Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Girl I Used to Be

The Girl I Used to Be

She came tonight as I sat alone
The girl I used to be
And she gazed at me with her earnest eyes
And questioned reproachfully
Have you forgotten the many plans 
And hopes I had for you?
The great career,
the splendid fame,
All the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of  stately height,
With all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you,
And the shiny jewels in your hair?
And as she spoke
I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me
This slender girl from the shadowy past
The girl I used to be.

So gently rising 
I took her hand and guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping 
My babies lay, innocent, sweet and fair
And I told her that these are my only gems
And precious they are to me.
That silken robe is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity
And my mansion of stately height is love
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go.
And as I spoke to my shadowy guest
She smiled through her tears at me
And I saw the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl that I used to be!
~ Author Unknown 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The lies we tell ourselves

The year of letting go continues today, as I join yet another "club" that I wasn't even aware existed.  I dropped my first-born baby off at school today for the very first time. Now I realize that for most families, this probably isn't an enormous feat. For the Vandy Clan, it was huge.  Combining creativity with sacrifices has afforded us the luxury of not only avoiding daycare, but babysitters in general.  I can count on two hands the number of times that our little man has been without at least one of his parents. Today, we left him for four whole hours.  Laugh if you may, but it was a big deal for us.

I want to make the point that I don't think there is anything wrong with daycare.  I'm certain that many bright, well-adjusted, social people were recipients of great child care outside the home.  I'm also fully aware that there are families that choose daycare out of necessity. There are certainly days when I'm sure that my children would be better off with someone else leading the way! Give me a day without coffee and I guarantee that my children would do well in daycare. I digress.

The drop off was not what I expected.  My confident, chatty, playful little man was supposed to calmly wave goodbye when I left.  After all, he had been talking about going to school for days now. He excitedly woke up early to start his day. His new backpack ready to go and lunch packed, he was pulling me out the door.  How did I get from that moment to the current one?The one where I was making a beeline for the door as his teacher gave me what I'm sure what supposed to be a reassuring look?  The look actually was reassuring.  My son being held by another woman while he kicked and screamed and called my name... not so much.

Arriving at work teary eyed and slightly nauseous, I explained to my colleagues the emotional torture chamber that I had just experienced.  Their reply?  "It's good for him." I took that in.  "It's good for him."  I've heard that before.

"You let your child sleep with you? Oh, it's good for him to learn to sleep alone."
"You haven't been out with your husband in a year? It's good for your child to learn to be with other people."
"You don't send your child to daycare?  It's good for him to be socialized with other kids early on."
"Your child is sick?  It's good for him to be building immunity now. If not, he'll just be sick when he goes to kindergarten."

For a brief moment I told myself that maybe it actually was good for him.  Maybe it's time for me to push him outside of his comfort zone and to leave him in the loving hands of another person?  Maybe it WAS good for him to be with other children and away from his sister for while?

It didn't take long for my inner voice, my true intuition, to speak louder that the outside opinions and voices that filled my ears.  I've always walked my own path and this moment wasn't going to be any different.  If it didn't feel right, it probably wasn't.

Something hit me.  As mother's, we often tell ourselves lies.  In order to alleviate our guilt for decisions that we make, we sometimes justify those decisions with lies.  Is my child really better off going to preschool?  Honestly, I don't think so. I didn't go to preschool and I'm pretty sure I turned out fine. The truth is, I think that he IS better off with a stay-at-home Mama who does great activities she finds on Pinterest... all while the roast is slow cooking in the oven.  I think he is better off exploring with his Dad and learning how to grow his own vegetables or build a doghouse... or something.  I honestly think that if he was truly ready to go to school, he wouldn't be so upset.

The truth is... sending our children to school suits our lifestyle.  We don't really have a financial choice to have a parent stay home forever, so we need to prepare our kids for the what the future holds.  But, why the need to justify it?  Why try to pretend that it is good for him when I really don't feel that way?

Mom's are amazing.  We do the best that we can possibly do for our children, and when we can't do exactly what we'd like to, we lie to ourselves.  The truth is simply to hard to bear.  There isn't anything wrong with this.  It's our survival mechanism. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The year of letting go

Perfection.  It's a word that I've depended on for the majority of my life.  This one simple word has been my focus, my drive, and my vision for the last 34 years.  I've kept my eye on the prize for as long as I can remember. I've never taken something on and done it half-arsed.  Give me a project and it's full out, balls-to-the-wall... GO!! Heading back to school?  Not only am I going to go to the best-rated nursing school in the country, I'm getting that full-tuition scholarship.  Getting married? I'm going to find the best husband that the world has to offer. Having a baby? I'm researching the heck out of it and going for the drug-free home birth.  And if I don't get it right the first time, I'll be damned if I don't figure it out and do it even better the next time around.  When my life is ending, I want to look back and know that I was as close to perfect as humanly possible.

I hope that my opening thoughts are not mistaken for arrogance, as that's not my intention. To say that I strive for perfection does not indicate that I think I'm perfect. The reality is that I am far from it! The mere fact that all things seem to fall apart internally when I don't achieve perfection just goes to show how far from perfect I really am.  There are days when I fall into a puddle of tears and can't figure out why I'm crumbling.  For all appearances sake, my life is pretty close to perfect. But one minor slip up for me and it's as though my life is one fucked-up mess. 

This need and desire to do all things perfectly has been exhausting. Putting so much pressure on myself has taken such a toll. My mind is always in action- I'm on to the next project before I've even completed the first. I have a hard time living in the moment for fear that I have not prepared to make the next moment perfect.

I'm beginning to realize, albeit rather slowly, that I can't be all things to all people (myself included).  And really... what's the point?  Will my children slowly begin to perish if they eat one box of processed macaroni and cheese?  Will I get fired or be any less respected if I try to keep my management job to 8 hours a day? Will my neighbors or friends judge me if there are dishes in the sink or a load of laundry on the couch?  What good is perfection if my children are grown and I've lost the opportunity to make messes with them?

My mother used to frequently tell me that I needed to relax- that I was so high strung and that I needed to let go of the need to control everything in my life.  There was no better lesson learned than sitting at her bedside as she demonstrated for me the ultimate act of letting go.  My mother loved life.  She had so much more to give and she certainly was not ready to die.  She fought as hard as she possibly could, then she gracefully and beautifully, let go.  As our souls danced one last time on this earth, she told me that life is short.  She told me to stop being so hard on myself.  She told me that motherhood does not have to be as hard as I am making it out to be.  She told me to let go.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mother-less Day

Tomorrow marks three months since I lost my mother.  Next Sunday will be my first Mother's Day without my mom.  For 33 years of my life, I had someone to love and celebrate on this upcoming day... cards to buy, gifts to order, and flowers to send (although I rarely did that... mom hated flowers.  She said they died too quickly and reminded her of death.  How ironic).   And now, almost suddenly, I am a motherless daughter.  I have no mom to take to brunch.  I have no mom to send a card to.  I have no mom to call and tell her how much I love her.  As a result, I'm deeming next Sunday, May 13th, Mother-less Day. 
To some this may seem morbid or depressing and I can't entirely disagree.  However, I'm mourning and I have the right to be as sad as I want for as long as I need to.  My mother was only 59 years old, and although any age is too young to lose a mom, losing your mom when she is so young just seems exceptionally cruel.
Everywhere I turn this impending day is in my face- from commercials to newspapers to stores - everyone is yelling, "Buy your mom the perfect gift this year!", "Don't forget the person who never forgets you.", "Bring a smile to that special lady in your life."  The message seems more prominent this year, louder, in my face.  Surely this isn't true, but my perception is my reality these days.
Now let's be realistic here.  I did have some Mother's days that weren't the best.  There were some I'd like to forget.  Those days when I was younger and immature and the 'obligation' of seeing my mother wrestled the other obligations that I thought were important.  I think I even remember speaking the words, "It's my mother's day too, you know" shortly after becoming a new mom.  I'd be remiss to not mention that it wasn't all peaches and cream.  No relationship is.  But, overall, it was good.  It was better than good.  I had a fantastic mom and I was so loved.
Losing my mom has left a void in my life that I never could have imagined.  It's the simple things that I miss the most about my mom.  My mom was the ONE person who always answered the phone.  I knew that I could call her at 6:00 am or midnight and she would be thrilled to hear my voice.  I knew that if I was stuck on the side of the road or had a fight with my husband, my mother would be the first call I'd make... and I would hang up that phone feeling better.  I miss my mother's questions, "Tell me something funny the kids said today?"  With the exception of my husband, no one else truly cares what my kids said.  I miss how proud of me my mother always would be as I'd over hear my mom brag to her friends, "She went to Middlebury, you know.  She's a manager now."  I miss her smile, her smell, her hands.
As I mature in life, I've become privy to all of these secret societies that I never knew existed.  First was my induction into the new motherhood society.  I found a group of woman who all were facing the same struggles with being a new mom.  You would see another mom braving her first grocery shopping visit with a newborn in tow and you'd share that 'knowing glance'.  There was a commradery amongst us. 
And now, since losing my mom, I've come across a new secret society of woman who have also experienced the sheer loss and emptiness that comes along with losing the woman who gave you life.  There is nothing else like it and although others may empathize, only those who are also motherless truly understand.
As a result, I invite all of you to join me in a day of mourning and loss on Sunday, May 13th- our Motherless day.  Those who have not lost a mom may think us to be morbid and twisted.  They might attempt to comfort us with words such as, "You should celebrate her life." or "She wouldn't want you to be sad."  But we know the truth.  We need to live without a mom for the rest of our lives.  Surely there will be time to celebrate and to remember her.  But this year, I will just join forces with those in my secret society of motherless daughters.  I will have a drink and look through old photos. I will dig out those old videos or phone messages.  I will cry.  I will allow myself one Mother's Day of pure wallowing in self-pity.  Then, I will pick myself up by the bootstraps and attempt to move on.  I may regress, but I will persevere forward... the day after Motherless Day.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do I stay or do I go now?

... If I go there might be trouble. If I stay there will be double. Do I stay or do I go now?

To all unknowing eyes, I'm living the dream. I have an amazing home in the Vermont countryside. I drink my coffee in the morning on the deck as I listen to the sounds of the birds singing and the river gracefully flowing by. I kiss my gorgeous husband and adorable babies goodbye and I head off to a job that is well paying. In fact, so well paying that it affords us the luxury of a one-parent working household. I work in the fulfilling healthcare industry, taking care of those who are dependent on me. I come home each night to dinner made by my adorable husband. I drink wine on the same deck that I drank my coffee on earlier that day. We are not rich, by any means, but we get by... comfortably.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? So what's the problem?

Someone once told me that I am never happy. That I'm always looking for the next best thing. I took massive issue with that statement years ago. Fortunately, or unfortunately, age has caused me to grow wiser. Maybe she was right?

I miss my kids. Yes, these annoying little creatures who wake me up all night. The same beings who pluck my last nerve and cause me to wonder what in the hell I was thinking when getting knocked up. The same little people who have given me bags under my eyes and constant stress in my heart. The exact human beings who are so needy that the sound of getting in a car alone and driving non-stop for 30 hours sounds appealing. I miss those little fuckers. (Don't fault me for saying that, you know it's meant in the most endearing way possible! You have little fuckers too... and you know it!)

I just read back to one of my posts in which I was racing down the road to get to work when Gabe was 8 weeks old. I don't know if it's maturity or just experiencing the 'other side' of working full time, but I have had a total change of heart. I don't care about the vacations, the cars, the house. I want to experience the everyday. The daily nuances of life. I want to clean the bathroom, and make dinners... and grocery lists... oh how I miss grocery lists!

So, the question is: Do I continue working in a job where I am not entirely happy or do we sell our home and buy something much smaller so that I can stay home?

Do I stay or do I go now?

To be continued...........................................................

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Two years, seriously? Good thing I have no expectations

I really should change the title of my blog to Parenting without Expectations, but it just doesn't have the same appealing 'ring' to it. I fully expect that I'm yet to be discovered and certainly the title of my blog is a real eye catcher.

I'm not sure how I ended up letting this blog go for two years, but life happens. A couple years, a few states away, and two toddlers later... I'm back. I can't make any promises that I wont disappear again for several years, but tonight I am fully here. I'm all yours. Well, that's not true... I'm all theirs. My husband and I have already negotiated who will be taking which child tonight. He'll take Thing #2. She'll be up by 11:00 pm. She's getting way too attached to mommy, who is now working full time and is WAY too tired to be up for an hour in the night. I'll take Thing #1. Hopefully he'll sleep through the night, although it's hit or miss. Last week was nightmares, this week it's vomiting. Honestly, it's a crapshoot. My husband and I wake up in the morning and instead of the good morning kisses and greetings we used to enjoy, it's a game of who had the worse night. It goes something like this:

Me: "Did you put the coffee on?"

Him: "Not yet, Julia just woke up."

Me: "Nice, I've been up since 5:30.. glad you slept in."

Him: "Since when is getting up at 6:15 sleeping in? Besides, she was up from 2 to 3:30. How did Gabe sleep?"

Me: "He slept on the floor again, ended up waking himself up when he rolled under his bed and got stuck. I'm exhausted, can you put the coffee on?"

I'll never forget when Gabe was a newborn and one of my girlfriends told me about her six year old who was sleeping in her room. My self control must have escaped me with the placenta and without a filter I exclaimed, "What the fuck? Your kid isn't sleeping through the night at six?" She smiled with that 'knowing' mother look and calmly replied, "No". Clearly not satisfied with that answer I asked, "Will I ever sleep normally again?" Her response: "You will sleep normally again, but it will be a new normal." Um.... a new normal? What the hell does that mean, I wondered? Two years later I finally GET it. New normal = You get used to functioning on 6, maybe 7, hours of interrupted sleep for the rest of your life. Lack of sleep becomes such a way of life that over time it becomes your new 'normal'. Long gone are the days of sleeping 'in'. Alarm clock? Dude, the Things that wake us up in the morning have no 'snooze' button.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Now I can really put the title of my blog to good use!

After my 6 week writing 'hiatus', I'm back! I apologize for the long absence, especially to all of you who read my blog as religiously as the Bible. I hate that I've kept you waiting. I'm sure you'd understand though. In between working full time and taking care of my one-year-old son, you'd likely find me in the bathroom hugging the porcelain God. I'm not sure if my last post was a premonition, but guess what?? Yup, pregnant again!

When I wrote my last post, I wasn't anticipating getting pregnant so quickly. Who the hell would have guessed that it would take one time of 'doing the deed' to conceive? If you've been a follower of my blog, you'll remember my history of standing on my head to get pregnant with my first. This pregnancy really came as a shock... a pleasant shock... but a shock nonetheless. When my very-regularly-scheduled monthly visitor didn't appear, I was a bit concerned. I waited an entire day to take a pregnancy test and nearly fainted when I saw TWO pink lines. How could this be so easy? And.. how could this be so cheap?? (I had spent nearly $200 on pregnancy tests when trying the first time around.) Had I realized we'd get pregnant so easily and quickly, I probably would have made a much more concerted effort to really savor the sex!

I'm officially 9 weeks pregnant and this pregnancy couldn't be any more different than it was with Gabe. For starters, I've been hit hard with morning sickness. (Which by the way is a really ridiculous name for things considering I am sick morning, noon, and night. I think I'll stick to the official name of 'nausea gravidarum'. That sounds more serious, anyway!) This has been a difficult aspect to manage between work and caring for a toddler. While I would have preferred to wait to tell my managers and colleagues, I couldn't justify running away from my patients in mid-sentence. My husband knew I must be really sick when I started popping Zofran like it was candy. This coming from a girl who could be on her deathbed before agreeing to take a Tylenol.

The other aspect of this pregnancy that has been much different (and personally, much more alarming) is my absolute lack of attachment to this pregnancy. This isn't to say that I wouldn't be devastated if, God forbid, something happened and I lost my child. However, I am having a much more difficult time feeling as though this pregnancy is real. The moment I found out that I was pregnant with Gabe I immediately felt a new life growing inside of me. Not physically, of course. Emotionally, however, I felt as though I carried a special secret around with me. It didn't matter what went wrong in the world because I had a human being growing inside of me. I would often talk to him and sing him songs while in my tummy. I am having a much more difficult time wrapping my mind around things this time around. While I do realize how much more occupied I am now as compared to the first time around, I somehow feel as though I'm not being as good of a parent... already!! I thought that feeling only came once the baby was born. When pregnant with Gabe I never, ever missed a prenatal vitamin. This time around, I'm lucky if I remember to eat breakfast. When pregnant with Gabe I carefully examined every food label, had someone else pump my gas, and I slept, and slept, and slept. This time around I eat whatever sounds appealing (including feta cheese!) and I hope for the best.

I keep telling myself that this is normal... and I secretly pray that my new miracle and I are able to find some bonding time soon.