It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it

This post is part of The Happy Wife Project at Go Forth and Mother. The theme for this week:

Like most new moms, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the challenges of caring for a totally helpless human being. Other than knowing I really wanted kids, I don’t think I had any concrete expectation for motherhood, except perhaps that it would be easier than my day job and “Babies!!! Cute!!!” My observations of friends with their babies gave me the impression that they were delightful, low-maintenance creatures you carted around in nifty strollers and carrying devices to show off. I think I got pregnant shortly after Hollywood made babies bumps the newest accessory for trendy celebrities. I was about to have my own little person!! I was so happy about becoming a mother, yet painfully naive about what motherhood entails.

Well, my first born showed me. Max was born, against his will, 17 days late, forcing us to break 9 of the 10 rules on my birth plan (I want to go back and slap my little birth-plan-writing-self upside the head for presuming I had control over ANYTHING). He was colicky/high-needs/spirited/however you want to say it. He demanded everything I could give. He was my life. Those first six months, alone with him every day and away from all family while my husband worked long hours, were a blur. I cried the entire hour-long car trip home from the hospital because I felt so helpless next to this screaming child. How insane it was that God trusted me with a small human’s LIFE. The first week of motherhood, I maybe slept eight hours total because I was terrified of SIDS and wanted to make sure he didn’t stop breathing during the night.  I refused to take him out, and when we did, I rode in the back seat next to him, even though all I could do was wave toys fruitlessly in his face as he screamed at my idiocy. I ate approximately five different foods for months, fearing that certain foods were upsetting him. I was trying so hard to make him happy that I was becoming a miserable person.

I had gone into parenthood thinking that being a mother was about ME becoming what I wanted. When I  lost practically all sense of myself in those early days of motherhood, it was a rude awakening. I was stretched so thin that all my faults were amplified. I had to acknowledge how little control I had and that this little person was not what I wanted him to be. My children are not on earth to entertain me, to sleep when I am ready for a break, to smile when I want to be cheered up, or to cart around and show off. They aren’t here to give me the family that I always wanted or to fulfill me. We are a family because of them, sure, but really, I’m here to be their family. I have the privilege of being a part of their lives. It’s about THEM, not ME. That’s a hard one sometimes.

In the modern world of shiny blogs and perfect Instagram photos and everything we want when we want it, there is a great fiction that we can control everything around us, so that we’ll never experience discomfort. According to modern society, discomfort is the worst thing that can happen. But parenting little people will involve difficult, sometimes painful stuff. Most of it is amazing, wonderful and unimaginably fulfilling, but not a small amount of parenting is dealing with challenges you have no way to prevent. Stomach bugs happen. Tantrums happen, mostly in public places. Sleepless night HAPPEN, oh those sleepless nights. Parenthood comes with a higher level of discomfort than almost anything else you’d willingly choose. Our society asks the question, why chose parenthood if it sucks so much?

Do you know what else motherhood surprised me with? LOVE. The love I had for my children and even how much love they had for me was something I couldn’t comprehend before I experienced it.  And though it didn’t always happen in the most graceful way, our children made Oskar and I grow as a couple and as individuals. We had a new purpose.

I made it through those first six months, perhaps with fewer showers than is hygienic, but I’m alive. I adjusted. Though I’m sure I’m not completely reasonable about parenting, I would like to think that now, after 5 years and another baby, I’m at least in the realm of normal. And it’s because I’ve relinquished the notion that I have total control. I’ve learned that loving and caring for someone means sacrifice. I’m learning to balance their needs with my needs. We function in moderate chaos, and as long as they eat their green vegetables, I’m (almost) ok with that. We are all happier campers now.

I don’t deserve them. Their presence in my life is a gift. The most precious gift I’ve ever been given. They are love and they’ve made me a better person. They also occasionally bite and pee on the couch, but urine stains and teeth marks are a small price to pay for the blessing of being a mother.

For more on the surprises of becoming a mother, check out what the other Happy Wife contributors have to say. I promise it is of higher quality than the stuff of this blog!

Spontaneity is okay after all

I used to think that being spontaneous was one of my finer attributes. Whims were totally my thing.  Sleep was optional. “You can sleep when you’re dead!” That was my mantra.  Plans were for boring, uptight people who let things like schedules and budgets get in the way of fun.  I laughed at those nerds. Then I became a parent.

Now all those nerds can laugh at me.  I’m a parent to sensitive little souls who thrive on things like routine, stability, and a mother who’s had more than 4 hours of sleep. If the kids don’t sleep enough, screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth happens. If they don’t eat well, screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth happens.  If the old lady the grocery store smiles at them, screaming and wailing and gnashing of teeth happens. You get the picture.  So, I over-corrected. I went from being a carefree, easy-going idiot to an uptight, anxious control-freak. If I couldn’t plan and anticipate everything an outing might entail, then I dreaded it. Most of life can’t be totally anticipated, so you can imagine what ray of sunshine I was.

As it goes with just about anything I’ve ever patted myself on the back over, I’ve discovered that my previously spontaneous nature was not so much a product of my awesomeness, but a benign accident. I was that way because it wasn’t particularly hard to be that way, and outside of my own mouth to feed and rent to pay, I had no serious responsibilities. Organization and planning stressed me out, so I just didn’t do it and got along okay while having a lot of fun. After becoming a parent, life started to require stability more than spontaneity. Since I wasn’t practiced at planning, I was terrible at it. Having to make decisions and consider contingencies and unexpected events crippled me, and many times resulted in my kids and my family missing out.  Stability and predictability came to be valued above all else.

But now that Max is almost five and I’m not such a newbie parent, I’m realizing that holding back too much from new experiences isn’t the way either. I’m selling my kids short to think that they can’t handle anything slightly new or different. I’m also not challenging them enough. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to know when to step outside our comfort zone. As an “all or nothing” personality, I’m still pretty terrible at walking the middle ground, also known as being reasonable.

We’ve started trying little things here and there. We planned a little weekend trip to the Bay Area to see some friends visiting from DC. We planned the heck out of that trip. Then Lucia got sick and needed antibiotics and, BAM, trip cancelled. Sadness. All that hashing out details for nothing. The very next week, Oskar heard from some friends visiting Los Angeles.  He wanted to try to bring the family there that weekend to visit. After the previous let down I just wasn’t up for it. Even thinking about planning was overwhelming to me. We went to sleep Friday night, me the party pooper, Oskar dejectedly emailing his friends that we couldn’t make it.

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was a good night of sleep. Maybe it was the answer to Oskar’s prayers, but on Saturday morning when we woke up I felt different. I felt a little like the old, spontaneous me. Just packing our bags and leaving, like I used before the kids were born, seemed not only possible, but fun. So we did. We planned, packed and left in two hours, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly stressful! Having two hours to plan something leaves less time for freaking out, I guess. We didn’t overthink it. And we not only survived the trip, but had a great time! The kids were troopers in the car (no scream-fests!) and Max actually got compliments on his behavior at the Getty, which makes for a lot of firsts this past weekend.

I know that these kinds of things will continue to be a struggle for me and that there will always be setbacks, but the small victories help build confidence for a healthy little dose of spontaneity every now and then. Plus, I have to admit that it was good to be the fun parent for once!

{And here is where I would post all the pictures of the kids at beach, the Getty museum and our friends, but I tried to back up my phone and deleted them all. Ugh. Anyone know how to recover deleted files on Android? Feel free to peruse Instagram for the few that made it to the interwebs before my handiwork.}

 

Bright!

I know, nothing for a month and then a bad photo of juice outta nowhere. Better than total blog silence, though, right?

image

Freshly juiced oranges in a Weck bottle.

The kids and I juiced a box of oranges last night. The above bottle represents 80% of the product. Don’t ask about the other 20%. Just know the kids’ “help” meant a loss was inevitable and I was well aware of that when we took on the project.

After savoring a shot or two each, I tucked this bottle into the back of the fridge, knowing that fresh OJ in the morning is maybe the second best thing after freshly ground coffee. Lots of raw orangey vitamin laden goodness for kiddos doesn’t hurt either, although they would drink it until they were sick if I let them. Hence hiding it.

As I drug myself unenthusiatically around the kitchen, attempting to fuel myself for work while the rest of the household slept, I spotted the still unwashed juicer on the counter and remembered. A tall glass of this goodness certainly brightened my morning.

Linking up with Clan Donaldson for this Bright Theme Thursday.

What’s new in Chomtown (7QT)

I believe I’m guilty of leaving the virtual world hanging after going back to work. Not that anyone is teetering on the edge of their seat wondering what sort of excitement they’re missing in the realm of Chomicki family updates, but I’m pretty sure some of you are bored enough to read all the way through. 7 of the latest and greatest from everybody’s favorite west coast Chomickis.

1. We’re the only west coast Chomickis, so it’s pretty easy to be the favorite. However, we were recently visited by Oskar’s mom, known by the kids as babcia. She flew in from the other coast to save the day(s). Babcia cooked and cleaned and entertained the children in a magical way only grandmothers manage. We very much enjoyed and appreciated her visit to hotlandia.

2. Babcia came to help us while my parents (who watch the kids while I work) visited Italy. Yes, it was during the canonizations of JPII and John XXIII. Luckies. It just so happened that their vacation was during my orientation for my not really new job. Despite having worked as a temp for two months, I still required orientating to become a regular employee of the hospital. To be exact, I require two eight-hour days of orientating. My normal shift is a wee little four-hour day, so a full eight hours away from my bambinos was a tough pill to swallow. We managed with the kiddos in the fine care of Babcia and now I’m a real, honest-to-goodness employee.

3. So about working. Never did I think I would LIKE it so much. I had pre-emptive mom-guilt over leaving the kids, but once we got into the swing of things it was obvious that this set up, at least at this point, is the best for the whole family. I can honestly say I’m a better mom, wife and human now that I’m working outside the homestead. I think it’s a combo of the kids getting a fresh face with my mom (possibly their favorite person ever) coming every day, me getting ready in the mornings and having the household more organized, and the extra income providing a LOT of peace in my marriage.

4. I don’t think it’s rare for money to be a big stressor in marriage, but Oskar and I were caught off guard by how much we’ve argued over finances. Money issues do not stress me out. Not saying I’m super awesome or laid-back, because pretty much everything else stresses me out. Just not money. But Oskar, being the primary provider, was often stressed about our lack of budgeting. Soooooo, I felt annoyed that every cent spent was scrutinized and he was tres annoyed that I spent more than I needed to. My point with this charming little peek into my marital discord is that me making a small contribution to our family income has helped my relationship with my husband. I feel more in control of finances, he feel less fearful that we’ll have to live in a cardboard box to send our kids to college. Win-win.

5. This post needs some faux toes, yes?

Processed with VSCOcam

Tricolor carrots from the garden.

Though the garden has become my neglected third child, it still is a major source of joy/time-suck for me and the kiddos. We just yanked out all the wimpy stuff and planted the exciting stuff. Tomatoes, cukes, melons, peppers, and all the others that will surveeve in the heat.

6.  Speaking of heat, we’re already in full-on ice cream eating weather. Here’s what Max had to say about his first ice cream cone of the year..

max ice cream

That’s right, the boy has nothing to say because he licked that monstrous “small” scoop for 15 minutes in a race with the sun to consume every last drop before it became an inedible puddle on the concrete.

7. And here’s what Lucia said about me taking her away from her puddle of no-longer-ice-cream-but-more-like-warm-cream…

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I know. How dare I not let her lick it off the ground!

 

That’s all the non-excitement we have for today. See Jen’s link-up for all the other people.

 

 

Posted in 7QT

8 Liebster Takes

Liebster time! The Leibster Award is actually a set of questions you have to answer if you want to play along. I’m not sure who started it, but Kendra (Catholic All Year) tagged Anne (The Bazin Chronicles), and Anne tagged me, so here we are. When I’m done, I’ll get to make up some questions for my victims/awardees.  I think that’s how it works. That’s what I’m doing, anyway.

1. What apps (aside from the defaults) have earned a coveted space on your homescreen?

This answer totally gives me up as a social-media addict. My home screen houses Instagram, gmail, Facebook, Bloglovin, Chrome, my calendar, You Tube, and my camera. Please, don’t judge. I’ve actually been 99% off Facebook during lent and I’m surprised how little I miss it.

2. Name the meal for which you always have the ingredients on hand?

Oh, good question!! We have a few old stand-by meals, but the most interesting is Picadillo. This dish is Cuban. I’m not Cuban, but a friend from DC is and once made it for me. It’s easy and delicious. It’s ground beef seasoned with garlic, onions, oregano, cooked then simmered in a simple sauce of chicken stock and tomato paste. Throw in a jar of Spanish olives and serve it over rice. We love it and leftovers are great.

3. What movie have you seen the most often?

It’s probably a tie between The Wizard of OZ, The Princess Bride, and The Sound of Music. My siblings and I watched those all theee time as kids and I’ve already spent a good deal of screen time indoctrinating my kids with old favorites.

4. What saint do you pray to the most?

Blessed Mother. 100 times over. I also ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, St. Monica and St. Francis pretty often.

5. Is where you live known for anything? Toasted Ravioli? World’s Largest Rocking Chair, that sort of thing.

Oh, Fresno.

We are known by Los Angeles and San Francisco as the armpit of California. I guess that, geographically, the statement is accurate, but I think it is a little mean spirited. The common thought around here is that big cities hate on Fresno because they secretly feel really guilty for stealing our water, plus we’re conservative, therefore “uneducated” and “backward.” If you are a kind person, you may know Fresno as:

  •         The Raisin Capital of the World
  •         The Bread Basket of the World
  •         The Gateway to Yosemite

Also, FYI, Fresno is the nation’s most agriculturally productive county in the nation. Wow, can you tell I have a chip on my shoulder about my hometown?

6. Favorite literary heroine and why?

This one is really, really tough. From childhood, Roald Dahl’s Matilda was my favorite. Now I feel torn strangely between Jane Eyre and Katniss Everdeen. I know. I’m hanging my head in shame as type.

7. What was your most endearing childhood trait?

Extreme pigeon-toedness, from which I still suffer. It’s no longer endearing, just awkward.

figfarm

You can’t see my feet, but you can tell where they’re going. In. Also, this picture is very Fresno-ish, what with the pallets of fruit and the fig farm.

8. What’s on your pizza?

Convenient question, since I’m making this tonight! Feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts. It’s so good I feel guilty eating it on a Friday during lent. That’s it! Enlightening? Boring? Eh, sorry. Here are some people I think will be pretty interesting to question:

To you three, I kindly bestow the honor of the Liebster Award. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the following:

  1. Is there a name that you really wanted for one of your kids that your husband (or family) nixed?
  2. What’s your least favorite household chore?
  3. Why did you start blogging?
  4. Which TV show is your guilty pleasure?
  5. A song that you can’t help singing along to?
  6. What’s the job you’d do, if you could do anything?
  7. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  8. Which blogger would you most want to meet IRL?

I’m linking up my 8 questions with Jen’s 7 Quick Takes. Take that last one as a bonus!  

Please pray

My husband came home with tragic news today.  Our dear friends Rebecca and Sean Lewis have lost two of their daughters in a car accident.  Please, please pray for them.

I’m shaking right now and can’t find words. Two perfect, innocent little people are not here any more. I can’t fathom what Sean and Rebecca  are experiencing, but my heart is absolutely consumed with sadness for them.

Please Heavenly Father, give Sean and Rebecca comfort and strength. Blessed Mother, please hold their babies in your arms until their parents can hold them again.

You can donate to help with funeral expenses here.

My Pea Thief

I have a problem. A little critter is eating the peas from my garden faster than I can harvest them. Nothing I do keeps it out. I’ve had to accept that no peas will make it to my table this year.

That’s ok, though. It’s not slugs or snails that are feasting on peas. It’s a baby girl named Lucia.

DSC_0022

DSC_0025

 

DSC_0032

 

DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0035 DSC_0038

She eats them raw and straight out of the pod. I don’t blame her. They’re as sweet as candy.