For Me, After the Baby, Part Two

It was a year ago that I declared I’d be taking care of myself more.

I’d do more things For Me.

Remember this photo I took at the Y above the treadmill? I’ve been taking care better care of me in fits and spurts since then. Since it’s my birthday, the momentousness of the event made me want to share my progress.

Returning From the Trenches

When you have a baby, there is a sucking vortex that drags you into a gauntlet of physical and emotional challenges much worse than those Japanese obstacle course shows. Seen those? Where they’re jumping onto giant bobbing floats in huge pools of water dressed in costumes and you know there’s no possible way they can gain enough speed to jump and land on them and actually stay on top. But they’re trying so hard because there’s a huge prize. And they will fall and make you cringe every time.

It's alive!!! on

In Momland, the huge prize is just keeping the baby alive. Aspire to nothing else and you are still an overachiever. You do this at all costs and eventually you have completely forgotten that you are a person who needs sleep or showers or a day off. No one can understand why you are so weepy or jumpy or crazed except other Mothers or people who’ve been on the front line and in the trenches. And people’s pity only helps so much and then you’re alone again.

I am not a victim or a martyr of my circumstances.

Instagram pedicure via For Me Two on

So many people have stories of coming out of this with a realization that to be the happy present Mommy you want to be, you have to take care of yourself and your basic needs at least. After being in the trenches, a pedicure may seem fluffy and frivolous but it is necessary. Since Fiona was born, I have gotten more of those than ever before. I just treated myself to one this week. But it’s also taking care of your body in the serious ways too.

And in taking care of myself, my alone time needs, my exercise needs, and my mental and physical “indulgences”, I am not a victim or a martyr of my circumstances. I do not ask anyone to take care of me. It is up to me.

Which brings me to the fact that this is the first year that we have had healthcare in a very long time. In fact since we moved to the Shore 14 years ago. Remember, I didn’t even want to have the baby knowing the only way we’d be able to afford it was to be on the government dole? Read about my middle class and medically assisted challenge here. But in the end, I thought I’d better go ahead and try before it was too late. Thanks to the US Government, at the age of 46, I had a baby. I refused the free cheese but took the rest.

me on shalavee

My healthcare and well-being have always been up to me.

Yes, Obamacare forced us to get healthcare. And thanks to my husband for being persistent, we got a monthly discount and we have gone ahead and started taking care of all the little, and big, body problems we have, which are many. This past week alone, I had the first round of allergy shots after having, and paying $40 for all the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor and allergist appointments to get to that point. Same day, I had my first Mammogram in 7 years. And then yesterday, I had a filling filled that thankfully I did not feel yet. Dentistry is not covered under healthcare but we have a discount insurance through Aetna.

The message I’m sending myself is that I deserve Self Care.

The more you take care of those body parts, the more you know you are worth it. I spoke about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in this post and the impact all of this will have on your quality of life, creativity, and productivity.

sacroiliac-joint-pain on

My biggest current pending problem is a horrible pain in what appears to be in the hip bone connected to the backbone, aka the S I joint. The Orthopedist I saw last week said he does hip joints but doesn’t deal with that area. See the guy downstairs. It’s interesting to note that, since I was on steroids for my nose, the hip pain subsided considerably. And in the knowing that it could feel better and I didn’t have to eat the pain and endure, I feel more entitled to taking care of myself and addressing the pain.

I fully expect the next Doctor to tell me that I’m going to need arthroscopic surgery like I needed on my shoulder 15 years ago. Something wonky on my left side has left every joint and passage a little crowded with bones. But the good news? We have our deductible paid for. The point that I’d like stop and make here ? My healthcare and well-being has always been up to me. Even when I didn’t have healthcare, I still went to the doctor’s office for treatment. The fabulous turn is that now, instead of being reactive with these issues, I’m allowed to be proactive. I can do further tests and procedures and head the reoccurring sinus infections off at the pass. And take care of horrible pains in my hip. Fiona on the Courthouse sidewalk in Denton, Md from Fro Me 2 on

I ran yesterday out on the street. It is the first time in over two years I have been able to do that. I have been either pregnant or baby bound for this long. That is also the reason the pain subsided and has now come back. Happy pregnancy hormone help with pains and loosen joints. And while I am still on the steroid for a little longer, I wanted to taste the freedom of what the running felt like again. And it felt mighty fine.

Maybe you now know more than you want to know but I’d tell you about all of this to your face when we got together. Now that’s out-of-the-way. My point is that going into my 48th year, I want to be telling myself that I’m worth the effort, I can do whatever I put my mind to, and I am a mighty talented super swell gal. I can feel the wisdom trying to balance me out as long as I quiet the other noise in my head. Taking care of me is my present to myself and my loved ones. It’s For Me and for everyone who cares about me too.

Their Needs Come First, Then Come Yours

I love that feeling you have when you’ve successfully gotten away, had time to unwind and relax, and gained some perspective on your life. You return with fresh eyes and see your life a little differently. And that is so not what I got from my recent vacation. Not in the least. I got exhaustion and irritation and the knowledge that no matter what, it’s not about my expectations ever. It’s about making sure that my children’s needs and delights are taken care of first. hey I did go on the vacation too from

Despite that a person never really feels like putting everyone in a bathing suit and slathering them with sunblock, you are going to do just that. You, the most awesome vacation planning parent will suck it up so they have two opportunities to go to the beach and two opportunities to go to the pool in the two days you are there at the beach in the expensive hotel that you wished you could enjoy ALONE. You may just have to lower your expectations and remember children don’t care where you eat as long as they’re fed in a timely fashion. And your toddler is just as happy watching the same movie in the hotel room that they watch at home every day.Digging in the sand at OC MD on

Fact is, if you want to relax and unwind, you are not bringing your children. You spoil them because that’s what you should do on a vacation. And they won’t mean to be ungrateful, they just will be. They’ve got it good and they’ll never see it that way. Yes, they’ll be out of their element, have to poop or pee but won’t, and will be exhausted and overstimulated. You will spend an inordinate amount of time caring about and making sure their needs are met to the exclusion of you own. This will not be your vacation, it will be theirs.Fiona sitting in the pool in #OCMD on

So, I’m looking for a vacation still. Maybe just an overnight on your couch. A glass of wine on a porch of a place where my children aren’t. A conversation about something I find interesting that my husband doesn’t. Anyone?

Mommy’s Two Blessed Hours Home Alone

This moment is the first one I can claim as being alone at home this summer. Sure the husband and I enjoyed a needed break last Friday when the boy went to Grammy and Pop Pop’s. We watched a movie before 9pm. Usually that’s post book-reading and saying goodnight time. Decadent. The movie was kinda cool but way too long. But we watched it and sent it back into the Netflix universe today.

Even the husband didn’t get it last week when I said I hadn’t had any alone time all summer. Remember dear, the kid’s out of school and I don’t work outside the home?

And then last week was the start of glorious summer camps. And, since Dad was home for his stay-cation, he got to take his son to camp every day but then returned to work in the garage on his project. So officially, I wasn’t at home alone.

Today was the first day of the next half day camp. I nearly cried realizing the full day camp isn’t until July 30th.Today’s was a fifteen minute drive away. Precious alone time was eaten up commuting and contending with a beach traffic snafu. Plus the boy was getting on my last nerve driving there.

Talking incessantly seems to be his new thing. He says,” I have a question?” whereupon he asks me something I may or may not have a clue about. “Would you take a parachute with you if you flew on an airplane? What superhero’s name? Do you do Sumo wrestling? What’s development… horizontal… and/or breeding mean?”

I told him he could either stop talking or he could ask his camp counselor his next question? Or he could just tell me about something( that I’d say aha to). Then I turned on some music, any music. And that seemed to quell the questioning beast for a while. I found out when we got there, he had to go to the bathroom. May explain some of the edge. That and it was Lego Camp! Ridiculously exciting and “No, you can’t have Hi-C before camp starts”.

And what do I do when I finally get home to my precious solo time? I put clothing in the dryer and write out the bills because I want that stuff out of my way to “relax”. And then I’m inspired to write, an uncommon occurrence these days. Except I’m inspired to write about how much my kid’s been getting on my nerves?  Writing is writing. This is more than I can say for a few of us blog goddesses with jobs and children and whipped up summers on top.

So then I took a catnap with the laptop motor burning into my legs until I heard the dryer’s beckoning beeps. Forty five minutes to departure for camp pick-up.  Soon I’ll share some of the other exciting goings on of the rest of our summer. Stay Tuned.

Me and Him

I happened on a blogger’s post about her son empty nesting her. Off to college he went. And she couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone by. When I had my son, so many people wanted to warn me about the speediness of it all. A bit like the youth is wasted on the young speech at that point. There’s no perspective until it’s earned.

I offered her reference to the Kahlil Gibran poem about children and mothers being like arrows and bows. The bow can not go with the arrow. Never could. Great piece about the nature of the letting go  from the get go of parenting. Embodies everything I aspire to remember as a mother.

I had my child because I wanted a child with the man I loved. Some women may have children because they need purpose. Some women are such natural mothers, it is their purpose. Some feel they should want it and there’s something there they’ll discover. Insert your reasons here.

All of us mothers will comprehend on some level that we must let them go at some point, whether we want to or not. Recently, my child has begun making his circles wider. I know when I call him and he does not answer, he actually is close by. But it’s this hide and seek I can feel coming on as he seeks to find himself away from me. And there’s a similar search going on for me as well.

I have spent the past couple years finally giving myself over to my passions. Tentatively, at first, and now with more and more gusto. Writing and playing and the blog is a means to show myself and talents finally. Proof I exist separately. These are my life’s gifts and my life’s goals. And my beautiful smart son is definitely a gift and a goal too but not my sole purpose.

When I am satisfied enough with my “soul” amusement, I can spend quality time with my son and be mostly present. I notice the difference and so does he. So making myself a priority pays off for everyone.

Yes, our circles overlap. And when I take care of my separate part of the circle, our overlap has more meaning. That also means that he’s got a part of his circle that I will not be a part of. As it should be. Like when time comes for high school locker talk, I want no part of it anyway. Any and all talk of nightly geysers or base running with girls, I told the husband that’s all his. Unless my son wants to talk while I’m getting a pedicure, then I’m all ears.

Ready or not, Here’s Mommy

And so, on the eve the extravaganza that is Mommy’s Day, I felt the need to speak. (Which is the same as every day but here we are enjoying this post together). Spent the day with my Mom and son. Did my laundry, dishes, waffle making, gardening, and mothering the boy through whatever attitude he’d mustered for me today with his father missing from the boundriatic equation. I’ve been told I make it all look easy and that’s why I get taken advantage of by all the members of the household. The son, the father, and the stunt surrogate daughter.

So I got to thinking, what does it mean to me to be a Mom? Because, as much as I wanted this, I never really knew what it meant or why it was as good as it ended up being. And then I remembered the following post from last summer

“Hi, I’m Julie my son’s cruise director for the summer’s Love Boat. As my son’s summer scheduler, I made sure that he had the kick ass summer he should have before first grade. Legendary? Yes. He got to experience all the ego boosting activities kids are supposed to experience.

Recap. We spent a week at the beach making sand castles and daring waves to dump us. He learned to swim and put his head under water in the last hour there. He went fishin’ and watched two fireworks displays. He has a front tooth with an official wiggle. The boy learned to ride a bike well. He’s begun to read because he’s compelled by his curiosity. He mastered Foosball and all sorts of stuff on Wee Sport Resort. He kissed a girl at Y camp. He performed onstage, rode a pony, and spent a week programming computer characters. And he had his own special day in the middle of August. Come on. If that doesn’t sound like the best summer for a six-year-old, then someone’s an overachiever besides me.

We are their mirrors and the masters of their destinies in many ways. I couldn’t have done any better by him. And I don’t need him to be anything more than happy. Happiness is a gift you give yourself…through your child’s esteem.”

I celebrate myself and my child growing me up and keeping me honest  If I’m not at my best, he knows. He can sense my wobbly esteem and he adopts it as his own. So I just signed him up for the two-day camps for the summer of ’12. But Super Mama needs time for herself too. R and R my way, taking care of my needs, and staying present for my life and health and happiness will guarantee a “we all live happily ever after mother’s day” ending.

PS. I lost my surrogate child yesterday to her boyfriend’s abode. When she turned 21, she was already gone .We’ll see you soon dear girl. I’ve got empty nest , sandwich generation , 7-year-old boy syndrome, and temporary single parenthood cooking at once. Buy me a drink sailor?

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