.
I already know, one day, in the not-so-distant future, I’ll stop finding these reminders everywhere I look. The Camaro and the purple bow will be missing from my pockets, and the little people they belong to won’t be so little anymore.

So, for now, I smile with gratitude. And refill my coffee.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Getting Holes in Our Pants

Dear Nora,

The other day your cousin and brother ran outside to play. Their hair was wild from an all-too-short night of sleep, and their little bodies were still cozy in their pajamas.  

You stood back.

In judgment.

“They will get dirty!” you said.

“I know,” I replied. Lacking concern.

I came into your room quickly the other night after a long day.

I craved your smell and a brief conversation with your wise eyes before you drifted off to sleep. But those eyes were filling up with tears. You had gotten a hole in your pants earlier in the day.

“I was playing puppy, Mom, but then I got the hole, so I sat in the corner!”

Photo by Studio K Photography
My girl, please let your wild curls stay wild. Your spirit too. Let go of the rules (and the straightener you’ll someday discover) and explore your way off the beaten path.

Those gold stars you crave, they won’t define you. The reward you seek lies in the dirt and the holes.

I want to whisper. So you’ll hear. Those disapproving looks you receive for not fitting a mold won’t define you either. That mold says you should hug and smile and be pleasant at the beck and call of our society. I say, “screw the mold!”

I want to bottle up your anger. Your frustration. Because sometimes I have to keep you safe when you know exactly what you want and can’t capture it on your own. I’ve seen that anger and frustration tear you apart over the tiny details you crave for each of your imaginative ideas.

I’d give that strong-will back to you at 25, my girl, and let you put it to good use as you find your way on a dirty path. Your wild curls blowing in the breeze. A fresh hole in your pants.

Friday, September 7, 2018

To My Babies’ {Other} Mamas

I remember the first time it happened. I was dropping Nora off at her first daycare - an in-home center. Nora reached for the woman who ran the daycare and said; “mama!”. I could tell the woman felt uncomfortable. I didn’t.

When your child is small, they sometimes liken the word “mama” to love. "Mama" can come to be shorthand for the individual who cares for them, provides comfort and dries their tears. When Nora uttered those syllables, I felt comforted. I felt it was a clear sign that during those long hours while I worked, she was feeling loved by this wonderful woman.

Fast forward to a few more daycares, another child, and so many more “mamas”. As the season of back to school is upon us, I can’t help but reflect on what these teachers mamas have meant to our family.

Thank you doesn’t seem to capture it, but I’ll try

To the woman who walked the halls. I remember getting to daycare for what felt like the one millionth time to pick him up sick. You weren’t “his teacher” anymore. He had already transitioned to the next room. But, there you were all the same. Cradling him and walking the halls. So calm. So loving. I’m sure you were tired. I know I was. But, you pushed through that tired so gracefully and found an extra gear. Thank you for finding that gear for my boy. Thank you for loving my boy like he was your own. And, for ignoring my silent, tired tears as I took him from your arms.

To the woman who exuded pride. Sometimes it feels like our littles are the only littles who have ever learned to walk or count or sing the ABCs. It’s always nice when someone genuinely shares your pride in your littles’ accomplishments. Thank you for the countless texts and pictures of our little writer working tirelessly on her letters. Thank you for spending your own time and money to put together lines and curves for her to practice at home. Thank you for sharing my pride as she beamed with pride at all you accomplished and learned together.

To the man who changed her card to yellow. I hate to label a four year old, but honestly, sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. So, I'll say it. I believe my daughter to be Type A. To her, a green behavior card - the color that symbolizes a good day - is not enough. Every day must be a pink card day. Pink symbolizes exceptional, and that's certainly what she's striving for each day. But, sometimes, just sometimes, we all have yellow card days, don't we? And you were brave enough to call a spade a spade too. You switched her card to yellow knowing it wouldn't be easy on her. And, you took the time to talk her through it. And me too. We all learned that day that life isn't easy and we can't be great all the time. Except for you. You were great. Thank you for taking the time. Thank you for being brave with us.

To the woman who loved them no matter what. For over two years you cared for at least one of them. You laughed when they said funny things and shed tears when they were sick. You embraced them for the people they are - the crazy and the sassy. You saw the little person in the midst of all the big emotions no matter what. You made room in your arms for extra cuddles and became an extension of our family. Thank you. Thank you for making your lap a second home. Thank you for loving them for who they are - the good and the not-so-good. That's what mamas do!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Five Years

This photo showed up on my phone the other day as a memory

It reminded me that I took it five years ago.

Five years ago.

I remember placing a whole bunch of personal information in that envelope with a little bit of hope and mailed it down Interstate 380. I was scared. Nervous about needles and medication and hormones and failure.

Thankfully, we got pregnant before the needles and medication. The hormones and failures inevitably followed.

Today I have a four-year-old and an almost three-year-old. I don’t think the girl placing that envelope in the mailbox could even fathom that as a possibility. She seems like a completely different person. If I could go back in time and tell her something, I’d say…

Girl, you’re going to grow. You’re going to grow by 30 pounds with each pregnancy and immeasurable patience. You’re going to grow to the point of almost breaking. Your skin is going to stretch, and your brain is going to stretch, and your heart is going to stretch too. And just when you think coconut oil is the answer to all that stretching, you’ll learn it’s not. 

Take a nap. A long one. And, when you wake up, binge watch Netflix. Time is a finite resource and in five years you’re never going to have enough.

Breathe deeply. The challenges you’re facing today are preparing you for what’s to come. Go for a run. Do some yoga. Exercise those skills that make you stronger. You’re going to need that strength soon.

The only thing constant is change. The minute you think you have the baby thing figured out, the second one will come along. He will turn your world upside down. You won’t sleep. And that you job you love? Yeah, you’re going to quit it. You’re going to get burnt-out. You’re going to cry and scream and clean up so much throw-up in the middle of the night you’ll literally be able to do it in the pitch-black dark. You’re going to feel like you hate your husband in the darkest moments and appreciate him in a way you never have before. It will be confusing.

Ultimately, love will be what takes over in the next five years. Your love for those two little surprises will get you through the worst of times. That love will ask what’s wrong with the baby more times than you can count. And that love will eventually figure it out.

You’ll wake up (yes, you’ll sleep again) one day and realize it wasn’t hate that you felt. It was the strongest kind of love. Your husband will come to define the word partner in the next five years.

You’ll come out the other side loving yourself even more completely too. You’ll be driven to champion more women. Your judgments will slide away more easily. Your legs will get stronger. And those legs will carry you forward.

These five years, girl, they’re going to be a hell of a ride!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Both Sides Now

My daughter is about to turn four.

I feel my Mom universe starting to shift.  This small person who I have the pleasure to call my daughter is becoming less toddler and more young lady. She hears things. Absorbs. Understands. She feels tough emotions and wants help navigating them.

I’m so excited to see the person she is slowly becoming beyond the fits and tantrums of toddler-hood. I also can’t help but already miss these days gone by. These days of chubby cheeks and forgetting the “y” in yesterday.

I feel I’m wandering through Joni Mitchell’s song Both Sides Now.

I see motherhood from both sides now.

I imagine this won’t be the only time I’ll feel this way. I imagine it will rush over me many times throughout my motherhood journey.

But, today, I’m moving out of the stage where kisses fix all hurt and into a stage where I must explain why it’s OK if she isn’t someone’s “best friend”. We’re done with diapers, cribs, and clothing sizes that end with the letter “T”! She asks what hard-to-define words like "bullshit" mean {Note to self: Watch your mouth!}. She watches closely as I curl my hair and asks me why I do so.

Yet, she still wants to live with us forever, marry her dad and grow up to be Adele.

Yup, I’ve look at motherhood from both sides now.

I’m realizing I don’t know motherhood at all.

Monday, December 4, 2017

What I Learned When I Quit My Job

I've been sitting on some writing the last few months.

Sometimes it's best to write. And think.

And then share.

I quit my job.

Yup, you know that job I’ve loved for over six years? I stopped loving it. Slowly. It started with some cracks and continued until it was a full fracture. If I’m honest, I was a little broken too. I stopped being my best self. I got burnt out. I lost some confidence along the way.

And, sometimes, when something is fractured, you just need to break it in order to put it back together. So, I broke it. I made the decision to leap without knowing exactly where I'd land.

And I learned some stuff. 

We are not our careers.
I sit on the board of a local non-profit and shortly after I quit my job, I attended a board meeting. There were new members of the board present so we all went around the room and introduced ourselves, saying what we do. Jobless, I froze. Without the title of Marketing Director, what am I? And, why am I here?

The truth is, we are not our careers. They are a part of us, but not the totality. What outlasts a job or a career path are the relationships gained along the way. We build these relationships by helping others to grow, doing work that inspires and investing in each other. These relationships define the person; not the job itself. And, frankly, I did a great job building and maintaining some of the relationships gained during the past few years of my career. And other relationships I did a piss-poor job of establishing and growing. We live and we learn.

I am not meant to be a stay-at-home mom.
I adore my children. Anyone who has only had brief contact with me since having kids knows this to be true. I’m borderline obsessed. I’m also an achiever. I like to set goals and accomplish them. And, every parent knows that any day home with kiddos means you’re simultaneously doing so much while getting nothing done!

And, yes, you’re doing the most important work. I believe that to my core. But, I also know that my mental health can’t take the feeling of coming up empty every day. I always thought this to be true, but the experience of being home with my kiddos with no job to attend to each day, made me know this to be true.

I so admire all the stay-at-home mamas I know. I am absolutely in awe of them. I know I don’t have it in me to do this important work so I’m proud to have found a good village. And I’m happy to know myself well enough to know this is best for our family.

Pausing is important.
I’ve heard the power of meditating comes from lengthening the time between thoughts. Embracing the pause. Lingering in the pause.

We go from singlehood to marriage with little pause. Just the two of us to a family of three with absolutely no pause. And, typically, job to job with no pause. The problem with this is that each new phase of our life is going to expect a new us. To figure out the parts of our selves needed for each new phase takes a pause. It takes a moment to identify what strengths we need to focus on and what areas we need to improve upon to bring our best selves to this next challenge.

I was blessed with a pause. I know this time was a gift. I was fortunate to end up with options for my next career path and I understand this isn’t the case for all. But, whether that pause is taken by quitting a job or just taking a few days off, I believe it’s important.

So, more to come about what's next in my professional life. 

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