New Hood, MotherHood

My first Mother’s Day just passed. I knew before having a child that Mothers were Rockstars, but I wasn’t aware of how hardcore they are. I knew eventually boogs and poo wouldn’t phase me too much, but I was NOT prepared for the emotional rollercoaster. Geesh. I’m aware that I am an emotional person. Some people have a negative connotation with the word “emotional.” Thinking emotional means lack of strength. I whole heartedly disagree. I think we have the strength to truly feel the world. I’m proud to not be apathetic in life. I like a steady ride as much as the next girl, but damned if I don’t enjoy the ups and downs too. ‘Tis considered a ride right? This is something I’ve grown to be proud of though. I still keep a lot inside, it’s just my nature. But I’m learning that emotional outlets are an important part of life.

So anyway, when I got pregnant and I was like…ok, got this. Been dealing with my emotional self foreva. THEN lil peanut came and whoooooooaaaaaaaa. Like whoa. Every feeling heightened, lol. Everything felt so deeply. But now that babe is almost one year old, I’m basically back to my normal place on the emotional spectrum. Basically. Shout out to those of you who said, “it takes a year.” I always thought that seemed way long but I feel you now. I feel you. Becoming a mother was a large progression in my personal journey to becoming a woman. I said personal because everyone’s journey is their own and not everyone requires motherhood to complete their journey. But it really made me respect the emotional intelligence women have. We are such emotional, loving, caring beings. I’ve grown to be quite proud of it. There’s a reason people are so attracted to us. They like a lil cray. Don’t be fooled. A woman is a beautiful being.

I always thought I understood the role of mother. That understanding is growing so much every day. And opening up. Staying at home with my baby has gotten a lot of cheers. People share in my joy of being able to watch and foster the growth of my child. Observe as she makes connections to the outside world and experiences things for the first time. But, surprise, surprise , it also gets a lot of sneers. “So you think you’ll just stay at home then?” “Won’t you get bored?” And the soccer mom stigma…don’t even get me started. How judgey we are as a society. It’s a damn shame. It’s imprinted in me that staying at home is not enough. I feel truly guilty when I fill out the employment section of forms or have to explain to others how I have a lot of hobbies that I currently get to enjoy. Blah, blah, blah. Why do I feel I have to explain myself? I don’t. Spending time on my family and myself needs no reason or explanation. I was grinding in teaching for 8 years. And although I LOVED working with the kids, I was drained at the end of the day. Well my work day. Then I’d have to go home and grade papers, track scores, work on my evaluation, etc. The to do list was never ending. So much extra work that job entails. So on a side note- give it up to your kid’s teacher or the next time you see an educator. Because yeah…we get summers off and breaks but we deserve that shit. It’s tough work if you care enough to do it well.

I consider myself a feminist. But being truly feminist to me means being in control of your own life. Any decision involving your reproductive rights, your capability to be a mother, your capability to choose career over family is your choice. You’re right to obstain from the marriage, kids, anything. It’s your life. Not everyone is meant to understand your journey or decisions. They are your own and everyone’s path is unique. I’ve really come to understand the term “to each their own” as I grow older. I do feel like we are confined by a lot of our society’s paternalistic, ancient expectations. As a country and as a whole we are waaaay too concerned with the actions of others or what others think “should be”. Mothers, scrutinized for everything. My husband on the other hand couldn’t care less what people think. But he’ll forever be plagued by my perennial “Does this look stupid?” I can feel the eye roll, lol.

All and all, I don’t feel too different now. I mean I know having kids is a game changer but I’m not sure my personal game is very different. This is partially due to my ability to stay home. I don’t have the hustle and bustle of getting my babe ready for daycare/school, working all day, and then resuming mother duty in the evening. I don’t go out as much, but that was decreasing anyway due to so many of our friends having kids or demanding work lives. But now the great question is upon us, whether to have another baby or not. You won’t be surprised to hear that EVERYONE also has an opinion on this topic. But I don’t want to sound annoyed. I honestly like and seek out diverse opinions and views on the topic of motherhood. An overwhelming number of people think it’s absolutely imperative that we have another child. An absurd idea to think of only having one child. Of course I love the idea of siblings, especially as we get into the later years of our life. I feel close to my two older sisters. But I also think the world is more accessible with only one child. Being able to travel and not be tied down by extracurricular schedules and more. There is something about the number 3, the trinity, triangle. My sister recently drew my attention to numerology and I’m seeing it in everything now. I don’t know. Such a pendulum. Plus, I read Ishmael, and it basically explains how we are overpopulating the earth and draining all of it’s resources. So there’s that. Also, I don’t like how people act like it is a selfish concept. Again, “to each their own.” We’ll see what the future holds. I’m not in a hurry. Today at least…lol.

If there is one thing that traveling around has taught me is that women in general are strong and mothers are vastly different. It’s best to find your own way. Mind others, but stay true to your intuition. Your opinion or perspective deserves as much respect as some rando’s. We are all raised differently, some of us very differently. I truly believe people are a product of their own environment. We Ohio Slayers (Ohio Staters) are big Vygotsky people. I believe in nature too. But also circumstance and opportunity, things in which people need to thrive, are not innate. Notice I said thrive, not survive. Difference.

The End of a Somber Season and the Beginning of Now

We decided to go for it. We moved to Las Vegas. The enticement of me not having to work was too strong and of course the number one factor being that we would be with my husband more. He would get to spend so much more time with us (baby girl and I). Be a present dad. Hard to be like nah, I’d rather you be gone 70% of the time. We had a 2 month old baby at the time of the decision. Plus he sold the move with all the amazing stories of outdoor/traveling excursions we could do on the West Coast. I could gravitate back to photography and being creative. Focus on raising our amazing lil human. We both love exploring new cities and cultures so the pros outweighed the cons. Well “outweighed” is the wrong term. The weight of leaving my family was heavy. We move around a lot but never this far. The next farthest being Jackson, MS… a story for a different day. So this weight- add 10,000 pounds due to my Dad being sick. 10,000 more due to me being a fresh, hormonal mom. Knowing that I will not have my Mama or anyone besides husband to help me with this new little being. But we went for it. We are good at that. We moved out of our house at the end of September. I spent the month of October at my parents house, trying to help my mom out with my dad and just spending some quality time with them before the move. I’m glad I got to experience one more Fall in Ohio.

In November, baby girl and I joined my husband in Las Vegas. She was exactly 5 months old. We rented a furnished condo by the strip until we could house shop. Corporate housing. All of our stuff was in a storage unit except our “necessities.” I try not to cling to stuff but it was HARD living out of a suitcase. Especially for 3 months and with a BABY. We went house searching almost daily. The condo so small. Not that I’m used to huge space or anything but it seemed like the walls were closing in on us at times. We tried to make the best of it but the guilt was strong. The reality that my Dad would pass soon was too overwhelming. It was a low point for me. Emotionally for sure. Too many changes going on simultaneously. It was pretty dark for awhile. Dark like I’d never felt. And I am not in denial about being an emotional being. I go through ups and downs. C’est la vie. But this was different. Looking back kinda blows my mind. Makes me realize I’m kinda a boss bitch. On my birthday I got a call from my mom telling me I needed to come home basically for the passing of my dad. So the baby, my husband and I headed back East for over another month. We made the best of our Thanksgiving holiday. My dad was in good spirits having everyone together. After that things declined. My dad died an hour and a half before his 64th birthday, just a few days after the holiday. I’m glad we got to make one more good memory because there are too few associated with this time.

When my dad did pass, the darkness saturated. I’m thankful I have a supporting, empathetic partner in life because I was lost for a bit. Grief is definitely a process. One which I am very much still dealing with. I was so anxious about everything. I was trying to be excited about our new adventure but I was so mad. And sad. It was rough. I received so many kind messages from people. I’m thankful for those close friends and family members that helped me get through, also respecting my privacy. They know who they are.

Once we found and settled into our new house, we put a little love into it. It started to feel more and more like a home. Our little family’s new home. A fresh start in a new city. I started feeling better. I love adventure but I thrive with routine. Getting into a daily routine with my baby girl was comforting. Being a gypsy with my baby was finally over. Damn. Crazy. So I began to heal. I’m still healing. Healing from becoming a mom, healing from moving so far away from my family with my baby, and most importantly healing from the death of my father. I know it’s not over and grieving is a process. I’m trying to allow myself days. Days when I feel the doom and gloom. But I don’t want to live there. I feel so fortunate to have had this time to be a Mom, rejuvenate, get to know my new city, get back in touch with my creative side, just do me. I don’t want to spend it focusing on the past or how life has cheated someone so important to me. Life is unfair. I, like most people learned that long ago. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I’m trying to live my Dad’s legacy. He was such a good man, always making the best of everything. If I even strive to be as good I’ll be bettering myself in some way.

So now we’re in Vegas, chilling. Trying to focus on meeting people. I didn’t think Mom groups were my style but I think it may be necessary here. Making friends as an adult is trickier than when you’re young. And with a baby…shoot. In high school and college you’re surrounded by peers. Then all the sudden you are released into the world. Your new neighbors are seldom going to be your cohorts. You have to put yourself out there. Something my husband is great at but me…I need encouragement at times. I’m optimistic though. Well…welcome to Las Vegas frans. Let the adventure begin.