Sunday, July 20, 2014


I keep writing other things besides talking about Nantucket, a woman who exclaimed, "Oh, it's you! It's her!", a hippie widow friend in the spellbound town of Salem.

I am too exhausted to even recount the details I enjoyed the most within the last month. I am mustering the effort though to write at least a little bit of something, and remember the time where I would choose to write before I would eat or sleep. I loved that part of me, a small constant in the various selves I have been over the past decade (give or take).

I have been mulling over why I feel I have adjusted to parenthood so well. I mean, I think I've adjusted well. Emotionally, I have welcomed this new self. It's about the only new version of myself I have not fought. Why is it different this time?

Obviously, our Squish is very wanted and loved. We are able to provide for her and ourselves, so I don't have a lot of common external stress getting in the way of me enjoying this. If we didn't have any money or a safe place to live, if we couldn't afford formula or breastfeeding was an emotional drain, I might be struggling more.

That brings us to the very real and obvious stresses of our daily lives and disability. I mean- it's so there. My frustration comes out in horrible ways; unintelligible rage and confusion pouring from me. We were married a year before he deployed. Inside of that year, I went from my happy life in Roswell, Georgia to a happy but strained newlywed period in Mannheim, Germany to being completely shocked that I landed in Watertown, New York with my new husband. It had been a very tumultuous year for us both. Six months into a very rough deployment he was injured, so literally we have not had any peace our entire marriage. Every half year or so brings about another major life change. I desperately need some peace, but this feeling would exist even if Squish hadn't come along. As a result, I consider this part of my life as factual as our existence. It just is, so it's easy to remove it from the equation since I know it'll be there when I bring it back in. Or something.

So the reason this has worked and I haven't cried too many tears over who I am now is because I am a professional at this. I have stared at a few strangers in the mirror but this is the first welcomed stranger. Becoming a parent has been the most delightful surprise of my life. And let me tell you, most surprises aren't delightful.

But this? And her? Man, I got this. Even though I am so tired I can't sleep, I love it. Even when Aaron and I are struggling, I know how to listen to my Squish. It's not that she's saved me or anything like that. It's just... I've been through a few evolutions of self. This one feels like an old friend.

For the first time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Where are we?

I have this post about the Nantucket Film Festival and the documentary still incomplete, even though it's been over two weeks since I returned. We've been in Alabama for weeks now as it is and yet, I can't find or make the time to just write about this cool trip I took with my Squish, where I met an online friend's family, went to the most privileged island in our country, and topped it off with a trip to Salem.

I am so drained. We are desperately trying to find land to build a house to make a home. We tried to buy a house but that fell through, as those things tend to do. Everything, as always, cost thousands more than we thought it would. Everyone has something to say about what we should be doing. Patience. Waiting. Faith.

And I'm just kind of at the point where blind, unfounded faith is all I have left because I can not possibly care anymore. This has been nearly three years of never being where we thought we would be at a point in time. Recovery. What goals would be met. Success. Failure. So many setbacks. It's not all been awful.

Of course not.

But it's not even close to what I thought we'd have going for ourselves. Hell, I thought DC would be home. We'd get careers, not jobs, build that kind of future. Now I don't even know if I'll finish my degree. No clue for either of us.

And yeah, yeah. God laughs at the plans we make for ourselves. Have faith. Just pray. Look at how far you've come! Well, if the standard is simply not being dead-then folks, you are setting the bar too low. We have further aspirations for ourselves than that. We can even have normal goals and dreams and try not to consider disability as a determining factor.

But I'll be damned if disability doesn't get more votes than the actual people involved. More say. More concern.

I'm bleeding out here and lately my only joy has been my utter surprise in the delight motherhood has been. I almost feel a disconnect with those who struggle with their new selves. I suppose I had to get to know a new caregiver self, a new kind of wife inside me, so getting to know myself as a mother is old hat, at least in the sense of finding a new side to my existence. I am no longer surprised at how surprised I can be with whoever I am these days. Squish is a happy, happy baby who does new things every day. Each morning she gives me or her dad smiles that could end war. Everything about her is sweet and sound and genuine hope that will not kill. Hope in your child doesn't hurt like the other hopes you can lose in your life. Literally everything else can and will take from you without giving back. All Squish has to do is let out a rare rolling giggle and my whole day is made.

Happiness is a choice but some days it's just easier to get lost in my daughter's smile than paint one on of my own for others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Being Mom.

At some point, I quit washing AJ's clothes separately. I'm liberally using up the last bottle of baby detergent. I know the free & clear we use will be just fine.

I don't pump as much as I used to because I nurse her almost exclusively. For purposes of obtaining some sleep, Aaron will give her a bottle either early in the morning or middle of the night this week. But if it doesn't happen everyday, I know we'll be fine. I might be tired, but I don't have any complaints.

I don't bathe her every night on a schedule. In fact, I don't bathe her at night at all. Usually I'm tired and I just can't. She gets her baths late mornings. I am sure we'll get to that whole schedule thing soon, but for right now I know what to do around 8pm every night. She lead me to it.

And somehow, I'm the only one who didn't get the memo that I would become this attachment-y, organic-y kind of mom. I knew I'd wear her (which only recently became tolerable for everyone), and nursing has been great... but everything else? Occasional bed-sharing and some nights in her mini-crib in the bedroom with us? Feeding on demand 5 months into it? Researching her preschool education options, and wondering how I can determine her "learning style" early on? Please. This is all ludicrous. Really. Admitting I have a problem is the first step to recovery.

But there's not a recovery for this. I'm a mother for the rest of my life. I've really enjoyed getting to know this side of me. For a long time, I didn't trust that it could happen. Apparently, it's quite normal to think that you won't be a good mother before it happens and to be shocked when you are. I don't know how all this actually unfolds, I just know that one day I went from being really concerned to actually just doing it.

And it's the loveliest thing I've ever done.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

4 Months. Plus.

You're getting this picture because I refuse to post one of the reason why I was drinking wine the other night. I also promised myself I wouldn't post poop pictures, because I didn't like that before I had the kid. Anyway, I was running to the shower with a baby wrapped in a disposable changing pad and screamng, "My baby is covered in SHIT!" It was actually running down her leg while she happily bounced in her play jumper thingie.

This parenthood thing... is not exactly hard. It's just new. Amazing, brand-new wonderful stuff. She's filling out and looking more like a chubby cherub baby every day. And every day she does new stuff. Today she started grabbing things I moved in front of her face. Everything is fascinating for all of us. 

No one ever tells you this stuff. The shit. Literally and figuratively. How irrational you become when it comes your kid, and what you want to do for her. Protect. Teach. Soothe. Encourage.

We had her 4-month check-up with shots today, and I surprised myself by holding her through it. I nursed right afterwards, and she was smiley in just a few minutes. I think the leg pain set in after a little play at home, so she's currently down after long cuddles and half a dose of Tylenol. I don't go for medicine even second or third on the list of things to try, but it was plain to see she was in pain. I didn't have to hear her cry for an hour to know where her tears were coming from.

And that's the beauty of motherhood to me- knowing these things with my gut. I didn't think it'd be like this... that I'd just know. I didn't think my magic would happen. I don't think giving birth equates to instant carnal knowledge, so for some reason I discounted my abilities. I just didn't think I'd get it.

It's the loveliest thing in the world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Road Trip.

After an extended stay back home in Alabama, we took the long way back home to Maryland. Of course, we didn't plan it at all, so it was thrown together as best as we could manage.

Our first stop was in Chattanooga, where we stayed at the Choo-Choo. It's the old train station, which was converted into a hotel some years ago. It is definitely a dinosaur, and only cool if you stay in an actual train car (possible), but very pretty. The room was nothing to write home about, but it was for one night. We ate an amazing Italian meal, walked the train station gardens and grounds, and saw the model train display.

The next night we detoured to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, which I was nervous about because it doesn't seem very accessible. After some drama trying to find an actual accessible room and ending up in a meth motel off the parkway, we set out to see The Lumberjack Feud dinner show. It was totally fun, and AJ did great. She looked around, cooed a bit, ate, and then passed out. She spit up on the floor a little bit, too but I don't think anyone noticed. We bought the hilarious family photo taken right before the show. The food wasn't bad, either. The next day, we took off for Ripley's Aquarium in the Smokies. Museums and aquariums are easy for Aaron to manage in his wheelchair, save for distracted children wandering right in front of him. AJ certainly won't remember her first aquarium trip, but she loved it. She got all excited over the illuminated tanks in the darker rooms, kicking and cooing. We also used our new lightweight stroller (Jeep Sport) for the first time, and mourned the fact that she can nearly sit up on her own.

Night three was spent at an off-the-path B&B outside of Roanoke, VA called Bent Mountain Lodge and Inn. It was cheaper than most hotel rooms, and the innkeeper was a nice older man who helped me unload all of our gear (baby stuff, disability stuff, my stuff, dog stuff, stuff stuff; we are terrible packers). We ate chips and salsa for dinner since we were unprepared to fend for ourselves, but it was worth it. I took a picture of the sunrise the following morning, since I was up anyway. It happens a lot when you're someone's food source.

It was our first family vacation with just us and the dog, and we survived pretty well! I am really glad we took the extra days and enjoyed ourselves. I'm already thinking about Gatlinburg for the fall. There's a lot more to do there for Aaron than I would have thought, and that makes a huge difference.

Hope everyone is doing peachy and all that as summer gets rolling.