Exactly What I Needed

This weekend was exactly what I needed. I started January 1st with the phrase “highest potential.”  That is my 2016 resolution. To strive for my highest potential. I love this quote I read recently from Oprah Winfrey:

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe. ” So true. So difficult to do. This is what I am working this year to do. Create my vision.

After I had Bryce I became an extension of him. His needs were my needs, and his schedule was my schedule. I got lost in the exhaustion and work of baby. I thought it would get better when he turned one. But it didn’t. And then my mom died in July.  Oh did I bury the grief. I just couldn’t deal with it. Too much pain. And this fall I paid for it. Summer turned to fall, and I realized I was lost. Lost as a mom, lost as a wife, lost as a worker. And tired. So so so tired. My health had taken a major nosedive when I became a mother. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was getting sick all the time. My weight was creeping up. I was getting tired just going up the stairs. I excused it with I was a new mother and just didn’t have time.  But my baby is now a toddler. I was running out of excuses. And eventually I would have to deal with my emotions from mom’s death.

This weekend I had a come to reality check. I became honest with myself. Which we all know is about as easy as watching money grow on trees. Why is change so hard? Why is seeing yourself honestly so scary?

Basically I have decided that I have got to put myself first. Take care of my health, take care of my relationships. But most importantly create my “vision.” So I started working out this weekend. Gave up sugar (so hard!!) and I am committing to reaching my goals. There is many more checks on my list but you get the gist.

It is time to hustle.

I recently bought this oil blend from Young Living called Highest Potential.  It is designed to increase your capacity to achieve your dreams.  I put it on my wrists everyday as I head out the door and it really is helping my mood.

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Ingredients:

Australian Blue  (which is another YL blend) is stabilizing and inspiring.

Gathering (another  YL blend) helps with overcoming mis-guided energy that takes us away from our focus.

Jasmine essential oil is uplifting and helps with feelings of lost hope and anxiousness.

Ylang Ylang essential oil is extremely balancing to your energies. May help restore confidence.

I know I have my work cut out for me. Saying I will do something and actually doing it are two separate things. But I also know I cannot continue as I am. So my exactly what I needed this weekend was a reality check. Let’s keep the momentum going.

 

Mommy Wars

I have come to realize many things since having a child. For example, I now know that I can read “Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham” seven times in a row without going insane. That no matter what people say, throw-up is throw-up and I will never get used to being thrown up on, which is usually after I have already bathed my child. I am a really fast diaper changer. And it’s true: love grows with your child.

But perhaps one of the biggest realizations I’ve made as a relatively new parent (my son turns 2 in May) is how incredibly judgmental other parents can be. It hurts. And it happens way more than I thought it would.

You, the woman at Kohl’s who stared at me as my child threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to push the cart instead of sit in it, you judged me.

Friend who saw I have TV on almost all the time. You judged me.

Parent at the park who saw I did not pack an organic, free-range, all-food-groups-represented, no-dessert lunch complete with sandwiches cut in cute little shapes, and instead fed my child cold pasta noodles and (gasp) potato chips? You judged me.

Friends who tell me how to correct my child? You judged me.

Not always out loud, of course. But internally, they were smug. They thought things like I would never have children who would behave in such a manner in public. Or, Doesn’t she know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV until the age of 2? Or, How can she possibly be feeding her children that crap? Has she not read any of Michael Pollan’s books?

And what’s worse, now that I’m a parent, I am realizing internal smugness isn’t so internal. I know when I’m being judged. I can sense it, even when nothing is being said out loud. It’s in the look. The double-take. The whisper to the companion they’re with.

It’s hard not to care about what other people think. That quiet judgment can sting, especially on days when my nerves are shot and my child is in the worst mood — a combination that often leads to a situation judge-worthy by many.

Pre-child I will admit I thought I would be better. That I wouldn’t do that.  Ha! How naive I was. Parenting is like jumping on a rollercoaster mid-flight and trying to buckle up while going 60mph.

Pre-child: I was going to cloth diaper.
Post-child: Ha! I go through Pampers like they are water.

Pre-child: No TV until age of 2 and then only 30 minutes a day.
Post-child: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Need I say more?

Pre-child: Only organic, healthy, homemade food.
Post-child: My kid sometimes eats day old cheerios off the floor.

Pre-child: Public tantrums are unacceptable.
Post-child: Removal of the child is only sometimes doable; predicting when a tantrum is going to strike is often impossible.

Pre-child: Complaints about childrearing and its hardships annoyed me (this was your choice, no?) and saddened me (parenthood is supposed to be a wonderful thing!).
Post-child: Parenthood isn’t wonderful 100 percent of the time.

My day-to-day routine isn’t what I envisioned it would be. Some of the things I imagine I’m judged on now are minor, others, a little more major. But mostly they are simple faults and I now know that they don’t make me a bad parent. Sometimes I leave dirty diapers on the changing table. My son’s socks don’t always match. I forget to brush my son’s teeth. I use TV as a way to take a breather. I’m sometimes too easy. I’m sometimes too hard. I sometimes make the wrong decision, give the wrong punishment, ask too much, ask too little. But within all these minor and major faults is a singular truth: Most days, I’m doing the best I can. And I honestly believe that’s a truth that can be applied to most parents: Most days, we’re all doing the best we can.

I guess what I am trying to say is that parenting is difficult enough – please do not add to it.

The Dad and Son Relationship

I would like to think Bryce is a mommy’s boy.  After all, aren’t all boys supposed to love their mommy’s the most and call them everyday for the rest of their life? lol.

For Bryce, mommy definitely is his nurturer. I put him to sleep, soothe his owies and tears, and otherwise offer all the condolence he needs. But daddy, daddy is FUN. They wrestle, they dance to music. Daddy even takes him to get ice cream when mommy isn’t looking.

When all is going good, like the picture above, my heart melts in a thousand pieces. Those two together…..after all these years of wanting a family of our own…..it is priceless.

But then, THEN this happens:

Why do I bother buying toys when there are so many toilet paper rolls to unroll in our house?
Why do I bother buying toys when there are so many toilet paper rolls to unroll in our house? And was my husband not paying attention to sizes when he put these shorts on our child? They are huge!

and this:

Daddy is hiding behind the chair but I didn't see that at first. My heart skipped a beat when I walked in on this. Bryce loves to climb. On anything. I am beginning to contemplate having him walk around with a helmut on...
Daddy is hiding behind the chair but I didn’t see that at first. My heart skipped a beat when I walked in on this. Bryce loves to climb. On anything. I am beginning to contemplate having him walk around with a helmut on…

I go to the store to run an errand and come home to literally chaos.  How the house manages to go to all out war in a short time never seems to stop surprising me.

Helping Daddy wash the car while washing himself apparently.
Helping Daddy wash the car while washing himself apparently.

But then I remember to look past the mess and see the joy on my son’s face. He is only a kid once. How do you draw the line from which exploration ends?  In the meantime I am trying to embrace the crazy and embrace the mess. It is hard.

So yes, mommy is all that is neat, orderly and clean. Daddy is where all that unravels…..

A Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act that I feel most days I fall way short of attaining. Weekends were short before I had a kid. Now it is like I wake up Monday morning and wonder if I HAD a weekend. Between the endless errands and loads of laundry, the early wake up calls (our son is the perfect alarm clock – up by 6:00 AM everyday; and trying to make sure I can strike off as much from my do to list as possible yet still spend quality time with the family, I am exhausted by Monday morning. And now that Bryce is full on running around, this invariably happens every weekend:

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And this

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And don’t forget meal time messes

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Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and embrace the chaos most of the time. But I know I am not alone in my quest of trying to find balance in mommyhood.

Maybe I just need to do more of this with him.

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In the meantime, I have been applying this essential oil like crazy and reminding myself that it will get easier. I hope. LOL

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My Crossroad Year

What were you doing in the year 2002?

I was 23 years old and had just graduated college with a degree in communications. I knew I had to find a job but I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life.

To make some money I decided to attend bartending school and got a bartending job at a Japanese Steakhouse where I was A. the only employee who did not speak Japanese and B. where I would meet my future husband. It was there that I learned all about Sushi and would come to love the simple meal of chicken yakatori with white rice.

Believe it or not the bar had regulars. One was a Vietnam vet who would come in everyday drinking copious amounts of Sake and complaining about his various ex-wives and his current one. He had a spectacular red handlebar mustache. When I asked him why he continued to marry he said “I love every one of them. They just drive me too crazy after a while.”

Another regular would literally come in everyday after work for 15 minutes. He would drink 2 vodka shots straight and then go home. He never talked, and to this day I wonder what he was bracing himself for.

The most entertaining was watching people interact who were obviously on a date. Their body language was ALWAYS a dead giveaway on if it was going well or not. And I loved talking to all the customers and hearing their stories.

I met my husband when he started coming after work with some co-workers. After a while he started writing letters or drawing pictures on napkins and would leave them with his tip. After we started dating he would leave flowers on my windshield. Ah – the romance of courtship.

After a few months of bartending I moved to Philadelphia and took a job at a Cancer Research Journal. And then I got married. But those are other stories. I will always remember my time as a bartender and the role it played when I was at such a crossroads in life.

What was your crossroads year?

Adventures in Sleep Training

I am in the midst of trying to sleep train my 1 year old. Trying being the key word here.

In my mind, it would go like this:

Little boy sleeping with teddy bear

The reality is this:

Crying baby do not want to sleep

Most nights I invariably give in and hold him, rocking him to sleep or singing 10 renditions of “Hush Little Baby” while rubbing his back in the crib. This sleep training is more like sleep work. For me.

And then, when I ask people what I should do to get Bryce to sleep I get everything from “let him cry it out till he exhausts himself to sleep” to “my sister used to just drive the twins to sleep each night” to “my kid is 6 and still sleeps with us” It seems sleep and kids is a hot topic. With no clear answer in sight.

Being a working mom I already have mommy guilt for being apart from him most hours of the day. So I don’t want his last memory every night to be of mommy leaving him hysterical in the crib. Plus I have tried having him cry it out. He just makes himself vomit and then I am cleaning that up in addition to having a non sleeping child. The joy.

At the end of the day he eventually falls asleep (and yes, we HAVE been known to drive around the neighborhood at night to get the kid to sleep. No judgements please. I am finding in parenthood that exhaustion makes every parent do something they thought they would never do). And someday he will be a teenager and I will go from not being able to get him to sleep to trying to get him UP.

So maybe I need to change the idea from sleep training to sleep bonding. After all, pretty soon he will be too big to do this. And boy is he cute when he does.

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A World Perspective

I have been fortunate that I have been able to travel. All over South America, Europe and as far east as Bali so far in my life. Still, there is so much more I want to see. To experience.

Every time I go somewhere I am always amazed how once you break down social, economic and religious barriers, humanity is all the same. We all want love, all want our place in the world. Forget jobs, money and toys, your family is what is important and your place within it just as much.

When Brian and I were in Bali we kept getting asked if we were married, how many kids did we have, did our parents live with us? At first we were taken aback but then I realized how family oriented their culture is. Even their houses are built for harmony, as compounds where there is an open air room in the middle and around it separate buildings that are bedrooms, or a living room, or a kitchen. 3 generations or more of a Bali family may live together. Family is how they define themselves and each other. So they were asking us these questions to determine our family, to define us as they knew how.

This village in Bali is known for their wood carving art. They pass down their skill through their families.
This village in Bali is known for their wood carving art. They pass down their skill through their families.

Another eye opening experience for me was seeing the level of poverty outside of the US. Of course we have poverty here, and considering we are a developed nation, way more and worse than we should. But still, most people here have access to clean water, to some food, some sort of housing. When I was in South America, I was floored to see how entire villages lived. Some people walked miles just to get water, and entire families slept on dirt floors. Food? If they were lucky, enough for that day. In Chile I remember all of us getting back on our comfy tour bus, and our tour guide from the last two days comes running over to us. He had a pair of running shoes in his hand. Muddy, torn and frayed, he asked if someone had forgotten them. When it became apparent no one was to claim them, he said he would bring to his village for someone who needed them. WOW. And he was so excited about it to. This has left a forever impact on me. At the time I was 21, going to college, never had the hardships this guy probably had. That someone would think dirty old shoes were treasure opened my eyes to how superficial I was most of the time.

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One man’s trash truly is another ones treasure

Of course not all my trips have been life altering. And I wish I could say I joined the Peace Corps and changed the world but I did not. Some of my trips are purely for that mythical “tropical escape” and I act like a normal tourist who enjoys the resorts and tries not to think about the poverty around me.

As a woman, I have become grateful for the freedom being an American gives me. I realize how different my life might have been if I was not born where I was but in a country that doesn’t allow a female the right to live life the way she wants. I have had to cover up in some of my travels and otherwise adopt local customs in order to honor their ways and fly under the radar. It feels weird. And I am always happy to come back to where I can just live how I want and not question myself on how I should act.

I will leave you with one more story. When I was in Bolivia we gave out school supplies we had bought with us to some children. They were so excited. And grateful. It just blew me away that kids were getting excited over pencils and paper. But to them, getting an education is a gift. A chance to better their life and their families. They are praying just for the opportunity to learn. To have hope.

Hospitals of Hope Bolivian children