Tiny Baby, Tiny House– How I Stayed “Myself” After Baby
Stella’s napping which means it’s blog writing time! She is two days shy of her first birthday and all of us have changed so much over the last year. She is walking, babbling, giggling, and understanding– a super joy to be around. I have managed to go through this year mostly rested, mostly happy, and still with my Val-ness in check. I kind of always feel like my old self even though “MOM” is now one, perhaps,my most major attribute. I’m glad I’m able to balance my needs with my family’s, and especially my baby’s because, quite frankly, my biggest fear while pregnant was not that I would have a rough birth, or my baby would be sick or I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, but that I would lose a lot of my personality, identity, and joys once a baby arrived. I didn’t want to turn into a mom who lost touch with her friends, gave up all hobbies, and made her email address “email@example.com”. I figured I would blink my eyes and all of a sudden I’m behind the wheel of a Honda Odyssey with stickers all over the windows and crumpled snack pouches lining the floors, driving Stella between school and some activity. Not like that moment isn’t going to happen in my life (maybe minus the minivan) but I was scared that would become my EVERYTHING.
We’ll let the amazing women of SNL put this better:
So along came Stella, my nine pound, two ounce little Bean, and the world didn’t come to a grinding halt. I gave up some things (backpacking… for the moment) and started doing others (morning exercise group) but for the most part I feel like I’m able to carry on like normal, now with an awesome little sidekick in-tow. And it’s this sidekick mentality, rather than a servile mentality, that has kept me Me, I think. It isn’t crazy profound, but fitting Stella into my day rather than revolving every little thing around her is good for both of us. I’m obviously paying attention to her needs, getting her naps, etc. etc. (guilty female disclaimer, here) but other than that I just bring her along! Going to a friend’s house? Bring Stella! Going to the grocery store? Bring Stella! Working in the garden? Bring Stella! Because really, not only is this awesome for me, but she gets to see so much more of the world and interact with a ton of different people, something that is really important to me (and child-rearing experts. boo yah). She sees me modeling how to interact with all sorts of people and in all sorts of situations, something that wouldn’t happen if we stayed in every single day. In fact, the tiny house is certainly not conducive for cooping up, so even on the crappiest days, out we go!
It’s also great that a lot of places in our area are “baby friendly,” and I mean that both in the sense that babes are allowed and that they are exuberantly welcomed by all the people there. Maybe I just have a particularly smiley baby, but this kid lights up people’s faces. We can go to breweries, restaurants, parks, stores, wherever and people are cool with this baby being around. Even the movie theaters here have a booth for families to sit in or have shows once a week for families where the sound is not so blasting and no one will look askance at some kid needing to go to the bathroom for the third time.
The biggest issue, of course, is work, where I have to leave Stella in the dust a few times a week. This is my biggest impetus for farming– I can make money with my sidekick digging in the dirt next to me. So while it’s a change, it’s one that is bringing me back to my roots. Thanks, baby!