Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Confessions of an Eternal Optimist

Warning: This is going to be long. As anyone who's ever read anything I've ever written can attest, I tend to be wordy.

Today marks the first birthday of my youngest son, Brody. He's grown and learned so much in this last year; he's now starting to walk and even says a few words. He's the cutest thing I have ever seen (don’t tell that to my oldest son). But today, he's miserable due to a bad cold. Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and unable to sleep. And that means he's making me crazy. I love my baby, but I love him even more when he sleeps. Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for the little guy, but I start to lose patience when nothing I do makes him feel any better. He wants to be held; he wants to be put down. He wants to sleep; he won’t stay asleep. And all of the inconsolable crying really tests my patience. Then I start to get frustrated that I am unable to get anything checked off of my to-do list.

Things I accomplished by noon today:
-I got up.
-I got dressed.
-I packed my four year-old's lunch before sending him off to preschool.
-I sorted the laundry into piles.

I think that was about it. I tried to start washing the dishes, but had to stop to pick up the baby, who just wanted to be held. I tried to start washing the laundry, but had pretty much the same problem there, too. Because we had family and friends come by over the weekend to celebrate the birthday (luckily, before the kid got sick), the house looks like some sort of crazy disaster zone. It is littered with half-deflated balloons everywhere, and the usual minefield of toys strewn about the living room. I find it frustrating that it still looks this way on Tuesday.

Today being Brody's birthday also means it has been exactly one year since I have given birth to him. Perhaps stupidly, I decided it would be a good day to step on the scale. This is something that I have been avoiding for awhile now. First, I should clarify, I have never been a person to really worry about my weight. I don't diet, and I didn't even own a scale for the longest time. It's not that I am perfectly skinny, it's just that I like to think that weight is just a number, and not something to dwell on. I would rather focus on eating healthy foods or staying physically fit. But the sad fact is, even though it's just a number, the higher that number goes, the less likely I am to want to put on a swimsuit. So, how did the weigh-in go? Well, since it's just a number, I won't tell you the exact one. But let's just say that it's more than 20 pounds over what my driver's license says I weigh. If I'm being perfectly honest, even at the time of getting that license, I probably weighed about five pounds more than I said I did. And I currently weigh about five pounds more than I did last summer, when Brody was a few months old, which was about five pounds more than my pre-pregnancy weight, which was about five pounds more than my first pre-pregnancy weight (i.e. before Jake), which... Well, you get the idea, those pounds add up.

But I have excuses. I just had a baby! What, that was a year ago, you say? Well, I'm breastfeeding! What, that's supposed to burn extra calories? Not when you're hungry all the time and consume more calories than it burns. There's never any time for exercising! And the baby cries when I put him into childcare at the gym! And so on, and so on. But the real reason for the weight gain has taken me a year to figure out: I eat when I'm stressed. And babies stress me out. No, not your baby. I actually LOVE babies. There's a reason I work in pediatrics, after all. I can make them smile, giggle, laugh, feed them, change them, play with them. But then I give them back to their parents. With my kids, there's nobody to give them back to. Sure, I can hand the baby off to Chris when he gets home from work at almost eight o'clock at night. But that doesn't change the fact that I am really the one person that is responsible for this child all day, every day. I remember this with Jake, too, when he was a baby. However, I think I was a little less stressed then because at least we had family living nearby. But then my brother and sister-in-law moved back to Arizona. Now, I've got two kids, and no family within 400 miles from here. It's stressful. And I eat.

Why does my list of today's "accomplishments" stop at noon? Because that was about the time that my sad-eyed baby looked up at me, waved, and said, "Bye bye." Instead of choosing to believe that he was telling me to get lost, that he was done with me, I took that to mean that he wanted to get out of the house. He decided it was time for a change in scenery. I decided it was time for a change in my life. So, instead of being grateful for all of the wonderful things in my life (add that to my to-do list for another day), or reflecting back upon all the joys that this last year has brought me (and there are MANY), here's a list of things that I would like to change in my life:

-I don't like the way that I look in a swimsuit. No, it's not really about what the scale says, but they sure go hand-in-hand.

-I'm not physically fit. In fact, I felt worn out just cleaning the windows in preparation for our company this last weekend. I've never had a regular exercise regimen, but once upon a time, I used to go for walks, hikes, rollerblading, yoga, or the gym occasionally. And I know that my lack of physical fitness is related to the back problems that I have experienced since having kids. Actually, I blame the initial problem on bouncing baby Jake to sleep on an exercise ball every day for at least a year. But my lack of hamstring flexibility and core trunk strength doesn't help the back problems, either. I mean, as a physical therapist, I really should be more committed to an active physical lifestyle, right?

-I eat out too often. Well, that's not exactly true. We eat "in" quite often, but always pick up food to bring it home. To be totally honest, I probably only make something at home a handful of times each month (lunch or dinner). This I also blame on the kids, who demand a lot of attention in the evening hours when I should be preparing something for dinner. But really, it's a habit now, and who has time to plan meals, go shopping, cook and clean up afterwards?

-I eat too much fast food. This goes along with the one above, as eating out often leads to going through the drive thru. I hate that I am setting a bad example for my kids. I try to make sure that their meals always include fruits, vegetables and healthy grains. But I don't eat the same things they eat. What is that telling them?

-I don't have a special talent or hobby. My friends are writers, painters, runners, sculptors, photographers, readers. I've never considered myself to be a creative or talented person.

-I spend too much money at Target. I love Target; it's my favorite place to shop. But the problem is that I tend to think of Target as being so reasonably priced, that I can buy just about anything that I find on sale there. Which means that I end up buying too much "stuff" that I didn't really need. I really didn't need to spend that money, or create more clutter in my home and my life, for something that's just going to end up in the landfill eventually.

-I don't do things regularly to make the world a better place. I should volunteer to clean up trash along the beach, feed the homeless and help underprivileged kids, but I don't.

-I drink too much soda.

-I don't always use my re-useable bags.

-I spend too much time on the computer.

-I check my email and Facebook while driving. It's usually at red lights, but still, it's probably unnecessary since I just checked it five minutes ago, right before leaving the house.

-I don’t always tell my husband how much I appreciate him.

My brother thinks that (in general) I have unrealistically high expectations. I like to think of myself as an eternal optimist. I mean, I know I can't change everything overnight, but I can make changes, right? So, I am putting this out there now. This is my list, an inventory of things that I would like to change over the next year. My "New Year's Resolutions", created on the anniversary of my baby's birth. I will try to write about them regularly, if nothing else, just as a reminder to hold myself accountable. I know that I should frame it in terms of positive, measureable goals (i.e. instead of "Drink less soda", I should say, "I will drink eight glasses of water everyday", which will give me less opportunities to drink soda). But that's not how I work. Maybe someday I'll get around to writing actual goals, but for now, a list will have to suffice. Because that's what I'm good at.

So, where did Brody and I go when we left the house at noon? Well, it was lunchtime, so we went to Chipotle to eat, and then to Target. Hey, there was nothing yummy in the house, and I was just about out of laundry detergent. Change sometimes comes gradually. But, once we got home, we did go for a long walk and watched the airplanes. I didn't walk super fast or super far, but I was pushing the stroller, and walked long enough that I was tired and a little sweaty. And then I still had to turn around and walk back home. The people on the airplanes were going somewhere different, so why can't I? It's a start. We'll see where this goes.

I warned you ahead of time that this was going to be long. Oh yeah, and Happy Birthday, Brody. I hope you're feeling better very soon.

1 comment:

  1. I can help with 2 things:

    1) regarding being physically fit - I can burn you some exercise DVD's... that are "funner" than working out - Turbo Jam and Hip Hop Abs, if you like? They're cheesy, but you're kinda moving around and it's a bit fun.

    2) regarding buying too much stuff... Watch Hoarders on A&E on Monday nights. It makes me want to clean and throw stuff away.