Our New Normal

Now that’s I’m home full time with A (at least for the time being) my day is completely different than it was a year ago. Ironically, last year around this time, I published this post. My life has done a complete 180 since then.

My day is now, obviously, structured around A. The last time I was home with her like this was my maternity leave (one thing about that time that is similar to now, she still wants to be on top of me almost 24/7, except then she wanted to be held and now she just wants to be able to drape herself all over me). A typical day with just me and A, i.e. a day that John is flying, looks kind of like this:

My day still starts early. My alarm goes off at 6:30am, because if I don’t get out of bed early, I will have zero time to myself. This is my time to shower, eat breakfast, and drink my coffee in peace. I also use this time to figure out what the hell I need to get done. Do I have a deadline? Are we almost out of milk? How the hell am I going to keep my child entertained all day?!

Once A is up around 8am, we have some snuggles. This only lasts until she starts demanding breakfast, which doesn’t take too long. Once she is fed, if the weather is nice, we’ll go for a walk. If it’s a grocery shopping day, we’ll go do that. Once either of those things are done, A will color or play for a little while.

I’m trying to keep A on a schedule similar to the one she was on at daycare (I am assuming she will be back in daycare at some point in the hopefully near future), which means she eats lunch early, around 10:30am. And then she naps.

I really, really, REALLY need that nap because it’s really my only time to work. This is when I write. It’s also when I apply to jobs. I feel like I am trying to fit an eight hour work day into this two hour window.

After nap time, I try to take her outside if it’s not too hot. She likes to pick up rocks, twigs, leaves, flowers, and bring them to me, or “blow” bubbles. If I’m feeling really brave, I’ll take her to the splash park or the regular park.

Once we are both too hot to endure being outside, we come in for a snack. At this point I have to admit I usually put a movie on for her, because I just need a few minutes to sit. She loves the Tinker Bell movies and Frozen, so I know if I put one of those on, I can buy myself 20-30 minutes of quiet.

We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon playing and reading until it’s dinnertime. Once dinnertime rolls around I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, because once dinner time is over, it’s bath time, and once bath time is over, it’s practically bed time. A is in bed between 7:00 and 7:30pm. (We had to put up blackout curtains in her room since it is still broad daylight at 7:00, and she was refusing to go down until it got dark. Which doesn’t happen until after 10pm now.)

Once she is in bed, I pick up the house. Then I make myself a cocktail, and if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll write some more. If I’m not, I veg out watching Netflix. My head hits the pillow around 10:30.

The days John is gone are extremely long. Last week he was gone for four days, and towards the end I was about to lose it. I now realize how much I took getting a break for granted before.I especially realize how much I miss having a support system to rely on. It was nice having so much family around when we lived in Louisiana.I could always find someone willing to take A for a little while so I could get things done or just have some time to relax.

I try not to dwell on hard it is, or how stressed out I am, or how lonely it is being all by myself with her, but sometimes it’s hard not to. Dwelling on it doesn’t help, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I’m trying to remember that this, like all things in life, is temporary. This too shall pass, and all that jazz. In the mean time, I know A is very thankful to have me all to herself for a while, so I’m going to try to focus on that.

All great changes are preceded by chaos

Everyone knows that saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” (My personal favorite incarnation is “When life gives you lemons, find someone who was given vodka and have a party,” but you know, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, right?)

Anyhoo, sometimes life gives you lemons. And sometimes life throws them at you as if to say, “See what you can do with these!”

Life threw some lemons at me a earlier this month when I was let go from my job. I do not completely understand all their decision making, and why they decided to lay off who they did and keep others, but the reasons behind it aren’t so important here. Suffice to say, no matter what happened, I am currently unemployed.

I was bitter about it for a couple days, but now I see it as a blessing in disguise. I hated that job. It made me a miserable person. It physically made me ill most days to be in the office, like it was toxic (and it probably actually was, if you could only see the conditions of the buildings). I feel like me again.

I’d been praying on this for some time now, looking for direction in what to do. I think God knew I was never going to quit, so He literally forced me out of the situation I was in, giving me a lot of free time to find something better. Not to mention some time to be a quasi SAHM to my sweet girl.

It’s also giving me time to focus on the one thing I have always loved to do, the one thing I really do want to make a career out of: Writing. I’m officially a freelance writer, getting paid to write articles about anything and everything. I have to say, it was one of the proudest moments of my life when I sold my first article. It made me realize I can do this.

I’m also focusing on my creative writing as well. I’ve written a couple short stories, and have some more in the works. It feels so good to just write again. All of the negative energy from my old job just completely stifled any creative flow I might have had. Being away from that atmosphere unclogged a pipe in me that had been completely blocked off.

Being unemployed does have it’s perks. Getting to change from PJs to yoga leggings for one, and not ever having to wear make up for another. Also, I can finally go grocery shopping at times when no one else is there. Not having to navigate your cart around other carts at Target might be a form of heaven on earth. Double points if I get to go alone

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. God would not put something on my plate if He didn’t know I could handle it. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I am confident that the right job will come along, something that works for my family and our circumstances. For right now, I’m enjoying the time with A and all the writing I get to do. I have to say, it’s a refreshing change of pace.

Ch-ch-changes (and Happy Father’s Day!)

You may have noticed I made a few changes to the blog yesterday. Nothing big, just a new background color and header, but still felt the need to acknowledge them. I know posts have been few and far between lately, but I will be back to my normal posting soon. I promise. We’ve had a lot of change over here in the past couple months, with A LOT happening in the past couple weeks, and it’s taken me a little while to get used to it all.

Honestly, I would probably just write about it all today, but it’s Sunday, and I’d rather bake a special dessert for my husband instead. John is flying back from Mexico today, and I have a few sweet surprises for him.

Speaking of, Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dads out there! I hope each and every one of you have a great day, and maybe get a new necktie or some handmade pottery and/or other craft.

We will back to our regularly scheduled parenting stuff tomorrow.

Unexpected challenges

When John took this job, we both knew he would be traveling a lot. It’s the cost of being married to a pilot. When being out of town is your husband’s profession, you have to expect to be on your own a good bit of the time. I knew this going into it. I try not to complain about it too much. Plus, if he’s grounded for too long, he gets SUPER cranky.

The past couple weeks John has been flying a ton due to the company being short staffed. He has only been home a day at a time, and his schedule is extremely erratic. He is living his dream, and working on building a future for us. I understand it is for the best.

But there is someone in our house who does not understand this and is not very happy with it. The past couple weeks, A has been moody, aloof, and difficult. She has been crankier with me lately, which I attributed to her changing nap needs and probably teething. She has been more difficult at daycare, which is really atypical because she is usually an angel for her teachers (she loves them). It wasn’t until I noticed her acting particularly, well, rude, to John the other morning that I put two and two together.

John got home from a trip late the other night, after A had gone to bed. When I got her up the next morning and brought her out to see him, she pretty much totally rebuffed him. She didn’t want to be held by him. She didn’t want to give him kisses or to get them from him, either. She didn’t want to play with him.

“I think she’s angry with you for being gone.” I told him.

He looked so heart broken in that moment, it made me want to cry.

I tell her when daddy will be home, but I know she doesn’t understand. She understands he is gone, and then he’s back, and then he’s gone again. She can’t comprehend “Daddy will be back on Tuesday,” or “Daddy will be back in two days,” because she doesn’t know what those things are. She doesn’t have any concept of time past what is happening RIGHT NOW. She certainly doesn’t comprehend why her daddy has to go away so much, even though I tell her why every day. I tell her daddy loves her, and because he loves her so much, he is working as hard as he can to make sure she has everything she needs and wants in life. I tell her that, but I think I tell her more for me than I do for her.

I know eventually she will understand. Eventually she’ll be able to comprehend time, and we’ll be able to have fun counting down to when Daddy is home (especially since I’m sure Daddy will bring her cool surprises from all of his destinations). There really isn’t a cure for this “problem” except to wait it out. Some things just don’t have easy solutions.

 

A different way of dealing with things

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you, but it has been a long week over here. Since my last post, I’ve been working hard trying to focus more on the positive in an effort to reduce stress. And I’ve been told you “get what you put out there.” It’s hard for me, because “positive” is not my default. Generally speaking, I am not a very optimistic person. Which is sad, because my life is awesome, but I let myself get caught up in the less favorable parts of it often.

Whenever I find myself getting stressed out by one of these things, I’ve been told to think about how its presence in my life is actually something to be thankful for. It’s basically an exercise in being grateful. It’s also a good reminder to make the best of whatever situation God has put you in.

This hedgehog knows what's up.

This hedgehog knows what’s up.

I had “a moment” at work today, and I spent a few minutes doing some light journaling about the things that were stressing me out and why I should actually be thankful for them. For instance:

My job: Nothing stresses me out more than my job. But I have a job, and at least I have an income and health insurance until I am able to find something that is a better fit for me and my family.

Daycare: I spend an inordinate amount of time feeling totally guilty for sending my child to daycare. And writing the check each week is painful. But A is thriving at her school. She loves her teachers, and they adore her. She is learning so much and doing really well there.

My student loan: Of all the expenses I have, the one that annoys me the most is my student loan payment. It physically hurts me to pay it each month. The past couple months, I’ve started to regret my decision to get my master’s. But, what’s done is done, and no matter what happens, I have a really great education, which is a luxury not everyone gets, and it’s something no one can take away from me.

Bills, bills, bills: Who doesn’t hate bills? But, having them means I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and I can provide everything I need for my child.

Being alone most of the time: John’s job has him out of town a lot, which means I am on my own with A 90% of the time. This is really hard, and it’s super easy to get sad about. But, he is following his dream and building a future for our family.

It’s helpful to look at these things in a different perspective. Because really, letting those negative emotions run my life isn’t helping. The things that trigger anxiety aren’t going anywhere, so it’s better to process them in a healthy way. Plus, it’s exhausting to cry more than twice a week.

In other news, A turned 18 months old last week, which is just crazy. I am hoping to have a post dedicated to her year and half old self up soon, if she ever let’s me take pictures of her. Toddlers, man, they have a mind of their own.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Where I’ve been

So, it’s been a few weeks (three, to be exact) since I’ve blogged. It’s not because I’ve forgotten, or haven’t had things to write about, because every day when I get home from work, I think to myself, “I should blog…I need to write…I have to write…” And I often find myself thinking, “This will make a great post…I can’t wait to write about this.”

And then, for the past three weeks, I haven’t.

I don’t really have an excuse other than pure exhaustion and what I believe has been a bad case of the winter blahs. I just haven’t had the energy to summon up a coherent thought. If I’m being entirely honest, a lot of this has to do with my job right now. To be frank, my work situation isn’t great. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried at work the last few weeks. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s a sign something is not right.

It’s carrying over a lot of stress and anxiety into my personal life. I’ve always been prone to stress and anxiety, so this level of stress on top of daily life stress, is really affecting everything rather negatively. It’s hurting me, my family, and my ability to be a productive member of society. I’m starting to think maybe I should talk to someone about it.

I have always been independent, almost to a fault. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like feeling like I can’t do it by myself. I don’t like not being able to fix the problem by myself. It’s hard to admit when you can no longer do something on your own. It’s hard to admit something is not working, especially when you so desperately wanted it to work, and thus feel like a failure. It’s hard to open your heart and soul to friends, family, and strangers on the Internet. It’s hard to change. But the hardest thing, I think, would be to continue to live in unhappiness because I was too proud to ask for help.

Life is balancing act, and unfortunately I’ve never been very coordinated. Bear with me while I learn to balance better.

There’s a first time for everything

There are certain firsts in your child’s life you know are inevitable, and you look forward to them. First steps, first word, first time sleeping through the night…you get the picture.

Then there are firsts you don’t expect, or at least ones you don’t anticipate and look forward to. First time they get sick, first time they get hurt, or you know, the first time they are hospitalized due to either.

Let’s back track a week. A week ago I picked up A from daycare and heard the words no mother wants to hear: “Don’t panic but…” She had tripped and hit her eye (close to the brow) on the corner of the bookshelf. She had a bump and it was red, but they iced it and she appeared to be no worse for the wear. I figured it would bruise up the next day, and it did, leading to her very first black eye.

I was pretty proud of how I didn’t freak out about it. She is starting to run and she trips often, so this didn’t surprise me at all. I took it in stride…and started calling her Bruiser.

Fast forward a few days to Thursday. The bruise was starting to go away, but her eye was draining yellow gunk. My mind immediately went to pink eye, but I hoped it was just because she’s been congested lately. Friday morning, while I am getting ready for work, I heard A crying in her room. This is highly unusual, normally I have to wake her up in the morning. I went into her room and found her with her eye completely swollen shut.

I had an internal debate whether I should take her to the ER, but decided to call her doctor first since it was almost time for the office to open. I scheduled a 9:45am appointment (the earliest available), and planned on getting there early. When we got to the doctor’s office they took one look at her and let us go straight to the back. Once the doctor saw her, she immediately told me she thought A needed to go to the hospital, as these types of infections can be very dangerous. She needed to go right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Keep in mind, John is in Nashville, and I am 1,000 miles from any family member. Having your child in the hospital is frightening and difficult, and these fears are compounded when you have to do it on your own. (It should be noted I’m pretty sure John was freaking out more than I was.)

She was admitted to the children’s hospital not too far from where we live around 10:30am on Friday. If you’ve never been so lucky to be admitted to a hospital for anything, let me just say you are not missing out on much. There was a lot of debate over the course of treatment. CT scan or no CT scan? IV antibiotics or oral antibiotics? In the end they decided since her eye was moving the infection was limited to her outer eye and not behind the eye, so they would wait on the CT scan and spare her the agony of an IV and see how she did on oral antibiotics. The official diagnosis was preseptal cellulitis.

From top left to bottom right: Tuesday morning (after hitting her eye Monday), Friday morning (at home), Friday afternoon (at hospital), Saturday morning (at hospital).

From top left to bottom right: Tuesday morning (after hitting her eye Monday), Friday morning (at home), Friday afternoon (at hospital), Saturday morning (at hospital).

 

If you’ve never spent a day in the hospital with a toddler, do your best to avoid it. It’s a lot like being in a cage with a bear cub. She was all over everything, trying to get into everything, and she just about lost it every time any medical professional tried to do anything to her. We were also in isolation, so we couldn’t leave the room, which made matters worse. Getting her to sleep in the prison cage crib was a challenge unto itself. It didn’t help that every time she fell asleep or got comfy it seemed like it was time for them to give medicine or take vitals.

Luckily her eye looked a thousand times better Saturday morning. After one very long day, a restless night, and a long morning we were discharged.

I really do have to say it all could have been so much worse. A handled the disrupt in schedule well, and in spite of being poked and prodded she was a total trooper. It helped that the hospital had a ton of toys and books she never seen, I let her watch more TV than she watches at home, and I ordered all her favorite foods from room service.

I’m very proud of how brave A was through this whole ordeal, but I’m also proud of me for staying as calm as I was. It would have been easy to panic, and part of me wanted to, but it wouldn’t have helped anything. It would have made things harder, for both of us. If this ordeal taught me anything it’s that I am strong enough to handle just about whatever motherhood throws at me. As of today you can’t even tell anything happened to her eye, and we’ve both just about recovered from the trauma. I am very happy and relieved to have my sweet, healthy girl back.