E is four months now. The last time I wrote about him directly, he was six-ish weeks. It feels equal parts like the life clock has sprouted wings but also has a broken battery; time moves ever so slow and zips on past within each 24-hour-slot. I think to myself, do you really want to do periodic updates like this, on motherhood? You're so new to the game; what do you know? How much online privacy should E have, anyway? Is it your right by default to share bits and pieces of his growing personality in this space? I don't have direct answers to these questions, but I ponder them, and selfishly, the answer circulates back to me. This parenting thing has rocked my world, naturally, and I'm a writer, so . . . I have to write about it from time to time in order to remain sane.
Finding time to write is damn near impossible. Just like working out and cleaning the house and reading and blogging and journaling and freelance writing and teaching yoga and grocery shopping and date nights and catching up on sleep. It feels impossible, but then I manage to carve out the space here and there, and I realize it is not preposterous to do these things--it's just so different than before. Everything I do demands intention and focus, and when you're running on minimal sleep and juggling multiple balls in the air, it feels like each day is a complicated game where you know you will simultaneously lose and win and forget your strategy and kick ass all at once. Then you do it again. And again. And again.
That part has not changed: the surrendering, the giving UP. It's probably the best lesson I've learned thus far, and I learn it repeatedly, endlessly: I am not in control and I am not perfect. I resist these two thoughts, and then I take a deep breath and accept them as temporary truth.
As always, yoga provides continual opportunities to confront these two feelings. Teachers, myself included, talk about going to yoga to feel good, and that's true, but the honest flip side of that coin involves discomfort. Really, your yoga practice, whether asana or breath-based, forces you to shove up against your limitations, habits, former ways of thinking, assumptions, frustrations, ego.
For a long time, yoga was a place of "success" and feeling good for me; I was hyper-focused on achieving certain postures, and becoming a better instructor, and getting stronger.
And now in my post-baby, new parent life, it is the opposite. I go to class, and I find resistance at every turn. I don't wanna. Ow. No. Stop. Ugh. These fights are not rooted in pain, but rather, just the fact that yoga used to be "easier" for me and now it feels "hard." My mind automatically categorizes it this way: yoga used to be "good" and now it's "bad." I know this isn't true and that's not how it works. I know it's just a new phase and part of the journey that'll prove to be a lesson of its own. But damn, it's hard to remember these things. It helps that when I'm done practicing, whether it's at the studio or at home, I always feel better, lighter, calmer. And that part indicates some wisdom earned over the years: I know that just past the knee-jerk reaction is a bit of beauty, but I have to surrender to the temporary discomfort to discover it. And I have to make the time, fully understanding that there's a whole lot of UGHH before AHHH.
People ask me: how are things going? Fine! I chirp. Hard, but, ya know. What I want to say is: it's so fucking hard! And so incredibly magnificent! I understand why some people choose not to talk about the difficult parts of parenting, because you don't want to be *that person* that complains all the time. When I allow myself to dwell on the negative, I cringe while listening because: I chose this. My son is healthy and happy. Look at him smile. Wow. What is there to bitch about? Nothing. But oh my god. This is so hard.
The point is, the two extremes coexist for me. I am trying to take both in stride, and most days, I don't know how to do that other than honor and articulate the fact that both sensations exist, back-and-forth, all at once, and here I am, doing my best.
- I like my day job and my coworkers (many of whom are parents) offer a crazy amount of support, which makes me extremely grateful.
- My freelance editors and yoga studio managers also offer kind, thoughtful support when I need to find a sub or extend a deadline, but I also appreciate that they hold me accountable to the parts of myself that make me feel like me. Even on the days when I'm like, how on earth will I get that essay done or plan a class, I manage to figure it out, and then I'm so much happier post-teaching and post-writing.
- I LOVE LOVE LOVE where E goes to daycare. This brings me such relief every morning when I drop him off; I never worry about him, which allows me to do my best at the office and makes the mommy guilt nearly non-existent.
- I'm more confident in our routine (even if the routine is sometimes no routine, ha) and in understanding my son's cues and cries (even when I'm like WHAT DO YOU MEAN, Bieber-style).
- I'm more resilient. Who knew that you can get a lot of things done on 3-4 hours of sleep per night? Every time I think "I can't do this, I don't have enough energy," I pause and then manage to drum up the effort.
- My time management skills have improved. I can get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.
- My husband and I are pretty good at being team players, looking out for each other, going on date nights, communicating, and giving each other breaks.
- Breastfeeding and pumping are going well; they're both a massive time-suck BUT we're doing it, so that's a win.
- I'm better at letting shit go and not wasting time. Getting ready in the morning? Dry shampoo, clean clothes, mascara, done. Running errands? Whatever can be Amazon-ed will be Amazon-ed. Change of plans? Okay, sure, on to the next thing.
- And most of all, E is a sweet, observant baby with loads of big smiles, loud giggles and intent curiosity. I adore him.
- Haphazard sleep and low energy. The worst. I daydream about napping and sleeping in. I would choose sleep over almost anything these days.
- Feeling constantly disorganized. It seems like I make a million lists and still forget everything.
- Our apartment is dirty all the time. The other day E and I laid on the bedroom floor and I was horrified at the crumbs and amount of dog hair on the carpet. Gross. Did I vacuum? Nope. #becausepriorities (It'll get done eventually. Someday.)
- Not feeling like two ships passing in the night with my husband. I used to judge people who said that kids hurt their marriage; I was like, try harder slash that'll never happen to me. Let me slide back into my sinkhole of humility for a moment because it is CRAZY challenging to stay connected with your partner during such a huge life change. Romance and intimacy require a lot of intention and work that sometimes we just don't have in a given moment.
- Similarly, staying connected to friends is high on my ideal priority list and low on my realistic priority list. I want to text and email and hang out and call back, but I just cannot fit it in most days. This makes me sad but I also trust that eventually things will even out a little bit.
- Ongoing physical postpartum issues. Nothing major, but annoying and occasionally painful to deal with on a daily basis.
- Like I said in my six weeks post, the endless neediness and the lack of agency to do what I want when I want is my biggest hurdle. I think these two things will always be difficult, but hopefully it becomes easier over time to accept them.
E loves flashing lights, music, dancing, being sung to (especially the ABC song, which seems so basic and boring but he is HERE FOR IT), attention of any kind, standing and sitting with support, gummy smiles, baths, being naked, being worn and held, touching faces, putting his hands in his mouth, grabbing things, flinging his arms around, staring at people. He doesn't appreciate laying down, not being able to see, the vacuum, the food processor, getting his nose cleaned and face wiped, people sneezing.
I know every parent says this, but as hard as it is, I wouldn't change it. My priorities have realigned for the better. There's a unique level of joy in being a source of comfort to a little one that you brought into the world as well as watching them grow and welcome the most mundane, simple experiences, like tasting a strawberry or looking at a fan spin. There is satisfaction in the realization that all parents face these struggles, and they all find their own rhythm at some point.
This week, we're visiting our annual family vacation spot but this time with our son. It is so cool to see him in a place that holds such importance and memories to us. I love to see his reaction to the pool and the beach, spend time with my immediate and extended family, drink some margaritas and catch some rays. And you best believe this mama is taking ALL THE NAPS.
Until next time.