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.

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.

Home wasn’t built in a day

I knew it would happen eventually.

I am officially homesick.

I miss my family and my friends. I miss my old house and my old city. I miss being able to run errands and know exactly where I’m going. I even miss my old job and my old co-workers. (I’m getting into the hard part of my job and have had a couple rough days. I’m sure this is partly to blame for these emotions.) It’s not that Indianapolis is a miserable place, it’s quite nice, and everyone I’ve met here is quite nice. But it’s not my home yet, and they aren’t my good friends yet.

I miss being able to pick up my phone and have someone to text/call and go hang out with. I miss being able to make plans with family and friends. I never truly appreciated how lucky I was to have such an amazing support system of family and friends in place. Now that I don’t have that, I wish I had taken better advantage of it the months before moving. Like my best friend often says to me, “Sometimes life gets in the way of things.”

I know it’s true, but it stinks. This is part of the hindsight is twenty/twenty thing that comes with being an adult, isn’t it?

Even though right now I’m feeling sad, I know it’s not permanent. When I moved to Boston for grad school I went through the same thing (and I even had family up there). Eventually, I got used to it and the people I met became good friends. I’m sure the same thing will happen here. And of course I have the added bonus of being with the two people that mean the most to me here.

In the end, home is wherever we’re all together.

The littlest mimic

A has really started mimicing me lately. Mostly she just mimics noises–smacking lips, oohs, ahs, and chuckles are her favorite–but she will also mimic my facial expressions. Most of the time this is pretty humorous. For instance I crack up laughing when she tries to mimic me raspberrying her belly or clicking my tongue.

But she’s also starting to mimic my reaction to things. She will look to see how I react to something new before she decides what to do. This is making me stop and think about all my actions. What behaviors of mine do I want her to copy? More importantly, what do I want her to stay far away from?

Nobody is perfect, I know, and I definitely have a few flaws I do not want A picking up on. I think the biggest thing I don’t want her imbibing from me is my habitual tendency to overstress and worry about everything. I am one of the worst worriers on the planet. It’s gotten so bad lately I am very seriously considering finding a therapist or someone to talk to, because it’s starting to interfere with my quality of life and happiness.

I do not want A inheriting this from me, because our life is wonderful, and the things I worry about are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. I want her to understand a little worry is okay, even natural, but it’s unhealthy if it reaches obsessive levels. After almost 27 years I’m finally learning this.

Another thing I don’t want to pass on to A is my master grudge holding ability. In all honesty, I am probably one of the more forgiving people on the planet. It takes A LOT to get on my (real) bad side. Mostly I need to feel angry for a little bit and I’m good to go. I don’t really like being upset with people I love so I let it go relatively quickly.

But there is a line (it’s a fine line and drawn in the sand but it’s there), and if you cross it I am. Never. Going. To. Forgive. You. Ever. This is pretty terrible of me, I know. I will (and have) completely erased people out of my life. Did they deserve it? Maybe, sometimes you need to cut certain people out, but I hold anger and resentment for a very long time. Probably the rest of their natural born life. I’m not proud of this, and I want A to be a little more zen about life and people. It’s totally okay to get angry or upset if someone hurts you, and in some cases, you do need to let those people go, but holding onto hate forever only hurts you, not them.

Lastly, I have a tendency towards negativity that is probably my biggest character flaw. This is John’s NUMBER ONE biggest pet peeve about me. It’s probably my biggest pet peeve about myself. And it’s stupid because I have so much to be happy about and thankful for, so why am I such an Eeyore about things? I don’t know. I’m sure much of it is a learned trait–not that I am surrounded by supremely unhappy people, by any means. I grew up believing there is always a “better”, and you should try to achieve it. I often find myself in despair that I’m not “doing better” (whatever that means) yet. This, of course, is connected to the stress/worry bit, creating a pretty depressing cycle of self-deprecation.

I want to teach A that happiness and contentment are choices you have to make everyday, which will be difficult if I’m not making that choice myself. While it’s cute that she’s mimicing me, I want her to mimic the right things. You can’t always pick out what they will pick up on, so the better option is to make sure they’re all good choices.

Normalcy

It’s been a pretty awful week.

A has been cranky, work has basically been hell, and life in general has just been difficult. I’m exhausted and don’t feel well, but I can’t figure out what’s wrong. I’ve been in a funk since Noni passed away, so all of this has just been adding to my general bad mood.

And then the Boston bombings happened on Monday, too. (And then explosions in Texas yesterday. Good god. What is going on in this world?)

I haven’t written a post here about Boston, because honestly, it saddens me to my very core. I love that city. I had some of the greatest times of my life while I was there, I met amazing people, and I was able to get to know my family in a way that would not have been possible if I hadn’t lived there as an adult. If I had to pick anywhere else to live in this world, I would choose Boston.

So it’s unfathomable to me this could happen in such a great city on such a special day.

I hurt for my second home. I hurt for its amazing people. I hurt for everyone who was hurt or lost someone they love. I hurt for my friends and family still there. I hurt for myself and my daughter who will never get to know the Boston I knew.

Right now it just seems like everything sucks.

I want to get back to normal, but is there even such thing anymore? When is it acceptable to write about diapers, baby toys, and the infant feeding debate again? I don’t know, but now doesn’t feel like it.

I’m just…sad. And overwhelmed. For a lot of reasons. And that’s okay. Sometimes I forget it’s okay to feel what you feel no matter why you feel it, and I don’t need to make excuses for my emotions. So I’m just gonna be sad for a little while, and hopefully soon I’ll feel better.

I will be back to our regularly scheduled mama drama soon. Promise.