Why am I a parent?

You know how you follow people on social media and then you feel like you are friends even though they have no idea you exist. Or maybe they do, but you're the 'creepy one' that keeps commenting overly nice things on their photos or sliding into their DM's when something in their stories makes you laugh so hard you pee a little? No? Just me?

Well I have done that to quite a few people and now they're my friends in my head even though we've never met.

All this to preface the story I'm about to tell with, "I was talking to one of my friends..."
So now you know when I say friend I mean friend in my head but they actually think I'm a creeper.

My friend posted something about their kid that was proof he was an incredible little person. I don't want to share the story because it's not mine to tell, but it was incredible. I messaged her saying that that was unreal and incredible. She messaged me back(maybe we are friends?) and said that she didn't know how she was supposed to raise someone so magical and that instead maybe she's supposed to let him raise her. I agreed saying that sometimes I look at Alice and think that she must be here to show me what life is about instead of the other way around.


That got me thinking about parenting. I understand, obviously, that there are a few things I can teach Alice.

Stoves are hot.
Knives are sharp.

But after that, what good am I, really? I can try to show her what I think it means to be kind and generous and accepting. And yes I will keep her safe from whatever I can. But as far as teaching her about life and being a good human and all that--I don't even have all that together myself!

I just don't know that I am able to teach her anything or 'raise' her the way people say you 'raise' children.

       

And everyone says they've learned so much more from their children than they thought they would or could or more than they could have ever taught them and that's all fine and good. But maybe it doesn't really need to be who teaches who.



Maybe I just get to watch Alice grow and be herself and instead of worrying about who is doing the learning and the teaching maybe I just get to wonder at who she is. Maybe I just get to watch her be and that alone gives me perspective and strength and joy.

And maybe she gets to watch me. And sure she probably watches me and a lot of the time it gives her anxiety but I hope it gives her perspective and strength and joy as well. Maybe I should stop worrying so much about making sure she knows and does 'all the things.'

I don't know. Anyone else have any ideas?

       


Did you brush your teeth? A Pregnancy Story

If you've had any contact with us in the last year and a half then we probably told you the story of how we found out I was pregnant with Alice. For the other three people on the planet, I'm writing it here so you can read it.

We had been trying to get pregnant for a couple years and were getting ready to move to Spokane, and therefore losing the doctor we had, so it seemed like a good time to give up for a while. We were pretty discouraged and welcomed the break--sort of.

Neither of us were doing a lot of work so we had plenty of time to spend packing and cleaning. The way I pack is pretty efficient. I usually just choose a space that I feel like packing and hit it hard with Netflix in the background till it's done. I probably packed our dishes first, our storage last and our pantry somewhere in the middle. I know, super efficient.

The plan was to drive with Tyler's parents who let us borrow their truck and trailer. We drove the 11 hours in one day, which probably ended up being about 13 hours since we had a big heavy trailer of life behind us. We 'decided' to stop for dinner at the only restaurant in a 100-mile stretch once we got hungry.

It was a place kind of like Denny's but more like Denny's plus an antique store plus a Montana collectibles store. They had a giant menu ranging from breakfast burritos to ribeye steaks. I ordered oatmeal with butter and brown sugar on the side. Tyler ordered a chicken alfredo dish that was large enough to feed all four of us.


As we were eating I could tell the drive had worn me down. My eyes were tired and my bum was sore. I remember looking over at Tyler's dinner and thinking if those little chunks in there are minced garlic, that is too much garlic.

We had a few hours left to drive after dinner and had been switching cars and riders all day. So the last stretch Tyler and I decided to ride together. About an hour outside of Spokane I felt so gross. That long in a car makes you stink no matter how much deodorant you put on or how many times you brush your teeth. I asked Tyler if he'd put the toiletry bag anywhere near us so I could do some freshening up, and he hadn't, it was buried in the trunk somewhere.

So I soldiered on through the stink and the sweat for another hour or so and we finally made it! We had put our mattress in an accessible place so we could just pull it out, sleep for the night and do all the unpacking the next day.

I woke up the next morning to more stink. Our room smelled so terrible, I assumed it was leftover sweat and told Tyler that we both needed to shower(thinking, there was no way that much smell was just me). Well that didn't work so I insisted we unpack with all the doors and windows open all day to let the place air out. That didn't really work either. Then I made Tyler let me smell his breath. And then I gagged. It was his garlicky alfredo breath that had stunk up the entire apartment and the car the night before. I proceeded to say a lot of things like, "we should call them and tell them they use way too much garlic, as a public service to the rest of humanity," and "neither of us should eat garlic, or alfredo, or chicken, or pasta for at least a year," and "did you brush your teeth?" I said that last one every five minutes for like a week. Eventually the smell subsided and I patted myself on the back for being so strong through it all.

Tyler's parents left a couple days later and we settled in.

The whole first week we were there I did not feel good. I was not hungry and only felt like eating things like oatmeal and rice. Even though I wasn't really eating I also felt like my pants were getting tighter. I complained to Tyler every day that week about not wanting to eat anything and how I needed new clothes or a gym membership.

We went to Target late one night out of frustration and bought me some new clothes. During this week of frustration Tyler didn't once suggest that I might be pregnant until Friday night. A doctor had told us that we wouldn't be able to get pregnant without some, or a lot of, interventions and so I ruled that out from the very beginning.

Friday of that week came and I had decided something must be really wrong. I was (more) lethargic, tired all day long and every food made me sick. I decided to go see a doctor the following week. However, I knew that if I showed up there and told them my symptoms the first thing they would do is ask me to take a pregnancy test. I decided I'd rule that out myself so we wouldn't have to bother with that.

We went to the Rite-Aid down the street and bought a test and came back home. I got up early the next morning to pee and just decided to do the test and get it over with. Tyler wandered in to the bathroom as he had hundreds of times before and sat on the tub while we waited.

And there it was, the little word 'pregnant' showed up on that test and we just stared in disbelief for what seemed like hours. And the rest is history! No, actually the rest is pregnancy and taking care of a baby forever, but that's not what people say at the end of a nice story.

Would You Like to Read About My Dirty Laundry?


Forcing myself to write a blog post because that's what the experts say.

Why do I have to do all this work before I can have my dream? I don't want to just write to write. I don't want to write things that don't feel well-written, clever, funny, or original. I don't want to write about what I do every day because frankly it's probably the same thing that a lot of people do every day. Would I want to read about how someone else also forgot to switch the laundry to the dryer and just remembered and now doesn't want to open the washer because it is going to STANK?

Maybe? Why would I read that? Because it's clever? Ha. Well-written? Maybe. Funny? Yes, but not really because that actually sucks. Original? Certainly not, because everyone else is doing it. Because it's keeping me from having to switch my own laundry? Maybe? Or would I read it because it makes me feel better knowing that someone else forgot, too? So many questions marks.

I dream of writing stories. And then giving those stories to hundreds (dare I dream thousands?) of people to read. The path to get there however is covered in moldy laundry and a whole lot of courage that I'm still trying to get out of the bottom of my gut.
Here's a nice picture of the ocean.

For Auld Lang Syne

I think goals are silly. And disappointing. And stressful.
Not all goals. Just the ones that include timelines and numbers and deadlines. 

Once I set a goal it's as if my brain takes that as permission not to do it. 
And a lot of times I find loopholes in the goal so that I can say I did it when I know I didn't really do it.

Or I tell myself that the goal I made wasn't the one I meant to make and instead I write down a "goal" for something I never planned to accomplish. Like adding things you've already done to your to-do list just so you can cross it off. That's how I do goals. 

So the last couple years I have done away with goals and instead made a list of qualities I'd like to gain or improve within myself. I've written down qualities like empathetic and forgiving. And now I'm an expert at both of those. Ha. Not really. Though I do think I am more empathetic and forgiving than I used to be.

For 2018 I've decided on awareness. This picture of Alice was my inspiration.

I often find myself sitting in a moment and thinking of something in the past, wishing I could remember it better, or thinking of the future wishing it could be here already. I've realized that because I'm old now(30), time seems to be moving faster or my brain is slowing down and can't remember things that have happened or at least remember them as vividly as I'd like. 

I'd like to be more aware. I'd like to be sitting in a moment and be thinking about what is happening right then instead of thinking of other things. I want to soak up all the details like a sponge so I can have them to revel in when I'm old(er). 

I read an anonymous quote a while ago on a friend's post that talked about how a lot of times you are unaware that the last time you do something is the last time. And that made me really sad, but then made me want to pay more attention to my own life. I want to be okay with my last times because I soaked them in. I don't want to be sad because they passed over me and I didn't notice.

That's my "goal" this year. I will do my best to live in the moments that I find myself feeling feelings. I will be more present and aware.

Now, I generally like to start the new year by taking down the tree, putting away twinkly lights and stockings. I enjoy changing our calendar and putting up new pictures of family and friends. I clean out our books and closets and donate things where they might be needed.

And this year I'm excited to change the big chalk sign that Tyler built us to a fresh new phrase that will remind me to be aware. When I read the words 'be where you are' my mind resets. It refocuses on what I'm doing instead of what I was or will be doing. 

And it will stay all year! Actually it will stay until the next holiday that needs something cute on the chalkboard. But it will stay till then and stay in my heart the rest of the year!
I've also decided this winter warrior needs to be somewhere in my daily line of sight. Winter and I don't get along too well and this will hopefully remind me that I can power through the cold, slush, and ice and I can do with a smile! Some of the days!

This beautiful gold foil art is from my friend Tessa! She creates a piece of art each month and sends it out to her subscribers. She is so thoughtful, kind, and incredibly talented. I'm so excited to get something from her each month!

Alice's Birth

Alice was born. I probably read hundreds of birth stories before I was pregnant and probably hundreds more while I was pregnant. And thank you, internet people, for writing down those stories and posting them. I am grateful I was able to read such a wide variety of experiences. There were maybe only a handful that really mentioned how they *felt* whilst having that baby. There were a lot of summary feelings like "crazy experience," "overwhelming," and "unbelievable." And I thought, "okay self, be prepared to feel overwhelmed and crazy and dumbfounded." Check.

I love this photo. The Mother-Baby sign, our baby bag, Tyler's school bag that we used for our stay, and his full hands.💛


Probably the most annoying phrase I heard, but also the most true, in hindsight, was that "you'll just know when labor starts, you'll just know." Every time I heard or read that I just made a gagging noise in my head, and thought in my most sarcastic voice, "mmhhmm thank you so much that's sooo helpful."  Now I understand that you just know.

But I feel like someone also should have said PAIN, REAL PAIN means you're in labor. When the real pain started it felt like I was trying to grasp something that was speeding past me just out of my reach. I was coping, but it kind of felt like I was chasing a train alongside the tracks. You're obviously not going to catch that train unless your Wonder Woman powers suddenly engage. Which I think is what actually happens when you have a baby. Your Wonder Woman powers manifest and you push a baby out.



So after I channeled Wonder Woman, out came Alice. And everything was weird. And then I held her and I just felt confused as to why she wasn't attached to me anymore and how she was going to live without living inside me. I was dumbfounded at how she came to exist. And we just started playing parents. I'll be the mom, you be the dad, and this will be our baby. Oh the baby cries, the baby sleeps, the baby eats. Oh what a cute baby she is. What a nice family we are. And scene.

All of these photos were created by Esther Edith.  We will forever be grateful for this reminder of the day we met our little girl and everything we felt. Esther is not only a talented photographer but a warm and kindhearted friend.