Postpartum Eating

The first month after Fae was born I was HUNGRY. So hungry. Famished. Not as bad as when I was pregnant when I felt like I was going to vomit or die if I didn’t eat, but almost there. There was never a time when I felt like “oh no, I’m fine, no thanks.” I was always like “FOOD? YES PLEASE.” It was distracting, honestly. And a little stressful when, especially in the first TWO months, my hands were full of baby and not food on its way to my maw.

I needed to find ways to eat well, complete, and in a way that satisfied me. My drive by chip/cracker/chocolate lunches while I walked the baby to and fro were not cutting it and leaving me feeling gross… and still hungry.

Maybe you are feeling this way? Maybe you will in the future. In case you need some eating tips while nursing a million times a day and also trying to lose 50 lbs/fit back into clothes/eat more vitamins than what live in tortilla chips – I have some thoughts.

For breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar and the Trader Joes mixed fruit and nuts. I like this combo the best because the nuts are unsalted and there are a variety of almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc. Plus! dried blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and the like. Oatmeal is also is good for milk production, so perks!

When I don’t have time for oatmeal I have peanut butter toast and then around 10 I’ll have a fiber one granola bar.

Lunch: Avocado with sea salt and crackers or toast (depending on how much time I have to sit and eat or how many hands I have… toast = more hands and more time).

Vanilla yogurt and frozen raspberries.

Carrots with lime and chili for snacks.

Pasta with parm and walnuts.

And by the end of the week when our fridge is nearly empty: half a sandwich with salami and cheese. Drive by crackers still happen, but way less often and I don’t finish half a box in a day. So: WIN!

Dinners: We try and have vegetables as the main part of our dinners (vs greens or meat) and only have meat maybe twice a week at max. That’s not really a moral choice, mostly a time and health choice. For me, including so many veggies in our meals has made a huge difference on maintaining weight, staying full, and reducing our grocery budget. So our most common dinners for the end of summer/beginning of fall are …

Veggie quesadillas, open face style with corn, acorn squash (or asparagus when they were in season), bell peppers, onion, garlic, carrots. A little cheese on a smaller corn tortilla. (Plus lots of salsa and some guac.)

Polenta with roasted broccoli/carrots/cauliflower/brussel sprouts/sauted green beans (one or all depending on our meal plans for the weeks).

Roasted spaghetti squash with parm and walnuts, onions and garlic.

Homemade burgers with lean ground beef, and cabbage slaw.

Chicken sandwiches with corn salsa, swish cheese, and aioli.

…other things as well, but they are less on my list lately as we cycle through seasons and my level of food boredom.

I’m always trying to eat smarter, not eat less. With breastfeeding this time around battling hunger and doing it efficiently. Lunches are my biggest hurdle no that I don’t have as much prep time. If I was at work and able to eat sitting, quietly, with a fork every day things would be way easier.

What do you eat for lunch? All snack/meal suggestions welcome! Help a hunger sister out.

Job Hunt Part 2: Even With A Small Child At Home?

On Sunday, while we were running errands in hell BabiesRUs I got a call back from a job I had applied for on a tech job listing site. The editor was calling to set up an interview for that day (Sunday, reminding you: Sunday) or on Monday. Because I am not one to turn my nose at an opportunity, regardless of how sketch it was to be getting called on the weekend, I returned the editor’s call and set up a formal interview for an hour later.

Initially it was the usual “tell me about your background” type of conversation, but then she asked me to tell her about myself – stuff that wasn’t on my resume. I started giving her more of my background, how I had graduated from grad school and then pieced together my writing career at the height of the recession, blahblah, but she stopped me and said, “No, I mean stuff that isn’t on your resume.”

Ugh.

So, flustered, I said I had two kids, that we had moved up to Seattle a year and a half a go when my husband got a job at Microsoft…. and she chatted amicably with me about the west coast and having kids, her only child was now 22, etc etc.

Things got weird again when she suddenly said they would like to offer me a trial job. A trial job? I said. Like a contract? I asked.

Well no, not like a contract, she said. This would be 2 articles a day for 2 weeks to make sure I would be a good fit, that I could keep up with the work… especially with having a small child at home.

With having a small child at home, would I, professional me, with a masters degree and 5 years of this particular experience under my belt, not to mention the bajillion other jobs I’ve held down, even during grad school, even during undergrad, even while also TAing….. be able to complete my work?

I let the comment slide, but stuck it in my back pocket just in case, because my next question was: And what would the rate be for this?

Oh, this would not be paid. Two weeks of part time work, getting 20ish articles out of me, for freebies.

No thanks, I said, that would not be acceptable. She gave me her email address (which I pretended to copy down) just in case I changed my mind, and that was that.

Even with a small child at home, even with the cost of 2 daycares looming, even with our house savings completely halted while I am scrambling for work and taking phone interviews covered in spit up…. Even with all of that, I know I’m worth more than that and I’ll wait for it.

Postpartum Feelings

I have a few more postpartum posts coming before I can move on from this period of being, this being one of them. I have been wanting to talk about this for weeks now, but have been finding it difficult to a) fine the time to write and b) I needed to clarify my thinking on it. But I want to discuss having postpartum feelings without having PPD.

A note: Postpartum Depression and/or Anxiety is serious and should not be ignored. There are many people able and willing to assist you if you feel you have postpartum symptoms that make it difficult to continue your day-to-day, have you considering self harm or harm to your child.

That being said, I have not experienced PPD. Even though being in the grips of postpartum life it often feels like everyone is watching to see if you are about to fly off the handle. The 6 week check up and even your infant’s early check ups are also about evaluating you. This makes me fidgety and makes me feel like I have to go overboard to be like, “I’m FINE, REALLY.”

Even when “fine” is relative.

Even when some days I fantasize about running away to a quiet space just to have an afternoon where no one is touching me or trying to get my attention over and over again while I’m taking, do you see that I’m trying to talk to daddy? Can you please wait your turn? Would everyone please SHUT UP FOR TWO SECONDS MY GOD.

Life with a newborn can be very hard. It is a massive transition and the little bundles of pure joy don’t make it easy. They actually do a lot to make it really really difficult. It also doesn’t help that once you become a parent  and you are a woman, a lot of people want to stick a giant sign on your head that reads MOM. I like being a parent but I would rather do without the sign.

All of this makes the time right after having a baby feel like a bad amusement park ride. That seems to never ever end. Maybe it truly never does and you just get used to the spinning and the funny way the world is now tilted. It’s exhilarating and beautiful and strange and can make you very sick.

Having two kids has been very hard for me. It is not easier the second time around. Having two is nothing like having one. Two months in and things are not easier. There are days I feel like I am drowning and completely unable to think one full thought in my own little head because of all the external demands for my time. Still being at home, often alone for 10-11 hours a day with an infant is very lonely. It is exceptionally hard work, physically, but it is also incredibly boring. My day is about killing as much time as possible in newborn-friendly ways. There aren’t a lot of options. And Fae didn’t help me out for the first 6 weeks of life with her deep hatred for the car seat and the stroller. I am sore from carrying her around, from my bones and muscles and tendons all coming back to life and sorting themselves out after pregnancy and labor, I am sweaty and sticky from the heat of another human, the juices of another human. This is physical, back breaking work. You don’t think carrying around 10 lbs is hard? Do it for 3 hours straight. Now carry around 12. Do it with a lackluster core at best, do it with stitches in your vagina, do it with incredibly heavy, aching, leaking breasts. Five days a week alone, 10-11 hours a day.

Postpartum life is hard for me this time around. With Gabe I actually really enjoyed my time off. With Fae I struggle. I live for the weekends. I apply to jobs instead of making lunch if I only have time for one because getting my autonomy back as a person out in the world means more to me than delaying a meal. I really really really love her, but my current home life feels stressed and frantic and like I can’t ever quite get my feet under me. And those things are not connected. My joy for her is not related to my struggle with this new life, the life of a family of 4 with two young young young children at home. And I have 0 guilt about disliking this postpartum experience. I love every smile I get from her, and I actively seek to spend my days without her in the near future. And when I do finally get a job, I will miss her terribly.

Life is messy and makes no sense. Feelings make us human.

One Month Postpartum

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I wish that I could report back that 1 month postpartum I feel amazing. But I do not feel amazing. I feel smelly and sweaty and awkward and sore. I feel disconnected to what is actually happening in and around my vagina. Why does it still hurt? Why does it feel chafed? Is my second degree tear healing well? Will I ever stop feeling like I always have to pee? Will I ever stop having the unpredictable post pee dribble? Will it ever feel comfortable to poop ever again? These questions and more – I do not know the answers to.

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My boobs, for realies, could smother and kill my baby they are so big and unwieldy. But for some unknown reason (Actually the reason is:FOOD! FOOD NOW AND ALWAYS!) she insists on sticking her face right in there as much as possible. And even likes to snuggle that way. I don’t deny her. What kind of mother would I be if I did? The kind that hates naps?!

I posted this photo on instagram to prep for this post:

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I searched and searched and searched for photos of postpartum women after a second pregnancy. Were they broken, I wondered? I had made it out of the first pregnancy pretty ok – but I was rolling the dice again with number two and what would that mean for me and this bod of mine? Yeah, it’s vain to care about these things and I don’t care. At the end of the day it’s just me and this shell I carry around all day and I wanted to know what could happen to it. Long story long: I couldn’t find any real information on what postpartum life was like after a second pregnancy. And yes, it is different for everyone, but knowing that didn’t make me want to hear people’s stories any less.

So I’m here to tell you: postpartum bodies are weird, but don’t be afraid. They do bounce back. And most of us don’t look like the red carpet ladies-o-Hollywood 3 weeks after popping a kid out, ok? Most of us look pregnant or, at the very least, chubby for quite a while. Go in expecting it and you won’t be freaked out.

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One month in and I’ve lost 30 lbs. It came off really quickly. Quicker than I remember Gabe’s weight coming off. I think I hit a bump of weight loss at about 25 lbs with him last time. Right now I still have 20 more to go. It will probably take me 6-9 more months.

30 lbs of weight loss does not mean clothes fit me, because they do not. I am still in maternity clothes and even those fit weird. I am thick around the middle and my butt and thighs are bigger. This just is what it is. It’s not bad or wrong, it’s what happened while walking 4-7 miles 5 days a week up until 38 weeks. It’s what happened while I tried to focus on a high protein, low(er) carb diet. My body gains about 50 lbs during pregnancy and then it comes off over the course of the following year. I thought maybe I could do things differently with #2, but nope. Doesn’t look like it. My body does what it does, so eff you “normal pregnancy weight standards” and LOL at only gaining 25-30 lbs.

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My life in 1 photo. (Not my stoop. On a main road. Thanks random person’s stoop! Gabe really loved the stairs.)

So, for those who have the itch to know like I did, my postpartum body breakdown is as follows:

  • I got stretchmarks in new places. I now have a tiny patch on the left side of my tummy under my belly button. The zones (hips) where I got stretchmarks last time got more and bigger ones this time. I am expecting them to fade into translucent lines like last time as well, so I’m lotioning, I’m exfoliating, etc etc and waiting.
  • I bled less heavily this time, but it lasted forever. I am still spotting.
  • I can’t tell if I’m having horrible night sweats or if it is just hot. Probably both. Probably horrible night sweats and wtf is this heat, Seattle? W. T. F.
  • Last time I had man-levels of BO. This time, it is back except I don’t remember it lasting this long? I’m still smelly as fuck 2 hours after a shower. My armpits are a plethora of “omg Kamel you HAVE TO smell me, it is awful!!” And he does because he loves me.
  • My hair has not yet started falling out. That started around 3-4 months PP last time, but I am on high alert and chopping all of my hair off on Aug 20th. Get ready.

How is my body compared to the first time around? Well, this is a post I wrote at 6 weeks postpartum, and I don’t think I’ll be that small in 2 weeks. I mean, maybe, but I doubt it. I haven’t been able to be as active. Mostly because Fae hates the car seat/stroller combo and it is stressful getting her out of the house. Also the heat has been a deterrent in taking her out. And! When Gabe was born we lived in a bubble with no family in the area, no one to see, and my days were 100% mine to wander around outside, walk for hours all afternoon, and kill time with my baby while on leave. This time, there has been a lot more social activities which I have found great and also hard.

I don’t really fit into any pants except 2 pairs of maternity yoga pants. I don’t really fit into any non maternity tops because – boobs and tummy. Having to put on clothes to leave the house and be appropriately dressed in public… sucks. It is stressful and I hate it. When I knew I wasn’t going to run into anyone I knew in our neighborhood in San Mateo, I didn’t give a fuck how jacked I look while running a snoozing Gabe all over town in the stroller. But now, I do care. And it is fucking with my head. I’m not a fan.

I’m not being as active as I want to be, but I am trying. And I need to cut down on my sugar just in general. Next week I start applying for jobs and I’m going to need to be able to fit into some interview clothes. I’ll probably have to buy something because I don’t know when I’ll be able to wear anything in my closet. These are my frivolous dilemmas. This is my vanity.

Our bodies are never the same so getting back to whatever I was before babies makes no sense at all, but these bods are all we get so it makes sense why we care about them. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes up a few more weeks from now. But ultimately it is not scary, it’s nothing most people haven’t seen before. And the stuff that you haven’t seen just takes time. In the mean time I’m taking it 1 day at a time, 1 plank at a time, 1 vigorous walk up steep hills, 1 rep of high knees, all while trying to make increasingly good food choices. My body did something totally kick ass and I know I need to be kind to it, regardless of my excitement to put pregnancy far, far behind me.

The 90% of Parenting

Parenting is 90% deciding what the next steps are in the middle of a situation you have never experienced and have no education in. It’s troubleshooting with minuscule information where the ripple effects directly impact an entirely separate person’s life.

It can be as small as creating boundaries for your tiny human or establishing positive body image practices by teaching them the proper names of private parts. These things end up being 1 choice made in a life time of choices that may ripple into a WAVE of adult behavior in 20 years. Who knows.

And sometimes parenting is about making decisions when your kid collides with another kid at daycare pickup, like what happened to Kamel on Wednesday. A normal pickup routine. He was chatting with the daycare lady about Gabe, getting the skinny, as you do. The kids were playing, running about, and Gabe smacked into another kid, their knees banging on each other and they fell to the ground. Gabe went into that wide mouth silent cry before his eyes rolled back into his head and he went limp.

Kamel was right there. Our lovely daycare lady was right there.

“Gabe wake up, wake up, Gabe. Gabe!”

And he did after a moment. And Kamel scooped him up and after another few moments Gabe went limp again, passed out again, but this time on his shoulder. Kamel pulled him off of him and saw his limpness, his head loose on his neck. Gabe was pale and sweaty and when he came to he cried and cried for water.

So what the hell do you do? Do you call 911? This all happened in less than 5-7 minutes. Once Gabe had some water and Kamel took him outside he seemed normal. Super sweaty, pale but his color was coming back, and normal. He looked at the ants on the sidewalk like he always does. He held is tiny plastic cup of water and sprinkled it on the cement while Kamel called me and they sat out on the curb.

“Ok….” was my initial response.

“Did he throw up?”

“Is he disoriented?”

My brain was visualizing the situation like a movie, trying to see if there were any pieces Kamel maybe hadn’t noticed.

“Well, do you THINK you need to call 911?”

“Well, SHOULD we go to the ER? I feel like it wouldn’t hurt…”

“But he seems fine?”

“I think you should call the pediatrician, explain everything that happened and let me know what they think.”

Meanwhile I’m texting people I know who know more than me about these things. They are giving me more questions to ask, but also reassuring me my kid probably doesn’t have a brain bleed. Me and head wounds – my biggest parenting irrational (rational) fear. We all have them. For you is it drowning? Is it choking? What are your worst dreams about? Mine involve head wounds, the kind that change you forever. The kind that aren’t very visible. The kind that sneak up on you later and have permanent consequences.

The pediatrician sent us to urgent care at Children’s. My parents were kind enough to jump in the car and pick me up and we met Kamel and Gabe there. They were already in an exam room when I walked in. Gabe had a tiny medical bracelet on and I could tell he had been crying. He was nervous and sitting on Kamel’s lap while the doctor talked to them both. She was the third person to examine him since they arrived, and for that I am very grateful.

They explained that sometimes toddlers hold there breath or can’t catch their breath when they are really upset and they pass out. She felt his head, she checked his eyes and ears, she observed him walking and interacting with us and her. The telltale sign of the diagnosis? That Gabe fell down, pulled his knees up and went into a silent scream before going limp. There was no head tenderness, there was no bump. His knee where he had collided with the other kid was fine. We said thanks and we walked out the door.

I mean, what the fuck parenthood? No one tells you that sometimes your child will just… be upset and not breath. And then pass out in a scary way! Twice!

No one could possibly explain what it feels like to go through all of the worst case scenarios trying to figure out which one matches up with what’s happening right in front of you.

No one tells you about all the times you’ll go to the doctor thinking one thing and then walk out with oops a double ear infection – didn’t realize that! Parents of the year… that explains his insane grumpiness lately. (Happened to us… oh, I don’t know, a million times.) No one talks about how little you know and how much of the time you don’t know it. You think one thing and it’s another, you are going about your day and then wham, blindsided by whatever it is that you now have to deal with, something that wasn’t even remotely on our radar 5 minutes before. “Did you know that your son has a yeast infection?” No… How about a double eye infection and croup? How about food allergies or skin issues or a million other relatively benign things that you could never expect. What about the not benign things that you can never expect?

And even if they did tell you, if you’d been properly prepped and warned that this was parenthood, you’d probably laugh and shrug it off. It can’t be that crazy. You’d know, you’d see some of it coming, you’d see MOST of it coming. I mean, you’re the parent! You’re with them all of the time, you know them better than anyone in the entire world.

And then your kid bangs into another kid and is suddenly limp on the floor in front of you. It happened in the space of a moment. And we’re back in the 90% of parenthood… troubleshooting situations we have never seen and have no training in. What do we do? We call people who know more, we use our resources, and maybe we have an unnecessary bill from urgent care that says, “Your child passed out because he held his breath too long, bet you didn’t know THAT was a common toddler activity, did you? That will be $200.” And then we go home and eat crackers and have bath time. And that’s just how it is.

The Guilt and Shame Spiral

I’ve been struggling with a lot of guilt about being home and not trying to work up until my due date.

Even though it would have been a huge struggle.

Even though there were days, even in the third trimester, (many days) I didn’t want to leave the couch because I felt like I had the flu.

Even though I have my family’s support and we are lucky to be able to generally afford this time off.

Except the decision has ripple effects. It means Gabe gets home later, and is gone from the house way more (like 11 hours on the bad days) because of traffic, because Kamel is busy at work and sometimes can’t leave when he should, because you need 3 people in the car to use the carpool lanes and I’m not there. It means during the months we would normally be strapped financially because of payroll timing and bill timing, we are EXTRA STRAPPED because there is none of my income to assist. It means putting off things like haircuts and having long budget talks into the night to figure out how we can pay for all the things we need to pay for and get to the next pay period without incurring more debt. It means no saving for a house.

And I struggle with this because I feel like it is my fault. It’s my fault my kid is gone too much, and it’s my fault that we are having to have the big talks about the things we cannot actually do even when we said we would because we can’t afford them, and the talks about the things we need to put off buying for the baby – the things we would like but don’t need. My fault. If only I were working.

Except my situation sucked. It was not supportive. I would have had to take major pay cuts to go to all of these doctor appointments.

Except I am doing something – I’m pregnant and it is really hard. Not for everyone, but for me. I hurt and I feel awful, even right now, even right this second I feel so gross. And when I talked to friends of mine who also have kids (Hi Jo!) they reminded me: if women had a better support system, if men had babies, if women’s health was actually valued in this insane patriarchy bullshit society then I probably wouldn’t feel so guilty. I probably wouldn’t have reason to, first of all, but it also wouldn’t be so ingrained in me that I should be “pulling my weight” and “doing it all” and setting aside my health to “contribute to society.”

As Jo said last week to me: You are not making your family’s life harder, you’re making your family.

And as much as I do want to get back to work, this is important life shit happening right now. Important! And I don’t want to feel bad about taking care of me for a short period of time in my life. The rest of my life will be working and child wrangling and partnering and all the things. Right now it’s about taking a few months and letting myself be sick at home, pushing myself to go on walks and stay active, taking the time to rest when I need it, and then eventually having time home with an infant without a looming deadline of 6 weeks hanging over my head.

And these things are luxuries currently. LUXURIES. When I type them out they seem like “well of course” things. “Well of course a largely pregnant woman would want to stay home,” “Well of course parents need time home with their new babies, and women need time to recover and heal and breast feed and and and and…” But I feel guilty and like a massive burden at times because … this small amount of time in a person’s whole productive life is seen as too much. And that’s wrong.

So, I’m working on not feeling guilty, on not feeling like I’m making life harder on everyone else. I’m working on saying, “This is how it should be.” Because it should be. Regardless of economic status, regardless of familial support. We should be taking care of each other better especially in regards to some of the most basic life experiences, the most basic life challenges. I don’t want to see more rhetoric putting mothers on some ridiculous pedestal, I want to see legislature that supports women’s health holistically without guilt or shame.

A Friendly, Grocery Store Etiquette PSA

If you see a mom shopping at the grocery store with a wailing toddler in the cart, here are some things not to do:

1.) Do not roll up on the pair, without addressing the mom (even with a sympathetic look), and start talking to the wailing toddler.

2.) Do not get down on the toddler’s level, ignoring the mom completely, and start talking to the toddler about how it’s ok to have feelings. How everyone is sad sometimes, and how everything is going to eventually be ok.

3.) How about just don’t talk to the toddler at all.

4.) How about just letting the mom pick out carrots, alone, and let her deal with her shit-head toddler who is already making her wish she were invisible by sobbing and calling for “daddy.”

5.) Do not encourage your very own toddler to address the crying toddler and reiterate how, “everything is going to be ok.” And definitely don’t say stuff like, “Tell him, tell him it’s all going to be ok.” Because that is weird, and awkward, and fucked up, and also what the fuck do you know random mom at Safeway?!

If you see a mom at the grocery store shuttling around a wailing small child, trying to get through her grocery list, here are some things to do:

1.) Nothing. Leave them alone.

2.) Maybe…. you can give them a sympathetic… solidarity, stay strong, fist pump as you roll past.

3.) But really, nothing is probably best.

Thank you.

Mother’s Day

For all of the hallmark, corporate money grubbing, advertisement saturated day that is Mother’s Day it really doesn’t phase me. Until I remember that the companies pushing how much we all LOVE moms, are probably making mother’s who actually work for them pump in stupid places, come back to work way too soon, drain their vacation and sick days, and, in general, treat them like inconvenient burdens. Poor companies… having to employ fertile women who choose to have families…

City of Flour and Sawdust

I looked up nicknames for Minneapolis and this was the first one, coined in 1883. So shout out!

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The Twin Cities are the midwest hub of publishing right now, which is fascinating. One might think its Chicago, but you’d be wrong. There is quite the scene in Minneapolis/St. Paul and I got to experience a tiny taste of it last week.

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(At the sculpture garden, Margaret checking out an exhibit)

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It also rain/snowed and then snow/snowed, which was magical and (admittedly) a little bizarre in mid-April. Then it became warm and beautiful and I wore a dress and sandals.

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But mostly I was at a conference or spending hours chatting with Margaret and Jeff or meeting a lovely internet friend, Kelly, or moaning about being super sore and pregnant. I was there from Tuesday to Sunday and did a lot of thinking and planning and learning about my next steps in book publishing. It’s complicated because of time, because I need to be good – really good – and because it is such a multifaceted experience.

Will I need an agent?

Will I need to publish smaller pieces in notable places in order to boost my writerly “resume”?

Where should I even submit this book to?

And of course… how and when will I finish it?

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I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue to feed my professional self. Which just so happens to be my creative self, my independent self, my deep inner Lauren self.

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This week is my birthday week and I came home to a hubub of activity and it has been a scramble to get back to work, to get back to Gabe, to spend time with friends and family and everyone is asking me how my trip was. How was my trip? How was the conference?

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It was great! It was restoring! It kicked me in the ass and gave me a clearer vision for what I’ll be working on for the next year (probably 2). It made me long for the routines of family life. It made me feel extra extra secure in Kamel’s parenting skills. It made me realize how much I truly need my kid(s) and my husband in my life on the regularly, that maybe traveling alone is not for me. But to have that freedom and head space, what a gift!

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Parenting small children is a phase, parenting bigger children is also a phase. I entered parenthood knowing that eventually that phase would be done, a new phase of adult relationships with my children would flourish, and that what is not a phase is …. me. I am me, right here, ever changing and growing and becoming better versions of the original. Investing in that is key. Regardless of how I go about it, babies strapped to me or following behind like little ducklings, relying on my partner for the freedom to grow and expand my talents… investments must happen. I am so grateful they do.

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(The mighty Mississippi)

Un-Tethering

So I started freaking out a little bit over how much of this blog has become mom-centric. I do this every once in a while. When things get too 1 topic-y I have a little panic about creating a well rounded space/life/lalala etc.

Because I definitely don’t think this is just a blog problem. It is reflective of what is happening in my pregnant/mom/wife/life world.

Last weekend was really hard. It was hard because I was disappointed, because I felt like I let people down, because I had to flip a switch in a matter of minutes regarding plans that had taken us months to cement in place, because Gabe was sick and it took both Kamel and I combined to handle everything that came with that, because it was boring, and because I am just human and it sucked. It was the last opportunity we’ll have to travel as a threesome. It was going to be Gabe’s first trip on a plane in his own seat. It was a trip to visit family that wasn’t for a holiday or a major family event. It was a rare thing.

On Saturday night we watched a cartoon movie we hadn’t seen before. This weekend was big on sitting around watching Gabe-appropriate TV and getting him to drink pedialite, water, and fizzy apple juices in small amounts. After the movie was over and we had put him to sleep I sat on the couch and cried. I cried the big cries. The ones that give you hiccups. I cried into Kamel’s sweatshirt and did not stop until I was completely done.

Why are you crying? Kamel asked me.

I just am, I said.

Sometimes I am sad. I used to have sad days when I didn’t have kids, I used to have sad days when I didn’t have a husband or a boyfriend. I could stay home and watch movies and eat Twix and hide. But, as a parent I don’t have that luxury. I do not get “me” days. I do not get to just be in a bad mood and wallow and watch Grey’s Anatomy and cry into my snickers bar, then dust myself off and continue on in my generally cheery way. Even when things are hard and exhausting, even when frustrating, bad, sad things happen. I don’t get to shut myself up in my bedroom and sit with it. Little hands find the door. Little voices with, “Mama… get UP!” I don’t get to make his life confusing because I need a day.

But we all need a day. Even when we don’t get one.

So I cried. Then I took a long, long, long hot shower, which is the opposite of every other day when my showers are 5 minutes long, max and I’m racing to get dressed between picking out a shirt for Gabe, between him eating half my breakfast, between forgetting my glasses and having to run back into the house to get them, between being pregnant and feeling crummy all of the time.

In order to be my best self I need more quiet time than I get. I need more time to think, to be alone and not tethered to so many other people.

We make due with what we have until we can’t make due anymore. Until we have to re-evaluated what is and isn’t work. Until we can schedule time to go outside alone and take a walk, or see a movie, or whatever.

This is hard. So much of my day to day involves the care and management of someone else. And I really don’t want to fuck him up. It means I have to be thoughtful a lot of the time, even when I don’t want to be thoughtful, even when I just want to come home and have a beer and eat spaghettios and not talk to anyone. My 2 year old doesn’t get that.

But I need to have it anyway. I need to have more Lauren time, somehow, in the not-enough-time-space-continuum of my life. Somehow I have to carve out a section now and again that is just me and no one else.