Out with the old, in with the pressure.

Dear reader,

Well, we more or less survived the holidays. Eli went through six (yup. 6) rounds of Christmas with various family members, and made out like a bandit at every single one. The past few days he has had this expectant look on his face that clearly says “presents? Where are today’s, mom?”. And I can’t blame him. That was whole lotta Christmas for one little dude. Fortunately, the nightly panic attacks about bedtime are starting to diminish a little bit now that we’ve been at home more consistently than on the road, so I think he’ll make a full recovery.

Every year we find ourselves staring at the promise of a clean slate, and new beginnings, and it happens. The resolutions. This year, I shall lose eleventy five pounds!” “This is the year I quit drinking!” “Marriage! This is MY year!”, and usually I’m on the bandwagon. Resolutions are good things, unless you have the tendency to do what I do.

I make a few resolutions, and honestly intend to keep them (as do we all), but then instead of being a thing that is supposed to be good for me, and help me to be a better version of myself, the pressure of failing to meet my goals on this new trip around the sun starts to eat at me. The minute I miss a day of running, or meditation, or I eat meat on a designated meatless day, or I have two glasses of wine, or, or, or (etc.)… I panic. I have failed. I messed up, and once again am not perfect (there’s that perfectionism problem rearing it’s ugly head again). I will beat myself up over whatever insignificant thing it is I have done, or not done, and then resign myself to the fact that I am a failure.

How ridiculous is that? Pretty darn, I’d say. So this year, instead of making a list of things that I know I will fail to keep (start making all of Eli’s meals from scratch was one of them, just so you can see the bar to which I was aiming), I decided not to. Instead of trying to squeeze more hours into the day, and convince everyone around me that I am in fact, Wonder Woman, I am going to focus this year on cutting myself a little slack. On doing the things that have to be done without feeling guilty for not enjoying them (who in their right mind ENJOYS washing diapers?). On doing the things that I enjoy without pressuring myself to put out a perfect product (art is NEVER finished, even once it’s in the frame). On being present wherever I am, instead of always frantically thinking “oh, crap! What’s next?”. The beauty of this plan? I am GOING to fail at least once. And it’s ok. Learning to fall with style is a part of life. I can hack it.

Until next time, dear readers.

Sincerely,
A “nobody warned me how hard it was to help a baby detox from the holidays!” me

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My own kind of list.

Dear Reader,

I’m not the only one who constantly sees Huffington Post lists on “The Top 10 Habits of People Who Are Successful/Efficient/Flawless/Better Than You” am I? These little things pop up in my newsfeed all the time, and it’s almost like Facebook/Pinterest/the entirety of the interwebz is intentionally taunting me with how little I am able to consistently accomplish these days. In response to this, I have decided to compose a list of my own. My college roommates, and fellow new moms contributed to this list. I hope you enjoy.

The Top Ten Habits of People Who Are Hanging in There (new moms, specifically).

1. We don’t shower. Not regularly anyway. Who needs hygiene when you know that 10 minutes after you get out, you are GOING to have baby poop in your hair? It’s easier, and more efficient to just not care, grab a hat, and embrace your greasy hair.

2. We don’t clean in general. We don’t stress about it, either. The dust gives us something to draw with, thusly allowing us to explore our creative side a little while the baby that pooped in our hair earlier sleeps on top of us. We don’t want to wake up the baby, so dust bunny decoupage it is!

3. We plan ahead for the next day by falling asleep in our clothes. 6:00AM is awfully early, especially after being woken up 3+ times in the night by a hungry infant. We maximize our personal sleeping time by consistently falling asleep in the previous day’s work clothes, and simply changing our shirt 10 minutes before having to walk out the door. We think we look great. You should too.

4. We drink coffee like it’s water. Not to maximize productivity, but to keep our eyes open long enough to change one more diaper, get through one more feeding, and read “The Napping House” one more time. Why we torture ourselves with a book about everyone getting to sleep but us is beyond me.

5. We avoid mirrors. It’s much easier to to be ok with your lack of shower, and yesterday’s applesauce covered pants if you can’t see yourself. If you can’t see yourself, you can pretend that you are ready for your “Vogue” cover shoot.

6. We don’t eat. Well, we do, but frantically. If we have the luxury of having time for a hot meal, we tend to wolf it down so quickly out of habit, that we burn parts of our mouth.

7. We don’t wear makeup. Not unless we fell asleep in it the night before, that is. Again, it’s an excellent timesaver.

8. We frequently take naps in the driveway. Sometimes, the baby who pooped in your hair (nope. Never letting him live that down) falls asleep while we are driving around, trying to eat a couple of cold french fries. We take advantage of this opportunity by pulling into the driveway, NOT turning off the car, and trying to catch a couple of zzz’s ourselves while our little one snoozes happily in their car seat.

9. We stop caring about wasting gas. It bites us in the ass sometimes, but that driveway nap… Sacrifices must be made. If paying a little extra every month insures that I get to freak out my own parents by taking a bi-weekly snooze in their driveway, then so be it.

10. We have learned to stop sweating the small stuff. Things happen. Hair gets pooped in. Showers become a rare treat. Chick-fil-A has become our idea of a gourmet meal. But you know what? We’re doing ok. We’re hanging in there. And we kick ASS at this whole “mommy” thing. The rest? It’s just icing on the cake.

Zen, and the art of being ok with yourself.

Dear Reader,

Today I am going to talk about something that plagues many (if not all) mothers at some point in their path of parenthood. Dads too, if any happen to be reading. Being all things to all people. Perfectionism. Needing to do everything perfectly, every time we do it.

Let’s start with a personal anecdote to introduce the topic, shall we? This past week, I pulled out all the stops at the house. I swept. I kept the kitchen in decent shape. I did the laundry. I cooked my own breakfast every morning (those of you who see me regularly know that this is a BIG DEAL). I continued jogging. I even showered regularly, and put on make up. Throughout all of that, I continued to successfully mommy (yes, I use that word as a verb. Deal with it). Eli was as happy as he could be, relatively hygienically sound, and eating like a champ.

This weekend there was also a big Texas wine festival in the downtown district that my little family calls home. My sister was coming to town with her husband to partake in the food, drink, and music of it all. The evening of the first day of the festival, I was WORN OUT. My parents took Eli home with them halfway through the day (the hippie was working, as wine festivals tend to have people who REALLY need foodstuffs), and I got to walk around little in the name of trying to cover the festival for a little side project of mine (art979.com. Check it out!). I wasn’t able to get what I wanted, but I DID get to play with my sister a little bit, and that was something I desperately needed. But, I was still pooped, and hadn’t seen my baby boy in several hours, so instead of covering the concert I was really looking forward to, I hiked back to my car and drove as quickly as I could to go pick up my baby. My dad and step-mom had loved on my sweet kiddo all afternoon, and had grand plans to make sure that we had dinner before going home to a house with clean floors, clothes, and a fridge stocked with food (remember that part where I did ALL THE THINGS this week?).

Aside from my exhaustion, I felt awesome. I had a clean house. I had made tracks on getting my job done. I managed to be social, and look nice. My child hadn’t caught on fire. Then my dad helped me carry my kiddo to the car so we could go home.

There it was. All the mess that was left in my life was hiding in my car. At least a dozen empty coffee cups, fast food bags (foodie shame…), spare shirts, old mail, you name it, and it was in my car. Evidence that I was not the flawless Wonder Woman wannabe that I was trying to be. “Honey, it looks like a homeless person lives in your car” is how my loving father put it. I was humiliated. Didn’t he know that my house was gorgeous? That I put on a bra, and PANTS every day this week? That I managed to successfully adult all week without having a single nervous breakdown?

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t handle this with the kind of grace that I like to tell myself is instinctual for me. I snapped something about not having time, and then got in my car, and drove home without hugging my daddy goodbye for the night.

Sidenote: don’t worry, I apologized, and we have hugged many times since. But why was I so upset over having my car mess pointed out?

Because I missed something. I had tried so hard to be perfect all week, and had done pretty well (for me). And here was glaring proof of my failure. Of my missing something. Of not being able to sufficiently do all the things. Of not being the flawless creature that I tell myself I am capable of being.

Ok, dear readers. I’m going to go ahead and say it, and we can all just know it together. You aren’t perfect. You can’t do everything. And that’s ok. Those messes? Let ’em rest. You’ll get to them eventually (or, at least you’ll tell yourself that). But really? They’re just a sign that there is so much more in this life than having a clean house (or car). Who cares if someone notices that you missed a spot? In all honestly, that person probably needed the reminder that it’s ok that they haven’t had their oil changed in almost a year. Well, maybe not ok, because everyone needs transportation that isn’t about to die on them. BUT ok that it’s their turn to be the friend who needs it to be their turn to be an accepted mess.

Right now, it’s my turn. I’m a new(ish) mom. I am an actor. I have a couple of part time jobs. And I am passionately in love with my partner. Things are gonna slip. There are going to be weeks when the dishes don’t get done every night. When there is a coffee cup graveyard in the car. When something mysterious starts growing in that one tupperware dish in the back of the fridge. And that gets to be ok right now.

Sincerely,
A “Y’all. Eli is STANDING.” me