Lucky

I’ve been feeling a little silly lately, realizing that almost all my Facebook statuses (because, of course, that is the true barometer of real life) are related to parenthood/my children. I’ve wondered if the funny things A says are really the most interesting part of my life (according to FB feedback, the answer is a resounding YES).

My friend AR and I were talking about parenthood recently and she mentioned a friend of hers who has had a tough transition to motherhood, fighting the change of her identity from person to mother. AR said something about understanding the difficulties, but also feeling like parenthood shouldn’t be that much of a fight.

That really hit home. I certainly am guilty of “fighting” motherhood. As evidenced by my little FB status insecurity above, I get panicky when I feel like my entire life is consumed by my kids. I might even have to admit that a big motivation to be back in school is my desire to have something other than motherhood define me. (Really, this is me being a broken record because this theme has come up OVER AND OVER in the past three years.)

That said, at this very moment, I am feeling content with the balance in my life. I turned in a paper yesterday and successfully completed a group assignment. I slept in this morning and have spent the afternoon so far catching up on e-mails and cleaning the kitchen. Anna is upstairs napping and Lucy is right here, sleeping on my chest in the front-carrier. After P gets home from work, we will go to pick up our CSA share, then we might make a stop at the library to pick up the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, which I have yet to read (!!) and which we hope will be a good choice for our first foray into chapter-book bedtime reading for A. Then home again to make dinner and do more house-related chores before A goes down for the night and P settles in to do some reading for class tomorrow.

I still feel some envy when I think about my friends with careers and social lives.  But when the day comes when my life is more clearly defined by my job, I know I will miss these days.


Yes, that is a pile of laundry behind L.

**incidentally, A just woke up from her nap. I offered her a graham cracker and she exclaimed, “I’m so LUCKY… if you want one, I can share mine with you!” Yep, my kids are the most interesting aspect of my life right now and really, that makes ME lucky, right?

Adjustments

I completed my first year of graduate school as a mother of a two year old (and I was also pregnant for the entirety of the second semester).  With the exception of a few particular points (mid-terms, finals, and group project deadlines), it was not difficult.  P was working full-time but did not take any classes and A was in part-time daycare.  This meant that I had free time for homework in between classes, and anytime I needed extra time in the evenings, P took over childcare and I could escape to the library, a coffee shop, anywhere away from the house.  I essentially did all my assignments in the same back room at the library or holed up in a study carrel late at night in the almost completely dark law school library.

This year, A is three and is in half-day preschool (and we plan to stop her enrollment mid-October, since my parents will be with us until Christmas).  P is still working full-time but is also taking two classes.  I am only taking one class.  L was two and a half weeks old when classes began (she is seven weeks old now).

Because I’m only taking one class, which meets once a week for three hours, I fully expected the school-home juggle to be easier this semester.  And yeah, in some ways, it has been.  I like only having one class’s assignments and deadlines to keep track of.  But over the weekend, it became apparent that we will have to be more intentional about everything this year!  First of all, A is so much more demanding of our time as a preschooler than she was as a toddler.  Secondly, both P and I are students, which means that I can no longer assume that P will be free in the evenings if I need to take a couple of hours to do homework (since he very well might have homework, as well).  Lastly, I had forgotten how much attention a newborn needs!  L is a sweet, easy baby, but is less content to not be held than A was at her age.  I sat down to write a paper last night and everything took four times as long because I was simultaneously trying to keep L happy.  I’d sit to write for a few minutes with L on the swing… L would fuss, so I would move her to the front-carrier… fifteen minutes later she would want to move again.  It was just hard to keep any sort of momentum going on my work.

P and I have agreed that the days of procrastination have to be put behind us if we’re going to survive this semester.  We need to plan everything the week ahead and take turns covering childcare so the other person can fully focus on whatever work is at hand.  We learned the hard way last night, but hopefully this single experience of both having to start the week on 2-3 hours of sleep will ensure that we’ll plan things better next time!

Saturday

My ideal Saturday morning consists of sleeping in, waking up to the smell of coffee, and enjoying said coffee over a book (or, to be completely honest, Google reader).  Either that or meeting a friend for brunch downtown.

Our 3-year-old, A, often climbs into our bed once daylight hits (That is our rule for her–stay in bed until daylight.  We established this rule over the winter and paid for it over the summer, when the sun rises at 5 AM), and we spend the next hour or two cuddling in our tiny bed and dozing in and out of sleep.  When A finally decides that she is too awake to stay in bed, P gets up with her to get her breakfast and lets me continue to snooze with L.  P then often whips up brunch or works on a backyard project while A eats and plays (and I sleep).  It is glorious.  Saturday mornings remind me of how lucky I am to have married someone unlike me–someone who doesn’t find the appeal of being lazy just for the sake of it

On this particular Saturday, P’s working on the back patio.  A had cereal and blueberries for breakfast and is now splashing around in the bathtub.  L is snoozing in her bouncer.  I caught up on e-mails over coffee and pumpkin bread.  Soon we will head to the grocery store to do some much-needed shopping.  Later, we hope to make an appearance at the annual Great Insect Fair.  We will then spend the evening at our CSA’s farm for hayrides, a potluck, and all sorts of other early Fall festivities.  Then hopefully we’ll be back home for A’s bedtime, after which I have a paper to write.

Happy Saturday.

Personal history

My first real diary was a hardcover Babysitters Club tie-in “journal” that I ordered from Scholastic. I wrote things like, “This year, I want a boy to like me,” something I remember specifically being more related to peer pressure than any real interest in particular boys.  There was a lot of angst directed towards my parents and siblings.  I still have the book somewhere in my parents’ house, probably in the bottom of the single plastic bin that still contains leftover belongings that I couldn’t bear to part with, yet didn’t want to bring to college. I know for a fact that the journal smells like Stimerol gum, as I taped a chewed-up piece as a memento to one of the first pages.

During the one year of high school I spent in the Ph, I carried a little blue notebook around and wrote in it obsessively. I believe the first entry was about a family visit to a fancy hotel–something about how the outdoor space would be perfect for “______’s and my garden wedding.” (I am cringing as I write this.) That year marked my first true infatuation (I vividly recall the moment I realized that the feeling of having “butterflies in your stomach” is a cliche for a reason) and my first broken heart. I was fourteen and it was all innocent, thank heavens, but man was that book full of roiling emotion. I have no idea where this book is. I hope I burned it.

I bought a fresh, faux-suede journal right before leaving to study abroad in England my second semester of college. There was a little cut-out for a picture in front, and I promptly inserted a portion of my tube-map in it. I know for a fact that this journal is sitting in a wine box in my closet, right this very minute. I didn’t write in this journal too frequently, but revisited it every few months, mostly to write about boys (seriously–I even dissected interactions with boys long gone–good grief), my hopes and dreams, my conflicting impulses, my uncertainty about what the future might hold. I was about as innocently self-obsessed as most college students are in that period when they discover the world for the first time. I remember writing while lying in my bunk in Belfast, during the brief two-week sojourn I took across the UK after my program ended. I wrote about desperately wanting to hold on to the version of me that I had found in England. I was also dating someone for real and wrote about our future so tentatively, so insecurely, that when I re-read my old entries, I feel painfully protective of my former self.

I returned to college the summer after that term in England, newly single and eager to jump into a new life. It was 2002 and I jumped into the world of blogging. My first blog’s original url was eventually phased out because it included an underscore. I posted regularly on that blog for EIGHT YEARS. I started blogging before I realized that people could get famous, could earn MONEY for blogging (a realization that gives many casual bloggers nowadays a sense of failure that was foreign to me back then)–truly, I blogged for my little brother and perhaps a tiny handful of college friends. I finally set up the old blog (which included my full name) to automatically forward people here (a more anonymous site), as no one who meets me in a professional setting now needs to be able to learn about about the countless hours I spent at the pool table in 2003 through a Google search of my name.

Before my second semester abroad (my junior year of college), I realized that I couldn’t depend on blogging, as I was to live in a tent without electricity for 4 months, so I picked up a plain black sketchbook from the campus store and tried to learn how to write again. This marked my most prolific period of journaling. I even wrote poetry freely, for the first and only time of my life. I filled four or five of those black notebooks (the three from the semester in TZ are charmingly grimy) within two years and only stopped journaling when I met my now-husband. Both of stopped journaling abruptly not long after we started dating, a fact that made us both nervous (were we trying to hide something from ourselves?) until we realized that our communication with each other via e-mails, conversations, etc. took the place of our journals. I suppose that is acceptable. (As my friends and I concluded, the wonder of having a partner is having a witness to your life. So P is the lucky (?) recipient of my emotional dumping.)

Upon the birth of A, I started a new blog in order to write monthly letters to her (I still maintain this, although a bit more erratically). I think even then I realized that I didn’t need my letters to my daughter to share a url with ramblings by my college self. I opened a Tumblr account, then another just for pictures, and now I’m blogging here. Kind of.

I write about how embarrassingly narcissistic my old diaries were but gee, here I am writing about my own journaling history at 12:38 AM. I am not trying to fool anyone into believing that my blogging now is any more mature or meaningful. But as I fumble around, trying to find an online home, trying to figure out how to journal or write or blog again, I can’t help but revisit old entries and feel grateful that I had taken the time, at certain points, to pinpoint what I was doing, what I was eating, what crazy thoughts were in my head. Really, I still write for my little brother (my one regular reader), but honestly? I am writing for me. For future me, who will certainly get a kick out of this someday.

This time around

I am just over halfway with my second pregnancy.  Actually, if this baby decides to show up early like A did, I’m well over halfway!

Everyone says each pregnancy is different and that has been certainly true this time around.  To put it simply, I think this pregnancy has been a lot easier.  Part of that may be due to the fact that my physical symptoms have not been quite as uncomfortable (morning sickness, anyone?).  It could also be due to the fact that I am much busier and more distracted with other responsibilities and thus don’t spend as much time obsessing over every feeling.  Here is a comparison, for my own future reference:

I am also much less obsessive about doing everything perfectly.  I didn’t touch caffeine during my first pregnancy.  This time, again with the knowledge of my doctor, I have a cup of coffee most days (and occasionally, two–but that is my limit!).  I freaked out after gaining all the weight that first month, but have learned to accept the changes with a better attitude.  I also refrain from Googling minor symptoms.  For the most part.

Another difference I’ve noticed is that this baby is more active than A was at this point.  (I will choose to believe that this is not just because of the coffee.)

Head start

I am not a morning person. Getting out of bed sometimes feels like torture (Have you ever seen Conspiracy Theory? Remember when they tape Mel Gibson’s eyes open, dunk him in water, and shine bright lights in his eyes? It’s not as bad as that.). That said, not much gives me an all-around sense of well-being like being up early enough to have a leisurely breakfast in the morning.