Okay… well here I am. In THIS moment. Wow… let me just take a second. (deep breath in)
Whew… as I went through my day today, this moment… this feeling had been creeping up on me. I’ve been trying to deny it… but I can’t. Here I am, starting this post at 11:43pm, the day before I turn 40, and I can’t let this moment pass without documenting it of some sort.
Wow. As of 11:56am on December 31st, 2014, I will be 40.
Wow. Honestly the thoughts that have been going through my mind is… “What would my 30 year old self be surprised to know about where I am at 40?”
My 30 year old self still wasn’t feeling any sense of urgency that she had to have everything figured out. 16 yr old self knew that I would get married at 32… so at 30 I was still not in a rush to get married. I honestly think my 30 year old self would be BLOWN AWAY that I am married to Peter, 5 years now. Back when I was 30… I was NOT sure I had what it took to be married to a chef (Peter showed up late and TRASHED with a 16lb chocolate cake to my 30th birthday party), and had strong ideas of who the type of man I thought I was going to be with were *tried DESPERATELY (and in vain) to find him… and I think she her mouth would be wide open when I told her that yep…I’m Kerilyn RUSSO now. 🙂
**In hindsight, Peter is a ying to my yang. He allows me to be fully myself. In both the good and the dreadfully awful moments. For that reason… I know I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be. I still say that my husband has saved my life.
At 30, she was already feeling the confusion that, while 3.5 years in post graduation, to having multiple jobs/lay offs, etc… and never feeling like she understood what she kept doing wrong…. would be COMPLETELY DUMBSTRUCK to find out that at 40, she’s just as fucking disenchanted when it came to her career and her financial future. The 30 year old Kerilyn would probably drop to her knees and bawl her eyes out… knowing that at 40… all her dreams of “making it”… of being successful in what she was doing (meaning that she felt like she was doing what she was meant to be doing… like bigger purpose kinda stuff) was still SO FAR AWAY FROM HER. She would be so disappointed in me to know that I am still struggling so much with this. She would NOT know what to say when I tell her that I am convinced that maybe this topic (career/purpose/money) is something I’m not learning my lesson on, because WHY GOD… haven’t I found my place yet???? She would be so surprised to know that I feel like a failure… still SO LOST.
That said…. she would not be surprised to know that I haven’t given up yet. Not at all. ONLY SHE KNOWS that it’s not in me to give up on this quest. She knows that it’s truly what she feels like she was meant to do…. BIG THINGS. *whatever that means, and would not be surprised to know that even though YES, she does in fact feel like a failure with regards to her mission… she is far from giving up.
Mark my words: I will not give up until I have no other choice but to do so. It may take me the REST OF MY LIFE… but damn it… I am NOT DONE YET.
My 30 year old self had an inkling that she would one day warm to the thought that she wanted to have a child… but would have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA just how it’s healed a part of her that she had NO idea was missing. NO idea. She would have NO idea that she really would love being a mama *okay, it has it’s moments sometime, but in general… I feel like my best self when I’m reading to my son or watching him learn something new. My 30 year old self would be in astonishment at how comfortable I feel… knowing I don’t have to have all the answers and not pretending that I do. I am DAMN PROUD that I know I don’t have to have all the answers, and that Leonardo will grow up knowing that I might not know how to fix it… but that together, we can get through anything and that I WILL one day be not just his mom but his friend too. I will find a way to do this, I vow to you my beloved.
***BONUS: If I get another chance to experience the first year (knowing what I know now) with another bebe in 2015. Fingers crossed.
My 30 year old self would be proud of how I have stepped into being vulnerable. Always feeling like the odd man out for wanting to always talk about my imperfections… my “stuff”, I think my 30 year old self would walk up to me….. look me in the eyes and say “I’m proud of you Kerilyn. Keep it up.” despite how unusual it seems to so many people.
My 30 year old self would be SO HAPPY FOR ME… like doing a HAPPY DANCE, that I found my ‘home’ in my spiritual quest. Finding and studying A Course in Miracles is really like coming home…it answers ALL the questions that my 30 year old self was wondering… and even the ones that at 40, I still have STRONG resistance in surrendering to. From the time I was 19, I had been searching for the BIG answers… and I truly feel like I have found them.
*That said: Knowing the answer and ACCEPTING it as true. LIVING the answer is a different story. I will be working the REST OF MY LIFE to reduce my resistance to accepting the answer and letting it become a part of how I live my life. Still SO MUCH RESISTANCE.
My 30 year old self would be surprised at how my body aches and malfunctions at 40. I think I saw my mother in her eternal ailments and thought that I could THINK my way past this moment. Nope. My fucking knees ache, I have a weird ganglion cyst on my wrist (common for new mamas) and I thought I somehow missed the curse of the Carincis women gallbladder removal. Nope.
That said… I’m happy to report to my 30 year old self that at 40… I STILL feel the athlete inside of me. I STILL want to run. I am determined to get back on that path this year. It’s important for me to reconnect with that part of me in my 40’s.
My 30 year old self would be BLOWN AWAY that I live in Savannah again. Like Mind.Blown. While she loved Savannah…she never actually saw herself moving back here and I think she would just say “NO! You’re kidding me! I move back to Savannah???” over and over again if I were to have coffee with her. Secretly I think she would be elated, while the 40 year old part of me still feels like there is a place (Italy/NYC) that I still am daydreaming of living before I die.
I don’t think my 30 year old self could fathom the situations around my parents and my sister. (Long story, if you don’t know… maybe you could ask me when/if we see each other next) A part of me is utterly heartbroken at knowing the sadness, confusion and denial going on at home… the vigilante 30 year old part of me wants to break into that house…. dressed in black… kidnap each one of my family, one by one.. and under a bright shining light force them to confess. Confess their fears. To say them out loud in order to, once and for ALL be free of them. That’s who I’ve been in my family…. the black sheep so it’s apropos that I’ve always envisioned myself doing this dressed in black. The little girl (way younger than 30, more like 3) just wants to go home.. crawl in my mom and dads lap and watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve. My mom making a nice celebration of me turning 40. Sadly, that vision will NEVER happen again… and I am really struggling at 40 with putting this vision to rest. I want to dedicate the next 10 years of my life to fully forgiving my parents for what I think they have “done” to me, when in reality I’ve done it only to myself. #projectionmakesperception #ACIM
I would need to be held and hold on to my 30 year old self when I tell her that our beloved Pez left us this year. Whew. Being on mama duty ALL THE TIME… I would love to revert back to the life of my 30 year old self, and lay in bed all day, crying and watching sappy love stories, definitely ‘Marley & Me” – Sadly I cannot do that and honestly don’t know if I’m properly mourning my girls loss. I still feel a bit numb about it and I don’t know if that’s normal or not. I sort of feel like I’m holding the damn closed for some undisclosed time when I can do just that… sit in bed all day with a bag of Hersheys Kisses and just cry……. for hours, missing my girl. I miss you Pez. Every day. *oh Jesus, not now.
My 30 year old self would be…. I don’t know the word…. SURPRISED/NOT SURPRISED/AMUSED/ELATED?????….. to find out that DAMN IT, I AM A GREAT WRITER!!! I think I started My High/Low emails, when I was 27…( I wrote the High and Low of my day in an email, Monday-Friday to 70+ people for YEARS…before there even was a blog.) It’s ALL stream of consciousness *like now… I’m totally in the flow and it’s an hour later than when I started this post* and LOVE writing EXCEPT when I feel like I have to. *Part of why this year I SUCK at writing posts for Married to a Chef. When it flows, damn it it flows *like now* but I can’t force it. My 40 year old self is SO EXCITED to see where this new found acknowledgment will take me the next 10 years!!!!
I think my 30 year old self would be surprised that I still struggle with FUN. It’s almost like whatever makes people have what the world calls “fun”… I never got that gene. Maybe it’s because FOR ME… what is fun is different (perhaps?) than what the rest of the world considers fun. For instance… later today, I’m going to get a pedicure, then I’m going to the movies (going to see ‘Big Eyes’) and I think Peter had made dinner plans for us. THAT IS FUN. But am I… FUN? No. I’m a pretty damn serious woman and I’ll admit I never thought I would be THIS not fun when I was 30. I’m always wanting to add more worldly defined fun to my life… but can’t seem to find a way to do it. To me fun=irresponsible. fun=frivolous fun=reckless and I’ve had plenty of moments in my life when I let my hair down in the quest of fun… only to have something really not fun happen to me. I think having Leo in my life… and wanting to be as PRESENT as I can be for him, in the moment…. is only going to bring out the side of me that wants to be more fun. The “fun” mom. I’ll be curious to talk to the 50 year old Kerilyn to see how if I can accomplish that.
I could go on but I think I’ll leave some conversations between my 30 year old self and who I am today to be discussed as I go throughout my day today. I will most likely be in a reflective mode today… this is a HUGE moment for me.
I’ve always wanted to be older. I’m not afraid or dread this moment. Honestly I’m quietly excited. I’ve made 2 out of the 3 of my dreams for my 30’s come true (start a family and move away from DC/VA (won’t lie, I’m a bit homesick for DC/VA right now and that’s okay with me) I’ve saved the biggest and the scariest for last (to always have $10,000 in the bank) – this past year has been about diving right into the fear of why I haven’t made this happen yet (read above about career/purpose/money) – This past year has been so very difficult with regards to this topic. I have had INTENSE ANXIETY about this, this past year. Like waking up at 3 am every morning, heart beating wildly…. I have been so hard on myself and on my husband this past year… all because of my OWN FEAR. I’m learning that part of the solution is something that I’ve never really done before… but is the ONLY way (for me) to achieve my goal. To TRUST. To Leap (you know, and the net will appear kind of leaping) To SURRENDER. I’ve never put my money (or my faith) where my chatty Cathy mouth is… and I have this strong suspicion that that is THEE reason why I have not yet connected with my doing BIG things yet. I’ve been too afraid to do what it takes to do so. Well I know no other way, going forward. Can not be in denial any longer.
I was telling a coach friend of mine that this past year has been like making a delicious chicken noodle soup. You put the chicken bones in the stock.. and let it simmer for hours…. all the while the fat comes to the top. You can’t really eat the fat (okay you could use it for something else, but stay with me on this visual) so you have to SKIM IT OFF. Well, to me, this past year has been about SKIMMING THE FEAR that has prevented me from achieving my goals in my career/financial future. I have had to dive right into that fear, in order to skim it off, and frankly am still in the midst of it right as I type this. Like my beloved A Course in Miracles says….
“Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan.” -M9
I feel on purpose, even in this fear. I do NOT feel like where I am is a coincidence. I do not feel alone… even when I’m scared out of my mind. (literally) I have a strong feeling I’m being led into this fear because it’s the ONLY way that I can achieve this BIG goals. Want big things.. gotta DO big things. And ha….. I have to fucking laugh… it just wouldn’t be my lifes experience… my lifes “script” as it were… if I were to get these big things the EASY way.
HA HA HA… ME? The Easy Way? No thanks. I’ll take an extra serving of “Are you fucking kidding me?”, did that just happen to me? WHAT???? as a mode of learning.
You know… I accept this way because I WANT to learn this so I can teach it to someone else. The ONLY way to teach is to really KNOW what I’m teaching. I think that’s part of the equation I find myself in right now.
So Happy 40th Birthday to me….. and Happy New Year to You.
CONTINUE (BEING BRAVE). DIVE DEEPER. HEAL YOURSELF. LIGHTEN UP. HAVE MORE FUN.
That’s my mantra… what’s yours?
*OK SO… I started this post the day before Mothers Day, but you know… LIFE and moving and caring for Leo happened (which are excuses, I will totally admit Illana), so I let it sit. But, to honor the energy with which my thoughts came from, I will not edit this post, and continue to speak from before this Mothers Day has happened.
As Mothers Day is approaching, and this being my first mamas day with my beloved Leonardo, I find myself in a particularly uncomfortable intersection. On one hand, I’m SO excited to be able to honor my journey as a mama to our adorable little boy, as unclear and uncertain as it is sometimes, but married to this experience is a tightening in my chest as a very familiar feeling washes over me, more strongly than ever.
A few days ago, I read this brave post from a fellow kindred, whom I’ve never actually met yet (Gotta love interweb connections!), as she shared her deeper inner thoughts via The Bravery Blogging Project about her mama, and I felt that pull in my heart that is ALWAYS there, that I try to push down so I can maneuver as a somewhat functioning human being woman.
I want and need my mama.
The kicker is… my mother is still here. She’s still with us.
I feel both shame and courage to say what I’m about to say. Most likely if I post this on Facebook (which I’m not sure I will), some of my family will be reading this and perhaps already know my take on this very sensitive subject, or perhaps they will discover something new about me.
Either way, I mean NO harm and am solely attempting to honor MY OWN experience. I already hear the voices, in my head, telling me you’re all going to tell me how I’m a bad daughter that I feel this way and “What’s wrong with you…. Family comes first” “This is your MOTHER your talking about.”, etc…. There are always many sides to a relationship, and they ALL take work (as we all know), this is me sharing MY experience of and about my own mother. I’m going to do my best not to let this post come from a place of anger and sadness, but more simply of observation. (I’m gonna try anyway, no guarantees)
I don’t know my mother. Well, I know my mother, but I don’t KNOW her. And she doesn’t know me.
I want to say up front that for a some reason (I have my own conclusion about it, but that’s a post for another time) I do NOT have lots of memories of my childhood. It’s strange to me, that I don’t remember being little. Sure, I have a moment here, a moment there… but I don’t have lots of memories. Part of me thinks what I remember is only a story I was told about myself when I was little. It’s like the record button was never turned on until sometime when I was 11-12 (coincidentally, I was very sick and in the hospital for 2 months when I was 11, so it’s like I “woke up” after I recovered) and even then… very slowly.
I don’t know if it was always the case, that I didn’t know my mother or she know me, or if that happened when I was a teenager.
I VIVIDLY remember having a conversation with her at 16 years old, sitting on the piano bench in the den, about my then current experience of my parents marriage (wasn’t going so well, and honestly still isn’t), and how she told me she was making a decision to stay “for us”. How she told me she was a “willing victim”.
Oh how those words have haunted me.
My mother was the willing victim. I don’t know how soon before saying those words did she believe she was a willing victim, or what have you, but I wholeheartedly believe that because she firmly believes she is, a willing victim, is the reason why she is in the physical state she is in now.
When I was 17, and just lost my virginity to someone who didn’t give two SHITS about me (thought he did though), and was really struggling with depression (I really wanted this experience to be “special”), I really wanted to talk to my mom about it. I told her I needed her to be my friend and not my mom. She told me she would NEVER be my friend, and only my mom, and in that moment, I knew she’s always going to want to tell me what’s wrong or right, and not sit with me to help ME figure out where I am, even if it differed from what she thought I should do.
I never told her about what I was going through.
Oh, how I wished she would’ve been my friend from time to time.
It was in those two conversations that I made a CHOICE to be as OPEN and emotionally forthcoming as I could. Even though I wasn’t raised being okay to share my feelings. I knew that in those moments, I had a decision to make, to either be closed and emotionally unavailable, or although I had NO IDEA how to do it… to be open to how I’m feeling. Open to being touched (hugged) and hugging others. Honestly it was that very moment in my life that I go back to… to explain who I am today. I honestly love who I am today because of the decision I made when I was 16, sitting on that piano bench.
That said… it hasn’t been easy. Not knowing my mother or my mother knowing me.
What I wouldn’t have given to have my mother to call ME, when I was going through something, knowing I was going to have someone to hear and support (and gently guide) me along my way. Unfortunately, that has not been our path in this lifetime. Even today, when I share my experiences of raising Leo with her, she’s right there.. telling me what to DO or not to do.
I know it’s an older generation not to talk about feelings, but I really could’ve used my moms insight, her own wisdom and guidance to work out some really dark moments in my life to date.
If I were being completely honest, I don’t feel safe around my mom. Emotionally safe. Even today. Just because I have made the decision to go down the path of vulnerability and attempting to live Whole Heartedly (like Brene Brown so eloquently defined it), I know that that “willing victim” mentality lies within me too (I still struggle with this, within myself), seeing that’s what she showed us, and I have to stay in my choice, to stay open, when I’m around her. Also, I think my mother believes my being open is a weakness. She does not feel comfortable seeing me cry. Even after having Leo, in the midst of my hormone roller coaster, my DEFINITE post partum depression over not being able to breastfeed like I thought I was going to, she looks me in the face and tells me “Don’t cry.”
WHY DON’T CRY MOM??? WHY DON’T CRY????
It made me cry, just knowing she really thought I shouldn’t cry in this moment of my life. Even now.. writing this… I’m crying.
and I’m OKAY with it, *God Damn it.
*I never use these expletives in my daily language, but am using it here just to show how strongly I believe in what I am saying.
Maybe if she would’ve been okay with crying a bit more in her life, then she wouldn’t find herself where she is. Maybe she wouldn’t be in a loveless marriage, stuck in an ailing body.
At the same time, I think there is a part of her that admires my attempts of fearlessness, I remember in college when I wanted to travel to Hawaii, I could almost see a “Wish I was brave enough to do that” look in her eye. I know that before there was officially something called a blog, I would send daily emails to 70+ people Mon-Friday called My High/Low… and she would occasionally read them, so she would gleam from that things I liked which usually showed up in my stocking at Christmas. Chai Tea, Purple Candles (I went through a purple phase) but she never really asked me who I was or why I liked what I did. It always felt nice that she tried to do something that made me feel seen, but it was always a physical gift, a token, I’m sure to say “Even though I cannot say it, I do love and see you.” Still, it wasn’t and isn’t what this Highly Sensitive Woman needs or wants in her life.
I don’t need things, mama… I need YOU.
I need you to hold my hand, to wipe my tears with your hand, and sit with me, put your hand on my knee, and not say a word….that would mean more to me than you would EVER know.
But that’s not who she is. I have struggled with this all throughout my adulthood, sometimes feeling like maybe I haven’t worked hard enough to make our relationship stronger, so I would reach out, I would call more often (I even wrote her a 3-4 page, both sides, single spaced letter, telling her who I was, sharing some intense moments in my life… to which she never responded and when I asked her about it, 2 weeks later she said “It was nice.”), in the attempt to blaze a new path. Each time I felt I was exposing myself to more cuts and tears in the already sensitive layer surrounding me, keeping me functioning as an adult, and in turn, the little girl in me retreats into her world to heal the surface wounds.
The deep wound, I will be honest, I don’t know how to heal.
I won’t lie… my not feeling SAFE around my parents (my dad is a WHOLE other story, maybe my next post) is the reason why I made a conscious decision to keep my distance, when I went away to college. As I grew, figured out what I needed in order to be more open (usually, by learning the hard way), the teacher part of me wanted to share with them what I was learning (hence the name of this website) and well… my new found knowledge wasn’t and still isn’t well received. I am officially the black sheep with my parents, poking and prodding them to look at themselves in order to grow. My mom has told me that every time I come around, that I “stir the pot”, and that makes it worse for her. Uh… sorry mom?
And as she has gotten more and more physically impaired over the years, her focus on anything else but her pain has limited her significantly, both physically and emotionally. In her physical pain, she has allowed some tears to be shed, and when that happens, I see a side of her that I wish she would be okay with. It’s OKAY to cry when you’re in pain, mom. It’s okay. Only when she is pushed to her physical limit does she surrender to the pain and allow the tears to come out.
I feel sad for her.
Because I really do “see” her. I think we’re more alike than different, she was just taught who she was wasn’t okay… and instead of challenging that belief, like I did. She surrendered to it. I want to go back to who she was when she was 19, and tell her that she’s WORTH IT… and not to settle for anything. *hence, I know that I would not be here, but you get the point.
I have attempted to have a heart to heart with her a few times, but she gets so uncomfortable, I end up stop talking because I am feeling rejected and walk away.
Let me say that in NO WAY am I ungrateful for what they did give me. My parents took GREAT care of my sister and my physical needs. We didn’t have to want for ANYTHING. Seriously. That is NOT what I’m talking about here. AT ALL. This is about my emotional needs. 100%
I do not regret my decision to keep my distance. I LOVE who I am.. but it took a LOT of hard work. Trial and Error. STILL DOES TODAY. I had to be around people, kindreds, who helped me remember (yes, even the hard way) that it was okay that I made this choice to be open.
The kicker is.. if my parents were ANY OTHER KIND OF PEOPLE, I wouldn’t have made this choice, and perhaps, would not have chosen to be open and willing to be vulnerable. I don’t know how to tell them that I am grateful, so maybe you’ll hold my gratitude in your heart for me. When you see me, you’ll know that who I am is a CHOICE, one that I am glad I made, and mostly because of my parents.
And I can assure you… who I am today, because of my parents, has and will help me be as present and conscious in my raising Leo. I am SO grateful that I always have another choice. I want to live by the WholeHearted Parenting Manifesto (by Brene Brown) – I know this because of the choice I made to be open.
So how to heal the part of me that just needs my mama, but knows that in my mom being who she IS… helped me be who I AM today???
I’m working on that. Studying A Course in Miracles, has helped me see that in forgiving them, and forgiving myself for wishing it was any other way, will bring me the peace that I am looking for. Again, I’m working on it.
I think I am at peace that I know MY mama can’t be the person to give me what I need.
Still doesn’t change that little girl in me that just wants A MAMA influence in my life.
Sometimes… I just want to be able to have a mommy figure in my life to go to. To hold me. To tell me it’s going to be okay. To play with my hair while I lay in her lap.
Look into my world on Instagram here.
Part Three. This will hopefully be a bit shorter than the rest as I’m NOT looking to bash Peter at all or share our innermost secrets. I want to share more general experiences we’ve had.. in an effort to round out my experience, and to connect with you on a “Hope I’m not the only one.” level.
First off, if you don’t know us much.. Peter and I have been together a LONG time (on and off since 1999) – check out a short snapshot here in the featured story HERE about our wedding back in 2009 in The Washington Post (Thanks Ellen again!)
Peter and I are the typical “Opposites Attract” couple with a few places where we meet in the middle. I’m more of a homebody than Peter is (Actually with undiagnosed ADD, Peter cannot sit still more than 3 hours at home without him getting antsy and wanting to go out to do something. I know it’s a cause of always being ON while at work, and not being able to sit and rest.) He’s a spender, I’m a saver. I’m not saying Peter isn’t sensitive, he is a sensitive guy… but I wouldn’t call him HIGHLY Sensitive like I am. *I believe that is because being Highly Sensitive is typically beat out of boys at a young age with “Don’t Cry, Be a man, Don’t be a pussy” but I’ll talk about that more in Part Four) I won’t go into it here but where he is strong I am weak, and vice versa. That’s what makes us a good team, most of the time. We help each other move forward when the other one is struggling. Of COURSE it’s not always comfortable to be pushed out of our comfort zone but why not with the person who knows you the most, right? Okay okay… sometimes it’s more like a SHOVE out of our comfort zones but I guess that’s why they say “In good times and bad.”. We get into arguments when the other one is pushing us… when we’re afraid and unsure of how we’ll face what we’re dealing with. I push him and he pushes me and let’s just say it’s not always fun. I think you get the point.
That said – Being parents have so far been the toughest on our relationship and NOT for the reasons you think.
It has NOTHING to do with Leo being too much to handle. It really doesn’t have anything to do with sleep deprivation. Honestly we are pretty lucky that he’s a pretty happy baby for the most part, aside with what I’ve come to find out is normal newborn experiences (Gas pains, fighting going to sleep, etc)
Of COURSE both of us have NO idea what we’re doing. I honestly have NO prior newborn experience and like I’ve said earlier, I haven’t read all the books I probably should have to give me a better idea of what I was in for. I know Peter didn’t either.
From the minute we got to the hospital to start the induction process.. Peter truly took care of me and he still continues to do that till today in a way I’ve NEVER seen before. The month of November was a dream, he took a few days off during the hospital and a few days after, then for two almost three weeks, he did half days at work (8-3 which is unusual in the restaurant industry) so he could be home to take care of us. He was always making delicious meals so I wouldn’t have to think about cooking, and because he knows I’m sensitive… he was way more understanding and tender to me when I was having a “Holy Shit I’m failing moment”, especially around breastfeeding and Leo not knowing me. He put Leos birthstone in the necklace he gave me on our wedding day (photo here), and gave me the matching earrings (from Leo of course) for Christmas and gave me my first mom Christmas card – I bawled my eyes out)
Peter is honestly a natural when it comes to taking care of our son. It blows me away. I honestly think he’s the happy baby he is because Peter just LOVES to make him laugh and play with him (If you can play with a newborn that is). Being Highly Sensitive… I can take life and the role as a mama WAY to seriously and Peter is the one who initiates the laughter in this house. I am SO GRATEFUL that he does.
That said… the ways in which we’re opposite can definitely be a trigger for us. Because I’m HIGHLY sensitive… I definitely do not abide by the letting him cry it out philosophy… Peter is slower to react to Leos cries (adopting the “Give him a minute to figure it out.”) and it always puts a damper on our teamwork. Also, being Highly Sensitive.. I want to give all my focus.. my energy on being with and understanding my son, when I am taking care of him… so I usually put everything else down when I’m taking care of him. *Sometimes this sucks when I’m hungry. I try to limit him being overstimulated… but honestly I think I’m doing that because MY sensitivity has increased. When doing the night shift, I don’t put the TV on so disrupt me focusing on Leo feeding and getting back to sleep by the flicker of the TV, and Peter is fine with it being on. I tend to be WAY more quieter when I’m with Leo than Peter is. Again, I think this is a reaction to my own increased sensitivity… but it’s something that pushes on both of us. Peter is not a quiet guy…so telling him to be quiet can definitely ruffle his feathers. I want Peter to focus on being with Leo… not on his phone or watching TV when he’s in his care. This has been hard to get across to him as I’m SURE it’s frustrating that I always need quiet… and for Peter to be more reactive than to let him “figure it out.”
Because both of us have different philosophies with how to take care of him (I can already see the “toughen up boy” attitude in how Peter cares for Leo where I am more wanting to understand what LEO is experiencing), really listening to and paying attention to his different cries… it causes arguments and honestly… there have been some doozy arguments about these differences. I’m NOT saying I know Leo better than Peter does… but because I’m around him more…just that I tune in more… and well… it’s not always easy to communicate that.
Finally… I believe in the power of keeping Leo on a schedule. (I am following the EASY schedule from The Baby Whisperer – EASY – EAT/ACTIVITY/SLEEP/Time for YOU – See more here about it.) I notice a HUGE difference in his happiness when he sticks to a routine. He doesn’t cry much when he is on schedule… and is obviously off schedule when he’s not a happy camper. Nice long 3 hour naps when he’s on schedule is admittedly also very nice for mama and it’s how I was able to get out a few dozen Christmas cards this year. Since Peter is not with Leo all the time, he doesn’t see the difference being on schedule makes… and just wants to be with him when he gets home. I TOTALLY understand he misses his son while he works… that him happening to be sleeping when he gets home impedes in Peter spending time with him. I’m with him all the time and have to deal with the fallout of him being “off schedule”, where Peter isn’t as affected. NOT JUDGING… I understand he just wants to be with him, but I’m the one that has to get him back on schedule and that’s where it can suck. Thing is – I don’t want to be out and about.. I want to be home… taking care of my son and I haven’t figured out how to get Peter to understand where I am. I know the cold weather has something to do with that, I don’t want to take him out in this freezing cold and if it were warm out.. we’d be going for walks every day. I know he can’t get me to understand how life doesn’t have to completely change with a little one, that I can “go out” and do what I would used to do before he came.
That said… because Leos easier to care for when he’s on schedule.. it’s definitely heightened my own fear of going out. At home.. I have everything I need to keep him on schedule, but going out… who knows what will happen that will throw him off schedule. Peter, having undiagnosed ADD cannot sit at home for long periods of time like I can, so it always causes arguments about going out and staying in. He wants to always go out (Lets go to the mall, let’s go…. NOT be here and I just want to stay here to keep him on schedule)
This has caused quite a bit of stress between us.
Sure, I LOVE when I can get out a few hours so I can go to the grocery, Trader Joes and stop off at Chic-Fil-A for a spicy sandwich and Sweet Tea… but while someone is here… keeping the lovebug on schedule. (HUGE Deep and Humble bow to my sister for being VITAL to me having the space to take care of him while I run errands. Love you Auntie Kristine!!!) I’m not looking to go OUT. I don’t want to meet my girlfriends for dinner right now because most of them have no problem coming to the house to spend time with me and Leo. Peter doesn’t get that and I understand it conceptually but practically… it’s where we significantly differ.
THANKFULLY, he was able to push me out of my comfort zone enough to get me to go on our first road trip up north for Christmas.. and while I was VERY nervous about his schedule (there was a little fallout), I think I was more afraid that I would have a meltdown. It was out of my comfort zone for sure but I’m really glad he did. It helped me feel more confident traveling with a newborn, and I am grateful that Peter was able to help me work through my fear in that experience.
These two topics have caused us to have two of our biggest and perhaps the most troublesome arguments we’ve EVER had. It’s pushed us to the edges of our comfort zone… and honestly, both of us have entered territory that we’re afraid of, unsure of, and honestly not sure how to manage…
So we dig our heels in deeper in what has worked for us up to now.
And because as humans, we get to choose FIGHT, FLIGHT or FREEZE, when these moments happen… we both pick one of them and it hasn’t been the same reaction. I typically go to fight (wanting to talk it out) and Peter goes to flight (Getting the HELL out of the house, so he can cool off and think it out.) This difference has been where we need to find a way to meet in the middle and honestly there are times when I’m not sure we know how to do that.
What I do know is I believe in us. EVEN if we don’t know how to proceed, even if we’re not in a happy moment with each other.. I know we both have the same long term vision and so I need to remember that when we’re dealing with the short term moments of being NOT on the same page.
That said… I would say to soon to be mamas and papas to talk about the few things that would make a difference in creating a strong team, even if they’re different.
– How do you handle when the baby cries?
– How do you feel about creating a schedule for the little one (and sticking to it), or being more go with flow?
– How do you handle it when your partner feels differently than you do about how to care for baby? *FIGURE THIS OUT NOW. Even if it’s just conceptually.
– How will you handle it when unexpected things come up (like in our case, having to introduce formula, having a cesarean, etc…) and how can you create UNITY during these very sensitive moments?
– How will you come together to face each others fears? How can you talk about them without making them worse?
Just a few thoughts I wish we would’ve at least found a middle ground before Leo came. I didn’t know I had to know these things.. I also didn’t know how my being Highly Sensitive would be intensified and how protective I am of him not dealing with something he can’t yet handle. I KNOW we both need to be pushed as parents to grow… to help our son grow.. but how can you do that in a way that won’t cause upset?
I don’t know the answer to this. I’m not looking for advice. I’m just sharing where I am. AGAIN, I’m sharing this and asking for your ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. I want to be seen by you.. to hear “oh yes, you’re not alone.” and maybe what worked for YOU as new parents.
What I know about Peter and I is that we WILL figure it out. Yes, it might not always be fun, we drive each other crazy with the ways in which we’re different and unable to meet in the middle… but I know we always find a way to move past it (even if it takes a few days) and end up a little bit stronger the next time. We both, I feel are incredible people… with such love for each other (even when we want to kill each other, figuratively) that we just need to find better tools to get us through the times when we’re unable to stretch out of the corners of our comfort zones.
One thing I KNOW FOR SURE – we sure do love our boy. Oh my goodness we both want to literally eat him sometimes. *Why is that? Both of us find ourselves wanting to suck on Leos cheeks… SO yummy! We are united in our love for him… that I know we will find a way to work through these differences… some way, some how.
WE ALWAYS DO.
*okay, so that wasn’t as short as I thought… Guess I should have known. 🙂