Category Archives: Parenting

Priorities

May 22, 2015

I can do anything

On the eve of my son’s first birthday I got some news. Bone melting news. My dream of publishing a young adult novel was suddenly a reality and OMG was I dreaming? It was like winning the lottery. Suddenly I had a publisher, an agent, and an honest to goodness book deal and what?  Simon & Schuster wanted to set up a phone call and they needed my bank info so they could wire me my advance, and oh by the way, they needed my author photo and bio?

I didn’t sleep for a solid 72 hours.

My deal was different than most because it was basically this: We think you’re a good writer, and we think people are going to like your book, but you’re going to have to rewrite it. How does one year sound?

And thus began my life as a nap time writer. And by that, I mean I kept my most important job as a full time mom to what may be the fastest toddler on the planet but also had to figure out a way to squeeze in some writing time. Okay, a lot of writing time.

This was really, truly (really) not easy. (Did I mention I’m mother to the fastest toddler on the planet?)

The first few weeks I decided to just stop sleeping. I’d stay up all night writing and take care of toddler by day. Perfect, right? What could go wrong?

(Cut to me sobbing into a carton of Cool Whip at 3 AM.)

So then I started the actual work of finding more time. It was a huge process and required a whole lot of patience on the part of my husband, but I did figure it out, and over a year later I am the proud author of a novel I cannot wait to shove in people’s faces. So where did all that extra time come from? Some was paid for, some was borrowed, but a lot of it came down to my big lesson of the year:

I CAN DO ANYTHING, BUT NOT EVERYTHING.

And by that, I mean, if I want to be a full time mom and a writer I can totally make that work. But  if I want to be a full time mom and a writer, and part time employee and dedicated yogi and a perfect housekeeper and a gardener and volunteer and keep up on all my favorite blogs, and get my hair done every six weeks….well, that’s not going to work.

So here’s what I did:

  • I hired a babysitter for 8 hours a week
  • I gave up my yoga membership and started doing shorter workout videos at home
  • I stopped spending nap time doing stupid stuff like surfing the Internet
  • I pretended to not notice all the weeds in my yard
  • I stopped blogging (sorry)
  • I took people up on their offers when they asked to watch Sam
  • I let my hair get long and scraggly
  • I told my dad I still really wanted to work as his writing assistant, but I could only do the actual writing assistant part and not the other things (events, fan mail, websites, etc.)
  • I shuffled our finances so I could hire a housecleaner to come twice a month
  • For several months I got up at 6 AM to write for two hours before the day started
  • I got good at quick dinners
  • I hung out with my friends less
  • I gratefully GRATEFULLY allowed my husband to take on more than his fair share
  • I sometimes wore my clothes twice because no one had time to do the laundry
  • I lost a lot of sleep

I know I am crazy privileged to have been able to do things like hire outside help, and I am also blessed with a lot of family/friend support. But my point is, even if you are a young mom, or you’re supporting your family, or you’re taking care of your aging parents or you have a super demanding job or WHATEVER, I really think you can find a way to do the one thing you truly want to do. (Really.)

So here’s my advice to you. If you find something that makes you want to sing from the rooftops and has you waking up from a dead sleep to scribble wildly on a pad of paper you keep next to your bed, then find a way to do it. Even if its for ten minutes a day.

Because seriously, people. That’s what we’re here for. Don’t give up!

(Imagine a swell of inspiring music.)

XO. And thank you so much for reading my blog, it means a lot to me!

 

Distraction-Free Parenting

January 15, 2014

photoI think the universe is trying to tell me something. Last week I saw this video posted on Facebook and thought about it for an entire day. A few days later, my cousin posted this on her blog. And tonight when I checked my email I had a message with the subject line Acknowledge the Cost of Your Distraction. It was an article from HuffPost “Stress Less Parenting” series. I recommend reading the article, but the bottom line was that all of our devices take us away from moments we can never get back.

I have been so plugged in (and yes, I realize the irony of blogging about this). I check my email while sitting at red lights and watch YouTube videos while feeding Sam breakfast. To get through daily chores I don’t like I oftentimes listen to podcasts or the radio. I’ve written about this before. But lately it seems worse. Staying at home with a baby all day can be challenging. It’s isolating, and tedious, and to be honest, it can be really boring. I am immensely grateful that I have the opportunity to stay at home and spend my days with Sam–there is nothing I would rather be doing. But it’s easy to fall into the Internet trap, and I want to change that! I’m not totally sure how to, but I started by unplugging for an hour tonight. I carried Sam around while making dinner, letting him touch everything (an onion, cheddar cheese, a loaf of bread), and then talked to him while he ate. Then I rocked him, played with him, and put him to bed. It was a completely normal, mundane night. But I know without a doubt that there will come a day when I will wish more than anything to be able to go back and spend one more night rocking my baby. I can’t save up tonight for later but I can enjoy it now.

Vegetables & Tender Mercies

April 22, 2013

For the past 3 weeks I have woken up every morning with a hankering for fresh vegetables. Or in other words, there’s a distinct possibility that aliens have taken over my body.

Pre-baby I spent most mornings trying to figure out a way to make dessert resemble a healthy breakfast (i.e. oatmeal with chocolate chips and coconut flakes–try it, seriously). Lately, I’ve started the day with sugar snap peas and carrots dipped in hummus. If there are any cooked vegetables or leftover salads I go for those too.

I call this new trend a Tender Mercy.

There are many Tender Mercies in my life right now. For example, my hair has decided that shampooing every third day is enough. I also haven’t washed my makeup off at night since Little Man Sam was born and have not broken out like I normally would. And two days ago I tried on my pre-baby jeans and they zipped up. Yes, they zipped up to form a scary little muffin top, but still. Another tender mercy? Leggings. And sweat pants. I cannot fathom a day when I’ll want to move on from them. It may be the start of a long and unhealthy relationship.

But back to vegetables.

My sister-in-law brought over the most heavenly dinner the week after Mustache Man Sam was born (let’s see how many nicknames I can divulge here), including this salad dressing. I am over-the-moon about it:

Tender Mercy Salad Dressing (aka El Torito Salad Dressing):

In a blender combine:

  • 1 TBSP dry ranch salad dressing mix (like Hidden Valley)
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/2-1/3 cup fresh cilantro, long stems cut off
  • 2 TBSP roasted and salted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 TBSP finely grated parmesan (optional)

Once blended, slowly add 1/3 cup vegetable oil through the top cover of the blender jar. Blend until smooth and refrigerate. I’ve been eating this over a salad that includes avocado, shredded chicken, and extra pepitas.Eat and repeat until pre-pregnancy jeans fit.

 

Baby Daddy.

April 20, 2013

When I was 15 and in the throes of my very first romance I thought very intently about what kind of man I wanted to marry. It was something that needed to be pondered. Weighed out. Decided. And then I made a declaration.

I can remember it very clearly–I was standing in the dining room of our rented Italian home with our nanny Cammy. Every available surface was lined with vintage wine bottles (our renters’ decoration) which they had made us swear with all solemnity not to drink. (Hilarious. They didn’t realize how safe their precious collection was with their Mormon renters.) I had made a decision, and I made the following statement (Cammy, back me up on this):

I want to  marry a guy who is tall with green eyes and curly hair. It would be cool if he were good at computers. And, I like the name David.

Okay, if you know us maybe your jaw just dropped? If not, please know that that is exactly who I married. David Welch, green eyed, curly haired (childhood nickname Big Wave Dave), computer software engineer David.

Or in other words, I think I dreamed this man up and then somehow convinced him to marry me.

There are other weird things about us. Like on our first date (17–I know–17) when I told him I thought it would be great if we got married because I thought it would be really fun to live with him. He thought for a moment then agreed.

Or maybe the time he was present at my first kiss? Me and another 14 year old emerged from the bushes to find David standing there with a smirk. “What were you two doing?” he asked. I yelled something like “Shut up, Welch.” Or maybe the time we were high school gym partners?

Anyway, I digress.

The point is, there is no one who could possible be better at loving me. No one who thinks I’m quite as funny or encourages my writing quite as well. No one who would allow me to scowl at him for hours on end when morning sickness struck. No one who I’d find quite as brilliant and understanding or a better listener.

What’s even stranger is that when he was 13 he said he wanted to marry a blue-eyed supermodel named Adriana Lima. Oh. Wait. That wasn’t me.

What the First Two Weeks Were Like

April 17, 2013

This post is inspired by an article by Jody Peltason called “Before I Forget: What Nobody Remembers About New Motherhood,” which the beautiful
Mal sent me a few days ago. The timing was perfect for me, and I’d really like to add my own thoughts.

This post is about my first two weeks as a mother. I don’t think every new mother’s experience matches mine, but I think the things I went through
are common enough that it’s strange we don’t talk about it more. Maybe it’s just practical–could anyone possibly share in words what those first few weeks feel like? How heavy our new responsibilities (mixed with sleep deprivation) can feel? It may be impossible to describe, but I’m going to try.

I’ve heard it said numerous times, first about pregnancy, and then about the newborn stage, that mothers’ brains drop a curtain over the difficult times. All those anxious, terrifying, nauseating moments get camouflaged behind a hazy image of your squishy newborn gazing up at you, their perfect eyelashes fanning out over their cheeks. I think that’s a good thing. It allows us to look back on one of the most important times of our lives with happy memories. It allows us to get our courage up to have sex again, get pregnant again, have more babies. But in my experience, that curtain can make a woman in the throes of new motherhood feel all kinds of lonely.

The author of the article above shared an experience she had going to the drugstore with her newborn. She was exhausted and stressed by the ordeal of getting her baby out of the house. An older woman came up to her and pointing to the baby said, “Aren’t you just on cloud nine?”  This prompted a feeling of disbelief. Of guilt. What was she supposed to be feeling?

Five days after my son was born a neighbor called to ask how she could help out. It was 8 AM and I had just had one of the most profoundly anxious nights of my life. Over the past few days I’d only slept for a few stints of about 45 minutes a piece, and that was only because I’d forced myself to stop my crazy Internet searches that were going on at all hours of the night. The neighbor congratulated me on my baby, then said “Aren’t you just in heaven?”

There was a horrible pause.

Was I supposed to feel like I was in heaven? I was bleeding, I was engorged, I was swollen. I still hadn’t figured out how to breastfeed my son, and my anxiety was so bad that I’d woken up shaking and hyperventilating on multiple occasions.

If I’d been honest with my neighbor I would have said something like “Sam is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me, and I’ve never been so miserable in my life.” It’s amazing that those two statements can both be perfectly true and exist in the same sentence. Instead, I mumbled something about how wonderful my baby was. And he is.

It’s just that my body had just undergone the most dramatic shift of its life at the exact moment that I was handed the most important role of my life. It’s just that my mind had started had started inundating me with horrible images of accidents that could hurt Sam–falling down the stairs holding him, bumping his head on the dresser, and others that scared me so much I’ve decided not to record them. It’s just that nothing had ever scared me more than being responsible for my perfect little boy.

So, in heaven?

No.

But it did get better. All the support around me helped. Figuring out a way that I can get several hours of uninterrupted sleep every night helped. And time helped–just a few weeks later and I feel completely different. Five weeks after giving birth, motherhood is feeling (dare I say it?) fun. 

One day those early experiences will be a tiny speck in my life’s rearview mirror, and all I’ll remember about that time period is that first sacred moment when the doctor laid Sam on my chest, and the way his head smelled, and the way David cried when he first saw him. But I wanted to make sure I remembered this part too. Because motherhood encompasses all shades–the yellows and golds of contentment, the reds and orange of anxiety, and even the gray, jaggedy-edges of depression. It may not have been what I was expecting, but what ever is?

 

Lullabies

April 17, 2013

At 4 AM I found myself singing a Ke$ha song to the baby.

He’s now waking up every morning feeling like P. Diddy, and if that morning arrives at 6 AM or later I feel like a lucky woman.

Sleep is sort of my new hobby. I’m in the off-season, of course. But what I lack in actual hours logged I make up for in sheer mental energy. I read about it (Happiest Baby on the Block, BabyWise), I strategize for it (dream feedings), I plan for it (I have a notebook where I record what methods works), and I purchase gear (swaddling blankets, white noise machines, Johnson & Johnson bedtime lotion). It’s kind of like going on a diet and suddenly wanting a hot fudge sundae more than anything.

As a side note, I am starting to look more and more like Ke$ha, but with more spit-up stains and less glitter. I have also started taking care of the baby in my sleep–meaning I hear his squawks, and make him a bottle, change his diaper, and start feeding him, only to actually wake up and realize I have done none of those things yet and Boss Baby is gonna fight, till he sees the sunlight.

Tik Tok.

 

 

Reaching Out

April 16, 2013

I really don’t know why I’m writing this.

It is past midnight. My adorable (but almost unbearably fussy) little guy is wheezing happily in his crib. We just had the ceremonial “changing of the guard” in which the baby is brought down to the parent who has been holed up in our spare bedroom (aka The Baby Bunker) and passed off so the other one can get some rest. And here I am blogging.

I think I need a little normalcy. A little outlet? Somewhere to record all this awesome craziness that is now my life.

It’s funny, I had the nursery all ready. I had stacks of onesies washed in special baby detergent, and a giant basket of diapers, and a stack of books on breastfeeding. I’d taken my classes, read my online articles, hedged my bets. And as it turns out, there’s simply no preparing for this thing called parenthood.

Sam. Born 3/14/13 at a very alert 8 lbs 13 oz with an abundance of hair and a fan club already waiting.