I’m So Very Very Tired…

Cue Madeline Kahn. If I ever decided to pursue a career in acting, my goal would be to follow in Madeline Kahn’s footsteps.

But seriously, I’m so tired. My 9 month old has been going through a sleep regression for weeks now. And the lack of sleep is taking a huge toll on me emotionally and physically. I’ve been suffering a severe lack of “me” time, either to relax and self-care or to create. We know what we signed up for as parents, especially being the second time around, but it’s still not easy. I pity those who are chronic insomniacs.

I’m also tired in the sense I blogged about last spring. You can read it here. More people seem to be growing aware of the bigger picture, that change is needed, but will it be enough?

And really, I’m so tired of being strong. Strength of will, strength of character, a pillar of strength, a warrior woman, juggling it all…  Is it strength to do what you feel you have to do? I don’t know.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t start this blog until after my son was a year and a half years old. He was a terrible sleeper and I was a “mombie” for a long time. A couple of weeks at a time with his sister doesn’t seem half bad by comparison.

I’ll be back to normal soon, I hope. I feel like I’ll be emerging from my cocoon soon.

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Life Changes Yet Again

I apologize for not posting for a long time. This past project I was involved on was brutal, and I wound up working myself sick, the project had to be completed without me, and it cost the organization extra money to do so because I wasn’t there to see it through. And yesterday, I was “let go”. Mistakes were made by everyone, myself included, but I was the most expendable one and I suspect that sacrificing me is an effort to protect themselves. So be it. I was overworked anyway, with no time for self-care or for working on creative projects that felt more important to me, and it took so much time away from my children. And the organization has shifted to being very different from what it was six months ago, and a “dream job” soured fast.

So, lesson learned. Sometimes you can’t do it all. I’ve grown a lot through the work I’ve done there, I’ve gained so much confidence, tested my strength (both physical and of character) time and again, and when I finally broke, I’ve had so much support from my family, both blood and soul. The amount of love I am receiving and am giving back to others right now is incredible.

I am going to take some time, focus on healing and on my relationships, and then I’ll start creating again. I’ll have a lot more time to devote to projects that I do under this name going forward, as the baby will allow me, and I think I’m going to promote my freelance custom work under my specialty more. I have been granted a gift of time that I didn’t expect to have, and I will make the most of it.

Back at Work with Baby

I started back to work on Monday. I only took 8 weeks this time because I couldn’t afford to do a month unpaid (for my non-US readers who don’t know, the United States “maternity leave” is a joke – you get 6 weeks of disability for vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for cesarean, and disability is less than $200 a week). My work gave me two weeks of maternity leave, on top of the disability, and came up with an extra project for me to do now that I’m back to make up the difference in my salary, which is great and more than my previous employer did for me, and I have the flexibility of being able to work from home and make up hours as convenient and I get to bring the baby with me as much as I need to, which will be all the time at least through the end of the year.

But I’m exhausted. Trying to do it all is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. I’m getting about 2 hours less sleep than I have been and I’m not able to rest while nursing at work like I do at home. Monday was tough on both the baby and I, Tuesday was good, yesterday was tough again, and today is good again. I had hoped to get a break and get some me-time and extra work done in the evenings after my son goes to bed, now that the baby is taking one bottle a day from my husband, but she needed me both Monday and Wednesday night as she’s transitioning to being out of the house all day and teething at the same time. Monday I was holding her, too tired to even cry even though I felt like I needed to, and last night I just accepted it – after screaming her head off for the entire 30 minutes I was putting my son to bed, she immediately calmed when I took her from my husband, then I tried passing her back to him ten minutes later and she went off again (he feels really bad about it), so we took a bath together, she and I, and then I just held her and read the rest of the evening.

It is harder than I thought, but every time I want to whine, I just remind myself how much better I have it than so many. I get to make the choice of having my baby with me, I have a supportive husband and family, the company I work for is transitioning to being even more supportive of it’s employees and trying to avoid us all overworking quite as much as we’ve been in the past. So I feel like an ingrate when it doesn’t seem like enough. The hardest thing for me, I think, is now that my son is in school all day and I don’t get home sometimes until 5:30PM, I feel like I get maybe 15 minutes before bath time and then our 30 min at bedtime for stories and cuddles and that’s it, and it’s not enough time for me. And I look at all the projects I want to do around the house (we still haven’t even finished unpacking) and all the creative projects I want to do for myself, and I have to remind myself that an infant is hard enough to take care of all by itself and everything else will come in due time. I have to continually let myself off the hook or else the tension starts building too high.

On the plus side, I’m feeling good about getting back in the swing at work now. Things are getting organized, we’re in the planning stages that I really like to be a part of, and there are some really fun projects coming up for me, as long as I let myself have fun with them and not stress out. And I’ll soon lose all the baby weight I gained (already more than halfway there) because of all the manual labor I’m doing on top of wearing the baby for hours every day. There will be days that I know I’ll barely be holding things together, that I feel like all the threads are starting to unravel, but it’s all worth it. At least, I hope so.

A Brief New England Adventure

Winter Island, Salem, MA Copyright 2015 Kat Micari

             Winter Island, Salem, MA
            Copyright 2015 Kat Micari

I took some time off finally, and we decided to take a little trip to the Massachusetts coast. My heart was aching to see the ocean, and so off we went. I planned our route, opting to add an hour on our journey to MA by going through Vermont and New Hampshire, and that turned out to be faster than our supposedly shorter route home along the Mass Turnpike thanks to traffic that reminded us of being stuck on the freeways of California. But that is how a road trip goes.

My son travels exceptionally well, loving to watch the scenery go by and read road signs, loving exploring as much as we do, so we count ourselves really lucky on that front. It is vastly different to travel with a young child than with a baby. More difficult in some ways, because at least a baby and young toddler can be pushed around in a stroller and you can still set a normal pace. A baby is more likely to just fall asleep when exhausted too. Things we’ll definitely keep in mind for our next trip.

But I got to see the ocean for a couple of days, which was glorious, and we spent a day in Boston and saw some old friends. I was able to take my mind off of all of my projects for half the time (I cheated and responded briefly to work email and did some initial research for my next project a couple of the days and my husband scolded me soundly). And I was able to get quality family time in, which we needed.

Life Lessons from Hungry, Hungry Hippos

My son has been really into games of all kinds lately, so when his 4 year old birthday came last week, we got him Hungry, Hungry Hippos as part of his gift. And I had an epiphany while playing with him last night. He, being four, would start slamming down on the lever as fast and hard as he could, while I was doing the same with one hand. But with my other hand, I was operating a second hippo at a slower and more cautious rate, and it was that hippo that ate more marbles most of the rounds. So, a metaphor for life, where humans are the hippos:

Frequently in life, we fight to consume as much as we can as fast as we can when it is actually the one who watches and waits and figures out what they actually want who takes the biggest bite.

So I would ask – what is it that you are fighting so hard to consume? Things that will nourish your body and soul or things that attempt to fill a void you want to pretend doesn’t exist? Or do you bide your time and wait to take the bite that you really want?

Also, who or what is taking the biggest bite out of you? And are they worthy of that bite?

As a complete aside, the games today are so cheaply made. I could have stood on the old version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos without breaking it, but now, not so much. It’s almost like goods are designed to break, causing you to throw them away and buy another after a certain amount of time.

Career Verses Motherhood

My place of employment where I am part-time salaried and freelance on certain projects is pushing me up to full-time hours for three months starting in a couple of weeks, and they should know soon if they will keep me permanently full-time (all depends on whether certain funding they are hoping to get comes through or not). And I am having mixed feelings on the matter.

On the one hand, I’m really excited. Between the full-time hours and the extra freelance fees, I have a chance to make an actual, grown-up living wage for the first time in my life, from one place of employment, plus fairly decent benefits (as far as working for a non-profit goes, that is). My hours will still remain flexible, in that some weeks I’ll work more and some weeks I’ll work less, and I can still do some of the work from home, but the bank of hours that I draw on will literally be doubled. The projects that are planned for the coming year are incredibly interesting and varied, and having the full-time hours will give me the time to really go in depth on those projects and do the high-quality creative work that I enjoy doing.

On the other hand, it is twice as many hours that I have to work, which means less time spent with my son. Less time to work on personal creative projects. Having to really lock myself in to quality time with both my son and my husband because otherwise I will get too distracted by work and forget. Less time to cook and bake for fun. Less time to take on freelance projects. It means I have to fully relinquish control of the household to my husband (which I’ve already done a lot of) for all of our sanity, which is a rather difficult thing for me to do. But the potential lack of time to spend with my son, even though it is way more than many other parents get to have, is what aches the most.

The dreaded Mommy Guilt is something that will never go away. Balancing everyone’s needs and wants is a difficult task, and one that I’m not entirely sure I’ve accomplished. But we’ll take things as they come, as we always do. As we have to do.

Renewed and Refreshed

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On Saturday, I made the two hour trek with my 3 1/2 year old son to my aunt-in-law’s cottage on Lake Ontario for a clambake (the same cottage we stay at in our annual New Year artist/writer retreat). As soon as we got there and started in on our greetings, my son started saying “I want to go see the water! Go see the water?”, and I told him that we had to finish saying hello to people first. After the round of hellos were through, hand in hand, the two of us ran to the deck overlooking the water, wind in our faces, laughing and shrieking at the cold. Then we stood on the deck, watching the water, though I was torn between finding solace in the waves and just watching my son watch the water. Then he was off, running, me at his heels until he reached out his hand for me again, and we went to the neighbor’s deck, which sits lower to the water and he had explored this past 4th of July. And again, we both just watched the waves and felt the wind and grinned at each other. We bundled up later and spent more time by the water.

It was one of those absolutely perfect moments that life hands to you at times, that indelibly imprints in your mind and lets you replay it like a movie. I don’t talk a lot here about my son (beyond complaining about him keeping me up at night) or my views on motherhood, but it is such a profound joy to me. Every day that I get to spend watching him grow further into himself, every moment he slows me down and lets me see the world through his eyes, every time his sweet smile makes my heart feel so full that it should overflow but somehow it doesn’t, it gives everything else in my life such profound meaning.

It was worth having to stay up late Friday and Sunday night working to be able to do the trip, to go to the water’s edge and have this time with my son. All I could think as we ran to the water was Please don’t let him ever lose the joy of running full into the wind and loving the water. I hope he keeps it into adulthood as I have. As a seemingly inherited trait, there are far worse ones he could have.

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