Live with Focus

There are a million things I’d like to accomplish this year. I’d like to get outside more, save all my money, make all my food from scratch, establish a thriving garden, excell at my job, concentrate on making my time at home quality time with my family, write more often, put myself out of my comfort zone, go hiking, get back in shape, travel to new places and so on. But let’s get real. A year may seem like a long time but days and weeks pass by in the blink of an eye. The year that we have a brand new baby is not the year for lofty goals. It is not the year I’ll hike the Applachian Trail or start making my own pasta. It’s a year to soak in this time with baby Haines and survive our lack of sleep.

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But how do I stop making pies?!

 

Regardless I am the time of person who creates goals. I need focus and plans to guide me. This is most likely a fault that speaks to me being a control freak but…one thing at a time. This year we spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital so it was not a time for a resolutions (although how about no more trips to the hospital in 2017?!). My time at home on maternity leave was a foggy blur of sleeplessness and long walks. I’m back at work and back in a routine and starting to find a tiny sense of focus.

I really just want to use my time wisely and purposely. I don’t mean that I won’t watch TV or check my Instagram feed (FYI- taking Facebook off my phone was a great choice) but I don’t want to let myself get lost in it. I’m going to make my lunch for work at night so I can enjoy my baby cuddles in the morning without stressing. I’m going to go out with friends or go off by myself so that I can come back and better appreciate and be more present in my time with my family.

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This guy is pretty hard to resist.

 

To keep my focus I’ve determined 4 activities/goals.

Me: Be Patient

It starts with me. I want to have more patience with myself and others. I don’t need to accomplish everything today. Like many women, I put an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself to excel and worse, be perfect. It’s past time to get rid of that inclination. Time to slow down, communicate more often and more kindly.

Community: Get Involved

Contributing to  my community has always been important to me but often it gets pushed to the back burner. I need to move this up the priority list. It’s a value that I want to impart onto Haines and there’s only one way to do that.

Finance: Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress

It’s well known in my family that I put a large focus on financial security (some might say too much…) and I’ve let it cause my unnecessary stress in the past. While I don’t want to do that I do want to get to the point where we are making more strategic decisions when it comes to our finances and reducing our debt.

Travel:

This isn’t a deep and life-changing goal but getting outside my immediate surroundings has always proved to be key for my sanity. The one thing I’ve wanted to do since returning to North Carolina was visit the mountains in the fall. So far two falls have passed and we haven’t made it. This is the year! Fall leaves, I won’t miss you this time! It’s also a part of my home state that Haines won’t get as much exposure to in our beach town and I want him to see all the beauty of our state.

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Winter in Wilmington, NC

Love for the One I Love

I feel bad for fathers. Well, not usually. At this particular point in parenting when we are figuring everything out I often feel I am taking on the heavier load in childcare. I’ve told Tyler before that sometimes I resent him between 10pm and 7am when he’s snoozing away and I wake at every little baby noise. (I don’t know if it’s connected but he’s begun to be more aware at night. Ha! )Perhaps dad radar must be developed while mom radar turns on the moment the child enters the world and instead must be fine-tuned. Dear ears, please stop waking me up for his every little noise!

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I’ve heard recently men say they found the first months of fatherhood easier than expected. It hurt me to hear that. My hormones are all over the place which has put my emotions on a constant rollercoaster (because pregnancy hormones weren’t enough??). Although we just recently crossed into six-hour stretches of sleep with our baby, previously I hadn’t slept through the nights in months just due to how incredibly hard it is to get rest at a certain point in pregnancy. Also, six hours never feels like enough. During the day I am breastfeeding or pumping every two hours. If I naively think I can skip a pump I am engorged, leaking, and wildly uncomfortable. Plus there’s the stress of finding daycare and preparing to go back to work after my 12 weeks of leave. So, this is all easy for dads*? I recognize that some burdens are difficult to share, but in any context in which your partner is struggling you should find a way to support them. That’s what partners do. For example, I am typing this while I sip a chai latte at a coffee shop. I am all by my lonesome and plan to be here as long as I want. Thank you, baby daddy, for recognizing the importance of this and many other things.

*In the context of this blog I am referring to fathers involved with heterosexual relationships involving childbirth as that’s the family dynamic I’m involved in. 

Fathers do seem to miss out on one of the best parts of becoming a parent I’ve experienced thus far- community. I don’t see men reaching out the way women do to lend a hand or check in on their friends who are new parents (perhaps because life with newborns is so damn easy?!) The women in my life, childless or mothers, have reached out time and time again to bring me what I’ve needed most: company and an extra set of hands. Over the last month we’ve benefited from multiple meals a week from my coworkers easing our days and giving us extra time to enjoy with our newly expanded family. Every week I’ve gotten texts just touching base and saying hi, helping connect me back to the world. In the last few weeks I’ve had visitors from across the state, the country and even Canada.

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Wilmington friends loving on this little one. 

The fact that they would take time off work, rearrange their plans, and pay for plane tickets all to see us and our little one is so incredibly wonderful in itself. I hadn’t expected how incredibly special it would feel to watch my friends interact with Haines, but every cuddle and smile goes straight to my heart. Watching them show love for the one I love takes all my words away.

There have been times over the past  year that I have felt far away from my core support group but these are just a few of the friends who have worked to make the distance smaller. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

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Hiding under this blanket is a baby who hates the sun.

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So much love all the way from Texas. 

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College roomies out for a boat ride with a baby who is not sure what to think of us. 

 

Nesting

I got into the whole pregnancy nesting thing a bit late in the game. At least that’s what it feels like. Fellow blogger Graylin Porter has been posting pictures of her adorable nursery and she’s still got months left! My mother and friends have been asking after the baby’s room since this summer. I guess it’s just safe to say I didn’t rush the process.

Whenever asked I say that the nursery is “adventure themed” but it has as much of a theme as our wedding did. Our wedding theme was “fun.” People really love a theme though, so there you go! It was really cool to incorporate a print of a US map I got for Christmas last year. Tyler’s grandfather’s hobby was framing and we were able to use one of his frames for it. The hot air balloon Tyler gave me for my birthday looks perfect with it.

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The most special part has to be the baby blanket that Tyler’s mom made though. It’s absolutely incredible. She made it by hand while living on her sailboat in Central America. It’s perfect for our soon-to-be beach baby. If there’s one thing I don’t doubt, it’s that this kid will be a total fish (his/her father might not make it otherwise). My mom bought these sweet notecards that she framed to go with the blanket.

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The best, best part of the room? All the generosity that got it here. We’ve been so incredibly lucky by receiving tons of hand-me-down baby items while also being able to repurpose other furniture. This dresser/changing table? That’s from my nursery! Tyler had been using it as a dresser but he was forced to give it up (I don’t think he minded).

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This crib? A gift from a coworker whose children are too old for it. And these are just the big pieces. In the closet and dresser are all sorts of little items that have been passed down to me. Almost every piece of clothing I wear right now is the same.

These are the things that remind of the community of love that surrounds this little one. Displaying them for him or her is the most fun of all. I really look forward to being able to share this generosity with others when the time comes as well. It’s been the hidden surprise to all of this- how glad others are to help and how they go out of their way to do so. Pay it forward!

Community

No matter where you live, if you live in the US, it’s been a weird week. No matter what the outcome of the election on Tuesday, I wasn’t expecting the country to feel united but I didn’t anticipate just how divided things would be. Election anxiety relief? Um, no.

But Thursday night I went to prenatal yoga, one of my coping mechanisms for the third trimester, and found that the theme this month for the yoga studio is community. One of the parts of yoga that I’ve always struggled with is the mantras and the readings the teachers give that encourage us to dive deeper into our consciousness. This- not so much. The idea of community always resonates around November as we turn our focus to being thankful but the election certainly takes it to the next level.

I am a member of many communities. With some I am proud to say I am an active member, others clearly more passive. Some I chose to be a part of, others by chance.

I was born into my family, a chance occurrence for which I am grateful where I also choose to be an active member. This isn’t the best choice for everyone but I am lucky to be a part of kind, growing (4 more weeks!) family with as much as disagreement in it as there is love.

I am also an alum of my high school (passive- not exactly by choice), an alum of my college (active- enthusiastically by choice), a long distance member of my Austin supper club (passive, sadly), a member of a book club (active), a member of Toastmasters International (active), an employee at a global organization (active most days…), a member of several human resources organizations (passive) and a friend- sometimes passively, sometimes actively but wherever is needed.

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Supper Club, I miss you!

Being born in North Carolina wasn’t a choice but when I moved back to the state as an adult I chose to be a part of this community, just as I chose Wilmington. This is for better or worse. This is embracing some parts, accepting others and working to change a few more. The election is a good reminder to be a more active member of my community here. That I chose to be here and with that I should also choose to add value, to contribute, to give to my community. There are many ways to do this, all of them meaningful. It’s time to find my place here.

Soon I will be a member of a new community. I will become a parent and a mother.  With this in mind I want to reevaluate what communities I contribute to and how I do so. How do I spend my time? How can I add value? I’m glad to be here and I’m glad to do more.

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Learning the importance of civic duty young!