You knew I was about to do that.

February 10th, 2010

You get really creative when you have a baby.  Maybe sneaky is the right word.  I have accepted a lot of things I knew I was going to have to sacrifice when Sophie came along.  I think pregnancy prepares you for that.  I don’t shower everyday, I don’t shower every other day either.  I don’t have to get too specific here but let’s just say I’m not squeaky clean all of the time.  But there are some mornings I wake up and I just cannot stand how my head feels and I think I can hear my hair screaming to be washed.  This morning was one of those.  The baby was sufficiently fed, smiling and happy.  She was changed into her day clothes, long sleeves, pants and socks because of this terribly drafty house and I placed her in her swing.  She loves that swing and it is where she takes her morning nap, her first morning nap.  Now I’m not so confident in thinking it would be okay, or even safe, to get into the shower in another room with the water running, where I cannot spring to her side in the face of trouble.  My number one priority is her and I chose this responsibility and I do it without hesitation or fail.  She is not a burden, she’s a blessing.  But my screaming hair!

I get all I need, shampoo and towel and I stick my head in the kitchen sink, where I can just turn my head up and see her in her swing.  She is swinging happily, eyes closed, hands relaxed at her sides… I turn the water on.  She swings.  I stick my head in the water… WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

This is how it goes.  Same rule goes for dinner time or when I have to use the bathroom.

I love being a Mommy and I love being needed.  My hair can wait.  I may never get this moment back again, seeing her smiling face looking up at me with her eyes saying, “I knew you were about to do that”.

She doesn’t even understand what I’m saying, or does she?

February 5th, 2010

I found my passion for reading again.

One thing I am very thankful for is that my Mom really encouraged reading when we were growing up.  I remember going to the library at least once a week and sitting for hours picking through the stacks and being excited about being there.  You had to choose from the specific colored spines according to what level reader you were.  It was awesome when you advanced a level because your reading selection suddenly grew.  And you cannot imagine the delight when I advanced to the upper level: the adult section!

And then something happened.  I was forced to read.

I had already been a big reader, reading books way above my level.  My vocabulary was also advanced.  I can be proud of that now.  The problem then was that I was never very good with being forced to do anything, and not simply because I was stubborn.  The problem I had was that somewhere in high school, maybe even junior high, something about learning and reading didn’t click.  Teachers were forcing us to “see” the meaning in books and poems.  Now all of a sudden our interpretation of books and poems were obsolete.  Wait!…

I have read 1984 at least ten times in my lifetime.  The first time I read it was freshman year in high school.  I’m sure it wasn’t on my B-level English class to-read list, but I read it anyway.  Now everyone knows the gist of this book, even if you didn’t read it.  “Big brother is watching you” yada yada.  But I really got into the internal struggle of the main character and was really touched by the loss of love in this terrible world he lived in.  That was wrong.  I interpreted the book incorrectly.  Or at least that was what I was told.  I didn’t miss the main points of the book, I just got more out of it than face value.  Gives new meaning to: don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

I read it again, and again and again and each time I discovered something new from it.  Sure one of those times I really understood what that teacher was talking about, but why was my interpretation of it dismissed?

This happened a lot.  Especially in art too.  My appreciation of art is mine, isn’t it?  Well, that’s wrong too.  High art, low art, non-art… art fart.  It’s amazing how after time teachers and others can really make you hate what you once really loved.  Reading and art were two things I was introduced to so early in life and eventually were made to hate because my interpretation of the two were so heavily discouraged.

So I don’t read anymore and I’ve been on a self induced hiatus from making art that is going on 13 years.  Yet as of this week I’ve started to read to Sophie.  She’s so little she doesn’t even understand what I’m saying, or does she?  She watches my mouth make the sounds, she gets excited when I do and she smiles a lot.  I would say that if nothing else she is enjoying herself.  I am excited again to read and I cannot wait until she can understand and read along with me.  I’m not wanting to rush things, but it is certainly something to look forward to.

How then do we avoid what I experienced?  Now I am a little old school, I do believe that there is a winning team, keeping score isn’t a bad thing and having an understanding for the main point of things is important.  But where does interpretation and a personal feeling for something come into play?  And how do we encourage that while allowing for learning at the same time?

I just want to buy up all the books I can for Sophie and let her find her own meaning in them because I know that starting early will allow her to do that.  Thankfully I have Mike for math and science!

What time is it?

February 4th, 2010

Ever since Sophie had her first meal, some time following me being brought back to life after the surgery and her being shoved onto my breast by random medical strangers, we wrote it all down.  We wrote down the time, the amount she took in, the type it was (breast milk or formula {another story for another time}) and if she offered up pee-pee or poop, or both.  It seems a little bit much to the outsider and I wouldn’t have thought it was really a bit much before having a baby.  But when you sleep maybe an hour at a time or sometimes four hours at a time and it is light out but you don’t remember it being dark ever or the other way around then writing these things down is a very smart idea.  It’s amazing how a ten minute shut down on the couch with a baby in your arms can feel like ten hours and you jerk awake after your head has been mimicking a bobble head and you run to get a bottle because you’ve lost all grasp on the concept of time, or space, or reality.

And when your little one has gone almost four days without a poop, knowing that in writing is good too because really two sleep deprived people really can’t conceptualize a 24 hour period either.  And worse case, you have all of this information written down in case you need to share any of this information with your kid’s pediatrician.  Try remembering the times and amounts of food you’ve eaten in the last month… good luck.

With all of that said, it was decided that writing all of this down was no longer necessary.  I say it was “decided” because I’m not one for letting things go.  Mike kind of stopped doing it because really Sophie got into a rhythm of eating, peeing and pooping.  It does become clock work and your memory of it does too.  You write it down to make sure she’s eating enough and making sure that the bodily functions are functioning.  I was still trying to write it all down because I thought I needed it.  I am so routine driven that it’s hard for me to break a habit.  Somehow I think that if I let something go, or stop doing something, that it’ll all turn to hell and won’t work anymore.  Somehow Sophie would just fall off her very lose schedule or just stop functioning if I didn’t write it down.

Of course this didn’t happen.  The cycle has continued without fail.  Such is life.  Maybe I’ll learn a lesson from this.  Be a little less regimented and a little more care free when it comes to future challenges.  We’ll see.  You can’t reinvent the wheel.  No, that’s not it.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Something like that.

Elmo’s okay in my book.

February 3rd, 2010

Elmo wasn’t around when we were kids.  He’s got an annoying high pitched voice and he’s pretty plain looking, in Muppet standards.  He’s cutesy and very childish.  He’s not a real Muppet.

My five and a half week old laughed out loud and smiled and swung her arms and legs in joy to Elmo today on Sesame Street.  It made me so happy I wanted to do a cartwheel.  Elmo’s okay in my book.

* * * * * * * * *

I wondered, holding Sophie for the first time in the hospital, if I would ever lose that feeling, that ultimate high of happiness.  Sure I don’t feel that ultimate high of happiness when she screams for a bottle, at that point I just wish I was an octopus.  But it isn’t that I’m annoyed or sad at those times, it’s more like she allowed me to feel that ultimate high of happiness and this is how I’m repaying her- waiting for her food?  I’m letting her down because I let her feel sadness.  So if that isn’t over-compensating rearing it’s ugly head…

I can see our episode of “Supernanny” play out.

So how do I accept the fact that I cannot meet her every need all of the time and still feel like I’m doing the best by her?

It’ll come with time, like everything.  I think if I try my best she will feel that and later on know that I have tried my best.

Last night she smiled and beamed in her whale tub when Daddy and I bathed her for the first time.  I could see the happiness in her face and when we wrapped her up in her towel she looked up at me and I saw what I did in the hospital that day: a very content baby for being in my arms.  My arms.  I don’t think I need that ultimate high of happiness, I just need that simple feeling of doing right by her.  We are creating this happiness day by day and I know that she can feel our love already.  The books, the experts, “they” can tell you what to do and how to do it but they can’t tell you how to love.  When she cries for her food and I’m not fast enough to stop her tears I know that when I do get to her she will feel my love ultimately and that will someday turn into her understanding that I tried my best.

I really can’t do cartwheels.

Truly the next chapter.

February 2nd, 2010

I’ve probably said it time and time again: here’s the next chapter of my life, but until now those were just words.

I’m a parent, a mother.  I have a child, a daughter.  This isn’t a new chapter, this is a whole new book.

If you aren’t familiar with “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you should check it out.

Now I’m not saying that I’m postpartum psychotic but for every woman out there who has felt helpless, hopeless, aimless or overwhelmed and have stood at the brink of sink or swim to motherhood, let me just say- I understand.

Some days I can break it down as easily as a) Am I good mother? b) Am I doing this right? and c) Are we both happy?  But some days are a little more complex.  a) Is she crying because I’m inadequate? b) Can I calm her crying without crying myself? and c) Can I keep my stress level in check without feeling like giving up?  And some days are dismal.  a) Will I slip into resentment for the burden of being ultimately responsible for this child? b) Is my love untainted by feeling trapped, lost and ill-equipped? and c) Will I not be compassionate or be able to show love the way my mother couldn’t/wouldn’t?

These feelings can easily fit into: am I strong enough?  That pretty much covers it.  And I’m not talking about the physical pain of pregnancy, the delivery, the 4 am feedings, cracked nipples, the screaming, the crying (hers or yours), I’m talking the way she looks into your eyes in the quiet of the day when you are all alone with this little thing in your arms.  She can’t speak but she says a thousand things with her heart.

Am I strong enough for this love?  Because it is so big, so encompassing, so unconditional and unending.

Am I strong enough to endure what she needs of me?  Because I need to show her the world, protect her from harm and make her strong enough to do it on her own.

I’m not counting the flowers in my wallpaper yet and I don’t think I will anytime soon but there are some days when I don’t believe I can express how deeply I feel about these things and in that way I feel lost.  I’m not alone, millions before me and millions after me will feel these things and that is why for me I’ve decided it is important to start writing again.  Happy, sad, funny, tragic, mundane, life altering, silly, crazy, plain, whatever these days will bring I believe at this moment that I am strong enough.

I do believe that I will have many more of these moments.

Moving.

I almost just started to cry.  It may have been the hormones, may have been the lack of proper sleep or it may have been the tasty danish I just took a bite of; I get emotional when it comes to pastry.  It isn’t any of these things, it’s moving.  This year will be marking the eighth year we have lived in Tucson, and although that is a blink of an eye in our life times, most of those years have been in this house.  We got married, Mike got his degree, I got tattooed and quit my job living in this place.  My relationship with Mike has grown into something wonderful here between these walls.  Sadie is all grown up, and Leo came into our lives here in this house.  I have made the two best friends I’ve ever had living here.  I finally found and freed my artist within, here in this safe place.  I found out I’ll be an aunt here.  We won and lost Superbowls here.  Kids never came to this house for candy on Halloween even though every year I would have a bowl filled to its brim waiting.  I quit smoking while living here.  Subsequently I doubled my size while living here.  There was that New Years Eve when we took in a lost dog and we fed it hotdogs, and laughed after her owner came to claim the doggie about how it was going to poo something awful that night.  I was sick here, very sick here but found such an empowering strenght within, I never imagined I had.

Of course there are countless other memories, the kinds of things you remember down the road, make you stop and smile and think about only the good times.  Have I done everything I’ve wanted to do?  Have I finished and tied up all loose ends?  No.  But I’m a happier, stonger, smarter person for having experienced this part of my life here.  So, moving 3000 miles away from home or moving less than a mile away from a place filled with memories, it is important to reflect and to know that you can go home again, no matter where that may be for now.

I don’t know.

Right now, I’m conteplating so many things:

-selling my new scarves in my etsy shop

-opening an ArtFire account

-throwing random stuff up for sale on ebay

-eating nothing but cake for dinner for the entire month of March

-how I should start packing for the move

-when I’m going to finish my next mix CD I’ve got rolling around in my head and on this little yellow index card

-why I can’t stop listening to this song

Always questioning:

-why I’m a bad daughter

-how much is too much for my etsy shop

-am I the theif or the creator

-why you are always on my mind

-why reality tv is so captivating