Tag Archives: parenthood

Coming Home

Among the many pictures sent to me throughout the day. Hard to miss them too much when they're having this much fun together.
Hard to feel bad about leaving when she’s having this much fun with her dad. The picture updates also help.

At first I just wanted to get my feet wet, to see what it felt like to work again. Then I found myself to my ankles, and now I am up to my knees. Sometimes I open doors without thinking. Now the question remains, do I dive the rest of the way or continue to enjoy the ability to step back out, should the mood strike.

“For two years, no one wanted me.”

Those words from a child repeat in my mind. This week I met my match. The first kid in four years I could not crack in two solid days. Games of Horse followed by games of hiding. Maybe more days together would do the trick. I may never know. It all depends on decisions. A little deeper, a plunge perhaps, or the safety of the shallow end.

Last night, I needed a working family’s dinner, no dishes and no cooking. We invited friends to join us at a restaurant down the street. They have a brand new baby and as my friend described the feeling of leaving her son for the first time to go to a doctor’s appointment, the memory of intense attachment flooded back.

In the beginning, I could not leave her. I would get in my car and cry before I left the driveway. Still, I would go, for an hour or two, until the feeling became too intense and I had to be home again with her in my arms. As the months went on, I could go a little longer, an evening date perhaps or an afternoon of yoga and grocery shopping. Still that feeling would usually return and leave me desperate to be home again.

Did I mention they made it all the way to Coloma just so E would take a nap in the car?
Did I mention they made it all the way to Coloma just so E would take a nap in the car?

The first day I subbed I cried. It was in a friend’s classroom at a sister school for just four hours. To my great relief, I hadn’t forgotten how to be a teacher. The kids were great but I missed my girl. Then I subbed five hours with a gigantic smile on my face, homecoming to my old campus with my old friends and students. This week, a test. Two nine hour days back-to-back at the other school.

I missed her, but I was all right. Tired, but all right. Time after work was condensed to the essentials. Food, rest, time together. Each afternoon, when I arrived home, she and her dad were waiting for me in the driveway. Sweaty, covered in a little dirt, with gigantic smiles. They were better than all right. They had days packed with new adventures, happy to be together and happy to welcome me home.

Watching the kids play at recess, my thoughts returned to E. One day she won’t want me to hold her and squish her with so many kisses. I’m not ready to let go of our closeness, of our sweet time together. Still, maybe a couple days a week isn’t so bad. Maybe I need to let her dad have his turn. Maybe going away makes me better when I return.

This is the first Saturday in a long while where a weekend has taken on the familiar texture of time ticking, ticking, ticking. I used to hate the sensation of never having enough time, but there is also something powerful about making the most of each minute.

Maybe I’m in deeper than I thought.

Month Ten: (Beautiful) Incoherence.

Her sweet smiles, laughter, and wonder for everything around her make the hard parts more than worth it.
Her sweet smiles, laughter, and wonder for everything around her make the hard parts worthwhile. Thankfully.

Up until now, each month has had a theme, some coherent thread to tie my post together. Month ten is the opposite. The only theme I could come up with is incoherence. Maybe it is the sleep deprivation talking.

Before the holidays we made real progress. We read a couple books, committed to a routine, and suddenly E was asleep by 7 or 8 in her own room, leaving me 4+ hours to burn in the evenings before forcing myself to go to bed. I was like a little kid. I did not want to sleep because it was more fun to stay awake.

Hey, I guess I was kind of like E is now.

Then the holidays and travel hit and suddenly E was working on four (maybe more) new teeth and our routine vanished. Add in a dose of toddler-like determination to practice her new standing skills in the middle of the night and it is now impossible to put her to sleep before midnight.

I’m serious about this toddler thing, too. I’m pretty sure E thinks she’s two years old already. Just putting a shirt over her head requires the patience and will power of a highly evolved being. Sometimes I’m there, sometimes I have to take a little break and let her shriek before regaining enough calm to maneuver her flailing arms through the holes. Forget those moments when she remembers how to take the shirt right back off.

I try to remind myself she has her own spirit and should be honored for her individual desires, but on a chilly winter’s night wearing a long-sleeved shirt to bed is non-negotiable. Going to sleep at a decent hour should be too, but I am at a loss on how to make that happen.

In my desperation for sleep I have returned the Pack N Play next to my side of the bed, made it up with comfy baby-safe bedding, and plopped E in there a couple times just so I can momentarily let my tired eyes shut without fear of being stomped over on the way to her next adventure, (believe it or not the stomping is actually starting to hurt!).

While fussing it out might be alright, she is instantaneously transformed into a screaming, gagging, nearly-vomitous wreck when left alone in the playpen. I just can’t do it. Last night Alex rescued her from my eyes-half-open watch and allowed me to slip into a shallow sleep as they headed downstairs to wait out her need to stand up repeatedly until a little past midnight.

The good news, she woke less during the night last night, is napping right now, and is still pleasant company as long as you don’t try to change her diaper, put a shirt on her, or wash her face. More than one person told me it would really get crazy when she started to move, but I had no idea. Suddenly my house is a mess as I chase her every which way. She is up the stairs in 20 seconds flat, (yes, a gate is on the way). The water bowl for the dogs is her favorite play space. She. Is. Everywhere. And, fast.

Month ten has been wild. The pace of our lives has picked back up to full speed. Where once I worried staying home would eventually drag out to the point of boredom, we now leave the house almost daily and cannot keep up with the list of things to accomplish. I have also settled into a content gratitude in all the disorder. Such a blessing to experience this beautiful incoherence from home.

This Introvert Birthed an Extrovert. Go Figure.

E throwing herself in the middle of the action at another Java Mama meet-up this past week.
E throwing herself in the middle of the action at another Java Mama meet-up this week.

E is passed out in our big bed. We just got home from a baby “class” that was equal parts her favorite thing ever and my worst nightmare. Of course, I exaggerate. I loved watching her happy, even if I dreaded having to sing another song while doing sign language with a huge smile on my face. That just isn’t the part of mommy-ing where I excel.

There is actually a pretty cool coffee place down the street from us, called Java Mama. It has supervised play areas for the little people and grown-up treats for the caregivers. Somehow, in the course of the last week, I have been there four times. It is suddenly everyone’s favorite place to meet with a baby.

That is how I discovered their weekly baby classes. While they aren’t cheap, I figured they were worth a shot because E is mesmerized by other kids. Sure enough, no sooner had we removed our shoes than she had crawled up on another mom’s lap and was listening side-by-side with her baby to a story, (might have been one of E’s cutest moments yet).

And, so it begins. E is already pushing me out of my comfort zone. I knew it was bound to happen, I just did not expect her to be so outgoing so quickly. I, on the other hand, cringe at having to put on a show and meet new people, (even if I enjoy social interaction once I get over the stranger anxiety). Yep, this introvert has birthed an extrovert.

E exchanged kisses with babies, excitedly drew circles in the air when invited to do baby sign language, and, well, threw herself in the middle of everything with her characteristic beast scream of excitement. She. Was. In. Heaven.

As for me, well, I made it through. Thank goodness those classes are designed for short attention spans. My brain doesn’t catch on quickly to coordinated hand motions/new lyrics/etc., (I am still traumatized by high school aerobics). Mix in suburban moms, and, well, I felt a little like a fish out of water. To the credit of the other moms, however, they were all perfectly nice and I even made a new mom connection who seemed pretty cool. It was just a different scene from the babywearers at the park, (even if they ironically met up at Java Mama last week too).

I have heard many times that our children are our greatest teachers. They push us in exactly the ways we need to be pushed. Today, I am grateful to E for exposing me to a new slice of life, one I would have avoided at all costs if it were not for her huge smile and beastly screams… No promises on getting better at those silly songs, though.

Month Eight: Hints of Independence

E. is still living up to her nickname, Little Beast.
E is still living up to her nickname, Little Beast.

Last night E pulled herself up and stood without holding onto anything for a few seconds. Her dad and I stared at each other. We couldn’t believe it. Around six months she skipped sitting and went straight to crawling. Then last week she suddenly started kneeling. Because she was late to the sitting party, we didn’t expect her to be standing so soon.

This month has been about hints of independence. Suddenly other people can babysit her again (thank heavens!). She makes her own jokes and tells her own stories. She is eating all kinds of foods and insisting on feeding herself. She is becoming a kid instead of a baby, (even though I know there are still plenty of baby moments left).

As she is becoming a little person, I am regaining parts of myself, too.

She is also bonding with Daddy-- even spent three hours with him yesterday so I could drive across town to catch a yoga class... They ventured (successfully!) to the grocery store.
She is also bonding with Daddy– even spent three hours with him yesterday so I could drive across town to catch a yoga class… They ventured (successfully!) to the grocery store.

I am beginning to itch to go back to work part-time again. Her rediscovered comfort around others makes me feel better about leaving. While I won’t stop writing, I am also dreaming of teaching. Literally. Half my dreams have been about the classroom lately. I miss my old students. Even interacting with trick-or-treaters brought out that teacher part of me (much to the chagrin of the 11-year-old who tried to double up on the candy). Writing is great, but it fits into the time I steal for myself.

Maybe that is what needs to change, making time for myself instead of just stealing it when she is asleep. I am ready for someone else to take care of her part of the time. I am ready to get serious about work again, whether it is writing or teaching. I will finish the book I am writing first, but then maybe, just maybe, I will be ready to get out of the house and back into a classroom part-time.

Watching her get bigger is a bittersweet process. We are both gaining independence, but she will always be my sweet, cuddly girl. It is a big relief to know she will not need me close forever, even if there is also a whisper of sadness in this realization. Everything at once. Parenthood in three words. I don’t want to take a single second for granted, even if I am also excited for our future.

Hard to believe 8 months has passed.
Hard to believe 8 months has passed. I am having so much fun discovering the little girl she will become.

Month Seven: Changing the Meaning of Home

We said goodbye to our first little home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is so exciting.
We said goodbye to our first home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is worthwhile…

It has been two weeks since we moved. Despite my excitement about our new adventure, I also had my worries. I did not know if two bedrooms would be enough. I was concerned we would miss our privacy. I feared I would somehow feel rootless, or homeless in a nontraditional sense, without an entire house to ourselves. Most of all, I did not want our little family to lose the intimacy of those precious moments shared just the three of us.

To my great relief, our first two weeks have made any trade-offs unimportant. So far, I do not miss a single item stuffed into our 1,500 cubic feet of storage, (and, yes, we used all 15 feet of vertical space thanks to my clever cousin-in-law). Nor do I lament the loss of the many items I gave away or sold. Life feels simpler with less. And, as it turns out, everyone else is so busy with daily routines that our little family of three is still a little family of three, just operating within a bigger family unit.

The bigger family unit is by far the best part. Household responsibilities are shared and I no longer spend my days obsessively cleaning. Instead, I write every second I can while she is asleep, trade nights on the dinner making, and generally can find someone eager to hold her for a few minutes when I need a break. As I made and cleaned dinner beside my sisters the other night, I felt at home in a soul-nurturing kind of way. When I got back from yoga on a different night and my husband was hanging out in the kitchen while one of my sister’s bounced the baby, another sister made dinner, and my nephew ate at the counter, there was this feeling of community I had missed in my solo days staying at home.

I feel so incredibly blessed to be with my family, in whatever setting life provides. Even if this is just a temporary arrangement, I am trying to make the absolute most of it. I have already realized my call to be a stay-at-home mom is not about baking or cleaning or decorating (which I know can be fulfilling for many). Instead it is about getting to be present for my daughter while also having the opportunity to pursue a piece of myself that would otherwise be lost in a 9 to 5 life.

This month, I decided to dedicate my middle grade fiction novel to E. Somehow, knowing she will someday read it, I am more motivated to craft characters I would want a 10 or 11 year-old to idolize, and in turn, feel much more inspired to finish it. Writing a novel for my daughter is pretty much the coolest project I have ever worked on. After all, she is the most important audience I will ever have.

Month seven has been about so much change, but I can tell it is the good kind because it has all just happened. Nothing has been forced. The house sold, we moved, each step has followed naturally by just putting one foot in front of the other. E. is changing every day, too. She is crawling, teething, chattering, climbing over pillows. As cliche as it sounds, she has shown me home is wherever I am with family.