So, I’ve officially started a blog. This might be the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Well, other than birthing a child. Other people are going to read this? The thought alone makes my cheeks burn and my palms sweat (or is that the hormones?). So why am I doing this; putting myself out there for all of you?
After my second year of teaching ended and I said goodbye to the young students that I absolutely adored (knowing that a much more challenging group was on the way up), I went home and sobbed for a few days. My sudden (and embarrassing) sadness seemed so at odds with my recent desperation for the school year to end. I had been counting down every second since spring break.
I realized that although I would truly miss working with those kids each day, the thought of an open-ended schedule was the real source of my stress. I finally understood that I’m consistent in that I hate inconsistency. Looking back, I think I’ve always been sensitive to time and change as shifts in schedule seem to cause me some degree of anxiety. My husband, Zach, can now predict these times of unease and remind me to “find a routine.”
From that summer, flash forward one wedding, a few moves, and a pregnancy. Three and a half years later I find myself in the biggest life change I have ever faced and will probably ever face again. I have a child.
I have a CHILD. A daughter. Her name is Cora and I truly can’t find the words to explain the love we have for her (and her delicious cheeks).
I thought I was a child. Just yesterday I was sitting at brunch for like five hours…deciding whether I wanted another topper of the bubbly stuff. And maybe another round of fries. When did this happen? Is this okay? I thought I wanted this? I’ll be okay, right?
Yes, I will. I keep telling myself that this is just another (albeit huge) routine change. I can’t be the selfish 20-something. Along with ringing in my thirties, I’m now in charge of the health and happiness of another human being. Again, they allowed us to leave the hospital with her. How?
And Zach, the angel that he is, reminds me often: these feelings are normal. Also, it is predictable. You knew you would feel this way. You’re head over heels in love with your child, but also nostalgic for what once was, and what probably never will be again…and it’s time to find that new routine.
So here I am. Here I am to say that while I can’t be a selfish 20-something anymore, I can be a thirty-year-old woman with a baby that needs to maintain some selfish tendencies if I’m going to do a decently good job of raising this little cherub. And obviously, I want to do more than a decently good job.
Month one of Cora’s life had no semblance of a routine whatsoever, and I walked around practically shirtless at the whims of a constantly hungry 10 pound newborn, rubbing “joy” essential oil behind my ears in hopes that it would mask the scent of my own tears. My best friend knowingly gave me that oil on her first visit. I didn’t think I’d need it (HA!). I lived in (and still do, let’s be honest here) my sweat pants. “Quick showers” took on a whole new meaning. I was the happiest I’d ever been. But also, there were moments that I wasn’t, and that frustrated me. The guilt felt tragic.
Month two? I decided everyone needed some sleep. Magic happened when I swaddled her, turned on the white noise, and put her down to nap, and then put myself down. And slept! She was okay. And I was okay. I used less of the joy oil, saving it for the tougher days (there were still plenty of those).
Was it a routine? Eh, sort of. We’re still working out the kinks and every week brings a new challenge. But we all had some expectation for our days, and Cora and I were both happier and better rested.
Aside from sleep, I needed more. I decided I HAD to be just a little selfish. I wasn’t teaching again until May, which felt close and far at the same time. I couldn’t imagine leaving Cora for more than an hour. At the same time, I asked myself constantly, where did I go? Who am I? I’m a mom, but am I doing a good job? And when she screamed from 5pm to 9pm, I asked myself, “why does she hate me?!” There have been so many days where I felt confidence just seep out of my body, despite having wanted this for so long.
I needed a creative outlet, something that was truly mine. Some days I think I’ve lost who I am entirely, and this is partly a journey to find out exactly who I am at age 30, and who I want to be as I raise a daughter. To hopefully stay grounded, and to create a home in which she’ll stay grounded too.
Having a daughter raises the stakes. It’s terrifying to put myself out there. Anyone who knows me literally at all is probably shocked to hear that I’m blogging. I wouldn’t even let my parents read my high school English papers. Or middle school. Maybe even elementary…
So while this blog is a partly a selfish hobby, it is also for Cora. She deserves a mother who knows who she is, can share herself with the world, and maybe, finally, not care so much what the world thinks in return. If I want that for her, for her to do things that scare her, I need to want it for myself first. As a teacher, I know that if I wanted my students to exude a certain quality, or learn a certain skill, I had to walk that walk. Everyday. I think of my teacher life almost everyday. I think of how I sometimes made assumptions and passed judgement when I shouldn’t have. First of all, I was 24, young, and naive when I started teaching (albeit excited and determined to change the world). More importantly, I didn’t have kids. There is so much I’m learning already about those assumptions, and my mom life will add new color to my teacher life (and visa versa).
Finally, this blog is for you. As I create my new routines everyday, I’ll also search for clarity, balance, and a sense of self during this most chaotic season of life. I hope I can share what I learn with you. I hope I can remind you (and myself) that WE CAN DO THIS! IT WILL BE OKAY! Promise.
What are you looking for as you enter motherhood? What will help you, selfishly or selflessly, be the best mother you can be? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you. I want this blog to reflect not just me and my family, but you and yours. Here’s to staying grounded!