Monday, January 28, 2013

The Wait

Ben had a job interview in St. Paul last week. When he told me about the interview, my stomach immediately tied itself into knots.  I have been anxious about it ever since. I mean, I want him to get the job. Of course I do. He needs to change what he is doing. I want him to be happy. But that means change. Big change. We'd be moving away from my parents. I'd have to quit my job. I'd be leaving my friends here. Clare would have to change daycares and change doctors.

I told my parents about the interview last weekend. I was so nervous to tell them that I was up at 4 a.m. worrying about it. They were great about it, of course. And I know we'd still see my parents frequently. And we'd be moving to the Twin Cities, where we have my sister, Ben's family, and lots of really great friends (who I miss terribly). What could be bad about that? Oh, and I suppose they have doctors and daycare there, too.

Really, I think the problem is it is just easier to stay the same. Don't rock the boat, etc. But is that what is best for me? For Ben? For our little family? No, not in the long run.

And no matter what happens with Ben's job, we need to move. We are bursting at the seems in this little townhouse. We are hoping to expand our family, and simply do not have room for another baby in this place.

So yes, it would be nice to know if that move is for Ben's new job, or just for more space. Hopefully the answer to at least one of our question will come this week. (Edited to add: it didn't. These things always seem to take longer than they should, don't they?)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Emotions, Uncontrolled

I don’t know what was wrong with me last week, but I was emotional. Very emotional. At one point, I was hugging Clare and asking her to promise never to move away from me. Her response: “Noooooooooooooooo.”

Yes, that is the right answer, I know. And maybe when she is 18 I’ll be ready for her to get out of the house, but right now the thought makes me sad. I want her to stay my little girl forever, and she is just changing so fast. Sometimes it seems like she grows overnight.

I recently came across an article that says people without children are happier than people with children. (I know this theory has been floating out there for years. This is not news by any means.) It really hit home for me last week, though. I totally believe it is true. Parenting is hard. You lose control of your freedom (and your finances). Children are challenging. Every day is filled with small battles, especially when dealing with a strong-willed and opinionated 19-month-old.  It can put a strain on your marriage. Lots of little resentments build up. And then your children grow up and leave you. Maybe they’ll call. Maybe they won’t. (And this is after dealing with the teenage years, which I don’t even want to think about.)

But to me, the hardest thing is the emotions. I love Clare so much, and I spend most of my time and energy making sure she is getting what she needs: food, love, education. I still do things for myself, and I am trying to remain a whole person who has varied interests, but really, I am a mom. That is my life right now. And some day it won’t be, but I’ll still have this love and I’ll still worry. I want Clare to go out and find her way in the world, but I know that means she will leave me behind. I know this is as it should be, but it makes me depressed, too. It is all so fleeting.

Can you tell last week was a long week?

I know though, that even if I might technically be happier without children, I wouldn’t trade Clare for anything. Despite all of the ups and downs and challenges that come with it, I love being Clare’s mom. I hope I can prepare her to be a functional, successful adult. And who knows, maybe she’ll decide she shouldn’t move that far away from her Mommy, even if I might not always be her favorite person in the world. After all, my mom is one of my closest friends. (And was even when I lived 250 miles away.)

Okay, enough of my blathering. I think this might all be brought on by the fact that I have not slept much lately. (Any other insomniacs out there?) It makes me emotionally unstable. I apologize. On a brighter note, here is a picture of Clare from last weekend, taken by my sister while we were all together to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. To make you hungry and want to cheat on your New Year’s resolution to eat less (I know I did!) I will leave you with a description of her birthday cake: rich chocolate cake filled with French chocolate cream, covered with chocolate fudge and chocolate ganache. Could anything be better?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I mentioned in my Year in Review post that I have a few New Year’s resolutions, but I didn’t actually say what they are. I want to put them down in writing so I’ll be held accountable and so I don’t forget in a month what I wanted to do. Things seem to stick in my head better when they are written down.

Spend less time in front of a screen. Smartphones are dangerous, dangerous beasts. I find myself checking my phone constantly, especially on my days home with Clare. I don’t know what I am hoping to find there, exactly, but usually I just end up dismayed by the amount of junk email I receive. Also, Clare knows how to unlock my phone and spends way too much time playing with it. I know her generation will treat technology like a fifth limb, but I’d like to postpone the inevitable a little longer if I can. 

Also, lately I find myself feeling unhappy after reading blogs or looking at Facebook. (Except for my friends’ blogs. I love reading those and finding out what is going on in their lives.) As I’ve mentioned before, it can send me down the rabbit hole of feeling like an inadequate parent or feeling like I am doing something wrong in my own life. I want to be more present in my life, and spend less time reading about what other people (that I don’t know) are doing in theirs.  My goal, then, is to restrict myself to looking at my favorite blogs once a week rather than every day. This should help me keep with my magazine subscriptions, too, which I am way behind on.

TV falls into this category, too. I love it, and am not giving it up. Oh no. However, I am not adding any new shows to the ones I already watch. I might miss out on something great, but I watch enough already. (Speaking of which, welcome back Downton Abbey.)

Get up when my alarm goes off, rather than snoozing for 30 minutes. It is my job to get Clare up and out the door each morning, and each morning it is the same: I don’t get up on time, I space out in the shower, and then scramble around trying to get myself and Clare ready (which is turning into a longer and longer process thanks to her newfound independence), and I start the day stressed and frazzled. I value my sleep, but I think the day will just be better if I have the time to get us both ready without having to rush.

Organize my cookbooks and recipes. Before I had Clare, cooking was one of my favorite hobbies. I’d like to get back in the kitchen, and think I am at the point where I can. Clare is interested in helping, and will stand on a chair and watch. I still won't be able to make anything too complicated, but can probably do more than make pasta or throw a roast in the crockpot. However, my recipes are a MESS. I print them off of blogs, clip them from magazines and newspapers, and copy them from friends. They are totally disorganized, though. I already picked out a stack of cookbooks to take to Half Price Books, and I plan to go through the ones I am keeping to mark recipes and get ideas for cooking in the new year.

The usual: eat less, exercise more. I have been doing a good job of exercising regularly, and I plan to keep it up. I have also started counting calories, which is no fun, but actually helps a lot.

That’s it! Now, for your entertainment, the mad dancing skillz of Clare. I had to put these on here so I can embarrass her by showing them to her prom date someday.

Monday, January 7, 2013

19 Months

These photos were taken on Saturday. She is dressed to represent her split household - I just wish that Packers sweatshirt wasn't so yellow.
It’s funny how just EVERYTHING changes when you have a child, in big ways and small. (Breaking news, right?) In the time before Clare, car trips were dull, quiet affairs. Now, I spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not Clare is going to fall asleep or whether or not she is going scream or how many times we are going to have to stop.  I play games with myself – if she is quiet, I have to wait 5 minutes before glancing in the mirror to see if she is sleeping, because if I look too soon and see those eyes peering back at me, I get anxious. Really, though, she does well in the car, even if she doesn’t sleep as much as I wish she would. Another difference: once we decide it is time to go, it takes us a minimum of 15 minutes to get in the car, even if I think everything is ready to go.

We took one of those road trips yesterday to visit my grandparents. We had a lovely lunch with Great Grandma Jean, who always makes sure to have my favorites on hand (black olives and taco dip)! She loaded us down with cookies, presents, and candy to take home. Then, we went to the nursing home to visit my Grandpa. This is never fun. Those places. Ugh! They are just so depressing. The smells, the sounds, the people slumped over in their wheelchairs.  But Clare, she was like a breath of fresh air in the place. We were sitting in a corner of the lobby visiting, and when suddenly we were being surrounded by wheelchairs (which I noticed because Ben was humming the theme to Jaws under his breath). People were reaching out their hands to Clare, smiling. My Grandpa was so happy to see her, and she was happy to look at his shoes and his hat. She was also thrilled that he was drinking water out of a straw, just like she does. She didn’t care at all about the smells, or the sounds. She didn’t seem to think that any of the people there were any different than the people she sees everywhere else.

And now she is 19 months old and quite the sassypants. It is a tough age when it comes to discipline, because she really doesn’t seem to understand or care that I am upset, unless there is something tangible that I can immediately stop doing or take away. We had a talk about hair pulling, and how it hurts and she needs to be gentle. Since then she gently strokes my head, but hasn’t pulled my hair once. I’ll chalk that up as a win, but I still don’t know what to do about getting her to listen. I ask her to come to me so I can put on her coat, and she screams and runs away. I know she thinks it is a fun game, but it is highly annoying.  She is quite helpful around the house, though. She likes to put things away, which is nice when it is time for her to go to bed and her toys are strewn everywhere.

She is repeating almost every word I say, making me more nervous about my tendency to swear while driving – I know any day now an expletive is going to come out of her mouth. I’ve tried replacing shit with boogers. It is working okay so far, but is not nearly as satisfying. She doesn’t know what many of the words she repeats mean, though. I can add these words to last month’s list of words she uses correctly: more, hot, cold, mouse, clock, and cat. She also says mitt for mitten and butt for button. She’ll say short two-word sentences, like “Bye Dada” and “More milk.” When prompted, she adds please, and the sign for please. She has been calling me Mommy instead of Mama. (She also called the salami we were having on sandwiches Mommy, though, so whatever. I guess they sound the same.)

She still LOVES to dance, and she and I spend a lot of time each day grooving to one of her musical toys that plays a variety of songs. She claps her hands and sticks her butt out. She loves talking on the phone, too, and she’ll nestle it between her head and her shoulder like she sees me do when I am trying to keep my hands free.

She is little Miss Independent, too. She does not want help with ANYTHING. She will do it herself, even if it does take her half an hour to take her coat and boots off. 

Clare had a blast visiting all the relatives over the holidays (and being the center of attention, of course). I think she is going to be bored this month. Maybe I’ll have to take her on a few more road trips.