Wednesday, February 29, 2012
My overwhelming feeling when I think about my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is gratitude.
I feel so thankful that I was able to nurse my baby right away without any real difficulties. That I had the support I needed in the beginning. That I knew to reach out to non-traditional resources when I had questions or struggled along the way. That my resolve never wavered.
I feel thankful that I was able to leave the house, go out to dinner, travel to other states, go on long car rides, go to concerts and festivals, and go hiking without ever having to pack up a bottle. Wow am I thankful for the portability of a breastfeeding baby!
I feel thankful that my work supports breastfeeding mothers. That blinds were put on the window to my office before I even returned to work so that I had a comfortable place to pump every few hours. That I felt comfortable enough to tell my field work crews that I needed to leave the job site for a while to go pump somewhere in my truck. That I was able to feed my baby ONLY my breastmilk for the first year of her life, even after going back to work.
I feel thankful that I opened the eyes of my family and friends to the benefits of breasfeeding. That people who I never would have guessed would handle it well eventually became used to me discreetly nursing Sadie while eating at a restaurant or anywhere else...if that meant we could all have a nice peaceful dinner together...why not?
I feel thankful that I was never publicly chided or made to feel uncomfortable for nursing in public. That I was never subjected to the humiliation that many nursing mothers are for simply feeding their children in front of strangers.
I feel overwhelming gratitude for the other committed nursing mamas in my life. That I always had someone to call or email with questions. That some of these mamas nursed well past what is generally accepted in American society and supported me in my journey as I passed Sadie's first and second birthdays with no end in sight. That I had other mamas I could talk to about how I believe nursing IS THE BEST thing you can do for your baby. That I could be a militant breastfeeding mama in front of these women and not have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings. That when I nursed Sadie for the last time, I had dear friends that I could immediately reach out to for support. That they gave me the best advice ever which helped me get through those first few days after we were done nursing (on a physical and emotional level).
I will forever be thankful for my loving husband's support through this journey. That he understood my devotion to nursing from day one. That he figured out very quickly that when I said I need water in those early months...I MEANT IT! That he still made me feel beautiful even when I felt like a milk cow in those early months. That he was always proud and unabashedly supportive of me nursing Sadie whenever and wherever it was needed. That he truly understood the great healthy start I was giving our daughter. That he was able to expand his mindset along with me as we realized that Sadie would be nursing well into (and through) toddlerhood.
I feel so lucky that my breastfeeding relationship with Sadie ended in a way that was true to my mothering style and honored the importance of nursing for both me and Sadie. As soon as Sadie neared two years old, I could sense how I wanted this to end. I knew in my heart that what would be best for her was to wait until she could understand. I wanted to be able to talk to her about stopping nursing and to have a conversation with her about how we both felt about it. Starting about six months ago, I would occasionally tell Sadie that when she turned three we probably wouldn't nurse anymore. At the time, this would make her very upset, so I didn't talk about it very often. And that showed me that she wasn't ready.
About two months ago, I started to feel like she might actually be ready by three. It's amazing how much she's grown up in the last three months! The night before our last night of nursing I told Sadie that pretty soon, she'd be three, and she'd be such a big girl that we wouldn't be nursing anymore. We talked a little bit about how that would make us both sad, but that we'd still be able to snuggle and sing songs every night. She snuggled up to me but eventually asked to nurse.
The next night I told Sadie about the plan that I'd been hatching for a while. I explained that when she was ready, we'd start filling out a sticker chart for her. And every night that she went to sleep without nursing, she'd get to choose a new sticker in the morning. And when the whole chart was filled up, she would get to go to the movies! (she'd never been to a movie before) I expected that we'd still talk about it for a few weeks...but I thought wrong! As soon as I presented this incentive, she told me she didn't want to nurse anymore, snuggled up to sing songs, and went right to sleep. As I lay there next to her, I tried to remember nursing her to sleep the night before, in case it never happened again. I wanted to remember every part of it. I kissed Sadie good night and went downstairs crying. And that was the last time. Although I was sad that night, it didn't last. I don't miss nursing. I don't miss the closeness (because we still snuggle and are very physical). I don't feel like it ended too early. I feel very much at peace with how things ended, and I believe that Sadie does too.
I truly believe that my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is the foundation for helping me become the mother that I am today. The ability to nourish my baby with only what my body can provide has truly taught me the magic and amazing power that I have as a woman. I feel endless gratitude that through my breastfeeding relationship with Sadie, I have come to understand the miracle of motherhood!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
2011 marked my first year of fulltime work since becoming a mother! As I've written about before on this blog (here, here, and here), figuring out how to be a fulltime working-outside-of-the-home mother has quite possibly been the greatest challenge of my life.
When I look back at where I was 12 months ago and where I am now, I'm proud of how far I've come. I was an absolute basketcase a year ago (at least on the inside). My emotions were all over the place. I felt disorganized, unmotivated, undecided, and pulled in a million different directions by all the responsibilities I have at work and at home. On most days of the week I felt completely overwhelmed by my situation and didn't see a way out, which was leading to a lot of unhappiness and anxiety in my home and in myself.
With the help of other working mothers (friends and family alike), authors and bloggers who've written so eloquently and helpfully on the subject, and my therapist, I started taking small steps to improve my outlook.
I can now happily say that a lot of the time I truly enjoy the balance I have between my work self and my personal and family self. I feel personally fulfilled by the successes I have in my career and I feel like I'm mostly keeping it together outside of work too.
Most important is that I have found tricks and techniques that have helped me maintain my goals for my home and my family while working full time. These include:
- grocery list for the following week is made while at work during the week and includes a meal plan for each night. Grocery shopping is done (with Sadie's help) on the weekend and as much meal preparation for the week as possible is accomplished before Sunday night.
- Weeknight dinners that aren't prepared on the weekend are assembled or prepped the night before so they only need to be warmed up when I get home after work.
- I'm constantly trying new fast and easy (and healthy and cheap!) meal ideas for busy weeknights.
- Breakfasts and lunches for the week are packed up on Sunday so they can just be thrown in my lunch bag for the next day as soon as I get home
- Laundry is always done on Sunday night so it's not hanging over my head for the week
- I usually can get my gym bag packed while Sadie's in the bath nearby so I have no excuse for not getting up and working out before work.
- Exercising several mornings a week before work keeps me sane and energized.
So, the balance is there. Sometimes. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely weeks when I still feel right back in that overwhelmed place. But it's not as often, and that's a relief.
Professionally, 2011 was also a great year for me. I'm taking on more responsibility and management and marketing duties every year I stay at my company (this is my 10th year!). I feel like I am thriving in my industry and within my company. I am being rewarded for my hard work and dedication and my future looks promising. On most days I enjoy where I work, what I do, and feel accomplished and satisfied with my career.
In 2012, I look forward to continuing to be challenged by my boss and my career. I hope to continue to prove myself as a competent and effective manager and marketer. My biggest personal challenge is to continue to stay focused and motivated. I am such a procrastinator when it comes to work tasks, and there are definitely times that I am NOT at all as productive or efficient as I should be...and then I just feel guilty about it. So, for 2012...FOCUS!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
2011 was a good year for marriage in the Peterson household (at least it was in my opinion). I feel like Brian and I finally found our footing as parents AND partners, and found a good balance between the two. I think that the hard work I've done, personally, to be less of a complete crazy lady has helped immensely. I feel like we fight and bicker less than ever, and we work through disagreements relatively well. Don't get me wrong, we're still fighters, but I think more often than not, we're productive fighters.
I'm proud that Brian and I make time in our lives to be JUST married, and not JUST parents who happen to be married. I think that sometimes people can lose themselves in the day to day work of being parents to a small child and forget that once upon a time they were actually in love with each other and enjoyed spending time together.
Brian and I regularly send Sadie to one of her grandparents' houses for the weekend and spend some time for just the two of us. These are usually house concert weekends, which is even better because we're spending that time doing something we're passionate about.
In 2011, Brian and I also became closer through our new, shared, healthy lifestyle. This is has been really important that we've gone through such big personal transformations together.
My personal goals for 2012 when it comes to my marriage are personal, but can be somewhat summed up by the following mantras:
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (especially your husband!, I forget this way too often)
- Remind myself what I LOVE about this man, and remember to tell him, too
- RESPECT! Always!
- Fight fair
- “I don't know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.” -Woody Allen ;)
Monday, February 13, 2012
Home accomplishments in 2011:
We have a housecleaning service come to the house once a month. As a working mama with very little spare time, cleaning bathrooms and dusting just doesn't make it into the rotation. When I'm home, I'm focused on spending time with my family and fitting in all the other daily tasks that need to be kept up on. The amount of stress this has removed from my life is monumental. Worth every penny.
I got myself a kitchen bookshelf (for $25 on Craiglist!) to house all my cookbooks and crafting books. The cookbooks were taking over the counter and now look so pretty and colorful on their shelf.
I organized the garage in a mad fit of holiday cleaning. This will certainly need to be done in a few months again, but it was a start.
I finally found a rhythm with cycling through the clothes of this growing daughter of ours. With all the hand-me-downs we receive and generous gifted clothes from family, I sometimes feel like I'm buried by Sadie's wardrobe. I've finally got a good system for clearing out her drawers every few months and either donating clothes to Goodwill or packing them up for other mamas.
Home goals for 2012:
I want to paint upstairs and get bookshelves for upstairs. We're still using two particle-board bookshelves that I bought at Target 15 years ago. Not only are they ugly, but they're nearly falling over from the weight of the triple stacked books that fill them. I've always dreamed about having the entire wall of our upstairs living room filled with bookshelves, so we may finally make the financial commitment. I hesitate to spend the money, but I think it will make a HUGE difference to our peace of mind and enjoyment of our home.
I'd also like to make some progress on the out of control CD situation in our lives. It's a goal, but one I'm not holding out too much hope for accomplishing.
And outside of all this surficial stuff....my home is so much more than the stuff in it, the way it looks, or how clean and organized it is. My home is where my family is, it's where I feel most comfortable, it's where I long to be when I'm away, it's where I can be myself, it's where I love to open my door to family, friends, and strangers alike, it's where I listen to, make, and host music. It's my favorite place of all.