31.

Today I’m 31. I’m sitting by myself enjoying a bowl of cereal and cup of coffee. When my son wakes up, I’ll nurse him, change his diaper, take him out to walk the dog.

We will go out this morning to buy supplies for his first birthday party this weekend. I’ll stare in wonder that he’s going to be so big. I bet my mom is wondering that today as well.

I like to look at birthdays as a time to set a “new year resolution”. It’s a new year in my life, a new revolution around the sun. My mid-August birthday always fell right before the start of a new school year. Things change, a time for new habits, new challenges.

I think I’d like to write more. Cook more vegetables. Use less plastic. Be more present. Be less tired. Work the dog more. Be annoyed with him less.

My 30s are proving to be a great time to slow down. My son has learned to say “tree”, and now as we walk he loves to point out all of the trees. He feels their leaves. Sometimes steals one. The dog likes to stop for a good, long sniff. We take our time. We move slowly. We breathe in, feel a nice breeze. It’s all so simple sometimes.

What a gift.

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It’s been a while…

It’s been quite some time since I wrote here. Almost 4 months. My last entry mentioned how hard it was to be so consumed by motherhood.

Around that time, an opportunity for part-time work came about, and the wheels started turning on working motherhood. Life is full of growing pains.

He’s in daycare now, 3 days a week. We still have some special days for just us and the way things were before work. He is learning and growing from his teachers and classmates. It’s nice to see how good this change has been for him, and also disappointing to know I couldn’t provide him all of that myself.

I feel a little more like me. A person who is valued for more than her milk and snuggles. We are closing in on his first birthday. It’s been quite a year.

In all of this transition, the dog is always the one who gets the shortest end of the stick. I’ve tried adding in a few minutes of training with him to my morning routine. I truly never expected to prioritize him so little, but here we are. I’m working on doing better by him.

I’m not sure what this blog will become, but I appreciate seeing people check in and “like” occasionally. Maybe I’ll find a way to make this part of my routine as well. Ever changing, ever growing, ever working to better myself.

The “up before 5” size cup of coffee

(Baby monitor for scale)

I love a routine. For years, I woke up, used the bathroom, walked the dog, came back and fed me and dog, ate breakfast while surfing the internet, took a shower, got dressed, one last potty break for the dog, out the door. In that order. Every day. There was a lot of wasted time if I’m being honest, but it helped me feel really ready for the day. In the time period in between dogs, one of the hardest things was the lack of walking the dog. My day felt all wrong without the morning stroll, especially since we were living right next to the beautiful Wissahickon Valley Park, and our days had previously begun with a hike through the woods with friends. I missed him and my routine so much.

With a new dog came a new routine, since the woods were too stressful for him. But the basic steps were the same. Up, walk, all the in the house things, out the door.

This was the routine until the day before the baby was born. Since then, I’ve been grappling with the loss of routine. We wake up at some random time in between 4:00 and 8:00, depending on how early it is we try or don’t to go back to sleep, sometimes I eat breakfast on my own and have a chance to blog a little, sometimes a happy baby joins me, sometimes I not-so-happy baby joins me. My husband walks the dog in the morning. It’s all different. I’m coping, but it’s different.

So in order to get some semblance of my old routine back, I often wake up very early and don’t go back to sleep, in order to creep downstairs and listen to some music, play around on the internet, and drink my coffee in peace. Today I felt pretty awake at 4:45, since kiddo slept through until that point (miracle of miracles!!)

That’s still pretty early to start the day. So I made the Big Cup. My “up before 5” cup.

I’m sitting here realizing how precious this time to myself is, as the Mountain Goats sing about “fresh cup of coffee at sunrise”. I hear the birds chirping. It is calm, it is grounding.

I often say that after the loss of my heart dog, I felt “unmoored, lost at sea”. It’s striking to me how much new motherhood can have the same feeling. It can be lonely, you can drown in the mundane tasks of caregiving- feeding, cleaning, dressing, soothing. The little bursts of social interaction can feel like a true life raft. So too, can these moments one carves for themselves, the landmarks of the life that used to be.

I adore my son, and cherish the time I have with him. But it can be an all-consuming love, and I’m trying to find myself outside of who I am as his mother.

It’s hard work. Today, a big cup of coffee and reminiscing on the routine I used to have will have to suffice.

Trying to predict the future.

Prior to actually having a baby, I had a very vague idea of what “being a mom” would be like. That might even be an overstatement.

I had dogs. Well I had a dog, who was the second dog I have had. I knew what it was like to have them. I knew what it was like to watch the first one inexplicably get very sick and die in the span of a week, after spending the whole 5 years I had him saying to myself “I just don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to him”. I knew what it was to love him so much that when it came down to it, I just didn’t want him to suffer, and I didn’t want him to die alone. So I made the decision to euthanize him. I knew what it was to feel like I lost a limb, a part of my own self, when he went away.

So I thought I knew what it would be to love a child. I loved my dogs like people love their children, I thought.

Then I got pregnant, and spent the whole time sure something terrible would happen. Sure I’d lose the baby, they’d get hurt, they were never really there to begin with. I think I was scared to love something that much.

And then he was here. His birth was not what I had hoped for, but we both came through just fine. Then I stared at him, felt his tiny little fingers wrapped around mine, and the world just stopped.

I still love my dog. I love when he curls up around my legs at night, and when he comes in close for some mama snuggles after the baby goes to sleep. But I honestly don’t really worry about him the same way, don’t prioritize him the same way. I thought for sure I’d never be that pet owner that gets annoyed at the dog after the baby comes. But…sometimes I am.

But in general, I find myself being a much more relaxed parent than I thought I’d be. I’m happier than I thought I’d be. It’s still hard to picture what I’ll be like in a few years, or with more than one child, or what our lives will be like when this dog is no longer in them. I’m seeing the folly in trying to predict what the future holds for us, and working, ever working, on just living in the present.

Bad morning, good day

Yesterday morning was not a good morning. Baby woke up very early (5:30, he can sleep until 7:30 or 8), and was a total grump during breakfast. He wouldn’t eat his food, whined the whole time, tried to grab purees off the spoon and throw them. It was a mess, I was frustrated, tired, spent. At one point, I had to just walk away for a minute to reset. He was pushing all of my buttons.

Then a miraculous thing happened. He took a nap. A really long one.

He’ll be 8 months old on Saturday, and he’s been a pretty terrible napper for most of that time. Once we got past those first few newborn weeks of sleeping most of the time, he’s decided there’s too much to miss while you nap and just been awake. So a bad morning has inevitably lead to a bad day, since there was no break and things just snowballed with a tired, cranky baby.

About a week or so ago, he figured out how to nap, and it’s been life changing.

So after our miserable morning, he napped, I took a breath, got some things done, and felt refreshed. He woke up happy, and then we had a great day. We went to Target, where he now sits up in the cart and smiles at all the babies and moms also hanging out at Target at noon on a Wednesday. They had good baby food deals. Things were going well.

Then a second miracle. A second nap. A short one, but just the little refresh he needed and a break for mama.

We took a long walk in the nice spring weather, as we finally seem to be moving out of winter in the Northeast. We invited the dog’s friend over for a play date, and Baby loves watching dogs play. He belly laughed, much to Sunny’s mom’s delight.

It was a good day.

It was a good lesson that every day is salvageable. We’re finally settling into something that feels like a routine, which is a relief for my routine-oriented self. He got there in his own time. I love following his lead. Most of the time 😉

Wishes and hopes

What would you wish for if you rubbed a lamp and a Genie granted you three wishes? What are the gaps in your life you’d fill?

The other night my husband and I had a nice conversation about our dreams. Do we see ourselves living where we live now forever? Would we prefer a smaller town, more land, more hiking? Closer to family? Farther away? What do we want our son’s childhood to look like?

It’s nice to daydream together. It’s how we set our goals, figure out where we want to set our “life GPS” and try to get to. One of our favorite things to do is imagine what it would be like to live in some of our favorite vacation spots. We love upstate New York and Lower, Slower Delaware. A sleepy town that hibernates for part of the year, much like we do.

But making dreams a reality takes big risks, and I’m not sure it will ever happen. Leaving the security of a good job, familiar place, comfort, safety, routine- it’s scary, and so hard to make that leap. The payoffs can be amazing. In order to give our relationship a real shot, I took a big leap and moved two hours away to live with him. We’re here now, 8 years, 2 dogs, and one kid later, happier than ever. It was a risk, and the biggest risks have the best payoffs.

It seems harder to make those jumps now. It’s not just us, but our son’s future we are gambling with as well. I do truly believe kids with happy parents have a good chance of growing up happy as well, but it all seems bigger and heavier now.

So I guess I’d ask the genie to show me where we are in 10 years. What’s the outcome of some of the big risks we want to take? Are we happy?

I think I’d also ask the genie to slow down time, just a little. Somehow my little baby now moves around lightening fast, sips from his own cup, and has very strong opinions about pretty much everything. I miss having a little baby. I love this big boy, but wish I could hold on to his littleness just a little closer.

As for my third wish? Maybe a million dollars, just to make things a little more comfortable 😉

What would you wish for? Does it change anything about what you’re doing right now?

Froth

Well this is a different one. I’m trying to stretch myself and my writing, and enjoying these daily prompts (when I get a chance to, and actually get to them on the right day…oops).

Froth.

I see a latte, thick with foam and the rich scent of coffee. Warm, inviting, relaxing.

Froth.

I see a dog, stressed out and frantic, foaming at the mouth. I feel sad, sorry, scared.

Froth.

I see the ocean, rolling in and out. The sun, warm on my skin. A nap on a towel, comforted by the sun. The waves a perfect soundtrack to my slumber.

We’re taking the baby to the beach this summer. I can’t wait to see him splash in the waves, feel the warm sun, lay in the sand. The ocean brings me such peace. I hope he loves it as I do. It’s fun to see what he likes and what he doesn’t, to see him become his very own person. In 30 years, I wonder what “froth” will mean to him.

 

via Daily Prompt: Froth