Older…

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Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m one of those people who love birthdays. When I buy my agenda book in December each year, I immediately flip to April 8 of the next year to see what day of the week it’ll be on. I even mark the day with “my birthday, oh my!”. Yes, I do that every single year! I’ve been known to celebrate my birthday for the whole month of April and I get so giddy just thinking of the day that I began my life on this planet so many moons ago.

This year, I haven’t been able to focus on all the happy stuff as much. It just feels different. This year, I am mostly aware of the passage of time and my age—not the one I wish to be, not the one I might pretend to be and not the one I act like. This year, racked with exhaustion and filled with those new(ish) mom doubts, I fully feel the weight and length of my life, all four decades of it.

At the strike of midnight tonight, I will be 46 years old. 46! How I got to be this age, I have no clue. I feel like life just began a second ago. How I got to be this old with an astonishing 11-month-old baby girl is a story I’ve covered on this blog over and over again. But, my feelings about being this age are novel to me. I’ve never really felt old before. Truthfully, I’ve always felt juvenile and unripe, even at times when I wished I had the wisdom of my years as a suit of armor to protect me. I’ve always felt young at heart, mind and body. I’ve always been a late bloomer in every aspect of life, from dating to career to marriage. Always.

But now I catch myself watching my child, wondering how much of her life journey I’ll witness: high school? College? Marriage? Motherhood? And inevitably, I feel a yearning to see more than I what I imagine I’ll see. And that yearning brings me melancholy. I have to force myself to stop thinking about the shortness of time and the old-ness of me in order to snap out of my funk.

Older? That I am. Wiser? I don’t know. I’m still as passionate about my ideals as a nineteen-year-old. I still view justice, love, life and friendship in stark black and white, instead of the many shades gray that’s typical of those in their midlife (argh, I am in my midlife!). I still talk too much, love too deeply, and get hurt too quickly. I still cry way too easily (read, almost every single darn day!). I still feel like I have yet to find myself. I still feel a child-like joy at the most mundane of sights (I squeal when I see butterflies), and I still seek friends as if I’m searching for my BFF. Do all these things make me youthful or simply foolish? I am not wise enough to decipher.

But, I know this:

My life hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been amazingly wonderful. And, despite the number of my years, I am still that little girl who was full of imagination and creativity, that shy teen who loved learning, that twenty-something-year-old girl who could never stop moving, that thirty-something-year-old woman who dedicated years to finding her way to motherhood and this 46-year-young mom who spends her days singing nursery rhymes and happily chasing after her baby, despite an old person’s body pain and exhaustion.

I might be older and I might not be wiser, but I am dedicated to being the best mom I can be to my daughter for as many years as I can be. I’m dedicated to play dates and music lessons, and dance parties and coloring and skipping and jumping and beyond. I’m even dedicated to sticking around long enough to be the best eccentric grandmother anyone has ever seen.

Older? Yes. Old? Hell no!

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Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, Events, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Unapologetically Me

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With 2015 racing toward us, I’ve been feeling retrospective lately. 2014 has been one of the biggest years of my life. It’s the year I moved from who I’ve always been to Mommy to my baby girl. I’ve discovered so much about myself in the process. Some of it has been surprising, some of it has been great, and a good chunk of it isn’t as complimentary as I would like. Who knew there still remained so much unlearned. But, I guess that’s the whole point of living —to continue to reveal; to remain in flux; to keep becoming.

I believe in the process of personal metamorphosis. My religion is evolution of self. So, on these last few days of this year, I take inventory of whom I’ve become and what I’ve learned. Retrospection is good for the soul, after all. 

I’ve learned that the grand love of my life is a tiny human being whose beaming smile is better than a thousand compliments. (And I really love compliments!)

I’ve learned who my BFF is. It’s my baby girl!

I’ve learned that I’m not ready to completely disolve into motherhood. I’m not ready to disolve at all.

I’ve learned that I can’t function without some degree of daily solitude.

I’ve learned that I couldn’t care less how everyone else does things. I might get tangled up in feeling like I need to keep up, but in the end, I always just do it my way.

I’ve learned that my mouth will never seize to get me into trouble.

I’ve learned that I have a knight in shining armor–and that it’s me.

I’ve learned that a broken heart can keep beating, even when it can’t completely heal from the pain.

I’ve learned to be comfortable with my utter lack of faith and belief.

I’ve learned that I’m gonna carry on.

I’ve learned that I can live with feeling  haggard and tired, but not with looking haggard and tired.

I’ve learned what’s on the other side of infertility.

I’ve learned that anyone can hurt you, disappoint you, and let you down. So, you better learn to rely on yourself–first, last and always.

I’ve learned to rely on myself–first, last and always.

I’ve learned that I don’t give a sh!t about what anyone thinks of me, if it means I’ll have to alter myself to please them.

I’ve learned that pain, exhaustion, frustration and desertion won’t kill me. And what doesn’t kill me makes me indestructible.

I’ve learned that I still need to learn how to say goodbye.

I’ve learned that no one will come to save me, but me.

I’ve learned that I do know how to forgive after all.

I’ve learned that fundamentally, all I really am is my father’s child and my homeland’s daughter.

I’ve learned that loneliness won’t disappear because there’s a baby to care for.

I’ve learned that a dairy free diet may be  healthy, but it makes me grouchy. Very very grouchy.

I’ve learned that I’ll be okay, no matter what.

I’ve learned that I am a damned good mom, even when I doubt myself and worry that I’m not cut out to do this.

I’ve learned that, sometimes, I’m a witch— with a B!

I’ve learned that I am unapologetically me—good, bad, caring, careless, immature, old, confused, clear-headed, wise, lost, selfish and selfless. I am colorful, honest, hard to get and tough as nails.

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And I’ve learned that I love and accept me, warts and all.

What have you learned this year?

Happy 2015.

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Half the Woman and Twice the Survivor

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As a teen, I was  chunky. The pre-teen and teen years were uncertain ones, living through a revolution and a war, moving from country to country and dealing with adolescent angst while trying to keep up with different languages and the ever-shifting circumstances. While everything kept changing, food was the one constant, so I began to take comfort in it. It never went beyond emotional eating, but it was nonetheless unhealthy and my body suffered for it. It didn’t help that misguided but well-meaning family members began calling me “chaghool che”, Persian for fatty. They thought it was a cute nickname. I felt ashamed and anxious, which only led to more eating.

When I lost 50 pounds in college and turned into a tall 125-pound twenty-two-year-old, the world opened up. Having lived most of my adolescence as a heavy, awkwardly shy wall-flower, my twenties were anything but wall-flowery. In many ways, I came into my own once I dropped the extra weight. I discovered that, while an introvert at heart, I was excellent at being an extrovert. I realized I liked attention, enjoyed shocking people, and excelled at playing the part of the Bell of the Ball. A friend once told me his perception of me was that I liked to put myself on display, like a painting at a museum. He may have meant this as an insult, but I was complimented by that description. I was my own creation, my own work of art. And I loved it.

Years went by. Life went on. I moved from Texas to Michigan to California. I got older. The responsibilities got heavier. And so did I. For my wedding in 2006, I went on a strict diet and lost a lot of the weight I had gained. I remember feeling so accomplished and great that I promised myself I would never gain the weight ever again.

Then came the infertile years. My two back-to-back miscarriages made me sad and scared of physical activity and working out. I could never stop wondering if I suffered them because I had ran right before each incident. So, I became fearful and sedentary. I just sat, thought, cried and resented the hand I had been dealt – day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Then came the infertility treatments. Cycle after cycle, I put up my mind, body and soul into it all. I was pumped full of synthetic hormones, becoming a human pincushion for 5 years. And my  weight just kept going up. My ankles hurt from bearing the extra pounds, and my heart hurt from looking and feeling as though I was no longer in charge of my looks. The most devastating part about being infertile is the very realization that your body doesn’t do what it should do naturally. Putting on weight simply added insult to that injury.

The hormone injections changed everything. My face looked different and every body part became puffy. My boots no longer fit my growing calves. My rings no longer fit my fingers. I hit 200 lbs and kept going. Shopping for shoes and clothes, once my sport of choice, became a disappointing struggle and a chore I dreaded and tried to avoid at all costs I was miserable, disappointed and so very lost.

I’ve always thought that infertility does to a women what could be described as the female version of immasculation. It robbed me of the very essence of my femininity, that je ne sais quoi that makes a woman sexy, confident and unmistakably female. I’ve always found the female essence to be a women’s most prized possession, her most genuine quality. And here I was, living a life devoid of what I considered the definition of being a self-possessed woman. The very word itself –infertile– took away the foundation of womanhood for me. I was barren, incapable of doing the one thing that’s so organic and natural for most women. I was unable to give life.

When I finally got pregnant with my daughter, those feelings didn’t magically disappear overnight. Doubt that my body could carry her to term  and fear that I’d lose her followed me for the majority of my pregnancy. The extre weight though, never bothered me. I’d see other expectant moms lament their newly gained heft, and I’d think: “the growing weight is proof of life. What could be better than that!?” As long as I grew in size, I knew she was growing inside me. Ironically, I put on less pounds during pregnancy than I had during the 7 years I had tried to get pregnant. But, I was thankful for every pound, every round curve, and those unflattering swollen ankles I covered with terribly unsexy compression socks for the better part of two trimesters. You see, I finally had a reason for the girth. I finally looked pregnant because I was, but because I was pumped full of hormones. And that meant the world to me. I wasn’t fat anymore. I was finally just pregnant.

My baby is now seven-and-a-half months old. In the first 6 months of her life, I shed over 60 lbs and lost two dress sizes. I’ve not only lost all my pregnancy weight, I’ve managed to shed a good bit of the pre-pregnancy/infertility pounds. And I’m still losing. I’ve listened to other new moms complain that their pre-pregnancy clothes not fit them and bitten my lip with genuine glee. My pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit me either, but not for the same reason. My new frame swims in my old clothes. My boots are too big, my jeans slouch around my waist and my engagement ring spins around my finger like I always wished it would. The rolls have melted away and the puffiness is gone. The outward evidence of what I’ve been through are disappearing one day at a time. It’s as if my body is trying erase the last 7 years. But, of course that’s not possible, is it?

I am 7 years older, 7 years sadder and 7 years (hopefully ) wiser. I’ve been altered by what I’ve been through, physically, medically and emotionally. I, for better or worse, am the mother of an infant at the ripe age of forty-something, a stage in life when many my age begin to have grandchildren. And I, for better or worse, am the mother to 4 other babies whom I never got to meet or mother. I’m no longer seeking to be the Bell of the Ball. I just want to be a fulfilled, self-possessed woman. I just want to not feel devoid of my femininity. I just want to never feel fragile or betrayed by my own body again. And, that quest will be a lifelong one, I suspect.

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So, I am a fraction of the size I used to be and ten times stronger. I’m half the size I once was and twice the survivor. I am shrinking in size and expanding in courage. I am off to the next chapter of life, parenthood and infertility.

This post is not meant to be boastful. It’s not about losing weight or fitting into skinny jeans after pregnancy. It’s about the way we define ourselves, the limitations we put on ourselves and the things we take for granted. It’s about how life is never under any obligation to go according to our assumptions or plans, and how it demands us to be flexible and agile to adjust and prosper. It’s about flourishing, even when our ideas and ideals of life are challenged. It’s about surviving, thriving and continuing to grow.

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Posted in baby, Bébé, Birth, Create Yourself, IF, Joie de Vivre, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood, Pregnancy, Shopping, TTC | 1 Comment

Half A Year A Mom

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My baby is 6 months now. These have been the most transformational six months of my adult life. It feels as if I’ve just gone through military boot camp, up at the crack of dawn, being mentally, emotionally and physically fatigued beyond my limits and marching on despite having no energy left. It feels like I was disassembled and put back together with huge modifications. Every body part has been worked beyond its limit. Every cell has been alerted. Every thought I used to hold has been challenged, beat down and altered. I am, practically speaking, a brand new person. My baby was born 6 months ago. And so was I—as her mother.

I’d like to impart some great wisdom and motherly advice after the whirlwind of the last half a year. I’d like to look peaceful, feel zen and be at one with the beautiful state of motherhood. I’d like to say it’s all been a grand adventure in mindfulness and equilibrium. I’d like to, but I can’t.

There have been rough roads, temper tantrums (I’m talking about mine, not my baby’s), frazzled nerves, and countless moments of doubt. There have been tears—so many tears.There have been lots of confusion and countless “fudge I know” and “WTH” times. The process of raising a child still feels completely shrouded in mystery as far as I’m concerned.

Can I confess something? I think everyone experiences doubt, confusion,  sadness, and utter and absolute mental exhaustion as parents. I don’t think zen and mindfulness have a big role in parenting, and I think most moms also have as many “fudge if I know” moments as often as I do. The difference is that I am willing to admit it. I am honest about my feelings. I am not one for pretense and I don’t consider talking about having a hard time as a bad thing.

“Stop whinning.” “You’re lucky, so stop complaining.” “Your husband does a lot for you, so you don’t have the right to feel exhausted, sad, tired, doubtful, (fill-in-the-blank).”

Yeah. That’s not advice I take. I see nothing redeeming in pretending all is perfect when perfect isn’t the point. And I don’t find people whose whole purpose in life seems to be to shut others down, shame them for their feelings or guilt them into silence helpful or supportive. I just don’t.

Life is the ultimate teacher. Every moment, every exchange, every new circumstance brings a new outlook and an opportunity to grow, learn and become more aware as a human being. My part in this life is to remain open and to receive the lessons I’m being offered.

So, here’s a fraction of what I’ve learned in the last 6 months:

● Be ready to get used to frustration, exhaustion, confusion and rumination. You’ll engage in these a lot. Know that it’s okay to feel them. Know that it’s okay to talk about them.

● No matter how self-assured and confident you are, you WILL have moments of complete disbelief that you can actually do this parenting stuff. You may not believe me, but it’s true. When that happens, know this: it is natural to have doubts and it’s okay to voice them.

● No one knows or understands the feelings you feel and experiences your experience. Not even your spouse. Not even others who are parents. So, do not let anyone’s unsolicited opinion or advice shake your already shaky confidence. You are the one person who gets you. Trust in yourself and chart your own course.

● You will love your baby completely,  boundlessly and without any conditions. Despite that, you will have times when your instinct is to run away. I’m serious. Your flight instinct will flare up, maybe even more than once. And you know what, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel that way. It’s natural. It’s also fleeting. So just hold on.

● You will marvel at how completely alone you can feel, despite the fact that you’re never alone. How can anyone feel so alone when another person is physically attached to her day and night? Trust me, it happens—quite often as a matter of fact. You must find a direct and strong line into your core, your true self and keep it open and safe. You must develop a safe and honest inner life and cultivate and flourish it. You’ve never needed you more. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Have your own back and be there for yourself. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely.

● Finding a way to return to a version of your own life pre-baby isn’t a luxury, but an absolute necessity. You need to feel like your old self and as soon as it is possible. You will be a better mom for it. So, find a way to get some baby-free time and enjoy it guiltlessly. You and your child will ultimately be thanking for years to come.

● Learn to enjoy uncertainty, because that’s the state you’ll be living in for the foreseeable future. Never get too comfortable with status quo. Because, as soon as you do, your baby will change and everything will be new and unknown again. Hang on for the ride of your life and enjoy as much of it as possible.

● No matter what it looked like and no matter how ready you thought you were for your new life with the baby,  you will find yourself mourning the loss of your old life. It WILL happen. When it does, honor your feelings and don’t waste time admonishing yourself for feeling this way. Motherhood is challenging and your feelings are in reaction to these new and unknown challenges. In time, you’ll create a new life with many elements from your old life plus all the new gifts your baby brings into your world.

● You’ll never know what type of parent you’ll be until you have a real baby to love and care for. Look at parenting theories as just suggestions and ideas to draw inspiration from. You are under no obligation to subscribe to any of them completely. You can pick and choose elements from as many as you want and create your own style. Trust your instincts and do your own thing.

● You will compare you baby to others’. You will measure yourself against other mothers. You will, at times, feel inadequate. You will, at times, feel inferior. You will, at times, feel superior. It’s all okay. It’s only natural. So, stop telling yourself to get a grip, push through or any other thing that attempts to minimize your feelings.

Do you see what I see? That motherhood will challenge you, shake you, shape you, enliven you, exhaust you, energize you, stump you, trump you and strengthen you. That through this most tumultuous and beautiful of experiences, you will feel many highs and a lot of lows. That there is no need to beat yourself up or lose faith in yourself. That you will benefit from the love and support and kind words from others, but what you really need is love, support and understanding from yourself. And that what you feel is normal and to express your feelings does not make you whiny or negative or somehow ungrateful.

As I focus on the future and look forward to new stages in my baby’s life, I feel truly lucky to be the mom to such a bright little star and hope that I can measure up. I take great pride in the person I’m becoming, as I travel in my own personal life journey as a human, a woman and a mother.

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You Are…

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You are my boss. Pure and simple. I spend my days, working hard to make sure you’re happy with me and my performance as your mom. I spend all my waking hours trying to keep you happy, healthy and satisfied. I want to please you. I want you to like me. I want to make you proud of me.

You are my soul mate. I live to bring you joy. I live to love you. I live to be with you. Your smile opens up my world. Your happiness brings peace to my heart. Your life gives meaning to my own life.

You are my best friend. I love laughing with you. I love learning from you. I love playing with you. I cherish our quiet times together: late nights’ singing and early morning smiles. Being with you gives me strength. Caring for you brings me joy. You make my every moment extraordinary.

You are my everything. You hold my hand, and I know I must be a decent human being to have such an extraordinary life to care for. If I weren’t, I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be your person. One smile from you and I feel like I am the best person in the world. How could I be anything else when I have the love of someone so special and amazing?

You are my dream come true, my one and only, my once in a lifetime. You’re proof that tenacity pays off. You’re proof that, sometimes, dreams do actually come true. You are my biggest, best, most wonderful life lesson. You are my sunshine, my over the rainbow and my little star. And, yes, I often wonder what you are and how come I’m so lucky to have you in my life.

You are all things poetic and all things amazing in my life. You are my sun, my moon, my world.

You are my child, my offspring, my baby, my daughter. And I live to be your mother, your person, your favorite. I live to be here with you.

Always know that your mother loves you beyond any and all reason and logic. Always remember how utterly miraculous you are to this woman who searched for you, who struggled to have you, and who considers herself the luckiest person in the world to get to be your mom. Always remember who you are and how special you are.

You are everything.

●●● Dedicated to my daughter, Roya, and all the mothers and babies out there in love with each other and growing stronger and more beautifully everyday.

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Rinse, Repeat, Redo

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Have you ever noticed that life often seems to consist of a series episodes with similar themes?  It’s kinda like reincarnation—we get to keep coming back to work on things based on all the stuff we’ve already been through before. Whatever the themes, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that as far as you go and as eventful as your life may be, you keep finding yourself in familiar emotional territory time and time again.

For me, some repeating themes are abandonment, disillusionment and maladjustment. No matter how hard I work, no matter how far and wide I travel and no matter how drastically the details of my life change, I seem to always be back to deal with these common themes of my emotional life. They have helped shape and mold me, having a big hand in the creation of my strengths and weaknesses and my view on life beyond myself.

I frequently find myself agonizing over the fear of being abandoned or of being an abandoner. I view many things through this lense: soured relationships, illness, infancy. My fear of being abandoned and of abandoning colors everything. This is why I have such a hard time walking away from any and all emotional and professional connections, no matter how hurtful they might be. I watch the world, so blasé about walking away, so quick to throw away years of dedicated service and professionalism, cutting ties so arbitrarily, and I react by holding on tighter and by not letting go, even when letting go is the wisest thing to do. I notice how fickle people are—in love one minute, walking away the next—and I remedy the sadness I feel over having been tossed aside by never tossing anyone aside, even when that might be the best thing for me. I just keep holding on because I can’t bare abandoning any one or thing in life.

I agonize over the rawness of abandonment—its cruelty—over and over and over again. I fear it. I mourn it when it comes. When it happens to me, I have very tough time recovering from it. And I view it as a fate more terrible than death.

When my father’s Alzheimer’s got so bad that caring for him at home became impossible, my mother began speaking about moving him to a care facility. I lost a piece of my soul during that time. I couldn’t shake the deep sadness I felt about “leaving him behind”. It was so sad to me that I felt like dying from a broken heart. I imagined him waking up in the middle of the night, his mind wracked with the effects of dementia, feeling abandoned, looking for us and wondering where he was. This thought haunted me for as long as he lived. I felt a visceral fear every time this thought visited me, which was a daily occurance. And each time I though about it, I died a little inside from sadness and guilt.

This feeling, the sheer terror of the remote possibility of causing another person to feel abandoned has found me again since the birth of my baby. Tasks as ordinary as sleep training strike such fear and sadness within me. Right now, I’m reading over 10 books simultaneously, just to find a way to help her learn to sleep without one tear shed and without triggering my anxiety of having “abandoned” the baby at night.  And it turns out I’m the kind of mom who cannot bare to hear her child cry, even for a minute. I cannot because I believe it’s my job to make sure my little one never feels as though she’s been left behind. In theory that sounds great. But, practically, I’m killing myself trying to avoid things that are part of life. For example, if I’m driving, I can’t stand hearing her cry in the car seat with her back to her mother. I imagine her feeling fearful and abandoned because she can’t see my face or feel reassured by my presence. I’ve had times when I’ve cried hysterically right along side with her, as I’ve repeatedly begged her to calm down, until we got to where we were going. I’ve also had times when I’ve pulled over, gotten into the back seat to just hold and reassure her, again with a tear-stained face. And at all times, I feel responsible for making sure she knows I’m there with her, even if that means contorting my arm backward to shake a rattle at her in the hopes of making her feel safe and stopping her from feeling any discomfort, even when she’s simply crying to complain about the car stopping at a red light.  And don’t even get me started on the jumbled up emotional upheaval I feel when I leave her with a caregiver, whether that’s a nanny or her own dad. I see her looking at me as I give her over to someone else and walk away, and all my abandonment fears come rushing back. This constant pressure to alleviate all traces of feeling “left behind” from my baby’s life is wearing me down—physically, emotionally and psychologically. But my fears of abandonment are bigger than my need for sanity, so I keep putting undue pressure on myself and feeling like I’m failing in the worst way.

Motherhood has triggered another huge common theme of my life: feeling maladjustment. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve dealt with being the odd bird, the black sheep and the fish swimming upstream. You can’t really be  a misplaced adolescent, living in exile without any friends or the ability to make friends and not be permanently affected by the experience. At 10, a revolution took away everything that would make a child feel safe and secure, changing the course of my life forever. At 13, I left behind everything I knew— my home, family, friends, first crush, way of life and country—and moved to Europe with my mom and dad. I didn’t speak the language, had no friends my age and felt like life kept going without my participation in it. At 15, I moved to Texas, unable to speak English, behind in school, unaware of the customs and culture of this new place and utterly incapable of making friends. Imagine being a teenager going to high school while stuck under the cone of silence. It gives a new meaning to “teenage angst”, doesn’t it? To call me girl interrupted would be an understatement. I stuck out like sore thumb in the worst way possible. Maladjustment was my way of life back then. In many ways, it became my way of life from then on. At some point, I took those feelings and created a new narrative: I wasn’t maladjusted; I was unique. Being unique, being different, being myself, being reinvented—these are what I’ve come to value and revere most in life. I am defined by these ideas. But, as much as I value being one of a kind, I’ve always secretly felt a lot of loneliness and such longing for fitting in.

These days, that longing for “being normal” has come back with renewed force. As a new mom, filled with doubt and exhaustion, I am dying to “fit in”. I want to belong to a tribe, do what everyone else does and just be another “normal” mom. I want to read the same books, do the same stuff, shop at the same places and be busy doing the same mind – shaping activities all other moms seem to do with their babies. I want to look and sound just like everyone else. Of course, I’m finding that goal elusive and nearly impossible, because that’s just not me.  I can’t seem to find people to fit in with. I don’t seem to belong anywhere. And no matter how often I’m told to just be my own person and do what I think is right, I feel a deep sense of loss over this maladjustment. I feel odd, awkward, different, ethnic and foreign. I don’t fit any of the mom molds I’ve seen so far. And, at least temporarily, I’ve lost my ability to value being unique. I worry that my tendency to swim upstream affects my baby, and I don’t want anything to handicap her life and her journey as she grows up. Where is that gutsy girl who thrives on being one-of-a-kind? Why isn’t she proud of being unique? How come she’s wasting so much time trying to fly under the radar and become a cookie cutter copy, when she knows that’s not the life for her?

Disillusionment is the natural derivative of my fears of abandonment and of feeling like I don’t fit in. Suddenly I see everything for what they are and not as I imagined them to be. And that’s more disappointing than I imagined. No, I’m not that girl who’s surrounded by a village to raise a child with. No, I don’t seem to be the “Super Maman” I wanted to be. No, I’m not the one with a busy mom social calendar. No, our days aren’t overflowing with play dates and mommy/baby get-togethers. And, speaking frankly, not every day is idyllic like I imagined. I’m not disillusioned my baby at all. She’s a dream come true and the light of my life. I’m disillusioned by my own high expectations, as well as my perceived shortcomings and weaknesses. Of course, logically, I know that these aren’t what matters. I know that I am raising a happy, healthy and beautiful little girl. But, emotionally speaking, I’m reincarnated to work on my perfectionist tendencies and the unreasonable pressures I put on myself in life.

So I rinse, repeat and redo. It’s the nature of the journey. It’s the order of things. It’s life as it should be. It’s live and learn.

Life is series opportunities to work on the stuff you have yet to resolve. You owe it to yourself to learn from each episode, grow stronger, become wiser and use your past experiences to resolve your emotional issues one step at a time. In the haze of my life’s busyness, my confusion and exhaustion, I’m still holding on to the idea of growth and evolution. I’m still striving to mature and advance. I still seek wisdom and knowledge. And I know I need to ease up on myself, relax and enjoy the journey. Life unfolds, one experience at a time, and so do I.

Posted in baby, Bébé, Create Yourself, Kids, Life Lessons, Life with baby, motherhood, parenthood | 6 Comments

Oh, the Baby Steps You’ll Take

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There’s so much about parenting that’s constantly discussed and completely demystified in today’s society. Parents talk of sleepless nights, of the absolute exhaustion and of the incessant worrying that never leaves the heart once it has a child to love. They lament the loss of personal autonomy and leisure time. Many great and not-so-great aspects of parenting have become routine stereotypes in TV shows and movies. These only tell a fraction of the epic tale that is the journey of parenthood. And they only minimally unravel the mystery that is life with baby. I’ve only been a mom for a few short months and I’m constantly running into “what the heck” and “darn if I know what’s going on” situations.

Having a baby is an unrivaled adventure, complete with high points, low points and even blah points. People tend to exalt the high points, make light of the low ones and totally ignore the blah ones. They caution you to “take the time to enjoy” the early days, even though they know that the sheer exhaustion, the hormonal changes and the total and complete alteration of EVERYTHING make it nearly impossible to really “enjoy” the first few days and weeks in a conventional way. The term enjoy isn’t what I would use to define how I experienced in the early weeks of my daughter’s life. Those first days were like boot camp, and all there was to keep going was adrenaline, fear and lots and lots of love. By the way, that boot camp feeling? I’m not sure if it’s ever going to go away.

You’re often told to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. No one admits though that this piece of advice is not really advice, but perhaps a ideal goal or an idealized wish for you. It’s more like: “I only wish that you could sleep when the baby sleeps, but who are we kidding”. No one wants to fess up that when the baby sleeps, that’s when you’ll engage in a mad dash to get caught up with feeding, bathing and taking care of yourself, not to mention taking care of all the other chores around the house that’s been piling on and left undone for a long time. If not then, when? Now, you’re going to be told that it’s okay to let things go, but it’s impossible to just never eat or wash up again. Isn’t it? And if you stop worrying about the laundry, you’ll eventually run out of things to wear. So, forget napping and get stuff done when you can. You can always sleep when the kid goes off to college.

There’s a lot about sleep that’s not mentioned. Like, the fact that when the baby finally does sleep through the night, your amount of your sleep doesn’t increase by that much if you’re a breastfeeding mom. My baby sleeps through the night—eight, sometimes nine hours—but I get maybe five hours nightly. Granted, it is uninterrupted sleep, which I’m very thankful for. But it is only five hours of sleep. So, practically speaking, I remain sleep deprived, despite my sweet baby’s beautiful sleep habits. It looks like sleep goes bye bye for a few years.

When and if you feel you can open up and express that you’re having a tough time, or that things are hard, you’re told to hold on until some milestone comes along. For me, it was until the baby looks up and smiles at me intentionally. And the first time she saw me, really saw me, and smiled was an unforgettable moment. But, the reality of how hard a time I was having didn’t change once my little beauty beamed up at me. I kept struggling through the grueling process of getting used to motherhood. And if I expressed my feelings, I was told to stop complaining and just be grateful. It’s a simplistic point of view to judge a mother who’s having a rough time as simply a whiny person who is need of a change in attitude. Motherhood is challenging. It’s okay to say so. It’s not whining to be truthful and reach out to others for support and understanding. It’s called being honest and authentic.

People sometimes mention that the first year of the baby’s life is hardest on her parents’ marriage. This is often mentioned in passing. Let’s not dwell on it, shall we? But, whether there’s dwelling or not, and no matter how blissfully harmonious the marriage was pre baby, the relationship suffers shocks and multiple jolts as two people strive to make room, create a space and evolve into a tiny being’s parents. Think about it: you’ve been YOU all your life. And then comes another adult to share your life. The adjustment period may be hard, but you’re dealing with another adult who speaks and understands your language and the two of you make mutual adjustments in order to build a life together.  Then comes baby. She’s tiny, beyond beautiful, defenseless, needy and totally incapable of communicating in any way familiar to you. Everything you’ve ever known about dealing with another human being is out the window. The situation is only confounded by the immense love you feel for her. The learning curve is so steep that it is nearly a straight vertical line raised to the heavens, instead of anything resembling a curve. No wonder these days are tough on most marriages. But, I think, the bond between two people who are meant to be together, want to stay together and are committed to working through the tough days together only grows stronger and more profound as days pass and life goes from a twosome to a threesome and beyond. Have patience, keep talking honestly and don’t give up on your ability to weather the storm.

These are just a few of the difficult things about life with baby.

Perhaps what’s most ineffective about how people talk about parenthood is their attempts at describing the high points. That’s because the high points aren’t high points at all. They’re quiet, tiny, fleeting moments that might otherwise go unnoticed, but for the fact that they’re shared with the tiniest love of your life. They’re the firsts, but not the big obvious firsts. They’re the magical firsts. The first time you hear her “talk” to her lovey, notices a tree, sees a butterfly for the first time or finally notices the family dog. The utter joy she experiences the first time she feels the ocean breeze tickle her pudgy cheecks.  And, best of all, that moment when she looks at you with all the love in the world in her eyes—nothing will ever compare to these little beautifully unforgettable moments. There’s magic in these moments, pure and simple. They melt the heart, take away the exhaustion of a sleepless existence and rejuvenate a tired and battered body. They’re proof that you are really doing it. You are really raising a happy, healthy, beautiful baby and you’re doing a pretty good job. Let that fact sink in: you’re doing a pretty good job. The elation I feel in these quiet moments is soul shaking and earth shattering.

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So much about parenting is a mystery. And so much of it, whether hard, magical, funny or exhausting can never be truly described acurately. So, I say stop listening to others. Stop looking for wisdom or sage advice. Just take a breath, dive into the deep end, struggle through the rough seas and find your bliss on the other side. Find the magic in the mundane, quiet, difficult and even the blah times. And always remember: you’re doing a pretty good job.

Oh, the baby steps you’ll take.

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