As I sat on the couch last night, with my newborn sleeping on my chest, I suddenly realized how technologically cluttered my life is. Next to me, I had my cell phone, my tablet, and my Kindle. Even worse, I had been alternating between each item as he slept, while I watched Netflix. There’s no excuse for that. Continue reading “Decluttering My Life”
Before I became a mom, I never dreamed of wanting to stay at home. It just wasn’t me. I’m a worker – a provider. I wouldn’t be able to stay at home and “do nothing.” Hahaha. I had it so wrong as to what a SAHM actually does.
When I had my daughter 6 1/2 years ago, I couldn’t dream of going back to work. However, being a single mom, there aren’t many other options. I had it worked out where I would bartend here and there at little mom and pop places throughout the year, but my main income came from heading back to NJ for the summer and bartending at summer bars. I would work as much as I could for those 3 months, then live frugally for the rest of the year. It would last me until just about tax season, then I’d live off of my refund until summer came again. Sure, my credit went to sh*t, but I was there for every one of my daughter’s firsts. That was more important to me.
When I got pregnant with Little E, I knew that I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible. I picked up extra shifts while pregnant and saved everything that I could, ensuring that I could take off the full 90 days of leave that I was allotted. That’s what I’ve been living off since I had him almost 2 months ago. And I’ve been focusing on how to generate an income from home so that I can continue staying home with him.
The problem is, once you get on your routine with your newborn, you’re able to keep the house clean again and you get pretty bored pretty quickly. At least I have. He sleeps most of the day. So, once my sleep leveled off and I became used to his routine, I started deep cleaning the house. When I finished cleaning, I started redecorating. I’ve redone all the pictures in the living room. Twice. Yesterday, we got a new rug and finally took down the green vertical blinds from T’s bachelor days and put up curtains. I feel like we have a grown up living room now (minus all the kid paraphernalia).
I’ve already purchased shelves and brackets so that I can reorganize Peanut’s room and the playroom downstairs. I just need to get out the handy dandy stud finder and level and actually start that project. Plus, I need to wade through the sea of toys in the playroom in order to organize it. Guess who’s been dreading that project… This girl!
Since I don’t see a lot of my friends from work on a daily or weekly basis anymore, we started meeting for lunch occasionally. Oh, and the Kmart by me is closing, so I’ve been stocking up on Christmas gifts and birthday presents. This also adds up.
The point is, I need a job just to fund my SAHM lifestyle. Or I need to change what my SAHM lifestyle is. You’d think that once I get these rooms done I’ll be done spending money. I would also hope that’s true. Except we’ve already outgrown this home with the arrival of Little E. New home means new decorations. Or more decorations, or different decorations. I’m not sure because we haven’t found the new home yet so I don’t know what I’m going to be decorating.
I now understand why so many women blog about finances. If you’re not 100% on top of what you can spend, it’s really easy to go shopping out of boredom. It’s easy to browse a store’s online catalog while you’re feeding the baby or waiting for him to wake up. It’s easy to go walking through the mall while he naps in his stroller and stop in whatever stores you feel like.
This is all new and weird to me and I don’t like it. I’ve been pretty good about finances up until this point. Since I started working at my current job I’ve had a definite budget, I’ve known what I needed to make each week, and I’ve set savings and debt payoff goals. I brought my credit score up almost 200 points in the past year and a half and saved enough to pay for our wedding with cash. I’ve given myself a set amount that I was able to spend each week, and the rest has been accounted for – either to bills or to savings.
I don’t like SAHM me. She’s reckless and bored. It’s a frightening combination. One that I’d like to destroy as soon as possible. So, I’m going back to my budget. I’m going back to living frugally and simply. I’m happier there. My wallet is happier there. And if I’m ever going to make this SAHM gig a permanent one, I need to get back there.
I’m going to start with making lists again and only buying what I came to the store for. I’m going to start making freezer meals again based upon what meat is on sale that week. And I’m going to stop any and all online shopping for the rest of the summer. That may not seem like much, but it’s a start.
And we’ve all gotta start somewhere.
Let me clarify. I’m one of those people whose fuse is very long, but who also gives very little warning that my fuse is almost at its end. For example, I’ve had coworkers who repeatedly took advantage of those of us around them. Working in restaurants there are always those coworkers who consistently take the last lemon and don’t restock, use the last glass without replacing the rack, take the last mint, etc. Those same people usually go out of their way to boast about how much money they make. Well, good for you. I probably could have made that much too, but I was too busy backtracking all night restocking all the things you left empty.
While working at a popular Italian chain restaurant a few years ago, I worked with such an employee. One night, while standing in the server station, I watched her repeatedly throw pieces of ice at the bartender in jest. Then she laughed about it. I was calm and collected until she gave me the “what are you gonna do about it” look. That’s when I lost it. I spewed forth everything I had been holding in for the previous 2 years of working with her in approximately 5 minutes. I finished my rant red-faced and panting because I’m pretty sure I didn’t take a breath the whole time. She was looking at me with absolute terror on her face. One of my closest friends, who witnessed the entire scene, had the biggest grin on her face and looked at me and said, “That was amazing.” The coworker feared me the rest of the time we worked together and would go out of her way to let me know what she had restocked and how much extra sidework she had done.
Let me remind you: I’m 5’1″ and at the time I was about 100lbs soaking wet. There is nothing about me that’s intimidating. I don’t tell this story to make myself seem all big and bad. I’m merely setting the scene.
Unfortunately, this personality flaw is also evident in my parenting style. I’m fine, cool, collected, and fun. Until I’m not. And then, hell hath no fury…
I have a 6-year old and a 2-month old. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in months. I’m attempting to get my body back in shape (or at least strengthen it) but I’m still weak in some areas. My husband works a lot of overtime, so there are many days when I do all the parenting and housework alone. I try to start off the day Mary Poppins, mom-of-the-year style. By the end of the day, though, I’m done. I’ve had enough. As much as I love these little people, I need them far away from me in dreamland so that a) I can have 5 minutes of peace, and b) I can attempt to get some sleep before the youngest is back up for his next bottle.
Oh, and did I mention I’m an introvert? An extroverted introvert, I guess, but an introvert nonetheless. The best way for me to describe it is this: I can do the outgoing, happy, love you, love life, constantly smiling thing when I have to. And for the most part, I’m not faking that. I have worked in the customer service industry for almost 20 years now. You can’t fake it for that long. You just can’t. I honestly love my job most of the time. And then I clock out. And I don’t want to talk to anyone or put on the smile or do anything, really. I want to go home and read a book and let my battery recharge- silently.
Except when you’re a mom you never get to recharge your battery. Ever. Not completely anyway. You have to be “on” all the time. All. The. Time. I still haven’t found a way to do that. I try. I try so hard. I read books and blogs about being patient. I pin all the summer activities and parenting hacks I can find. I start the day with so many plans and so much enthusiasm.
I’m running on a maximum of 5 hours of consecutive sleep on any given day. I have a 2-month old who needs me for everything and a 6-year old who wants me for everything. The 2-month old is fussy and the 6-year old is bored. I am being pulled from every angle and I feel some days like they are sucking the life out of me. But I love them more than life so I continue to let them. I run on an uncharged battery because they are worth it.
I’m trying to be more patient. I’m trying to remember that the 6-year old is exactly that- just a 6-year old. That she will only want me to be a part of everything she does for a little while longer before she doesn’t want me there at all. I try to make a little extra time for her while the baby is sleeping so that she doesn’t feel left out or left behind. I try to hug her a little longer and to be quicker to forgive her mistakes because she really doesn’t know any better. I try to remember that the baby is still getting used to this loud and crazy world. That each day he is learning something new and that I’m the lucky one because I get to witness all of it. That soon he too will be bigger and will be running around like a maniac. That one day he won’t want to fall asleep on my chest or cuddle into me. I’m trying to be patient, kind, and a good mother.
Until 11pm. Then all bets are off and everyone better be asleep.
Sunday started just like any other day. My husband has been picking up a ton of overtime lately to try and get us ahead and save for the new house we so desperately need for our growing family. I’m exhausted from being home with the baby and waking up all through the night. We were arguing because of my exhaustion and lack of patience, and then he went to work. Again. I went about my afternoon, taking care of Little E, straightening up the house, etc. At one point I went to readjust my left boob in my bra (like all women do at some point during their day), and that’s when my life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.
I felt a lump.
Let me give you a minute to let that sink in. A lump. And not a small one. This sucker is about 3cm x 3cm.
Suddenly, our petty fight was put into perspective. A little lost sleep was the least of my worries.
This is what all women fear their entire lives. And while I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family, I did not (and do not) take this discovery lightly. I cried. A lot. Feeding my almost 6-week old baby and crying over his poor little face while I imagined all the things I might not get to do with him. Praying that I would be there to see him grow up, get married, have children…
I imagined all of the worst case scenarios possible. A double mastectomy, radiation, losing my hair, withering away to nothing while my husband looked on, helpless. I imagined things progressing quickly and him having to raise our son alone. And what would happen to my daughter? Would he get visitation for her if she went to live with her father? Would my husband ever see her again? Would she know her brother at all? I’m crying as I type these words because I’m imagining it all over again and it destroys me.
T worked a double that night so we didn’t fix our fight that day. Monday, I went for a walk with Little E and a dear friend just to get out of the house. I didn’t mention my discovery at all. I got home after T had already left for work – another opportunity to talk about it gone. Late that night he told me he was working another double. I told him we needed to talk. He thought it was about the fight. I had to tell my husband via text message what I had found because I couldn’t hold it in anymore. He said all the right things (just like he always does) and switched his shift for the following day so that he could accompany me to my 6-week postpartum checkup, where I would relay my findings to my doctor.
The next day, we went and he held my hand. I told my doctor about the lump, he checked it, and scheduled an ultrasound for two days later. It was one of the longest waits of my life.
Yesterday I went to the hospital bracing myself for the worst news possible. First, they took me back for a mammogram. (It’s just as bad as every woman says it is. I promise.) The only consolation was that I would know something before I left the hospital. The tech took pictures of both breasts, just in case, and then I was able to put my hospital gown back on and wait for the ultrasound. When it was finally my turn, I walked back unsure of what they would discover. The ultrasound tech took her pictures and the first thing she said to me about it was, “That looks like a lymph node.” My heart dropped. Once cancer gets to the lymph nodes it spreads like wildfire. Finally, the exam was complete and everything was sent to the radiologist.
As I waited in that room for her to come back, my mind wandered again to my husband and son patiently waiting for me. I can honestly say this was one of the scariest weeks of my life.
Turns out it’s just a cyst. Nothing to be concerned about and probably brought on by all the hormones from just having a baby. I got really lucky. This time.
You hear all the time that tomorrow isn’t promised. You agree, like the post on Facebook, maybe even share it, and then you don’t think about how fragile life is again until you’re presented with your own scare. This was my wake up call. My “live for today and make the most of it”, “appreciate everything you have because it could all be gone tomorrow” moment. And it worked. It scared the ever loving sh*t out of me. But I’m gonna hold my baby a little tighter today, hug my husband a little longer, and smile a little more because this time I do have tomorrow.
Tuesday will mark 6 weeks since Little E officially joined our family. And I can honestly can these past few weeks have flown by. Maybe that’s because each day is a blur of bottles, diapers, and a lack of sleep. Maybe it’s because I’m still on leave from work and Peanut is out of school so there’s really no reason to keep track of the days. Either way, in regards to losing the baby weight, what started out as “Mother Nature really blessed me” has quickly turned into, “Nope, I’m the same as everyone else; I’m gonna have to work for it.”
After I became a mom initially, my body was different. I went back to my pre-baby weight, I looked roughly the same, but my jeans didn’t fit anymore. Something had shifted and I couldn’t quite place what. Also, the weight at which I felt I looked healthy changed. What used to be my normal now made me look emaciated. I found I felt better 10lbs heavier than what had been my target weight. Maybe that had to do with being a mom, maybe it was just from being older and my comfort zone changing. I’m not sure. This time around, I don’t expect to be happier 10lbs heavier, but I’m not going to focus on a number.
See, I say baby weight, but honestly, I could care less what the scale says. I just want to get toned and feel better when I look in the mirror. I’m not going to starve myself in the process, and I’m not going to beat myself up to get there. But I’ve always been in pretty good shape and this flabby feeling is not something I enjoy. After my first baby, I bounced back fairly quickly, but I was also alone and no one saw me naked so there was no pressure to look any certain way. Also, it was fall and sweater weather is perfect for hiding that leftover baby pooch. This time, it’s summer. Bathing suit season. And while I have no misgivings about getting back the 6-pack I had in my 20s, I would eventually like to look good when my husband sees me naked and not have this flabby mid-30s mom body.
Conveniently enough, I had an invite to do a 30-day workout challenge on my Facebook feed. So, I’m going for it. I bought fresh fruit and an Oster MyBlend personal blender yesterday (the Cartwheel app had a 30% off offer), I signed up for the 30-day challenge, and my plan is to look and feel better about myself by my birthday next month. Also, my sister-in-law (and fellow new mom) is going to start walking with me so we can lose our baby weight together.
So, here’s to trying to present the best me possible, to hopefully getting to a better place mentally about my body, and to turning 35 – because no matter what shape my body is in, I’m pretty impressed with all it’s done for me so far.
Tomorrow my Peanut leaves for Hawaii with my parents for ten days. Must be nice to be 6 and traveling the world. Haha. There are some people that think I’m crazy to let her travel halfway around the world without me. To those people, I’d like to say, Mind your own business. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she’s going with her grandparents – two people who treat her like she’s their own and love her beyond words. Also, I might add, two people who have raised 7 children into adulthood. If we all survived, I think my daughter will too.
Now, to counter my last post, I’m planning on being as productive as humanly possible with an infant in the house while she’s gone. First spot to tackle? Her playroom.
This is a room that I had such great plans for before we moved in. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to it and all my plans. Then the actual move in process happened and my boxes ended up in there as well as a whole bunch of toys she’s outgrown. Some of those will be utilized when Little E gets big enough to play with them. (What kid doesn’t want a toy kitchen? Boys have to eat too!) The plastic makeup vanity, however, we no longer need. Yes, she’s still into makeup. But she’s getting older and I’d like to create a more useful little station for her. She’s also not really into playing dress up anymore. That’s a whole corner of the play room that I can get rid of (I’m keeping the garden gnome costume, though. A) It’s gender neutral, and B) Look at the picture below, courtesy of walmart.com. It’s hilarious.)
Anyway, the plan is to go through the room, get rid of anything that doesn’t actually get played with anymore (and will likely never be played with again) and organize it in a way that actually looks cute and is functional. Oh, and to get my crap out of that room while I’m at it.
I’d like to put up some shelving for all of the boxed toys (board games, games that have yet to be opened- we have a lot of those-, puzzles, jewelry making kits, etc), maybe decorate the walls a little, and create a reading corner. We’ll see how that all plays out. It also depends upon what I can find on sale. Good thing it’s yard sale season!
Wish me luck!
(He’s mocking me with that grin. I know he is.)
It’s true that you forget the first few months of parenthood. I’m a second-time mom but there’s 6 1/2 years between my kids. Honestly, I forgot pretty much all of it.
I forgot that even though the baby eats every 3 hours that doesn’t mean you have 3 hours to be productive until the next feeding. It takes at least 30-45 (2:30-2:15 hours left) minutes for the feeding and to change the baby. Then you have to get him back to sleep. There goes another 20-30 (2-1:45 left) minutes of your 3-hour span. We’re down to
Did I mention making the bottle, cleaning all the dirty bottles hanging out next to your sink, doing/folding laundry, showering, going to the bathroom, etc? Those things all cut into your 3 hours as well. Not to mention trying to fit whatever broken sleep you can in there somewhere.
But again, I forgot about all of that. Somewhere in my delusional mind I thought I was going to have all this time to write this blog, find and execute a job working from home to supplement my income, and still go have lunch with real adult people. And this time I’m supposed to do it all while entertaining a 6-year old on her summer vacation. Hahahahahaha!
Over the past month I have found time to have lunch with friends a couple of times. I’ve even managed to get on a schedule where my house does not look like a disaster zone. I’ve gone on Pinterest a couple times to look through my “extra income” board for a side job, but as soon as I start reading an article or making any headway I am jolted back into reality either by the cries of my infant or the never ceasing, “Hey, Mom!”
I keep telling myself that once the baby is sleeping through the night I will be productive again. I’ll be a good mom, start writing in this blog more, get a side job and do well at it, go back to work at the casino, and still maintain my somewhat presentable home. Part of me believes it. The realistic part looks at my 3-month old nephew who is sleeping through the night but only takes one nap per day and laughs hysterically at that other part of me.
Only time will tell, but I’m pretty sure the realistic side is gonna be saying, “I told ya so” about a month from now.