My Heart Is Too Small

4monthcloseupThere are times, mostly first thing in the morning, middle of the night feedings, coming home after a long day, and pretty much any time I see her face, when I am so overwhelmed by my love for my daughter that I can barely breath.

I cannot remember, when I was younger (at any time in my life, actually), thinking about “growing up and having kids”.  I didn’t do that.  I wasn’t one of those people.  I was a babysitter and nanny in high school and college.  I taught swim lessons and was a lifeguard and worked around children a lot. And, I enjoyed working around children.  I had fun with it; I had fun with them. But, there was never a moment when I thought about wanting kids myself.  When my husband and I were first married, we were on the same page about this.  It was odd to recognize this even then, but one day we had a conversation where we both talked about not wanting kids and it felt totally normal, not surprising in the least.  I’m not sure about his “why”, we never really talked about “why”; I just knew that I was OK with our decision to not have children.

Then, several years into our relationship and our marriage, I started to change my mind.  It was a slow process, but these feelings seeped in with tenacity.  I wondered, are these feelings real or is the proverbial “biological clock”?  I didn’t say anything, not to anyone, for some time.  I wasn’t sure.  I just was curiously cognizant about this newly burgeoning desire, by the emotions welling up inside of me in ways that were at once foreign and also comforting to me. Then, one day out of the blue, my husband emailed me (he was deployed at the time) and said something to the effect of, ‘so, I’ve been thinking, we should have kids’.  Um. What?!?

That email changed my whole world.  There was a lot of time, some of it tumultuous, in between that email and when I actually became pregnant and gave birth to our daughter.  There were definitely moments I wavered in my thinking that having a baby was a good idea.  Yet, my doubts were not at this time because I didn’t want kids but more that I wasn’t sure I/we/he was ready.  From the moment of that email, and in every single moment since I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t really think of why I didn’t want children before.  Now since my daughter has been born, I simply cannot imagine my life without her – I cannot imagine my life before I was her mother.   I honor that woman I once was, the one who did not want children. I find her brave in her choice of solitude from children.  I do not question my friends and others who remain on the path of life with no children; I do not think that makes their lives less full or rich or fruitful or meaningful.  I do think it is a very personal choice, when it is able to be a choice, and I am constantly stunned at the fact that my feelings so drastically changed and that I am now a parent.

I love being a mother.  I love being her mama. I do, however, find myself overwhelmed for the amount of love and care I have for her. In my reflections on becoming Charlotte’s mama, sometimes I do not think my heart is big enough to hold all the love I have for this little creature.

Mama Needs a Glass of Vino

We survived the first week of full-time back-to-work and daycare. Everyone with kids told me that the first day you drop your child off at daycare you will lose it. You will cry, they said. They said, you will want to run back in and hug and kiss them and you will call a hundred times that day, and that’s if you don’t leave work early to go back in and pick them up. But when you pick them up, they told me, it will be so amazing to see their face light up when they see you.

Our first day was less dramatic than all of that. I did tear up. I did cry (a little) once I got back into the car and was on my way to work. I did not go back into the room once I left her, but I did peek in the window again, wishing I could go back in…knowing if I did I would a) be late for work and b) probably would cry. So I peeked in at Charlotte who was already looking about at all the new sights around her, smiling like she always does, and playing with her hands (her new thing, I’m such a proud mama!). I got in my car, cried a bit, and then I went to work.

My day was too busy to step away and call a hundred times. In fact, I didn’t even get a chance to call once. This fact made me feel a little like a bad mother. What sort of mom doesn’t call to check on her baby the first day at daycare?!? Me. I was that sort of mom. Insert first feelings of maternal guilt here.

Pumping was insanely problematic for me this first day. I didn’t feel like I was pumping enough, but also felt like I was pumping ALL. THE. TIME. I started to realize why so many women give up on breastfeeding when they return to work. I am committed to breastfeeding and providing breastmilk for my daughter for as long as I can and so will continue to pump at work, but this first day and the rest of the week made me realize it is not an easy undertaking, even in an environment that is very understanding.

When I went in to pick Charlotte up from daycare that first day I was so excited. Once I left work – I left work. This is atypical of me as a Type A personality administrator. But, I had a new role, a new job waiting for me once I got home. I left all the “at work” work there – at work.  I was excited to see my daughter. To see her face get all super cute and smiley when she saw me. I was excited to return to my other work, my work as Charlotte’s mama and I was looking forward to that warm, gushy feeling everyone promised me I would have when I saw her after our first day apart.  I arrived and actually felt like I had “butterflies” in my stomach. I was almost giddy. I walked down the hallway to her room, ready to see her big toothless grin and adorable double chin.


My daughter was sleeping when I picked her up her very first day of daycare. I know I should have been happy – she was clearly content, safe, well-taken care of. But I wanted that “HI MAMA!!” smile that everyone talks about. I picked up my sleeping baby, put her back in her car seat (still asleep) drove home (still asleep) and brought her inside (still asleep). She finally woke up an hour after we were home, tucked safe and sound in her own bed; she simply started chatting a little bit as if to say “no biggie, mama”. Then she proceeded to get up four times that night. So much for sleep schedules.

Now the first week is over. We have two days together this weekend where we are on our own schedule. No premade bottles, no scheduled naps – just mama and baby time. She did well this week and was not clingy or needy or overly tired or overly awake. She seemed to adjust well to this new schedule of ours. I feel like I adjusted well also. Other days I got my toothless grin, so that was nice too. But tonight, at the end of this long first week, I realized just how much this week has impacted me – and her. When we got home tonight I fed her and she refused to let me put her down. But I was So. So. So. Tired. For the first time in our lives together, Charlotte fell asleep ON ME. She has always hated this before because, frankly, she absolutely hates being on her tummy.  But this was different.  It was almost as if she was trying to burrow back inside my womb…she wanted to be close to me, she needed to be near me and would take nothing short of being connected to me in the only way her little four-month-old self could.  So, I propped myself up on our bed, smack in the middle so that should I fall asleep and she roll off me, she’d be safe (yep, this was a thought I had) and we napped. We both napped. After a bit, I woke up but she was soundly asleep so I tried to put her down next to me so that I could get up and do something. She wasn’t having it.  Her little whine was heartbreaking. She tugged at my arm and tried to nuzzle closer to me. I caved. I picked her back up and held her close to me again. We rested there together, and I took these quiet moments to soak up her delicious baby scent and kiss the top of her soft, fuzzy head over and over, as she let her fingers gently pat my arms as she fell back asleep. Mama and baby were back together: week one over and done.

After what I can only say has been a successful week, the baby is in bed, bottles are washed and my work materials are tucked away until Monday.  I will now enjoy a glass of wine and listen to her breath through the baby monitor…probably going in more often than normal to kiss her little face.

Babies Don’t Need Dayplanners

Being a mom is messy and imperfect and stressful – alongside being rewarding and hilarious. But, I gotta be real and say that there is a LOT of undue pressure put on mamas (and daddys) these days that I have to imagine was not present when I was growing up. I am 38, so it’s been awhile since I was “growing up” (wait, am I actually grown up, when did that happen??) but I don’t remember that my parents had pressures of making me into the next sport/music/academic protégé or that they were carting me from activity to activity to activity on a daily, check that, hourly basis.

Don’t get me wrong. My parents had me in sports and other extracurriculars, and pretty much made sure that my childhood was lacking in nothing of the important stuff. But, they also didn’t fill every waking moment of every single day for me.

Instead, they allowed us our own time to play, on our own terms, in our own way. And you know what? We’re OK. We all grew up, my siblings and I, and we are all OK. We made ice forts in the snow banks and little “seats” on top to wait for the school bus. We played softball and kickball in the empty field next door. We played “kick the can” or whatever other game was popular until the sunset and we were called back inside. We rode bikes. We ate freeze pops. We simply “played”. And we are all OK.

As I head back to work next week, I’ve had this growing sense of awareness about what I do with my daughter on “our time”. We are in swim lessons together, but besides that, I don’t want a bunch of other things to add to our list of “must dos” – I want our time together in the evenings and on the weekends to be spontaneous. I want to go to the zoo and let her explore. I want to go to the beach and let her explore. I want to stay in our own yard (one we share with three other amazing little girls!!) and let her explore. I don’t want to fill her days and nights with a million and one things she “has” to do…and on the other hand, I want her to experience so many things! What I know for sure is that I don’t think any parent should be guilted into signing their kiddo up for this, that and the other thing…kids do, in fact, need time to just be kids.

I am imagining I will need to find a delicate balance around all of this in the coming years. Until she can drive, and set her own darn schedule that is!

The birth of a prepster-hippy mama

I am not a blogger.  Up until three months ago, I wasn’t even a mama.  And I certainly wasn’t a hippy.  I’ll admit, I may have been a little bit of a prepster.  The birth of my daughter Charlotte changed my whole life.  She changed everything.  I started using words like “babywearing” and google searching “amber necklaces” and “tummy time” (the bane of my existence, by the by, and Charlotte’s too), organic baby food recipes and baby sign language. Yes, having my daughter changed my entire world.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the week before I returned to work, I realized that these last three months have been the best of my life.  Rewarding in a way that I never, ever realized I would find rewarding. Frankly, as much as I love my job, I almost got resentful that I had to return to work.  I knew I was going to miss the burgeoning new sounds my daughter was making, the babywearing meet-ups in local parks with other moms, my morning and evening walks with my daughter where we looked at seagulls and palm trees and puppies and the crazy, wild parrots in our neighborhood.  I was going to miss being on our own schedule and swim lessons in the middle of the day and lounging around in our pajamas (hers with feet, mine with Lululemon logos) I realized I was going to miss the middle-of-the-day breastfeeding session where she would snuggle up against my neck when she was full before she lulled herself (and sometimes me) off to sleep with gurgles and coos.  I realized that, for the first time in my life, I wished I could be a stay-at-home mom — not because it’s easier, not because I didn’t like the work I did (it’s NOT and I DO!) but because I want to soak up every stinkin’ minute of every single day of my daughter’s life!

I realized one thing in this week before I returned to work:  I was born to be Charlotte’s mama.

I needed to figure out a way to keep my thoughts from spinning, and keep my questions in one place, and share my experience with others (who might or might not care to know what’s twirling in my new-mama head) and my husband, Charlotte’s daddy, who deployed with the US Navy two weeks after she was born.  Hence the birth of this blog, stemming from how I described myself to my husband in an email.

But I’m not a blogger.  I am, however, a prepster-hippy mama who needed a space to share my thoughts, capture them for posterity and sanity.  I have no idea what I will end up posting here.  I want to share ideas and blogs from elsewhere and thoughts — of my own and of others.  I don’t know what will come of this blog, but hopefully it will be an interesting way to reflect on my combined roles in life: professional, wife, runner, wine-lover (oh, yeah, I LOVE wine), daughter, sister, and now – Charlotte’s mama.

Read on and enjoy.

Peace and Cheers!