July: A Cure for What Ails You

Um, I don’t know if you’ve realized yet but July is basically over. And since the seasons still revolve around school in my mind, this means that summer is on its way out. (Although not in any way related to temperature. It’s hot and humid here!)

Baby days are very strange. Each day passes pretty slowly but the weeks just fly by. My baby is 7 1/2 months old. That’s insane! It really just seems impossible to me.

July was a bit of a rollercoaster. It started off drowning in mom guilt (mom guilt is to be defined as totally unnecessarily guilt having to do with parenting) but after some personal time it really evened out. It felt like the medicine I didn’t know I needed.

A Dose of Time Off

For weeks I had been nervously anticipating a 5 day work trip to Texas. As time got closer the more it became apparent that I really needed this time away. The week before we switched Haines to formula with bed time and wake up nursing sessions only. It was incredibly emotional and stressful for me, but traveling with minimal pumping was so much more enjoyable. I was sad to give up breastfeeding but this was a huge silver lining.

Over the past few months I’ve felt myself get more and more uptight. While I’m relaxed in many areas of baby life, the introduction of solid foods, baby sleeping in his own room and becoming mobile really threw me for a loop. Getting to eat fantastic food, drink good beer and hang out with awesome Austinites was really a total reset for me. I came back home with a fresh mindset and a whole lot more patience.

A Dose of Using My Brain

My time away and fresh mindset has allowed for a lot more reading! This July I read We Should All Be Feminists, Americanah, and Hunger. I’m working on A Manual for Cleaning Women and getting ready to start All the Lives I Want. I feel like a person with a brain that works! Woo hoo!

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A Dose of Love & Marriage

No one really ever talks about how a baby affects their relationship. It’s always just love and marriage and baby makes three. Well, sure all of that but it’s so much more. I’m not sure if I have all the words for it yet. It’s been challenging. I thought Tyler and I would be going through the same experience but we weren’t. Childbirth felt both traumatic and empowering. The changes in my hormones made me feel depleted emotionally and physically. Maternity leave was lonely. Those experiences were all me. Sure, Tyler was affected by them but he didn’t go through them. We came into each phase from completely different entry points and left with very different perspectives.

Somewhere around the 7 month mark there has been a shift. I can surely attribute part of that to sleeping more but it’s also communicating more. Our baby is happy and learning new things every day. We feel more like best friends and partners than we ever have.

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A Dose of Slowing Down

The weekend I got back from Texas I did nothing. Nothing but lay on the floor with a baby who is learning to crawl. Nothing but make silly noises and sing made-up songs to a tiny guy who thinks I’m very funny. I didn’t go to grocery store or clean the bathroom or do laundry or anything else on the long list of the things that needed to be done. I didn’t think for a moment about doing otherwise. It was the best.

Although work often makes me overwhelmed and anxious, I’m trying to keep this attitude while I’m at home. This time with Haines is important and although sometimes I feel like I should doing other things, this isn’t time I can get back. So I’ll just be over here blowing raspberries and trying to worry a little bit less.

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Yes, that is a creepy glowing owl bath toy. He’s way less weird in person. 

New Clan

Early last year I wrote about my indecision on the issue of changing my name. I realized last week that I never followed up on the issue and my decision. After the last few weeks of formally making the changes, I wanted to let you know I went for it. I struggled with the choice. I did not rush out to the DMV and the Social Security office (then again, these are not places you ever want to go to). I do, from time to time, feel the loss of my maiden name. I felt a strong identity with it.

Some of my friends have said their reason for wanting to change their name had to do with wanting the same name as their children (FYI they could take the woman’s name too…), but I grew up in a house where my half-sister had a different last name than I did. Is our relationship diminished by this? Did it affect our unit as a family? I never felt so. In contradiction to that though, when my parents divorced I asked my mother to keep her married name. It is only recently that I realized how difficult or frustrating that must have been at the time, to keep her identity tied with my father’s at a time when she was working hard to strike out on her own.

I’m working on a new identity of my own, one where I balance myself and my own interests with the personal and shared interests of my husband. So I’ve made the leap. I don’t know if this was the right choice and it sure was a pain in the butt to get new cards and get everything switched to my new name but I’m going for it nonetheless. I’ve added a new clan to the family. Or they’ve added me…

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You Can’t Avoid Being Hurt But You Can Choose Who Hurts You

A friend of mine heard (and I’m paraphrasing here) recently that you can’t avoid getting hurt but you do get to choose who hurts you. It really resonated with me. It explained more articulately what I had been trying to say about love, or more specifically my love.

My friends from Austin really don’t know me outside of my relationship. I started dating my beau about a month after I moved to Austin. They saw all my phases: courtship (refusal to call him my boyfriend), brief period of separation (four month break-up that first summer he was back in Alaska), the rebuilding (where I was absolutely convinced that it would not work out), and eventually the faith in forever. What they may not know is that the first three phases pretty accurately describes the way I had always interacted with men- skepticism, fear and avoidance. Faith in someone or something is not the norm for me (except for faith in the healing powers of a good meal and a hot bath).

Two things happened to change me. The first and most obvious one is Tyler. He called me out on my bad behavior (re: skepticism, fear and avoidance) and remained constant regardless. In the past four years the biggest lessons I’ve learned have been about trust and communication. It was surprising to me how much I needed to learn these things.

Then the epiphany. It came eating frozen yogurt with a group of women getting together during their 40th high school reunion. I drove up to Oklahoma to visit my mom while she was at her reunion and tagged along with her and her friends. They were catching up, talking about their relationships. Only one was still married to her first husband. One was single after two marriages.Another was her second of two long term relationships and another two were in their third marriage. All complained, all teased, all joked about their current standings in love and all seemed happy (good frozen yogurt is a truth serum I’m told). How could they have known where they would end up? It may seem very simple to you but I was overwhelmed sitting around these women, joyously sharing about their loves, with the knowledge that I could be happy even if it all went wrong. But more importantly there was really no way to know.

You just have to decide if it’s worth it. That’s when I knew that I would stay in this relationship for the long haul. I no longer needed assurances that issues would work themselves out (like where to live!), that everything should be a fairy tale. I knew two things: First, I was willing to work at this because second, I was willing to get hurt over this. This relationship has made me a better person and brought me more joys than I could have ever anticipated. Relationships and marriage are the scariest things in the world, the biggest leaps of faith, and as someone who has seen the hurt of divorces I know that the potential for pain here is high.

I can’t imagine a situation more worth the risk.

Happy four years together to my beau (someone who is convinced our dating anniversary is in April)!

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This Year Was Cray Y’all

So I have no idea what my expectations were for 2014. I know they included taking the class and test for my Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and planning a move (but not actually taking one) with the Alaskan boy. Um… blew that right out of the water.

First I got engaged. What?!

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Then I passed my PHR exam (just in time for some major changes in the Human Resources certification world, how convenient).

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My dad sold his house (my childhood home) and moved to Thailand (he’s back now but leaving again soon).

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I got married. Ahhh!!!!

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I quit my job. Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

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I moved to Wilmington, NC.

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I’m hoping 2015 keeps its excitement to more of a dull roar.

Are You Domesticated?

I recently turned 26. This neither feels like a particularly young or old age. I am young enough to have no real responsibilities or obligations. I am old enough to have my Facebook newsfeed be flooded with pictures of weddings, engagement announcements, baby photos, updates on pregnancies and the list goes on. I am equally fascinated and repelled by these. Did Cat really marry that boy from West?  Is Abby really pregnant? Is everyone pregnant? Is that where we are now- the age of life where everyone is… domestic?

Part of me is horrified by this. How can everyone be ready to settle down? While I realize that my lifelong idea that adventure ends with marriage is a little extreme, there are some adventures or experiences that can only be had when you’re flying solo. It’s a lot harder to pick up and go with someone else to consider. There are so many places I still want to go. So much of the world left unseen. There is this feeling in my chest, a tightness that I associate with the feeling of being trapped. Furniture makes me feel trapped. I hate owning any. My job makes me feel trapped. I go there five whole days a week (can you imagine?!). And even having a boyfriend means that I am limited in my explorations. I can’t exactly take off, life packed into a bag, for unlimited amounts of time and expect someone to wait behind.

But then, I feel the other side. This side is a new development. It’s something I feared would take over in my life eventually. It’s the need to nest. I want to garden. I want window boxes on a little bright colored cottage. Inside the house are pictures of all my favorite people, places and things. In the fridge are delicious treats. From the oven comes the smell of fresh bread baking. And everything is mine. At home, I wear only my underwear. My messes are always mine. And maybe, if he’s lucky, the boy comes over or lives with me. We fill the house with laughter and music can always be heard from our open windows. Even  though he doesn’t want to, he dances in the kitchen with me. I love to dance in the kitchen.

How do people do this? Balance the need to explore the unknown with the want to make roots? Am I the only one who feels this tug of war?

Why Do Old Crushes Get Married First?

Dear old crush,

Let’s be honest, I don’t honestly care that you got married. Your very expensive looking wedding photos were posted on Facebook and I see that somebody dropped their life savings on this which already tells me we would have never made it.

Unfortunately though in those pictures, you still looked pretty attractive. I’m not really okay with that. If you’re going to get married first, at least have the decency to have gained some weight.

I really would never wish you ill will but sometimes, because the way you were super flirtatious but didn’t mean it back in the summer of 2008, I wish you could gray early or have nose hairs that just get completely out of control.

And the best of luck to you in your recent nuptials.