Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Happiness Project: Family

Wilco rocks my socks off. Love them. This song is one of my favorites - so tender and so just what I'm singing right now. Don't know why it seems to stall the playlist to the right. I'm not sure how to fix this (other than to click on a post so it opens separately). It's worth it to hear Jeepster.

Go back to sleep now my darlin'
And I'll keep all the bad dreams away
Breathe now, think sweet things
And I'll think of all the right words to say

Thursday morning my phone beeped at 7:45. Erika texted to see if we were up for a walk even though it was short notice. Without missing a beat my fingers typed in "yeah", which spell-correct decided should read "tabernacle". I sighed, rolled my eyes, and called her instead. I really wanted to meet up because she had emailed me earlier in the week that she quit her job to be with her family full time.

"They needed me," she said about her family.

"How do you feel about it?" I asked between huffs to get up the hill east of Buena Vista park.

"Really conflicted. For decades, my identity has revolved around being a vet. And when you have have a daughter, you know, it's more than having a job - you're a role model."

"Whew. Yeah..."

My city is in full bloom.

That's when I confessed: I have used up all of my vacation days so that I can be home with my family on Sundays for the next couple of months. Typically, I work Sun - Wed. It's not my preferred schedule but it saves us one day of paying for child care and Tim gets the valuable experience of being with Ada alone all day. His oral boards are coming up and he really needs this extra time to focus on preparation for that. I get it. Part of passing a huge exam is getting the fear of God enough to study as hard as you need to in order to pass. So instead of him watching the baby on Sundays I'll stay home with her so that he can go study.

When you speak vows to another person when you marry them - be it in public or in the privacy of your own kitchen - those words mean something. When I said them a few years ago they were words about something that would happen later. "Later" showed up a couple of weeks ago and I realized that this is what those vows were about: showing up when it counts. Tim didn't ask for it - he didn't have to. I know he needs me now and I'm his wife.


Because we made you, my darlin'
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darlin' right from the start

It's a win-win situation - no martyrdom here.  I'm not sad about spending more of my time as a nurturing mother and supportive wife. As a matter of fact, the moment that I asked for the time off something in me shifted instantly - I was more in tune. I felt like I was finally being true to myself. I'm spending more than half of my week caring for my family and less than half of my week as a working mom. I don't have to shove all that loving and practicality into 3 days anymore (please understand that while I love the work I do, on the days when I work there is not time for anything else, literally and emotionally).

Frankly, it is a HUGE relief: Ada is happier, Tim is more relaxed, and I am thrilled.

My little independent girl. She helps me feed the cats and she can reach the bathroom sink with the help of a stool. This one was my Mom's when she was little.

Here it is, Saturday night and I'm looking back on 3 full, amazing days with my daughter, friends, family. Normally, my mind would be spoiling these last moments of the weekend by being already at work - checking email for transferred cases, looking up labwork, etc. Tonight I feel completely relaxed because I have done all that I needed to do and all that I wanted to do. I have an extra day to rest, mold play-doh, read stories, sip pretend tea, hug, kiss, snuggle, tickle, and paint. Tomorrow I get to do nothing but mother my daughter. I love it and I can't wait.

Grow up now, my darlin'
Please don't you grow up too fast
And be sure, darlin'
To make all the good times last


My April Happiness Project is about family. I have spent a couple of days trying to come up with some measurable bullet points. The very act of writing it all down makes it feel as if it were a burden but I don't feel that way at all. Instead, I'll keep it simple:

  • I will be there for my family. 

I am learning that where I am normally all about the check-list, this Happiness Project for me is less about outcome and more about process. Even if I can't quantify one thing or another, I am more aware. Sometimes that is all you need to ignite something really great.

Because we made you, my darlin'
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darlin' right from the start

Ada kept trying to run off with the doll stroller that another little girl brings to the playground. I bought her one of her own. From the moment she wakes up she runs to look for Stella in her stroller. Yesterday, we brought Stella and her stroller to Philz, Trader Joe's, and everywhere else we went. I have created a monster! 

The only time she was willing to abandon the stroller was at the playground. Sometimes she rejected it with quite a lot of emotion! Even though she has her very own stroller now, the other little girls stroller still holds some kind of little kid magic. Even that one was rejected in an emotional outburst!


Baby feet in sandals. How is something this freaking cute even legal? 

Mineral deficiency avoidance. 
It's a miracle she wasn't sick later.

We ran into Leah on our walk back home. While I was chatting with her and not paying 100% full attention to my child, Ada dumped a whole box of Cheerios into the seat of the stroller. I'm too lazy/busy to clean them up yet. Ada has been snacking on these by the handful...

The weather has been so beautiful in San Francisco the past few days. This was the second lemonade stand we hit up on our way home. (note: the stamp on her hand is from our new music class. One of the families we have our pediatric group with was there too!)

As promised, I'm here to also report on March.

  • Seek counseling - I got a list and made some calls. I haven't seen anyone yet and fear that it might not work out with the child care situation.

  • Read The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns - Did I say I would read something? That was just silly. I haven't finished a book since before Ada was born. 

  • Free-form writing for at least 15 minutes daily - Sadly, this hasn't happened with regularity. However, I did start keeping a little journal nearby at all times and I've been able to jot down clipped thoughts when I need to. 

  • Find a way to do some mirroring work especially focusing on fighting fair in intimacy and effective communication in conflict. I don't know where to even look for this in a formal manner. I've been practicing in my daily life instead. 

  • Take a deep breath. This has been a great thing. This one I can, and should, keep up. 

  • Today is Sunday. I am taking that deep breath. This feels more like the life I intended to lead.

    2 Lovies:

    Kelle said...

    Oh, dinky no no no. This is good. Your writing is honest and raw, and your pictures, beautiful. Thank you for your comment. It was heartfelt and so beautifully descriptive, and what you said meant a lot to me. I love that you still respect your mother but that you will learn from her mistakes. I love that you are striving after the life you intend to lead. I LOVE people who just keep pressing toward better and good and more. I try and do that every day (and yes, sometimes fall back a bit) and am thrilled to read other mothers who do the same. I think you are doing a beautiful job, and I am so glad you are writing it all down. What you are saying? Oh, they are pearls of wisdom and of deep, deep love for your daughter. This is how she will know you loved her. That you didn't just tap on the glass bowl. That is extraordinary.

    My Secret Rooms said...

    I was so touched by what you wrote in Kelle's "comments".
    That is a contributing factor, I realize, why I love her blog so much: I get a role model (even though she is younger and I've been a mother for 20 years and I've been doing a whole lot right during that time but with totally different opportunities for sure!).

    My parents didn't give me a dream childhood and today I've forgiven them and I'm trying to find my own way of being a mother in this world.
    With my husband and our five year old there is a totally different story than it was when I was 20 and had a baby in an abusive relationship.

    Life is a mystery, a challenge and it sure can be heaven too.

    Thanks for making me think one more turn, dig one more time!
    I'll be back here - I love "real genuine" people who share and make me reflect.
    I wish you a wonderful weekend.