Tuesday, May 21, 2013

gymnast in the making

Elisabeth has been taking gymnastic lessons since November. Over the weekend, she had her first "exhibition meet" where she got to do a little routine on each of the pieces of equipment; bars, beam, floor, and vault. They didn't compete or anything, just showed off what they've learned, then got a medal and a goodie bag and we gave her some flowers (fake flowers, because she's been having terrible allergy attacks lately with swollen eyes and hives and everything, so she actually requested that we get her fake flowers, silly girl).

Anyway, she was noticeably nervous but did a pretty great job.  She was very excited to show all of us her routines!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

becoming a mother

 “When a woman gives birth, 
two are born; 
a baby 
from the womb of its mother 
and a woman
 from the womb 
of her former existence."

 -Marianne Williamson

The arrival of Mother's Day always does something to me, puts me in a contemplative mood, perhaps especially because it coincides with the month of the birth of my firstborn, so I am always thinking in particular of when I became a mother.  This child, my daughter, this baby, who suddenly came into the world and transformed me into a mom.  I struggle, as perhaps all moms do, with feeling adequate, with feelings of guilt, all my shortcomings laid out in sharp detail with every parenting misstep, every single day.

And now I find myself in an interesting stage of parenting.  This middle stage. All my children are in school.  It's an "easier" stage in a lot of ways.  Not yet driving or dating. No potty-training or diapers. No nap schedules or nursing schedules. We can leave them with a sibling who can babysit. Admittedly, there is more fighting, whining, screaming, throwing things, hitting, and crying than I would have expected at this stage, but I am learning that things are very rarely, if ever at all, like you expect them to be.  Really. Like my face pain.  Just when things were supposed to be getting "easier" . . . nope, BAM! Let's hit you in the face (almost literally) with chronic pain instead. Have fun with that. 

Anyway.  I wanted to tell you the story.  This story of when I became a mom.  Just because all stories are fun, right?  And this is my mother's day story. And we all have our own stories. I don't mean to diminish anyone else's or glorify my own. Yours may be a story of not wanting children at all, or wanting but not being able to, perhaps a story of having children young or waiting til you're old, whether by choice or by circumstance, of adoption, of infertility, of being rich or being poor, or having a single child, or 12 children, or something in between, of being married, single, divorced, widowed. I don't know all of your circumstances, how can I. We each have our own story to tell. 
This is mine. 

Zac and I had known each other about 4 years when we got married so we felt like  we already had a somewhat solid foundation and knew each other very well. Although there is always an adjustment period being newlyweds, there was a deep well of trust and emotional bond that we had to draw from from the very beginning of our marriage so that we felt we were ready to start the next phase of our life together. Even though we were both still young college students, we felt strongly that as soon as I graduated we should start our family. 

I was graduating in April so we figured May would be the absolute earliest that we'd want to have a baby, counted back 9 months, figured it would probably take at least a few months to get pregnant anyhow (right?! I mean, of course!) and we started trying.

And I got pregnant right away. 
Of course. 

That was September. So I spent Fall semester pregnant, sick and running out of my classes puking. Then Winter semester I had a full time internship during which I became very swollen, uncomfortable and very pregnant.

I graduated 8 months pregnant. 
Here is my department head congratulating my very obviously about-to-pop belly: 

A month later we welcomed Abigail into the world (I've written the birth story on the old blog, which I need to import here sometime):

Having a child I think is like a million other hard but wonderful things in life where you cannot really wait until you feel ready or you will never do them. You are never ready. There is no ready. You can never be ready for something so completely transformational, so unexpected, so deeply individual.  
So was I ready? 
Of course not. 
I would never have been ready. 
No one ever is.
Ask any mom. Any parent. I don't think anyone is ever really prepared for what lies in store when one becomes a parent because it's never really ever what one expects it to be.  It can't be. That's just the common refrain of life isn't it? 

So there I was. I was 24 years old. Just graduated from college. Zac had a really great, well-paying, important-prospecting summer internship at a firm in DC so we were actually packing up our apartment and leaving to drive across country. In 3 weeks. 

Um. Yes. This was slightly crazy. And turned into the perfect recipe for a delicious brew of postpartum depression, but I didn't realize any of that at the time. It wasn't any one thing's fault. It was just a combination of factors.

(Here is zac with 3wk old Abigail at a gas station stop somewhere in Wyoming) 

We packed up everything we thought might need for the 2 of us and a newborn baby that we could possibly squeeze into our tiny Tercel floor to ceiling, front to back, and we took off, stopping at least every 2 hrs to nurse this tiny infant and change diapers and outfits and blowouts at the side of the highways and at gas stations and rest stops and soothe her whimpering and crying all along the way across the country.  I remember she still had a bandaid on her heel from her PKU test in the hospital and her umbilical cord stub fell off somewhere along the way on that trip. It was . . .  perhaps . . .  the longest car trip I have ever been on in my entire life.

Then we eventually arrived to stay in this strange apartment that was part of an semi-attached garage in the house of a lady who attended our church there in Fairfax,VA.  We were sub-letting the apartment from a couple who were coming out to UT for a couple months and thus leaving it furnished and leasing it out for the months they were gone.  We would occupy it for those 2 months.  But the owner of the house was an older lady whom I felt like never really liked us very much (who knows why) and I felt uncomfortable and shy and weird in this other person's apartment with their furniture and belongings. It just felt strange.

Zac worked long hours. I was home alone with Abigail without a car in this apartment. It was so hot and humid outside, I was afraid of the baby overheating, and I don't think I even had a stroller. I felt self-conscious and even paranoid going outside (clearly something was going a little bit wonky in my brain). I was a brand new mom with no friends in the immediate area and I had not a clue what to do. We didn't even have a TV (and this was before prevalent internet). I read some books. I called my mom and cried to her. I nursed my new baby and napped with her and talked to her and watched as she developed new skills. But that was all I ever did. I was lonely and depressed.  But I didn't recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression at the time.  It was only looking back in hindsight that I see it and sometimes I am a little sad that those were my first months of motherhood.  But I know now it was also more than just circumstance - it might have happened to me even under the very best circumstances just because of my very susceptible chemical makeup. Anyway.

 I also had no clothes that fit me. None. I think my socks were all that I still had that fit. Nothing else. Even my feet had swollen and become a half size bigger.  This persisted as a problem because we were still rather poor college students (trying to save his great internship income, of course), now with baby costs, and also I was still holding out great hopes that I would soon be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. That's what "everyone" said would happen, right? That was the expectation. So I wore Zac's baggy clothes to get by and tried to adapt to my new body that felt so foreign to me.  I remember the first time I tried to go for a run that summer, the first time since sometime before I had gotten big into pregnancy, and I felt shocked by what my body had become.  It wasn't me. It couldn't be. And yet I looked down at myself and yes it was.  Oh. 

And I never did get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I guess that's part of my point in this story. More than just the clothes, I never went back to person I was before I had Abigail. I never could. I don't know if I would want to. Everything changes. Everything. When you become a mother. If I wrote about all the ways that I changed, this story would never end. 

But this is my story now.  It never ended. I guess it wasn't how I expected it to be. Nothing ever is.

This is the story of when I became a mother.
Everyday I become 
more of my story.
This is my story.
Everyday is my story.
I become more 

Related posts that got me thinking:
Why Mother's Day is For the Birds
Don't Call Me Mommy - Unless I Birthed You
Birthing a New You

Thursday, May 9, 2013

And also in April was Birthday Child #3

Isaac turned 12 in April and, for whatever reason, I feel like turning 12 is a big deal.  It's just right there on the cusp of teenage-hood, teetering on the edge on childhood, like you're about to lose your balance and go flailing over the edge, arms circling like you're falling but trying to fly.  Maybe that's the wrong metaphor.  Maybe they should go soaring off the edge with wings.  I don't know.  But it feels big.  Significant.  But also small.  Not quite there.  Like I can still keep a piece for myself somewhat.  And I want that.  So anyway.  Part of it is that in our church, the 12 year olds move up from the Primary children's program into the Youth program.  And I want to make a big deal of this transition year.  The birthday before going off the middle school and all of that. Or whatever.  So I started some things with Abigail when she turned 12 that I'd like to continue as traditions (you can read about Abigail's 12th birthday if you click there).  I wanted it to be something fun and memorable, including this big 6-layer rainbow cake thing (that is a whole dang lot of work, but pretty impressive, I think).  Turns out she claims to not even remember getting a cake like that or anything.  So much for being memorable.  But anyway.  The nice thing about traditions, I've decided, is that it both makes sure no one gets left out (and avoids all the whining: but how come I never got a rainbow cake?! why don't I ever get a special cake? when are you going to make me one?) and also lets me off the hook (so if I asked a kid what kind of cake they wanted, they know asking for a rainbow cake every year isn't an option.  It's only for when you're 12. Sorry.) ;)  

Ok. Enough about that.  Here's the birthday goodies.

 Part One: Twelve Balloons

We hung 12 balloons from Isaac's door frame while he was sleeping with a little note attached to each one saying something that we love about him, so that when he woke up he had to walk through the curtain of balloons. 

By the afternoon they were tangled and he was pretty annoyed with them but I think he liked reading all the notes when he woke up.
(pic of him before school)

2. the rainbow cake of awesomeness 

then I got to work on the cake

 Here are lots of pics of the process and impressive result, because it is awesome and because I need photo proof of the rainbow cake in case Isaac, like Abigail, "forgets" that I ever went through all this effort to provide him with such an awesome cake.;)  (And blogger is being a big pain and I am having all sorts of trouble arranging photos so after hours of trying I give up and what you get is what you get. Blah.  I'm getting very frustrated with blogger and am about ready to try something different. hmph)

3. The Party

Well Isaac had only asked for one thing for his birthday.  But it was a big thing.  And he was going to have to use some of his own money to help pay for it if he got it.  And it was still a pretty big if.  So he was pretty unsure if we was going to get it. And he was pretty excited when he did (it was a used ipod touch - which also came with a lot of parental ground rules, #1 being that we can take it away at any time and for any reason.)  This was his only present, so I was very sad when I accidentally deleted these priceless pics off my camera and pretty much ecstatic when I was able to recover them.:)

4. The mom-dad-son date

another turning 12 tradition:)

Pretty much the most un-photogenic picture of the 3 of us ever seen.  And this was the best of the bunch. Ugh! hahaha.

We took him to The Macaroni Grill. 

He liked it.:)
Part 5.

We also got him a suit.

And, as is tradition in our church, he was ordained in the priesthood upon turning 12. 

And I couldn't resist making him go pose so I could take pictures of my handsome boy looking so grown up.  (My 2 handsome boys. Because the other would not let the opportunity go by, of course. Hard to believe they are only 3 years apart isn't it?) :)

And that was Isaac's 12th birthday! He is such a terrific kid.

One more Spring Birthday to go!
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