Thursday, April 12, 2018

What's Surprised me Most About Motherhood

There was just he and I

And then there she was.

After years of shots and procedures and hopes up and hopes down, of prayers and tears (so many tears), of hypnosis, acupuncture, novenas, Chinese herbs and doctors (so many), the little wonder arrived last August. Finally, she was here. I was a mother. L was a father. Our family and friends tried to prepare us for what parenthood meant but I don't think it's possible to explain just what it means to be a parent.

I  knew I wou;d love her, be protective of her but I was surprised by just how much changed. I was floored.

I'm an only child. From childhood I was always independent and thankfully God placed the perfect man in my life who knew how to handle someone like me. The two of us along with our little Westie, Emma (2001-2017) made a perfect little family. We traveled more than a million and half miles between us and we forged a pretty cool life, both of us working in the entertainment industry. Between the traveling around the world for work, there were the fertility consultations, shots in airplane bathrooms and pregnancy tests in random hotels around the world. We were always asked "How are you guys going to fit a baby into this lifestyle?" "We'll make it work," we said. "She'll be a great little traveler." Then they laughed.

That is what we expected. Our lives would remain pretty much the same, but with the addition of a child who would easily adapt to our life. She would have to, because we had busy lives to lead,

If you're a parent, I imagine you are laughing (hard) reading this.

It didn't work out quite like this.

I had read the books and booked time with experts. We took the classes and nested. We were physically ready for her but becoming a parent is more than just the physical readiness. I knew that I would learn how to change her diaper in seconds. in the most unusual places. I understood that I would get used to another person's bodily fluids. (Oh, the bodily fluids!). I knew that the white linen dresses and white oxford tops I favored would more than likely be stained with various baby fluids/food. I knew that our lives would change.

What I didn't know is that I would change so much as a person. I feel like I am a different person. I expected that my life would remain kind of the same with this little person joining my daily life. Instead, I feel like I grew up once we had Waverly. The things that I would get upset about or that I thought I valued just fell by the wayside.

I remember there was this moment after Waverly was born. It was a hot August day, early in the morning, when the dew is still cool on the grass. We were in the hospital and I was holding Wave. L was asleep on the partner bed and it was just she and I, awake staring at each other. The sun was just coming up as I held her. I closed my eyes. She was tucked inside the blankets on my chest and I inhaled her scent.

It was that moment when something changed in me. I was her mother. That was what mattered the most.  I suddenly had clarity into what was important in my life.  It was clear to me that my goal in life was to be a better person so that I could raise a child who was resilient, confident, kind, smart, brave, independent and compassionate. I wanted to be the kind of person she could look up to.  It's such a hard thing to describe. It's like for my entire life I saw the world in a fuzzy way but I didn't know that this wasn't the way it was supposed to me. Then someone handed me glasses and everything shifted into perfect clarity.

Every morning that I wake up now, I think "How can I make this child's life better? What can I do to ensure that she feels loved and secure? What can I do to make her environment better?" Once you are a parent, you discover this strength that you didn't know that you had. I do believe I could lift a car off of her if I had to.

I am surprised by this. After all that happened in my life around 2009 (the collapse of what I thought was the perfect life), what I realize is that life isn't just about making yourself happy. It's about making the world around you a better place. It's about making the lives of the people in your world better just because you are in it. I think about this and how my decisions today will reflect in Waverly's life and in L's and in the people who are in our world, the people who helped us become the family we are today. The ripples of goodness, of light, of happiness just keep going in perpetuity.

I hope that one day Waverly looks back on her life and remembers all the moments when she felt safe and happy, when I ignored the dusting and the blogging to just sit with her in the sunshine and admire a ladybug on her pudgy little fingertip. In that moment, I will look at her and I will be ever grateful that I got the great privilege in this life of being her mother.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Happy Food: Trader Joe's Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower

So, here's something I never thought I'd say: "I'm really into cauliflower lately." Up until this year, cauliflower was in the same group as brussels sprouts, peas and lentils. I couldn't tolerate this vegetable. Several years ago I tried the whole cauliflower pizza crust trend and it wasn't bad, given enough cheese in the mix. Still, I never bought into the 'fauxtato' trend (sorry, mashed cauliflower with cream and butter still tastes like cauliflower).

However, a few weeks ago I roasted cauliflower with olive oil and it was sensational. It was warm and had depth. Eating it reminded me of the same cozy feeling I get eating French Onion Soup. Recently I was in Trader Joe's and I discovered their Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower in the frozen department. I picked it up thinking I might try it sometime. One day, though, L was away in L.A. and I needed something warm and fast. I followed the package directions and heated up the cauliflower using our air fryer.  Then, I fed the baby and waited.

While I expected the kitchen to smell like sulfery cauliflower as it cooked, instead it smelled like a Sunday autumn afternoon. When I took the cauliflower out of the oven, it was perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and warm in the middle. The package comes with a packet of Kung Pao sauce. I don't prefer sauce so I didn't try it but if you're a Kung Pao person, this is when you would toss the cauliflower with the sauce (warmed in the microwave while the cauliflower cooked in the oven.)

Was it as good as my homemade roasted cauliflower? It was different. While homemade roasted cauliflower has its own earthy crispness, the tempura cauliflower felt more like an appetizer at a sushi restaurant. I loved it.

While it isn't terribly calorie friendly (1 cup = 150 calories, 6 grams of fat), Trader Joe's Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower satisfied that take-out desire. Had I ordered take-out, the calorie hit would have been significantly greater.

I could see serving this as an appetizer at a party or even as an entree for vegetarians. I highly recommend this and it's a new Happygirl Essential in our kitchen.

Monday, April 9, 2018

thought of the week: you are the answer

Last night I sat across from a sobbing friend. I searched for the right words to help her, to make her feel better. She doubted her worth, her value to anyone. I told her she was incredible, smart and wonderful, but she was crumpled inside, unsure of her next step and wondering what her purpose in life was. I tried to tell her that it would be OK, that she would find her purpose. It would happen. I didn't know what else to say that didn't sound patronizing.

I laid awake last night thinking about her, about the ennui that she feels, that most of us have felt at one time or another when nothing was terrible (no health/love/family crisis) but it all still felt sad and it didn't feel like things would ever be different. (It doesn't help that the spring has been so rainy and cold so far).

My friend, this is for you.

You are a gift.

You are a gift to me and to the little one. You are a gift to anyone lucky enough to know you. You are smart and witty and kind.

I know that you have worked hard your entire life to be the kind of girl who will change the world. You just completed a massive goal in life and I get that you feel let down that life hasn't been this dream that you hoped but life unfolds in its own time. All the hard work you have put in will pay off. Every time you chose to do the right thing will be worth it.

And when the time comes, the magic will happen, it all will come together because you are the answer to someone else's prayer. You will be exactly the person, the only person who is the  perfect fit. There is no one else and had you settled, as you wonder now if you should, you would have missed out on the most amazing part of your life which is about to unfold. Even now, every day that you are on this planet, you are the answer--in the kindness shown to a barista when they have been berated by a customer or the person you flagged to go ahead of you in traffic who felt defeated- you are light. You are the answer to "Aren't there any decent people in this world?"

Don't settle for something because you're not sure if you are worth more. You are. There is a person/company/friend out there whose life will be changed evermore because of you. There is someone right now who doesn't know that his or her life is about to change for the better because you walked in.

Have faith, my friend. Hold tight onto the vision of what you want your life to be. In the meantime, work your body and your body. Sweat, cry, eat healthy, move your body. Keep putting yourself out there.  Do the work, make the connections, practice self-care, keep your winning streak going. Nothing will change if you just stop because you don't think you can achieve your goal. That isn't an option. You don't quit a marathon at mile 23.

I promise you this: the sun will come out (really, it will) and one day, not far from now you will gaze out at the sunrise and sigh in the pure pleasure of what your life has become.

Monday, March 5, 2018

This week's Thought: March 5, 2018

This weekend as I made sure L and Waverly were happy and felt safe, loved and cared for, I realized that the things that I had wanted to get do over the weekend (like getting a pedicure, cleaning my side of the closet, trying the new cafe in our town) never got done. Instead, I was so busy making sure all of the house chores were done, bills paid and my family taken care of, that my happiness came way down the list of things that were important to me. When I finally fell into bed last night, I was happy that my family was happy but I also realized that it had been a long time since I had done something for myself  so that I didn't feel like I was just someone's wife and someone's mother.

Like the proverbial putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others, I realized that in order to have something to give, that I needed to take care of myself so that I have something to give to those that I love. If you are responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of others (your partner, kids, aging parents, pets. . .) or you have a job that takes up much of your life, you know this feeling of feeling depleted. I know when I feel like that it comes out as frustration and crabbiness. The thing is, that you matter just as much as those you love.

As I go forward this week, I'm going to keep this in mind and try to be kind to myself. If the house isn't immaculate, we will all survive. If dinner isn't 100% homemade, we will be fine. I'm going to make some time to schedule that pedicure. It's amazing what just 45 minutes of someone else caring for you, can do for your soul.

I hope that whatever your week looks like, that you remember how important self-love is and that you can be kind to yourself. If you've put off your morning runs because you need to make breakfast for your family, put out a note and a box of oatmeal or muffins. Take the morning commute for yourself, listen to an audiobook that you have put off because you didn't have time, drink the tea that makes you happy and tell yourself that you are going to have a wonderful week, because you are.
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