Sunday, January 30, 2011

Post #4.

"No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice."
Chuck Palahniuk

I wrote this quote down in a journal a long, long time ago and tonight I came across it again. This blog is intended to be about Austen Lily, but this post in particular is more about the (my) journey to motherhood. I remember when I first read this quote, it seemed wistful to think of how one day, the fabulous life I was leading, would all seem like a distant memory. The idea of it was quite abstract to me--I knew that one day we would all change course, the parties would end, and there would be a decision we all made to settle down.

Well, as seems to be the case with most aspects of my life, that grand change did not go quite the way I envisioned it--and was not nearly as far off in the future as I had imagined. I got pregnant. I quit my job(s). I had a beautiful baby girl. I got married. I made decisions, lots of very big, irreversible decisions. And tonight, after a hell of a whirlwind, I revisted the girl who sat in her apartment in University(just ask Alason, that really was the best little apartment) and wrote down quotes about how life was going to fly by, all the while being pretty certain that it would never slip past me--after all, I read the quote. I was prepared.

Well, I have that sunken feeling Mr. Palahniuk describes. I feel like I did not appreciate so many of the little moments that lead up to the life I now have. I feel like I did not spend nearly enough time counting the tiny kicks in my ribs and eating ice cream over the sink at midnight. I was reminded today, when holding Mindy's sweet baby Brad, that I did not stare at Austen's quivering newborn lip nearly enough. Nor did I cherish the moments when I nursed her at 3 am and tried to stifle my laughs as I watched informercials about the shake weight. All of these moments that seem so fleeting--and that was just the past six months. Theres an entire lifetime before that of tiny things that I forgot to notice.

Today, at the park, Liz's fearless little girl, Adalai, tried a trick on the jungle gym that was...well, a bit too tricky. She landed flat on her back and the instant she hit, I knew the feeling that overcame her. That feeling when you hit the cold, hard ground and all the air escapes your lungs. For a split second, you really wonder and worry if you will breathe again. You look around, like Addie did, for someone to hold you and breathe for you until you can regain your bearings. Seeing her struggle to stop stifle her tears, all to aware of the power of embarassment at her tender age, I knew exactly how she felt. It occurred to me, while reading that college journal, that I have sort of been living in a perpetual state of waiting to breathe again. I have been fearful of what turns my life has taken. When I was pregnant, I held my breathe until I held that sweet girl. But as soon as my lungs were full, they emptied again as I lay awake in my bed--anticipating her next cries. Since then, it has simply been one thing after another. My "breathing" has been labored and I have been so focused on making sure that each moment goes according to plan, that I fear I have been failing to actually live those moments.

Chad constantly chides me for my picture taking. He tells me that I am missing the moment in an attempt to capture it. To an extent, I know he is correct. But I read that quote. I know that one day, there will be a feeling that I missed it all--that I never quite caught my breath. I guess I feel that in those moments I will look at the pictures and I will somehow be there again. Although, as much as I stare at this picture--I know that moment, so many beautiful moments with wonderful people (i hope, i dearly hope, you all know how much you have meant to me and how much you still do), are beyond my grasp.

I take solace in knowing the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Post #3.

Austen really really wants to crawl. She can actually scoot a few feet over the course of a couple of minutes, but she wants to really get going. It is an interesting thing to watch. She gets up on her hands and knees and starts rocking back and forth. You can see it in her eyes--she thinks if she can just get enough momentum, she will be off. It sort of reminds me of one of those toy cars you had as a kid that if you pulled it back and let go it would take off. I am just waiting on her to jet across the floor. However, as of today, all that revving back and forth usually just ends in a face plant. Yet, she immediately gets back up and does it again. She will repeat this process over and over until she reaches the things she most desires (current favorites are her own reflection in the floor length mirror, my cell phone, or the TV remote).

There are two things I have noticed since she has begun her mission to crawl. First, as a parent, this is the first time I have no been able to readily give her what she wants. When she is hungry, I give her food. When she is upset, I comfort her. Only she, however, can put one foot (or in this case, knee) in front of the other and move. This scenario is a little disconcerting for me. I know that I face a lifetime of sitting on the sidelines while I watch her figure it out. I know that when she is 16 (and hopefully no sooner), she will come to me and tell me that I absolutely do not understand her love for a particular boy. I will have to sympathize, offer advice, etc...but I cannot prevent the heartbreak. Just like I can't decide what her chosen path in life is. I am her mother. Not her master. At five months, she already shows signs of a fierce independent streak. I am bracing myself for what this means to me as a parent.

The other thing about watching her figure things out is that it is inspiring. Cliche as it may sound, she never gives up or gets discouraged. She does get frustrated but instictively, she is not satisfied to remain stationary. If she sees something she wants, she will exhaust herself to get it. When do we lose that instinct? I cannot remember the last time I labored for something I really wanted (except when I actually labored--but then again, what choice did I have?). I remind myself that pre-baby, pre-marriage, pre-college--I had an idea of what my adult self would be like. I recognize that life throws us various curveballs and so we must shift our plans but the difference between the woman I am now and the girl I was then is that I don't yearn for things the way I did before. I have aspirations and goals, but I have lost the intensity that I see in Austen's eyes when she is trying to crawl. I have always heard that your children teach you endless lessons and so it is no surprise that I find myself learning a very important lesson from that litle tyke. Staying in one place is boring--growing, discovering, finding adventure--those are the things worth doing. I guess that I will have to join Austen in learning to move towards big, exciting goals again. Afterall, soon she will crawl--and walk, and run--and I want to keep up.

My little mover. I have never been so proud of something or someone in my life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Post #2.

I have noticed that there are a few things that are universal about motherhood. We all feel guilty for leaving our children no matter how desperately we wanted a break, we all peek in on them when they are sleeping, and we all do the following things to insure that we are in fact "good mothers":

--No matter what kind of flooring surface it is, no matter how dirty the floor or the blanket--if we lay a blanket down before we put our kid on the floor, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if the flooring surface is cleaned and disinfected with vinegar and hot water as opposed to harmful chemicals. I am lucky if the floor has been mopped this week.).

--No matter where the paci fell, if we rinse it off before giving it back to the baby(or in some cases, put it in our own mouths), we are good mothers. (Bonus points if you use those little pacifier wipes. I never have.)

--No matter the temperature or circumstances, if our children are wearing socks and/or shoes AND we manage to keep both socks/shoes on for the duration of the day, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if all of these things coordinate with the childs outfit. Austen has one pair of shoes that fit and they are the weirdest shade of purple and pink. Which match nothing.)

--No matter the temperature or circumstances, if we drape a blanket across our child's lap in the carseat or stoller, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if you made the blanket. I can't sew.)

--If we carry enough diapers and wipes to clean the behinds of every person at our destination, even though our child will most likely only need one, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if they're cloth diapers--mine are not).

As I venture further into motherhood, I am sure that I will discover more things that we do for our own peace of mind--that more than likely are not always necessary. I think it is amusing that we can love these little people so much that we are willing to do absolutely anything for them--even if it takes us 15 minutes to pack them up to leave the house.

As you can see here, I am practicing "good motherhood"--Austen's socks match and she has on mittens. However, nothing really goes together so I lost the bonus points. Dang.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Post #1.

This blog is about Austen Lily—and all of her silliness, awesomeness, and occasional defiance. If you are already annoyed with my incessant picture posting, this blog is not for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Austen Lily is now almost half way through her first year. She is trying to crawl, learning the art of smacking and hair pulling, and loving green beans and squash. She does not love fruits, car seats, or not being able to see her Mommy. Oh, and sleeping. She really hates sleeping.
For the past few weeks, her sleep patterns have been sporadic. For a little while, she slept 8-10 hour stretches and a total of about 12 hours nightly. That was glorious. But more often than not, she is waking every hour or so. It seems to Chad and I that it is because she has become some proficient at rolling back and forth, that she often does it in her sleep—which scares her or leaves her trapped against the crib rail. So, she yells until one of us flips her backs over and reinserts her pacifier. The entire soothing process usually takes 30 seconds, but when it’s your 15th time doing the soothing—it can become somewhat bothersome.
The past three nights, Austen has upped the ante by refusing to be soothed by the usual flip and soothe. She wants to eat, sometimes twice a night, and just cuddle in general. Now, let me tell you something about this child. She does not cuddle. She wants to be at arm’s length, figuring out the world. I will never forget when I lovingly swaddled her when she was just a few days old, read y to lay her tenderly in her bassinet. She responded by thrashing about until she freed herself from the swaddle and screaming until I placed her on her tummy. So, there’s that.
This all brings me to “crying it out”. I have considered it. I have sort of tried it. I have done the five minute increments of letting her scream (Let’s get real, Austen does not cry. Crying is for babies. She screams like a two year old. Many of you may remember that her pediatrician thought he had the wrong room at her two month check up because her cry was so “adult”).  The problem is that until this point Austen has been so “independent” (I recognize that this is a relative term for a five month old), that I feel like when she is crying for me at night it is because she genuinely needs something. I just can’t convince myself that she needs “tough love” at this point. I know this is a controversial topic and many people will disagree with me. Maybe I just need another week of no sleep to recognize the value of letting her CIO—only time will tell.
What I have come to realize about parenting is I seriously have no idea what I am doing and the fantastic advice I receive is only so helpful, as every baby is different. Luckily (or not so luckily), it seems that my baby and I have similar personalities and maybe this will serve me in figuring out her needs. Or possibly, I will be sentenced to an 18 year repayment for all of the times I promised to call my mom and didn’t, leaving her sleepless and worried. Ah, a feeling I know all too well these days. Sorry, Mom!!

Austen, this morning. She looks sleepy...go figure.