Wine Pairings for Real Parents.

It’s been a crazy couple weeks (I feel like I say that a lot)- two entrepreneurs at super busy times in their career plus a baby is a tad nuts at times. At the end of the day sometimes we are just spent and can’t deal with making dinner.  The other night I was finishing up feeding Henry while sipping on some wine and snacking on his teething puffs because I was too lazy to get up and get my own snack and thought “hey, these pair pretty well together” which was sad/funny and so I thought I’d pair wines with all sorts of harried parent snacks.  Hey if you can’t laugh about the insanity….

So the fruity teething puffs mostly ended up on the floor and in the high chair? Doesn’t matter- it’s way easier to just eat them than sweep them up. While you are acting like a human Dyson, sip a little Hogwash rose to really make that enticing blend of purple potatoes and  blueberries sing in your mouth.  Then go flip through a Garnet Hill catalog, fold down seven pages and wonder what the f*%# happened to you.
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The Motherhood Challenge No One Warned Me About

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“Ma! Bibs are for BABIES. I’m a big boy now!”

For the past week or two I’ve felt off.  Occasionally more than off. Gleefully at peace one moment and then at the drop of a hat I turn into someone possibly emulating Ron Burgundy in his “glass case of emotion”.   And weighted down with a source less  sensation of sadness and anxiety. I also have been so bone tired, even though Henry is sleeping through the night (finally).  Perhaps it’s because I am having vivid, psychotic dreams (like, hallucinatory-style weirdness in which I’m typically about to die) every night.  For a few days I was petrified that I had gotten pregnant again already (which, while it would be a miracle, NOT the timing I’m hoping for!)  And then at dinner this weekend I was talking about how I was feeling to Andrew and a revelation hit me– I’ve been finishing up weaning Henry this week, maybe THAT has something to do with it!

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Struggling With “Having It All”

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Andrew was away the past two days and so I have been trying to juggle work, blogging, taking care of Henry and the two dogs- oh, and myself (not really- cereal for dinner!)  And it’s not working.  I am blessed enough to have a nanny here from 8-4 but yet it seems like it’s not enough time to get everything done I have to do. Like this blog, all my client work, writing the second book (have not even been able to start yet), designing my home collection, managing my business.  Oh, and being a good mom. And not neglecting my two fur babies.  And managing to not leave the house in breastmilk stained sweatshirts and slippers with hair so full of dry shampoo I look like George Washington. On five hours of (interrupted) sleep. Oh,a nd I almost forgot- my marriage. Now if that ain’t telling….

Basically, my current schedule feels like trying to staple Jello to ceiling. Impossible.

I read this article from HuffPo the other day about how it sucks to have it all, and it totally resonated with me.  I totally agree with her,  I’m leaning in so far I’m falling flat on my face. But what gives? What possibly could give in this scenario? My business? No. Book? Nope. Blog? Not a chance. My lifelong dream of having my own line? Hells to the N-O. Time with my baby? That’s a negative, Ghostrider.  The answer is nothing can give. This is the life I chose and it’s a very privileged one at that, but that doesn’t make it easy nor make me sometimes wish another path had worked out instead (and had I been on that other path, I would have dreamed of this one so there you have it, folks). Women struggle every day with crazy responsibility, two or three jobs, childcare and finding time to breathe and make sure they don’t just flip out from the pressure of life.  I know my stressful situation is a dream situation for many, I do.  But it’s still hard and I’m grasping at a solution to make it more manageable.  Because right now I feel like I’m getting everything “done”, but not to the level that I want to.  And I’m not taking good care of myself, which I know is a recipe for disaster.

You can only outsource so much too before you start feeling like “what was the point of having babies/pets if I don’t get to care for them?”  And while I certainly struggle with guilt regarding being away from Henry so I can work- I do know I’d be a crappy stay at home mom. This is basically a scientific fact, one I knew before I had Henry- but it still doesn’t make me feel a twinge of shittiness.  And while we’re at it, let’s just all agree that superheroes don’t wear capes- they are single parents. I mean, seriously. I have a very helpful husband who does more than most (while also running his own business)- I cannot even fathom how single moms and dads do it day in and out.  I bow down.

I know many of you are in the same boat, and pardon my total train of thought post here, but what are some of your tips on staying sane and managing a crazy busy life?

The Most Suprising Thing About Motherhood

There are many surprising things about motherhood- how much spit up one little baby can produce, how much crying you can listen to without actually going insane and how possible it is to love something so much you feel like you might just float off into space (or fight tigers to the death with your bare hands to protect it).  I expected the sleepiness, the exhaustion, the adoration and the amazement that I had heard came along with this major life change.  But I also expected that it would exacerbate my anxiety and body image issues.  People had been tip toeing around post-partum warnings and the discussion of how pregnancy would affect my dormant eating disorder  since I was deep IN that eating disorder at 15 years old.  I feel like everyone expected me to just capital-L LOSE IT once this baby was born and yet, I am happy to report that the exact opposite has happened.

The past few months I have been so much calmer, happier, present and less anxious than I have been in a long time (other than when I was pregnant, which seemed to be a stabilizing hormonal shift for me- even Andrew was like “why are you so nice to me now?”HA!)  I had thought that having this little human dependent on me to live and yet unable to communicate it’s needs by no means other than crying was going to be so massively anxiety producing. And it was for the first couple weeks when we had some weight stabilization issues and I was worried about his health, but since then the perspective little Henry has brought to my life has been such a gift.  Running late to a meeting, an argument with someone or having a chair not fit correctly into a space are not tear inducing “whyyyyy meeeee” events.  Nothing is life or death other than, well… life or death.  As long as my baby is healthy and happy, I am okay, the world is okay, and there is plenty to smile about.

Including my post-partum body.  Before I got pregnant the slightest hint of a muffin top would make me uncomfortable and bummed out. I wasn’t restrictive or an extreme exerciser as I had been in the past, but my body was always something I still felt I had to fix and perfect.  I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with it my whole life, it never measuring up and even failing me on occasion.  My inability to get pregnant on my own put me at odds with it in a big way- I didn’t trust it and felt immense resentment towards it.  And throughout pregnancy I felt like I had somehow “duped” it into doing what I wanted it to- carry a child- and at any moment it would figure out my trickery and go back to being “broken”.  Up until I saw Henry come out of me, I didn’t believe it would actually ever happen. I did not believe in my body to actually triumph.

And then it did. In a big, big way.

This beautiful, wonderful boy is the product of my body, and I am able to nourish him from it successfully as well (which I was nervous about).  It has rendered me AMAZED and grateful.  So grateful that I could not give two shits about my flabby tummy or that certain things don’t fit the same.  I know that may sound shallow and silly to you, but before having Henry I thought I would have been VERY bothered by my post-partum figure, even afraid it might cause some old eating issues to flare up.  But when I was in a dressing room the other day, the unkind lighting was enhancing my belly in the most unflattering of ways,  I stood there a minute and looked at myself and literally shrugged and said “Who the f*ck cares!?” and sauntered out.  You guys, this was my Oprah “A-HA” moment!!! Like, for real. It was like a weight had lifted after decades of bullshit.

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Now, when I want to go to the gym it’s because I want to stay healthy and strong for Henry’s sake (and also it feels good to move and stretch and have some “me” time!)  I’m not there to tighten something saggy or burn X amount of calories (and hey, if a little firming happens too, great!)  But if I don’t make it to the gym I don’t feel like less of a person or a massive guilt, I see it as extra time with my boy.  It’s so damn freeing, I can’t even tell you.  This is a complete game changer for me.

I am now someone’s mother, and that has rendered everything else into second place.  This shift in attitude has been one of the most wonderful things about Henry other than Henry himself.  So thank you little guy, for making your mommy a much better, happier, healthier person.

 

Motherhood (Thus Far)

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This Friday will mark eight weeks since I became a mom.

I’m a MOM. Say whaaaaaaat??

I still don’t feel like someone’s mother. I have a mother, I know many mothers-but me?  It still has not hit me that I am now included in that group  and yet in many ways I feel like I’ve been Henry’s mom for a long time.  It’s taken me two months to even be able to attempt to write something about this because it’s still so overwhelming.  I look at him while he’s sleeping in my arms and vacillate between complete disbelief and all consuming love and desire to protect and care for this little being. My son.

I was nervous I wouldn’t feel that way. And to be honest, it took me a little while to be overcome by love and “mama-bear” kind of feelings. I was never a super maternal person- which is partially why we waited a long time to have a baby.  I wasn’t sure I even wanted it.  And when I finally became pregnant I worried a lot about not feeling the same instant all-consuming love that other mothers described.  And to be perfectly honest, for the first two weeks I didn’t.  I was completely clothes lined by the overwhelming task of caring for this fragile little being that needed me to survive.  It was terrifying and anxiety producing for me, a chronic worrier by nature.  And it seems silly but the fact that he looked so different than what I pictured he would also kept me from feeling the instant bond I thought I was supposed to have.  Being a dark and ridiculously hairy person (truly, there are scarring memories of middle school teasing about my “gorilla legs”) I was baffled by this blonde, hairless little fella who really looked nothing like me at all!

And then the mastitis threw me for a major loop- feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck paired with no sleep, breastfeeding drama (the illness totally threw us off our groove and Henry started losing weight) and a crying newborn made for a pretty weepy, inconsolable Erin. I felt like my relatively easy, managed, happy life was GONE FOREVER and instead I had this needy baby stuck on my boob 24-7. Not to mention my ability to not keep up with this blog, my company and adult life in general.  I was sad, stressed and so terrified that I wasn’t doing enough to keep Henry healthy and happy while also forgoing my own health and happiness.  I recall holding him crying, while he was crying, and saying to Andrew “why do people do this more than once???”

But I made sure to keep going to talk with my therapist about all these feelings, and she helped me realize that how I felt wasn’t all that abnormal. It’s a very hard change to go from an independent, busy, working gal to having to be at the beck and call of a newborn.  And the lack of bonding was pretty common too.  It helped to hear that and know that it too would pass.

And it did.  After I sort of “hit bottom” I started to bounce back. I stopped trying to “do it all” and settled into not being able to do much at all other than take care of Henry and take care of myself.  Which was such a hard change of gears for someone who is happiest when insanely busy.  But it became nice and calming to know all I needed to do in a day was simply nurse, bond and snuggle with my baby. And maybe read some celebrity gossip and check my email to stay sane. :) Breastfeeding became less stressful and way more enjoyable. In fact, I have gotten so used to it that I am pretty confident sometime in the near future I will answer my door without realizing I have a boob hanging out (” Oh heeeyyyyy UPS man! What’s up?!”)  Now motherhood feels natural and joyful and when little Henry smiles at me my heart just swells to previously unknown proportions.

And so today I return to work part-time and feel both very sad to leave him and very excited to get back into my working groove.  I’m worried about him fussing with his bottles, leaving him with his nanny and not being here to watch him like a hawk- but yet the idea of sitting amongst a pile of fabrics and working on new homes is so thrilling! GROWN UP STUFF! YAAAAYYYYY! The fact that I can come home during the day to be with him for an hour or so helps a lot with my ability to not be a sobbing mess over it.  I know that once I am comfortable with this new schedule and leaving him I will love the balance of work and motherhood.  I know as much as I fear leaving him that the full time stay at home mom thing is not for me. Some women just KNOW that is what they were meant to do, but I never did.

What I do know is that I am completely and totally in love with my son and SO, SO grateful that science and medicine and whole lot of hoping allowed us to have this beautiful boy.  I look at him and just want more than anything for him to be healthy, happy and successful- on his terms, not mine.  Whatever it turns out brings him joy, be it dancing or being a doctor (and I’m dying to know what it is!), I want him to find the kind of satisfaction in life that I have.   I want him to know he is loved and supported by his father and I no matter what. He has given me the gift of removing my focus on myself and instead putting it on someone else- which actually has made me a much happier person with a real purpose beyond the material and selfish. The world has come into perspective a bit more, and for that I will be forever grateful.

So thanks for letting me be your mom Henry- as absurd as it may still seem to me!