Sunday, September 7, 2014

That didn't go as planned.

Maybe my goal should be posting a monthly wrap-up instead?

Maybe I should realize that my blogging days might be over?

 What started as a great way for me to journal the day, get some ''me'' time and talk (write?) like an adult at the end of a day spent at home with very small children...isn't needed near as much these days. When I started this blog in July of 2007, Ryan was 17 months old and Logan was 2 months old....they're now 8 years old and 7 years old. Every day is now full of the go-go-go life that I was craving 7 years ago. I spent a lot of those first few years feeling under-appreciated and lonely (yet never alone). I blogged in the evenings because it was something I could do that was for me.

When you're a new mom, at the age of 23 with two children under the age 18 months, you're isolated not just by choice but practicality. None of my friends (at the time) had kids. No one I knew had breastfed, no one I knew was juggling two babies. I had two in diapers. Two who couldn't feed themselves. Two who couldn't dress themselves. Two needed at least one nap a day. They were both in cribs, both in rear-facing carseats, both waking at night and both needing me 24/7. Obviously Ron was there and he is an amazing dad and always has been but initially, it was  a huge time of readjusting for both of us. Ron had returned from a 15 month deployment in Iraq in January of 2006 and immediately returned home to a six month pregnant wife who was put on bedrest, he started a new job, lived in a new house (I had moved in while he was deployed) and within 3 months of returning home he became a father. We were both in a blur, going through the motions and doing what needed to be done. Oh and did I mention we were newlyweds? {Married/Eloped in May of 2004, he deployed in Oct 2004 and returned home in Dec 2006). Boy were the odds stacked against us!

But we did it! And we didn't just get by, we succeeded. We asked for help, when we needed it. I supported his career and he supported my (often zany) parenting. We moved when it meant more pay. We took it day by day and while it certainly wasn't easy, we had each other, we had family and we had our kids. We made it because not making it, wasn't an option. We voluntarily chose to live in a 2 bedroom duplex with 2 kids and with one on the way, just so we could stay near family when the alternative was facing a move to Wisconsin that none of us wanted. We then had four kids in that house and lived there for 2 years, before we moved from Kansas to Texas to follow his job, with our three boys and a newborn who was seven weeks old...because it needed to be done. When an opportunity to move overseas presented itself, I surprised myself by wanting to go. Everything I had ever known was going to be so far away and yet I realized it was something that we needed to do. Not just as a career move but for us. For our family, for us to grow.

When I look at this blog, I don't just see the pictures and the milestones, I am flooded with memories. I am reminded of the days of no sleep. The weeks where I had a child attached to my hip, one on my boob, and one jumping off of the kitchen table. The days where my house was a mess, the nights where the laundry was piled up, I felt like I hadn't seen my husband in weeks and yet I spent the evening making baby-food and superhero capes. I was often asked "How do you do it?" and the answer was "I don't know, it needs done and I don't know any differently". I have always wanted to be a mother and in those early days, it wasn't always what I had hoped for.

In the beginning, it's thankless. You are spending every waking moment caring for this amazing child who does nothing but eat for hours, cry for hours and sleep for even fewer hours. You get peed on and pooped on and getting dressed in something other than pajamas, is an accomplishment that no one else seems to even notice. You love him with a feeling that you didn't know even existed and it's exhausting. I wondered if being a stay at home mom was what I really wanted or something I "had" to do. I debated getting a job, or in my eyes: admitting failure. That I was wrong, that I wasn't good at this "being a mom" thing, that this wasn't for me after all and that I needed to get a job.  (I am NOT saying that moms who work are failures, not at all. But I had been told from the age of 16 that I would likely not be able to have children and being a stay at home mom, at least for those early years, was literally all I wanted to be.) But then your baby grows. That eating/pooping/crying machine suddenly starts to smile and giggle.

One morning you finish feeding him and he clutches your finger with his tiny hand, and looks right into your eyes. He recognizes you. One morning you wake up find him standing in his crib, clapping from excitement to see you. One night you wake at 2am and realize that he isn't awake. So you sneak into his room and check to make sure he's breathing. Your baby starts to sleep through the night and you wake more often, with worry if he's really okay. The day that he finally starts yelling "Mama!" you bawl to the point of startling him. When a second and third child come along, you wonder how you will have enough love? You question if you're being unfair to the others, by having another baby who is going to need so much of your attention, your time and your heart. I can remember pushing Ryan in the stroller to the park while pregnant with Logan, and just bawling that he didn't get me to himself for very long. Wondering if he was going to resent me. (Spoiler alert: He was fine, is fine and loves me still 8 years later).

Being a mother makes you selfless, worrisome, tired, crazy, lonely, patient, tired and a slew of other emotions...but most of all it makes you a better person. A slightly neurotic and tired, better person. I went from being a 21 year old newlywed who was worried about what would happen on this week's episode of "The Hills" to being a 23 year old mother who was worried about colic, teething, if that shade of green was normal for poop and why my 18 month old wasn't talking. I went from worrying about what style of jeans to buy to fretting over car seat brands, baby-carriers and if that bottle I was using was made with BPA and if I was causing ever-lasting damage by letting my son have a binky.

Being a mom makes me a better person. It defines who I am today and the early days of this blog, remind me of how far I have come. I was so nervous I was doing something wrong, or that I'd forget something cute they did. That I would miss a milestone or that I would miss an underlying illness. So much of those early years was spent second-guessing myself and a lot of it was spent proving myself. To whom, I don't know. Myself, others, family, strangers...the world I guess? I will forever be grateful for this blog because it is my journal, my proof that I did okay. It's my reminder to trust my gut. It's that lesson that ''this too shall pass'' and that ''shit happens''. It's my ups and my downs and it's pretty entertaining. It has videos and pictures of milestones and everyday boring occurrences. This may be "just" a blog but for me it's so much more.

Seven years ago I needed to "blog". Today, I need this blog not for writing but to serve as a reminder. A reminder that it's all going to work out, that it goes by SO fast and a reminder to trust my instincts because despite my often internal doubts, I am a good mom.

And my hope is that if you're mom, especially a mom still in those early years that you realize: You are Amazing. You are doing a great job. You are allowed to fail, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed a break. You are human. You get yourself up, dust yourself off and remember that tomorrow is a new day. Find your outlet. Find that thing that makes you feel like you and not just "Mom". This blog, let me be Shannon for 20 minutes a night back when I needed it the most and for that, I will always be grateful.

So yes, I have to realize that I may be done blogging. If you came here looking for a new post, do me a favor: choose an early year off to the left, click on a month and select a random date and read. Realize what's petty and what's important not just right now, but seven years from now. Take nothing for granted and realize that despite the cliche, it will go by very fast. Appreciate it and LIVE it. Will there be more posts? I can't say. Do I feel the need to blog? Not near as often these days but I don't know what the future will hold, only that I'm along for the ride with or without blogging about it!

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