Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear God

I just read an interesting book by Tina Fey called "Bossy Pants".  And while it had too much profanity for my mother, I did enjoy her humor and I learned a lot about her story.  Nothing gives you perspective on your own busy life than when you hear how insane someone else works, and then finds time to write a book about it.  One of my favorite parts of the book was the Chapter "A Mother's Prayer for her Daughter".  So I was inspired and decided to write my own letter to God.  Who better to entrust with my wishes and hopes for my own daughter?

Dear God,
First before I ask for a single thing let me say Thank you, thank you so much for my daughter.  I was thrilled to get pregnant but I was elated to have a girl.  It's what I (not so secretly) hoped for the minute I saw those two blue lines appear, but of course you already know that.  But thank you so much for granting me the care of this child.  Thank you for entrusting me with her, I hope I serve you well as I raise her.

Please God, let her have my wild independence but teach her the importance of family and friends.  Let her roam from ocean to ocean and maybe even over them, but give her the thirst to come home every once in a while.  Keep her safe in her travels, and give her the desire to go far, as long as she also comes back.  Fill her passport with stamps, but not her pockets with pennies.  Fill her heart with dreams, but not fear.  Give her the courage to explore but plant her heart at home so that she always returns. 

Let there be something about her that reminds us of my father.  When I find that special something on her that looks like him or when she shows me a glimpse of him with her personality let it take my breath away.  In this I will be able to remember him and never forget a piece of him that is carried on with her.  Let my mother see it too. And my sister and brother. And then they will say "that is just like your Pop Pop" and she will know he was not lost forever but instead part of him was tucked inside her by you, God.  Let her carry that piece of him with her for all her days, be it big or small, so that she will know him by knowing that part of herself.

Give her the opportunity to make something of herself, stick her head out the sunroof of a limo,  wear a jean size she can be proud of, and swim in the ocean every summer.  Spare her from allergies and the desire to cut her own bangs.  Give her the ability to control her tears at least some of the time.  If she yells, give her something important to say.  If she cries, let her find a way to heal.  If she loves, let it be returned.  If she angers, teach her also to forgive. 

Show her a way to embrace herself, just as she is.  Whether her hair be straight or curly, blond or red, let her wear it proudly and never perm those locks.  She may not love her hips or her nose (or perhaps those curly toes I love!) but let her accept those things as important parts of her, parts I grew and you created Lord.

Dear God, please help her see the value of sunscreen!  Help me teach her how to correctly pronounce words like a yankee, and teach her early on to roll her eyes when her father makes fun of the north.  When she uses make up or perfume or picks out a tattoo let her remember "less is more".  Make her be a terrible liar so that she doesn't rely on that skill.  Make her proud of her scars, but protect her from making the same mistakes over and over.

Send her to college Lord, any college.  OK, in truth, any college but OU.  And show her a way to pay for her academic path, with scholarships or smarts or athletic skills.  But while she is there Lord, keep her wise in more than just her classes.  Bless her with good decisions that don't involve strip poker, credit card debt, drunk driving or phrases that start with "Hey guys, watch this...!"  Help her find a good friend, one that stays by her side to help with fashion choices and big decisions.  Don't let her cell phone battery die right as she reaches to ask for my opinion Lord.  Spare her from loneliness but not from failure, for in failure she will learn.

I hope she learns some hard lessons, values true friends, starts a savings account, and has good rhythm so she can dance. Please God, put her on the dance floor but don't let her do it for dollars or with her thong hanging out.  Let her dance for fun, to make memories, and to burn calories!  Keep her away from casinos and hard liquor.  May she decline the offer of a joint, resist the temptations of insincere boys, and stand up to bullies.  If she throws a punch she better be ready to take one, and help me teach her responsibility.  Don't let her be entitled, but show her the value of hard work and honesty.  Give her a hundred reasons to say "That's not fair" because I am protecting her, but also allow me to find that good balance so I can also accept letting her go.

Spare her from outdated hand me down clothes, home made outfits and bad attitudes.  If she must hate me as a teenager, let her appreciate me as an adult.  Don't let her use curse words as an excuse of expression and give her the patience to smile for a thousand pictures every year because you know how often I will want to photograph every thing she does. 

If she ends up in cuffs, give me the will power to let her sit in jail for the night so she can think about what she has done.  If she grows up to be a police officer like her Dad, give her good instincts on the job.  If she grows up to marry a police officer, give her the support of good friends and neighbors for all the nights she is alone.  If she grows up with a terrible southern accent, good grief help us all. 

Show her great love God, from friends and family and maybe even from a boy when she is older.  Much, much older.  Mostly, show her your love God.  I pray she seeks it from you and carries it with her so that she can show it to others.  Let that love light her path, lead to forgiveness and shine from within her. 

p.s.
I know I have already asked for alot but please I have one more request that is a little self serving.  Please God, keep the Tasky Cake company in business so I can feed her those delicious snack cakes!

Love,
Andrea

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Very Hard Day

This past week was a rough one for me.
In fact that may be an understatement, it was more than rough.  It was exhausting, overwhelming, challenging... the list could go on and on.  And at my worst I found myself sobbing on the phone with my mother pouring out my stress and tears.  And then I realized she was laughing at me.  When I asked in shock "Why are you laughing?" she said "You just told me while crying, that you are so happy!"  It was my turning point.  There I was, tired to the bone and facing and uber busy weekend packed with plans and work.  I didn't know how I was going to get through it all, and felt I was failing as a Mom.  I didn't get enough time with Reagan, I wasn't pumping enough milk, I was frazzled and annoyed with my husband and it was all coming crashing down on me.  I had just canceled on a Christmas party that I really wanted to attend because the thought alone of trying to get through a couple more hours was bringing tears to my eyes, in fact I did cry when I called my friend to explain my last minute cancellation!  It wasn't that I didn't want to go, I had been looking forward to it.  But I. Could. Not. Do. It.  But describing all that was going wrong, how horrible my day had been, how impossible it was for me to do one more thing that day.... I was still so happy.  So very, very tired, but still happy. 
What I thought Motherhood would be...

When friends and family had told me about motherhood and all the changes that happen to your life, body and definition of normal I believed them.  I knew what they were saying was true and accurate but a little part me still thought "Well, that is true for them.  But it will be different for me".  I was sure it wouldn't be as hard or overwhelming for me, I totally have it together so my experience as a new mommy was going to be wonderful and though I expected challenges and hard times I wasn't really listening to what they were saying.  I was going to do better than them, do more than them, I was going to do it all and then some. 
I WAS WRONG.

One of the hardest things for me is parenting alone alot of the time.  When you are married to a police officer who works the evening shift (2pm-11pm thurs-mon) you do a lot of the work alone.   This is a daunting task: bottles, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and of course spending time actually with the baby AFTER you have worked a full day is nothing short of impossible.  Not to mention I am also nursing which requires at least one feeding during the night.  So I am trying to do it all on broken sleep.  Every day.  Chet is doing a good job with Reagan and he helps when he can, he is just not doing it nearly as much as I am.  Even on the two afternoons a week he has her, the bottles are already waiting for him and he still gets to sleep in, shower and then mosey his way to the sitter's  house.  Not to be a man-hater but the experience as a new Mom is something the Dad's won't really ever understand.  I set a new record for myself last week, I went 3 days without a shower because the energy to wash, dry and straighten my hair was just not there.  I slept in my clothes the other night too, it had been a long day!
But sometimes its more like this. 

Let me share an example.  On Friday night after my breakdown, Reagan went to bed early and I thought "thank goodness" and called it a night at 9 pm.  She woke up 4 times before 6am that night and I was up with her every time to nurse or get her back to sleep.  On Saturday night, after a 30 minute scream session (we think she has begun teething) she finally went down and slept for 8 glorious hours!  The next morning my husband asked why I was so tired because I got to sleep till 8:45 am..  HAHA, silly man.  What house does he live in?  He really has no idea what goes on during the night when he is snoring away, never to be disturbed.  Though Reagan did sleep through the night that night my body is so used to nursing that I had to get up and pump at 3:45 am because I was so uncomfortable, and then I feed her when she woke at 5:45 am, got her back to sleep for a couple more hours before finally waking with her again at 8:45 am.  Over all not, a bad night but I was still up several times.  Not to mention the insane snoring coming from his side of the bed also woke me at least once that night before I put in an ear plug and turned up the baby monitor.  Sorry guys, but sometimes you live in la la land.  I can't really blame him, he is either working or sleeping when I am doing most of the parenting.  So of course he thinks this is easy, and he can't seem to grasp why I am so tired.  He gets 8 or more hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, and even when Reagan has great nights I still wake up! 

There are other fundamental differences here as well.  Even if I could take an opportunity to "take the day/night off" I wouldn't want to!  I love being with her and even if my evening is a bit of a whirlwind trying to do it all with her I wouldn't want it any other way.  I miss her deeply while I work so I treasure that time with her on the weekends and during the evenings.  It is hard to get everything done (or at least try to get everything done) but I don't want to give up one more second of my time with her.  I can't even bear to send her to the nursery during Church because I don't want to be away from her. I spend much more time with Reagan than Chet does but he still chooses to sleep in rather go pick her up.  It doesn't bother him to be away from her most of the week and I hate it.  He doesn't worry, and I worry for us both.  He simply accepts that this is the way it goes and I cry dropping her off at the sitter just thinking about starting another work week without her.  It's a fundamental difference between the connection a mother has with her child and the role of the father.  I don't feel he loves her any less but he definitely doesn't face the demands of being a mother and it feels different to him.  Breast feeding alone is hard, and it takes a lot out of you.  I pump at work 4x a day, which also means I lug my pump and supplies with me each day and clean them each night, organize the frozen bags and prepare bottles for the next day. 
But mostly its like this. 

I could go on and on about the stuff that just plain wears you out.  But I don't need to, most of you know exactly what I am talking about.  On Saturday Reagan was having an extra bad spit up day (yea, I know I need to give up all the milk products but that includes ice cream and I JUST bought my favorite kind....) She had worn her cute Christmas dress for approximately 4 seconds before spitting up all over it and when I couldn't take the sour milk smell anymore I finally gave it and changed her.  Just as I got her into another fresh out fit and sat her in her Aunt's lap she proceeded to throw up all over them both.  I just sigh.  It's just another change of clothes, just another load of laundry, just another average day. 

But despite days that make you wonder how you are going to get through the next 24 hours only to repeat the pattern, this truly is the happiest days of my life.  I wasn't lying to my mom, despite the tears that suggested otherwise, my daughter has enriched my life in ways only a parent understands because there are no words to describe the joy she brings me.  Even when I am making my third trip to the nursery during the night and I want to be annoyed with her, that sweet smiling face that greets me erases anything but I the love I feel for her.  Even when she leaks out of yet another diaper in a shade of lime green that I didn't know poop could come in, I have to laugh.   I am the first person to admit my temperament takes a real nose dive on little sleep and I am no fun to be around when I am grumpy.  Those that know me best will testify, that when I am tired it really effects me.  So some days are super hard on me.  I am learning that I do have some pretty amazing friends here to help me and at least say "Been there, don't worry it gets better".  Even though I bailed on my friend at the last minute, she was so gracious and completely understood!  The reality is I have an awesome baby sitter that I trust and I know Reagan is in good hands when she is there.  I have a Mama who talks it through with me when I need to vent and then calls to make sure the next day is better.  I have a husband who works hard to support his family, and even though he isn't home a lot he loves me.  Even on my hardest days, I am living the good life.  I have people who are willing to help or listen or just love me! 

And God hasn't left me either.  Like I mentioned, Friday was a hard day.  But my two greatest worries have been pumping enough milk and trying to get enough sleep. Saturday and Sunday Reagan slept through the night and I was able to pump two extra bottles.  The Lord knew I was struggling, and even when things were hard he helped me, showed me who was there to support me, and he was there while I struggled.  It did get better.  Do I still have bags under my eyes, yep.  But Christmas vacation is just around the corner and I am headed home!  Even the police officer gets to come too!  My bad day passed, and that light at the end of the tunnel is a string of Christmas lights.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time flys when your changing diapers

I think all the clocks in my house are broken.  Every single one must not be working because seriously, that can not be the time.  I feel like that every day!  In the morning... in the evening... time just slips by so fast! 
Being a mom is exhausting.  I have a new found respect for those that have several little ones running around, seriously how do you do it?  Last year I got the tree up and all the Christmas decorations done in just a couple of hours.  This year - WHOLE NEW STORY!  Granted, I have a bunch more stuff this year thanks to Josh bringing me some hand me downs from Mom, and a box of stuff from Chet's Aunt but it still took me a week to get things organized this year.  Thanks to the crafty genius of my Grandmother most of the cute decorations are from her!  Now that I am done putting everything in place....wait, I am not done!  The porch lights aren't up and I have to dig out the extension cords!  But so far things look great but that took way to long to get done.  Reagan and I did get the ornaments on the tree during the bedlam game (read: OSU domination over OU) and we had fun cheering and decorating.  Well I had fun and she stared at the tree, hypnotized by the lights. 
Aunt Shanna and sleepy Reagan on Thanksgiving
Just taking care of the house takes so much time that I am enjoying "letting it go" a little bit.  Yea, things are dusty or maybe even a little messy.  Chet likes to point out all the grievances, like that helps.  "You left the cereal box on the counter" - Good, right where I will need it for tomorrow.   "Your shoes are still sitting by the door" - An excellent location for them since I will need them before leaving the house.  "The dishwasher is clean" - Nice to see it is still working great.  And on his day off (which he got to sleep in till 2:30 before going to pick up Reagan - SO UNFAIR!) he claimed to have "cleaned up the whole house".  I will give him credit for washing the bottles, ahem, though it was the first time EVER for him to do that chore.  Round of applause Chet!  And then I looked around and realized all the crazy stuff he did to "clean" the house.  Basically he just moved things out of his way that I still need to go and actually put away.  The storage boxes and ornament holders from our decorations got stacked in my office instead of put back into the attic.  I now have to climb around them to get to my computer or printer.  My kindle box and plug got stacked on my night stand instead of put away in my office.  The baby's toys and bumbo chair got thrown in the nursery instead of in the closet where they belong.  This isn't cleaning dear husband, this is just moving items from one location to another.  Cleaning would involve the vacuum, Lysol, and some scrubbing. 
So time is flying... zooming right along.  I catch myself thinking "remember when Reagan was first born and she would...." or "remember during my maternity leave when.." because so much time has already passed and those moments seem so long ago!  Today she is 15 weeks old!  By Christmas eve she will be 4 months old, how can that be?  How can 4 months have already gone by?!?!  It seems so impossible, but sure enough, she is a growing girl! 
This all comes into perspective when I think about the task of changing a diaper.  This should take a minute, maybe two.  Unsnap, remove diaper, throw it away, wipe, new diaper, re-snap - DONE!  But wait, she is making that cute cooing noise I love so lets stop and "talk".  And that bare belly is so adorable I can't resist  kissing it and having some play time doing rasberries!  She also has her feet kicking so I pretend to catch and eat her toes, and she loves it so lets do that again! And then the mirror that hangs by the changing table is fun, she always smiles at our reflection so I am gonna show her that and talk some more.  Those grins are adorable so I will let her feel my face and smile.  And just like that, 15 minutes are gone.  Not just regular minutes though; blissful, speedy, best moments of your life kind of minutes.  Something I'd like to call mommy minutes.  You get so used to mommy minutes, that dinner burns because surely it hasn't been 20 minutes since I left that on the stove.   And laundry takes 2 days to finish because mommy minutes went by so fast you didn't think the washer was done already!   But my time always slows down when I am at work, this is how I figure things balance out.  Mommy minutes are too fast and work minutes are too slow. 
It is a wonderful thing to love your daughter so much that you lose track of time.  And to think of it, Mommy minutes are the best way I can spend my time.  I keep telling myself, take more pictures, do a family video because she will only be this small for so long!  So as the mommy minutes go speeding along I can capture them with images to last my lifetime. 

We all had a great thanksgiving in Oklahoma and now I am looking forward to spending 12 wonderful days in Pennsylvania over Christmas.  Lets hope that time will slow down so I can enjoy it with my Reger family! 
Did you say Santa was coming?!?!