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.

19 things I gave up when I became a mom

There’s an article floating around my Facebook newsfeed entitled “27 Things You Must Say Goodbye to When You Turn 27.” I read it mostly for the LULZ, because, at 27, I was pretty certain most of the things on it I had said goodbye to long ago. I wasn’t wrong. I had a mostly “Eh” response to it (unlike other people, who were much more, errr, emphatic about it). It did, however, make me think about all the things I said goodbye to when I became a mom.

1. A clean house. Gone are the days where my living room is not coated in a layer of toys, board books, and all the pillows and throw blankets from the furniture. These days I’m happy if the mess is contained to one room and not spread through the whole house.

2. Being on top of my laundry. I was never very good at keeping up with my laundry before, but eventually it all got done/folded/put away. I am pretty sure, since A was born, I have not had ALL the laundry done at one time ever. In fact, and I’m a little ashamed to admit this, we have dubbed our guest room as the “laundry room” as all of the clean, out of the dryer laundry gets dumped there and stays there until it gets folded. I was sorting it the other day and was pulling 12 month clothes out of the piles. A hasn’t worn 12 months since December.

3. Or my dishes. Of all the chores, the one I must do compulsively is the dishes. I cannot stand dirty dishes in the sink. I was slightly more lax on this when we didn’t have a dishwasher. Since acquiring one, I am less forgiving. However, it seems there is always a dish to be done, or a dishwasher to be unloaded, even if I literally just washed all the dishes five minutes ago.

4. Spending more than 10 minutes getting ready for anything. I used to have a very long, involved, and detailed routine in the mornings for class (grad school, not undergrad) and work, which could be doubled if I was going out somewhere fun. My basic routine now is shower, debate whether I truly need to wear make up/dry my hair before deciding nah, I don’t, and throw on whatever is clean and not too wrinkled.

5. Leaving the house not covered in some sort of unidentified stain. You would think this pertains mostly to mothers of newborns, but it carries on to toddlerhood. Even with my child self-feeding, I’ll still take a grubby yogurt hand to the chest and not notice it till it’s too late. At least I hope it’s yogurt.

6. Using the bathroom alone. I had always hoped this one was something other people exaggerated about, but alas, it is not. I now have a peanut gallery, every. single. time.

7. Taking showers so long all the hot water is gone. I used to love taking long, hot showers. I considered it a good shower if my skin was slightly singed from how hot it was and all my digits were pruney because I had been in it for so long. I don’t even know what I did during these long showers. Draft grocery lists, ruminate on how so and so at work had slighted me, contemplate the universe? Who knows. Now I’m just lucky if I get to take a shower daily.

8. Buying clothes anyplace other than Target. I mean, it’s just convenient. I’m already there for everything else I need in life, I may as well buy my clothes there too. Plus, who can resist Target’s clearance section? Not me.

9. Watching whatever I want on TV. My Netflix queue, once filled with high quality movies and television like Clueless, Steel Magnolias, and How I Met Your Mother, is now filled with Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and all of the Tinker Bell movies.

10. Eating whatever I want. And not because I am worried about being super healthy or not gaining weight, but rather because now there is a small creature who thinks everything is for sharing, and wants whatever it is I am having, no matter how many times I tell her “It’s yucky! You won’t like it. Yucky yuck yuck.” She’s just not buying it.

11. Sleeping past 8am. Even when given the opportunity to sleep in, my body just can’t physiologically do it anymore, thanks to countless early wake up calls. Plus, those hours before A wakes up are some of the only hours I have to myself. All of this depresses me, considering I used to sleep in past noon on the reg.

12. Having a clean car. My father and husband would argue I have never kept a clean car, and to some extent they are correct. It is not my number one priority in life. But adding a kid into the mix just made my already cluttered car 100x worse. My backseat is currently covered in daycare report cards and coloring sheets, even though she hasn’t been in daycare for two weeks.

13. Getting anywhere on time. I used to be so freaking punctual. I spent most of my high school days perpetually late, so I worked really hard to correct this in college and grad school. For several years I was even perpetually early. That’s over. Now I’m lucky if we are leaving the house at the time we were supposed to be somewhere.

14. Or staying anywhere until the event is over. I used to close any and all parties down. I was known to be at the bar till last call. Now I’m like “Oh sorry, but the baby’s bedtime was 10 minutes ago, gotta run!” at 7:40pm.

15. Day drinking. Unless it is a special occasion, or I have someone else to take care of A, this just doesn’t happen anymore. I actually did get to participate in some day drinking at my best friend Bailey’s wedding last month, and it was awesome, but John had to wrangle our toddler the whole time. You can’t have it all, can you.

16. Not making/getting dinner because “I just don’t feel like it,” and just eating Cheetos and chocolate chips straight out of the bag (with cheap wine as a chaser). I am now responsible for providing healthy, balanced meals for A. And because she gets hungry, like all the time, I have to either cook or pick up dinner daily even when “I just don’t feel like it.”

17. Having the “latest” anything. The MacBook Pro I am writing this on was purchased in 2009. Just yesterday, I bought a new charger for it since the original one died. That $84 was the first money I spent on this laptop since I bought it. And I am going to happily use it until the keys fall off. My iPhone is an iPhone 4, purchased in (brace yourself) 2010. Yes, I bought my iPhone four years ago. Here’s some context for you: I have only been married three years. But my kid? She has all the newest toys.

18. Leisurely drinking a pot of coffee while doing crossword puzzles on the weekends. This was something I used to do every weekend, without fail, since grad school. I’m not sure I know what leisure means anymore.

19. Actually, weekends in general. And Fridays for that matter. Friday-Sunday lost all meaning with A’s birth.

Of course, I gained a lot more than I lost when I had A. I learned what it means to love someone else unconditionally. I learned what it means to give yourself completely to another person’s well-being, and to be happy to do so. I gained a world full of smiles, snuggles, hugs, kisses, and giggles. And truthfully, I don’t really mind the mess. I save a lot of money on make up by not wearing it daily. A spoon left in the sink isn’t going to kill me.

I do kind of wish I was better about the laundry though.

In response to the original article, here at the age of 27, I still enjoy everything bagels with full fat cream cheese, because c’mon, I don’t have weekends anymore. Throw a girl a bone.

For the love of lovies

When A was about 9 months old, I introduced her to a lovie. John had just moved to Indy, and for whatever reason, I just felt like she needed an attachment object and that it was the right time for one. I picked up a set of Aden & Anais muslin security blankets at Target on a whim, mostly because I thought they were adorable.

While she took to sleeping with a “blankie” immediately, it took her a few months to really attach to it. By the time we moved to Indy, she was up to “must have to sleep” level of lovie dependence. Now, three and a half short months away from two years old, we are at full on lovie love in our house.

We are up to four lovies in the rotation, and at any given point A will have anywhere from one to all four on her person. I tried to keep it down to two, but she is like a bloodhound with those things and finds them no matter where they’re hidden. When we get her out of her crib in the morning she gathers as many as she can (typically all four are in bed with her).

I let A dictate when she wants/needs a lovie, for the most part. If she has one in her hands when we leave for daycare, I let her take it in the car. If she wants to take it in with her, that’s okay, but if she chucks it across the backseat when it’s time to get out, I let that be okay too. I always try to keep one close though, because if we’re out in public and she starts to meltdown, the touch of her lovie can delay it, at least for a little while. If we don’t have a lovie when she wants it? Get ready for defcon 5, because She. Will. Lose. It.

I don’t know how long she’ll need/want her lovie. Just like her thumb sucking, it’s not something I plan on stopping just because she reaches a certain age. Both things help her self soothe, and I feel like she will phase herself out of it when she’s ready, which is definitely not now. She is so stinking cute with her lovie trailing behind her, like a little girl Linus (which we have taken to calling her; this child has so many nicknames).

Plus, I took my blanket to college with me and actually slept with it until A was born and we started co-sleeping, and I like to think I turned out kinda normal.

#worldstoughestjob

Click for source

Click for source

So, I’m late to the party, as per usual, but I finally watched the #worldstoughestjob video that has gone viral. I watched it at work, which was both stupid and smart.

It was stupid because it made me cry, and I didn’t wear waterproof mascara today.

It was smart, because I really needed to watch it.

I wrote about my current trouble at work a few weeks ago. Things aren’t getting any better (if possible, they are getting worse).  I have been feeling pretty worthless. Watching this video reminded me that I am so much more than an employee. I am Amelia’s mom. That’s the best job in the world, and it pays dividends over anything else I could possibly get, ever. Even if the pay is actually $0.

It made me realize if they can post a fake job description describing motherhood as the toughest job in the world, I should put it on my resume. After birthing a child and taking care of a newborn, infant, and now toddler, I definitely feel like I can handle any other job.

Employers often view motherhood as a detriment to a potential/current employee. Probably because they think you’ll be calling off every other day for an ill child, or so I’m told. I’ve found the fact that I need a traditional 8-5 schedule to be an issue for a lot of employers. Whatever. I guarantee there is nothing any job could put me under that is more difficult than my true “fulltime job”. Plus, my “associate” is awesome and thinks I’m a rock star, which is more than any other job could ever do.

Potential employers, hire a mom (and if you’re in the Indy area, hire this mom). You’ll be thankful you did when you need a band-aid or an afternoon snack. I promise.

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.

 

Guilty pleasures

Everyone has those “things” in their life they desperately love, that make them happy and giddy. But for whatever reason, you don’t make these little favorites known for fear of embarrassment.

Yep, I’m talking guilty pleasures. One of the little things that just make life worth it. You have ’em, I have ’em, and now I’m going to admit mine to all of you, and fear public criticism and condemnation.

If you’re having a rough week like I am, hopefully this will make you feel a little better.

Reality TV: I don’t watch a lot of television, but if I do watch it, it’s probably a reality/competition show. I can’t help it, they draw me in like moths to a flame. American Idol, The Biggest Loser, America’s Next Top Model…I love them all, but my long time favorite is the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I can’t help myself. In spite of knowing how fake it is, and reading the spoilers each season on Reality Steve, I cannot stop watching the train wreck. I love the canned drama and the vapid girls/guys they always seem to cast. This season the bachelor is a total space cadet who has no idea what’s going on. It’s awesome.

Military homecoming videos on YouTube: If I’m having a bad day, or need a good cry, these can fix both circumstances, almost instantly. I find the longest compilation and just blubber. I literally cannot resist these videos. If they are linked anywhere, I must watch.

Shopping the clearance racks at Target (also the dollar spot): I literally cannot resist the call of the red stickers at Target. Do I need four v-neck tshirts in varying shades of neutrals? No, but they’re only $4! Same goes for The Dollar Spot. Ooooh, every random thing under the sun for a buck? Don’t mind if I do.

Filling up my cart in stores (or online) then slowly emptying it: I cannot be the only one who does this, right? I just like the idea of maybe buying these things, imagining what it would be like to have said things, then just abandoning that dream because I don’t want to spend the money.

Really, really, REALLY bad music: Most people would be ashamed to admit to the kind of music I like. I too am ashamed. Some people say there is no such thing as bad music. I say that’s a lie, it does exist, and I most definitely listen to it.

Pinning recipes I’ll never cook and crafts I’ll never craft on Pinterest: Like so many other modern moms, I too fall victim to the pretty photoshopped food porn and crafts on Pinterest. I pin them knowing full well if there is more than five ingredients and/or steps, they are never, never, never happening.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

The Best Things About Having a Toddler

A is being very toddler-ish today. More so than usual. Temper tantrums, refusing food, screaming for no reason, knocking her cup and plate off the table, pulling the socks I just put on her feet off. You know, all the fun quirks that come with this age.

It’s been a frustrating day. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said, “No,” or, “Please stop,” or, “Don’t do that.”

This toddler age is without a doubt one of the single most infuriating phases of a child’s life, but it’s also adorable. It’s filled with challenges, precociousness, and funny/precious moments. I love the latter and am learning how to respond appropriately to the former. On days like today, it’s helpful to remember all the good things about this age.

She is learning so much about her world. And she shows it in the cutest ways. Yesterday we went to the store to get new shoes and basics for A, and when we were checking out I said, “She’s looking at your cool new shoes,” (I got her a sweet pair of light up sneakers, she’s gonna be the coolest kid at daycare) and A kicked out her feet, looked down at her shoes, and pointed, as if to say, “I have shoes, look at them! I love shoes!”

She is starting to show signs of affection. When A was a baby, I knew she loved me because she would smile when she saw me. She still does that, but she’s also showing other forms of affection. She makes my day when she runs up to give me one of her open mouth kisses, or climbs up on my lap for a snuggle. She even started giving hugs lately, in which she will pat your back. It’s the sweetest.

She is growing into her own little person. It’s during this time this toddlers really come into their own. A’s personality is really starting to make itself apparent. It’s fun to watch her react to different situations. She is definitely shy, more introverted, hang back in the wings type. It’ll be interesting to see if she is always this reserved or if she gets a little more daring as she gets older.

Her attention span is getting longer. It’s nice that she can focus on one thing longer now, which means she doesn’t get bored as easily. She loves bringing me books for us to read together. Oddly enough, her favorite book right now is a book about Thanksgiving. This longer attention span also means it’s much easier to take her places.

Speaking of taking her places, she is much easier to transport. No more having to worry about packing the world to go to the grocery store, or planning my day around mealtimes and nap times. For the most part I can just throw a couple diapers, a snack or two, and a sippy cup in my purse, and we are good to go.

I know we still have a ways to go in our toddler journey, but I also know for every frustrating moment we have, there will be way more sweet moments. She’s still the cutest thing, even if she does drive me crazy sometimes.