Categories
Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

Rest

Why is it hard to rest? Why is it hard for me to just sit still? I’ve been sick with covid for the past week and still feel some of its effects. Covid has exacerbated my auto immune disease by increasing the amount of inflammation in my body. Still, while feeling pain and weak and coughing up my lungs, I felt like I was doing something wrong by lying in bed. I didn’t allow myself to fully rest. I tricked myself into thinking I recovered, only to be drained by going into work prematurely. This led me to take today off to recover once again.

Is it the mom guilt? Is it my resistance to ask for help? I was quarantined to my room and I had to lean on my support system to take care of my daughter and me. I still do because I haven’t fully recovered from either sickness. Is it the need to feel productive? Society is quick to call people lazy before hearing their story. Plus, I’m in bed thinking of all the things I could be doing if I felt differently. Stuck worrying and anxious instead of embracing the time I get to myself which is rarity now that I am a mom.

It makes me think of what my life coach asked me in a different context. What would you tell your friend if they were in your situation? I would obviously tell them to rest. To give themselves some grace and allow their body to recover. So, why have I been treating myself, someone I love, differently? Why are we harder on ourselves? Why are our expectations higher? Why do we force ourselves to prove how strong and capable we are, when we could just not?

I could push through the fatigue and the pain and do the chores I’ve been putting off or do some work. However, in doing that I’m not allowing myself to rest and that prolongs the recovery process. On top of that, when we spend the time we could be resting worried about this, that, and the third, we aren’t truly resting because our mind is going. That takes energy. That is draining, especially if you’re running on caffeine and vibes. If you are in survival mode.

I, we, are deserving of rest without guilt. We are deserving of grace. Especially in this time amongst inflation, the rapid spread of diseases, and social and political unrest. Please note, that you don’t have to be feeling unwell or exhausted to be deserving of rest. By then, the rest is probably overdue.

I need to make a conscious effort to set aside time for myself to truly rest without worries and distractions. Do you?

Categories
Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

Grieving the Past

It’s recently occurred to me that I’ve been unknowingly grieving my old life before the pandemic started and before becoming a mom. Not because I want to go back and change anything, but because life changed so abruptly and seriously in multiple ways. I never felt like I had time to stop and reflect on it. I had one positive test, and I couldn’t stop throwing up. One positive test, and every smell or step at work depleted me. One positive test, and I couldn’t eat anything. Then, add a pandemic on top of the whole pregnancy thing. And then, add moving back to your hometown and finishing your last class of college alongside being pregnant in a pandemic. Life came at me fast.

So when I left college, I didn’t treat my departure as an ending, as if I was never coming back. I never said goodbye to anyone. I never got to look back and close that chapter of my life. I didn’t even get to cross the stage in a cap and gown to signify the end of my college career. I assumed I would get to go back because I had to get the rest of my items. I assumed I would be able to say goodbye and introduce my baby to everyone who touched my life. I assumed covid would be over by the time I gave birth. I assumed I had time to fully, mentally close that chapter of my life.

Time has told, all of those assumptions were wrong. I still haven’t been able to make it back, despite plans to go. Suddenly, I put a pause in my career and eventually went in a new direction. Suddenly, I was no longer a student. Suddenly, the dynamics of all the friendships and relationships I made, changed. Let’s be real. It has been two years since the start of the pandemic and we have all changed since it began.

Grieving is weird. I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s a five step process. It can occur out of thin air and last for ages. It’s not linear, meaning we can jump back and forth between the different stages. Most of the times I have heard or seen it, it has been associated with the death of a loved one. But that’s not the only time we grieve. When anything ends- a relationship, a career path, a life path, an idea or plan we are passionate about- we grieve. We may not experience every step, or experience it very deeply, but it’s still a grieving process.

I am starting to understand that my grief has been presenting as anxiety. I’ve looked back at my college years, and worried I wasn’t present or fun enough, worried I wasn’t vulnerable or expressive enough. I worried I didn’t show my appreciation or cherish the moment enough. I’ve cringed at stupid and embarrassing situations I’ve put myself in or reacted to. I’ve missed the community that comes with college life. The freedom of not having a kid. The times I spent with friends and coworkers, even the ones where our relationships have ended. I’ve missed the moments I wish I could relive again and again so I never forget the feeling.

And being nostalgic about those memories makes me nostalgic and existential in general because life changes and moves so fast and you don’t even realize it until you’re in the future. Like my daughter has met people I have known for ten or more years. It’s a trippy experience to realize how much time goes by. My baby is almost two years old! It’s already been two years since I graduated college, since I left Vegas, since I was pregnant, and it has just recently began to feel like Vegas is my past. And that’s what makes grieving and nostalgia so weird, because in that grief state (especially in my case which was mixed with a little postpartum, post grad, pandemic depression), time flies by but it doesn’t seem like we are moving with it.

A loss isn’t always a loss- it can be a good thing. And that makes grieving weird. Because grieving brings about feelings of nostalgia. It makes you reminisce about the past, even if you’re happy with your present and excited about your future. I grieve the simplicity of life in college and before. I reflect on who I was. Still, I think everything happened for me the way it should’ve. I think I needed to leave Vegas, and I wouldn’t have done it without a push.

Eventually, we stop grieving. Eventually, we catch up. Recently I turned a new leaf. And it was once I accepted where I am now, that I realized I hadn’t accepted it until then. Vegas was my past and now that I am no longer grieving, I can live in the present. I’m not who I was before the baby, the pandemic, and graduating college and other people aren’t the same either. Changing, growing, getting older, grieving, and reminiscing is all a part of life.

Categories
Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

Turning a New Leaf

I’ve spent the months since covid first started two years ago, the months since I was pregnant, the months since I became a new mom, the months since I’ve graduated college, the months of entering adulthood, really the months of entering the “real world” moving back and forth between a headspace full of anxiousness and depressing thoughts and feeling at peace and confident with myself.

There have been, and probably will truthfully continue to be, days when I want to keep to myself. Days I overthink too much about everything. Days I worry about the ways of the world and the future for my daughter. Days I worry about my future. Days when I’m irritable and easily over simulated. Days when I feel like I’m not enough. Days when I feel alone.

But right now, in these few weeks, in this moment, something’s changed. Recently, I turned a new leaf because I finally have a therapist/coach, after two plus years of leaving that on my to-do list, to help me work through my baggage and to heal for both me and my daughter. Recently, I turned a new leaf, because I left the job that made me feel misunderstood, anxious, overworked, and under-appreciated. Recently, I turned a new leaf because my confidence boosted and I started to feel beautiful and more like myself again.

With me, feelings come in waves. And though right now, things are looking up, I recognize that one day, hopefully in the distant future, I’ll probably start feeling down again. So right now, I’m basking in the sun and embracing the wave of contentment, confidence, and appreciation. Appreciation for the people in my life who have stuck around and reached out to me, even when I’m not the easiest to talk to. Appreciation for my new job where I work longer hours but feel stable, uplifted, supported, and valued. Appreciation for my little girl who constantly manages to surprise me. Appreciation for my family who always helps me when I need it. Appreciation for my life and the little things I experience day by day.

I say all of this to say that even if things are horrible or at least feel horrible right now, it doesn’t mean it will always be. And even though we may not be the same and our situations might not be the same, it couldn’t hurt to remember life happens in stages and chapters. What we feel and experience today, we may not in a year, a month, a week, a day, or an hour. Though there are many factors of our life that are uncontrollable and there’s nuances to everything, sometimes situations or even our thoughts and feelings about said situations have to change for it to feel and be different.

Categories
Children life Pregnancy Self Love and Personal Growth

3 Months Post-Partum

It’s been three months, actually closer to four months by the time this is posted, since I gave birth. Giving birth via c-section was an experience to say the least. It was my third turning point on the ride that is the idea and reality of having children. (My first turning point was knowing I want children one day. The second was finding out I was pregnant). What came after were the first days of the rest of my life raising another human being.

My baby didn’t open her eyes for the first couple of weeks because the light was too bright. She was used to the darkness of the womb. For I don’t know how long, she’d eat and poop and pee and sleep. Then she’d wake up and cry because she’s hungry and drift off back to sleep, only to wake up and cry because she fell asleep too soon and was still hungry. Then, one day, she opened her eyes and it’s become a daily thing every time she is awake.

The thing I didn’t know until this experience is that parents lack sleep because babies need to eat every 2-4 hours, including during the middle of the night and early in the morning. If the baby doesn’t wake up by the 3-4 hour mark, you’re supposed to wake them up, and try to get them to eat. Call it efficient, or anxiety-fueled, or the steps a new mom would take, but for the first couple of weeks I set timers to ensure she was eating as often as recommended, especially at night, to make sure she was gaining weight. I don’t set timers anymore, mainly because she’s good at waking herself up when she’s hungry.

In the beginning, she would wake up anytime she was put down. She constantly wanted to be in someone’s arm and could tell when she wasn’t. As time goes on she gets more comfortable not being held all the time, though she prefers it. She still sleeps longer when she’s close to someone. You can tell when she’s knocked out cause her mouth will be open as she sleeps.

Week by week she stays awake a little longer and sleeps a little less. One day she smiled at me for the first time for no particular reason. Another day she laughed while she was awake, versus in her sleep, which was the only time I’d heard her laugh before. She tries to climb up me when we’re sitting down and bawls her eyes out when I clear out the mucus and boogers from her nose.

She’s developed different cries when she needs different things. She whines when she’s tired and is fighting sleep. She smiles when she sees a ceiling fan and the artwork on the walls. She’s curious when she’s in a new environment. She gets excited when she sees me or the friendly and familiar faces of our immediate family. She’s starting to babble more often and in response to us talking to her. She laughs when she’s amused and likes to stick her tongue out at us when she’s feeling playful. She chews on everything, especially her hands. She’s even trying to hold her own bottle.

In three months my baby has grown so much. She’s gained weight and gotten longer. Her eyebrows and eyelashes have grown in. Her umbilical cord fell off and her belly button, which was protruding, is slowly getting smaller and going in. She’s getting more hair on top of her head, which changes texture week by week. She’s gone up in diaper sizes. It’s surreal seeing her grow and noticing the changes in her physicality, personality, and development. She’s growing so fast it’s unreal. It makes my heart melt and ache.

I can talk about her all day. She’s allowed me to experience a different type of love. She’s allowed me to look at other children and other parents with more awe, respect, and understanding than I have in the past. Knowing she came from me is still surreal. She means more to me than I can put into words.

The c-section recovery was hard for me. My incision didn’t fully heal until 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, after my delivery. It took 10 weeks, 2 1/2 months, for me to be cleared to exercise and go back to work.

Those were hard weeks because I couldn’t be self-sufficient. In the first couple of weeks it hurt to move, sleep, and laugh. It felt impossible to get comfortable. My autoimmune disease was also being a nuisance and I wasn’t cleared to breastfeed with the medication I needed to be on. That being said, I had to make the transition from breastfeeding to formula, which was something I wasn’t originally planning to do so soon.

Breastfeeding in itself is hard work. Breasts get engorged with milk which hurts, so you pump to store, which only stimulates more milk production. I had to ride out the engorging when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding because I was trying to lessen my supply. With breastfeeding it can be hard to get the baby to latch. Though my daughter didn’t have too much trouble with that, with the pain I was in, finding a comfortable position for the both of us was challenging. Also, being woken up every 2 hours, which was how often my daughter woke up to eat at first, was exhausting. It also hurt my nipples when she latched; nipple cream comes in handy with chafing.

I was sad about not being able to breastfeed for as long as I wanted, and held it off for as long as I could. On the upside, once I switched I didn’t have to deal with those challenges of breastfeeding anymore. Also, I have full autonomy of my body back. I can eat and drink anything without worrying if it is safe for the baby. I feel mobile again. I said bye bye to the nausea and the vomiting almost immediately after giving birth.

2 1/2 months later, about a month ago, I started working again. It was the first time I was away from my baby since giving birth. (And I started working sooner than I could have. I could have gone back in May). I mistakenly came back earlier than I was ready for and felt lost. Covid plays a role in all this too. I was on leave and social distancing for so long, it was hard to get into the rhythm of being around strangers and acquaintances. I got annoyed easier, especially when dealing with rude people. I would see children and think of my own baby. My hormones felt all over the place. I mean, I was still and still am producing milk. My breasts leak a little every once and a while and my period has yet to make an appearance. Needless to say, going back to work was a lot.

I rode it out though and am getting used to spending time away from my baby. Still, being a new mom and having a kid who is only a couple months old came with some baggage. I had some guilt about leaving her for work and not being home when she wakes up in the morning. I have trips planned without her to support my individuality but am worried about leaving and missing her. I constantly want to be around her. Sometimes, I need a break and am given one, only to miss her and want her back.

I also experienced anxiety specific to being a new mom. It gets better as time goes on. In the beginning I had a lot of anxiety throughout the day when I wasn’t with her, even if she was just a room away. I had/have anxiety about dropping her. Sometimes, the anxiety has affected my sleep; I wake up instantly thinking about her and go to check on her.

When people say it takes a village, they really aren’t lying. Raising another human being is a 24 hour gig. There’s no days or time off. And even though I go to work and have vacations planned without her, she was, is, and will always be there in the back of my mind. I’m so grateful for my parents and my brother who are always down to babysit when I’m working and watch her when I’m running an errand or sleeping. I can tell they love her as much as I do and that she feels the same about them. I know this experience would be ten times harder and more draining if I didn’t have their help and support.

I will say it is a little weird to call her my daughter still, mainly because of social distancing and the fact that I moved back to my hometown. And although I love speaking about her and my experience and sharing pictures, I don’t talk about her much to others daily, besides mentioning her existence, unless they bring her up first and ask questions. Most people I know don’t have kids and are in the “fuck them kids” stage of their life. Plus, I know it could get a little annoying. It’s also wild that I’m meeting people who will never know me when I wasn’t a mom. Like, every person I meet from now on will always know and see me as a mom among my other identities and qualities versus the person I was before I was pregnant. It’s wild and it just reaffirms that I’m in a new stage of my life. Because, let’s be real; having kids changes you. It’s changed me and given me a new outlook on life.

Society also has a weird thing against moms, especially single moms, especially black single moms. I don’t know exactly how to describe this disdain. I’m sure it’s rooted in misogyny and misogynoir. But there’s this pressure to be a “good” mom whatever that means. There’s pressure to give birth a certain way and to breastfeed. There’s pressure to go back to work quickly. There’s pressure to spend all of your time with your baby without any breaks or time without them. There’s pressure to endure a nine month pregnancy, birth a child, and raise a kid for the rest of your and their life while working and to make it appear as if all those things are done flawlessly, without breaking a sweat. There’s pressure to act a certain way because you’re a mother now. There’s pressure to raise your kids a certain way, especially by people who don’t even have children. There’s pressure to lose all of the baby weight and to lose it all quickly. Regardless, I have to remind myself that I am more than a mom and more than a single black mom. They are parts of me, but not all of me. My life encompasses my daughter’s, but they are still two separate lives. I don’t have to live up to the imaginary standards society places onto motherhood.

The hardest parts about being a mom so far has been the change in sleeping habits, accepting the change in my weight and my body, and the new mom anxiety. The best parts about being a mom are watching her grow before my eyes, experiencing this type of love, and honestly just her entire existence. These three/ four months have been a whirlwind. They’ve also been life changing and worthwhile. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything and it’s exciting to see where life will take us from here.

Categories
End of The Year Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

2021 lessons

In 2021, I celebrated my 2020 wins. I really graduated from college. I really gave birth. I really moved states, back into my childhood home. I really started a new phase of my life.

I spent 2021 raising a newborn for the first time. In 2021, I recovered from childbirth and surgery. I can admit now that I went in and out of postpartum depression. I watched my baby grow and celebrated her first birthday. I started working again for the first time in a year, going back to a company I was working for for years. I then quit said company months later. Then, I started a new full time position elsewhere and was recently told that I am getting promoted. I was hesitant about getting vaccinated, then got vaccinated, then helped out with covid vaccination clinics. I recently got my booster shot. I saw movies in the theater for the first time in a year. I saw family and friends for the first time in (a) year(s).

2021, like every year, had its own ups and downs. I managed to meet some of the goals I set and that is worth celebrating. Every year, I have takeaways. In the last days and beginning of the year, I always reflect. These are the lessons I learned or relearned in 2021.

Be flexible

It’s beneficial to have a plan but some things happen out of the blue, regardless of prior planning. It’s just as important to be able to adjust to what life brings as it is to stick to your plans. Also, some deadlines or goals are unrealistic from the start. Sometimes we need more time. Sometimes a goal that was once achievable suddenly won’t be because of new information or life events. Release tight control on how you want things to go. Sometimes those unplanned moments can lead to something bigger and better.

Be realistic

You can do almost anything you set your mind to. Go after what you want. But also, figure out if what you want is realistic for your life. Make sure your desires are workable and not a fantasy. If they are out of reach, make adjustments to make it realistic if it is actually what you are willing to work for. Please note: it is easier to stick to a goal when you are specific, hold yourself accountable daily, and qualify it. In a way, this goes hand in hand with being flexible. It wasn’t until halfway through the year that I realized some of my goals weren’t realistic. Some of this was due to my recovery from surgery, or because of covid and my desire to be extra careful for my daughter, or because of work, or because I simply didn’t want it anymore. Coming to terms with the fact that not all of our goals are realistic is a part of life. It can actually encourage our growth and steer us in the direction of something that is actually attainable.

To do lists are helpful

Writing things down not only can remind you a task needs completing. For me, it seals the desire to do it. It’s a tangible list of what my plans are. Whether it is for a day, a week, a month, to do lists help me manage my time and encourage me to complete what I have in mind. Crossing of an item, no matter how simple, releases some serotonin.

The US is systematically flawed

If you know you know. If you don’t, I won’t be the person to convince you otherwise.

Parenting is a whirlwind

Parenting is different than I thought it would be-not in a bad way. I’ve talked about motherhood in different posts. My biggest takeaway so far is that there is no right way to parent. And as parents, no matter how much we research, we make it all up as we go along. Parenting is a different type of unconditional love. Parenting provides a new perspective for everything.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to lead to anything more

Forgiving a person for harming you is not even necessary or realistic all of the time. I believe you can heal and move on without forgiveness. Maybe one day I’ll feel differently. That being said, you can also forgive someone for what they’ve done to you, without rebuilding or reconnecting with them. People can apologize and you can accept it, but it doesn’t change what has happened. Trust doesn’t automatically restore forgiveness. You can forgive and still be done with them. I did.

All relationships take mutual effort

Relationships are give and take. And when a problem arises, it is not up to only one person to fix it, no matter who is at fault. The effort may not always be equal because our lives demand different things. However, both people should be trying to some extent.

Every relationship is different

I mention this in a separate post too. It touches on the fact that we can know the same people, but have a different view or relationship with them than the with another person, and that is okay. It also means someone being kind to you doesn’t mean they aren’t horrible to someone else.

Meet people where they are

People are who they are. Sometimes they change. Sometimes they don’t. We can’t rely on who we want them to be. We can’t rely on who we think they will be. They are who they are. If we want more out of them, it is up to us to confront them. If they don’t change, it is up to us to accept them and the relationship for what it is, or to move on. We can only control ourselves.

Balance is hard

Being a full time parent and a full time employee has taught me that balance is hard and time moves fast. It’s difficult to find the balance between commuting and working, spending time with my kid and my family, making time for friends, making time for myself and my hobbies, eating, exercising, cleaning, and relaxing. Balance is important. It is also hard. I hope to get a better handle on it in 2022.

Not everything is an excuse

Balancing is hard. Time moves quickly when there is a lot going on. Someone saying they don’t have time is not always an “excuse.” Just because you “have time” or “make the time” doesn’t mean someone else has to as well. I’ve always hated the word excuse anyways, because the word excuse is subjective in nature. A reason to me can be an excuse to you and vice versa. The difference between a reason and an excuse, in a broad sense, is someone validating whether it is a good or bad reason. When it solely involves ourselves, we are the only ones who can truly decide, if our justification is a reason or an excuse.

Overworking (grinding) is not always good

Please rest. Please plan to take a break and to sleep and reset if you can. It’s important. There are health benefits.

People project a lot

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in last year’s end of the year post too, but people project more than I thought. A singular sentence can be thrown out there and people will come up with different conclusions because they are projecting their life experience on it. Please note: some of those experiences are rooted in objective truths- because of things like racism and misogyny and how that impacts every system put into place. Sometimes though, their projection has no merit in the reality because everyone lives different lives. I don’t have to put up with something just because you do and vice versa. You don’t have to approve of some else’s life choices for them to live the life they do. Not referring to politics or laws, not everyone will feel the same way about topics that you do, and it is unfair to project your values and thoughts on to them.

Mindset affects reality

I kind of hate this saying, but it’s true. Your thoughts can shape your reality. Life is hard and it can be hard to control your thoughts. Intrusive thoughts exist. However being negative all the time, even if the situation is negative, will make things worse. This isn’t to say you should always see the brighter side of things either. But again, balance and moderation is important.

Be intentional with your time

Even if what you’re trying to do is waste time, that is still intentional. Life speeds by and you never know what’s going to happen and when. It was a 2021 goal of mine and it led to me being more present.

There is nuance to everything

Most subjects are multidimensional. There are layers to things and in order to have a full understanding, you have to acknowledge and understand each layer. The easiest way for me to explain this would be to compare it to intersectionality. As women, life is different than men’s. But as a black woman, it’s really different than a man’s experience. Different factors influence people’s choices and realities. That’s why some situations may not always be as it is seen on the surface.

2022 is here!

2021 went by so fast; it didn’t even feel like holiday season. 2022 has started and it has already been interesting to say the least. Here’s to hoping that this year will be an improvement from the last. Here’s to the future!