I’ve been putting off writing this post — writing any post — because, honestly, I wasn’t sure how to write it. And I didn’t feel like I could just skip it or gloss over my egregious absence.
I’ve been dark for a while. I decided long ago (never to live in anyone’s shadow…wait, focus, Justine…) that I wouldn’t apologize for gaps in posting because, gosh darnit, it’s my life, and if I want to live it instead of writing about it, that’s my prerogative.
But this wasn’t me being too busy to write. This was me going dark. In a lot of ways.
In short, I’ve been depressed. In the interest of not over-inflating things, I’m okay. I know other people deal with much more extreme versions of depression. Mine is a cyclical thing that I can usually anticipate with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder. For me, depression comes in the form of exacerbated insecurities, claustrophobic feelings of being trapped, and feeling unloveable. It typically lasts anywhere from two weeks to a month, but this time it stretched over two months time, and that messed with my head. I felt like it would never end.
So, yeah, it’s a real trip.
And when feeling like holding my head just barely above water is just about all I can do, things like blogging about home decor and recipes and funny little things about my day aren’t even in the realm of possibility.
But what am I telling you for? If you’ve ever experienced depression (and I believe most people have and do), you already know.
Again, though, I’m fine. I only share this because, well, it felt dishonest not to. But I honestly feel like I’m finally on the other side of it — we’re on our way up out of the valley; the light is clearly visible. I’ll be returning to your regularly scheduled home decor and recipes and funny things about my day now.
But I wanted to say it. I wanted to share it. Because, odds are, you are feeling that way or have felt that way or will feel that way someday too. And you’re not alone. And it’s important that we all know that.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.