My Experiment: Social Media Blackout

Remember when I vowed to stay off all social media platforms (including the blog) for a month?  Here’s how it went…

 

Day 1: All social media apps have been removed from my phone.  It actually makes me a little anxious to be making this commitment. I feel like I’m going to be MISSING SOMETHING. I have to remind myself to be rational. We were all just fine before social media. If someone needs me, they can always call, text or email me (novel concept, I know).

I pop dinner in the microwave and instinctively reach for my phone to pull up Facebook or Twitter. It reminds me why I’m doing this. Social media is a borderline addiction, and it’s sad that I can’t wait patiently for 60 seconds. I’ve gotten into the habit of occupying every second of my day.

 

Day 2: JD is working this evening. I look down at my phone, ready to select a social media app. Realizing there are none and I’ve committed to a month long blackout, I feel… almost… alone. I wonder if social apps genuinely make me feel less alone, and more connected to other people when JD is working nights.

 

Day 3: JD has a sudden clutter attack and wants to sell a bunch of stuff in the attic. He is a pack rat, so I want to take advantage of his sudden change of heart. Doing so means downloading the Facebook app so I can post to a local buy/sell group and keep up with anyone who expresses interest in buying.  I am slightly disgruntled that he is already making me break my commitment, but I legitimately log on just long enough to post the item for sale.

 

Day 6: I’m finding that I don’t miss social media much. There are occasions where I’m bored and tempted to go online and peruse some feeds. There are also times where I want to turn to it for a fix after a stressful day or to fulfill that guilty pleasure need. It’s like a gossip magazine in that way. You hate to love it, but you do. And there’s something both wrong and completely satisfying about reading it, but I haven’t cheated. I’ve come close- very close- to opening up Facebook to poke around “real quick,” but talked myself out of it.  For me, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s a test of willpower and I’m determined to prove I can do it.

 

Day 10: JD posts a picture of me and I get an email notification. I log onto Facebook to make sure it’s not a horrendous picture that I need to untag. I don’t count it as cheating, although I do accidentally start scrolling through my news feed and have to stop myself.

 

Day 11: I go to my local police wives group to post regarding a July event. (Still not cheating, I knew I would have to use Facebook for some events.)  I don’t scroll through my news feed, but can see the first few posts before I pull up the group page. Two posts, both braggy, both annoy me. For the first time, I’m really relieved to not be using Facebook, and realize this experiment may result in me changing how I use it going forward.

 

Day 18: I cheated today, and I’m okay with that. I’d had a long day. JD was on night shift and the baby was asleep. I was relaxing, sipping on a glass of wine, and I wanted something mindless, gossipy, a guilty pleasure satisfaction. I initially resisted, but eventually decided I was okay with the cheat. I checked Pinterest and Facebook. It was glorious, no guilt. Totally worth it. But what’s more important is that the main objective of my experiment is still working. I’m avoiding social media as a compulsion, as mindless way to pass the time. I even cut back on the blogs I was reading, realizing I read so many of them for the sake of reading them, not because I found them particularly interesting or relatable.

 

Day 26: When I look down at my phone and see the date, I realize I only have a few days left of my experiment.  I’m enjoying this time, so it’s almost sad in a way, but I’m really glad to see that I’m not so desperate to get back that I’m counting down the days.

 

Day 32: A friend has to remind me that it’s August.  My month is officially up and I hadn’t even noticed.  I’m in no hurry to get back, but am looking forward to writing some blog posts and sharing some pics of L.

 

Conclusion:  I truly enjoyed my social media-less month.  The beginning made me realize how addicted to social media I was, and my hiatus forced me to do exactly what I wanted- be more present in my day-t0-day life.  I wasn’t distracted during a conversation with a friend or while L savored a spaghetti noodle.  Going forward, I will continue to use social media to stay connected with friends and family, but I’m going to commit to only using it at certain times of the day, not obsessively.  And if things get out of hand again?  I have no problem taking another break.

What You Missed

I’m back, y’all!

Well, I survived my month of social media blackout.  Actually, I would say I more than survived.  I thrived.  A friend actually had to remind me that it’s August and the end of my hiatus.  I will be posting later this week about my social media-less month, but for now, I’ll just fill you in on what you missed while I was gone.

*I got a huge promotion at work.  Having just gotten a promotion last fall, it initially felt a little too good to be true, but I’ve been lucky in that some really good opportunities have opened up at the right times for me.  I’m really excited about my new role and think it will be a great path for me.

*My family visited during 4th of July weekend and it was great that they got to have some quality time with L.  My dreams of us sitting quietly and enjoying the fireworks as a family were dashed when L decided she wanted to chase after the fireworks instead (in turn, JD and I ended up chasing after her the whole time).

*We have continued to soak up summer and JD’s light duty schedule by doing things “normal families” do.  We’ve been able to go to brunch on the weekends, go to a nearby lake for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the sand, visit the playground, go on some low key hikes, and even squeeze in a few days where we did nothing  but sit on the couch and have movie marathons (ah, the gloriousness of being totally lazy).

*I started seeing a chiropractor because, as it turns out, carrying a person in your belly for 9 months can really jack up your back.  It’s amazing how much that goes on in your body is actually caused by misalignment in your spine.  Chiropractors are highly underrated.

*L’s new favorite thing is pooping in the bath.  I want it to be funny, but it’s actually quite irritating.  I spend a lot more time than I like to admit scooping turds out of the tub.  As if to make up for this, she’s gotten really good at giving hugs and even said “Wuv you” the other day.  Melt.  My.  Heart.

So, there you have it.  Our glamorous, riveting life.  Aren’t you sad you’ve been missing all of this? 🙂

Transition to Daycare

L has officially been at the new daycare for a week and a half and it’s been going relatively well. It’s still an adjustment for both of us, but I think we’re doing okay.

The weekend before she started, I was REALLY nervous about her first day. Obviously, I was happy and comfortable with the place I chose (otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it), but the transition was making me nervous. For a year, I was taking L to the same person (K) every morning; I was leaving her in someone’s home, an environment that felt intimate and nurturing. K and I had a mutual trust, and L’s smile when I dropped her off always assured me that she was safe and happy.

As much as I liked the new daycare, the teachers, and their philosophies when I toured, there was something intimidating and almost chaotic about the preschool classrooms to me. Her class is small- no more than 10 kids for her age group (and 2 teachers to corral them), but walking in there made me want to cry. Like I was going to be dumping her off, left behind to be just another being in a sea of children.

But beneath my insecurities and fears, I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. L is a bright, curious, intelligent and social kid. Mom instincts told me she would thrive with the additional stimulation that a daycare center would provide. She is also easygoing and adaptable, so the change wouldn’t be too rough on her.

There have been some tears at drop-off, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s hard to hand her off to the teacher when she’s crying, shaking her head no, and reaching for me (kids have a funny way of making you feel like the worst parent ever), but the teachers have assured me (repeatedly) that as soon as I’m out the door, she’s done crying (I have confirmed that it does get quiet once I’m out of sight), and that overall she’s transitioning better than average and is happy to play outside, read stories, and make new friends during the day.

I don’t think either of us are fully comfortable with our new routine yet, but we’re getting there. In the meantime, I just have to trust my instincts and know that I did what’s best for her.

Upheaval

There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the past week. Upheaval.

The weekend started out fantastically. It was JD’s weekend off and his first weekend back on a day schedule for the month. We grilled out with our neighbors Friday and kicked off the weekend with drinks and plenty of laughs. Saturday morning L slept in till 9- 9!!!– and we went out for breakfast as a family. We had the whole weekend ahead of us- sunny skies, warm weather, and no plans. I was giddy with possibilities.

But it was all downhill from there.

JD went to the opening of a new skatepark in the area. BMX is one of his many hobbies, although he hasn’t done it in quite some time, so he was really excited for a local park to open up and get some riding in.

A couple of hours later, I got The Call.

“Don’t be mad,” he said as soon as I answered.

I immediately knew. I’ve been married to JD for 5 years. I’m quite familiar with The Call.

“You hurt yourself.”  (It was a statement, not a question.)

“I dislocated my shoulder,” he specified.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the ER, then JD followed up with an orthopedist on Monday. I had held out hope that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but talking with the orthopedist made it clear that was the way to go. He’d torn ligaments and JD’s job depends on him being physically active and strong; we couldn’t risk him not healing correctly or fully, so we went ahead and scheduled surgery for Wednesday.

I was already feeling tired and vulnerable when I picked L up after work Monday. Unfortunately, the babysitter had another bomb for me.

“So, I have some bad news,” she began.

I immediately knew. What other news it could it be? What other news could she possibly share with me that would be considered bad? I could already feel the tears welling up.

She confirmed my fears when she said, “We’re moving.”

The tears came. She jumped up and hugged me. I assured her I was happy for her (her hubby got a job with the Sherriff’s department on the coast- how could I not be happy for a fellow LEOW?) but those tears had been building up for days, and I had just reached my breaking point.

When I drop L off in the mornings, I’m entrusting a piece of my heart to someone else. K has watched L for just over a year, and to lose her, the trust we’ve developed and, most importantly, the relationship L has with her, is almost unbearable.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m not Superwoman. These few days were overwhelming for me, but the good cry I had Monday night helped me take a deep breath and just move forward.

I started researching daycare centers in the area. As much as we’ve loved having L in an in-home daycare, she is transitioning to toddler, walking all over, exploring her world, talking more and more, and ready for more social interaction. I found a local daycare center I’m actually really excited about, and plan to visit in the next few days.

JD’s surgery this morning went well and he’s now on the road to recovery. It will be a long, tough journey.  Once he’s back at work, he’ll be off patrol and assigned to light duty somewhere (his worst nightmare). He can’t lift or hold L for at least 6 weeks, and he’s under strict instructions to avoid combat sports for 6 months (his other worst nightmare).  He does what little he can at home, but without use of his right arm, that’s not much. Poor little L doesn’t understand what’s up or why daddy can’t pick her up, which is hard on everyone.

The silver lining to these situations always seems to be the friends and family that step in and offer to help.  Many have offered to watch L, and David’s grandma stepped in last minute to pick her up at the ER Saturday afternoon then took her overnight last night since JD’s surgery was so early in the morning. We had a friend who let us borrow a recliner so JD could sleep comfortably (sleeping in bed is out of the question) and another friend who picked up the recliner and delivered it in his truck. Where we would be without these people, I’m not sure, but I can tell you we’re forever grateful for caring people who go out of their way to help out.

For me, I guess my new motto is, “Just keep swimming.”

 

Favorite Mommy/Daddy Parenting Moments

We have approximately 345,872 pictures of L.   From sleeping to eating to sitting in a Bumbo, everything your child does (especially your first child) is fascinating.  But when I look back through the pictures we have, some of my favorites are the ones that capture those mommy or daddy moments.  They are somewhat hard to come by, because half of the time we spend with L is not spent with each other, which probably makes them even more precious.

This is the first time I held her and the first time I really got to see her.  I couldn’t believe she had arrived, and I couldn’t believe she was ours.  She was beautiful and perfect and I could have sat right there holding her forever.

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The early days.  I loved when she would just lay and nap with me.

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Love this pic for a few reasons.  1. It captures a rare moment when she wasn’t in a good mood, which I find kind of amusing 2. Look at that costume- adorable  3. I think I managed to coordinate us quite nicely 🙂

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I got this one by accident, and it turned into one of my faves.  It was post-bath and we were making funny faces in the mirror.  I grabbed my phone to try to capture the moment, but right before I took the pic, she turned and nuzzled her face into mine. ❤

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She has always loved books, and I love snuggling and reading her a story.  My sister took this one as I’m reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which just so happened to be one of her favorite stories, making it extra special.

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L reached walking age right before the weather started to warm up, making it the perfect time to introduce her to playgrounds.  I love setting her down and giving her the freedom to explore her world.

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She can’t get enough of the slide.  This is one of the times I actually don’t mind JD’s weird schedule.  We went to the park after he’d left for work.  Most people were home for dinner so it wasn’t overcrowded and we got some quality mommy-daughter time.

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This was the first time JD held her.  The fact that he is in uniform reminds me how he was on duty and had to race home to get me then race both of us to the hospital.  The look on his face reminds me how excited he was to finally meet her.

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Absolutely smitten.  Bonding time while listening to Jack Johnson.

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Love that smile- and it melts my heart to see how much they love each other.

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This captures how a big, tough guy’s guy is always a sucker for a sweet little girl.

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 Manly man pulling a little sweetie in a little red wagon.

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In this one, L is watching JD leave for work and yelling “Dada!” out the window.  He said he turned around and all he could see were her little pigtails over the windowsill and his heart broke a little.  He had a hard time leaving for work that night 🙂

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Rock Star Status – Working Moms Do It All

It’s no secret that life as a working mom can be frustrating (I’ve blogged about that a time or two), but there are also days that are completely gratifying.  Those are the days I feel like a superwoman, where I feel like I rocked my job, I rocked my home life, and I want to run to the top of a mountain, throw my hands up in the air and yell “I CAN do it all!”

Yes, this thought has actually crossed my mind.

There are a lot of times where the balance doesn’t feel quite right- I feel like I’m either slacking at work or slacking at home.  But sometimes… everything just falls into place and I feel like I’ve hit the perfect balance.

I’m having one of those days.  Actually, I’m having one of those weeks.

JD worked night shift all weekend?  No problem.  L and I rocked Home Depot and the grocery store Saturday morning.  When L started to get cranky part way through our grocery shopping, I reinvigorated her with a snack, and both of us made it through our morning of errands without a meltdown.

Swimsuit season coming up?  On it.  I somehow have the time and the energy for the gym and have gotten in some killer workouts.

Relying on my hubby to get yard work done?  Nope, independent woman right here, folks.  While JD’s grandma watched L on Sunday,  I did the planting, mulching, and weeding by myself.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I did need my trusty hubby to get the mower started- but I blame our mower, not my lack of womanly independence).

And I didn’t stop there.

This mama still knows how to kick butt at work.  Did I give a presentation to one of our Executive VP’s this week?  Yes, yes I did.  Did I nail it?  According to the director, I did.

And in the midst of all this, L is still there, smiling, laughing, finding the greatest joy in the simplest things, like a balloon or pretending to offer an orange slice to me before sticking it in her own mouth and laughing.  She is the one who reminds me to stop, take it all in, and cherish those quiet moments- those moments where the only thing I’m “getting done” is watching my little one grow.  Those moments where she asks me to read Goodnight Moon three times in a row and where I see her little mind churning as we work through her number puzzle.

I am many things- a wife, a career woman, a landscaper- I do it all, but my most important role will always be mom.

Anniversary of My Return to Work

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my return to work.  Although JD stayed home with L for those first few weeks back, this anniversary does make me think about what it was like to leave L with the babysitter for the first time.  (Side note: I’m not sure what’s with all this nostalgia lately).  Here’s the post I wrote (on my old blog) detailing my first day back…

 

7:00am: While feeding the baby, I notice a small red mark on her neck. It’s probably irritation from dried milk, but I’m tempted to call it a “big rash” and stay home with her for the day… or forever.

7:30am: Arrive at the babysitter’s house with 2 big bags of stuff. Wonder whether I compulsively over-packed like I always do, or if I’m just an organized and prepared mom. The babysitter greets Loralai excitedly and Loralai smiles back. I’m reassured that we picked the right caregiver for our love.

7:35am: I tear myself away as K (the babysitter) promises to text me pics throughout the day. I get in the car and pull away, determined to be a strong mama and not cry, but my heart aches. It’s like leaving a piece of my heart with a stranger.

8:00am: Arrive at work and give myself a pat on the back for getting both of us ready and out the door on time on my first attempt. Am slightly surprised when my co-workers don’t throw confetti to celebrate my punctuality.

8:05am: Wonder why K hasn’t already sent pictures. I mean, it’s been a half hour.

8:30am: Missing L like crazy. Realizing that this is even harder than when I first started work and left her at home with JD. Send my mom a sad text.

9:21am: Receive first pic from K. L is happily snuggled in the car seat taking a nap while K drives her daughter to school. Glad to see she’s not freaking out and that I’m not missing anything other than nap time at the moment.

12:10pm: Receive a video from K of L cooing. Miss her.

2:15pm: Pull up Google maps to determine fastest route to babysitter’s house. Determined to find a better way than this morning. I want to pick up my baby ASAP.

3:00pm: Receive another picture of L napping. Notice she’s wearing a different onesie than this morning. K informs me she had a diaper explosion. That makes me laugh. Our sweet L just had to break in the new babysitter right away!

4:00pm: Wonder if this day could get any longer.

4:29pm: Leave for the day. Am tempted to run down to my car but refrain myself. This is still a professional environment, after all.

4:45pm: Curse traffic. Also, stoplights. The afternoon commute seems infinitely longer than the morning commute.

5:00pm: L is still napping. K is talking quietly so she doesn’t wake her up. I don’t care, because I’m picking up my baby and giving her a huge kiss. L stretches but doesn’t fuss. I get a groggy half smile.

We head home, and suddenly nothing else matters.

Tears, Returning to Work, and Life as a Working Mom

Ever since having L, I associate different times of the year with my pregnancy or with the different stages of her first year.  This time of year marks my final days of maternity leave and my preparations to return to work.  It was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.  I still remember the dark cloud that hung over me in those final weeks of leave.  I looked at my tiny little peanut who was changing by the minute, and knew, with overwhelming sadness, that I would be missing so much by returning to work.

Whether watching her play happily on her playmat or quietly holding her, memorizing her face, there was always, always the backdrop of sadness.

With tears streaming down my face, I thought, 10 weeks is not enough. It’s not even close to being enough.

Fortunately, JD was able to stay home with her during the first 4 weeks I was back at work.  It made the transition infinitely easier, but when I think back on those 10 weeks I had at home with her, I feel almost like I’m grieving something that I can’t ever have back.

The first few months back at work were hard.  I wanted to walk out the door and quit nearly every day, not because of work itself, but because it seemed dumb to be spending so many hours away from L instead of cherishing every second of watching her grow.  I gazed out the window and saw women with jogging strollers enjoying the morning sun.  I envied them.  I hated them.  I browsed real estate sites for houses out in the country, scheming for ways we could live off one income.

But, in time, that morning daycare dropoff became routine and I found my stride at work again.  I’m thankful to have a good job, especially when so many others out there are struggling.  I’m glad to have something that stimulates me, and I know that the time outside of the house spending time with other caregivers and kiddos is actually really good for L.

I still get a pang of jealousy when I watch a mom leisurely strolling down the street, or when a friend posts pics from a museum or a playground on a weekday, but I know in my heart, that is not my path, even if I will forever have mixed feelings about it.

I’m a working mom.  I love it.  I hate it.  I do it because I truly believe it’s the best decision I could have made for my family.

Postpartum Body Image and “Bouncing Back”

You wanna know what REALLY makes me mad?

This.

 

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And it’s not just celebrity gossip magazines.  It’s everywhere.  All the time.  Losing all of the baby weight in 2 months is NOT NORMAL, and we’re sending an unhealthy message to new moms.

Minimum recovery time before you’re cleared by a doctor to go back to the gym is 6 weeks, and that timeline is longer if you had a C-section or complications.  I had a healthy pregnancy, worked out regularly until the 9 month mark, had a complication-free delivery, and I can tell you that at 6 weeks, things still hurt- a lot.  I eased myself back into the gym, but it wasn’t like I was going full intensity like I used to.  I did struggle with my body image for a while, which I wrote about here.

Instead of encouraging new moms to rest, recover, and enjoy their new babies, we’re pressuring them to prove how quickly they can “bounce back” by setting unrealistic postpartum expectations.

Nursing moms especially should not be stressing about weight loss, they should be concentrating on getting enough calories from nutrient-rich food to feed their babies.  There’s so much focus on how nursing will “help new moms lose the baby weight” but not enough focus on the fact that nursing moms actually need MORE calories (500 extra per day) than they did while pregnant (300 extra per day).

It can take up to a year to take off the baby weight, and a healthy goal is to lose 1-2 pounds per week.  Realistically, not all moms will return to that exact pre-baby weight.  Post-baby, your boobs may be bigger, your hips may be a little wider, and that’s okay. You created a life, your internal organs completely rearranged themselves, and your body’s purpose for nearly a year was to grow a person and prepare to bring that person into the world.

So please, let’s stop this obsession with bouncing back, and shift our focus to rest and recovery.  One look at a face like this, and the number on the scale shouldn’t matter.

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Mom Life: Saying Goodbye To My Carefree Self

When you make the choice to become a parent, you know that decision will completely change every aspect of your day to day life.  You know that just getting out the door in the mornings will suddenly be more complicated, that your schedule will suddenly be limited by nap and feeding schedules, and that for everything you want to do, there is always one, very important obstacle you have to take into consideration.

But knowing it and experiencing it are two different things.  After the zillionth time of running late to something, you’ll decide it’s time to accept you will probably be perpetually running late for the rest of your life.  When something is scheduled right in the middle of nap time, you realize you’ll have to face an afternoon of fussiness.  When social gatherings and all of the fun things that use to require no second thought arise, you realize that your priorities have changed, and you can’t always RSVP “yes” without a second thought.

When L was first born, she was easily transportable.  When cozily wrapped in her carrier, she could sleep just about anywhere, making it relatively easy for our social lives to continue somewhat normally.  As she started getting into a more active stage, the weather cooled and winter set in.  There was work travel, visits to family, and several rounds of nasty germs that made it easy to be content in hibernation mode when we were at home.  But now that spring is coming, I’m starting to get restless.  I feel the need to be out and about, enjoying life.  While taking L to the park and seeing the pure joy on her face as she gleefully rides down the slide is so much fun, I’m also craving some adult interaction.  I want tasty drinks on a sunny patio or lively conversation filled with laughter (I would also prefer that conversation to not revolve around teething, poop, or diaper rash).

It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities, it’s that I’ve been faced with those “Mom Life” type obstacles- either she was sick or I was sick or I couldn’t find a sitter.  Then, this past weekend, JD and I were invited to a game night with his friend and several of the new police recruits.  This was our chance.  We would have adult drinks and adult conversations and L would happily sleep upstairs in the pack n play.  We didn’t even bother to try to find a sitter because we didn’t think we needed one.

Wrong.

We forgot that L is no longer that easily transportable baby.  She doesn’t want to go to sleep in strange places, especially when she can hear people downstairs having fun.  When we tried to put her to sleep, she screamed until we brought her down with us.  To her credit, she was well-behaved when she was downstairs, but it made it hard to have adult conversations and adult drinks when I was still in mom mode.  To make matters worse, it felt really conspicuous to be in a room full of single, childless 20-somethings, when you feel like the 30-something mom trying to hang out with the cool kids.

I ended up taking L home around 11 because she was exhausted, but clearly wasn’t going to sleep with so many other things going on.  JD stayed for a while longer and got a ride home with someone else.

As I drove home, I reflected a lot on how much things have changed.  11pm used to mark the start of a fun evening and now it was a stretch for me to be out that late.  I thought about my favorite memories from when I first moved to NC- when we were ALL still those carefree 20-somethings having dance parties in the living room and New Year’s Eve pajama parties playing Wii and taking jello shots.  It’s not that I miss those days, because my life is so wonderful now.  I guess what I sometimes struggle with is finding that middle ground between being young, single and carefree and middle-aged, tied-down, and exhausted.

Maybe the middle ground comes later.  I guess I can’t expect to have it all when I also have a one year old at home.  She is my world, but she is not my everything.  This mama needs balance.