The Mommy Trenches

Babies. The boyfriend and I have discussed babies a lot lately. Let me just clarify, I am not pregnant. And thank God for that. Still, as good a time as any to hash out if/when we are married, how many kid(s) we would like to have. It is one of those things you ought to have figured out before you say “I do,” otherwise there might be trouble later. So I guess you could say we have been talking about marriage too, but that is beside the point today.

The boyfriend has been very clear that he would like at least one more chitlen, maybe two. At the minimum.

And I am leaning much more towards one to two kids. I always said two, two years apart…but that was before I met the hurricane, before I found myself divorced, starting my adult life all over again. So really now, really just one kid, like one and done, as in, I am already so done having babies, I think.. And that answer leaves a lot to be desired in the boyfriend’s opinion.

I do not know what to say to him. The further I get from those early days in the trenches, the more clear they become. So, honey, hindsight is twenty/twenty and I am not sure I could willingly go back there. I cannot even read my posts from around that time, not that I probably wrote a whole lot. I know I wrote those monthly baby updates… but did I mention that one week I got four – literally four, one hour “blocks” of sleep – in an entire week? And he was up at least three times a night 99% of the first year, despite every imaginable trick to get him to sleep better. We tried everything, read.every.book. He always had to be held, and he was always so discontent, and he always cried. Then I cried with the worry and guilt that if SIDS took him one night, he would die having never been happy. So deep in the trenches.

Looking back I am almost certain I was depressed. This all screams depression with a bit of post-traumatic stress. Depressed because my then-husband deployed when I was pregnant and did not return until our child was five months old. Depressed because I did not have my village. Depressed because my dreams of motherhood were crushed by a baby who spent a majority of the first year of life crying. And I am not talking the “nyah-nyah” nasally, baby cry (and I know you know what that sounds like), but a full out scream from day one. I have videos to prove it. It was not colic. At least that would have been predictable, at least that would have ended.

I probably sound horrible. I am not looking forward to proofing this post because I know this is definitely not what moms are supposed to say about motherhood, about their children. But my experience with new motherhood was hard. What to Expect When You’re Expecting (and the first year edition) let me down. I know, and am grateful, that my experience is not typical. That alone gives me hope that if I did decide to dive into the trenches for a second baby that I would earn my escape much faster than sometime around the second birthday. I feel I am just now finding a new normal, just now navigating my life with some sort of grace. Diving back in, any time soon, would be the very definition of insanity.

But then… then I think about who I want around my dinner table in ten years. And even after writing my heart out on this screen, after thinking and talking about this for weeks, I see more than just the hurricane and the hopefully then-husband sitting with me. I see at least one more tiny human… at least one more. So who knows. I am really not sold on the idea, but do not count me out just yet. There could be another year of adorable monthly baby photoshoots to look forward to, some day.

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The Search

My work friend and I had plans this weekend to pick out Christmas trees, decorate and have dinner with our kids. I was looking forward to getting out of this tiny apartment, but she cancelled late this morning, giving a reasonable enough excuse. I understand, that this thing that came up was more important to her. I understand that our plans were not the biggest deal, getting a Christmas tree so late in the month when she is not really in the Christmas spirit anyway. But it mattered to me. I needed a friend today.

I am searching for my village, and I will be honest that I am not sure one exists for me. I am looking for my friends here, in this city that is still new to me, who are more like family. The ones who don’t leave you because their life gets too busy or because your life no longer mirrors theirs. Those close friendships that stand the test of time. The friendships that survive moves, babies, hard times, divorces… Not many of my friends from before are around any more. I do understand, life goes on, but being a (divorced, full-time working) mom is so lonely and isolating sometimes. I am in this in-between space, not single and not married with a toddler just hitting the “terrible twos.” I am just twenty-something myself and even with the years flying by now, life is so lonely sometimes.

Speaking on being a mom specifically, I wish just for once when my kid was melting down in the middle of Walmart, I would look around and see knowing glances instead of disapproving looks. I wish the older women at Panera the other night had not audibly tisked at me after removing myself and my son from the restaurant because he could not keep his cool. I thought that was the best plan of attack in the moment. Letting him blow off steam and throw a fit outside was so much easier than trying to keep him in his high chair. I wish there were more support, more micro-villages of those who know how difficult and draining it is to be a parent some days. The judging looks do not help. The mean, under your breath comments, the glares and stares, do not make his tantrum end any faster. Anyone who has experienced life with a toddler can tell you, giving in to every whim will.not.work. It may make the lives of others more pleasant at times, but it is not a sustainable parenting practice.

When was it decided that we so often have to go this alone, and how can I unsubscribe from that list? If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you have probably noticed I am not the type to fit in right away. I speak my mind and find it difficult to sugar coat; traits that seem to conflict with having a large circle of friends. But that does not mean I enjoy the laughter and company of a good friend any less…it just makes them much more difficult to find. I became a mom two years ago, and after a divorce, two moves and getting a full-time job, I am still searching for my village. I do not need your house to be perfectly clean or even fully baby-proofed. I do not expect you to dress up or wear your Sunday best for an afternoon spent with me and my kid. Just time and understanding, camaraderie and those little tidbits of parenting wisdom that might work like magic for my little hurricane.

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Edit to add :: I definitely have considered joining a MOPS group, but considering I work every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11AM, that really is not an option for me.

 

ps. Inspiration for the thoughts in this post via my late night reading of :: http://www.scarymommy.com/searching-for-my-village/

Leftovers & Missing Him

I miss my son lately.

I previously mentioned that the vet clinic I work for moved across town. A larger facility means more surgeries, means more cleaning, and with the same amount of staff (for now), it also means a lot of overtime. The extra money around the holidays is nice, but I miss my son. Daycare pickup has been pushed back to just after five, which gives us two, maybe two and a half hours together before it’s bedtime. And ever since the time change – over a month ago I might add – he has been especially grumpy once we get home. I can only think that he assumes it being dark outside must mean dinner is late and that we are starving him and he must fuss and whine and cry until food is actually on the table. But then eat nothing and of course, cry because he’s not free to run around anymore. It’s been less than ideal.

Before… I loved this time of year. The Christmas lights, walks in the fog, and the spirit of the season…and it is just so much different now with “mad at the dark” syndrome, the terrible twos in general and the pending visitation of my ex-husband. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas any other month. I suppose it might help to have put up a tree already but who has the time/money? I cannot afford to fix the dead home button on my iPhone, let alone put up decorations I have no place to store the other eleven months of the year.

Blah. My attitude sucks and I swear this is part of me working on it. What I really need though, is to get over this awful bout of bronchitis, and get back to the gym where everything is simple and nothing has to make sense for at least an hour or so… I need a real weekend to spend with Elliott. One where we can go to the park and continue the tradition of taking too many pictures for his birthday, as if the photos somehow capture and save the essence of his smile. Oh, and find time somewhere in all that running around to study for the upcoming RVT exam, because I am really beginning to feel like that is my next checkpoint; everything begins and ends there.

Until we meet again,

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Freckles and Being a Mom

I have not posted much about my little man since I stopped the monthly updates for the first year of his life. Over half of another year has passed and he continues to challenge my mom skills on a daily basis. Elliott has always been more. He has always done more crying, more fussing, more screaming. He is more energetic, more playful and always, always on the go. He is wicked smart. He can get his own cup, ask for ice, fill it with water and successfully take a drink before spilling it all over himself and the floor. He can buckle himself into carts and wants to “do” everything for himself. He is so busy and so much like the parts of me that I am still working on improving. But he is just a baby, so the tantrums and frustration are understandable and expected.

The first year was so much about all the big milestones, all those “firsts”… first time rolling over, sitting up, walking. First smile, first words. I watched his eyes change color from newborn blue to hazel, starting with a spot of brown in each. I watched him grow a little more into his personality and have realized that although he is not the sweet baby I had hoped for, he is in every sense of the word, more. Making myself see the world through his eyes has taught me so much about him and about me. I may not always feel like the best mom (hello, tantrum in the middle of a grocery store because I told him no, he could not knock everything off the shelf after getting the cart too close) but I am learning. I care and I try and I am here for him as much as I can be, given that I work full time.

It is not easy, thinking big picture, wondering how to better handle tantrums and best teach him how to communicate feelings he does not yet have words for. But then I notice something so small that my thinking is forced back into that moment. A freckle. One tiny, single freckle that yes, I tried wiping off in the bathtub. It was a bad day for both of us. Both overtired from him waking too many times the night before due to bad dreams, teething pains and whatever else wakes a toddler. Too much thinking put towards hoping the coming night was just a little bit better, all wiped away by a freckle that would not budge. And I smiled, so he smiled and splashed the water and showed me the foam bath toy starfish, proudly saying “Star!” And it was better. It all makes sense. The sleepless nights (still), the change of plans. The massive overhaul to everything I thought being a mom would be.

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The freckle and a fake cry. Ten seconds later he was laughing. I would share a picture to prove it except he promptly kicked my phone out of my hand.

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My Take :: Jamberry Nails

I really want to love these nail wraps. Painted nails are about as girly as I get, besides doing my makeup every day. Anything that could eliminate manicure drying time is worth a shot because 98% of the time, I chip/smudge/dent at least one nail the first couple of hours. I had seen Jamberry nail wraps a couple times across the internet and when my Facebook mom friend became a consultant, I got sucked into the “Buy 3, get 1 Free” promotion. Twice.

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Day One :: “Aztec Evening” an hour after application.

The first wraps I tried were the pattern “aztec evening.” Super fun colors, really easy to apply with minimal prep beyond what is necessary for any manicure. Application took me about an hour, chasing my toddler in between nails. I have curved nails, so I spent a good bit of time re-applying heat to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles. End result, so cute!

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Day Two :: Some damage from working with my hands for eight hours.

I am a veterinary technician and my job is very hands on. Scruffing kitties, examining dogs, prepping animals for surgery, vaccines, scrubbing surgical instruments.. After a full, eight hour day at work, these wraps had taken a beating. Most notably the top of my index finger (closest to cuticle) was buckling due to the curve of my nail and had lost its water proof seal. The edges of all my nails were all worn away like regular nail polish would have been. I figured the worst of the damage had been done and that these would still last a good while. Jamberry FAQ states they last up to two weeks.

This application did last ten days, with the end result being the picture below. Almost every wrap had wrinkles. A couple of the wraps were peeling up around the cuticle. The edges were very worn, peeling up and fraying. Removal took less than five minutes. Heated them again with a blow dryer and gently peeled off. Used a little nail polish remover to take off some residual stickiness. There are more “gentle” methods for removal including soaking in oil, but I did not find that to be necessary. Absolutely no damage to my natural nails.

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Day Ten :: Peeling wraps and frayed edges.
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Day Ten :: Even though these look a mess up close, I was still getting compliments at work.

I want to love these wraps, but I need them to love me back a little more. They are so easy to apply. There are literally hundreds of awesome colors, patterns and even some sports/sorority wraps. I read a dozen reviews before purchasing, and I do have to add that these do not work well for curved nails. There is one Youtube user who claims to have curved nails and makes these last two weeks but how she makes that happen just does not compute; not even after watching her apply them on screen! I have tried three different patterns and none have lasted anything close to two weeks. My Jamberry consultant Sara was extremely helpful in finding any tips or tricks that I had not thought of yet. If you are thinking of ordering, I highly encourage you to support a stay at home/Jam working mom by shopping at this link here!

In the mean time (and for those with curved nails) ice-water is awesome for helping nails dry fast. I dunk my fingertips in for about a minute, two to three times, a couple minutes after applying a fast drying top coat. That and painting my nails before bed so that the polish can set overnight help traditional manis last at least a week or so..

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Pretty Little Boxes

I want my life to fit into pretty little boxes and it doesn’t. I want to have it all figured out and I don’t. I am not sure if I ever will. I want everything to make sense, to have happened for a reason, but I can’t be sure it does anymore.

I need to get my tech license. I need to pay off my car. I need more hours in the day, more time with my son.

I see a lot of closed doors, lost opportunities, missed chances. I hear a lot of the word “no” with little explanation. I understand why Elliott throws the epic tantrums he does because life is frustrating. I’m an adult and I can barely hold it all together some days. I am an adult and I’ve seen my entire life crumble before my eyes, unable to stop it. And I am still here, still picking up the pieces sharp like glass, amazed that what little I had could hurt so much. I don’t have a lot to write anymore because it would literally just be this same thing over and over and over and over and over again.

I am stuck.

And I try my very best not to hate it. I try my best to pray and not worry. To be grateful for where I am, instead of somewhere else. To try to have a different attitude about it all. To just stop it. But some days, you just are who you are, where you are. Some days there is no positive spin to being so far from where you thought you would be and having no clue what comes next. Some days nothing works in my favor and it feels as if I must give up everything I ever thought I wanted to pay for my mistakes. Too much damage sustained, so long, so long..

Some days I believe everything happens for a reason, but that idea has been a hard pill to swallow lately. If I knew what brought on this funk, I would have snapped out of it by now. I am certain this is not who I want to be, but feel powerless to this process. I pray, mull it over. I am thankful for the bright spots in my life. My son, my sisters, my parent’s support. I am thankful for the boyfriend who lets me be completely honest without fear of being good enough. But still, feel dragged down by a weight to which I am not sure how I was tied.

I feel silly and embarrassed to publish this publicly because this is such a first world problem. This is such a Michelle thing. I overthink, overanalyze, and perfectionism tangles up my words. I am aware my situation could be so much worse. But I have always been blatantly honest here. This is where I come to be honest with myself, because as true as I am with others, it is too easy to live day to day with the pretense that nothing hurts me.

This is the shadow that proves the sunshine. This is me practicing the patience I so foolishly prayed for. Really don’t recommend that, by the way.

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Facebook Official

The boyfriend and I made it Facebook Official last night!

We were over at the man cave, hanging out with his roommates/the one roommates girlfriend and were trading stories of how we all met. No better way to bond with new friends than to share awkward and semi-embarrasing stories! The boyfriend and I had been hesitant to change anything on Facebook because word of our relationship would get around like wildfire with our friends of friends connections. In fact, a certain church couple spilled the beans before he had even asked me out! So now,  I am certain the exes family will all know in a matter of days, but being in a relationship with someone new says nothing on my parenting of their (great) grandchild or nephew. It is none of their business, honestly. And I do not know why I tried protecting them from the truth in the first place. Sugar coating is not exactly my style, so I must have lost my head for a moment there.

This is all a little awkward to write about, but really, have you met me? I now fully embrace that I am an awkward person, and it works for me. I am happy and sure of myself. I am having fun and feel like me again. I’m a lot more fun than I remembered being for a very, very long time. He brings out the best in me. More sarcasm.. more flirting, more laughter, more awkward pauses and always that good dose of overthinking.

 

Feeling good, feeling great. Hope you could say the same.

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