36 weeks + 6 days pregnant. That’s when I officially lost my chill.
It wasn’t as if things started off in an Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day kind of way. In fact, if you’d seen me just an hour earlier you might have assumed that I had it all together.
Sometimes they’re small things: I forgot to move the laundry to the dryer or I forgot to answer a text. Other times, they’re a little more significant: a work email that’s sitting in my draft folder, an invoice I need to send, the paperwork from my accountant for tax season. I’ll remember at inconvenient times: driving on the highway, brushing my teeth before bed, or while trying to fall asleep. Oops, I’ll think. I’ll do it tomorrow.
You know those things that just come naturally to some people? Like running or baking or hitting a tennis ball over a net? Well, cheerleading was not that thing for me. As an awkward 13-year-old navigating middle school, I really hoped it might be my undiscovered talent. And, after a week spent learning the routines, I discovered that linking movement and words and flexibility was not (and would not be) my hidden skill. Still, I went to tryouts and gave it my all. Clumsily flopping my arms and legs in the air, following the movement of the girls around me, and yelling to “Go! Fight! Win!”
On a cold spring morning, I stood alongside my aspiring peers, anxiously awaiting a glimpse of the roster for the upcoming year. To the surprise of no one, my name was not on the list. I suppose I felt the familiar kind of disappointment that comes with failure of any type. And maybe a little embarrassment too, because I had enough self awareness to know what my high kicks looked like. But more than that, I felt relief. I could put the pompoms down forever knowing that cheering wasn’t in my wheelhouse.
“Unfortunately, you failed the glucose screening. We’ll need you to come in as soon as possible for the 3-hour test.”
So, here I sit, one blood draw down and an orange sugary drink guzzled, waiting for step two. (And also wondering why I couldn’t have just had a couple doughnuts and a glass of chocolate milk, but I digress).
I cried when I hung up the phone. I wasn’t even entirely sure why. Partially because I didn’t want to deal with more needles and fasting, but it was more than that. I felt like I’d done something wrong. Was it the scoop of ice cream I’d had the night before my appointment? Should I have eaten something that morning? Was I eating too much? Too little? The wrong things?
On my phone, I keep a list of things that I love – things that make me feel like me. It starts with coffee and ends with deep breaths of forest air.
It may seem dumb, this list. Or maybe a little narcissistic. And it’s slightly sad to have to remind myself that I prefer sunflowers to roses, or that naps during sporting events are my favorite way to unwind on the weekends.
But I find myself looking at this list more and more, constantly adding, editing, tweaking.
I’ll catch myself staring down at the numbers, memorizing the content, reading them like a mantra: the sound of rain, library books, reading on the beach. Continue reading →
We’ve officially crossed into the territory of the countdown to the end of the year. Only this time around, it feels like there’s added significance. Because we’re not just closing out one round of 365 days and moving into the next, we have a whole 10 years to reflect on and finish strong before setting new goals to achieve.
I simultaneously feel a surge of motivation and a dose of anxiousness each time I see an inspirational Instagram post reminding me of the number of days we have left in 2019. How will you make them count? It asks. I stare at the screen, momentarily frozen as I try to come up with an answer that seems monumental enough to match the transition from one decade to another.
My 18-month-old saves me from the spin cycle of my mind by beginning to climb on the furniture. I toss my phone on the coffee table and wrangle him from the couch cushions, from there moving to play our favorite game of ‘empty all the kitchen cupboards’.
There’s a special kind of nagging, annoying, feeling of guilt that is unique to motherhood. So much that there’s even a term for it; aptly, it’s called “Mom Guilt.”
For me, and so many others, it sneaks up a thousand times a day: if I take 30 seconds to answer an email instead of playing with my daughter, if I spend 25 minutes getting ready rather than 20, if I arrange a rare night out and leave her with anyone who isn’t me. Mom Guilt is always there to remind me I didn’t come up with a fun Pinterest’y craft that week, or that she’s eaten mac-n-cheese three times for dinner instead of whatever colorful nonsense I see on those toddler meal Instagrams. And Mom Guilt loves to have a party whenever I find myself missing my pre-mom life, or wanting to indulge parts of myself that isn’t wrapped up in the identity of being a mom.
Earlier this week, a friend told me that my life seemed “amazing” through Instagram, and my first instinct was to laugh. Hard.
I read her message after I had just finished cleaning a stack of dishes that had piled in the sink. Prior to that, I had picked up no less than thirty toys strewn across my living room floor, knowing full well that the room would once again be a mess just a few minutes later. My hair was unwashed, thrown up in a messy half-bun, and my eye makeup was rubbed off from crying earlier over a reason I can no longer recall. Untouched on my desk was a to-do list I’d written earlier in the day when I was feeling more motivated, when I thought I might actually accomplish something productive that afternoon.
But sure, on Instagram, everything looks different.
A few days ago, I enlisted the help of my 2-year-old while making a batch of brownies. (Actually, they were cookie-brownies: the kind from Annie’s that is essentially a brownie with a cookie on top — you’re welcome.) I helped her stir the mix, let her lick the spatula, and asked her to scoop the cookie dough with a little spoon. While it was baking, we turned the oven light on and she stood in front of the door, alternating between patient self-reminders of “they’re cooking!” and impatient exclamations of “wanna eat!” Once they were cooled, she tasted her very first cookie-brownie, somehow even more delicious I think, because she helped bake them.
There’s a lot I love about watching my daughter discover things about the world, but arguably one of the cutest is seeing her get excited about her favorite foods. A few weeks ago, I purchased a pack of muffins from the bakery, eliciting a squeal of “Ooooh a muffin!” She’ll announce everything on her plate at lunch — “PBJ! Cheese! Crackers!” — and she’s become inexplicably fascinated with one of my cookbooks, asking questions about everything she sees.
I’ll be walking my son in his stroller, watching him pull at his socks and kick his legs happily as he woofs back at dogs in the neighborhood. I’m usually listening to a podcast about motherhood, nodding my head as the women I’ve self-declared as friends talk about how they do mornings and meal times and meet other moms.
I’ll catch a glimpse of a bumper sticker as a minivan rolls by. Something about dance or soccer. My mind will start to wander. I’ll begin imagining recitals and open fields. I’ll think of our blonde little boy chasing a ball. I picture buns and tutus. Orange slices and Gatorade. Cheering on sidelines and carpool lines.