Archives for posts with tag: new mom

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It’s been 25 days since I woke up in Las Cuarentas, Nicaragua, to the symphonic sounds of a small village wiping the sleep out of its eyes and rolling out of bed. An army of roosters crowing back and forth to each other across the misty hills and valleys–their calls vacillating between a salute and a one-upping competition. Balancing out the screechy soprano of the roosters’ calls is a bass beat that shows up slow, steady, and rhythmic: my host mother meets the dawn with a melody she knows by heart. Behind the heavy wooden door of the kitchen, she slaps and pounds the homemade tortilla dough into shape before anyone else in the house is even conscious enough to know that breakfast is approaching. Outside, the bullfrogs add to the melody of the morning with a chirpy belch that sounds like a synthesized backdrop. A horse neighs once, twice–and dogs bark here and there like a stray cymbal crash.

In the rural mountains of Nicaragua, there is no marimba-style phone alarm going off. No Al Roker telling you what the weather is like in your neck of the woods. No brakes screeching outside the window or early morning honks to illustrate that road rage does not discriminate against the dawn. But there is also no silky sigh–in and out–coming sweetly from my son’s crib like the breeze blowing through the trees. No complementary snores echoing back and forth ridiculously between my husband and my dog.

I guess every place has its music. You just have to tune in and listen to it.

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When I came home from my yoga/fundraising meeting Friday night and my husband asked me how it went, I purposefully didn’t go into the details. I just said: “It was great.” If I had plopped down next to him and told him all about how amazing I felt after a night of Kundalini meditation and discussion of personal transformation and social change, he would have burst my perfect, freakin’ bubble. He would have looked at me sideways with some shit-eating grin that would have propelled me into a defensive stance, warning him to back his conservative ass off of my special bubble. And that’s not good. So I said: “It was great.”

I reserve special bubble talk for certain people to protect myself. The work I do in yoga is highly personal–it’s like therapy for me. It’s my time to spiral into myself, to challenge myself, to regenerate myself so that I can then reach out to others in a more genuine and present way. And it’s reserved for people who are down with riding that kind of funky wave with me….which is where my girls come in.

I call them my “Board of Directors” because they are the women in my life that I imagine sitting at a long, rectangular board room table in my head giving me honest feedback on my life decisions in a loving, non-judgemental way. If I’m throwing the deuces up at a crappy job that sucks the life out of me without a plan for a new job, my BoDs aren’t questioning the rashness of my decision–they’re rooting for me as I walk away from a place that doesn’t serve me. If I’m depressed, they shine a light on the good things about me and serve up a typical BoD prescription for healing: a listening ear, raucous laughter, good food, and beer. If I’m making questionable life decisions, they grip me up by the shoulders and give me a little shake and say, “No girl, you’re better than that.” If I need to shake some shit off, they turn up the volume on the music, stand up next to me, and twerk like it’s their job. And you know a girl’s got your back when she’s willing to twerk like it’s her job.

At nearly 33 years old, I have come to realize that a healthy marriage to a husband requires an additional, intimate relationship of a different kind with a circle of outrageous ladies who all at once ground me and encourage me to fly a little closer to my dreams. Thanks for holding it down at the board room table of my life, ladies. Nothing but love for you.

It’s been nearly fifteen months since my son was born and 363 days since I went back to work. Maintaining a full-time working mom status is like a life sentence of feeling like your half-assing everything. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s true. There is a hell of a lot to do and not much time to do it.

My mornings are like wrestling with multiple personality disorder until my husband shoves me out the door for our commute. There’s my egocentric teenage personality who we’ll call “Lizzy” (because adding a “y” to the end of any name makes it egocentric-in case you didn’t know). When my husband turns on the light in the bedroom at 6AM or my dog does that annoyingly loud shimmy shake while I still have my head buried in the pillow, “Lizzy” wants to tell them to get lost. There’s my playful, snuggly, maternal side who we’ll call “Lindsay” (because I wasn’t going to assign my own name to a negative aspect of my personality-duh). “Lindsay” just wants to huddle with her adorable son on the couch and sing the theme song to “Little Einsteins” at the top of her lungs and call work to report that she’s developed a last minute case of something terrible. And then there’s my driven, independent, career-focused side who we’ll call “Lynn” (because one-syllable names aren’t messing around). “Lynn” usually tells “Lizzy” to get her lazy ass out of bed and reminds her to make the bed once she’s out of it, then notifies “Lindsay” that if she doesn’t get herself and her son dressed and out the door, “Little Einsteins” will be nothing but a memory because the cable bill won’t be paid.

Like any goal-oriented, hopeful woman, I strive for a balanced, integrated personality, but most days, it just doesn’t happen. Tricks I use to present the façade of balance and integration include a healthy layer of make-up, an outfit that matches, chocolate, and a smile. In addition, if I’m going to cry or bang my head up against the wall, I try to do it in the privacy of my own office or quietly in a bathroom stall.

In any case, these days, when I happen to strike a balance, it is a matter of pure luck. But at least I’m trying (and faking it) as much as possible.

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It’s happening. As I sit at my desk at work shoveling the delicious layers of milk chocolate and crispy wafer into my mouth, I am slowly screeching down the list of my own priorities. Before I became a mom, my own self-care used to be my number one priority–above my relationship, my family, my friends, and my love of chocolate–because I was a firm believer that you have to make the effort to take care of yourself first in order to be happy with others. Before I was pregnant, I was rollin’ into yoga class four times a week and balanced my indulgences with healthy eating. I was never naïve enough to think that things would go back to the way they were then after Ben arrived; I knew my priorities would change. However, I thought that with some effort, I would still be making time for myself and leading a healthy lifestyle. It was clear to me as I broke myself off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar that the candy’s jingle rang true to my situation. I needed a freakin’ break.
I have become so caught up in keeping up with the hamster-wheel-paced lifestyle that I lead now that I’m just running from one thing to another. Daycare-work-eating whatever lunch I can get my hands on-work-daycare-home-say hi to the hubs-let the dog out-play-dinner-bedtime-collapse from exhaustion. Not even a hamster is fast enough to keep up with this crazy schedule. Not to mention I’ve been forgetting to hydrate throughout this busy-as-hell kind of day and you know what that means–dryer skin=the wrinkles are easier to see. So as I finished my candy-for-lunch meal, I thought, “what does a mom need to do to stop this cycle of madness? How do I get some of my old self back?” My best guess was humor and some smart, deliberate decisions…although the night after I ate that Kit-Kat for lunch, there may have been some wine and crying to my husband involved (ie. dramatic assertion that “I can’t live like this anymore”).
Ed Asner once said that “raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” As moms, we have to fight to fit ourselves on the top of the priority list. We have to make time for self-care because, let’s face it, leaving your kid for a few extra hours during the week to go to some yoga classes will make you feel a hell of a lot less guilty than all the expensive therapy your kid is gonna need later if he has to put up with your miserable, unfulfilled, martyr self. I decided that I have to make the decision to put some major effort into taking care of myself because I’ve been doing a crappy job. I want to feel more healthy, fulfilled, and happy in my own shoes–because not only do I deserve it, but the poor gents living with me (my husband, Ben, and my dog Sammy) deserve to experience the best version of me.
So let’s all agree to support each other in stepping away from the King Sized Kit-Kat and the guilty voice in our head that says we have other things to worry about before ourselves. Screw that voice! It’s time to start scheduling “me” time in our agenda books every week and spending the extra time to prepare healthy meals for ourselves and slowing down enough to drink some water during the day. And let’s laugh more too. That always helps.
On that note, let’s all bow our heads for a prayer that Tina Fey wrote for her daughter in her book, “Bossypants”:

And should she choose to be a mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50AM, all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.”

Amen.

ImageEver since the day my son was born, one year and twenty days ago, time seems to go by so much faster than it did before he was around. Okay, let me back up here…the day I gave birth and the first three months of colic hell moved like molasses, but after that, the days started to fly. I think about my life before he was born–the neon, shoulder padded 80’s; that awkward transition from a tween to a scrawny teenager; the years I spent at boarding school and college; the ups and downs of my twenties; and settling down with my husband closer to 30. Looking back, there are all kinds of memories; there were some crazy fun times, but like may people, there were lots of struggles too. There were those periods of time that seemed to last forever–ones full of hurt, self-doubt, and sadness.

I think that time started to fly after my son was born because I was able to experience myself differently. Before he arrived, no matter how hard I tried and despite the crazy fun times, genuine self-acceptance and self-love were my biggest challenges. I’m not saying that I have an easy job patting myself on the back now or recognizing my strengths, but it is easier than before and I’m happier. My son is this indisputably amazing, living, breathing proof that I created something wonderful. And every time he makes a funny face or laughs or opens his eyes wide with wonder, I accept and love myself more knowing that I was part of making this beautiful boy.

Elizabeth Stone articulateImages my feeling more eloquently in her quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” He is the best thing I have ever done in my 32 years.

 

When you get old enough, you start to experience those moments in which your adult self smacks your kid self on the forehead and says: “this is what your parents meant all those years ago. They weren’t really talking just to hear the sound of their own voices. They had a point.” Being a young adult with a baby has its challenges, but one of the perks is how my relationship With my dad has changed. Looking back now, I know with certainty that I wasn’t an easy child, let alone teenager, but at the time, I thought my dad was pretty tough with the rules.
He was always a hard worker and expected the same from me. Around report card time at school, his work shirts always seemed to have extra starch in them and his loafers clicked a little louder down the hallway. He expected a lot of me and I was afraid to disappoint him, but not because I thought he would love me less. It just seemed like he was always holding himself to such high standards–working a little harder than he did the last time–that I felt like I had to push myself like he did. I wanted him to be proud of me because I looked up to him and cared about what he thought of me.
Of course, there were plenty of times that I was not on the straight and narrow path, resulting in moments that I’m sure were far from “proud dad” moments for him. There was the time my dad had to bring my brother and me to work with him when we were about 4 and 5 because my mom was working the same shift. We had been instructed to play nicely with some benign office supplies like paper, pens, and labels, but somehow I caught a glimpse of the intoxicating shine that was the stapler and several minutes later, my father was rushing my brother to the ER. I had decided his fingers were much better candidates for stapling than the copious amounts of paper in front of me. Shortly after that incident, I wrangled my brother and his best friend, Ryan, into the back seat of my mom’s t-top white “Z” sports car and settled myself into the driver seat to show the boys how I could turn the radio on without turning the car on. That night my dad came home to my mom’s car smashed into our garage door. (A very mischievous move on my part, but let me just point out that I had enough unsupervised time on my hands to set this whole joy ride up AND the keys were in the ignition, car was in gear, and no e-brake on. So..perhaps my mom and her friends were hittin’ the wine coolers a little too hard that day and were busy crimping each other’s hair instead of, you know, watching us.) There was the time when I was 12 (a time I detailed in one of my earlier posts) that I attempted to light a Newport Light cigarette on our gas stovetop range for my first smoking experience and singed off the tips of every one of my eyelashes. Talk about instant karma…or just a really poorly conceived plan. And as the teenage years rolled on into the early twenties, there were a couple of boyfriends that made my dad question my decision making skills and mood swings that made him wonder what the hell had gotten into me. And there were lots of days in our father-daughter relationship that seemed so hard that we couldn’t optimistically count on better ones ahead at the time.
At 32, my relationship with my dad has really changed. I’m married to a good man–which has proven the positive development of my decision making skills. And I have an 11-month old son who has acted as this magical lens that has brought everything into focus for me. I can feel the love for a child that my dad felt for me as he held me in my first year of life. I have whispered the same promises to myself and to my son that he whispered to himself and to me. I have accepted the responsibility that he once did to protect my child and to raise him in a way that pushes him to be the best person he can be. I feel scared the same way he once did about my ability to live up to that challenge.
When my dad holds my son and becomes Pop Pop, it feels like one of those full circle moments–a moment in which my mischievous childhood mistakes, teenage trouble, and our father-daughter debates were well worth it. Because in the end, as a daughter and now a parent, I want to make my dad proud. Because I look up to him and I care about what he thinks of me. Here’s hoping I’ll do as good of a job with my son so that he might be thinking the same thing one day.

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It’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve been busy with the usual: working, changing dirty diapers, wiping snotty nose, wishing my wrinkles away in the mirror, eating chocolate for lunch, trying desperately to escape the echoes of Disney Junior theme songs (one very disturbing verse being “it’s okay if you wiggle/this will only tickle a little” from none other than Doc McStuffins).  I’ve also been busy with a little something called “The Passion Project”.

About two months ago, I emailed my good friend and yoga teacher, Maura, and said something along the lines of:

I need your help.  I think I’m in a rut.  I feel totally detached from my passions…running on empty..and just going through the motions everyday.  Dragging myself through the workday, trying to be presentfor baby and husband at night.  Drowning myself in the Real Housewives, eating crappy food, zoningout on iPhone, and smoking a cigarette here and there because I feel like it’s the only time I focus onbreathing in and out.  Haven’t been to yoga in forever.  I feel gross.  Help!  Love, Lindsay

Maura is a wonderful friend, yoga teacher, health coach, and all around igniter of fire under the ass. (www.mauramanzo.com)  I didn’t know what I needed, but I knew she could help.  In short, when we met, she asked me to create a huge list of my passions.  With her help, I narrowed the list down to five things that absolutely lit me up inside.  And then the challenge was this…Any time there is a choice, decision, or opportunity, choose in favor of what supports your passions.  I decided to try this challenge for the next two weeks to see how things would change.  Maybe I would take the time to close my door to eat lunch instead of realizing it was 3:00 and the last thing I ate was dinner the night before.  Maybe I would make it to yoga more often.  Maybe I would be a more patient mother and wife.  Maybe I’d say “no” more to people instead of spreading myself too thin.  I didn’t know what would come out of “The Passion Project”, but I was ready to commit.

Just because one of my passions is traveling the world to immerse myself in other cultures doesn’t mean I ended up on a vacation in the next two weeks.  What the Project did for me was raise my awareness around being “plugged in” and realizing that in some small way, at every moment, I had the option of choosing in favor of my passions.  It felt empowering.  And just the fact that I had reached out to a friend to make a plan had pulled me out of my rut.  I wasn’t rolling around in my melancholy all by myself.  Someone else was around to check in on my progress.  Somewhere around the second week, I was trying to focus on my passion of “being transparent in all aspects of life” when I suddenly found myself in my boss’s office telling her that, in an effort to be open and honest, I felt that my journey in my current position had run its course.  That I didn’t have a new job, but I was going out on a limb and turning in my notice and my plan was to start interviewing.  Suddenly the “plugging in” that this Project required had led me to a place where I was being transparent enough to admit I was ready for the next step in my life.  And I was saying it out loud without a plan of what that next step was.

My boss and co-workers supported me in my transparency and in my decision to take this chance.  There was a part of me that was scared to put myself out there and to leave my current job.  I’ve had six years of wonderful experiences and awesome friendships.  But I also felt relieved to go all in on something that felt right in my gut.  A month after turning in my notice, I accepted a new position and I’m so excited to see where this decision will take me.

I hope one day, I can force my teenage son into a conversation that he would much rather not be having in order to recount how his mother took risks to be fully alive and made decisions to take responsibility for her own happiness.  Having a kid puts you in touch with your own mortality.  And not just because you are always dead tired, but because you start to live for someone else and start to consider what kind of example you want to be for the years you have left.  Lord knows I have to work hard on these positive examples to offset the other ones…like how Pinot Grigio is also known as “Mommy’s juice”.