Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PYHO: Trying

I've been busy as of late, and I'm doing my best to balance out home and family and work and fun stuff, like blogging. It hasn't been easy, but I'm trying.

Remember how I blogged that work was getting easier? It didn't last. Work, my friends, has been trying. I can't get any deeper than that, and it bugs me. I'm an open book, but I can't talk about work in this space. And if I can't write about it? I'm screwed. Let's just say that work has been trying.

I've got a lot of anger and resentment over an old, old situation, and I can't let go of it. I should, because it's stupid. But in the interest of moving on, and acknowledging that it's all water under the bridge, I'm trying.

My house is a mess. I work on keeping it clean, but because our babysitter has been out of commission for the last few days, Hannah's been visited by her grandmother at our house. I try not to let it bother me, but this morning, it really bugged me. I'm trying.

Lately, it seems like that's all I'm doing: trying. Trying to keep the house clean, trying to keep work stress from invading my home life, trying to get over things. I'm doing so much trying, I've realized there isn't much doing. How is that possible? Lately I feel like I'm doing too much--but I'm not. I'm trying to do it all, but I can't.

I wish I had an answer, or magic pill, or magic wand, or my very own Ask Jeeves who could help me out here. I hate feeling all spread out. I hate not feeling organized. I find I keep saying, "I'm trying....I'm trying..." but it's just not good enough. I keep telling myself that if something were to fall into place, everything else would go along with it. If work suddenly became less stressful. If Hannah suddenly decided that tearing apart the house wasn't so much fun after all. If....gah!

Spinning my wheels is irritating, and I can only spin for so long before I've had enough of myself. Don't you hate that feeling?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

PYHO: No matter who she is.

When I was pregnant, I got a lot of parenting advice. When Hannah was days and just a few weeks old, I got parenting advice. This I was prepared for, though the real onslaught was a surprise. What I wasn't really prepared for was the critique of my parenting in rather....unusual (?) forms. Specifically, the level of "girl" I allow in my home.

When I was growing up, I was pretty "girly". I liked to wear dresses. I played with dolls and Barbies and dammit, I liked it! I played with My Little Pony and brushed her hair. I had a PJ Sparkles doll I slept with for over a year. I played beauty parlor with an overstuffed bear (read: I took a pair of scissors to it and called myself Nancy while pretended to smoke a cigarette). I'd play teacher and house and mommy, all in our play kitchen. I read princess stories and pretended I was Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel trapped in her tower. But never Snow White. She was pretty, but she was also really annoying.

But all that said, I wouldn't have considered myself "girly", and to this day, I probably wouldn't. I liked "girl" stuff, but I didn't compartmentalize in that way. I just wanted to play with things that looked cool and looked like fun.

As much as I enjoyed the girly stuff, I liked "boy" things too. I made an effort to self-teach myself every sport because I wanted to be an athlete. I pretended to be Marc Summers during backyard Double Dare. And in my yearly letters to Santa, I always asked for "boy" toys: Matchbox cars, legos, Ninja Turtles. Sure, I wanted the tea set and the Barbie RV, but damn if those Ninja Turtles didn't look like fun. I never really segregated toys into "boy" and "girl" categories. I was just concerned with what looked like the most fun.

My sister? She was a "tomboy." Growing up, she was a three-sport athlete. She got along better with boys than girls. She cut her hair short and my mom was loathe to do it. (Chill, Mom. It was way easier to comb out at the end of softball practice, wasn't it?) And for Christmas and birthdays, she got "boy toys". She had a Ninja Turtle action figure that to this day I am jealous of. She had a green, gender neutral bike, and I had a pink scooter. Her bedroom was orange and bright and fun, and mine was pink. One year at Christmas, she got to wear her Bulls jersey (likely after throwing a fit about not wanting to wear a dress), and I got to wear...pink. I hated pink. I swore that I'd never make my daughter wear pink and wear itchy dresses and not be allowed to play in the dirt or play with cars or action figures just because someone in an office decided they were for boys and not girls. And that was before my feminist high school met me.

When Hannah was first born, we dressed her in whatever was clean. Half the time, that was pink. Despite my distaste for the color, I certainly wasn't going to avoid dressing my newborn in anything that was pink. Clothes are clothes. When we took pictures of her and posted them to Facebook, inevitably, we got a call from someone, anyone, who said, "THAT'S what your putting your daughter/my grandchild/niece/nephew/friend/neighbor/fill-in-the-blank in? THAT?" (Note: not all those people necessarily said something.) So in addition to my new parenting skillz, my fashion sense was now being questioned? Ridiculous. My baby was warm and happy, and yet I had gnats in my ears shouting nonsense about what she was wearing. Have you ever met a newborn? They don't care about anything. As long as their basic needs are met, they could be dressed up like Big Bird, and they wouldn't care. If Hannah was a boy and I dressed him in pink, he still wouldn't have cared. It's always the adults who care about silly things like clothing colors.

And on the opposite end, a few months ago I had a friend congratulate me because I didn't dress Hannah "like the way little girls are supposed to be dressed."

But...how are little girls supposed to dress? Pink or no pink? Dresses or no dresses? Hell, why buy clothes at all? Everyone knows babies are happiest when they're naked. I mean really. Have you ever seen a kid at bath time? And to be honest, I thought I was dressing her like a little girl. Her clothes are cute. I'm a sucker for anything with a butterfly on it. I think jeans and a long shirt is adorable. I'd put her in sundresses all day, everyday, if I could. Personally, I can't stand the color pink. I was over-pinked as a kid and even now, I shy away from that color when I see it in stores. It's too much for me, and it makes me just a touch nauseous.

So why, then, are there dozens of pictures of Hannah wearing pink?

Days old. We were both pretty tired.

Three sleep-deprived humans.

Snow day!

Why do I frilly her up and make sure that her clothes scream GIRL?

She loved her ballerina onesie.

Ready for Kristie's wedding.

Memorial Day 2011

The truth is, I don't think I'm making a conscious effort to do it. The truth is, some of that frilly, pink, girly garbage? It's pretty damn cute. And I don't pick out anything for her that I don't 100% believe is awesome. And, to be fair, last year in preparation for St. Patrick's Day, she wore girl and boy t-shirts I picked out for her.

Boy shirt

Girl shirt
Shamrock dress with tights and Mary Jane socks.
 On our camping trip, she wore some "boy" onesies that her aunt picked out.


From the boy side of BRU.
For Christmas, Santa brought Hannah cars, a picnic basket, and t-ball (among many many many many many many many other things). And for the South Side Irish Parade this year? Ooooh, I'm going to hell for that outfit:

Cars from Santa.
  
Parade Day!
 
Because the skirt wasn't enough, she needed a shamrock hoodie. And a hat.

 And when it came time to pick out her winter coat, Hannah picked the pink one.

(I thought I had a photo of her in her coat. I do not.)

The fact of the matter is that it doesn't much matter to me if Hannah's wearing pink or black or blue or plaid. If she likes it and it makes her happy, why does it matter if it's for "girls" or for "boys"? When we were shopping for a winter coat and her eyes lit up when she saw that pink plaid coat, what was I going to tell her? "No! Pink is NOT for you! No pink for you!" No. That's just silly. Who cares if I hate it? It makes her happy. She's ONE. One year old. She wants to surround herself with things that make her happy and make her smile. Right now, her only concern is having fun and being happy.

I want her to be whoever she is supposed to be. Girly or not girly. Tomboy. Badass. Sweet and gentle. A scientist. A soccer player. A dancer. A model. An Olympic athlete. A mechanic. A great aunt. A princess. Whoever. Whatever.

I think part of the "problem", if you will, is that from the moment she came into being, she meant so many things to so many people. She was a new adventure, a new start, a second chance, a promise.....but to us, she's everything. But when someone's "idea" of who this little person should be or can be is challenged? Oy vey.

I think every parent wants their child to be just like them. They want their children to take on their best qualities, perfect them, and grow up into a kickass, take-charge adult. I would love for Hannah to be a loud, opinionated, polite, intelligent, and wise-beyond-her-years adult. I want her to eschew the princess garbage and be the kid who stands up to bullies and climbs trees and skins her knees and somehow still has a fair amount of grace. But the fact of the matter is, there's no way to force that or change who she is. So she might be a princess who stands up to bullies, or she might be a softball player who loves dressing up in heels. I really don't care, because I want her to be exactly who she's supposed to be, even if that means pink and rainbows and princesses and all this other stuff that I hate. And if I love her, I certainly can't hate everything she loves.

We will inevitably disagree on clothes and music and dating and television and movies and life in general, but I know that respecting what she loves and is passionate about, even if I don't like it or can't stand it, will mean so much more to our relationship long-term. I don't ever want her to think that just because she likes pink that she's "less than". I don't want her believing that because she's a tomboy that she isn't worth anyone's time and effort and love. She is who she is, and I LOVE who she is. She's curious and smart and goofy and loving and a little bit of a rough-houser. And no matter how that changes, or if it changes, she'll always be my best girl.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March Resolution Roundup

Only nine more monthly updates to go! Woooo!

1. Be Healthier.

This one was incredibly hard to stick to in the first part of the month. At work, we were gearing up for Big Major Mega Uber Event and I was working a lot of long hours. Throw in general "life" stuff, and by the time I got home, I was just exhausted. I didn't feel like it, so I didn't. On top of that, I wasn't eating anything close to healthy because I was so distracted by things at work, and I was just a lump.

The good thing to come out of all of this is that I recognized my lumpy-ness. I talked to a friend, and later this week I'll be taking a class with her, and I've been trying to get out more. The summer-like weather we had in March was great, because it not only forced me to get outside, but I wanted to get out in the yard and play. Hannah and I took some good walks and reacquainted ourselves with the neighborhood. Yesterday, we met some people who live on the street behind us, and Hannah even scored a free coloring book and Chicago Bears sticker. Ah, the perks of living among the elitist of professional sports mascots.

2. Reading More.

Again, life sort of intervened on my behalf here. With The Event wearing me thin, I came down with some sort of crappy sickness in the middle of the month. I was out for about 3 days, and in that time I was able to read The Hunger Games trilogy before the movies came out, so I am officially a Capitol Sheep, just like the rest of you. I have to say that they were good, but not great. There's a pretty big debate going on between some of my more literary friends, and some of them think the books are trash, others think they're awesome. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I recognize that they aren't works of art, and I feel there are some pretty major flaws with the books, However, it's YA lit. YA is anything but a work of art. I think they do a nice job of redefining the idea of a heroine for YA enthusiasts, but they aren't the best! books! ever!

3. Blogging more.

Yeah, again, I have to point the blame in the direction of The Event. I was seriously tired, guys. By the end of the work day I usually felt like I'd run a 5K. I'd say marathon, but I'm not an athlete, so who am I kidding? Add on a dollop of work-related stress, and I was just anxious to get home, eat some dinner, and get into my comfies. I've already blogged more this month than last, so I'm calling it a win.

4. Save more.

Yep.

5. Simplify.

I feel like I'm doing my best with this resolution. I seriously hate clutter, and I feel like every time I turn around, there's more "junk" that I need to get out of my life. I've donated six bags already this year, and my one March bag turned into two really fast. I've really forced myself to look at my closet and dresser, especially. I had to say goodbye to my favorite pair of pre-pregnancy jeans, which was pretty sad. It's not that I'm too fat for them these days, it's that my hips are wider. I've lost weight, and the damn things still didn't fit. Le sigh. I know that this is for the best, in the long run. I mean, why hang on to comfortable, still-in-good-condition denim? My hips won't magically shrink. I can't undo the damage done by pregnancy and L&D, so hanging on to those old jeans was just holding me back.

6. Follow through.

I've made significant progress. I'm not yet at the place where I'd like to be, but I've noticed that when I remind myself that stopping isn't following through, and it isn't what I want to do, I get better. I think I've made strides in my "follow through", and I am doing a good job at pointing out when I'm not doing what needs to get done.

7. Recipes

Ugh. I suck at this.

8. Less swearing, more church.

Less swearing has been a big, fat fail. I either need to keep a swear bucket with me all the time, or accept the fact that I have a potty mouth.

Church, however, has gotten better. When Hannah was an infant, I got up with her overnight. I was--and still am--the one who gets up with her when she wakes up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. On a normal, day, this isn't a problem since I have to get ready for work anyway. Because I was always up with Hannah, Graham began waking up with her on the weekends so I could sleep in. This, my friends, was a glorious, glorious thing. One of my biggest--and probably the most selfish--concerns about having kids was the sleep, or lack thereof. I love sleeping. I love sleeping in on weekends. I didn't want to have to give that up. Thankfully, Graham took it upon himself to let that happen as much as possible. An unfortunate side-effect of this is that on Sundays, I was just crawling out of bed when it was time to go to church. I want to attend church. I want us to attend as a family. It's important to me that weekly church services be an important part of Hannah's life as she grows up. To counteract my sleepiness, Graham wakes up with her on Saturday, but I wake up with her on Sunday. We have also made it a point to attend the earlier service (though not the earliest service--let's not get crazy) because it forces all of us to wake up and get moving, but because Hannah's nap usually falls around the same time as the later service. Crabby baby in church = ewwwwww, we're those people. Waking my fat self up and getting to the earlier service means that it's a happier day for all of us.

Something that hit me on Sunday: Our church doesn't have a nursery. I love my daughter, but I'd be ecstatic if there was a nursery space available for small children. Some days, I absolutely do not mind standing in the back of church and following her around as she explores and wanders. Other days, I would really like to be able to focus and pray and participate. Not that I want to dump her off on someone else, but it'd be good for my spirit, I think, if we had that as an option. There is a "children's church" during our service, but as of now Hannah is too young to participate, even if I went with her. Le sigh again.