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The Weeping Mess, The Beautiful Doll

16 Jan

I’ve been coming back to this space quite a bit in the few weeks. Not to write, but to read.

A month ago, an old post popped up on my Timehop. OLD. 5 years old to be exact. From the first days that this  blog existed. Before I had thousands of readers.

Before I lost most of those thousands.

I read the post and was horrified. Horrified by my abysmal writing style. My inability to craft a clear narrative.

Even more horrified by the dramatic, whiny, insufferable version of myself that wrote that post.

When I talked about the post with my therapist I talked about “her”. About how “she” was a drama queen who didn’t know how good she had it. About how annoying and insipid “she” was.

My therapist called me on my bullshit. Yes, I need to be more compassionate toward myself. Toward my old self.

I hadn’t been here in quite a while when that post popped up and brought me back.

So I’ve been reading. Over and over. Re-processing events I described here in detail but that I don’t even remember happening. Grieving for my son again.

The most enlightening revelation has been how clearly and absolutely I understood my own neuroses at any given moment. I read these clear descriptions of them – my anxiety, my tendency to disconnect, my depression. I understand that those descriptions were written in a fog, but the clarity of them is not lost on me.

I was more aware of myself than I thought.

******

Yesterday, in a fit of boredom I took one of those personality tests. How strongly I agree or disagree with statements like “I like to be the center of attention.” and “I keep my living space tidy and organized.”

Several times over I selected an answer, then stopped myself and selected the complete opposite. What I was, and what I am.

******

I’ve been in a weight loss group for the last couple of months, in an effort to rehab some unhealthy habits. I usually show up wearing a tunic and leggings – my old “constant pregnancy” wardrobe. An outfit I throw on to be comfortable after work.

On Wednesday night I ran into the group wearing a dress and heels, full makeup, and a rushed demeanor. I’d come in to get weighed and leave. Client meetings back to back and a trip to the UK next week. I couldn’t stay. I’d shown up wearing my strong, put-together persona. Not the usual vulnerable mess that steps on the scale.

The next day the woman who heads up the group (who I love), called me. It was to catch up since I missed the group but I also knew she was curious. She didn’t recognize the frantic, put-together woman that she had seen the night before. She told me I looked “like a beautiful doll”.

She seemed surprised and amazed that the person who sometimes leaves her group a wet, sobbing mess was also a high-functioning professional.

She knew the messy part. The mother that openly wept the week before when she spoke about pleasing everyone but yourself.

The other part was foreign to her. Energetic, smiling. A”beautiful doll.”

 

This last week has been busy. My manager was in from New York and I was in meetings all day, every day. I ran home in the evening, all makeup and heels, to hug my daughter and put her to bed.

And every evening she looked at me and said that my dress was pretty. That she liked the flower pattern on my tights. She touched my made up eyes and asked “what is this?”

On Thursday night when I got home I hugged her tightly and told her I had missed her. When I looked her in the eyes she smiled and said “mommy!” in a way that I knew – I just knew she was seeing me. Truly SEEING me.

The energetic, smiling, “beautiful doll” was present and accounted for.

*****

I don’t know where this long, meandering post is going. Maybe it’s a tribute to that other long, meandering post that stirred up my ire a few weeks ago. That made me confront “her”.

Worlds collided this week. My daughter saw my heels and makeup. The weeping mess met the “business woman here on business“.

Perhaps this post is about melding the two. Re-embracing “her”. Accepting her for the train wreck that she was. That she is. That I am.

Because she’s still here. She IS the beautiful doll. She is the weeping mess.

It’s just that those two don’t seem to be on speaking terms very often.

I wonder if they’ll continue to be mutually exclusive.

Maybe worlds are coming together. Maybe not.

Maybe 5 years from now I’ll read this and barely recognize myself.

Probably.

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

 

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The Paradox of Equal Parenting, to a Child of Unequal Parents

29 Nov

I was raised in a home with a detached and self-involved father, and a stay-at-home mother who made me her whole world, and still does to this day.

At the age of 6, I declared that I want to have a career and liked my first boy because he wanted to be either “an astronaut or a house husband”.

I liked him because of the latter. Well – that and the fact he shared his astronaut ice cream with me.

But mostly the “house husband” thing.

These two facts are important to note because they provide the context to throw my internal struggle into brighter relief. Some of you may read this and declare that I’m ungrateful. I am not. Or you may decide that I think stay at home moms don’t have a life outside of mothering. I don’t think that. I am eternally grateful for what I have. I understand that my upbringing was an anomaly and not that norm. But that doesn’t make things simple. Far from it.

Shmerson and I made the decision to move closer to our office (we work at the same company, in drastically different departments with no overlap) a year ago. In July, we finally pulled the trigger and moved a 10 minute walk away from it.

What was once a 4 hour-a-day commute for Shmerson, and a work-from-home most days situation for me, was transformed into something completely different. My schedule didn’t change by much, but being in the thick of things made me reorder priorities, remember that meetings, networking, heels, make-up, and business trips exist. It brought me back to a very ambitious, career-minded place.

This is something I hadn’t truly felt in almost a decade (pretty much since finishing grad school tired and disillusioned).

Shmerson’s schedule changed drastically as well. Instead of coming home at 9pm long after bedtime, he gets home just in time for Bunny’s dinner and bath. Instead of dropping her off quickly at day care each morning so he can catch a train, he usually takes her in her stroller, and literally has time to stop and smell the flowers. He spends the morning with her and drops her off, I pick her up and spend the afternoons with her.

When once I was the dinner-bath-bedtime officer during the week, we now rotate. We split weekends into time where we each have Bunny separately while the other sleeps, rotating chores, and quality family time.

In short – we’re 50/50 parents. As in – we really are. Yes. For reals.

Sure there are discrepancies. I’m usually the one to make and take Bunny to doc appointments. Shmerson is the one who gets her up and ready each morning. I cook and in general plan meals. He clears the table, does dishes and most of the laundry. I do the grocery shopping, he deals with anything involving paperwork, and running morning errands like going to the post office and bank.

In the 15 (!) months since Bunny was born, and especially in the last 4, we have fought, negotiated, and compromised our way into equilibrium. We both have quality time with Bunny, manage to push forward our careers, and even grab some quality time for the two of us, and with friends.

Granted, we don’t sleep much. But we’re pretty much “in the zone.”

We fought hard to reach this place. I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember. Before I even knew him. This is what I wanted.

Now that I have it – I’m scared out of my mind.

There are days she clearly wants him to comfort her over me.

There are days I have to work late and I barely see her for an hour.

There are mornings I choose sleep and miss something adorable she’s done. Or a new word she said.

There are things he knows about her that I don’t.

Of course, the same thing can be said of him. Of course there are nights he works late. There are words he misses. There are things I know that he doesn’t.

But –

And I’m just going to go right ahead and say this, my women’s studies minor be damned.

But I’m her mother. I’m not supposed to miss things. She’s not supposed to go to anyone but me for comfort. I should be the one putting her hair in pigtails each morning, and in PJs each night.

This is what a mother does. A mother gives everything to her daughter.

This is the only world that I know.

And now I’m living in one where that isn’t true.

I know I’m modeling a wonderful, respectful and balanced relationship for her.

I know I’m demonstrating ambition, and being a strong independant woman and all that good stuff.

I know that making myself happy is critical to keeping her happy.

I know having two parents that are involved is GOOD FOR HER.

But it goes against what I experienced. It goes against what I grew up on. My mother is my whole world because she was always there, and still is.

Will Bunny feel the same way about me? I want her to more than anything else. And I’m deathly afraid that she won’t.

Every day, logic and experience are in a constant tug of war.

Of course she’ll always love me. I’m her mother, and I’m a good mother.

But I’m not there 24/7. I’m not always her soft place to fall.

That’s good. That means she has multiple soft places to fall.

But I want it to be ME. That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED TO BE.

No. It’s just what you were raised on. It can and should be different, and for her – it is different.

What if she hates me because I’m not always there?

She will always love you, you are her mother.

Yes, but I’ve chosen to be other things as well.

 

At the age of six, I thought I knew what being an ambitious woman with no desire to stay at home meant.

At the age of 34, I’m starting to realize that it isn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

Not Freaking Out at ALL

29 Aug

Next Sunday night, I’m getting on a plane and flying to the US.

Alone.

For 6 days.

2 days after Bunny’s first birthday.

On one hand – I’m SUPER excited. This is a really important move from a career standpoint. On the other:

HOLY CRAP I’M LEAVING MY BABY FOR 6 WHOLE DAYS.

Any working mommies out there have any tips for making this easier on Bunny?

And on me? Because let’s be honest – I’m going to take it harder than she will.

On a slightly different, but related note: Who’s coming to Content Marketing World?

I know you’re out there, FSM knows enough of us do this writing thing for a living. Email me if you’re planning on going!

An Open Letter to a Battling Mommy

22 Aug

Dear Mom Who Is Judging Me For How I Raise My Child,

It’s going to be ok. No – really. I swear. I know you’re feeling insecure right now. I understand that you question your parenting decisions, and therefore stick to them fanatically in order to quell your lack of confidence.

But really – it’s going to be ok. You don’t need to yell about how right you are. You just do what’s right for you. I promise you that you don’t need the world’s approval to parent how you see fit.

We all question our parenting decisions. It’s part of being a parent. We all feel insecure. We’re all secretly afraid that we’ll somehow break the fragile beings we are in charge of. You’re not alone.

Like the other night, when I saw that my baby girl wasn’t liking the cucumber I gave her, and barely ate her bread and eggs? I admit – I gave her a cookie. Did I question that decision? Of course I did! Does that mean I now have to go out and judge and berate every mother that chooses NOT to give her child a cookie?  Hell to the no.

I also sometimes give my daughter jarred baby food for breakfast. I work full time, and I can’t find the time to puree fruit every day on top of the two other meals I cook for her.

Does that mean that I go out and give those who don’t cook at all the stink-eye? Or curse out a mother who gives their child only homemade food?  Of course not.

I gave up on breastfeeding when my daughter was 10 days old. I do not go out and berate women who breastfeed until their child is 3.

I speak to my daughter in a different language, so that she will hopefully be fluent in two languages her entire life. I do not curse out other bilingual moms for not doing the same. It’s hard! I don’t blame you if you don’t do it.

I do not believe that full-on cry-it-out sleep training is right for my daughter. But I would never insult someone who does.

Because like you, my dear insecure friend, I question my parenting choices.

But unlike you – I flaunt my insecurity. I share it with my friends. I share it on this blog. I embrace it.

I don’t try to mask it by entrenching myself in my decisions as if they were gospel I needed to preach to the masses.

You know why? Because every parent ends up screwing up their kid in some fashion.

Too much junk food.

Too little junk food.

Too much TV.

Too little TV.

Ingrained racism, or sexism. Or sleep problems, or materialism. Or irresponsibility. Or messiness.

My mom was awesome – and I’m an almost 34-year-old who has NO IDEA how to properly fold a shirt.

I also throw my shoes next to the couch when I come home. There’s literally a pile of shoes next to the couch. And I only noticed when my daughter attempted to put one in her mouth today. True story.

My mom was awesome, and I’m a slob.

I’ve also spent countless hours and countless dollars on intensive psychotherapy.

Because my mom tried really hard not to mess me up, because her parents messed her up. And as a result – she messed me up in a completely different, unexpected way.

And I’m ok with that.

Just like I’m ok with the fact that despite my best efforts, I will somehow mess up my child.

And it will probably come from a place I never imagined, because that’s how these things work.

My dear, sweet, insecure friend. Stop yelling. Stop posting sanctimonious preachy gifs and links on facebook. Pour yourself a glass of wine and relax. Play some Candy Crush or something instead.

Because you really don’t need the world’s approval for your parenting decisions. Just like you have no right to approve or judge mine.

And I promise you, everything will be ok.

Just start saving up for those inevitable therapy bills in the future. I know I am.

Sincerely,

A Fellow Mom Who’s Doing Her Best

Protected: Mama/Drama

20 Aug

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The Inevitable Has Arrived

5 Aug

Well it was sunshine and unicorn farts for a while there, but it looks like at 11 months, we have to sleep train Bunny. She’s a champ at sleeping through the night, but getting her to sleep has become a nightmare (yes, even when we make bed time later, and after a long day).

And I’ll be honest, I have no patience for a weeks-long research and book reading marathon here – so here’s where you come in.

We want something quick and dirty, to pull the band aid off, so-to-speak. That’s the way Bunny adjusts best to change.

So – links or a quick (or in-depth!) overview of methodology would be awesome.

And I am fully ok with cry-it-out as long as it as there’s something in place which gives her a sense of security.

Also – in case you’re new here, let me make this clear: ALL PHILOSOPHIES are welcome, and any mommy war BS will be outright rejected. This is why I moderate comments, and I’m not afraid to hit “reject” if things get catty.

So please keep it civil, but have at it folks! How do I teach this girl to fall asleep by herself?

Thanks guys!

 

“Good Night Baby, I’m Sorry for Being a Crappy Mom”

2 Aug

That’s how I said good night to Bunny tonight.

I was up half the night with her last night. She was crying, she was running a fever. At 6am I finally got her to sleep. At 8am I handed her off to Shmerson and got 3 hours of sleep myself.

I’m in a bit of a tailspin.

We’re drowning in boxes. But really, that’s not the issue.

The issue is that I thought moving closer to work would have a bigger impact on Shmerson than it would on me.

Holy fuck was I wrong.

I realized it a couple of days ago. Basically, for the last 3.5 years I’d been living like a hermit. And moving – it was basically my re-entry into the land of the living.

When we moved away from Tel Aviv after my first miscarriage, I started working from home. As time went on, from one loss to another, I became more and more isolated.

We lived over an hour away from most of our friends, so I didn’t see them much. I would venture out a couple of times a week to teach, or for meetings, but that was basically it.

After losing Nadav keeping to myself became the easier option. I rarely ventured out. Lord knows I had a good excuse. Shmerson started working in Tel Aviv so he would come home late every night. Apart from my mom, I rarely saw anyone.

My isolation became complete once I got pregnant with Bunny and spent 6 months cultivating a dent in the couch.

And after she was born, it wasn’t much different. I would get up, and work, and pick her up from daycare, play with her for a couple of hours, and get her to sleep.

I would still spend about 80% of my waking hours alone. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have any semblance of a social life. It was work, Bunny, work, Shmerson.

That’s it.

And last week we moved.

And now I’m in the office every day.

Rather than sitting in my PJs answering emails, I’m in the office. Surrounded by people.

ALL THE TIME

And at home we’re drowning in boxes. And I’m not even touching on the political situation, and my devolving sense of security because if I even acknowledged that I would lose my shit.

A couple of days ago I realized I was being short with Shmerson.

I realized that I had barely had 15 minutes to myself in over a week.

It’s not like work time was “me time” when I was at home. But there’s a difference when you’re constantly surrounded by people.

To illustrate the point: I had to do laundry over the weekend because I barely had 5 work-appropriate outfits to wear. That’s how rarely I ventured out.

I was a hermit living in a leper colony, and all of the sudden, I’m getting unleashed on society again.

All of this, and Bunny. The situation here has brought a lot of anxiety to the surface and I’ve hated leaving her every day.

It’s clear she loves her new day care. but she spent most of the week pretty much ignoring me. Not making a fuss when I came to pick her up, barely acknowledging me when she played at home.

I was starting to really be hurt by it. Even though I know these things happen. I was starting to think that I was doing something wrong.

Then Bunny didn’t sleep last night, and I still haven’t gotten 15 minutes to myself (until this moment).

Shmerson spent a large chunk of today unpacking and hauling boxes. So he left me to take a nap, and I gave Bunny her bath and put her to bed.

On bad days, it takes her about 40 minutes.

Today it took her almost two hours.

An hour in, I was already beginning to lose my patience. She kept half falling asleep, and then waking up again. Sometimes screaming, sometimes laughing, wanting to play.

And my patience was wearing thinner and thinner.

An hour an 20 minutes in I couldn’t take it any more. I woke up Shmerson and told him to take over.

As he took Bunny out of my arms and took over I kissed her good night and said “Good night Baby, I’m sorry for being a crappy mom.”

30 minutes later she was asleep.

And I’m here, typing this out. Feeling endlessly guilty. I should have found the patience. It’s not like I’m with her 24/7. In practice I only really spend 3 hours a day with her. I should have found the patience.

I feel like such a shitty mom. And so overwhelmed.

And rambling, and disorganized.

And that’s about it.

Sorry – I know this was all over the place.

It’s Just Like Paris

28 May

Wow, no posts for almost 2 weeks and then a flood. I guess consistency isn’t  my strong suit as of late. 

When Shmerson and I were together for about 2 years, a bit before we got engaged, we went to Paris.

At the time, I was the #2 person at a small startup company that was launching an international cable channel. My salary sucked. But I loved the job.

Shmerson and I went to the airport to go home, and realized we left our passports in our hotel room safe. We were out of cash. We made a couple of (expensive!) phone calls and a cab was on its way to the airport with our passports 20 minutes later. We had to pay a ridiculous ATM fee to get the cash to pay the driver. My bank account balance was painfully lighter after that debacle.

In line to check in, they announced that they were looking for people to give up their seats on the flight. They were willing to pay each person 400 (!) euros and cover a hotel for the night.

One more day in Paris, a free hotel, and 800 Euros if Shmerson and I stayed.

But there was this big meeting that I had to prep for at work. It was supposed to happen three days after. I was nervous about it. I had a presentation to put together.

So we said no.

800 Euros and an extra free night in Paris.

We. Said. No.

Even my boss at the time, when he heard the story, said it was a dumb move.

No shit. To this day I cannot for the life of me understand why that meeting felt so urgent at the time. But it did.

So we said no.

5 months later, the economic collapse happened and the company went bust.

I was unemployed.

And I had given up 800 Euros and a free night in Paris.

I can say I have a lot of regrets – but that – giving up that all for the sake of one meeting for a company that no longer exists – that is one of my biggest. To this day I facepalm each time I think about it.

Stupid, stupid move.

And I know – I know it’s not really the same. I know there are reasons. There are really good reasons why I work. And I’m not at some dinky 4-person startup. I have stability. We have stability. We need that.

But some days, when I sit in front of the computer, answering emails, knowing that Bunny is a 10 minute walk away being taken care of by someone else…

It’s Paris all over again.

4 Years

27 May

Anniversary number one was spent picking up the pieces of three losses.

Anniversary number two was spent seeking escapes, and searching for fragments of our two broken hearts.

Anniversary number three was spent at home, feeling fear, anxiety, and hoping beyond hope that 4 would be different…

Anniversary number four was spent laughing at our baby girl as she stood up in her crib, an hour past her bedtime, dancing around and looking very proud of herself. Finally getting her to sleep. Cuddling, while (finally!) watching “Breaking Bad”.

And thankful. So very thankful that despite heartbreak, loss and unending sadness, we made it to the other side.

Marriage can mean walking through hellfire and coming out the other side scarred and bruised, but still holding hands.

Happy anniversary to my rock. My love. My family. The father of my children. Those not with us, those to (hopefully) come, and the precious daughter that we fought so hard to bring into this world, together.

I love you Shmerson. More today than I even thought possible.

Protected: Leaning Sideways (Part 2)

26 May

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The Only Parenting Book I’ll Ever Read (Kind Of) – Part 2

5 May

Read part 1 here

During the first week of February, Shmerson and I were watching “The Colbert Report”. I admit – we generally skip the interviews, unless either of us finds the person intriguing. This time, we watched just because it was late and we weren’t quite ready to go to bed, but didn’t want to start another show.

Colbert interviewed an author named Jennifer Senior. If you’re in the US, you can watch the interview here.

Now, just for context, I’ve been watching Colbert since he premiered almost a decade ago. I’ve barely missed an episode. And there was a time that I did watch almost every interview as well. During all this time, there have only been two instances (out of what I assume are hundreds of interviews) where I was compelled to buy a book because of an interview on Colbert. The first was “Freakanomics“, the second was “Blink“.

The interview with Senior brought me to instance number 3.

It started when Senior said the words: “Joy is very hard to tolerate.” My ears perked up. I looked up from my game of Candy Crush (don’t judge me!). That felt true.

Then, she quoted a psychiatrist that she interviewed for her book. I later learned his name is George Valiant. The quote was: “Joy is grief inside out.”

When I heard that sentence I paused the show. I wrote it down. I swallowed it whole. I felt how poignant and true it was for me.

I even used it in a post a few days later, not yet knowing its attribution.

Then I went on Audible (no time to read, a long commute, and a problematic attention span has had me mostly in audio books over the last few years) and immediately bought Senior’s book: “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood”.

It took me a couple of months to get to it, but finally – a few of weeks ago – I finished it.

I finished it. I processed it.

Unlike the fake, temporary parting of the clouds that Mrs Whisperer’s book created, now having given myself some time to take it in, I can sincerely say that Senior’s book has profoundly changed me. It has changed the way I parent. Inside out.

But here’s the thing – it never once told me how I should raise Bunny. Not once.

What this book has done is made me change the way I understand parenting. Which has made me a profoundly different parent.

“All Joy and No Fun” is a book about context. It covers everything from newborns to older children leaving the nest, to losing a child. It covers these things by telling personal stories of real parents that are parenting today. How they’re parenting, why they make the choices they do.

Then it takes all of that information and puts it into a larger historical, sociological, and psychological context.

I’ll give away the twist, because Senior gives it away pretty early on herself:

Parenting as we know it has been around for less than a hundred years, and is trying to replace traditions and norms that were around for centuries.

Parenting equally between spouses (or the attempt to) has been around for even less time.

Which means that for the time being, we’re all pretty much flying by the seat of our pants. Where there once were rules, traditions and norms, now there are none. We are the pioneers. We are building new rules. And building new rules – especially in this day and age, when our world is evolving at the speed of light – is freaking hard.

Senior reminds us of that. Acknowledges how hard it really is.

At the same time, the stories that she tells and the research that she cites somehow managed to make me feel less alone. Less confused. Less like I’m walking through a dark tunnel full of landmines.

Senior talks about things that we refuse to say. She brings to light the darkest thoughts, the hardest feelings. Those things that parents (I think perhaps especially those parenting after infertility and loss) are afraid – even on these anonymous blogs – to say out loud.

Senior’s book – in short – is a parenting book about how to deal with being a parent.

With every chapter I found myself cheering, and crying, and nodding along.

And as I listened on I found that I was going through a profound transformation.

I was forgiving myself. I was forgiving Shmerson. I was becoming more understanding of why he is the father that he is, and why I am the mother that I am. I was becoming more tolerant of our differences.

And most importantly – I was becoming more tolerant of myself.

Because if Senior’s book has done anything – it’s made me understand what a shaky, scary, yet rewarding road I’m on. And that I’M the one on it. That parenting Bunny is just as much about me as it is about her. I deserve to feel it. I deserve to experience it.

I also deserve to build a life outside of it.

I think anyone who reads this book will most likely come away with something different. It may change you profoundly, it may give you a sense of belonging, or it may just give you some historical context. I don’t know.

But I do know that it’s worth your time. And I swear nobody is paying me to write this. I sincerely feel that every mother – whether she’s single, working, stay-at-home, married, divorced, young, or old – should read this book.

I will most likely never read another parenting book. I still think that my original thesis is right: Books that tell you how to parent are silly. Now that I understand how new and evolving our concept of parenting is, these books seem even more silly to me.

This, however, is a not a book about how to parent. This is a book that tells you WHY you parent.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

The Only Parenting Book I’ll Ever Read (Kind Of) – Part 1

4 May

This one’s a long one, so I’m splitting it up into two parts. Happy reading!

When I was pregnant with Bunny (and every pregnancy before her) I was terrified. I was way too terrified to read anything about parenting. I justified this by saying that I don’t want to stick to one doctrine and I’d rather learn by experience and through community and friends.

This did lead to a few embarrassing situations, since Bunny was born on a holiday. I didn’t even have the basic newborn care class they give to new moms at the hospital. The result? A diaper rash when Bunny was four days old was the way I learned that you need to use diaper cream every time you put on a diaper.

The discovery of a thick layer of dirt at two weeks old is how I learned that washing behind the ears is not just a cliche that 50’s moms told their kids.

But generally I muddled through, and really didn’t feel the need to get into a parenting book.

Then came the inevitable: I was going back to work, Bunny was moving to her own room, her daytime sleeping habits were terrible (even though she was sleeping 6 hour stretches at night) and we had NO SCHEDULE. So I caved.

When Bunny was about 3 months old I read “The Baby Whisperer”.

For about 3 days there I felt like the clouds had parted and I knew ALL THE THINGS. Here was the best way ever to solve every problem Bunny had and everything will be sunshine and unicorn farts because this woman knew EVERYTHING.

Sure – the book was slightly condescending. Sure – there were a few annoying things about her tone. But hey – she made SENSE! SHE EXPLAINED STUFF! SHE GAVE STRUCTURE! (Apparently she also made me type in all caps).

I picked out a couple of choice chapters on sleep and establishing habits and made Shmerson read those parts of the book too.

Then a week passed.

Then 2 weeks passed.

The truth is that around day four of trying the not-so-aptly-named “EASY” method I saw I was walking a precarious path. At the end of week one I started to realize that maybe said whisperer was not really whispering to me. By week two, my new mantra was “EASY my ass”.

When it comes down to it, here’s what I learned from the Baby Whisperer:

1) The best way to wrap a towel around your baby when you take him/her out of the bath is by sticking one corner of said towel in your mouth. I’m putting this tip first because honestly this most useful thing in the book. Towel-wrapping before I learned this trick was slippery, precarious, and frankly terrifying.

2) The stages of sleep for a baby. This was super-helpful in understanding why Bunny cried when she was tired, and also helped me understand that sometimes crying is just her way of falling asleep. Really awesome info. Though I could have found that by googling.

3) Dream feeding to sleep through the night. Worked like a charm and brought Bunny to 10 and 11-hour stretches. But again – google would have done the trick.

4) Establishing a bedtime routine helps get a baby to sleep more easily. Honestly – I already knew that – picked it up from a friend. So I guess she only gets credit for reminding me that I knew it already.

Here are a couple of other things I learned from the baby whisperer:

1) A baby is not a machine or a computer. There’s only so much “programming” they can take in, and some things are just a matter of temperament.

2) Bunny does not like to sleep during the day. Trying to shoehorn her into some sort of schedule, even if it’s a fluid one, will not work. She’s just a crappy nap-taker. It’s just how she is. I tried every trick in Mrs Whisperer’s playbook. Twice. Three times. I did EVERYTHING. And yet – Bunny continued to be a terrible napper. She’s been sleeping through the night since 3 months. But daytime – forgettuboutit. To this day the only time Bunny sleeps for more than 40 minutes during the day is when she’s snuggled up to me. Even then it doesn’t always work.

3) Parenting books are silly.

Yep. My original thesis – diaper-rash and crusty-ear inducing as it was – was right. I think parenting books are silly. I think that a child is a fluid, constantly changing being and there are no manuals that will teach me how to raise that being. I can do research – sure. But to think that any one book would change the way I parent completely, or would be the end-all be-all solution for everything – in my eyes at least – felt silly.

Then, sometime during the first week of February, I watched an episode of “The Colbert Report” and realized, yet again, that I was wrong.

[To Be Continued Tomorrow…]

PPA Part 6 – Here and Now

23 Apr

12:57am. I’ve been looking at pictures of Bunny and crying. I miss her. It’s like I’ve barely seen her in a week.

Bunny had an ear infection and a fever all last week. It was mostly up to me to take care of her.

It was a nice healthy dose of emotional detachment that got me through it.

Emotional detachment and Xan.ax.

Because otherwise I couldn’t have withstood it.

She’s been better for 4 days. But I’m not quite better yet. Her being sick made me sick.

I have moments that I’m attached again, looking at my beautiful girl, smiling, being her usual playful self after a week of unbearable pain.

And here she is, good as new, but I’m not.

I’m detached. I detached to deal with it all, and now I have to find my way back.

That happens a lot. These days, that’s what happens more than anything.

When things get hard I detach so I can be there for her.

She’s the one who is allowed to cry.

I’m not allowed to cry.

I cry – but I try not to do that with her. With her I’m strong. I do what I have to do. I take care of her. And hold her. And hug her. And rock her. And sing. And read stories.

But I can’t help but worry that she detects the hints of detachment in me. I can’t help but worry that my way of dealing sometimes puts a wall between us.

Because if I felt all of my feelings all of the time I would not be human.

There would be no work. There would be no sleep. No food. No showers. No conversation.

Just sinking completely into her.

Joy, grief, pain. Joy. Joy. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear.

“They” say having a child is like putting your heart into someone else’s body.

I think “They” may be right.

I’ve always felt things more strongly than most. Feelings overwhelm me. I see things in black and white.

Which is why I taught myself to shut off feelings so I can function.

Or I’d sink into her, completely. I would disappear into the lovely, amazing, miraculous person that has taken my heart into her body.

It’s cheesy. It’s cheesy because it’s true.

My heart is in her. So when she’s not here it’s not here.

I go to the office. Or I stay at home and work while she’s at day care. And I sometimes forget she’s real.

Not really forget. That’s not really the word.

But I do remember she’s real each time I see her again. Each time. I remember again.

Every morning that I wake up with her. Every time I go away and come back. Or she goes away and comes back. I remember.

She’s real. This is her.

This miraculous, beautiful, exquisite little person is mine.

And if I let myself feel that… Everything that comes with feeling that. The fear. The pain. The ecstasy….

If I let myself feel that all of the time there would be no me any more. I would melt completely into her.

So I throw myself into work. And at 4pm every day I sink into 3.5 hours of complete bliss that is my daughter.

But I always need a wall.

Or I would cry. I would do nothing but cry. Overwhelming tears of joy, of gratitude, of grief, of fear. Of every feeling that chases me each time I hear her laugh. Or hear her say mamamamamamama over and over again.

I know she’s not calling my name but I know that someday that will be her calling mamamamama. Mama.

And that’s me. And I have to be a whole person. For her.

So when I need to, I put up a wall. And hope against all hope that it’s a glass wall.

Transparent enough that she can see me, in all my undying love, devotion, fear, love, love, unconditional, unending, overwhelming love – for her.

On the other side.

bunnycrawling

Bullets on Bunny – Obvious Costume Edition

22 Mar
  • Thanks everyone for your support on the last post. Basically Bunny’s reflux meds pooped out, and it was a terrible week. We FINALLY got her new meds today and already the difference is palpable. She’s actually eating without any pain. That’s a huge win right now.
  • In general it’s been a week of Murphy’s Law haunting me. From missing trains, to being LATE ALL THE TIME, to making absolutely stupid mistakes out of sheer exhaustion. I get in the car when I’m short on time, it needs gas, I get to a gas station, the pump doesn’t work, I get to where I need to go, I can’t find parking… On and on. ALL WEEK.
  • It was Purim this week (AKA the Jewish Halloween) and Squish said that it made sense that this week was upside-down, considering the costumes Shmerson and I wore on Sunday. She’s probably right:

IMG_1218

  • I guess when you start the week as Alice things remain a bit crooked for a while.
  • Bunny being sick brought out ALL THE ANXIETY. Seriously bad. I have a lot to write about this. But not at 2am on a Friday night. I promise to post properly soon. Things have just been nuts.
  • I also somehow managed to fit in apartment hunting this week. Sleep will be welcome this weekend. Alas – we have not found anything yet. But that’s yet another post.
  • So that’s basically it. Alice and the Mad Hatter, reflux getting sorted out (hopefully!), Murphy being a douchenozzle, and no sleep. I just wanted to pop in and give a quick update, and most importantly – share with you the third participant in our family costume:

bunny as bunny

 

You can tell she’s not feeling her best. But she still played along. It’s her first Purim. Something would have been wrong had I NOT dressed her as a bunny.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

The Perfect Storm of Urgh

13 Mar

So. Bunny started day care.

The first day I dropped her off, I literally sat in the car, outside the day care center for AN HOUR AND A HALF crying like a baby. It brought every single anxiety I’ve been feeling to the surface.

I called my brother and he reminded me that my mother not letting us find our independence is a huge reason we’re both a bit messed up.

That thought and a mixture of emotional detachment and xan.ax got me through week one. It was clear that I was the one who needed adjusting. Bunny seemed to like it there. Shmerson (who did the majority of the dropping-off) commented on how he could hear her do her happy squeal as he was leaving.

Yes, she got home exhausted and I felt like I was completely missing out on her. But I knew it would get better.

They also started giving her solids. I’d done a small introduction to them, and I was totally on board with them taking the reigns.

Then – the tummy trouble started. I won’t go into detail – but it wasn’t pretty.

Then – Bunny literally started screaming just at the sight of a bottle and has been refusing food since Monday.

It was a perfect storm – starting solids, she had just finished cutting her first two teeth, some sort of virus which made her throat hurt, and her reflux is definitely worse.

I took her to the doctor on Tuesday. He said I just had to ride it out. He suggested I talk to the gastro specialist about the new eating issues.

I’ve been home with her ever since. Every bottle is a fight. She’s miserable. I’m miserable.

The gastro specialist got back to me today and I missed his call. Once I managed to call him back he didn’t have time to talk and just said we should switch meds. Though I didn’t get a chance to tell him she’s been crying just at the SIGHT of a bottle. But we’ll make the switch and hope for the best.

But in the meantime, she’s losing weight.

AND EVERYTHING IS FLOODING TO THE SURFACE

My mistrust of doctors. I’ve been told before that everything would be fine by a doctor then it wasn’t. I no longer believe everything will be fine.

My guilt at putting Bunny in day care.

My incredible anxiety that something bad will happen to her.

And on and on.

Oh – I’m also blaming the day care for making my baby sick.  Even though I know it’s normal and it happens. I just want to pull  her out of there. It’s a perfectly nice place. I just want her home with me.

It’s a perfectly nice place that I no longer trust because my daughter refuses to eat.

It’s a perfectly nice place that gets to enjoy my daughter for the majority of her awake and energetic day. While I do what – effing internet content? Some days it just doesn’t seem to be worth it.

Logically I know she needs to stay. I just don’t know how the hell I’m going to be able to drop her off on Monday without freaking out and/or calling every 3 minutes.

It’s been a miserable couple of days. I’m seriously afraid that the eating issue and other tummy issues are not just a virus and reflux but something worse. I’ve been avoiding Dr. Google like the plague. I’ve been crying. I’ve been worried. I’ve been anxious.

I hate this. Everything is flooding me. I’m completely overwhelmed with anxiety. And I know this is TERRIBLE  for her. I need to fucking let go and relax.

But she’s not eating. And she’s in pain. And she’s paler than usual and I can tell she’s lost weight. And I feel helpless.

I hate this.

Fighting a Losing Battle

25 Feb

So I don’t know about you guys, but I sometimes get really paranoid about the interwebz.

I make a living literally manipulating people to engage online (don’t worry – I never use my conversion voodoo on you guys) –  so you can say that I’m part of the problem.

But still – I’ve become a bit like one of those crazy old men wearing a tinfoil hat when it comes to what I do with pictures of Bunny. But on the other hand, I never actually stick to my own rules. So really – I’m like a crazy old man wearing a tinfoil hat who takes off that hat when he goes out in public. Or something.

Ok that metaphor totally got away from me. Back to the matter at hand.

So  – it all started with this:

This is Success Kid. He’s a meme. (Say it with me: “Hi Success Kid!”)

25 years from now, when he’s interviewing for the job of a lifetime, someone will run fancy facial recognition software on his picture and realize that this man was once a viral internet sensation. And even if Success Kid (I guess he’d really be “Success Man” at that point) gets that job, he’ll still be the “meme guy” at the office.

This is “Disaster Girl”.

She became a meme because someone happened to take a picture of her when she was making an evil “I may have done this” face with a house on fire in the background and they posted it online because they thought it was funny since it kind of looked like she set that fire.

She did not at any point set that fire.

Yet one day – when she’s up for the job of CEO of a company that manufactures fire trucks, she’ll be totally screwed.

Or if she falls in love with someone who’s got a fire phobia, that would be a huge issue in their relationship.

Or if she gets falsely accused of arson – they can totally use this picture against her.

You get my point.

Even before Bunny was born Shmerson and I were having in-depth discussions about how many pictures of her we should post online, if at all. I have thousands of pageviews a month on this blog, and he’s a mini “twitter celeb” over here – so he has a bunch of followers. We’re not huge online by any stretch – but we both have our own little bubble of followers – more than the average person. And most of them are people we have never met face to face.

Then again – those thousands of people also know our story. They follow us and know what we’ve been through. They supported us through the crap-tastic shitfest that was 2010-2013. They deserve to see the good parts too.

Then there’s facebook. Again – we have an issue there. First off – not all of our friends want to see pictures of the baby all day every day. I know how much that used to annoy the hell out of me, and how many closeted IFers and RPLers are on my friends list? And second -we’re literally creating fodder for her to be humiliated as a teenager. Think about it – would you want all of your baby pictures online for the whole world to see?

I’m not even going into their privacy policies. Those just make my brain hurt.

Then again – she’s our baby, we went through hell to bring her to this world, and we want to shout it from the rooftops.

So Shmerson and I sat down and came up with a set of arbitrary rules in a pathetic attempt to protect Bunny, but yet fulfill our duty as proud parents and show her off.

Here they are, and I assure you they are dumb and most likely useless:

Facebook: 

When Bunny was two weeks old, we had only posted 4 pictures of her total. Then both Shmerson and I published a status asking anyone who wants to see pics of Bunny on a regular basis to click the “like” button and they would be added to a privacy setting. Any and all pics we post of Bunny are only visible to those people who “opted in”.

We’ve also asked immediate family and friends to please ask us for permission before posting any pictures of her, and to keep it to a minimum.

We’ve posted 2-3 pictures of her without privacy settings, but most were ones where her face was too small in the frame to be distinguishable.

This blog: 

I only post pictures rarely, and I use a watermark that just obscures her face in a way that it can’t be cropped out. At least I hope it can’t. I’m sure if someone really wants to they could lose the watermark, but it’s a lot of work for anyone looking to steal a random baby identity. So I take comfort in the laziness of identity thieves.  Denial is a wonderful thing.

Twitter:

If Shmerson posts a picture (happens very rarely), he then deletes it no more than an hour after posting.

General Rules:

Never post a picture of Bunny ANYWHERE without both parents’ consent

If it has the potential to be a meme – it never EVER sees the light of the internet in any way. That means no funny faces, no obscene gestures, no weird perspectives.

For example, here are some pictures that have been banned from the internet (and sometimes emailed to very close friends or family warning them that if they publish or share them they will face the fiery wrath of a thousand suns):

Bunny on her stomach, pinky to her mouth, making a very clear “Dr Evil” face.

Bunny looking like she is holding a joint up to her mouth

Bunny giving a “thumbs up”

Bunny looking “thuggishly” grumpy

Bunny giving the finger (there are actually several of those).

The list goes on and on.

We’ve also stopped posting anything where she is not fully clothed.

I’ve been listening a lot to the “Cracked” podcast on my commute to work. It’s really informative and funny. A few episodes ago they had a discussion about internet privacy, and mentioned this one mother who took things just a BIT too far in my opinion. They made a very interesting claim though:

That people that are now in their early twenties, teens, and younger don’t know a world where there is true privacy. “Generation X” still saw a bit of the cold war. Still studied the book “1984” in school. We take these things seriously.

For “Millennials” these things are trivial – a part of life. Of course every minutia of their lives is recorded online. It’s just the way it is. They don’t see it as a problem or a threat. They take it as just another normal part of life.

Maybe Success Kid and Fire Girl will actually not have any problems getting hired, or finding a good relationship, or getting their depressive disorders acknowledged despite outside perceptions of their over-confidence. Whatever.  Maybe 20 years from now being a meme will be a huge selling point on the job market, and everyone will want to buy you drinks and anti-depressants.

We can’t know. So at least for now, Shmerson and I are making a very feeble attempt at finding some balance. It’s a losing battle, we know. But hey – at least we’re trying.

And on that note – I give you a glance at Bunny, because we’re overdue.

Please don’t make her a meme.

bunny

What’s Left Behind

4 Feb

So – I’ll save you the usual apologies for being gone so long. Until we move and/or get Bunny into daycare, sporadic will just have to do. 🙂

This post has been running through my head for a while, though I admit it’s still a jumble. I’m hoping that writing it out will help clarify some things.

What is left when the wreckage of the last 3.5 years is cleared?

I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately. The last 5(!) months since Bunny was born have been a whirlwind. New job, big decisions, and of course the huge life change that is just having her here. I admit there are still days that I “remember” I’m a mom and freak the fuck out. She is still in a lot of ways an abstract to me. But she’s slowly but surely becoming a little person with her own wants needs and desires, so the abstract is gaining focus.

Last month, Shmerson and I re-watched the first two seasons of “Sherlock” (don’t be so impressed, it’s only six episodes), in preparation for the new season. While watching it, I realized that I remembered NOTHING. Not one single thing about this show, which I knew that I loved and I always categorized as brilliant. When I mentioned this to Shmerson, I noted: “We must have watched it while I was drugged up.”

I don’t think I hid this here, but I don’t think I discussed it much either: After losing Nadav I spent the better part of six months HEAVILY medicated. My pregnancy with Bunny I spent on very strong anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds, which meant I was mostly emotionally detached from everything that entire time (and it wasn’t just the meds, it was also a defense mechanism). I credit that medication with saving my sanity and my life. But it does mean that there’s a good year or so of my life that passed in a complete haze.  I started taking anti-depressants for the first time in December of 2010 – over 3 years ago – which generally numbed my feelings. I am now only taking Xan.ax to deal with my anxiety disorder, and I’m on a very small dose. For the first time in 3 years – I’m no longer in a haze or emotionally detached due to medication.

It gets more complicated: My first miscarriage happened just two months after our wedding. From that point on, I was a woman on a mission. I abandoned literally EVERYTHING in pursuit of a baby. In June of 2010, had you asked – I would have said that my greatest ambition was to direct feature films. I had already gotten a development grant and I was getting closer and closer to that goal. If you would have told me then that I’d abandon it all to accommodate a string of high-risk pregnancies, and then become a content manager at a start-up and actually ENJOY it I would have thought that the notion was absurd.

My first loss turned everything upside down for me, and the world has only really begun to straighten up now. There were moments during the last 3.5 years that I *thought* I had things figured out. I “made decisions” regarding my future. I “pushed on”. In hindsight – those moments were a total crock.

I spent 6 months thinking I wanted to be a teacher. I spent a year and a half teaching.

I do NOT want to be a teacher.

I went back to school to get BA level psych credits so that I could do a Master’s in Art Therapy.

I do NOT want to be an art therapist.

I also don’t think I want to be a filmmaker, though that option hasn’t completely been taken off the table. 10 years of pursuing it and 2 degrees keep it perpetually on the table.

I love my job – but I’m also not sure I want to be doing that for the rest of my life.

But this is not just about career choices.

Out of the last 3.5 years, I spent 84 weeks of them pregnant. That’s almost 20 months. Practically two years.

I spent the remainder either attempting to get pregnant or grieving a lost pregnancy, or both at the same time.

(For the sake of this argument, I’m not counting of course the 5 months I have now spent raising Bunny).

That time basically demolished me completely. Giving birth to Bunny only cleared the wreckage, and of course, I can’t rely on her to rebuild. This is about me.

I need to figure out who I am now. That’s kind of a huge deal.

The last 3.5 years have called almost all of my assumptions about myself into question. Parts of my personality that I was CONVINCED were inherent to it are now absolutely gone.

A small example: I was absolutely 100% convinced that I will always be a person who struggles to diet. Gestational diabetes changed that. I have been consistently shedding pounds since giving birth and I’m now 5 pounds less than I was before getting pregnant with Bunny. I have a good 20 to go before I reach my ideal weight, but I’m getting there, and it’s not even CLOSE to being a struggle. Patience and willpower? Ha! Small potatoes compared to the hell of a high-risk pregnancy.

Any free headspace I have these days is dedicated to two things:

1) Figuring out who I am

2) Making an effort to fix the things I don’t like about myself.

There are very few things I know about myself now. This is what I’ve managed to figure out so far:

I know I both love and am terrified by being a mother.

I know I love my husband.*

I know that I have a strong survival instinct, and I am incredibly stubborn.

I know I’m good at my job.

I know I’m a good writer (prose mostly, ok at scripts, suck at  poetry).

I know I don’t trust doctors.

I know that generally, people tend to like me when they  meet me.

I know that I have absolutely NO fashion sense, nor do I have an interest in developing one.

I know I have some serious self-esteem issues

I know that purple is my favorite color, Faith No More is my favorite band, my favorite books are the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy, and the odd one out – “The Music of Chance” by Paul Auster. I’m a 90’s pop culture junkie and I love (modern) Dr. Who and (not-so-modern) Monty Python movies.

I know I’m a good cook, though I’m no longer sure what my favorite food is. It used to be lobster. I think it may now be french fries. Or maybe fresh-baked white bread with butter.

I know I’m a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, and a good sister. Though in my weakest moments I question all of that.

If you’re counting, that’s basically 12 things. Everything else is up in the air.

Wait – I know one more thing: That whatever I figure out about who I am, I want Bunny to be proud of that person. I know I need to lead by example.

The wreckage has cleared – it’s time to rebuild.

* Last night Shmerson and I had a bit of a mini-fight. It ended with me explaining all of this to him. He told me: “I don’t know what you’re going to be either, but I can’t wait to find out, because I know it’ll be amazing.” I love him so fucking much.

Havaya Metakenet Redux

23 Dec

Quietly and without much fanfare, two important milestones for this blog have gone unacknowledged. A couple of months ago I published my 450th post (interestingly enough, it was my official “one month” post). I am now (slowly) crawling toward post 500.

A week ago was my three year blogaversary.

On December 16th, 2010 – just a bit after midnight (so really – exactly one year and one week ago today) I published my first post (for savvy readers, you will notice it has a very similar title to the post announcing Bunny’s birth. This wasn’t by accident).  I had no readers. I had  no idea there were other blogs out there. I had just taken my first ever Xan.ax, and after months of hell trying to come to terms with two miscarriages and battling depression and panic attacks, I found some clarity. I found the drive to write again.

Little did I know what I had in store for me. What those three years would bring, and the world and people they would expose me to.

I admit, even though I was broken when I wrote my first post, I still didn’t think it could get any worse. Then it did. Then once again I didn’t think it could get any worse.

And it did again.

And then I broke into a million pieces and it was this space that kept me together. But also this space that kept me remembering things I didn’t want to remember any more.

So I denied. I podcasted. I ran away.

But then I came back. I came back here because no matter what, this space chronicles and honors the most difficult journey I have ever taken in my life. And I choose to continue to chronicle it. Because the journey doesn’t end with a baby.

When you lose so much, you cannot be magically fixed.

These past few weeks have been insane. Going back to work and trying to get back to living has been a challenge. I have been in a cocoon for so long it’s been a hard road to get to know myself again. And that road is just beginning. I am slowly reclaiming my body. I am slowly coming out of the hard shell I built around myself. Slowly. Slowly.

I won’t lie to you, it’s been hard. But it’s also been amazing. It has been – finally – one Havaya Metakenet after another. If you don’t feel like going back and reading that post – havaya metakenet is a Hebrew phrase meaning “restorative experience”. I’ve been longing for them since the moment I lost my first pregnancy (that particular post was written when this blog was about 4 months old). And I’ve been striving for them since the moment Bunny was born.

I’m not sure if it’s the end of the year, the fatigue, the transitions, or all of the above that have made me count the restorative experiences that I have had in the past few months. Lately, instead of flashing back to the most awful day of my life, I have been flashing back to the most wonderful day. That in itself is a restorative experience. It’s not that I no longer remember. I remember him. I think of him. I love him completely. But Shmerson and I told ourselves long ago that he would not want us to always be sad. So I think he would be happy that he is remembered more often now in his little sister’s gaze. Not in his mother’s trauma.

Today, while striving for a new restorative experience, I realized how many of these experiences I have already had in the past 3.5 months. It has all been so overwhelming, but today, I counted them.

  • My daughter, just out of the womb, being laid on my stomach as we waited for the cord to finish pulsing. I couldn’t see her. I had yet to see her. But I felt her breathing. I had my hand on her back. I could feel her –  tangible and present. It was the happiest moment of my life up until that point.
  • A few hours later, laying in recovery, trying out of habit to count kicks. Understanding that there were no more kicks to be counted. Getting up out of bed frantically and running to the nursery, to beg them to finish their tests so that I could finally have my daughter. Standing outside the nursery at 6am, sobbing. Waiting for them to open the door. Stepping in, being lead to my daughter. Looking at her properly for the first time. Taking her in. Understanding that she is living, she is breathing, she is real. She is mine. Well – at least trying to understand it. I don’t think I fully understand it even today.
  • Every day. Every song I sing to her as I put her to sleep or as we play. Every time she follows me across the room with her eyes. Every time she gives me one of her amazing smiles. She is so generous with those smiles. Every time we have a “conversation” with her coos. She is an open, loving, warm, happy, generous little person. I cannot believe I actually had a part in making her. She amazes me every. Single. Day.

bunny with a bunny

Nadav was born and died about a month before Purim (for those who don’t know – that’s the holiday where us Jews dress up and eat candy).

I was still broken. Shmerson had just started a new job. They encouraged employees to dress up. I still could barely get my butt out of the house. But I was determined to help him with a costume. We dressed him up like Dr. Who. I even made a homemade sonic screwdriver. I stayed at home that day. Happy that some fun was had. Broken that it was had without my son. I don’t know why those two days of making that costume stick out so much in my memory. But I feel those days. The ever-present pain, wanting to break through a facade I was putting on. Trying to be happy. Trying to live, to honor him. Barely able to do it, yet doing it ferociously.

Purim is still about 3 months away. Today I started a pinterest board. I want Shmerson to dress up as Dr. Who again. I want to be the Tardis. I want Bunny to be a little Dalek.

To add another restorative experience to the list.

With the hopes of adding many more to come.

To all of my wonderful readers out there, who have stuck it out for three long years, or who have just now found me, thank you for being here. Thank you for your patience as I navigate my way through this strange new world. I hope your 2014 is full of restorative experiences.

I’m striving to make mine chock full of them.

At Least 10%

13 Dec

Updated to add – what I write about below is my opinion about what is right for ME. Each mom is entitled to her own choices. Let’s remember that in the comments section, please.

Ok bear with me here. I have to rant. So much so that even though both Bunny and I are sick, I told Shmerson he’s on his own for a little while because momma’s gotta blog.

I’ll try my best to keep it organized, but I apologize in advance if this is a little all over the place.

A couple of weeks ago I stopped speaking with a person who I considered a very close friend. We stopped speaking because I had the audacity to suggest to her that she stop breastfeeding, or at least give up some responsibility to her husband so she can get some sleep.

She told me that this was encouraging her to “be neglectful”.

Seriously.

Today, a person who I’ve been friends with for 17 (!) years posted an article on FB about women who are proud formula feeders and in the post, she said how selfish they are for doing it. She mentioned this didn’t count for women who tried and failed brea.st feeding. Yet still, I felt like she was attacking me. You know why?

Because there’s a very good chance, that if we manage to make it to baby number 2, I will brea.st feed for no more than a month and then purposefully quit, even if it’s going well.

Yep. That’s right. I will give my baby the very important immunizations he or she will need, and then I will stop and give them formula.

You know what else? Since the day Bunny was born, I have not missed a single shower. There are also three nights a week in which I get a good 8 hour stretch of sleep.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m a bad mom. Tell me I’m neglectful. I fucking dare you. I dare you to challenge me about not loving my child enough because I have the audacity to hand over some responsibility to my husband. To go back to work. To choose to bottle feed, because that way I am not tied to a pump or to the house, and I can take my xan.ax when I need to and go back to work more easily.

And sleep through the night every once in a while.

That does not make me a bad mother. In fact, I think it makes me a fucking amazing mother.

I am painfully aware of the fact that I am the most prominent female figure in my daughter’s life. I am her primary role model. She can choose to be inspired by me, or she can choose to do everything possible to be different from me.

I can’t help but look at the relationship I have with my mother, and make the decision that I will do EVERYTHING different with my child.

My mother stayed at home. My mother gave my brother and I all of herself. Literally. Everything.

So much so that now, at the age of 64, my mother has nothing except us. She lives for us and through us.

So much so that when I am sad or upset, her reaction, before comforting me, is to say “you’re killing me.” That’s right folks – I can’t go to my mother for comfort when I’m hurting without worrying that I’m hurting her in the process.

True story.

And you know what? That is a horrible, horrible thing that is incredibly unfair to me and my brother, and puts way too much pressure on us.

My mother is an incredibly talented interior designer. She let that go to give everything to us. To this day she will skip meals if I so much as hint that I need her for a few hours. She will not sleep. She will skip doctor’s appointments. She will neglect herself to take care of me, my brother, and our children.

I hate it. I hate it so much that most of the time I avoid asking her for help if I know she has other things going on, because I don’t want her to neglect her own needs.

I’m not saying I’m not grateful. I love my mother more than anything. She is an amazing woman. But you know what the happiest times I had with her were?

The two years that she worked outside the home.

I never questioned my mother’s love for me when she worked. It made our quality time much more quality. And I admired her. She was making a good living, and rocking at her job. I learned to cook so I could help her with meals and found that I had a knack for it, which I nurture to this day. She carried herself differently. It was awesome.

Then my dad pressured her to quit and she did (they are very old fashioned that way).

And again – it was all about us. She lost herself.

I do not want that to be my daughter and I. I want my daughter to see a woman who is not afraid to take care of herself. Who rocks at her job. Who has a life independent of hers. I want her to feel free to live her life for herself – not for me – because I have a life of my own. I want her to always feel free to ask me to help her, and to know that I will not forget to also help myself.

I think anyone who has read this blog and who knows how hard I fought to bring my daughter in this world would not think for a moment to question my undying, eternal love for this little person who has entered my life after 3.5 years of hell.

Anyone who knows how I didn’t leave the house for 6 months just to keep her safely inside me. Anyone who knows that I ate the same food every single day for three months to keep my blood sugar levels perfectly balanced so as not to hurt her. Anyone who sees my face fill with pure unbridled joy at the moment I see her after being away for more than a few minutes.

But if you look at the cold hard facts of my parenting style, there are women out there who would actually call me neglectful.

Because I bottle feed.

Because I let my husband wake up for feeds 3 nights out of the week.

Because I take the time to shower.

Because I work outside the home two days a week – and yes – sometimes even stay later than planned because I’m rocking it and being really productive, and that’s important.

Because when Monty Python announced their reunion shows I didn’t think twice and I bought two tickets, knowing full well that it would mean leaving a nine month old baby with her grandparents for a few days while her father and I go to London. Because seriously – it’s Monty Fucking Python. Will I miss her? Of course I will! But she won’t remember those few days, and then when she gets older I will have an uber-cool story to tell her the first time we sit down together and watch “The Holy Grail”.

Totally worth it.

Do I miss my daughter when I’m out? Of course.  Do I sometimes think I could do a “better” job at certain things than her father or her grandparents can when it comes to taking care of her? Yes. I admit I do. But I let them do it anyway, because I realize that sometimes I need a break.

But does that make me a bad mother? Hell to the fucking no. I’m an amazing mother. I know there are times I don’t feel like I am, but when I look at things objectively, I fucking rock. I spent six months in hell to keep her safely inside me. I fought through doctors and bureaucracy for 2 months to get proper treatment for her reflux. When I spend quality time with her, she has my full attention. I never pick up a phone or look at a screen during those times. I stimulate her and educate her and encourage her and love her unconditionally. And tell her that and show her that at every opportunity that I can.

But I also love her enough to live my own life. To understand my limitations. To understand that giving her 100% of myself is doing her a disservice. I need to keep 10% for me, and sometimes even more. Because that’s the kind of woman I want her to be.

And I am her role model.

I am not her slave.

I am her mother. And I love her more than anything in the world.

And as time passes I realize one thing more and more:

Loving her – also means loving myself.

Still Here

7 Dec

Holy crap it’s been forever!

So I finally did get a new computer – but I got it exactly 2 days before going back to work, and since then it’s been complete chaos.

I always thought working at home would be easier than working outside the house. Man was I wrong. It’s sooo hard.

Shmerson spends 12-13 hours a day out of the house so it’s down to me to cook dinner and take care of day-to-day household stuff. Plus taking care of Bunny, PLUS working a full time job. I spend two half days in the office during the week, and the grandmas babysit. I actually manage to get stuff done, but then of course it’s hell being away from Bunny. Shmerson does what he can but there’s only so much, since he’s out of the house for so many hours each day.

We’re gently transitioning Bunny’s sleep routine so hopefully things will be on a bit more of a set schedule, but I’m not sure that will be enough.

I feel like I have one too many balls in the air.

We’ll be putting Bunny in day care (half days) when she hits six months and I hope that will ease things, but I really don’t want to do it before that. It’s winter, so day care at this point will basically mean taking care of a sick baby most of the time. Plus I just feel like it’s too soon.

So right now I feel like I’m not being enough of anything. Not enough of a mom, not enough of a wife, not enough at my job.

This is so so hard.

If any work-at-home moms have any advice I would really appreciate it. I feel like I’m drowning.

Bunny is amazing. We’re getting the reflux under control finally and she is so mellow and just a complete joy. I enjoy every moment I spend with her. The problem is that right now she’s spending more time in the play gym than she is with her mom. I hate it.

Anybody have a life vest out there?

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