“I don’t like mayo”

If you ask me about mayo, I’ll tell you I’m not a fan. But, that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I liked mayonnaise as much as the next gal. On a chicken sandwich…yum. Slathered on a Jimmy John’s sub…delish. Cleverly mixed with ketchup to make that secret yummy sauce on a Whopper…Sign. Me Up. The more the better.  Mayo, what’s not to love?

But there came a time about 4 years ago that I decided to make a commitment to taking care of myself. And, at the tippy top of that list, was getting to a healthier weight. I actually reached my heaviest weight 10 years ago, before having kids, but that’s a story for another day. The point is, 4 years ago I was nearing that highest point, was not healthy and not happy. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but I lost 50 lbs. There were lots of techniques and tools involved in doing that, but one little thing I did was DECIDE that I didn’t like mayonnaise anymore.

I know you’re thinking that’s crazy, but it’s absolutely 100% true. I told myself I didn’t like mayo, and anytime I encountered it I said I didn’t like it. I started ordering from menus asking to leave it off and replace it with dijon or nothing at all. And you know how people say that if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it’s true? Well, they’re fricken’ right. Over time, I’ve actually convinced myself I don’t like it. I’ve even gotten to the point that it kind of grosses me out in large quantities.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m the sort of person that overthinks and over analyzes everything. So, I find it fascinating how much control we have over ourselves, our thoughts, our preferences.  I really believe I can do anything I put my mind to, and that includes changing my mind.

And, the thing is, this isn’t an anomaly. I’ve convinced myself of many things in my life. I used to be scared to death of public speaking. One day I realized that if I wanted to be successful in my career, I’d have to get over it. So, I started telling myself it didn’t scare me. I would literally repeat it over and over in my head “I’m not afraid of public speaking.” And, over time, I believed it. And now it barely bothers me at all. I have dozens of other examples of this sort of “self talk” or coaching or whatever you want to call it.

People often talk about the impact our words have on others, and I whole heartedly believe words can change lives. But, I don’t think we always realize how much the words we’re saying to ourselves are shaping and changing our own lives. So, here’s to convincing ourselves we can quit what makes us unhappy and overcome what stands in our way.

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My Sweet Boy

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Today is Nathan’s 9th birthday. We surprised him with tickets to tonight’s Cubs game, so he’s at Wrigley with his dad. I was so excited to get him the tickets, I knew they’d have a blast, but now I’m selfishly kind of sad to not get to spend his birthday with him. It got me thinking about the first time we were ever apart. But, there’s the whole story of him being born that comes before that.

After several years of trying and fertility treatments, I finally found myself pregnant in the summer of 2006. I had an uneventful and lovely pregnancy. It was easy by all accounts. No morning sickness, no drama. Other than the insane level of monitoring because of all I’d gone through previously, it was a breeze. A total dream. And I absolutely loved being pregnant. I loved that we did everything together. No one in the world knew my baby yet, but I got to spend every moment with him or her (after so many long months of plotting and planning every fine detail of getting pregnant, we wanted this surprise). I felt like I had this little secret all to myself. I talked to him at length and told him about all the things we’d do together when he was born. About all the things I was doing throughout the day that he couldn’t yet experience. It was him and I always together. It was awesome.

Nathan was due on April 10. A day which came and went with no signs of his arrival. I actually went to the eye doctor to pickup new glasses that day and enrolled him in daycare. People were slightly horrified to hear I was out in the world ON MY DUE DATE…like I was a ticking time bomb. I was having intermittent contractions on the 11th, so on the 12th, Craig stayed home from work. It was gorgeous out for April, mid 70’s. So we took a long walk around the neighborhood and headed back home to take a nap. I woke up a while later and my water broke….kinda. So, we called the doc who originally told us to come to the office. Halfway there they called us back and said to go to the hospital instead.

If my pregnancy was a dream, my labor and delivery were beyond unbelievable. I often think my easy pregnancy and delivery were a gift, after so much heartache leading up to them. A gift I don’t take for granted. We’d narrowed our names down to one for a boy, Nathan, and two for a girl. We just couldn’t decide. So, we made a deal if it was a blonde girl she’d be Gwendolyn (Wendy for short) and if it was a brunette girl, she’d be Charlotte (Lottie for short). During labor the doc said, “I see the head, the baby doesn’t have any hair.” I remember looking at Craig in a panic, this better be a boy, because we didn’t have a no hair name for a girl.

Much of it still feels a blur, but I remember Craig saying “It’s a boy” not holding back the tears, pride filling his voice. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. That moment, when the rest of the world got to meet this sweet boy I’d been hanging out with the past 9 months. The moment he and I got to see each other for the first time. It was everything.

We were able to spend a good bit of time together there in the delivery room. At some point they said it was time to take him to the nursery to get his first bath, and Dad could help. That’s when everyone left the room. Everyone including Nathan. We’d never been apart. I watched them go, sat there helpless in bed and cried. Cried until at some point I fell asleep, exhausted from it all.

As I write this, it’s almost exactly nine years later. I’m once again sad to be away from my boy on his birthday. Wishing I could keep him with me every moment of every day. Grateful I got to do just that for those first 9 months.

Homesick in NYC

  
Sitting at LaGuardia, hours early for my flight (I’m a neurotic traveler, would always rather be early), missing my kids like crazy. I’ve written before about my thoughts on traveling for work here. I love that my work allows me to go places, meet people, see things. And mostly while I’m away I’m so busy there’s little downtime to think about home. And, that’s how I like it, that’s how I need it. 

I’m a total home body and no stranger to home sickness. I still live in the same town where I grew up. I went to college just a couple hours away, and only made it 3 semesters before moving back home. I don’t like to be away. I need my people to breathe. 

In between the busy spaces of my travels there are little bits, thoughts, feelings and longings for home. But, it’s subtle. I liken it to being slowly suffocated, something sitting on my chest getting ever so slightly heavier with each passing minute, hour, day I’m away. Only noticeable when I walk in my front door and pull my kiddos into my arms….at that moment it’s like a rush of air into my lungs. They’re my oxygen. It’s only in that moment that I realize I’ve been holding my breathe the whole time I was away. Somewhere in my brain, counting the moments until I’d be home. Until I could breathe again.

I’m sitting in LaGuardia, nothing to do but miss my babies. Wishing I was home, or at the very least, busy.

Mother’s Day Feelings

When I was younger, I never gave much thought to Mother’s Day. Of course, on that special Sunday in May I celebrated my incredible Mother and Grandmothers. Often created homemade gifts for them, bought cards full of all the sentiments I probably should’ve shared more throughout the year. A day of brunches and gardening and love and gift giving. Mother’s Day was a happy day until it wasn’t.

When I was a kid and young adult, Mother’s Day was about my mom. Not a day for me, but for her. But, once I got married, and started to try to become a mom myself, there was no single day in the year more excruciating. More painful. More difficult. Each Mother’s Day that passed that I couldn’t celebrate was like a punch in the gut. And there was no escaping it. My inbox was jammed with Mother’s Day sale messages. The television played what seemed an endless stream of commercials featuring happy moms with their kiddos, not to mention the storyline of EVERY SINGLE tv show turned to Mother’s Day. Stores were packed with cards and images of women being moms. I thank god that there was no social media back then, I’m not sure how I’d have survived an Instagram feed of homemade gifts for moms on those challenging days.

The worst were the years where there was hope leading up to Mother’s Day. One more round of fertility treatments, and if it worked, I’d actually be pregnant on Mother’s Day. I could finally celebrate, too. Those were the hardest.

After years of terrible Mother’s Days, I’d built that Sunday up as this epic prize in my mind. The incredible day I was missing out on would someday, hopefully, be one of my favorite of the year. I don’t know what exactly I had in mind, but it would be awesome and thoughtful and lovely and perfect. 

And, honestly, my first Mother’s Day wasn’t any of those. I’d somehow catupultated my expectations right past simply being grateful to be able to finally celebrate the day all the way to this insane unattainable expectation of myself and everyone around me. Nathan was just a few weeks old on my first Mother’s Day. So I was still very much in the haze of new motherhood, a mix of exhaustion, elation and confusion. And, I’d missed a key part in my grandiose plans for the day, I didn’t tell anyone else, particularly my husband, what all I’d dreamed this day up to be over my years of waiting for it to happen. I just expected it to magically be magic. And, as the day progressed, I became more disappointed and frustrated, which in turn filled me with guilt at missing out on this day because I was being so selfish. 

It took me a few Mother’s Days to find my rhythm. To forgive myself and my family our imperfections, and realize that the perfect Mother’s Day for me is simply a nice quiet day at home with my husband & kids, and a few hours to myself to dig in my garden. 

Mother’s Day is just a day. It doesn’t make you a mom, define you as a mom or serve as a barometer of your abilities to be a good mom. It’s a day.

My kids and I are grateful for each other every day, even when we don’t do our best at showing it, and that’s the real prize as far as I’m concerned. The lifetime of motherhood I get to experience, the good, the bad, the hard, the wonderful. I’ve done nothing in my life as important or incredible as being a mom. I think I knew that back then. I knew I wanted nothing more than to be a mom and I knew it would be magic. And, the idea it may not happen was impossible to handle. So, in a way, maybe all those terrible Mother’s Days allowed me a chance to funnel all that pain into one focused day, so the other 364 days of the year would be ever so slightly more bearable.