Day in the Life

The day started like any other–wake up to Theo making morning noises, morning nursing, diaper, clothes, and a bit of playing in Theo’s room.

01-Sunrise

Our Sunrise

We moved onto the first load of laundry, during which Theo did one of his very favorite things: getting in and out of laundry baskets.  Added bonus: I let him play with the diaper liners!

02-Laundry

Too much excitement!

Next was oatmeal which was refused and replaced by toast before I remembered that my policy is to not make replacement foods for something he doesn’t want to eat.  Oops.

03-Breakfast 1 04-Breakfast 2

After breakfast was vacuuming time, which, now that we live in a bigger apartment takes a lot longer, but is easier (since I can vacuum more than one square foot of floor at once without having to move something off of it).

05-vacuuming

Vacuuming makes the little guy sleepy, so it was naptime next

06-Tired

During naptime, I kicked it into high gear productivity-wise.  First I cleaned the kitchen and tidied, mopped, organized some boxes in our bedroom to bring down to the storage unit, brought up Theo’s winter clothes to sort through, and even got to sit down for a pumpkin-cake and pomegranate snack before Theo was up again.  My favorite thing about going to get him is peeking at him through the keyhole first.  Cutie.

08-Wake up

He told me all about the birds he sees out his window

09-Birds

And then he helped me sort through the winter clothes.  By helping, I mean whining and being a try-it-on model.  Turns out, all the winter clothes are way too big (although techincally too small, size-wise)

"I can't put my arms down!"

“I can’t put my arms down!”

Then we went upstairs for a banana snack

11-Banana snack

Which was promptly sneezed out.  “Luckily” it all landed on my leg and Theo’s foot, and not on the freshly vacuumed and mopped floor!  I’ve never been happier to have banana clumps on my jeans.

12-Banana sneeze

 

I still hada lot of energy, so I decided to tackle something that’s been bugging me for a while.  The Cardboard Corner

13-Cardboard Corner

It’s been building up since we moved in, and contained (little to my knowledge): 3-week old food garbage, all the balled-up ads that we used to pack fragile kitchen things with, all the cardboard from every piece of IKEA furniture that we bought (which was a lot), lots of styrofoam, and plenty of plastic bags.  I started with flattening all of the packing-material ads, which Theo thought was fun at first, but he quickly grew bored and the whining started back up.

14-Newspaper

Apparently, he was completely starving, and whined all the way through my making him lunch.  I was basically losing my mind at this point…

15-Whine

But thankfully, after lunch he took a nap (after much coaxing) and I got a few more things done, including a couple more loads of laundry and some button-sewing-on.

16-Laundry

I think I ended up with more single socks than I did pairs in this load…

He woke from his nap in a much better mood than he was when he went to sleep, so we had a quick yoghurt snack, and got back to work on the Cardboard Mountain.

18-Snack

19-Find Theo

Where’s Theo?

I thought that maybe I could finish up and surprise Andreas with the end result, but he came home too early!

20-Papa's Home

We finished up together, and did a few other little errands, which left no time for making dinner, but luckily we had lots of leftovers in the fridge!

21-Dinner

Then it was time for bed (for the little one at least)

"Don't brush my teeth!  I'll do anything!"

“Don’t brush my teeth! I’ll do anything!”

Blowing goodnight kisses

Blowing goodnight kisses

And of course, goodnight high-fives

And of course, goodnight high-fives

Bedtime prayers and story (Harry Potter)

Bedtime prayers and story (Harry Potter)

After Theo went to sleep, , I tidied a bit around the upstairs, and admired my Cardboard Corner handiwork

27-Cardboard Corner 2

Then I made a late-night apple crisp (aaaand I just realized that I now refer to 8 pm as “late-night”), and we ended the night being cozy with a How I Met Your Mother mini-marathon.  Perfect!

26-Apple Crisp

Now is the Best

Although yesterday’s birthday post was brief, that was due more to the fact that it was past 11 (my bedtime) than to the number of things I had to say.  I’ve actually been thinking a ton about my small boy.

All my life, I’ve wanted babies.  Babies, babies, babies.  The kind that stay cuddled up in your arms, eat nothing but milk, and make small, precious noises.  I wanted to be pregnant, feel the baby kick, wash tiny baby clothes, knit tiny baby sweaters, and have an unstoppable urge to wrap things like burritos.  So when I got pregnant, I was thrilled.  It was a pretty simple pregnancy, and I enjoyed the HECK out of it.  I still miss it.

And when Theo was born, of course I loved him to bits.  I did the whole staring at him in disbelief, taking naps with him snuggled on my chest, the sleepless nights, and all things newborn.  But if I’m being 100% honest, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would.  I’m pretty sure that a lot of that was due to hormones and sleep deprivation (it’s hard to enjoy much of anything when you can hardly stay awake during it).  But as Theo got older, it started getting better.  Each new phase seems better than the last–he’s doing more things, with purpose, being more of a small person, and I LOVE watching it.  I love it in a way that I can’t remember loving his tiny-ness (although, let’s face it, he was never that tiny…) or the newborn fog.  We got him a ring-stacking toy for his birthday, and although he’s not very good at it, he is so absolutely determined and patient.  I actually get a real thrill watching him, hoping, cheering him on.

I love the way he’ll set any sock he finds on the nearest available foot, and he somehow learned where his head is, though we never taught him.  He stubbornly refuses to learn Mama and Papa (which we tirelessly try to teach him).  I can see things happening in that little-boy head, and it’s breath-taking.

I used to be really disappointed that I wasn’t enjoying being a mom as much as I always imagined I would.  And I didn’t–at first.  But now, I’m accepting the fact that yes, I enjoy the small boy things more than I enjoyed the baby things, and while it’s not what I expected, it’s absolutely fine.

It’s almost like how I always thought I’d like strong cheese–and be sophisticated and all that.  And now that I’ve tried it–many times, in many different forms, I hate it.  And it’s a bit disappointing, not liking something that I thought I’d really like.  However, I’ve discovered that I do really like strong mustard and green olives, which I previously didn’t think I’d like.  That kind of cushions the blow, and reminds me that  for every thing that I don’t love, there’s something I do.

As much as I was disappointed over the fact that I didn’t enjoy every minute of the newborn phase–nor am I likely to next time, I’m reassured, realizing that this early-toddler phase–a point where I assumed I’d mourn his babiness, his dependency, and other things I’d never get back–is really awesome.  My days are happier, faster, and chock full of laughter (from both of us).  I’m happier, I feel like I’m a better mom than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m kept on my toes–never knowing when he’ll completely blow my mind next.  Now is the best.

DSC_5912

I used to be smart…right?

Life abroad has its ups and downs.  Life as a mom has its ups and downs.  And I just hit downs on both.

Before I get into this, I just want to say that I know it’s totally normal to have moments and days and weeks like this.  Moving so far away from home, trying to settle into a new life with a new language, and putting forth every best effort to find friends is taxing.  I totally get that this is how it’s supposed to be, and this is how I’m supposed to feel.  And man is this hard sometimes.

I speak Danish well.  I was blessed with a language-learning head, a little bit of perseverance, and lovely, incredibly patient, in-laws who’ve helped me so much.  But honestly, I don’t speak Danish well enough to be 100% myself when I’m speaking it.  A lot of the time, the words come easily, but sometimes they don’t.  It’s great that I’m able to communicate fairly well, but it’s frustrating when my train of thought is constantly halting, jumping, and false-starting because I can’t fish the right words out quite quickly enough.  It’s frustrating to have a funny comment that I can’t quite figure out how to put into Danish words, or to be explaining something, only to give up halfway through because the round-abouts I’m taking to explain things I don’t know the words to are just too much.  To be blunt, I feel dumb a lot.  And when I think about it, of course I’m not dumb–I learned Danish for goodness’ sake.  But I still feel dumb.

And feeling dumb isn’t making the job thing any easier.  I’m not quite job-searching yet, but we’re moving in September, and I’m hoping to find some sort of a job in the fall/winter–whether it be an at-home daycare, or a job outside of the home.  But just assuming that the at-home daycare doesn’t work out, I’d have to job-search.  And that is scary.  Completely apart from having to do this all in Danish and in Denmark where I know very little about the job market, I feel totally unequipped to be job-searching.

I’m going to go to the job center in not too long, present them with my educational and work background, and just hear what options I have here in Denmark, which I’m sure will help a lot.  Because as of right now, I don’t feel like I can do anything.

For most of my life, I felt smart.  In first grade, I was reading chapter books.  In second grade, I got to learn cursive.  In third grade, I was the fastest typist in the class.  You get the picture.  This continued through elementary school, middle school, high school, and, surprisingly, even college.  I know it sounds super smug, but I just got used to being one of the “smart kids.”  And that was a huge part of my identity.

There was a time when I was in college, working three jobs.  And I turned out some of my best work that year, yet I also remember having time to have fun with my friends, and plan my wedding and our life together.  Nowadays, I’m proud of myself if I manage to vacuum once a week.  (Although, come to think of it, I don’t think I vacuumed more than once every couple of months back then…)

The thing is, I’ve been not much more than a wife and then a mom for the past couple of years, and I feel like I’ve gotten gradually less and less intelligent.  I also haven’t been able to have a job for two and a half years now, which leaves me feeling less than competent.

I know that at one point, I was really smart.  I know that at one point, I was even really confident, and I felt like I could really do anything.  These days, I don’t feel like there’s any job that I could do well.  In my head, I know that I would actually be the best candidate for many jobs–that I would do them well, and be happy doing them.  But in my not-head, I feel completely inadequate.

SO!

So, I’ve made a small plan to get myself back on track.  My goal for the week is to make up a list of books I want to read that I can get from the library in Denmark, and go get them.  And that’s pretty much it for now.  But I’m going to try to use Theo’s naptimes to do more than giggle at posts on BabyCenter asking how people sanitize their baby’s high chair trays (ummmm….wipe with the damp cloth I used to wipe the baby’s face, anyone?) and watch terrible TV.

It’s okay that I did those things, but now that I feel like I’m coming out of the survival mode fog, I feel like I need to get my self back, and a part of that self is reading, learning, writing, and doing smart things.

Any recommendations for books (they don’t have to be “smart” books, haha!) or ideas for getting that old confidence back?

 

Yesterday in the Life of Us

So, I’m still working on the birth story, but just thought I’d share this in the meantime: a slightly long-winded recap of my yesterday.

Yesterday, in the Life of Me

I woke up at 8:30 for the day, but that’s not really when my day began.  It began at 3 am to feed Theo.  I put him back to bed, but he just laid there and kind of groaned and grunted and didn’t go back to sleep–so I presumed a poo was imminent.  I was right.  So after a diaper change (and helping him squeeze the rest out), I put him back down around 4:30, and after a little chat with himself, he fell asleep.  But I didn’t.  Because the day before I had walked through a graveyard, and the evening before, I had read that someone with a baby Theo’s age had suffered the loss of her husband, and I couldn’t stop morbid, awful thoughts from roaming my brain until 5:30 when sleep won out.  For a little while.  Because by then, Andreas started snoring.  And not like…snoring, so I could wake him up and he would stop and I could go back to sleep.  He would snore twice, and then not snore for like half an hour, and then snore three times, and stop for twenty minutes.

So I slept on-and-off until 8:30 when I begrudgingly opened the curtains and got Theodore up to eat.  Usually after he eats, he plays in bed and lets me check Facebook on the Kindle so I can have a little wake-up time, but today, he was a grump from the start.  So we got up and went to play in the living room, while I did my workout.  Then I needed a quick shower, and though I usually bring Theo into the bathroom with me to sit in his little baby-seat so I can keep an eye on him, he seemed okay playing in the living room, so I put on some Curious George (in case he got bored of the toybox) and ran off to the shower.  There were some grumpy shrieks, but we made it through.

Unfortunately, Theo was tired of solo-playtime by this time, and we had to leave in about half an hour (for my international mothers’ group),.  So I did my best to keep him happy while I ate breakfast (which didn’t work, since all he really wanted was to also eat my breakfast), combed my hair, put a bit of makeup on, and got dressed.  I had decided to walk into town today, since his naptime fell at a time where, if I let him sleep, we couldn’t really make it to group.  I also figured that it would take about an hour to get there, and since he usually sleeps longer if he’s in the carriage, I thought it would fit perfectly, and getting an hour-long nap out of Theo would be wonderful!  However, he was super grumpy by this time, as it was about time for his nap, but we weren’t quite ready to go.  He promptly spit up all over my pants (and I noticed that in my hurry to brush my teeth, I’d spilled toothpaste on my shirt), so I changed my clothes, then noticed I had to change his pants.  I hurried back to the living room, as we were running late at this point, and hit my leg on the foot of the bed so hard that I had to sit down and just cry for a second.  I got Theo all wrapped up for wintertime, and got the carriage down the steps and we got on our way, but not before I’d just gotten so fed up with everything (and Theo’s constant whines and yells) that I lost a bit of my temper and scolded the morning in general.

I had decided to take a route I’ve never taken before, and was glad I did, as the road was much nicer than the one I might usually take, but when I got about halfway there, I encountered heavy construction, and couldn’t see how I could get through–so I detoured, and detoured, and got lost, and detoured a little bit more.  I ended up wandering for 10 minutes in a little gated apartment complex, that had one ungated entrance/exit (WHY?!).  When I finally found my way out, I was super delayed, and despite the fact that I was out in public, couldn’t help but let a few more tears out.  I considered just turning around, but decided if I was going to go through all this, I would make it to my mothers’ group.  The rest of the trip went fairly smoothly, and group was wonderful.  I was so glad that I made it all the way out, and met lots of new ladies.  Theo showed off his new rolling skills (from back to belly!) and I shared how excited I was about his first tooth with people who actually also care about things like a hint of a bottom left tooth.  Around one, it was definitely time to go, so we made our way home.  A couple minutes’ walk knocked Theo out, and thankfully this time he stayed asleep!  I took the normal (uglier) walk back home, and after an hour, we were nearly there.  But in the middle of a crosswalk, what should happen but one of the wheels to the carriage falls off!  I trip on it, the carriage tips dangerously (thank goodness Theo stayed safe! Although of course, he woke up) and I grab the wheel and hurry to the other side of the street where I put the wheel back on (but not securely, as it’s broken and just sitting on the axel).  I stopped at the supermarket to buy chocolate and fruit (because I felt I deserved it) and walked the rest of the way home (the wheel coming off one more time, this time thankfully not in the middle of the road!).

Getting home, I wanted to just collapse, but I had left the apartment in shambles, and had to tidy up.  Luckily Theo was in a better mood after his hour-long nap and after a nice feed (and cuddle!) let me get on with my business–tidying, kitchen-cleaning, and sheet-changing.  He was getting grumpy towards the end, so I made him some prune/pear/applesauce, which he enjoyed, but probably not as much as the glass of water I also offered, and after a few more grumbles, I put him down for his nap where he promptly fell asleep without a peep.  And I sat down to write this and eat M&Ms and think about making a cup of coffee, but not daring, because I fear that he’ll wake up if I do, and it’ll end up like the morning’s cup of coffee which I found almost-full on the coffee table when I got home.

Andreas came home around the same time as Theo woke up, and we spent our evening passing each other a fussy baby, while the other one of us heated up dinner, or did chores.  Finally, 8 pm rolled around, and Theo, deciding to be a golden baby again fell asleep without so much as a whine, slept until one where he woke for his pacifier and a belly pat, and slept again until 6 for a pre-breakfast, and then slept again until 9!  And that’s a mixed-bag stay-at-home-mom day.

sahm

That Sunday Night Feeling

You know what’s worse than Monday morning?  Sunday night.

Monday morning is never all that bad.  When I used to work early or have early class on Mondays, I’d look a bit disheveled, tired-eyed, and nod empathetically when someone said “Mondays, right?” but it was all a bit of a sham.  I actually kind of like Monday mornings.  Sure, I’m tired, but I’m not as burned-out as I was on Thursday.

But on Sunday, you know your me-time is almost over.  You know you’re facing another week, and you’re trying to gear up for it, but can’t really do anything yet.  Andreas gets pretty mopey on Sunday nights.  It’s tough, because I want us to enjoy all the time we have together, but there’s just this mood hanging over our little apartment on Sunday nights, and it’s hard to shake.

Yesterday was Andreas’s first day back at work since he left in October, and boy was it a doozy.  Not the actual first day of work, but that Sunday night.

Andreas was bummed, and I was nervous.  Suddenly, after weeks of having help, really whenever I needed it, I’d be on my own.  On my sleepy own with this little guy who, recently, has wanted my full attention 100% of the time he’s awake (and who hasn’t been a huge fan of being asleep).  It just got worse and worse, and I don’t know if Theo picked up on it, or if he had a belly-ache (as his machine-gun farts pointed to), but he was not having a good evening.  We tried to put him down, and he woke with a shriek after half an hour.  He would cry and cry and fought any of our attempts to help him get back to sleep.  And when we finally succeeded (three seperate times) he woke 15 minutes later, just as unhappy as he was before he fell asleep.

It was rough.  I was tired, anxious, and feeling seriously depressed.  I tried to stay present, but I was forced inside myself, and couldn’t even be there for Andreas.  We both had full-on break-downs.  It was basically the worst.  And I only write this because if someone else happens upon this blog at some point, and sees our cute pictures, and my posts about how much I love my family, my husband, my husband’s family, my new life, etc…I also want them to see this.  That there are moments were I so, so don’t love it all.  Where I feel like I’m not only not the best mom I can be, but am an awful mom.  I felt like I did not deserve my little Theo–like I never should’ve even thought about having babies.

I don’t think that now, of course.  I don’t think it when I’m lucid and it’s daytime, and my baby isn’t screaming.  I know it’s not true.  But in the dark hours, I think it, and I believe it.

So today, when Theo was napping, I thought I’d write in my journal.  I picked it up and realized I haven’t written in it since nine days before Theo was born.  I started writing, and figured out some stuff along the way.  First of all, I know that if I didn’t have Theo, I’d have hours even darker than those the other night, wishing I had Theo.  And second of all, just because I’m doing my best, doesn’t mean that I can’t do even better tomorrow.  I can’t do any better than my best, but I can hope that tomorrow, my best will be better than my best was today.

It’s not all peachy and baby giggles and belly noms.  Not even close.  But it’s good, and it is what I always wanted, and what I want now.  And it’s okay to have moments when you forget that, but it’s important that you remember again the next day, and hopefully make your best better.

On Being Right

Being right is something I’m sort of giving up on at the moment.  Not that I don’t think I’m ever right anymore, but needing to be right isn’t doing me any favors, and I need to let go.

I read a really interesting article lately, about the whole gluten-free, paleo, high-protein, caveman-food sort of thing that’s going on right now.  It started out as an interview with the author of a best-selling book (about how gluten causes pretty much most of our modern diseases).  He passionately talked about his claims, his book, the “one simple change” people could make to change their lives for the better.  The piece went on to interview others, introduce the studies he used as evidence (which didn’t completely support his radical claims) and ended with the thoughtful statement that making a decision, and believing you’re “right” is what really makes a difference for people.

I totally agree.  I’m not going to talk about the above-mentioned diet arena (because if you get me started, it’s a little hard to get me to stop), but I totally agree.  People need to think they’re right.  If you think the diet decisions you’re making are the “right” choices, you’ll probably feel better.  If you believe your major life decisions were the right ones, you’re probably going to be happier.  And if you believe that the choices you make as a parent are the right choices, things are probably going to work better.  It’s about being right, and it’s about confidence….which I don’t have a lot of.  But I’m working on it.

In the beginning, it was a little simpler.  We’d do whatever it took to get Theo to eat okay, sleep okay, poop okay, and not cry.  It was not easy, by any means–because he didn’t do all those things, despite our best efforts–but we didn’t really have to think if we were going about things the wrong way, the right way, or the maybe-okay way.  We just did what we had to do.

Now that he’s four months, we have to worry about habits–bad habits, good habits–habits, habits, habits.  We have to make sure he can fall asleep okay (without too much rocking, shushing, singing, crying (on anyone’s part), etc.)  We have to make sure he STAYS asleep.  We want him to not eat too much at night, and eat more during the day.  We hope he’ll start gaining more weight, so we struggled over when to start solids.  We’re worried because he’s started adamantly refusing a bottle (no matter what’s in it), which means I can’t really leave him for any amount of time.  We want him to learn to play by himself for stretches of time.

I never thought I’d worry too much about what other moms thought.  I thought I’d know what I’m doing, and I’d do it, and I’d feel comfortable in my Mom-skin.  Unfortunately, that’s really not the case.  As a nanny, I was confident.  The moms told me what their plans were, and I followed through.  I got a four-month old to start falling asleep by himself.  I fed solids and changed diapers, and stopped feeding bananas, and started feeding pears with a couple of words from baby’s Mom.  But now I’m baby’s Mom, and I have no one to tell me what to do.  Or even if I did, I’d probably disagree, not follow the advice, and then feel even more conflicted than I already do.

The even bigger deal is that I was an awesome nanny.  I was GREAT with the babies.  I was patient as all get-out, playful, fun, stimulating, relaxing–whatever baby needed–I could do it.  And I’m not just saying that because one of the moms occasionally pops by on here (Hi!).  What’s really been hurting lately is that I’m not the mom I thought I’d be (especially the mom I thought I’d be, judging on my nannying abilities).  Turns out, when I’m sleep deprived, my patience dwindles to next to nothing (who’da thunk it, right?) and I’m not as good at sleep training.  I’m not as good at decision-making.  I’m not even as good at putting cereal into little baby mouths.

And though I’m not really happy with the way things are going, I know that I really am being the best mom I can be.  Sometimes, I think that’s really unfortunate–that as not-well as I think I’m doing some days, it’s still my best.  But it’s all I can do.  And I can resolve to do better the next day, and to remind myself that it’s not all hard.  Theo laughs every time I nom his belly.  That’s easy.  At least that’s easy, and I don’t think there’s any controversy over the nomming of baby bellies.  So I will nom Theo’s belly unabashedly, and do my best to muddle through the rest, and believe I’m right (at least some of the time).

 

Anticipating belly noms!

Anticipating belly noms!