Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Keeps Me Zen: Washing Dishes

When I was a kid, a really little one, I wanted so badly to be tall enough to reach over the faux butcher-block laminate counter and into the kitchen sink (see? really little) just so that I could do the dishes and, therefore, be a mommy. That was the dream. The very early dream.


Though it would've been lovely to bypass the labor and delivery thing, by number of dishes done alone I'm sure I could be initiated into the mommy club. My dishes are on parade, like in Beauty and the Beast, except they're not getting washed. Just marching, dirty one by nasty one, into the sink, where they pile up and wait for me.
Image: disneyscreencaps.com
And I wait. I procrastinate, usually, when it comes to dishes, but an article about the zen in doing the dishes has encouraged me to embrace the chore. There IS something zen about the white noise of running water, the scent of the favorite dish soap I picked out as a little treat to myself (sad, but true, that this amounts to a treat in motherhood). Something zen about the fact that the phone absolutely cannot be near me, that I'm accomplishing something, that I'm getting the kitchen back to a clean state, in which I can cook anything.

Even if I don't cook everything.

Even if I'm scrubbing a 13x9 charred with the remains of failed French fries. (I totally sliced up a potato, popped it in the oven and called it a French fry. I even *almost* photographed it before it went in the oven, thinking, "oh yeah, this is going to be delicious." Nope.)

I scrub and stare at the yellowing leaves on the almost-ancient maple outside my kitchen window.

Even if I'm washing all of the clean pots and pans that have been sitting idle in the cupboard, on the chance that they were pooped on by the little mouse who took residence, and ultimately met his end, in the kitchen this week.


I know I'm not the only one who does her best thinking over a sink full of suds—the challenge is getting started. Finding the motivation to begin the task. Ultimately, though, I can't tell you how many blog posts could start with, "So I was washing the dishes, and thinking…"

I wish I could tell really-little me to slow down, that motherhood will come eventually, to enjoy the days of not being able to see over the sink. But I'll settle for telling my daughter.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I Learned About Kindness (a.k.a. getting knocked down a peg)

I'm working the last two weeks of my time as an editor at the food magazine I've worked for the last two years.

The word is spreading that I'm leaving. Someone from another team, who hasn't been here long, sent me a question about some work that I'm actually not supposed to be helping her with. It's probably the fourth time she's come to me instead of the other editor who is supposed to help her. I've corrected her each time.

So I responded, simply, with the answer she was looking for and a new reminder—that I actually won't be here in a week's time and she'll HAVE to go to the other editor then. End of email.


I nitpicked everything about her messages and wondered why they couldn't have filled her position with someone smarter.

And then, the Universe handed me a beautiful lesson. She responded to my short email saying how happy she was for me and how she'd miss me when I'm gone. And it was genuine. I know she meant it.

And there I was, bitchface cursing her ineptitude when she's a truly nice person who's got a lot of different (and complex) responsibilities.



A couple months ago, I overheard someone at a restaurant refer to their server as a moron. Angry, I'd told my husband, "I'd rather be a moron than a bitch."

Today, I was both.



I'm OK with having re-learned that lesson in kindness. I suppose I needed it. I need to fill my last two weeks here with kindness in order to leave the kind of legacy I should.

Thank you, co-worker, for being kind. Thank you, everyone, for making hundreds of choices each day to be, above all, kind.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Blogging (and New Friends)

As a clumsy, thoughtful and stubborn child with a home haircut that featured stunning blond bangs, I would run up to other children and get straight to the point: "Hi, I'm Liz. Do you want to be my friend?"

To anyone. Any age. Any gender. Anyone. Sometimes I wish I were more like myself as a child.


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Today at my desk (at work), I threw my hands in the air and bounced up and down a couple times on the chair. I'd read that my post "won" the SHINE Blog Hop—it had gotten the most views out of 140 posts on the page.

Maybe this is just a small success, but I'm beginning to understand that even a small success at something you really put yourself into feels better than the huge success of something you're not personally invested in. I mean, really personally invested.

For a long, long (as in years) time, I debated whether to start blogging; I still question everything I post—every photo of my baby that I think someone could exploit or judge or overshare, every personal detail. But my urge to share and be a part of the online mommy-blogging community wins over.

And the reward—the sense of connection, the friends you make as a result of allowing yourself to be vulnerable—is so very worth any risk, real or imagined. I hope you, whether you blog or not, can allow yourself to be just vulnerable and open enough that love and friendship find their way in.

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A new visitor (the wonderful DIZMOMMY) to the blog posted a wonderful comment just now, saying I'm her new friend. And I didn't even have to ask. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Wave Goodbye to Baby Days

For the first time, my baby is sleeping on her lowered crib mattress.

Did you hear me? Lowered.

As in, she's standing up in her crib now. By herself.



I also moved the entire crib because I discovered that, once lowered, there was an electrical outlet Lana could now reach from the crib. I don't want to take my chances.

I was worried Lana wouldn't sleep as well, with the mattress lowered and the crib moved 90 degrees.

She's fine. Of course she's fine.

I, on the other hand, am sad and nostalgic and I just want her to wake up crying, needing me. My breasts ache. They're ready for her to need me.

This change, though. I can't handle this change. She hardly fits in my arms when I cradle her to breastfeed. And she doesn't spend as much time attached to me.

And every now and then, she waves. It's usually "hi" when I come into the room.

She babbles, she laughs, she coos, she's a king at eye contact. She's starting to use her pincer grasp, picking up pieces of cereal puffs and feeding them to herself for dessert. We're on to 3 solid-food meals a day now. I think that's helping her to sleep. I feel like she's getting what she needs. And, thanks to Target's reasonable prices and creepy targeted (get it) coupons, she gets organic stuff. Sometimes.

She sits up on her own. She practically did a sit-up from laying down on her back in my bed tonight. She's got a lovely personality; her own sense of humor. She still finds it hilarious to put her hands in my mouth. She also thinks it's really funny when I yell at the dogs (which is too often these days).

I love it all. This is why you have kids, really, to have this additional, wonderful family member who completes your unit. Who adds so much dimension and meaning to your shallow life. I love the developments but I'm sad that she's barely my baby anymore. She's my daughter now. And she waves.

I don't know if I'll ever be OK with the waves goodbye.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Being OK with PPD (even just a little)

I feel like I'm going to be OK.

I walked out of my office after doing a just a little work and said to my husband, "We have a nice little life."

I looped my arms around his waist and held on as he continued on making microwave nachos.

I feel like this is me. Me is not all postpartum depression sadness making me go to sleep as soon as the baby's down. Me is working hard at everything I do, and today I did. Maybe I didn't do it all perfectly, but I did it. And my girl is happy and sleeping and wonderful.

As I was cleaning the kitchen, I thought to myself, "So what's changed? Why am I feeling better?"

Nothing's changed. Because nothing had to. PPD is not about being sad because something in your life isn't right.

It's a chemical imbalance brought on (or made worse) by creating life and giving birth.

OK, so maybe one thing has changed: I sought out—and accepted—help. I'm not sure if I'm going to go back to my counselor. But I'm better. By a lot, most days. And maybe some of it's time, too. My baby's almost 8 months, and they say generally PPD doesn't go past the first year postpartum.

And I'm back in my home office, doing work. Not thinking ahead, not worrying about how I might have failed as a mother today (because I'm sure I could find something I failed at) but being here, now. Typing. Listening to Mumford & Sons, noticing the warm grain in the hardwood floor, the resistant clicks of the keyboard, the tang of the cheap zinfandel in the wine glass my cousin got us as a wedding gift, the all-too-good scent of Swiffer pads on my hands from cleaning.

I hope you're OK, too.


P.S. I made a button. I'm a super beginner at playing with Adobe Illustrator and wanted to make a reminder—whether to you it means "I have PPD and I'm OK with it," "I'm going to get through PPD," or "I love someone with PPD and it's not the end of the world," I hope it makes you smile even just a little.





Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Keeps Me Zen: Talking to My Plants

OK—this is crazy. And it certainly comes off that way when you're picking at a plant's dead leaves and softly saying, "Positive thoughts, man. You grow from positivity and warmth."

But you know what? It actually feels good to talk to your plants.

Some background: I've never, ever been good at keeping plants. I somehow fuck up the (supposedly) easy task of getting them the right combination of sunlight, water and...well, that's it. And now that I realize it's only two things (two!) I feel even sadder about it.

And I swear I'm not superstitious. But for our two-year dating anniversary, my now-husband got me a money tree. It was a sweet gift. I don't know why he chose the money tree, but they're pretty. They typically braid the trunk like bamboo and the rest grows green and lush if you're lucky.

I killed that money tree. Must've been either the water or the light. Right? I replaced the money tree (partially out of a mild belief in a superstition that our personal finances are tied to the well-being of this particular species of plant...keyword: superstition. Like I said, crazy.)

So what do I do? I talk to the money tree. Remembering something I read about saying happy words around plants, I tried to verbally coerce the money tree into being super healthy and robust in the hopes that we would be, in the words of Parks & Rec's Jean Ralphio, "Fu-luuuushh with caAaAayyysh."

But in the process I learned that really, saying things like, "You're growing, your leaves are beautiful, I hope you feel good today," to no one but a plant actually feels pretty good. Maybe with the right combination of sunlight, water and positive thinking, we'll all be alright.

Oh, and this plant? It's doing awesome.




photo credit: origami_potato via photopin cc

Monday, September 15, 2014

5 Misconceptions About the Mom Haircut

I chopped my hair at the end of July (literally chopped it, myself, which is another blog post) and I've been loving it. It's so easy, my daughter can't pull on it (for the most part) and it looks better than the stupid bun I wore every day while my hair was long.


I've gotten compliments, though I'm sure the misconceptions about what having a mom haircut means are still out there. I'm here to put them down.

1. You're boring.
If you count being in my daughter's nursery by 7 every night, rocking her to sleep after a bedtime story... well, yeah. Starting over.


1. You're lazy.
I prefer to look at my lack of desire to dry and style 17 inches of furry softness on my head as NOT motivated by laziness but by a need to be doing approximately 132,410 other things at every moment.

2. Your sexual orientation is related to the length of your hair.
(Just no. Get with it.)

3. You've given up on your appearance.
It's a matter of priorities. Showering and the whole ritual used to center around looks. Now, it's more about getting the stink out when I have a second to clean something other than the kitchen, the high chair, diapers, the diaper genie, and of course, my baby.
That, and making sure I don't have mashed bananas in my hair (which is, like, statistically much less likely when you have less hair).

4. You have to be thin to pull off short hair.
Ah, the old "long hair lengthens your fat face" myth. Don't carry around extra hair that you don't care for just because you think it slims your face. It doesn't.

5. You can find me in the mom jeans.
Ahem, it's yoga pants now. They're the new mom jeans, and I am totally proud to be a part of this mom generation. I wear them happily, as if I were going to work out (good one), because every day as a mom is a workout. Fact.


If you've thought about taking the chop and getting rid of hair that's (literally) weighing you down, do it. The deciding factor for me was a conversation with my kick-ass mother. Thanks, mom. Hope you didn't take offense to the mom jeans thing.