new years eve

As December ticked by and brought us closer to an end and subsequent beginning that is the New Years, I kept thinking on this post from January.

Truthfully, my gut reaction was embarrassment followed by a scoff. How silly of me to think we’d breeze through this first year of parenthood with finesse or ease. Thrive? HA. We barely SURVIVED. Stupid. You were so stupid, Rachel. That’s what you get for making those grand sweeping declarations and predictions like you always do.

For a moment I even considered deleting it, quietly sweeping the evidence of my naïveté under the rug. But for the sake of authenticity I left it and just continued saying mean things about myself as I shook my head. It was a bit like shoving a dog’s nose in their mess. Unnecessary, ineffective, abusive.

I thought about it more and began to wonder what kind of standard I was holding myself to. What should I have done this year that I didn’t do? What about how I lived wasn’t true to the word “thrive”? I had a flashback to two weeks postpartum. My right nipple was torn to shreds by a tiny baby latch so I was nursing on one side and pumping on the other. My brand new girl was sleeping very little and crying all the time. My temperature was slowly rising due to some mystery infection that would later land me in the ER, stump the doctors, and  be filed under, “extreme sleep deprivation and stress”. As The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt marathoned on Netflix in the background, I sobbed under the intense weight of my new life and weirdly found solace in the catchy intro music.

“Unbreakable – they alive damnit!” I sang as tears seared my cheeks. In the haze of my hormone hallucination I felt as though they had written those words for me. “Females are strong as hell,” the television cheered me on to make it through another hour in the day.

Looking back I realize I probably looked and sounded deranged. I probably was, a little bit. But I made it through that hour. And the next one. And the next. And here I am – here we are, nine months later and we’re surviving. Maybe even thriving? I mean, the house is a wreck and we consider sleeping for four whole hours to be a miracle. But we smile and laugh every day. We hug and kiss and hold hands every day. We play and learn and sing every day. The Unbreakble song still makes me smile.

This has been a year of lowered standards. It’s easy to say, “let go of the little things.” But I’m learning how to actually DO that. I feel peace and freedom when I’m able to unclench my jaw, loosen my grip, and let something insignificant slip through my raw, blistered hands. Goodbye, you do not matter to me right now.

When I said, “thrive” earlier this year I meant, “have control over everything.” And it turns out it actually means, “don’t give a shit unless you really need to.” Or maybe something a little more eloquent. But that’s the gist.

I’ve done a lot of really hard things this year. Hard, sharp, grinding things. And I’m pushed and stretched and challenged more every single day. Sometimes I feel run down and not sure I have it in me to do this. And that makes me question if I did what I set out to do – did I thrive? And you know what?

I think I did.

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gross

The time has come, fellow perfectionists, to leave me behind. If only for a little awhile. Save yourselves. Don’t look back. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

As a wee, pink, squalling freshly baked potato, the gross stuff like spit up and poop weren’t so bad in the scent department. She really just smelled faintly of milk and I don’t know if it’s an evolutionary trait or what so that I didn’t leave her in a tree somewhere but I kind of liked it? I imagine it’s like a dog peeing on a favorite bush. “Ah, yes. This is mine. Mine mine mine NOT YOURS mine.”

Well we’re eight months old now and let me just go ahead and clarify that the gross things are no longer not gross. They are in fact gross gross. Spit up and breastmilk poo? NOPE. Shit and vomit, folks. We are in shit and vomit territory.

While pregnant I would read stories of newborn butt canons, shooting whatever color in whatever direction HIDE YO KIDS HIDE YO WIFE NO ONE IS SAFE. Others were laughing, I was breaking out in a cold sweat. Poopsplosions were OCD nightmare fuel. I have since been incredibly meticulous and it was only just a few days ago that actual poop touched my actual skin for the first time. It was the tiniest swipe on my thumb but alarms rang in my head.

“THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I REPEAT. NOT A DRILL. Ok, breathe Rachel. Remember your training. Simply place her in her crib, calmly walk to the bathroom, and very gently pour the kerosene and light yourself on fire.”

I lived to tell the tale. So, yeah – old habits die hard. The only poopsplosions she’s had have been at daycare in her disposable diapers. This year at Thanksgiving when we go around the table to say what we’re grateful for, I will point to that. Glory be to God in the highest.

(I’d like to take a pause here because at this point I’ve said “poopsplosion” twice. Ain’t motherhood grand? You know, if I close my eyes and take a deep inhale of my coffee/saltedcaramelmochawhoarewekiddingitsgrownuphotcocoa I can just barely remember the days when I was academically inclined. I read books. I wrote essays. I thinked big thoughts with my head brain. Rest in peace, Smart Rachel.)

Poop. I still stay very far away from poop. Vomit though? I’ve lowered my standards for vomit.

A few nights ago, Andrew brought Rosalyn from her crib into our bed. I lovingly pulled her into my arms to lovingly kiss her forehead. And then she yakked all over my left side. And promptly fell back asleep in it. You are so gross, kid. I think your get it from your father. I urgently whispered to him, “Oh my god, oh my god get a towel she just threw up everywhere.”
“Shit. Should we change her?”

“Um maybe? I mean, she’s asleep so…”

So, no. No we won’t be changing her. Or me apparently because the next course of action taken was to blindly dab the towel around us and then GO BACK TO SLEEP. I slept in vomit shirt.

And the next day while getting ready for bed?

I PICKED UP VOMIT SHIRT AND PUT IT BACK ON.

About an hour later I caught a whiff and realized that smell was coming from my shoulder. “Ew,” I thought, “that’s gross.”

Yeah, Rachel. That’s gross. You know what’s grosser? I didn’t take it off then either! I slept in it, again. And it should be noted this was no longer at 2am when bad decisions are easily forgiven. No, this was at 8pm when you are still firmly planted in Adults Make Good Decisions Land.

I no longer make good decisions.

So that’s it. This will serve as my formal two week notice for my position as a Perfectionist. It’s not you, it’s me. It is, embarrassingly, all me.

And maybe a little bit her, as well.