See What’s in Front of You

I’ve learned a whole lot in my first year of motherhood, and there’s one big lesson I want to share.  I’m learning to see what’s in front of me rather than getting carried away with my worries.

This past year with each big change in Emily’s development I found myself getting overwhelmed and even scared. A few milestones that stand out in my mind are switching her from her bassinet to her crib, introducing her to solid foods, giving her supplemental formula, and teaching her to fall asleep on her own through sleep training.  All of these changes seem small in hindsight but seemed insurmountable at the time.

I found myself becoming obsessed with the BEST way to do things. I told myself if I made the “wrong” decision I would cause serious damage to Emily. I’m not kidding when I say I would run away to crazy places in my mind.

The thing is when I look back I see that even if I did things differently, Emily would be totally fine.  There’s really no best way to do things. What’s most important is really seeing the human being in front of me rather than getting caught up in the “shoulds” of parenting.

Case in point the latest “problem” I’ve been pondering. In the past month or so Emily has gotten into the habit of falling asleep while drinking her last bottle of the evening. For a few days I found myself in a dark cloud of worry while I gave her that last bottle. I would tell myself, this is a very bad habit. I would tell myself, this needs to stop ASAP. I would run the phrase, “You should always put your baby down awake” over and over in my mind and convince myself I was somehow failing. I would feel shame.

Then tonight as I held Emily in my arms while she drank her bottle, she played with my hair and her eyes began to close. I looked down at her sweet serene face and I thought- SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. Right there in my arms was my sweet baby girl playing with my hair and falling asleep in my arms. I mean, she still fits in my arms. How amazing is that?

I reminded myself that the beauty of that moment was fleeting. Emily won’t always fall asleep in her mama’s arms and want to play with her mama’s hair. This was a moment for me to cherish NOT a moment for me to run away with fear, worry and shame.

If I push aside all of the “shoulds.” If I stop comparing myself and my child to other moms and children. If I really sit down and feel what my instinct is telling me, I know we are okay. I know when the time is right we will take the bottle away. I also know Emily is a capable human being who can fall asleep on her own just fine when we decide to make that change. She’s okay. She’s more than okay.

Moms and dads out there- please hear me when I say this. SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. See what’s there today and try not to get carried away with the tomorrows. I know how easy it is to fear that you’re somehow failing or doing things wrong. But if you can pause, breathe and see the human being in front of you, you’ll remember that nothing else really matters except that deep love you feel inside. Enjoy the little moments of today because they pass by and become the big moments of tomorrow.

You’re doing great. Just keep on seeing what’s in front of you.

 

 

 

Get out!

Today while Emily was napping the contractor who has been working on our apartment came by. He wanted to check on the floor he had recently fixed in Emily’s room. He had given me no advanced warning. When I told him she was napping in there he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I paused a moment in disbelief and said, “No. Sorry. She needs to sleep.”

He’s a very nice man and certainly didn’t mean to piss me off, but come on!

What strikes me most when I reflect on this now is the fire I had inside of me in that moment when he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I pictured Emily taking a serene nap and a man she doesn’t know suddenly entering her room. No way! My internal mama bear instinct was screaming “GET OUT!” I didn’t say this to him, but I was definitely thinking it.

Mama bear instinct is real. This past year I’ve been stuck by how loud it is and how protective I feel of Emily. I never knew I could feel this way about another human being! In the past a weak point of mine has been creating clear boundaries with others. My need to people please often came before my ability to take care of my own needs. That’s not the case with Emily. I have no problem saying NO if it’s not in her best interest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately. I’ve been reimagining what it looks like and how it feels. I’ve been asking myself- what if I were to offer myself the same love, attention and respect I offer to Emily every day? Today I’m thinking that sometimes the ultimate act of self-care may be to just say,”GET OUT!”

 

 

 

A Baby’s Best Friend

In honor of Emily’s first birthday I put together a video of pictures and videos of her first year. It was difficult, to say the least! Digital photos gave me the advantage of having countless visual memories (and tears as I looked through them), and the disadvantage of being extremely overwhelmed! It’s pretty much impossible to edit down adorable memories as a mama.

I was able to find a few themes to organize the video. One was Emily and her best friend, our five year old dog (and first baby), Romeo.

I’ll be honest with you- Romeo is the best dog in the world. He’s the chillest dog I’ve ever met. He has not once barked when someone has rung the doorbell. His tail has two speeds- slow or medium, and he reserves those tail wags for very special occasions. He’s sensible, sweet and patient. Even though he sleeps most of the day, he is always game to play with his friends in the park or go for a ride in the car and go on an adventure. I’ve always loved him with all my heart, but seeing how sweet he is with our baby girl makes me appreciate him even more. In honor of Emily’s first birthday and her best friend, Romeo here’s Emily and her best friend through the year.

Happy First Birthday, Emily Rae!

I wrote this yesterday for my baby girl’s first birthday, and didn’t have a chance to post it since we had such a fun, beautiful day together. I’m officially the mama of a one year old!

 

Dear Emily,

One year ago you entered our lives. I heard it before- life changes completely when you have a baby. I never could have understood that though until we had you.

You have taught me so much. You have taught me to take each day moment by moment. To not fear change. To understand everything is actually ALWAYS changing. To find a deep strength and confidence I never knew was inside of me. Knowing that I grew you and gave birth to you makes me feel like the strongest person in the world.

I admire your friendliness and love of socializing and meeting new people. I admire your humor. I admire your presence and honesty; how you love to read books- but only the ones YOU want to read. I admire your warmth and cuddliness and big smiles. I admire your awareness and strength and wit.

Thank you for giggling and clapping for me when I do ballet for you. Thank you for laughing at my jokes. Thank you for practicing yoga with me. Thank you for always being game for a stroll and an adventure. Thank you for being nothing else but exactly who you are, and that person is someone I love truly, madly, deeply (as the 90’s band Savage Garden says).

Happy first birthday to our love! We will love you forever.

 sweet-emmy-rae

Big First Steps

On Saturday as millions of people participated in the Women’s March Emily took her first steps. How incredible that on such a historic day when people marched to have their voices heard, Emily decided to walk too! I am so proud to live in a country where millions can gather together to peacefully protest. And I am so proud to have a daughter who day after day inspires me and reminds me that the future is bright.

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For all the moms, dads and human beings

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I woke up this morning feeling pretty damn good because Emily slept past 6am. Yahoo! Then I looked in the mirror, and here’s what I saw. I could not help but laugh. It’s okay, you can laugh too.

This one is for all the moms, dads and human beings out there wondering how some people seem to have it all together. I’ll let you in on a little secret… NO ONE does! To be human means to have days like today where I most definitely do not have it all together.

This photo is what happens when the only time I have to shower is after Emily has gone to bed, and then I am just too tired to do anything with my hair. Hellooooo world! Check ME out.

Today I am thankful for coffee, food delivery, and Emily’s cuteness which makes reading “Baby Babble” a thousand times in a row bearable. There is no one I’d rather read with while caffeinating myself up than you Miss Em!

 

 

Hellooo Toddlerhood!

It’s official, we have entered toddlerhood.

This morning as I tried to brush my teeth Emily repeatedly tried to grab the toilet wand. When I attempted to make breakfast she discovered how to open the kitchen drawers. Then, when I tried to sit down and pay bills, in a split second she grabbed Romeo’s rather large water bowl off the kitchen table (which had been placed there because she’s always trying to spill it) and she poured it all over her head.

This all happened before 8am.

I’m equally exhausted and amused! If this is only the beginning of her toddler shenanigans I can only imagine what is coming next. Oh how tired I am and oh how much I love her!

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Post-Water Bowl Pour
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Little mischief maker!

Onward to 2017

I type this with one hand as Emmy sleeps in my arms. To think a year ago she hadn’t even arrived! 

2016 started with the birth of our sweet baby girl which changed the course of our lives forever. Ten weeks later came our first nephew and godson Miles. 

By summer we settled into our new home. I watched my best friend marrying the love of her life, and saw our friends’ welcoming their baby girl, Aylya. The summer ended with the loss of my grandmother, the strongest woman I knew. 

Then came the birth of our friends’ baby boy, Lee. And the arrival of one of my oldest friend’s baby boy, Jake. Now the year ends with our nephew Preston Ryder arriving just in time!

There was so much new life! (Welcome also to Juliette and Gemma!) There was also death. There was LOVE. There was pain. There was everything in between.

To all of my family and friends near and far who have been so supportive this year as I settled into new motherhood, I love you! 

Nanna, I hope you’re watching us today and celebrating with us.
Farewell 2016! Onward to 2017. Let’s see what you may bring.