If you’ve been reading awhile, you may recall that I was actually kind of terrified of having kids. My main fear (or “dominating fear” as I called it) was that I’d lose myself in my children. One day, I’d wake up in the suburbs and have absolutely no idea who I was.
I am here to tell you, people, that I can definitely see how that can happen. And I, at 13 months post-baby, am letting it happen.
I recently got back from a week-long trip to Oregon (just me and C), and when my husband sent me a text message reading “I can’t wait to take you wakeboarding! You’ll love it,” a tiny piece of my heart broke. “When will I ever have a chance to go wakeboarding?!” I asked myself. And the answer, at this rate, is “in 20 years.” Why? Because I am the one who has to put C down for her naps. I am the one who has to put her down for bed. I am the one who has to comfort her in the middle of the night or when she falls down. I have a lot of "have to’s."
And that, my friends, is NOT GOOD.
This is how you lose yourself in your kids. In 13 months, I haven’t been away from C longer than 6 hours. SIX HOURS. Whose fault is this? It certainly isn’t hers, or Y’s. It’s mine.
My have to’s are not all related to C. They’re also every day chores, like doing the dishes, vacuuming, feeding myself, and taking a shower. They’re items on my To Do List for Stinkerpants. They’re emails, Facebook, bills, and grocery shopping. They are annoying.
I'm not going to lie - I like the "have to's" related to C. I like that she needs me. It brings me a lot of joy to be the one that brings her comfort. But it's better for her if she has more than one person who can bring her comfort, and it's better for her if she has a mama with a life. And of course, it's better for me too.
Unless I want to end up as the mother I feared (who has no sense of self), I need to make some changes.
My cousins J & P seem very happy to me. I would totally love to live their lives - they live right near the ocean in a very laid back, relaxed city. They don’t seem to be majorly stressed out about life. P takes time to himself every day to walk down the street and go surfing. Did I mention they have two kids? I'm sure I'm totally oversimplifying their lives (sorry J & P!), but the point is this: doing what you love, by yourself, keeps you sane. I need to find my version of surfing, and I need to take an hour to myself to do it every. single. day.
It’s about creating healthy habits now, so I don’t end up with no life later. Things are a lot harder to change when you have three kids and you haven’t paid attention to yourself in years. Right now, you hopefully know who you are and what makes you happy - so take that time for yourself now, to do the things that you love. Set the standard that you need you time every day, so that your family expects it. Not only is it harder to figure out what will make you happy if you haven’t thought about yourself in 10 years, but it’s harder to get your family on board if you’ve only been catering to them for 10 years. I mean, really, can you blame them? If they’re not used to taking care of themselves, they’re not going to like it at first.
So how do you take care of yourselves, people? I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to feel like me, not just like a mama. Here's what I've come up with: I need a full day to myself once per month. That means an ENTIRE DAY where I can go somewhere by myself and not have to worry about when I’m coming home. I want to have the freedom to have a night out with my girlfriends once per week, where we don’t bring the babies, and we - gasp - maybe have a drink. And I need one hour, every single day. Just one.
I think that, as mothers, we feel guilty about taking time to ourselves. I know that I feel guilty that I'm sitting on the couch watching TV when I could be working, improving my website, meal planning, or writing a novel. But in order to be happy people and positive role models, we need to be strong women with interests outside of our kids. They will emulate what we do - and I personally want C to put herself first, at least some of the time.
What about you guys? What do you need to feel like yourself? Do you feel guilty taking that time to yourself? Do you feel like you can take time for yourself?Comment
Hi all! I know I said that I'd be sharing our office next, but after waiting literally MONTHS for my darling husband (hi dearest!) to clear off his desk so I'm not mortified to take photos, I've given up and am moving on (for the time being).
Instead, I'm going to share C's big girl room, which I finished right around her first birthday.
Why redecorate her room, you might ask? Well, two reasons: 1) I was irrationally annoyed by how trendy the pompom lantern I made was, and 2) I wanted her room to fit her personality, and this is a very adventurous little girl. I wanted to create a "big girl room" for her that was her size - everything within her reach - and that had a theme befitting a tiny explorer.
Ironically, the room was inspired by a rug I bought from Ikea that we no longer have - Elvis Purrsley peed on it and ruined it (I love him, but he can be obnoxious, that cat). I always wanted a rug with roads on it for my matchbox cars when I was a kid, so when I found the super affordable ($15!) rug, I had to buy it. But it didn't match the rest of her room! What to do?
Over time, the perfect theme came to mind - a city. And when I thought about creating a little reading nook for her, I decided to create a park-themed reading area in a modern city.
How about a little tour?
This is the view from the door. The hot air balloons are made by Travels Light, and were a gift from my friend Reichel over at Copy Cat Chic (she bought them for her daughter's gorgeous nursery and didn't end up using them!). I think they look perfect above C's crib. And because I don't want you guys to think I've got it all together (as if you thought that anyway, ha!), here's the full disclosure: I was totally planning to DIY hot air balloons using paper mâché, but the project was really frustrating and I gave up. I'm glad I did - these are so much better!
Here's a view of the "park" reading nook. I love these LOVA leaf canopies from IKEA, and I've been surprised that more people online aren't using them in their kids' rooms. Sitting under them makes you feel like you're in a secret spot - they're awesome!
Underneath, she has "grass" (two little rugs, also from IKEA) and a cushy place to hang out. My mom made the big gumdrop pillows; you may recognize the one in the back from her original nursery, and the two new ones are made with tree fabric to fit the park theme. The pattern is Amy Butler's Gum Drop Pillows, if you're curious.
C also has three pillows with Stinkerpants animals on them - a deer, a squirrel and a skunk.
Here are a few close-ups of the reading nook. The bookshelves were taken from a post on Ohdeedoh - those are IKEA spice racks - $3 each! I love a good - and cheap - idea!
Next we move over to the changing table area. There's not much on the changing table itself, because C likes to throw things (haha). All of her changing supplies (wipes, etc) are in the bookshelf next to the dresser.
Over her changing area are two wooden biplanes with a special purpose. I am super proud of this idea - it was a stroke of genius in the dead of the night. ;) I needed a place to hang her barrettes - so I created little banners for these planes (thick floral wire inside white ribbon), and clipped her barrettes on them.
The planes are hung using fishing wire, which you can barely see when you're in the room. The planes themselves are actually part of a plane mobile, which I bought at a toy store in Berkeley.
Here's her Expedit, now filled out with more toys and fun stuff than the last time you saw it. ;)
A few more photos of some of the details...
The shelves on the wall are RIBBA photo shelves (from IKEA, of course). Behind them, I painted clouds directly on the wall (I was inspired by these shelves, but wanted something a little more handmade looking). Her original nursery included a lot of artwork, and I was sad that a photo wall didn't exactly fit in with the new theme - it looked weird floating in the "sky." There were a couple of pieces of artwork that I really wanted to display, though, so I put them on the shelves.
Here, the "Springtime" print, which is one of three I scanned from one of Y's favorite baby books.
And, the wish tree print, which Y and I spent a lot of time filling out and means a lot to us.
I also have toys and books from Y's and my childhood in C's room...
My grandfather (who C was named after) gave me this Felix the cat stuffed animal, for example:
And a little shadow box I made using the onesie she wore when she came home from the hospital (and various other "the day you were born" knick-knacks):
More of the artwork I couldn't part with (this one I drew for C with all of her animals) from the original nursery, plus my childhood toys & a toy left over from her circus birthday party:
There you have it! I am happy to say that C really seems to enjoy her room, especially the little reading nook. It's a lot of fun to watch her play!Comment
Last week I caught an article about parenthood on NPR that confused me. A lot of people have been talking about it, so if this is old news to you I apologize in advance.
The article talks about parenthood, and about how no one ever tells you how hard it is.
Maybe I'm living in some sort of weird alternate universe where everyone is really negative, but I feel like the ONLY thing parents ever talk about is how hard it is. Complaints about lack of sleep, no freedom and public tantrums very nearly scared me out of having kids. Parents seem to have fun talking about the bad stuff, and tend to leave out the good almost entirely. When I think about the other mothers I know, the LAST thing I think is, "I wish you were a little more honest about how hard it is." I am lucky -- most of my girlfriends strike a wonderful balance between talking about the challenges and the positives. But they definitely don't pretend like their lives are easy. Who exactly is NPR talking to?
I personally think they're talking about a different generation - my mother's generation. From what my mom tells me, her generation never admitted that it was hard. They never talked about post-partum depression, about the days when you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a plastic spoon just to avoid pureeing more carrots, or how your kid hasn't eaten a well-balanced diet in ages because s/he throws all vegetables on the floor. Instead, they focused on the positives, sometimes exaggerating their child's intelligence in a non-stop competition for the best and brightest baby. As if it matters AT ALL whether your kid rolled over two weeks before your friend's.
Our generation, by contrast, is brutally honest - sometimes bordering on dramatic - about how hard parenthood is. Yes, it's hard, but it's not so hideously awful that we need to whine about it all the time. Before I got pregnant, I thought parenthood might be horrible. Like, ALL THE TIME, 24/7, relentless horrors. I'm not going to lie - sometimes, when C is needy & won't let me put her down, or I have to take her to the doctor, it is ABSOLUTELY a house of horrors carnival ride that feels like it will never end. But not all the time. For the most part, it's absolutely wonderful. Like, rainbows shooting out of my rear end kind of wonderful. And I KNOW that I'm not the only mother who is this happy. And Y is just as happy as I am. So why is everyone talking about the bad stuff?
Honestly, I'm getting a little sick of hearing about how horribly hard it is for everyone. We all have bad days, bad weeks, bad months. We all need to vent - it's healthy, and it's necessary. But at what point does it cross the line between venting and nonstop bitching? If you're finding yourself "down" on parenthood (or life in general) for an extended period of time, maybe the problem isn't parenthood, it's a negative outlook on life. There has to be some happy medium between pretending to be perfect and complaining all the time.
I may be alone here, but I find that I have to work hard to meet positive, happy people - parents or not. I try hard to surround myself with people who have a glass half full outlook on life. I mean, really - does anyone need more negativity? On a daily basis, I feel like I encounter more unhappy people than happy people. From the road raging a-holes who don't want to let you change lanes to the downright MEAN woman who lives down the hall, I definitely don't feel like people are hiding their misery. Maybe it's a sign of the times - economic unrest, high jobless rate, etc...but either way, there's just too much negativity to deal with as it is.
But back to honesty about the trials of parenthood -- I'd love to hear your thoughts about the NPR article. My opinion? Either our generation is honest to a fault, or we're just big fat babies who don't know how to put our noses to the grindstone and WORK. Are we spoiled into thinking everything should be easy, and cry the second it gets hard? Tell me what you think. Maybe my neighborhood is an anomaly. ;)
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