June 2

Love and Marriage.

Since I’ve spent the first two years of my marriage either pregnant or having babies, I sometimes have a harder time learning the lessons of love and relationships, than I do learning the lessons of mother and child-rearing. After all, pregnancy, motherhood and babies can all have a way of eclipsing the life/lives of all those involved, and without noticing, becoming THE ONLY THING(S) IN THE WORLD.

But they are not the only things in the world. And lately, this is really, REALLY important for me to remember/remind myself.

I also got married two years ago, you know? I got married, without the instruction manual or all the experience (I’d never been married before, and I didn’t grow up with married parents). I didn’t know what marriage was when I said, YES, LET’S DO THIS! And now, two years later, I still don’t.

I know a few things about marriage, though. And some of those things go like this:

  • Marriage is more than love, but it requires love. Love won’t always save it, but without love, it won’t work. Love has to be flowing all over the place-between the two married people and within each person, individually. You’ve got to love yourself AND your partner. Both of you.
  • You’ve got to work, but not too much, or everything will feel like work, and it will suck and then it’s no fun anymore and love starts to leak out (AND YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE LOVE). The working part of marriage is the part no one tells you about in any specific terms, and I understand why: IT CAN BE REALLY UGLY. The work does not always look like putting on overalls and building houses from recycled goods on Saturdays. Sometimes, it is being in the same room, angry, frozen, helpless and totally empty AND FINDING A WAY OUT. TOGETHER.
  • It’s amazing/terrifying/awful/wonderful being known and sharing all the corners and nooks of my life with someone. The scary parts give me a lot of work, and the cuddly parts remind me it’s worth it. All the baggage and damage and dark places in my life that I would be able to run from, were I not pushed up in the face of my husband, require light and love and acceptance. Because I’m married. Thank you. AND OH MY GOD THIS HURTS.
  • There are no sides. Everything’s a story in marriage, and the sooner you accept it, the easier it gets (but it doesn’t get easy-so lower your expectations). What I think I know to be true is not THE TRUTH. What my husband is sure happened is not THE ONLY WAY. Everyone gets to put their two cents into the bowl, and then, we have to leave them there. And walk away. And be okay with knowing that we don’t know what ever really happens, because we’re not both of us. Our work is to share, to give, to make space, to let go.
  • ALL OF THESE THINGS CAN BE HARD. Or rather, they can feel hard. Who wants to bare their soul? I DO!/HELL NO WAY! The ambivalence that rises up in the life and times of our married life is something I didn’t expect, but now count on with regularity. I have to make the choice to choose the positive side of the coin, and that takes a certain amount of consciousness that I don’t always have when I’m juggling my babies/motherhood/pregnancies (don’t worry, we’re done), but I STILL HAVE TO DO IT, GUYS. Because?

I got married two years ago. I did that. We did this. We committed. We stood up together, we wrote and said words, and with my unborn son inside my body, growing, we promised each other that WE WERE POSSIBLE. And we are possible. We’re moms and dads and sisters and daughters and humans. We’re imperfect and stubborn and bratty and sassy and clever and kind and courageous and afraid.

We don’t follow any manual, and there isn’t any manual because NOBODY HAS THIS SHIT FIGURED OUT. But we’re learning. And we’ll get there.

Keep on keepin’ on,

~M

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May 28

Missing Maya.

All day, I’ve been feeling kind of melancholy and sad and tearing up in public because Maya (Angelou) is gone, and she wasn’t my personal friend, but her words were, and her work was, and I feel a loss.

Of course, it’s not just Maya I’m crying over. It’s something else, too. It’s me.

Since becoming my kid’s mom, I’ve been changing all the time. I’ve been morphing with every new moment in this life, in this identity that I’ve been learning, and it’s all been happening very fast and very subtly, and without warning, and poof. It’s May 2014. And I am someone else.

Who am I?

Am I the woman with all the freedom? Am I the passionate independent, valiantly chasing my dreams and forging my own way? Am I strong? Am I beautiful? Am I fancy? Am I bold?

Am I covered in goldfish crumbs? Am I negotiating with a tired toddler? Am I singing Disney songs to my kids in my bed while we brush our teeth and suddenly noticing toddler snot on my pillow? Am I working again? Chasing deadlines? Creating? Putting out?

Am I crawling through all the new things? Learning ALL THE TIME? Never an expert anymore, always a beginner, always riding a curve? Am I doing anything well? Can anyone do motherhood and marriage and work and breathing and LIFE well? Does that happen? DO PEOPLE GET GOOD AT THIS STUFF?

I’m no longer a person who walks around in her world being “good” at everything. My identity, prior to marrying and having babies, was generally based on my working hard or working smart and DOING GOOD = I AM GOOD. Nowadays, I struggle with toddler life, juggling two babies, finding inspiration in my marriage and recovering the voice in my head that knows how to speak my truth. There are no awards for the majority of my daily, all the time efforts. No one will hand me a bonus check if I get all the diapers changed as soon as they are soiled, or I manage to divert a potential toddler meltdown in public, while precariously balancing a baby on my hip.

I’m beginning to believe that my old identity was an illusion, and it’s time to let it go. I was never who I was because I did stuff well. I was never good at life because I did a good job at a few things. Outward success was never an ordained and affirmed stamp of VALID LIFE APPROVAL. I was not a winner because I lived a less complicated life, and so found it less complicating to navigate.

In my newly forming identity, life is more complicated. There are no winners, but there are no losers, either. Now, there are unending amounts of stuff to figure out. There are other people to grow and nurture and make space for. There’s work, so so so so so much work I’ve got to do, and it’s hard work. It’s hard. It’s not work I’m always “good” at.

BUT I DO THE WORK. That’s who I am.

I am the one who runs the schedules, and plans all the plans. I’m the consummate list maker, the obsessive wiper-downer. I’m the one who holds the crying babies when they need holding, and I’m the singer of the songs when they need singing. I make the sandwiches, mash the peas and shake the sand out of the socks. I hold the hands, tickle the tummies and dance to the same songs for hours. I am the sharer of the fears, the doubts and the worries. I am the holder of the hard and scary things. I am a big, giant, people and life filled person. I’m not the myself I was, and I never will be again. In fact, I’m not even a singular being anymore. I’m 4 people, all rolled up into one, and that’s not always comfortable and it’s rarely easy.

I’m not free the way I used to be, but I’m learning that I AM STILL FREE. I’m free to choose my identity. I’m free to choose who I am. I’m free to accept where I’ve come from, accept where I am, and make something honest and halfway inspiring out of it all. I’m not good at everything, but I’m not bad either. I AM DOING THE WORK.

I am.

xo,

~M

 

 

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May 13

Body Talk.

I want to make something super clear, before I get going, today. I’m NOT here to talk to you about radical self-acceptance. Nothing I’m up to is all that radical, and I AM NOT ASHAMED TO SAY THAT. I’m going to talk to you about functional self-acceptance. I’m here to talk about functionality. I’m here to praise it, raise it and build a shrine to it that I can bow and worship. FUNCTION is what I’m up to, after all. Ain’t nothing else. (Just so, you know, we’re clear)

All of a sudden, it’s hot. In case you missed it, I’ve been pregnant for the past two Summers (yes, the entirety of BOTH Summers #hell), and my body is doing some weird kind of phantom limb, faux pregnancy biz where every time I feel humidity, I FEEL PREGNANT. BY THE WAY, I’M NOT PREGNANT (although, that may seem pretty unlikely considering my overactive uterus). But today, anyway, I felt pregnant. I felt kind of nauseous. I felt puffy. I felt like the opposite of good and healthy and yay and go me, in a physical sense, anyway, and it got me thinking about my dear old bod, and I got to thinking…

What has happened to my body?

Before I was pregnant and delivered my two babies, my body was mine. I got to tell it to do stuff. I had time to push it, or rest it, to feed it, or deprive it. This was my body, after all, and I got to be the boss. Or, so I thought.

Since having my babies, my body’s grown a mind of it’s own, and I’m not even playing around. It has stretched and spread out and grown jiggly and wiggly in places that I, as the Body Boss, had worked hard to prevent. But now, my body doesn’t give a damn about who’s the boss, and-speaking of not giving a damn-neither do my kids. I wrangle my toddler around, jostle car seats through spinning doors and kneel down to pick up a binkie for the thousandth time, while holding my baby, as she wails and screams, and my head aches and I want to cry, and my shoulder is burning, and so is my back, AND MY BODY SAYS?

Please give me a break.

Our culture, we’re so crazy and obsessed with “getting our bodies back” after babies, and looking so fine in our underwear on the internet, and we think that we’ve got to carry the babies, birth them, raise them AND LOOK LIKE WE NEVER DID ANY OF IT. It’s so backwards. It’s so silly. It’s not functional. It’s not reality.

My clothes used to fit me differently, it’s true, but SO DID MY LIFE. If nothing fits anymore, maybe that’s because I’ve changed and, more importantly, I’VE GROWN. It’s a wonderful thing to appreciate a fine specimen of a body, but why do we think the fine specimen is the untainted, untouched, unmarred, fat free, far from matronly version of physical perfection? Why isn’t a body that has given way for the babies it grew and nurtured, spread out wide to make space for new life and a new family and healed miraculously and beautifully once, twice and many times over the ideal? Why do we fight to get away from what is natural AND FROM WHAT IS REAL IN OUR BODIES?

Lately, I notice that the only way to live in my body is to nurture it, accept it and embrace the changes. It’s painful work, and sometimes I want to cry out, vainly and helplessly remembering muscle tone that lived and died while my children were created and born. I’m not here advocating for a slovenly life, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I say, don’t waste energy wishing away the changes. Make friends with them. Accept the journey, the long, hard journey of the body. Respect how beautifully functional the body is, even when it hurts and aches and says I GOT NOTHIN. It always has something. Respect that kind of work because, after all, it’s WORKING for you. Remember?

In my case, I can’t believe it took letting go of the tendency to try to control my body for me to finally realize that I never had any control, anyway. My body has always carried the wisdom and the truth, and the truth is, it doesn’t give a shit about whether or not I look good in my jeans. Instead, my body wants to support me through the changes and the journey of my life. My body’s been growing and changing since I inhabited it, and it never needed me to tell it how or why or what to do.

The only thing that has happened to my body is MY LIFE. My beautiful, imperfect, batshit crazy, exhausting, poochy, sweaty, baby mama driven life. I ought to be proud.

Mmhmm,

~M

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April 17

Big News (and a big talk).

Last year, I felt like such a constant, epic failure. I became, I believed, a quitter.

First, I quit my job (quitter!) because I wanted to have more time with my son, and learn who I was as MOM. Soon after, I quit writing on my blog every day (quitter!). Then, I learned that something was seriously wrong with my hip. So, I quit running, quit yoga and quit all exercise except for pilates (quitter, Quitter, QUITTER!). I got pregnant, and I got tired. And my hip hurt. If it wasn’t mandatory, I quit it (quitter), until I finally quit doing pilates (quitter!), writing at all (quitter!!), cooking (cereal for dinner = quitter!) and putting on clothes that weren’t more than 75% lycra (QUITTER).

Then. After all of that quitting. I HAD ANOTHER BABY (via planned C section, not vaginal birth, YOU QUITTER). And I loved her. And I loved my family. And I filled up with renewed strength to give and to do and to sign up. But then, it was the worst winter of all time, we were all sick all the time, my baby had reflux, I hardly had time to look at my husband without handing him a child or wanting to hit him because he simply could NOT seem to understand or make it better, and my body felt like someone had taken all the parts off and put them back together incorrectly or upside down and, you know what, I HIT A WALL ABOUT TWO WEEKS AGO:

NOTHING I DO WORKS (read: desperation).

The babies are always crying. I have four lists running at one time, and almost nothing gets scratched off. I have more energy and I do more, but I’m always tired. I eat toddler snacks for meals, and still wear the yoga clothes all the time, and my oldest child is getting closer to two, and he is going kind of crazy, and my youngest child has passed three months and wants to PLAY and SMILE and all I want to do? IS GO SOMEWHERE AND BE QUIET AND ALONE. No, wait:

I want to quit!

But here’s the thing with being the mom to these children and being the partner to my husband: THERE IS NO OUT. Even if I’m failing. And everything is falling apart. And I hurt. All over. If I cannot cook the meals, and I cannot take the shower and I cannot get more than 5.5 minutes to myself in 72 hours, nobody cares, because as much as it is driving me batshit crazy, THIS IS A THING I WILL DO AND DO AGAIN AND DO BETTER BECAUSE…I have that kind of strength. And I have that kind of power. And I can do it. Even if it hurts and it’s hard. These are my people. I am their mother/wife. AND I WILL SHOW UP, NO MATTER. (OHMYGODOHMYGODIAMNOTAQUITTERIAMNOTAQUITTER!).

I’M NOT QUITTING, YOU GUYS, I AM FIGHTING LIKE A CHAMPION, I JUST LOOK LIKE A MUPPET OR A SAD CAT OR SOMETHING. There just isn’t any control. Anywhere. Someone always needs me. Something or someone is always spilling/breaking/falling/crying/whining/hungry/needing a diaper change/running away/throwing up/too cute for words/loving me/wanting me/reminding me to smile or laugh and it is like the emotional roller coaster shit show carnival ride from outer space that you never dreamed you’d want to ride, but BY GOD, YOU DO. And I do.

Because I’m not a failure/quitter, after all. I AM COMMITTED. I’m committed. And that’s why I left my job, stopped writing every day, quit running, yoga and exercise. Quit pilates, quit cooking, quit writing at all. I am committed to my family. I’m committed to my kids. I want to be there. I know now who I am as their mom: I’m home with them. I am committed to my husband. It’s hard, and we hurt each other, we try to find our way by walking backwards into each other, but all the pain in the world couldn’t take me away from him or the family we’ve created. I’m not failing-duh-I AM A WARRIOR DRESSED IN STRETCHY PANTS WITH BAD HAIR, BITCHES.

So amazing! Awareness!

Uhhh, one more thing…

It’s time I quit this blog (wait-what?), but not because I’m a failure (I never was), or I’m a quitter (everything changes/some things come to an end), but because I now know that it’s time for something new.

I have written in some iteration of this blog since 2010, and bless my heart, but my original intent was to write every day, and I AIN’T GOT TIME FOR THAT ANYMORE. This blog, this sweet blog, has carried me through the four largest years of my growing, evolving adult life, and I am COMMITTED to what it has given me, and what it has taught me. But I need to create something new. Something that looks like me now, without all that stuff I quit/let go. Something that looks like my family, my now, my this.

So. I’m beginning a new blog in May. And there are no daily writing demands. And I’m not necessarily going to write to be present (sometimes, I will write to escape!). I am a mom. I have very little else to talk about. So, I am going to write about my life as a mom. I don’t know what else I’ll write about, and I don’t know that anybody needs another mom blogger out there, but that’s okay, because now, I’m just going to write because I am also committed like hell to myself. And writing is for me (COMMITTER!).

I don’t know what my new blog site will be. I have a feeling it’ll come to me in the next few weeks, and I’m going to go ahead and commit (Ha! Watch me!) to having my new blog up by May 17 (this is one month from today). I’ll let you know once it’s ready, so you can go there and read it.

I don’t know guys, but I have this all of a sudden feeling that I had to quit and stop and let go and get rid of and fail and fall and hurt and give, give, give all the while to learn what I am about, and who I want to be AND WHAT I WANT TO SAY.

It has me thinking that I could celebrate the sketchiness of my current, crazy life, a little more often. I COULD ACTUALLY DO THE WORK OF EMBRACING THE CHAOS. I could breathe in the thick, hot air of this really pressed time in my life as a woman, as a mom, as a wife and AS A HUMAN, and I could let go of being anything but exactly what I am:

Me. (ohwowexhale)

I love you guys,

~M

 

 

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April 9

So Many Things

Okay, so obviously, having time to write on this blog is like a miracle that occurs only once every full moon, or second Wednesday and even then, before I have a chance to do a quick edit, one of my kids always, ALWAYS wakes up crying. Having more than 15 minutes to do anything is like A THING FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE TWO CHILDREN IN DIAPERS (diapers are everywhere).

Since I do diaper changes constantly (among other things), and I also still yearn to share, I’ve decided to make today’s once in a lifetime post easier on me, the diaper changer, by doing bullet points (I LOVE BULLET POINTS). Don’t look for prolific paragraphs. LOOK FOR THE POINTS (I’ll be looking for the next dirty diaper).

So many things are going on in my house. Most are wonderful and feature little people growing into bigger-little people who say things like “Love you, Mommy,” while smiling enormous smiles and giving tender hugs. There is also a lot of tiny baby infant babbling, and smushy, baby-chub thigh rolls (who doesn’t love baby-chub thigh rolls?). Other things are not wonderful, but they are necessary (meh). These things involve learning to navigate marriage with little time and little space for marriage only, re-entering the world of “part time work,” and accepting that I’ll be having surgery on my hip in (gulp) 4 months and some change (tiny violins, tiny violins).

It’s been 3.5 months since my daughter was born, almost 20 months since my son was born and a winding 33.4 years since I made my grand entrance into this bold universe. Take all of this with a grain of salt:

  • Babies are sensitive little sponges. I forgot how sensitive they can be to moods, stress and emotions until my stress began to obviously affect my small baby, and then OH MY GOD. Next bullet point:
  • I HAVE TO MANAGE MY EMOTIONAL WORLD. If I get crazy, everyone gets crazy. It’s scary and overwhelming to have that kind of power, but it’s also seriously valuable work. I MUST CARE FOR MYSELF. I have to ask for what I need. I have to BE myself. I have to make time to find something (ANYTHING) that feeds me and nourishes my inner juju fire, and I HAVE TO MAKE SURE I DO THAT, OR ELSE. Also:
  • My marriage is the highest of the highest of the highest of priorities. My relationship with my husband is the epicenter of family happiness, and when we are “off,” we create an off dynamic for our kids, who, in turn, start to feel, act and become OFF. In other words, we have to make time for each other. And look into each others’ eyes. And connect to the mutual juju fire that fueled our family creation in the first place. This is hard work, and takes a lot of stopping, taking 10 second breaths and REALLY committing, but you know it reminds me: I love my husband. He anchors me to our life, and he is MY PERSON. (Side note: He’s also the only guy I can legitimately send on a wine run at 9:40 pm on a desperate Wednesday night.)
  • I’m okay. I’m not “good” at parenting a toddler and an infant, but I’m not supposed to be. I’m supposed to know and continually remind myself that I’m okay. It’s okay if I give my kid cheerios for lunch, once in a while. If I cry sometimes because it’s not easy being constantly needed, consistently on and always changing a diaper/doing laundry/cooking/wiping down things/hands/faces/hinies. It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m not supposed to feel, every day, like a star. And yet…
  • I MUST remember my personal power. I must. I feel defeated once every other day, but I fight like hell to not get taken down. I have to find the great and the special and the YES in me, and I have to rally that person to show up so that she can teach her children to be brave, to be kind, to give love and to be vulnerable and to try, try, try at life, even when it is hard, scary, overwhelming, lost and defeated. Of course, when all else fails…
  • Authenticity IS the answer. It’s important to be real and to share how crazy and clustery and seriously life boggling all of this is with my people (thank you friends and family). The melting pot of marriage and family is messy, and it only gets messier with time. The neat edges of the clean life I led when I was single or childless are gone, and thank God, because surprisingly, I prefer to muck it up, and keep things a little wilder. The truth is, I cannot always keep up with all of the bullet points I’ve listed above. Some days, I do not show up for my spouse. Some days, I do not take care of myself. Some days, I only teach my children to act like screaming, dramatic toddlers. Some days, I am not grateful. Some days, I feel powerless. Some days, I AM NOT OKAY. But if I can be real. If I can just BE REAL about this work, about this journey, about this heartbreaking, glorious, miraculous, painful business, then I can wake up the next day, and I can do something else, too.

Bombs away,

~M

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March 18

Love.

The inspiring and incredibly rewarding work I am up to these days is completely exhausting, terrifying and annoying as hell. At once, it fires a rage in me, then calls on a cool, quiet patience-neither of which I knew I was capable of. It hurts to love this deeply, and struggle this profoundly, and give this often, and without end. Struggles, challenges and barriers I thought I could never overcome in my former, Me-centered life have all fallen away without my noticing, since now I have way bigger fish to fry.

Every day, I wake up to the work of parenting my two, tiny, perfect little people under the age of two years old. Everyone needs a diaper, and I always, always have to pee. Everyone is hungry or crying. Including me. We wake up, and we fight the good fight together. I have no idea how or where our time goes and is going, but I know that the clock is ticking. They’ll never be this small again, and thank God. They’ll never be this small again, and oh my God, please don’t take these moments from me too fast.

Lately, I can’t believe I became a parent with so few qualifications. I don’t know how to raise toddlers without wanting to lock myself in a closet and BECOME ONE MYSELF. I don’t know how to be a mom to two children who STILL DO NOT SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH. I don’t know how to feel confident in skills that I’m learning as I go. Something in me never quite feels comfortable accepting how often I am winging this job, but that’s what I know, I know, I know I must, I must, I must do.

Nowadays, I’m just trying to find a way to break away from all the To Do’s on my plate, so that maybe, maybe I can tap into myself for at least 3 minutes, and find a little bit of center. Since everywhere I look, I’m inundated with the rules of my individual and combined children’s development. I know I’m supposed to be a rock of structure, security and love for my children, but some days, I am merely a puddle of myself, groggily oozing in the direction of my coffee pot. I miss quiet mornings to myself, a solid 6 straight hours of sleep and personal space. I long for my immune system, a clean living room and happy hour that doesn’t include toddler snacks and Elmo.

But I wouldn’t give away even one slimey, slobbery, snot-nosed and whining moment of this life I’ve got.

I don’t want to complain, because, believe it or not, I’m blissfully in love with my life, but man. It kicks my ass nearly every second of every day, and I mean that in the very literal, EVERY SECOND kind of way. I have to breathe and speak out about this work in order to survive it. But the things I have to say are not always joyous or grateful or happy. Sometimes, I am simply stress standing on two tired legs, and there is no time and no place to sit and rest.

But then, there is so much sweetness. My son came to me on his own last week and tapped me on my shoulder. “Mommy,” he said, “hug?” And without any prompting, he wrapped his little arms around me and hugged me. Today, at our chiropractor, he pulled on my leg, “Pick up?” And as soon as I’d lifted him up, he pulled his head back, looked me in the eyes and said, “Love you.”

I know I’m winning, you guys, but not because everything is going well, and we’re all glowing and shiny and dancing with glow sticks around our neighborhood. Sometimes, we are all one crappy nap away from losing our minds, and if our blood sugar dips even one drop lower, I know it will really get ugly. Sometimes, I’m resentful or sad or lonely. My toddler exhausts me, my infant demands of me, and my husband will shortly be coming home to me. Still, I’m winning.

Because these guys are my family, and this work is OUR LIFE. It’s backbreaking some days, and I’m not “good” at it in any tangible way. I don’t often ask for or need proof that there’s success in here anywhere, but if I did or do, there is someone to hug me, tell me I’m loved and remind me that being needed is a gift I could never give to myself.

At last,

~M

 

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February 6

Here, but barely!

It’s been nearly 2 months since I’ve written. So:

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! And yes! I FINALLY HAD OUR BABY.

Pregnancy, for me at least, seems like it’s never going to end. And while I knew, all along, that it couldn’t possibly go on until the end of time, I had my moments when I really wasn’t sure if I was ever going to see my own two feet again.

That time is here.

In fact, we welcomed our second child, a baby girl we’ve named Eliot, on December 30, 2013 at 9:28 in the morning. After a challenging pregnancy, she came into the world via C section. I continue to be grateful for the miracle of her good health and life. She is a sweet, pleasant and easygoing little girl, much like her brother. We’re all adjusting to life as a family of four, rather than three, but we’ve been incredibly lucky to have help and support from family and friends who have really eased the transition, immensely.

Also. THIS IS THE CRAZIEST TIME EVER.

People can tell you something is going to be difficult, but there’s no real way to fathom difficulty or challenge until we’re in it for ourselves. Certainly, I thought my pregnancy was hard-what, with the hip injury and its resulting pain and constant discomfort, the full time raising of and caring for a 30 lb one year old super boy and then just, you know, not even being married for two full years, and blah blah blah blah blah. BUT. This, right now, is something different. It isn’t just difficult, it’s also scary.

As a first time mom, sure, I constantly felt like I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and I felt utterly helpless in my duties and, well, sometimes in my entire being (dramatic, but true). But over time, I developed a sort of confidence, or self esteem in my life as a mother, and while the illnesses, fevers, creepy poops and occasional tantrums still freaked me out, they didn’t take me down, anymore. I knew who was boss. I knew I had the chops. I knew that, no matter what, I GOT THIS SHIT IN THE BAG.

But five weeks in to my new role as mom to two under two, recovering from a C section in the heart of a cold, wintry, clusterfucky sort of Winter, and I have to be real: I am actually scared. I don’t know. I COULD BE COMPLETELY RUINING MY CHILDREN’S LIVES.

That sounds sort of intense and overblown, and maybe it is, but HAVE YOU SPENT MORE THAN THREE HOURS WITH A 17 MONTH OLD BOY AND HIS REFLUX-Y, 5 WEEK OLD SISTER? Because, that, my friends is intense for you. This, dear ones, is what a desperate woman looks like. I patted myself on the back this morning for getting my son to preschool on time, and then I got a good look at myself: Dressed in pajamas (as usual) and flip flops in 30 degree weather. I hadn’t brushed my teeth. My hair was all kinds of akimbo. I wore my shirt inside out. I know women have been raising multiple children together for centuries, but please, please tell me: HOW?

It’s so scary it’s stupid. My ability to juggle has gone the way of my personal hygiene, which is to say that it no longer exists. My calm and peace and patience are hiding out somewhere beneath my tears and generalized exhaustion. I don’t have the energy to act like I believe I’m a warrior, or I’m all over it, or I’ve got this gig down pat. I’m authentic by default and on accident, which is another way of saying: I HAVE NOTHING UNDER CONTROL. While I suppose that’s a good thing, in one way, it leaves me feeling somewhat embarrassed or apologetic, since some part of me truly feels a sense of shame that I can’t get our whole “situation” under better wraps and sooner.

Right now, writing this, I’m getting my first real “break” in a couple of days. The baby is stirring, but she’s sort of sleeping (I’ll take it-hallelujah!), and my son is in school. Our house looks like a bomb went off, and I should shower, nap or eat a solid meal, but I’d rather write, because a part of me is hoping that in doing so, I might reclaim the mind that I am pretty sure I’ve lost or am losing. It’s true that this time is funny-it’s not meant to be taken so seriously. But then, it is serious for me because, well, being somebody for my kids is the most important thing I am up to, and believe me when I tell you that being at all, these days, is much harder than I ever imagined it would be.

I know this is time for truly taking the tiniest of baby steps, but in my heart, it hurts to move so slowly. Somewhere, beneath the spit up, the missed naps, the cranky toddler, the hungry infant, the tired husband, the dirty dishes, the stains in the carpet, the red in my eyes and the long days and nights, I know that we’re all “doing this” and we’re “getting through it.” I know that we are lucky to have one another and that we won’t always be in this tender, vulnerable, skunky place. I know that my children will grow and that someday, I’ll miss this time. But for now, I’m pooped. Run down. Strung out. In love like crazy. AND PRAYING LIKE HELL WE ALL MAKE IT OUT OF HERE ALIVE.

Namaste,

~M

 

 

 

 

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December 12

The End.

I love us gals in our last few weeks of pregnancy. Unable to get out of a deep seat without using significant amounts of arm strength, and smearing ourselves into any kind of stretchy fabric we can get our hands on, it’s like the Universe painted “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK” on our foreheads, and we’re not even worried about wiping it off. We waddle on courageously, instead. And we wait.

When I was in my late stages of pregnancy with my son, I was heaving around in the sweaty smog of mid-August. I was eating fresh pineapple, spicy food and driving repeatedly over bumpy roads (natural labor inducers-ha!). I wasn’t sleeping, so I started looking kind of crazy. There I was, my skin stretched beyond belief, my hair all frizzed and frenetic and my feet-oh God, my feet-all puffed up and squashed into tennis shoes that I could hardly tie.

This time, I’m not as puffy in my feet (I blamed that on the excessive humidity, anyway), and my hair’s not as fro’ed out, but I’m beginning to heave myself around, as opposed to walking (you could also say I’m “lumbering”). I got stuck trying to get up from my couch this morning, and it occurred to me that, as much as it’s all becoming a little bit miserable, THIS SHIT IS SO FUNNY!

This pregnancy has been a rocky road, people, and it feels good to finally be at that place where I am simply a giant, waddling baby vessel. My current state means: She’s coming. My body exploding everywhere is an indicator: I’m almost there. And the journey, the big ol’, giant journey is about to take a MAJOR TURN. I’m ready! And you know what? Finally, I DON’T GIVE A FUCK. This pregnancy has sucked the neurotic, perfectionist parenting tendencies RIGHT OUT OF ME, and I’m so grateful. I know what counts: Happiness, security and stability for my family.

I also know what doesn’t count. In fact, I’ve given up worrying about a lot of neurotic, wasteful crap, and while I’m not saying I’m not still a little bit of a spazz and a hawk-eyed mama, I’m at least less of one.

Here’s proof. These days, I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT:

-Making sure my kid only ever eats perfect food. Sometimes, he eats non-perfect food. This week, I was happy if he ate any food, and if it was a cookie, a chocolate milk or a raisin that had been lying on the living room carpet for 15 minutes, well fine. Fuel up, buddy! Get seconds when you’re ready!

-Neatness. Anyone who knows me knows I like clean, but you know what? TODDLERS ARE FILTHY. And I can barely bend over without feeling like I’m going to give birth, so you know what? I’ve stopped trying so hard. If our house looks like a hell hole, well, more power to my child. He knows how to make his mark. I surrender.

-Breastfeeding. With my son, I was convinced and committed to a glorious breastfeeding experience, and it was painful for me when so many things went awry. I was not prepared for how challenging and difficult and isolating it can be to try to work through milk supply and feeding issues. We did the best we could, and I’m at peace with that. We supplemented with him early on, and he went to formula-only before he was 2 months old. NO ONE DIED. He was happy. I was happy. With this new baby, I’m already at peace with whatever is possible. I firmly believe that my child will be healthy and happy and whole, even if I cannot provide her with only breastmilk for her first year of life.

-“Getting my body back.” The last time I was pregnant, I was all kinds of ready to get my body back, like, yesterday. Then, I had a baby. And realized that there are many more important things than getting back into my jeans in 30 days. This time, while I’ll look forward to feeling more physically fit again, I’m just not worried about the weight gain or lost. I know I’ll lose the weight when my body is ready, and I know I needed to gain it in order to grow my baby. Having babies is all about getting comfortable with a slower road, and I don’t feel that same obsession with running out and getting my abs back. I haven’t had abs in a hundred years, it feels like, and I’M DOING OKAY. Also: I feel more connected to my body now than I ever have before, and this is what counts to me. The rest? Will work itself out.

-“Having it all.” In case no one’s noticed, I’m leaning ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE, although not into a high-powered career. For now. It is big ass, valuable, miraculous work raising kids, and it requires so much personal growth and development, it makes Sheryl Sandberg’s book seem kind of silly to me. I’m a leader, and I know that. When I’m ready to lead, or called to lead outside of my home again, then hell if I will not get up and lean my way right out there and do it. For now, I like to keep my focus clean and simple: Health, happiness and stability at home. We do not drive expensive cars and we cannot take extravagant vacations, but I am leading one hell of a fierce and loving, growing army in my house, and that is all I want, right now.

-Doing “it” perfectly. I have only learned to be more patient with my child by being seriously impatient and seeing the results. I see what doesn’t work, and then I change. I struggle. I have worried about one million things trying to figure out how to best care for my son, and it’s taken me a while, but I get it: The best way to care for another person is to be willing to fail. It’s so much better for all of us when I’m not anxious, obsessed and controlling. Air comes flying back into the room, and suddenly, we’re all human, nobody’s got the instruction manual, and again, it’s funny! It’s fun. It’s not rocket science, after all. IT’S LIFE.

I mean, let’s face it-in roughly 2 weeks, we’ll have a newborn, a 16 month old, a post-op, postpartum and an exhausted, sleep-deprived dad living under the same roof. Shit is about to get real! We’re going to be covered in spit up, missing meals and crying at odd moments. If I don’t have a sense of humor about it now, then I might be in trouble.

Game on,

~M

 

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December 3

Hard Times.

Sweet baby Jesus, the finish line to our second baby is in sight!

With a little over 3 weeks to go (@#$?!!!) until our new munchkin-head arrives, I’ll admit it-I’m having a few heart palpitations and meltdowns. Like, for example:

How will I leave my firstborn in the care of others for 3 days in a row? How will he adapt to mommy being postpartum/post c section/post only his for all time? How will I manage the recovery? The birth/surgery? The everything? The Universe! EXCLAMATIONPOINT!

And then, there’s this:

Yesterday, my PT and doctor confirmed that it’s 99.9% likely that I have Femoroacetabular Impingement with a labral tear in my right hip. This is the condition that has given me a literal, constant pain in the ass for 9 months. This is the thing that has nagged and ached and taken my attention and self away from so many things I would have preferred to be tending to. This condition can only be fixed with surgery, and while that kind of makes my head spin to think about, the important thing is that IT IS FIXABLE (amen).

I’m trying not to think about hip surgery with two small babies at home who need me. I know there is far more pressing, immediate business that needs my attention, first. Besides, I’ll have to recover completely from childbirth before going under the knife at my hip, and I firmly believe that if this is the solution to my pain problem, well, I WILL BE READY WHEN IT’S TIME.

Interestingly enough, now that I have a name to this junk in my trunk, I find that I’m finally able to give up the helpless feeling of searching, and not knowing what’s hurt, why it’s hurt, where it’s hurt or what to do. At least now, I can say: Okay. This is the thing that is broken. This is the thing. Here is what we call it. And this gives me enough peace to know that I can move on.

It’s a good thing, since now is the time to focus only on what is directly in front of me. Namely, my child, my husband, my family and the daily steps we must all take in the direction of our second child. If I ever thought I was “present” before now, I was sorely mistaken. This time, sweet ones, right here at the end of my pregnant journey, in the throes of preparing myself and my family for our new addition is what being RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW is all about.

It doesn’t mean that I stop having good days and bad days when it comes to the hip pain, but it does mean that I know it’s just not my highest priority right now. I’m clear that my highest priority is THIS MOMENT, and MY PEOPLE. I’m staying glued to this simple truth:

Hard things are not bad things. Hard things do not signal bad times. Hard times contain possibility.

The reality is that all of us are coming up against our hard spots, you know? They show up at the most inconvenient times, and sometimes, we think we’re lucky if we’re able to numb or distract or avoid dealing with them. In my case, I’m grateful that I really haven’t had the opportunity to get away from anything rubbing up against me. It’s hurt and it hurts to have to give up my ideals and ideas about the way I imagined things being, but then, I have this recent, new respect for what actually is, and I’m learning more and more that this is the stuff that I will choose to work with (and not against!).

Obviously, I’m not going to be able to have this baby alone, nor will I be able to care for her and my son afterward, alone. I won’t be able to undergo hip surgery, alone. I won’t spend the next year alone, raising small people. My life requires a village, and this is especially challenging for an independent person who likes to get all of her own shit done all by herself. It’s a change for all of us in my family, as my husband has had to learn to see me as someone who needs more help than she asks for, and my family members have all had to bear witness to my continuing, unending vulnerability.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned that I must ask and learn to be cared for, too. As my children learn to be supported and connected, so do I. We learn to weave our safety nets together, and I can only give them what I’ve learned I have to give myself. Some days my needs are trumped by those of other people, but I learn to make up for it in other ways, or to become more agile and adaptable, more willing to find restoration in small, formerly insignificant activities. I know I am not great because I have it all together, because I have nothing together, and I look at my child, and I know: I AM GREAT. It’s getting easier to imagine bringing a new baby into our home when I remember that she will teach us, and we will grow beside her, and this is what we’ve already been doing, and we-me included-will all be enough for each other.

I wonder…

Could it be that becoming a mother is not about using the right diapers, sleep training technique, baby food or breast vs. bottle? Could it be that mothering is not just about how constantly happy we keep our babies, or how well-mannered they become, or smart, or tall or perfectly shiny and spotless and only ever healthy? Could it be that the journey into becoming a mother is really the journey of an entire family, an entire village? And that all of us must learn to be enough for ourselves and for each other? Could it be that we learn to care for our children, by caring for ourselves? Is it possible that we must meet these sometimes hard times and go into them with our whole hearts and our whole selves and trust simply in the going?

I don’t have confidence that everything will be easy or even okay, but who needs false hope like that anyway.

I trust that we can work with hard times. That’s all I need.

Besos,

~M

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November 17

She.

At the 11th hour, I finally get what I need to take with me into this next year of my life (which begins, coincidentally, in just a few hours):

Strength. Courage.

I don’t know how to describe my personal evolution over this past year. I don’t have the language for what it has meant to lean into and learn into being a MOM and the other half of a MARRIED PARTNERSHIP. I don’t know how to talk about preparing for two babies in two years. I don’t know, because many days I have wondered how the hell I will get out of “here” alive. I have embraced my path, but this has sort of felt like a daily exercise in hugging barnacles.

The truth is that becoming a mom has sometimes been a heartbreaking experience for me. It has thrown me in the face of myself and cracked wide open my 32-years-and-growing-strong suitcase of personal baggage. I cannot run, and I hardly have the energy enough to hide. So, I face stuff like this:

I don’t trust anyone. I want to be in control. I’m scared to need other people. I feel alone. And that makes me sad.

You know, I’m a willing and able student to my life, but that doesn’t mean I am always a star pupil. This year, I have felt like I am constantly studying and barely breaking a C+. I wanted to write this blog every day, but I didn’t. I wanted to love life as a working mom, and then I wanted to love life as a stay at home mom. I have not “loved” either. I have struggled to figure out what the hell this journey is teaching me, and as the year’s been winding down, I think I get it:

We don’t grow strength by taking it easy. We don’t learn courage by being fearless.

You know, I haven’t been riding high this year. I haven’t been famously fabulous, and I have not felt strong or brave or even moderately competent on more than half of my days. BUT I HAVE SHOWN THE HELL UP. And if it’s time to move forward, and let go of the struggle, well, I am starting right there.

Soon, I’m having another baby, and I AM SCARED TO DEATH. Like, I’m scareder to do this, than I’ve ever been scared to do anything. I’m so scared, I want to cry. More than once a day. I trip myself out trying to figure out how I’m going to become the person who can “do” this, and take care of us, and BE OKAY. But I am missing the damn point:

I AM ALREADY HER.

You know, being scared is legit, but it’s not everything. Training hard is important, and being prepared is too, but there’s more to this story than my blood, sweat and tears. At a certain point, the road runs out, the shit hits the fan, the chips fall, the sky cracks open and the page turns. We can resist it, we can try to avoid it, but we’re only prolonging the inevitable:

THIS IS YOUR LIFE. SO, GO.

I’m not sure that things aren’t going to totally fall apart when this second baby comes. But I’m calling on what I know and what I hope to know, and I am asking the universe to catch me when I fall. I’m calling on my sisters, my brothers, and every human around me to hold me and know me and go go go with me. I’m asking for more courage so that I can have more trust and more faith than I’ve ever known, and I’m surrendering control, because shit, I JUST DO NOT HAVE IT.

I’m brave guys, but nothing prepared me for the bravery I’d need to live into the big life I’m accidentally creating. It bowls me over sometimes, and I tumble and tumble under the force of it all. I can get back up-in fact, I’m getting back up-but I have had to work through the waves, and I didn’t “plan” on that kind of training.

You can quote me, and hold me to this, but only because I’m throwing it out there on intuition and guts alone:

This year, I am strength in numbers. I am strong.

Sounds about right to me.

The beat goes on,

~M

 

 

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