Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What the Card Didn't Say

Our annual holiday letter and accompanying family photo was sent out yesterday to roughly 90 of our friends and family. As we were stuffing envelopes last night I asked the husband how many less we would send if we only sent them to people we actually still talk to. I said 85% but he thought I was being a bit dramatic. His guess was 60%. But he made the point that part of the tradition of sending Christmas cards is to stay in touch with friends who you don't otherwise stay in touch with. He has a point. And I myself love getting cards and pictures of old friends and their families this time of year. So in the mail the cards went.


Mr. Cob wrote this year's card, as he's done the past few years. I always get editorial rights and can cut or add as I see fit. I rarely have major edits, other than reigning in the obscure jokes that my husband gets but that very few other people will (myself included…).  The point, obviously, of our letter is to keep friends and family in the loop on our life – the major events of the year are hit upon (new babies, vacations, job changes, moves, etc.) – but the husband's bigger goal is making his readers laugh, so a lot of our letter is nonsense, which I appreciate (his humor is the main reason I fell in love with the man). One year, the husband penned the card in Lukas' name. And this year there's a theme from our childhood that runs throughout. We've been told on numerous occasions that people love getting our card every year, so we keep doing it.


But we've both always been cognizant of the braggery aspect of many holiday letters and we try to avoid that at all costs. But let's be honest, sending a picture of our family and letting everyone know what we're up to, is sort of bragging in and of itself.  And even if it's not outright bragging, it occurred to me this morning that the letter doesn't give the whole picture.  Yes, it includes the highlights of the year – we sold our house in Atlanta, Mr. Cob got a new job, we bought a new house and moved to Macon, the boys are growing much too fast, my job is in a state of flux, etc. etc. But there is something distinctly missing from our letter: the lowlights of the year. There's an argument to be made that your loved ones and old friends don't care to read a depressing holiday letter, but by leaving out the lows, are we artificially inflating the highs? And I'm not saying my family is alone in this, it's rare that anyone's holiday card includes the nitty gritty, or a photo that isn't picture-perfect. But in my quest for authenticity, I think a letter including the lows might be nice.


So here's what we should've included in the Christmas letter this year:


-       Julian wore a helmet to correct his plagiocephaly until early Spring. The helmet smelled bad, no matter how much washing was done.

-        I quit breastfeeding Julian at 9 months and I felt like a complete failure for not making it a year.

-        We took a two week vacation this summer and we didn't sleep one full night of the trip. We were all tired and cranky most of the time and Mr. Cob slept in the car on multiple occasions.

-        Our baby didn't start sleeping through the night on a regular basis until he was 14 months old. We've all been very tired.

-        I've been having random anxiety attacks since we closed on our house in Macon and decided it was time to start seeing a therapist again. (Although she was actually awful and wanted to talk about what I wanted to be when I was a child to figure out what career path I should've chosen and then wanted to dig into my childhood to try to figure out why I was anxious now (which really, the reason is obvious: I'm a full-time lawyer, with two small boys who has just made a bunch of huge life changes and has no friends). She also may have made the comment that I should just get over the mom-guilt because my kids are going to be in school soon enough and then what would be the point in being a stay-at-home mom then. She clearly didn't have children. So yea, I lived through that ridiculous hour and didn't come out of it with any new was to deal with the anxiety.)

-         I still have not lost all the baby weight. 17 months later. Damn 5 pounds won't go away. Nor will the 10 I wanted to lose before getting pregnant with J.

-        My parenting patience is a work in progress. Just ask my 4 year old.

-        I'm addicted to my smartphone. And Facebook.

 I could probably keep going, but you get the point.  None of that made the letter this year. But it's all my reality.  So when you open my card, or anyone's card this holiday season, don't compare my/their life to yours. Remember that you're only seeing what they've chosen to show you.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Footnotes & Elves

It's that time of year....Christmas time! And I am feeling festive!  We decorated the inside AND outside of house this weekend (thanks to my mom for the help inside and the hubby for tackling the outside lights - and candycanes!!). We even bought a few new decorations to fill out our new home (I just couldn't resist the reindeer pillow....I know).  And to top it off, our Christmas cards are printed, addressed and soon to be stamped!  

We also welcomed our elf, Book Marshmallow, this year.  I wasn't sure how I felt about having a small elf watching my every move for a month, but Lukas loves him, so I guess he's here to stay.  And Lukas named him...  On the positive side, he at least picked a name his little brother can say!

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  It was small and intimate with just the four of us and my parents.  Not traveling was wonderful. I made an apple pie from scratch and all our food was delicious!  I'm so thankful for my family, friends and this festive time of year!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the footnote tradition has continued....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Brothers in the Morning

When I went in to get Lukas this morning he was still snug in bed. His eyes were open but he wasn't fully awake to the world yet. He took a minute and his eyes widen to the day. I told him it was time to get up and we hugged. Wrigley jumped on the bed, not wanting to miss the action and Lukas hugged his dog tight. He then looked at me and said, with seriousness, "I want to go see my brother in his room." (Julian was up but you couldn't hear him). Lukas opened J's door and went straight to the crib. J popped up and was all smiles at his brother. L was all smiles too. Their love for each other was so evident and extremely heartwarming. My littlest loves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life on the Move: Working Mom to Stay-at-Home-Mom and Back Again

Life on the Move: Working Mom to Stay-at-Home-Mom and Back Again

Here's the last post in my 3 part series on moving for 360 Parenting.  Check it out and leave a comment to let me know what you think!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Feels Like Home

 Two months. We've been here for two months and it is now feeling like home. And I don't just mean the four walls of this house. I mean this town. It is growing on me. I think I am meant to live in a small(er) town. I think this place is a good fit for our family. I think we are home.

It started slowly. I missed my friends (I still do). I missed knowing where everything was in the grocery store. I missed my favorite restaurants. I missed the familiarity of Atlanta.

But Macon has welcomed us with open arms and when someone hugs you, you can't help but hug back. The kindness of the people here has blown me away. People are genuinely nice and glad you are here. My neighbors have opened their homes and dinner tables to us. A coworker I'd never met called her daycare to see if they could work me in after she heard I'd fired our nanny without a backup plan (another story for another day). My sorority sister who I hadn't seen in almost ten years invited us to trick-or-treat with her family and friends. We have truly experienced Southern hospitality at its finest.

I'm still figuring out my new job, which comes with its own set of difficulties. But I'm home by 4:45 almost every afternoon and I spend only 6 minutes commuting to and from work. That's not even two songs on the radio! By moving here I have regained time with my family. I no longer have a commute that leaves my knuckles white from stress and my mind frazzled from trying to cram family and dinner time into an hour before the boys' bedtime. My husband is home at 5:30 most days and we eat dinner as a family. We may not make as much money as we used to, but there's no amount of money that can buy you more time with your loved ones. The drop in income has been worth every lost penny. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life on the Move: Finding Child Care in a New City

Life on the Move: Finding Child Care in a New City

Click on the link above to read my thoughts on finding childcare in a new city!

I'm happy to report that we're three days in with the boys' new nanny and so far things are going well!  I feel better about working full time now that all the question marks about our new childcare have been taken care of.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Two Lawyer Marriage

Only three days into the reboot of our two career household and the bickering and side-eye rolls have begun. I hate that this is the reality, but it is. Don't read anything into this, or take it the wrong way. To be clear, our marriage is solid. We're deeply in love and neither of us is going anywhere. But that doesn't change the fact that marriage is hard and requires work. As into this man as I am, we're not Mr. and Mrs. Sunshine every day. So let's not pretend we are.

I think this is at the front of my attention because we've just had a shift in dynamics.  For almost two months, he has worked full time and I have stayed at home with the kids. My sole responsibility has been caring for our children (a full time job, for sure) and tending to our house. There were no legal clients for me to worry about, or a long to-do list of work and home that pulled me in different directions.

Just the kids and home. This included the grocery shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and the organizing. We never had a conversation delegating these tasks to me, it just happened. I could go to Kroger at 11am on Tuesday, while a full time 9-5er could not. I could start dinner at 4:30 and have whatever culinary creation I was up to making plated by 5:30. We even had time to play outside or go for a family walk before the baby's 6:30 bedtime rolled around. The bathrooms got wiped down during nap time and the washing machine was constantly running. And while I am about as far from a domestic goddess as one can get, I had no resentment towards my husband for having to do all these things. It honestly didn't cross my mind that he should be doing them. I took it on as my job.  Simple as that.

But then I went back to work full time. And the rushing and the feeling of never enough time is back. I hate that feeling. And suddenly I find myself jumping down my husband's throat for no reason at all.  And the poor man doesn't really have a chance. He asks what he can do to help with dinner, but I snap that I've got it, when I could really use a hand setting the table or chopping some vegetables. I am cold to him when our baby wants his dada and refuses to come to momma, as if this daddy stage is something he has caused. Yet I see the sadness on his face as he's rocking our boy before bed because his wife has tears in her eyes over something he has no control over. I feel like his questions about the nanny are accusations of things I'm clearly screwing up. I blame him for not letting the dog out in the morning which resulted in an accident and then nitpicked his use of the steam cleaner to clean the carpets.  I think you get the point.

There must be a connection between the uptick in disagreements and the reemergence of my job. When both spouses are working outside the home (and you have children), no one is really off the clock until the kids are in bed. You leave your office job and you come home and have to do all the home things. You have to cook dinner, clean the house AND spend quality time with the kids, when you're all tired and cranky after having had a full day already. It's clearly a recipe for disaster (at least for us).  And left unchecked for too long, I can see how the wheels can fall off a marriage over time.

So what to do? For me, the first thing is to apologize and admit that I'm a massive part of the problem. (Ok, so maybe I am the problem. Maybe.) And then I need to prioritize. What's important? For me, my discontentment is coming from feeling like I have no time with my boys now that I'm working again. Going from all day with them to just a few hours, is a stark difference. But if I'm going to continue with all this honesty, I'll admit that all day with two small children (especially in a town where you don't know anyone), is hard and lonely. Sure I had large quantities of time with my boys, but the quality was less than I'd like to admit. I took for granted the time with them. I didn't plan our days, I turned on the TV and I wasn't a "yes" mom who did tons (or any) of creative, educational, Pinterest-inspired activities. But now that I'm having to cram my time with them into a few short hours, I feel saddened and defeated. It's as though I've accepted that it's not enough time, so why even try? (Ugh, I hate realizing these things about myself!)  And why I take this out on the husband, I have no idea. My working is not something he pushed for - he is supportive of my career, but he is 100% on board with a full shift if that's what I decide at any given time I want.

So how do I spend the quality time with the boys in just a few short hours, while needing to also cook dinner, bathe them and tend to the home? For one, I can stop making dinner such a production. I think I worry too much about what I'm serving rather than focusing on who I'm breaking bread with! Family dinner should be more about the family than the dinner.  And then I need to give my boys my undivided attention - that means turning off the cell phone.  But that also means turning off the mental to-do list and setting aside anything that doesn't involve the boys. The dishes can be done after 7:45, but my boys can't stay up until then, so they dishes can wait.  Also, I can accept help when it is offered and set aside my criticism over the way the help is delivered. My way is not the only way.

I know it is going to take us some time to get used to my working again. I know I'll get used to my job and we'll find a new routine and a rhythm that works for all four of us. I also know when I'm in the wrong and when an apology is owed.  So love, this one's for you. I'm sorry I've been such a miserable wife the past day or two. I've obviously got some things to work on....