2016: a banner year, a line-in-the-sand year that changed everything monumentally, because it is the year I became a parent. Not just a parent, but a mother, which carries its own set of identities and expectations and idiosyncrasies. Artist Sarah Walker says that "becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live."
This was a year of making space and letting go of control. Of welcoming the sweetest baby boy into our lives, into my world, and allowing that to shift all aspects of what I used to consider important and valuable and necessary. A year of facing serious anxiety for the first time and with that, building up a tribe of support. Of saying no, and sticking to it. Of putting myself out there. Of writing, lots and lots of writing. Of failure, but also, great success. Of realizing that I can no longer simply sit back and assume slash hope the world will be a better place for my child going forward without my direct contribution.
So! Here's some of what I learned.
- I lowered my expectations in a massive way. Like, I wrote most of this post in a hurry while E napped, and then my computer crashed and I lost the whole thing, and then I heard him babbling to himself in his crib because apparently he only wanted a 20 minute nap today. Sigh. Then I rewrote the post, quickly, and it crashed again... and now E was really awake, and the post was lost AGAIN. Which means I could choose to get pissed off and frustrated about my plans getting "ruined," or I can take a breath, be flexible, and let that shit go. Motherhood has taught me to make intentions, but be okay with adjusting them on the fly.
- I drank a heck of a lot of iced coffee. Cheap to make at home, delicious, doesn't ever get cold and require reheating. Wins all around.
- I stopped trying to be so perfect. Because guess, what? Nobody is and certainly not me, and it turns out I didn't have enough energy or interest in playing that game.
- I wrote 30+ articles for The Everygirl and got promoted to manager at my day job.
- I loved breastfeeding but also loved when it was time to stop. Didn't love the mass attack on my hormones, the teenager-style acne, and the impact on my boobs, but hey!
- I experienced post-partum anxiety, and it was roughhhhh for about 2-3 months. Thankful that fog has lifted.
- I got my first facial and it was everything, even better than a massage.
- I practiced asking for help and then fucking accepting it without rationalization, guilt or apology.
- I made space for new friendships that completely changed my life, my sense of creative perspective, my #girlboss possibilities, my ability to prioritize, my faith in goodness.
- I valued old friendships that continue to be a source of strength and love.
- I cried over the election results for the first time ever.
- I came back to teaching yoga after maternity leave, and then realized I needed a much longer break, so I completely stopped for now.
- I said no to a lot of things, people and events.
- I opened up about hard experiences in order to better connect with others.
- I submitted three essays to contests and joint-applied for a local grant to support a photography/writing exhibition.
- I took hot baths, long showers, yoga classes, book time in bed, walks outside--whatever fell into the category of self-care.
- I heard "no" a fair amount, and didn't take it personally, for real.
- I watched my husband learn how to be an incredible, funny, self-less father and partner.
- I understood how marriages could fall apart after having a baby, and vowed to not let that happen to us. (The "ships passing in the night" feeling is surprisingly real and sneaky!)
- I RAN MY FIRST HALF-MARATHON.
- I traveled with and without baby: to my family's annual vacation in St. George Island, to Chicago three times (for a Kino McGregor ashtanga workshop, for a college friend's bachelorette weekend, for a holiday weekend with my mom and sisters), to Vancouver for above-mentioned half-marathon, to Big Sur for an anniversary trip.
- I celebrated one year of marriage to my love after a year of great change.
- I cleaned out my closet about three different times, and worked on getting rid of things we no longer used, needed or wanted as quickly as possible.
- I spent too much money on eating out rather than cooking, but I looked at my cookbooks a lot, if that counts...?
- I barely journaled, and blogged only a handful of times.
- I tried to be kind and open-minded as much as possible.
- I realized that the world would not become a better place without me, not in a self-important way, but in a "time to get politically active" and "make a difference" kind of way.
- I obsessed over baby thighs and dimples. SO CUTE.
- I tried to be a better friend to new mamas in my community, after receiving the warm outpouring of support after E was born.
- I watched E learn how to smile, laugh, sit up, crawl, eat, clap, wave, say "uh-oh," make noise, feed himself, pull himself up, and so much more.
- I relied on my family heavily, particularly my sister after she moved here, which was seriously one of the best, luckiest things to ever happen.
- I slept very little. Holy shit.
- I experienced so much love and joy.
Cheers to 2017!