Archive for the ‘ Motherhood ’ Category

About Listen to Your Mother…

Folks, remember when I auditioned for Listen to Your Mother? Well, I got an awesome email last week telling me that I made it as one of the 12 cast members for 2012 Madison show! The email came on the heels of a very difficult day for me, and the news could not have been more perfectly timed.

What does this mean? That I’ll be on stage this Mother’s Day sharing my story. I am excited and nervous. I hope you’ll join me!

– MD

Resolutions and New Calendars

I love the new year. I love looking back on the year past, I love thinking about and making resolutions for a better me. I love the new, crisp calendar that hangs on my wall. I love the idea of starting fresh.

Looking back.

2011 was a hard year. I recently called it my hardest year, though it has some tough competition from 2008. Everything changed. I found out I was pregnant mere days after I decided I would never be pregnant again. I faced my worst fears. I lost control – of my body during my pregnancy and of my home during a remodel. I left a job and coworkers I loved to stay at home with my daughter, which threw everything I thought I knew about myself into a tailspin. I walked a hard path with my mom as she struggled with her health, visited countless doctors, and went through two painful and serious surgeries. I gave birth to a beautiful and sweet baby girl, who was literally taken out of my arms and rushed to the NICU. I spent five long, scary, painful days in the hospital with her while recovering from my own surgery. I saw my sweet little dog’s health fail and eventually make his life too much of a hardship to bear. I said a sad goodbye to him two weeks after my daughter was born, when my life was in that newborn chaos of sleeplessness, love, and disarray. I saw my grandpa’s health decline so far and so fast that I barely got a chance to say goodbye. I watched my sweet toddler struggle with her new sister, with being two, with growing up.

Resolutions for a better me.

2010 was a year about me. I focused on myself – mind, body and soul – and ended that year feeling the best I’ve ever felt. 2011, on the other hand, saw me giving my body over to pregnancy again. I feel lost inside this me.

I will find myself again. I will emerge healthier, happier, and in control.

I can be quick to judge. Being critical is easy. It can make you feel like part of the in-crowd, it can make you feel superior by casting others as inferior. If you’re gossiping, it’s easy to think that maybe no one is gossiping about you…but in reality, the opposite is true. Open the door of judgement, and you will be judged. On the other hand, kindness begets kindness.

I will keep an open mind. I will give people the benefit of the doubt. I will be kind. I will take the high road, even if it’s the harder road.

Leaving my job meant leaving work I was good at and skills that were valued. I’ve struggled with my identity since being home. Who am I now? What am I good at? What are my skills? Changing diapers, making lunch, reading books – it can be hard to feel important and skilled when your life is the minutiae of parenting. It’s a struggle to maintain independence when my job is to be someone’s mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I love and cherish my children with my whole soul, but I still want and strive to be an autonomous person.

I will take time for myself. I will learn new things and continue to enrich my life outside of my children, while still working to be the best mom I can be.

Starting fresh.

I am ready and excited for the year ahead. I can’t wait to see every member of my little family grow and learn and laugh. I know I will stumble, and occasionally fall. But I will pick up, brush off, and keep going.

I am looking forward to a 2012 that is better, brighter, and happier than ever.

For me. For my family.

And for you, too.

– ALW

Cheesecake Tote Giveaway, Courtesy of Summer Pierre

UPDATE: THIS IS NOW CLOSED – MD

Is anyone else out there ready to cry now that it is completely dark at 4:45 p.m.? This happens each year, and the turning of the tables on this time thing will change soon, but goodness gracious, hold me.

Thanks for those who played along with the upcycled knit baby hat giveaway. Using random.org the two winners were selected. Congratulations to Nina and Joeli! I will be in touch about your hats. Hope your girls wear them in health and warmth! Thanks again to Ellen!

Are you ready for my final giveaway? It’s pretty rad, and as I mentioned earlier, it comes all the way from New York City. For us Midwesterners, that’s a mighty big deal. Well, maybe not as much, according to this article. I can also throw some attitude, because I lived there, yo, when I was little.

Our final giveaway is a cheesecake tote. Not a tote made out of cheesecake, but a tote with a depiction of a cheesecake on it. Behold:

Cheesecake tote by Summer Pierre

Artist, musician, poet and mama Summer Pierre is kind enough to offer this. Summer and I met at a Lynda Barry writing workshop years ago at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I remember seeing a woman smiling and doodling on the chartered bus we took from downtown NYC to the Omega campus, and lo and behold, that fantastic woman was in my class. There was very much a camp-like feel to the process, but somehow we ended up sitting next to one another during meals, chatted, and have stayed in touch every since. It’s like real-life sleep-away camp and the friends you make from it FOR EVER.

Summer is the real deal, folks. She has made and sold CDs, run a successful Etsy shop, and published two books, The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week, and Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life, along with her Forgive Me zines, volumes 1-4. She does all of this, and more. Thank you, Summer, for offering this giveaway.

Here’s how you can enter:
1. Visit summerpierre.com and poke around.
2. Subscribe to her blog.
3. Visit her Etsy store, and add her to your favorites circle if you are a member.
4. If you are on Twitter, follow her feed @summerpierre.
5. Comment below on what you would tote around in your cheesecake tote.

The giveaway closes Wednesday, December 7 at 8 a.m. CST. One entry per e-mail address is permitted. One winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Wednesday evening.

Good luck!

– MD

My Best Friend Had a Baby

My best friend had a baby. It’s her second, a boy. A boy! Her first child, a daughter, came within a year of Miss Red. We shared stories of pregnancy, infancy and everything in between.

My best friend had a baby, and we are hundreds of miles apart. We work diligently to see one another at least twice a year, but at this moment my heart aches to be with her, sitting in the hospital, holding her new son and laughing at the ridiculousness a body goes through after labor and delivery.

{The video above was taken when Miss Red was about a year and a half. I had her parrot my best friend’s family’s names.}

My best friend had a baby, and for some reason her having a son makes her seem much older, more grown up, more mature. She has a family of four now, a girl and a boy, and her family seems so complete. She’s a mother to more than one child, and to me, that seems different than having one child. I can’t explain it, but I am in awe of her.

My best friend had a baby, and we’ve done our best to catch one another as we can, texting and leaving messages. The text messages we sent to one another leading up to her labor were priceless and for our eyes only – snippets of jokes about body parts and humiliating occurrences.

My best friend had a baby, and I can’t wait to hold him, to hug her daughter, and to laugh and cry with her in person.

– MD

Parts of Me

Part two of my awesome car trip with EC and RC was the drive home, where we dove into meatier topics. Not on purpose, but as part of a flow of good friends in a car for more than three hours and the conversations that emerge. We talked openly about our parents and how our experiences as children, combined with our parents’ parenting has molded our parenting and the anxieties or habits we work with.

I confided that I spend a good amount of time being concerned that Miss Red will hate me – I know, it drives my husband crazy – but I do. I fear that she’ll never want to be a part of my life, never want to see me again and just turn her back on me. Why? I don’t know.

While sharing this, EC asked me something I had never considered: Think of the good she’ll take from you, and how she’ll love those parts of you.

I had never considered that there might be parts of me my daughter would love. Maybe I’m so caught up in my entire love for her, that I had an “all or nothing” mentality about this emotion – that she would either love me or hate me, and not, what is probably true, that she’ll love parts of me and hate (maybe not) parts of me, too.

Can I share what a relief that was? That that sentence, in the moment, and in retrospect, washed away layers of anxiety? Again, why? I myself have no issues with love. I love myself, I know I’m lovable, I have loving relationships. It’s this seed, this stick, this root, this essence, this unnamed that drives me to the brink of tears when thinking of my daughter.

Hush, little baby.

Honestly, what it comes down to is that I haven’t quite learned to be in the moment with my daughter. I can be present, but if I’m honest, there is that part of me, that clinging, hopeful, needy part that is wrapped up in real and imagined interactions, that cries softly please love me.

– MD

When I Am Old and Gray

I was on a longish car ride with EC and RC this weekend, and we briefly touched upon our hopes for when we are older and retired. Our dreams of drinking coffee, meeting with friends, volunteering, and generally being free.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that none of us included our children in this equation. None of us mentioned grandchildren or our own children visiting, or any other iteration of seeing them. Maybe recent generations have come to realize and not expect that their children will care for them in their old age. I tend to whine a little that when Miss Red is a teenager she’ll hate me, but I honestly can’t imagine her as an adult – which, God willing, she’ll get to be – and how she’ll want to spend time with me.

Me? I’ve got my days planned out. They involve my husband and friends, with volunteering and auditing classes at UW-Madison tucked into coffee shop visits and walks. Not unlike what I do now, minus the auditing thing.

When I’m old and gray, who will be part of this story with me? When I’m old and gray, who will help me write that chapter of my life while my daughter will have cast hers for decades?

– MD

Do You Love Me?

It’s no secret that our daughter prefers my husband. No doubt at all. And why not? He’s a fantastic dad – I mean, really, truly great. In the beginning of this realization I was sad, pouting internally and externally about her crying for him, or just not wanting to be with me. Don’t get me wrong, she still does show affection toward me – we cuddle and read stories and I was the first person she said “I love you” to.

A blurry parade.

But I’m also the person she said to, deadpan, “Mama, I don’t like your face when I’m crying.”

Many people think I’m joking when I say this, but on Monday night/Tuesday morning she was up for about three hours. Fortunately, she was in a good mood, but was just awake. I took a bulk of this time, since CH had attended to her around midnight. I crawled into her bed, and she said, “No, mama, I want dada.” “Why?” I asked. “Because I love him so much.” Foolishly, it being about 2 a.m., asked, “don’t you love me?” Without missing a beat, she replied, “Only a little bit.”

Well, you get what you ask for.

This morning at drop-off, she gave me a little hug. “Where’s my big squeeze?” I asked. “I’m only giving you a little squeeze because I only love you a little bit” she answered.

These statements drive my husband batty. “Be nice to mama” is a common phrase in our house. I honestly don’t know what to do, and generally keep fairly neutral, except for when she’s saying something mean as a form of acting out. I mean, the girl can express her feelings, right? And how many of you love your parents equally? You might love them for different reasons, but don’t you have a favorite? “It will change,” say friends. “She’ll switch back and forth,” they say. I don’t know that. She might, sure, but she might not. For now, I take it as a lesson of something – how one person, created from love, who literally alters your body forever – can also change your heart.

– MD