Looking back on my son’s first year makes me want to sob with that weird, nostalgia-tinged joy that is motherhood. The kind that makes you say “Slow down time!” and "How the heck is it not bedtime yet?” in the same breath. Already the hard moments from the year have faded from memory or become things to laugh about: the panic of coming home from the hospital and wondering “What the $%*& do we do with him now?” Or how long it took us to put in the “easy install” car seat. I’m left with the highlight reel of his first smile. First steps. The feel of his little arms around my neck while I rock him to sleep.
All these things fill me with joy and wonder. Yet the best thing about my first year of motherhood has nothing to do with those moments. For me, the best thing about my first year of motherhood has been my husband.
My baby turns one today. Later I’ll probably post an adorable picture of him on social media and write something about how I never knew what love was until he came along and what an honor it is to be his mother. All true. This morning, though, I’m thinking about the moment in the hospital when they laid him on my chest for the first time. I looked down at his tiny body and puckered face and thought, “Well this is going to be inconvenient.”
There is something about being pregnant that makes people you want to give you unsolicited advice. I had complete strangers make recommendations ranging from baby names to sleep training to what to do with my placenta after labor. However, the most frequent piece of advice I got was not about any of these things; it was about date night. Far and wide, people assured me that date night had the power to single-handedly keep my marriage thriving while my husband and I adjusted to the new norm of being sleep deprived parents with little time for ourselves, let alone each other. Little did I know that date night would be the cause of a marital crisis.
In the past few weeks I’ve had the same conversation with so many friends. The script goes like this: Life has never been better—work is great, marriage is good, the kids are all right, things are fine financially—but I’m feeling depressed, or anxious, or angry and I can’t shake it.
These feelings follow my sweet friends around, turning what should feel like a beautiful life into a joyless existence. These conversations inevitably culminate in the same question: If my life is so good then why do I feel so bad? To which my response is, because you’re paying attention.
I’ve spent most of my life terrified of being ordinary. Not being like everyone else was the driving force behind many of my decisions, big and small, from dying my hair purple in high school to breaking off an engagement to a perfectly nice guy in my twenties. The source of this fear probably goes back to being what people kindly called a “precocious” kid. I read at an early age and was drawn to books that were too old for me in both style and substance. Adults noticed this and told me I was smart. What I heard was, “You’re different.” I took this to heart and “different” became my brand.
The other day I had another mom say to me, “I don’t know how you do it all.” It’s true that I’ve been known to fit a lot into a day. I work, parent, volunteer, write this blog, and waste my fair share of time on social media. You’re in luck, though, because I’m about to reveal the secret to my productivity…
I’m half-assing it. And, now that my secret life hack is out in the open, I’m going to take it one step further and reveal how you, too, can learn to half-ass it in just three easy steps.
I became a new mother later than I intended. It wasn’t my choice. I’d always assumed I would get married and have kids in my twenties. But then came New York City, grad school, marriage, divorce, marriage again—and suddenly I was thirty-eight.
Like many women my age, getting pregnant involved more time at the doctor’s office than it did in the bedroom. Finding out (at last!) I was going to have a baby ignited in me a fierce desire to give him the best possible life. This included the safest crib, the top rated pediatrician, the best preschool, the most organic baby food—you get the idea. As it turns out, the best thing I did for his future was completely accidental: I did not have him in my twenties.
Confession time: I am extremely judgmental. It’s something I’m working on. Honestly though, I’ll probably never fully overcome it unless I move to Bali and spend the rest of my days meditating on the beach—which my husband informs me is not an option.
My judgement never shuts up. Like a toddler with separation anxiety, it follows me everywhere. It never misses an opportunity to make assumptions and label people. Wow, listen to that Starbucks order, she must be so high maintenance.Omg, a Nickelback shirt, what a tool.