Monday, October 24, 2016

I can finally breathe

I hadn't even realized it had been so long.  I hadn't even realized I wasn't doing it.

Of course, I mean this figuratively.  I've been breathing.  What I haven't been doing is thinking about myself, or my future, or the things that I want.  I've only been thinking about the things that I need.   To get through this moment, this day, this week.  Usually not further ahead than that.

Being a stay at home mom is very, very hard.  I've now been doing it for a little over 4 years.  I've had a couple other gigs mixed in here and there; I've taught a few classes, I've done some landlording.  But for a little over 4 years, my primary job has been taking care of 3 little people.

My kids are now 7, 4 and 2.  The youngest two are 15 months apart.  That was hard.  I have one in 1st grade, one in half-day Pre-Kindergarten and one in half-day preschool 3 days a week.  I'm finally at a point where they can play upstairs, out of sight, for an hour.  And not kill themselves or burn the house down.

Over the past 9 months we've slowly been getting to this point.  Emerging from the fog.  I've gradually started to take care of myself again.  I've started looking in the mirror and putting effort into my appearance.  I've started to be more conscious about what I eat in order to realize why I've gained 30 pounds since Teddy was born (30 pounds!! Ugh.)  At least I've finally stopped gaining.  I've started to exercise, and ran a 10 mile race a few weeks ago.  I was awfully slow, but I did it and it was a blast.

Now.  Now I'm starting to think about what I want next.  I have zero regrets about staying home with my kids.  I was so torn about that decision before I made it, but since I started to stay home I have not regretted it a single day.  But I am within sight of having the kids in full day school.  And even now, if I found something I was really interested in, I could put them in their programs for full days.  The idea of a regular, full-time job is a bit daunting, because of the hubs work schedule.  There would be weeks we just wouldn't see each other, and the kids wouldn't see him.  Unless I found something I was really passionate about, I can't imagine taking that on.

So I've started to ponder.  What's next.  Maybe another rental?  More classes?  I'm just not sure.




Saturday, January 9, 2016

2015: A recap























1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?  I became a working mom with three small children.  I became president of a volunteer organization (a local Mom's group).  I went on a girls weekend away.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?   I mostly kept last year's resolution.  I didn't really make any this year.  Some of my goals, generally, though: exercise more and eat more consciously.  Write on this blog more.  Establish more responsible sleep habits.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?   A friend of mine, who we used to be neighbors with, had her third child. I was SHOCKED when she announced she was pregnant, totally did not see that one coming.  One of DH's old high school friends and one of my old high school friends each had their first baby; I intended to make some quilts but still have not.  I don't turn them out as fast as I'd like.

4. Did anyone close to you die?  I really thought this would be the year our faithful old dog, Vito, said goodbye.  He seemed to be very sickly last spring, and I prepared the girls for this possibility.  But he's still kicking, laying here next to me as I write.  Thankfully, no one died.  I dread the day I have to say more on this bullet.

5. What countries did you visit and/or where did you travel?  Still haven't taken the kiddos out of the country, so I modified this question to recap travel in general.

Last February I went to Camp Du Nord, near Ely, for a Women's Ski and snowshoe retreat.  It was GLORIOUS.  Three days with no children or responsibilities of any kind.  What a release that was for me.  I will be going again this year and can hardly wait.

Last spring, during MJ's spring break, we stayed put for the first time ever.  DH's mom came to visit and it was lovely.

In May, the family went to West Virginia.  We spent a week in the mountains at a VRBO with some old friends.  It was beautiful and I would love to return.  The week was a bit rough, though, because we were the only ones with mobile children (one other couple had a young infant).  We were in a very different place from the rest of our friends.  They were all very understanding and seemed to enjoy our children, but I think DH in particular had a tough time balancing being a father when he just wanted to hang out with old friends.

Also in May we went camping nearby with some good friends, the Firedales.   Teddy and I ditched a day early, he was a hot mess and I couldn't deal.  The next month we went to a cabin with some other friends, and it went quite a bit better.  Much of last year, the theme was "Teddy sleeps a little better, but still pretty much sucks at it".  Survival.  So the cabin was awesome, but a bit of a struggle.

In July, hubs and I were supposed to go to Vegas for a 3-day-weekend to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  It would have been our first time away from the kids in 5 years.  My MIL was in town and planning to watch the kids, but she got horribly sick and we had to cancel the trip.  We were bummed, but there was a blessing in disguise.  Hubs uncle had planned a trip to visit, not knowing we would be out of town, and we would have missed his entire trip.  Instead, we went to a baseball game and all-in-all had a lovely time.  I still dream of time away with my husband.  For the most part, I've wrapped my head around that never happening, at least not until the kids leave the house, but I'm not sure that hubs has.

Lots of travel... continuing on....

In July we went to visit my family in Oregon.  Lovely.  Perfect.  I love it there, hubs loves it there, the kiddos love it there.  Teddster did break his leg on this sisters third b-day, but otherwise it was wonderful.

In September, we went to Alexandria, MN, tagging along on hubs work trip, as we do every year.  This year, though, was actually really fun.  I look forward to next year; this is the first time I can say that.  The housing was better, there were other folks with kids nearby, and I could actually participate in things.

In October, we again went to Du Nord, this time as a family, with some other friends.  It was DH's first time there, and he fell in love with it just as passionately as I did.  We are already trying to plan our next trip.

Lastly.... in December, we went back to upstate New York to visit DH's family.  The trip was long, and Christmas is a tough time to travel with three small kids.  On the way there, we were not sure we would do it again, but it was such a wonderful trip that we completely reversed that opinion.  So good to see extended family, friends we haven't seen in forever.  Lots of DH's family that had never met the kids, or barely met them, got to spend quality time together.  It was awesome.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I would like to feel put together.  In house.  In personal appearance.  In life.  Last spring, Teddy was still sleeping pretty poorly, MJ was only in school half days.  Over the summer, all three were home.  In the fall, I started working part-time (my position ended in December, though).  Which is to say: I felt frazzled all the time.

But now, finally, a week into January 2016, I actually feel things coming together.  MJ is in school full days, G is in school three mornings a week.  Just the ease of grocery shopping with one (fairly well behaved) child is magical.  My house is cleaner (about as clean as it is realistically likely to get.... past a point, I just don't care enough.)  It's almost overwhelming.  I'm rediscovering what one can accomplish when one has time.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don't remember particular dates.  But the Paris Terrorist attack stuck in my memory, unfortunately.  This is the first year I've actually read this as more than just personal events.... probably says something about my life.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being a working mother of three.  The logistical challenges were many.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't want to say "I didn't have any", but I don't think anything I consider major.  The things that have plagued me in the past, such as patience with the children, were markedly improved this year.  I established some strong routines and things got better.

The thing that nags me, though, is my inability to lose weight.  It has actually gone UP this year.  It mostly perplexes me.  I feel like I am more active and eat better than I used to, so I really don't understand where it's coming from.  Age?  I guess.  I refuse to "diet", other than to just try to eat healthy.  I don't eat many processed foods, and when I've tried to actively lose weight in the past it just robbed me of energy to deal with the littles.  Doesn't seem worth it.  Furthermore, I refuse to introduce my children to this concept.  Body image is so, so fragile for young girls.  I will focus my energy, for me, and for them, on eating healthy and staying active, and let the chips fall where they may.  Now I just need to accept that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not particularly.  We had a lot of stomach viruses this past fall, it felt like one after another.  Teddster broke his leg (a buckle fracture of his tibia) when I went down a slide with him and G (I should have known better.... this will be something that our children will be horrified we ever did).  Hubs came down with anaplasmosis last summer (from a tick bite while camping); it was terrifying to see him so ill.  Last thing that comes to mind was some dental work at the end of December.  I experienced real-deal PTSD, flashbacks to having my wisdom teeth removed.  Perhaps a story for another time.  But I almost passed out at the Dentist having a filling.  It was awful, but it went fine in the end.

11. What was the best thing you bought?  

This one is easy.  Two things.
1) my sewing machine.  I am in love with it.  I don't use the free motion foot as much as I thought I would, but love it nonetheless.  I didn't realize how bad my old one was until I got this one.
2)  a cordless dyson.  Even hubs agrees on this one.  It is so phenomenal how much dirt this thing picks up.  I now vacuum almost every day, because it is so easy to do.  It has made such a difference in the cleanliness of our house.  I only wish I had it before the littles started crawling.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
In the past, I've read other peoples surveys, and they often say "their husband".  I haven't felt that impulse in the past.  Not that he was bad, but not above and beyond.  Maybe working too much, or tired and grumpy, etc.  This year, though, I feel it.  Wholeheartedly.  He stepped it up and it made a huge difference.  It started last summer.  He had been particularly grumpy, and we had a very heart felt conversation after his anaplasmosis bout.  He turned it around.  He vowed to be a better husband, and it happened.  Then, in the fall, when I started working again, I just couldn't keep up with the amount of child rearing.  I needed him to step in, even though I knew he was super busy, and he did, gracefully and cheerfully most of the time.  I feel like this was the year he vowed to be a better husband, and it was wonderful.  I feel like it has strengthened our marriage a ton.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  Donald Trump.


14. Where did most of your money go?   Our mortgage and savings.  But, apart from that, travel.  It is always travel.  I am okay with that.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  Sewing.  And quilting.  I know that makes me a geek, but I love it.  I love creating things.  I love that I can do it easily when the kids are around.    I didn't sew much over the summer, and I worried I had fallen out of love with it, but when the weather turned cold it came flooding back.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
I am so removed from popular culture.  I can't think of any new songs, at all.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– Happier or sadder?
Happier.  Probably because I'm getting better sleep.  I continue to nap when the kids nap and stay up way too late, but I will never adjust to 5:00 am wake ups, and it's how I stay sane.  It's worked for well over a year now, and I don't see it ever ending.  I was worried, when I working, that it would be a problem.  It wasn't.  The kids wear me out to such an extent that I NEED a nap when I'm with them.  I can get by without one when they're not around.

– Thinner or fatter?
Fatter, as mentioned above.  But fat and happy is not so bad.

– Richer or poorer?
Richer.  Thanks to hubs choosing a great career, and some added bonus from me working.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Playing with the kids.  Valuing these fleeting moments.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing.


20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Binghamton.  With my MIL and BIL, and some lovely extended family.  It was so warm we comfortably grilled (spiedies) outside.  Greta dragged her presents into the other room to open them by herself.  Teddy didn't quite understand the point of it all, but loved it.  MJ was fully in the throes of Santa questioning.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With my husband.  I feel like we are more of a team than we've ever been.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched Game of Thrones this year (still haven't finished it).  I love the series that hubs and I watch together, which are few.  We just finished Fargo Season 2, and earlier we watched House of Cards.   Still love Downton.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Donald Trump.

24. What was the best book you read?
Trying to remember what I read this year.  Not a lot, a lot of spare time spent sewing.  Magical art of tidying up was impactful.   Also Defending Jacob.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? MJ and I listened to the Nutcracker a lot.

26. What did you want and get?

A sewing machine.

27. What did you want and not get?
I am blessed.  Nothing of significance.  Except a 10th anniversary celebration, I suppose.

28. What was your favorite film this year?
Umm... didn't watch many.  James Bond, it was fine.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Met up with friends at a couple bars.  I LOVE spending time with adults on date nights.  Real conversations, not interrupted by children.  It was amazing and lovely.

30. What is one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A housekeeper.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Wear what I feel good in.  Inspired by Kon Marie.  I cleansed my closet (didn't get a lot further than that).  I bought a few more pieces, and have given myself permission to get rid of things I don't feel good in.  It has been good.  I have also discovered I like neutral colored clothing; I love bright colors on other people, and as accent pieces, but have come to realize I never actually wear them if I buy them.  This has gone a long way towards insuring that I don't buy things I don't wear.

32. What kept you sane? Sewing.  Wine.  My husband.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  Umm.... I don't know.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?  Gun violence.  And Black Lives Matter.  I'm not a fan of things that disrupt people just trying to live their lives.

35. Who did you miss?  My Mom.

36. Who was the best new person you met?  Anastasia.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015
Parenting efforts in the early years pay dividends years later.  But they're worth it.  I'm starting to see our efforts in teaching MJ politeness and helpfulness fully come to fruition.

Loyalty in a life partner is far more important than I ever realized.

It boggles my mind that my 20-yr-old clueless self was so astute at picking a life partner.