5 reasons to get away with your significant other and nobody else.

Dinner for two on the beach

Dinner for two on the beach

It has been exactly 18 hours and 7 minutes since my husband and I basically washed up on the shore of Negril, Jamaica. We had been frolicking for 6 days, baby-free, on vacation with a capital V, and it was absolutely wonderful. So I’m writing a quick post to encourage you to take a break. A short one, a long one – whatever you can do. You know you want it. You know you deserve it.

Here’s 5 reasons to:

1. Because your kid/s will be FINE. Not only was our daughter not mad at us, she seems to love us even more when we got back (as if that were possible?!).

2. Because it’s so good to know that underneath this whole mommy and daddy thing are best friends, lovers, artists…. free spirits. It literally took us 24 hours to go from frazzled and burned out to feeling like whole people again.

3. Because 5 days (or 3, or 1) vacation is actually the equivalent of a year in toddler-free time. (Think: 1 hour pedicure? Feels like a day right?)

4. Because you deserve to have some FUN. (Not the kind of ‘fun’ you talk yourself into before a visit to Ping’s farm)

5. Because there’s nothing kids hate worse than loser parents that gave up their whole lives to dote on them. Right?

Just sayin’.

Advertisements

On being an edible woman and other oddities of motherhood

As my daughter approaches 5 months, I look back and realize how much harder it was than I would have ever admitted at the time. Yes, I was one of those new moms that attempted to get everything back to “normal” after the baby was born. From sex to working out to dinner on the table, I really tried to maintain that pre-baby quality of life.

Rookie mistake!

Today I met a woman with an 8 week old and it got me thinking about what I’ve learned, and what advice held true that maybe I should have listened to.

On breastfeeding: Yeah it’s cool to bond with your baby and I wouldn’t change it for the world but some days I do feel like those people on True Blood after they’ve been devoured. It didn’t help that I got my period after only 3 months after my daughter was born. My body is an asshole when it  comes to periods. That being said, it’s really cool to see this little person grow bigger and bigger and bigger from having eaten nothing but what comes out of my boobs. Crazy! The point I wanted to make though is that I think all of this militant breastfeeding stuff does more damage than good. We do what we can!

On other mommies: I’ve always had more guy friends than girlfriends, but let me tell you, I would have died without my mommy friends. Three of my girlfriends had babies 6 mos and 1 year older than Raquel and these ladies were LIFESAVERS! The advice, the support, the hand-me-downs, the company and camaraderie — I will be forever grateful. It’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog, for women that might not be that lucky in the mat leave buddies department.

On babies crying: You hear this thing about your baby’s cry being genetically programmed to get under your skin. Man, is it ever true! It turns my brain into some kind of omelette made of worry, panic, love, and pepperoni. It’s a weird feeling. And it took a while for me to realize its effect on me. Holy mother of God is it ever uncomfortable.

On hormones: I might have been a little irritable. Ok, a lot irritable. I sort of wanted to punch my husband, and this is not how I normally feel. It was a LOT like quitting smoking. A LOT. What helped? Rescue Remedy and Wine. And sunshine. I wasn’t depressed – I think I had one bad day. I was a bit anxious though. You get used to being in PANIC mode and after a few weeks of little sleep and high adrenalin, ya feel a little funny… like drained, and weird… but still capable, strangely. I can’t believe how many times I managed to not crash the car, or forget the diapers, or fall asleep at inopportune times. You just kinda muddle through and the days pass, and soon… the three month release.

On the Three Month marker: A friend (a dad actually) told me about how babies chill out at around 3 months. It’s true! And it’s wonderful. All of the sudden you’re like oh, my baby’s awake and NOT crying???

On the second child decision: Why would I want to go through that again? Correction: Why do I desperately want to go through that again and again? It makes no sense from a logical perspective. It hurts, deprives you of sleep and time, fucks up your body, and is really, really uncomfortable for at least 9 months. I can’t even imagine what other sacrifices are lurking down that rosy path of parenthood. And yet… I want more. At least one. Shoot me.

On marriage after baby: I hope you’re married to someone you like, because you kind of have to like the person 110% to survive the 50% drop in romance, time, sleep, and grown-up time.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.

Today is Valentine’s Day.

Next year, we’ll have a one-year-old to celebrate this day with, and in a few more years we’ll be helping her write Valentine’s for all the boys and girls in her class.

She’ll know us better than anyone, and love us more than anyone. And vice versa of course. But I was really touched by this quote about giving it time:

“All new parents work at knowing, understanding, and loving their babies. Your baby will work just as hard at learning to know, understand, and love you. This is the process of attachment-the work that parents and babies do together to form a deep and lasting love. It is what becoming a family is all about.”

– From You and Your Newborn Baby – A guide to the First Months After Birth

By Linda Todd

What’s your parenting spirit animal?

I’ve never related to bears before. Squirrel, sure. Industrious beaver maybe. Fast wild cat, definitely at times.

But recently it’s the polar bear that keeps creeping up in my mind; that playful tumbler, with her solemn expression of dutiful living, and that commitment to motherhood through anything – just 100% pure protection, nurturing, teaching, and cozy cuddling…. love ’em!

Pregnancy weight gain
Lean, mean, mamma machine

I even love what I’ve been affectionately referring to as my polar bear layer.

Before getting pregnant I weighed about 107 pounds. Now, I weigh 150! Ok, it’s true – I’m giving birth in less than 3 weeks (hear that baby? Not a day later! ok?!) so I’m about at my maximum weight gain but the crazy thing is – I don’t feel fat. I don’t feel like I’ve gained a huge amount of weight other than “the bump” which is taking up a large portion of my smallish body right now, and the layer on my legs and arms that makes them just a bit more thick and taut then they were before. Could be water, could be fat stores – but it’s not wiggly jiggly. And speaking of which. Guess how much weight polar bears gain in pregnancy? Wait for it…… yeah….. around 400 pounds.

I’ve just hit term today (37 weeks) and for the last few days I’ve had this tremendous urge to eat, like biologically my body knows that this is a crucial time for foraging because my baby bear’s coming soon and I will need the stored resources to feed her.

It’s so cool.

I think it’s made me a bit more relaxed about the weight gain, and even the pressure to be a perfect mom. Polar bears are instinctual providers, fierce protectors, and also maintain that good-natured ability to roll around in the snow with their little one. Why overthink parenting when the most important things are really quite simple. Eat, sleep, play.

Anyway, here’s a list of some other pregnancy spirit animals (or totem animals) and their qualities. Which one are you?

Bear

  • Bravery
  • Peace
  • Resurrection
  • Powerful
  • Benevolence
  • Sovereignty
  • Motherhood
  • Duality
Mother Bird 
  • Love
  • Safety
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Security
  • Provision
  • Nurturing
  • Protection
  • Satisfaction
  • Compassion
  • Self-sacrifice
Turtle 
  • Order
  • Creation
  • Patience
  • Strength
  • Stability
  • Longevity
  • Innocence
  • Endurance
  • Protection

Dolphin

  • Grace
  • Playfulness
  • Transcendence
  • Gentleness
  • Harmony
  • Intelligence
  • Contentment
  • Friendship
  • Community
  • Resurrection
  • Generosity
  • Power

Squirrel

  • Energy
  • Play
  • Prudence
  • Balance
  • Socializing
  • Preparation
  • Resourcefulness
More here. 

Lofty aspirations on the eve of parenthood…

With a baby coming in less than a month my parenting ambitions are kicking into high, HIGH gear, but those other more personal (selfish?!) dreams and aspirations are fading into the background.

Is that good? Bad? After some careful thought… I think it’s pretty awful actually. And I want to consciously put an end to this back-burner instinct. Pronto.

How terrible, that so many people must feel like we feel do right now… that babies and children mean the end of personal dreams and aspirations. Its almost as if we feel irresponsible about dreaming freely and imagining wonderful and exciting things.

I want to put together a quick little Pre-Baby Bucket List to remind myself, and my husband, that we need to keep dreaming to stay alive. And no matter how practical we try to be for our child, it doesn’t mean that we stop walking our own path to personal fulfillment. So here it is…

THE PRE-BABY BUCKET LIST

1. Start a charity

2. Publish my novel

3. See Leonard Cohen in concert. I hope he tours again!

4. Learn to make a scrumptious, braised Beef Bourguignon (in a Le Creuset pot that I don’t own yet.)

5. Create a pied-a-terre in the Caribbean.

6. Get chef/resort/dinner party idea off the ground (could include #1, and #5)

*With only six things on this list, my mind is filling with worries about my mother’s finances, my child’s education, and my own retirement. I can see how it’s much easier to put this sort of list in permanent limbo. But isn’t it through additional income and entrepreneurship that we can escape the loop of pay check dependancy? (P.S. Notice how none of the above involves Twitter or Facebook… why do I waste my time on that crap?)*

7. Write an article for a national newspaper.

8. Give an inspiring speech (And yes, I’d happily settle for giving a reading while on a book tour)

9. Live in a glass house. Surrounded by beautiful trees and/or water.

10. Take a wine tour of Bergundy by canal.

11. Learn to play piano.

12. Learn French (#11 and #12 have been on my list since forever!! I’m terrible…this is really kind of helpful for focusing. Although I’m finding it kind of depressing for some reason. Onward ho!)

13. Earn a Master’s Degree. Likely an MFA in creative writing.

14. Tour Japan. Visit the zen gardens. See the cherry blossoms. Eat the food.

15. Learn Scubadiving.

16. Dive.

17. Get nominated for an award.

18. Attend an award show.

19. Learn some tricky salsa moves/get thrown in the air.

20. Start a Speaker Series (I’m thinking this will tie in with #1, #5, and #6!)

21. Grow hair long, like past elbows.

22. Finish reading Proust, Remembrance of Things Past. Seriously. Finish. It.

23. Publish second novel.

24. Become a stronger swimmer.

25. Go to Greece. Island Hop.

Wow, ok. So 25 things… and it would be hard to come up with more at this moment. I feel inspired though, and focused, and I truly believe that happy, fulfilled parents make happy, fulfilled children. I want my daughter to know me as a writer, a doer, a maker of change. So why put my own life on the back burner?

Thoughts? Oh, and if you make a list of your own, send me the link!

~ ♥ LMF

Life after baby is born… bedlam, bliss, or both?

Four weeks to go.

Most people I know with babies say it’s going to be hard, it’s a lot of work, it’s not easy, you won’t sleep, you won’t have any time, the beginning is so tough, take all the help you can get…

But where are the stories of new baby bliss? These are the only ones I hear from the aunts and grandmas…

Were earlier generations (my mom and aunts) really more in the spirit of bringing up babies with joy and ease? Or are they just so many miles away from the days of new parenthood that they barely recall the tribulations of it? I’m stumped. My own generation just seems less susceptible to the thrills of having a baby and more inclined to focus on (and share) the hardships. I’m a little tired of being warned all the time… you know?

Truth be told, it’s upsetting me.

New baby. Hard work.
Motherhood.

With only a month to go, I’m finding it hard to not be influenced by the negativity. And it just seems so strange, considering how my mother-in-law and other older women in my life talk about raising babies in retrospect as the most wonderful thing in the world. Could it really be that they’re just so far from the challenges that they forget?

I think you forget the bad. My mom has no memory of me crying inconsolably, or sleepless nights, or any of the awful things I put her through.

At the end of the day there’s sensation and emotion, memory and desire. I’m sure within these, there will be both the positive and the negative, and over time the negative will fade but the positive will stay. I suppose the people I’m surrounded by are just so in it that they don’t realize how ephemeral the hardness is.

And nobody can feel their lack of sleep, their lack of sex, their frustrations at trying to do and balance everything. We just see the happy baby pictures.

Dear self… in one month’s time…. yes, there will be tricky, frustrating times, and you may feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope sometimes, but wait a day. Wait a week. It’ll all change, and before you know it… a new phase will set in with it’s new challenges, and you will be a stronger woman for having overcome what came before it. Seek out the silly, the joy, the laughter, the understanding, the rare, the opportunity to dance and sing. There are no guarantees that any of these moments will ever come again. This … is… it …

More on this later (probably much, much more on this!)

*** note: my daughter is now 2 months old and I am happy to say the answer for me was bliss!

P.S. Anyone who reads this and happens to be in the midst of the hard part… please write if you want to talk about it! Even though I’m determined to stay focused on the positive and the bliss, I do understand (theoretically, at this point! Still don’t have my girl here yet to keep me up all night) that shit happens and it can be brutal at times. Reach out to me anytime at justine.elyse@gmail.com or @mrsjpirate on Twitter.

♥ LMF

Maybe I’m a bitch

bitches get shit done
I might be a bitch, but I'm a nice one!

 

I don’t feel like a bitch… but when I’m fighting with my husband and he makes valid points (hate when he does this) sometimes I wonder if I’m too much of a hard ass. Too judgmental. Too cool for school.

It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of these things, but I’ve really only begun to consider the possibility recently. Obviously this isn’t something I want for myself, my family, or friends. And I do have friends… which is a good indication that I’m not a bitch, right?

Perhaps I’m being too general. I can be bitchy, how’s that? I can be overly snarky for sure, and hard on people and situations, and my standards are way high on a lot of different criteria.

These are things I could probably tone down a bit. You know, be more positive. Be less harsh.

I’ve also been accused of being hormonal and third-trimestery… to which I say Bullocks! I’m FINE!

In any case, maybe I should reflect on my hard edges, my snarky remarks, my defensive retorts, and my need to be too cool for school. Yeaouch. It hurts just to think about all this stuff.

In my own defence… the wise Tina Fey once pointed out that Bitches Get Shit Done!