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I was 8 when my mom was pregnant with my brother and bought him this antique dresser. I promptly informed her that a baby would not be able to appreciate this fine dresser and claimed it as my own.
My love affair with antiques actually began long before age 8, when I would wander through my grandparent’s house, trying to commit its entire contents to my memory.
However, this did mark the start of my claiming my mother’s things as my own, and she was helpless to stop it. She’s even more helpless to stop Ellis from “shopping” in her fridge, laughing as Ellis pulls out leftovers and dropping it into a bag and saying in her sing-song voice, We need this. Aaaand we need this. Aaaand we need this.
I love this dresser as much today as I did at age 8. It held my first pair of white Guess jeans with the little zippers up the back. My bff Jerusalem and I used it to mix a batch of chocolate chip cookies late one night because we didn’t want to wake up my family by using the kitchen.
The marks of a penny, a hairclip, and a scissors are burned into the surface from carelessly leaving them underneath whatever decorative cloth I had draped over its top.
And now the dresser is in Ellis’ room, and even though I tell myself it’s still my dresser, I am totally prepared for the day when she claims it as her own. I will outwardly protest and tell her that just because it’s in her room, that does not make it hers. And on the inside, I’ll be thinking, this is just how it should be.
I wonder what sort of memories Ellis will have of her dresser 25 years from now, what fashions it will hold, what marks will be left behind.
She may not remember how she used to “lock” her dresser pulls by flipping them up (to keep the cat out, of course), but I will.
You know how you see a corner of your laundry room closet and you think, That’s really gross. I should probably clean that. And then you move the dryer and the funk is so much grosser than you could have imagined?
Since buying our house in August of 2006, we’ve written a few checks for appliance repairs. Realizing at 5pm on a Sunday an hour before you’re due to volunteer at a fundraising event that your hot water heater is broken is always fun. (Note: the only thing more white trash than having a busted hot water heater on your front deck is maybe the people with a toilet in their yard a few blocks over. Except our busted water heater was only on the deck for a couple days and their toilet appears to be “yard art” so we win).
Last summer we had an oil leak in the washing machine, and the day the repair guy was scheduled to come over, I realized the fridge was unseasonably warm, and wouldn’t you know? The fan sensor had crapped out. Also fun.
Most recently, our dryer, while technically not broken, doesn’t shut off when the clothes are dry. It will cost about $125 for the replacement part, and since I’d rather buy groceries and diapers than a part for the dryer that technically still works, I try to remember to check the dryer to make sure it’s not running long and jacking up the electricity bill and/or becoming a fire hazard. Yes, I’m sure over time, we’ll have spent over $125 in extra electricity charges. Shut up.
Fast forward to last Friday night. I check the laundry and realize it’s really moist in there. Way too moist. I call Adam over, he pulls the dryer out from the wall, and produces a dryer vent so mangled that even poor folk such as ourselves wouldn’t reattach it. Lucky for us, we happened to have an extra dryer vent in our garage. Doesn’t everybody keep extra dryer vents in their garage JUST IN CASE?
To properly attach the new vent, Adam says he needs to go under the house, which he can’t do because the crawl space opening is in Ellis’ room (yes, the hatch is safely secured from the 2 year old. duh). Friday night or no Friday night, if your dryer was pulled out, wouldn’t you take the opportunity to clean that which never sees the light of day?
Enter last summer’s washing machine oil leak. When the appliance repair guy fixed the washer, he cleaned underneath it, but the oil of course spread further than he was obligated to clean.
So I spent my Friday night wiping up oil soaked lint from 25 year old linoleum in my jammies.
It’s nothing but glamor around here, no?
But it’s okay because I made brownies.
Today I turned 35. Thirty-five. Thirrrtteeee-FIVE. And my mind still reels at how this could have happened. Most days, I still feel like I’m waiting to become an adult because that’s what my life had been: waiting to become something and looking forward to that next, big stage.
I was certain life started at 18. And then I realized, oh hey! Eighteen isn’t what I thought it would be! It must 21 that I’m waiting for. Yes! At 21, life begins!
Except at 21, I quickly realized the only thing that changed was my ability to drink legally. And since my boyfriend at the time sucked every bit of joy & happiness from my life, I didn’t even get to properly enjoy that until I broke up with him three years later, and then whoo boy, did I enjoy the hell out of being able to drink legally! I mean, a lot.
Somewhere between 24 and 27, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be in life. I felt content. I didn’t feel like a misplaced and confused teenager. I wasn’t in college, living on pretzels and Diet Coke, worrying about the day I’d have to have an actual job in my actual field of study. I wasn’t in a break-up-every-other-month-dead-end relationship while all of my high school friends (it seemed) were getting married and having babies. I felt like I had arrived. I loved my job and I was engaged to be married. I had my whole life ahead of me and I was happy. Finally. I wasn’t waiting.
Or so I thought.
I had the husband. I had the house, complete with fence (brown, not white), and I had the dog to go inside the fence.
I had the pregnancy, the excruciatingly long and lady-part shredding labor, and I had the perfect daughter whom I loved more than I ever imagined I could love another human being. And yet? I didn’t feel like a grown up. I had met all the criteria for being an adult, but I still felt like a big fat fraud.
The past year has been… challenging, shall we say? I was pushed far beyond any emotional boundaries I would have thought possible to survive. And survive I did. For months, that was all I did. From the moment I woke up, to the moment I went to bed, it was all survival-mode, all the time. No planning for tomorrow, just getting through today. Even this very “grown-up” act of getting through “grown-up” life didn’t make me feel like an actual grown-up.
Now I have a two year old child, and after two years of changing diapers (are we pee-pee or poopie?!), I didn’t feel like a grown-up. For two years, I have fed her, rocked her, soothed her, played with her, taught her, and made sure her every need was met. (To be sure, Adam is a wonderful father, but does a mother’s mind really ever shut off when her child is concerned?). Despite the “grown-up” act parenting, I did not feel like a grown-up. A mother? Definitely yes, but I was still waiting to feel like a grown-up. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever feel like I viewed my parents.
I’m not sure what happened this summer, but something did happen, and when I wasn’t looking, grown-up snuck up on me. One evening as I was doing the sprinkler dance & trying to avoid getting soaked, I was all, Huh. I kinda felt like a grown-up right there. How ‘bout that.
And then there was the morning I was making blueberry pancakes for Ellis. In that moment, making breakfast for my daughter felt like the most grown-up thing I could ever do and I caught myself in a smile.
The rest of the summer has been filled with a hundred little moments like those where I realize that I am, finally, a grown up.
I’m starting to realize that 35 is just a number and not one to get hung up on. I thought I was supposed to feel a certain way at 35. You know, like a GROWN UP. I know now that I can feel any way I want to at 35. My vision of 35 was Dan & Roseanne Connor yelling at Darlene because she didn’t call home when she was going to be late coming home from the concert. That wasn’t me. I was 35 and Tweeting from my bathroom this morning about HOW COULD I BE 35? instead of getting ready for work.
I’m starting to realize that 35 is simply a measure of time and nothing more. It doesn’t tell the story. Only I can do that. Every new line on my 35 year-old face tells my story. Every step I’ve taken in life has brought me to today. To being a wife, a mother, a grown-up, me.
Ellis just. stopped. crying. After far too long. She normally goes to bed without too much fuss. I’ve been weaning her from her before-bed feeding, and she still hasn’t screamed & cried to this extent. She called for me….mama, mama, mama…over and over again. I couldn’t take it. It was breaking my heart. The anxiety continued to swell until the tears blurred my eyes. I wanted to sit & have a good long cry but for some reason, my body wouldn’t comply.
Right now I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to listen. I don’t want to think. Can’t I just sit and watch Flight Plan? Except that A., now my husband is pissed because I just told him I didn’t have it in me to conversate right now (doesn’t stop him from trying), and B. watching movies where children are missing/harmed/killed causes me anxiety in ways that I never experienced before motherhood.
My former boss and I once shared a hotel room in Vegas while there for training, and after spending the first few nights at the casinos, we opted on the last night to stay in with pay-per-view. Get your minds out of the gutter, we watched Minority Report. A few minutes into the movie, my boss says, Oh, I just remembered I didn’t like this movie because of what happens to his son. At the time I thought it was so strange that a movie could affect her so deeply. Little did I know, right?
My mom sent me a link to a video of some company in Arizona that teaches babies how to roll themselves over and float on their backs if they should fall into a swimming pool. I watched the video clip of a toddler, probably just about Ellis’ age, walk to a swimming pool, fall in, roll himself onto his back and float there, waiting for someone to rescue him. I was having a hard enough time watching the clip until I was insane enough to turn the volume on. I listened to this poor child babbling away (not even crying, really), and my anxiety reached such levels that I had to stop the video halfway through. I knew the baby was going to be fine and I couldn’t take it. Not only could I not take it, but I promptly e-mailed my mother & asked her to please, never, ever, not ever, send me anything like that again. I worry puh-lenty about something horrific happening to Ellis that I don’t need to worry about babies I don’t even know.
So, just in case it wasn’t clear before, I have emotions. Lots of emotions. They live really close to the surface all the time and can come out of nowhere, often causing me to do or say things that I later regret. Lately it seems that my capacity for handling these emotions, good or bad, is diminishing. (One of) my mechanisms to deal with that, is to simply shut down. Retreat. Withdraw from the world in general, except that which is absolutely necessary to function.
When Ellis was first born and in the months after, I was fueled by a need to be a better person; to be the best person I could be for my daughter. I wanted her to be proud of her mother. I had dreams. Dreams that in true Tracy fashion, never made it past the early excitement phase. Now I feel like I have lost that drive. I feel…..blah. I have found myself squarely in the middle of a depression-cycle that, if I were to be completely honest with myself, has been going on for months. I know it is partially due to external factors that are out of my control to change, making me feel like I’m in a rather hopeless situation.
It’s difficult to verbalize this, but lately, I have found myself thinking…how did I get here? Is this really my life? Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my daughter or husband. I know that in my heart I am not disatisfied with my life but when one is in the midst of depression, it’s hard to see things objectively.
Instead of being able to see all the wonderful things, I see (on the days that I’m home with Ellis): wake up, change a diaper, put Ellis back in her crib with toys to keep her occupied, take a shower, take Adam to work, stop for a non-fat mocha on the way home (my Monday & Friday treat), come home, put on PBS Kids, keep Ellis from pushing all the buttons on the tv, watch as she trashes the living room in under two minutes, make breakfast, watch helplessly as she throws half of her food on the floor, listen to Porter whine outside because I won’t let him inside while Ellis is eating because she tries to feed him, wipe Ellis’ hands & face, let Porter in, let him eat Ellis’ leftovers, chase Ellis around the house to send her into fits of giggles, change a diaper, Swiffer the dog hair, playtime, naptime, pick up Ellis’ toys (why do I bother with this?), crafttime for mama, kiss Ellis after her nap, change another diaper, lunchtime, change a diaper, pick up toys, errands if my mood allows me to leave the house (don’t forget to pack snacks & sippy cup of water!), (don’t forget to take off slippers and put on shoes!), come home, change a diaper, chase Ellis through the house to encite giggles, keep Porter from “protecting” Ellis from my tickling, will Ellis have an afternoon nap today?, pick up toys, pick up Adam from work, come home, hope that Adam is understanding that I don’t have anything left in me to give to him, fix Ellis dinner, change a diaper, playtime, change a diaper & put on jammies (jammies on Ellis; I am most likely already in jammy-bottoms by this point), brush her teeth, look at books, wonder if I’ll have the energy to do all the things I had planned to do after Ellis was in bed, have Ellis kiss dada night-night, put her to bed, hope that she goes down easily, wonder if I’ll have the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.
Again, PLEASE don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my daughter. I LOVE MY DAUGHTER WITH MY ENTIRE BEING & WOULD BE LOST WITHOUT HER. I love taking care of her, I love being with her, I miss her like mad when I’m at work. That’s the sucky thing about depression: feeling such intense & contradictory feelings simultaneously. How can I love Ellis so freaking much & still feel so disatisfied with my life?
Sure, I have hobbies & they help keep me occupied. I clean. I organize. I try to create order to calm the chaos in my head.
But I think the bigger picture is that Ellis is my constant reminder that time is passing. Every day that goes by is one day closer to her leaving me & that’s just too sad to think about. One week ago today, I started Ellis’ final weaning . We were down to 2 feedings a day; before bed & when she woke up oh so early in the morning, so mama could get another hour of sleep. Once I’ve eliminated that early-morning feeding, that will officially mark the end of my pregnant body and that has hit me hard.
Ladies, how did you cope with weaning your little ones and moving onto the next chapter?
I don’t want to admit that she’s nearly 16 months old, which means she’s nearly 18 months old, and that just means she’s on her way to being a teenager. And I’m not ready for that. I want her to stay innocent and pure, imaginative, silly, my sweet little girl.
While on vacation in Spokane a couple weeks ago, I was laying in my mother in law’s bed (they were gracious enough to give up their bedroom for us) nursing Ellis before bedtime. My niece Katelyn (age 3) decided she wanted to go to bed as well so I let her snuggle in beside us thinking, how cute is this? But because it was quite early compared to Katelyn’s normal bedtime, I figured she would change her mind about all this going to bed nonsense in about 28 seconds.
I was nursing Ellis, and Katelyn was asking questions, and I was saying shhhhh, we need to be quiet. I’m trying to put Belles to bed.
I continued to nurse, and Katelyn continued to ask questions, and I said, shhhhh, we need to be quiet. I’m trying to feed Belles so she can go night-night.
Katelyn asks me, she’s eating? And I say, uh-huh, shhhhhh.
And this is the point where she sat upright, peered over my side, and said IS SHE EATING YOU?
Rolling over in bed is an ordeal in itself, and actually getting out of bed? The achy hips, the legs so sore & stiff from the swelling, the ankles that hardly bend anymore…all things that make me wish I could just stay in bed. Except that unless I’m cuddling with Honey, even bed isn’t comfortable anymore.
The baby thinks it’s great fun to head-butt my bladder on a regular basis, and this past week, she has also been putting pressure in my, ummm, posterior-region. I know all you ladies know exactly what I’m talking about, but man, does it feel strange!
It’s difficult to breath, and I find myself emitting a snort when a laugh should be coming out of my mouth. And if I can’t control my breathing when I’m awake, imagine how I must sound when I’m asleep. Poor Honey doesn’t have to imagine. I think he said something to the affect of ~ Honey, you sound like a trucker. But unlike me who kicks him when he’s snoring, he has learned to just let me sleep. Because I told him he wasn’t allowed to wake me up to tell me I’m snoring. But, still, he lets me sleep.
My body refuses to keep up with me anymore, which I don’t like one bit. Doesn’t it know I have things to do? That this baby will be here in 3 weeks & I’m not ready for her? I have a nursery to finish, thank-you’s to write, a hospital bag to pack, and a life to say goodbye to. And I don’t mean that last bit in a negative way, just that I have not yet come to grips with the fact that our life is changing in the hugest way imaginable.
The other day, while looking for more maternity clothes because my work tops barely cover my belly any longer, I came across dog clothes on Old Navy. Adam said that anything that could make me laugh so hard after months of depression was worth buying. And, man was he right!
I can’t say as Doodles liked his new outfit as much as I did, but I haven’t laughed that hard in months. So hard my stomach hurt. Harder than when Adam got his subscription for Fitness Magazine, and harder than when we tried putting socks on Porter and my brother’s dog Kona. And believe me, that was FUNNY.
And it feels so good to feel like me again. The me who doesn’t freak out over idiot drivers. The me who isn’t compelled to throw heavy objects in the general direction of my husband. The me who can’t wait to see Doodles when we get home from work instead of being annoyed at his affections. The me who has the energy to clean my house and get on with the projects that have been on hold for months. The me who is finally enjoying my pregnancy ~ back aches, swollen feet, itchy skin, and all.
Can I just say that this was one loooonnngggg week? I still can’t hardly believe it’s Friday and I can finally exhale. We arrived home from work to find a care package from Adam’s parents (baby clothes & some Valentine’s goodies) AND my diploma! After working my ass off for 5 years, taking about 5 years off, finally finishing my last two classes a couple years back, putting of submitting my graduation application, battling with my so-called advisor on whether or not I had fulfilled my degree requirements, I officially have a degree in Bachelors of Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. All would be grand if Honey weren’t currently caccooned on the couch with a fever of 101.
And finally, your requisite Doodles picture:
Play with me!