2013

I said several times this year that I would have no problem saying goodbye to 2013. It was, by all accounts, a bit of a crap year.

I worried myself sick this year. My mom fell and broke her ankle in 3 places and had surgery twice. The boys had their usual bevy of orthotics appointments, therapy appointments, and the like. But 2013 was also the year of multiple health scares, weird lab tests, genetic tests, and a less-than-pleasant screening that possibly saved my life. (There’s nothing sexy about having a colonoscopy, but there it is. If it makes one other person likely to go in, fine, I’ll say it: I had one. The prep drink is horrifically awful. The drugs are very nice.)

Back in May, I went to what I thought was a very typical post-screening appointment, only to have a very wide-eyed nurse assure me over and over that I was one lucky woman. My screening — checking out some post-pregnancy stuff, just to be on the safe side — caught 3 symptomless polyps which had a very high likelihood of becoming cancerous by the time I was 40.

Screenings don’t typically begin til 50 (I’m 33).

I got lucky. And though I don’t think about it often because I’m morbid enough as it is, I can’t help but shake my head and be incredibly grateful that the strangeness and stress of that season yielded something very good. (Even if I do have to repeat the test in 3 years).

This clear lack of control over my life this year accomplished much more, however: it brought me to the end of myself. To quote Anne Lamott, I finally acknowledged that I had run out of bullets. I probably needed to seek out support years ago when A was first born and I was struggling under the weight of so much love and terror and worry and tiredness, but my pride and stubbornness kept me from it.

This year I was stripped of that option. There was simply too much going on to maintain my illusions of “just hang on a little longer.” I wanted to take care of myself — for my own sake, and because I knew that if I wasn’t strong, I couldn’t BE strong for my kids.

So. I went and talked with a really nice lady once a week who helped me straighten some stuff right out.

I let go of some heavy burdens. I figured out how to talk myself down. I reluctantly accepted my highly-sensitive nature a little more. I said some overdue I’m sorry’s. And I let go — mostly — of the compulsion to try to run around and manage how everyone else is feeling. I started to let people own their stuff, even if it meant they had to work through being unhappy with something I unknowingly did or said.

This leaves me with a lot more energy for the things that really matter. And on that side of things, this year was glorious.

I grew in my career. I’m closer to the work I really want to be doing than ever. We have great child care (finally).

I heard a beautiful, perfect, clear “mommy” for the first time. A learned his ABCs and numbers and how to spell and say his own name. He started saying, “Aye-uh-oo,” which, of course, means “I love you.” My F started walking and then running. He just started asking to cuddle at nighttime and keeps signing for “more” whenever I finish singing a song.

And oh, that man I married. I learned over and over this year what a funny, tender, patient, steady man he is. I trudged through plenty of days where I was so anxious I didn’t know quite what to do with myself. And he just stuck by. Listened. Said what I needed to hear (even if it was just a truly horrible, deeply inappropriate joke). He took things off my plate. Loved our boys. Let me sleep in on the weekends.

We’re not quite to the easier part yet. Not even close. But I think we’ll get there and I’m less scared of the not-yet than I used to be.

Tonight the kids ran around our living room mostly naked while Justin roared and scared them to shrieks of delight. The baby ran up and laid a big open-mouth kiss on me while his lanky brother tackled me sideways. The boys half-hugged/half-wrestled each other toward the stairs as they said goodnight.

In that moment, it was hard to feel like anyone has it better than us.

I hope you feel the some of the same tonight. Happy New Years.

To the Man I Love on Valentine’s Day

My darling, I think we can agree that the holidays that fall within a year of a baby arriving are The Worst.

Especially the lovey-dovey ones.

For our 6th anniversary, the best gift we came up with for one another was to give each other a pass. Remember how gung-ho we were about a date? We’re leaving the kids at my mom’s! we said. We’re eating a meal by ourselves! we said. Maybe we’ll even talk about something other than the kids! we said.

But I’m still hungry every 5.7 seconds! the baby said. I barely sleep! Lolz!

We took deep breaths, smiled exhaustedly at one another, shrugged our shoulders. We tucked into the spaghetti my mom had made especially for A. Were we ever at the table at the same time? I don’t even remember. Like most events this year, the memory only half sticks in my brain.

And now we come to Valentine’s Day.

You were never really one for Hallmark holidays, but over our years together you’ve humored me and I’ve enjoyed the fact that you’re willing to humor me almost as much as I do the lovingly-given-but-still-semi-obligatory cards and flowers.

The baby’s still not sleeping. Jury’s still out on whether dinner out tomorrow will happen.

And today was tough.

I shlepped the kids around to 2 appointments today, our fourth and fifth appointments since Monday. F’s feet needed taping (again). A’s got a mystery rash.

I enjoyed a scolding at the second place for being 10 minutes late. “I’ll see if we can still see your son,” she sniffed. I wanted to choke her and/or cry. If she only knew how hard I try to get us places on time.

You got home, saw the look on my face, told me to take a few minutes off with a hot bath.

Then I got an emergency email from a client and spent the next 2 hours upstairs in the office ironing things out while you wrangled 2 children who’d been shlepped around all day and because of said shlepping, were tiny crazy monsters with whom there is no reasoning whatsoever.

We argued about how normal it is or isn’t that the baby still isn’t sleeping.

You were frustrated and I didn’t have room for your frustration because I feel crazy half the time and because I desperately (and quite unfairly) need you to be the sane one.

The worst part is that today was tough in the same way that all our days are tough. It was normal.

We’re tired.

We’re 2 ships passing. 

We miss each other. Desperately. 

Wasn’t there a time we fell into bed for reasons other than sheer exhaustion?

Earlier tonight, I escaped to Fred Meyer to pick up a prescription for mystery rash (impetigo! joy!). Amongst a sensory overload of red balloons, flowers and cupcakes I remembered that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

Shit. Unprepared yet again.

I stood staring in the Valentine’s card aisle thinking: they don’t make cards for this.

“To The Man I Love: Despite All Appearances to the Contrary, I’m So Glad You’re Mine”

“To the Man I Love: Sorry for the Messy Hair and Yoga Pants”

“When You Smile Lovingly at our Evil Yet Adorable Children, I Fall in Love All Over Again”

“You. Me. How’s Five Years from Now?”

Our love isn’t something out of a greeting card right now.

Then again, it never was. I’ve always felt our story transcended all that. When you came along, all my idealistic notions of love were put aside because frankly, they just weren’t enough.

I still feel that way about our story. It’s messy and imperfect and exhausting — never more so than right now — but it’s ours. We’re working hard. We’re building something pretty cool.

And there’s absolutely no one I’d rather be doing this insanity with than you.

I love you, honey. Happy Valentine’s Day.

4 months already . . . whew

My friend Grace likes to say that every age her son is — that’s her favorite age. I’m starting to understand what she means. It’s all going so fast!

I loved Ash when he was tiny and so brand-new . . . but I’m having ridiculous amounts of fun with this wiggly, giggly 4-month-old. His sweet, sunshine-y personality makes each day a joy. Despite how tired I often feel, I can’t help but revel in how lucky I am to be this kid’s mommy.

As you can tell, Ash is growing fast! At his 4-month checkup a few weeks ago, he was 17 lbs. 12 oz. and 25 1/2 inches long (for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 95th percentile for weight). I’m having a hard time keeping him in clothes. Right now he’s wearing 9 & 12 month stuff. Which is just ridiculous . . . I’m glad we live near the outlet malls.

Ash is getting really good with his hands — we bought a little play gym and he seems to enjoy batting everything around (I enjoy having my hands free to deal with our mountains of laundry). Ash loves patting our faces and/or trying to stick his fingers in our eyes and mouth. He also makes a point of taking his Dad’s glasses off as often as possible — Justin’s very amused by this.

A’s sweet cooing sounds are a bit of a rarity now — they’ve given way to A yelling and growling himself to sleep like the dragon he is. It’s the strangest thing — he’s mostly asleep, but just blowing off extra steam. I have to get it on tape sometime when I have the camera nearby . . . usually it accompanies me singing him to sleep, and I start laughing so hard mid-song that I nearly wake the baby up again.

He sleeps pretty well — usually 8:30 or 9 pm to 4 am — which I’ll gladly take. I know people who wait much longer for the kind of sleep we get. It’s really funny though — people ask how the baby sleeps, and Justin makes a face while I sing the praises of how great our kid sleeps. I guess it’s all perspective. Naptimes are a little hit and miss, but we’re working on putting him down when he’s awake but drowsy. Making progress.

I had my first official Mother’s Day this past week (I was newly pregnant last year, so Justin and I quietly celebrated our little secret) and I was just . . . so  . . . happy. Justin took me out to dinner Saturday night and we stuffed ourselves at Buca di Beppo’s (it was prom night, and Justin and I were properly scandalized by some of the dresses . . . I felt old and rejoiced in the fact that we have a boy).

Sunday I found a very sweet card from Justin on my desk telling me about the things he enjoys watching me do as a new mommy. It’s so nice being reminded so tangibly that he notices and appreciates me.

Then my parents came and visited for a few hours. And oh, my goodness you’ve never seen two people so excited to be grandparents. They are so silly and sweet and ecstatic. It’s really fun watching the joy one little person can bring simply by smiling or laughing — my parents got their first giggles out of Ash, and I think most future visits will be spent trying to repeat it.

Justin’s great gift idea occurred to him a little late, so a few days later, I received my Mother’s Day gift from my boys:

Love it. My favorite picture of us and now my favorite mug. I love mommy gifts!

More soon. Or next month. Whatever happens first.

time

It’s mindblowing, just how much my son is teaching me these days.

I knew that parenthood would likely be filled with Really Intense Life Lessons, yada yada yada, but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly my education would begin. Before A arrived, I thought a lot more about how much my son would be learning — the books we’d read him, the questions we’d attempt to answer, the places we’d take him to explore.

And he is learning, of course. I stare at my boy, awed by how he’s growing and changing on what feels like a moment-by-moment basis. Every day is a new discovery — most recently, he’s learned to click his tongue and bat at the small stuffed animals that hang from a bar above his bouncy seat.

He smiles.

On purpose.

At me.

And I cannot help myself.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. About the things Ash is teaching me. I get distracted easily these days.

I will never be one of those people who says that having children is the only way to learn or understand certain things about life and love and being unselfish. I know people who don’t have children who seem to have a whole hell of a lot of things figured out about all three.

I just know that, for me, parenthood is proving itself one of the most profound moments in my life’s education — and I am trying to be a good student.

A lot of the things I’ve been learning most recently all seem to surround the same subject: Time. I type that, and immediately think to myself “Yeah, I’ve learned I don’t have any.” But when I’m honest, there’s probably some other important stuff getting shoved into my little brain as well.

Now Is a Good Time

A lifelong procrastinator, I find myself doing things right away — things I used to put off. I’ve never been so excited to have the time to do the dishes. Or fold clothes. Or put away the mounds of clothes in our bedroom before they get unfolded in a rush to throw on yet another shirt for A to spit up on.

Ever since life with baby began, I’ve learned there really is no time like the present. Any moment A could wake — and he doesn’t care one bit about our schedule, what we had on our to-do list. So when things need to get done, Team Lawlis springs into action. I change the diaper, while Justin grabs a bottle. I pump. Justin feeds the baby. I fold clothes. Justin picks up the living room. I mix up the day’s formula while Justin puts all the bottle parts together and throws them in the fridge.

In some ways we’ve become like right and left hands. Without a whole lot of talk, we just get it done. And when you’re both tired, being able to do that is a big win.

It Goes Fast

A is 9 weeks old already, and I’m already weirdly nostalgic when I see photos of him when he was first born. (It’s probably why I take way too many photos of him and keep my Flip video camera within arms reach most of the time). It’s not that I don’t love the chubby baby that has replaced the sleepy newborn — I just feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and head to his high school graduation. Also, I will be 48. And that feels old.

A does this thing I’m sure a lot of babies do as he’s falling asleep or as he’s finally feeling nice and full — these soft little coos on each outward breath. They’re clearly his happy noises and I’ve always said A is purring.

I know there will come a day when he doesn’t do this anymore.

It aches a little. Probably because it should. But it’s teaching me to soak as much of this in as I possibly can. Of all things, this is especially one that you don’t get to live over. So, on nights where A is having a little trouble going to sleep and I need to rock him a little longer than my sleep-deprived self would like to, I try to keep this in mind as he purrs away. I *think* it was Thomas Merton who said one of the holiest things a person can do is rest . . . sometimes I feel like one of the holiest things I can do is snuggle my little boy.

What Do I Say Yes To?

Do I cuddle my baby or clean my messy house? Do I say yes to extra time with my kid, or do I say yes to extra income? Do I visit with family and friends, or do I rest? And how the heck do I say yes to being a wife AND yes to being a mommy?

The thing is, they all need yes’s. The hard part is figuring out the timing of it all . . . what comes first. At the end of the day, there’s always something important that’s been left undone. And for someone who, for all her artsy-fartsy-type-B-ness, really likes to check things off, be organized, be clear-minded, do excellent work, have a clean kitchen, be an ideal mate — it’s a little excruciating sometimes. I’m a bad perfectionist, but I’m a perfectionist nonetheless, and this season is forcing me to let up a little. Because after Justin, the kid comes first.

So, I take solace in the fact that my homebody of a husband swears he finds yoga pants sexy because they’re cozy and he likes cozy. I remind myself that Justin actually prefers my hair all wadded up in messy pigtails and that he, much to my chagrin, has a hard time telling whether or not I’ve put on makeup that day.

I remember that my identity as a mother is far more important than my identity as an entrepreneur, and that turning down time-intensive projects is absolutely the right thing to do, even if I don’t make as much money this year. And my amazing clients — who cheer for me personally as well as professionally — they really do get it if I can’t say yes to everything. Any client who doesn’t get it probably isn’t the right fit for me.

I glory in the fact that no one has to see my house when it looks like a tornado hit it — and that sometimes a quick pickup is good enough for now.

I visit friends and family when I can, sneak in phone calls when I can, and figure that if folks have stuck by me this far, they’re probably not going to jump ship if I can’t hang out as often for a while. Or, the more likely sin, if I can’t think of a single thing to talk about other than my baby for a season. (And yes, I’m SO there).

I try to hear — I mean, really hear – my husband when he tells me that no one is keeping score. Especially him.

I take deep breaths and will myself to believe that if I fail at a lot of things on the periphery — but succeed at loving my husband and kid well — I’ve given my time to what’s most important, at least in my world.

(Above is Ash just over a month ago, and below, today. He’s growing so fast!)

 

 

Almost to 3rd trimester — heck yes!

It is 6 a.m. and I am blogging to (at?) you from the most comfortable chair in the whole wide world. Check out the majesty.

I like our couch, but knew we’d need something to rock Little Man in when he gets here… that, and in the meantime, I need something to relax in (and sleep in, when the heartburn gets too bad). It is heaven. And it arrived 2 weeks early, much to my delight… our couch took the full 8 weeks, so I didn’t have high hopes. I am a far happier preggo woman than I was a week ago!

Ok. Enough with the excessive chair praise.

At 25 weeks, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, though that light is still 3 1/2 months away. It really helps, though. A few notes from the pregnant front:

  • I’m sporting a very round, unmistakeable belly, but other than that I don’t look very different (which is good for that itsy bitsy COMPLETELY VAIN part of me that hoped my face wouldn’t double in size 5 seconds into my pregnancy). 6 months in, I’ve gained 9 pounds, which seems like it’s on track for what my doc and I planned for (I was overweight to start, so we’re trying not to go crazy… with how sick I’ve been, this hasn’t been hard — but baby is gaining just fine).
  • Baby L is kicking away, and I love it… when I can, I stop and talk to him as he’s kicking. (I also stop and watch my belly… it’s SO weird to see him move from the outside!). I feel such a cool bond with this little guy, and it’s such a nice daily assurance that he’s growing and healthy. He’s inching his way ever closer to my ribs, however, so we’ll see how we feel about it in a few weeks!
  • Still puking. The pills help, but “morning” sickness has shifted again. Originally I could take the pill late morning and it would work through dinnertime… lately I’ve been sick as soon as I’m awake, and the pill won’t last long enough to keep me from being sick at night. I’ll see if I can get a slightly larger prescription. (They dole these meds out like they’re gold… 12 pills at a time. They charge enough for them, they might as well be gold… thank goodness for good insurance and a $5 copay!)
  • I should’ve bought stock in Tums. I keep on looking at the bottle, going, it can’t possibly be empty already. The upside is that EVERYTHING gives me heartburn, so there’s no point in avoiding my favorite spicy foods!
  • Justin, as always, is a total champ. Never complains about last-minute changes in what we’re going to eat because all of a sudden something is unpalatable to me, cheers me on, gives appropriate amounts of pity, helps keep the laundry going… he’s such a rad husband. And with how busy my work has been lately (fall is my very busy season), it’s been a huge help to know I can rely on him.
  • Justin keeps stopping to look at me, saying, “Whoa, Buddy.  You are PREGnant!” His grin makes it a compliment, however.

Most of the big stuff is done. Stroller/car seat: check. Crib: check. Pack n’ Play: check. Registering: check. Doula hired: check. Birth classes signup: check.

We have a chest of drawers that we need to assemble out in the garage, but that’s really the last thing on our to-do list for a while. It feels good to have these things done. My little business will keep me quite busy for the next few months (my clients are allowing me to write ahead on projects that will come due while I’m on maternity leave)… so it’ll be nice to feel like I can relax once work is over for the day.

We still have some things yet to add, but here’s the nursery preview… I’m kind of in love with it! The wall hanging, Pooh Bear and blanket were all purchased on Ebay for super cheap, so I’m feeling good. (Click on pic for a larger view). I’ve since added a smaller Tigger and Eeyore plush, also from Ebay.

Now just imagine our computers and desks in the “office” half of the room, and you’ll get a good idea of its interesting ambiance.  🙂

Til next time the heartburn wakes me early, friends!