"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Safety Gate.

I am quickly coming to hate safety gates, drawer latches and everything baby-proof. My oldest daughter, although very active, has never been adventurous. Bring on baby #2 and I feel like all hell has broken loose. At least once a day I'm sweeping something small and un-edible out of her mouth, she aggressively climbs the stairs and twice in less than a week pinched her fingers in the same drawer. I know I now sound like a horribly inattentive mother (by the way she is napping right now, not climbing the stairs), but she is QUICK. Not a little fast, but blink-of-your-eye quick.

The moment that I realized I was in big trouble came last week. I put the baby down to wipe my older daughter's nose. In the time it took me to pull a tissue and wipe the baby had climbed three stairs and was STANDING mid-step, holding a book. What??? She isn't even 10 months and wouldn't dream of letting go of the coffee table to stand freely, but there she was in all her glory. The look of pleasure on her face when she saw me turn to look at her was pure spite. Yes, spite from a nine-month-old! My instinct was to yell her name, but I didn't want to shock her off the stairs. So with a quick lunge and grab she was returned to the relative, if temporary, safety of the floor. So up go the baby gates, latches, and more!

Now the real headache begins. At least 20 million times yesterday my older daughter wanted me to open the gate, close the gate, open the gate and close it again. My independent four-year-old is now more dependent than her younger sister. And, it's driving me crazy! I feel badly for her because all she wants to do is play, snack or go to the washroom as per usual, but she doesn't understand that I can't open the gate while feeding the baby or carrying a laundry basket. Her solution to the problem yesterday was to break through the gate (since it hasn't been screwed to the wall yet), and this created a whole new problem. Having watched her big sister wiggle her way past the gate, and under the table that was wedging the gate in place the baby decided to give it a try. Next thing I know she is under the table and making a break for the stairs. In a moment of exasperated, disbelieving weakness the image of a dog crate and one of those kid leashes flashed into my head. As quickly as it came it was gone, and now I have nothing but empathy and understand for mothers whose children are even busier than mine. But I'm left wondering, how do you even get a chance to go to the bathroom? And for all the new moms or moms-to-be: as excited as you are for your child to start crawling, walking and all those other great firsts, it honestly is so much easier to be a mom when they are stationery, and cuddly. ;-)

Third time's a charm!

I'm feeling very positive about my 10 lb birthday goal. This isn't the first time I've attempted to tackle a little weight, but this time seems different. Feels different.

My first attempt at losing weight was in University and I was pretty successful. I lost about 17 lbs and was only about seven away from my goal when I stopped really trying. I don't really remember why I stopped; although, I have a vague memory of being excited by my new-found body. I think I was so excited and the weight came off so easily that I felt cocky, self-assured and like I didn't NEED the weight loss program I was using anymore. A mistake of course!

My next try at losing weight started very shortly after getting engaged - so typical I know. I had gained back all of my previous weight loss and reached my heaviest. I was at a point where neither my great job nor wonderful guy could make me feel positive about myself. I headed back to the well-known weight loss program again. This time I stuck it out for just over eight months and 22 lbs, but I struggled. I was two years older, and even though I was only in my mid-twenties my body didn't respond as quickly. Add to that the adult responsibilities of a "real" job, and it was harder this time to stay focused, spend time at the gym and plan my healthy eating. Then after 35 long weeks and only halfway to my end goal I found out I was pregnant. Little did I know what pregnancy, motherhood and an increasingly busy life would mean for my personal weight loss goals.

It is just over five years since I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, and guess what? I'm just slightly over the weight I was then. I do consider this an accomplishment. Admittedly I've struggled to stay in the same 10 lb range over those five years, but to give myself credit I had a baby, left my career, returned to school, worked a variety of part-time jobs, started another career, and had another baby. Add to that being a wife and my husband switching jobs twice, and I think I've done okay. But, as of now, okay isn't good enough anymore!

What's different this time is that I value my time and in the last while I have really come to value the things I do for myself differently. I didn't realize in my early, or even mid, twenties how much time I had to be self-focused and how much choice I had about how to spend my time. Looking back I wish I had realized then what a precious commodity time is and made a concerted effort to change my habits. I think taking this knowledge forward is what makes this time different. As mothers, wives, and even adults the time we have to spend on ourselves is so limited and bounded by so many obligations that it becomes increasingly important that we spend our time on things that have meaning, that make us feel good. Having this sense of appreciation makes me feel a strong need to make "me time" worthwhile, and that's how I KNOW this time will be different. First 10 lbs, and then the whole bag of potato chips!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Revolving Door.

My husband and I had an interesting conversation last night about how we live our lives in a constant state of inaction. We have fallen into a trap where we identify a problem, something we want to change or something we would like to do. Then, we discuss, over analyze, research and basically obsess over the issue for a few days. (If I'm being honest it is me who does the obsessing. It seems to be the sick and twisted part of my tendency to be a worrier.) Of course after a few days of over-analysis I step back from the problem and we get busy with life again. The problem then magical disappears from our thoughts as we clean house, fold laundry, play with the girls, attend a family event, go to work, pay the bills, change diapers and live our lives. Of course, this means the issue goes unresolved, and at some point in the future we find ourselves discussing the goal again. Before I know it another few days is spent contemplating how to save money, lose weight, buy a new house, get a better job, go on vacation, pay down debt or whatever we have identified as the most 'urgent' challenge in our life. So, here we find ourselves trapped in the "Revolving Door" of inaction. We discuss, research and discuss some more, but neither of us steps out of the door and into life.

We've both known for a while that we've created this bad habit, and yet we've never really talked about how are real challenge is the bad habit itself. That is, until last night when both of us acknowledged that we are trapped in the "Revolving Door".

I had trouble sleeping after that because I couldn't stop thinking about how stupid it is that we both know we won't reach our goals unless we start taking action. I lay awake wondering, "Why? Why is it that we have clear goals we want to reach, but neither of us does anything to reach them?" The answer - motivation. I think my husband is able to self-motivate and I think he does accomplish his goals, especially ones that are personal. Unfortunately, I think over time I have become increasingly indecisive and allowed worrying to become the primary part of my personality. Example, we have had arguments about what to eat for dinner, what rain boots to buy our daughter and what to do on a Saturday. We don't argue because we disagree, but because I can't just make a decision (and he really doesn't care what boots we buy). Anyone who knows my husband and I would likely tell you that I'm the stronger personality in our relationship and tend to be the leader/decision maker. So, in a moment of clarity I've realized that I'm the one holding us back. Yikes! What a horrible idea! My own failings are not only self-sabotaging but they've become life-sabotaging. I have lost my ability, or forgotten how, to self-motivate, and now it is holding us both back.

So that's it, time to step out of the "Revolving Door". I think the expression is less talk, and more action. (Maybe it should be my new motto.) Rather than feeling overwhelmed and eaten alive by all the possible things I could do to start reaching our goals I'm taking a deep breath and thinking small. Just about 11 weeks to my birthday, and since turning 30 is what brought all of this on I'm going to chose to do something for me. Something to improve the balance between caring for my family and caring for me.

I can't believe I'm about to do this! The goal I'm going to work on is losing 10 lbs by my birthday. That's about 1 lb a week, reasonable I think. If I press the "Publish Post" button there will be no going back. This goal will be out there for everyone to see. I know there are people who will read this and hold me to that goal, hold me accountable for my own action or inaction. Sitting staring at the screen for a few minutes now...checked email...checked Facebook....re-read this post. Oh shit, what do I have to lose at this point?!?! Posting...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thirty, here I come!

I have thought about starting a blog for a long time, but have always been apprehensive about sharing my thoughts and life so openly. I'm not one to beat around the bush, I tend to be opinionated, brutally honest to a fault, and generally feel that very few topics are off-limits. These traits combined with a blog seemed like a dangerous mix; after all I do have in-laws!

So now maybe you are wondering why I've decided to enter the world of blogging - a cheesy, cliché combination of celebrating my 30th birthday in a few months and watching the movie "Julie & Julia". No, I'm not so naive as to believe that having a blog is going to change to my life, but somehow I have convinced myself that maybe someone out there will be able to relate to me and hopefully have some wise-words to offer. Turning 30 in two, short months really is the catalyst for this new adventure into the world of blogs. I've always loved birthdays, and never been the kind of person who felt anxiety about my age. Finding myself getting ready for my 30th birthday and feeling anxious, melancholy and generally like a big-underachiever is very strange.

My problem in a nutshell is that somewhere along the line I unknowingly chose 30 as a goal marker for having achieved "something". What that "something" is I guess I never decided, strange I know. It's like knowing where the finish line is, but not knowing what kind of a race you are in or what the prize is. Is it a running race, sailing, swimming? It could be NASCAR for all I know! This is not to say that I haven't accomplished anything in my so-called adult life. I have a home, a good marriage, and I love my daughters to death. But, I've had one failed career and another that is floundering. I thought we would have moved to our dream home and bought a second car by now. I imagined I would have lost the extra 30lbs I've been caring around since my early twenties. Maybe, just maybe my husband and I would have had a vacation since our last one was our honeymoon. And, I never in my wildest dreams imagined myself as a stay-at-home mom. I think stay-at-home moms have one of the most difficult jobs, but I had never considered not being a working-mom and now I can't figure out how I got here.

I know you are reading this and probably thinking, "What? By the time she was thirty she thought she was going to be a 110lb, trophy wife with an amazing husband, two perfect kids, stately home, high-powered career, home cooked meal every night, romantic getaways to exotic locales and a savings account with money IN it. Oh, and paid off her mortgage too!" No, I'm not on the "having-it-all-dream-plan", but I thought I would have accomplished something just for me, about me. I feel like the bulk of my adult-life has been about creating a strong marriage, and a happy family. I am very blessed to have those things, but in the mean time I've lost myself in the balancing act. Turning 30 somehow increases my awareness that I need to figure out this balancing act before I fall off the tightrope. The challenge? How am I going to do that exactly?