Tuesday, 27 September 2011

(Just Like) Starting Over

We got a new car last week. It's great except I don't know how to drive it. That's right, 14 years on the road in automatic cars and I've now decided to learn how to drive stick. The timing for this venture couldn't be more perfect; it is most certainly a fitting metaphor for where I'm at with everything these days. Here's an example:
This morning Bri and I had our coffee at home, sat in the living room with the boy, and perused the newspaper. 9:30 encroached and it was time for me to go to work. I took a deep breath and collected myself, for getting to work used to be a simple thing, and now it is a challenge. I have to wrestle with the new beast of manual driving, which brings humiliation, frustration, and makes me feel like a hormonal teenager. Yes, I know this sounds dramatic, but bear with me...
I got in the car, put on some music, and made my way along the regular route. There is construction on Dundas St. so when I arrived at the top of the hill there was back-up. I haven't yet been on a hill, stopped. There was a line-up of cars behind me. The light turned green: I released the brake, released the clutch, pushed the gas. I started rolling backwards. Did the process again. Rolled backwards. Car behind me with nowhere for her to reverse. Cars everywhere. I put the brake on and got out. Then I started waving my arms to the construction workers, and the cop at the top of the street. "Do you guys know how to drive stick?" No one knew how. Traffic was lining up, my heart was racing (yes, dramatic!). I saw my friendly mailman coming up the street and ran to him, "can you drive manual?" He said yes, and then I actually told him that I loved him. He said to keep the emergency brake on, and to gun it. The construction worker kindly said he would hold up traffic for me. So I got back in, waited for the green, and did exactly as he said. It was hilarious - I had a mailman, a construction worker, and the guy who owned the laundromat shouting "you can do it!" as I gunned up the hill. Once I knew I was in the clear and was headed downhill, I noticed the words of the song playing in the car "you're gonna neeeeed to be... patient with me".
I have a new life now. All the rumours about having a kid are true. I am truly learning a whole new way to drive. I don't know how just yet, and I stall all the time, and I get really mad, and it makes me feel so humble and so frustrated to be on such a learning curve with everything. But every day I get up and keep trying. I try to be patient with myself and with my little boy, who is changing so much these days and is also frustrated with the things he can't do yet.
Today I told him that he'll soon be walking, and that he'll soon have words to tell us what he wants, and that it will make things a lot easier. But for now, we're just going to be frustrated and that's okay. Me? I have to learn how to have balance. There is so much stop and go, and I find myself wanting to lurch forward into movement, to get back into work and doing and being busy. But it's too much; I'll burn out if I try to do things the old way. A little bit of clutch, and a little bit of gas - that's what I am learning. Hopefully I'll always have a team of construction workers, mailmen, and policemen to cheer me on...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Crazy Going Slowly Am I

On Monday I had a playdate with two of my good friends and their two awesome little kids. While the kids drooled on blocks and tried to break out of the gates, we talked about the latest things we were grappling with. I find conversations with moms hilarious; we talk in the craziest circles, grazing over subjects because our brains seem to be newly wired for what I call "snack thinking". We simply don't have the kind of time we used to have, plus babies' attention spans are short, and in order to remain symbiotic I think we start to shorten our spans too. That's why I call it snacking.
What emerged in our conversation was a similar thread that all of us were feeling: stress. Stress over the little things, stress over when, what, how this would get done, that would be finished. Stress over packing a diaper bag, taking a shower, getting a meal made etc... We agreed that they were all small things which didn't matter all that much, but I found it interesting that we had been feeling the same way.
The next day I went to work for my three-hour stint at the bakery. My phone rang, someone texted, I started a spreadsheet, I checked my email, I texted back, I checked the cookies, I went back to the spreadsheet, I forgot to eat - and by the end of that three hours I truly wanted to rip my hair out. I got nothing done. I feel this way a lot of the time and find that it's a real challenge to get focused and accomplish something.
I am writing about it with the intention to bring some order into my somewhat chaotic existence.
My schedule is like a stop and go tornado. Not so different from my soon-to-be-a-toddler...
Here is a list of the things that make me crazy right now:
1) I don't eat properly. It's always lunch that gets missed, and this really affects my blood sugar and mood.
2) I feel like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly with the way I'm always texting, checking email, texting, checking email. I think Apple has kidnapped my brain.
3) My house is cluttered and disorganized.
4) I try to fit too much into one session at work and end up accomplishing very little.
5) Exercise always takes the backseat.
6) I always scramble to find something to wear in the mornings and it makes me feel like a bit of a schlump.
What I desire and crave and would drool over right now is having some kind of a schedule that I can stick to, and that isn't too ambitious. Why do I want this so bad? Why do the other moms I know want this? Why do most people thrive in this sort of condition? Because having just a little bit of control is nice. It makes me feel grounded, and sorted, and like I am taking care of myself.
So here's my list of solutions to get started with in response to the above crazy-makers.
1) Dedicate Sunday to meal planning and food shopping so that I can make a couple soups or stews for the week ahead. I do have a Crock Pot after all.
2) Choose specific times to check email and use phone. This is a hard one, but will help me to relax and focus.
3) De-clutter. Just get it done. Pick one area or one room at a time and move that s**t out!
4) Make a list when I arrive at work of the top 3 things I need to accomplish that day. Check them off as I go.
5) Make time to exercise. Seriously! Even 30 minutes every day.
6) Put my clothes out the night before.

Is this over-ambitious? I just want to find a flow, get into it, and feel as though I have some say in the way I feel day-to-day. Better to be on top of the wave than underneath it with a mouth full of sand.
xo BB
ps - the picture with this post is one I took while on my honeymoon in Big Sur. I want to feel how this photo feels.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Having the New All

Back before I had the little person in my life, I had concocted an idea of what it would be like to have a kid/be a mom. The concoction fit well with all the other things I had going on. You know, I could take the baby to work, still carry on the way I was carrying on, and everything would be dandy and unchanged - except I'd be blissfully happy all the time.
You know how people say to you that your life changes a lot when you have kids, and they say it in this kind of "you have no idea what you're getting yourself into way"? I used to scoff at those people because I was sure nothing could get in my way. Now I am one of those people, because it is so incredibly true: having a kid changes everything. And why? I'm going to say that it's the biggest emotional and spiritual shift I've ever felt: to be responsible for another human life every second of every day, for many years to come. It changed my relationship to everything.
For months I have felt very split, very conflicted, very unsure of how to do it all. The all being: take care of Cedar, take care of myself, run my business, feed my marriage, make soup, eat soup, pay bills, run errands, and also have a creative outlet. It is my way to think that I can do everything, and essentially, have it all.
But really, what is this all I am attempting to achieve? Where did it come from, and why am I so hard-pressed to live up to its expectation of me?
I made it, folks. I made that all. I made it so long ago that I didn't even realize it was following me around, tapping me on the shoulder, and not cutting me any slack. I've finally spun my heels around and am taking a look at this annoying creature who expects me to be this Superwoman.
I created an identity I could never humanly be. What a ripoff.

Everything I need to learn from life is coming straight from Cedar these days, and he doesn't need me to be a Superwoman. He just needs me to be his mom.
He is the most wise and patient teacher I have ever had, and best of all, he has no idea of his impact. Sure, he screams and whines and does all that baby stuff, but it pales in comparison to his zest for life (he goes down the slide head-first, I kid you not), his unabashed jolliness, and his fascination with the simplest things.
Where is it I feel I have to go, who is it I think I have to be, when the very most important thing of all is looking through the kitchen cabinets with Cedar? It's humbling, especially when the thrillseeker in me wants to get out in the world and scratch something together. It's humbling to realize that the only place I really need to be is on my kitchen floor, strumming a ukelele with dried avocado on my jeans.
The more I acquire, the more I want to shed. All these things amount to nothing when faced with my true self in the eyes of a baby. I mean that, and not in a granola way. This is some powerful stuff. This is what it's all about.
It's messy, it's wonderful, it's maddening, it's mind-numbing and hilarious. It's frustrating and rewarding, and sour and sweet. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. And well, I couldn't even if I wanted to :)