Illuminating Stella

April 2013 archive

Babies Are Turning One!

So we took Stella to the First Birthday Party of one of her contemporaries on Sunday. It was a Sesame Street Bubble Party for Sofie, a cute friend from gym class. I cannot believe the “babies” are starting to turn one, we have two more birthdays on the calendar coming up. It is so wonderful to see them celebrate their special day.  I will admit we got a little choked up (yes, John too) when Sofie got set up in her high chair with her smash cake and her Dad gave a little speech about the first year flying by and how amazing the journey has been. Stella wore a dress I bought when I was pregnant that I have been waiting for her to fit in. Also bittersweet, but she looked adorable. Fuchsia and Gold really work for her I think. Here’s a few photos of her getting ready to go and at the party.

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Stella – Ten Months

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Dear Stella,

You are ten months old today! I cannot believe how close we are getting to the one year mark. This past month has been a lot of fun, might even be my favorite month with you so far. You are so active and full of joy. You love to “cruise” as they call it, crawling, pulling yourself up on everything, using a lawn mower walker we got for you and moving around the best you can. You smile all the time. You are not ready to walk, but you are starting to think about it. We are in no hurry. Even just crawling you are into everything. We have had to baby proof so much of the house now. We have gates, we have replaced glass cabinets with plexiglass, we have plug covers…the list goes on and none of it in vain.

You are eating three meals a day for the most part, you usually only eat with gusto at one of the meals and you love to throw most of your food on the floor. Right now you love blueberries, bananas, peas and cheese the most. You are drinking from a sippy cup, which we also have to tether to your high chair or it would be on the floor. When you do feel like eating, you really get into it and smear it all over your face, especially your eyebrows.

You have started to babble a lot. I know you are going to be a big talker. You have said a few words, but not consistently. Right now you are saying “Nana” for Banana, Duck and “At” for Cat. You have become pretty enthralled with our house cat and try to chase him and pet him whenever he will let you. We are working on “gentle” all the time. Sometimes you yell “No” back at me when I tell you “No” as you start after something you should not have or be in. You still say Mama and Dada and for a bit you were saying Papa for Grandpa.

This month you celebrated Easter, took your first swim class (which you loved immensely) and took your first airplane trip to visit your Grandparents on both sides in the midwest. You were not too thrilled with the flight there but much mellower the flight home. You applied for your passport and we are planning a trip to Mexico this summer with the whole family. I’ve started collecting cute bathing suits, sun hats and sun dresses for you already. I’m so glad your Dad is going to be on that fight to help entertain you.

Thank-you for another wonderful month. We are so grateful to have a sweet girl like you in our lives. You are such a blessing.

Love,

Mom & Dad

Thoughts on being a SAHM

SAHM for those who may not know is an acronym for Stay At Home Mom. This is me, I am that. I never really thought I would be one, it was not an aspiration of mine. I always assumed I would need to be back at work after no more than a handful of months at home with a baby. That is if I was ever lucky enough to even have one. I had my doubts many times for sure. The single scene is pretty brutal in LA.

Yesterday, I heard from an old co-worker and friend that I had lost touch with. She did not know that I had not returned to work. It seemed funny to write her that I in fact have been home with my baby for ten months. It kind of struck me as I wrote it how long it has been now. I have not really taken much time to think about and process this huge change in my day-to-day life. I feel like I have been so busy being a Mom I haven’t even stopped to think about my new identity as a Mom, a SAHM and my lack of identity beyond that right now. At least the lack of a career, which was a big part of my identity for so long. It’s not something that freaks me out per se, it’s just an odd feeling.

If you count the month I was home before she came (two weeks late), I have not worked full-time in almost a year. In fact, June First will be my one year anniversary of not working a “paying job” (yes, that’s not counting the Mom work I do; which is first, second and third shift everyday). Even though it’s been eleven months, it still doesn’t seem like it’s really my life. The life I led before of non-stop, busy busy, managing people, sales quotas and meetings, driving all over to client visits and presentations, reports, audits….pressure, pressure, pressure feels so distant now. I cannot even imagine waking up tomorrow, putting on a suit and heels, driving that 45 minute commute and leading a morning meeting with my old staff. It’s almost comical to imagine. I have worked since I was about sixteen and full-time since about twenty-two. That’s over 20 years with no break apart from six weeks between jobs once and week-long vacations here and there. How can it already feel so foreign?

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my career and where I was when I stepped off the merry-go-round. I honestly do think I could jump back into it all pretty easily and would even enjoy working again. Somedays I think about how much easier all of that was compared to taking care of a sick, cranky baby who refuses to eat and sleep. I won’t exaggerate, Stella is not a difficult baby, I have managed people much, much harder to manage than Stella. But I did always get to go home and take a break from them. At least a break from their face, often I thought about them all through dinner and tossed and turned over them all night. The last year I worked was particularly tough. I had one of the most complicated, suffocating and painful management experiences of my life, all while being pregnant. I spent a great deal of my pregnancy being worried about handling this woman and that situation. I think it really burned me out and perhaps made me more bitter than is fair overall. I heard myself often saying things like this to John, ” I just don’t want to have to manage people and a newborn. I don’t want them to zap the energy that should go to her”. It’s how I felt and feel.

So, we saved as much money as we could while I was pregnant. John was amazing and kept telling me that we would be just fine if I didn’t want to go back to work after the baby. Every so often he would tell me how many months I would be able to stay home with what we had saved. I could never believe him, so he would show me Excel spreadsheets to illustrate. The amount of time kept growing as did my belly. By the end of my pregnancy I was feeling really torn about what I would do. Once she was here the choice became pretty easy.

I am not ready yet to go back to work. I am not ready to let anyone else but her make demands of me, challenge me, disrespect me, etc. The situation I had been tormented about in my last job was actually resolved for me while I was on leave, before I had to decide to return. Still we decided I would stay home with Stella. I still felt I needed a break from work to fully enjoy Motherhood. I know the day will come soon enough that I will return to the workforce. Part of me is excited about that day.  I imagine being a Mother will change a lot about how it all plays out too. Working will be different. Perhaps I will easily switch off from work to home and not allow the stresses of work to impede as much on my time with Stella. But right now, all I want is to be home with Stella. I want to soak her up and savor every minute. I want to be there for her as much as possible, be the one to wipe her nose and read to her. I have no opinions about what is right for other families, moms and babies about going back to work. I firmly believe every family needs to make their own choices and all ways of approaching it can be happy and healthy. That said, I am so thankful that I have the freedom to choose right now. This way is the right thing for me and for us right now.

I have never been happier than I am right now. I love spending my days with Stella. I love that we don’t HAVE to be anywhere other than a doctor’s appointment from time to time. I love waking up and savoring a cup of coffee watching her play and talking to her about what she is doing. Taking her to a gym class, swim class, the park and even on errands is just pretty awesome. It’s taken a little while getting used to it. When we first started having play dates at the park with other SAHMs I felt like we were joining some weird club and almost like I’m ditching school. Now it’s feeling more natural. We talk about babies, pregnancy, parenting, marriage, fashion, movies, really a multitude of topics, but not our jobs. Friends who knew me before Stella know that I used to talk about my work all the time. Now that’s just gone. Strange! I still get excited on Fridays, but not because it means two days away from the grind, now it’s because I get to share it all with John. The last few vacations have been so much more meaningful even. Now a vacation is not primarily about celebrating time away from work, it’s more about special time with my family.

So since I am no longer defined by my career, I will have to work on my new identity for the time being.

Here is a partial list:

  • SAHM
  • Mom to Stella
  • Wife, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, Niece, Cousin, Granddaughter, Daughter-in-law, etc.
  • Friend to many amazing women
  • Mom Blogger
  • Breastfeeder (who is now comfortable feeding her daughter in most public situations)
  • Farmer’s Market and Organic Food Shopper and sometimes Baby Food Maker
  • Work Out Partner (thanks Kellie for being mine back)
  • Park Enthusiast
  • Mommy and Me Class Participant
  • Drinker of Red and White Wine (but really craving a Margarita once the Breastfeeding ends!)
  • Blue Jean & Ponytail Queen (i.e.. no more suits, nylons or heels)
  • Red Head with lots of opinions (fiery as they say)
  • Avoider of political discussions and email correspondence with my Mother
  • Shopaholic when it comes to clothes and books for my girl
  • Semi-secret Watcher (shrouded in guilt) of several incarnations of The Real Housewives (even though I am now quote en quote a “Real Housewife” and I still identify with none of them)
  • Just Me

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