- Gritty, sandy eyes.
- I am the kind of tired that comes from lack of quality sleep, not quantity. The kind of sleep underlaid with worry and anxiety that are inescapable even in slumber.
- First only fairy lights, darkness, and me, moving my eyes around and between the dancing trees, no streetlight glow even.
- The wind is fierce, and I love the contrast against the rare quiet of my house.
- My dog pees blood now. This morning I knelt in a puddle to see it. I cringe and rejoice with each stream.
- Had an embarrassing moment yesterday when it appeared that I could not tell time on an analog clock. Checked my apple watch for confirmation. I’d had the time right but still turned red-cheeked.
- I’ve been told this is a thing now: children are not learning to tell time on analog clocks anymore.
- Not sure if this is true, but pointed out that we don’t tell time on sundials anymore, and no one seems particularly alarmed by that.
- Zoned out until the words on the bindings of my books become blurred, and all I can see are different colored rectangles stacked side-by-side.
- Train yourself to be a keen observer, I tell my students. Fight familiarization if you want to be become a better writer.
- My eye keeps jumping to the submission deadline marked in hot pink caps on my calendar.
- I feel asleep with Neko Case stuck in my head and awoke with her still there–the soundtrack to my nighttime worries.
- Each new day I assume will be the one when I get to put my life back in order.
- Instead, the same toys stay scattered across the rugs and coffee table. The same stray crumbs stick to the bottoms of wooly socks.
- Endless vet appointments, doling out medicine, new food, missed days at work, unanswered texts and emails, living in a bubble of just-getting-by each day and falling into bed exhausted but anxious.
- I need a haircut.
- I fall apart hardest without writing and exercise. Why, then, are those the first things to go?
- Yesterday marked one full week of the constant chaos, life without routine, and no end in sight. I try to settle in, our “new normal” and all that.
- I follow my dog around, in the daylight saving dark, with a flashlight, squatting next to him as he pees, shining the light between his legs.
- My son has had two accidents in as many days after being fully potty trained for months.
- Urine. My life revolves around urine these days.
- Shifting perspective: We have a house with heat, each other, friends with birthdays to celebrate, and a new Play-Doh kit.
- Though my son no longer sleeps with a white noise machine, the monitor generates its own faint buzzing, staticky sound; it’s own kind of comfort against my vigilant listening.
- The sound of birds confuses me momentarily. Is spring here? And then I remember winter is peeking around the corner.
- I need Thanksgiving. I need a reminder to be thankful. I need time to focus on just food and family. I need an old fashioned parade and glasses that fog over after coming in from the November chill.
- 4:54am. Daylight saving time has ended. And despite not gaining (much) sleep, I am thankful that it is ending and not beginning. Falling backward is much more gentle than springing forward.
- Time is an illusion. It is also relative. A relative illusion I guess, and yet the digits on that clock feel all too real to my body.
- This morning Levi will wake up for the last time in his crib. I don’t think I’m ready for this.
- The week ahead looks more calm than any I’ve had in a long time, and I recommit to more kindness, both to self and others.
- Dog with a UTI. I feed him antibiotics with a little prayer after each one. Feel better, my little fur creature.
- At this time of year I always end up missing Malone. Sometimes it comes as a dull ache, sometimes a sucker punch. Always I can feel the intensity of the cold November air on my face peeking out from under my green fleece hat; I can see the geese trying to gain formation over the Rec Park; I taste greasy spoon breakfasts and hear the lively (if, at times, heated) conversations over coffee and eggs. I experience the dull, quiet that is that sleepy little town where adventures are created from so little. I feel love and warmth and belonging. I laugh at insider-North Country jokes and cry over all that has been lost.
- On my bulletin board: a picture of a perfectly blooming amaryllis with a lit candle next to it perched in a snowy window. It is a picture that can instantly transport me back: back to that Vermont farm house, back to being young.
- Nostalgia is hitting hard today.
- I must have had the common daily struggles of living when I was young. Alone, I must have dug my car out of that snow. But I don’t think it ever occurred to me to complain, to get aggravated. I had no one to listen to me, and what would have been the point anyway. To have that attitude again…. Somehow I have become Holly Half-empty 🙂
- I recently heard Ellen Langer instruct: Notice five new things about the person you live with. I will try. I have been trying.
- If we are not mindful, she says, we are mindless.
- 5:49am. Still no hint of light in the sky.
I never understood the connection between moms and yoga parents (regardless of whether or not they even did yoga). That is, of course, until I became a mom. After living for close to a year in stretchy fabrics without the hassle and confines of buttons and zippers. After having soft bands of cotton-polyester blends stretch unnoticeably across my growing belly. No one wants to go back to real waistbands, dresses with shape, and shirts with buttons to fiddle with.
I remember the day months out from being pregnant that I was in earnest looking on Zappos at some jeans by a brand I’d never heard of called Jag. They reminded me of the pants that, as a kid, I’d sometimes see advertised in my grandma’s copies of Reader’s Digest or my mom’s Family Circle magazine. The ads where there are eight identical pairs of legs lined up modeling the colors that the pants are available in. The photos always stopped at the waist which showed off the elastic band of the pants. Sometimes you could order multiple pairs for a special offer price. As I child I would flip past the ad with little interest other than to wonder, who actually orders these? And here I was, thirty-some years later, staring at a similarly shaped pair of pants on Zappos and actually considering clicking “add to cart.”
My labor was over 40 hours, and while not overly complicated, my recovery and healing were both of those. I was told at one point that my “lady parts are a mystery.” I had a minor tear that never healed properly. I had painful granulation tissue that refused to fall off even after being cauterized. And I had a mysterious rash that liked to appear and reappear on my nether regions. All of this made it difficult to stand and walk for any length of time for almost a year. I was so uncomfortable that I become obsessed with seeking what little comfort I could through my clothing choices.
I would go to baby and me yoga and then just never change out of my leggings. Even after I shrunk out of my maternity clothes, I attempted to continue to wear them. I recently went to a “nice” restaurant in leggings! I had long resented the popularity of leggings (and everything else that was styled after the eighties of my childhood), but now I am all about putting together outfits that feel like pajamas but don’t look like them. I started following the Instagram account @businesspajamas for style inspiration. If it is not made of jersey cotton, don’t bother buying it. Stitchfix recently included a pair of jeans with an elasticized waist, and despite holding them up with a wrinkled nose after pulling them out of the box, I have worn them at least once a week since, and I’m grouchy on the days when I find them in the dirty clothes pile.
Momhood comes with lots of aches and pains. Long past the aftermath of labor there are daily headaches and weird shoulder and elbow issues from the constant hoisting and wrestling of little squirming bodies. These bodily bumps and bruises are compounded by lack of sleep and too early mornings. Moms end up spending a lot time in a state of minor discomfort. Why make it worse by wearing anything other than yoga pants? I get it now, ladies. I get it.
- It’s Monday again.
- One day until Halloween, and we are planning Polar Express rides and January birthday celebrations.
- The landscape yesterday was jigsaw puzzle perfection: rolling hills, white fences, red barns, and tractors.
- I felt home.
- I am so thankful for a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
- The amount of work that I am faced with is directly proportional to the intensity with which I do not want to work.
- I look around at my piles of books, stacks of notebooks, professional journals lined in chronological order and imagine what it might be like to have uninterrupted hours in this office.
- I can no longer spell on paper when writing quickly. It is laziness or something more sinister?
- As I wait for the water to boil in the stainless steel kettle, I survey the house around me: empty box on the couch, the helmet from the box on the dining room table, dry(ing) dishes piled high, dishwasher to unload, and overflowing laundry baskets. Too much for a school morning.
- But first, I write.
- And coffee.
- Fairy lights and soft pink glow of himalayan salt lamp, and I zone out.
- Last night we carved our pumpkin. I had not felt the goopy guts cling to my hands since childhood. I reveled in it.
- Today, roasted seeds for snack.
- I swear even my earlobes look old today–kind of wrinkled and puckered around the black stones that rarely come out of them.
- How is it that I become less disciplined the older I get? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
- I think it is because I now know life is too damn short.
- As a young adult I was a strict vegetarian, then a vegan, then a strict vegetarian again. Today I cannot stick to a diet for 10 days.
- Friday night I am eating pizza.
- There is “gutbliss” and then there is my bliss.
- I hear an airplane in the distance, flying against darkened sky. I imagine the people sleeping, reading, chatting, working, daydreaming while they look out the window at the landscape below dotted with tiny balls of illumination. I transport myself out of my own life and into that bubble world–outside of time, with the loud white noise.
- I hear her bag scrape the wall, as she tries to squeeze out the door, and then the bang of the door behind her. I’m flooded with relief. And sadness too.
- I check my phone for a text. Nothing.
- The tip-tap, scrip-scrap of my dogs nails on the wood floor makes me jump. This week we celebrated seven years together.
- The sound of my students click, click, clacking brings comfort. I am in my zone, and they are in theirs. Seeing them dive into writing and find freedom, thrills me.
- I realize it’s nearly the end of October, and I have not checked off the habits I was hoping to develop in my handmade habit tracker. I haven’t checked them off because I haven’t really done them. There’s always next month (I guess…).
- Days out from Halloween, and from there it seems we slide willy-nilly toward Christmas. Fast. It’s all so fast now. I will try to hold on tightly.
I cling tightly for a moment when I drop him off at daycare and then miss him as soon as I get back in the eerily empty van. I long for the days of maternity leave when we would curl up in the big brown chair after breakfast and read Little Blue Truck. And yet it was the endlessness of those days that also drove me crazy. As hard as I hold onto the parting moment in the morning so too do I breath in the moment of sliding into my desk chair, turning the lamps on in a particular order, flicking on the computer, getting my fingers tap tap tapping on the keyboard. I love working. Work is freedom. It is the reminder of the person I was before I became a mother. It reminds me of who I still am and can be after becoming a mother. Without it, I would be lost, defeated,
Saying this fills me with guilt. What does this say about stay-at-home moms? What does this say about my own mom who gave up everything to raise me and my brother? All it says, of course, is that I am not them, though I deeply respect them. The way I look up to the athletes on American Ninja Warrior. I could not run that obstacle course, and so I bow to them. I raise my hands up to them. They wow me. Likewise for the stay-at-home-superheroes. Fist bumps and high fives all around, ladies. I don’t know how you do it. But even that–that sounds condescending to me, though that isn’t how I mean it.
I mostly know working moms, but I do know a couple of women who gave up their careers to be home with their kids. They seem very happy with that decision. Very sure of the life they’re living. I’m assuming that, like all of us, they get to the end of some (all?) days and cannot wait to hit the couch with a glass of wine or hot tea and chocolate, but in general their joy seems to be a direct outcome of days spent with their child(ren). I get this, and yet, I do not want it.
But still, I celebrate the days I get to spend with Levi. I look forward to weekends now in a way I never did before. As much a stare at the monitor with breath held, hoping he will stay asleep until I get just a few more words onto the page, so too do I get a giddy burst of excitement when I see him start to stir, knowing that shortly we will begin the day together, his sweet voice spinning story after story for me to marvel at.
I know some moms who would love to be able to give up their jobs to stay home with their children, but financially cannot. We too are in a situation where even if I wanted to stay home, we need both of our incomes. However, I am thankful that isn’t something I want. In this strange way I am lucky (again and again. Luck seems to be the theme of my life.) that I so need and appreciate the balance of the push/pull: of the wanting to hold on and the relief of letting go, of the moments filled with the fun of childhood antics and the hours filled with challenging work.
Maybe this is the “it all” after all….