We’ve Weaned -- Now What?

>> Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thank you for all your comments and messages regarding my last post -- how I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I need CHANGE. It was definitely a brain-dump about things I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, and it felt good to sort things out on the screen so I could take a few days and think. While I definitely feel wrapped up in craziness lately, I know that I could probably being doing more to help my situation. When you’re in the thick of it, trying to tunnel a way out can feel absolutely impossible, though.


I wasn’t planning on weaning Eloise this weekend, but it happened because I knew I needed it off my plate. I also knew we were ready (heck -- I wrote about weaning her back in June!). We had been down to just the nighttime feed for a month or so. Stephen was having a long Saturday and getting home several hours after he had initially planned . . . and something told me to just buy a ticket for the 7PM showing of It and have him take over bedtime. Such a small thing felt wildly rebellious in the moment.

As I clicked “order” I immediately felt a sense of relief. And also guilt. But mostly sweet, sweet relief.

Eloise turned 15 months last week. I’ve had trouble with the demands of breastfeeding this time around. Still, we forged through together and made it. I texted Stephen from the theater to wish him luck. I worried so much that she’d be crying her head off because I had abandoned her with no warning. And he quickly texted me back that she was already sound asleep with ZERO issues. He said that I was the one who needed luck sleeping after watching that clown run around town, tormenting those children.

True.

It’s been a few days, and Eloise has had no issues going to bed at night without breastfeeding. It’s closing yet another chapter in her babyhood. I’m proud that I was able to breastfeeding both of my girls for a grand total of 32 months. I did it with very few bottles or breaks to speak of. I’m not looking for an award by any means. I am more reflecting on what a crazy commitment nursing is. I won’t paint it with rainbows and kittens. It’s hard work and absolutely maddening at times.

Now that it’s over, I don’t know what that means. I’ve been loosely tracking my cycles, but shying from trying to conceive a third child. I don’t feel quite ready yet. And now that I have my body back, I may just want to take a few months to enjoy being me and having that autonomy again. Weaning was a small step in carving out more sanity for myself. I’m hoping to follow this action with more that will bring me that feeling of inner-peace I’ve been craving.

But for today, I just wanted to tell this story. It’s bittersweet, as always. Our children grow so quickly. I feel like I spend so much time trying to catch the next stage. Then, when it happens . . . it feels all sorts of ways I wasn’t expecting. That said, I’m loving this new toddler stage. I’ll do an update on what Eloise is up to these days very soon!

Happy hump day!

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Friday Vulnerability

>> Friday, September 15, 2017

I mentioned in my day-in-the-life post that I’m feeling spent. Still, I was called to write today by something inside of me. I don’t know what. I don’t have a plan or some SEO-savvy topic. I have a lot of thoughts racing around in my mind, actually. I was texting back and forth with one of my best friends yesterday about this ever-present pull I feel in my life. I say pull, but it sometimes feels as though I’m being torn apart with all my different goals, desires, and callings.

Can you relate?


My mom had mentioned to me around when I turned thirty that her 30s were a decade of feeling like she never was doing the right thing. Like if she did one thing, it wasn’t was she really should be doing. If she did another thing, she felt that, too, wasn’t “right”. Now that I’m 34, these last few years have had me exactly in that spot . . . many times. My twenties felt like they were for figuring out my place in life. So,  naturally, by my thirties I should have it all figured out.

Nope.

Allow me to get uncomfortably vulnerable for a few minutes.

For example, I crave a simple life. I’ve written about it many times. Sometimes I don’t even know what this means on an intellectual level. It’s a feeling. I feel it deep in my chest as I type this out. Like my entire being is screaming for everything to stop already. To calm. For the world to fade away and let me focus for a minute . . .  or maybe a year. Ah, what a divine gift that would be.

Wrapped up in this, too, is a desire for a clearer sense of purpose. I mentioned that I often feel my attention is split between being a mother, a writer, a wife, a daughter, etc. We all play many roles in our lives. I want to be all these things. Of all, being a mother fills me with the most sense of gratitude and accomplishment. Yet part of me feels like that’s somehow backwards and like I should be doing more with my life.

To continue on this theme, I dream of a life without the distractions of modern living. I try to get at this heart of this by striving to create less waste. To avoid buying extras and accumulating clutter. To keep the rhythm of our home calm and steady. To use my phone and other electronics less. To have my kids shun the television and to spend more time face to face or in nature or just doing “real” things.

But here’s where the pulling happens:

While I want the calm, life isn’t calm. I can’t figure out if it’s just one of those chicken/egg situations. We easily get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Things need to get done. Slowing down often doesn’t work. Or I cannot figure it out. Instead of that inner peace I desire, I feel like I’m chugging caffeine to keep things going for the sake of the family. I often feel like simplicity is merely a myth. Or perhaps a luxury.

I feel like I do not have the time or energy to focus my efforts and be 100% in the important roles I must fill. Instead, I’m scrambling to fill them the best I can . . . and dutifully do as much as I can. At the end of the day, I can feel such little accomplishment despite doing so much because I haven’t necessarily done my “best,” if that makes sense. And I often feel this outside judgment -- whether real or imagined -- that I am failing. That I’m not doing enough or that somehow what I’m choosing to do with my life isn’t enough.

With regard to turning away from distraction . . . it’s an on-again, off-again process. While I would love to turn my back on society and its trappings, I also desire to be connected and -- yes -- to have nice things. We all know that things can fill voids, even though I have tried my hardest to reprogram my mind against that way of thinking/feeling. On some level, I also desire to relate to my peers, which sometimes means getting off track from my goals of simple living. I still care what others think of me, maybe too much.

Takeaway


Obviously I have some soul-searching to do. (And Eloise is already waking from her nap that was a whopping 20 minutes in length.) I may just need to let go and surrender to something that has the potential to feel scary at first. Big lifestyle changes are like that. I have dipped my toes in the waters with the repaying debt reflections. There’s this huge shift that needs to happen, like a whole way-of-life shift. I want it to happen, but I still don’t know what that life looks like in its entirety.

It’s going to require taking a deep breath and jumping in. It’s going to require agreement and participation from the whole family. Even if that means figuring out what life on the other side looks like along the way. I don’t know if I’m making any sense. I know that much of what I desire out of life is connected in some way. It all goes back to simplicity and calm. There’s this pressure weighing down with each passing day that somehow I am wasting time figuring this out. While I’m by no means old . . . I fear the longer it takes to feel this inner sense of calm, the more of my life I’m not spending fully plugged in.

There are days when I think of hanging up my blogging hat so I can spend more time learning versus writing. I am trying to find a good mix between the two. Do you have any suggestions for bloggers or books or other things that have helped you navigate these deep thoughts/questions in life? I’d love to hear what’s helped you along your own path.

So, there are some thoughts for your rainy Friday. I’m a work in progress, as always.

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Typical Day in the Life // Feeling Spent

>> Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I have to pause my planned content to share with you all that I am absolutely spent. Our lives seriously went from zero to 60 in a second flat, and I’m still gasping for air. There are times I wonder if I’m just deficient as a person. Am I lazy? Unmotivated? I see so many super moms getting everything done and looking good while doing it. Their kids are clean, well-fed, and they just seem to have it all together. I know images can be deceiving, though.

Regardless, we went from the luxury of all being home during the summer with really no plans (and I had scads of time to work uninterrupted during normal working hours) to being here, there, and everywhere. This schedule is our new normal, so we’ve got to get used to it somehow. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I’m learning.


// WEEKDAYS 


5:30 AM: Alarm goes off.

I immediately stretch to wake my body up and tiptoe downstairs to work on the computer. Working these days is writing for Healthline. I write clinical and lifestyle pieces of a variety of health topics. I love this job because the pieces have to be longish, well researched, and then reviewed by a medical professional. Anyway, today, I wrote an article about nyctophobia or fear of the night/dark. Sometimes I feel like I’ve written 1,500 words before I’ve woken up . . . as if I was in some weird zombie-like state.

On days I don’t have work, I try to get out and run ASAP. PS: I HATE running in the morning. I feel sluggish and tired . . . and I’ve just always been an evening runner by preference. But I’d rather run than not run, and this is often when I get the time. It’s just random which weeks I have lots of work, which weeks I don’t, and which it’s a mix. I have toyed with getting up at 5:00 AM, but I need to first get used to 5:30 and possibly shifting my bedtime. Sleep is weird these days, but I’ll explain that more later.

6:45-7:00 AM: Ada is usually waking up during this time. 

I try to get as much done as I can by 7 before I start turning the focus on her. We pick out her outfit, get dressed, brush hair, eat breakfast, pack her lunch, and I also just like to spend a bit of time with her before she’s gone from 8AM - 4PM each day. While she was done during this time slot last year as well, I still haven’t gotten used to seeing her so little during the week.

7:15 AM: Stephen leaves for work. Though last week he was leaving closer to 6:45.


7:30-7:45 AM: Eloise wakes for the day somewhere in this window. I get her up, changed, dressed, and give her a bit of a snack before we rush outside to wait for the bus.

8:00 9:00 AM: Bus leaves at 8:04. Eloise and I go inside to eat our breakfast together. 

She’s a slow eater and I also try to get stuff done while she’s in the high chair. I don’t think she’s actually in there for an hour, but it seems like we’re always done with breakfast/etc. by around 9AM.

9:00 - 10:00 AM: Run errands/get groceries/etc. 

Usually I need to run to the post office to ship out something for Poshmark, or I try to get us to the library to check out a few books. We’ll have a library reading hour coming up later in the month on Thursdays. If there’s nothing specific we need to get done in a day, we’ll take a walk or clean up the house a bit or just play. I may try going back to once-a-month grocery shopping to cut out the need to hit the store each week.


10:00 - 12:00 PM: Nap . . . I laugh. 

Eloise was consistently napping for two hours during this time. Now? Not so much. Something’s been going on lately with sleep (and I know these things go in cycles, so I’m not freaking out). She’s waking many times throughout the nights. Morning and afternoon naps are crap or amazing, and switching to just one nap was a disaster. So, we’re in a transition. As I type this it’s 11:15 and she’s waking up. I can’t complain. She slept for over an hour. It’s just hard to do what I would like and/or need to do.

Because usually during this time I would be able to finish freelance work or write for the blog or list items for Poshmark. If I wasn’t doing that stuff, I’d try to sneak in my workout for the day. Now, it’s a free-for-all, get as much done before she wakes. And usually when she wakes, she’s quite cranky. This, too, shall pass.

12:00 - 1:00 PM: Lunch time. 

Again, she’s not always in the high chair for this long, but I try to cook or clean while she’s eating and maybe watching some Daniel Tiger. I eat, too. I should do a post on the meals we eat most frequently. I feel like I cover dinner, but not breakfasts and lunches as much.

1:00 - 3:00 PM: This is a random slot of time. 

Sometimes this shifts if Eloise didn’t nap in the morning. Sometimes my parents come up during the week from PA to visit. Other times, I’ll have a play-date or friend-date scheduled. Other times, more errands and/or cleaning, which is proving futile with a toddler running around and climbing the dining room table.

I’m keeping it loose because I know once we go down to one nap that this is probably when she’ll be sleeping. Oh, this is also the slot of time that’s best to try to go to the children’s museum. We have a membership and it opens too late to go in the morning.

3:00 - 4:00 PM: Eloise attempts an afternoon nap. 

I try to get a breath, check emails, and just sit for like half an hour before Ada gets home. Occasionally I will have to finish more work from earlier if naps got in the way of finishing for a deadline.


3:45 PM: Ada’s home from school. 

I spend as much time with her alone as possible before Eloise wakes up. Then we all play together for an hour or so before dinner.

5:00 PM: I start/finish dinner. 

Ada is usually watching television in the living room (we originally got rid of the TV in this space, but it’s been helpful -- I’ll write more sometime). Stephen gets home anywhere between 5:15 and 6:00 PM. It’s much better during XC season than track season. With track, he has frequent meets during the week and may be home as late as 9PM sometimes.

It’s hard to plan family dinner as a result. Also: On Tuesdays we have gymnastics at 5PM. We have family dinner maybe 2-3 times during the work week. Otherwise, the girls eat and Stephen and I eat after bedtime. I resist signing up for too many activities for Ada’s sake (overtired) and my own sanity. I think one class is enough at this age. In a couple years we may add something like piano lessons.

6:00 - 7:00 PM: Daddy + daughter time.

Generally this is my only real guaranteed hour off for the day. The rest is a crap-shoot despite hot organized it may seem. Nothing ever really goes as planned, so I’m often scrambling.

Stephen spends time with both girls during this hour playing outside, taking a walk, or hanging in the living room playing guitar while they run around. I run if I didn’t have other time to exercise during the day. Sometimes we all take a walk together, get ice cream, or do something else as a family. Sometimes the house is such a disaster that I spend the whole time speed-cleaning.

7:00 - 7:30 PM: Baths, stories, bedtime. 

I think I’d like to start prepping for the next day more during this time slot. It’d make the mornings easier to pack lunch, set out clothes for school, etc.

7:30 - 8:00 PM: Stephen puts Ada to bed. I nurse Eloise to sleep.

8:00 - 10:00 PM: Adult time.

Stephen and I eat dinner if we didn’t have family dinner. We watch television, chat, or just generally zone out. Both of us are usually spent by this time of day. So, while I’d like to become more mindful of screen time and spending quality time together -- getting used to this routine is kicking my butt. So, if that means I watch YouTube, so be it!

10:30 PM: Lights out.

I try to get to bed by this time each night. But I’m finding that I’m very tired with how little Eloise is sleeping. I may try shifting this back to 10PM.


// WEEKENDS


This schedule is much the same on Saturdays, as Stephen is away at meets. But Ada is home all day, so any of the nap times are spent with her doing crafts, reading books, playing outdoors, going to birthday parties, or watching movies. We pick up our farm share several towns away, and this is a nice morning activity. Stephen leaves before 7AM and gets home between 3PM and 6PM from meets. There are a few that are away where he’ll be gone one or two nights as well. I have a goal to go to some of the home meets with the girls.

I’ll be honest that having a frantic week schedule and then waking up on Saturdays to solo parent again can be frustrating. I am thankful that Stephen has taken on additional responsibilities/gigs to make this WAHM thing work. It means I can take on slightly less work than I used to, which is essential now with two kids . . . no relatives who live nearby for child care and no real guaranteed work time.

Sundays we try to do basically nothing. Or just something very low key. On weekends, Stephen and I try to give each other some solo time to go out. We’ll take turns going to the movies (we both want to see IT this weekend). Or maybe seeing a friend, etc.

// Thoughts


So, that’s my typical day-in-the life. I am sure I am missing something or haven’t completely described a time slot . . . but I think you get it. I don’t feel like our days are any more busy than anyone else’s.

But I’ll be honest that sometimes I wish I could either just be a SAHM or a working mom. WAHM isn’t necessarily the best of both worlds. It’s just another world. With staying at home and not working, I feel like I could get a better handle on my household and have more focus -- be more present in what I am doing versus always feeling so frenzied. With working, I feel like I could focus better on my job tasks and carve out more sanity by feeling better organized.

What I’ve discovered through chatting with friends, though, is that there’s really no perfect life. We all do the best we can. And even those moms who seem to have it all together are struggling just as much as the rest of us!

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