1.01.2015

2015

The profound, Day #1 of the new year, proclamation.

Nope.

No new diet. I ate leftover Chinese take-out for breakfast AND lunch. And I’ll eat it again for dinner.

Not going to find that here. Far too many times I’ve made some pretty bold statements about new leaves I’m turning over, sins I’m giving up, and how many pounds I intend to lose. Sure, I can make a list of resolutions if forced to do so, but if Motherhood has taught me anything it all, then I know to keep my mouth shut…for the most party anyhow.

The best teacher: my kid.
Before I had my kid, I had all kinds of notions of the things I would or wouldn't do as a mom; how quickly many of those notions flew out the window when the day-to-day reality of this squirming, mewing newborn – now turned babbling, spunky toddler – arrived on the scene. 2014 has been the single most humbling year of my life. Harder than any rehab after knee reconstruction, harder than getting up at 4 am in the bitter cold to train before heading to class, harder than moves across the country, harder than my first year of teaching. It’s been HARD.

But – I’ve been a keen student and have grown marginally wiser to this new normal. I’m still learning, though. Learning to let go, mostly. To let go of what other mothers are doing and to not compare myself to them; we’ve each got our own gig going, and what we do is the best for our own kids. To let go of the dog-hair tumbleweeds that taunt me in the corners of the stairs, to let go of the dishes that haven’t been scrubbed, to let go of the office that sorely needs to be reorganized. I’m not a “let go” kind of woman by nature. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I’m the get shit done, every square inch of my home is organized, kind of woman – at least I was. I’ve had to clear out the clutter in my psyche and make room a whole other human being, one that needs me much more than the dishes, the dog hair, or the messy closet.

I’m just going to continue on this journey with Lucille and Big Red. I will do my best to take care of myself a little better, and to continue learning to let go of the small things. Okay, so I lied. That previous statement sure did sound like a resolution, but I’m alright with what I’ve put out into the universe.


Happy 2015.

12.20.2014

Fall 2014

Once again we have found ourselves in coats and scarves, the traces of autumnal colors all but gone. We crossed the threshold of one year as parents, and I personally gave myself a pat on the back for surviving. Not that we're out of the woods; we're still very much deep in the trees, often in the dark, guessing at which direction we should head.

Miss Lucille continues to grow and thrive despite the endless stream of colds, coughs, and annoying germs from daycare. She loves her friends at "school," and she adores her teachers. We often get reports that our kid is the "life of the party," and is quite content to entertain. Big surprise. Not much is different at home, and my blue-eyed babe makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis. She is growing her personality more and more, and learning just as quickly.

To date, Lucy now says: mama, daddy, ball, apple, happy, car, go, yeah, bubbles, baby, doggie, ducky, birdie, book, woof, good girl, and nana. She understands a ton, and can point out or go and grab most of her toys when asked. Her current favorites are Piggy (a stuffed pig), Tiger (a stuffed tiger), and any of the cars Big Red gave to her from his matchbox collection. Lucy continues to enjoy books, and we've added Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to the rotation. For now the pacifier remains (say what you will), but we're down to just an am and pm bottle of milk. Lucy knows the signs for more, food, help (a modified version), and milk. She gets her teeth brushed every night, and continues to be a good sleeper - that is, when there's no illness thwarting her efforts.

In the month of December alone she added four teeth, for a total now of six, and there appears to be a few more on deck. Lucy quickly learned to climb into the Learning Tower Big Red made for her, and most evenings she keeps me company in the kitchen while I put dinner together. She is content to play with a bowl and spoon while mama cooks.

A few other notables this fall season:

  • first trip to the pumpkin patch
  • first trick or treating Halloween
  • she's using a utensil to eat more often
  • she can identify the eyes, nose, ear, mouth, and belly
  • stacks rings on a stick
  • working on throwing a ball
  • getting better at walking faster and close to running
  • she had her first unofficial haircut - I trimmed her bangs
  • she rode her first pony

Personally, I'm still struggling to find a balance - Motherhood and Myself-hood. I joined a gym, and the goal is go twice a week. Out of two weeks, I made my goal once. Baby steps. Most evenings I'm exhausted by 8 pm, but Big Red and I have gone out a couple of times, and I went out with some girlfriends a week ago - no husbands, no kids, just the gals. We had a lovely time. Tonight as I sit here and write this, the monitor next to me, an ear keenly tuned to any chirps my kid makes, there are dishes in the sink, and plenty of tidying up to do. There just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. So I've decided I can cry about it (which sometimes happens), or I can pick and choose what I feel really needs attention, and then let the rest go. Letting go is difficult. VERY difficult, but so necessary at this stage in my life. As I've said before, perfection is unattainable and a dangerous bar to set.

Despite all the exhaustion of parenthood and life, my crowning achievements this season have been putting together Lucy's first birthday party, and finishing a project that had been in the works since she was born: I edited and put together all the live-action clips of my daughter's first year in a finished piece. It's 30 minutes long, would probably bore anyone who isn't blood related to this kid, but I LOVE IT.

Christmas is around the corner and I have a sneaking suspicion Santa will make a stop here for Lucy. She's too young get to get Christmas, but I still look forward to seeing her face light up each night when she flips the switch that turns on the Christmas tree.

I'm going to hit the "publish" button on this post, change into my comfy clothes, ignore the dishes in the sink, and head downstairs to relax. Because if I don't take the opportunity to relax tonight, then it won't really ever happen.








10.28.2014

Rattled.

I belong to a network of working mothers and we have a space on Facebook that’s closed to the outside world where we can post whatever rants, frustrations and successes that currently pepper our chaotic lives. Recently, a member posted a link to an article that revealed some statistics (as collected by a survey done through Care.com) about working mothers. First of all, I could have written several portions of that article, but what startled me the most were the following two revelations: 1 in 4 working moms cries at least once a week, and 11% are late or call in sick to work at least once a week. Before my daughter was born, I was the archetype of timeliness to work. Not anymore. Just this morning, my alarm went off, as it always does, at 5:30 am, but it wasn’t until 6 am that I pulled what sorry sack of a human I currently am, out of bed. In order for me to get to work on time, I need to be pulling out of the driveway by 6:20, and definitely no later than 6:30. Today it was 6:45, and that included skipping breakfast. 

Early on in the article, the author recounts a rough evening where after a long night at the office she comes home to discover that there isn’t enough milk left in the house and that come morning, her kids would wake wanting their milk and there would be none. Fatigued, and ready raise the white flag, she “[shuffles] into the living room, [crumples] into an exhausted heap on the floor next to a pile of toys no one had cleaned up” and cries. This morning as I was frenetically getting myself together (which involved grabbing the nearest work-reasonable top, one that I wouldn’t notice until it was too late, had dried Lucy snot on one shoulder), I passed by the living room and was also confronted with a scattering of toys that had not been picked up. That chore falls under my list of responsibilities, but last night I’d made a deliberate choice not to pick up her toys because I needed to get a lasagna into the oven. And the reason it had to happen last night was because attempting to put it together this evening, baking it, and having it be ready for a 5:30/6 pm dinnertime would be impossible. So it had to happen last night. By the time Lucy was in bed, and the lasagna was bubbling in its Corningware, it was nearly 8:30. I had just a paltry thirty minutes left to speak to and hang with the man I call my husband before my eyelids would become too heavy to keep up. These days I turn to dust around 9 pm. 

Motherhood itself is tough stuff, but more than motherhood itself, it's the rattling motherhood does to your life. The secondary expense. All that stuff I got done on time, had organized, remembered - well, I can't seem to get a handle on it. Any of it, and it's rattled me because I've always been the one who has their shit together. There just isn’t enough time anymore.

I’m late to work on a regular basis, I haven’t exercised in god knows how long, I eat crap (breakfast this morning was chocolate chip cookies and a Sunkist – leftovers from Lucy’s party this past weekend I shoved in my bag on the way out the door), I forget stuff, and the house is constantly verging on disastrous. Here’s the good news. My daughter is healthy, happy, thriving, and loved immensely. My marriage is solid, and we have an understanding that while most days we can only muster a quick conversation and check-in, for now it’s about survival.

I know that so much of this, motherhood, parenting, life, is all about perspective. If I take a moment to pause and examine the details, the conclusions are a lot less dramatic. Late to work for me means not getting there with time to exhale before running down to do bag duty. Am I technically late? No. But to me, it feels like late when I don’t have some leisurely time. While I occasionally replace some meals with total shit-bag food, not every meal I shovel into my pie-hole is without merit. In fact, tonight’s lasagna is made with grass-fed beef, and plenty of vegetables. And the disastrous house is not tragically disastrous, it’s just lived in and not always picked up with everything in its place. What can I say? My standards are my own prison.

Too many plates are spinning, there are far too many balls in the air. Something has to give. And not only does something have to take a backseat, but I need to pick a starting point. A place from which to reassess – find and hit the proverbial reset button. Instead I’m faced with what feels like my own personal Everest of a mission, and I have no idea where to begin. If I could just get 48 hours - 48 hours that included an acupuncture session, a full-body massage, and time to regroup, that would be perfect. Instead I’m Clarice Starling in Buffalo Bill’s basement, in the dark, pointing my gun at nothing in particular. 


10.09.2014

She's One.

Dear Lucille,

Today you are one year old. Your age is no longer relegated to the obligatory month-count; when folks ask how old you are, I can now say, “she’s one.” You’re one. Already your life of one year is replete with memories, none that you’ll remember, and some of which, for me, will certainly collapse under the weight of time. But there are many, many moments, hallmarks and milestones that have stitched themselves onto the fabric of my life. And because you won’t remember, there are stacks upon stacks of images, both in video and photograph, that document this first year.

Lately, I’ve been replaying the days leading up to your birth, your arrival, and the days that followed. Scenes from your first few weeks queue themselves like stills from a movie. Feeding you bottles in the wee hours of the morning, my eyes barely able to focus on the clock tick-tocking on the wall across from us. Visitors coming in and out to meet you, dropping off trays of food, and the moment your grandparents met you for the first time.

There is still clarity in many of those memories, but the raw pink flesh of newborness and motherhood have since callused over. Who you and I are today are not the gals we were then. More than anything, you have single-handedly taught me to trust my instincts. That mother’s intuition is the real deal, and no one knows you better than I do, my darling. No one, not even, dare I say it, your dad.

This past year wasn’t always masked in buttery bokeh and soft twinkling light. There were more than enough pitfalls and days laden with a suffocation I was certain would get the better of me – but somehow, we weathered the mighty white-capped swells. And in doing so, something has been forged between us, you and me. It was built in the fractured menagerie of all the hours and minutes of the past year. In the innumerable tears spilled, the frustrations, and the successes. It was built in the time spent making your food from scratch and spooning the brightly colored purees into your little bird mouth. Learning each chord of your cry, my ear tuned to precision, often times in scattered fragments of desperation. In washing and folding your miniature clothing, the socks unfathomably tiny. In the naps you took on my chest, your face turned up to mine so that every exhale was my inhale, your breath and the weight of your body an intoxicating elixir.

While I mourn the passing of your babyhood, I am giddy with excitement over what lies ahead. Your proficiency in walking will lead to running, and beyond. Your babbling and the few words in your vernacular will turn into phrases and then sentences. We will go places that you will be able to experience and understand in a way that you could not as an infant. Through your eyes, I will see the world anew.

This life you begun a year ago is off to a remarkable start. I can only hope that down the road, when we enter the quivering grounds of the pre-teen and teenage landscapes, you don’t disappear for too long, that even though you may become distant, you will always be just on the horizon. My hope is that by then we will have built such a strong relationship it is able to weather any dark storms. A mama can wish, right? Let’s not be the cliché.

You make us laugh, your smile is brilliant and there is an unmistakable twinkle in your eyes. Your curiosity is insatiable, and the learning and growing you've done this year have been humbling to watch. It has been, my darling, an absolute honor to be your mother. You are delightful and comical, affectionate and clever. More than anything, more than your exquisitely beautiful face, I am in love with who you are.

Last night you fell asleep, a baby, under a gloriously bright moon. Today you wake up a wide-eyed toddler. Tonight we will sing Happy Birthday to you, and the very same style of Cuban cake your mama ate when she turned one, will be the cake you get to have as well.

Happy birthday, my sweet Lucille.




10.03.2014

Ramblings

Maybe it’s the autumnal air, the trees beginning to turn their brilliant colors, the sky deepening it’s hue before a long winter’s sleep. Something has affixed itself to me; something that has no name but boards alongside restlessness and boredom. Let me interject and state that this has nothing to do with Lucille. On the Motherhood front, I feel a sense of gratifying fulfillment. Motherhood has simultaneously shattered and healed me. By day’s end I am exhausted, but even in a collapsed state on the big brown couch, every evening, my heart swells when I turn the monitor on and see my daughter’s rumpled body in the corner of her crib, her doughy hand clutching her lovey.

This thing, this some other, has more to do with the rest of my life. I’m 36. Am I too young to be facing a mid-life crisis? Is that what this is? I have been teaching for nearly eleven years, a decade split between two schools I love. For the majority of my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to teach exactly what I want and how I want, and I have been relatively successful at it. But lately the claws of a greener pasture seem to have fastened themselves to the hours of my days. Daydreaming has turned into thoughts of a full-fledged photography business, or transforming into a married with a kid version of Carrie Bradshaw. My usual state of acceptance and general happiness has been stained with a narrative of I want more.

Can we really have it all?
Pause.
My god, can we have it all and more?

My immediate response to this nebulous fog is to organize. The need for a clean slate, for shirts hanging in the closet to be filed side-by-side according to color and sleeve length, makes me happy. Begin a cleanse and whole body makeover.  And I know why. It’s because I can control these. I can make changes, I can reorganize my desk drawers, I can clean out the pantry – I can be in complete control of the outcome. I’m not grasping at gossamer trails of smoke in the air that don’t exist. Shirts on a hanger are concrete items that can be manipulated. The daydreaming, the fettered state of metacognition – it’s all so elusive.

The reality, though, of this more, is not really real. At least it appears to be temporary; it comes in waves. While I was feeling as previously described for several days, I then sank my teeth into planning one of my new courses, and guess what? I felt revived. The color came back into my cheeks, and the wan sense of boredom retreated. Clearly this just bolsters the case for not making a rash decision. Good thing I didn’t resign and go spend umpteen-thousand dollars on lenses and a new camera body. Good thing my family still has health insurance.


Good thing.

9.09.2014

Month Eleven.

Just one month shy of her first birthday and Lucille is on the precipice of Toddlerhood. There is no denying that the baby we brought home eleven months ago is rocketing her way into this next phase of life with spunk, charm, intelligence, and the brightest of smiles.

Our little star finally cut her first two teeth, the lower central incisors; she is now not just removing toys from bins or baskets, but replacing them as well, and she has caught on to using a straw. She can sign “more,” and holds her toy phone up to her ear and says, “hello.” She continues to listen well to our redirection and stern-voiced NOs. The gal appears to get it.

In terms of being mobile, she has become an upright walking human in a matter of days. The transition was light-speed. On August 30th, she took her firsts steps, just a few days later she took steps that were unprompted. As of today, Lucille can walk long stretches (think the length of the hallway, or from one room to another), before collapsing on her tooshie. We are slack-jawed, wonderstruck parents.

There is little to document by way of food other than to proclaim my daughter a foodie. She eats everything and anything, not to mention the occasional fistful of dog food. We have begun a slow transition from formula to milk by replacing just a few ounces of her Enfamil with the moo juice. She seems unaffected so we’ll continue in this fashion, diluting the formula with milk a little more each week. The goal is to be at 100% milk by her first birthday. She often enjoys her bottles now, on her own, big kid style, relaxing with some pillows and stuffed animals. To date, she weighs 22.5 lbs.

On a recent lazy Saturday, Lucy and I visited a very cool venue called the Toy Lending Library, an indoor play space, run by a cooperative of volunteers in the basement of a local church. Kids can check-out toys, much like they would in a traditional library. We had a blast, but the time spent there that afternoon was particularly memorable. There was a learning moment for me as a parent while Lucy was traversing and attempting to navigate a ramp and some stairs in the baby section. She’d never encountered a ramp of any sort and my initial instinct was to step in and turn her body so that she could understand how to crawl down it. Instead, I opted not to interfere and allowed her the opportunity to figure it out on her own. I was channeling Pamela Druckerman’s account of French parenting in Bringing Up Bébé, if you will. Sure enough, she was able to deduce that she could scoot down the ramp backwards while on her belly. I continued the hands-off posture when she attempted the stairs.

While it may sound a smidge overdramatic, it was really breathtaking to witness her figure out each challenge; how she’d thump her hand to test the ramp, look back at me, and thump again; how she’d dip her toe, cautiously to the next step, but retract if it didn’t feel right, all the while her little hands gripping the railing. I could see her eyes scan the situation, make some kind of connection and calculation, and turn that answer into action. She learned something new, from start to finish, right in front of me and I was awash in fireworks of adoration and amazement.

My daughter is my teacher, and that day she taught me to trust in her. To be there should she fall, but to allow her the chance to solve a problem, to fail, and try again. Who would have thought a two foot ramp, and a set of three stairs would be ripe with such enlightenment – for the both of us.

Happy eleven months, my sweet Lucille.







8.09.2014

Month Ten.

She has officially existed in the world longer than she did inside my body.  The tides are changing, and she has become an eddy to the ocean she once inhabited. She is developing distinct traits, quirks and reactions; before our eyes, to our utter incredulity, Lucille is becoming her own person.

Food continues to be a fun exploration. With the go-ahead from Dr. V, Lucy has had peanut butter, and shrimp. Both proved to be harmless (a huge motherly WHEW!), and she enjoyed eating them. Of the top allergenic foods, so far, we have escaped harm. She has not had tree nuts yet, but not because we’ve avoided them, it just hasn’t come up. She continues to eat with vigor and without hesitation. At her 9 month check-up, she weighed in at 20 lbs., 3 oz. (75th percentile), and she stood 29.5” tall (95th percentile).

In terms of skills developed and acquired, my girl can now clap, understands and delivers, sometimes on request, kisses. In fact she will spontaneously kiss any object, including every page of a book you’re reading to her, the wall she’s stumbling past, or the dog’s paw. She can stand, unassisted for long periods of time, and it looks like she thinks about taking a step, but before she does, she drops back down to her rump, where she crawls as if she’s got a turbo attached to her heels. I’m convinced by her first birthday, she’ll be taking those first steps, if not walking. She says the words, “eye,” “mama,” and “baby.” Baby sounds more like “bee-bee.”  I’m still not convinced that while she clearly enunciates, “mama,” she knows that word is me, her actual mama. It is apparent that she can, on occasion, correctly identify an eye.  She will point to her baby doll or stuffed animal, poke it right in its plastic orb, and say, “eye.” We can credit this to her Abuela in California. Lucy has also learned how to wave hello and goodbye, and if we say, “doggie,” she looks or points at Olive. Her pincer grasp is coming along nicely, but on the flip-side, I tried giving her a cup with a straw the other day and it didn’t work. Lucy points her nubby little finger at everything and is constantly babbling a story or telling of some discovery. One of her favorite things to do right now is push her little walker toy around, and would be content to motor up and down the hallway a billion times, as well as play with her piano. And this girl loves, I mean ell-oh-vee-ee, loves the water.

Unfortunately, this month was not a sick-free month. No dice there. This month she had the luckless circumstance of dealing with a nagging and persistent yeast infection, followed immediately by Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Thankfully, though, her bout with HFAM was mild. We basically had one horrendous weekend with an alien child that had replaced our smiling, happy-go-lucky kid. That damn yeast infection took nearly a month to clear up. We just repeat to ourselves that it’s all part of both the daycare game and growing up. Her immune system gets stronger and stronger with each lame-ass incident.

The tides of our summer days are quickly receding, and Lucy and I are enjoying what precious time is left before I become a washed up piece of ocean turned sea glass on the nineteenth of this month. We have enjoyed trips to the zoo, the Children’s Museum, lots of walks, and of course, our vacation in California. While in California, she saw for the first time the ocean, and put her doughy little feet in the Pacific.

She’s had a vast variety of experiences these past few months, and I’m proud of that. I know she won’t remember a single second of her first summer, but I will. Someday, she will point to pictures of herself in my cousin’s pool, pictures of herself on a carousel, and she will ask. I’ll tell her stories of an infant, wide-eyed, curious, and eager to inhale the world and all it had to offer.


Happy ten months, my sweet Lucille.