Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Living with priorities and without regrets

I've had a significant amount of time off from work this month (not by choice), and while it made me apprehensive at first due to the fact that I'd be wondering how we might make ends meet, I am now SO grateful for it. And wouldn't you know...I was able to get extra shifts and we'll be just fine.

I haven't been blogging as much lately because I'm trying to keep my priorities in line. Writing is something I'll always need to do. I have to get things out, and I want to be able to look back on all my posts someday to remember all the little things that may otherwise be forgotten. Part of me feeling peaceful about where my priorities are has meant less time on the computer, less time reading blogs, less time blogging, less time commenting. And while I felt some guilt about that initially, I decided to just get over it.

Right now, I've got no regrets about how I spend my time. I'm playing with my daughter, taking her out on errands with me, teaching her things, learning things from her, making time to exercise and to - (are you sitting down?) cook healthy, wholesome foods for my family. We're talking fresh fruits and veggies, high protein, low fat, limited processed stuff and recipes we've never tried before. I know. What has come over me? I now spend more time reading books than I do on the computer, and that is one change that I am so glad I made. I've already finished 4 books this month, and I hope to finish one more by the end of the month.

Kaylee is just more of a sponge every single day, and she's cracking us up so much. From asking us, "What happedid?" during a commercial on one of her shows, or during the very short break between songs on a CD, to blaming her own farts on Dennis, we are just loving this stage of being parents. And yes, she seriously blamed a fart on Dennis. How can a child who is not even two yet even know that's an option? She farted the other day and then said, "Daddy FART!" and started laughing.

She now sings her ABCs up to the letter K, knows her colors, and counts to 9 (I know, budding Baby Genius over here).

My parents were incredible teachers to us growing up. They took every opportunity to help us learn about ourselves and the world around us. It just really instilled a love of learning in me, and I've always looked forward to the time when I could pass that on to my own children, and now I'm seeing the results of it.

I feel like this time - right now - is what I envisioned when I pictured motherhood. This interaction, this bonding, and the joy and laughter she brings to us (coupled with, of course, an overwhelming sense to protect her, to worry about her, and to be overcome by frustration with her, at times) - this is what I wanted. At the beginning, I just didn't realize it might take so much time to get here.

Of course there have been good moments at all the stages of her life, but it was so hard for me to just relax and enjoy things for such a long a time at the beginning. There was a mean, nasty adjustment period I hadn't counted on. I didn't realize that, at first, there would be so little sleep and so much stress. I expected so many fun times right away, but that's not how it works.

And what I didn't realize is this time - right now - is like the ultimate prize for surviving the first few months.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This little piggy went to market, this little piggy went home, and this little piggy went to gym class and became a mean old stealer of parking spaces

It's true. It's really true. Today I stole someone's parking space at the gym. Go ahead and unfollow my blog - I'm a terrible person. This much I know.

We were running late. I hate being late to class. I don't want to miss a minute of the cardio portion of the class, and if I didn't get my butt into class pronto, there would be calories that would never have the opportunity to burn. So sad. Plus, there are never any spots in the far, far away parking lot, waaaay in the back of the gym. It was cold. I had to unload all the crap from the car and then buckle my kid into the stroller. The task before me was not an easy one.

The spot was RIGHT in front of the entrance. As I turned on to the street, I saw the sporty red car backing out, making room for me to park - allowing me to get to class on time. Hallelujah! Had I strained my ears a bit closer to heaven, I am pretty sure I'd have heard the angels singing. A spot at the entrance?!? On a day when I'm LATE? Be still my heart!

Of course, in my mind, as soon as the sporty red car backed out, I staked my claim on that spot. It would be mine!

But, to my dismay, as I approached that stinking gorgeous parking space, I noticed The Red Jeep.

Poor, poor, victimized Red Jeep.

The Red Jeep had its blinker on. A blinker which happened to not only be pointing in the direction of the entrance to the parking lot, but that also happened to be pointing in the direction of my parking space, sent to me straight from the heavenly angels up above. How would I know where she really mean to turn? I pretended she meant to turn into the parking lot and not into the space.

So, I had about 4 seconds to solve my moral dilemma of the century. Do I politely keep driving ahead and let The Red Jeep have the spot, or do I decide to be a mean old selfish hag and take the spot for myself?

Well, to be honest with you, I am not familiar with what it feels like to be a mean old selfish hag, and I thought - What the heck? Today's as good a day as any, right? I wanted to try it out. So I did something I've never before done in my life...I took the spot. For myself. The spot that was clearly not mine because it had a big, fat tag on it that said: This spot belongs to The Red Jeep.

My good old Lutheran guilt got to me a bit, but I tried to tell myself it was no big deal, and I watched as The Red Jeep circled the parking lot.

"Oh, CRAP! Please don't let it be one of the moms in my class!!!" I hoped and prayed.

About 5.6 seconds later, I found out it was most definitely not one of the moms from my class.

I was strapping Kaylee into her stroller as fast as my little fingers could get her in there, hoping against all hope that I could get inside before The Red Jeep lady exited her vehicle. There was no way I was making eye contact if I could help it. I may have been a mean old selfish hag, but I was still ashamed and embarrassed.

All of a sudden, I hear a voice. A voice that is addressing me. The voice from The Red Jeep. Dang it.

She says, "That was really RUDE of you take my space."

Well, reeeer! I felt like saying, "Oh yeah? I didn't see your name on it!" and sticking my tongue out at her. Please - I spend my days with a toddler. Regression is bound to happen at some point. But worry not, I didn't say it, and I didn't even stick my tongue out.

So instead, I sincerely said, "I'm sorry." And then - before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth...

I said sarcastically, "Well, I can pack my kid up in the car and move so you can have it back."

Goodness, me. Where did that come from? From sincere to sarcastic in 2 seconds flat. That's me, people. That's me.

...Me who waits for eons for the old people to scoot across the crosswalk at Wal-Mart.

...Me who will let one or two cars go when no one ahead of me has.

...Me who drives defensively and takes great pride in my safe driver discount.

...Me who has never had a speeding ticket or moving violation in my LIFE.

...Me who is a polite and courteous driver (and by polite and courteous I mean that I don't flip people off. Do I occasionally utter swear words when they cut me off in traffic? Yes, ma'am. But the windows are up, so give me a break).

And just in case I didn't hear her the first time, she took one more opportunity to whine at me about how rude I was and then drove off angrily.

Seriously, I am usually so nice and would never do such a thing - steal a parking space OR smart off like that. To complete and total stranger no less.

But, the woman pissed me off. She actually blocked traffic behind her (preventing anyone else from stealing any other parking spots, I'm sure. What a killjoy!) so that she could stop and inform me that I was rude.

Dude, I know I was rude. I'm nice to strangers 98.6% of the time. I know what I did was wrong. I apologized. Pull up your big girl panties and go find another frickin' parking spot. It is what it is.

Will I steal another parking space? Probably not.

At first, when I thought about it, I considered how fun it was to get chewed out in public and I decided it would probably be awesome if I made a daily habit out of stealing parking spaces.

I'd be like, "What's that, Kaylee? You're tired of Barney and you want to go steal things? I've got just the ticket! Let's go steal parking spaces for the next 3 hours! YES!"

But, just as anyone should do before taking up a new hobby, I decided to google it.

But, after what I found, I'm not sure I should tempt fate, lest my luck run out and eventually I end up like this poor guy - stabbed in the chest with an ice pick for stealing a parking space, or like this poor girl who got knifed in the head, shoulder and arms after she got in a fight with another chick over a parking space.

I guess I'm done trying out this whole mean old selfish hag gig. It's not worth an ice pick to the chest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Because those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days of early motherhood eventually become a thing of the past, just like sleep and your sanity.

When Kaylee was 2 weeks old or 2 months old, or heck - even 6 months old...when I was knee deep in my, "Really? I thought I could do this? I actually thought I was cut out to be a mom? When will I ever sleep again? I will never be able to function as a normal adult again - EVER." days...

...I wish back then I'd had a video clip of the future - a video clip of tonight - to play for myself on those early days that were filled with so much frustration. Those days when I couldn't look at Dennis without snapping something mean back at him, even if he hadn't said anything.

Tonight - I sat back and watched as my baby played with my mom and my dad. I just sat there and took it all in and watched in amazement at where we are at in our lives now.

I just welled up with pride at the things she's doing - talking in these cute little toddler sentences, pushing her dolls all over the house in a cardboard box, telling them, "Ready? Set? GO!" and then "All done!" when she's tired, putting together puzzles and coloring and painting, and showing affection - actually asking for hugs and "noses" (Eskimo kisses).

My once helpless skinny mini baby who just gurgled, smiled, ate, farted and crapped her pants all day is turning into this tiny little person with an extremely strong personality who occasionally makes an angry face at me while yelling garbled words that I can only guess to be some form of toddler profanity invented by another baby genius somewhere else in the world who passed it on to toddlers everywhere. Maybe they learn these toddler swear words (i.e. "MamaYOWado-doYOWnabuggaYOW!") by playing their Elmo DVD's backwards or something when we're not looking. I have no idea.

Anyway - to get back to my point - a night like tonight would have been a light at the end of the tunnel for me during those first few months when I battled the worst part of my depression. Maybe if I'd been able to see what it would be like - what our life would turn into - maybe if I'd seen that someday I would get the sparkle back in my eyes and I would experience joy and pride and contentment, that I would be able to laugh again - maybe it would have been a little easier.

Maybe I would have actually believed that it really would get better.

But, I didn't have a snapshot of my future, and I still turned out okay. And so did my kiddo.

Because, as hard as that time was, it ended.

The really, really horrendously sleepless nights and constant crankiness and persistent funk ended.

And if that's where you're at, yours will end, too. You'll reach a day where you look back, and the hard times won't seem quite so harsh. And it will be because you're strong and you're going to make it through. Even though it seems like the struggles of life right after a baby will never get better, they can - and they will.

Eventually, you'll be able to sleep again, you'll be able to laugh and to feel like yourself. There are different ways of getting to that place, but if you're willing to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, you'll get there.

And once you do, you'll wake up the next morning to pick Ranch dressing out of your kid's hair from the night before, but only after you stub your toe on a spare Mr. Potato head ear, arm, or hat. Then you'll proceed to eat a breakfast consisting of either Cheerios that went soggy because your kid took a monster dump right after you poured the milk, or once-delectable-looking scrambled eggs that are now cold because there was a toddler breakdown when the extremely overplayed Barney DVD began to skip.

You will then walk to the bathroom, and you'll imagine how amazing a 25 minute shower would be. You'll skip the shower because - well, who are we kidding? Do you really need an excuse to skip a shower? (You're a mom now - put in a headband and a ponytail and call it good.) You'll count to 10 v-e-r-y slowly, and then you'll jump right back into the chaos.

Because you are someone's mom. And even though it may not seem like what you signed up for in the first place, in so many ways, it's turned out to be even better.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: The joy, the anticipation, the complete and utter deliciousness

To my dear Kaylee,

As your mother, there are so many things I'm responsible for teaching you. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don't cut in line. Be nice. Don't bite. Don't pinch. Don't throw a fit. Boys are disgusting. 2 + 2 = 4. Take your vitamins.

But, out of all the things I feel the need to teach you, I cannot even begin to describe the level of joy I felt when I realized I didn't need to teach you about how nothing else in the world matters when you've got a Christmas sugar cookie in your face. I feel like doing this very same thing with my own hands and opening my mouth as wide as it will go when I feast my eyes upon one of Grandma's sugar cookies, too. And I didn't even have to teach you. You figured it out all on your own. That's my girl, sweetie pie.

That's my girl.

Love, Mama

This post is a part of Wordful Wednesday, hosted by Angie at 7 Clown Circus.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The first shiner.

Well, my little sugar plum got her first shiner.

She took a nosedive off my bed and face planted it on my nightstand. A nasty, ugly purple bruise appeared almost instantly on her little cheek, and it just kills me to see it.

She cried for a short bit and then she was over it. Didn't break any skin inside or outside her mouth, and her teeth are just fine.

But if this was so hard, how will I deal with it if she ever breaks a bone?

I have a feeling I'm headed into uncharted territory with my now climbing, running, jumping, energetic and fiesty little firecracker.

Anyone know where I can buy bubble wrap in bulk?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting with a clean slate.

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. It's just too much pressure.

On the one hand, though, I like the idea of having a brand new year. A clean slate. 12 months of possibilities. It's like a breath of fresh air.

Last year was quite a year. Sure, there was nothing monumental, but I did a lot of growing. Had a few growing pains, in fact. But - I'm grateful for all that happened and for the realizations I made.

I did a lot of reflecting on things. Things like - what really brings me joy? What do I need more of, and what can I get by with less of? What do I need to feel balanced, to feel well, to feel like my priorities are in line?

So, this year I'm not making resolutions, but I'm establishing just a few goals for myself. It's hard to not just sit here and just brainstorm stuff that I want to get done this year. Two or three months ago, if I'd decided to sit down and come up with a list of goals for 2010, the list would have easily been a few pages long.

BUT! I'm learning to put less pressure on myself. To let some things go, and to try and have less stress and anxiety in my life. So, I'm setting the bar lower. Realizing that less is more. And this is what I'm going for this year.

*Being WELL. To me, this means taking care of myself - eating right, regularly doing exercise that I love, getting good sleep, setting boundaries where they need to be set, and realizing that I don't have to do everything and be everything.

*Reading like crazy. These past couple months I've been reading voraciously, and even though it may sound corny, it's making me such a happier person! It's like I've rediscovered my favorite past time, and I am absolutely loving getting lost in a good book.

*Enjoying life and relishing in the small things. This could mean ditching the laundry for watching my backlogged episodes of Grey's Anatomy and eating a chocolate bar, or it could mean remembering that playing with Kaylee is more important than anything else I need to do in my day. It means keeping my family and friends my first priorities, and trying not to sweat stuff that really doesn't matter in the long run.

Do tell me what you are hoping for this year!