You are so loved

My love, you’ve grown so fast.

You have been a thousand different souls since the first moment I met you, and your mama is struggling to keep up. Your heart feels fully – you laugh, and cry, and dance and “jump” with all that you have – and I am so intensely jealous of the joy you have for life.

When I look at you, I see all of my strengths, all of my shortcomings and all of my wishes for the life you’ll have. I see the hope that I will be good enough, strong enough, loving enough to help you grow into the man you deserve to be. You’ve given me so much more, and tried me so much harder, than I ever thought possible.

I live every day in awe of you, worried for you, worried about you and absolutely in love with you. You are my heart, running around outside of my body, and I don’t know how I was ever so lucky as to have you.

I know that I’m not a perfect mom. That I lose my cool and yell at some of the most inane times. That I can’t always be the fun-loving free spirit I want to be, because life is pulling me in a million directions when you want to be blowing dandelion seeds in the back yard. But I’m trying.

For you, I’m trying.

I want to soak up every minute, to watch you dance to the theme song of Friends, to watch you chase the dogs around the living room and chase bubbles through the air. To help you climb up and down the stairs as many times in a row as you want, or to let you hold your own cup full of water, knowing you’ll fall or spill if I’m not there to help you (but that the world won’t end if you do).

Because you’re strong.

You’re strong-willed.

You’re beautiful and happy and an absolute miracle. I love every day that I get to watch you smile.

I love that you cry for me when you need me and that the instant you feel me nearby, you calm. I hope that I can always be a source of strength and resilience for you. I hope that I am enough, and more than enough, to make you feel loved.

Because you are, sweet Franklin; you are so very loved.

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No man is an island (but all women kind of are)

In a lot of ways, I’ve always existed just slightly on the fringe of what I’d call the rest of the world.

That’s not to say I’m a loner; I’ve had friends, sure, but I’m often the person who’s more of the friend you bump into, not the friend you call to deliberately meet up with. I’m extremely introverted, meaning I’m often in my own head rather than in the present. I also have a strange obsession with being right (ha), so I have a habit of falling down the rabbit hole of tedium and minutiae – particularly when it comes to grammar and language – which not everyone finds as fascinating as I do. I like to call it job security, but in a lot of ways being interested in the things no one else cares about is, gasp!, isolating.

In fact, I have a tendency to take on challenges that others aren’t interested in, or don’t want to try. In my relatively short career post-college, the majority of my jobs have been the only one of their kind at that company. Even my position now, which I job share and therefore actually DO have a counterpart, is somewhat isolating in its ubiquity. We work across all clients, making us simultaneously members of every team and of no team.

But at work, I like being one-of-a-kind. It leaves me as the go-to person for answers (see aforementioned obsession with being right) and gives me the autonomy and authority to act as I deem necessary, mostly because there’s really no one else to consult. There’s a freedom to being on your own in this way; I can pop in and out of projects, leave my mark and then move on to the next.

At home, though, those same qualities that look like drive and ambition at work can lead to my taking on way more than I can chew. And because of that inability to let go, to delegate, to work as a team, I wind up feeling like I’m doing it all alone.

Because I am. Because I’m a crazy person.

Because god forbid, something gets done in a way different than how I would do it.

The funny thing is – I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way.

As women, as mothers, as wives, we’re told we can have it all, but the underlying sentiment is that we have to have it all. We have to be the best wife, mother, daughter, employee, sister, friend and so on. That we have to figure it out. That if we just put our minds to it, we can totally handle it all.

But that’s just it. We’re putting our minds to everything  keeping track of the things that keep the house running – and doing it all alone.

It’s not that the men of the world aren’t stepping up – they absolutely are, and my husband is a prime example – but if I can be so bold as to generalize, the women of the world are still handling so much of the unseen work that it’s absolutely beating us down. (Check out this article on Time that explains it so much better than I could.)

And instead of finding solidarity, support or camaraderie in our always-connected social era, we find comparison and self-loathing for any and all of our shortcomings. We see Insta-edited versions of the lives our friends and family live and wonder, why can’t I do that? Why can’t I handle it like she can?

Why am I the only one who just, simply, can’t?

Personally, I very much do not have it all together. On any given day, there’s a pile of dishes in my sink, laundry getting wrinkled in baskets on the floor and a kid going off to daycare with blueberry stains under his fingernails. My mind races between the work I need to do, the money I need to spend (or save, and for what and how much) and the questions I need to remember for the doctor’s appointment coming up at the end of the month.

It never ends. And the more I tack onto my mental to-do list, the more I feel like I’m falling behind in the endless and solitary pursuit of perfection. The ever-elusive “all.”

So with that, I say, can we all agree to just cut the bullshit here and now?

Maybe if we all quit pretending we have it all, we could all feel a little better about not having it all.

Who really wants it all anyway? That just sounds like more to clean.

Another Year, Another Perspective

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I joke a lot that people should be forced to work in food service, because it makes you a better person. It gives you a perspective that can’t be duplicated elsewhere – you see the best and the worst in people and it changes you, makes you more considerate and more understanding.

When it comes to understanding others, most of us can sympathize – empathize, even – but unless you’ve been there, you can’t really see things from their perspective. Perspective is something you can only learn through experience.

Of course, not all perspectives are welcome, or easy to learn.

For me, one particular perspective has been over two years in the making.

Two years ago, I first broached the subject of miscarriage on this blog.

Two years ago, my first post on the subject came from a raw, painful place. I was reeling from our second loss and struggling to come to terms with the fact that this very normal, though very painful, journey was the journey we were on.

Last year, I wrote from a calmer but still anxious place, as we were just over a month away from meeting our little boy, but still harboring fear that something could always go wrong.

This year? This year I’m writing from a place of such disbelief that I’m not even sure words can describe it (but obviously, I’m going to try, otherwise what am I doing here?).

The past year has been a whirlwind, watching this tiny person I hoped for arrive, thrive and grow, making my heart simultaneously overflow with love and tremble at the sheer immensity of what we’ve done. I mean, we created a person that we are now wholly responsible for, and for the most part, have no idea what we’re doing.

And this person – this tiny little person – has all but erased the memory of what it was like, two years ago, to be writing a post to tell our friends and family that we were hurting.

How, in such a small amount of time, has he changed everything?

And how is it fair that I was given this perfect little person, while so many people never get that reprieve?

This is the part where people usually say things like, “everything happens for a reason” or “you are where you’re supposed to be.” And while those comments are generally well-intentioned, they’re not particularly helpful. Yes, I’m grateful to have this beautiful child and yes, for me, the pain has subdued, but when these seemingly harmless platitudes are made to women and men who aren’t currently holding their silver lining, they can be downright hurtful.

I will never say I’m grateful for the experience that brought us Franklin. Going through three miscarriages while we waited for him to arrive was gut-wrenching. What it did, though, was give me a not-so-unique perspective into what so many people are going through behind closed doors. And by talking about it, I’ve been able to open a dialogue with friends and family, many of whom have confided in me their own struggles.

So once again, I remind you that tomorrow, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7 p.m. in your local time zone, join me in lighting a candle for an hour to participate in an International Wave of Light to remember those lost too soon through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or as an infant.

Though their lives may have been short, the mark they leave on our hearts is real.

Keep your clichés and give me coffee.

Can I get real with you for a second?

This mom business is freakin’ hard.

Everyone tells you it’s tough, but it’s worth it. That your life will change in so many ways, but that ultimately, becoming a parent was the best thing they ever did.

I’ll agree, but I’m also calling bullshit.

I’m calling bullshit because they say it’s hard, but they don’t tell you how. They say it’s tiring, that you won’t sleep, but they don’t tell you what eight months (or a year, or two) of broken sleep really looks like. They sugar coat and gloss over the hard parts, making cliché comments like “the days are long but the years are short” and “don’t blink, you’ll miss it.”

But I wouldn’t do that to you.

Let me preface this by saying I love my kid. He really is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t give him up for anything in the world (most of the time). Watching him grow and change over the last few months has me in awe, wishing time would both speed up so he can learn more and slow down so he can be small forever. So in some ways, I agree with all those isn’t-parenting-the-best-thing-evarrr people.

But if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been completely blindsided by how hard it was going to be.

I didn’t expect the stress and anxiety I would have after he was born, leaving me incapable of focusing on anything else, 24/7, for at least, like, eight weeks.

I didn’t expect that the lack of sleep would leave me short-tempered and hotheaded (yes, mom, even more so than normal), picking fights with a husband who is genuinely doing his best to help.

I didn’t expect that eight months later, I’d still be struggling to get dishes done, or clothes put away, or any number of things that responsible adults are supposed to be capable of doing.

Having Franklin has been simultaneously unifying and isolating, giving me something in common with the millions of parents out there, but making me feel like I’m alone in my seeming ineptitude. Surely everyone can’t have a house this messy? Surely other people somehow manage to adult better than this? Am I the only person who doesn’t know what the hell their kid is crying about?

If not, if it’s really this hard for everyone, WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TELL YOU THAT?!

Granted, my kid is alive, healthy and happy. And my dogs are alive and reasonably happy with their new, lower status on the totem pole (and extremely happy with the fact that Franklin has started solid foods). But really — is everyone else just pretending that they’re good at this?

Because I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty damned inadequate sometimes.

Sure, my Instagram is filled with his smiling, adorable face, because he smiles a lot and is generally happy.

But it’s also because pausing to take a picture when he’s screaming his head off mid-diaper change is a bit impractical.

And because damn it, if I’m working this hard, you better believe I’m gonna show him off.

Part of me knows that the good stuff, the really good stuff everyone talks about, is yet to come. That he’s developing into a tiny little person that will eventually do more than need held up, picked up and stopped from eating dog food. And that one day, I’ll look back on this time with my well-earned, rose-colored lenses, and tell some struggling mama I see at the store to cherish it, because the time goes too fast.

But right now? Right now I’m just keeping my head above water, dodging the two-week-high pile of laundry in my bedroom and ignoring the stack of dishes in my sink because the tiny little human who owns my entire heart wants up.

Or down.

Or up again.

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Sigh.

My goodness, I love this boy.

I suppose everything else really can wait.

Stitch Fix Review: Fix #6

Every once in a while, Stitch Fix will offer to waive the styling fee in order to get you to try out their service again. When they just so happen to do that right when I was considering ordering a box anyway, well, you know I had to.

Bonus: If you decide you want to give Stitch Fix a shot, they’re currently offering a Give $25, Get $25 for orders that ship before July 28. So if you use the links in this post, you’ll have a $25 credit waiting on you!

A quick reminder for anyone who doesn’t know, Stitch Fix is an online service where you set up a profile, pay $20 and have a personal stylist send you five curated items they think will suit your needs/wants. Once they arrive, you get three days to try things on, mix-and-match with items from your own closet, and decide what you want to keep. If you keep anything, your $20 up front goes toward your final total; if you keep everything, you get a 25% discount on the entire box. It’s super easy and, if you’re like me and hate to shop, easy is what you need when you need new clothes. Plus, referral links (like the ones in this post) get you $25 credit for each time someone orders a fix.

OK. Here we go! Stitch Fix review, complete with terrible bathroom shots!

First up: Skies are Blue, Crochet Trim Top


I had to text 4 people on this one, all because I didn’t think I liked it, but Darrell said he did. Ultimately, I’ve decided the boxy style is unflattering on my body type. The size was right, just the way it was cut doesn’t work for me.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Sent back.

Next up, from the same company (Skies are Blue), the Abner Back Cutout Detail Top.


I really wanted to like this tank top – I love the cutout design – but the fit wasn’t right. It was baggier around the bust than it should be, and left big gaps under my arms. And again, kind of boxy, leaving me looking like a giant square.

Plus, let’s be honest: Mama’s gotta wear a bra under her shirts, and this cutout style top isn’t going to cut it.

Cost: $48. Verdict: Sent back.

For the last of the tops, the Nelda Halter Blouse, from Pixley.


I actually really like the style and print of this top, but once again, the fit was all wrong. It was too big in the bust, leaving lots of room under the arms. And, again, strapless bras are just not my jam right now, and therefore neither is this shirt.

Cost: $44. Verdict: Sent back.

When it comes to these shirts, either I’m just not in style, or maybe I need to size down on my style profile, but something’s not quite right. I’m hoping the next fix I order can get to the bottom of this.

Anyway, onto the dress! This one’s from Collective Concepts – the Chantelle Dress.


That’s the face you make when taking a backside selfie, obviously.

I have to tell you, I really liked this dress. Unfortunately, where the waistline sits really accentuated the fact that my stomach is still soft after having a baby.

Or after all those doughnuts people keep bringing into the office.

Whichever.

Either way, I’m bummed about this one because it was oh-so-close to being oh-so-right.

Le sigh.

Cost: $88. Verdict: Sent back.

And last but, uh, least – the Monica Suede Criss Cross Slide Sandal, by Dolce Vita.

Ugh. Feet.

These were comfortable, and even though I was lukewarm on how they looked, I was actually halfway excited about them because I thought they could be my I-should-wear-something-nicer-than-flip-flops-but-screw-wearing-heels shoes.

And then I looked at the price tag.

Hahahaha. I’m sorry, but $70 is just way too much for shoes I’m not really excited about. I also don’t really love slide-on sandals – I’m more of a ankle strap kind of gal.

So, like everything else, back they went.

Cost: $70. Verdict: Sent back.

Once more, I sent back everything. I was really hoping I’d be able to get something fun to wear over 4th of July weekend, but this just wasn’t the box for me. It seems like I need to really write out how things fit, as that’s the biggest problem. Next time I’ll be asking for more fitted tops, and maybe more forgiving dresses, as it seems I’m getting the two sort of in reverse of what I actually need.

If this review hasn’t completely dissuaded you, I’d definitely recommend you give Stitch Fix a try. Especially since if you order for delivery before July 28, my referral link will get you $25 too – that’s enough to cover your styling fee, meaning you’re out nothing if you don’t like your fix.

If you DO decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

 

4-month check-in: Coming out of the fog

Somehow, some way, my baby boy turned 4 months old this week. I figure that means it’s time for a check-in.

Since the last update – or really, the first update – so much has changed. Franklin is sleeping well (usually), growing (constantly) and changing (every day). I’m back at work (yay/boo) and Franklin is in daycare (boo/yay), and we’re settling into a bit of a routine (sort of).

Yes. Everything has a caveat and every day is different, but I’m happy to say we’re mostly out of the newborn fog and he’s starting to really show us his personality.

And oh, what a personality he has.

Aside from when his mean mom and dad make him go get his shots (like yesterday – sorry dude), Franklin is typically a happy, chill baby. He has a big, gummy grin that I just absolutely cannot get enough of.

And of course, those EYES.

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It’s that bright eyed, smiling – and giggling – little face that has brought me around the corner from “OH MY GOD WHAT DID WE DO” to “OH MY GOD, LOOK WHAT WE DID!”

So what’s so different?

He smiles. He chatters. He responds. He giggles. He interacts.

Basically, he’s realized there are more ways to get our attention than simply wailing like a banshee.

Of course, it’s still not all puppies and rainbows. He still cries for no reason at times. He still wants to be held – a lot – making getting anything accomplished around the house a near impossibility. I’ve managed to come down with the stomach flu twice, which is miserable when you have to care for and be solely responsible for feeding a small human.

But it feels worth it.

The rough nights of sleep are usually followed by a good night.

The early morning wake-ups are met with a smiling, cooing baby who is completely thrilled to see my face, hovering drowsily over his crib.

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The constant need to be held is a reminder that he needs me and loves me, and that being his mom is my most important job right now.

I feel like the days aren’t simply flying by in a mindless blur, and I hesitate to say I even feel a bit human again.

Of course, I still wonder if we’re doing it right, but I spend less and less time fretting over the little things and find myself trusting my gut without checking 45 websites to make sure I’m right.

I mean hey, I’ve kept him alive this long, right? I must not be so bad at this mom gig.

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Stitch Fix Review: Fix #5 – Post-baby Fix

Now that little dude is 3 months old (yes, it’s true, and no, I don’t want to talk about it), I figured it was time to go ahead and schedule another Stitch Fix.

Well that, and the fact that I asked for Stitch Fix credits for Christmas, so I had some money to burn.

Hooray, free monies!

So of course, that means another Stitch Fix review. A quick reminder for anyone who doesn’t know, Stitch Fix is an online service where you set up a profile, pay $20 and have a personal stylist send you five curated items they think will suit your needs/wants. Once they arrive, you get three days to try things on, mix-and-match with items from your own closet, and decide what you want to keep. If you keep anything, your $20 up front goes toward your final total; if you keep everything, you get a 25% discount on the entire box. It’s super easy and, if you’re like me and hate to shop, easy is what you need when you need new clothes. Plus, referral links (like the ones in this post) get you $25 credit for each time someone orders a fix.

For my first fix post-baby, I knew I wanted to aim for a new pair of jeans (like always) and a couple tops I could wear to work that would be forgiving in the midsection.

Because, you know, I just spent the previous year being stretched out and rearranged from the inside and, believe it or not, everything didn’t immediately settle right back into place.

Thanks, tiny human.

So I filled out my request asking for jeans and forgiving tops and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

(Forgive me, but I threw out the info on these before I wrote up this post, so I’m working from memory. Which of course is flawed, because baby brain.)

First off, the two tops they sent were fantastic.

PaperMoon Iglesia Pleated Blouse

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Oooh, pretty.

PaperMoon Bret Raglan Top

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Oooh, comfy.

They were fitted enough to have some shape, but flowy through the middle which is what I asked for.

Cost: $48 each. Verdict: Kept.

Next up, the jeans. Pretty awesome.

Mavi Freida Skinny Jean

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These jeans are a mid-rise, so they help hold in the gut a little while not being so high-waisted that they remind me of my maternity jeans.

Oh, maternity jeans. I have a love/hate relationship with maternity jeans. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cost: $98. Verdict: Kept.

These dress pants, while super flattering, were just not something I needed.

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Umm…  Oops. I totally forget the name of these. Ultimately I wish I could have kept them – they were high waisted and smoothing without being too tight – but at $98 for a pair of pants I had no real need for, I couldn’t justify the price. More on that in a minute.

Cost: $98. Verdict: Sent back.

OK. Now the dress.

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Lol whoops – forgot to take off mah socks.

Come on, Stitch Fix. This dress again?

They sent me this wrap dress again in a different pattern. Or maybe it’s not the exact same dress, but guess what? Still not flattering.

Wrap dresses are supposed to be almost universally flattering, but there’s something about the fact that this is a faux wrap, meaning there’s actually an elastic waist in there, that makes this dress hit in all the wrong places.

Kind of like it did last year. Because I’m the same person.

(True story – I was actually a few weeks pregnant when I got the blue one but hadn’t told anyone yet. Early pregnancy bloat = remarkably similar to post-pregnancy pooch. Good stuff.)

So yeah. Shocker, Stitch Fix, I still don’t want to spend money on a dress that makes me look wider, shorter and squishier than I am.

Cost: $68. Verdict: Sent back. Sent back so hard.

Probably the thing that annoyed me the most about getting this dress again – aside from feeling like I was being shorted an item – was that had I received those dress pants with any other fix, I probably would have kept them. As it was, I lost the $90 5-item discount because I just would not keep that dress.

Yep. I essentially would have PAID $30 to send back that dress had I kept the pants.

So the pants went back, along with the dress, even though they were pretty flattering and probably could have found a place in my wardrobe.

Le sigh. So close. Maybe next time will be the one where I keep all five items, Stitch Fix.

Assuming you stop sending me this dress, of course.