Dang, EIGHT years? That’s a long time. If you’ve been reading for EIGHT years (so, my mom and dad), then you know I end every year with a recap since my blog-iversary is December 25th. (I don’t know why I started on Christmas Day. I think because I was on break from school?)
First, let’s recap 2016:
I quit my job and full-time work completely.
I knew the second I grabbed that tiny little baby for the first time that I wouldn’t be going back to work. January was my first foray into full-time freelance life, and I’ve never looked back.
We went west.
Travel is significantly less frequent with a baby, but we did take a trip to Seattle and Vancouver this year for our anniversary. Vivi was much more impressed than she looks.
I destroyed my phone for the first time.
We went to Virginia.
This was one of Vivi’s first real road trips. Fortunately, we packed the car with some of her favorite people and a lot of snacks, so it was pretty successful.
Vivi had her first party.
Clearly, much fun was had by all.
I started pioneering.
And it has been great. And exhausting. But mostly great.
Vivi turned one.
And I cried. And laughed. And breathed a sigh of relief that we had survived our first year.
I feel like I owe you guys a million more posts, but all I’ve got for your right now is my annual sum-uppance. Let’s get to it:
Age: 29. Though, if you ask my brother, I’ve been 30 for about four years.
Location: New York City
Occupation: Editor/freelance writer. This year brought a few on-staff gigs, but all that I can do from home.
New favorite food: Apparently your taste buds change every seven years (or so I’ve read), and this year, I found myself actually liking red wine and not hating olives. It’s a brave new world.
TV shows I’m watching: This Is Us is my favorite on-air show (IT’S SO GOOD AND I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU’RE NOT WATCHING IT), and I’m also Netflix-ing Revenge. Mostly because of all the amazing dresses, not going to lie.
Book I’m reading: I just borrowed She’s Come Undone from a friend, but my reading is severely limited these days. #momlife
What’s my hair doing right now: This question started out as a joke, but my answer is literally different every year, and I find it genuinely interesting to look back. (That sounds shallow, but y’all know I have a lot of theories on the link between hair and happiness.) Is grown-out lob a thing? Because that’s what I think I have. And the color is a root-y blonde, which probably just means I need to get my hair done on all counts. Did I mention #momlife?
How I did on my goals from last year: Just to remind you, these were last year’s goals, along with how I did:
2. Simplifying: I cut back on so many unnecessary expenses this year, I’m really proud to say that for the first time in a long time, I don’t have any credit card debt AND I have some money in my savings account. (I mean, it will all be gone when we pay taxes, but yay for small victories!). I’m also always on a campaign to clean out the clutter, and I think I did a pretty decent job of that this year, too.
3. Make this whole freelancing thing work: This was such a big change for me (I’ll blog more in depth about it at some point — I think I’m just scared to jinx it), but I’m so happy to say it has been such a big success. I’m loving my work-life balance, and I’m actually really enjoying all of my jobs. Who knew?
4. Keep raising Vivi successfully: It seems crazy to pat myself on the back about this, but I think we’re doing well. I love (LOVE) being Vivi’s mom, and I think she’s growing up to be pretty awesome.
And now…goals for next year:
It gets harder and harder for me to make goals the older I get, I think because I realize more and more how little control I have over anything. I want to get my time in as a pioneer. I want to keep doing a good job as a mom. I want to keep doing a good job at work. We’ve been talking a lot about next steps for our family, so I’ll keep you posted on any developments there, but right now, I’m waiting and seeing. Not an easy task for me, but it’s always good to try new things.
See y’all next year!
So, I’ve officially begun weaning Vivi.
Side note: Can we please find a new term for this? Weaning sounds like a loose mix of taking a leak and the noise an animal might make as it dies. Not. A. Fan.
But the point is, we’re down to one nursing session a day (right before bed), and it’s leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings.
On one hand, it’s nice to have a bit more freedom in my day. I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can take her anywhere and not worry about having to find somewhere private for meals! I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can leave her with a sitter for more than four hours at a time! I CAN WEAR DRESSES THAT DON’T BUTTON!
But while I do like this new age of freedom and independence for us both, I’d be lying if I said I was completely thrilled by the development.
Sometimes, I miss the closeness. I miss getting to snuggle up four to six times a day (or even more in the beginning) and feel so bonded to this lovely, tiny person.
Of course, that’s the nostalgia talking. I know in my brain that nursing wasn’t always to picturesque. But there is a tiny part of my heart that breaks anytime Vivi asks to nurse and I have to give her a sip of water or milk from a cup and distract her away from me.
I’m trying to focus on the good things. I was able to go to an all-day work conference for my new job (that I absolutely love). Vivi was able to spend the day with her grandparents at a company picnic on Long Island. (Though, not going to lie, sending her off in a car with someone who is not me was much harder than I expected.)
Basically, we’re all growing up. And, for the most part, dealing with it.
Just don’t grow too fast, k, Viv?
Remember when I used to take the Long Island Rail Road a lot? And I whined about it. A lot.
It has been almost four years since I officially bid adieu to the rails, and, I’ll admit, even I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t been the eence bit of a drama queen.
I mean, it’s just a train through Long Island. How bad could it actually be?
And then, last week, I had to take it again after over a year of abstaining.
And, you guys? I think it actually got worse.
What I don’t expect? To find myself in a full-on frat rager before it’s even midnight.
For the entire 30-minute ride I shared with this crowd, it was non-stop screaming, seat-hopping, and literal chanting. Not like, monks-finding-inner-peace chanting. Like, THIS. IS. CHAN. TING. (*clap clap clap clap clap*) And the lyrics were, shall we say, not fit to print.
It was, in a word, unpleasant.
At one point, the conductor passed through to clip tickets and whispered to the guy across the aisle and me that “they might not notice you if you stay quiet.” It was that bad.
The good news is that they got off a few stops before me, so at least part of my ride was relatively peaceful. Even so, I think I can officially scratch “am I a drama queen?” off my list of concerns.
Sometimes I feel like I can barely remember how I felt when Vivi was first born.
I don’t mean the good things. The good things are so indelibly burned into my brain that I don’t think anything short of a lobotomy (or, you know, something like this) could ever get them out. I’m talking about the bad stuff.
I swear, you guys: I know I was stressed out and exhausted and overwhelmed and tense all the time…but I can only barely remember what it felt like.
It must be like giving birth. I know it hurt like WHOA and that I threw up a dozen times and was kind of hating life near the end there, but all I can remember is that I powered through it and felt like Superwoman at the end. Superwoman with the cutest, most amazing baby ever.
Almost ten months after that day (good LORD, time, will you stop breaking my heart already!), I can honestly say that I rarely feel like the mess I know I was at the beginning anymore. It’s not that I’m the perfect mom — I’m not. It’s not that I have it all figured out — I do not. I just…don’t beat myself up the way I used to.
I don’t expect perfection from myself because I know Vivi doesn’t either. We’re both fed and clean(ish) and happy, and that really is good enough for both of us.
When I first had Vivi, I was also just beginning this crazy world of freelance, part-time work, and that was scary and overwhelming too. (Remember this panic-induced all-nighter? Yeah, not fun.) I remember one day feeling like I was just being bad at everything and wondering if I had spread myself too thin. Maybe I couldn’t do it all. Maybe I couldn’t do anything.
I’m glad I was able to shake those feelings off eventually. Or, rather, glad I gave myself time to adjust before deciding I was just a miserable failure.
And now? Now, I actually feel confident in my abilities as a mother. My friend Madison once said that she felt like she was truly the best person to be her child’s mother, and I completely get that now. Now, being a mother just makes me so, so happy. I still feel all the feels from this post. Now, I feel like Vivi and I have a routine that works for us and makes everything seem so much more manageable.
In short, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. In so many ways, whether that be motherhood or my new career or my relationships or even things like my health and fitness. Things just seem to feel even and peaceful.
And I know that even putting that thought into print is a guarantee that everything is about to change and I’m about to face a whole new bunch of challenges, but, you know what? I actually feel confident in our ability to face those, too. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they took their time getting here.)
Side note: If you haven’t had your fill of mush yet, I highly recommend going back and re-reading this post for the photos alone. That spiky hair and tiny baby smile? I die.
That’s a question I ask myself a lot about this ol’ blog these days.
Are you ready for a mind-boggling fact? I’ve been writing this blog for seven and a half years. I didn’t even realize that until I went to check the starting year so I could tell you how long I’ve been writing it. Isn’t that insane?
To put it in perspective, I’ve been a month for seven months. The longest I’ve ever held a single job was a little over two years. The longest romantic relationship I’ve ever had (hey, babe) has been seven years. The longest I’ve ever lived the same residence was about nine years.
This blog is one of the biggest commitments of my life.
And yet…lately, my life has been really busy. I’m raising a baby and working almost every minute of the day, and at night I mostly just want to collapse and do nothing, but I usually have to catch up on work from the day. I’m tired. And more importantly, my brain is tired. It would be so easy to shut down this little site and call it a day.
And yet…I can never pull the trigger. And when I talk to friends who are just beginning to blog or thinking about starting their own, I feel a spark of excitement as I remember what blogging can be. It makes me want to start a blog all over again.
I started this blog out of a weird sense of obligation as a fledgling journalist. I kept it going as a creative outlet when my career wasn’t particularly creative. In a lot of ways, it is my diary, my record of wins, losses, and all the feelings.
The blog has brought me emotional connections with people all around the world, including a few now real-life friends. While it has never been a source of major income for me, it has brought me business connections and opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
And, to be honest, I don’t want to stop blogging.
I think the struggle I’m having is that I don’t feel like I’m blogging well these days. I have all these ideas of things I want to do, but I’m not making the time or effort to put them into action. And it’s not that I don’t think I have good excuses why it doesn’t happen — I just wonder if I put a little more effort into time management, if maybe, just maybe, I could do it all.
(Welcome to my brain’s constant chorus: I never think I’m doing enough.)
So here’s what I’m thinking: I want to publish three times a week. And to keep myself accountable, I’m assigning a category for each post. And to keep my passion for the post alive, each of those categories will be one of my favorite things:
Post one will be a recipe or DIY, post two will be a product review or style-related (whether personal or home), and the third post will be a story. Because stories are what started this blog, and stories will always be what it’s about. My plan is to start next week.
I’ll be real with you guys, I’m a little nervous to publish this post. I’m nervous to say I’m going to do something when it will be extremely obvious and open if I fail. I hate failing. And I hate failing publicly.
But, you know what? After seven and a half years, I think I still have a few stories left to tell.
For some reason, I always looked forward to Vivian being six months old as a sort of distant parenting promised land. Especially when we were in the thick of the “fourth trimester,” when so much of my baby was unknown and scary and messy. I knew (or at least, had been assured) things would improve at three months, but the 6-month mark had been especially heralded as a turning point in development that would make both of our lives a lot easier.
But at the same time…it seemed like a really long way off. Especially when the infant in my arms was vomiting without cause at almost every meal or refusing to sleep despite being exhausted.
That probably sounds naive, thinking that something a mere six months off would take forever to get here, but what can I say? Babies make you dumb.
The point is, the day finally came: Vivi is six months old! And while I can’t really say there was this marked shift overnight (and, let’s be honest, she really is a pretty good kid overall), it is making me reflect on how much smoother life is now that she has a few more months out of the womb under her tiny little belt.
Vivi’s six month brought quite a few milestones, including her first and second teeth. (Both within the second week. Yes, I do accept your condolences.)
She’s sitting up for a handful of seconds at a time, and can even stand while holding onto something for a while before plopping back down on her tush. As for crawling, she’s just now showing an interest in it, and even leap-frogged a couple hops on all fours yesterday. And while the thought of this whirling dervish being mobile is already a bit exhausting to think about, it’s also terribly exciting to see her changing in literal leaps and bounds.
Most of all, though, it is such a joy to see her little personality continue to shine through. Because, Vivi, you are so much sunshine. You are brave and kind, the two things I wished most for you. You love so hard, whether it’s your family, honorary family, or just another baby you happen to meet. You smile so easily, and nothing brightens my day like one of your cuddles or when the mood will suddenly strike you to gently lay a hand on my cheek and kiss my chin.
I am so, so grateful that I get to be your mama.
So, what I’m saying is, six months lives up to the hype. And I hear even better things about nine months.
Let’s do this, Vivi Bean.