Monday, June 23, 2014

Mommy Mondays: The New Normal

I am a creature of habit. I like routines and schedules. I love lists and plans. I can roll with the punches pretty well when things go awry, but the idea of things going awry stresses me out. John likes to call me a catastrophizer. I believe I inherited this from my mother. Thanks, Mom.

After Baby Will was born, my routine was obviously thrown out the window along with the notion of sleep. Newborns don't have schedules, unfortunately, and when you add a move into the mix? Forget about it. But now that he's 8 weeks old, I figured it was time to get some kind of order into my life. John returned to Russia a little over a week ago, and while I may be ready to kill myself every evening around, say, 7:00 pm, I find it slightly easier to stay organized since I have one less person to take into account. One of my main goals was to start working out again. I even purchased a crappy but functional treadmill from Craigslist before John left.

And then life happened. On the day John was leaving I got my second nasty cold since Will was born (my immune system sucks these days). I also got mastitis. If you've had it before, you know how awful it is. The best way to treat it is to stay in bed and nurse frequently. This doesn't work so well when you have to drive your husband to the airport an hour away, you've got an appointment to buy a stroller off of someone, and you have no one to take care of your four-year-old. Enter antibiotics. I'm sure my immune system will be even more pathetic now.

So today I finally got on the treadmill. And you know what I discovered? I'm completely, woefully out of shape. Granted, I haven't worked out in nearly a year, but my days of running twenty miles a week seem far out of reach. After Jack was born I signed up for a marathon. I knew that was unrealistic this time, so I signed up for a fun ten-miler instead. But with just over three months to train for it and no help with the two kids, I'm actually a little worried. I keep waiting for things to return to normal - my writing, my blogging, my exercising, my sleep, my poor stretched-out abdominals - and I'm realizing that "normal" no longer exists. My life will never be what it was before, at least not until the kids are in school full time. And by then I'm afraid it will be far too late for my abs.

This week I've decided to come up with a new definition of normal. My plans and goals have to shift with my priorities. No more working out six days a week. I'll take three. No more blogging four days a week. I'll settle for once. I knew I wouldn't have time to write after the baby was born, but I think it's reasonable to send out a few queries every week for the book I finished right before he was born. I'll take short cuts wherever I can get them (I'm buying a dust pan specifically for the clean up of Legos, for example). And I'll try to remind myself every day that the only person who cares if I wear makeup or make my me.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Treading Water

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I blogged last. I wouldn't say time is going quickly these days, but it's like it keeps slipping past me, rolling along while I barely manage to stay afloat.

I know this is what early motherhood is like. The days are filled with nursing the baby, making sub-par meals for Jack, running load after load of laundry, trying to keep the house from turning into a complete dump, and heading out for the occasional errand. The nights are even worse. I feel like I've just fallen asleep when it's time to get up and feed Will again. I know that I'll look back on this period and it will feel like a blip on my life's radar, but right now it's just plain hard.

Part of it is knowing that John is leaving for Russia on Friday, and I'm trying to get as many random things done as possible before then, because I know I'll have even less time once he's gone. And part of it is that I have no time for the things that help keep me sane, like writing and working out. Waiting four years in between kids didn't help - I'd gotten so used to having my freedom again. Being tied to the baby by breastfeeding is challenging for me. Sometimes I just want to go out without having to worry if the timing is going to work or if the baby is freaking out while I'm away. Most of the time I want that, if I'm being honest.

But even though I'm impatient for the future in many ways, for the days when I can go to the gym or out for dinner with friends and know that everyone back home is just fine without me, I also have this sense that I need to slow down, to worry less about getting it all done and just focus on the baby, who has already grown and changed so much. So that's my goal for the next seven weeks, while John is away: to stop fighting so much against the current and just go with the flow, if only for a little while.

Otherwise I'm afraid I'll look back on this time and wonder where it all went.