To James on his first birthday – 50 of 100

My dear James,

You turned one last Monday. I thought I would have this message all written and ready but sometimes life just doesn’t go as planned.

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It’s been quite a week. Last Thursday, I spilled a glass of water on my laptop while working on this blog and another paid writing gig for a print magazine. I’m telling you this for a few reasons.

#1. I’ve always been a little clumsy and careless. I’ve tried so so hard to change that about myself. But as the old saying goes: nobody’s perfect. That goes for me – and you. It’s hard when the things we hate most about ourselves rear their ugly heads. But try not to beat yourself up too much Baby.

#2. The thing about the laptop is: It was new(ish). I bought last fall, after I unexpectedly landed a copywriting job and made some extra money. We used it to buy the laptop so that I could be a portable writer. I’ve used it to write here – and I’ve also now written four published (or to-be-published) pieces. I guess what I’m saying is that those good things and bad things in our personality are with us always – side by side. Sometimes we’re kicking butt and sometimes we’re failing miserably. And sometimes, we just have to surrender.

#3. I knew dad would be pretty mad about the computer. Once, I briefly lost my wedding ring. I’ve never seen your dad so distraught. He could barely talk to me at breakfast. (It’s a really special ring.) But the thing was: my aunt and a high school friend were both sick with terminal cancer. I couldn’t stop thinking about them when I thought about the ring. Of course I valued the ring – I loved it as much as I had ever loved anything. But I also could not be heartbroken about it. It was a ring. A piece of metal. My husband that I loved was sitting across the table eating breakfast with me.

Dad was mad. But he let it go. I know it was a mistake, he texted me, as I drove to the Apple store. I guess what I’m saying is – Perspective. Keep it. Choose your fights. What really matters? Right now, my fizzled laptop is here beside me. You, my living breathing one-year-old son, are sleeping in your crib.

But enough about the dumb laptop.

Your Auntie Fiona and Uncle Kevin are visiting from Ontario. We spent the weekend with them in Canmore. On Sunday night, you woke up with vomit all over you, your sleeping bag, the crib. It was the night before your birthday. You cried and cried. Uncle Kevin took a bath with you (he’s crazy about you). We rocked you. Cleaned you up. You threw up again and again.

Finally, we got you back to sleep. The next day, we drove home and Dad and I frantically prepared for your party. You weren’t throwing up but you weren’t yourself. We got balloons. I baked a cake (carrot). We wrapped presents. We dressed you in your cute gray vest. Then your cousins and your aunts and uncles were here and even though you weren’t feeling very well, I think the chaos swept you away for a while.

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I mean: It’s pretty great to be loved so much. Especially when everything else feels like crap.

On Tuesday, the day after your birthday, we went to get your shots. They said it as ok even though you’re not feeling the best. You were crying before the needles even came out. I pressed you hard against me and held down your arms and watched as your face twisted red in terror and pain. I’ve never heard you cry so loud and hard. You screamed in the waiting room while we waited the 15 minutes they make you wait. I thought I’d never forgive myself. Maybe we can hurt someone we love when we’re trying to protect them.

Dad came home with flowers for me. (James, your dad is the best. Take notes.)

I was supposed to go back to work on Wednesday. But I knew I couldn’t leave you with someone else, not after the last two days. You woke up screaming at 5:30 that morning. Dad and I couldn’t console you. You were so sad and uncomfortable and there was nothing we could do but be here and hold you.

It made me think about all the things I couldn’t protect you from. I tried not to get too overwhelmed by it, as I held you in our rocking chair, your warm tears streaming onto my chest, your blankey draped across your chest.

So I stayed home with you.

But you know what? Not one- but two friends stopped by to drop me a note and a treat to wish me well. I kept getting emails and texts from friends and family asking how I was doing at my first day back.

Like I said, James: It’s pretty great to be loved when everything is else feels like crap.

A few people suggested that you knew what was up – that I wouldn’t be spending every day with you anymore. But how? I wondered. Around a campfire last night, our friend Roger suggested that before they have language, babies just know things – their intuition is heightened. I think he’s right. It’s also true that I kept bursting into tears last week. While pushing the stroller in the street. While reading “Owl is dirty. Owl is clean. Owl is blue. Owl is green.” with you on my lap on living room floor.

I feel like it’s unfair to feel so sad about going back to work when we had 53 whole weeks together. But I’m sad. I’m sad for every minute I’ll miss this year.

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We have this way of being together, you and me. You’re my son and my buddy. We communicate with no words. Our world, governed by heart.

On Thursday, I had to go back to work so Daddy stayed home with you. He was changing you when you got home and when you saw me you cried Mamma Mamma and reached for me and climbed up onto me like a little monkey – naked – too quick to let Daddy get a diaper back on you. Your head fell onto my shoulder and you melted into me.

I had this total freak out that maybe you wouldn’t need me in the same way now that I’m not going to be around as much. I know it’s irrational. But FUCK – welcome to motherhood. I just barely remember the definition of rational.

That night I had another good cry on the couch.

Sometimes I ask you: Do you know how much I love you?

You’ll never know, I answer.

And in some ways, that’s true. You’ll never know. On the other hand, it’s the first and only thing you’ve ever known. And someday, if you decide to have a little bean of your own, you will look down at their impossibly perfect face and then you will truly finally know how much your dad and I love you.

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I want so many things for you in this life, James. I want you to have adventures, discover wonder and beauty in the world, find the things that light you up. I hope that you find happiness. But maybe the whole point of this long letter is that happiness isn’t what you think it is – because real happiness is feeling all the things. It’s crying while reading a board book about owls with your son’s hair tickling your nose. It’s being there to hold him while he throws up all over you. It’s heartache, sorrow, pain, forgiveness, failure, success, bliss. It’s this year – for me. Because this year–learning to being your mom–has been all the things.

Mostly, I want you to find love – all different kinds of love! Love grounds us. Gets us through the thick of life. (I think.)

Ours will always always be here for you.

Happy birthday sweet baby boy. I love you.

Yours,

Momma.

A year ago, I was thinking – 48 of 100

I found this in my saved drafts. It’s pretty sweet to see where my head was at a year ago. And think about those long, lazy Sunday mornings. I’m thinking in this next week, I’ll try to clean up a few of the pieces lingering in my drafts folder. Why not?

It is early-ish on a Sunday morning. Well it is exactly 7:47 a.m. but it feels SO early because it is still pitch dark out, as tends to be the case on winter mornings in the Great White North. The house is silent except for hum of the refrigerator and the heat kicking through the vents.

I don’t really have much to write about today but I wanted to sit down and try.

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I am 35 weeks pregnant. Five weeks to go. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. We’re at this funny moment where nothing is really happening in our life and yet everything is happening. Weekend mornings are devoted to coffee and long hours of reading. Eventually we’ll get the grocery store. Maybe take a walk.

Usually, I would go bonkers with this kind of quiet. We would be racing for the ski hill, driving to the mountains. But right now, it is like medicine.

I find myself looking around and studying this time, knowing that in one year, three years, 10 and 15 years, I will say, ‘remember when we used to wake up on Saturday mornings and read for hours on the couch and it was so quiet? Remember how good it was?’ Of course at that time we’ll be in throes of some other kind of good. Or maybe things will be hard. Or somewhere in between.

But right now is good.

The other week, I slipped into Dan’s arms and said, ‘Do you think we’ll always be this happy?’

He shook his head. ‘No. Not always.’

Of course he’s right. We can’t always be happy. Life can’t always be just right.

Sometimes, I can’t believe the person who will change our lives the most is growing right now inside my belly. That we haven’t met them yet. Perhaps it is knowing that we are about to embark on the greatest change, challenge, adventure that I am dwelling in calm right now. I am letting it swirl around and soothe me. Until this mysterious miraculous creature becomes the centre.

Rituals – 46 of 100

This morning, I was thinking about rituals. Morning is full of them for us. James wakes us, I go to feed him, while Dan lingers in bed for a few more minutes and then gets up to make coffee. I change James, Dan fills a bowl with berries for J, mugs of coffee for us.

Dan used to feed James fruit because it was the only way to keep him still for a few morning snuggles. Now the two of them love their moment. So they sit in the lazy boy with their berries and I drink my coffee on the couch.

We play. We eat breakfast.

Our morning walk ritual began in Florida. Every morning, before his first nap, I’d load James into the Ergo Baby and we would walk along the ocean. I realized it was exactly what we both needed. James, not quite ready for sleep, but not bursting with energy either. Me, tired from playing/mothering for those first few hours. The walk served as quiet time for us to be together and look around the world.

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Morning walk views in Florida

I vowed to keep it upon our return home. Winter be damned.

And we have. We get James into his fleece bear suit. Load him into the backpack. We walk Dan to the train station, kiss him goodbye and have a quiet walk around the neighborhood.

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James after I unclip him from the carrier. This moment always cracks me up.

I’m busy thinking about all the things I’ll miss when I’m back at work. The morning walk is one of them.

I’m thinking about what I want to get done in these two weeks. I’m never going to finish 100 posts, but I’d like to get to 50. That feels like a solid number to me.

For his first birthday, I want to publish the birth story I wrote down way way back when but never finished. I have a writing assignment for the first print issue of Crowfoot Media (!)

I want to enjoy the pre-nap snuggles because I’m going to miss them like crazy.

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Taken in Waterton: our morning walk set up.

I feel this clarity that I can’t quite explain. Maybe it’s more of an energy. I think sometimes we feel this way when change is imminent. When you know you MUST be where you are because soon life is going to sweep you right along – you’re circling an eddy in the river.

When I was on those morning walks in Florida along the ocean I would think: I could do this every day. Pulling off my shoes. Walking on the sand. Looking out out out at the wide ocean. The salty sea air. My son breathing at my back. My heart beating, my blood moving. The young morning sun.

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Mmmhmmm. I could do this every day.

Maybe that’s what rituals are for. To clear the noise. To make space for ourselves. To find the center.

That feeling – when the past, present and future – who you are, your ideas, what you really want- the whole world – gather close – like a pulse. It’s when you could burst into tears at any moment, because: Life. You know? It’s what I wish I could write down here in words, but can’t.

It’s here now. I want to press it like a shell to my ear and listen.

Back to work – 45 of 100

With two weeks left in my maternity leave, the question I am asked nearly every day is:

Are you excited to go back to work?

It’s such a big question with so very many answers.

I mean, yes. And no.

I am ready to work. I’d even venture to say that getting back to work will make me a better mom. I can feel my brain itching and drifting when I’m with him sometimes. Aching to do something other than mother (like the other day, I was so lazy. I should have taken him to do something fun! But I also just don’t feel like it. Anyway, I sat on the floor and watched him unroll all the toilet paper for a while.)

My boss texted me yesterday about new responsibilities and projects that immediately sent me looking for books to read and things to research. Yeah! I was excited. For real.

I’m excited to wear skirts and dresses and make-up and walk around the world with blow-dried hair. I’m excited to not wear nursing bras.

I’m worried that I won’t have any time. For personal projects. For exercise. For anything. I’m already plotting and scheming how I’ll manage to keep making yummy healthy dinners at night. I mean really: How do working parents do it all? Reveal your secrets, please.

There’s all the guilt and worry about leaving him in someone else’s care full time (it probably doesn’t help that I was run over by a car at a daycare when I was two). I’m having the hardest time getting my head around someone spending more time with him than us. Socialization, learning to listen/be with another adult. All good. But still.

And-of course-I’m going to miss him. Chasing him around the house. The way his giggles re-center the whole world. I’ll miss zipping him into his little bear suit for our morning walk. And hauling the stroller up and down the stairs to take him to the park. I’ll miss all the little nothings that happen over the course of the day.

Really, the hardest thing is not going back to work – but that first year of his life has come and gone. My first year as a parent.

I’ve wondered my whole life: What will it be like to be pregnant? To give birth? To be a mom? Who will my first child be? What will they look like?

A few of life’s great curiosities have been answered. Of course, of course, there are so very many more. So much to discover about this little human. About being a parent and life.

In a way, I feel like I’m launching a little planet from my orbit. He’ll ride next to me for a while and keep testing his limits, exploring, scooting away. Sometimes I think about how at the beginning, I was his universe. Then, Daddy entered. And incrementally from there, the world inches into his life, bit by bit. Less mom, more world.

But for this first year of his life, our worlds were one.

It’s been the best year of my life.

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A couple of other things:

1. Last Friday, we had dinner with some friends. We were talking about our jobs. I said something like:

“There’s this idea/ideal in your head about work – this place where everything is clicking, you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing, killing it, surrounded by people that inspire you to, you’re making the right amount of money. You’re fulfilled in every way. But does it really exist?”

Do you have a vision? In my head, I see a blue sky and an ocean view and there’s a vibration, a hum, like a tuning fork. I’m not sure what this vision has to do with my career. Am I writing from a desk looking out at it? Or does it just feel to me what looking out at the ocean feels like? I really don’t know.

I do think that career exists for some people. But I also think the reality of it so much messier and more difficult than the picture in your head, that castle in the sky.

I had coffee with a friend the other day and she and her husband are living their dream. But it’s hard. He’s away traveling a lot, leaving her to parent alone. Work and family life are all mixed up. They work A LOT. There’s no going home at the end of the day and leaving it all behind.

All I’m saying is that reality is not in the clouds. It’s on the ground.

2. On Saturday we sat down to our finances. We want to buy a house so we mapped it all out.

I always find budgeting a little empowering and a little sobering.

Dan and I have been through some real financial distress. When we moved to Calgary, we were struggling in a big way (long story). It was scary. When we finally got out of the hole, I promised myself I would never go back. We’d be smarter. More prudent.

We have a good set up here. Our rent is low, and that allows us to focus on things like travel and adventure. Of course, James changes things. We have him registered at a dayhome and then we got offered a spot at a daycare that is $500 more a month. $500 is a lot of money to us. If we buy a house, would it be feasible? We could do it, but what would we be giving up?

And should I feel guilty if I choose something – anything! –  over higher priced (possibly better, but who really knows?) care for my son? (I do).

And then your brain really spins out of control: How will we ever afford activities for this child? For any future children? Will we get on a plane ever again when we’re paying for three or four plane tickets? Gawd!

Take a breath.

Dan and I like our jobs. We made conscious decisions to work for the places that we work. And we like the work that we do.

Cross that bridge when you get to it. You are ok. Remember those jeans you bought? You can make it happen. (I keep telling myself.)

And: If only wine, beer, cheese and books cost a little less in this country. It’d be so much easier.

 

 

Weaning -44 of 100

I have to start weaning James.

Like just about everything to do with motherhood, breastfeeding and my feelings about it have completely caught me off guard. I wanted to breastfeed, but mostly because the world was yelling at me: Breast is best! I thought breastfeeding toddlers was a little weird and that I would for sure for sure be done with it by a year.

The early months of breastfeeding did nothing to change my mind about any of it. My boobs were so engorged when my milk came in that they felt like helmets; they were about five times the size of James’s head. It seemed absurd when James would open his tiny mouth to reach for them: a little mouse trying to suckle from a boulder. On the advice of my midwives, I used a nipple shield for a little while and then I began to worry (thanks to Google) that I was fucking things up forever and ever amen.

Not to mention that at the beginning you are literally nursing ALL THE TIME. Like epic 30-45 minute feeds every hour and a half. I remember thinking: Will I ever do anything ever again besides hold this helpless creature to these ridiculously enormous ta-ta’s? In the middle of the night, dazed, I would have visions of those slaves on oar ships. Pull. Pull. Just endless rowing under the sun, salt water sores, etc. Will it ever end?!

I got a breast pump, hoping one day, I might have three hours to go do something instead of one.

But things got better. James would rainbow his little hand over my chest while he nursed. He needed me a little less. We got better at it. I completely gave up caring if anyone saw my boob.

Plus, good things started to happen. I mean, every new mom deserves to burn 500 calories a day sitting on her couch. Breastfeeding flooded my brain with oxytocin. New moms need that too. To remember, you know, that they love this wailing, limp, pooping, most-demanding human.

Once he was on solids, the whole situation was actually very reasonable. I fed him four times a day and usually once at night. I love this time with James. Running my fingers through his crazy hair. Scooping up his hands in mine. Or he’ll put his fingers in my mouth and we’ll smile at each other.

Today I leafed through Operating Instructions to find this quote which so perfectly describes how I feel about breastfeeding at this exact moment:

“Part of me wants my body back, wants to stop being moo-cow, and part of me thinks about nursing him through kindergarten. I know a woman who nursed her daughter until the girl was almost four, and of course we all went around thinking that it was a bit much, too Last Emperor for our blood. But now when Sam and I are nursing, it crosses my mind that I will never be willing to give this up. It’ll be ok, we can get it to work, I’ll follow him to college but I’ll stay totally out of the way…

This is the easiest, purest communication I’ve ever known.”

Indeed, it feels like a secret language – and yet, of course, it is not a secret. It is the universal language of mothers and children everywhere, of all mammals.

I think about how our bodies have been connected for 17 months now. My body has devoted itself to him – has given him life.

And how I have appreciated the power of the boob – to soothe him when nothing else will. What the hell am I going to do when this is gone? I sometimes think.

But the time is coming. I have to go back to work, which means I have to cut the daytime feeds.

The first day I tried to cut one, he lost his mind and I had to relent. The second went better. But I can tell it’s sensitive. We sit in our old nursing chair and read a book and have a snack and I bury my nose in his hair, brush his head with kisses. He doesn’t understand – of course, I can’t explain it to him, which kills me.

I have to cut the next. I have to be done done by April because I am going away.

I am mostly grateful. Grateful I could nurse him at all – and for so long.

And I am sad. I am sad that that our bodies are parting. Soon, we will speak to each other with words. I’ll be able to explain things to him, reason with him, bargain with him.

I know I will long for it. Our secret, silent language.

(P.S. This quote from Operating Instructions really took me back and made me howl: “I just can’t get over how much babies cry. I really had no idea what I was getting into. To tell you the truth, I thought it would be more like getting a cat.”)

My beater jeans have died and other stories. 43 of 100

Here’s a list of random things:

1. We went skiing last weekend with friends. We waited up at the summit for this back bowl section to open. We hiked up a ridge and at the top looked down into at least ankle deep untouched powder. It was like floating. On a cloud. Over a mountain. At the bottom, there we were, surrounded by these peaks, blue sky, white snow. Skiing’s always fun, but when you get those moments of euphoria, you’re like. Yes. This is why people are so bananas over this sport.

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Cindy skiing into the blue and white abyss

We made fondue and drank way too much wine. We tried to make Dan sing Journey.

In the morning, James woke up at 6 and I read to him quietly in bed while Dan snoozed next to us (apparently, there had been some whisky at some point). James reached over and started pawing Dan’s cheek. “Give him a kiss, James” I said. And James leaned over and kissed his daddy’s cheek. Dan grinned with his eyes closed. James did it again and again and again. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

2. I know why we all thought our moms were crazy: because motherhood makes you cray cray. I behave in the role of mother as I never have in any aspect of my previous life: paranoid, neurotic, anxious, irrational, (not to mention, usually un-showered – why would I spend precious nap time showering when I could be writing here and googling things? You really want to know what mat leave looks like? I’m not usually one for selfies, but here you go you lucky ducks:)

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Pretty glamorous, eh?

Sometimes I can see that Dan looks at me and thinks: Who is that and where did my well-groomed, laid-back, free-spirited wife go?!

But there’s so much to worry about. Is he getting protein, carbs, healthy fats, eating every fruit and vegetable known to man and every vitamin in the alphabet? Did he sleep for 13.2 hours (or whatever) today? Is he warm enough? Happy enough? Loved enough?

As hard as it all seems sometimes, I also fully understand how basic James’s needs are right now. Food, sleep. Love. It’s all just going to get so much more complex as time goes on (…and so too will my craziness).

I’m sure momma grizzlies were the sweetest live-and-let-live kind of ladies before those cubs came along.

3. My beater jeans have died and it’s devastating. Every person needs this pair of jeans: the ones that are cute enough to make you feel good about yourself, but crappy enough that you won’t feel too bad when holes appear in multiple places – as happened to me this weekend. It’s the sentimental value. I’ve been through some shit (literally) with these jeans.

4. The mother guilt is different than I thought it would be. I’d heard about it, of course. But what I’ve discovered is that it comes even with dropping your kid into someone’s care for an hour or two. It comes with looking at your sweet little baby that you couldn’t love more and thinking: Could you just. Go away. For like, three minutes? Or worse, while they are wailing and your patience starts to run thin, you think: What if I just put you in the crib and went for a little walk? You’d probably be terrified, but ok, right? I feel guilty when I’d rather be running, writing, reading, etc.

The mother guilt comes with wanting to do anything other than mothering.

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5. You really get in tune with your neighborhood on mat leave. There’s a lady across the street that sits on her front porch and smokes like all day. No matter the weather. Minus 15 out there, no problem. I always wonder if she looks at me hoisting the stroller down the stairs and wonders about us like we wonder about her. She’s this funny touchstone – every time I’m leaving or arriving or just gazing out the window I look for her.

A house is going up next door. An apartment complex across the street by the park. The workers always give a wave to James.

James and I sit at the window sometimes (in the summer, the stoop) and just watch the cars go by. “What do you see, James?” I ask him. Of course, I know what he sees. But I wonder what he notices. He’s always so content to watch.

4. I’m always looking at James thinking You’re getting so big, baby. It seems like only yesterday he was this frail squalling infant. In the early days, I remember looking at six-month and 12-month clothes and thinking: Preposterous! He’ll never be that big. (I still feel that way about the 18-month clothes we have kicking around.) I keep having to remind myself that in the course of things, James is still very small. A year from now. Five years from now. Ten. I’ll look at the 12-month clothes and think: Wait? Was he really this tiny?

5. He’s such a silly nut these days. Our house has become an obstacle course, with endless nooks to explore and things to pull apart. I know I should stop him sometimes, but he’s just curious. And it makes me laugh. He’s getting so playful, hiding behind things, wanting you to chase him while he crawls, squealing. Sometimes we’ll just look at each other and burst out laughing. He’ll hold up books for you to read to him. He has ideas and opinions. Yesterday, we were looking out the window and he just crawled into my arms and popped his thumb in his mouth.

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6. I wish I could bottle the way it is when we put him down. The way he snuggles his blanket and sucks his thumb and rests his head on your shoulder to listen to you sing a made-up lullaby. The way his little hand will sometimes reach for your hand or your cheek or your mouth. His soft, warm cheek against yours while his breath fills your ear and his hair brushes your lips.

Everything falls away.

I’m quite sure we could solve most of the world’s problems if we could all experience this once a day for a few minutes.

This fragile, precious life in your arms.

This most essential thing.

This love.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Baking and Time – 36 of 100

Last week, my friend Cindy came over to bake Christmas cookies. Cindy is one of those people who makes you think more deeply about yourself and how you live your life – in the best way possible.*

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She asked me what my biggest takeaway from this year was. Ahem- That is a big question! This is what popped out of my mouth:

  • I don’t want to miss anything because I’m waiting for something else to happen. When my brother in law visited, he told us about a conversation he had with a cab driver who had just become a grandfather. He talked about how he just wanted to BE THERE for for his grandchildren’s life. He said that while his children were growing up he was always worried: worried about work, about buying a house, what they needed that they didn’t yet have. And then suddenly they were grown. “Being present” is such a cliche these days, but I think about it all the time with James. Ever since I have entered the public with James, a steady stream of parents of all ages have approached me to say: “It goes so fast. Enjoy it.” And I can already see myself sidling up to a young mother with a baby, cooing the same words: “It goes so fast. So very fast.”
  • What matters. James brings everything into sharper focus. What matters? Because there’s no time to waste on anything else.
  • I feel more confident. Do I still doubt myself all the time? Yes. But I also realize what a waste of time it is for all of us: for me, for Dan, and especially for James. He doesn’t need a mom who is worried all the time about what she’s worth – he needs a mom with a clear vision for what she wants for her family and for her life. (It’s sort of interesting – many of the things I couldn’t get myself to do for myself (like take vitamins), I can get myself to do for James.)…(And with all that said, I run into all the same shit with myself every day. Even as I write this it feels like on long string of cliches that nobody wants to hear. I told Cindy that I’m always fighting against my default mode – which is to be a little bit lazy. Let me clarify: if someone is asking me to do something, I’m probably going to bust my ass to do it awesomely. If it’s just me holding myself accountable, eh. I give myself a B-. But no one is going to be accountable for my life but me, right? So for now, I swallow the doubt, publish this string of cliches on the internet.)

What it boils down to is Time. It’s racing by and it’s not going to slow down. So I am always thinking: Clear the noise, focus in. This is your life. Now.

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I’m not going to look like this forever guys.

*Not long ago, she asked me to send her 10 words that are important to our family – words we love and live by. I encourage you to try it! (Ours: Love, People, Adventure and the wonder of the world, Responsibility, Gratitude, Empathy, Perspective, Work we care about and believe in, Being good, Life/living like we mean it).