Monthly Archives: March 2013

Screaming, Standing, and Slowing

I scream (too much (any screaming is too much)). I’m going to try this:

The Orange Rhino Challenge. I’m going to pick a number of days and try not to yell during all those days.

So, since I want to make sure this is an attainable goal (lofty yet not stratospheric) I’m going to start small.

I am going to try not to yell for this rest of this week. It’s Wednesday at 4 p.m. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know at how bad I am, well. I don’t want to tell you any more.

A photo in which I'm not yelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’m going to try. This first step to not yelling is to publicly shame myself for yelling, way, way too much. I think I need an action plan.

Things that make me yell, warning signs, options besides yelling to do when I want to yell.

Henry stands. But he doesn’t want to crawl. Anyone’s baby go from sitting to pulling up and walking without crawling first?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m slow.

Also, I’m working out again, like majorly regularly! I’d still like to know when I’m going to get close to my old paces again, not that they were ever spectacular or anything, but to be so far off my normal fitness is discouraging. I know I’ve only run a handful of times THIS YEAR, like probably a dozen times since the baby was born but for some reason I feel like I should magically be closer to where I was before?

What’s wrong with me? (Not generally, the comment dialog box would get filled up, just any ideas why I’m so much slower than before the baby?)

 

 

 

Look at this lunatic

 

 

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The Feminist Human

So you’ve seen this, right?

 

I have a lot of thoughts about this piece, not the least of which is that it’s not a very good example of journalism. It’s one of Those Trend Stories that the New York Times is infamous for. The writer finds some friends of friends on the Upper East Side and a trend is born. All women do this and now all women do that.

So, putting that aside for a moment, how do I feel about the premise? I am a feminist. I pick up my husband’s dry cleaning and don’t work full-time in an office. Why don’t I?

Because I made an individual life/work/sanity/financial/family balance decision that took into account myriad factors. Like, I didn’t love the job I was working when I had my first baby. It paid only a smidge more than I would have paid in day care costs. I couldn’t imagine leaving my three-month-old all day. My husband’s salary just barely allowed us to do so. It’s no Stepford Wives fantasy. I can’t really afford tons of extras but I don’t care. I don’t shop for fun. I don’t need a nice car or nice purse.

I do work, freelance, and part-time. When I was pregnant last spring an opportunity for a full-time flex/work-at-home job came my way and I went after it. It ended up not working out but I wasn’t going to lose the chance to advance my career in a way that made sense for my family. It doesn’t currently make sense for my family for me to commute, be miles away, and break even financially. I feel like I’m doing a decent job of setting myself up for a later point when I will look for something full-time or staff. I’m writing, I’m trying to network and make connections and I’ve been beyond blessed to have been able to find a new career during my time at home.

Without leaving my old career to stay home with my baby, I never would have gotten the guts to take a plunge into something new and better. I don’t know what exactly I will end up doing when my kids are in school. I won’t be home full-time then, but I’d like to imagine I’ll find something more flexible, more manageable, than stepping off a train at 7 p.m. Someone has to get them from school when they’re sick right? Last I checked schools never got the memo that businesses don’t close at 2 p.m.

So here’s the dirty secret no one talks about and the article didn’t even get close to understanding. Many, many, many stay at home moms are middle or even working class. And they stay home because here in New York you’d have to make something like 50k to even begin to see any money home after taxes and decent child care. How many women in their 20s, childbearing, years make that much? Staying home begins to make sense. Someone has to care for children.

Corollary to that is that significant amounts of women work at jobs that wouldn’t pay full-time day care because they receive free child care from grandmothers and family members. Mothers earn less than a family-sustaining wage subsidized by unpaid family help, often their own mothers who don’t work. There’s so much going on here I can’t even begin to unpack it in my little wandering blog post. But this idea that stay at home motherhood is some elite opportunity only open to snooty lady lunchers and the very wealthy is just silly.

Can you afford to work? Can you afford to not work? Are legions of women in very crappy, secreterial type go-nowhere jobs? Are they happy to recreate their lives around their families and a more sane daily routine? Who could blame them?

I certainly can’t, but then again I don’t believe Mommies Are Magical! with super special nurturing behavior men can’t approximate. Each individual has their own individual set of strengths and weaknesses, and so does each family unit. Mom making more? Dad can stay home. Love your career and would be scary mommy at home? Hire a loving nanny and get to work. The beauty of feminism is that we’ve made that an option. Of course it’s not perfect and someone still has to do the dishes. But to claim staying home is the new feminism is a very convenient way to elide over all the problems with the non-family friendly, often inflexible way we (over)work.

Why the hell can’t moms work from home at jobs that allow it? I know I get way more work done in between the 4,560 other things I’m juggling at home than I ever did clocking in my nine to six pm.

 

 

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I Hate Napping

Yes, I hate it all: napping myself, trying to get babies to nap, worrying about whether or not they are sleeping enough during the day, not enough, often enough, long enough, short enough.

I will be happy when my youngest takes his last nap. My oldest dropped hers at 2.5 years old and I was glad. She went to bed earlier. No more naps.

I hate naps. If I am tired enough, and of course, having babies will do that to me, I will force myself to try and nap. But I’m terrible at it and most times I just toss and turn, and end up giving up, having lost precious time in a futile attempt.

How embarrasing, this never happens...

If I travel to another time zone and get jet lagged, something weird and disorienting happens to me when I nap. I wake up, and for a few, long agonizing moment I don’t know who I am, or where. At all. I have complete fleeting amnesia. It’s such a horrific sensation. It goes away, and I say, oh this is a hotel, or whatever, and I’m me, but it’s so scary I dread napping on vacation. I wonder if this is some early sign of some eventual demise of my brain. Does this happen to anyone else?

Along with a seeming congenital inability to nap, I also have an inborn need for a lot of sleep. I’ve realized over the years that other lucky souls can sleep 5,6,7 hours and function optimally. I need something like nine hours per night. I also need to sleep until 7 a.m. or I am tired all day, no matter how early I go to bed.

So, this doesn’t always mesh well with the early morning slant of the exercise world. I’ve forced myself to wake many times at 4:30 a.m. to meet friends for a 5 a.m. run, and after a gallon of coffee I can perform to some semblance of my normal self. But if races were held at 5 p.m. instead of 7 or 8 in the morning? I’d probably shatter all my PRs automatically.

This is me at 6 p.m.

My energy peaks at 4,5,6,7 p.m. It’s my favorite time to exercise, work, dance around the house. I’m an evening-exerciser. I will periodically discipline myself into an early morning exerciser, just to join the ranks, and so I can get used to it in case I want to do a race. But I know there must be others of my kind out there…let’s start our own night races!

So when I woke at 4:30 to run, I had to nap. I couldn’t make it through the day after that. Back then (last year) my oldest still napped, so it was possible, and I was tired enough that I actually fell asleep. But I still hated it. I went down kicking and screaming like a big toddler. I despise the post-nap grogginess, the feeling of lost time, the dry eyeballs and lips, the confused fugue state between awake and asleep while the sun is shining.

I could never make it in a siesta country. Well, I guess I could just eat and drink and rest and then go back to work/play with renewed evening energy. Actually, that would be perfect.

He's got a Protestant nation work ethic.

It doesn’t help that my baby hates napping (maybe he gets it from me?) so I am always engaging in nap battle, stroller sleep intrigues, day planning, scheming, organizing of wake/sleep/car trips. BLEGH I HATE IT. I also hate when I read something like, Oh your five month old should be napping three hours per day for optimal brain development, and then I have to worry on top of all my other nap worries that he’s being harmed because the kid won’t sleep more than 15 minutes during the day.

But I cannot for the life of me get him to nap. I’d rather just let it go, and eff naps.

In my recent nap battles, I’ve tried some new weaponry. Laying down with him in the bed, running him in the jogger. I may have won some battles but the war is another story.

 

I hate naps.

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In non-napping news, I have half-blonde hair. It was for a beauty story.

I’ve also been freed from a dairy-free diet and have already celebrated with pizza. Henry can now sit all day (endurance ride) so he’s happy with increased play options. I’ve lost my mind and went shopping for fun. I don’t know who I am anymore.

 

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Daylight Saving

I need to write about how I went away for two nights and my kids didn’t even miss me…will do that later this week, and I will also produce photographic evidence of everything yummy I ate and drank. Stay tuned for that.

It’s the last week or so of winter. It’s the last dwindling days of no color and cold.

The knowledge that it’s so close, so almost spring, has rejuvenated me.

Remember when we were kids? The seasons of the year were so long. It took forever for summer vacation to come. Weeks were like years. Summer breaks were entire lifetimes. Kids came back in September and it was like a twenty-year reunion. Girls had new hair. Your best friend had changed. Everyone’s style was brand new. Spring break lasted three months in adult years.

Now we’re old and time has sped up. The year clumsily jerks around, tilting dangerously. The bad news is that summer is over in a flash, fall can be entirely missed if you aren’t careful, but the good news is that winter is always almost over.

Even when it first began, I knew it would be short. I knew it would be my last winter with a newborn, my final three months of tired, homebound, discontent.

And I was right. Here I am. It’s March. It’s warmer. We can go anywhere, do anything. I’m even going to bring the baby to the gym day care. Freedom.

The last two weeks before it all comes into bloom.

It’s time for me to get moving again. I have a lot to do, and I’m glad to do it.

 

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Cinque

Cinco, five, the boy’s growing up yet somehow he seems too babyish for five months to me. I know that sounds insane, like, hello lady, the baby is a five month old baby! But in my hazy recollection of the last go-round I thought five months would see me happily sleeping at night for a little while, the baby in his crib, close to crawling, napping at regular times.

No.

It’s partly Henry’s lot to be forever compared to an older sibling, and she was a precocious baby. By his age, she was floor swimming, trying to get up on her hands and knees for crawling which she would do in a month. She walked at nine months. Henry despises being on his tummy, still. He only wants to be carried and be propped up under his armpits in a fake stand. Sometimes I hold his hands, all his weight held on his own, and he is so hilariously proud of himself I laugh out loud.

He purses his lips and yells GGGAWOOOooooo! And he pretty much thinks he’s the king of the room. World. I don’t know that I do much to dissaude him from this. He can also rudimentarily grasp the idea of giving me a high five. He ate a Num-Nums. He’s practically driving (to the fast food drive-through, probably).

But in some ways, he’s so…baby. Still napping in a swing, still sleeping in a bassinet, hating his crib, nursing a lot at night. He sits up, but topples over easily. He refuses to roll onto his tummy probably because he hates it.

I’m not trying to be a Tiger Baby Mom, but he’s such a crank at times I’m hoping increased mobility will make him happier. But I can’t imagine him crawling in a month like Anna did. He seems so far away from that. Yet, he seems like a big, healthy, smart bruiser in all other ways.

I know all babies are different. It’s pretty fascinating to see that play out with my own sample size study of two.

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Rehabbin’ It

Body

I’m making some small progress on fixing my hot mess of a body. I’m hoping to be done with twice weekly PT session soon, but I’m booked until the end of March. I was given the okay to go to spin class, which makes me very happy since I’ve done absolutely no cardio/aerobic activities for three weeks.

I took it easy at a class on Tuesday night, and nothing major happened to my leg. In fact, the numbness is finally starting to subside a bit. I think the PT was smart to snuff out the problem as stemming from my back.

Gym, my old friend

Here’s what I have to do daily:

Pelvic tilts 3 x 10

Bridges with inner thighs squeezing a ball 3 x 10

Bent knee toe taps with a ball in between the legs, 3 x 10. This one is really hard. I lie down, and try to tap down with legs bent without letting my lower back come off the ground. I’m finding I am very, very weak in my regular ab muscles. Probably because I was so paranoid about stretching out my abs (I have a tiny diastasis recti, maybe one finger-width wide) I have avoided all crunch type moves. I’ve done plenty of planks and transverse work but I must have forgotten that at some point I need to do regular ab work too. I wonder if the core weakness and pelvic floor problems are what’s screwing up my lower back, causing the lower leg numbness. That’s what the PT thinks as well.

She said to DO crunches but be very aware of my form and tie a towel or sheet around my abs in a crisscross to help me stay aware of not “pouching out” when I crunch.

I also do leg lifts while sitting on an exercise ball and leg extensions on the ball. Both x 30

Bird dog arm and leg lifts, kind of like this, courtesy of BuiltLeanTV:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CbDUTlil_A

I’ve been pretty diligent about doing my exercises daily and I’m noticing I’m sore in my tailbone area, but a good muscle soreness instead of the dull pain I’ve had since childbirth. So hopefully it’s working and the stabilization will help me go forth and run, and jump, and exercise to my heart’s content. PT recommends another week and then to try a run. Yay!

House

I’m doing some spring type cleaning around here. I wish my home could be as OCD neat freak on the outside as I am on the inside but two kids will do a number on that dream. I bought a portable steam cleaner and I’m steaming anything soft that doesn’t move. Maybe moves, too. Watch out, Finn.

Making messes is their thing.

This is probably baby-TMI, but Henry is such a spitter that he’s drenched our home. I need to do an upholstery cleaning weekly. Sorry, that’s gross. But I feel so much better when I finish a cleaning project. I do have to actually HOLD him while I clean half the time, since he won’t tolerate that much being put down. The whole thing is really ridiculous. But I feel better. Ahhh. Short of buying all new furniture which would be totally pointless until kids are much older, this is my new favorite thing.

Mind

The trance dance yoga got me inspired to devote more time to meditation, or even spiritual practice. I’ve been pretty stressed the last few months and I’m not exactly proud of my mean Mommy moments or my nagging spouse self. I’d like to do better, be better.

Multi-tasking is mine.

Maybe that kind of time out, that self reflection and dedication to thinking about how I can make the world a better place may be just what I need.

I fear this could become one  of those woulda, coulda, shoulda if I only had more time ideas that falls away in the rush of life. I’ve somehow gotten so busy lately I’m kind of running around like a drunk bird. (When multitasking goes bad.) But I’m going to try to make it a habit. I’m heading to another trance class tonight, for my article, but also for me.

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Them’s the Breaks

When good things happen to you, do you feel lucky? Or that you’re reaping the rewards of your own hard work (mixed with whatever innate talents or strengths you posses, of course)?

I’ve been thinking about this question recently, since a few good breaks have come my way. Nothing major, just a few nice payoffs to some groundwork I’ve been laying over the last couple of years.

There’s a mental tic about good fortune I have that I’m sure others share…It feels too precarious, too precious, too fate-tempting, too big and scary to look at something and say, yeah. I deserve that.

We might pooh-pooh an accomplishment to friends; explain away meaningful project to acquaintances: “oh, that’s just a silly thing I’m doing.” Of course life is the unfairest gig around. It’s not exactly a meritocracy, but it’s not entirely a crapshoot, either.

Some things are just divine luck. Two perfect, beautiful, healthy children came to/through me. I did nothing. I just received them.

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty when I hear others complain about their marriages, or that their husbands don’t help them with their kids, that they’re not partners. Sure, my marriage isn’t perfect but I’m extremely happy and feel that we are a life team. Was I lucky to have met and married him, or was I smart to dump the jerks and pick a good one?

When a professional opportunity comes my way, I want to feel comfortable feeling that I deserved it. That I’ve earned it. That, yes, I have valuable talents, skills, and knowledge and that I’ve proven myself. I have worked hard.

Selfies: I'm sorry not sorry

There’s this quote that’s always floating around from Marianne Williamson. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it’s certainly provocative:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I went to something called Yoga Trance Dance on Friday night. I was tired, I just wanted to show up, get the material for my story and go home and sleep (for my four hours of blessed uninterrupted sleep.) I knew that the secret hippie part of me might sorta, kinda, love everything about it, though, and I was right.

We danced. A bunch of strangers, hopping around barefoot, swaying to drums. The teacher called out silly things like “Dance because you can!”

“Dance for the world, dance for a cause you believe in.”

And then it wasn’t really silly after all. If you aren’t scared to let others see you dance, achieve, succeed, say what you want, do what you want, you’re just stuck there in a corner. Watching the rest of the world dance because you’re too scared, not that you might look stupid, but that you might look like you believe in the dancing.

I’m getting old, and any embarrassment or wall of irony I may have greeted the world with is just crumbling. I lose patience with people who take themselves so seriously, who are scared to say, or do, within the confines of kindness and appropriateness. I’m going to dance anytime someone lets me. I will talk as long as someone will listen.

And I’m not sorry, or lucky. Just blessed.

 

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