A year in the life

On Thursday, Addie turns one. One. That means I have a one-year-old. Whenever I say that, a voice in my head screams--WHAT! How in the world did that happen? I think back over the past year and I could never describe how amazing it has been. As a child, I always played "dolls" and practiced being a mommy, so I had been preparing for this role in my life for a long time. Nothing in my wildest dreams could have allowed me to really understand what it would be like. Last weekend we attended a baby shower for my husband's cousin and everyone was supposed to write some words of wisdom on a card for the new mom-to-be. I hardly consider myself an expert, so I felt like the most honest thing I could tell her was: 

Motherhood is harder in ways 
you never thought of and magical in ways you could never dream of.

I can't think of anything else that could better describe this last year--the first year of Addie's life--the first year that I have been a mom. I have traded good nights' sleep
for late night cuddles, concerts of local bands for Bedtime With the Beatles, perky breasts for a well-fed girl, adult dinner conversation for teaching her to eat with her fingers, sleeping in for early morning kisses, a perfect manicure for built-in teethers and so much more. Sometimes I miss the complete and total freedom that I had before I was Mommy. But I can honestly say that I have never been happier. What an incredible year....                                                                     I have a one-year-old. 

Crabby Mommy

One of my favorite authors, SARK says in her book, Succulent Wild Woman:
"Being crabby is real and it's healing. It can help us get closer to what's wrong, or what hurts. If you say to a friend, 'I'm just crabby right now.' they can usually tell anyhow, and sometimes it opens up a dialogue. If you say to other women, 'Are you crabby?' they usually love it.... Crabbiness dissolves with the right kind of attention. Of course, there is also overcrabbiness, rampant crabbiness, or what my mother calls 'The Crabby Appletons' (people who are crabby for a living and want to stay that way). Remember to be crabby consciously! Women are great at being crabby and can do much more celebrating about it." 

Today I am crabby... really crabby. I keep asking myself silly questions that contribute to my mood, like: 
Will I ever get a good night's sleep ever again?
Why won't my contact stay in?
Why does Addie always get sick when we're at our busiest?
Can't my jeans just fit? I mean, really... is that too much to ask?
Could my period please get here already?
Why do car seats cost so much?
Why can't I make a living just knitting?

Now I love SARK and I'm all about paying attention to feelings... but I don't feel like celebrating my crabbiness today. I do however, feel like acknowledging it. I am generally pretty good at allowing myself to feel the way I need to feel. I don't have a very good poker face so people usually know if something is up with me. Most definitely this is true to a fault and in this way, sometimes I feel like I have broken a rule of femininity. Aren't I supposed to radiate warmth and healthy energy to everyone around me? Aren't I supposed to be nurturing and put my feelings on the back burner around my family so I can be 100% present for them? Even as a feminist and activist in this work, I have to remind myself that part of my health is recognizing when I am under the weather emotionally and allowing it to just be.

One of the best pieces of advice my mother ever gave me is that sometimes you cry and there really isn't a reason, so don't try and make one up. (This is funny to me because it's in complete contradiction to the age old "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about.") Well today I'm not crying, I'm crabbing, but the sentiment still applies. This being said, I believe there is a fine line between allowing crabbiness to exist and dwelling on life's irritants. I can only hope that somehow in finding that line for myself, I can teach Addie that all of her feelings are important and sometimes as a woman, she may not always be able to identify where those emotions come from and that's OK. 
Now it's time for me to take some of Mom's advice and instead of looking to all of my questions above as reasons for my funk, I will wipe them away and say I am crabby today just because I am. Tonight I will give myself the best medicine available: self care. I will pick up some take-out instead of cooking dinner, drink a glass (or two) of wine, snuggle with my hubby and my girl and get some rest. Peace in, peace out. 

New Mom Tip #1

Here are some of the first images captured with what may be our best purchase ever. This is going to be fun...

Which brings me to my first New Mom Tip: Get a good camera. Think about how much you can spend and then think about spending a little bit more. I am not usually one who will advocate stretching yourself when it comes to money, but this is certainly an exception. Because as trite as it sounds, you truly cannot put a price on memories. I will forever have the regret of not buying this camera before Addie was born so we would have the benefit of high shutter speeds and not miss faces like this...

Friday surprise

Our new camera should be arriving today! I am so thrilled because our current camera has been on its last leg for a while now. It has an incredibly slow shutter speed, so most of the time we miss the moment we wished to capture. I hate using it, so most of my writing has been linked to the older photos I have saved on my computer. No more!!! I can't wait to see how this new investment will impact the documentation of our family, and the growth of this project. See you through a new lens very soon...

First Word

Last December, while attending the conference that KDVA helps to organize each year, I had a complete melt down in one of the workshops led by Tisha Pletcher . We were talking about vicarious trauma and participating in a circle, so each person took a turn sharing how working to end violence against women has impacted their lives. All that came to my mind was Addie and how, when I let myself think about it, I am terrified for her to be in this world. (I have wanted to write about this for some time, but knew that whenever I ventured onto this topic, the tears would surely flow... as they did that afternoon.)

Doing the work that I do and knowing what I know, it's so hard to look at Addie's beauty and innocence and not wonder if that will ever be stolen from her. The statistic is one in three... one in three women will be a victim of some form of power-based personal violence in her lifetime. Addie already has two baby girlfriends... how can I even wrap my brain around that? Before I got pregnant I was sure that God would give me a boy. I would be given the incredible opportunity to raise a good man. I was thrilled to find out we were having a girl, but I also felt this strange sort of sadness. Sad because I knew that no matter how educated she is about violence against women--no matter how many warning signs I tell her to look for or how much pepper spray Daddy buys her, she is still at risk. Just by virtue of being female, she is at risk. 

I am not a pessimist. I cannot lead Addie through her life believing that one day she will be a victim... and I won't do that because deep down I don't believe it. But here's what I will do... I will do everything in my power to raise a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful and informed woman. I will take her to awareness events and teach her that her voice is powerful. I will encourage her to explore whatever interests her. I will ensure that she knows that she can do and be whatever she wants to be. I will tell her that she is the most gorgeous amazing girl I have ever seen... every day. I will get up every day and go to work, continuing to do my small part to end this violence and make that horrible statistic a thing of the past. For you, Addie--I promise.

In the midst of that promise, I am confronted with some Addie-inspired, adorable hope. Yesterday we went furniture shopping... again. Poor Addie has seen just about every furniture store in Lexington and she has been a trooper every step of the way. Now I would not recommend bringing along an almost-one-year-old when you are trying to find a couch. Keeping her occupied while we made a decision was interesting and as usual, Addie stole the hearts of everyone in the showroom. She pranced around (with a little help from Daddy) and played with the brochures and was a little ball of precious energy. When we were finally winding down and making a purchase, I held her facing me and she was playing with the Green Dot button I have on my raincoat. (If you have not heard about Green Dot, please take a moment to check it out. It's some life-changing stuff!) I said, "Addie, that's Mommy's Green Dot. What's your Green Dot?" and she replied with, "Dot... Dot." Simple, sweet, one word.... Dot. I shrieked in the store, "Addie said her first word--she said DOT!" She kept playing with my button as though it was nothing unusual for her to respond to one of Mommy's questions with an actual word. Who knew that Green Dot would be the first real conversation Addie and I would share? 
Rock on, baby. And thanks for that onesie, Aunt Patsy. It will always be one of our faves!

Snack time

Puffies, juice and nap hair. Aahhh... Saturday!