Parenthood, Three Months In

Carolina Man and I had our little girl in October. Can I just say she's just about the yummiest, cutest little thing that there ever was?

It's easy to say that now that we're several months in and the early days of sleep deprivation and postpartum discomfort feel farther and farther away with each passing day. I swear, there must be a biological form of amnesia that kicks in to make you forget how difficult caring for a newborn baby really is. Otherwise as a species we would probably be extinct by now.

What continues to amaze me is how incredibly connected I am to my daughter. Connected is not even close to conveying the gravitational pull I feel toward her. It's not intentional or even conscious. It just is. It's my new reality.

At night I sleep with heavy duty earplugs while Carolina Man listens for the baby on the monitor. I cannot tell you how many times I have woken up out of a dead sleep when she just begins to stir, when she hasn't even begun to cry for me to feed her. It's the wildest thing to be that tuned into another human being.

And yet, I struggle with it, too. At times I think how much I want a break from this connection--to be able to sleep without worrying about this little creature, to be able to go out with friends and not think about her needs for an hour or so. But I know that even if I had the opportunity, I wouldn't take it. The connection is part of who I am.

I think I'm beginning to understand the struggle of parents, especially mothers, to let their children go. How do you let go of part of who you are?

Big News

I am officially knocked up!

If you want to follow along, come visit my new blog I'm writing with fellow mom-to-be mannacakepie. It's called "Naming the Time Between." My pseudonym is "readyformaybe."

(Not So) Free Fall-ing

Crisp leaves. Changing colors. Cooler temps. These things just don't appeal to me like they do to other people. I remember living in Connecticut and people raving about how great the foliage there was. Sure, there were about two weeks (if it didn't rain too much) of beautiful leaves.You know what happened after that? All the leaves fell off the trees, turned brown, and then it proceeded to be fucking freezing cold for the next six months.

Forgive my wretched mood. The beginning of September brings immense amounts of dread for this girl. It means weeks upon weeks of work travel, which unfailingly causes me to have a breakdown and to get sick. Every. Single. Year. I have done my very best to limit my travel, but there are a lot of trips I just can't avoid. The fall is when shit gets done, and I have to be there if I want to be part of the conversation, even if it's taking place in Colorado or Texas or New Jersey. Why everyone can't just move on down to North Carolina remains a mystery to me.

I fault my upbringing for this mostly. I lived in the same house from age 3 until I left for college. Since then I've practically moved every year, but I've never been good at having my routine interrupted. Also, my family didn't take many trips because we couldn't afford it. A vacation in our world was driving the hour and a half up to Beaufort, SC and staying in the Days Inn to watch my brother play in a soccer tournament. I did love the powdered donuts at the Shoney's breakfast buffet though. That was something at least. I realize that even those getaways were a luxury compared to most other people's lives, but they sure didn't adequately prepare me for a job of jet-setting.

I spent the weekend doing my best to get ready for this stretch of being gone. I did some shopping, stocked up on work essentials, paid my estimated taxes, took donations to Goodwill, and cleared out our junk drawer. I figured the more organized I feel now, the less anxious I will feel being away from home. In some ways, I think it had the opposite effect. I kept saying to myself, "This is the ONLY opportunity you have to do all of this shit!" It was motivating, but also anxiety-building. This morning I woke up with a knot in my stomach.

I know I can do this. I know it will be fine once I get going. The anticipation is always worse than the thing itself, right?

Getting Ready for Baby, Maybe?

I shared a few weeks ago that MT and I signed up for an online course called Purposeful Conception. (See button on the right for more info.) Mostly it was an overview of things I had already researched, but it lead to some interesting conversations between the two of us. Mostly, how can anyone really be ready for the journey of becoming parents?

For both of us, but for MT in particular, considering the losses is much easier than projecting the possible gains. The loss of freedom is one that resonates most. We have no concept of just how much freedom we have right now because we've never been without it. Flexibility to make plans as far in advance or on a moment's notice is something that we both treasure. While I wouldn't consider us spontaneous people, having a kid will challenge even our "super planner" personalities.

It's also a scary thing to make ourselves vulnerable to the process of trying to get pregnant. There are so many things out of our control and so very few that we have power to shape. Even when the pre-natal vitamin is taken religiously and the sex is timed perfectly, the chance of conceiving each month is dismal. Potential disappointment lurks around each monthly cycle's corner.

And yet, here we are, in the process. We went from actively avoiding to actively trying, kidding ourselves at first that we'll just "wait and see what happens." That isn't who we are. We are the 100% committed kind of people! We want results. We want affirmation.

There is so much yet to be learned, things I cannot even imagine. I'm nervous but excited. I know I'm not ready and that I never really could be, but I'm comforted in knowing that no one ever is.

My Strange Addiction

The context of this isn't that important, but after experiencing a serious hangover after a dinner party, I was just screwing around on my laptop, hoping my headache would go away if I watched enough dog gifs on Buzzfeed. For no particular reason, I was looking at a blog written by one of my college classmates. She and I weren't exactly friends, but the school was small and our paths inevitably crossed from time to time. Since college she's gone on to have a pretty huge presence in the blogosphere and I've sort of followed her from time to time when I was bored at my job.

When I googled her website the other night, I found another blog listed second below her url with a mission to satirize everything she writes. I thought to myself, stupid trolls. They're just jealous of her success, right? But the more I read the critique (very hilariously written, by the way), the more I found myself agreeing with most every point. Now I can't stop reading it! I'm about a third of the way through 100 pages of this artfully crafted mockery, and I've stooped to using it as a mid-day reward when I've completed some big project. ("Come on, KT! Finish up this report and you can read 5 pages of the hilarity.")

At first I thought pretty poorly of myself to be participating in something that's just pure snark, especially towards an acquaintance whom I don't really have a personal problem with. But it's made me reflect on myself and my own online presence, which is albeit minute in comparison, and yet there is one thing all bloggers share: we choose to publish information related to who we are for public consumption. Admittedly, there is some bit of narcissism involved, right? We want people to read about our lives. It's categorically different from keeping a journal. Writing for an audience means that we open ourselves up for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Back when more people read my blog, especially when I was posting about dates which attracts more voyeurs than talking about buying a car with your husband (and I am among the voyeurs!), I used to get the occasional snarky, even mean comment. I took it way too personally and would either delete it or try to defend myself. I couldn't believe people would hop on the internet to go shit all over someone's life choices.

And I still don't. But if I'm hoping to avoid the pervasive presence of trolls, I'd be better off just removing myself from the Internet altogether. The next time I get a comment that's "trollish" I'm going to let it ride. The last thing I want is to believe that anything I say is above reproach or criticism. At the end of the day, I need to have confidence in myself that I'm just doing the best that I can.

I will probably continue to block the crazy spam comments I get, although some of them are so horribly written they'd be funny to let fly.

So, fellow bloggers, what do you think? Do you agree with the points I've brought up? How do you feel about trolls?

The Car of our Future

I never realized how much emotional baggage a vehicle could hold until we traded one in last weekend.

Growing up with a mother who avoided the most necessary of tasks in order to function in her anxiety-filled state of being, I have overcompensated to a fault. I'm the person who is likely to put that beloved t-shirt you haven't donned since last September in the discard pile and get it to the Goodwill before you can spot in missing in your bottom drawer. The second something pops up that causes me an ounce of anxiety, I am on a mission to resolve it as quickly as possible, even if it means a trip to the dentist or the gynecologist or, worst of all, the DMV.

At the same time, I am an incredibly cautious when it comes to financial decisions that have long-term implications. Truth be told, I haven't been in that situation much in my adult life. I've had to sign leases for pricey apartments in Connecticut and DC, but that's about the extent of it. Thanks to the generosity of my aforementioned anxious mother, I've been driving the same clunker since college, which suits me just fine. It takes a lot of energy to enter a car dealership, don't you think?

What's funny is that we weren't even replacing my car. We were out to trader in MT's functioning, yet rapidly deteriorating Saturn Vue. Let me tell you, finding a part for a car from a manufacturer that no longer exists is about as easy as scouring Ebay for a pair of gently used silver size 10 Jimmy Choo pumps. Sure, they might be out there, but how much of your time and energy do you want to spend on your search?

While the Vue was running just fine, minus a few brake pad replacements here and there, it had some cosmetic things that were starting to become problematic. For instance, the passenger side door developed a leak between the window and the door, so that after a hard rainstorm, which is basically a daily afternoon occurrence in the summer, when MT made his first hard left turn, I'd end up with a bunch of stinky brown rain water dumped in my lap. So, we'd still get where we were going, but not in the most pleasant way imaginable.

Ultimately my desire to remain dry on the way to a restaurant on date night overrode my desire to put off a huge financial decision and we ended up at the dealership looking at a slightly used SUV that had features that pretty much made us start salivating, although we tried not to let on to the salesman that we were desperate. When he'd leave us alone for a minute to check on numbers, we'd squeal, "The Bluetooth is AWESOME! We can listen to Pandora while we drive. Omg, Santigold station!" "Don't you love the wooden finish on the inner console? It looks so classy! And there are FOUR cup holders in the front. We can have two drinks each!"

Of course, by the time you actually purchase the car and fill out the dozens of required forms, it's nearly impossible to even remember what the car you've bought even looks like. There were moments of serious impatience, mostly due to my not having eaten anything since breakfast other than the complimentary popcorn the dealership had for its customers. "I didn't even know we were buying a car today," I snapped at one point.  Somehow we managed to push through the five hour purchase process and made our way home in our new ride, playing with all of the buttons and calling everyone we could via Bluetooth (obviously).

But, it did something deeper than I was expecting. Trading in theVue for a car that we both have equal ownership of was yet another step towards solidifying our new life together as a married couple, putting behind the cars and memories and decisions of the past and looking toward our future of road trips and kids in car seats and joint decision-making. I love our car because it adds to the narrative of us. It means new adventures and memories that we'll make together, singing to the Beatles and Maroon 5 and James Taylor the whole way. The keyless entry ain't so bad either.

Hey (mean) Girl.

I can't remember the last time I was in a situation with a bunch of mean girls. So when I found myself at a bachelorette party for my best friend with a clique of four bitchy ladies, I didn't know what to think about it.

First of all, cliques and bachelorette parties don't exactly go together. The reason you're all there in the first place is to celebrate the bride-to-be, even if you're not all best buddies. Putting the focus on her having a good time should be enough to pull the group together. But when there's a mean girl or two in the mix, it's hard to be unified.

Actual things that happened over the course of the weekend:

  • Clique decides to leave for the beach an hour after the rest of us do. Then they decide to leave early and make several pit stops on the way back to the hotel, excluding the bride among others.
  • After going out dancing, clique decides to go on a rickshaw tour around the city--without the bride.
  • Sunday morning, clique decides to have breakfast in the hotel--without asking the bride who was in the adjoining room if she wanted to join.
The worst part was that they paid lip service to the idea of all of us being together, but then went out of their way to minimize that time as a group. And it hurt my friend's feelings when the whole weekend was supposed to be about her. While they aren't my friends and I don't really value  what they think about me, I felt disrespected as the planner of the weekend.  Later I was annoyed to hear that the Queen Bee of the group was talking shit about me behind my back. I have no way of knowing if it's true, but it's disturbing.

SaraKay Smullens talks about dealing with mean girls in the grown-up sphere:
So what to do if, in your life, you come face to face with this "Mean Adult" syndrome? Most importantly, know that confident, secure people do not act in a thoughtless and exclusionary way. Further, friends who witness it will immediately intervene if they see it happening. This of course means that "friends" who stand by allowing this need to be crossed off of the friends list, sooner rather than later.
I'm grateful for this weekend in a way because it made me realize that I'm a thoughtful friend and I don't have anyone in my life whom I would classify as mean. Sadly my friend is having to reevaluate her relationships with these women, but better to do so now rather than later.

Photo: Filler Magazine