Ho Hey

I have been guilty, particularly this year, of allowing myself to wallow in discontent. I have too often denied myself the simplicity of accepting where I am in life, and instead decide I wish I were elsewhere.

This pertains to motherhood for me as well. I wanted Jude more than I had allowed myself to admit before he was born. But over the past year, I found journal entries and random unfinished blog posts mentioning kids again and again. The theme was subtle because I was surprised how often I had written about wanting to be a mother without really noticing that it was quite an intense desire.
But when Jude got here, I lost myself. I found myself several times as well, but I mostly assigned myself ridiculous guidelines of when I should "have my shit together" and I kept missing them. I kept not being able to do the things that other mothers were getting to do. I couldn't enjoy long or healthy walks with Jude because he wouldn't stay in a stroller. I couldn't shower while he napped and take time for myself because he napped irregularly and sometimes not at all. I couldn't make my life look like a picture in a magazine, I guess. And I just couldn't stop hating myself for being so undone by motherhood. I wanted people to look at me and believe I was meant for this. But all I felt was that people pitied me and felt sorry for me, and perhaps even for Jude by proxy, because his mom was a whacko.
I'm still tempted to be disappointed in myself for ALLOWING the monster of perfectionism and comparison to steal so much of the joy I could have harbored inside my crooked little heart. Instead, I let criticism and self-doubt build a kingdom there. I'm still tempted to make all sorts of excuses for why I am a crazy pants Momma. But I think I will turn off the shame generator for a moment and stop justifying my every decision.

I was driving today, BY MYSELF, miracle of miracles and listening to The Lumineers. And when they sang, "I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart," I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be, neuroses and all.

I turned 30 yesterday. And when I look at my life I can see where there is room for disappointment. I don't have any kind of career. I haven't produced anything well-written in a context outside blogging. I haven't even taken all those month-by-month pictures of Jude where he is in the same place with a little number next to him. I am only slightly less gigantic than I was before I gave birth. There are just so many things I could choose to dwell on, to choose to mourn my lack of.

But I'm not. I'm happy with my 30 years. The 29th was definitely a roller coaster, but what a thrill. I'd say I'm well over my 30 year quota for being loved, feeling treasured, and truly known by my husband and my family and friends. Over the travel-the-world quota, too. I've already seen a lot more than many people twice my age have or people younger ever will. And I've busted the meter that measures the precious, cute, overwhelmingly adorable factors for offspring. Seriously. Jude just broke that meter into a million pieces. There is no measure.

So however often I've felt out of place, behind, out of my mind, and undone, I've always been exactly where I should be. I belong here, with my husband and my son. And my crazy, over-analytical, under-exercised, highly caffeinated, beautifully imperfect self. Ho hey.


It's a Wonder Tall Trees Ain't Layin' Down

Jude sleeps with me.

It's not a happy cuddly family bed like you read about in those parenting books and on blogs where both parents are just so pleased to sleep with their child and they can't imagine not having those little commas punctuating the sentence of their sheets. It's not like that.

It's like a bad dream where you know you're dreaming and you try to wake yourself up and so you wake up but then weird stuff is happening and you realize that you simply dreamed that you woke up but are in fact still smack in the middle of your bad dream. I used to have a recurring dream like that. I would wake up within the dream within the dream within the dream. And it gets so OLD because you open your eyes and you know you didn't really open your eyes, but you want to so badly.

Sleeping with Jude also reminds me of this other dream I used to have. I had it from grade school into college. Same dream every time. My sister and I are standing at the end of our long driveway and we are kidnapped by the mailman. He takes us to the post office, only the post office is a maze and it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to navigate this damn maze and we finally get back to our driveway, house within shouting distance when that mailman just scoops us right back up again and deposits us back at the post office where once again we must work to escape, similar to the way you are now trying to find the end of this sentence.

Sleeping with Jude was beautiful for about two minutes AND an accident. I did not mean to bring my boy into my bed. But nursing while lying down was a solution for us and then I fell asleep. I didn't bother to move him between nursings. Now I cannot get him off my breast. It has escalated into misery particularly since we've been back in Korea.

So. It's time to wean the child. And I don't want to and I want to. I most definitely want my bed back. And I most days want my boobs back.

There comes a time.


All of Them Matter, None of Them Matter.

I'm writing how I feel because I should have been doing so all along. I believe if I had validated my feelings by giving them a voice and giving myself a place to meet them, deal with them, actually FEEL them, I may not have struggled so much during this first year.

Instead of writing, I've been whittling my time into nothing. I have been feeling guilty for feeling angry or upset or discontent or frustrated instead of asking myself why I feel that way and what I could do to fix it.

I am angry and I often feel cheated. I guess I feel cheated because I think I have done so many things wrong with Jude, and every time he doesn't act in exact accordance with my wishes, I seem to imagine this makes my life terrible, over, and every bump "all my fault." My child is not a machine. Neither is he a pet that can be trained to do things that only please me. He is a being with his own will and very intense little soul. So whenever my baby refuses to robotically conform to my whims, I believe that no other mother is possibly suffering this way. And of course, when they do suffer in this way, they handle it much more gracefully.

My son is not an interruption, but so often I find that my reactions toward his behavior or needs indicate that I do feel he is a disruption to my otherwise blissful existence.

And here I am tempted to go all woe-is-me and ask how a good mother could ever feel these things. But whatever. If you haven't felt that children are the ultimate inconvenience, you're not a parent yet, or you're a liar.

I feel all these negative things. And I can get lost in them. Except that Jude keeps me coming back for more. He is so lovely and curious and sweet and cuddly. So Jude.

I think my main issue is that life is not Instagram. It's not a collection of perfectly framed, filtered, and captioned moments. Heck, life is nowhere on the Internet. It's in the minutes I spend wrestling a new diaper onto my rolling alligator of a baby. It's found in the bathroom, where I have resorted to using the tub like a playpen because I really have to poop and no, he won't be okay without me for five minutes. It's here, in my dark bedroom, where I am sitting on the floor because my son is asleep on my bed and five and a half attempts to get him in his crib later, I've resigned myself to another night of sleeping with a baby on my boob. This is life. And sometimes it hurts.

And sometimes it's too good to be true. That's just how it is. Most of my despair stems from unrealistic expectations. I don't know why I continue to believe I have a right to an entire episode of Parenthood with my husband and a pack of Oreos. Someday, that will be my reality. But right now, my reality is a baby who doesn't sleep through the night, or in his own bed, who doesn't nap regularly, and who apparently inherited his mother's capacity for dramatic breakdowns and loud protest of injustice.

In THIS MOMENT, I must embrace the moments of reading every book in his room with him on my lap. And yes, he really does look at every page while I read it and he knows what "turn the page means" and he does. I must embrace every moment of nursing, when he is almost still but not quite because he has to rub my belly or have a finger twisting in my bellybutton. (Jude should cherish these moments too because I am OVER the breastfeeding. For reals.)

Anyway, I should be hanging out with my husband because he just got home from work and I have things to say and I want to hear about his day. But instead I'm nursing Jude back to sleep for the fifty-hundredth time. Everything is okay.

I get angry and frustrated and feel like my life is over. And maybe part of it is. I have to face that. I NEED to face that. Jude needs me to face that. So we can start living. Instead of waiting for things to get easy so we can start living. Everything is okay. Whatever happens, sleep or no sleep, uninterrupted meal or no meal at all, pooping accompanied or solo. Everything is all right.

I had to write this on my phone. I had to stop writing this to nurse. I will sleep with my son instead of my husband tonight. I will do so many things. All of them matter. None of them matter. Everything is all right.

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