Monday, February 29, 2016

A year of being selfish

I keep thinking about life as I currently know it.  My foster daughter had a party on Saturday, which I kept telling her was "her party" and that meant she was going to have to do all of the work for it.  Then I proceeded to do a bunch of work for it.  I made pizza dough.  I made brownies from scratch.  I mixed cocktails.  Some of them stayed over, so I got up early on my ONE day a week that I'm able to sleep in and I made cinnamon rolls and a quiche for her guests.  In the end, for being her party, I took care of a lot of things.  When I take a hard look at things, that's sort of how my life goes all of the time.  Even when I say "This isn't my job, someone else will be doing it", the first time someone asks me to step in, I say yes.  I am constantly taking care of other people and their needs.  I often give up my own preferences to make sure everyone else is happy and cared for.  This extends through almost all areas of my life.  I put up this front of being combative at work and being a rabble rouser, but when we look at it, I'm always fighting for injustices happening to other people and rarely for myself.  This makes me look bad for constantly fighting the good fight for other people and I rarely get anything in return by way of payoff.  Then, when I have to stand up for myself, I've sort of used all of my clout.   I'm working on it.  I really am.

The problem I have is that I never want to be perceived as selfish.  I try incredibly hard to keep myself from being selfish and awful.  I give up things I want because I'm trying to be selfless.  I shy away from offering input on any subject that could make me look like I'm not putting someone else first.  I don't give many opinions on where to go for dinner, for example.  It drives my husband insane.  The problem is that after a lifetime of putting others first in most situations, it leaves me feeling drained and unbalanced.

I keep thinking that 2016 needs to be a year of being selfish.  Not to the extent that I become a terrible person, but I think it means I need to do more things that will bring some balance back.  Take care of myself in addition to everyone else.  For example, I don't ever want to travel for work because I have nothing in my closet that is client-facing appropriate.  I plan to fix that.  I'm also realizing that my husband takes classes 2 nights a week and while it's not a break from life, it's a few hours a week where all he has to do is show up and be present.  I need something for myself that feels that way.  I need to find something to do where all I have to do is focus on that.  As it is, I can't even sit on my sofa watching tv because all I think is "I should be picking up those toys" or "I probably need to go unload the dishwasher" and it's too hard to actually relax in my own space.  I need to do something else.  I've also been having problems with energy levels just not existing most days, and I'm so tired of being tired, so I'm hoping that maybe I can find some sort of exercise routine that will help boost my energy so I don't feel like I'm exhausted all the time.  So, I want to figure some things out.

But, on occasion, I'm going to take the selfish route and see if life starts to feel more balanced.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's all about choices

Recently someone I don't really talk to very often sent me an instant message while I was at work.  She and her husband are talking about having children and she said "You seem to have taken to this motherhood thing and really have it together, so how do you handle life as a working mom?"  Initially, I'll admit, that comment and the question that followed both surprised me.  Partially because I look at myself and my life and I feel like I am the last person who would say I "have it together" but also because I don't know how to answer the question of how I handle being a working mom.  The answer to that, like so many other things I've had to handle in my life is that I  It's a thing that has to happen, so I make it happen.  I don't know that there's any sort of secret mystery to it.  I just do the best I can with what I have.  That's what I've done my whole life.  Motherhood has never really struck me as being any different.

But, at the core of what she was talking about, I understood.  I understood that she, like me, was sitting there freaking out about all of the what ifs, and the fear that you might not be good at it, or you might resent your kid, or you might have the kid and realize you never really wanted a kid, or things could get bad and you'll have another person to consider.  Basically the whole early stage of this blog, that's what she's really getting at.  And for once, I could say that I truly get it.  I truly get all of those things, because it was me not so very long ago.  Truthfully, there are days when it's still me.

In the long run, though, it's all about choices.  You choose who you want to be as a parent.  You choose what your focus is.  You choose who you want to be as a parent.  My husband sometimes goes out to lunch with a friend who brings along her daughter.  He said that it's nearly impossible to have a conversation with this friend during lunch because her focus is entirely devoted to her daughter the whole time.  That's fine, that's her choice as a parent, but it does make things difficult.  My husband and I are a bit more hands off on that front.  We set my daughter up with her food, we talk and more or less interact without focusing on her too much unless she truly needs something.  We feel that it teaches her that she's not actually the center of the universe, and that's ok.  That's us.  That's our choice.  But the bottom line is that both are choices.  So when you hear the mom who is like "Oh, I have a baby, I can't even take a shower" or "Unless I'm leaving the house, I don't get out of pajamas anymore because I'm a mom and it's not worth it" or "I don't leave the house during the week because putting on a bra is too much work these days", those are all choices.  Those people are choosing to view the world and their lives this way.  And it might work for them.  It would never work for me.  If I don't get out of my pajamas, I feel like a lazy slug.  If I don't leave the house for a few days, I go utterly insane.  I'm learning my daughter is a bit like that too, since she spent a whole week at home with my husband last week and he never left the house with her so by the end of the week she was super cranky.  When I asked her on Friday if she wanted to go bye-bye after we decided to go out for dinner, she practically raced me to her coat and we couldn't get her into the car fast enough.  That's us.  But I choose not to be the mom who views getting dressed and wearing a bra as too much work on top of parenting.  I choose not to be the mom who never leaves the house.  I choose not to be the mom who makes their kid their main focus in all situations because it's not who I am.

The nice thing that no one tells you about parenting is that you get to make those choices.  You can look at the day and think "Today it's going to be too much work to pack up the kid and go run errands" or you can look at the day and think "I have to run errands today and the kid is just going to have to deal with that".  Sure, you might have to reshape things a bit like "Ooh, this is too close to nap time, maybe we'll save this last errand for tomorrow" but it doesn't mean you can't do the things you want or need to do most of the time.  You get to choose what sort of parent you want to be.  You get to choose to be the soccer mom, if that's your groove, or to be a crazy crunchy mom who eats their placenta or whatever, or to be somewhere in between all of it.  But whoever you were before you had a kid, you can still be just as much that person.  You can still be the person who goes nuts being in the house for too many days and has to get out, you can still be the person you want to be, and chances are if you stay true to that person, you'll find your kid has a  bit of that in them as well.  You don't have to be someone else just because the world expects you to be.

At the end of the day, you choose, and knowing that can be very freeing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Life as I know it

In the aftermath of being a crazy person, I'm continuing to feel incredibly embarrassed by the sort of crazy person I am and replaying my crazy over and over in my head so I can beat myself up over it because that's what I do to myself.

As I continue to reflect on the current life I lead, I find that while I'm sad that I don't get as much social time with other people as I might want or talk to people as much as I might wish I could, I also have to admit that I enjoy my family time at home more than I used to.  I enjoy rolling around on the floor with my daughter, or cuddling up on the couch and reading her a million books in a morning, or watching her scribble on some construction paper with a crayon.  I enjoy it so much that when Sunday night rolls around and I'm incredibly sad that I have to go back to work and miss out on that time.  Not because I can't stand to leave her or anything, but because I genuinely enjoy my time with her, but also the time I get with my husband and her together.  I enjoy that we've started doing Sunday night dinners with my foster daughter and her boyfriend where we all get together and find ourselves still at the table chatting long after the food has disappeared from everyone's plates.  I just find myself loving this quiet little space that's been created here with my favorite people.  Sometimes I enjoy it to the point where I don't necessarily want to let other people in, which leaves things at odds with my need to stay in touch with other people, and can be really hard.  I find myself craving more of that time spent with people I love, and it starts to make me realize how people can be stay at home parents sometimes, because that space space you exist in can be addictive.  And, to be honest, this is an awesome age to spend with my daughter.  She's funny, she's got things she loves and things she dislikes, she's learning new things every single day, she's becoming such an awesome little person, and there are days when I'm sad that I'm missing some of that.  I just want to get home every night so I can hopefully get a few happy hours with her before bedtime.  It's hard.  But, sometimes as much as I try to bury my life and hide this part of it from people I feel don't care about it or want to hear about it because it signifies that I'm a mom now and for so many of my friends that's annoying or boring or just a feature of my life that makes me alien to them, I wish it didn't have to feel that way.  I wish I sort of felt better about people continuing to embrace me as I am even though my life looks a little different now. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by people who would be happiest if I kept pretending to be someone else when they're around, and I don't know how to find a place where I don't have to do that.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Being a mom can make you, literally, a crazy person

Lately I've been feeling isolated.  I go to work, I come home, I care for my family, I watch a bit of tv, I clean up the house, I go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  My job isn't really a place for tons of socialization and lately it's been really nuts there.  So, that leaves me with attempting to socialize in other ways, which aren't always the best ways to reach people.  I have defaulted to text messaging people, which is such a garbage way to communicate and socialize.  But, it's kind of all I have right now, so that's where we are.  Unfortunately, because of who I am and all of the history I have in general with, when there's little response from people via text, I start to worry that it's because of me or something I did.  I'm used to people having a short shelf life in my world.  A year or two, if I'm lucky, and then something will happen and I'll destroy it in some way and that'll be it.  On top of that there's the added factor of me now being a mom and worrying that all of my friends don't really want to be around me or talk to me anymore because I've becoming one of those obnoxious moms that I hate.  I feel like I've worked so hard to keep too many things from changing since my daughter was born.  I've tried to maintain weekend gatherings as we once did, to coordinate lunches/dinners/get-togethers as I always have.  And yet, here I am, alone most weekends, desperately texting friends for some sense of connection that I may not even deserve.  And this isn't isolated to just one or two friends.  This is like, all of them.

I think some of this is related to the fact that over the past couple of months I've learned a lot of things I wasn't previously aware of that have colored a friendship I thought was pretty solid and close.  So now I feel like I'm kind of down one friend, and the rest of them are busy with their own lives and it just feels like there's a distance growing.  I can't even blame them for having their own lives.  I'm glad they are all doing so well!  I just can't help feeling like life keeps moving on without me.  Like being home with my daughter, who I love dearly, is also pulling me away from people I care about.  Or pulling people I care about away from me?  I'm not sure.

The point is that in all of this isolation, I've become the thing I've never been, and something I've never wanted to be.  Suddenly I've become the high maintenance friend.  The one who has to be reassured that she's still wanted, or secure, or whatever.  I actually texted my friend last night with a pathetic "Are we ok?" message that today I'm both embarrassed and ashamed of.  I'm so irritated with myself for falling into that trap of thinking that I need to chase people and attempt to force them to talk to or like me, even when there's no rational reason to think they don't in the first place.  Being isolated, spending all of my time with an infant who I love to death but who also causes my life to have a different focus, has also made me into a strange insecure being that I'm not used to being most of the time.  I'm so legitimately afraid that choosing to have a kid has made everyone in my life push me away or distance themselves from me that I'm doing things that may be leading them to do just that.  It's's so hard to turn off those voices in your head sometimes that no matter how much you try, it's still there.

I've tried so hard to remain who I am.  To not become just someone's mom.  To keep up with friends and family as I've always done.  I've exhausted myself with trying to do it all and the fact is that I can't control how people treat me in these situations.  The reality is that now I am someone's mother.  and I can't change that any more than I can change my birthdate or the color of my eyes.  It's a part of who I am, and I need to stop shoving it aside and ignoring it for the sake of others.  I still don't want it to be the central focus of all of my conversations or social interactions, but I have to stop hiding away from it as if it doesn't exist in certain circles.  The reality of my life is that it looks like this now, and I can't force it to look differently just to please others so either they find a way to accept the new view, or move on from it.  That's so hard for me to accept, to be honest, but there it is.

So, that's what life is like in my head now.  Mom life can make you a nutter.