This week…

at work: has been tough. It was filled with the type of work that takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, so I was worn out at the end of each day. Yesterday, my brain was flitting from thing to thing to thing and I just could not get it to stick to what it needed to. But it was Friday, and then it was over, and I’m breathing a giant sigh today.

at the Nest: The pattern of barely cleaning unfortunately continues, and while we have many boxes unpacked, there are several sitting here and there downstairs and upstairs. BUT! Today the rest of the books made it to the shelves! And I have designs on some things from Target that have not yet been purchased…heheheh.

(Oh yeah – we bought a house. Lots of photos over on Instagram…and later on, when everything’s really arranged, I’ll take my husband’s fancy camera and get some good pictures for a blog post.)

in books: Just finished The New New Journalism, a collection of interviews with authors of literary nonfiction, including Jon Krakauer and Eric Schlosser. Takeaways: 1) Truth is relative. 2) Writing is hard. 3) Reporting involves persuasion techniques.

Also reading:

  • The View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman
  • Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow (apparently, the one that inspired the musical)
  • Rescuing Jesus, by Deborah Jian Lee (with our church)
  • Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner — it was recommended on the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I haven’t been reading much fiction of this type lately.

on the tv: not much…for the past month or two I’ve barely been watching anything, instead reading or puttering around on my phone (which usually means Instagram or reading blog posts or articles). But lately my husband and I have been watching Nurse Jackie together. We meant to watch The Big Short together last week but didn’t pan out, so moved it to tonight!

with the kiddo: visited a big antique store, “special drinks” at Starbucks – she always gets the strawberries and cream frappucino “with whipped cream!!” – and then the library, where she quickly picked out three books and a movie to check out, then spent almost an hour playing with blocks, or puzzles, or walking around taking photos of everything with my phone camera. I came over to check on her at one point, and she said “you can go back now” as soon as I walked up. She’s so confident, so completely herself, and it’s painfully beautiful to see because when did she get so big?! and there she is. She starts kindergarten in a month.

pondering: ways to make my mornings better, and how to get myself to start exercising regularly. I’ve been oversleeping nearly every morning for the past week or two, which means I have about 20 minutes to myself on mornings when I work. So I can choose either journaling/coffee/being still, or exercising. Clearly, the former has been winning hands down. But exercising is so important, so I need to figure that out.

enjoying: Starbucks’ vanilla sweet cream cold brew, the soothing color palette that greets me every time I walk into my bedroom, and watching my husband and kiddo play together.

Mom’s Day Out

Today, thanks to the wonderfulness of my husband, I was able to go out to Barnes and Noble – all. by. my. self. I had a sandwich, and read my Bible. I journaled while listening to music. I went shopping, at Barnes and Noble and at a nearby accessories store. I did all of this uninterrupted. It was utterly blissful.

The journal was a Christmas gift from my sister. It’s large – about normal spiral size (A4 for those outside the US). The best part of this gift, however, wasn’t the journal – it was the mix CDs my sister made for me and put in the back pocket of the journal, to be listened to while journaling. There are 5 CDs, each with a different theme. They are absolutely wonderful. Seeing as my sister knows me quite well AND is well on her way to being a music therapist, this isn’t exactly surprising.

So, I journaled. I wrote about my blessings and I wrote about motherhood – how even now, almost a year after my daughter’s birth, I still feel blindsided by it and I’m still trying to figure out how to be ME and be a mother at the same time. Actually writing all of that down felt healing. The journal itself was a bit awkward to write in because it was so large, but at the same time I loved having all of that space. Listening to the music added something to the journaling…and even brought me close to tears at one point.

So, that was my day. I think I should do this more often..it’s good for my mental health.

The first girls-only adventure

My daughter and I went on a weekend trip without Dad this past weekend. We went with other people, of course, so it wasn’t just me and a nine month old, but it was still a major milestone. It was the first time I’d gone anywhere for a weekend without my husband in our marriage. It was the first time I’d gone anywhere farther than about half an hour with my daughter, without my husband.

It went very, very well. My daughter loved the renaissance fair we attended, and we were able to stay there for the entire day. My friends helped out with the baby, but I don’t think anyone felt burdened by her except perhaps me, which is as it should be. I have quite a few pictures of my daughter being held and kissed by people other than me, who also love her, and I think that’s a wonderful thing.

Did I mention that we had FUN at the fair?? We did. It was so wonderful. I did wish my husband could have been there too, but only because I wanted to share the wonderful with him! At the same time, though, I’m glad that he was able to have some time to just be by himself. It’s something he wants, but it’s hard to make it happen.

Now we are home, pictures are posted to Facebook, my daughter went to bed an hour earlier thanks to Daylight Savings Time ending, and I’m waiting to see my husband – he went to work before we came home. I can’t wait! :)

Babies and road trips

I am going on a road trip this weekend with some friends. I am taking my baby. My husband is staying behind to enjoy a blissful, work-filled weekend with few responsibilities. ;)

Sadly, this road trip is already stressful, and it hasn’t even begun yet. My baby is part of the cause of this stress. We are taking two vehicles on this road trip instead of one, in part because one of the road trip participants does not want to spend the 3 to 4 hour trip with a baby. Baby has a history of doing very well on car rides, by the way – she sleeps or is happy.

This situation led me to think about the general attitudes of our culture towards babies and children. Why is the mere presence of a baby in a car so odious? For that matter, why is the presence of a baby in a restaurant or other public place so odious? And why do people get so worked up about women breastfeeding in public? That last one really bugs me. Babies, when not fed, scream. Babies cannot turn off their hunger. Children and adults, when confronted with a sight which is not completely to their taste, may turn their heads away and stop looking.

Babies are babies. Rarely are they so completely annoying that their presence is truly odious. Mostly, I think it’s just that our culture is intolerant of children. I don’t understand why that is. Then again, the American culture seems to only truly value the young (teens and up) and beautiful. Everyone else is thrown by the wayside.

Real life

My daughter just went to sleep and it’s almost midnight. Her sleep schedule (or rather her normal routine) was all out of whack today, probably because she’s teething or she didn’t take a morning nap or we’re in the process of moving or life is just too exciting or any combination of the above plus somethig I haven’t thought of yet. She’s so antsy and when she’s awake (which, if you haven’t figured out yet, is most of the time) it is impossible for me to get anything done. So I spend a lot of time watching tv shows on Netflix. My primary emotion towards my daughter today has been frustration and I feel guilty about that. I don’t know how to get un-frustrated.

We are moving. We will be so much closer to my family and it will be so much easier for me to get out and be around people and get help with the baby. This will help. Also I am going to go see a counselor. Really. The whole moving thing happened and derailed my plans.

My faith is all confused. Well not quite. I’m becoming Catholic. I’m convinced. But life is hard, with hard questions and answers which so often seem, or are, inadequate. So living this faith is anything but easy. I’m still stumbling along. On a related note, I am about five days behind in Bible in 90 Days. But that’s okay because I will still read the Bible much faster than I ever have before.

This is the part of the blog post where I’m supposed to put a spin on all this and make it into an awesome lesson or inspiration or something. But honestly, I don’t have one. I can tell you that my daughter is so cute, and I love her in a way I never knew existed. I love my husband and he is so good to us. My life is still beautiful. Even though I struggle. But at the end of the day, I still feel like I fail at life. I’m having a hard time adjusting. And…that’s my life right now.

I accomplished something today

Today, I actually did something.

I did my reading for Bible in 90 Days. I did my Morning Pages, though they were split in half as I had to take care of my daughter. I journaled.

I ran the dishwasher, and later washed some other dishes by hand.

I set a timer for fifteen minutes and picked up my living room. I dusted my living room, too. Later on, I cleaned my sink.

These are all small things, but I did them. And afterwards, I felt great. I got everything on my to-do list done.

It’s been months since that happened. It’s been months since I’ve felt this accomplished, this calm. It’s been months since I’ve had this much purpose.

So today, I celebrate a “small” victory – which is, in reality, so much bigger.

About a week ago, I told my husband I thought I should go to a therapist. I told him I thought that maybe I had postpartum depression — and I knew I had some issues with being in a car, issues which really shouldn’t be there. A couple days later, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to make myself a hot dog for dinner. Even the simple act of boiling water with a hot dog in it was a big task in my head. That’s when I realized that I was probably worse off than I thought.

I boiled the water.

Since then, I’ve started feeling better. I’ve been doing more things around the house, and I generally feel more capable of dealing with life and motherhood. And it’s only now that I’m realizing how bad I actually was feeling. It’s a bit scary.

I’m hoping it’ll last. I’m pacing myself – I’ve had a spurt of energy before and gotten tons of stuff done, only to lapse into utter lethargy the next day. I don’t want to do that again.

But I’m hopeful. Maybe I really can handle being a mom. Maybe I really can find fulfillment in motherhood, while also finding fulfillment in the things I’ve always loved. Maybe I really can have a house that doesn’t look like a tornado just went through it, maybe I really can cook…maybe I really can be a person with energy and purpose and joy.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be okay.

the other side of the coin // her choice, ii

[This is not my story, but it could have been. Inspired by recent posts over at A Deeper Story, especially “her choice.”]

“Aww, isn’t her baby cute?”

“Hah! Not really. He cries all the time. They’ve been banned from pretty much everywhere on campus because of that. And she has this habit of just leaving him places and going to class.”

She should take better care of her baby. Get some babysitters. Stop taking him everywhere with her. Make him stop crying. Throw his icky diapers away in the dumpster across the parking lot, so we don’t have to smell them. Feed her baby from a bottle, or go feed him in the restroom.

They don’t say these things to her face, but she knows they’re thinking it. The looks, the whispers, say all she needs to know. So she hunches her shoulders and keeps walking, carrying that sweet baby boy who makes her world go around.

He wasn’t planned, and they weren’t yet married. Now they are, but she is a single mom until she graduates – they went to different colleges hours away from each other, and the last semester of senior year is much too late to change that. Her roommates decided they couldn’t handle extra visitors to help care for the baby, so she moved into a hotel room. Her roommates later calmed down, but it was easier to just stay in the hotel. That way she wouldn’t be inconveniencing them with his cries.

People offered to help before he was born, but when she asked them to commit to babysitting, few did. Those who did soon came to her with important reasons why they couldn’t do it anymore. She knew they were just excuses – he was an inconvenience that they could get rid of, thereby simplifying their lives. But they made her life more complicated.

The head of campus ministry told her that she could bring the baby by if she needed someone to watch him and no one else was available. She tried not to take advantage of that generosity, but as the semester went on and helpers melted away, she finds herself doing it more and more. She knows the only person who doesn’t resent it is the head of campus ministry. She wishes she could do it some other way – but this is the only choice she has, aside from taking him to all of her classes – and failing them. She can’t care for a fussy baby and pay attention in class at the same time. So she does it, and effaces herself, tries to be so mild that no one can possibly find any more fault in her than they already have.

She gets other looks, too – from those who had counted on their fingers, and know she sinned. How could she have done that, she was such a good girl, or so everyone thought. How could she walk around like she wasn’t sorry. At least she hadn’t aborted her baby.

In her deepest, darkest moments, she wishes she had. 

The rest of the time, she knows he is worth it.