Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dear Ethan

Dear Ethan,

I took you to the park today. When I snuggled you down for your nap just now, your hair smelled like sunshine.

I love to see you happy. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013

2011 was an amazing year. I felt an incredible amount of self worth. So many beautiful experiences. It was easy to feel I was doing a good job. I took good care of myself while pregnant, I had a beautiful, happy baby, I simply had to love him and breastfeed him and read to him and take him on walks and keep him clean and healthy and safe and feel like I was doing a great job.

2012 more variables were introduced. I had to start feeding him from sources other than (well, in addition to) the breast. I had to baby proof. I had to figure out how to get anything done with an attached baby, and later, an active and curious toddler. I had to begin principles of discipline. And so on and so forth.

As a result, it was harder to measure how well I was doing, and I went a little cray cray. I was convinced that everything I did or didn't do would give him cancer or ADHD. Or at the very least, make him developmentally behind, or simply unhappy as a person. I did not feel that same amount of incredible confidence I felt in 2011. I felt neurotic. I worried myself sick. I made myself miserable much of the time.

Here's to 2013 being a whole lot chiller than that madness.

And to kick the chillness off, I'm feeding my 17 month old 8 layer dip for breakfast. Hey, it has all the food groups. Even fruit, since tomato is technically a fruit. I guess it doesn't have grains. Welp! I'll have to add chips then. :-)

Hello 2013. I welcome you gladly.

Friday, July 6, 2012

As we approach the first birthday...

There was a moment, during our vacation. I was alone with Ethan in the pool. We were having a great time. He loved being in the pool. I was holding him up in the air, out of the water, and he was looking down at me, dripping water off his cute baby body and grinning down at me like, "Mom, you're the best thing I've ever seen. This is awesome. Life's awesome. I'm kind of in love with you."

It strikes me now and again, that Ethan won't remember this first year, and yet I always will. It's like having this wonderful romance, but only one of us will remember it. A million tender moments, making beautiful memories every day, like when you're falling in love and you make memories the two of you can always hold onto...except I'm the only one who will hold on.

I know, I know...all of it will have a lasting impact on his psyche and it's all worth it even if he can't remember specific memories, etc. But it's a little bittersweet for me. It'll be a fact for him: Mom loves me and always has. It's just the way it will have always been, for him. The love will just be there. But I will remember falling in love.

And it's kind of strange that he will never love me back the way I love him. What child does? He'll grow up, meet the love of his life, and she'll be his everything. He'll think no one ever loved him as much as she does. And I'll know the truth.

But that's not what I'm really thinking about. It just struck me, that moment in the pool. For a mother, it's a little heartbreaking to know that all those sweet and beautiful moments from the first year are only going to be remembered by one of you.

Most relationships are give and take. But motherhood is just give. And I suppose I've always known that.

Monday, April 16, 2012

20 Random Things

Heidi did this on her blog, and since I don't blog often and probably won't again for a while, I thought I'd use the inspiration. 20 random things about yourself. I really did strive to be random and not write a bunch of generic things.

1.  I loved being pregnant. It's the one time I can remember feeling beautiful, even when I didn't look beautiful at all. I felt beautiful, even on my ugliest days. It was just this deeper, abiding beauty that had nothing to do with how I actually looked.

2.  My two favorite boy names are and pretty much always have been Ryan and Ethan. I married a Ryan and named our first son Ethan Ryan. Oops. Sorry to any future sons. I already used up the only ones I like on your eldest brother.

3.  My best friend and I are totally different people and sometimes I wonder if we would be friends if we met today for the first time. We became best friends in third grade, though, and it's like sisterhood - we don't need to have anything in common, we don't even need to talk that often, we've still got each others' back forever, no matter what.

4.  I've never wished I had a different name. And you wouldn't either, if your name was Lola. Being a Lola makes life more fun. And people want to meet you and then tell people they have a friend named Lola. And when guys go out with you, they like to brag that they took someone named Lola out. It's a fact.
5.  Chili's mashed potatoes. They are where it's at. The second my water broke, my mom and husband knew to get to Chili's and get me them potatoes.

6.  I really don't dislike anyone. (Except for you. Yeah, I'm looking at you.)

7.  When you see me staring off into space, I'm almost undoubtedly analyzing a word in my mind and trying to figure out its origins...or something else equally nerdy but fascinating to me. Anyway, if you think I'm analyzing you, I'm not. I probably looked at you with the intention of mouthing something to you but got lost thinking about my word and never took my eyes off your face. My apologies. You don't look fat in that sweater.

8.  Even though I believe I can be happy anywhere, now and then I look out the car window or something and feel completely panicked by how ugly Utah is. It's worse if I've just come from a stressful event, such as the doing of taxes. It's like, "Ohmygosh, not only is life stressing me out, but I'm somewhere ugly! I can't even look out the window for respite and comfort because ALL I SEE IS UGLINESS." Suddenly I feel like a scared child for a few moments. I honestly panic.

9.  I don't really ever want a dog because they are generally not soft enough for me. They are coarser than cats and I like soft, cuddly things.

10.  The sight of my baby's feet can send me into spasms of joy.

11.  I think I am hilarious. Nobody else agrees with me, but at least I can entertain myself. I will lay in bed and laugh at my own jokes. I don't even care that no one else thinks I'm funny. I think I'm funny.

12.  I rarely notice anyone's shoes. I know that's supposed to be like a girl thing, to judge a guy by his shoes, or something? I don't notice shoes. I notice if you are a jerk. (Just kidding, but I do like nice people.)

 13.  I think this is genetic because my grandma, aunt, dad, and a couple siblings are the same way, but I cannot handle cuteness. It is too much for me. I just need to squeeze and bite and devour. I chew on my son all the time. Luckily, he likes it, and laughs. I find myself sort of shaking (so I can quell the intensity of my affections) when I hold a baby that I love and adore. I NEED to chew cute babies! Don't be scurred.

14.  Just thinking about the movies Labyrinth or Purple Rain makes me mad. Worst movies ever.

15.  I got married on July 11 and had my first baby on July 11 (different years, of course). What's more, July 11 is National Cheer Up the Lonely Day (perfect for a wedding) and World Population Day (perfect for baby-having). It's also National Free Slurpee Day, and that just makes it all the "sweeter!" Ha ha ha...(that's one of those jokes I'll lay in bed cracking up about later).

16.  I have a huge pet peeve about people using the word "text" as a past tense thing. IT IS NOT PAST TENSE JUST BECAUSE "XT" MAKES THE "-ed" SOUND! "St" does the same thing, but you wouldn't say, "I blast the music last night." YOU'D SAY YOU BLASTED IT. When someone says, "Well, I text him and told him we'd meet at 5," or something, I have to sit on my hands so as not to break something.

17.  I feel like a hypocrite because I say I'm not a bandwagoner, but I've read all of the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games books.

18.  Before I gave birth, the only girls I knew who'd had 10 pound babies were girls who are like, six feet tall (or at least, taller than average). I was in awe of these women back then. Mine was 9 1/2 pounds, and I'm only five one and a half. He was not a C-section. This makes me feel like I am made of awesome.

19.  When I wake up in Oregon on a summer's day, I sneeze (on average) thirty times in a row.

20.  My parents say it's my fault my cat went totally crazy and possessed because I named a black cat Snowflake. I was in third grade and I thought it was clever. I still wonder on a regular basis what made that cat turn into a demon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ethan's 6 Month Photos

Here are the six month photos of our sweet Ethan! We love him so much it makes us sick! :-)

Really, he is such a joy. Such a happy, excited, loving person. I never expected to love motherhood so much. I always knew I would love my children. I never doubted that. I sort of doubted how much I'd love actually being a mom, though, and I have been joyfully surprised ("pleasantly surprised" didn't seem like a strong enough way of describing it.)

He was a little tired and hungry when we took these pictures, so he wasn't quite the perma-excited little boy of usual, but we still got some gems.

(The photographer said he looks like Eeyore in that last one. Hehe.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

To anyone with parents

We went to a wedding last night. Ethan got a little bit fussy during the father/daughter/mother/son dance, so I took him out to change him. I'm not even that big of a "Butterfly Kisses" fan, but maybe it was because I'd had a hard day (not as a mom, just as a person...and I'm allowed that here and there, even though I don't often give myself mercy enough to have a bad day). Maybe it was because right before that song, they'd played "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri for the bride and groom dance, and I'd never heard that song before, and while the bride sobbed, I got to hold and look at and kiss my sweet baby as I heard the beautiful words of that song.

Maybe it was a combination of those things, but as I walked down the hallway and into a dark, empty classroom at the church where the reception was being held, I couldn't hold back the tears and I ducked into the classroom and wept as I went about changing my baby's diaper as usual.

Being a mom hurts. And people who don't have children, or who haven't had a new child in twenty plus years, don't seem to understand this. They tell me I should be grateful for every moment, that I should revel in the joy that each new stage brings about, that I shouldn't be sad about the changes.

I have taken to heart the advice I was given when I was pregnant and that I receive daily as a new mom. I have cherished every moment. I have loved every second, even the harder ones, because I know it will go fast, just like everyone told me. I've never regretted becoming a mother, or wished I'd waited a little longer, or wondered if I should have done this. I've opened my heart to my son and let the love I feel for him wash over me constantly.

And yet, despite all my efforts to cherish and love every moment, it still goes by too fast. And it still hurts. Because you fall in love with someone, only to watch them change into someone else every day. Development at this age goes by so quickly. Think about your spouse. We are all constantly evolving, but relatively speaking, your spouse is the same person they were six months ago. They probably look about the same and sound the same and do the same things. My son is six months old. He is a completely different person today than he was six months ago, when I first held him in my arms. His hair is a different color, his eyes are a different color, he's six and a half inches taller and weighs more than double what he did then. He couldn't even smile six months ago and now he gasps and scream-laughs like a little adult when I walk in the room and make a face at him.

So yes, each stage is new and exciting and wonderful and there is so much joy in all of it, but there is also the heartache that accompanies losing the person they were last week as you fall in love with the person they are today. My heart feels the physical ache of this paradox. Growing pains.

I miss velvety newborn skin and dark, nearly black hair and navy blue eyes. I miss wondering if he'll ever grow eyebrows or eyelashes. I miss that first week, when he'd cry and someone would place him in my arms and he'd instantly stop crying once he locked eyes with mine, and we'd stare at each other, developing an understanding. I miss when he didn't have the ability to express his excitement the way he does now, and how he'd hear my voice and his eyes would widen as much as they could and he'd kick his feet because he just couldn't do anything else with himself to show how excited he was to see me. I miss watching him look curiously at his hands, then put forth is arm and gently bat at something nearby as he learned his hands had useful qualities that were, up until that point, undiscovered.

Something about the words of the song they were playing while the bride and groom danced with their parents. "I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek tonight." It pulled my heartstrings because now I know a little something about how a parent must feel on their child's wedding day. It sounds silly because Ethan is only six months old, but those six months have flown at the speed of light and I can't help but wonder if the next twenty years will fly by equally fast. If I'll be dancing with my son at his wedding, wondering how this could be happening when I only brought him home from the hospital weeks ago. It was only weeks ago, right?

This is such a sweet and special time because he has no idea how imperfect, how flawed I am. The only thing he knows right now is that I am his mother, that I love and adore him, and that he feels the same way in return. He won't always feel that way about me. I told my husband the other day that right now, it's easy to feel like a good mom. I strive so hard every day to make sure that he is safe, that he is loved, that he is healthy, that he's properly fed, that I work with him on his development and encourage his education. We don't have to work on behavior yet. Right now he's this wonderful, pleasant, blessedly easy baby that I get to adore. It's when he gets a little older that things get confusing, that all the books and methods get conflicting. It's when we get to the behavior stages that I could really mess things up.

I read once in a book called The Five People You Meet In Heaven that all parents damage their children. Youth is like glass, and some parents leave little scratches or cracks in the glass, while others shatter it completely, beyond repair. Okay, so in some way, despite all my best efforts, I will damage my child, at least a little bit. I need to accept that. Okay.

We all pick apart our parents. We analyze what they did right and wrong in raising us. It's a part of the process of self-actualization. It's necessary and we all do it. And someday, my children will do the same with me.

But when that day comes, whether it be when he's ten years old and embarrassed and annoyed because I want to hug him, or when he's a surly teenager who is mad at me because I've wronged him in some way, or when he's a grown man starting his own family; he's not going to be thinking about all the hours I spent lying next to him while he took his naps, staring at his face and thinking how perfect it is, memorizing every feature because I know tomorrow he won't look the same. He won't be thinking about how he was the subject of so many of my earnest prayers. How I prayed and tried every day to be a better woman so I could be the mother he deserves. He won't think about how I could hold him or look at him for hours, thinking how I'd never loved like this, wondering how I was worthy to become his mother, how I could be so blessed just to hold him close and bask in his presence. He won't think about how his smiles and the simple act of resting his head on my shoulder could make my whole day. That I looked at him and thought how I would love him forever, and that I had loved him a thousand years before he was even born. How I felt that way because I couldn't remember a time I didn't love him, when I didn't live for him.

To anyone with parents, go hug your mom. Let her smell your hair. I know a little something about how she feels about you. She likely laid next to you for hours, watching you sleep and wondering how there ever existed a world that didn't include you in it. She probably looked at you and felt her heart grow and thought she was the only person in the world who'd ever felt that way. I know, because it wasn't that long ago for me, how she felt the first time she held you. If you call her and she nags you or worries too much about you, I know how she feels, and please, don't react with so much impatience and annoyance. Just let her love you.

"I have died every day waiting for you
Darling don't be afraid
I have loved you for a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Because Mary gave birth in a manger

It has burned me up since Ethan was born that he had to be in the NICU and for no reason, as test results later proved. Aside from the enormous bill that racked up, the main reason I was so mad was because I didn't get to be with my baby as much as I wanted in his first few days. I didn't get my first night I'd always dreamed of, holding him and staring at him and having him look back at me and just reveling in the joy and bonding together. Instead he spent that first night all hooked up. Being cared for by random nurses who got to do his first diaper change and figure out that he liked being bounced and didn't like a pacifier. He had to lay on a table and be checked on now and again, instead of being constantly in my arms and knowing he was loved. It's really burned me up.

During testimony meeting on Sunday, a woman I know stood up and bore her testimony. She just had her third baby. She bore her testimony of great women that have come before us. She talked about Mary, and how labor is such a scary and intense experience as it is, but Mary had to ride a donkey in labor and give birth outside on the ground in the cold surrounded by animals. She said how frightening and hard that must have been. Tears filled my eyes. In that moment I decided to let go of my anger. I will probably always feel a little heartache over the first night, not getting to be with him, and I think I have every right to feel sad about it. But I'm not angry anymore. Mary certainly didn't have the ideal birth experience. The task before her was far greater than my own, and required so much more faith. I'm sure it wasn't her life's dream to bring her sweet baby into the world on a bed of hay and into a world where others would persecute and try to harm him. And because of Mary, I am letting go.