The In Between

Today out of nowhere I focused in on your legs in your high chair. I mean really looked at them. They looked so long it was comical! Your feet are resting on the little foot rest on the bottom rung. Almost too big for this chair. Almost ready to move on to something new. Ladies and gentleman, we’ve entered the in between.

One part baby and one part little girl. You still have moments when you cry uncontrollably and can’t communicate what’s wrong. You just need to be held by mommy until the world stops moving so fast. But you surprise me every day with how much you know and understand. You want a baby sister and chocolate ice cream for breakfast. You run away from me as fast as you can, but turn around every few seconds to smile and make sure I’m still there.

This phase of life is so sweet but also hard on my heart. It’s the first time that I can feel you pulling away, even if it is just baby steps. I love watching you grow strong and discover the world around you. You’re becoming “you” and figuring out – sometimes frustratingly – how you fit into this great big place.

One part of being a parent that I never really pondered before I had you was the letting go part. And it turns out it might be the hardest part. For years, I had my fingers grasped so tightly around the idea of you. I wanted and needed you here with me. And once you arrived you needed me too. For two years we’ve been side by side in the trenches. But day by day you need me a little bit less. “I do it self” is a regular phrase.

You’ll start preschool this fall, and just the thought of being separated from you brings tears to my eyes. But I’m facing the letting go part head on. As much as you need me to hold you, you also need me to know when to let go. I will always be here to give you all my love, but there are some things that I can’t give to you. The gift of making new friends. The gift of new experiences and perspectives. I have to step to the side, if just a tiny bit, to let you find those things for yourself. And it is going to be damn hard on me.

For now we’ll live in the in between and savor the baby and big girl moments alike.

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My Big Promotion…

That’s right, folks. I’m taking the plunge and leaving my job as a nonprofit communications director to stay at home with Zuzu. Technically, I’ll be a stay at home mom, a title I’m not in love with because it conjures up images of me trapped inside my house baking cookies in an apron. The way I see it is the I’m leaving my current career to shift my focus on an even more important job: raising my daughter.

There were SO MANY factors that weighed in to this decision, but here are the Cliff’s Notes.

You only live once. (At least I think!)
Call it a gut feeling or intuition or mommy guilt that won’t quit, but I could not shake the feeling that I’m missing the best part of my life. I like my job and find it fulfilling, but I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I’ve tried the “have it all” path and have found myself stretched very thin the past five months that I’ve been working full-time. I really want to be as present as possible when my kids are young. I’m taking the approach that I only get to go around this crazy world one time. I know I won’t regret time spent with my family during these precious early years.

Childcare is $$$.
Right now my saint of a mother-in-law watches the baby. She loves her to death and they have developed such a special bond. But guys, my baby is crazy. Like never ever stops moving/climbing/exploring. As she gets ready to walk, we all see the inevitable challenges this will pose for my mother-in-law, who is in her mid-60s. And if we’re lucky enough to have another child, there is no way she could (or should entertain the idea of) watching more than one of these crazy kiddos all day long. She deserves to be a Nonna who gets to have all the fun and not the day-to-day dirty work. We did our research on daycare and nannies, but in the DC ‘burbs, prices are crazy and you also have to factor in waitlists. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t right for us.

We can (barely) afford it.
We’re not rich, people. But we are closing in on our mid-thirties and we have both worked hard for the last 10 years. We’ve been able to save and we’re very lucky to have a good safety net from our families if times get tough. We’re the responsible type, so we met with our financial planner to make sure this was something we could swing for a few years, with the eventual plan of me going back to work at some point. That being said, this will be a major lifestyle change, especially for me. I’m the spender and I’m going to need to cool my jets. No more Mini Boden shopping sprees for Zuzu!

I value my sanity.
This decision wasn’t only about Zuzu. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror recently and was frightened at what I saw. Moms are so hard on themselves and I’m no exception. I’ve been so stressed about trying to do EVERYTHING and do it well that I’m not enjoying the precious time that I have with my sweet, growing daughter. If mama isn’t sane, it isn’t good for anyone else.

Because this is a sensitive subject, I want to make sure I say this: Every family is different and all parents are faced with tough decisions when it comes to raising their kids. I have SO MUCH respect for working moms and dads and moms and dads who choose to stay home. I firmly believe that there isn’t a right way, just a right choice for each individual family.

Last but not least, LOOK AT THIS FACE! I mean really – could you stay away from her all day? Stay tuned as I explore this exciting new chapter!

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This is Why Parents Are More Exhausted Than You Think They Should Be

This is spot on and hilarious. Had to share!

A Morning Grouch

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. People ask new parents if the baby is sleeping through the night as if that is the magical key to them feeling like a fully functional human being.  But, every parent knows, it is not.  I’m quite sure that it is a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully functional human beings again.  Or maybe they just change the definition of what it “fully functional” means, which no longer implies anything closely related to “rested”.  Here’s why:

They never sleep through the night.  Never. Again.  Sleeping through the night initially means sleeping for longer than 2 or 3-hour stretches. Once your infant gets past that point people seem to forget that doesn’t mean jack.  At first, parents wake up in a panic when the infant doesn’t wake up and they check on them, adrenaline rushing, thinking they’re going to…

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Am I Missing It?

Eight months are gone in the blink of an eye, and they’ve also dripped slow as molasses. “The days are long but the years are short,” they say. It’s the biggest parenthood cliche and for good reason.

Some days I feel at home in my new role as mama, and other days I still feel like an outsider looking in. Between two worlds — my old self and new — I’m still finding my way.

IMG_1019But my little girl, she is fresh and new to the world. Every day is an adventure and she is just starting her story. What role will I play? I want so much to get this thing right. Be her guide. Be her favorite person. Be her inspiration. Should I continue to work so we can provide her with the best? Show her that she is strong and smart and capable, and doesn’t need to rely on anyone else. Or should I stay home and be her safe haven, teaching her the things that only a mother can? Spend these sweet early years together learning and growing. Can I do it all? Will it slowly burn me out and make me less? Less of a mother and less of myself?

In the worry and the fear of making the right choices, am I missing the beauty of every single new day? The big gummy smile with one little half tooth poking through when I walk into the room. The new pincher grasp, gleefully tossing puffs into her mouth like they’re going out of style. This squirmy, loud, happy, adventurous little person is changing and growing every.single.day and I cannot miss it to worry and stress.

The answers will come. Life will move forward one way or another and we’ll continue to write our story. The most important part is that I don’t miss it.

A Long Hiatus

I honestly cannot believe that my baby is 8 1/2 months old. I knew I would need to take a break from blogging as I learned how to be a mama, but I had no clue I wouldn’t be back here until now! I miss writing and the sense of community I’ve received here and I’m going to try my best to get back into the swing of things.

Truth be told, my life and my heart are VERY full at the moment and I’m so thankful for that. I’m overflowing with love for my daughter, even on the hard days, and trying to figure out how to balance work and everything else. There are days when I feel like I really should have my act together by now, but I’m trying to give myself some grace. I hope getting my thoughts on paper and hearing from others will give me some perspective as I try to “have it all” and be the best mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague that I can be. Just reading that sentence is making me sleepy.

Here’s my sweetie at 8 months getting a kiss from her puppy brother!

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