New Year

At each turn of the year, my husband and I celebrate the stroke of midnight in about the lamest middle-aged fashion imaginable. We’re a tube of Fixodent away from being in our golden years when it comes to this holiday, but we own it with a laugh each year, and we don’t have plans to deviate too far from it any time soon.  I’d love to say it’s a tradition we started after having kids, and that before kids we toasted the dawn of each new year until dawn out at a trendy club or atop a stunning landmark in some international city.  But we old souls tended to end up asleep or parked on the couch, at home, before the ball dropped, right from the beginning.  And why not? We had everything we needed in the comfort of our home: Each other. And NYE was another opportunity to enjoy just that.  One or two years we watched a marathon of some show like Burn Notice, pausing at midnight to view clips of fireworks from places around the globe where our friends and family might be celebrating.  Other years we just shared anywhere from a half a glass to a whole bottle of our favorite champagne since our first toast as a married couple.  [And happily, we’ve been together long enough to enjoy the champagne for many years, and then see it disappear from shelves forever.]  But the steady tradition of the turn of the year in our house has been our new year’s list.  Each new year’s eve since we got married, we would write on one side of a poster what we’d accomplished in that year.  On the other side, goals we set as a couple for the coming year.  Over the years, the poster would list things like promotions, houses, vacations, and eventually babies.

This year, we’ve yet to do our list.  We haven’t even bought this year’s poster, and last year’s remains rolled up in our closet from when we took it off the wall for some renovation project or another. This year was the first in 10 years together that we were “out” on New Year’s Eve.  It was hands down the most exciting new year’s we’d celebrated together, and the first in 5 years, since we got pregnant with our first child, that we recall being awake at actual midnight, rather than dozing through it and having our champagne as mimosas for brunch instead.  There was no champagne toast, no fancy dinner, no streamers or glittery hats that said “2014.” I did get to wear a special gown and uncomfortable undergarments, but instead of champagne flutes, we held our 3rd newborn.  Sitting bleary-eyed from exhaustion in a tiny hospital room, we were afforded the opportunity to view the fireworks in a different international city every 1-2 hours online as I nursed, changed, and burped our beautiful new addition.

Though we haven’t gotten around to writing this year’s list just yet, we checked off some of the most important goals we had for 2013: To complete our family with a 3rd child, and to take our family business to the next level.  We also achieved things that weren’t on our list, but which enriched our lives immeasurably, like beginning a spiritual journey together that has even further strengthened our marriage and made us better parents.

2014 is a year of possibilities for us.  Having completed our family, we’re entering a new and as yet undefined season in our lives. For me, the physical era of bringing children into the world has come to a bittersweet end, and with each passing day, so does the era of raising children.  Happily though, my role as a mother is everlasting, and continually defines who I am with growing pride and magnitude all the time.  Inevitably, I’m faced with questions about what I want to do next.  Of course at the heart of my drive and ambition is being the best mother I can to each of my children at each of their stages. And that also means being my best self.  For the last 5 years, that’s been defined by things like baby-spacing, breast-feeding, taking prenatal vitamins, and choosing family over my career.  Now, while family will remain the hands-down priority, my options for being my best self just became broader.  And now that I’m a parent of 3 children, certain priorities like my creative aspirations, may be rotating to the back burner where I’d once placed my career.

Our list for the last several years contained dreams and goals like trips, babies, and houses. And while some of those dreams have been fulfilled, others will recur or remain unfulfilled on the list indefinitely. Personally, I plan to work on being more present, bringing myself fully into each moment, because this year I learned how quickly the moment passes.  As for more concrete goals, I want to find my fitness passion, so I can be my best physical self.  I miss dancing and I still want to get back on pointe before my joints crumble, just to experience it again.  I’ve also come to terms with the nagging realization that I miss my career, the camaraderie of working parents, and the structure that corporate life provides. And while I’ll never regret the time I’ve borrowed from my professional life to give to my precious children, nor will I ever sacrifice my all too important balance to excessive hours and travel, I feel ready to return. Having taken a step back to adjust my priorities has taught me a lot about what makes me thrive, and I’ll return to work with a renewed perspective and purpose, with confidence in what I want to do and where I want my career to take me. I’ll keep writing about it here, and get around to finishing, and starting for that matter, our new year’s list for 2014.

Image

Happy New Year!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nanagyei/8330945843/”>Nanagyei</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Measuring Up

I’d been un-pregnant for a mere 2 weeks the dreaded ‘numbers’ started calling out to me.  You know the ones.  You have them too.  We all have them.

Image

© tashatuvango

The numbers on the scale.

The numbers on your jeans label.

The numbers on your bra size.

The number of pounds you gained having children, and the number you still have left to lose.

The number of calories you ate for lunch and the number of hours it took you to ingest them [they don’t count if you eat them standing up, in the car, or while nursing, right?]

There are numbers you wish would go up, and some you wish would go down.  And still others you’d just like to freeze, like the number of years that your children will be children and prefer your company to anyone else’s.

This is my last baby, and my days of walking zombie-like around my house with a burp cloth draped across my shoulder and one boob left accidentally hanging out are numbered.  This is the last time I’ll get to eat an extra 500 calories a day because I’m nursing every 2 hours around the clock, and the last time I’ll wash 72 little cotton square blankets each week, which means the loads my overworked washer and dryer have left are also numbered, although I’m hopeful they’ll make it through the soccer years.

Experience has a way of changing the way you measure yourself. And it’s taken me 5 years, 4 pregnancies, and a lot of self discovery to learn to see a different set of numbers: Not the ones that quantify me, but the ones that qualify me;  The ones that remind me of the effort, the sacrifice, and the love that motherhood requires, and which I give each day without pause, except for the occasional quiet tears in the sanctity and humming solitude of my laundry room, but I’m not counting those.

Here are a few of the numbers that I’m proud to share.

3 incredible children

1 miscarriage

3 c-sections

20 hours of labor

7 cm without an epidural

32 months of being pregnant

33 months of breastfeeding (and counting)

4 minimum number of hours of sleep I can function on (not necessarily consecutive)

2 the number of hours between nursing sessions

20 the number ounces of extra breastmilk I can pump each day

28 the number of bags of frozen breastmilk I’ve stored so far

9 years of marriage, the better half of them enriched immeasurably by parenthood

2 the number of years I spent as a working mom

2 the number of years I’ve spent as a stay-at-home mom

 

What numbers will you share?