Squarespace Blog / "aymee danger"
A Wonderful Life As we come off the heels of Christmas approach New Years, it is time to reflect. Adam and I have had a pretty trying go at it leading up to Christmas. On my end: it all started with failing my class. Then had a Clark Griswold jelly-of-the-month-club moment at work. Then I forgot my phone in my car overnight, which wouldn't have been such a big deal if my husband wouldn't have been locked out of the apartment building all night in the Minnesota winter, and had to sleep in his car--a situation in which people have died. More drama at work; then, the day before Christmas Eve we developed a substantial leak in our apartment from the roof. A steady stream of apple-juice colored water was making its way down my window and wall, and soaking the carpet--the carpet where our Christmas tree and presents were.
Figure 1: Making the best of it: love is all you need. In the Thurston household, we have a Christmas Eve tradition of watching It's a Wonderful Life over cocktails. This year, it couldn't have been more therapeutic. Before he left for work one night, Adam turned to me. His eyes looked beaten, his voice broken. “Could it get any worse?” Yes darling, yes it could. We have a healthy, smart, beautiful daughter. We're not making bank…hell, I wouldn't even say we're “comfortable,” but we're making it financially. Work is rough, but at least we have jobs. We may have had to live like ducks for a day, but we have a place to rest our heads at night. Sadly, and hardest to swallow during the holidays: we are away from our family. But we have “family” in our friends--and no man is a failure who has friends.
Wishing everyone the best this holiday season,Love, The Thurstons
Our Children are Water, and we are the Glass H₂O: the single most important tangible substance for life on Earth. It is what allows all organisms to flourish. This naturally renewable source is a cure-all for when we are sick, tired, and run-down. Water is the most pliable element, taking the shape of whatever container it resides in. Take the simple image of a cool glass of water. What comes to mind? Rejuvenation, refreshment, mmm…a good feeling.
If our children are water, then we are the glass that holds them. Some glasses are simple cylinders; some are artfully colorful or eye-catchingly shaped. But they all serve the same purpose: to provide a receptacle for water to do its job and reach its full potential. When one thinks of a glass of water, one focuses on the water. The glass is often taken for granted. But if the glass is structurally unstable (i.e. a crack in the side), precious liquid will helplessly leak out making a mess. Parenting is a lot like being a glass. We have a responsibility to stay structurally sound so our children can reach their full potential and fuel a better future.
Originally, I did not plan to have children until I was finished with college. College-then-kids is the stereotypically expected plan in our culture because college-with-kids is damn hard. But late last year, a burning stillness rose within me to have a baby. Adam had been prodding for children for years. Six months into dating we went to see Jersey Girl in the theater. As the credits began to roll, he looked lovingly at me and said, “Let's have a baby.” --!!!-- “Get away from me!” I humorously thought. Working on my Associates degree, we weren't even married yet (not that you have to be married to have kids). I made him wait five and half years, and I'm lucky he's so patient. When I enrolled in school last fall, I still had every intention of finishing my Bachelors before getting pregnant. But in November, something changed within me. The time came, and I had a peace in my heart and my gut so strong: I knew I had to listen. My mom, who lovingly pressed me to finish college, softly questioned my judgment. “What about school?” she asked. In her head, it probably sounded more like, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! Do you have any idea what you're in for?” But I'm an extremely lucky individual. My mom is amazing, supportive, and keen enough to have always known her strong-willed daughter has to follow her heart, even if she sees otherwise.
Following my heart paid off. As Adam puts it, “We hit the jackpot.” Our little girl is more wonderful in every way than I ever imagined. I like to think the stars aligned last November, my soul sensed it, and thank goodness I listened. Still, in the back of my mind I wonder if having my plate so full will have a negative impact on my parenting abilities? The conclusion I always come back to is this: the answer is up to me. The answer will lie in how I prioritize my obligations. It is a given that my child and husband come first. Then my job and school come next. And my sanity? Well…
It would be easy to decline into a slippery slope of sacrificing my sanity for the sake of my responsibilities. But will that eventually make me a cracked glass? Certainly. In the circular method of doing what's best for my child, I have to take care of myself. The battle is figuring out how to deliver on all three planes without becoming overwhelmed and losing hope--but it's not impossible. At my college, forty percent of the student body are working parents. And like them, I am (somehow) still passing my classes and my child is thriving. Or take a lot of the working Moms on Etsy & Artfire: Brooke, Steph, and even our beloved Amber; multiple kids and successful stores they run by themselves. If they can do it and stay sane, so can I. With a positive mindset, it is amazing what we are capable of.
I find taking pride in my struggle for Maddie yields further motivation. Taking comfort in doing the right thing for my family, regardless of how hard it may be, gives me the energy to press on. To get up before dawn, to stay calm when she's not, to attend class instead of go home and have a beer: all for my family. Yes, water fuels the future. But who knew it fueled the glass holding it?
Amber edit: Thanks Mee-Mee, this could have been more perfect today... today my friend, has been a total whirlwind.. cooking, cleaning, working, parenting, wifing, and i still have about 6 hours to go... its 7:30 (head/desk) doing it with my sanity? I dunno... some days (like today) I swear my heads gunna explode... other days? Piece of cake.. I just keep focusing on the next day... get as much done today because "the next day" will be easier... it seems to help me get buy and stay focused on the tasks at hand... if not, i get completely overwhelmed... i love you!
According to Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/
Adam's Mom and I have always gotten along famously--even better than they get along themselves. Near the end of the pregnancy, she and I talked every day, and I think we both enjoyed the companionship. But something seemed to change once Maddie was born. A list of events on both our plates made for a stressful concoction, and in the end resulted in Adam and I feeling overwhelmed, asking (politely) for some space, and her feelings being hurt. Since then, there has been a disconnect between she and I, and sometimes I feel as if Adam is keeping two cats separated in opposite corners so they don't hiss at each other. Or maybe my imagination is getting the best of me.
“In [Cambridge University psychologist Terri Apter's] study [of in-law tension], two-thirds of women said they felt their mothers-in-law were jealous of their relationships with the sons, while two-thirds of mothers-in-law said they felt excluded by their sons' wives.” (I hope that's not the case with my MIL.) I think whatever rifts we experience with our MILs stem from the intense bond each of us feel for our children. That fire that churns within us when we feel someone challenges our comfort zone, within which our parenting skills, relationship adroitness, and love for it all lie.
You can't pick your family. But even when we're at odds, we love those crazy goons. What I do find comfort in is this: even at our worst odds, there is one link--one truth--that forever bonds us: the love, and willingness to do anything, for our children. In that, if nothing else, we can look at each other and share a genuine smile.
Baby, I'm Blue Well, it happened. I have the baby blues. At least once a day, something makes me want to cry my eyes out: giving up my cat Daisy because I can't adequately care for her anymore with the new baby; saying bye to the boys, Amber, and Zaq when they were here to visit (before they decided to move back home); listening to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontange and dancing with Maddie. Undoubtedly, my drop in hormones after delivery is playing a huge part in this. I read that while pregnant, a woman will produce more estrogen than she will her entire life otherwise. Once pregnancy is over, that estrogen level falls off the proverbial cliff. As a result, your hair falls out in chunks, your skin looks like crap, and you take an emotional roller-coaster ride. Check, check, and…check.
I gained a little weight from pregnancy, which was to be expected. I mean, we're talking like eight pounds (after baby, fluid, etc.), so I feel guilty even being self-conscious about it. But I still feel two feet tall inside when I'm standing in front of the mirror. Growing up, the only battle I didn't face was weight. I had glasses, braces, acne, bad style, and greasy hair. But I never had to deal with wanting to be thinner (guess the forces that be felt I had enough on my plate). So, now that the glasses make me look smart instead of dorky, the braces are gone, the acne is under control, and I use the right shampoo, I guess it's my turn to go through the body image battle of trying to lose this baby weight. For me, it's not the quantity of pounds, but the size around that I care about. I just want Adam to still be attracted to me, look good naked, and fit into my non-maternity clothes. One down, two to go.
On that note: yep, still wearing maternity pants. They were bearable while pregnant. I mean, what other option does a girl have when your belly turns the corner before you do? But now that mother and baby are two instead of one, I want that non-elastic waistline like I wanted that Slurpee during my second trimester. Currently, I am able to (literally) squeeze my butt into one pair of pre-pregnancy pants, but can't button or zip them up so I wear them with my belly band. I can't wear them for too long, however, because they cut into my lower stomach. Ouch! Funny what we women will do for fashion. *rolls eyes* Aunt Amber and I have a date to replace my wardrobe when she gets back home. I dream about this every free minute of every day, much like how a child looks forward to Christmas morning.
I'm also looking forward to our shopping trip because it will be the first bona fide mommy time I will have had baby-free since her birth. I'm on a limited maternity leave, so I want to spend as much time with her as possible. But the flip-side to that is I don't get out much. I'm lucky if I remember to brush my teeth. It leaves me yearning for social interaction outside of our tiny apartment, and dare I wish for some alcohol too? I'm jealous of my husband's “daddy time:” going for a beer after work with friends, working on his book, etc. (To be fair: Adam doesn't get nearly as much “daddy-time” as he needs, or would like to.) My “mommy-time” consists of memorizing the structure of a balance sheet, or as my teacher refers to it: “death by power point.” I love my baby, but I miss my friend now more than ever. Thank god she's moving home.
Post partum is like one minute you're enjoying the view from the summit you've climbed to and feeling proud of the accomplishment. Then the next minute you blink and find yourself at the bottom of the canyon between that mountain and the one next to it. Not for one minute do I regret getting pregnant, but in a way I am mourning the death of the old me--the individual me--all the while reveling in the joy that is being a parent. Everything I do and say now affects her: directly or indirectly. I am forever a different person.
Is being a different person the reason I've done things I said I wouldn't do as a parent? For example, using a pacifier before six weeks, or co-sleeping. Have I done them? Yes. How do I feel about that? Mixed. I constantly question whether I'm making the right decision. It doesn't feel wrong, but to not follow the baby book's instructions doesn't make me feel like I'm getting an A+ in parenting either. What I keep coming back to is what I've heard and read many places: you're going to get bombarded with advice on how to rear your child, and it can be confusing and overwhelming. (1) There is nothing wrong with trial and error, and (2) listen to your baby and go with your instincts. I have a feeling I'll be doing that even into her teen years.