Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father's Day 2014

After her first bath
When I was growing up, the thought of marriage and having babies was no where near the top of my priority list.  Deep down I wanted it, a family, but something about saying it out loud just didn't sit well with me.  I knew that people would make assumptions about me, the whole of me, if they found out I wanted to get married.  They'd think that, just because I wanted a marriage, I must want to be a wife as well.  Wanting a baby meant that I wanted to be a mommy, willing to accept all the responsibilities and pressures that society heaps upon mommies. It meant I was willing to sacrifice my time, body, career, and any personal aspirations for the sake of that family.  To a younger me, it sounded like you could have a family OR you could have your self.  Not both.

But I didn't want that. I wanted my family, but I did not want the prepackaged roles and titles that came with it.  I did not want a family that consists of mother, father, and children.  I wanted a safe, warm community of individuals surrounding me, bonded by love and blood, working for a common future. To me, that is family.

I'm lucky to say that that IS my family today.  And it wouldn't be possible without this man.

Blowing on hot soup.

He is gentle, steady, and patient to a degree I find unfathomable. 

He is not stuck up on superficial gender roles. He doesn't see me as a woman, wife or mother; he sees me as a friend, partner, and human being. Our roles are fluid, each of us jumping in to do what needs to be done at any given moment, balancing our strengths with each others' weaknesses.

He is going to teach our daughter so much more than "how a man should treat a woman." From him, she will learn how to live conscientiously, with love and respect towards everyone regardless of color, class or creed.

First beach trip

I am proud to call him husband, and my daughter's father.  Here's to many, many more Father's Days to come.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tough days with the tiny dictator

Can I confess something?

Parenting a toddler is hard. 

This week was particularly rough.  Work was difficult for my husband and I for a variety of reasons, and we came home every day desperate for a little relaxation.  Instead we frantically launched into cleaning up and preparing dinner all while an angry Amaliya cried, whined, and threw avocados around the kitchen.  I got dinner on the table and ended up shoving it in my mouth in under five minutes, without tasting it,while my daughter screamed from her high chair.  She refused to eat, or let us eat, she didn't want to sit.  I was beyond frustration.  Worn down.  I looked at her and was horrified at the first thought that crossed my mind, which was, "you are ruining everything."

I've always known I would enjoy parenting young, school-age kids.  Four-ish, five-ish.  I've been around that age enough to know that we sync up well.  I'm scared of pre-teens (who isn't?), and I look forward to the teenage years.  The newborn, baby stage was terrifying to me in my ignorance, but I ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would.  There was anxiety, there was a crazy amount of sickness and sleep deprivation, but on the whole it was so easy.  There are no personality conflicts with babies.  No need for discipline, boundaries, or negotiation.  They need, they cry, you give.  Simple.

Toddler parenting, I feel, may not be my strong suit.  They are obstinate with no focus, stubborn yet nonsensical.  They can clearly tell you what they want, but can't understand your explanation of the "no."  I know, in my rational mind, that this is just a phase and will pass quickly.  Amaliya's second set of molars are coming in, which must hurt, and she's definitely gone through some developmental leaps lately that I think are stressing her out.  She is gradually figuring things out, making sense of the world, and I know that once her emotions even out things will be easier for everyone.  She needs my patience, even when I don't feel like I have any more patience to give.

I'm digging deep this week, to find enough grace for her and I both.  Negativity seeps in when we're on the third straight hour of evening tantrums - I am a horrible parent, I'm not cut out for this, I'm not sure I want to have another kid.  I am trying to let those feelings come and go without taking them too seriously.  The bad moments are just moments - seemingly endless, but unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

And anyway, we still have bedtime.  A few precious minutes every night when I can change her clothes without a fight, watch her do a happy little dance when she picks out her books for the evening, and hold her in my arms while we read to each other.  She clings to me tightly in the darkness, head on my shoulder, and begs to hear lullabies (these days it's "Let It Go," every time) while I sway back and forth, just like I did when she was new.  She lays down in her crib, asks for her blanket, gives a big stretch and looks up at me with a sleepy smile.  My worn-down, deflated heart grows three sizes when she says, "I love you, Mama," and reaches up for a kiss.  I close her door and am so relieved to have some peace at last, but also?  I kind of miss her.

Isn't it amazing, how one little person can ruin every other moment, but make all the moments in between infinitely brighter?

This phase is just that, a phase, and we'll get through it.  Amaliya is a very spirited personality - stubborn, sensitive, and quite demanding, but even on the hardest days I wouldn't change her for anything.  I love that she's such a force, so determined and curious and expressive.  She will always keep me on my toes.

I love her.  So much.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This and that

It's hard to find the words to post today. This week has been lovely, but draining.  Good things in the works, changes afoot, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all.

I'm two weeks into my 20 week marathon training plan.  Have I mentioned that I'm training for the Long Beach Marathon?  Since I made it on the Ragnar Napa Valley team as an alternate, I figured I needed something else to train for in case I don't end up running with the team.  It's good timing for the marathon - I have the time in my schedule to train, am in good health, and mentally I am ready for it.  I'm taking it one run at a time, since I get really scared looking too far ahead (at the 20 mile runs and 40 mile weeks).  For now, I feel fantastic and up to the challenge.

Amaliya has changed so much in the last few weeks.  She sings all the time now, and knows all the words to a handful of songs.  Tonight, she read her Eating the Alphabet book to me, and only needed help on two letters.  Her vocabulary must be close to 200 words now.  She's also started acting out very intentionally, and when I go to discipline her she dissolves into giggles and says, "I'm so funny!"  She's not, really, but I can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness.  I can't believe she's almost two, guys.  TWO!

I am really loving this summer.  We have lots of plans, something going on practically every weekend.  Amaliya is getting to the age where we can take her places and enjoy activities together, which I have honestly been looking forward to since before she was born.  As much as I loved having a baby, I am really excited to have a kid.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!