Category Archives: Mamahood

Weather chasers

The past few weeks have been glorious weather-wise, so we’ve been taking advantage. It’s nice to have a break from days in the 70s to enjoy temps in the 60s. Florida is so miserable sometimes. (Seriously. See: May, June, July, August, September and usually October.)

We went to Dinosaur World with some friends who also have a toddler. (And happen to be expecting—it’s the water, kids. Don’t drink it!) Shockingly, I’d never been to DW even though it’s less than an hour away and my self proclaimed dinophile status. Too much longer and I would have had to turn in my badge to Jeff Goldblum.

The park ended up being larger and more exciting than I’d anticipated, especially the part where a dino came strolling on by on a leash. True story, even though I have no photographic evidence. I basically loved this place and would totally go back by myself to read every plaque and take notes in the museum. Addison and her buddy found a small enclosed loop trail where they could run endless circles and burn endless energy with minimal supervision, so that was also a major win for all the parents involved.

Difficult lighting situation.

Please note the discrepancies in excitement level.

Oh, was Addison supposed to be in the picture? My bad.

There is something to be said about being utterly ridiculous every now and then.

dinosThis week Addison had an appointment with a new pediatrician. Yet another perk of our new insurance—switching all of our primary care providers. Anyway, don’t let me spiral down that rabbit hole. Thankfully he was awesome and she chatted away like the highly advanced verbal superstar she is. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true! Just ask her grandma, a trusted resource for completely unbiased and objective information regarding Addison’s intellectual capabilities.

Because it’s toddler law, I bribed her with basically anything she could ever want as long as she held it together for the visit. She did! Her request was “a pink treat,” so she took down some cake pops outside like a boss.

photo 1Then we met Clayton for lunch at a park near his work. After my weekly emotional meltdown, we had a lovely afternoon by the water.

photo 4Boots + a bump.

photo 5

A Nat oldsmarSome days she likes me.

Liebster “Award”

After a seven month hiatus, I found out that Molly tagged me for the Liebster Award, something I’ve never heard of before but supplies me with a free blog post that requires minimal creative energy. Sign me up!

liebsterThe gist is to hype up smaller blogs (less than 200 followers) by providing 11 random facts about yourself, answering a few questions from the nominating blogger and then tagging other bloggers to do the same. I may just do the first part. There’s a reason I fall into the under 200 category.

So here are 11 things that you never cared to know about me.

1. I sometimes like that I am always late because I feel like it ties me to my Spanish roots. But in reality, it probably only ties me to an offensive stereotype. Cubans eating cubans. Cubans eating cubans.

2. I have bits and pieces of two unfinished books carelessly scribbled in journals, and different chapters mentally planned out for a third, a future memoir.

3. I have broken up with and taken back coffee three times in the last six months. Currently I am at a half-caf morning cup compromise.

4. In a moment of pregnancy-inspired spontaneity, we recently bought a keyboard off Craig’s List so that I could try to recapture those three years of lessons I took as a child. My dream Friday night involves candles, a song I wrote, Clayton playing guitar, me playing the keyboard and our glorious harmonies filling up the living room. And then Addison trips over the keyboard bench, topples into her play kitchen and I am ripped away from daydreams back into reality. Kids really put a damper on self improvement.

5. A few other things on my bucket list include learning Spanish, traveling to a country where I can actually use my bilingual abilities to get us around, visiting every continent and taking a massive road trip with the kiddos out west.

6. If you couldn’t tell, I am obsessed with traveling. I am also terrified of flying. I am a complicated lady.
The meds had most certainly kicked in before I took this picture.
The meds had most certainly kicked in when I took this picture.

7. Obligatory mention: I was valedictorian of my graduating class of 33 students. Roughly 80% of them are doing more awesome things than I am right now.

8. Even through college, I used to despise and rage over getting anything less than an A, even an A-. And then I took Organic Chemistry, discovered what actual studying and preparation feels like and wanted to make myself a medal for the B I earned in that class. (I got an A in Organic Chemistry 2. Boom.)
Take that, hydrocarbons!
Take that, hydrocarbons!

9. Last week I was pleasantly surprised when I counted the books I read in 2014 and realized I actually followed through on my resolution to read one book a month. This victory was greatly impacted by the “Divergent” week, when I cranked out three books in seven days. My notables were: “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green and a reread of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The book tower I scaled for one semester in 2012.
The book tower I scaled for one semester in 2012.

10. Being a mom feels nothing like what I thought it would feel like, in the same way being married didn’t feel anything like I expected. You imagine yourself becoming this totally new, redefined person that is altogether different from the previous non-married or childless version. But you’re not. You’re exactly the same person who now has to figure out how to fit this new identity into who you are, in a way that works for you. Having a kid did not automatically make me love cooking meals or cleaning the house or have a strange affinity for pipe cleaners and Elmer’s glue. That realization was actually a relief; I didn’t want to give up me for them. I am happy to have both.
nat addie walk

11. There are 16 names on our baby #2 name list. I am thinking of doing my first blog giveaway. The winner gets to name our child.

And here are my answers to Molly’s 11 questions.

1. online shopping or in-store shopping - Online shopping since Cyber Monday became a thing and since having a kid.

2. black or white – White. Because I feel guilty for choosing black. Thank you, private school.

3. summer or winter – Summer now that we have the paddleboard, even though I have developed a rather surly attitude toward and complete inability to tolerate the Florida heat after living in Virginia.

4. elephant or moose – Elephant. Trunks FTW.

They also make cuter costumes.

5. traffic or standing in line – Traffic because at least I can sing while waiting.

6. piano or guitar – Depends on the day. I like female vocals with a piano ballad and rough male vocals with an acoustic guitar. Skinny Love by Birdy is my spirit animal and one of the first songs I want to learn on the keyboard. Did I read too much into this one?

7. share it or keep it a secret – Keep it a secret. As a textbook introvert, the less talking the better.

8. dance or watch others dance – DANCE. Even if you don’t feel like it, just dance. You’ll always be glad you did.

9. filter or no filter – Filter. Even if you don’t feel like it, just filter. You’ll always be glad you did.

10. beer or wine – Beer. It’s been one of my most intense pregnancy cravings. Sigh.nat beer

11. Jonathon Taylor Thomas or Jesse from Free Willy – Secret Option C: Jared Leto from My So Called Life.

Signs You Are in the Possession of a Toddler

You step on no less than four raisins walking to the couch. You do not stop to pick them up.

Cheerios. Purse. Car floor. Bath tub. Under couch cushions. Cheerios.

You’ve mastered the deepest, surliest but quietest ”Stop. Throwing. That. Cup.” under your breath so that no one but your child can hear you striking the fear of God in them in the restaurant.

You know not to take it personally when they throw the cup anyway.

You only bother with the cute bathing suits if you’re Instagramming.

Evening out those tan lines.

Evening out those tan lines.

The standard for surfaces clean enough to eat off of has plummeted significantly.

The standard for non-food items safe enough to ingest has plummeted significantly.

There is a chip in the back windshield from that time (times?) you hurled the pacifier into the back seat in a rage after swearing this was going to be the car ride you didn’t cave in. At least you made it to the end of the driveway. You apologized later. With Cheerios.

You stroll through the mall humming “Do you want to build a snowman?” Alone.

The walls, floor, towel, sink and bather all exit bath time wetter than the bathee.

When you see duck on the menu during date night, an involuntary “Quack! Quack!” escapes your lips.

At the playground, you find no reason to intercede when your child is forcefully hugging a stranger’s child, spread eagle in the sand throwing fistfuls of dirt in the air, or screaming incoherent but most likely baby profanities at the squirrels . No feces? No problem.
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You only have one child but no one else can fit in your SUV due to the growing  number of shoes, stuffed monkeys, dolls and extra clothes accumulating in the back seat.

You either leave the house with three strollers in the back of the car to go to the grocery store, where you don’t need a stroller, or you leave for a week vacation with no strollers in the car.

Your dog roams the house in a perpetual state of fear and avoidance.

Your day doesn’t actually begin until 8:30 p.m. Any plans for productivity, adult conversation or finishing a full meal before that time are laughable.

Related: Your body has learned to function for 7 hours on three cups of coffee, bread crusts and a dozen rejected grape halves.

Do not keep blaming me for your low blood sugar.

Do not keep blaming me for your low blood sugar.

It takes you two hours to pack for the beach.

You spend, at most, 90 minutes at the beach.

This happens once every never at this point, so you savor it for as long as you can.
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Enough

I wrote this post several months ago but found it today and still got smacked in the face by it.

__________

Last week, up to my elbows in soapy water and covered head to toe in the mess of motherhood, I lost it. Full on tears dripping into the clean dishes lost it.

And the most maddening part of all was that I ruined those clean dishes (not really, I totes put them in the cabinet anyway) for a phantom. For a nothing. For an imagined problem that nags at women and moms with an incessant chirping of you are not doing enough!

I am surrounded by strong, ambitious superwomen. They inspire me continually. But because we have been numbered and categorized since our first breath, my instinct is to begin numbering and categorizing the theirs against the mines. This friend does this job, and this job, and raises this baby, and volunteers there. That friend works there, works out that many days, earned that degree, and takes her baby to the library. That girl wakes up at this time, works those hours, cooks those meals, and always wears mascara.

And, inevitably, what follows is the conclusion that

I am not doing enough.   

____________________

What is “enough?” How am I supposed to know when I’ve reached it? When I can’t put down the computer until midnight every night? When I have to find someone to watch Addison five days a week? When I have structured, age-appropriate Pinterest activities planned and prepped for her every morning when she wakes up? When my husband comes home to a hot, home cooked, edible (<– key word) meal every night of the week?

Why are we am I in an all-consuming, head-down, relentless pursuit of a goal that is wholly subjective and indefinable? What am I even chasing? If I look up, what is ahead that drives me to justify neglecting the truly valuable in anticipation of some fleeting, self-prescribed merit?

Stop. Look to the left and to the right. That is the goal. Those are the milestones that build a city of memories, a lifetime of timely pauses and spare minutes. The race is not against mothers or friends or women who do things that I can’t or never will. The race is with them, a shared marathon with some paving the way, others coming behind and the  beautiful synchronization of friends striding beside you. Swooping in with home cooked meals that will taste better than any concoction you could dream up. Busting out their own hot glue gun and ribbon when you don’t have any more space in your head for DIY crafts. Walking into your house and scooping up your baby with the warmest familiarity.

Time to enjoy the space between afternoon naps and dinner, with a swing in the yard or wagon ride in the driveway, is not

wasteful

or insignificant.

It is not a consolation for not having more important commitments.

It is

enough

and so much more.

When responsibilities are met, and the must-get-done’s are done,
breathing, deep and slow, for a minute or an afternoon, is okay.

When did it stop being nourishing and start being indulgent to read a novel that wasn’t accompanied by a test that counted toward a degree, to take a nap because you were up three times with an unhappy baby or just because you are tired, to let the laundry pile up one more day because a lunch date with your daughter is way more fun?

I have freelance projects every week.
I am a full-time mother.
I volunteer at my church.
I take care of Addison while Clayton volunteers at our church.
I handle the cooking (or ordering) of our meals, the cleaning of our house, and the organizing of our schedule.
I keep my body healthy.
I go to a small group once a week.
I see friends and family as much as I can.
I write sporadically on a blog.

In what universe would this collection of identities not be enough?  I feel so compelled to fill in the gaps of every hour in order to feel accomplished, to be sure I am making the most of my time. But I know in my head that making the most of my time is defined by what and who gets most of my time. And I don’t what that to be a computer. Or a stranger. Or a brochure or web page that will wither and die.

Making something requires an intent to create, a choice to design a life that has some growing room, some space around the edges to relax for awhile. To allow for minutes that spring up when a cat finds its way into the backyard and needs to be watched through the back door, when the play area at the mall is completely empty for the first time ever, when your kid discovers how to flip over her toy table and climb on top of it but can only get down with a Mama’s hand.

Those seconds will sprint right past you if you are not so very diligent in making time for them.

And I have told myself I do not want to miss them.

I do not want more clients if it means less time with Addison, I do not want more volunteer commitments if the joy of giving is replaced by dread, I do not want quiet moments with my husband at the end of each day to be hijacked by exhaustion.

I want to find enough

laughter surprises spontaneity fulfillment joy confidence beauty

right here in this moment. Because I am certain it is there. I just have to stop and look.

 

Getting Away and Getting Back

Guys, let’s get real. Life’s hard. It can be plain exhausting. And you know what? A few weeks ago I was over it. I was sick of being exhausted, sick of all the pressure I felt to be everything at all times for everybody, and sick of feeling like I was letting everyone down.

It was a slow build up, but as a friend of mine says, the fit hit the shan. Try as I might, I was not shaking the heaviness, and my head and my spirit were wilting.

So I got the heck out. Out of a house that was starting to reek of sadness. Out of a routine that was draining my creativity. Out of engagements that were overwhelming instead of enriching.

Within an hour of online research, I found a resort on the bay that was running a fantastic weekday special. Clayton had commitments Wednesday through Saturday of that week, so Addison and I packed up the car and hit the road. Okay, I packed. Homegirl threw everything out of my duffel at least twice.

We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and stayed through late Saturday morning. While my intent was to work through a lot of the junk piling up in my head, I wasn’t sure how much actual excavating I could do with Addison in tow. But it ended up being a perfect mix of passions that fed my soul and empty-headed playtime.

We went on a run together Thursday afternoon and finished just before a beautiful sunset. We made a mess of the breakfast buffet. We were up all night because someone practices tai kwon do in her sleep. We scuttled around the beach, plopped down in the water and waved at every single person out Friday morning.

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And when Addison napped or after she fell asleep, I wrote. I prayed. I read. I started and nearly finished Rebekah Lyons’ “Freefall to Fly,” which put to words how imprisoned I felt in the everyday. I dove into 1 Corinthians 13 and realized the futility of the best of my actions when they aren’t motivated from a place of love.

I also made the difficult decision to get a sitter for Addison one morning, in addition to the two days she is with my mom. I wrestled with this for weeks and had been attempting–and failing–to get my work done, the house un-messed, the errands ran, half marathon training completed and volunteer projects managed in the small window I had. Some or all of these things suffered on any given week, but I refused to acknowledge both the impossibility of handling every task on my list within my current schedule or the toll trying to handle it all was taking on me. So I finally pulled the text trigger that Thursday.

In the preceding weeks, a recording played in my head that said:
I have it so good. I can’t possibly complain about my life.

I am stronger than this. Why am I being so weak?

That girl and that girl and that girl have it all together and they do more than I do. I must be able to get it under control. I should wake up earlier.

These were the lies  I told myself for a good two months before even mentioning how I was feeling to another person. WOMEN, ESPECIALLY MOMS: The rest of us get it. We all feel completely inadequate, too. Even if we managed to put on mascara that day or wear the cute jeans instead of the yoga pants, we are simply staying afloat. Talk to someone!

By Friday night, just 36 hours into this little girls getaway, smack dab in the middle of the crowded waterfront patio of the resort’s restaurant, I ached with missing my husband.

Saturday morning I felt cautiously drawn back to the place I’d escaped. I knew that anyone can feel refreshed and awakened with the smell of saltwater in the air and a fiery Florida sunset within view. I had to go back. And while the scenery set the change in motion, the true shift had to be deeper than a camera angle, more personal than a standard double hotel room.

It’s been a few weeks since that mini retreat, and I cannot believe the difference in my perspective. Very little has changed within the confines of our weekly schedule. We still have must-do’s most nights of the week. My work is not slowing down. Addison continues to be very good at being 15 months old. But I can breathe. I can make it through a day (a week!) without tears.

I can face the pace, routine and impossibility of my to-do list with a shrug, with sleeves rolled up and a smile. I don’t believe my value, my daughter’s development, or the strength of my marriage depends on the check marks–or lack thereof–next to those tasks.

And that is freedom. That is the power and inconceivable compassion of God moving in a life you said was too insignificant, in a problem you said was too small, in a hidden darkness you said you could transform on your own.

That is hope. A sun setting and a dawn rising. A life that you didn’t recognize for shame and fear breathing again with the promise of all those things you’d dreamed it could be.

I cannot share this without saying how grateful I am for this life I’ve been given undeservedly. For the health of my beautiful baby girl. The love and devotion of an unwavering man. The unconditional support of family and friends others must covet. I recognize the great luxury and incredible overflow of prosperity that I enjoy in every sense. I know I have it so, so good. But a lesson that I am learning in this season is that I do not want to trade “good” for what may be best. I am after best in this life. I hope that you are, too.

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Wildlife

For Addison’s birthday, Clayton and I bought passes to the zoo. Addison gets in free. Happy birthday, A. Spared no expense.

Addison and I have already been enough times for the passes to pay for themselves, and on our zoo dates I’ve noticed a few common species.

Tourists
Hailing from the native habitats of Europe or Canada or Michigan, where the sun is a mystical phantom only read about in books, they are easily identifiable by their once pasty white skin that has turned a cracking lobster red in the Florida sun. Sometimes you will pick up the scent of burning flesh if you stand close enough. Their hair sticks to the sides of their faces and foreheads in sweaty, matted streaks. But they have a fierce determination behind their eyes, seen in between the blinking away of dripping perspiration. Clutching their maps, they are on a mission to hunt down the baby elephant pen if it kills them. Which, in fact, it might, as heat stroke is a very real danger to this population. Direct to the air conditioning as needed.

Grandparent Babysitters
Spotted without much effort as they are slow-moving, often immobile fixtures near any attraction that promises to hold the attention of the wild banshees for which they are caring. You will find them close to the carousel, roller coaster, ice cream stand or splash park. Approach cautiously; they are most likely napping and will startle easily.

The Adolescent Couple
On a desperate search for a hidden spot to canoodle, this cost-conscious breed (or their parents) opted for zoo passes because they were about $50 cheaper than Busch Gardens passes. Immediately identifiable due to the drastic age gap between them and the other zoo populace (toddlers and adults over 30) and the unenthused scowl of regret smeared over their faces. Becoming cagey upon the realization that their caretakers will not be arriving for another three hours, these are the most likely culprits for throwing water bottles into the orangutan enclosure and popping the tires on the baby train ride. Best handled with total avoidance or a disapproving single eyebrow raise.

The Parent of Infant
These dazed-looking specimens have ambitiously attempted to abandon their herd and safe lair for a solo trip with their youngling. You can hear their shrill cries throughout the park as they realize the Starbucks kiosk is closed for the summer. Never known to pack lightly in the wild, the usually female parent can be seen carrying or dragging her child (who refuses to ride in their high end carrying apparatus) with a noticeable disparity in gait, favoring the 40-pound diaper bag containing the essentials for a week at the zoo, a three-day electrical outage and a zombie apocalypse. Pass quickly as aforementioned carrying apparatus, while stylish, may have a fickle braking mechanism or parental unit may be too distracted to engage the brakes, resulting in an unimpeded tumble down the path adjacent to the red lion tamarinds.

That runaway stroller may or may not have belonged to a certain Parent of Infant who was busy trying to film her one-year-old’s adorable monkey impersonation and could not be bothered with details like a destructive projectile Chicco.

Dear Addison: Twelve Months

My sweet Addison,
Happy, happy first birthday to YOU!

To have spent this year with you, baby girl, has rewritten my life. All the things that
shone or sparkled or
hinted of excitement
paled on that dreamy day I met you twelve long
and too, too short months ago.

In all the ways I wrestled with questions of inadequacy–
“What have I done that matters?”
What will I create of remembrance?”
You are the resounding answer that, if all I’ve given to this world rests in your ten fingers,

it is quite enough.

The world shines a little bit brighter beneath that gap-toothed grin, the people who catch that crinkle-nose smile breathe easy, even if just for a moment.

You are walking with greater and greater ease, spanning whole rooms and navigating obstacles like the dog bed with less effort. Picking up treasures along your journeys sometimes throws you off balance: a shoe, a sock, a bone. Always invaluable items worthy of a tumble.

Endlessly, tirelessly, you plop, reposition, stand and take off. Again and again and again. No one can believe how well you are moving for just one year old.

Tenacious and determined, these traits have woven their way into your will after only 365 days. Smiley with strangers. Stubborn. Seeker of attention.

What a dizzying medley of personality you have become—a sprinkle of me, a dash of your Daddy—but a clever, compact, perfectly swirled unique you. The original Addison Brooke.

Hair with whispers of red, maintaining its wave as it grows by the day. Eight front teeth, four stacked on four, with a glorious gap in between. An appetite for table food that appeared overnight, scarfing chicken and fish, sweet potatoes and squash, plantains, kiwi, strawberries and, in a lapse in Mama’s judgment, banana pudding.

Refusing to keep even one of your 39 bows on your head.

Lover of dogs, which is most definitely in your genes. You play fetch with Maya, but she’s confused by your 3-inch throws.

Music grabs your attention and inspires the world’s cutest clapping. I’ll entertain you in the car with my best alphabet song to see that full-face grin that appears around “D.”

You are confident and brave in new situations, not clinging but eager to explore. The emptiness in my ever-ready embrace stings every time you squirm away. I imagine your first day of school, a flash of curls darting into the future before I can steal a forehead kiss. (Please don’t do that unless you want to have the hysterical mother sobbing outside the playground.)

I try to dream of what this puzzle will become, but it doesn’t feel right creating my own shape.
A doctor,
a dancer,
a teacher,
a poet.
Your dream is my dream.
My wish is that you become
you.

With ears that keep an elfish point, eyes that keep their twilight gray, hands that find their rhythm, and feet that make their own way.

I pray for your heart to be filled,
poured into in gushes, 
spilling over and out, 
in the way that you have overwhelmed the boundaries of my heart’s beat.

A Mama’s job is so complex, beautiful girl. To endure the aches of growing and letting go while resonating with pride and awe at the person I once knew only as flutters behind a belly.

I have, more than I ever would have anticipated, relished this year with you. My constant companion, my audience, my entertainment, my reminder of what matters the very most. In 365 days, there were two that I didn’t see you. Only two mornings I didn’t greet your puffy eyes, scoop you in my arms and carry you through our day.

How silly to say that you have been my best friend, but I certainly can’t imagine spending that many hours with anyone else and somehow waking up missing them.

I tell you of this year, and how inseparable we are, because one day—God help us—you will turn 15 years old. And I know from experience that I will be the very last person you’d choose to take on a road trip, to look for a new pair of jeans, or to the Starbucks where “he” works. You will look at me with unsolicited resentment, and my words will evaporate into the air before ever hitting your ears. I cringe remembering that very perfect picture of unfounded teenage angst I was.

But I just wanted you to know that we had this year, you, your Daddy and I. When your sparkling eyes hung on every move I made. When sitting on the floor giggling over a green ring was the best 15 minutes of our day. When you told me every little thing that crossed your mind, even if I couldn’t understand any of it. When you studied my words and sounds as if they were magic.

Not a year that will stick in your memory, but
the very best year of my life.

I said it when you turned one month old, and even though I don’t know how, I still promise:

it will only get better from here.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

a bday

Dear Addison: 11 Months

Dear Addison,
You are 11 months old! What a great job at growing you’re doing, little lady!

A cart leg

This month you’ve conquered some unbelievable feats. Walking, for starters! You’re still wobbly and prefer the stability of something to hold onto, but when you set your sights, you can take some serious bowlegged steps. Our highest step count is nine so far.

A shoes

You also graduated from your swim class, and I could not be more proud of you. I was worried before these lessons started that I’d be traumatizing you (and me) for life. But by the final week, you didn’t even whimper while you were in the water. You knew what to do and did it, happily splashing and waving at your fan club when you came back up. I love that you constantly exceed my expectations. What a great reminder that you are you, and what you will so often need from me is to simply understand and trust in your independence and individuality. It’s hard, baby girl, since every cell in my body reacts to protect you, but I will try to keep myself on the pool’s edge when that’s what you need.

swim

DSCN2527

Eating is still an adventure. I refuse to give you pieces of table food larger than a grain of salt, so meals can take some time. You’ve tried a bunch of new foods and like most things. Your absolute favorite way to eat is to pick the food up yourself and attempt to locate your mouth. Sometimes you actually do. It’s quite clear eating the food is secondary to the fact that you’re doing it yourself. If only your paranoid Mama would chill out and give you the whole dang banana already.

A eggs

You’ve made it through two Rays games at the Trop, which is almost unbelievable to me. I know grown men who can barely do that (looking at your dad).

noas rays fieldThis month, like all the others, seemed to trickle too easily out of my grasp. You are losing some of your baby chub and growing longer. I love that you are strong and healthy and thriving, but I hate that you are bigger by the day.

A car seat

A dog bed

Still, there are times when you are all baby. 

At 3:00 on an anonymous Tuesday afternoon, we sat swaying back and forth in daylight dimmed by happy curtains, as your exhausted hand draped carelessly across me, tiny fingertips tiptoeing along my arm. I sat still, every few seconds nuzzling my cheek into your baby soft hair, watching your tired eyes and mind melt from a daze, to a droop, to asleep. The world waited—as I always claim it cannot–because it must, because in that moment

you needed me.

And there was nothing else.

In that moment, awash in the purest glory, breathtaking stillness and sheer soul-gutting abandon, I was Motherhood. In its quietness. In its barefootedness. In its Tuesday afternoonness. In its old t-shirtness. In its snot wipingness. In its

hopeless devotion
heart wrecking love affair
how-is-this-possibly-possible

ness.

You and me, we were Motherhood, there in a cushy brown chair. On a Tuesday afternoon.

And no matter how slim your thighs become, or how well you begin to swim, or how quickly those shaky steps turn into strides, the second you say the word, I will dive into the deep end and pull you to our Tuesday afternoon.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

A window 2

A back seat

A N pool

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Dear Addison: Ten Months

Dear Addison,
Last week you turned ten months old! And cue the tears. Mine, not yours, because you rarely cry. Thanks for that, by the way.

I swear I was just sitting down writing your nine month post. This month slipped right by. I have a sinking feeling this is exactly what I will be saying when you start kindergarten, graduate from high school and get married. Or when you get your GED, join the Peace Corps and head to South America.  

What I do remember about this month is that you are indeed a genius. Your imitating skills are clearly superior and you have surprised us by copying the way your Daddy plays the harmonica and the way I dance like a spaz. Most recently you grabbed my phone, put it on top of your head and said hello. We didn’t teach you any of those things, you sneaky little parrot. When you randomly display these feats of intelligence we just furrow our eyebrows and stare at you, look at each other, and then look at you some more. We know that you have already surpassed our measly brains and now we’re just sitting back imagining what you might do next. Your future will be more than we can claim in this life, and that is precisely what parents dream for their children.

Your love for Maya has grown by leaps and bounds. Meaning you leap and bound on top of her. You learned how to “throw” her bone for her (about three inches in front of you), and if she doesn’t want it, you will stick that thing right in her face until she takes it. I’m working on “easy hands,” but you will have no part of it. Before I can say unsanitary, you pluck hairs from her head and stick them directly into your mouth. I guess I should thank you for the free grooming.

You adore music and when I let you roam around the living room, you crawl right over to your Daddy’s guitar, seat yourself under it and begin clapping. Only a fiend would not indulge that request. Even my goofiest songs about putting on pajamas and dry heaving over your smelly diapers are pure gold to you.

We’ve experimented with several new foods, balking at the doctor’s idea to wait four days in between trying something new. Who’s got time for that when there are avocados, tomatoes, black beans and mashed potatoes sitting around? Surprise, surprise—you eat everything. It takes a village to sustain that belly.

A stick yard

I spent a large portion of our income on a food processor so that I can make you four course meals crushed into mush. I want you to love good food, to appreciate meals with family and friends, and not obsess about calories and jeans sizes. But I also want you to discover whole, natural foods that keep your beautiful body strong and healthy. It’s a balance that I cannot pretend to have found, but I work at it for you, so that you can see a woman who laughs around a table instead of worries, who accepts dessert instead of becoming defensive about her latest diet. It’s a tricky business being a girl getting to know food, and I want your earliest memories to help shape that relationship into an effortless, colorful, joyful experience.

Related: mashed bananas work better than hair gel.

This stage in your tiny life is still full of belly laughs from all those who get to be in your presence, fleeting snuggles when you are just tired enough, and pure fascination with watching your sweet soul take shape.

A shoe on headBut you are also on the move. Constantly. And being with you 24 hours a day is utterly exhausting. So your Daddy and I took a mini vacation over the weekend and left you with BeeMa and Abuelo. Know that I love you with every ounce of my being when I say this: boy was that nice. I think it was healthy for you and me to spend some time apart, to catch our breath and to learn that we can manage a [brief] separation.

A nat pool float

I also want you to grow up in a home where your Daddy and Mama love each other. Not in a we’re-married-and-stuck-with-each-other kind of way, but a genuine, look-at-the-way-they-look-at-each-other kind of way. This is the definition you will have of marriage, of commitment, of respect, of love. Your Daddy and I take that seriously. So when we go out on dates, or take a quick weekend trip, of course we’re doing that for ourselves, to deepen our relationship with one another. But we also do it for you. To show you what it looks like when a husband and wife are intentional about staying mad over each other, about creating time to be together, about being interested in each other as people. We think that’s one of the greatest gifts we will ever be able to give you, so that you know what to hold out for. And what to walk away from.

With every passing day, I am so giddy at the thought of spending this life with you. Of your future bursting into being right in front of my eyes. Surely, what a beautiful dance it will be.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

Have a baby. You deserve it.

On the fence about procreating? Here are 10 completely selfish reasons to get busy gettin’ busy.

1. You know that moment in Target or the grocery store when you realize you’ve been talking out loud to yourself, either reciting your list, the other errands you have to do or that Ke$ha song you heard right before coming in? When you’re accompanied by a baby you can easily recover with a quick, animated “What do you think about that, peanut?” directed towards the shopping cart. That’s right – you were talking to the baby the whole time.

2. It’s totally forgivable to forego showering, using makeup and general hygiene as long as your kid has on a coordinating, adorable outfit. Preferably with an ironic slogan on it, like “I was partying all night in my crib” or “Spit Up Distance Champion” or whatever.

3. Boobs.

4. Really don’t feel like driving four hours to that creeper cousin’s wedding even though you RSVP’d months ago? Babies can EASILY develop a cough the night before dreaded events.

5. I have been late to everything since I started driving. As of July 15, 2012, it is no longer my fault that I show up 15 minutes tardy for every party.

6. Naps are more acceptable for mothers. Oftentimes encouraged.

7. I spent about half as much money on groceries for the first six months of Addison’s life because her gargantuan carrier took up the entire shopping cart, only leaving room for the bare essentials to be carefully packed in around her. Coffee. Creamer. Something chocolate. And done.

8. My running pace has increased thanks to the 40 pounds of resistance provided by the jogging stroller. I have also abandoned my iPod in favor of being serenaded by baby babbling.

9. “Honey, I really need a night out with the girls. You know…all that taking care of the baby and everything.”

10. Boobs.

Am I missing anything?

A face

A face2

A blueberry face