On My Mind

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I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person. I have described myself that way numerous times in life (and on this blog). I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyze and (unfortunately) that often results is a lot of self-critique. For better or worse, though, if I have a problem, I’m the first one to know about it.

Or so I thought.

Because then sometimes something happens like my friend Madison talking about postpartum hair loss, and I read it and think, “I didn’t really have that. I mean, I have been hating my hair for a few months lately. It just seems like I can never get the texture I want anymore. And it doesn’t hold a curl anymore. And the color always seems a little off. And OH MY GOSH HAVE I BEEN HAVING POSTPARTUM HAIR ISSUES THIS WHOLE TIME?”

And then, just like that, I don’t think I know anything about myself.

So I do a little internet research and scour the comments of Madison’s post and order some collagen and wipe my brow because PHEW that was a close one.

But then I think: Have I lost touch with myself?

It’s not a crazy thought. I’ve spent the last almost two years consumed with caring for another person. And while I felt super connected to my body during pregnancy, lately I feel disconnected. Adrift. Maybe a bit numb.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. (HA.)

It’s possible that I need a break. We’re going out of town this month to get out of the city and see some friends, and I could not be more excited for a change of pace and scenery. This city is wearing on me, folks, and it’s especially ugly in January.

Maybe a little refocusing is exactly what I need.

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I had a moment a few days ago that I’m not really proud of where I got unreasonably jealous of someone to the point where I nearly started crying.

That sounds horrible and pathetic, right?

You didn’t ask for my excuses, but, in my defense, I was also tired, after having to welcome in a plumber for an emergency visit at 7 a.m. and then having to clean up after said plumber and then having to clean up after Vivi about 8,000 times before 10 a.m., and I had just started my period. That sentence is barely coherent, but the point is, I wasn’t at my best mentally or emotionally in this horrible and pathetic moment.

So I saw something on social media (because OF COURSE #MILLENNIALLYFE) and immediately spiraled into a dark place.

I’m happy to say that this doesn’t happen often. When I was younger, it did. It happened all the time. But I worked on it, and I worked on myself, and it’s a small relief to me that, no matter how horrible and pathetic it is when it happens, it really, truly does not happen that often. (And, also, again, I had just started my period. BUT ENOUGH EXCUSES.)

The point is, it happened, and even as it did, I realized what an unattractive moment it was. I do not like jealousy in others, and I really don’t like it in myself. So I started making a mental list of all the good things in my life, because oh my GOSH, you guys. I have it so good.

I have a wonderful husband, who had actually just sent me breakfast that morning because he knew I was dealing with the plumber situation and might not have time to make myself something. Who, even as I type this, I hear reading aloud to Vivi in her room, making her giggle as they practice animal sounds with each turning page.

I have the most perfect baby, who astounds me and makes me laugh out loud (usually multiple times) every single day. Who is excessively talkative and confident and boisterous one moment, and then suddenly sweet, melting into my lap and spontaneously stretching up to kiss my chin for no reason at all except that she loves me.

We are all so healthy, and I’m not a momma who has to spend hours and hours at doctor visits and in special hospitals, holding her scared baby’s hand and unable to do anything except pray, pray, pray for something good.

We have a warm, safe home, and I don’t have to worry when I see the temperatures dropping than any of us will go to sleep cold and shivering.

We have so. much. food. And it never even crosses my mind that I can’t grab a banana or a squeezy pack or a string cheese the moment Viv whines in hunger at the park.

I’m able to work from home, spending every day with that precious baby and not missing a single moment or milestone while I help to support my family with a career I actually enjoy and find fulfilling.

We have so many luxuries, be it spur-of-the-moment coffee or the ability to order dinner in minutes or new clothes or an overabundance of technology and entertainment.

I have my faith, which sustains me through everything and brings so much purpose and contentment to my life.

I have everything I need, and so, so much more on top of that.

As I washed my second load of dishes for the day (dishes dirtied by that abundance of food, which was eaten by that ridiculously healthy baby), I repeated my list to myself and tears came to my eyes for the second time that morning.

The thing is, there will always be someone with more than me. Someone with more things, more money, more free time, more whatever. But you can guarantee they have their stuff to deal with, too. And me? Well, I have everything I need. (And so, so much more.)

 

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One of my favorite things about being Vivi’s mom is watching her develop a sense of humor. It has always been fairly easy to coax a giggle out of her, but lately she has started to realize that she is funny.

Sometimes I watch her do something just to get a laugh out of me or whatever adoring audience has gathered around, and I have to marvel at that instinct. Sure, making someone laugh always makes me feel good, but what an amazing thing that babies feel that high too.

As a result, Vivi is just so silly. She’s constantly babbling, waving her arms, running around, and putting on a show. She fake sneezes, shrieks with joy, and blows raspberries on my tummy (giggling like a fiend all the way).

Her silliness is a reminder to me, too. My days are so full, and it’s easy to get caught up in my to-do lists. It’s easy to get frustrated or distracted. But when I see that huge grin spread across her face, the one that puts all five of her teeth on display, I can’t help but put down what I’m doing for a tickle fest or another round of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”

I want to be a good, responsible mom, but I also want Vivi to remember that we had so much fun. We danced and sang and talked in silly voices and laughed and laughed and laughed.

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Last weekend, Vivi had her first ever sleepover away from home without me.

It was at her grandparents’ in Long Island, so she wasn’t terribly far, but I’m sure you can still appreciate the momentousness of the milestone.

From the moment Vivi existed, she has been with me. Of course, she has had babysitters and even spent a full day with her grandparents before, but it was a strange experience to be truly separate for more than 24 hours.

Honestly, I was fine. I don’t beat myself up about the fact that sometimes it’s nice to get a break from parenting. Parenting is the world’s most constant job when you’re on, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a moment to not be “on” now and then. To be fair, I kept myself very busy cleaning the apartment and even having a night out with friends (without worrying about the babysitter at home! So novel!). But I do think I could have been okay even if I had spent the entire time watching reality television at home.

It’s such a funny thing how so many people in the world are more than happy to jump down your throat if you even imply that you might enjoy doing something other than doting on your child all day. I think this perception is getting better (or maybe I just surround myself with people who are more compassionate and, let’s be real, honest), but I still feel it engrained in my own thinking sometimes. I actually had moments of guilt for not wishing Vivi was with me every second she was away. Like I should feel bad about enjoying being the person I was before a baby, even if only for a few hours. I’m going to try not to be so hard on myself about those feelings anymore.

That being said, I was SO. HAPPY. when Vivi came home. I swear that little stinker got even more gorgeous while she was away. And it was nice to see that she had missed me just as much.

I’m pretty proud of both of us.

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I don’t want another baby right now.

I feel like I need to preface with that. I might also feel like I need to say that out loud a few times. You know, remind myself.

Because, you guys? Sometimes I think I want another baby right now.

It’s possible that I’m going insane. Because one minute I’m feeling sweat pool in the small of my back as I rush to pick up a basketful of toys, answer a few work emails (one-handed on my phone), and sneak in a load of laundry, all while simultaneously catching Vivi as she tries to tumble off the couch that she has learned how to climb in the last week, telling myself my life is insane and also that I should probably mop the floor sometime in the next month because Vivi has taken to licking any cold surface she encounters (ugh).

In these moments, I will literally think: I am never having another baby.

But maybe an hour later, when I’ve resigned myself to the toys on the floor and resolved to figure out the emails after bedtime and the laundry is folded and Vivi is playing quietly by herself for a few minutes, I’ll think, GOSH, another baby would be fun.

Like I said, I’m possibly probably insane.

That’s why they call it baby fever — it elicits this excited, irrational state where you are not making any sense.

Recently, I tested a bracelet for work that helps you track your fertility cycle. (Again, not trying to get pregnant. It really is just for work.) One day, an alert popped up reminding my that my “fertility window” was about to begin.

And my FIRST thought was, oh, it would be fun to try to get pregnant again. It would be fun to be pregnant again.

You’ll be relieved to know those were split-second thoughts, followed immediately by actually laughing out loud at myself and returning my attention to Vivi who was pulling her play kitchen apart and spreading her tiny wooden “groceries” all over the floor for Bogey to chew on as she tried to gnaw on his plastic ball with her free hand. (At least the kids are sharing?)

I do not really want to be pregnant right now.

Actually, that’s another element to this: Vivi. Like most parents, I think she is literally the greatest kid to have ever walked the earth. Joey and I have at least one conversation every night about how great she is. I’m not just saying that to be cute. We say the words, “Vivi is the greatest” almost every night. I love her in a way I didn’t know I could. And even though I’m always grateful for a chance I get to do something for myself or on my own (thank you, village of fantastic people who help to watch her!), I am always, ALWAYS so happy to see her again. And for one thing, the thought of changing our relationship makes me a little sad. And for another, it’s hard to imagine loving another kid the same way.

I know this is a thing – every first-time mom thinks they could never love a second kid as much, and then they have said second kid and somehow they just do. But I really just think it’s something you have to experience before you really believe it.

Regardless, though, I’m not ready to change anything. I am so satisfied with Vivs, and, if I’m being real, I am legitimately concerned that another kid would break my sanity right now. Let’s talk again in a year or so.

So, fertility window, you’re staying shut for now.

I thought of this post while I was trapped under my sleeping child at 4:40 on a Tuesday afternoon. (But if you follow me on Instagram, you already knew that.) One arm firmly wrapped around Vivi’s snoozing body, I tapped out a few sentences to help myself remember it with one thumb on my phone, my very least favorite way to communicate. (Seriously, it gives me legitimate anxiety having to type so slowly. Anyone else?)(I may have a problem.)

I had not intended on taking a 30-minute breather on my couch at 4:40 that Tuesday. I had plans for my afternoon. Vivi and I had spent late morning at the park, where she was to run out all her energy before returning home, eating a nutritious lunch of ground turkey and sweet potato chili, and then taking a 2-hour nap in her crib while I worked and prepped dinner for that evening. It would be relaxing, satisfying, and totally stress-free.

It was also, it turns out, entirely not how the day went.

The park was fine, as it almost always is. But I made the mistake of staying ten minutes too long, leaving me with a hungry, cranky babe for the short walk home. By the time lunch was heated and ready to eat, Viv’s #hanger got the better of her. She ate most of the turkey and almost all of the sweet potatoes, but at least a third of her food was swiftly chucked onto the floor for Bogey to enjoy. Perfect.

As for the 2-hour nap…I tried to put her down around one. No dice. I tried again around 2:00, diligently making myself ignore my swiftly approaching 3 o’clock deadline for the site I edit to launch. Again, she wailed for a solid 20 minutes until I brought her back into the living room.

Not that she was happy awake, mind you. She wasn’t. She fussed and rubbed her eyes and griped at me about just about everything.

If only there was a simple way to solve all her problems. Like, oh, I don’t know…going to sleep.

I was so frustrated. I felt tempted to call off our evening plans, so certain was I that Vivi would be an absolute terror if we took her anywhere.

Finally, at 3:30, I laid her down and resolved to let her cry out her feelings a bit. Within 10-15 minutes, she was sound asleep. (I firmly believe that babies always know when they are going to break you and when they are not.) I was able to get most of my work for the launch done, but Vivi woke about 40 minutes later and started crying immediately.

I held her in my lap as I finished up my work, and all of a sudden I realized that she was sound asleep again. So I laid down on the couch without thinking to put her in a more comfortable position.

It was then that I realized I was now trapped. And work wasn’t done, dinner wasn’t prepped (we usually eat around 5:30), and I wasn’t anywhere near ready for our meeting that night (we have to leave by 6:40 to make it on time).

My first instinct was to feel frustrated — I had done everything right! I had a plan! Why was everything being so mean to meeeeeee.

But, in an effort to be more patient, I decided instead to take a breath and take a moment to stare at this beautiful creature sleeping on top of me. And in those 20 minutes I was her captive, I realized a few things:

1. Vivi has the longest eye lashes, but her eyes are so bright, you only really notice the lashes when the eyes are closed. You know, like they are when she’s sleeping.

2. I truly don’t think there is anything sweeter than a peacefully sleeping baby.

3. It’s okay that I’m not in control of everything. And even if it’s not, it’s just how life is now, and I may as well get on board.

Motherhood makes you slow down. It forces you to be flexible. It reminds you of your insignificance and humbles you beyond belief. But it also builds you up, speeds up time, and refines you in a way nothing else can.
Ultimately, things worked out just fine. After I was sure she was really, deeply asleep, I was actually able to slide out from under Viv and leave her sleeping on the couch (I put a million pillows on the ground in case she rolled, don’t worry). It’s a move I will never, ever be able to complete successfully again, so I basically felt like a ninja in that moment.
Then I finished my work, got dinner in the oven, and even curled my hair. Vivi woke up right before dinner, ate happily, and was an absolute dream at the meeting that night.
It’s a hard thing for a lifelong planner to accept that most of her planning will be for naught, but I’m trying to embrace the unpredictability of this new life. One day, I will miss the days when Vivi would fall asleep on my chest, her chubby arm resting lightly on my shoulder, her sweet, warm breath puffing gently against my collarbone. When I think about grown-up Vivi, I already miss these moments. And I can almost guarantee I will never again think about whatever it was I was supposed to be cooking for dinner.