Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Thankful...

It's been a long time since I've felt compelled to post, but I find myself feeling particularly motivated today as I scroll through countless Facebook posts full of of my friends' thanksgivings. So hold on to your hats because it's about to get a little touchy-feely here.  

It's hard to blog, keep up with my family, keep house, keep reading, keep working, and keep doing all of the things I love to do.  But I try.  Joan Didion wrote a book called The Year of Magical Thinking, chronicling the year following her husband's death.  And while I (thankfully) do not relate to her subject matter, I can say that this year has been my own year of magical thinking. I have found out where I belong in the grand scheme of the world as I've shifted from being more selfish to selfless, careless to caring, self-involved to self aware.  And I couldn't be more grateful for it.  

Having a partner in life and starting our family has made me a better person.  Period.  And until this week I have struggled through this first part of parenthood--on an emotional and social level.  Most of my friends embraced this part of my life with me, but a few (some of them surprising) didn't get behind the movement.  And it hurt.  I felt abandoned even though I knew that logically I had to abandon all else to adopt my new role.  The selfish part of me wanted to fight for those pieces of my past, but the selfless part of me needed to prioritize my family. The people who value me enough as a friend have kept me and for that I couldn't be more thankful.  

On another front, I know that less than a year ago if someone had handed me their baby to go use the restroom or, God forbid, run an errand that would take almost any length of time, I would have held that child out in front of me just waiting for it to detonate. I did not grow up around small children. I did not understand how hard it is to maneuver your whole existence around one tiny, adorable, often screaming ball of need. I did not understand the importance of nap schedules and would cavalierly say things like, "pfftttt....just take the kid out, for Pere's sake!"  I was so careless in that thinking.  And now that I know better, I know to offer help.  I know to be more understanding.  And the people I love most and who love me back care enough to rally behind me instead of railing against my family's limitations.  Again, I couldn't be thankful enough.

We humans are so so selfish.  Even those of us who care for others have to keep our own best interests at heart.  Until we can't.  Joe and I have a lot of what we call "want-tos" and "need-tos". And since having the baby, a lot of things have fallen off of the want-to list as non-negotiables have clogged up our need-to list.  And while the selfish part of me wants to "have it all" and rail against the fact that I can't maintain a consistent schedule to work out yet, or that I should be able to go to coffee or dinner with my friends instead of home with my son in order to maintain the sanctity of his schedule, I have to be honest.  No cup of coffee or meal with great people is worth upsetting the schedule he needs feel comforted and safe at home.  And that's the selfless part of me.  And being able to tap into that is something I am thankful for, as well.

To those in my life who have mattered most, thank you for teaching me so much about myself.  And to my son and husband and thankful to have been introduced to an improved version of myself.  

Declan with Aunt Jules

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole...

Since I last updated, my entire world has been turned upside down and all of the rules have changed.  I went down the proverbial rabbit hole and have emerged.  I wouldn't say I emerged "victoriously", because let's face it--the baby wins pretty much every battle these days.  He is well fed, well-rested, and well-tended to.  I can't say the same for Joe and I, but we're on a pretty steep learning curve so I have to assume those details will work themselves out.

For three months now, I have been living in an alternate dimension of my own life.  The "new normal" involves never eating a meal when I'm actually hungry, carrying around a chunky little ball of need like an extra appendage at all times, and randomly wondering by 4:00 pm whether or not I actually put on deodorant or brushed my teeth that day. Besides my now questionable hygiene, my ass is huge.  I had no idea how having a baby would change me on every level.  I knew it would change our day-to-day lives, our priorities, and our hearts forever. But I had no idea it would change every single aspect of who I am, almost as if on a cellular level.

Often in the dark of night, as I sooth my son to sleep in the rocker by the sound machine thump-thumping to mimic the comfort of my womb, it's almost as if the sleep deprivation has conjured images of stars and sheep bouncing across my ceiling and I can hear Calypso versions of the ABC song fading in and out over his sweet coos, and I lose hours of time like sand sifting through my fingers.

And then I realize it.  This is real life.  It is not some trippy, David Lynch-esque dream that I will wake from.  This is parenthood.  And if I thought pregnancy was a game changer, the aftermath has made that seem like no big deal. My edges feel indistinct and blurry, and Joe reminds me of Edvard Munch's The Scream between the hours of 4:30 and 6:00 am (which the kiddo must sense, because that is when he has decided to start getting seriously salty).

Everything takes forever these days...going anywhere, leaving any place, and settling in all take an interminable amount of time.  In fact, this blog entry from start to finish has taken me five and a half weeks to finish writing. I am always leaving belongings behind--burp cloths, onesies, and, on one awful occasion, a dirty diaper.  My standard of personal hygiene has become questionable.  My number of followers on Facebook has diminished due to a lack of activity paired with the fact that all activity of late has involved pictures of my child in various states of repose and dress (or lack thereof).  Apparently not everyone I know gets melty at the sight of Declan's fat rolls on his thighs.

In this alternate universe, I feel like I'm still back in college waiting tables and Declan is the worst customer ever. He doesn't articulate his order, he demands all of my attention just when I'm being pulled in every other direction, and he complains to management when I'm not moving fast enough.  And then, just when I think he's satisfied, he has the nerve--the absolute nerve--to spit it up.

I simultaneously wish for and dread the moment the baby will actually be able to talk.