Mom Guilt?

Taylor Swift released a surprise album last week. It was written and recorded entirely during quarantine. It evokes the magic of youth, the magic of nature, and the magic of scaled down piano-based production.

It sounds like if twinkle lights evaporated off of the leaves in the morning, instead of dew drops.

I have wasted my life.

I did not use quarantine to channel something mystical and twinkly.

Envy is a very powerful emotion. Many of us don’t allow ourselves to feel it because it is “bad” so we just pretend that it’s not there. Or we camouflage it with disdain. However, envy will help you get very clear on what you want to do, so use it.

I think some moms feel guilty for not cutting their kids sandwiches into shapes. That is not my story. I feel guilty for not finding a way to drop an album while caring for two under two. And I’m very jealous of someone who did.

Yes I know she doesn’t have kids, and never mind that I’ve never dropped an album in my life. Details.

So, nevertheless she persisted. I ham-hacked this song on my thrift-store keyboard using the voice memo app on my iPhone, and a very cursory understanding of GarageBand. It’s a 45 second long instrumental and I wrote it in tribute to my beloved dog, the Puppy Lady, who passed a year ago this week. It sounds like her.

I Will Let You Go

Take that, Swifty.

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The 4 of Clubs

Today I found a lovely playing card. The 4 of Clubs, which is equivalent to the 4 of Wands in the Tarot, and which is an extremely auspicious card. I was helping my mom move an old desk out of her new house, and to move it we had to remove the drawers. There, under a drawer was a 4 of Clubs. The drawers, themselves, were empty so who knows where or how it ended up there.

It is a good omen, representing happiness, love, community and healing.

I remember under the stove at our old house on Anderson street, shortly after we moved in, I found a 10 of Hearts. This is another extremely auspicious card. The first time I found it I was walking to class during law school. This was a few months after my boyfriend had broken up with me out of nowhere for reasons I didn’t understand. I was extremely depressed, but learning about spirituality and how much bigger everything was, as compared to me, made me feel a lot better. I had just started to look for and recognize divine signs. The 10 of Hearts which coincides with the Tarot’s 10 of Cups represents marriage and family and strong bonds. Meanwhile, I was quite far from any of those things.

But I knew it was a good omen.

A couple of years later, when I found the second 10 of Hearts on Anderson street, I was living in a house with my former ex-boyfriend, who, by this time, was my husband. I was either pregnant, or had just had our first child. Now we have two. Despite the madness that seems to be going on around us, our family unit is locked, loaded and thriving.

The 4 of Clubs is a card of community and joyful celebration. Meanwhile, we live in a time where celebratory congregations are greatly discouraged. But–similarly to how I was single as fuck when I found the 10 of Hearts the first time, I know that things can turn the hell around for the better.

The 4 of Clubs seems to suggest that it will.

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Really Important Parenting Advice that is Really Important for All Parents who are Parenting.

Now back to babies.

I’m trying to find a job. A real job. It’s been almost a year since I’ve had a real job, and apart from some freelance writing work I’ve picked up here and there its been almost a year since I got a paycheck.

I had a plan to study and take the bar, but then the C-Word hit and the bar got postponed and now here I am with no license to practice law in Georgia, trying to find a work-around until I can at least get a license which will likely be the tail end of 2020, or early 2021.

Until then, here is my break down on babies, which is very important for me to write, rather than looking for a job. Having had two of them (babies), and still having like one of them, has made me an expert. I am an expert on babies and parenting.

My baby is currently in “peak baby” stage which is such a joy. Before four months your baby is likely hit or miss, and there’s a very low return on investment. But between four months and eight-ish months, when your baby is very active, but still not mobile, is the best. You can just park that baby on the floor with a dog toy and do whatever else it is you need to do. Or you can just watch the baby entertain itself, which is a delight. It’s also likely that your baby will not need to eat as often, will have settled into somewhat of a more predictable schedule, and will be a little heartier, health wise. All good things that make it easier and more fulfilling to have a baby.

If your baby cries a lot during peak baby stage, maybe try to look inward at your own anxieties and your own temperament. Like I said, I am an expert. Babies connect to their caretaker’s WiFi so to speak. They will express outwardly and loudly whatever traumas their caretakers have and are ignoring. So if your baby doesn’t want to be put down, maybe look at your own abandonment issues. Like I said, I am an expert and this is SCIENCE.

Also, if your baby does not sleep on schedules it is because it is a baby. If your baby does not sleep through the night, it is because it is a baby. With respect to sleeping through the night, default babies don’t do this, and there’s no way to get them to do this. Baby sleep books are like weight loss books. Except you are in 100% in control of your own weight loss. You have 0% control on whether your baby sleeps. So in that way, baby sleep books are even more worthless than weight loss books. You can create a conducive environment for sleeping but that’s it. Also, I know this from experience and also from being an expert, but if you are agitated about your baby not sleeping they will feed off that agitation and be even less likely to sleep. Babies are hardcore psychic. Having babies is like an exercise in relinquishing control, so accept and embrace that challenge or you will really struggle.

While babies are more comfortable with staying within the confines of a routine, that routine should stay flexible or your baby will force it to be. But in general, if you can take care of your baby kinda similarly every day, they will start to feel secure that they will be taken care of. This is a very important trait to develop in babies. Insecure babies become needy humans. I’m sure many of us are needy humans, and we might have had a volatile upbringing to account for it, but that doesn’t mean we need to create more needy humans. Routine is helpful for babies, but it is also helpful for needy humans. Basically, it is a win/win.

Babies don’t care what you put them in, but you should dress them up how ever you want because that is part of the fun of having a baby. Before long, they will not be so amenable to your wardrobe designs.

Babies will notice if you neglect yourself to care for them. It will teach them to neglect themselves too, and is that really what you want for your baby? Also, if you neglect yourself you will not be nearly as good of a parent. It’s a lot harder to be peaceful, kind, loving, patient and understanding when you are exhausted, angry and frustrated. Having respect for yourself will teach your baby to also have respect for itself.

Also, this should go without saying, but don’t make sacrifices for your baby just so you can hold those sacrifices over your babies’ head later. You may characterize those as sacrifices, but they are not actually sacrifices if you intend to capitalize on them later. And that is also forcing your baby into an agreement that they had no control over. Your baby is not part of your ego, and therefore your baby does not have to accomplish things you deem worthy or important so you can feel validated. Let your baby grow and blossom into whatever kind of kid or adult your baby wants to be. Having a baby is rolling the dice.

Basically, there is no right way to raise a baby. Other than doing the things I just said, because I am an expert.

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Don’t Talk Politics And Other Life Philosophies

I feel like in this political climate, its so hard not to view those with opposing views as the enemy.

I have to continue to remind myself that, fundamentally, all humans want the same things; Safety, security, and love.

That’s it. All of our physical and emotional needs can be lumped into those three categories. And yet, the pursuit of these needs, and the failure to meet these needs, makes us feel powerless, angry (which is a cover emotion for powerlessness), and not worthy. It creates a deep inner hostility which will also draw outward hostility towards us.

Somebody should really just teach humans that whatever they believe, internally, will be continually reinforced and reflected back to them externally. It’s not the other way around. We are incapable of really taking in experiences and information that contradict our long held beliefs. Not to mention that the way we conduct ourselves determines how others react and respond to us.

For instance, if you were taught by your parents (through words and actions) that life is hard, the world is hostile, and people can’t be trusted. You will live your life on the defensive, necessitating others to become offensive when dealing with you. You will feel that to survive, you need to value your own needs at the expense of others, and others will become angry and hostile. You will buy every pack of toilet paper and meet with the ire of everyone else at the store. The world will be a battlefield for you.

It will be your own doing.

I feel like our president has an extreme case of this belief system. He does not feel safe, he does not feel secure, and he does not feel loved. He believes that one must always be conquering, or be conquered.

I grew up having people in my life who held and demonstrated these hostile beliefs to varying degrees. At some point, I decided that I felt happier when I didn’t believe them. I decided to believe that the world was kind, people generally wanted to help each other, and that there is enough of the pie to go around.

AND, most importantly, I decided to believe that, separate from any success or achievements, I am worthy of safety, security and love. I think our president struggles with this belief too.

Anyway, I’m a lot happier, a lot kinder, and– to use a buzzword–a lot more “abundant” as a result. This blog is my example of that. If I look back to my entries from ten years ago, I was a lot more hateful and snarky (which basically just means being judgmental — with humor), and also not nearly as happy.

Anyone, can change a belief just by focusing on the belief they want to have. I feel like they should teach humans that, too. I am safe. I am safe. I am safe. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. Your mind is like a bike tire, when it gets a little flatter you have to keep putting the air in.

But that does not mean I am not still fucking human. I get angry, when I see injustice, and I get angry when I see acts of hatred, I get angry when I see suffering that is totally unnecessary. I get frightened when I see political cronyism, I get frightened at the thought of my freedoms being taken away, I get frightened at the thought of the Earth getting snuffed out like a flame. Like I said before, all of the anger and fear stems from my feeling powerless to fix it. This blog post is me making a small effort to take my power back. To refuse to fester in a fearful, angry state that will only lead more fear and anger back to me. This is me putting the air back in.

We change the world by changing ourselves. And we do it with a thousand little intentional efforts that over time, gain momentum.

I cannot support a president who values himself at the expense of others; who believes that the American people are his at-will employees; and that he is it’s CEO; who responds to professional criticism with personal attack; who encourages fear, anger and hatred for political gain. Who emanates fear, anger and hatred, himself.

I cannot support a president who represents the kind of world I don’t want to live in.

But I can still support the people in my life who support him. Because I know why they do, and I would too, if I believed the things they believe, and therefore had experienced the things they have experienced. For me to meet their feelings with disgust creates an even deeper divide that ultimately, just reinforces their views.

Talking about politics is uncomfortable. It brings up really heavy emotions that are easier for us to hide from than to deal with. As a result there is an underlying tension, always, with those who have opposing views. This underlying tension probably always existed but it has been amplified eleventy-billion percent, lately. It will continue to amplify until we deal with it. And we deal with it, by diving into it. By talking about politics, by talking about race, by finding any subject that makes us uncomfortable to talk about, and talking about it, ad nauseum.

I write this knowing full-well that until recently I could not engage without getting very heated, and feeling even more angry (and powerless) knowing that I couldn’t MAKE them see.

But it’s our attitude that determines our outcome. The goal for these discussions should never be to change someone’s mind. The goal should just be to try to understand why they see it the way they do. Every single person on this earth holds beliefs that are valid for the reasons I have stated above. Their life experiences will have only justified those beliefs. And every single person on this earth, fundamentally, wants the same things you do. Keeping that in mind will lessen the tension, and lessen the divide.

It’s hard to have compassion. It’s hard to meet defensiveness with radical kindness, and radical understanding, but this is the answer for a better future. They weren’t lying when they said to “be the change.” We just need more humans to believe it.

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The C Word

This was a really popular share during pandemic 1.0. I wanted to share again, now that some time has passed, to remind everyone.

Where to even begin. Remember in March when we were talking about the epic brunches we were going to have in April when this whole thing had blown over? And now we’re mid-May and just starting to tip-toe back out into the world. While in hibernation, I hope you got clear on what it is that you want to see when you step back out. I have been fine-tuning my vision as this whole saga has progressed. Today I want to share it because to write it makes it real.

My vision is for people to feel empowered to make their lives into whatever it is they damn well please.

Watching the news and reading about politics very often makes us feel the opposite. This is why I only do it sparingly. Make my words, fear and powerlessness are the two most damning feelings for progress. Stillness, peace and love, followed by actions that you are inspired to take when you’re in those aforementioned feeling states are the most conducive.

My vision is for people to stop comparing their journeys to others.

There is no “right way” and there is no “wrong way” to live a happy, purposed life, dudes. There is a strong drive in each of us to conform, and to do what others do so that we will be accepted by others. But if you peel away the layers it’s because all we really want is connection.

My vision is for healthy ecosystems large and small. That means our own individual “ecosystems” as well as entire landmasses and climate regions. Honestly though, the minute we all realize that we have so much control over our own lives all of these things will fall into place.

My vision is for equal opportunity access to education, but especially the education each of us feels inspired to receive. If someone wants to learn about how machines work they should be able to do that, and indeed because of the internet they basically can.

My vision is for people that realize that the beliefs they have and the place that they resonate, will affect everything they encounter. As above so below, bitches.

My vision is for people that realize that the possibilities are limitless.

The mind is entrapped by what it has already been and done and seen. So it is natural that when we think about the future, we just project forward those things that we have already been and done and seen. This is not how the future works though, it doesn’t happen within our brain’s framework.

i.e. a Pandemic.

Don’t project the future, just be the future you want, today. Let the rest build up around you.

My vision is for people that realize that we are separated only in hologram. To help yourself is to help everyone and everything else.

Om.

The golden rule is still golden.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. This ties into the the above point.

I feel like so much of what we read or see is set up to make us feel depressed and powerless but its absolutely not true. What is true is that the best thing we can do to help others is to help ourselves lead the happiest and most fulfilling life we can. And we all have the power to do that.

I read one thing about the world on the news, but then when I look outside and see the trees and flowers blooming and contented people taking walks in the sunshine I see something different. I’m choosing to focus on what I see in the world, instead of what someone else tells me to find.

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Sleep Regressions

No.

While we’re on the subject of babies, because that seems to be the biggest focus in my life right now, I want to talk about sleep regressions.

My friend Avuhduhbuh teases me because I refuse to buy into the whole “sleep regression” thing.

Also, before I begin on that rant, I just need to get this one out.

Curse these types of moms:

Mom I Wish to Curse: “How is your baby sleeping?”

Me: “Good, she did a 6 hour stretch last night and then went right back to sleep after feeding.”

Mom I Wish to Curse: with a patronizing grin, “Well just you wait until the four month sleep regression.”

Me: [Internal dialogue] Well fuck you very much.

But back to the sleep regression thing.

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Postpartum Body Image Pt. 2

My vision board is 100% pictures of Serena Van der Woodsen

If you read my last post, you’ll recall that I have approximately 9lbs to lose in order to get back to my pre-baby weight. And you’ll recall that I’m damn sure going to lose them because I don’t feel like expending the energy to “learn to love” my current baby-bod. But I still benefit from positivity, and positive thinking so the purpose of this post is to illustrate to myself all the ways that I am making good choices.

Because here’s the thing– I will not get to a place where I feel good about my shape unless I can remind myself to feel good about myself, daily. This is the way the world works; your internal state will be reflected in your external reality, its not the other way around. Meaning that self-loathing is extraordinarily counter-productive.

So here is my pat-on-the-back, feel-good list of ways to like yourself when you’ve just had a baby, and you and your baby have just had A DAY:

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Postpartum Body Image Pt. 1

On your spare tires, that is.

Dude, its so hard to be female.

Let me start out by saying that through both pregnancies, I gained within the recommended weight range for my BMI. I think I maybe reached 30lbs, which is perfectly split between the 25-35lb recommended for me.

::And humblebrag over:: Because BOTH times, after all was said and done, and all was healed and over, I was left with 8-10lbs extra that I had to lose the old fashioned way—through starvation, sweat & tears.

Tonight I was complaining to my husband about the spare tire I currently have around my mid-section ( still +9lbs from pre-pregnancy). However, the spare tire is NEW, and I hope fleeting.

And his response was “but you have a beautiful baby.”

Ever the angel’s advocate, he is.

And yes I have a beautiful baby, but I’m sorry, that is not good enough.

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POSTPARTUM ENNUI

I do not have postpartum depression. I have postpartum ennui.

It’s been almost seven weeks with two little ones. Its been almost six months since I’ve worked. It’s been I don’t know how long since I’ve worn anything but yoga pants. Life is grand.

You want to know how grand? Here’s how grand:

On a day, which is every day

7am: Get out of bed, put on yoga pants and a shirt that doesn’t obviously look like pajamas so I can go out in public. Put in breast pump.

7:15am: Get toddler ready for daycare, get baby up. Assemble bottle to feed baby while dealing with toddler. Drink coffee.

8:15am: Drop toddler off at daycare–good riddance (more on that later), come home.

8:30am – 4pm: Drink coffee, feed baby, do laundry, do dishes, watch trash tv, tidy up, deep clean random things that I come across that need it. Organize random things that I come across that need it. Prioritize said things over napping. Tell myself I’ll take a nap as soon as all of these books have been dusted and put in alphabetical order. Then, find another home project and never nap. Feed baby, feed baby, feed baby.

4:30pm-7pm: Pick up toddler, deal with Hurricane Toddler while cooking dinner and feeding cranky newborn. Usually around this time, husband gets home to help. Put toddler to bed, pour glass of wine.

7pm-8:30pm: Try to drink one glass of wine while feeding and dealing with cranky newborn. Put newborn to bed.

8:31pm: Go to bed myself in order to stand the best chance of getting one three hour stretch of sleep.

Midnight – 7am: Get up every 90 minutes to feed/soothe newborn.

Reading this back it sounds worse to me than it is. It’s manageable, but meh.

I knew having kids would be hard. In fact, I thought it would be harder. I mean, I expected to be an exhausted, strung out, sobbing, fat, mood-swingy mess. And while I am more tired, and slightly more fat. In general, I’m doing pretty okay.

Except

I miss having a hobby I could be passionate about, or having a reason to put on real clothes. I miss having friends and family close by. I miss having exciting things to look forward to.

My toddler is adorable, but he is at an age where defiance is his primary personality trait. And my newborn, who is thankfully pretty chill in general, is going through a peak fussiness period or growth spurt, or is just not going to be chill ever again, who knows. In a broad sense, I look forward to watching them change and grow up (ahem… sleep through the night), but I miss having selfish indulgent things–like buying an outfit for a fancy event, or doing a show, or even seeing a show.

Nothing about having children ever sounded appealing to me, which is why I never wanted children until I met my now husband. I think subconsciously I recognized that he is the only person I’ve ever been with that would be worthy/ up to the challenge of raising a child. Even now it’s hard to articulate why its worth it, other than despite everything I’ve written here, it most certainly is.

I just refuse to be someone that defines myself, principally, as a mom. That doesn’t mean I don’t prioritize my children, it just means that there are other facets of me that I’ve always had, that I still have that deserve attention and cultivation and nurturing, as well. I’ve seen too many women subsumed by motherhood. I am in the thick of it right now, but my career hiatus is not forever, my creative urges are just finding new outlets that suit my disjointed schedule, and I’m maximizing the smallest opportunities to be glamorous (with a jade face roller, for instance).

I honestly think that I’ve managed to avoid a lot of the postpartum emotional strain by not being a martyr, by not trying to do everything perfectly at the expense of my own preservation. I’ve always put the oxygen mask on myself first, so to speak. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the bad-ass, carefree days of my old life.

Just not enough to actually take a nap.

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Its only been three and a half years, what?

 

Oh Hey.

What can happen in three and a half years? Sometimes nothing. However, in looking back on my life, I’m trying to find a three year period in which nothing substantial happened, and well, it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe now that I’m legitimately, like, in my mid-30s WHICH IS STILL NOT MIDDLE AGED THANK YOU VERY MUCH, but a more  traditionally “settled” time of life for most people, I’ll live a more settled life.

However, the past three years for me, since I last updated this site, have not been that.

During this time I have:

  1. Graduated from law school/started practicing law
  2. Got married
  3. Had a baby
  4. Got knocked up again (due imminently with baby 2)
  5. Moved down South
  6. Stopped practicing law
  7. Not blogged

In the next three years I have concrete plans to not move, not get married, not have any more children, and to settle it down with all the change.

I do plan to go back to working as an attorney again. I fucking worked hard for that shit, dammit.

But because of my current condition, which is something akin to this…

 

working full-time is not really feasible. Plus, in order to go back to a similar job, I have to take and pass the Georgia bar which I can’t do for several more months. Plus, I have to take care of a newborn. Plus, I have to take care of a toddler also who thankfully also goes to daycare some of the time. Plus, we just moved and I’m trying to get as much unpacked and put out of the way before the new baby. Plus, I am also trying to do laundry and clean and cook. Plus, my husband works a shit-ton so I’m on the hook for most of this stuff, otherwise it won’t get done until he retires in 30 years.  Plus, even though we just moved, I can barely move, so household chores, especially ones relating to boxes and unpacking them, takes a lot out of me.

But I feel guilty. I feel guilty that for the first time in my adult-post-college life, I am not working full-time. Despite being 300-months pregnant, despite not have a license to work in this state, and despite having just moved across the country for husband’s job with few connections or networking prospects, I feel shame and guilt in not pulling in an income. I am not financially independent.

I am a stay at home mom.

It’s only been a few months, but I am keeping busy by cleaning, going grocery shopping, going to Target and doing laundry, and then repeating the cycle. Except that’s a pretty awful existence, and I still like to engage myself mentally, so here I am blogging again to exercise some creativity.

I have to to remind myself that, even though I have less time for creative pursuits, I am still this person in gold-sequined pants.

Except now they are just covered up by yoga pants.

 

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