I hate writing drafts and not publishing, reading all my favorite blogs and feeling newly inspired but not quite knowing where to begin again within my own space. This blog and I used to have a very rich relationship, before I had a baby and walked out on it. But I'm trying to kindle the fire again.
So I guess I'll start by sharing a recent realization: I need space.
All my life, I've been a talker. I like to gab, to chat, to connect, to laugh, to ask questions, and to share my often unsolicited opinion about everything (I'm working on it).
For a long time, that chattiness made me think I was an extrovert. But a few years ago in a psychology class, I realized that's not me at all. We learned the real meaning behind introversion and extraversion-- introverts draw energy from quiet alone time, while extroverts feel energized by groups and gatherings. Obviously those aren't the technical definitions, but hopefully you get what I'm saying ;) And knowing that, I knew that I am an introvert at heart. A chatty one, and one who likes a party now and then, but still.
I need quiet alone time. I feel a million times better when I have it. And I'm getting more of it these days, which is making all the difference.
I've often heard fellow stay-at-home moms say that it can sometimes be isolating, and I understand why. But I really, really like the complete silence when Jack is napping. I don't turn on the TV or music. The only sound is usually the pecking away on my keyboard while I work or the running water as I wash dishes or do laundry. I can hear birds chirping outside lately (SPRING!!!!) I notice the small creaks and groans of floorboards and beams. It's very restful.
But he doesn't take very long naps, so the rest is often short-lived.
As my bunny is getting more vocal, I'm enjoying his babbles and sing-songs so much. He even makes little jokes, like trying to snort when I make the pig noises that he loves. But the pre-toddler, pre-word shrieking he's also started was really wearing on my nerves lately (while desperately Googling "solutions," I have even come across the phrase banshee baby to describe this apparently common challenge). And nearing the tail end of what feels like the longest, coldest winter on record, the shriek-echoing walls started to feel like they were closing in.
We joined a Mother Goose story hour, which is wonderful. Not relaxing, with 25 infants and toddlers running around, but lots of fun.
We started going out on more walks once the worst of the polar vortex spell passed.
All of this helped me feel better -- more energized, more balanced, more relaxed. But nothing helped like what we did last week.
We finally joined a gym. I am not really a gym person, but we joined the Baierl Family YMCA last weekend, and I am already in love.
They have a nice pool that isn't frigidly cold.
They have a ton of ellipticals, which are the only machines I really like.
They offer tons of classes -- yoga, Zumba, pilates -- plus "swim lessons" we can take with Jack. Not to swim, just to splash around, which is all I want for right now anyway. Plenty of time to perfect that flutter kick later, kid.
Most importantly for me and my wee one, they offer Child Watch. I was very hesitant about it, but I know it's important for Jack to get comfortable around lots of little kids, other caring adults, and without me for a few hours.
Plus, it's important for me to get my butt back into shape. And not just my butt, but other parts of me too. My arms are the only toned bit right now (thank you, 25-lb Hoss baby).
So for the past four days, we've gone to the Y after his first nap. I take him to the room and, after humoring my request to stay for a few minutes the first day, they hustle me out of there. The room is a bonanza of toys and books and other little kids. Most are at least one year old, but there have been several infants younger than Jack too -- they all hang out together, or on the hips and in the arms of the very kindly older ladies. The staff comes to get you if your baby cries for more than a few minutes, and it's a 90-minute maximum. So far, we're sticking to 1 hour. He's doing really well. He does cry a little bit each time, but he's easily consoled and he plays with other kids and toys too. They haven't had to come get me. I'm really proud of my little guy!
I'm proud of myself too. It was (and still is) a little hard to leave him, but once I got into the pool or on the elliptical, I felt like a new person after a few minutes. I just count laps or look out the window in the cardio room. Having that time all to myself -- not for Jack, or work, or chores -- just me and my thoughts and my atrophied muscles... it has made a huge difference. Sometimes I even sit for a few minutes in the sauna or steam room afterward, and it is absolute bliss.
I don't feel burned out in the late afternoon now. I am more patient with the little pre-toddler hiccups, and (I like to think) more fun too. He is also miraculously taking longer naps -- the bigger babies are tiring my Jack Attack out! He is babbling more on our drives home, newly inspired by the wizened toddlers he's hanging around. He waves goodbye to the caregivers and then sits on the table in the lobby with me, looking at the pool, smiling at people sitting around us, eating his arrowroot cookie and drinking his favorite juice.
It's a special treat for both of us. So even though the bone-chilling temperatures have returned, my outlook is so sunny these days. Spring is coming pretty soon. I've had lots of time lately to think about it :)