Saturday, April 25, 2015

reconnecting with me, myself and I

I stopped pumping last week. If you've ever had the pleasure, or the displeasure as the case may be, to attach yourself on the regular to the machine that squeezes the milk out of your breasts like cattle, then you know it often feels like a degrading ball and chain. It's a love/hate thing, because it's also the reason I was able to work full-time and still breastfeed Angus.

And for me, this time around, I actually enjoyed my regular breaks throughout the work day, when I could disconnect from the chaos around me and reconnect, symbolically, to my little baby boy. I tried not to work during those breaks, because really, it was the only time awake that I had totally to myself (at work and at home), to collect my thoughts and just breathe.

But towards the end of the year, when I was still at my old job, I let that rule slip and started using the time to catch up on work email. I regret that now. I let my stress take over the mindfulness that had always been so important to me.

Giving up the pump has been harder for me emotionally this time. Because it means my baby boy is becoming self-sufficient and doesn't need me as much anymore. And also because he might be the last baby. We're still not sure.

On the upside, giving up the pump means regaining a little piece of myself—for myself, and for my Love. The less Angus needs of me, the more freedom we have to go on dates, to hang out, to reconnect. I'm totally fine with that. And I'm sure my Love is too.

And of course, Angus is doing the best out of all of us.

date night

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

change is good; transition is hard

Goodbye EatingWell—one era ends, a new era begins.
When midnight came and went on December 31 last year, Col and I were miraculously awake to toast in the New Year. That never happens. We didn't require much dialogue to know what the other one was thinking, and so with our eyes and with our hearts, we committed our resolve. "To 2015," I said, raising my glass. "The year of change."

I won't mince words. While 2014 was an incredible year in many ways, most notably welcoming little baby Angus into the world, it was also the most challenging year we've faced together in our marriage. I had returned to a very difficult work environment after my maternity leave. Col was also dealing with the high demands of his job. With two small children and both of us in stressful full-time jobs, we rarely found time for ourselves, let alone each other. It's not that we were arguing all the time. It wasn't like that. It was just that we barely saw each other. We barely knew each other. Our balancing teacup act was resting nervously on the tipping point, just waiting for that one innocent catalyst to smash it all to pieces. Something had to give.

The occasion for change came swiftly, ready or not. Within weeks, I was presented with a promising job opportunity that would allow me to revitalize my career and find passion in my work once again. There wasn't much to discuss—we had already decided change needed to happen. My head, my heart and my gut were all saying, emphatically, "Yes!" I accepted the job.

But that didn't make the change any easier. My colleague at the time said to me, "change is good, but transition is hard." After eight good years with a brand and a company I'd poured my heart and soul into, I had made the decision to up and leave without looking back. Even as I was so excited for a fresh start and to let go of my heavy baggage, saying goodbye to each of my colleagues was like going through a traumatic breakup over and over again. And at my new job, it took me weeks before I stopped really missing my old team, my old systems, my old routine and all of the things that were familiar to me.

In the end though, the change really has been good. At work, I feel challenged and inspired. I come home at night with the mental space to converse with my family. I'm laughing again. I'm meeting friends for drinks after work. I'm regaining my life back. But we're still in transition, finding our new rhythms. Some of the other issues I've resolved to change still need addressing.

And some change is out of our control. That kind of change is sad and it is difficult. But it is almost always good. Eventually. It just takes time.

What I'm realizing lately is that this is not the year of change so much as it is the year of transition. Maybe even years of transition. It will be difficult, it will be inspiring, amazing, scary and heart-wrenching. But when I think about December 31, 2015, I don't have a clear picture of where we'll be on this journey, what our lives will look like or what we will be toasting. The bigger surrounding picture is still fuzzy. And that is exciting to me. That we still have time to shape things for the better. That we don't have to be stuck in a rut or chronically unhappy or stressed. It's incredibly empowering to finally have that epiphany. Would that it had come sooner in life. But better late than not at all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Where I am now

There are certain species, such as the octopus, that die shortly after giving birth. I wonder about these animals, and wonder if their evolutionary path at some point decided that the emotional and physical ups and downs of rearing young was too much for the poor souls to handle.

Indeed, in my short experience of giving birth and rearing two young children, I've found that it's perfectly normal for the ups and downs to ignite a ripple effect of existential internal questioning. Such as, "what am I doing with my life"? There is never a good and easy answer. And every possible response spawns yet another line of questioning with equally unsatisfactory answers.

This is where I am these days, between caring for the yungins, wasting minutes I could be sleeping on the interwebs, trying to maintain a relationship with the hubs, and making every effort to to get to work on time. I just wonder sometimes, "how did I get here and where am I going?" I don't have a good answer.

But I wouldn't have it any other way. Honest.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Shards of glass

You know when the universe is trying to tell you something? I broke a glass bowl this morning. As I was rushing around trying to get everyone ready for work and school, I rushed to shove the bowl into a cubbard and it tumbled out of my fingers and hit the ground at breakneck speed, shattering into hundreds of shards all over the kitchen floor. I had to stop everything to clean it up. 

As I was thinking of the bowl just now, I remembered this photo I took yesterday of a broken window at my office. The reflected light from the shards reminded me of something I wrote a couple of years ago. Now, how many ways can I read into this series of events?

A glass window pane can be a harsh and cold-hearted thing. It can bottle you in and completely cut you off from the world around you. On the outside, the fragile bird is fooled by his reflection and hugs into the glass at break-neck speed. But shatter the glass, and you and the bird can be set free, swept up by the swirling wind into the heavens above.

For those of us left behind, the sharp fragments of glass cut a painful wound deep into the heart. But if you can manage to shift your view ever so slightly, you will see that the shards become a luminous prism, casting millions of magical rainbows across the landscape and letting us steal a glimpse into that world beyond.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Down Meadow

I'm staying at my parents this week with the kids. Partly to avoid a week of single parenting, while Col is traveling for work, but mostly to spend some time here while I'm still on maternity leave. 

Amelia is at peace here. She loves the chickens, the garden and being able to run around and explore. And she loves here Lalla and Papa Lalla. This means a lot to me--and to them--because you know how fickle and unpredictable toddlers can be.

Angus is being his usual mellow happy self. What a sweet little boy.

And me? I'm fighting the exhaustion of caring for two young children on my own. And trying not to think about going back to work next week. 

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