Wednesday, May 8, 2019

On Being A Working Mom...

Dear Jax,

It's me, Mommy.  I'm writing you this letter, here on my blog, because I'm still too emotional to put it all into words.  You can't read yet, but if the internet is still a thing when you're old enough, hopefully you can come on here and see how cool I once was and read this letter to you.  You might laugh at me or roll your eyes over how dramatic I am, but I can't help it.  We've spent every day together since last May when I found out I was pregnant, and now I'm back to work and it feels like it all went by so fast and that our precious time together was just stolen away from us.  And we didn't even have a choice.

When I say we didn't have a choice, I'm saying that to be logical.  I mean it in this way - if I want you to have the life you deserve, then I have to be at work, making money and excelling as a working mom.  I need to contribute to the family, and your father and I want you to have everything you've ever needed.  We want you to be fulfilled, to be able to see the world from the perspective you are worthy of.  We want you to be proud of us.  Thus, we both have no choice but to work to make it work as family.  I hope some day you understand.

To be brutally honest, I don't really want to stop working all together... but I don't want to miss out on such valuable time with you either.  To tell you the truth, I feel regretful that being at work makes me happy too.  It's an unfortunate dilemma, and I feel guilty every time I drop you off and kiss you goodbye as I drive away to my other life.  I feel bad that being at work gives me a bit of a "break", and that it sometimes feels good to have time to myself.  Believe me, snuggling with you on the couch every day, holding your little body in my arms knowing I had nowhere else to be was the most beautiful and purest form of happiness I've ever experienced.  And it's not that I don't want to spend every second with you, it's just that life is growing process.  We need to grow in our relationship as mother and son, but we need to learn how to nurture our relationships with the other people in our lives as well.  We can't forget about everyone else who needs us, too.  I can't forget about the world I lived in a little over three months ago, and I don't want to lose my identity or forget who I was before I became your mom.

I just hope some day you're proud of me for saying this -- but I'm proud of my career, and I'm proud of my accomplishments.  I'm happy that I have a job that challenges me daily and employers who respect me. Yes it's hard to show up with a smile every day when my heart is with you, but I have to do it.  For me, for you, for Daddy, and for my job that depends on me.  Does any of this make sense?  Probably not, but you'll soon learn that I ramble a lot because I have SO. MANY. FEELINGS. and I'm just trying my best to make it all work.

I think that's why I'm so torn.  My greatest accomplishment isn't something I have done, or can do, at work.  My greatest accomplishment is you.  It's your perfect smile when you look at me, it's in the trusting gaze you give me when we stare at each other, it's your soft skin, your big eyes (color still undetermined), your smart little brain and healthy, always-moving body, and it's in your zest and love for life.  But even though you're my biggest accomplishment, I still have to accomplish things at work, too.  I hope you can forgive me for trying to do it all.  It's so hard, honey.  It's hard being pregnant, it's harder giving birth, but it's the hardest going back to work and leaving you.  It's so hard trying to juggle it all.

Believe me, I know you're safe and having a wonderfully happy time with your Grandparents while your dad and I are at work, and if you could be with anyone in the world other than with us, I am so glad my parents are the ones you are with, and if it wasn't for modern technology and my mom's understanding of my incessant need for millions of pictures of you a day, it would be even harder to make it through these long days without you. I can't help but be a little jealous of your dad when he picks you up every day.  I know you two are spending quality guy time together though, and you are so lucky to have him as your Daddy.  Don't ever forget that.  Plus, he sends me pictures of you too. The photos of you are making it easier to cope.

I know you're still so innocent and you don't know a lot of things yet.  You don't know how hard it is to juggle traffic and deadlines and constant emails.  You don't know that I get lost in daily thoughts of you when I'm supposed to be typing up letters and pleadings for lawyers. You don't know that I negotiated working longer days Monday-Thursday so that I could have Fridays off so we can spend an entire day together.  You don't know how difficult waking up at 4am is, to make sure I have enough time to feed you before we start our day.  You probably don't know that I stare at you while you sleep, that I hold your little hand while I feed you, that I still cry at night as I second guess everything I'm doing as a mom, and that it actually physically hurts when you go up a size in diapers and clothes because I wish you could stay tiny forever, and that it's not easy for me to digest how fast time is flying.  You don't know that when I leave work, I think about you the entire ride home.  I think about whether or not you've picked up a new habit that I'll soon see, or if you've pooped and burped enough, and that I can't wait to walk through the door and squeeze and kiss you so hard.  You don't know how bad I can't wait to get home to you.

You don't know yet just how much you mean to me.

You may see me flying through the house, packing your diaper bag for the next day, scooping formula into little containers, eating dinner quickly, washing my makeup off with one hand and getting our clothes ready for the next day with the other.  I know you see me moving fast, but it's hard to slow down because I want to get it all done so I can relish in the feeling of your warm little body against mine as I give you your nighttime bottle.

I should probably stop writing now, because the emotions are kicking in and my eyes are filling with some all too familiar tears.  I just hope that when you get to this point in my letter, baby, that you see how special you are and that I don't mean to sacrifice any time with you because I am selfish.  I'm doing it because I need to.  Because it's so hard making ends meet.

But also because I love who I am as a career woman, and I love knowing that I am needed and depended on at work, and with that means being able to provide you with your wants and needs.  I'm doing it because I love knowing someday you will learn how to chase your goals... the way I am learning how to chase mine.

But Jackson, if there's one thing you take from this letter, I hope it's the realization that nothing in the world will ever trump my love for you.

Your Working Mama

photo credit: Jessica Morgan Photography
^ Check her out - she is AMAZINGLY talented and is so good with babies!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Jackson Paul

This time I'm not going to apologize for my absence like I usually do.  I'm not going to explain where I've been or why I haven't found the time to sit down and write.  I won't try to justify being MIA because honestly, I probably could have found some time to come visit this space... but I just wasn't ready.  I wasn't ready to organize my thoughts, pictures, and emotions in enough of an orderly fashion to post a blog post worth reading.  But, every day in the back of my mind I've heard a voice telling me to just sit down and write - to get it all off my chest whether it makes sense or not - thus, here I am, 48 days after having a baby and I'm still not sure what to say.  But I'll try.

I don't want to bore you with the oh my god my birth experience was beautiful and I want to have seven more kids right away and be a stay at home mom for the rest of my life story that some new moms feel like they need to write.  I won't tell you that the c-section I had was way easier than I expected, because it wasn't.  I'm not going to tell you that I never felt better than I did after giving birth and that it was such a simple experience.  Because none of that is true.  But what I will tell you is this... giving birth to my son was hands down the craziest, most empowering, most incredibly earth shattering, gratifying, and happiest thing I have ever experienced...and at least once a day I still cry about it.  Am I crying because I'm thrilled with excitement and because I can't believe my body grew something so perfect and special?  Hell yes.  Am I also crying because I am scared to death about being a mom and being responsible for the life of this little human being forever?  Also hell yes.  Is it petrifying but glorious and incredibly rewarding all at the same time?  HELL to the YES.

Let me get back to the crying part.  People told me I'd cry, so at least I had some warning.  But they only really told me I'd cry when I first saw him, and that I'd cry when they put him in my arms.  They didn't tell me that I'd cry when I counted all his fingers, toes, and inspected every inch of his little body and realized he was absolutely perfect.  That I'd cry when people told me he looks like me.  That I'd secretly also cry when everyone else told me he looks just like his dad and they don't really see me in him.  No one told me that I'd be having a perfectly normal day going about my business and just randomly feel the tears in my eyes.  I wasn't prepared for the fact that I would simply just cry.  Cry for no reason.  Cry because I'm happy.  Cry because I'm sad that I'm not pregnant anymore.  Cry because I miss living at the hospital for four nights when the nurses were only the press of a button away.  Honestly, I've cried way more than I expected to.  I cry when Jackson won't sleep.  I cry when I change him, feed him, love him, and he still screams.  I cried when the doctor told me he has acid reflux because I also have acid reflux and I know how f*cking painful it is and I never want my son to feel it.  I cry because I feel bad for Nala that the baby gets all the attention now.  I cry when Jackson looks at me and smiles because he's now seven weeks old and can recognize my face, and to me that's such an achievement.  I cry when he finally poops after a couple days of constipation because I am so happy it came out.  I cried when I put all the 4 ounce bottles away because that means he's already getting big and needs the bigger bottles.  I cried when I had to buy him 3-6 month onesies.  I cry when Paul says something funny and I laugh so hard but am so hormonal still that it turns into an all out ugly Kim Kardashian cry session.  I cry all the damn time, over the good, the bad, but mostly over the fact that I am so amazed by my life and my body, and my new very best little friend.  I cry because I'm in awe of myself as a woman and feel like a god damn super hero for getting pregnant and having a baby.  I cry because I'm so proud.  But does the crying get better and begin to subside as I gain more confidence in myself as a mother and as Jackson and I get to know each other better?  Yes.  Am I crying more tears of happiness these days than tears of any other kind?  Yes.  Is it all so worth it?  Yes.

Is this possibly the most raw and real post I've ever written?  Yes.

All of the above seems kind of scary, but if someone had warned me about all of it before I got pregnant, I would have still done it over.  Jackson is hands down the best part of my life.  He's my favorite face in the morning.  His little voice when he coos is my favorite sound.  His head after a warm bath is my favorite scent.  His tiny hand wrapped all the way around my pointer finger is my favorite feeling.  His eyes are the prettiest eyes I've ever seen, and the bottom of his feet are the softest things I've ever felt.  His breath smells so good, and his bright pink little lips are my favorite lips to kiss.  His cry is the saddest and scariest (and sometimes most frustrating) sound in the world, but the mere fact that he calms down when I soothe him is such a reward.  The feeling I get when I can make him stop crying is the same feeling I imagine I'd get after running a marathon... somewhat sweaty, tired as hell, but so freaking accomplished.

Knowing that I get to be this little boy's mother is the best gift I've ever been given.  Realizing that he is literally half of me and half of Paul, the man I love, is such a blessing.  Seriously.  When I think that I get to raise this little boy, bring him up in this world and teach him right from wrong, take him on trips, spend days just snuggling him, give him advice, watch him excel in his endeavors and pick him up when he fails, see him succeed in school and make friends, let him become whoever he wants to be, and remind him that my arms are always his home...all of this is the unbelievably mind-blowing to me.

So I could go on and on about all the things that make me happy, sad, exhausted, and scared about being a mother, but I think you already get the gist.  If you're reading this and have already had a baby, I'm sure you can relate.  If you're planning on having a baby some day and need some advice, all I can tell you is what I've learned in the nine months of being pregnant and the seven weeks of being a mother, and that is this... be kind to yourself.  Let your body experience every emotion and every physical ounce of pain and joy.  Don't ever be ashamed of being nervous and second guessing everything you're doing.  Don't read the typical "mommy blogs" and don't google every question you have.  Talk to the women you trust, take the advice of the baby's father because honestly, as new moms we are emotional and a lot less logical than the men sometimes.  They really do have good input and you need their help!  Remember that this baby's heart began to beat inside your body, so you already know how to keep him alive.  Trust yourself, trust your relationship with your body and with your baby, and remember you are only human and that it's normal to cry.  And if you're wondering if writing a blog post all about your experience becoming a mother is another thing that will make you cry, the answer is yes.  Hell. Yes.

Professional photography: