On My Mind

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I’ll admit I’m a little burnt out on New York these days. This upcoming spring, I’ll have lived here eight years. It’s two years shy of how long I said would live in New York, but about three years longer than I thought I would make it half a decade ago.

Obviously, there are things to love about this city. But — and I’m being honest here — the longer I am here, the harder it is for me to remember those things. Or maybe even care about those things.

Do I care about the access to any kind of shopping? I buy all my clothes in thrift stores/online thrift stores or through online sales anyway. Do I care about the shows and concerts? I see something on Broadway once in a blue moon now, and I am rarely willing to battle the crowds to do anything notable going on in the city. Do I care about the restaurants? Eating out is almost as rare as the Broadway shows.

I would miss Seamless legitimately. But, honestly, that just makes me kind of sad to say out loud. I’ll miss the thing that lets me be extra lazy and spend extra money.

It’s probably not surprising, but motherhood has made me roll my eyes a little bit harder at NYC. Because it is hard to be a mom here, folks.

It’s hard to take your baby out, because you are either schlepping them on your back in a carrier (which I honestly don’t mind because at least I can navigate easily, but it is super sweaty in the summer) or trying to maneuver a stroller down busy sidewalks, through a million doorways, or up and down subway steps. It’s hard to figure out things to do with your baby because everything baby-centric is expensive and everything non-baby-centric is…not baby friendly.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am sometimes when Vivi and I finish our errands (don’t even get me started on the difficulty of doing laundry in the city with a baby…) and I can look at her and say, “And now we don’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day!”

I mean…that is not why I moved to New York.

So, yeah, I fantasize about motherhood in the burbs. I dream of a garage and in-home laundry and a real backyard and an accessible Target.

But I’m trying to be content and appreciate the good things (like parks within walking distance and a cute coffee shop on every corner to fuel mornings-after-sleepless-nights).

Other NYC mommas out there: Do you feel me? Do you have suggestions for making life a little easier?

I don’t write posts for the comments. Really. I’m incredibly self-centered that way.

This blog is and, in a large way, always will be for me. My personal record that I was and I did.

But every now and then, I write a post that gets a lot of feedback. A post that gets me texts and emails and comments and even phone calls from people I haven’t talked to in years or, sometimes, haven’t talked to ever. And even though I don’t do this for that, there’s something magical about when it happens. Because, as I’ve said, I love those moments of bonding. Of “I thought it was only me.”

Yesterday’s posts was one of those posts. And I can’t tell you how much it makes my heart sing when I read every single comment, text, or email I got from so many of you. Because you don’t have to do that. And you did. And it just…I don’t know. I can’t put it into words except to say it’s why I write. And hopefully you know me well enough to know how much weight those words carry.

The point is, I appreciate the kindness. I appreciate the love. I appreciate you relating to me, and I can’t tell you what a compliment it is to hear that I wrote what so many of you feel.

Next week, the blog will go back to its same fun, (mostly) frivolous fodder, but I couldn’t just go on without acknowledging the niceness. You guys are pretty swell, and I’m happy to have you as readers.

 

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It’s a funny thing, this “living your life online.” This blogging about lifestyle (also know as life). This building an “Instagram brand.” This being a brand.

My mother never had to worry about this. I think about that whenever I have a chance to look through my baby book. These 50-odd photos of baby me. Sadly and blissfully all I have to know about what I looked like, what we did. It makes me both grateful for and disgusted by the literal thousands of photos and videos I have of the first year of Vivi’s life. At least 300 are perpetually available with a swipe of my phone.

I don’t talk a lot about how much what I do tires me. How much the internet and technology and the gratuitous, frivolity of it. One because I’m exhausted by over-earnest blogging. Funny, right? Because I also love it.

I love the catharsis of pouring out your heart, the lift in sadness and despair that comes from finding a tribe of people who do so much more than just “like” your honesty; they hold up mirror images of your pain and say, “I thought I was the only one.”

I also have a hard time whining because I recognize the privilege of complaining about the superficiality of what I do. Poor me, working from home on a flexible schedule so I am also able spend hours cuddling my sweet baby girl and dedicating so much time a week to my volunteer work. The internet, in all its obnoxious glory, lets me do that.

I struggle with the self-promotion. I think it’s a difficult thing for Christian, Midwestern, female people to do. It goes against the traits those types are usually bred to project.

So I try to soften the blow with self-deprecation, humor, and, often, bluster. But I’m still uncomfortable sometimes. Because I’m still acutely aware of every person in my life who hates me for being a blogger. Who hates me for every smiling Instagram photo, every snapshot of something pretty or Pinterest-worthy (which means…what, exactly? Didn’t we just call it “pretty” a handful of years ago?). Of every person who openly refuses to follow me or, even worse, follows but never likes, or, even worse, does none of the above but still looks at my public posts or watches every single Instagram story I post. Those people make me really sad, honestly. And my awareness of the people I do know about continually pokes a finger in another gaping insecurity: How many more are there out there that I don’t even know?

The internet is a big place, and hate is usually only a keystroke away.

This post has been buzzing around in my brain for a while, but it took me a while to find words that sounded right without sounding like I was complaining. I don’t know why I feel like I need to tell you that I’m in on it — I know the promoted posts, the self-promotion is annoying sometimes. I need you to know that I try to make them not that way.

And then I roll my eyes at myself because why do I care so much? I truly believe that, in life, you either attract or repel people. And I would rather repel someone by being who I really am than attract them by pretending to be something I’m not.

Often, I fantasize about stopping it all. You know that. I can’t really, though, because it is my job. It is my golden ticket to stay-at-home/work-at-home mom life, to full-time volunteer service. But I do sometimes imagine a life where I could do those things without doing these things. Because as much as I actually love blogging and DIY and style and cooking, the hate wears me down.

You, person who looks at my stuff and never likes, who mocks and says nasty things and seethes even though I’m not hurting you (or even thinking about you, often times). You wear me down.

But if I pretend to be the person you would be happy to see me be — self-loathing, bitter, failure — I would be attracting the wrong person with the wrong things.

Because there’s so. Much. Pressure. Guys. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to be imperfect. Pressure to be perfectly imperfect. To be raw, to be polished. To be funny, to be sincere. And to be all those things all the time. It helps to remind myself that probably all business owners feel this way. And, in so many ways, this is my business. Entrepreneurism is not for the thin-skinned, the faint of heart.

I started this blog because I wanted to be a writer, and I still cringe a bit at the word blogger. (I mean, could we have picked a word that didn’t sound like loose mix of swampland and mucous?) Today, I am a professional writer, so maybe I’m not doing everything wrong.

But I’m also a blogger, for better or worse.

And bloggers will always bother someone. Honestly, I spend a lot of my life trying not to bother anyone. I speak quieter to Vivi when we’re being silly in public, trying not to be THAT mom that needs everyone to see how great she’s doing. I’m hyper-aware of people on the sidewalk, dodging and hugging the wall to keep from jostling anyone, trying not to be THAT person who is so self-centered. My emails read like a textbook of “woman in meeting” speak, trying not to be THAT in-your-face jerk. Maybe it’s more honest to say that I spend a lot of my life trying not to be a cliché.

The thing is, I really don’t want to bother anyone. So, if this blog bothers you, if my internet presence bothers you, I implore you: Ignore me. Stop following, stop looking.

But if you like looking at my stuff, I welcome you with open arms, fist bumps, and a round of celebratory drinks.

Do other people feel like hate is this visceral, tactile thing? Sometimes I look at a person and feel it radiating off of them like steam. It oozes from nasty comments, sparks out of sharp-tongues. I’m immediately put off when I feel it; I retreat like a spooked animal, a knot in my gut and a rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins. Danger, these people seem to whisper.

Do you know what I think about every time I post anything? Those three people who I know don’t like me. I’m not exaggerating when I say “every time.” They are my last thought before hitting “publish” or “share.” The anxiety those three people give me is embarrassing for me to admit. It would be so nice to not have to deal with that anxiety.

I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’re one of those three people): So, why don’t you just quit then?

I totally get why you think that. Because I want to quit.  Often. But I can’t because of Vivi. I can’t teach her that we go as far in life as the people who hate us the most want us to go.

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Instead, I want her to be brave. I want her to be kind. I want her to be the antidote to all that nastiness. And the only way I’m going to get her there is by trying to be those things myself.

So I’m going to try to focus on the people I actually like anyway. The people who love and support and get it and get me. Who like what I do, who like reading about the things I like talking about. And, you know what? I think that can be enough.

Whew! That was a lot of feelings. And, honestly, I don’t know if I’m making anything better by calling them out. I don’t even know if this all makes total sense — I wrote it over a series of emails to myself in the car. But I think I feel a little better. The aforementioned catharsis and all of that. The point is, if you feel this way too, you are not alone. And I think we can both be a little bit more of that kindness we want to see. To those of you who do and always have supported me and shown me so much love, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the greatest.

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Vivi learned a dirty word recently. Of course, I’m talking about the word “no.”

Honestly, I’m not really certain she knows what it means when she says it. What she does know? That I don’t want her to say it.

Which, naturally, means she has taken to saying it All. The. Time.

The other day, we were out for a run with the jogging stroller and I heard her practicing it over and over again. To herself. Like a sociopath.

The problem is, it’s also kind of hilarious when she does it. Because she doesn’t just say “no.” She pauses for drama…and then she slowly leans into the word.

“Nnnnnnnnnnnn-ah!”

It’s really, really hard not to laugh. Like, really.

In an effort to, you know, parent, I’ve started responding to her no’s by saying, “You say, ‘okay, Momma‘!”

At which point, she’ll pause, look off to the other side of the room, and go, “…nnnnnnnnn-ah!

And on and on and on. Such is parenting.

I have found one antidote, and that is getting her to repeat a different word that is equally as fun to say. Lately, I’ve been replying, “You say, ‘yeahyeahyeah!'” And she’s usually only too happy to repeat that one.

For now.

I know the day will come when she is deliberately obstinate and intentionally asserts her own opinions. Heck, that could be exactly what she’s doing right now. I just really thought the Terrible Twos would come, you know, when she was two.

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For now, though, I think we can chalk this one up to a bit of baby silliness. Right? Okay, Momma. Okay.

I think it’s pretty universally agreed upon that small talk is lame. Right? I mean, do you know anyone who actually enjoys talking about the weather or how “fine” work is?

No. Unless they are a sociopath.

I, for one, would much rather talk about the nitty-gritty of whatever I’m going through. Honestly, unless it’s something about my marriage or you are my boss and I am thinking of quitting, I will tell you all the details of “what’s new” if you really want to hear it.

The thing is…I’m pretty sure my nitty-gritty has even crossed over into mindless listening territory.

You know what’s really interesting and pressing in my life right now? How many times Vivi woke up last night. (Once, around 5 a.m., but then she woke up for real at 6 a.m., which is about an hour earlier than I would like and than she has been waking up lately, which makes me wonder if it’s that she’s teething or if she can hear our neighbor or if that congested cough she started doing a couple of days is something to worry about and OH MY GOD YOU’RE ASLEEP RIGHT NOW, AREN’T YOU?!)

The fact is, while I LOVE motherhood and could actually discuss all the new foods Vivi tried in the last week (shrimp, risotto, chocolate chip cookie) for probably hours, I am not an un-self-aware person. And I can feel your eyes glazing over from here.

So, naturally, the solution here is to talk about more interesting things, right?

Except…um, you do realize that this whole motherhood thing is a full-time job? My day literally revolves around this tiny, big-eyed person, which means I don’t exactly have a lot of time for hobbies.

I don’t have a solution for this. This is more of a request: If you aren’t interested in the kid thing, bear with me. I’m sure the day will come when I have time to do more for myself. And we can talk all about it then.

Sometimes I feel like my stuff is closing in on me.

I mean, that probably sounds dramatic. The stuff is probably minding its own business. But even knowing that it’s there is enough to throw me sometimes.

If you’ve been around this blog for a minute, you probably know that purging my stuff is practically an annual ritual for me. With the baby, though, I found I was too busy over the last year to do much heavy tidying. So, instead of spring cleaning, I’m hoping to clear out some space in time for fall and winter. (Because Lord knows I spend too much time inside during the winter to feel claustrophobic.)

While I rarely struggle with the actual letting go of stuff, I find the hardest part when living in New York City (without a car during the week) is getting the stuff out of my apartment. It tends to sit in bags and boxes, creating even more clutter, for weeks before I find a way to get it to Goodwill. This time around, I’m going to try to avoid that. I want to plan another clothing swap with some girlfriends. I’ll bribe friends with cars into making a drop-off. I’ll throw things away if I can’t give them away.

The point is, the stuff has got to go. Here’s to a more simplified end-of-the-year.