The Perfect Day

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I’m dreaming about fall. The crispness in the air, pumpkin everything, hoodie weather, apple cider, and the list goes on and on.

I’m looking forward to fall even more this year. You know those days, those dreary days, where the sun barely peaks out of the grey clouds? All you want to do is pull your hoodie on and curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot beverage. Forget work, no one should be expected to leave their house on such a sleepy day.

And I won’t have to.

I have no job to force me out of the comfort of my home. It will be great: I’ll put on my favorite hoodie and sweatpants, sit down with a cup of coffee, and stare dreamily out the bay window in my living room. I will think about how gross it is outside and how lucky I am to be inside with no place to go.

It will be the perfectly quiet morning. Wait. Too quiet. Where’s my child? Oh, over in the corner. What’s in his mouth? Is that something in his mouth? Yes, it definitely just shifted. How did his diaper come off?

Get back here! Leave the dog’s food alone. No. Leave it.

Ok, it will be the almost perfect day. I mean, I should have a perfect hour while he naps. Of course on that day, he probably won’t nap.

It Took You 9 Months To Get That Way

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The first time I read it it made me so angry. Every time after that I got a little more angry. It was all over mommy/baby websites. Moms would ask about how quickly you can lose the baby fat and “get my body back” (spoiler alert: never. Your body is never yours again). The advice always given: take it easy. Remember it took you 9 months to get this way.

I felt like it was an excuse; a free pass for new moms to not worry about their bodies and just enjoy not being responsible for the shape they’re in. I pictured women saying, “I’m only 4 months postpartum; I don’t have to worry about exercising for another couple of months.”

I had no grace for other moms because by the time I returned to work I had lost all of the baby weight. Within months after that, I was under my postpartum weight. I was pulling clothes out of my closet that I hadn’t worn in years. Do you get that? I had clothes that I couldn’t fit in long before Milo and now they fit! It was glorious!

I worked hard for these results. It started before Milo was born; I ran all the way through my pregnancy with the exception of 7 weeks at the beginning of my second trimester when I was too sick. I would run and tell myself that it would make getting back to running easier. I would be stronger because of it. And I believe I was, but I also had no idea how long it would be before I was strong again.

I went for my first run 5 weeks after Milo was born. Those first few weeks were worse than running at 39 weeks pregnant. Within 2 months of Milo being born I started the tedious process of training for another marathon. At just 5 months postpartum, I ran my 11th and slowest marathon. It was grueling and frustrating. I may have lost plenty of weight, but I had also lost a lot of strength.

What I learned is that losing weight can be easy; it’s regaining your strength that is tough and those results don’t happen overnight. You can do a 3-day detox and shed several pounds, but after 3 days you’ll have no more muscle to show for it. And as great as it feels to be skinny again, I want speed. I want to be strong. I want to show up at a race and be a contender for the win. Forget the size 0; I want the trophy.

So here I am at 9 months postpartum. Running is completely different for me; before I was just logging miles and getting by. Now I’m doing tempo runs and repeats, and I can actually feel myself getting faster each week. And the clock says I’m getting faster too.

But my stomach is still a sensitive topic for me. It’s common for women to carry extra fat around their waste, it’s the exact location where your baby was nesting for 9 months, and it’s usually the last place to “tone” up. My stomach bothers me from an aesthetic perspective, but also physically. I can’t hold a plank as long as I used to, or do as many pikes as before my pregnancy. I’m working on it, but it’s no joke that delivering a baby wrecks your body.

I keep running harder and longer each week. I’m diligent about my diet, which means I also diligently splurge. And I try to keep offering myself grace. It’s ok if I’m not where I want to be; I need something to always be striving for. It was a long road forming Milo, but there’s still plenty of road after him.

60 Day Review

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It’s crazy to believe, but I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for two months now. In some ways, it feels like the time has just flown by. In a lot of other ways, I can’t believe it has only been two months. Most jobs will have a review within the first 90 days to make sure the employee and employer are a good fit for each other, so I thought it might be appropriate to have my own review.

I got off to a little bit of a rough start. I think the problem was that I was a little unclear about the job description. What does a stay-at-home-mom do? I found myself torn between varying priorities. Since Nick started work the day after we moved, I felt like it was my responsibility to get the house unpacked. I also felt overwhelmed by all of the boxes, so it felt urgent to get things organized. At the same time, Milo was cutting his first teeth. He was extremely snuggly during this process, which made “getting things done” very difficult. And frustrating. At the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished nothing. All I did was hold Milo all day. But that was the “mom” part of the job, it just felt so foreign.

Once I got a handle on what I should be doing (taking care of my son first, house second) things started to run a little smoother. Milo and I would take time for a walk every morning, we’d play together in the living room, and then as he napped I would do my house work. The next challenge was the voice inside my head: the one telling me to earn my keep.

It was a phrase I would use with some of my Starbucks employees. If a person felt too entitled to their job and didn’t do much while at work, I would tell them to earn their keep. I didn’t need to keep them around, so if they didn’t want to participate in the work they wouldn’t have a job. I began to fear that I wasn’t earning my keep. I was focusing so much on Milo, but that’s a job that doesn’t really have tangible results. Nick wouldn’t come home from work and see how I was helping Milo cope with teething or develop new skills. I began fearing that Nick wouldn’t see the value in my job; that he wouldn’t think I was earning my keep.

I had to come to terms with the fact that the job of stay-at-home-mom is unlike any other job. The boss, my child, can be very demanding and his expectations can vary day to day. Which means my expectations have to vary day to day. Flexibility is the key to being a stay-at-home-mom and it’s something I will always have to keep practicing.

But l love getting to spend the days with Milo. Watching him learn and explore is the most fun and fascinating experience. We have our routines, like our morning walks, but we also have a lot of diversity in the day. One day I’m baking all day, another I’m cleaning, or we’re out shopping. No two days are ever the same, which I really enjoy.

So while this job has its challenges and at times I feel like I’m not cut out for the work, I believe what I’m doing is valuable and like any other job there is a learning curve. We’ll see what the next 60 days brings.

My Garage of Good Intentions: The Hutch

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The house I grew up in had a multi-purpose room. Officially it was the laundry room; unofficially it was the dog’s room and my mom’s craft room. There were cabinets lining one wall that were full of fabric. Some of it was leftovers from a project and others were intended for future use. My mom was really good at coming up with things to do, purchasing the needed materials, and then storing said materials indefinitely.

We (my family) would make fun of mom relentlessly for this. I was in grade school when my mom made my baby pillow. There’s a quilt she was making for my sister’s wedding gift (9 years later and it hasn’t been started). I can’t even remember what else has been started and not finished or not started at all.

I thought I had escaped that gene from my mom. I’ve never considered myself all that crafty, so I figured this wouldn’t be an issue for me. But two things happened to me: I had a baby and got a house. Only it’s not fabric I’m collecting, it’s furniture.

If you were to come to my house, you would notice we have a two-car garage, but Nick parks in the driveway. At first it was because we had boxes from the move stored on his side of the garage. Those boxes are long since gone, but it’s been taken over by furniture.

Since moving in, I have collected a dresser, patio chairs, a child-sized armchair, two medicine cabinets, a chandelier, and a hutch. All of which need to be painted, stained, or installed. The only problem is I have spent more time on Pinterest coming up with ideas for it all than actually working on anything.

This week I decided it was time to get my rear-in-gear. We were having an open house on Sunday for the members of both churches and I wanted to show some progress on making the house our own. Ok, and I also felt the need to prove that I do stuff other than sit around at home playing with my child. Yes, I still have some stay-at-home-mom guilt. Anyways…

The hutch had been give to us by a couple in the Bartonville church. It had been his grandpa’s, but when they got married he sold them a table and chair set, the hutch, and the dishes in the hutch for a mere $100. Now this was the 60s, but even then $100 was a steal.

They had kept the hutch all these years and finally decided it was time to get rid of it. They offered it to us, and otherwise it was going to be donated to a thrift store. At first sight, I knew I needed this hutch. Not for what I could do with it, but for what I could do to it.

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I had contemplated painting it, but every color I envisioned (usually black) just looked horrible in my mind. I also had this fear I would disrespect the couple by altering it too much. I mean, they had given it to me so it was mine to do whatever I wanted. But it has a history and I felt the need to preserve that as much as possible.

So thanks to Pinterest, I found a tutorial on how to stain furniture. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by giving my version of how I did it. Someone else already did that for me and I just followed her instructions. But there are a few observations I’ll make on the process.

For one thing, I am waaaaaaaay too literal. As I was getting started, I read the tutorial over and over again and checked the can of stain numerous times to see if I needed to stir or shake the stain before I started. Neither one told me to, so I didn’t. I’ve never worked with stain before, so if I wasn’t told to do something I wasn’t going to do it. Stupid. I dipped my brush in the stain and started on one of the drawers. Now my can says espresso, but what I painted on was clear. What kind of sorcery was this that would go on clear and then dry a rich espresso color?!

But none of the instructions said to stir, that contents might settle, so I kept going. I painted every drawer and started on the base. But the feeling that something wasn’t right kept haunting me. BUT IT DIDN’T SAY TO STIR! When my conscience could take no more, I tried stirring the stain. Imagine my surprise when the contents turned a beautiful brown. So I had to go over all of my work again, just in order to actually stain it. Stupid.

Also when embarking on a journey like this, always keep the destination in your mind. I kept working on each piece as an individual piece and forgot that they were part of a bigger picture. Had I paid more attention to it as a whole, I would have noticed how there are stripes of wood along the drawers that should have been stained as well. Or that just because the doors will normally be shut doesn’t been they’ll never be opened, so you might care more about the other side of the door. You know, little stuff like that.

But all in all, I overcame my fear of staining and my “mom” genes and completed a project. The best part was being at the open house and having the couple tell me how beautiful the hutch looked. The husband told me his grandpa would have been proud; I could have cried.

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So on to the next project! I’ll keep you all updated as I knock off my list (and add more projects to it)! And of course, if there’s a project you’ve been working on, dreaming of, or always wanted to do but have been afraid—I’d love to hear about it! Maybe we can get ideas from each other 🙂

Let’s Give Light to a Dark Topic

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It’s tough living with depression; it eats you alive. You get swallowed up by it and, try as you might, your head starts bobbing and you feel yourself going under. It gets too tough to fight and you just lose all of your energy. You’d call for help, but you can’t because the first rule of depression is you don’t talk about it.

There is shame in suffering from depression. Some people don’t deserve to be depressed; life is too good or you’re too rich. Unless you’ve lived through a trauma, you have no right to be depressed. So you keep silent and don’t tell anyone how painful life is.

And then there are those who are too blessed to be depressed. We are too filled with the Spirit to let depression in. We have a new life in Christ, so how could we possibly be depressed?

I’ve wrestled with the guilt of depression. I’ve accepted the disease only to question God as to why I can’t be cured. I try to stay as silent as possible about it.

But then Robin Williams succumbs to depression and kills himself. I’m grateful that at the end of most of the articles surrounding his death there have been messages for the suicide hotline, that we are aware this doesn’t have to be everyone’s story. But I’m a little enraged that all we’re talking about is suicide and whether or not Williams’ took the “easy” way out. Even now we can’t talk about the disease that killed Robin Williams?

Depression is ugly. It’s a parasite that sucks the life right out of you. And it’s more prevalent than we think. So instead of conversations about what a shame it is to lose such a talented actor or how “cowardly” he was, could we talk about depression itself? Could we have honest conversations about its symptoms and treatment options? And if we insist on arguing about affordable healthcare, could we talk about the price of counseling and affordable options so that everyone can have access to proper treatment?

If you are suffering from depression: you are not alone, you are loved, and
depression doesn’t have to win.

An Open Apology to Moms

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Dear Woman Who Became a Mom Before Me,

You drove me crazy. I would try to make plans with you and it would be nearly impossible because of feeding and napping schedules. I mean seriously, we have to have lunch at 11am before Little One has lunch? What?!

When we would hang out, all you had to talk about was your child. You went on and on about the cutest thing they were doing the other day. I felt like I couldn’t connect with you. You had changed. Poor you, that child had completely taken over your life.

You told me you didn’t have time to workout. Sure, I’ve never heard that one before. We’re all busy, but listen you make time for the things that are important. Let me give you a little more guilt about how you’re failing (not getting your workouts in) because I’m sure you don’t feel like a failure in any other area of your life right now.

You told me how exhausting it is to be a stay-at-home-mom. You don’t even understand exhausting. I would work 40 hrs a week and train for marathons. That’s exhausting. You don’t work; you sleep in everyday and spend the day watching TV. I would take your life in a heartbeat.

I was going to be different. You moms had no idea what you were doing, but I was going to be a better parent. I was going to have my cake and eat it too; I could balance being a mom and a “regular” person. It would be a cinch to balance parenting, friendships, and working out. I wouldn’t change just because I was a mom.

But here I am: most of my conversations are about how tired I am because of my son or the cute thing he’s doing now (crawling). My Facebook wall is littered with pictures of my boy. I mean, who doesn’t want to see that face everyday? I make plans and then cancel them because someone is having a rough day. Ok, two someones are usually having a rough day. There are days the workout just doesn’t get done. I either don’t have the time or the energy for it. I’m a stay-at-home-mom, but I haven’t slept in the last 8 months.

So I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the judgmental thoughts I had about you. I’m sorry for not being understanding. I’m sorry for thinking that you just didn’t get it and that I could be a mom better than you; that I had it all figured out when you didn’t. I’m sorry.

I have come to realize the error of my ways. I will try to be a better friend to you. I will not stop posting pictures of my child and I hope you won’t either. And please know if anyone else is giving you grief for being a mom, I can be a sympathetic ear.

Sincerely,

Melinda Jordan
Aka Milo’s Mom

8 Months Old: It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times

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This past weekend we went up to my parents’ house for a little getaway. Partly just to see family, but mostly so we could introduce Nick to a Dragonuk Family Tradition: tractor pulls. Seriously, I love tractor pulls, and Nick had never been to one.

We were able to convince my mom to stay home and watch Milo while my dad, sister, Nick, and I went to the Ogle County Fair for the pull. It didn’t really take much convincing. For one thing, she isn’t really that into tractor pulling. Secondly, she’d give her left arm for more one-on-one time with Milo. So we left Milo with a couple of bottles and decent instructions and left for the fair.

For the most part, Grammy and Milo did great together. That was until the end of the night. He absolutely refused his last bottle of the night and decided he would not go to sleep easily. My charming son screamed for a half hour until he finally passed out. Good thing he didn’t drink that other bottle; he might have had the energy to scream for at least an hour!

The next morning my mom and I were talking and she said she remembered this being the most exhausting age. It’s so true. At this point in Milo’s life, he’s not just growing rapidly but he’s reaching a lot of developmental milestones in a short amount of time.

For one thing, he’s teething right now. One of his top front teeth broke through the gum while we were at my parents and the other will be breaking through any day. In case you don’t remember what it feels like to have your teeth rip through your flesh, it’s awful. Now in all fairness to Milo, the process could be much worse. He hasn’t had swollen and bleeding gums, he hasn’t had a fever, and he doesn’t scream and cry all day long. But he does get very snuggly on the days where the teeth are just about to cut. On those days, forget about getting anything done. All he wants is to snuggle with Mommy and heaven forbid I should try to put him down. He’ll also wake one or two times during the night. Again, not the worst it could be but when you’re used to sleeping through the night even one interruption is one too many. And teething isn’t just a one time thing. You go through all of this for a couple days, the tooth cuts, and life goes back to tomorrow. Just when you think it couldn’t get better, another dang tooth starts making it’s way through the gums. Teething never ends. Ever.

Milo is also starting to experience separation anxiety. He does great with other people, but after a while he just needs Mommy. It’s amazing: he can be in someone else’s care and completely content but the moment I return and he sees me it’s all over. He literally cries “Moooooooommmaaaaaa.” In fact the only time he says “Momma” is when he’s upset, but when he’s excited he says “Dadda.” It’s not fair. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my son knows I can make things better. I love that I’m his safe place, that in my arms he finds rest. But it’s also very exhausting. Every so often I wished he wanted Dadda when he was upset.

Yes, 8 months is a very exhausting time. There always seems to be a crisis in his wee life. But it’s also incredibly exciting. Milo is learning to crawl and I just love to sit and watch him move around. You can’t really call it crawling just yet, but he gets to where he wants to go. I take for granted just how capable he is of getting around; I leave the room for the shortest amount of time and he’s made his way into someplace he doesn’t belong.

He’s also learning so much about the world around him. He’s constantly exploring; pulling on this or that and staring in amazement at its reaction. He’s aware that the dog is another being and loves to “play” with him (to Diesel it’s more like torture). I just watch him in awe as he takes everything in; he’s such a curious little boy.

By far the best part is he’s learning to make noises and “talk” to us. Nothing makes me smile more than listening to Milo babble. He’s got so much to tell us and it doesn’t seem to bother him that we can’t really understand. It does make me eager for when he actually knows some words and phrases, but my dad always tells me “don’t wish your life away” so I’ll try not to wish Milo’s away too.

I find myself to be more tired now than I’ve ever been. Milo can wear me out just listening to him and watching him squirm everywhere. There have been plenty of days Nick has gotten home from work and I’ve asked him to keep Milo preoccupied. I just need a break, but it only takes a couple minutes and then I start missing Milo. I’m a moth to a flame when it comes to that boy. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I just can’t get enough of him.

So while this is a time of his life that is very tiring, I love it. I know there’s a lot more to look forward to and more challenges ahead, but right now I’m soaking in these moments with Milo. What a privilege it is to be Mommy.