Young And Old

I married at the tender age of 21, and when we were first married and fielded the intrusive questions about family planning, it didn’t take me long to assess my own situation and decide that I wanted to become a mother in my 20s.  I liked the idea of having children at a younger age; there are some health benefits, too, to having children before 30, and I decided these all added up to great reasons to make sure we started a family young.

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Naive as I was, our plans worked out for me and I delivered Gabe when I was 26, moderately young by today’s standards. My pregnancy was pretty typical and the transition to being a mom, although world rocking, was pretty typical, too, and I eventually worked out the kinks to feel comfortable with my new role.

Infertility put a damper on our plans of continuing to grow our family, and I found myself days shy of 34 when I delivered Isla, and nearly 36 when I delivered Jude.  While it often doesn’t seem like that much time could have passed between my first experiences as a mother and now, I’ve come to realize that I’m a different person now than I was then, and motherhood is different. The ob even told me at my most recent postpartum exam that I was an older mom!   Ouch!

This got me thinking of how motherhood is different this time around and how being an older mom is different from being a younger mom.  Here are some of my observations…

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|| Pregnancy was easier when I was younger.  It affected me less and I bounced back more quickly.  Now, inactivity catches up with me quickly and soreness sets in early.

|| Predictably, I had more energy when I was younger.  The most marked difference I noticed between my first pregnancy and my most recent pregnancies was fatigue.  I was tired when I was pregnant with Gabe, but I was utterly exhausted when I was pregnant with Isla and Jude!

|| Pregnancy sleep was more disrupted when I got older.  My sleep wasn’t fantastic with Gabe, but I slept more than I was awake at night.  By the end of my pregnancy with Jude I’m quite sure I was awake more than I was asleep each night.

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|| I’m more patient with my younger two than I was with Gabe.  I don’t think I’m super impatient in general, but I can see a tremendous difference in my ability to wait for my kids now than I could then.

|| I needed more motherhood connection when I was younger.  I attended a few different mom groups, and this filled that need.  I still need connection now, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be centered around motherhood.  I feel a little out of place at MOPS meetings now.

|| I’m more comfortable standing up for my children and their needs now than I was then.  I’m still not a great confrontationalist, but when something really matters to me I’ll take it on now rather than staying quiet and stewing about it on my own.

|| I say no to my children more.  With Gabe, I tried to always have a concrete, well-developed reason why something wasn’t best for him and, therefore, I was saying no to something. As he got older, I realized it was okay to say no because I just didn’t feel good about something – I didn’t have the energy, we don’t have the space, or I just plain didn’t want to.

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|| I say yes more easily.  Dessert first?  Sure!  (Occasionally.)  You want to see the 2am eclipse?  Why not!  I’m better at indulging the little things and having fun, even if it disrupts the routine.

|| I was better at protecting sleep when I was younger.  This might have to do with the fact that I only had one child, but making sure Gabe had regular and adequate sleep was a paramount part of my day.  Now, I often find us patching naps together and hoping for the best.  Isla and Jude definitely aren’t as well-rested as he was.

|| I can function on little sleep better now than I did earlier.  I don’t know if this is because I have more practice being tired now or because I have lower standards for things that need to be done, but disrupted nighttime sleep isn’t the end of my world now in the same way it used to be.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s still a drag, but it’s not as bad as it has been in the past.

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I feel like there were advantages to becoming a mom at both stages.  Wouldn’t it be nice to combine those all into one?  Of course, there are lots of people who become mothers much earlier or later than me, too.  If you’re a mom, did you have your children when you were younger or older?

A Baby Shower

I’m going to be an auntie!!!  (Very important – aunt as in “haunt,” not as in “rant”)

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but you can expect to hear about it more because a) I’M SO EXCITED and b) it’s going to be SOON!  Do you know how long I’ve waited for this?  I really can’t wait!

My sister and I talked this weekend about end of pregnancy things that involved centimeters and percentages, and I realized I’m so jealous!  While I have absolutely zero desire to be pregnant right now, I think I will forever love the experience of a new baby being placed on my chest, and knowing that she’s almost there is so exciting to me!  I can’t wait for my kids to have a cousin, I can’t wait to be an aunt, and I can’t wait to learn his name and see his sweet face!

A few weeks ago we threw a baby shower in honor of this first baby. I’ve been on the receiving end of two beautiful showers, but this was the first time I really got to throw one, and it was so much fun!  Her inlaws asked me to share the pictures, so with her permission, here you go!

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 We had a vintagey, mason jar theme with burlap and white and a little blue.

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I’ve been looking for an excuse to use paper straws!

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We went with an open house format rather than a traditional shower format, so we had activities people could do independent of each other since everyone wasn’t there at the same time.  This was a “baby wishes” station where the guests filled out this adorable card. The card matched the invitations, which I loved.  This etsy seller was amazing – very responsive and super fast!

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This was another station where people wrote funny or sweet notes on diapers.

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Finally, we had a onesie decorating station.   People made the cutest onesies!  I didn’t get a good picture of the end result, but they were really adorable!

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Here’s the one Gabe decorated!

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They let us all vote on their baby names.  They’re quite undecided!  I voted for Tucker, but I don’t think that’s a front runner.  I think they’re all cute – I’d love a nephew by any of these names!  I wonder, though, if they’ll be like we were with Gabe and bring him home unnamed.  It was such a difficult decision!

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Jude made loads of new friends!  He was remarkably easygoing that day.  I think he’s going to be outgoing, because he turned on the charm around all the people!

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Love!

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When everything was over, my mom, sisters, and I went outside to take a few pictures.  These are, quite possibly, my favorite pictures of us.  We did end up getting a few serious ones, but these are the best!

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Hear The Love

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I feel like she looks tonight.

Well.

It’s 12:52 on April 15 and I HAVE SUBMITTED OUR TAXES!

It’s not really worthy of screaming in that I’ve always submitted our taxes on time (as do most people in the United States), but it completely snuck up on me this year.  I started them in January but was missing a few forms, so I set it aside until, oh – say, THE LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT when I finally remembered I wasn’t done.  I’m super smooth like that.

The good news is we’re expecting a check.  The bad news is it’ll take the next six months to arrive since I waited so long.

Want to hear something fun?  I recorded this because I love you.  And I love them.  And I love bleeding ears.

This was the first 20 seconds of our afternoon commute.  Pleasant, no?  It’s louder in person.  It didn’t continue at this pitch and intensity the whole time.  They save that for exceptional days.  But for funsies, play it in a loop.  Over and over again.  Start at one minute.  Work your way up to five, ten, even twenty minutes!  I know you’ll like it! ;)

In fairness, they do this, too…

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Just not today.

You know what else is funsies?  The fact that I got up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago to use the bathroom.  When I came back to bed, Tahd got up to use the bathroom.  When he came back, he asked me, “Did you know you left the faucet on?”

Um, no.  Sure didn’t.  Had he not gone to the bathroom himself, I would have left it on all night long.

Tell me…how does one forget to turn off a faucet?

 

Finally, watch this.  It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve seen all month! I want to be Ria. With the infectious smile and the commercial hair dryer in my kitchen and trippy feet that land her in the water.  That was my favorite moment!

Holding Loosely

Isla and Jude alternated screaming all the way to Gabe’s school this afternoon.

It was super fun.

{Not really}

My anxiety grew during the entire 25 minute trip there, and then I picked up Gabe and my anxiety grew even more all the way home.

Again, super fun.

I reached the last leg of our tortured journey and decided to try something other than pretending I wasn’t anxious.  Instead, I asked, “Self, why are you so overwhelmed?”

And my self answered.  I love it when that happens.  My self is not always forthcoming with her thoughts and feelings.

“I’m angry because I feel completely out of control,” she explained.

Ah!  An answer!  Yes!  That’s exactly how I feel!  Out of control!  And angry about it!

There’s no predictable schedule to when I can make phonecalls (due to all the screaming).  There’s no guaranteed time to take a shower (cue busy toddler).  I can’t count on waking up rested, even if I go to bed early (again, the screaming).  It’s the little things.  And the big things.  Anything getting done is getting done by accident, or haphazardly, at best.

At the next stoplight, I found myself furiously googling “what to do when you feel out of control,” not because I planned to do my heavy research in the car but because then I’d at least have an open tab to remind me of this pivotal reality I’d just uncovered.  Does that happen to anyone else?  You can’t even remember the most important, revelatory things because of all the other noise in your head?

Please say yes! Someone!  ;)

Anyway…

I told Tahd later that I think the secret will not be found in holding more tightly to the control I do have but in holding everything more loosely.

So, in this moment, I have quiet and writing and a podcast, and I enjoy that for the present.  Tomorrow at 10:00 AM, I’ll probably have chatter and poopy diapers, and I’ll enjoy them then because I’ll remember how much I longed to get the chance to have more babies.  at 3:30 PM, I’ll have screaming while we drive, but that will be okay because everyone needs a chance to cry, right?  Holding each moment loosely.  Enjoying each moment with gratitude…I think that will help.

I like the idea.

I’m not very skilled at it yet.

I’m better at obsessing over the past.  Or worrying about the future.

But I can practice.

And I will get better.

Here’s to holding the present loosely and with gratitude.

A Day In The Life

I thought it would be fun to record the details of a pretty ordinary day.  I try to remember what I did during an average day when Gabe was a baby, but life has changed so much that I can hardly even imagine how I filled my time!  These are some little snippets from an average day – this one being last Wednesday.

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7:00 – my alarm rings, a very unwelcome sound to my groggy ears.  My eyes hardly open because Jude had a rough night, waking at 10:30, again at 12:30 (just after I had gone to bed…boo!), and again at 1:15.  At that point, I held/bounced/rocked him to wait him out, and we went back to sleep around 2:30.  He woke up off and on after that, but he was in bed with me so  didn’t keep track.  Not exactly the most restful night!  Gabe helped me reenact this picture.  :)

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We’ve instituted a new plan with Gabe and it’s helping our mornings go much more smoothly!  Because of this he was up and dressed by the time I got up, and he got his breakfast and packed things up before I’d even come downstairs for the morning.

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I put on some makeup and combed my hair, changed diapers, picked up the kitchen, dressed Isla, and got her breakfast while Jude played and fussed in his bouncy seat and Gabe played Minecraft.

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8:00ish – we head to the car for our morning commute just after I apply some Theives oil to everyone to protect against the day’s germs and Joy to myself.  Jude’s opinion of the car seat as a torture device persists, so he throws a fit.

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I target a departure time between 8:12 and 8:17, and today we’re on time at 8:16.  Phew!  This gets Gabe to school on time with little stress.  We can leave later than 8:17, but it’s stressful.  Nothing like precise timing!  Breakfast for me is a “nutritious” handful of animal crackers I eat on the road.  I listen to Morning Edition, sing Barney songs to Isla, and pray aloud over Gabe and over our day.

Thankfully, Jude falls asleep somewhere along the way, so by the time we get home he’s cheerier and Isla’s ready to play.

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9:00ish – home again!  Mornings are dependent on Jude’s mood, and today he’s reasonably happy.  Isla wants to watch Thomas, so I turn it on.  Mostly, though, she tools around and plays with different things while I read a few emails and blogs, start this post, change diapers, get her a snack, and feed Jude.  Since everyone’s happy, I sneak upstairs to fix my hair and make the beds.

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Isla decides she wants to paint, but I’m not up for the tempra mess.  I remember Gabe has an old set of Crayola watercolors…much neater!  I get those out and she “paints” for a while and asks me to paint stars and circles for her while Jude starts getting upset.  I set her up with a bowl of animal crackers and take Jude upstairs to swaddle and put to bed for a nap.

I have to fight the urge to sit around and do nothing during this time on most days.  I can’t get into much because the little people require more of me, so I often feel defeated during this time.  Today was pretty reasonable, although the tv was on much more than I’d prefer.

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I throw some Valor essential oil in the diffuser to keep some good energy flowing in the house. Valor is one of my favorites.  I like the smell, and I need to kick in the pants it gives me.

Lunch is “frantches” – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Isla tells me, “No bed yet?”  Not yet, sis!  Soon, but not yet!  We watch Barney before heading upstairs.

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Isla and I rock and read.  Today, we read “The Hello Goodbye Window.”  It has the most fun pictures, a colorful explosion on every page.  She goes to bed about the same time Jude stirs, so no break for me.  He’s a cranky pants, though, not ready to be awake.  So I lay down with him and we both drift off.

As nice as daily naps feel, I’m starting to crave that kid-free time in the middle of the day – to “find” myself again, at least for a few minutes.  I try to remind myself that this season is short in the grand scheme of things, and I’m absolutely positive that when I’m older one of the things I”ll miss most about this stage is napping with my babies.  So I try not to let guilt get the better of me.

Naps end around 2:30 and we pack ourselves up to collect Gabe from school.  This used to be one of my favorite times of the day – quiet time in the car with Isla, time to read and sing and talk, but it’s a little harder now with a fussy baby.  Hopefully it gets a little less stressful as Jude gets older.

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3:30 – I was pretty far back in the line today!

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4:15 – We have a little spare time after school, and I mostly use this to pick up because the house was pretty chaotic.  The kids play while I pick up.

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This picture cracks me up!  I know it looks like his head is flopped back uncontrollably, but it really wasn’t.  He was absolutely intent on watching Gabe dance around and craned his neck to follow Gabe’s every move.  He loves to watch both Gabe and Isla!  And tv, but that’s a post for another day.

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Mom gets home around 5:30, and I take the kids over to her house because I have a meeting about Dad’s retirement party and have to pick up Tahd from the airport.  Getting out of the house is a little stressful and I skip dinner to get everything taken care of, but the quiet time in the car is nice and I figure I can pick up dinner later.

The meeting lasts a few hours, which gets me out in perfect time to pick up Tahd at the airport.  I sit in the cell lot for about 3 minutes before he calls to tell me he’s outside.

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 8:30 – we stop to pick up Panera on our way home since I haven’t had dinner yet.  We don’t eat there because I didn’t have Mom and Dad put the kids to bed and I know it’ll be past their bedtime by the time we get home as it is.  But I wanted them to have a chance to see Tahd, so I told Mom to keep them up if it wasn’t too disastrous.  We get to their house and I feed Jude and visit with my parents while Tahd plays with the kids, and then we all walk home to our house to tuck everyone in.

Bedtime goes surprisingly well given all the excitement, and then Tahd and I hang out on the couch and I catch up on a little bit of writing until my own bedtime.  Then, it’s lights out and a quick sleep before I get up to do it again!

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