For the past couple of years, I’ve done a timed word exercise to pick my intentions around a new year, and in 2018, those were family, mindfulness, solitude, generosity and humor. Here’s a short list of highs and lows!
High: welcoming another baby into our family.
Newborn snuggles, sibling love, time together at home, really being present, sweet baby giggles, hearing E ask about “his brother,” getting to know our new little person — it was all good and we feel very lucky.
Low: functioning on minimal sleep.
The hardest part about having a new baby? Sleep deprivation because it makes EVERYTHING ELSE much harder, too. Those nights/weeks where I was up every hour or living on 2-3 hour broken stretches? Tears. We’re finally in a better groove, but man, lack of sleep is the. worst.
High: putting a true pause on “regular” life via maternity leave.
I spent most of my first maternity leave feeling stressed and overwhelmed about caring for a baby, worried about building a new normal and anxious about finding some semblance of myself again. Those things are all legit, of course, but this time was different; I really hit pause on everything else (minus book edits that had to be done) and truly enjoyed maternity leave. I had hard days but on the whole, I’m proud of myself for recognizing that this would be a short phase in life, and consequently cherishing moments instead of wishing them away.
Low: feeling another layer of disconnection with friends.
A first baby is exciting and most mamas-to-be, including myself, are overloaded with love and support. When a second baby rolls around, it’s like, “Oh, you got it, you’re good, you know what you’re doing now.” UH NO. At least to me. I had to learn how to be a mom to a brand new baby, I had to learn how to be a mom of two, I had to adjust to my body changing and healing again, my husband and I had to go through communication growing pains — just to name a few. I appreciated every single person that reached out in some form, especially those who went above and beyond to do something nice or helpful for me/our family. It made a world of difference in moments when I felt isolated in baby-land. I also just flat out noticed which friends went MIA, ha. Which, I get it — everyone has their own lives and priorities and competing life stages — and I tried not to take it personally, but it’s hard to deal with old friendships shifting like sand when everything else seems to be in flux, too.
High: writing a book on self-care!
Get Your Life Together(ish) comes out April 9 and was such a fun, interesting, challenging creative and professional journey. Maybe I’ll write another one in 2019 ;) Seriously though, now I have much more confidence around book writing in general and absolutely want to write more.
Low: not being ruthless enough about my own oxygen mask.
One of the biggest lessons of 2018 (that I am still learning over and over again) is how hard it’s been to ask for help and wave my own white flag. It’s easy for me to give until my own cup is drier than a desert, and even though I thought I had been doing a good job of self-care during pregnancy, I struggled with it postpartum, especially after returning to full-time work. Like the days where I’d be up breastfeeding 3-4 times a night and be the first one up in the mornings but somehow in my stained pjs with messy hair at 7:30 a.m. as the last one ready. I also had to adjust to making self-care happen in shorter windows, like a five minute shower, reading half a chapter of a book, savoring a small glass of wine, going to a coffee shop for 30 minutes before work. It’s still incredibly difficult for me to put myself first, and I know all moms and parents feel the same way. But again, if/when I don’t, all the other glass balls I’m juggling seem to drop and crash more easily.
High: putting my money where my mouth was.
Donating is just one action, but since I didn’t have the time or emotional capacity to do much else in 2018, I leaned in to the fact that I had the means to give more to the organizations and causes I care about. At the very least, I could support the people I knew who were doing the work day-in and day-out.
Low: beginning the process of facing white privilege and learning about anti-racism work.
Here’s what I’ll say about this: privilege isn’t a dirty word. As a white woman, there’s no reason for me to get defensive about the fact that I was born into a “level up” from my BIPOC brothers and sisters in this world. It’s just truth. At the same time, I am learning how painful it is to confront one’s own privilege and how easy it is to back away from the work, because both are just so relentless. I started to read and follow more people of color in this space toward the end of 2018 and in a nutshell, my eyes are opened a little wider pretty much every day. I’m in a space of deep thinking about what I need to do in 2019 that’s rooted in action versus intention.
High: paying off $30K in student loans.
I know, right? Truth is I hustled my heart out in 2018 and put all that income toward my loans, with a goal of paying them off in full by the end of 2020. Or this year, if I can swing it.
Low: writing all the damn time.
One word: burnout.
High: truly enjoying life with a toddler.
Yes, “terrible two’s” are real, but honestly, life with a toddler is so funny! It brings me great joy to chat with E and hear how his little mind works. Like the day we were driving downtown and he saw a parking garage and with great seriousness, said, “The buildings are very… up, mom.” (Tall.)
Low: resisting playtime.
Any other parents out there feel like they’re not very good at playing? Same. I can handle blocks and coloring, but my imagination has felt stilted, and most days, that resulted in kind of inwardly cringing every time E asked to play. Not being too hard on myself, but I also don’t wanna be that mom who never plays with her kid.
High: lots of quality time with extended family.
One benefit of my sister and I having babies within a month of each other? Grandparent visits, and lots of time with extended family over the past couple of months.
Low: not traveling much.
As great as it was to be a homebody, I’m itching to go someplace new and felt low-level jealous of friends traveling to new and beautiful places this year!
High: a promotion at work.
In the middle of writing a book and being pregnant, I got a promotion at work to oversee a team of writers, a photojournalist and copywriter. I felt really proud of this, as I devoted more time and energy to my day job than ever before this past year.
Low: facing imposter syndrome.
The downside of getting more responsibility and taking on new creative adventures involved feeling like I didn’t earn or deserve the opportunities. I’m still processing this, but 2018 shoved me headfirst into all the stories in my head about being “good enough.” Every time I even talked about leading a team and writing a book, I felt the urge to point out failures or minimize accomplishments, and I worried about being too bold, seeming overconfident, getting more attention than necessary, making mistakes, etc. Yet another big theme to carry into 2019 for unpacking.
There’s nothing better than looking at your partner holding your children and feeling like you’re a team, that you’ve won some invisible lotto.
Low: coparenting, lol.
On the flip side, walking through life with your partner means doing things differently than each other (aka HOW YOU WOULD) and wading through constant miscommunications. Parenting is hard, man!!!
As I said last year, overall, I have a lot to be thankful for: a healthy and happy family, fulfilling work, a safe and warm home, friendships that challenge and nurture me, an ability to serve and step up, a current of faith in the bigger picture, and so much more. This life is a blessing, and it's an honor to share pieces of it with all of you.