Entries in family (17)
we had the best time. it was a tough competition as to who was most excited each time we rounded the corner to a new animal. the giraffes & lion were the clear favorites, but the monkeys put on quite a show. it made so many of our favorite books -- especially edward the emu & good night, gorilla -- come to life for ellie. sweet days around here friends, hope you're getting lots of time outdoors.
as ellie turned one (!!!!) & this whole motherhood thing is really sinking in, becoming more a part of my identity every day, i wanted to do a post to capture this moment in time. i also wanted to respond to many of you who have e-mailed asking about my decision regarding work/maternity leave, etc. i waited until now for two reasons : the first is my decision was very much influenced by ryan being deployed for half of e's first year of life (& i needed to wait until he was home to talk openly about that). secondly, i really felt like i needed to journey through this whole year before writing. nothing i say below is earthshattering, it's just an honest reflection on what it's really been like for me to become a mama.
so, here goes. deep breath. (that's mainly for me, you might just want to get a fresh cup of coffee, this is going to be a long one).
one of the main reasons i have a hard time tackling the issue of my decision to stay home with ellie is that i'm frustrated by the language we use. "maternity leave" makes it seem like you have to leave work to be motherly and then you go back to work and are some how less motherly(?). it also sounds like this really relaxing period - when giving birth and the early weeks with a newborn were some of the most labor intensive of my life!
"stay at home mom" just sounds ridiculous because i know of no stay at home moms who do that (just stay at home) - most are incredibly active, involved in their community, generally busy loving on people in their lives. and that leads us to "working moms" which somehow always comes off to be moms who are less engaged or trying to prove a point or frazzled -- we almost get cartoon images from these terms. or, you get the "are you just a mom?" or "do you work out of the home?" which are awkward questions from the start (at least for me).
i'm also frustrated, like most of you are, because these conversations always seem to end up in the same place -- all of us thinking there's this magical place we can arrive -- where we'll have totally fulfilling careers, amazing relationships with our kids, incredible marriages with weekly date nights, gorgeous homes, tons of time on the weekend to do all those projects we've been pinning, deep relationships with all our closest friends and family, vacations that totally refresh us and christmas cards that capture how incredibly balanced and happy life is. and yet, i know of no one who is living that magical life. we all want to find the formula for something that doesn't really exist -- we want to ignore we all have to choose how we spend our time & energy. that this is a broken world with challenges & pain for each of us.
what i do know is a lot of people who are faithfully struggling to find their own version of balance -- and many who are finding joy in that process & where they are at this moment in time. i know wives who are laughing with their husband on the kitchen floor when dinner turned out just TERRIBLY & did they really forget to pick up that kid after the recital?! & wait, when did the dog eat that stuffed animal?!
i know couples who huddle late at night, for the tenth time this year, reworking their travel schedules so they get more dinners with their kids.
this morning, i shared my favorite images of 2012 -- as taken my by iphone. the reality is, that was most often the tool i had to capture the moment in front of me. those are the unexpected, ordinary moments that really stick with me. but i couldn't resist sharing some that we took with our camera -- moments we knew we wanted to capture.& a few my dear friend val took for us that feel so very much a part of our story.
this one is a few days shy of 2012, december 26, 2011 to be exact - but so much of this year began with ellie being born & this image from my labor will always be my favorite. while i don't remember our doula taking this photo (i'm SO grateful she did), it feels so true to me. for all thirty hours (!!) of labor, ryan was so steadfast. i feel like we held hands for most of the time.
this photo was actually taken by the hospital photographer, the morning we were bringing ellie home. i was an absolute mess, didn't really even want the photographs taken, but she was so sweet and reassuring. when she brought in a slideshow of the images right before we packed up to go home, i burst into tears. i saw this image & all at once it hit me that was our sweet daughter. for that reason, this image of ellie will always be one of my very favorites.