Integrating my split personality

I sometimes feel like two different people. One of me is very career and accomplishment oriented. I like challenges, I want to change things, put ideas out there, work with others and make things happen. I love to tackle opportunities that come my way, relish chances to collaboration, and don’t say no (or don’t want to) to any chances that come my way: speaking opportunities, small contracts, writing assignments, on and on. This part of me is excited, energized, intellectual, social, successful.
The other part of me is all about family, community, the earth. I want nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom with my amazing girl. I want to plan and make more and more food from scratch, grow our own, make things together, and have a homestead lifestyle to the extent possible. My crafty side wants to sew things with and for my girl and the rest of my family. I dream of moving to a smaller place, getting land with family and settling down in our we-built eco-friendly home.

I love both these parts of me, but sometimes it’s hard to see how they can coexist. The career and work side takes time and, as I currently do it and enjoy it, involves paid outside employment that takes time and necessitates a certain geographic location. The home side also requires time: no outside job so I can be home, time for gardening and other tasks. Location is also less likely to involve the city we currently live in.

I had a conversation at work today that got me fired up about all the possibilities my job holds, and all the amazing projects I can pursue. I want to!! Then I consider my other priorities: family, self-care, home. And I wonder how a balance or a new conceptualization can occur. I’m sure there are ways to make these work together, but for now, it feels disjointed and uncomfortable. Such is life prior to a break-through!

It all gets done in the end

It’s too late on Sunday night, but I am ready for bed. Today was busy. Up, clean, breakfast … NAP! for 2 hours with baby. Vitally important nap, I must say. Then making food and cleaning, then 2 hours of mad mad work on organizing files and some house work and work on the course (boy those students are amazing! Brilliant TA! I need to get busy), picking outfits for the week. Basically, working until 3:30 in the basement on a sunny weekend. Okay but not so cool. I would like to get beyond working first and playing after.
Then we went out to the garden, and life was good. It was good before, and it was gooder after. Gardening with baby, planning out yard improvements with husband, talking with neighbours, playing with and breastfeeding baby. Truly awesome. I LOVE gardening and wish I had way more time. I would have tackled a lot more pruning of bushes around the yard, tried to eliminate the dandelions (made some progress), and started on weeds in the decorative beds.

Finally, in to make supper, using up most of the rest of the veggies in the fridge. Nothing like a clean slate as we prepare for the rest of the week!

And finally, finally, bath for baby, reading stories, giving up on an early bedtime, making a crockpot dish for tomorrow, then bed for her. Husband did a big clean/organize while some of this was going on, and after feeling again like a pigsty, the suite feels quite nice again. Each sort and purge feels closer and closer to manageable. Another big box ready to donate, more recycling going out, dishes cleared out …. it’s great.

So though the day started with too much inside time, vital things got done and I did have time to be outside with family, and we are starting the week with dinner ready for tomorrow night, lunches made, outfits picked, and a good week ahead. Aaah … I can go to bed and rest. Wishing all of you good dreams, restful sleep, and a smooth start to your week.

Classic day in the life of a working mother

I had a big meeting at work today. I was facilitating a process with a group of faculty to help them come to a common understanding around some urgent decisions. I was a bit stressed. It was a challenging decision and a group of intelligent, engaged people. It had the possibility to go very poorly.
In fact, it went very well. Not perfectly; I can definitely see things I would like to do better next time. But overall, we basically did what I said we could and should do. The group got through discussions to get to common, united understandings of potentially contentious issues. They actually now have (or will, once I format the details in the morning) a working template for their upcoming work. I am thrilled, particularly as it was the first time going through that process for me, and as of a month or so ago, I had only the vaguest theoretical notion of what it meant to do what we did today.

They were also thrilled. Or at least, most of them, happy with the outcome. They thanked me, commented repeatedly on my skills in communication, and said how valuable they found the entire process. It’s so rewarding when that happens, and particularly as it can open up future work possibilities and enable my office to engage more fully with the campus.

I went to pick up my girl at the end of the day. She didn’t mind seeing me, though she was thoroughly engaged with putting magnetic letters on the fridge. Then it was time to leave. It did not go well. She cried. Wailed. Was completely miserable. Didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to come with her mama. Eventually, with many hugs, some walking about, and nursing + a bottle + talking about the fun of home + her new noisy “Eh-mo” book, she settled contentedly into the car seat. In fact, she was perfectly happy on the ride home, laughing, talking, playing with “Eh-mo.” Home was also good: yard play with dad, great dinner eating, fun bath, stories, nursed easily to bed. Delightful!

I want to work. I need to work. I want more time with my girl. She’s doing okay. Being a working mom is a roller-coaster, and it’s what I’m doing.

Weekend Update with

Me!
Aaah, Sunday night, you came too soon. Nonetheless, it was a good weekend.

Family: I felt very close with my family all weekend. Time relaxing, talking and working with my husband. Games and talking with baby, plus diaper-free time (requires a much higher level of attention and interaction). I’m really fortunate to have these people in my life!

Food: we’re transitioning to gluten-free (or thereabouts) so are talking about and experimenting slowly with food. We had gluten-free pancakes this morning and all enjoyed them! Used this recipe, a bit less salt, no almond extract (we upped the vanilla), added bananas and blueberries. I made the almond flour by grinding almonds in our little electric grinder. Awesome!

Friends: Not enough friend time. But, had a drop-in visit with a friend which was lovely, plus got us talking and thinking more about nutrition and health and what we want to do next.

Work: We both made good progress on all sorts of little projects. I made my list and got quite a few things checked off. Much of that is thanks to HUSBAND, who cleaned my car, gassed up, took it in for oil/fluids top-ups and tire pressure fixing, and started to fix the one wonky windshield sprayer. Sweet!!! Thank you!!! Just a bit more post-winter detailing to do, plus swap out winter for summer tires. I can do much of this myself, but find that with baby, I really can’t. I’m so grateful to have a husband who takes on things like this with joy!

Cleaning/purging: it’s happening. We’ve got STUFF going out of our house! More still to tackle, but we’re noticing changes.

Teaching: I got my first emails from students as we start this first official week of the online course. I spent some time today picking a few articles to read (yes, I am so behind in doing this. But I’m doing my best). And you know what? I love teaching. I love designing courses. I just wish I had the time to do it justice, and/or it was my paid job. I plan to enjoy this as much as I can and hope it is a good experience for the students.

Clothes: picked out 4 funner-than-usual outfits for the week. Looking forward to that! And to starting skirts. I did get some leggings, but they’re navy (yeah – just couldn’t find a style I liked in black). We’ll see how that goes, though I know they don’t work with this one skirt I imagined.

Naps: two. Yes!!

Facebook: have not yet kicked the habit. People, would you please stop posting such great photos and such interesting articles?

Baby adorability: wow. I love her more all the time! Her new words (pull; hi/bye; can’t remember more, but they are MANY); her newfound love of tea, and of drinking from my water bottle; how clear her ideas are about what she likes and doesn’t, what she will and will not do. It’s a joy, I tell you, even while it can be exhausting and occasionally incredibly frustrating. As they say: it is all worth it.

And now: it’s late. Wishing you all a good week!

Getting a Grip on Life

Also known as: something I think I need to do, but can’t seem to manage.
Life is good. It’s fine. We’re healthy, we eat, we sleep. Our house is not a complete disaster. I’m getting things done (some of them). But still: I just can’t seem to get on top of everything that needs doing, managing, attending to.

The house is one of these things. A mess, completely. My desk occasionally clears up, but is covered again within days. The kitchen – forget about it. Bathroom? Please! I change the sheets on the bed once a week, but that’s all the regular cleaning I can claim.

My work. Even if I have a slow meeting week, my to-do list does not seem to get shorter. I keep trying to wrap things up, but they unwrap themselves, scatter the pieces and demand attention.

Writing/teaching? Now we’re talking! Not at all ready to teach. Not at aaaaall. I’m reading a short how-to book for first-year college teachers, loving it, feeling inspired, and knowing it is so not happening for me because I do. not. have. the. time to do any of the essentials recommended in the book, much though I would sincerely love to. As for 15 minutes a day of writing: I bought the book. But haven’t found a minute in months to follow up. I will, I must, but when?

And parenting, aaah, my weak spot. So many musts that are undone. Embarrassing things, like struggling to comb baby’s hair or brush her teeth (honestly, have you met our baby? she is really remarkably resistant to teeth brushing). Feeding here: though she does eat, but still, I know there are a bazillion other dishes I could and should be making for her to max-out her nutrition. Strangely, in spite of my massive omissions as a parent, she seems to be doing well. She is happy. Healthy. Smart. Fun. Secure. How did we get so lucky?

This article came my way today (yes, on Facebook. And I’m swearing off it again) and spoke to what I was feeling. I’m not doing everything I think I could and should do as a parent, but I”m trying. And my daughter doesn’t seem to notice. She really does love and need me. I was running a few errands after work and husband called to check in. I heard a tiny, sweet voice in the background say “Mama?” and that was it. I wrapped things up and rushed home to be with the sweetest person I know. I want to remember that we make magic together, and to relax and enjoy it even if life is messier and less finished than I like.

On that note: two scenes from bedtime.

It’s getting near sleepy-time and she’s wriggling and cuddling and being silly. I ask if I can kiss her. She says “nyew” but smiles her little mischief-smile and leans close. I kiss her and she giggles. Repeat, repeat. Then she kisses the air repeatedly. I ask , “Who are you kissing?” Another mischief smile: “Nana.” (It’s true. Hope you enjoyed your bedtime kiss, mom!)

A bit later, more wiggling and wriggling. Bedtime is closing in. She’s been down and wiggled under the sheets, sat up, rolled, twisted. Finally, she tosses her body over me, snuggles her head into my chest, heaves a deep sigh, and settles in. She drifts off to sleep holding me close.

4-day weekends are way too short

I really can’t believe it’s Sunday night. Really!!! How do 4 days speed by so quickly?
Things I didn’t do this weekend: writing (aside from blogging); work on the course I’m teaching THAT STARTED LAST WEEK; visit with friends; do a play date for baby; clean the house; get a lot of exercise; meal plan for the week.

Things I did do this weekend: mess up the house further by sitting down and really playing with my girl, showing her mama’s box of treasures, building a fort and houses for her toys.

A family walk in a great local park.

Gardening. Not enough, but some.

Playing in the yard with my girl.

Talking on the phone with friends.

Coordinated with someone to come pick up our free firewood.

Changed the sheets, picked my outfit for the week, ran a bunch of laundry through the machine (and the dryer too. Just because).

Finally installed my girl’s seat for eating at the table, and used it successfully.

Baked 2 loaves of Jewish Milk & Honey loaf – one for a friend with, I believe, a BRAND NEW BABY!!! Slightly overbaked as I was looking after my girl at the time and just could not coordinate nap and baking times. But: still yummy.

Culled a few more things to chuck.

Took a half-hour nap today. Not enough but better than nothing.

Read Twilight. Yeah, that book. A bit entertaining (Pacific Northwest, myths, exciting adventures), a bit annoying (on and on and on about how good-looking the vampires are. we get it), a bit disturbing (the whole romantic ideal as portrayed in that book seems highly dysfunctional. Are people actually believing that this relationship is something to aspire towards???).

Also fell down our front stairs while pushing my daughter’s stroller down. Well, just the bottom stair. She’s fine. I’m a bit sore.

Now, gearing up for a new week. Cleaning off my desk, planning to work on the course during breaktime at work (realistically, that’s my only option since I simply don’t get it done at home), glad I had so much time with my family over the break.

All I really want to do

Back from my break, I think and hope. Email access in the hotel in Vancouver was surprisingly weak. Once back, we found that our internet still wasn’t working. Husband spent a long, long time on the phone, with the result that they’re sending out a new router for us. We hope this means we can view Netflix again from the Wii!! Whee! In the meantime, my husband said he managed to get it working again last night. However, last night was the night my girl fell asleep on the way home and then was up until I have no idea when. I just know I rolled out of bed at midnight to get some water and crash again for the night. So no, I didn’t login and blog.
A break has been kind of nice. The weekend was quite busy with family-time. Though I fell into the habit of daily blogging instantly, falling out of it has also been very easy. I haven’t decided yet what this blip means in terms of a year-long blogging project and am not deeply concerned yet. I probably could have found a way to blog on the weekend if I wanted to, but I found my priorities reflected in my choice to stay home with my baby and unpack rather than head to a cafe or the library. Would that be live to blog, or blog to live?? Not sure.

In the meantime, I’m back at work after a break and kind of missing the home time. So, on this brief afternoon break, let me write about what I want to do.

  • Hold and nurse my baby
  • Read about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, parenting and everything family and baby
  • Clean and purge, once again, my possessions
  • Cook and bake. I rarely find the time, but I’ve realized it’s something I love to do.
  • Walk
  • Shop, especially at Value Village
  • Read, read, read
  • Study notes from my conference
  • Hang out with friends
  • Help plan our house renos
  • Do aaaaall of my personal to-dos
  • Sleep
  • Watch a movie

So for now, I’ll get back to it and hope to make this my most productive week yet.

 

Self-care Sunday

Husband is out with baby. I wanted a bit of time to myself. When asking for time yesterday (which husband was already planning to give me, of course) I thought I’d be productive (i.e., do writing and course prep). But Sunday’s here, and I say no. I’ve done some picking outfits for the week and cleaning out the filing cabinet – things I enjoy! And now I’m going to sort more files while watching a movie. Yes, I am. My idea of a good time, and I’m okay with it, and I’m embracing it for today.
Off to sort/view.

Self-knowledge can be a wonderful thing

This morning with baby I actually tried to apply something I’ve read about, written about and know about: multitasking increases stress and reduces productivity. I was inspired because last night, as I started flitting around the kitchen starting multiple recipes at the same time, Husband suggested we focus on what we’d agreed was most important: getting everything ready for the morning so I could get out the door as quickly as possible. So I stopped work on the recipes and made sure some of those other details were taken care of, then back to the recipes BUT with a new focus on not doing too much at once.
Mornings can be a bit crazy. Baby wants to nurse a lot. Then there’s potty and diaper changes. She’s racing around, picking out clothes to wear (which she won’t let us put on), playing with toys, wanting constant attention. I’m trying to make breakfast, feed myself and baby, make tea, take my vitamins, pack up the bottles, pack both our bags (including clothes and diapers for baby), get myself dressed (with earrings and watch) and do my hair (i.e., wet and smooth), brush baby’s teeth, wash her face (that one doesn’t happen often), and sometimes hang clothes from the washer or put away dishes.

Then there’s the final stretch: gathering extra things baby needs (boots, hat, toy), boot & hatting myself, dragging all the bags out to the car, dressing baby (which my husband usually does if he’s around – plus bringing the bags out – plus parts of baby feeding, playing and entertaining when work schedules permit), getting out the door (a separate act all on its own), and getting into the car (again – sometimes quite the process as baby now wants to walk, play, run, turn back to the house, go up and down the stairs, etc. etc.).

Today: Baby up at a bit past 5. Focus on nursing and diaper change. Then dress baby. Had a BLISSFUL 5 minute break with a hot bath as hubby had to take one first b/c of work stiffness/soreness. After that I was on my own. Baby and I sat and ate together while playing with cards. Success: she ate quite a bit. I was relaxed. And then, once she was done eating, (not before, as usual),  I moved one by one through the different things to do in the morning. She helped hang the diapers AND load up the washer for another load. We worked together. We had another eating break (yum, those apple breakfast bars we made last night are great AND she likes them! We substituted hemp for nuts) and continued working/playing. I let myself enjoy the moments, such as when she was taken aback by the wind outside and we stopped and watched birds and trees for a while.

Verdict: unitasking to the extent possible is a success! I got just as much done, probably more quickly and effectively (i.e., baby ate more), in a more relaxed fashion, and was happier and more connected with my daughter. I will do this more.

On another note, inspired by this post by HopefulLeigh, I took a quick, free, maybe-accurate online personality test. And, encouraged by her description of taking the test and answering as honestly and “true most of the time”ly as possible, I did the same. Bearing in mind that this is just a snapshop, it looks like I maybe a Supervisor (ESTJ – extroverted sensing thinking judging). This is one of the four types of Guardian personalities, which like to “use all their skills to keep things running smoothly” (yes, yes, yes). I don’t think I’m as much of a traditionalist as the description suggests – I frequently improvise, like it when I have to deal with chaos, and can be pretty casual and, I hope, warm in my interactions. I also would say that I’m not so big on tradition, but I AM big on following MY traditions: I love to set up habits and rituals for myself, family and friends and want to follow them. I can also be a bit impulsive, jumping to conclusions or into action (according to the link, this actually fits with the type). This might also just be a quick brain and/or a subconscious that has been mulling over a question for a while and spontaneously spits out an answer.

A lot of the other descriptions read true: socially responsible, like to take charge of groups, “good at making schedules, agendas, inventories, and so on” (LAUGH! This is so me), and being a model student.

Overall, a very useful exercise for me. I find it strange to realize that I haven’t done this in a long time, and that I can glean so much insight into myself by finding something else to describe me.

Guilt, resentment, judgment and other recent emotions

Life is good. And I’ve been feeling kind of bad. I have been far more irritable than necessary. I’ve been feeling badly about almost every aspect of my life. I’ve been judging myself and others.
I really don’t know if things are worse than usual or if I’m just more tuned in. I do know that things need to change.

Being annoyed: at my husband, my daughter, the silliest little things. Get over it. Communicate my needs and then let things go. Also: heard of prayer?

Frustration, anger, fear, worry: how about preparing for the course I’m teaching? I think I’m going to have to plan for low performance and gear my work accordingly just to get it done. It doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be done.

Guilt: mainly over parenting. My daughter is still sick and has a cough. She isn’t eating enough. I don’t make the right foods or offer them at the right time. Or give her the attention she needs. What else … oh yeah, I suck.

Solution: right, prayer and meditation. Also consultation. Planning with my husband for family and baby-specific meals. Accept that today, for instance, I’m exhausted from being up with her constantly last night. And she seems pretty happy overall.

Judgment: just stop it. Not good for my health. I want my daughter to see a mom who’s happy with herself.

And when it comes to others: if I want to judge, ask or talk instead. Ran into a mom tonight who’s going on a 5-day trip in order to wean her child. I think she’s insane and cruel to consider it. But really, I’m not her. I don’t know who’s talking with her about child needs versus mom needs. If I think it’s that bad of a choice I could tell her that. Really, could I? I did say it sounds “harsh” and asked if she’s determined to wean. I could have asked, what impact do you think that will have on your baby? Wish I had. But, I don’t expect it would have changed her mind. The sad truth is, I don’t know what’s best for other people and though I want to be the advocate for all the babies in the world who have to experience parenting that I consider damaging, I can’t be. And who knows, there may be those who want to come and rescue my child from me. I certainly do sometimes.

So. Enough being grumpy. I know my husband isn’t enjoying it, though he’s being super nice and supportive. Make some changes, get things done and move on.

good night.