What 2016 Taught Me

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As 2017 is upon us, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past 365 days and what they have taught me. It’s been an incredibly emotional year at large – highs and lows. Personally, it was one of the best years of my life because my daughter was born, but also a very challenging one for reasons I won’t get into. My heart also broke over and over again witnessing all of the violence and injustices in the world – thinking of all of the families who lost loved ones. It was a year of many tears – some of laughter and some of sorrow. For me, it was a year of true self-reflection, a humbling year during which I learned a lot and was also reminded of things I’ve always known, but simply forgot that I want to share here…

Don’t make assumptions. I think the election really reinforced this for me. I assumed so many things during #Election2016, and I was proven wrong time and time again. I thought for sure it would go a certain way, and it didn’t. So, that saying about assuming… yeah, I was definitely the ass one too many times this year.

Never say never. All the things I swore I’d never do, I did. I let the TV babysit my kids. I let them stay up way past their bedtimes. I gave them sugar. I got my tattoo removed. I started my own business. I’m moving to the burbs. So, I was checked a lot this year. Life has a funny way of making plans for you that you otherwise never would have planned on your own.

Children make you a better person if you let them. As a mother, I have been tested. In fact, I am constantly being tested… my patience, my strength, my problem solving skills, my ability to multi-task, my values, my sense of humor… Everything about my character is spotlighted as a mom. Your children eventually become mirror images of you, which provides you the opportunity to become the best version of yourself by learning how to pass those daily tests.

Healing takes time. I had a baby this year – my second via a VBAC. I assumed (ahem) the healing would be far better than my previous C-Section, but it was equally as tough. Three months later, I underwent a major surgery. I was told I would feel like myself in 8-10 weeks. Four months later, I’m still in pain. It’s hard as a full time working mom of two to rest and take care of myself, but I realized that if I don’t, those who need me will suffer more in the long run. So, if I need a minute to rest, I owe it to myself to take it.

As your kids grow up, it gets easier AND harder. I thought year one was so hard. Raising an infant was really challenging the first time and even harder for me the second time. And just when I thought the hardest days were behind me, my son turned 2. In so many ways, he challenges me and pushes my buttons more than my 8-month-old daughter. You know, the tests I referenced earlier… My daughter, who was killing me softly, is now a breeze. 2 is tough. Amazing, but also torture.

Live in the moment. As in put the phone down. My son actually asked me to put my phone away once. That was the last time. Unless I am snapping a photo of the kids or have a deadline to meet, I try to be present with them. For this moment will only happen once.

Everyone needs a good therapist. Therapy is not only for the mentally ill or severely depressed. In fact, I think your mental health only improves. Tools to help you better communicate or process situations or better yourself will only lead to a happier and healthier state of mind. And if you’re a mom, it’s kid-free time!

“Me time” makes for a happier, healthier me. It is so important to not forget about yourself and your needs, no matter how full your plate is. Happy mom, happy wife, happy you = happy life. Don’t feel guilty doing things for yourself. Nobody else will look out for you but you…

Nobody will look out for you but you. It was worth repeating. I learned this the hard way a few times, especially professionally. Most people are looking out for themselves, so do what you need to do for you. Speak up. Ask for what you want. Make shit happen. You’re the only one who will do things in your best interest.

Help is not overrated. It takes a village is a common saying for a reason. It is true. It literally took an entire village/community to raise families back in the day. It is still common practice in many cultures and countries, and I never appreciated the idea of this type of support until I had kids. I needed a lot of help this year and felt so guilty asking for it, but as the year progressed and I had no choice, I started asking, and realized that people were happy to help. A girlfriend of mine actually asked me why I didn’t ask her more often. So, I decided that from now on, when I need a helping hand, I am going to ask for one…proudly.

One good friend is all you need. My mom always said one great friend is better than many okay “friends”. Once again, she was right. I also learned that you win some, and you lose some. There are friends in your life for certain moments in time, and some who stick around. I have grown apart from some, and grown closer to others. I now know what makes a great friend, and I try to be one for those who are great friends to me, and luckily, I have more than one.

Change is scary, but necessary. There is something so comforting about routine, which makes change unsettling. It’s why we stay in relationships, jobs and homes we’ve outgrown… This year, I decided to take some major risks that I said I’d never take. I decided to chase down some dreams and be more present for my kids, so I left a job I have loved for seven years. I also decided that major life decisions had to be made in the best interest of my family at large, so as much as I identify with NYC, my family and I decided to leave in the New Year for a house in the burbs. I’m scared out of my mind; nervous and anxious about the unknown. Yet, I’m excited for all of the possibilities and opportunities that we now have that we didn’t have before. Change is scary, but I know the risk will be worth the reward.

So, on that note, I look forward to all that 2017 has to bring, and the lessons I will learn over the next 365 days… Happy New Year to all!

 

 

 

Sleep No More

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Dear Sleep,

I simply cannot put into words how much I miss you. Mostly because sleep deprivation has resulted in the inability to form full sentences. I cannot wait for the day that you come back into my life for the full 8+ hours we used to share back in the day. Remember the days when we would hang out past 10am or even meet up sometimes in the afternoon?! Oh, those were the good ol’ days… Yes, you and I do meet at night for a few hours, but the intimate relationship we once had changed about three years ago, and it hasn’t quite been the same since. While I was pregnant, a full bladder or the discomfort of a huge belly interrupted us many times during the night. Then the baby came and, well, that was the end of our beautiful relationship.

Sleep when the baby sleeps is all anyone ever told me. Anyone without a baby! I mean, who were they kidding?! When the baby slept, that’s when I pumped, washed bottles, did laundry, hand washed dirty bibs and onesies… and if I was really lucky, ate something and showered. Sometimes I had to choose between you and food, or you and washing my hair—very difficult decisions. You often won, but as soon as the tip of a strand of my hair grazed my pillow, the baby cried.

This happened for months, and truth be told, the baby’s relationship with you became my #1 priority. If he could learn to sleep for more than 2-3 hour intervals, the sooner you and I would reunite—or at least I thought. Yes, 3 hours turned into 5, which turned into 8, and eventually 10-12. It wasn’t easy, and even when he did sleep all night, I did not. I had a physical reaction to every breath, cough, sneeze, and coo. I’d be up checking to see if he was breathing, too hot, too cold, still on his back, and a myriad of other things that keeps a mom awake at night. So, even when we could technically rendezvous again, I just couldn’t.

Cut to when H was about 18 months. We started seeing each other again, and life was good. I was early to rise, but it was okay because I was early to bed. We were finding our groove again, and the 8 hours I never thought I’d have the pleasure of getting became, quite literally, my dream come true. The days of feeling jet lagged and dizzy and uber emotional and super irritable and just utterly fucking exhausted were over. H was a great sleeper and our lives were back to normal.

My friends said I would sleep again and they were right. I even took naps when the baby napped! Life was golden, and I realized that you don’t really know what you have until you’ve lost it. I now know that you complete me. I cannot live my life without you. It’s just not possible. You make me a better person, a happier person. And a better mother for sure.

We had a good run. Then baby #2 came. So, it was great while it lasted. I hope that one day soon, we will find each other again and never let go. I can’t bear to even think about any more nights without you. I know we will meet again, in about a year or so. For now, I will just have to accept that I sleep no more…

Yours truly (as in truly exhausted),

Alexis