Musings of a Mum: 7 months old

January 30, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments

Child of mine,
Do you feel as battered by this last month as I do?  I bet you are exhausted from all that growing, all the learning of new skills, all the new social understandings necessary to function in this confusing world.  New places, new faces, new smells, new tastes, new sleep schedule, new independence, new perspective.  New, new, new, new, new! It's making me tired just thinking about it. 

I hope that you will see my honest confessions as a strength. I am a painfully honest person, and I hope you  know that despite any phases or hardships we encounter in this complicated mother/daughter place - know this:

I admire you.  
I respect you.  
I adore you. 
I support you.

In short, I love you.  

Rinse. Repeat.

In my imagination, I see you as a young mother, reading these posts, finding comfort in knowing this simple truth:  We do not need to find pleasure in the daily tasks of caring for a baby in order to experience the deep joy that having a child does indeed bring.

I sat at the kitchen table last week, sobbing.  I laid my head down between my arms, lost to despair and frustration.  I had been trying to allow you to put yourself back to sleep without nursing, and after an hour, I gave in.  I have never felt such defeat.  Motherhood is such a mixed bag of emotions.  One is required to trust one's own instincts, but simultaneously know that a mother's instincts are not always for the good of the child.  For example, it is my maternal instinct to give you anything you want, but I know that you need to reach your own places of frustration, that I am not here to meet your every need.  You are so capable already!  It shocks me.  

After I had that crying fit, I grabbed my journal thinking that writing would be the best soothing aid.  However, I ended up sitting in the bathtub just reading previous entries.  I stumbled upon several underlined phrases, the first of which was, "Parenting is guesswork at best."  And it made me realize that I had been in this place before, and more importantly, I would find my way out.  That I was capable too!

As we confront these personal deficiencies and subsequent resources together, I stumble into the deepest satisfaction, a satisfaction wrought with the confirmation of this decision to procreate.  As you grow into the gorgeous, smart, and kind young lady I see developing before my eyes, so will I grow into the mother that you will know.  I find myself ever anxious that you will find my personality distasteful to you (after all, part of being a daughter is being annoyed with one's own mother).  Even if we are not a good personality match, I hope we are close.  

Your father and I were discussing our long-term financial goals, and as I pondered retirement living in another country, I immediately balked because I would be too far from you and your family.  I hadn't realized that I expected that we would always live in proximity.  I hadn't even known this was a desire.  I am a free bird, living far from home for many years now.  I never understood it, but now I sympathize with my own mother.  One of her strongest desires in life is to have her children all together.  

As I uncovered this hidden expectation, I began to search for more expectations that might send you a message of disapproval before I have a chance to keep them in check.  So I suppose I will say it now, and whisper it to you every cherished day that you live under my roof:

"Fly, little star.  You are free."

Developmental Notes, for record-keeping:

You are such a good baby.  This month has brought on a needy side of you, since you are experiencing frustration with your immobility, but strong desire to explore the world of toys and food (and Mom's coffee) that you are waking up to.  I still suspect introversion, as you will often sit in a reverie, staring quietly at the cosmos.  Even as I read you books, you sit contentedly, enjoying the fluctuations of my voice.  Well, if you are not introverted, you are introspective, for sure.  You are quick to laugh for the people you know, and love to be tickled.  Your belly laugh is perfection.  

If you get into a fit of frustration and neediness, I will often have people over.  The change in pace and the new stimulation of vocal inflections and gestures (often card-playing) keeps you content for quite a while.  Are you going to inherit the love of studying people from your mother, or will you be more inclined to study the stars, like your father?

In this last month, you have perfected rolling over.  You are almost an independent sitter as well.  You are your least cranky while sitting up, so I know you are enjoying the fresh perspective of the world.  You are much more adroit, grabbing toys more skillfully.  Last month, you had a very low tolerance for your jump-a-roo (what a ridiculous name), but I had a wild hair to raise the seat, and now you love it.  On a good day, it will entertain you for an hour! In fact, last week, you bounced yourself to sleep in it!  So funny.

You are a drooling machine, and I suspect a tooth revealing any day.  Your hair has grown in a bit, and it is darker than I thought it would be.  I am looking forward to putting obnoxious bows in it.

We have moved you from the infant tub to the adult tub and have increased baths to nightly.  You absolutely love it, and I have to admit, I love it too.  Dad will make dinner as I sit and watch you learn how to splash.

You have learned so much skill in eating solids!  Depending on the consistency of the food, which I make, you have begun to learn how to keep that pesky tongue from poking the food back out.  You love sweet potatoes, but so far it's a no-go on avocado, green beans, and peas - but I will keep trying!  For now, we are sticking to carrots, sweet potatoes, banana, applesauce.  

We are both still enjoying nursing, though you also do fine with formula when I don't have the supply or when Dad is watching you.  

I have been a tad obsessed with your sleeping habits.  I write everything down (just as I always have.  Just in case you ever need to know how many diapers I changed in your lifetime, it will all be right there for you, kiddo.  You're welcome.) Your dad and I speak constantly about how to help you.  I expect a lot from you, and honestly - once I take a step back, I realize just how good of a sleeper you are.  You put yourself to sleep, you love your bed, you take consistent naps at roughly the same time of day.  You go to bed easily around 7pm and stay asleep until roughly 12am.

Then you are up every 3 hours.  12am. 3am. 6am.  Sigh. 

We are on a mission to assist you with your night wakings.  You are not hungry, and you are not in pain.  You are simply involving Mum in your comfort process; I nurse you and we both go right back to bed (a 10-min ordeal at most).  But I don't want to perpetuate this cycle when it's not necessary.  It's hard to know exactly how to proceed, as many people will give you all kinds of advice.  Dad and I are thinking that having you cry it out (I am a firm believer in it, I just don't know if I have what it takes to follow through consistently) will be one of the only ways to irradiate this behavior.  Maybe this is naive, I'll let you know next month.

Either way, sleep is good.  We love sleep in this household.  We will totally make fun of you if you chose not to fit in.

We went to Los Angeles this month, and you were a trooper!  Not only was it your first flight, but you were sick.  The trip down was hard for us both, but I managed to have the foresight to bring the sling, and it saved us!  You were able to catch a few zzzs and god bless those zzzs.  The flight home was a piece of cake.  Note: fly in the morning.  Note: ask for a seat for the baby if there is one.  Note: FLY IN THE MORNING. I do not relish another flight any time soon (read: until you are able to be entertained by a screen), but overall - we survived quite well.  You got to meet your other cousins and Aunt Monica and Uncle Jorge.  You got to snuggle with Gpa Cliff for the first time, as well as meet your Great Grandma Ruth.

The rest of the month, you've enjoyed a regular coming and going of fine ladies, here to cheer us up with coffee, cakes, and cards.  Delight!  This month, we also received the amazing news that Aunt Jess is pregnant with TWINS!  These twins will most likely be born right around your first bday.  How fun! Instant family.

You accompanied Dad and I to my ex-boss' house for a party, which means you finally got to meet all those faces whose voices you heard throughout my pregnancy.  What a team of co-workers.  I already really miss them.

You also had another sleepover at Gma's house so Mom and Dad could enjoy a date night.  What a great time we all had.  I am telling you, it will behoove you to live by me (no pressure) if you have children (no pressure), because I cannot tell you what an immense help Dad's parents have been to my daily sanity. 

Happy celebration of 7 months on this gorgeous planet, baby star.


the dream!

January 21, 2013 Candace Morris 1 Comments

Greetings. I have the Monday sickness, which is a fierce desire to organize my life, clean everything in sight, plan every meal for the week, and cross off all my 'to-dos.' When this becomes impossible, right around 2:00 pm, I begin to despair and cry out for my former life.  By 4:00 pm, I am recovered and playing happily with Bowie.  This crazed self will settle down until next Monday, and instead of planning all the things I will do, I just do what's in front of me.  It works out, I suppose.

I believe it is called 'acknowledgement of limitations.'

Aside from that, I would like to announce the I have finally managed to pinpoint my life's dream. Dreaming is a bit hard for my  detail-oriented brain.  In fact, that is one of my marriage's great strengths.  Joel dreams, but has a hard time breaking down that idea into manageable tasks toward completion.  I, on the other hand, am firmly rooted in the practical.  I struggle to see the big picture, because as soon as he begins to dream aloud, I see the action items necessary.  I often care nothing for the grand idea; instead I find immense existential meaning in completion of tasks.  This freaks some people out, whereas some of you resonate easily.

Though neither way of being is more virtuous than the other (indeed the human race needs both types of people in order to thrive), I do think each person should learn to posses both traits.  Naturally, I prefer my way of being, but I've been speaking to myself a lot about dreams, and trying to really keep in check the overly practical side of my brain - you know, for balance sake.  I am not terribly successful at it, because I have noticed that all my answers to what I want to do vocationally are still so dryly practical - I certainly do have difficulty reaching beyond what I perceive as possible.

Today, I found a small answer to this cosmic question.  I want to remember that a vocation, the work of my hands and life, does not necessarily translate into a job.  What I mean is to clarify that asking yourself what you want to do with your life is not the same question (and therefore should not necessarily have the same answer) as asking yourself what your dream job may be.

We all need to feel useful.  The work of our lives is key to our identity and happiness. As Americans (read workaholics), I think we automatically equate life satisfaction with job satisfaction.  "What's your dream job" is synonymous with discovering the point of your existence.  I think it's dooodoo.  For some of us, I think the path to personal fulfillment comes by separating these questions.  For others, it makes more sense to marry those questions.

Either way, as I was journaling this morning, I realized my dream!
(I implore you to please forgive the horrendous spelling errors)



unpacking the unhappiness

January 16, 2013 Candace Morris 5 Comments

What did I expect it would be like?  I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize that most of the time I would feel so isolated, annoyed, lonely, discouraged, conflicted, guilty, and wrought with self-pity.  

Oh but it's been such a hard week or so.  My resources are depleting from this new (non)sleep schedule Bowie has decided upon (which, of course I feel is somehow my fault - LOGIC, please kick in!).  This combined with Bowie needing more of me (teething, bored, frustrated, sick, separating) has made for a aching unhappiness in my soul.  It's so confusing being so glad to have a child and be entering this stage of my life and simultaneously unable to find pleasure in the work required by it.

Shouldn't I be enjoying this more?  Why can't I enjoy this more?  What is wrong with me?  I want to enjoy this time, I really, really do.  What factors can assist me in enjoying it more? More play-dates?  More exercise?  Going back to work?  Relinquishing myself entirely over to motherhood instead of going to the extreme trouble to find balance?  Should I write more?  Should I call my friends more?  Should I hire a nanny for a few hours a week?  Should I eat more greens? 

My being is racked with questions like these and friends, I am so tired.

It wasn't until I was rocking quietly with Bowie today, singing her a song as she contentedly sucked her thumb that I experienced a moment of clarity, finally able to get a small glimpse of the beauty of what is happening to me.  This ache of unhappiness is not discontent with life, but it is severe birthing pains.  I am becoming a mother, and the process of becoming feels more like the tearing I felt in childbirth than the gorgeous visual I saw in "Cosmos" depicting the evolution of the human race.  Where did I get the romantic notion that evolving is clean and contained?  It's so so messy inside of me right now, and millions of creatures have gone through millions of years of severe pains to become who they are today.  Like in childbirth, perhaps I will find some peace when I stop fighting the pain and begin to give myself over to its spiritual and important purpose.  I don't get to be who I once was.  What the hell am I fighting so hard for?  Why the hell is it breaking my heart so much?

I suppose a certain amount of melancholy is necessary when a chapter is over and a new one begins.
I suppose it's natural to feel this way.
I suppose many parents can relate.
I suppose I should be gentle with myself.

A few nothings:
(because if I don't tell someone they will fall into the ether of solitude and I'll question the reality of my existence)

I made a bitter cup of coffee today.  I'm toying with the new aeropress +Joel gave me for Christmas, and for the most part it is easy to pull a sweet shot.  I think the grind must have been too course because this cup is bitter and weak.

I cut my finger pretty badly last night while chopping parsley for our shrimp scampi.  The nail protected me from perhaps severing the tip of my pointer finger, but now I have a bruised nail.

Today, I would be happy to do several items on my list, but I think I will force myself to be satisfied with making banana bread and MAYBE writing a letter.

I've decided to be more consistent about daily walks.  Plus, it's sunny today.  We'll walk to get more coffee, as I have just depleted the last of my supply.

Bowie has graduated from a baby bath to the actual tub, and she loves it.  I love that she loves water.


2013 Resolutions

January 12, 2013 Candace Morris 2 Comments

It's a bit late, I realize.  However, I feel obliged to my record-keeping self to evaluate last year's resolutions and present this year's.

2012 Resolutions:
2012 Resolutions

Of the 10 items listed above, I can proudly claim 3 as complete.  This is a stark drop from the 2011 Resolutions, of which I completed 11/17.  I am unsure why I didn't write "Gestate" on the goals, or perhaps something I knew would be a momentous achievement, you know something like PUSH A BABY THROUGH MY VAGINA!  Oh well.  Sometimes we can be unfair to ourselves, setting life up to fail.  This year, I promise to be more realistic.  I have learned a good lesson about lists as it is, being a new mom.  They have to be more flexible and I have to let it go.  That being said, I still receive a disgusting amount of peace and happiness from arranging my to-dos on paper.

I did see Radiohead (which, let's be honest, does this count as a resolution?  I already had the tickets when I made this list.  Too easy, crm.  Too easy.).
I did plant a few flowers this spring, a sweet little window box adorned the kitchen for a time.
I did visit CA family more than I had done the year before.

For several months early in the year (the expected duration of most resolutions), I was reading and writing letters on Sunday Morning.  Some proof even exists.

I completely forgot to practice meditation.
I most certainly did not live with less (since pregnancy requires new clothing)
Not only did I not save 3-months of our salaries, I failed to retain a job.
No breakfast nook.
I don't even know where my copy of "TBK" lives.
The chair is Joel's project.

I feel no sense of failure.  In fact, I find these items quite amusing.

But enough of that.  Onward!  Out with the old! In with the new! Champagne!
I am quite pleased with these goals.  I feel they are kinder to myself and certainly more realistic.

-Drink 32oz of water before morning coffee/tea:
I have noticed that my problematic neck becomes even more painful with coffee and booze.  This can often be counteracted if I drink water beforehand.  I want to make it a more permanent practice.  In fact, as I write this, my mason jar of water sits contentedly empty as I sip my coffee.

-Protect sacred morning quiet:
From the star, I think you'll see the obvious prioritization of this item.  Since Bowie is her most calm and happy in the mornings, she can entertain herself somewhat quietly while she watches mom journal.  (Incidentally, this also fulfills one of my recent observations that Bowie is going to get her picture of what a mom/wife does by watching me.  It want this picture to contain images of soul-work in addition to chores.  I've therefore made a concerted effort to have her observe me journaling, reading, listening to Rachmaninoff  etc, as well as doing the dishes, making dinner, folding laundry, etc).  Any-who, I have found that protecting even just 30 min of quiet first thing greatly eases my anxiety throughout the rest of the day.  I don't check my email or my phone or computer.  I either journal or read or meditate, and I resist the strong urge to fuss about the house tidying.

-Get back to yoga:
I went to yoga classes all throughout the pregnancy, and I really miss it now.  I need to prioritize my class, and it's extremely difficult with our schedules.  Maybe I can also work it in at home.

-No screens in bed:
I recently read an article about sleep, and apparently in order to assist restorative sleep, the human eye needs to not look at a screen for 1-hour prior.  We always get into bed and screen ourselves, where once I used to simply read a book.  I will try to get back to this practice.

-Personal education:
This is a response to feeling the emptiness of mental stimulation as I stay home with Bowie.  I have organized a self-directed study in Women's Studies which I am extremely excited about.  My Christian education didn't really prepare me for this - as you may or may not know, 'feminism' is a dirty dirty word in that realm.  I'm extremely ready to deconstruct this. (I may have used the word extremely a few times here.  Note emphasis),

In the last two years, I've also become fascinated by science and the cosmos.  In this fascination, I have also discovered a shameful gap in my knowledge.  I am therefore desirous to do another self-directed (by Joel) course in the cosmos.  This will happen initially by viewing 'Cosmos' by Carl Sagan, as well as continuing to read this very fascinating book. I am sure this beginning will lead me to other scientists and research projects.

Be resolute, my fellow sojourners.


A Day in the Life: SAHM* Edition

January 09, 2013 Candace Morris 3 Comments

Dressing Bowie for the day

Tea and Toast

Going down for morning nap

Mommy's shower-time

Hot oatmeal with applesauce and dried cranberries

Americano made with my new AeroPress

Bowie's 2nd breakfast

Job search and work time

Floor time

Story time
"Star Trek Book of Opposites"

Lunch and Story Time for Mommy

Bowie wakes from nap

Watching David Bowie's new video

Watching the rain

Making ready for the Ladies to come over

A rare and wonderful moment of completely nothing to do as I wait for my friends to arrive

Aunt Niki reading to Bowie

Angel food cake, whipped cream, and strawberries for dessert

Good night, Moon.

Someone recently mentioned being interested in my day-to-day at home.  Inspired by her posts, I thought this may be the best way to capture what an average 18-hour period looks like for us.  Well, it's more average if you remove the ladies and replace it with Star Trek and Joel.  But he was at a work event, and this was more picturesque anyway.

*I recently read that the average stay-at-home-mom works 97.2 hours per week, and she would gross $113K if paid for those hours at $22.50/hour. If only.